“Nothing retains the form that seems its own,
and Nature, the renewer of all things,
continually changes every form
into some other shape. Believe my word,
in all this universe of vast extent,
not one thing ever perished. All have changed
appearance. Men say a certain thing is born,
if it takes a different form from what it had;
and yet they say, that certain thing has died,
if it no longer keeps the self same shape.
Though distant things move near, and near things far,
always the sum of all things is unchanged.
“For my part, I cannot believe a thing
remains long under the same form unchanged.
Look at the change of times from gold to iron,:
look at the change in places. I have seen
what had been solid earth become salt waves,
and I have seen dry land made from the deep;
and, far away from ocean, sea-shells strewn,
and on the mountain-tops old anchors found.
Water has made that which was once a plain
into a valley, and the mountain has
been levelled by the floods down to a plain.
A former marshland is now parched dry sand,
and places which endured severest drought
are wet with standing pools. Here Nature has
opened fresh springs, but there has shut them up;
rivers aroused by ancient earthquakes have
rushed out or vanished, as they lost their depth.
“So, when the Lycus has been swallowed by
a chasm in the earth, it rushes forth
at a distance and is reborn a different stream.
The Erasinus now flows down into a cave,
now runs beneath the ground a darkened course,
then rises lordly in the Argolic fields.
They say the Mysus, wearied of his spring
and of his former banks, appears elsewhere
and takes another name, the Caicus.
“The Amenanus in Sicilian sands
now smoothly rolling, at another time
is quenched, because its fountain springs are dry.
The water of the Anigros formerly
was used for drinking, but it pours out now
foul water which you would decline to touch,
because (unless all credit is denied
to poets) long ago the Centaurs, those
strange mortals double-limbed, bathed in the stream
wounds which club-bearing Hercules had made
with his strong bow.—Yes, does not Hypanis
descending fresh from mountains of Sarmatia,
become embittered with the taste of salt?
“Antissa, Pharos, and Phoenician Tyre,
were once surrounded by the wavy sea:
they are not islands now. Long years ago
Leucas was mainland, if we can believe
what the old timers there will tell, but now
the waves sweep round it. Zancle was a part
of Italy, until the sea cut off
the neighboring land with strong waves in between.
Should you seek Helice and Buris, those
two cities of Achaea, you will find
them underneath the waves, where sailors point
to sloping roofs and streets in the clear deep.
“Near Pittheaan Troezen a steep, high hill,
quite bare of trees, was once a level plain,
but now is a hill, for (dreadful even to tell)
the raging power of winds, long pent in deep,
dark caverns, tried to find a proper vent,
long struggling to attain free sky.
Finding no opening from the prison-caves,
imperious to their force, they raised the earth,
exactly as pent air breathed from the mouth
inflates a bladder, or the bottle-hides
stripped off the two-horned goats. The swollen earth
remained on that spot and has ever since
appearance of a high hill hardened by
the flight of time.
“Of many strange events
that I have heard and known, I will add a few.
Why, does not water give and take strange forms?
Your wave, O horned Ammon, will turn cold
at mid-day, but is always mild and warm
at sun-rise and at sun-set. I have heard
that Athamanians kindle wood, if they
pour water on it, when the waning moon
has shrunk away into her smallest orb.
The people of Ciconia have a stream
which turns the drinker's entrails into stone,
which changes into marble all it raves.
The Achaean Crathis and the Sybaris,
which flow not far from here, will turn the hair
to something like clear amber or bright gold.
“What is more wonderful, there are some waters
which change not only bodies but the minds:
who has no knowledge of the Salmacis
and of its ill famed waves? Who has not
heard of the lakes of Aethiopia:
how those who drink of them go raving mad
or fall in a deep sleep, most wonderful
in heaviness. Whoever quenches thirst
from the Clitorian spring will hate all wine,
and soberly secure great pleasure from
pure water. Either that spring has a power
the opposite of wine-heat, or perhaps
as natives tell us, after the famed son
of Amythaon by his charms and herbs,
delivered from their base insanity
the stricken Proetides, he threw the rest
of his mind healing herbs into the spring,
where hatred of all wine has since remained.
Unlike in nature flows another stream
of the country, called Lyncestius: everyone
who drinks of it, even with most temperate care,
will reel, as if he had drunk unmixed wine.
In Arcadia is a place, called Pheneos
by men of old, which is mistrusted for
the twofold nature of its waters. Stand
in dread of them at night; if drunk at night,
they harm you, but in daytime they will do
no harm at all.
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