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HERO LEANDRO

Hero, after receiving Leander's letter, returns this answer. her chief design is to make him sensible of the ardor of her passion, and prompt his way to the mutual embraces of love. Sometimes she accuses him of sloth, but with no other view than to demonstrate a constant unaherable love. At other times she chides the perverse waves. Again she fears that Leander may have transferred his affections to another; but she soon rejects the unjust suspicion, ami ascribes all to the well-known anxiety of lovers, who are apt to fancy themselves threatened with every disaster. In fine, terrified by a foreboding dream, she counsels him not to venture until the sca is calm.

Quam mihi misisti. This epistle begins like the preceding; for both, by an affectionate salutation, and ardent expressions of their desire of meeting, endeavour to please and conciliate each other.

[3] Omms mora. The shortest time to a lover, when disappointed fo his hopes, seems an age. “Ut nox longa quibus mentitar amica,

says Horace: and the same thing happens, in some degree or other, when any of our desires are deferred.

[10] Ponitis in variâ tempora, &c. Hero gives some reasons why so long a separation must be more irksome to her than to him. Men, as having naturally more resolution and strength of mind, might justly be supposed more capable of enduring distress. They had it, moreover, in their power to drive away anxiety by a variety of amusemen's. Women, on the contrary, were deprived of the se reliefs: and she, in particular, could do nothing but think and talk of her Leander. Her whole reasoning is wonderfully adapted, not only to prove what she had advanced, but also to win the affection of her lover, by in innating, with he greatest delicacy, how dear he was to her.

[11] Unctae palaestrae. It is known, that the contenders in wrestling, and other exercises, anointed themselves with oil: hence the palaestra, the place or the act of contest, had the epithet uncta sometimes given to it.

[28] Impositas tanquam servet arena notas. Nothing can be more natural, or better conceived, than this. Lovers are ready to believe every thing that serves to soothe their passion. Even impossibilities are by them strongly fancied. What is more unlikely, than that sand constantly washed by the sea should retain the traces of feet? and yet Hero, as if fully persuaded of it, runs to the beach to look for them. Even in cases of less impatience than seems to be that of Hero, something of the like kind is observed to happen. Who, having experienced the loss of a friend really dear to them, have not sometimes entertained a vain hope of his appearing to them again, and perhaps repaired to his tomb, and called him aloud, in a fond expectation that he might hear and answer? This passion is finely touched in Dr. Watts' beautiful poem upon the death of his friend Mr. Gunston.

[29] Utque rogem de te, et scribam tibi. Heinsius complains very much of this verse, as harsh, and offensive to the ear. he thinks that the whole distich ought to run in this manner: “Utque rogem de te quaeramque, huc si quis Abydo
Venerit; aut scribam si quis Abydon eat.

He moreover conjectures that the distich which follows, Quid referam, &c. ought to go before this. Penelope says much the same in her Epistle to Ulysses: “Quisquis ad haec vertit peregrinam litora puppim,
Ille mihi de te multa rogatus abit:
Quamque tibi reddat si te modo viderit usquam,
Traditur huic digitis charta notata meis.

4.4 Pallade iam pingui. Pallade is here instead of oleo; for Pallas, or Minerva, is said to have first taught men the use of oil. Such as excelled in swimming, especially when they knew they should have occasion for the utmost extent of their art, were accustomed to anoint themselves with this, as being of great service to them; for it not only made their joints nimble and pliable, but prevented them from being numbed by the coldness of the water.

[47] Jam certe navigat, inquam. The poet's art appears here in its full dimensions. The more narrowly it is examined, the more of its worth we discover. Any one who has allowed himself to reflect at all must be sensible, that the imagination is never more busy, than when conversant about an absent beloved object. It is not only apt to run over all the scenes that have passed between them, but also to fancy the manner in which it may be employed at present. Hero's discourse with her nurse is a true and natural example of it; and she more so, as she imagines her lover setting about what she most earnestly desired, viz. preparing to swim across to her.

