Imágenes de páginas
PDF

recovered their strength,and leaped againinto the water. He wondered at so strange an effect, and had a desire to taste this herb. *When he had tasted it, he followed his fishes, and leaping into the water, became a god of the sea. To these we may add the story of Canofius, a god of the Egyptians,who, by the help of water, gained a memorable victory over the god of the Chaldeans. "When these two nations contended about the power and superiority of their gods, the priests consented to bring two gods together that they might decide their controversy. The Chaldeans brought their god Ignis (Fire) and the Egyptians brought Canofius : they set the two gods near one another to fight. Canofius' belly was a great pitcher filled with water, and full of holes, but so stopped with wax, that nobody could discern them: when the fight began; Fire, the god of the Chaldeans, melted the wax which stopped the holes; so that Canoftus, with rage and violence, assaulted Ignis with streams of water, and totally extinguished, vanquished, and overcame him.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THERE were three Sirens, whose parentage is uncertain, though some say, “that they were the offspring of the river Achelous, and the muse Melhomene. dThey had the faces of women, but the bodies of flying fishes: they dwelt near the promontory Peloris, in Sicily, (now called Caño di Faro) or in the islands called “Sirenuse, which are situate in the extreme parts of Italy; where, with the sweetness of their singing, they allured all the men to them that sailed by those coasts; and when by

*Qvid Met. 13. * Ruffin. 1, 11. c. 26. c Nicand. Met.3. d Ovid. Met. 3. e Strabol. 5. Iden. l. 1. l

their charms they brought upon them a dead sleep,they

drowned them in the sea, and afterward took them out ... and devoured them. Their names were Parthenone,

(who died at Mahles, for which reason that city was formerly called Parthenone), Ligaea, and Leucosia. That their charms might be more easily received,and make the greater impression on the minds of the hearers, they used musical instruments with their voices, and *adapted the matter of their songs to the temper and inclination of their hearers. "With some songs they enticed the ambitious, with others the voluptuous, and with other songs they drew on the covetous to their destruction. P. What then, could no passengers ever escape this plague 2 M. History mentions only two, Ulysses and Orpheus, who escaped. “The first was forewarned of the danger of their charming voices, by Circe; therefore he stopped the ears of his companions with wax, and was himself fast bound to the mast of the ship, by which means he safely passed the fatal coasts. "But Orfiheus overcame them in their own art, and evaded the temptations of their murdering music, by playing upon his harp, and singing the praises of the gods so well, that he outdid the Sirens. The Fates had ordained, that the Sirens should live till somebody who passed by heard them sing and yet escaped alive. When therefore they saw themselves overcome, they grew desperate, and threw themselves headlong into the sea,and were turned into stones. Some write, that they were formerly virgins, Proserfine’s companions, who sought every-where for her when she was stolen away by Pluto ; but when they eould not find her, they were so grieved, that they cast

* Hom. Odyss.
* Monstra maris Sirenes erant, quae voce canora
Quastibet admissas detinuere rates. Ov. Art. Am. 3.

Sirens were once sea monsters, mere decoys,
Trepanning seamen with their tuneful voice.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

themselves into the sea, and from that time were changed into sea monsters. "Others add, that by Juno’s persuasion they contended in music with the Muses, who overcame them, and, to punish their rashness, cut off their wings, with which they afterward made for themselves garlands. P. What did the poets signify by this fiction? M. That the “dminds of men are deposed from their proper seat and state by the allurements of pleasure.” It corrupts them; and there is not a more deadly plague in nature, to mankind, than voluptuousness. Whoever addicts himself altogether to pleasures, loses his reason, and is ruined; and he that desires to decline their charms, must stop his ears and not listen to them ; but must hearken to the music of Orfiheus, that is, he must observe the precepts and instructions of the wise. Now turn your eyes to those two monsters, who ar called Scylla and Charybdis.

SECT. 2.-SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS.

