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So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, — one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the rivergod Penetts, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart.. Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, but she, more than ever, abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase. Spurning all lovers, she prayed her father that she might remain always unmarried, like Diana. He consented, but, at the same time, warned her that her beauty would defeat her purpose. It was the face of this huntress-maiden that Apollo saw. He saw the charming disorder of her hair, and would have arranged it; he saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not satisfied with only seeing them. He longed for Daphne. He followed her; she fled, swifter than the wind, nor delayed a moment at his entreaties. "Stay," said he, " daughter of Peneiis; I am not a foe. It is for love I pursue thee. I am no clown, no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father. I am lord of Delphi and Tenedos. I know all things, present and future. I am the god of song and the lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark; but alas! an arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing plants. Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure."
The nymph continues her flight, and leaves his plea half uttered. But even as she flies she charms him. The wind catches her garments, and her unbound hair streams loose behind her. The god, sped by Cupid, gains upon her in the race. His panting breath blows upon her hair. Her strength begins to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river-god: "Help me, Peneiis! open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!" Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized her limbs; and little by little she took on the appearance of a laurel tree. Apollo embraced the branches, and lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank from his lips. "Since thou canst not be my wife," said he, "thou shalt assuredly be my tree. I will wear thee for my crown. I will decorate with thee my harp and my quiver. When the Roman conquerors conduct the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, •thou shalt be woven into wreaths for their brows. And, as eternal youth is mine, thou also shalt be always green, and thy leaf know no decay." The laurel tree bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.
The delicious humor of Lowell's extravaganza upon the story amply justifies the following citation : —
Phcebus, sitting one day in a laurel tree's shade,
Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was made,
For the god being one day too warm in his wooing,
She took to the tree to escape his pursuing;
Be the cause what it might, from his offers she shrunk,
And, Ginevra-like, shut herself up in a trunk;
And, though 'twas a step into which he had driven her,
He somehow or other had never forgiven her;
Her memory he nursed as a kind of a tonic,
Something bitter to chew when he'd play the Byronic,
And I can't count the obstinate nymphs that he brought over
By a strange kind of smile he put on when he thought of her.
"My case is like Dido's," he sometimes remarked;
"When I last saw my love, she was fairly embarked
In a laurel, as she thought — but (ah, how Fate mocks!)
She has found it by this time a very bad box;
Let hunters from me take this saw when they need it,—
You're not always sure of your game when you've treed it.
Just conceive such a change taking place in one's mistress!
What romance would be left? — who can flatter or kiss trees?
And, for mercy's sake, how could one keep up a dialogue
With a dull wooden thing that will live and will die a log,—
Not to say that the thought would forever intrude
That you've less chance to win her the more she is wood?
Ah! it went to my heart, and the memory still grieves,
To see those loved graces all taking their leaves;
Those charms beyond speech, so enchanting but now,
As they left me forever, each making its bough!
If her tongue had a tang sometimes more than was right,
§ 86. Clytie.2— In the story of Clytie the conditions are reversed. She was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears and the chilly dew her only sustenance. She gazed on the sun when he rose; and as he passed through his daily course to his setting, she saw no other object, — her eyes fixed constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs took root in the ground, and her face became a flower, turning on its stem to follow the journeying sun.
In the following lines, Thomas Moore uses the flower as an emblem of constancy : —
The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
The same look that she turned when he rose.
6. Myths Of Diana.
§ 87. In company with her radiant brother, we find Diana subduing Tityus and the Python and assisting in the punishment of Niobe. The speedy transformation of Daphne has been attributed to this goddess, the champion of maidenhood. According to some, it was she, too, that changed Callisto into a bear, when for love of Jupiter that nymph deserted the huntress-band. Numerous are the myths that celebrate the severity of the goddess of the unerring bow toward those who offended her. How she
served Agamemnon for slaying one of her hinds is told in the story of Troy;1 how she punished CEneus for omitting a sacrifice to her is narrated in the episode of the Calydonian hunt.* Similar attributes of the goddess are exemplified in the myths of Arethusa, Actaeon, and Orion. It is only when she is identified with Selene, the peaceful moonlight, that we perceive a softer side of character, such as that displayed in her relations with Endymion.
§ 88. The Flight of Arethusa.3—A woodland nymph of Elis was this Arethusa; she delighted not in her comeliness, but in the joys of the chase. One day, returning from the wood, heated with exercise, she descended to a stream silently flowing, so clear that you might count the pebbles on the bottom. She laid aside her garments; but while she sported in the water, she heard an indistinct murmur rising as out of the depths of the stream. She made haste to reach the nearest bank. A voice followed her, "Why flyest thou, Arethusa? Alpheus am I, the god of this stream." The nymph ran, the god pursued. Arethusa, at last exhausted, cried for help to Diana, who, hearing, wrapped her votary in a thick cloud. Perplexed, the river-god still sought the trembling maiden. But a cold sweat came over her. In less time than it takes to tell, she had become a fountain. Alpheus attempted then to mingle his stream with hers. But the Cynthian queen cleft the ground; and Arethusa, still endeavoring to escape, plunged into the abyss, and passing through the bowels of the earth, came out in Sicily, still followed by the passionate river-god.
In the following version of the pursuit/ Arethusa was already a river when Alpheus espied her.
She leapt down the rocks,
Streaming among the streams; —
Which slopes to the western gleams:
In murmurs as soft as sleep;
The Earth seemed to love her,
As she lingered towards the deep.
And the black south wind
And earthquake and thunder
Seen through the ton
"Oh, save me! Oh, guide me!
For he grasps me now by the hair!"
And divided at her prayer;
Fled like a sunny beam;