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CYDIPPE ACONTIO

Cydippe, having received the foregoing epistle from Acontius, and, after perusing it, finding reason to suspect that her present illness proceeded from Diana's resentment of her broken vow, is inclined to yield to the desires of Acontius, though her parents stood differently affected, rather than continue under her present load of affliction. She begins by pretending a certain unwillingness to be too free in acquainting him with her sentiments, lest, as formerly in the case of the apple, she may be insensibly led to bring herself under new engagements. Upon this she takes occasion to mention her first coming to Delos, and the manner in which she was ensnared by the artifice of her lover. The narration is wonderfully beautified by a just collection of circumstances, and occasionally enlivened with proper reflections. Towards the conclusion of her epistle, after inveighing against his treachery, she gradually softens to a compliance, and is even under some concern to remove the jealousies and suspicious he might entertain of his rival. In fine, she consents altogether, and ends with a wish that their marriage may be consummated without delay.

Sine murmure; that is, in perfect silence, without so much as a murmur; fearing that she might commit another oversight, and bring herself under some new engagements. For barely to run over a thing with the eye, without formally expressing it in words, could not be deemed obligatory.

[3] Et puto captasses, &c. 'You would have again ensnared me.' Cydippe might conclude this from the earnestness which he showed in his letter to secure her. He even says expressly himself, that had it been possible to secure her by yet stronger ties, no means would have been left untried.

[10] Hippolyto. Hippolytus was the son of Theseus, by Hippolyte the Amazon; a great hunter, and, on account of his chastity, dear to Diana. See more of his history in the notes upon the Epistle of Phaedra to Hippolytus.

[12] Quos vereor. It is observable, that in all manuscripts, two or three excepted, there is a deficiency of the rest of this epistle. Many therefore are of opinion, that the verses which follow this are not Ovid's, but have been supplied by some other poet. This notion receives yet greater weight from the authority of the critics, who have remarked that the whole epistle falls very much short of the usual spirit and elegance of Ovid. For this reason we are to consider it as at best of doubtful authority.

[16] Levare, instead of sustinere; for in sickness, when the head, or any other part of the body, requires to be eased by a change of posture, and we have not strength enough left to do it ourselves, it is common to support the affected part in the bed. by putting something under it.

[19] Quid agamque rogantibus intus. Intus is the reading substituted by Heinsius for inter, which was that commonly received before, rogantibus inter being put for interrogantibus. This was one of the passages severely censured by the critics, and pronounced to be of a very different spirit from that of our poet. They could not imagine it probable that Ovid, so distinguished by a certain plainness and evenness of style, would have used the figure called by grammarians tmesis in this word especially, and at the end of a verse. Tmesis is derived from the Greek word τέμνω, scindo, I divide, and is a figure by which the parts of a compound ward are divided by the interposition of another, as in Plautus: “Sed ne stultus ego, qui rem curo publicam(Per. 75); i. e. qui rempublicam curo.

[26] Litera cauta; Quae cautè scripta est; a letter written by stealth.

[32] Commentis; Dolis. This refers to the story of the apple.

[37] Certamine vestro. This is to be understood both of Acontius and his rival, though, properly speaking, the former only was in fault. But as the addresses of the other were an obstruction to her being the wife of Acontius, and consequently both brought on her present illness, and retarded her recovery; he too is complained of, as contributing in part to her misfortune.

[42] aestus et unda; that is, says Crispinus, Unda aestuosa; unda quae est aestus; 'The tide.' But I have rather chosen to express both ideas in the translation, the tide and waves. aestus simply is often by the poets used for the tide. Thus Virgil says, Furit aestus areas.

[46] Persephone; the same with Proserpine, the wife of Pluto, and queen of the infernal regions. Cydippe, in saying that when the time of her nuptials drew near, Persephone knocked at the gate, means, that the fever raged with such violence, as to threaten her with death. This will more plainly appear from a verse of Tibullus: “At mihi Persephone nigram denunciat horam.

"But now Persephone threatens me with the fatal hour."

[53] Vos pace----plector ego. Much the same with that of Horace: “Quiequid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.

[55] Dicam nunc. Others read, die jam nunc; but Heinsius thinks it should be I iam nunc. I am the rather inclined to agree to this correction, as it renders the sense both clearer and better. According to the common reading, the passage seems destitute of consistent meaning.