[49] Pancaque cum tacta. The accurate Heinsius rejects the common reading here, as not being able to understand what the poet meant by tacta terra. Several copies, he observes, have tela; which emendation he highly approves. He further conjectures, that, by a mistake of transcribers, tacta has been put instead of tracta; for trahere telam was a common phrase, as trahere lanam, trahere pensam. So facere telam was used instead of facere lanam. The conjecture is ingenious. Orispinus, however, thinks there is no necessity for so far-fetched an explication, because the words, according to the common reading, may be very easily understood; for, in lengthening out a thread, it is usual to let the spindle gradually descend till it touches the ground; after which it is wound up, and the same is repeated in a constant succession.

5.5 Deceptae noctis. Decipere noctem means, 'to elude the night, or get over the tedious hours by some pleasing amusement." Some rather think, that deceptæ; ought to be referred to Hero herself, who, after passing the night in an uneasy expectation of her lover, found herself in the morning disappointed: Ubi pars maxima noctis acta est mihi deceptae.

[67] Firmius £o cupidi. This wish is introduced with great propriety. Hero, after recounting her dreams, and the short unsatisfactory joy they gave, could not conclude in a more natural way, than by expressing her earnest wishes, that those fleeting transitory pleasures might be soon turned into real joys.

[73] Cur ea praeterita est. Hero, in all parts of this letter, maintains fully the character she had given herself at first, viz. that of an ardent solicitous lover. She watches times and seasons, and complains if she is disappointed in what she might expect from them. As, the night before, the storm had somewhat abated, she wonders he did not take the opportunity of coming to her.

[76] Hoc melior certe. Although she owns in the following verse, that the storm remitted for a very short time, yet here she does not aseribe his stay to that consideration, but is rather apt to fear that his concern for her begins to diminish, and that, having been with her before, he is not willing to incur the same hazard for a second interview. We have in this a true picture of the human heart, which, in proportion to the value it sets upon any thing, is extremely apprehensive about losing it. the case is still more remarkable in lovers, whom the most trivial circumstance in life often fills with a thousand anxieties and alarms.

[77] At citò. This, as Crispinus observes, is to be considered as an objection and excuse offered upon the part of Leander: as if Hero had said, "I know you will plead that the interval of the storm was short, and that, dreading this with reason, you were unwilling to venture." She immediately replies in the next verse, Tempore, cum properas, &c. "Alloa that you were afraid of the raging sea, yet why did you not come when it was clam? The interval, though short, continued longer than you usually take to swim across." This answer, rejecting Leander's excuse, was well judged in the poet: for, however good his plea might be, yet passion, we all know, pays very little regard to the voice of reason.

[79] Nil quod querereris haberes. Leander had owned this in his own letter; but we are to consider it on both sides as the language of thought-less love. Their chief concern was to conceal their passion from their parents; and yet such an accident as this must have discovered all. But it was not to be supposed, that, in the height of their anxiety at disappointment, they would be in such a frame of mind as to attend to the consequences of things.

[89] Unde novus timor hie? &c. Hero still discovers the height of her passion by her anxiety. The anxiety too that she discovers, is that of an ardent lover, such as magnifies every difficulty, and fills with false fears. She knew well enough that since his first swimming over to her, there had been no storm nearly equal to the present. There was no cause then to wonder why his courage was abated, as it had never been put to the same trial before. But Hero, attentive only to his long absence, will not allow herself to reflect upon the danger, but charges him with want of courage for not attempting to do what was impossible.

[100] Thressa puella. Heinsius gives his opinion in favor of this reading, moved by the general contempt in which the Thracians were held by the Greeks, as we learn from their history. Thus aemilius Probus tells us of its being objected to Themistocles, that he was born of a Thracian mother. Athenaeus too remarks, that Timotheus, the celebrated general, had for his mother a Thracian and a courtezan. Hence also in Valerius Flaccus, book 3, Zethes and Calais are called by Jason, in a way of contempt, Thracia proles:Nunc Parthaonides, nunc dux mihi Thracia proles:
Aspera nunc pavidos contra ruit agna leones.

All this makes the correction extremely probable. The common, and (as Crispinus thinks) the true reading is Sesta.

