PARIS HELENAEParis the son of Priam, who was also called Alexander, having, for a judgement given in favor of Venus, received a promise of the possession of Helen, at that time the greatest beauty in the world, sailed for that purpose to Sparta, where he was honorably and kindly received by her husband Menelaus. After some time Menelaus went to Crete, to obtain the inheritance left him by Aeneas, and at parting recommended to helen a particular care of the stranger. Paris, who was deeply enamored of Helen, imagining that this opportunity ought not to be neglected, endeavoured by every artihec to seduce her. By this Epistle he informs her of his passion, insinuating himself into her good graces, by all those engaging virtues and charms, which usually serve to recommend a lover; and, being no stranger to the sex and their foible, and knowing well what influence form and address had upon them, he omits nothing which he thinks may engage the affections of Helen to himself, and make her husband appear contemptible. In fine, he urges her to receive him to her bed, and endeavours to palliate the guilt by tolling her he desired to muhe her his wife; for which purpose he concludes with persuading her to fly with him to Troy, where he promises to make her a great queen, and assures her that he shall be able to defend her against all attempts, by the strength of that kingdom.
Ledaea; Helen, the daughter of Leda, whom Jupiter enjoyed under the shape of a swan. Hence arose the story of the two eggs so famous in antiquity; from one of which came Pollux and Helena; from the other Castor and Clytemnestra. Helen, when very young, was carried off by Theseus; but he restored her inviolate to Castor and Pollus. She was married to Menelaus, by whom she had Hermione. See the preceding note.
 Eloquar? This implies the notion of one defeating with himself, and doubting whether he should speak his mind plainly, or, conscious of the badness of his cause, rather leave her to conjecture it from hints and outward signs.
 Laetitiae mistos non habitura metus; that is, till I understand that I am not disagreeable to you, and, by the return of a like passion, have a pleasure unmixed with those fears and perplexities which so much disturb me at present.
 Jamdudum gratum est. There is a considerable difficulty in this passage, arising chiefly from the force of the word iamdudum. As far as I am able to judge, it implies here an anticipated pleasure. Paris promises himself before-hand that his letter will be well received; and this forethought gives him joy. We may imagine, as he seems to have been a man of penetration in the affairs of love, that he found Helen had no aversion to him, and thence was able to judge of the success of his epistle. But that the reader may better comprehend the force of the word, I will transcribe what Crispinus has said upon it.“"Temporis habet rationem haec vocala: at nonnunquam rerum de quibus agitur connexum, et consequentire necessitatm notat; quae vis vocis et significatio melius sentitur quam exprimitur. Locus est in Terentii Eunucho, ex quo maxime quid ego velim cognosci possit. Ibi, de meretricula, sic ad Thiasonem loquitur Gnatho: “Quando illud, quod tu das, expectat atque amat,
Iamdudum amat te; iamdudum illi facile fit
” "When she expects with impatience your presents, and discovers a fondness for them, it is a sure sign that you have long been dear to her; and that it is not of late only, you have had it in your power to mortify her on that head." Iamdudum in nostro Ovidu loco sic resolvas. Statim mihi et valde gratum fuit; manque gratulatus sum. "It already gives me joy to foresee the kind reception of my letter."”
 Ne nescia peeves. This is an artful insinuation. He would persuade her that he was moved to come in quest of her by a divine impuist; and thus prevail upon her from a principle of religion to favor his addresses; making her believe that a denial in this case would be no less than opposing the will of Heaven.
 Cytherea; Venus, so called from Cythera, between Crete and Peloponnesus. On that island the Goddess is said to have first arrived when the sprang from the sea. Here she also had a temple, and was worshiped with great devotion.
 Quas habeo, Di tueantur opes; as if he had said, 'Wealth could be no motive to me, to expose myself to the hazard of storms and tempests; I have already abundance of riches, if the Gods will only continue them to me.'
 Nec tamen. All manuscripts agree in rejecting 104 verses, viz. from this to 143. They are therefore, not without reason, deemed spurious by the generality of commentators. They are also judged to fall far short of the usual elegance and beauty of Ovid.Si, sicut oporteat. Heinsius thinks the reading wrong, and corrects it thus: "Sicut oportuit actum, ut agi oportuit." But Crispinus opposes this, and thinks the sense both evident and good without any such alteration; and paraphrases it thus: "Nihil mirum esse, si Cupid nis areu et telis, eminus, sicuti missilibus oporteat ictus, amet."
