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She who sits next to Pluto is the queen of hell, athe Infernal Juno, bthe lady (as the Greeks commonly call her) and the most beloved wife of Pluto, che daughter of Ceres and Jupiter. She is called both Proserpine and Libera. . Jupiter begat her when he was disguised in the shape of a bull; and after she was born and grown up, dhe debauched her himself in the shape of a dragon : €whence it came to pass, that in the mysteries of the Sabazia, a golden snake folded in a circle was produced; which, when any were initiated, was usually put into their bosoms, and received again when it slid down from them below.
P. But by what fate became Proserpine the wife of this black god ?
M. In this manner. When all the goddesses refused to marry Pluto, because he was so deformed, he was vexed at this contempt and scorn; and troubled that he was forced to live a single life always; wherefore in a rage, he seated himself in a chariot, and arose on a sudden from a den in Sicily; where the saw a company of very beautiful virgins gathering flowers in the fields of Enna, a beautiful place, situate about the middle of the island, and therefore called the Navel of Sicily. One of them, Proserpine, pleased him above the rest, for she surpassed them all in beauty. He came raging with love, and carried her with him from that place ; and on a sudden he sunk into the earth near Syracuse. In the place where he descended, a lake arose : and Cicero says, the people of Syracuse keep yearly festivals, to which great multitudes of both sexes resort.
a Virg. Æn. 6. b AÉCOLVO, domina. Paus. in Arcad. c Hea siod in Theog:
d Arnob. 1. 5. e Euseb. Præp. Evang: fCic. in Verrem. 6. & Ibid.
P. O poor lady! I am troubled at her misfortune : her unhappiness moves my compassion. But what fol. lowed ?
M. The nymphs, her companions, were grievously affrighted, and fled away to any place where they could expect safety. In the mean time Ceres, the mother of Proserpine, comes, who by chance was absent when her daughter was stolen ; she seeks her daughter among her acquaintance a long time, but in vain. Therefore, in the next place, she kindles torches, by the flames which burst out from the top of the mountain Ætna, and goes with them to seek her daughter throughout the whole world; neither did she give over her vain labour, till the nymph Arethusa fully assured her, that Proserpine was stolen by Pluto, and carried down into his kingdom. She then, in great anger, hastened and expostulated with a Jupiter concerning the violence that was offered to her daughter; and, in short, Jupiter proinised to restore Proserpine again, if she had not yet tasted any thing in hell. Ceres went joyfully down, and Proserpine, full of triumph and gladness, prepared to return into this world ; when Ascalaphus discovered, that he saw Proserpine, while she walked in Pluto's orchard, pluck a pomegranate, and eat some grains of it; therefore Proserpine's journey was immediately stopped. Ceres being amazed at this new mischance, and incensed at the fatal discovery of Ascalaphus, turned him into an owl, a bird said to be of an ill omen, and unlucky to all that see it : but at last, by the importunity of her prayers to Jupiter, she extorted this favour from him, that he should give leave hthat Proserpine might live half the year, at least, with her in heaven, and the other half below in hell with her husband. Proserpine afterward loved this disagreeable husband so
a Sery. in. Geo. 1.
Oy. Met. 5.
much, that she was jealous; and changed Mentha, who was his mistress, into mint, a herb of her own name.
SECT. 2.-AN EXPLANATION OF THE FABLE.
P. You have told a very pretty story ; pray what is its signification ?
M. The signification of it is this : aCeres is the earth, and her daughter Proserpine the fertility of the earth, or rather the bseed by which it is fertile, which seed lies buried in the ground in the winter, but in the summer breaks forth and becomes fruit. Thus Proserpine (the emblem of the seed) lives half the year in hell, and the other half in heaven. Others explain this fable so as by it to signify the moon, which is hid from us, in the hemisphere of the countries beneath us, as long as it shines to us in our own.
Some believe that Hecate is the same with Proser. pine ; and if you are willing to follow their opinion, you must call to mind what I have said before, when I discoursed of Diana.
