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So strange a thing has happened, friends, that if
I tell you, you will marvel at my words.
The tuft of white wool from a fleecy sheep
with which I smeared that stately robe just now,
has vanished - not consumed by anything
within the house; no, self-devoured it crumbled
down from the stone it lay on. I will tell you
more fully how this wonder came to pass.
680 None of the precepts which the savage Centaur
spoke when the bitter arrow pierced his side
did I forget, but held them in my mind
like words indelibly inscribed in bronze.
I did exactly as he told me to,
and kept the ointment in a hidden place
far from the warmth of sunlight or of fire
until the time should come to smear it on.
I did just so. And then, when I was ready,
I spread it secretly inside the palace
690with wool which I had plucked from our own sheep,
and folded up the gift, and placed it in
a hollow, sunless casket, as you saw.
But when I went back in, I saw a sight
beyond the power of speech or understanding.
By chance I had thrown the piece of wool with which
I smeared the robe into the blazing heat
where sunlight fell; and as it warmed, it melted
away to nothing, crumbling into earth
exactly like the little particles
700of sawdust which we see when trees are leveled.
It lies there still. And from the place it fell
a curdled clot of bubbling foam seethed up,
like the rich juice squeezed from the purple fruit
of Bacchus' vine, when poured upon the ground.