 Accipe. Paris makes a long digression, to explain the causes and origin of his love. He begins with the circumstances of his birth; states the reason of his her a exposed on mannit Ida, and bred up among shepherds; the judgement he gave relating to three Goddesses, and the motives which determined him to visit Sparta.
 Pectoris ut nunc est. The flames which were foretold by the seers to threaten Troy, are here interpreted by Paris of the flames of love that raged within his breast. It was natural enough for a mind that could attend to nothing else but what one way or other concerned its passion, to put this construction upon the prediction of the soothsayers.Quamvis de plebe videbar. Paris, as we before hinted, had been bred among shepherds: for Priam, hearing the interpretation given by the soothsayers to hecuba's dream, commanded the child, as soon as born, to be exposed upon mount Ida: but the persons whom he had employed for that purpose, being charmed with the beauty of the infant, privately took care of him; and he long passed for the son of one of the shepherds.
 Arbiter es formae. The judgement passed by paris, on this occasion, is well known. The chief circumstances of the story are here related; and therefore it will be needless to dwell upon them. We shall only remark, that so inconsiderable a beginning gave rise to all that train of great events, which soon after ensued; the rape of Helen, the war of Troy, and settlement of Aeneas in Italy.
 Tantaque vincendi cura est. There is nothing in which women desire more to excel than beauty; and we generally find that to detract from their merit in this instance, is an offence they can never forgive. The poets have been so sensible of this, that they represent even the Goddesses themselves, as not altogether exempt from this weakness. The affront given to Pallas and Juno by the decision of Paris in favor of Venus, was resented by those two Goddesses upon the whole nation of the Trojans; and their anger was not appeased before at length they had over-turned that ancient kingdom.
 Et, ex aequo donis formaque probata. The meaning is, that he was equally pleased with the offer which Venus made him, and her beauty. For Helen was a gift that better suited Paris' taste, than either valor or a kingdom; and Venus, who was the Goddess of love and beauty, had without doubt, in justice, the best title to the prize.
 Versis ad prospera faits. Hitherto the Fates had been adverse to Paris; he was an exile from his father's house, and had been humbly and meanly educated. But his birth came to be known; and he was received into the family of Priam.
 Sed Nymphis. We have already seen this partly confirmed in the Epistle written to him by Oenone; but must here make allowance for the common foible of lovers, who are accustomed to boast of every thing, and exaggerate in an extraordinary degree.Amorque fui. After this verse, the Palatine and other ancient copies add, “Quas super Oenonen facies mutarer in orbem,
Nec Priamo est ad te dignior utla nurits.
” Heinsius seems to think that these two lines are really Ovid's; but observes that the former is full of errors, which is probably the reason why they have be a rejected in later editions. In the second verse, instead of ad te, we ought to read a te. Our poet elsewhere writes; “A Veneris facie non est prior ulla, tuaque.
 Hie procul ignis erat. Paris here calls Helen his fire, ignis; a way of speaking strong and expressive, and not unusual with the poets. Thus, in the Eunuch of Terence, Parmenio, speaking to his master of the courtezan Thais, says, Accede ad ignem hunc.
 Gargara. This is a general name for the highest tops of mountains. But here it is meant of that part of mount Ida, where stood a town of the same name; it was so called from Gargarus, the son of Jupiter and Larissa.
 aegaeis ire lubebat. This is the reading of the celebrated Heinsius. Some of the most ancient manuscripts have iubebat and julebar, which Micyllus explains of his being commanded to sail by the Fates. But it seems better to refer it, with Heinsius, to his own inclination and choice; for, as we learn from the next verse, his father and mother strongly opposed the voyage; but he had determined upon it.
 Cassandra; the sister of Paris, who had received from Apollo the gift of prophecy, as a reward for an eventual compliance with his desires: but when she was once in possession of it, she refused to grant what she had promised. The God, unable to recall his gift, re-entfully added this circumstance to it,--That her prediction, though true, should never he regarded.
 oebali; Helen, so called from her grandfather oebalus.
 Lacedaemone tota. In this famous city Menelaus the husband of Helen reigned. Paris takes occasion, from the civility of Menelaus in shewing him all the curiosities of Sparta, to give the matter a very ingenious turn in favor of his passion, by representing his thoughts as so wholly taken up with the idea of Helen, that he could regard nothing else, and was full of impatience to see her.
 Curis intumuisse novis. Instead of intumuisse some copies have intonuisse; but Heinsius and other commentators have with reason considered this term as not at all agreeable to the idea which the poet plainly means to convey in this place. Heinsius contends for indoluisse.
