'Te quoque, Amyclide, posuisset in aethere Phoebus, 10.162
tristia si spatium ponendi fata dedissent.
qua licet, aeternus tamen es, quotiensque repellit
ver hiemem, Piscique Aries succedit aquoso, 165
tu totiens oreris viridique in caespite flores.
te meus ante omnes genitor dilexit, et orbe
in medio positi caruerunt praeside Delphi,
dum deus Eurotan inmunitamque frequentat
Sparten, nec citharae nec sunt in honore sagittae: 170
inmemor ipse sui non retia ferre recusat,
non tenuisse canes, non per iuga montis iniqui
ire comes, longaque alit adsuetudine flammas.
iamque fere medius Titan venientis et actae
noctis erat spatioque pari distabat utrimque, 175
corpora veste levant et suco pinguis olivi
splendescunt latique ineunt certamina disci.
quem prius aerias libratum Phoebus in auras
misit et oppositas disiecit pondere nubes;
reccidit in solidam longo post tempore terram 180
pondus et exhibuit iunctam cum viribus artem.
protinus inprudens actusque cupidine lusus
tollere Taenarides orbem properabat, at illum
dura repercusso subiecit verbere tellus
in vultus, Hyacinthe, tuos. expalluit aeque 185
quam puer ipse deus conlapsosque excipit artus,
et modo te refovet, modo tristia vulnera siccat,
nunc animam admotis fugientem sustinet herbis.
nil prosunt artes: erat inmedicabile vulnus.
ut, siquis violas rigidumve papaver in horto 190
liliaque infringat fulvis horrentia linguis,
marcida demittant subito caput illa vietum
nec se sustineant spectentque cacumine terram:
sic vultus moriens iacet et defecta vigore
ipsa sibi est oneri cervix umeroque recumbit. 195
"laberis, Oebalide, prima fraudate iuventa,"
Phoebus ait "videoque tuum, mea crimina, vulnus.
tu dolor es facinusque meum: mea dextera leto
inscribenda tuo est. ego sum tibi funeris auctor.
quae mea culpa tamen, nisi si lusisse vocari 200
culpa potest, nisi culpa potest et amasse vocari?
atque utinam tecumque mori vitamque liceret
reddere! quod quoniam fatali lege tenemur,
semper eris mecum memorique haerebis in ore.
te lyra pulsa manu, te carmina nostra sonabunt, 205
flosque novus scripto gemitus imitabere nostros.
tempus et illud erit, quo se fortissimus heros
addat in hunc florem folioque legatur eodem."
talia dum vero memorantur Apollinis ore,
ecce cruor, qui fusus humo signaverat herbas, 210
desinit esse cruor, Tyrioque nitentior ostro
flos oritur formamque capit, quam lilia, si non
purpureus color his, argenteus esset in illis.
non satis hoc Phoebo est (is enim fuit auctor honoris):
ipse suos gemitus foliis inscribit, et AI AI 215
flos habet inscriptum, funestaque littera ducta est.
nec genuisse pudet Sparten Hyacinthon: honorque
durat in hoc aevi, celebrandaque more priorum
annua praelata redeunt Hyacinthia pompa.
--Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.161--219
You, too, Hyacinthus, would have joined Phoebus in heaven
If Destiny had allowed you to overturn your sad fate.
But nevertheless you are eternal, sort of,
Whenever spring chases off winter,
Whenever Aries rises over the rainy season of Pisces,
You return as a flower upon the green fields.
My father loved you more than everyone else.
Delphi, the hub of the world, had no ruler,
While its patron god [Apollo] traveled to open-gated land of Sparta,
He doesn’t care about his lyre or his archery anymore;
And, out of character, he doesn’t mind taking up the hunting-net
He doesn’t mind walking his hunting dogs,
He doesn’t mind trekking the mountains as Hyacinthus’ companion [comes],
And this time together fans the flames of his love.
It was high noon when Apollo and Hyacinthus got ready for a workout,
They shed their clothes and anointed themselves,*
And entered the field for a friendly game of discus.
Phoebus [Apollo] had the first throw. The discus
Sliced through the air, then after a while, it fell back to the ground,
displaying Apollo’s talent with its course.
Straightaway, Hyacinthus foolishly rushed to catch it, trying to show off,
But the discus ricocheted off of the ground and hit Hyacinthus in the face.
Apollo went pale, as pale as his boyfriend was!
He cradled Hyacinthus’ unconscious form,
Trying to revive you, trying to staunch the blood of your wounds,
Trying to save your life with herbs.
His skills could not save you: the wound was a fatal one.
Just like when someone plucks
a violet or a poppy or a lily from its stem,
It hangs its wilted head
Unable to hold its blossom,
it droops to the ground
your head drooped forward against your shoulder
as you died. Apollo cried,
“Oh Hyacinthus, you perish, cheated out of your youth.
As I look at your wound, I blame myself.
You are my grief and my guilt:
I have your blood on my hands.
I am the reason that you died.
But what did I do wrong? Was it a crime
To exercise together?
Was it a crime to love you?
If only I could die with you, or
If only you could return to life!
Although you are mortal and must die,
You will always be with me,
I will always have you in my heart.
I shall sing of you with my lyre
And with my voice,
And a new flower will cry out for you in imitation of my grief.
There will be a time, when a brave hero
Will also be associated with this flower, and recognized by its petals.”
As Apollo was speaking, the youth’s blood
which spread upon the ground
was blood no longer! Prettier than Tyrian purple
a flower bloomed and took a shape like a lily
except this was purple, and that was silvery.
But Apollo wasn’t done—upon its petals he wrote
His own lament, and the petals now have the words “ALAS! ALAS!”
And Sparta isn’t ashamed of Hyacinthus:
He is honored even today, and every year
They celebrate a festival in his honor.
* in the absence of elastic waistbands, ancient Greeks and Romans would exercise nude. They used olive oil as a form of antiperspirant / deodorant.
Name: Publius Ovidius Naso
Date: 43 BCE – 18 CE
Works: Ars Amatoria
Ovid was one of the most famous love poets of Rome’s Golden Age. His most famous work, the Metamorphoses, provides a history of the world through a series of interwoven myths. Most of his poetry is erotic in nature; for this reason, he fell into trouble during the conservative social reforms under the reign of the emperor Augustus. In 8 CE he was banished to Bithynia, where he spent the remainder of his life pining for his native homeland.
GOLDEN AGE ROME