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When Hecuba, the daughter of Cisscus and wife of Priam, was pregnant with Paris, she dreamed that she was delivered of a burning terch, which set all Troy in flames. Priam, terrified at the presage, applied to the Oracle; and being told that he should have a son who would prove the cause of his country's ruin, ordered that the child as soon as born should be slain. But Hecuba, unable to shake off the feelings of a mother, delivered him to the king's shepherds, with orders to bring him up privately. He, when he grew up, became enamored of the Nymph Oenone, and, as some will have it, married her. See Apollodorus 3.12.6 for more, and see the note upon the 35th verse for the subsequent adventures of Paris.

Some manuscripts have the following distich prefixed to this Epistle of Oenone: “Nympha suo Paridi (quamvis mens esse recuses)
Mittit ab Idaeis verba legenda iugis.

'The Nymph Oenone sends to her Paris, (though unwilling to own himself mine, desiring him to read this epistle from the summits of Ida'

But this is with good reason rejected by others as spurious.

[2] Mycenaea; written by the hand of your injured enemy, from Mycenae, a city of Peloponnesus, the country of Menelaus and Agamemnon.

[3] Pigasis Oenone. She was daughter of the river Cebrenis, according to Apollodorus, or, as others maintain, of Xanthus, both rivers of Troas; and consequently she was one of the Naiads, who were by the Greeks called Pegasides, and Nymphs of the Fountains. The Muses also bore the same name, because they were worshipers of fountains, from πήγη, 'a fountain.'

[21] Incisae servant. Paris and Oenone are here represented as having led a shepherd's life, and been partners in rural diversions and pleasures. No state is better adapted for love than this; nor has any situation in life afforded finer or more affecting images of it. Here we meet with undisguised nature, and passion without art. Oenone reminds Paris of those once agreeable seenes, when they were sharers in the same amusements: when he had indulged his poetic vein in her praise, and carved her name on the barks of trees. If a remembrance of these soft moments could not recall his wandering affection, she might despair of suecess in any other way.

[29] Cum Paris Oenone. This whole account is wonderfully simple and moving. The reader

finds himself deeply engaged for Oenone. He is full of concern at her hard fate, and pities her distress. A poet who thus knows how to move the passions and engage our attention, is master of his subject, and cannot fail of being well received.

[35] Qua Venus et Juno. The story here alluded to, is one of the most remarkable in antiquity. From this seemingly small beginning, arose the rape of Helen, the confederacy of the Greeks, the overthrow of Troy, and the dispersion of the victorious fleet, whence so many Grecian colonies were planted in different parts of the world. The story itself was of the following tenor. The gods and goddesses being invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, Discord only was overlooked. The goddess, enraged at the neglect, waited for an opportunity of revenge. With this view, while Jupiter, Juno, Venus, and Pallas, were sitting together, she threw an apple amongst them, on which were written these words; 'Let it be given to the fairest.' Upon this a dispute arose, which of the three goddesses had the best pretension to the prize; for, as it is natural to be partial in our own cause, each maintained that it could belong only to her. Jupiter, unwilling to decide in a matter so nice and intricate, as foreseeing that to whichsoever candidate it was adjudged, he must incur the displeasure of the other two, referred them to the determination of Paris. This youth had been bred up among Priam's shepherds, and was at that time attending the flocks on mount Ida. Thither the goddesses repaired; and, as they were eagerly bent upon the prize, each endeavored to influence his decision by large offers. Juno promised him a kingdom; Pallas, wisdom and prudence; and Venus, the finest woman in the world. Paris gave sentence in favor of Venus, either from a regard to justice, or because her promises best

suited his temper. Soon after, he was acknowleged by Priam; and, being sent ambas-ador to Sparta, was received in a hospitable and friendly manner by Menclaus the king. Being captivated by the beauty of Helen, and having gained her by his artifices and solicitations, he perfidiously carried her off, while her husband Menelaus was in Crete. This gave rise to the Trojan was, and all the memorable events that attended it; in which the gods and goddesses bore so large a share. Oenone therefore had just reason to complain of this fatal day, because it eventually deprived her of her beloved husband.

[74] Illine has lacrymas. Ovid succeeds admirably in describing the softer passions; he paints always according to life and nature. In the first transports of grief, we open ourselves to all whom we meet, and are apt to fancy they will take part in our sorrows. Afterwards, finding little relief, we retire to woods and deserts, and indulge our melancholy in gloomy solitude.