 Palma. It is universally known, that those who were victorious in the several exercises at the Olympic games, were crowned with branches of the palm-tree. Hence this came to stand for a badge of victory in all contests. The meaning therefore of what Paris here says is this; that, if Helen had been present at the contest, it would have been doubtful whether even Venus herself could have justly claimed the prize of beauty.
 Nec tibi par usquam Phrygiâ; (for in Phrygia,) Nec solis ab ortu; that is, There is not in all the east one of so great reputation, who is equally celebrated, and whose name is equally in every mouth.
 Palaestra; the wrestling-ring; the place where the youth performed their several exercises and feats of activity. The Laconians were remarkably fond of such sports.
Legisse; for elegisse; that I chose you preferably to virtue and a kingdom. In some copies this verse is followed by these two lines.
“Cum Venus et Juno Pallasque in vallibus Idae
Corpora judicio supposuere meo.
Pleiada, si quaeras. Paris boasts here, that he was descended of an ancient race, deducing his pedigree from Jupiter and Electra. This Electra was the daughter of Atlas, and one of the seven Pleiades that were translated into heaven among the stars. By her Jupiter had Dardanus, of whom Virgil says,
“Dardanus Iliacae primus pater urbis et auctor.
 Lyrae Phoebeae. The walls of Troy were built by the joint help of Neptune and Phoebus. The latter, as fable has it, by the harmony and sweetness of his music, made the stones come together of themselves, and join in an arrangement that formed the walls of Troy.
 Illa tellus. As Paris wished that Helen would abandon her husband and kingdom, it was material to let her know that the change to which he persuaded her would be advantageous. This is the reason why Paris commends the wealth and opulence of Phrygia, and extols it above that of Lacedaemon. He endeavours to tempt her by a prospect of the honors that will be paid to her upon her arrival in her new kingdom, and artfully dwells upon that which is most apt to engage the notice of the fair sex,--dress and finery. Sparta, and Greece in general, were far removed from the luxury of Asia. Here the refinements in dress, equipage, and gallantry, even in that early age of the world, were carried to a great height.
 Nec mihi fas fuerit. Paris adds this the more effectually to make his court to Helen. He represents his regard to that princess as so great, that it induced him to respect every thing which in any way concerned her. Even Sparta, however savage and unpolished, however much a stranger to the refinements of Asia, was yet dear to him, because it was her country.
 Parca sed est Sparte. It is absurd, as some have done, to refer this to the institutions of Lycurgus, who flourished not till long after Paris and the destruction of Troy. In reality, Sparta came very far short of the Asiatic cities in wealth and magnificence, and therefore must have appeared to Paris as a very poor and inconsiderable city in comparison with that which he had left; for Troy was then the capital of Asia Minor, and one of the richest cities in the world. It is not therefore with an eye to any peculiar political forms or institutions of Sparta, that Paris calls it parca; but in opposition to the magnificence of Asia.
 Phryx erat. Paris is not satisfied with enlarging upon the wealth and grandeur of his nation; he farther produces examples to prove the great regard that had been always shewn to the Phrygians, and the success they had in attempts of that kind which he was now meditating. The story referred to in this verse, is that of Ganymedes the son of Tros, whose beauty was so remarkable as to engage the notice even of Jupiter, who carried him away in the shape of an eagle, as he was hunting on mount Ida, and made him his cup-bearer instead of Hebe.
 Phryx erat Aurorae coniux; Tithonus, who was the brother, or, as others say, the son of Laomedon. Aurora admired him for his beauty, and conferred upon him the gift of immertality; but, not being able to prevent the inconvenience of old age, he found that life at last was an insupportable burthen, and desired to be changed into a grasshopper. By him Aurora had Memnon, who afterwards came to the assistance the Trojans, and was slain by Achilles.
 Phryx etiam Anchises, the son of Capys, beloved by Venus. From their intimacy sprang Aeneas; who, after the destruction of Troy, led the remains of his countrymen into Italy, where he built Lavinium.
 Clara fugantem lumina. The poet here alludes to the bloody revenge of Atreus, the father of Menelaus. Atreus and Thyestes were brothers, the sons of Pelops and Hippodamia, the former of whom had married aerope. Thyestes, being deeply enamored of her, used all means to seduce her, and at last prevailed. Atreus, incensed at this insult, banished him; but, resolving upon a more barbarous revenge, he recalled him, and inviting him to a banquet, ordered the two children he had by her to be killed, thessed, and presented to him at the feast. The sun is said to have gone back, stricken with horrer at the sight. Atreus being the first who found out the eclipse of the sun, this is judged by some to have given rise to the fable.
