You know, too, how Œager's much-loved son,
Skilfully playing on the Thracian harp,
Brought back from hell his dear Agriope,
And sail'd across th' inhospitable land
Where Charon drags down in his common boat
The souls of all the dead; and far resounds
The marshy stream slow creeping through the reeds
That line the death-like banks. But Orpheus dared
With fearless soul to pass that lonely wave,
Striking his harp with well-accustom'd hand.
And with his lay he moved the pitiless gods,
And various monsters of unfeeling hell.
He raised a placid smile beneath the brows
Of grim Cocytus; he subdued the glance
So pitiless of the fierce, implacable dog,
Who sharpen'd in the flames his fearful bark,
Whose eye did glare with fire, and whose heads
With triple brows struck fear on all who saw.
He sang, and moved these mighty sovereigns;
So that Agriope once again did breathe
The breath of life. Nor did the son of Mene,
Friend of the Graces, the sweet-voiced Musæus,
Leave his Antiope without due honour,
Who, amid the virgins sought by many suitors
In holiest Eleusis' sacred soil,
Sang the loud joyful song of secret oracles,
Priestess of Rharian1 Ceres, warning men.
And her renown to Pluto's realms extends.
Nor did these bards alone feel Cupid's sway;
The ancient bard, leaving Bœotia's halls,
Hesiod, the keeper of all kinds of learning,
Came to fair Ascra's Heliconian village,
Where long he sought Eoia's wayward love;
[p. 954] Much he endured, and many books he wrote,
The maid the inspiring subject of his song.
And that great poet whom Jove's Fate protects,
Sweetest of all the votaries of the muse,
Immortal Homer, sought the rocky isle
Of Ithaca, moved by love for all the virtue
And beauty of the chaste Penelope.
Much for her sake he suffer'd; then he sought
A barren isle far from his native land,
And wept the race of Icarus, and of Amyclus
And Sparta, moved by his own woes' remembrances.
Who has not heard of sweet Mimnermus' fame;
Parent of plaintive elegiac verses,
Which to his lyre in sweetest sounds he sang
Much did he suffer, burning with the love
Of cruel Nanno; and full oft inflamed
With ardent passion, did he feast with her,
Breathing his love to his melodious pipe;
And to his hate of fierce Hermobius
And Pherecles, tuneful utterance he gave.
Antimachus, too, felt the flame inspired
By Lydian Lyde; and he sought the stream
Of golden-waved Pactolus, where he laid
His lost love underneath the tearless earth,
And weeping, went his way to Colophon;
And with his wailing thus sweet volumes fill'd,
Shunning all toil or other occupation.
How many festive parties frequent rang
With the fond love of Lesbian Alcæus,
Who sang the praises of the amorous Sappho,
And grieved his Teian2 rival, breathing songs
Such as the nightingale would gladly imitate;
For the divine Anacreon also sought
To win the heart of the sacred poetess,
Chief ornament of all the Lesbian bands;
And so he roved about, now leaving Samos,
Now parting from his own enslaved land,
Parent of vines, to wine-producing Lesbos;
And often he beheld Cape Lectum there,
Across th' Aeolian wave. But greatest of all,
The Attic bee3 oft left its rugged hill,
Singing in tragic choruses divine,
Bacchus and Love * *
* * * *
I tell, besides, how that too cautious man,
Who earn'd deserved hate from every woman,
Stricken by a random shot, did not escape
Nocturnal pangs of Love; but wander'd o'er
The Macedonian hills and valleys green,
[p. 955] Smitten with love for fair Argea, who
Kept Archelaus' house, till the angry god
Found a fit death for cold Euripides,
Striving with hungry hounds in vain for life.
Then there's the man whom, mid Cythera's rocks;
The Muses rear'd, a faithful worshipper
Of Bacchus and the flute, Philoxenus:
Well all men know by what fierce passion moved
He to this city came; for all have heard
His praise of Galatea, which he sang
Amid the sheepfolds. And you likewise know
The bard to whom the citizens of Cos
A brazen statue raised to do him honour,
And who oft sang the praises of his Battis,
Sitting beneath a plane-tree's shade, Philetas;
In verses that no time shall e'er destroy.
Nor do those men whose lot in life is hard,
Seeking the secret paths of high philosophy,
Or those whom logic's mazes hold in chains,
Or that laborious eloquence of words,
Shun the sharp struggle and sweet strife of Love;
But willing, follow his triumphant car.
Long did the charms of fair Theano bind
The Samian Pythagoras, who laid bare
The tortuous mysteries of geometry;
Who all the mazes of the sphere unfolded,
And knew the laws which regulate the world,
The atmosphere which doth surround the world,
And motions of the sun, and moon, and stars.
Nor did the wisest of all mortal men,
Great Socrates, escape the fierce contagion,
But yielded to the fiery might of Venus,
And to the fascinations of the sex,
Laying his cares down at Aspasia's feet;
And though all doubts of nature he could solve,
He found no refuge from the pursuit of Love.
Love, too, did draw within the narrow Isthmus
The Cyrenean sage: and winning Lais,
With her resistless charms, subdued and bound
Wise Aristippus, who philosophy.
Deserted, and preferr'd a trifling life.
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1 Rharia was a name of Ceres, from the Rharian plain near Eleusis, where corn was first sown by Triptolemus, the son of Rharus. It is
Od. in Cerer. 450.
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