THE description of Scylla is very various ; for some say, that “she was a most beautiful woman from the

breasts downward, but had six dogs' heads: and others.

say, that in her upper parts she resembled a woman, in her lower a serpent and a wolf. But whatever her picture was, devery body says she was the daughter of Phorcus. She was courted by Glaucus, and received his embraces; upon which Circe, who passionately loved Glaucus, and could not bear that Scylla was preferred before her by Glaucus, “poisoned with venomous herbs those waters in which Scylla used to wash herself: Scylla was ignorant of it, and according to her custom, went into the fountain ; and when she saw that the lower parts of her body were turned into the

a Pausan. in Boeot. b Voluptatum illicebris mentem e suā sede et statu dimoveri. Cic. de Senectute. c Hom. Odyss. dApollon. Argon. 3... • Myro Prian. l. 3. Rerum Messam.

heads of dogs, being extremely grieved that she had lost her beauty, she cast herself headlong into the sea, where she was turned into a rock, infamous for the many shipwrecks that happen there. This rock is still seen in the sea that divides Italy from Sicily, between Messina, a city of Sicily, and Rhegium (now Reggio) in Calabria. It is said to be surrounded with dogs and wolves, which devour the persons who are cast away there: but by this is meant, that when the waves, by a storm, are dashed against this great rock, the noise a little resembles the barking of dogs, and the howling of wolves. . P. You say that Scylla was the daughter of Phorcus ; was not she the daughter of Misus, king of Megara 2 M. No : that Scylla was another woman: for Scylla *the daughter of king Wisus, was in love with Minos, who besieged her father in the city of Megara. She betrayed both her father and her country to him, by cutting off the fatal lock of purple hair, in which were contained her father's and her country’s safety, and sent it to the besieger. Minos gained the city by it, but detested Scylla’s perfidiousness, and hated her. She could not bear this misfortune, but was changed into a lark. Wisus, her father, was likewise changed into a sparhawk, which is called misus, after his name ; and this sparhawk, as if he yet sought to punish his daughter's great baseness, still pursues the lark with great fury to devour her. Charybdis is a vast whirlpool in the same Sicilian Sea, over against b5cylla, which swallows down whatsoever comes within its circle, and vomits it up again. They say, that this Charybdis was formerly a very ravenous woman, who stole away Hercules’ oxen; for which theft Jupiter struck her dead with thunder, and then turned her into this gulph. “Virgil gives an elegant description of these two monsters, Scylla and Charybdis.

* Pausan, in Attic, b Virg. Geo. 5.

Deactrum Scylla latus, levum implacata Charybdis
Obsidet atque imo barathri ter gurgite vastos
Sorbet in abruptum fluctus, rursusque sub auraw
Erigit alternos, et sidera verberat undé,

P. What do these fables of Scylla and Charybdis mean :

M. They represent lust and gluttony, monstrous vices, which render our voyage through this world extremely hazardous and perilous. Lust, like Scylla, engages unwary passengers by the beauty and pomp of her outside; and when they are entangled in her snares, she tortures, vexes, torments and disquiets them with rage and fury, which exceeds the madness of dogs, or the ravenousness of wolves. Gluttony is a Charybdis, a gulph or whirlpool that is insatiable; it buries families alive,devours estates, consumes lands and treasures, and sucks up all things. They are neighbouring vices, and like Scylla and Charybdis, are but little distant from each other; nay, they are seldom separate, but act with united forces; for you will not easily find a man, who is greatly addicted to the luxury of eating and drinking ; who is not also a slave to the luxury of concupiscence, and besmeared with the sordid filth of base pleasures, and wholly given up to do the most vile and impudent lusts.

But it is now time to consider the place in which the wicked are tormented eternally; or rather to cast down our eyes upon it, in the lower apartment of this Pantheon, where the infernal gods are painted. We will only take a transitory view of this scene, since it will be very unpleasant to stay long in so doleful, so sad a place,

At Scyllam caecis cohibet spelunca latebris
Ora eacertantean, et naves in saxa trahentem.
Prima hominis facies, et pulchro pectore virgo
Pube tenus : postrema immani corpore pristis,
JDelphinum caudas utero commissa luporum. HEn, 3.
Far on the right her dogs foul Scylla hides:
Charybdis roaring on the left presides, :
And in her greedy whirlpool sucks the tides;
Then spouts them from below; with fury driv'n,
The waves mount up, and wash the face of heav'n.
But Scylla, from her den, with open jaws
The sinking vessel in her eddy draws :
Then dashes on the rocks. A human face,
A virgin bosom, hides the tail’s disgrace;
Her parts obscene below the waves descend,
With dogs inclos'd, and in a dolphin end.

« AnteriorContinuar »