 Nec pater est Priamo. My father Priam is not the son of one who murdered his father-in-law, as was Atreus the son of Pelops, and adoptive father of Menelaus; for Pelops contending for Hippodamia in a chariot-race with her father oenomaus, the latter, by treachery, lost his life, his daughter, and his kingdom.
Nec proavo. Tantalus was the father of Pelops, and consequently the great-grandfather of Menelaus. History, as related by the poets, has something in it very remarkable. He was king of Corinth, and entertaining the Gods at a banquet, to make trial of their divinity killed his son Pelops, and set him before them baked in a paste. They all abstained from the feast except Ceres, who tasted a part of his shoulder; for which reason, when he was restored to life, he had a shoulder given him of ivory. Tantalus, as a punishment for his impiety, was condemned in hell to a perpetual hunger and thirst, and obliged to stand up to the chin in water, and to have apples hanging just to his lips, without being able to touch either. There are some who give a different account of this matter: they tell us, that his crime was divulging the secrets of the Gods, and his punishment the fear of a great stone, always ready to fall upon his head. Ovid, Amor. lib. 3, makes the latter his crime, but gives the same account of his punishment as in the first part of this note:
“Sic aret mediis taciti vulgator in undis;
Pomaque, quae nullo tempore tangat, habet.
 Poenitet hospitii. The description given by Paris of what he suffered, when forced to witness the mutual endearments of Helen and Menelaus, is finely conceived, and set off with all the embellishments that imagination can give. Paris, as a lover, was attentive to every motion and every look: he could not bear that Helen should shew any signs of tenderness, even for her own husband; and, upon such occasions, his uneasiness was so great, that he was scarcely able to conceal it. At the same time, as he found that Helen was not quite a stranger to what he endured for her sake, he omitted no opportunity of giving her hints of his passion. While he affect-ed to give only the history of others, he, under borrowed names, gave her a description of his love, and made her acquainted with all his tender sentiments. He even sometimes counterfeited drunkenness, that he might use greater liberty, without having any particular notice taken of it. All this agrees perfectly well to the situation which Paris is here supposed to be in.
 Signa tegenda; that is, as Helvetius paraphrases it: Signa, quibus amorem meum tibi declarabam, celanda omnibus, praesertim verò Menelao marito. 'Signs by which you might know the greatness of my passion, such as might be understood by none, but must be particularly concealed from Menelaus.'Clymenen aethramque. They are said by some to have been two kinswomen of Menelaus, and left by him as guardians of Helen during his absence. Hubertinus maintains, that aethra, here mentioned, was the mother of Theseus; but the difference of time will by no means allow it.
 Ut tulit Hippomenes Schoeneïda. Paris, the farther to convince Helen how deeply he was enamoured of her, assures her that there is no hazard which he would not gladly incur for her sake. He proceeds so far as to wish that she might be appointed by the Gods the reward of some dangerous enterprise, that he might shew her how cheerfully he would engage in the boldest attempt, when fired by the hope of so glorious a prize. Upon this he takes occasion to mention several others who had before engaged in the like attempts, that he might represent them as examples of that courage which he was ready to exert. The first instance is that of Hippomenes, the son of Macareus and Merope. He overcame Atalanta in running, by the help of three golden apples he had received from Venus, out of the gardens of the Hesperides. for, when Atalanta was like to get the better of him, he cunningly threw one of these apples in her way; the beauty of which tempted her so far, that she stooped to take them up, and by that delay fell behind. Thus Hippomenes gained the race, and had Atalanta as the reward of his victory.Schoeneïda. Atalanta was the daughter of Schoenus, king of the island of Scyros.
 Venit ut in Phrygios. Hippodamia sinus. Hippodamia was the daughter of oenomaus, king of Elis and Pisa. He proposed to give her in marriage, to whoever should triumph over him in a chariot-race; but, as I have already mentioned the story. I need not repeat it.
Acheloia cornua fregit. Achelous was the name of a famous river of Epirus, that took its rise in Mount Pindus, and divided aetolia from Acarnania. Its modern name is Pachicolmo. The ancients have handed down many fables concerning this river. They tell us, that he was the son of Oceanus and Tethys, or, according to some, of the sun and earth; and that, as he had equal pretensions to Deianira with Hercules, they engaged in single combat. Hercules was the conqueror, notwithstanding all the artifices of Achelous, who during the fight transformed himself into a variety of shapes, and among others that of a bull; in which form Hercules broke his horns. The most common solution of the fable is this. As Achelous was a considerable river, the poets feigned him to be the son of Oceanus. His course was full of turnings and windings, for which reason in the combat with Hercules he is said to have changed himself into a serpent. The roaring noise he makes when he overflows his banks, gave rise to the fiction of changing himself into a bull; and perhaps this may be the reason that the ancients painted rivers with horns, and that the poets so often describe rivers under the figure of a bull. Thus Horace, speaking of the Aufidus, gives it the epithet Tauriformis:
“Sic tauriformis volvitur Aufidus.
