Saturday, March 7, 2020

M/M: The Myth of Cyparissus, Ovid, Meta. X.106-142

Adfuit huic turbae metas imitata cupressus,
nunc arbor, puer ante deo dilectus ab illo,
qui citharam nervis et nervis temperat arcum.
namque sacer nymphis Carthaea tenentibus arva
ingens cervus erat, lateque patentibus altas               110
ipse suo capiti praebebat cornibus umbras.
cornua fulgebant auro, demissaque in armos
pendebant tereti gemmata monilia collo.
bulla super frontem parvis argentea loris
vincta movebatur; parilesque ex aere nitebant               115
auribus e geminis circum cava tempora bacae;
isque metu vacuus naturalique pavore
deposito celebrare domos mulcendaque colla
quamlibet ignotis manibus praebere solebat.
sed tamen ante alios, Ceae pulcherrime gentis,               120
gratus erat, Cyparisse, tibi: tu pabula cervum
ad nova, tu liquidi ducebas fontis ad undam,
tu modo texebas varios per cornua flores,
nunc eques in tergo residens huc laetus et illuc
mollia purpureis frenabas ora capistris.               125
     Aestus erat mediusque dies, solisque vapore
concava litorei fervebant bracchia Cancri:
fessus in herbosa posuit sua corpora terra
cervus et arborea frigus ducebat ab umbra.
hunc puer inprudens iaculo Cyparissus acuto               130
fixit et, ut saevo morientem vulnere vidit,
velle mori statuit. quae non solacia Phoebus
dixit et, ut leviter pro materiaque doleret,
admonuit! gemit ille tamen munusque supremum
hoc petit a superis, ut tempore lugeat omni.               135
iamque per inmensos egesto sanguine fletus
in viridem verti coeperunt membra colorem,
et, modo qui nivea pendebant fronte capilli,
horrida caesaries fieri sumptoque rigore
sidereum gracili spectare cacumine caelum.               140
ingemuit tristisque deus 'lugebere nobis
lugebisque alios aderisque dolentibus' inquit.


--Ovid, Metamorphoses X.106-142

A cone-shaped cypress tree stood among the rest. It's a tree now, but it once was a youth beloved by the god who mastered bow-strings and lyre-strings.
Once upon a time, there was a stag sacred to the nymphs who dwelled in Carthaea. It was huge, and had giant antlers upon its head. These antlers glimmered in gold, and a gem encrusted collar hung upon its neck. A silver bulla dangled from its forehead, attached with leather thongs. Jeweled earrings glittered from its twin ears. Lacking a natural fear of man, it would roam from house to house, looking for people to pet it.
But Cyparissus, the loveliest of Ceans, loved it above all else. Cyparissus, you walked it from pasture to pasture, you led it to water, you wove flower-crowns for its antlers, and you rode upon it, bareback, with a purple bit in its mouth.
But one day, in the heat of midday, the tired deer lay down in the leafy shade. Cyparissus foolishly shot it with his deadly aim, and when he saw it dying, he wanted to die, too.
What words of comfort were left unsaid, Phoebus, to lighten the lad's grief?
But the teenager mourned and begged for one last gift from the gods: that he be allowed to mourn for all time. And now, his blood mixed with his tears, his limbs began to lighten into shades of green, and when his hair became shaggy and bristly, pointed their graceful tips to the starry heavens.
In sorrow, the god vent his grief, saying, "I shall mourn you, and you shall mourn others, you will be present when others grieve, too."

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