[102] Nescio qua pellice captus. Jealousy is said to be inseparable from love, especially where the lovers by distance are obliged to be often absent from each other. This, I believe, is an observation that experience will confirm in all cases: at least it is plain our poet thought so, who was no ill judge of these matters; for we find that it seldom fails to creep into his Epistles. I do not know, however, whether the ladies may not be apt to think him a little too partial in the case. Jealousy is a weakness, without doubt; and we meet in history with instances where great minds, if they were not able wholly to guard against it, yet, from a sense of shame, maintained a hard struggle to conceal it. Accordingly we find that Ovid throws it for the most part into the female epistles, as more likely to attack that frail sex; but with what justice I will not say. All allow that it is strongest in women; but perhaps we may find it most frequent among men; and I am apt to think it not altogether without reason that it should be so.

[169] Omnia sed vereor, (quis enim securus amavit?) If Hero cannot wholly hide her suspicious from her lover, yet they are expressed in so delicate and handsome a manner, that it is impossible he should take offence. She owns he never gave her any cause for them, and that they are nothing more than those unavoidable disquiets which ever attend upon love. This was absolutely necessary for the poet's design. He was to represent in Leander and Hero a chaste and mutual passion, that he might raise the greater compassion in his reader, when he reffects upon their unhappy fate. It would have been altogether inconsisted it with this to introduce a passion sullied with black suspicions on either side. The poet was more a master of his subject, and has made Hero say no more than might naturally be expected from any one in her circumstances, how well soever assured of her over's affections. Accordingly we find that the poet's intention has been fully answered; never have any two lovers been more frequently mentioned, or with greater marks of compassion for their fate.

[112] Crimina vera iubet, &c. There is no state of mind more uneasy than that of uncertainty, especially in cases where it highly concerns us to be resolved, and where of consequence there must be a high degree of impatience. The reflection therefore which Hero makes is just; and, as she was herself in a state of uncertainty, comes from her with great propriety.

[123] Mater pia vencril Helles. We have already mentioned the fate of Helle. Hero supposes that the storm was raised by Nephele, the virgin's mother, who came down to lament her daughter's unthnely fate.

[126] Noverca; Ino, the second wife of Athamas and stepmother of Helle, who was afterwards changed into Leucothoë, a sea-goddess.

[131] Si neque Amymone. Hero now addresses herself to Neptune, and expostulates with him for keeping her Leander so long from her. She tells him, that this was least of all to have been expected from him, who had himself been so often sensible of the power of love. She then mentions several virgins, of whom the poets had represented Neptune enamored. Amymone is mentioned first. She was the daughter of Danaus, and one of the fifty who afterwards rendered themselves so famous by the murder of their husbands. As she was hunting one day in a wood, being elosely pursued by a Satyr, she implored aid from Neptune, who came and rescued her, but was so enchanted with her beauty, that she proved with child by him, and, according to Strabo, brought forth Nauplius.

[132] Tyro. Tyro, as we learn from Homer, was the daughter of Salmoneus, who happening to love the river Enipeus, Neptune assumed that form, and had by her two sons at a birth.

[133] Alcyone; the daughter of Atlas and Pleione, and one of the Pleiades. Neptuneloved her, and had by her two sons and a daughter, the famous Alcyone the wife of Ceyx, whose grief for her husband's death is so pathetically represented by the poets.

Circeque, it Alymone nata. Commentators have been much perplexed by this passage. Heinsius observes, that some fault must have crept into the text, because we find so great a variety of readings in ancient manuscripts. Instead of Circe, many have Ceyce, Ceiceque, Ceyceque; for Alymone, some exhibit Aleone, Amemone, Anthcone, with about thirty others, which need not here be repeated. It is to be observed, however, that the greater number of manuscripts agree in Avcone or Aneone. To say truth, the explications given are for the most part so confused, that one is at a lost what to make of them. I shall only therefore remark, that some crities are for retaining the commonly received reading, but differ in their manner of pointing it; for they make it run thus: Circe et Alymone nata; as if the poet meant the daughter of Circe and Alymone. This, they tell us, was Iphimedia the wife of Alocus, mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey; who also tells us, that she was ravished by Neptune, and bore to him two great giants, Orus and Ephialtes, that every month grew nine inches.

