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True it is, that the poets, according to their sportive humor, seem to write many things in merriment concerning this Deity, and to make him the subject of their lascivious songs in the height of their revelling jollity, making but little serious mention of him; whether out of judgment and reason, or being assured of the truth by divine inspiration, is the question. Among the rest, there is one thing which they say very oddly concerning the birth and generation of this God:
Young Zephyr, doting on his golden hair,
At last the silver-slippered Iris won;
And thus embraced, at length she bore a son,
Of all the Gods the shrewdest and most fair:

unless the grammarians have likewise persuaded you, by saying that this fable was invented to set forth the variety and gay diversity of passions that attend on love.

To whom Daphnaeus: To what other end or purpose could it be? Hear me then. said my father; for 'tis no more than what the celestial meteor constrains us to say. The affection of the sight in the case of the rainbow (or Iris) is caused by reflection. For when the sight lights upon a cloud somewhat of a dewy substance, but smooth, [p. 297] and moderately thick withal, and we behold the repercussion of the sunbeams upon it, together with the light and splendor about the sun, it begets an opinion in us that the apparition is in the cloud. In like manner, this same subtle invention of love-sophistry in generous and noble souls causes a repercussion of the memory from objects that here appear and are called beautiful, to the beauty really divine, truly amiable and happy, and by all admired. But most people pursuing and taking hold of the fancied image of this beauty in boys and women, as it were seen in a mirror, reap nothing more assured and certain than a little pleasure mixed with pain. But this seems to be no more than a delirium or dizziness of the vulgar sort, beholding their empty and unsatisfied desires in the clouds, as it were in so many shadows; like children who, thinking to catch the rainbow in their hands, snatch at the apparition that presents itself before their eyes. But a generous and modest lover observes another method; for his contemplations reflect only on that beauty which is divine and perceptible by the understanding; but lighting upon the beauty of a visible body, and making use of it as a kind of organ of the memory, he embraces and loves, and by conversation argumenting his joy and satisfaction still more and more inflames his understanding. But neither do these lovers conversing with bodies rest satisfied in this world with a desire and admiration of this same light; neither when they are arrived at another world after death, do they return hither again as fugitives, to hover about the doors and mansions of new-married people and disturb their dreams with ghosts and visions; which sort of visions really come only from men and women given to pleasure and corporeal delights, who by no means deserve the name and characters of true lovers. Whereas a lover truly chaste and amorous, being got to the true mansion of beauty, and there conversing with it as much as it is lawful [p. 298] for him to do, mounted upon the wings of chaste desire, becomes pure and hallowed; and being initiated into sacred orders, continues dancing and sporting about his Deity, till returning again to the meadows of the Moon and Venus, and there laid asleep, he becomes ready for a new nativity. But these are points too high for the discourse which we have proposed to ourselves.

To return therefore to our purpose; Love, according to Euripides, with all the rest of the Gods, delights

When mortals here his honored name invoke;2

on the other side, he is no less offended when any affront or contempt is put upon him, as he is most kind and benign to those that entertain him with proper respect. For neither does Jupiter surnamed the Hospitable so severely prosecute injuries done to strangers and suppliants, nor is Jupiter Genitalis so rigorous in accomplishing the curses of parents disobeyed, as Love is to listen to the complaints of injured lovers; being the scourger and punisher of proud, ill-natured, and ill-bred people. For, not to mention Euxynthetus and Leucomantis, at this day in Cyprus called the Peeper, 'tis a hundred to one but you have heard of the punishment inflicted upon Gorgo the Cretan, not much unlike to that of Leucomantis, only that Gorgo was turned into a stone as she looked out of a window to see her love going to his grave. With this Gorgo Asander fell in love, a young gentleman virtuous and nobly descended, but reduced from a flourishing estate to extremity of poverty. However, he did not think so meanly of himself but that, being her kinsman, he courted this Gorgo for a wife, though she had many suitors at the same time by reason of her great fortune; and he so carried this business that, notwithstanding his numerous and wealthy rivals, he had gained the good-will of all her guardians and nearest relations.

[p. 299]

1 From Alcaeus.

2 Eurip. Hippol. 7.

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