GLAUCUS TRANSFORMED TO A SEA GODSo Galatea, after she had told
her sorrow, ceased; and, when the company
had gone from there, the Nereids swam again
in the calm and quiet waves. But Scylla soon
returned (because she did not trust herself
in deep salt waters) and she wandered there
naked of garments on the thirsty sand;
but, tired, by chance she found a lonely bay,
and cooled her limbs with its enclosing waves.
Then suddenly appeared a newly made
inhabitant of that deep sea, whose name
was Glaucus. Cleaving through the blue sea waves,
he swam towards her. His shape had been transformed
but lately for this watery life, while he
was living at Anthedon in Euboea.—
now he is lingering from desire for her
he saw there and speaks whatever words
he thought might stop her as she fled from him.
Yet still she fled from him, and swift through fear,
climbed to a mountain top above the sea.
Facing the waves, it rose in one huge peak,
parting the waters with a forest crown.
She stood on that high summit quite secure:
and, doubtful whether he might be a god
or monster, wondered at his flowing hair
which covered his broad shoulders and his back,—
and marvelled at the color of his skin
and at his waist merged into a twisted fish.
All this he noticed, and while leaning there
against a rock that stood near by, he said: —
“I am no monster, maiden, I am not
a savage beast; I am in truth a god
of waters, with such power upon the seas
as that of Proteus, Triton, or Palaemon—
reared on land the son of Athamas.
“Not long ago I was a mortal man,
yet even then my thought turned to the sea
and all my living came from waters deep,
for I would drag the nets that swept up fish,
or, seated on a rock, I flung the line
forth from the rod. The shore I loved was near
a verdant meadow. One side were the waves,
the other grass, which never had been touched
by horned, grazing cattle. Harmless sheep
and shaggy goats had never cropped it—no
industrious bee came there to harvest flowers;
no festive garlands had been gathered there,
adornments of the head; no mower's hands
had ever cut it. I was certainly
the first who ever sat upon that turf,—
while I was drying there the dripping nets.
And so that I might in due order count
the fish that I had caught, I laid out those
which by good chance were driven into my nets,
or credulous, were caught on my barbed hooks.
“It all seems like a fiction (but what good
can I derive from fictions?) just as soon
as any of my fish-prey touched the grass,
they instantly began to move and skip
as usual in sea water. While I paused
and wondered, all of them slid to the waves,
and left me, their late captor, and the shore.
“I was amazed and doubtful, a long time;
while I considered what could be the cause.
What god had done this? Or perhaps the juice
of some herb caused it? ‘But,’ I said, ‘what herb
can have such properties?’ and with my hand
I plucked the grass and chewed it with my teeth.
My throat had hardly time to swallow those
unheard of juices, when I suddenly
felt all my entrails throbbing inwardly,
and my entire mind also, felt possessed
by passions foreign to my life before.
“I could not stay in that place, and I said
with shouting, ‘Farewell! dry land! never more
shall I revisit you;’ and with those words
upon my lips, I plunged beneath the waves.
The gods of that deep water gave to me,
when they received me, kindred honors, while
they prayed Oceanus and Tethys both
to take from me such mortal essence as
might yet remain. So I was purified
by them and after a good charm had been
nine times repeated over me, which washed
away all guilt, I was commanded then
to put my breast beneath a hundred streams.
“So far I can relate to you all things
most worthy to be told; for all so far
I can remember; but from that time on
I was unconscious of the many things
that followed. When my mind returned to me,
I found myself entirely different
from what I was before; and my changed mind
was not the same as it had always been.
Then, for the first time I beheld this beard
so green in its deep color, and I saw
my flowing hair which now I sweep along
the spacious seas, and my huge shoulders with
their azure colored arms, and I observed
my leg extremities hung tapering
exactly perfect as a finny fish.
“But what avail is this new form to me.
Although it pleased the Ocean deities?
What benefit, although I am a god,
if you are not persuaded by these things?”
While he was telling wonders such as these—
quite ready to say more—Scylla arose
and left the god. Provoked at his repulse—
enraged, he hastened to the marvellous court
of Circe, well known daughter of the Sun.