So he spoke, and a welcome thing it seemed to her to lie with him. So they two went to the couch, and lay them down to sleep, and about them clung the cunning bonds of the wise Hephaestus, nor could they in any wise stir their limbs or raise them up. Then at length they learned that there was no more escaping.
And near to them came the famous god of the two strong arms,1
having turned back before he reached the land of Lemnos
; for Helius had kept watch for him and had brought him word. So he went to his house with a heavy heart, and stood at the gateway, and fierce anger seized him.
And terribly he cried out and called to all the gods:
“Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods that are forever, come hither that ye may see a laughable matter and a monstrous,2
even how Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, scorns me for that I am lame and loves destructive Ares
because he is comely and strong of limb, whereas I was born misshapen. Yet for this is none other to blame but my two parents—would they had never begotten me! But ye shall see where these two have gone up into my bed and sleep together in love; and I am troubled at the sight.
Yet, methinks, they will not wish to lie longer thus, no, not for a moment, how loving soever they are. Soon shall both lose their desire to sleep; but the snare and the bonds shall hold them until her father pays back to me all the gifts of wooing that I gave him for the sake of his shameless girl;
for his daughter is fair but bridles not her passion.”3
So he spoke and the gods gathered to the house of the brazen floor.4
Poseidon came, the earth-enfolder, and the helper Hermes came, and the lord Apollo, the archer god.5
Now the goddesses abode for shame each in her own house,
but the gods, the givers of good things, stood in the gateway; and unquenchable laughter arose among the blessed gods as they saw the craft of wise Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor:
“Ill deeds thrive not. The slow catches the swift;
even as now Hephaestus, slow though he is, has out-stripped Ares for all that he is the swiftest of the gods who hold Olympus
. Lame though he is, he has caught him by craft, wherefore Ares owes the fine of the adulterer.”
Thus they spoke to one another. But to Hermes the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, said:
“Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger, giver of good things, wouldst thou in sooth be willing, even though ensnared with strong bonds, to lie on a couch by the side of golden Aphrodite?”
Then the messenger, Argeiphontes, answered him:“Would that this might befall, lord Apollo, thou archer god—
that thrice as many bonds inextricable might clasp me about and ye gods, aye, and all the goddesses too might be looking on, but that I might sleep by the side of golden Aphrodite.”