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[127] She was happy, and smiled so sweetly that I thought the full moon had shown me her face from behind a cloud. Then she said, letting the words escape through her fingers, “If you do not despise a rich[p. 283] woman who has known a man first this very year, dear youth, I will give you a new sister. True, you have a brother, too, for I made bold to inquire, but why should you not take to yourself a sister as well? I will come as the same kind of relation. Deign only to recognize my kiss also when it is your good pleasure.”

“I should rather implore you by your beauty,” I replied, “not to scorn to enrol a stranger among your worshippers. You will find me a true votary, if you allow me to kneel before you. And do not think that I would enter this shrine of Love without an offering; I will give you my own brother.”

“What,” she said, “you give me the one without whom you cannot live, on whose lips you hang, whom you love as I would have you love me?” Even as she spoke grace made her words so attractive, the sweet noise fell so softly upon the listening air, that you seemed to have the harmony of the Sirens ringing in the breeze. So as I marvelled, and all the light of the sky somehow fell brighter upon me, I was moved to ask my goddess her name. “Then my maid did not tell you that I am called Circe?” she said. “I am not the Sun-child indeed, and my mother has never stayed the moving world in its course while she will. But I shall have a debt to pay to Heaven if fate brings you and me together. Surely now, the Gods with their quiet thoughts have some plan in the making. Circe does not love Polyaenus1 without good reason; when these two names meet, a great fire is always set ablaze. Then take me in your embrace if you like.[p. 285] You need have no fear of any spy; your brother is far away from here.”

Circe was silent, folded me in two arms softer than a bird's wing, and drew me to the ground on a carpet of coloured flowers.

“Such flowers as Earth, our mother, spread on Ida's top when Jupiter embraced her and she yielded her love, and all his heart was kindled with fire: roses glowed there, and violets, and the tender flowering rush; and white lilies laughed from the green grass: such a soil summoned Venus to the soft grasses, and the day grew brighter and looked kindly on their hidden pleasure.”

We lay together there among the flowers and exchanged a thousand light kisses, but we looked for sterner play. . . .

1 Polyaenus is the name assumed by Encolpius at Croton. Circe in the Odyssey (Book X) is daughter of the Sun. Cf. c. 134: Phoebeia Circe.

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load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
load focus Latin (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
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