 Deïanira; the daughter of oeneus king of aetolia, betrothed first to Achelous, and afterwards to Hercules. Her fatal present to this last, by which she was ignorantly the cause of that hero's death, has been already noticed.
 Nostra per has leges. Paris, after enumerating these examples, speaks of his own courage as no way inferior, if he had a proper field for its exertion. However, like one expert in the art of insinuating himself into the favor of the softer sex, he has recourse to prayers and flattery, and paints the violence of his passion with all the lively strokes he is able to collect. But before he comes to the point, that he might by degrees prepare her for so open a discovery of his intentions, he endeavours to make her believe that he was moved to address her by a heavenly impulse; and that to resist would be opposing the will of the Fates. This was well imagined by the poet; who (since it was not his design to represent Helen as a vicious abandoned character, but as one who, having naturally something soft and amorous in her complexion, was gained over by flattery and an insinuating address) found it necessary to give this turn to the matter, that Helen might not be too much shocked at the proposal, or reject the lover's addresses with indignation and disdain.
 Ah nimium simplex Helene. We have here a collection of those arguments and deluding speeches, with which men of gallantry in all ages have attempted to seduce the fair. That shame and reluctance which she would be apt to feel upon his proposal, he ascribes to simplicity, and want of knowledge of the world. Beauty, he tells her, was formed for soft and tender compliances; and the practice even of the Gods might convince her that it was no crime. He farther urges her from the fair opportunity they had by the absence of her husband; whom he endeavours to depreciate, and make appear contemptible. In a word, importunity and opportunity, the two grand engines established by men of elegance and art in this way of passion, are here played off to the utmost.
 Lis est cum forma magna pudicitiae. This is a general observation, and has so far gained ground, especially among poets, that they make no scruple to take it for an undoubted maxim. There may, however, be some ground to question its justness. Beauty, indeed, ever attracts the attention of the world; and they who re distinguished by it, are more exposed to attacks and solicitations; besides that a false step, in them, is always more noticed, and makes a greater noise than in another. Hence both history and private observation often furnish more examples of frailty in great beauties, than in those of a less remarkable character. This has given occasion to men of wit to throw that reproach upon beauty itself, which is merely imputable to some accidental circumstances, which for the most part accompany it.Est in juvencis, est in equis, patrum
 Nomine ceperunt Aquilonis Erechthida Thraces. Paris is not satisfied with shewing Helen the possibility of their escaping together safely into Phrygia: he farther wishes to remove all apprehensions of his being obliged to restore her. He foresaw she might fear that Menelaus would stir up all Greece in his cause, and demand her back at the head of a powerful army. To quiet her apprehensions of this kind, he assures her that not all history afforded any such instance; and mentions several who had been borne away in the same manner in which he proposed to carry her off; and yet no wars or bloodshed ensued. Orithyia, whose story affords the first instance, was the daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens. Boreas loved her; and, not knowing how otherwise to obtain her, led her by force into Thrace. He had by her two sons, Zethes and Calais, who engaged in the expedition of the Argonauts.
 Bistonis ora; Thrace, so called from a lake of that name; though others think that it ought rather to be derived from Biston, the son of Mars and Callirhöe, who built Bistonia upon the coast of Thrace, and gave his name both to the lake and country.
 Phasida; so called from the Colchian river Phasis.Pagasaeus Iason; Jason of Thessaly, called Pagasaeus from the city of Pagasae, near which the ship Argo was built; from which also the neighbouring bay, whence Jason set sail, was called sinus Pagasaeus.
 Minoida; Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, who eloped with Theseus.
 Ilioneus; a Trojan of distinguished valour, the son of Phorbas, and companion of Aeneas.Deiphobus; brother to Paris, and of a very warlike disposition.
 Quid valeam, nescis. Paris forgets nothing that might serve in any manner to quiet Helen's doubts, and remove all her scruples. After shewing her by a variety of examples, that there was little probability of any attempt to recover her, he tells her, that were even this to happen, he has strength and power to defend her, and that such an accident, far from bringing any infamy upon herself, would tend highly to her glory.