[77] Quae te per aperta sequartlur. The meaning is: Nunc conveniunt tili quae non dubitent alto et procelloso mari sese committere. Conveniunt tile may either mean veniunt tecum, or placent tili. I prefer the latter, as abundantly more poetical, and having a finer effect. She means to reproach him with his levity, his fondness for vain titles, and a pretended affection that counterfeits to follow through all dangers.

[83] Non tamen ut Priamus. The particle ut is very emphatical, and cannot well be understood without a paraphrase. Take it thus: Quod ego non moveor regia tua, nea magnificis titulis, causam non debet praebere ut Priamus nolit mihi esse socer; nam Nympha sum. 'Though I look with indifference upon you rank and title, there is no reason that Priam should refuse me for his daughter-in-law; for I am a Nymph. This she adds, that he might not impute her contempt of dignity and splendor to rustic ignorance.

[84] Aut Hecubae. Hecuba was the wife of Priam, and mother to Paris.

[91] Tyndaris; Helen, the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda. But her real father, if we credit the fable, was Jupiter.

[94] Vel cum Deiphobo. Deiphobus was one of the sons of Priam, and of remarkable strength. he was yet found not an equal match for Paris, in a contest that happened between them, while this latter was only a shepherd's servant, and not known to be the son of Priam. He was afterwards, upon the death of his brother Paris, married to Helen, who betrayed and delivered him up to the Greeks.

Polydamanta. Polydamas, one of the Trojan grandees, bore a considerable rank in the court of Priam.

[95] Antenor. A trojan chief of great authority. He disapproved the proceedings of the Trojans, and strongly advised them to restore Helen and put an end to the war. After the ruin of Troy, he was suffered by the Greeks to depart with a colony of his countrymen, whom he conducted into Italy, and there settled.

[99] Lacaenam; Helen, whose husband Menelaus reigned at Sparta in Laconia.

[101] Minor Atrides; Menelaus the nephew of Atreus, and younger brother to Agamemnon.

[107] Felix Andromache; the daughter of Aeetion, and wife to Hector. Oenone here proposes Hector and Andromache as an instance of conjugal happiness. She thinks that her affection merited an equal return, and mentions Hector as an example worthy of imitation.

[113] Hoc tua; Cassandra the sister of Paris. Apollo loved her; and, when she had promised to yield to his desires, he conferred upon her the gift of prophecy. But finding himself afterwards deluded, and unable to recall what he had once granted, he rendered the gift ineffectual, by adding this to it, that no credit should be given to her prophecies. Oenone now reflects upon that fatality, by which she was so far blinded, as not to hearken to her predictions.

[121] In cursu famulae rapuere furentem; In cursu, that is, antequam vaticinationem suam absolvissat, dum adhuc loqueretur, 'before she had finished her predictions: rapuere, 'they carried her off:' some say by the command of Priam; more probably, lest she should be too much endangered by the violence of her agitation.

[127] Theseus nisi nomine. The poet artfully makes Oenone speak with diffidence, and as if uncertain of the name. But though she brings out one at a venture, it proves to be right. Theseus, as we learn from Apollodorus and Hyginus, carried off Helen, when she was yet very young, but restored her, untouched, to her brothers Castor and Pollux.

[129] Credatur. Oenone hoped, by discrediting her rival, to make way for herself. The more faithless was Helen, the less confidence could be put in her; and the more she herself was to be valued, who had proved so constant. She insinuates here, that this was not the first time she had suffered herself to be seduced, and that one who had been carried away so often was probably privy to it herself. whatever she might give out, it was very unlikely that one in the fire of youth would restore untouched an object so attractive.

[130] Amo. Love is very quick-sighted to discern a change in the person beloved, and also puts us upon numerous enquiries in relation to whatever concerns him. Hence Virgil ask, Qais fallere possit amantem??

[135] Me Satyri. To the perfidy and inconstancy of Helen, she opposes ber own unshaken chastity. Pan and the Satyrs pursued in vain. Even Apollo could not obtain her without a long struggle; for he bore away the marks of her resentment. He is here called Munitor Troiae, because, with Neptune, he is said to have raised the walls of Troy, for a reward promised to them by Laomedon.

[151] Vaccas parisse Pharaeas; the cows of Admetus king of Thessaly; for Pherae was a city of Thessaly. But Oenone gives this story a false turn, to make it answer her purpose. It was not love that reduced him to this; but, having pierced with his arrows the Cyclops who forged Jupiter's thunderbolts, he was expelled from heaven for some time by the angry god.

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