Decipe. Cydippe hints at her sufferings, and the cause of them, which, according to her own account, was love. If then his love was so fatal to her, what had she not to fear from his hatred? This gives rise to her injunction, that he should still persist to deceive her; having reason to apprehend less danger from that, than if he should change his mind.

[57] Si laedis quod amas. If there be anything in what we have remarked before, that Ovid was not the author of this epistle, it is certain that whoever supplied it has copied him closely; for his ingenious turns and witticisms are imitated with the greatest exactness. The present distich is an undeniable instance of this. Any one in the least acquainted with our poet's way, would at first sight conclude it to be his, so great is the resemblance.

[58] Velle velis. Heinsius strongly contends, that there must here be some mistake of the transcribers. Velle velis is a way of speaking to which he can never be reconciled, as it appears extremely harsh and unpoetical. He therefore substitutes for it, perdere dure velis. This conjecture of Heinsius is not altogether without reason.

[59] Aut tibi iam nulla est. This reasoning of Cydippe, however specious, is manifestly fallacious. Whatever degree of favour Acontius might be in with the Goddess, his prayers could not avail to pacify her resentment, unless Cydippe at the same time resolved to make good her engagements. For, as breach of vows had first provoked her rage, there was no way left to remove her anger, but by a removal of the offence. Acontius therefore had done all that could be expected from him: he had acquainted Cydippe in what manner she was to hope for relief; and, if she refused the terms, no blame could lie upon him. This will be better understood, by considering attentively what follows, near the conclusion of the epistle.

[63] Elige quid fingas. The argument that Cydippe here uses against Acontius, is what we commonly call a dilemma, in which way of reasoning an adversary is puzzled whatever part he take. But Cydippe is not contented with this she urges her lover still farther, and tells him, that he can find nothing in either branch of the argument, in the least favorable to his cause. Her way of stating it is this: "Aut non vis, aut non potes placare Dianam. Prius si dicas; ergo immemor es nostri, nec nos curas: posterius si fingas; ergo Diana est tui immemor, nec te curat." Her manner of reasoning is ingenious and puzzling; but, when narrowly examined, will, as we have observed already, be found a mere sophism.

[69] Quo pede processi. These repeated interrogations, expressed with an air of admiration, have a wonderful effect in painting the passions, especially where compounded of detestation and grief.

[77] Mota loci fama. Ovid's descriptions are generally consistent with truth and nature. There is nothing more common, when any disaster happens to us, than to trace in our mind all the little circumstances and particulars that concurred to it. We are apt to imagine a certain fatality in things, and see ourselves hurried on by a train of circumstances that rendered it unavoidable. As almost every one has some time or other felt this to be his own case, he will be the better able to judge how far the poet in this description copies nature. Cydippe, from a reflection upon her misfortune, is led to run back to its first origin, and the several steps by which it arrived. The narration is enlivened with very apt reflections, and all the particulars that served either to promote or retard it, are mentioned with great exactness. Delos was an island of the aegean sea, and chief of the Cyclades, famous especially for the birth of Apollo and Diana, to whom it was therefore in a particular manner sacred. It was formerly a floating island, concealed mostly under water; hence it is called by our poet in his Metamorphoses, Delos erratica.

[81] Myconon; Mycone, Tenos, and Andros, belonged to the groupe of the Cyclades.

[99] Structam de cornibus aram. This altar is noticed by Callimachus in his Hymn to Apollo. It was a work of great curiosity, and is said to have been made by that God himself of the horns of beasts killed by Diana in hunting.

[100] Et de qua pariens arbore. This whole description is happily imagined. Nothing can be more natural than thus to suppose a young traveller carried by her curiosity over all the parts of the temple, in order to view every thing that was uncommon about it. As to the tree here mentioned, we learn from our poet, in the sixth book of his Metamorphoses, that Latona, when she was delivered of Apollo and Diana, leaned upon an olive and palm.

[105] Templum gradibus sublime. The ancients, when they built temples to the heavenly Gods, generally made choice of some eminence, as best suiting their character.

[117] Peltata; that is, Pelta armata. The Pelta was a short kind of buckler or target, in form of a half-moon, peculiar to the Amazons.

[118] Penthesilea; a queen of the Amazons, who first invented the battle-axe. She went to the assistance of Priam in the Trojan war, and distinguished herself by her valor. She was at last slain by Achilles, or, as some say, by Pyrrhus.

