Ovid Illustrated: The Renaissance Reception
of Ovid in Image and Text
George Sandys, Ovid's Metamorphosis (1632)
An Online Edition
Daniel Kinney, Director
Special Thanks to Alison Caviness, Zack Long, Keicy Tolbert, and the Many Resident Experts of U.Va.'s E-Text Staff
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Although I conceaued at the first, that it would seeme a vaine ostentation in mee (who am only a louer of learning) to stuffe the Margent with Quotations: yet
vpon second thoughts, least it should be obiected how I make that my owne which I doe but borrow, and proue, vngratefull to the lenders; I hold it not amisse in
this empty Page, (so left by the oversight of the Printer) to mention those principall Authors out of whom I haue compiled these commentaries. The first place is
due to diverse of the Greeke, and most of the latine Poets, together with their Expositers. I am much indebted to Plato, the poeticall Philosopher: not a little to
Palaphates, Apollidorus, Aratus, Strabo, Diodorus, Pausanias, Plutarch, and Lucian: among the Romans chiefly, to Cicero, Higinus, Pliny, and Macrobius.
Neither haue I beene sparingly supplied by those antient Fathers, Lactantius, Eusebius, St. Augustine, and Fulgentius. Of moderne writers, I haue receiued the
greatest light from Geraldus, Pontanus, Ficinus, Viues, Comes, Scaliger, Sabinus, Pierius, and the Crowne of the latter, the Vicount of St. Albons: assisted,
though lesse constantly, by other authors, almost of all Ages and Arguments. Hauing beene true to my first purpose, in making choice for the most part of those
interpretations, which either beare the stampe of Antiquity, or receiue estimation from the Honour of the Author.
His Argument first propounded, our Poet according to the custome of the Heroicall, inuokes the diuine assistance (Rather would we begin, saith Livy, if it were our manner, as it is of the Poets, with our vows & prayers to the Gods, that they might giue successe to so great a labour). Then hee proceeds to the description of that confused Masse, which the Platonists call the vndigested World, as the world the digested Chaos: ordered, as they say by Loue; who raised the heauy, illuminated the obscure, quickned the dead, gaue forme to the deformed, and perfection to the imperfect: which was no other then that harmony in Nature created by the Almighties Fiat. And although by not expressing the originall he seemes to intimate the eternitie of his Chaos: yet appeares in the rest so consonant to the truth, as doubtlesse he had either seene the Books of Moses, or receaued that doctrine by tradition. He confesseth God, not disguizing his name (as obserued by Lactantius) to be the Creator of the World & maker of all things: and by that word Commanded, so often reiterated, that hee made them by his Word only. Whom he also calleth the Better Nature; so named by the Stoicke: Wilt thou call him Nature? Thou offendest not: it is he by whose spirit wee liue, of whom all things were borne. The better concludes a worse, which was Chaos: God they held to be the Minde, and Chaos the Matter: the Minde called by Plato the worlds Architectresse.
Chaos is first digested into the foure Elements. The Fire exceeding the rest in drinesse, heat, and leuitie, ascendeth next vnto the Orbe of the Moone; in forme sphericall, and turn'd about with the motion of the Heauens; pure in his owne Spheare, not deuouring, bright, giuing light; yet such as cannot be seene by reason of his tenuity: dissipated, rarified, & consequently preserued by his circular motion. The next in leuitie and place is Aire: moist, moderate hot; filling whatsoeuer is not otherwise supplied, as defending Nature from abhorred vacuitie; which rather then suffer, heauy bodies will ascend, and the light fall down-ward: moderate hot, in regard of the vicinitie of the fire; moist, in that thin, fluent, and boundlesse; the food of our spirits, without which the creature cannot subsist. Below the Ayre the Earth, dry, cold, thick, solid and heauy: dry, in that setled, and deuouring all moisture; cold, in that without motion, and farre remoued from the fountaine of heat: weight proceeds from density and soliditie, and therefore 'tis fixed in the midst of the world, as it were his Center. Last, he mentions the water; as lowest in his superficies approued by the perpetuall descent of Riuers; the shore being lower then the In-land, as the Sea then the shore. And although it seeme otherwise, yet is that but a deception of the eye, casting higher beames on places farre distant: so in a long Gallery the floore and seeling appeare to incline to each other. Yet is the water lesse heauy, moist, and respectiuely cold; naturally pressing to the same Center with the Earth, imbracing, and running within it, as blood in the veines, which else would be barren: moisture being the mother of all generation. The forme thereof is sphericall, or equally distant from the Center; making one Globe with the Earth, as is apparent at Sea by raising or laying the North-starre. And by loosing the shore by degrees, the lower objects first, and after the higher. So the mast is discouered before the Hull of a ship; which if the Sea were leuell (as Patritius will haue it) would first appeare, as exceeding it so infinitely in magnitude. Neither is his argument weighty which he drawes from water-leuels, since that gibbosity cannot be discerned, nor taken by instruments, in so small a proportion; rising but six foot in three miles, the space of a visible Horizon. Thus before he calleth Amphitrite, the feined daughter of Oceanus and Doris, and wife vnto Neptune: in that he, as they held, was the spirit diffused through the vniuersall masse of water; and, as we may say, the soule of that Element: Amphitrite, that body and matter of all moysture which imbraceth the Earth, or is embraced by it. The name deriued from the beating vpon the incompassed Earth with her surges.
From the Elements he proceeds to the Ornament of the Earth: made round, that it might be equall in it selfe; and equally distant from the celestiall bodies, from whence it receaueth her virtue. That it is so, is apparent by the Eclypse of the Moone, for such as the substance such is the shadow: effected by the naturall pressing of all parts to the Center; if not of the World, yet of her owne body. For the former is denied by Copernicus and his followers, who would rather place the Sunne in the Center: & alleadging the Moone to be a heauy body, with risings and depressions, like our vallies and mountaines as since discouered by Galileos Glasses. And perhaps to a Menippus in the Moone, the Earth, according to Aristotle, would appeare such another Planet. Our Poet before described the earth to hang in the Ayre, ballanced with her owne weight: and Lucretius of the same vnder the name of Cybel:
The fiue Zones, or diuisions of Heauen and Earth, not reall but imaginary, were well deuised by Astronomers to distinguish the motions of the Sunne, the Moone and the Starres, the vicissitude of times, the site and qualitie of Countries. The Torrid, so called of excessiue heat, the Sun being euer ouer it, is confined by the Tropicks of Cancer and Capricorne, and parted in the midst by the Aequator; containing in latitude seauen and forty degrees. This in the daies of our Author was held generally vnhabitable. Yet Lucan, in the army of Pompey, musters the Aethiopians: and Pliny out of Eratosthenes describes Taprobana, vnder the line, (supposed the same with Zumatra) but elsewhere concurres with the former assertion: so Ptolomie makes a doubt thereof in his Almagest, yet in his Geography treats of the Agisymban Aethiopians on the South of the Equinoctiall. Thus hardly is an old opinion worne out though the arguments against it bee neuer so forcible: found now by the Portugals and Spaniards not only populous, but healthfull, pleasant, and abounding with whatsoeuer the auarice or voluptuousnesse of man can desire. To them vnder the line the daies and nights are alwaies equall; the heat of the one being qualified by the length of the other, and coole breises continually blowing from nine of the clock vntill the euening. All the Starres (euen to the Poles) by turnes arise and set in their sight: though questioned by Lerius Burgundus and others. For in a free Horizon, as at Sea, we may see one halfe of the Heauens, or so insensibly lesse as cannot depriue the sight of a starre, the least farre exceeding the Earth in greatnesse, besides the refraction raises them halfe a degree. All within the Torrid Zone a part of the yeare haue their shadowes on their right side, and a part on the left, as the Sun is either towards the Winter or Summer Solstice. Two Summers they haue, and two haruests: the Trees euer greene, and bearing fruit continually. On each side of this lye the temperate Zones, confined by the Artick and Antartick Circles; each containing forty three degrees; and of equall qualitie. As the Sunne at high noone is with vs in the South, so is it North vnto those who dwell in the other; casting consequently contrary shadowes, to the no smal admiration of either who trauell hether or thether.
From Earth he ascends to Aire: how much thinner then Water the Optickes discouer; the one causing a refraction but of halfe a Degree, and the other of forty eight Degrees. Yet how much grosser then the sky, is by twilight apparent: the whole skie being all the night long in the beames of the Sun (that little spire, the shadowe of the Earth excepted) yet pitchy darke notwithstanding by reason of the transparent tenuity, which giues no reflection. But Morning and Euening when the sun shines on the Aire from vnder the Horizon, by the light thereof the starres are obscured: so that blew which we see in a cleere heauen is only the reflection of the Aire, thickned by the warme and moist vapours, drawne vp by the sun, and vertue of the starres, which otherwise would be too subtill to breath in. Acosta writes, that vpon the Andes high mountaines of Peru, men and horses expire in that too subtle and piercing; and Aristotle how those who ascended the top of Olympus (farre lower then the other) accustomed to carry wet spunges, to preuent the like mischiefe. These moist and grosse vapors, attracted as before, and condensed by cold convert into clouds, which hang as if congealed together; and dissoluing by the feruor of the sun descend in fruitfull showres on the superficies of the Earth, not penetrating aboue the depth of ten feet, as and obserued by Seneca, a diligent digger in Vinyards. Here hot dry exhalations, inveloped by watry Clouds, with motion or opposition of contrary cold, are inflamed: burning they rarifie; then struggle to burst forth, and at length force their way, darting downe flames with horrible roarings. Although naturall, yet well tearmed a terror to man; nay euen to such who haue slighted the Gods and contemned their power. Insomuch as Tiberius Caesar when the aire grew troubled, was no lesse distempred in his minde, and would put on a Garland of Laurell, as a preseruatiue against it. And Caligula, who vsurped the title of Iupiter, and often bare a thunder-bolt in his hand, would shut his eyes, couer his face, and not seldome creep vnder bedsteads and tables. But Dion writes that when it thundred and lightned aloft, he below would counterfeit the same by artificiall deuices: following belike the example of Salmoneus, seene in Hell by Aeneas,
Now comes he to the Heauens; consisting of a pure and vnmixed substance, held heretofore neither subiect to corruption nor alteration. But late obseruations haue proued the contrary: for Comets are now knowne to be aboue the Moone; nay higher then the least Parallax can be discerned; generated, as Tycho conceaues, of the Milky way; but according to Kepler, of a certaine thick matter, encompassing almost alwaies the body of the sun. Howsoeuer their dissipation must of necessity contaminate the virgin purity of Aristotles Quintessence. The Heauens being neither heauy nor light receaue a sphericall figure, of all other the most perfect, capacious, and fittest for motion. Ten Spheares there are including each other. The tenth moueth (or is moued by the finger of God) from East vnto West, and finisheth its course in foure and twenty houres; making day, and night, and time, which is the measure of motion. The other nine, on another Axeltree twenty three Degrees from the first, moue from West vnto East. The ninth, which is the Christalline, turneth the eighth (wherein are the fixed Starres) about with it; both of a vniforme motion, and finish their course in twenty and fiue thousand yeares: which motion appeares not but by the obseruation of sundry Ages. In the daies of Meton, foure-hundred and thirty yeares before Christ, the first starre of Aries was in the vernal intersection, which still keepes that name, although now remoued almost nine and twenty degrees. So that in more then two thousand yeares, the fixed starres haue not trauelled from West to East, so much as one whole Signe in the Zodiack. The other seauen being Planets, haue variety of motions: Saturne finisheth his course in thirty yeares, Iupiter in twelue, Mars in two, the Sunne & Venus in one, Mercury in eight and twenty daies lesse, and the Moone in eight and twenty daies. Yet all are violently turned about by the rapture of the tenth Spheare in foure and twenty houres; measuring with incomprehensible celerity at least two hundred thousand miles euery minute: which need not seeme incredible, if we consider the diffusion of light and motion of spirits, which either are or haue many things analogicall to bodies (not to speake of the passage of the glorified) performed in an instant: extolling rather (as doth this whole contemplation of Nature) the omnipotency of the Creator.
The Earth being replenished with Beasts, the water with Fishes, & the aire with Foule; least the Heauens should only remaine empty, our Poet faines that the starres and Gods made that their habitation. By the Gods perhaps he intimates the Planets that carry their names: and the Ancient held that the starres had life, and dominion withall, ouer our sublunary bodies. Nor haue some Christians rejected this old opinion of the Philosophers, how certaine Angels, or Intelligences, assist and giue motion to the caelestiall Spheares. Insteed of which, the new refiners of Astronomy vouchsafe a kind of soule to the Sunne, as requisite to those his notable effects of motion, generation, and influence. Plato affirmes that at the first they adored no other: calling particular starres by the names of their dead friends, and honouring them with Temples. If my mouth (saith Iob) haue kissed my hand to the Sunne or the Moone (so anciently hath the kissing of the hand beene a token of reuerence) I should haue denied God: and the Prophet complaines that the Iew not onely worshipped these, but the whole Hoast of Heauen, so taught by their idolatrous neighbours, who not only held that they had life and vnderstanding, but saw whatsoeuer was done by mortals; hearing their praises and prayers, and accepting of their sacrifices. That the twelue signes in the Zodiack were directed by twelue superintendents: Aries by Pallas, Taurus by Venus, Gemini by Apollo, Cancer by Mercury, Scorpio by Mars, Sagitarius by Diana, Capricornus by Vesta, Aquarius by Iuno, and Pisces by Neptune. Those ruling in the seuerall parts of the body, and these in the soule. And surely the starres are not only ornaments; although exactly to discouer their virtue in their aspects require a supernaturall knowledge: yet no otherwise incline or dispose the minde, then by working on our seuerall constitutions and complexions, nay many things concurre of farre greater efficacy, as parentage, education, discipline and custome. They consist of the more condensed part of the heauens: receiuing all their light from the sunne; especially the Planets, casting shadowes in their opposition: and Venus by the new perspectiues, found horned like the Moone. Yet vnto the fixed starres, besides their borrowed light, some attribute an innate splendor: supposing that the sunne at so great a distance, appearing ten thousand times lesse vnto them then to vs, cannot communicate so great a light as they retribute to the earth. Yet still inioy he his title of the generall fountaine of light, since his beames searching through the smallest cranny cast a greater lustre then all the starres together in the Firmament. All that are seene in our Hemispheare, digested into Constellations, besides the seauen
Planets, amount not to aboue one thousand and two and twenty: and in the other one hundred and one and twenty more haue lately beene discouered: so in all there are eleuen hundred forty and three: howeuer the glimmering and twinckling of so many make them seeme innumerable. And really so they are, though not by vs to be discerned, as appeares by Galilaeos Glasses.
Thus sprung this beautifull world out of that deformed Chaos; and to Chaos (or rather into nothing) shall it againe returne, if this opinion erre not:
The last in act, but the first in intention, was the creation of Man, for whom the rest were created: extolled by our Poet as a sacred creature, and therefore not to be violated; indued with a Minde, which is, with Reason and vnderstanding; the Lord of the rest of the creatures, so deputed by his Creator, sprung of caelestiall seed, in regard of the essence of his soule, made of the earth, to teach him humilitie, yet after the image of God: not only in regard of his originall integritie (a good man, saith Plato, is like vnto God) for that had beene lost by his fall, nor in the inuisibility, eternity, and wonderfull faculties of the soule; nor in his domination: but also (according to the opinion of the Iewes as appeares by Iosephus: as of Zanchius, and many of our moderne Diuines) in the symetry and beauty of his body: Beauty is a quick and sprightly grace (as the Platonists hold) infused at first by a heauenly Ray; shining in the Minde of man, the concinnitie of the body, and harmony of the voice: which by Reason, by the Eye, and the Eare, stirre-vp, and delight, delighting rauish, and rauishing inflame vs with ardent affection: by contemplating and affecting of this, wee contemplate and affect the diuine refulgency, as in that the Deitie. But if this seeme incongruous in respect of our corruptible bodies, yet holds it well as they shall bee glorified, and clad with a Sun-like brightnesse. Lastly man was made with an erected looke to admire the glory of the Creator. What Theologian could haue spoken more diuinely? Alone deceaued in the name of the Artificer. Error is as full of contradiction as truth of conformity. A man to make the first man, and he Prometheus the son of Iaphet. Lactantius writes that he liued in the daies of Iupiter, when Temples and Idols began to be erected, and was the first that euer made Statues. S. Augustine reports him for a man of great wisdome, who informed the rude and earthly minds of men with knowledge and vnderstanding, and therefore was fained to haue made them of clay: others, in that hee taught the doctrine of the Creation. He is said to haue fetcht fire from the Chariot of the Sun by the counsell of Minerva; because he first erected the mindes of men to celestiall speculations. But to conforme the fable to the truth: Prometheus signifies Prouidence, and Minerva Heavenly Wisdome: by Gods prouidence therefore and wisdome Man was created. The celestiall fire is his Soule inspired from aboue: which the Philosophers themselues by the light of nature could discouer. But nothing is here spoken of the creation of Woman. Aristophanes tells a fable in Plato how Man at the first was made double, after cut into two, and distinguished by their sexes, an obscure notion of Eues being taken out of the side of Adam.
The fiction of the foure Ages degenerating from better to worse, I should haue thought, with others, to haue beene deriued from that Image in Daniel; where the first Monarchie is presented by Gold, the second by Siluer, the third by Brasse, and the fourth by Iron: had not Hesiod long before (from whom our Poet takes his invention) by those names described them:
As the Westerne parts of the world were called the Inferior; so were the Easterne Heauen, or the Superior, being vnder the command of Iupiter.
The Brasen Age succeeded the Siluer: for man grew not instantly superlatiue wicked, but degenerated by degrees, till imboldned by custome, through his insolencie and out-rage, he affrighted Astraea or justice from the earth: (perhaps alluding to the righteous Henocks miraculous and early assumption) producing this Iron Age, which is here so accuratly described by our Poet; and withall those miseries which pursue it.
It is said that the Earth, inraged with Iupiter for the slaughter of the Titans, in reuenge produced Gyants of a vast proportion: yet rather so called of their monstrous Mindes. For the statures of Men are now as heretofore: as appeares by the embalmed bodies of the Aegyptians, and by the ancient Sepulchers in Iudea. And as the former Ages haue produced some of a prodigious Height, so also haue the latter. Scaliger saw a Man at Millan, who hardly could lie on two beds, one set at the foot of another: and Goropeus, a Woman in the Netherlands, who exceeded ten feet. The Gyant of Burdeux (of the Guard to Francis the first) was so tall, that a man of indifferent stature might haue gon betweene his legges without stooping: Nor is there any mentioned in antient history that exceeded six or seuen cubits. The first Gyants that we read off were begot by the sonnes of God on the daughters of Men: that is, by the sonnes of Seth on the offspring of Cain. The name signifies to fall, in regard of their defection and apostasie from God and religion: tearmed in the Scriptures men of might and renowne, of their strength, and strenuous performancies: exceeding in pride and crueltie, and therefore said to rebell against Ioue the counterfeit Iehouah. Such was the Gyant Nimrod after the Flood; the ringleader of those who built the Tower of Babel, whose height was intended to haue reacht vnto heauen, and to haue preuented God in his future judgments. And what was that but the throwing of mountaine vpon mountaine, to scale euen heauen it selfe, and warre with the Gods? The one confounded with lightning, and the other by the confusion of languages. But those first are here most properly intended: who also are taken for too potent subjects, or the tumultuary vulgar; rebelling against their Princes, called Gods, as his substitutes: who by their disloyaltie and insolencies violate all lawes both of God and man, and profane whatsoeuer is sacred. The Gyants were the sonnes of the Earth (for so they called of old the ignorant, and earthly minded: as those the sonnes of heauen, who were admired for their virtues) said to be of a huge proportion; in that commonly such are prone to intemperance, wrath, and iniustice; seldome yeelding vnto reason, but are carried with the swinge of their lusts and affections: to haue many handes, in regard of their strength & atchieuements, the feet of Dragons, for their wicked waies & diuelish designes, supporting Rebellion, tyranny & impietie. Pherecides the Syrian writes how the Diuels were throwne out of heauen by Iupiter (this fall of the Gyants perhaps an allusion to that of the Angells) the chiefe called Ophioneus, which signifies Serpentine: hauing after made vse of that creature to poyson Eue with a false ambition. This battail is fained to haue beene fought in Thessaly (the Poets still laying their Sceanes in Greece in which are the here mentioned mountaines of Pelion, Ossa, and Olympus) for the inhumanitie of those people, and their contempt of the Gods; and to be ouerwhelmed by them, for their flaming and sulphurous exhalations. Wherevpon that naturall sense is giuen to this fable; how the Gyants are those windes that struggle in the cauernes of the Earth; which not finding a way inforce it; vomiting fire, and casting vp stones against heauen or Iupiter. The Earth, their mother, of their blood is here said to haue renewed their race: in that succeeded by as cruell and wicked an offspring: It is recorded that Faustina the wife of Marcus Aurelius, being desperately in loue with a Fencer, was cured by the aduice of the Mathematitians with a potion of his blood: who conceauing soone after, was deliuered of Commodus; rather to bee stiled a Fencer then a Prince; whose only delight was in blood and murder. Plutarch writes that the ancient Kings of Aegypt would drinke no wine vntill the reigne of Psammetichus, nor offer it to the Gods: because they held the Vine to spring from the blood of the Gyants that warred against them; whose iuyce made those, who ouer-largely tasted it, like insolent and out-ragious. To preuent such disorders in his Ianisaries, the Grand Seignior not seldome commands all the Wine in Constantinople to bee staued: perhaps the politique intent of Mahomets prohibition. They attribute the Lightning vnto Iupiter; not only in that faigned to be the King of the Gods; but because he is the middle Planet betweene Saturne and Mars, participating of the cold of the one, and heat of the other: thunder and lightning proceeding from the conflict of those contrary qualities.
Iupiter now intending the destruction of Mankind for their sinnes, here calleth a Counsell: to informe vs how all humane affaires are gouerned by the certaine decree and prouidence of God; not by chance or Fortune, as the Tragedian complaineth.
Ioue illustrates the impiety of the world by the example of Lycaon; who thus beginnes his relation.
Iupiter intending to burne the Earth, is restrained by that remembred destiny, how not only Earth, but Heauen it selfe, should one day by fire be consumed. This is held to be but once reuealed in the Scriptures, and that by S. Peter; how came it then to the knowledge of Ovid, who was dead before that Epistle was written? It may bee out of the Prophecies of the Sybels, as in this.
The Sinnes of men drew on (in which our Poet concurres with Moses) the generall Deluge, although he transferre it to Deucalions, wherein most of Greece was surrounded; which hapned seauen hundred and fourescore yeares after the other: yet in this he describeth the former, as appeares by many particulars: which may serue to reconcile his Chronology, for many of these following stories were before the daies of Deucalion. There is no nation so barbarous, no not the saluage Virginians, but haue some notion of so great a ruine. The naturall causes he alleadgeth of these accumulated waters. The North windes are shut vp, the South set at liberty; the clowdes descend in showres, which are nourished by the Raine-bow: because the Raine is increased by that dissoluing vapour wherein it appeareth: so formed and painted by the reflected rayes of the opposite Sunne, on a dropping, darke, & hollow cloud. The vpper-most colour is crimson, made by the stronger refraction on the darker part thereof; for light vpon blacke produceth a red: the next is greene, proceeding from a feebler, on a part more remote and watery: the lowest is blew, created by the weakest rayes; so that the sight can hardly apprehend the reflected splendor, which therefore appeares more darke and obscure. The conjunction of these colours augment their diuersity, as red and greene ingender a yellow: yet all are only in apparance, like those which are seene in a Merror. To confirme what hath beene alleadged by a knowne experiment; if with a scoope, against the setting Sunne, you cast water circularly into the aire, a rainebow will appeare therein. This is called Iris, the daughter of Thaumas, or Wonder; Iris imports a message, because it presageth faire or foule weather, as it followeth the contrary; & therefore the messenger of Iuno, who is taken for the aire where clouds are ingendred. Moreouer Neptune lifts vp his floods, the commaunded Riuers vnlocke their Fountaines; he strikes the Earth with his Trident, which is said to shake, in that the land which borders on the Sea is most subject vnto Earthquakes; whose breaches giue new ascents to subterren waters, or let in those of the Ocean. Some would fetch water from aboue the firmament to make enough for this Deluge (though that perhaps be meant by the clouds) least God should be forced to a new creation after his Sabaoth. And although the dissolution of the snow which perpetually couers the mountaines, especially of that huge accumulation from the beginning of the World beyond the Articke; and Antarticke Circles; the rarifying of the frozen and vniuersall Ocean (like a pot boyling ouer) as we see at full floods in a smaller proportion; the waters in the hollowes of the earth, squiezed as out of a spunge, and supplied with aire, with those former concomitancies, might proue abundantly sufficient; yet is it safer to admire, then subject his miracles vnto naturall causes. They attribute a Trident (a lance with three forkes) vnto Neptune: which signifies the third site (according to Plutarch) of the Element of water, below the sky and the aire; whereupon the sea was called Amphitrite, and the petty Seagods Tritons, or of the three parts of the Worlde (the fourth then vnknowne) imbraced by the Ocean: or of his triple power in enraging, asswaging, and bounding the surges. But Neptune was a mortall (as the rest of the Gods) to whom his brother Iupiter gaue the Empire of the Sea, with the Ilands, & Maritime citties: as was registred on a Pillar of gold in the Temple of Iupiter Triphylius.
Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, the Daughter of his brother Epimetheus, alone escaped (the reward of their piety) this generall destruction: he hauing made an Arke by the aduice of his father Prometheus in which he floated on the waters. Lucian reports that not only they and their children entred the same, but all the creatures which the Earth sustained: comming vnto him by paires, and deposing their naturall discord by the dispensation of Iupiter: and Plutarch, that he let forth a Doue, which returning oft, at length came no more: by which he knew that shee had found footing: alluding all to the history of Noah: he is said to haue beene King of Thessaly, the first founder of Cities, and erecter of Temples: in whose dayes those parts abounded with men, as they with flagitious offenses. For multitudes of people procure a scarcity of all things, and necessity makes men more crafty, dishonest, and irregular. For these crimes, in those times (as our Poet here intimates) there fell such abundance of raine as drowned almost all Greece; Deucalion and Pyrrha sauing themselues on the top of Larnassus, so called of their couered boate, and after Parnassus, a mountaine of Phocis:
Now Iupiter dissipateth the clouds, sets the North-winde at liberty, and shewes the Earth vnto Heauen: Neptune suppresseth the Seas with his Trident, and commands his trumpeter Triton to sound a retreat to the waters; who is thus described by Virgil.
The desolate Earth now emergent, distressed Deucalion and Pyrrha, purging themselues with the holy water of Cephisus (an ancient custome among the Pagans) repaire to the temple of Themis; with prostrated bodyes and humble soules presenting their prayers to the Goddesse. Prayers inforce Coelestiall pitty, and pitty reliefe; afforded in this answere.
There was neede of diuine aduice for the restoring of man: Heat and Moisture, the parents of Generation, are feigned here to haue produced the rest: among which Python, a prodigious serpent, whose bulke tooke vp so much of the mountaine. Although this be allegoricall, yet read we of so huge a Serpent by Bograda in Africa, that it depriued the Roman army, vnder Attilius Regulus, of the vse of the Riuer; deuouring many of his souldiers, and crushing many to death with his imbracements: whose body no dart nor weapon could penetrate: more terrible to the Legions and Cohorts, than warre or Carthage: destroyed at last with milstones, and peeces of rocks, throwne out of engines; the stench infecting both the aire and army. His skinne was a hundred and twenty foote long. But the sence of this fable is meerely Physicall: for Python, borne after the Deluge of the humide Earth, is that great exhalation which rose from the late drowned World, vntill it was dissipated by the feruor of the Sunne or Apollo.
