OCYROE AND AESCULAPIUSChiron, the Centaur, taught his pupil; proud
that he was honoured by that God-like charge.
Behold, his lovely daughter, who was born
beside the margin of a rapid stream,
came forward, with her yellow hair as gold
adown her shoulders.—She was known by name
Ocyroe. The hidden things that Fate
conceals, she had the power to tell; for not
content was she to learn her father's arts,
but rather pondered on mysterious things.
So, when the god of Frenzy warmed her breast,
gazing on Aesculapius,—the child
of Phoebus and Coronis, while her soul
was gifted, with prophetic voice she said;
“O thou who wilt bestow on all the world
the blessed boon of health, increase in strength!
To thee shall mortals often owe their lives:
to thee is given the power to raise the dead.
But when against the power of Deities
thou shalt presume to dare thy mortal skill,
the bolts of Jove will shatter thy great might,
and health no more be thine from thence to grant.
And from a god thou shalt return to dust,
and once again from dust become a God;
and thou shalt thus renew thy destiny.—
“And thou, dear father Chiron, brought to birth
with pledge of an immortal life, informed
with ever-during strength, when biting flames
of torment from the baneful serpent's blood
are coursing in thy veins, thou shalt implore
a welcome death; and thy immortal life
the Gods shall suffer to the power of death.—
and the three Destinies shall cut thy thread.”
She would continue these prophetic words
but tears unbidden trickled down her face;
and, as it seemed her sighs would break her heart,
she thus bewailed; “The Fates constrain my speech
and I can say no more; my power has gone.
Alas, my art, although of little force
and doubtful worth, has brought upon my head
the wrath of Heaven.
“Oh wherefore did I know
to cast the future? Now my human form
puts on another shape, and the long grass
affords me needed nourishment. I want
to range the boundless plains and have become,
in image of my father's kind, a mare:
but gaining this, why lose my human shape?
My father's form is one of twain combined.”
And as she wailed the words became confused
and scarcely understood; and soon her speech
was only as the whinny of a mare.
Down to the meadow's green her arms were stretched;
her fingers joined together, and smooth hoofs
made of five nails a single piece of horn.
Her face and neck were lengthened, and her hair
swept downward as a tail; the scattered locks
that clung around her neck were made a mane,
tossed over to the right. Her voice and shape
were altogether changed, and since that day
the change has given her a different name.