In honour of Apollon
- Phœbos Apollon
- Apollon Mousegetes
- Apollon Acestor
- Shining Bringer of light and wiſdom
- Muſe of the Muſes
- ſilver-quivered Healer of thoſe in need
Gérard de Nerval, “Delphica”
La connais-tu, Dafné, cette ancienne romance,Daphne, do you know that ancient romance,Au pied du ſycomore, ou ſous les lauriers blancs,At the foot of the ſycamore, or under the white laurel,Sous l’olivier, le myrthe ou les ſaules tremblants,Under the olive tree, the myrtle or the trembling willows,Cette chanſon d’amour… qui toujours recommence !That ſong of love… that always begins again!
Reconnais-tu le Temple, au périſtyle immenſe,Do you recogniſe the Temple, with its immenſe periſtyle,Et les citrons amers où s’imprimaient tes dents ?And the bitter lemons where your teeth were impreſsed?Et la grotte, fatale aux hôtes imprudents,And the cave, fatal to unwary gueſts,Où du dragon vaincu dort l’antique ſemence.Where the vanquiſhed dragon ſleeps the ancient ſeed.
Ils reviendront, ces Dieux que tu pleures toujours !They will return, theſe Gods whom you always mourn!Le temps va ramener l’ordre des anciens jours ;Time will bring back the order of the old days;La Terre a treſsailli d’un ſouffle prophétique…The Earth has ſhaken with a prophetic breath…
Cependant la ſibylle au viſage latinHowever the ſibyl with the Latin faceEſt endormie encor ſous l’arc de Conſtantin :Is ſtill aſleep under Conſtantine's arch:— Et rien n’a dérangé le ſévère portique.— And nothing has diſturbed the ſtern portico.
whom Gods tremble before as in Zeús 's abode He is ſtriding—
then as He comes up cloſe to the place They are ſitting, They leap up,
all of Them, out of Their ſeats, as He ſtretches His glittering bow back.
Lētó alone ſtays there beſide Zeus the great thunderbolt-hurler;
She unlooſens the bowſtring and cloſes the lid on His quiver;
taking His arrows and bow in Her hands from His powerful ſhoulders,
She hangs them on the pillar by which His Father is ſitting,
high on a gold-wrought hook; to a chair She guides Him and ſeats Him.
Then, in a goblet of gold, ſweet nectar His Father preſents Him,
making His dear Son welcome; and ſtraightway the other Immortals
ſit down there in aſsembly, and Leto the lady is gladdened,
ſeeing that She has brought forth ſo mighty a Son and an Archer.
Hail and rejoice then, Leto the bleſsèd, for glorious Children
Thou bore, lordly Apollon and Ártemis Shooter of arrows,
Her in Ortygia, Him brought forth in Delos the rocky,
while Thou reclined on a great tall peak of the Cynthian highland,
cloſe to a date-palm tree by the ſtreams of the River Inópos.
How ſhall I ſing of Ye who are in all ways worthy of ſinging?
For to Thee, Phœ̂bos , melodious ſongs are intoned the world over,
both on the mainland, nurturing heifers, and over the iſlands;
all of the crags are delightful to Thee, and the ſharp promontories
jutting from ſteep high mountains, and rivers that flow to the ſeabrine,
beaches that ſlope down into the water, and deep ſea harbors.
Shall it be how firſt Leto delivered Thee, gladdening mortals,
when by the mountain of Cynthos She lay, on the rock-ſtrewn iſland
Delos begirt by the ſea, with a black wave ſurging on either
hand to the dry land under the ſhrill ſharp breath of the ſtormwinds?
