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LEANDER HERONI

The Hellespont is a narrow sea that divides Europe from Asia. Sestos and Abydos were two cities that stood directly opposite to each other, one on the side of Europe, the native place of Hero, and the other in Asia, where Leander lived. These young persons being violently enamored of each other, and fearing to let their passion be known to their parents, Leander could devise no other expedient for obtaining the temporary society of his mistress, than by swimming ever the Hellespont in the night; which he and so often, that it at last became easy and habitual. But a storm arising by which he was detained from his mistress for seven days, he writes her this epistle, and engages a bold mariner, notwithstanding the storm, to cross over with it to Sestos. He endeavours first to convince her that his love is steady and unalterable, and then breaks out into complaints, that by the unrelenting fury of the waves he was precluded from an opportunity of swimming over to her. In fine, he promises that he will be with her very soon; and, should the sea even continue to rage, will rather expose himself to danger, than be for any length of time deprived of the pleasure of seeing and conversing with her.

Abydenus; Leander of Abydos, a city in Asia upon the Hellespont.

[2] Si cadat ira maris. He is so unwilling to be detained from Hero, that he cannot forbear complaining of it in the very beginning of his letter. 'I would rather bring this myself, than send it, did not a stormy sea render it impossible.'

Sesta puella. Heinsius conjectures, that Sesti is the better reading, were not all manuscripts against it. Thus in the Epistle to Phaon we find Lesbi puella. Hero, moreover, is by Statius called Sestias. “Sedct anxia turre suprema
Sestias in speculis.

The commentator farther says, "Caeterum hi duo versus manu recenticri in Puteano legebantur, pro quibus excerpta Douzae," “Quam cuperem solitas, Hero, tibi ferre per undas,
Accipe Leandri dum venit ipse manum

'Receive, my Hero, the following lines, written by the hand of Leander, which I would rather myself bear to you through the often-tried waves.'

[3] Faciles; that is, propitii, exorabiles. Commentators generally suppose, that the Dii are Venus and Cupid. there is reason to think that Neptune and the other marine Deities are also included; for in the fifth verse he says, Sed non sunt faciles; and gives us a reason, that he was detained from his mistress by a tempestuous sea.

[4] Invitis ocuiis; not that his letter will be unacceptable to her, but because she would rather see him, than barely hear from him.

[11] Ascensurus eram, nisi quod. He adds this to satisfy her, that his not venturing with that mariner, was not for want of courage or inclination, but because the conflux of spectators rendered it impossible for him to have been concealed: for he had hitherto kept his passion from the knowledge of his parents.

[12] In speculis; on the highest places, whence the departure of the ship might be seen; for specula signifies properly a prospect from the summit of any place, wherein things are espied afar off, and every way. Thus Cicero says, Ex specula prospectare tempestatem faturam; and Virgil, in his eighth Eclogue, “Proeceps aërii specul£a de montis in undas
Deferar.

[21] Lumina quin etiam. This is meant of the torch which Hero commonly fixed upon the top of her tower, that Leander might guide himself by its light in swimming.

[35] Incoeptis iuvenilibus; that is, an attempt which; maturer years would not have ventured upon; for youth is always forward and bold.

[42] Ignibus Actoeis; Actoeis for Atheniensilus. It has been mentioned, that Boreas loved Orithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus king of Athens.

[46] Hippotades; Aeolus, the God of the winds, and grandson of Hippotas, by his daughter Segesta, or Acesta.

[49] Doedalus; a celebrated artificer, who, having drawn upon himself the anger of Minos king of Crete, is said to have contrived wings for himself, and his son Iearus. It is generally thought that this fable took its rise from his being the first who invented sails.

[50] Icarium litus; so called from Iearus beforementioned. The wings contrived by Daedalus for his and his son's escape from Crete, were of feathers fastened together with wax. Iearus (contrary to his father's instructions; venturing to soar too high, this wax, that held his wings together, was melted by the sun; upon which he is said to have fallen into that part of the aegean sea which afterwards bore his name. Leander mentions this, to make Hero sensible of the strength of his passion, to which no danger would appear considerable, when opposed to the hopes of conversing with her.