Let us now turn our eyes toward the tribunal of Pluto ; where you see in that dismal picture, continual trials, and all persons, as well the accusers as the offenders, who have been formerly wicked in their lives, receive their deaths impartially from the three Fates ; after death they receive their condemnation impartially from the three judges ; and after condemnation, their punishment impartially from the three Furies.
3 Var, apud Aug. de Civ. Dei. 7.
D Euseb. Præp. Evang. 1.
M. Those three old ladies are the Fates: their agarments are made of ermine, white as snow, and bordered with purple. They were born either of Nox and Erebus, or of Necessity, or of the Sea, or of that rude and indigested mass which the ancients called Chaos.
They are called Parcæ in Latin :- because, as e Varro thinks, they distributed good and bad things to persons at their birth; or, as the common and received opinion is, because they spare nobody. They are likewise called Fatum, fate ; and are three in number, 8because they order the past, present, and future time. . Fate, says hCicero, is all that which God hath decreed and resolved shall come to pass, and which the Grecians call Eluaeppern [Eimarmene]. It is, says iChrysippus, a perpetual, certain, and unavoidable series and chain of things, wrapping and infolding up itself in an order of consequences, which compose the several links, and follow one another to all eternity. k Fatum is derived from the word fari, to pronounce or declare ; because when any
is born, these three sisters pronounce what fate will befal him; as we saw in the story of Meleager.
P. What are their names and offices ?
a Catullus in Epith. Thet. b Hesiod. in Theog. c Plato. de Republ. 10. Licophron. e Parcæ dicuntur à partu, quòd nascentibus hominibus bona malaque conferre censeantur.
Aut à parcendo per Antiphrasin, quod nemini parcant. Sery. in En. 1. 8 Euseb. Præp. Evang. 6.
h Est autem Fatum id omne quod à Deo constitutum et designatum est ut eveniat,
i Eiquod Græci cipapueron appellant. De Fato et Divinat. marmene sempiterna quædam est et indleclinabilis rerum series et catena, sese volvens et implicans per æternos consequentiæ ordines è quibus connexa est.
Boet. in Top
k Var. ap. Lil. Gyr. 1 A verbo xwlw, id est, neo.
a Lachesis ; the third bAtropos, because she is unalterable, unchangeable. These names the Grecians give them: Cthe Romans call them Nona, Decima,and Morta.
To them is intrusted the management of the fatal thread of life : for Clotho draws the thread between her fingers; Lachesis turns about the wheel; and Atropos cuts the thread spun, with a pair of scissors. That is, Clotho gives us life, and brings us into the world; La. chesis determines the fortunes that shall befal us here; and Atropos concludes our lives. dOne speaks, the other writes, and the third spins.
P. And what are those monsters called, that have the faces of women ? Their looks are full of terror : they hold lighted torches in their hands ; snakes and serpents lash their necks and shoulders.
M. They are the Furies, called in Latin sometimes Furiæ ; ebecause they make men mad, by the stings of conscience which guilt produces. They are also called Diræ, & Eumenides, and "Canes ; and were the offspring of i Nox and k Acheron. Their proper names are Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megera ; land they are esteemed virgins ; because, since they are the avengers of all wickedness, nothing can corrupt and pervert them from inflicting the punishment that is due to the offender.
P. Why are there only three Furies ?
M. Because there are three mprincipal passions of the mind, anger, covetousness, and lust, by which mankind are chiefly hurried into all sorts of wickedness : for
a Ab Roy xayw, sortior. b Ab a privativâ particulâ, et TPÉTW verto, quod verti et flecti nequeat. c Censen. Vind. ap Lil.Gyr. d Una loquitur, altera scribit, tertia fila ducit. Serv. in Æn. 1.
Quod sceleratos in furorem agant. f Virg. Æn. 3. 8 Ibid. 8. h Ibid. 4. i Ibid. 6. k Ibid. 11. 1 Suidas et Orph. in Hymn. m Isidor. ap Gyr.