Cerastae et Propoetides.
THE CERASTAE AND PROPOETIDESIf you should ask Amathus, which is rich
in metals, how can she rejoice and take
a pride in deeds of her Propoetides;
she would disclaim it and repudiate
them all, as well as those of transformed men,
whose foreheads were deformed by two rough horns,
from which their name Cerastae. By their gates
an altar unto Jove stood. If by chance
a stranger, not informed of their dark crimes,
had seen the horrid altar smeared with blood,
he would suppose that suckling calves and sheep
of Amathus, were sacrificed thereon—
it was in fact the blood of slaughtered guests!
Kind-hearted Venus, outraged by such deeds
of sacrifice, was ready to desert
her cities and her snake-infested plains;
“But how,” said she, “have their delightful lands
together with my well built cities sinned?
What crime have they done?—Those inhabitants
should pay the penalty of their own crimes
by exile or by death; or it may be
a middle course, between exile and death;
and what can that be, but the punishment
of a changed form?” And while she hesitates,
in various thoughts of what form they should take,
her eyes by chance, observed their horns,
and that decided her; such horns could well
be on them after any change occurred,
and she transformed their big and brutal bodies
to savage bulls.
But even after that,
the obscene Propoetides dared to deny
divinity of Venus, for which fault,
(and it is common fame) they were the first
to criminate their bodies, through the wrath
of Venus; and so blushing shame was lost,
white blood, in their bad faces grew so fast,
so hard, it was no wonder they were turned
with small change into hard and lifeless stones.