[53] Brachia lenta; 'flexible or pliant arms.' The explication given of it by Crispinus, is nearly the same: "Mollia, natatu flexibilia; quaeque remorum modo lentari et flecti possent"

[62] Latmia saxa. Latmus was a mountain of Caria, near the coast of the Archipelago. It was famous for the amours of Cynthia and Endymion.

[63] Non sinat Endymion te pectoris esse severi; as if he had said, Inasmuch as you are desirous of having Endymion favorable to your vows and love, so ought you to be propitious to others, especially to my flame.

[64] Flecte vultus. He uses vultus here rather than cor, because at this time he stood in need chiefly of her light, to direct him in swimming.

[65] Tu, Dea. Here he enforces his praver, by mentioning the reason on which he grounded his hope of her favor. Love was so powerful with her, that she left heaven in quest of a mortal. What wonder then if he was so eager in the pursuit of one whom he esteemed a Goddess?

[74] Cynthia; Diana, or the Moon, so called from Cynthus, a mountain of Delos.

[77] Repercussoe; reflected: rejectoe, ictoe. Thus Virgil, in the eighth book of the aeneid, v. 22, says, “Sicut aquoe tremulum labris uli lumen aënis,
Sole repercussum, aut radiantis imagine Lunoe.

[81] Alcyones; a species of bind, so called from Alcyone, the wife of Ceyx, who was changed into it. This Ceyx was the son of Lucifer, and king of Thrace. He went against Aleyone's will into aegypt, to consult the oracle upon what account his brother was turned into a sparrow-hawk. He premised to return by a prefixed time, but was unhappily drowned by the way. Alcyone waited for him long with great impatience; but, observing at last his body floating upon the waves, she threw herself into the sea to swim to it, and by the way was changed into a bird called halcyon, or kingfisher. Leander, when crossing the Hellespont, heard no sound but the plaintive murmurs of these birds, which are said to promise a calm sea, especially at the time when they build their rests.

[83] Humero sub utroque; for chiefly there, and where the arm is joined to the shoulder, do we feel the pain and weariness usual upon long swimming.

[85] Lumen; the torch which Hero had set up, as a mark to direct him where to land.

[102] Oscula (Dii magni!) trans mare, &c. These exclamations are frequent with our poet, and have a great beauty in them, when aptly introduced. This is remarkably so. What can be more natural, than for an ardent lover, when reflecting upon the favors granted to him by his mistress, to break out into ecstasies in praising them?

[108] Alga; sea-weed; an herb growing on the sea-shore, or in the sea.

[111] Jamque fugatura. This refers to the approach of the morning; as if he had said, "Cum Aurora noctis umbras discutere deberet."

Tithoui coniuge; Aurora, the wife of Tithonus, to whom she bore Memnon. She is feigned to be the daughter of Titan and Terra.

[112] Lucifer; one of the planets, the same that is so well known under the name of Venus. When she precedes the sun-rising, she is called the Morning Star, Phosphor, and Lucifer; when she appears after sun set, she is called Hesperus, or the Evening Star.

[115] Atque ita cunctatus. The force of cunctatus cannot be easily expressed in a translation; it signifies literally to put off her admonitions, to delay an obedience to them. As morning drew near, the nurse put him in mind of the necessity of his departing; but he still insisted upon a longer stay. Aulus Gellius uses the word in the same sense, when he says, Tolerare et cunctare dolores.

[117] Virginis aequor; the Hellespont; so called from Helle, the daughter of Athamas king of Thebes. She, fling with her brother Phryxus from her step-mother, in crossing this narrow sea upon a ram, was drowned, and left her name to the streights.

[137] Athamantidos aequora; the Hellespont.

