previous next

THE ADVENTURES OF ATYS

O'er high deep seas in speedy ship his voyage Atys sped
Until he trod the Phrygian grove with hurried eager tread
And as the gloomy tree-shorn stead, the she-god's home, he sought
There sorely stung with fiery ire and madman's vaguing thought,
Share he with sharpened flint the freight wherewith his form was fraught.
Then as the she-he sensed limbs were void of manly strain
And sighted freshly shed a-ground spot of ensanguined stain,
Snatched she the timbrel's legier load with hands as snowdrops white,
Thy timbrel, Mother Cybele, the firstings of thy rite,
And as her tender finger-tips on bull-back hollow rang
She rose a-grieving and her song to listening comrades sang.
"Up Gallae, hie together, haste for Cybele's deep grove,
Hie to the Dindymnean dame, ye flocks that love to rove;
The which affecting stranger steads as bound in exile's brunt
My sect pursuing led by me have nerved you to confront
The raging surge of salty sea and ocean's tyrant hand
As your hate of Venus' hest your manly forms unmann'd,
Gladden your souls, ye mistresses, with sense of error bann'd.
Drive from your spirits dull delay, together follow ye
To hold of Phrygian goddess, home of Phrygian Cybebe,
Where loud the cymbal's voice resounds with timbrel-echoes blending,
And where the Phrygian piper drones grave bass from reed a-bending,
Where toss their ivy-circled heads with might the Maenades
Where ply mid shrilly lullilooes the holiest mysteries,
Where to fly here and there be wont the she-god's vaguing train,
Thither behoves us lead the dance in quick-step hasty strain."
Soon as had Atys (bastard-she) this lay to comrades sung
The Chorus sudden lulliloos with quivering, quavering tongue,
Again the nimble timbrel groans, the scooped-out cymbals clash,
And up green Ida flits the Choir, with footsteps hurrying rash
Then Atys frantic, panting, raves, a-wandering, lost, insane,
And leads with timbrel hent and treads the shades where shadows rain,
Like heifer spurning load of yoke in yet unbroken pride;
And the swift Gallae follow fain their first and fleet-foot guide.
But when the home of Cybele they make with toil out-worn
O'er much, they lay them down to sleep and gifts of Ceres scorn;
Till heavy slumbers seal their eyelids langourous, drooping lowly,
And raving frenzy flies each brain departing softly, slowly.
But when Dan Sol with radiant eyes that fire his face of gold
Surveyed white aether and solid soil and waters uncontrol'd,
And chased with steeds sonorous-hooved the shades of lingering night,
Then sleep from waking Atys fled fleeting with sudden flight,
By Nymph Pasithae welcomed to palpitating breast.
Thus when his frenzy raging rash was soothed to gentlest rest,
Atys revolved deeds lately done, as thought from breast unfolding,
And what he'd lost and what he was with lucid sprite beholding,
To shallows led by surging soul again the way 'gan take.
There casting glance of weeping eyes where vasty billows brake,
Sad-voiced in pitifullest lay his native land bespake.
"Country of me, Creatress mine, born to thee and bred,
By hapless me abandoned as by thrall from lordling fled,
When me to Ida's groves and glades these vaguing footsteps bore
To tarry 'mid the snows and where lurk beasts in antres frore
And seek the deeply hidden lairs where furious ferals meet!
Where, Country! whither placed must I now hold thy site and seat?
Lief would these balls of eyes direct to thee their line of sight,
Which for a while, a little while, would free me from despite.
Must I for ever roam these groves from house and home afar?
Of country, parents, kith and kin (life's boon) myself debar?
Fly Forum, fly Palestra, fly the Stadium, the Gymnase?
Wretch, ah poor wretch, I'm doomed (my soul!) to mourn throughout my days,
For what of form or figure is, which I failed to enjoy?
I full-grown man, I blooming youth, I stripling, I a boy,
I of Gymnasium erst the bloom, I too of oil the pride:
Warm was my threshold, ever stood my gateways opening wide,
My house was ever garlanded and hung with flowery freight,
And couch to quit with rising sun, has ever been my fate:
Now must I Cybele's she-slave, priestess of gods, be hight?
I Maenad I, mere bit of self, I neutral barren wight?
I spend my life-tide couch't beneath high-towering Phrygian peaks?
I dwell on Ida's verdant slopes mottled with snowy streaks,
Where homes the forest-haunting doe, where roams the wildling boar?
Now, now I rue my deed foredone, now, now it irks me sore!"
Whenas from out those roseate lips these accents rapid flew,
Bore them to ears divine consigned a Nuncio true and new;
Then Cybele her lions twain disjoining from their yoke
The left-hand enemy of the herds a-goading thus bespoke:
"Up feral fell! up, hie with him, see rage his foot-steps urge,
See that his fury smite him till he seek the forest verge,
He who with over-freedom fain would fly mine empery.
Go, slash thy flank with lashing tail and sense the strokes of thee,
Make the whole mountain to thy roar sound and resound again,
And fiercely toss thy brawny neck that bears the tawny mane!"
So quoth an angered Cybele, and yoke with hand untied:
The feral rose in fiery wrath and self-inciting hied,
A-charging, roaring through the brake with breaking paws he tore.
But when he reached the humid sands where surges cream the shore,
Spying soft Atys lingering near the marbled pave of sea
He springs: the terror-madded wretch back to the wood doth flee,
Where for the remnant of her days a bondmaid's life led she.
Great Goddess, Goddess Cybele, Dindymus dame divine,
Far from my house and home thy wrath and wrack, dread mistress mine:
Goad others on with Fury's goad, others to Ire consign!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (E. T. Merrill, 1893)
load focus Latin (E. T. Merrill)
load focus English (Leonard C. Smithers, 1894)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (24 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (19):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 1
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 17
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 22
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 34
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 35
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 39
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 45
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 46
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 50
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 61
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 67
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 72
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 8
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 9
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 151-215
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.1125
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.1139
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.985
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: