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and that her own life was in danger, with the received opinion that it was allowable to be revenged on an enemy, which even the philosophy of Plato had not eradicated, plead in her excuse; and she might rather appear gentle in not pursuing her revenge further, than vindictive in attempting to take off the obnoxious youth. However that may be, her situation, as P. Brumoy finely observes, is drawn from the true feelings of the human heart, and as such is in the true taste of theatrical representation. The conduct of the drama is admirable: from the mother's attempt to poison the son, and the son's attempt to put the mother to death, each unacquainted with their mutual relation, arises by a natural train of incidents a discovery which gives an happy catastrophe to the tragedy, which is of the most pleasing kind, simple, tender, affecting, and abounding, perhaps too much, with beautiful description. Minerva indeed has a part assigned to her little adapted to her character; perhaps Mercury might with more propriety have concluded the drama, as he had opened it; but an Athenian audience was to be gratified with the appearance of their tutelary goddess. **

The scene is before the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

X I O N.

1–27.

MERC. ATLAS, that on his brazen shoulders rolls

Yon heav'n, the ancient mansion of the gods,
Was by a goddess sire to Maia; she
To supreme Jove bore me, and call'd me Hermes ;
Attendant on the king his high behests
I execute. To Delphi am I come,
This land where Phoebus from his central throne
Utters to mortals his high strain, declaring
The present and the future; this the cause;
Greece hath a city of distinguish'd glory,
Which from the goddess of the golden lance
Receiv'd its name; Erectheus was its king;
His daughter, call’d Creusa, to th’ embrace
Of nuptial love Apollo strain'd perforce,
Where northward points the rock beneath the heights
Crown'd with th' Athenian citadel of Pallas,
Callid Macrai by the lords of Attica.
Her growing burden, to her sire unknown,
Such was the pleasure of the god, she bore,
Till in her secret chamber to a son
The rolling months gave birth ; to the same cave,
Where by th' enamour'd god she was compress’d,
Creusa bore the infant; there for death
Expos'd hiin in a well-compacted ark
Of ciroular form, observant of the customs
Drawn from her great progenitors, and chief
From Ericthonius, who from th’ Attic earth

7. Central throne. See note on the Chocphoræ of Æschylus, p. 347. I. 15.

Deriv'd his origin: to him as guards Minerva gave two dragons, and in charge Consign'd him to the daughters of Aglauros : This rite to th’ Erechthidæ hence remains, 'Midst serpents wreath'd in ductile gold to nurse Their children. What of ornament she had, She hung around her son, and left him thus To perish. But to me his earnest prayer Phæbus applied, “ to the high-lineag'd sons “ Of glorious Athens go, my brother; well 6. Thou knowest the city of Pallas; from the cave “ Deep in the hollow rock a new-born babe, “ Laid as he is, and all his vestments with him, “ Bring to thy brother to my shrine, and place " At th' entrance of my temple: of the rest, " For, know, the child is mine, I will take care.” To gratify my brother thence I bore The osier-woven ark, and place the boy Here at the temple's base, the wreathed lid Uncovering, that the infant might be seen. It chanc'd, as th' orient sun the steep of heav'n . Ascended, to the god's oracular seat The priestess entering on the infant cast Her eye, and marvell’d, deeming that some nymph Of Delphi at the fane had dar'd to lay The secret burden of her womb: this thought

39. Minerva took upon herself the care of this earth-born child. One day, going to Pallene, sbe delivered him to the three daughters of Cecrops and Aglauros in a little chest, charging them not to open it before her return. Curiosity bow. ever tempted them to disobey the command; they opened the chest, and saw two serpents wreathed around tbe infant. See l. 266. V 33. It was the universal practice of the ancients, in their unnatural custom of exposing their children, to expose something of value, at least of ornament, with the infant: hence the mother in Terence says,

Sostrata. Ut stultæ et miseræ omnes sumus
Religiosæ, quum exponendam do illi, de digito annulum
Detraho, et eum dico ut una cum puella exponeret;
Si moreretur, ne expers partis esset de nostris bonis.

Chremes.--Istuc recte. Heautontimor,

Prompts her to move it from the shrine; but soon
To pity she resign'd the harsh intent; '
The impulse of the god secretly acting
In favour of the child, that in his temple
It might abide: her gentle hand then took it,
And gave it nurture; yet conceiv'd she not
That Phoebus was the sire, nor who the mother
Knew aught, nor of his parents could the child
Give information. All his youthful years
Sportive he wander'd round the shrine, and there
Was fed: but when his firmer age advanc'd
To manhood, o'er the treasures of the god
The Delphians plac'd him, to his faithful care
Consigning all; and in this royal dome.
His hallow'd life he to this hour hath pass'd.
Mean time Creusa, mother of the child,
Ta Xuthus was espous'd, th' occasion this;
On Athens from Euboean Chalcis rolla ,
The waves of war; he join'd their martial toil,
And with his spear repell’d the foe; for this
To the proud honour of Creusa's bed
Advanc’d; no native, in Achaia sprung
From Æolus the son of Jove. Long time
Unbless'd with children to th' oracular shrine
Of Phoebus are they come, through fond desire
Of progeny: to this the god hath brought :
The fortune of his son, nor, as was deem'd,
Forgets him; but to Xuthus, when he stands
This sacred seat consulting, will he give
That son, declared his offspring; that the child, . .'
When to Creusa's house brought back, by her
May be agniz'd; the bridal rites of Phæbus,
Kept secret, that the youth may claim the state o
Due to his birth, through all the states of Greece
Named Ion, founder of the colonies
On th’ Asiatic coast. The laurell’d cave.
Now will I visit, there to learn what fortune

Is to the boy appointed, for I see
VOL. I.

ION.

This son of Phæbus issuing forth ľadorn
The gates before the shrine with laurel boughs.
First of the gods, I hail him by the name
Of lon, which his fortuné soon will give him.
Now flames this radiant chariot of the sun
High o’ér the earth, at whose ethereal fire
The stars into the sacred night retreat;
O'er the Parnassian cliffs th' ascending wheels
To mortals roll the beams of day: the wreaths
Of incense-breathing myrrh mount to the roof
Of Phæbus' fane; the Delphic priestess now
Assumes her seat, and from the hallow'd tripod
Pronounces to the Greeks th' oracular strains
Which the god dictates. Haste, ye Delphic train,
Haste to Castalia's silver-streaming fount,
Bath'd in its chaste dews to the temple go,
There from your guarded mouths no sound be heard
But of good omen, that to those, who crave
Admission to the oracle, your voice
May with auspicious words expound the answers.
My task, which from my early infancy
Hath been my charge, shall be with laurel boughs
And sacred wreaths to cleanse lhe vestibule
Of Phæbus, on the pavement moistening dew's
To rain, and with my bow to chase the birds
Which would defile the hallow'd ornaments.
A mother's fondness, and a father's care
I never knew; the temple of the god
Claims then my service, for it nurtur'd me.

Haste, thou verdant new-sprung bough,

NU

STRO.

106. The temple of Apollo was situated above the town of Delphi, under the rocks of Parnassus : as you ascend from the Gymnasium, the celebrated fountain of Castalia flows on the right, so called from a daughter of Achelous of that name, to whom Cephisus gave this stream; in proof of which the inhabitants of Lilæa assert, that if cakes are on certain days thrown into the spring of Cephisus, they rise again in Castalia.—Pausaniæ Phocica, c. viii.

121. Thou sew-sprung bough. This is generally understood as alluding to the transformation of Dapbne, before which Nondum laurus erat : but it has a very different meaning: a branch was cat every morning from the sacred laurel of

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