[143] Invideo Phryxo; Phryxus, the son of Athamas and Nephele, king and queen of Thebes. He crossed the Hellespont upon the ram with the golden fleece. Arriving safe at Colchis, he first sacrificed the ram to the God Mars, and afterwards presented the golden fleece to king aeetes. Lean- der says here, that he envied his fate, because, though the streight was stormy, insomuch that his sister Helle was drowned, yet he himself safely reached the opposite shore.

[148] Vector ero. Vector, according to Crispinus, must here be understood of him that was carried; a very different idea from what the word is at first apt to convey. Perhaps it means the pilot or master; or possibly the poet might have written rectus.

[149] Nec sequar out, &c. In ancient times, before the invention of the compass, mariners were obliged to guide their course by an observation of the stars. Ovid here enumerates some of those which were chiefly useful in navigation, and makes Leader say that he would not be directed by observing them, because his mistress should be the sole guide in his adventures.

Helicen. Helice is the same with the Ursa maior, or Great Bear near the north pole. Callisto, the daughter of Lycanon, king of Arcadia, was, according to ancient fable, changed into this star. The story runs, that this nymph (who was one of Diana's train) suffering herself to be seduced by Jupiter, and having a son by him, Juno, whose jealousy soon led her to discover it, changed them both into bears. Jupiter, as a recompence for their suffering, translated them both into heaven, and there converted them into stars, by the names of the major and Minor Bears.

Arcton. Arctos is the Smaller Bear, observed chiefly by the Phoenician mariners, by whom it was called Cynosara.

[150] Publica non curat, &c. By publica sidera, we are here doubtless to understand stars of common and universal use, stars that served as guides to all without distinction. To these vulgar marks Leander opposes his mistress, who was to him a new star, for the direction of all his future movements.

[151] Andromedan. Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiope, king and queen of Ethiopia. Her mother contending with the Nymphs for the prize of beauty, they in revenge bound Andromeda naked to a rock, and exposed her to be devoured by a sea-monster. She was delivered by Perseus, who thereupon married her. She was, by the particuiar favor of Minerva, enrolled with her husband and mother among the stars. The aegyptian sailors are said to have drawn their observations from her.

Coronam. For the story of Ariadne, see her Epistle to Theseus The crown here mentioned was presented to her by Bacchus: it sparkled with seven stars. It is sometimes, by the poets, called Gnossia corona, from Gnossus, a city of Crete. This star was supposed to serve as a guide to the Cretan mariners.

[152] Parrha is ursa; the Arcadian bear, from Parrhasia, a district of Arcadia. It is so called by Ovid, because Callisto, who, as we have seen before, was changed into this star, was the daughter of Lycaon, king of Arcadia.--Micat gelido polo; for both the Major and Minor Bear are northern constellations, not far from the polo.

[153] Perseus et cum Jove Liber amârunt. Perseus, we have seen, was married to Archomeda, Jupiter seduced Callisto, and Bacchus took to wife Ariadne.

[154] Non placet. He professes that he will have no other guide than his own mistress. This turn is both elegant and natural. The lover expresses a kind of adoration for her, and endeavours, to the utmost of his power, to lift her to heaven.

[157] Hoc ego dum spectem. He touches upon the expedition of the Argonauts; chiefly to show with what security and confidence he would trust himself to the direction of his propitious stars and that, depending upon this guide, he would venture upon the most dangerous expeditions, like that of Jason to Colchis; which in those ages, when navigation was in its infancy, was looked upon as an instance of unparalleled boldness.

[159] Superare Palaemona nando. Palaemon, called otherwise Melicertes, was the son of Athamas and Ino. The Romans gave him the name of Portunus, because they fancied him to be the God of mariners. The fable of his being changed into a sea-god, is related at large by our poet in his Metamorphoses.

[160] Quem subito reddidit herba Deum. This refers to the fabulous history of Glaucus, a fisherman of Anthedon, a city of Boeotia. Having observed, after throwing the fishes upon the bank, that when they had tasted of a certain herb, they leaped again into the sea, he was carried so far by his curiosity, as the make trial of the herb upon himself. He had no sooner tasted it, than, following the example of the fishes, he threw himself

into the sea, and was transformed into a sea-god. See the seventh book of the Metamorphoses. Leander therefore means, that, inspired by the hope of seeing his mistress, he would carry the prize of swimming, even from Glaucus and Palaemon, sea-deities.