Apollo, elated with his victory, despiseth Cupid: yet escapes not his vengeance. He is here called a boy, by reason of the diuersity of affections which raigne in Louers; apt to beleeue, easily deceaued, and refractory to reason: or that loue is as a child in the heart of a louer, euer growing, and neuer waxing old; though not still in apparance, yet alwaies in efficacy. For loue is truely loue no longer then it increaseth: a deadly symptome is his standing at a stay; and his first declination, a downefall. He is said to be armed with fire, in that he inflames the heart with ardent desires: and as fire is of all elements the most noble and actiue, euen so is loue of all the affections: to haue wings in regard of the inconstancy of loue; or of his swift desires and impatiency of delay: or rather of a louers celerity and industry in seruing and deseruing. Cupid drawes out of his quiuer two arrowes of contrary effects: the one tipt with gold, the mettall of the Sunne, who heats our bloods and fills vs with alacrity: the other with lead, belonging to Saturne, cold and melancholy: alacrity procures, and melancholy (not that which proceeds from extremity of heat, which hath a contrary operation) extinguishes desires.
plate of lead applied to the breast suppresseth vnchast dreames. To loue he attributes a double power of disdaine and affection, and Horace
The neighbour and forraine Riuers now visit old Peneus, not knowing whether to condole or congratulate, for the losse, or noble transformation of his daughter. Onely Inachus was absent, lamenting the misse of his Iö; pursued, and comprest in a cloud by Iupiter: called the Thunderer, the ruler of the World, the giuer of all good; yet introduced for an adulterer, a rauisher of virgins, and in himselfe a receiuer of all euill. This Inachus, the father of Iö, was the first that euer raigned in Argos, accidentally drowned in Carmanor, which after was called by his name; and Iö faigned to be the daughter of that Riuer. Palaephatus in his treatise of the convincing of fables, relating as incredible things, and more defacing the truth by professing it, (when fiction, that spar of Gold, is the art; & truth well counterfeited, the honour of the Poet) reports how Iö, the Priest of Iuno, being got with child, and fearing the fury of her father Inachus, fled out of the citty: whereupon it was fained by the Argiues that the mad Cow was broke loose, & deliuered in Aegypt. But Herodotus, how the Phaenician Merchants sailing into Greece, and the women of Argos (among whom was Iö) comming aboard to see their commodities, were surprized by them, and carried thether. Which more agreeth with the truth, since the ship that brought her was celebrated by the Aegyptians in their festiualls. Diodorus writes how being the most beautifull woman of that age, shee was married by Osyris; he called Iupiter, and she Isis; from whence the fable of Iupiters loue vnto Io was deriued. She teaching the Aegyptians husbandry & many vsefull knowledges, was after deified by them, and honoured with Temples and Altars. Most certaine it is that they worshiped Osyris in the likenesse of an Oxe, (and why not Isis in the forme of a Cow?) expressing agriculture (as they did) by the one; and the soyle of Aegypt by the other. Neither doubt I but that the Israelites, long sojourning there, brought from thence their superstition of the Golden Calfe; made after two by Ieroboam, who also had liued, as an exile in that Country. Concerning the naturall sence of this fable; Io is taken for the Earth, the daughter of the Riuer Inachus, or water in generall (as the son of Oceanus and Tethys:) in that the Earth afarre off appeares to rise from the Sea. Iupiter lay with her in a clowd; the aethereall heat, which is Iupiter, drawing vapors from the earth perpetually: fained to be turned into a cow, for the industry of that creature in cultiuating the Earth from whence she receaues her fertility. Iupiter renders the Cow to approaching Iuno, the milder temperature of the aire; the extreames of heat and cold being equally hurtfull to production: which she deliuers to the custody of Argus. Argus is taken for Heauen, his eyes for the starres, which continually behold the Cow, that is, the Earth, and by the varying of times by his motion procures her fertility. Halfe his hundred eyes are said to watch, while the other halfe slept: so halfe of them shine, the rest obscured by the splendor of the Sun; here as vsually, taken for Mercury, because that Planet is almost vnder his Orbe: thus expressed by Pontanus.
This fable is interwouen with that of Pan and Syrinx. Pan was the first that invented the seauen-fold Pipe: and for that cause is said to haue loued Syrinx, who when she could not auoid his pursuit, was changed into Reeds by the Nymphs of the Riuer. Syrinx signifies a reede, here fained the daughter of Ladon, in that there they grow in abundance. Of this Pipe, and how first found out thus singeth Lucretius.
Now Epaphus, the son of Io, attaining the gouernment of Aegyt, built the citty of Memphis; and caused his mother after her death to be adored for a Goddesse: who taxing Phaeton (as our Poet here faines) to be no son to Phoebus, is the cause of his journey to his fathers pallace; and consequently of the Worlds conflagration.