Ovid

Roman, (43 BC-AD 17/18)

Metamorphoses
BOOK XIV

  1. The Enchantments of Circe
  2.  
  3. Before the spacious Front, a Herd we find
  4. Of Beasts, the fiercest of the savage Kind.
  5. Our trembling Steps with Blandishments they meet,
  6. And fawn, unlike their Species, at our Feet.
  7. Within, upon a sumptuous Throne of State
  8. On golden Columns rais’d th’Enchantress sate.
  9. Rich was her Robe, and amiable her Mein,
  10. Her Aspect awful, and she look’d a Queen.
  11. Her Maids not mind the Loom, nor houshold Care,
  12. “Nor wage in Needle-work a Scythian War.
  13. But cull in Canisters disastrous Flow’rs,
  14. “And Plants from haunted Heaths, and fairy Bow’rs,
  15. “With brazen Sickles reap’d at Planetary Hours.
  16. Each Dose the Goddess weighs with watchful Eye;
  17. So nice her Art in impious Pharmacy!
  18. Entring she greets us with a gracious Look,
  19. And Airs, that future Amity bespoke.
  20. Her ready Nymphs serve up a rich Repast;
  21. The Bowl she dashes first, then gives to taste.
  22. Quick, to our own undoing, we comply;
  23. Her Pow’r we prove, and shew the Sorcery.
  24. Soon, in a Length of Face, our Head extends;
  25. Our Chine stiff Bristles bears, and forward bends:
  26. A Breadth of Brawn new burnishes our Neck;
  27. Anon we grunt, as we begin to speak.
  28. Alone Eurylochus refus’d to taste,
  29. Nor to a Beast obscene the Man debas’d.
  30. Hither Ulysses hastes, (so Fates command)
  31. And bears the pow’rful Moly in his Hand;
  32. Unsheaths his Scymitar, assaults the Dame,
  33. Preserves his Species, and remains the same.
  34. The Nuptial Rite this Outrage strait attends;
  35. The Dow’r desir’d is his transfigur’d Friends.
  36. The Incantation backward she repeats,
  37. Inverts her Rod, and what she did, defeats.
  38. And now our Skin grows smooth, our Shape upright;
  39. Our Arms stretch up, our cloven Feet unite.
  40. With Tears our weeping Gen’ral we embrace;
  41. Hang on his Neck, and melt upon his Face.
  42. Twelve Silver Moons in Circe‘s Court we stay,
  43. Whilst there they waste th’unwilling Hours away.
  44. ‘Twas here I spy’d a Youth in Parian Stone;
  45. His Head a Pecker bore; the Cause unknown
  46. To Passengers. A Nymph of Circe‘s Train
  47. The Myst’ry thus attempted to explain.

Translated by Sir Samuel Garth , M. D., (1661–1719). Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in fifteen books. Printed for Jacob Tonson [etc.], (1717).

About the Poet

Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-AD 17/18), known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria.

He is also well known for the Metamorphoses, a mythological hexameter poem, the Fasti, about the Roman calendar, and the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, two collections of poems written in exile on the Black Sea. He is considered a master of the elegiac couplet, and is traditionally ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonic poets of Latin literature.

Ovid’s poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, decisively influenced European art and literature, particularly Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton. And

Ovid’s Metamorphoses, written in the epic meter of dactyllic hexameters, a work on the transformations of mostly humans and nymphs into animals, plants, etc., is a storehouse for Greek and Roman mythology and remains as one of the most important sources of classical mythology. [adapted from wikipedia.org and about.com, DES-11/10]

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