[166] Eleo carcere. Carceres were properly the lists or starting-places at the entrance of the Circus, whence the horses that were to contend in the chariot-races began the course. Elis was a city and region of Peloponnesus, where the Olympic games were celebrated.

[167] Servo, quibus uror, amores. Servo is here for observo: 'I watch the motions of my love, as attentively as mariners observe the appearence and situation of the stars.'

[175] An malim dubito. Leander here expresses himself in the language of a man who is in the utmost anxiety and distress. He is almost within sight of his mistress, and yet as much deprived of her company, as if they were separated from each other by the greatest distance. The nearness gives him hope of being with her soon, but accidents intervene to prevent it: thus hope changes into impatience and distraction. In this anxiety of mind he thinks it would he better for him to be at a distance from her, because in that case he must endeavour quietly to submit to his fate, and would not thus feel himself exposed to the mortification of frequent disappoint ments.

[177] Flamma propiore calesco; that is, as Crispinus well expresses it, Flamma ardentiore, et impatientiore. And this is the reason why Leander doubts whether it would not be better for him to be so far removed from his mistress, that the could have no hopes left of seeing her at all; for the greater the desire and expectation, the more insupportable the pain of a disappointment.

[180] Lacrymas hoc mihi pene movet. We have here an admirable picture of a man fluctuating between hope and disappointment. His manner and expressions betray the impatience of his soul; and his compating himself afterwards to Tantalus, is extremely well judged. For, besides that there is a great resemblance in the two cases, it is natural for these gloomy and disagreeable ideas to present themselves to a mind under such a series of perplexities.

[188] Plcias; the Pleiades; seven stars, placed near the knee of Taurus, and tail of Aries. They are feigned by the poets to have been the daughters of Atlas by the nymph Pleione. According to common observation, their rising and setting are attended with storms and rain.

Arctophylax; called also Bootes; a small star near the Greater Bear.

Oleniumque pecus. Capra intellige cum hoedis; says Crispinus. Jupiter, when a child, was fed by the milk of this goat, by some called Amalthaea. Others say, that Amalthaea was the name of Jupiter's nurse, who mixed the goat's milk with honey. However that may be, the goat was translated into heaven, and there made a stormy constellation. She was called Olenia capra, from Olenos, a city of Peloponnesus, where she is said to have nursed Jupiter. Others derive this appellation from one Olenus, the son of Vulcan, and father of the nymphs aega and aelice, Jupiter's nurses. Whoever would wish to observe the confusion, into which the ancient poets ran with respect to these fables, may consult Hyginus.

[189] Aut ego non novi. "Either I mistake in judging to what a degree of rashness love will carry a man, &c.' This way of speaking may sometimes occasion a little obscurity; but the sense of the passage is plain enough. Leander had been complaining, that even in summer the sea was sometimes too rough to be passed without great danger;--What then, adds he, can I propose to myself when winter comes on? But either love is not so rash and headstrong as I am apt to fancy, or even then he will push me to hazard myself amidst storms and tempests.

[197] Optabo tamen, &c. Nothing can be more affecting than this wish of Leander, as it gives us a strong picture of the violence of his passion, and shews at the same time the tender and pathetic sentiments with which it had inspired him. It is certain, that love, when strongly rooted in the heart, is attentive to a thousand little particulars, which a mind not affected in the same manner would overlook, or perhaps despise as trifling. Leander seems here to take a pleasure in the imagination of what may happen, should his body be thrown upon the coast within sight of Hero. Her tender complaints and tears are all foreseen and numbered; and he considers them as a recompence for his hard fate. A thought like this must come from a mind extremely sensible to all the soft emotions of love. It is to be remarked here, that this in the end proved to be Leander's fate. He made some attempts with success; but, astorm arising one fatal night, Hero in the morning saw his body floating near the shore.

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