[134] Angue Medusa. Medusa was the daughter of Phorcus, and remarkable for the beauty of her hair. Neptune, falling in love with her, deflowered her in the temple of Minerva. The goddess, provoked by the impiety of defiling a place sacred to her, changed her hair into snakes, and all that looked upon her into stones. Various are the fictions of the poets on this subject: they tell us, that her head was at last cut off by Perseus, who surprised her while the snakes were asleep.-- Medusa comis nondum nexis angue: 'Medusa, her hair not yet turned into snakes:' for this happened not till after her being compressed by Neptune.

[135] Fiavaque Laodice. There are many nymphs of this name, mentioned by ancient poets; one the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, and wife to Helicaon; another, the daughter of Agamemnon, offered in marriage to Achilles; a third, the daughter of Cygnus. Poets speak also of a nymph of this name, the mother of Apis and Niobe. It is uncertain which was the Laodice of Neptune; but most probably the daughter of Priam.

Coeloque recepta Celaeno. Celaeno was the daughter of Atlas and Pleione, and one of the Pleiades. We have seen before that all the sisters, daughters of Atlas, were received into heaven, and there form the system of stars called by the Greeks Pleiades, and by the Romans Vergiliae.

[148] Suspecto ducit Ulysse genus. Ulysses was hated by Neptune, some think on account of Palamedes his grandson, whom that hero circumvented before Troy; others for his son Polyphemus, whose eye was thrust out by Ulysses in Sicily. Neptune, in revenge, kept him wandering ten years from his native country, exposed in the mean time to multiplied dangers from storms and shipwrecks.

[151] Sternuit el lumen; that is, Lucerna fecit strepitum et stridorem. Not much unlike is this passage of Propertius, “Argutum sternuit omen amor.

[160] Sternet et aequoreas aequore nata vias. Venus is feigned by the poets to have sprung from the foam of the sea. Hero is endeavouring to persuade her lover to shake off fear and venanebolaly. To encourage him, she reminds him that Venus is not only the Goddess of love, who would be therefore propitious to a chaste flame like theirs, hat also as sprung from the sea might he accounted in same sense a sea-goddess, and supposed to have pover over that element.

[162] Sed solet hoc marilus. Hero, the more to make Leander sensible of her impatience and anxiety, tells him, that she was herself often ready to rush into the waves, and was only kept back by reflecting how fatal it had been to her sex. The poet makes this observation come rather from Hero than Leander, it being most usual for that sex, to indulge in these little superstitious observances. Phryxus and his sister Helle crossing the Hellespont, the former passed over safe, but the latter was drowned by the way; an accident that has nothing in it to surprise us; and yet Hero considered it as a threatening omen to the whole sex.

[167] At nos diversi medium, &c. Ovid always

succeeds well in these soft and passionate representations. What fancy can paint a scene more moving and interesting than this? Nothing could have been more happily imagined, to give us a just idea of the tenderness and ardor wherewith Hero and Leander loved each other, or of the pleasure that a real meeting must have given them. Who, after reading this, can wonder at the impatience which they express under the misfortune of separation?

[175] Pagasaeus Iason. Hero, weary of her present state of uncertainty and doubt, as being often divided from her lover, and reflecting on his danger whenever he visited her, thinks it would be better for her if she should suffer, from Leander, what Medea did from Jason, or Helen from Paris; I mean the seeming violence of being carried away. Jason is here called Pagasaeus, from Pagasae, a city of Thessaly.

[196] Somnia quo cerni tempore vera solent. Apollonius, in his Life of Philostratus, tells us, that the interpreters of dreams made it always their first question at what hour the vision appeared; for if it was towards morning, they conjectured that the dream was true, because at that time the soal is quite disengaged from the vapours of wine and food. Ovid, in this epistle, is of the same mind. Theocritus, in his Idyllium called Europa, which some ascribe to Moschus, marks distinctly the time of night when dreams are true:

"Venus sent an agreeable dream to Europa, when the third watch of the night had almost elapsed, and Aurora was approaching." And a few verses after he adds:

"About the time that the troop of real visions hover round those who are still in the arms of sleep."

[208] Finde vias. Leander made another attempt to cross the Hellespont; but he was unfortunately drowned; and Hero threw herself from the tower of Sestos upon his floating body. Such were the calamitons effects of violent love.

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