[120] Hippolyte. This is taken from the history of Hercules. Eurystheus, among other hard injunctions, had imposed his commands on that hero to attack Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons, and bring away her girdle of curious workmanship in gold. Hercules obeyed, and succeeded in the enterprise. After making the girdle his prize, he gave the queen herself to his companion Theseus. Cydippe therefore means, that Acontius, in triumphing over her, can acquire no such glory, as did Hercules by vanquishing Hippolyte.

[121] Verba, quid exultas, tua si mihi verba dederunt. The construction is somewhat intricate; Quid exultas, si tua verba dederunt verba mihi? Dare verba was a manner of speaking very common among the Latins, instead of fallere.

[123] Schoeneida; Atalanta, the daughter of Schoeneus, king of Scyros. Cydippe here consi-

ders her own case as resembling that of this princess, who, contending in a race with Hippomenes, and having gotten the start of him, was tempted to stoop for some golden apples he threw before her, and thus lost the race.

[125] At fuerat melius. Cydippe here begins to soften, and shew her real inclinations for Acontius. She could be content to fall to his lot, but, if possible, with less danger and misery to herself. She therefore chides him for not addressing her in the usual and approved mode. It would have been both a more honorable and secure way of succeeding. He had now nothing to trust to but the shadow of an oath, which, as it was pronounced without assent of the will or judgment, could not with any appearance of reason be thought binding.

[147] Fac iurent reges. Cydippe endeavours here to put Acontius out of conceit with his own device, by representing it as absurd, and contrary to common sense. But we have seen in the remarks upon the foregoing epistle, that by a law then in force at Delos, Cydippe was bound to make good her vow; so that her reasoning, however just in the main, is in this particular case of no effect.

[153] Latoidos iram; the wrath of Diana, daughter of Latona. a Greek patronymic, from Λητὼ, Latona.

[164] Cultu remota suo. Hymen is always supposed to be received with joy and gladness. In entering a house, therefore, full of tears and apprehensions, he saw nothing that spoke his usual reception.

[174] Salutiferam fratris opem. Apollo was the brother of Diana, and the God supposed to preside over the medical art.

[177] Numquid in umbroso. Cydippe pleads her innocence to Diana, as having neither seen her bathing naked in a fountain, like Actaeon, nor in any other respect offended her.

[179] Praeteriine tuas de tot. This refers to the story of oeneus king of Calydonia, who in sacrificing to the other deities having neglected Diana, so far provoked the resentment of the Goddess, that she sent a boar to infest his kingdom. “Oencos ultorem spreta per agros
Misit aprum

As our poet elsewhere expresses it.

[180] Spreta parente parens. This refers to Niobe, all whose children were slain by Apollo and Diana, on account of her presumption in boasting that she was more fruitful than Latona.

[181] Periuria legi; that is, I read over those verses that led me, not suspecting any such danger, into perjury.

[189] Nec tu credideris. Cydippe now begins to open herself more plainly, so as to give Acontius reason to think he was not altogether indifferent to her. She is at pains to remove his jealousies and fears, and satisfy him that his rival had nothing to boast of from her indulgence.

[205] Si mihi lingua foret. Critics tell us, that some error must have crept into this verse. The accurate Gronovius corrects it, Si me dignaforem; and this is approved by Heinsius. If we retain the vulgar reading, it must be explained in some such manner as this: Si mihi lingua foret; that is, Si mihi dicere liceret: 'if I were allowed to speak freely,' and not restrained by a fear of Diana's resentment.

[210] Acumen habes. Acumen is a word frequently of the same importance with cuspis; as if she had said, Tu revera es iaculum. This therefore bears an allusion to his name in its original signification; for the Greek ἀκόντιον answers to the Latin word iaculum.

[214] Bina tropaea; in deceiving her by the stratagem of the apple, and in raising against her the anger of Diana: so it is commonly interpreted.

[232] Delphis; Delphi, a city of Phocis, not far from mount Parnassus, famous for the oracle of Apollo.

[236] Carmina. The word means either Prophecies, Incantations, or Poems, all which had been in some sense used by Acontius.

[247] Quid, nisi, &c. The conclusion is as inelegant as the greater portion of the epistle; many parts of which, there is reason to think, are the fruits of interpolation.

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