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Callisto.

CALISTO AND JUPITER

Now after Phaethon had suffered death
for the vast ruin wrought by scorching flames,
all the great walls of Heaven's circumference,
unmeasured, views the Father of the Gods,
with searching care, that none impaired by heat
may fall in ruins. Well assured they stand
in self-sustaining strength, his view, at last,
on all the mundane works of man is turned;—
his loving gaze long resting on his own
Arcadia. And he starts the streams and springs
that long have feared to flow; paints the wide earth
with verdant fields; covers the trees with leaves,
and clothes the injured forests in their green.

While wandering in the world, he stopped amazed,
when he beheld the lovely Nymph, Calisto,
and fires of love were kindled in his breast.

Calisto was not clothed in sumptuous robes,
nor did she deck her hair in artful coils;
but with a buckle she would gird her robe,
and bind her long hair with a fillet white.
She bore a slender javelin in her hand,
or held the curving bow; and thus in arms
as chaste Diana, none of Maenalus
was loved by that fair goddess more than she.

But everything must change. When bright the sun
rolled down the sky, beyond his middle course,
she pierced a secret thicket, known to her,
and having slipped the quiver from her arm,
she loosed the bended bow, and softly down
upon the velvet turf reclining, pressed
her white neck on the quiver while she slept.

When Jupiter beheld her, negligent
and beautiful, he argued thus, “How can
my consort, Juno, learn of this? And yet,
if chance should give her knowledge, what care I?
Let gain offset the scolding of her tongue!”

This said, the god transformed himself and took
Diana's form—assumed Diana's dress
and imitating her awoke the maid,
and spoke in gentle tones, “What mountain slope,
O virgin of my train, hath been thy chase?”
Which, having heard, Calisto, rose and said,
“Hail, goddess! greater than celestial Jove!
I would declare it though he heard the words.”

Jove heard and smiled, well pleased to be preferred
above himself, and kissed her many times,
and strained her in his arms, while she began
to tell the varied fortunes of her hunt.—
but when his ardent love was known to her,
she struggled to escape from his embrace:
ah, how could she, a tender maid, resist
almighty Jove?—Be sure, Saturnia
if thou hadst only witnessed her thy heart
had shown more pity!—

Jupiter on wings,
transcendent, sought his glorious heights;
but she, in haste departing from that grove,
almost forgot her quiver and her bow.

Behold, Diana, with her virgin train,
when hunting on the slopes of Maenalus,
amidst the pleasures of exciting sport,
espied the Nymph and called her, who, afraid
that Jove apparelled in disguise deceived,
drew backward for a moment, till appeared
to her the lovely Nymphs that followed: thus,
assured deceit was none, she ventured near.

Alas, how difficult to hide disgrace!
She could not raise her vision from the ground,
nor as the leader of the hunting Nymphs,
as was her wont, walk by the goddess' side.
Her silence and her blushes were the signs
of injured honour. Ah Diana, thou,
if thou wert not a virgin, wouldst perceive
and pity her unfortunate distress.

The Moon's bent horns were rising from their ninth
sojourn, when, fainting from Apollo's flames,
the goddess of the Chase observed a cool
umbrageous grove, from which a murmuring stream
ran babbling gently over golden sands.
When she approved the spot, lightly she struck
her foot against the ripples of the stream,
and praising it began; “Far from the gaze
of all the curious we may bathe our limbs,
and sport in this clear water.” Quickly they
undid their garments,—but Calisto hid
behind the others, till they knew her state.—
Diana in a rage exclaimed, “Away!
Thou must not desecrate our sacred springs!”
And she was driven thence.

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load focus English (Arthur Golding, 1567)
load focus Latin (Hugo Magnus, 1892)
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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 66
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