Thence indeed having riſen, Thou rulest over all us mortals,
over the people who dwell in Crete and the diſtrict of Athens ,
alſo the iſle of Ægína and galley-renownèd Euboía,
Ægæ, Eireſiæ, and Pepárethos, cloſe to the ſea-brine,
alſo Thracian Athos and Pelion’s towering ſummits,
Thracian Samos as well, and the ſhadowy highlands of Ida,
Scyros as well as Phocæa, the highland of ſteep Autocánè
alſo, and firm-ſet Imbros and inhoſpitable Lemnos,
ſacred Leſbos, the dwelling of Macar, Æolos’ ſcion,
alſo Chios, the brighteſt of iſlands that lie in the ſea-brine,
Mimas, rugged and rocky, and Córycos’ towering ſummits,
ſhimmering Claros as well, and the highland of ſteep Æſagéa,
alſo watery Samos and Mýcalè’s ſteep high headland,
then Milétos and Cos, that town of Meropian people,
then too ſteep high Cnidos and wind-blown Cárpathos iſland,
Naxos and Paros as well, and the rock-ſtrewn iſle of Rhenaía—
even ſo far did Leto , in birth-pangs with the Far-ſhooter,
wander to ſeek a land willing to ſerve as a home for Her dear Son.
They were all dreadfully trembling and fearful, and none of them dared to
take in Phœbos the Lord, not even the richeſt among them,
not until finally Leto the Lady, arriving on Delos,
made inquiry of Her, as in theſe winged words She addreſsed Her:
“Delos, if thou wouldst be willing to be the abode of my dear Son
Phœbos Apollon , and here to eſtabliſh for Him a great ſumptuous temple—
ſince no other will touch thee; of that thou will not be unmindful,
nor, I believe, wilt thou be at all wealthy in cattle and ſheep flocks,
nor wilt thou bring forth grapes or produce an abundance of produce—
if thou containest, though, the great ſhrine of far-ſhooting Apollon ,
people will all be bringing to thee their hecatombs hither,
when they gather together; the meaſureleſs ſavor of fat will
always riſe from the fires — thine inhabitants thou wilt be feeding
out of thoſe foreigners’ hands, for in truth thy ſoil is not fertile.”
So did She ſay; then Delos was gladdened and made Her an anſwer:
“Leto , the greatly illuſtrious Daughter of powerful Cœ̂os ,
gladly indeed to Thine Offspring, the Lord Far-ſhooting, would i grant
welcome, becauſe it is terribly true that of evil repute i
am among men—thus i would become univerſally honored.
But this ſaying i tremble at, Leto , and i will not hide it:
for they ſay that Apollon will be of a haughty and reckleſs
temper, and greatly will He dominate both among the Immortals
and among men who are mortal upon theſe grain-giving plowlands.
Therefore am i moſt terribly fearful in mind and in ſpirit,
leſt as He looks for the very firſt time on Hēlios’ Sunlight,
He will diſhonor the iſland becauſe i am rugged and rocky,
overturn me with His feet, thruſt me to the depths of the ſeabrine;
there will the great high billows forever be breaking above me,
over my head; He will go to another land, one that will pleaſe Him,
there to erect His temple and found His foreſted woodland.
Sea-polypuſes will build upon me their bedrooms, and black ſeals
alſo will make me their carefree dwelling, becauſe i lack people.
Yet if you deign now, Goddeſs, to ſwear me an oath of the ſtrongeſt—
it will be here that He firſt will erect a moſt beautiful temple
which will for all mankind be an oracle—afterward, ſurely,
and let Him erect more temples and found more foreſted woodlands
widely among all men, for in many a name will He glory.”
So she ſpoke; the great oath of the Gods did Leto then ſwear Her:
“Now Earth witneſs to this, and the wide ſky ſtretching above Us,
ſo too the water of Styx, down-flowing; for this is the greateſt
oath and the oath moſt dreadful among Us bleſsèd Immortals:
ſurely forever will be right here on this iſland the fragrant
altar and precinct of Phœbos ; and thou above all will He honor.”
But then, when she had ſworn and had brought her oath to completion,
Delos was gladdened indeed at the birth of the Lord, the Far-ſhooter;
Leto was yet nine days and as well nine nights by unwonted
birth-pangs pierced to the core; and the Goddeſses were on the iſle with
Her, all thoſe who were nobleſt, as were Diónē and Rhéa ,
Thémis of Ichnæ alſo and thunderous Amphitrítē ,
all of the reſt of the Goddeſses too, ſave Hēra of white arms,
for She ſat in the halls of the great cloud-gathering God Zeus ;
Eileíthyia the Goddeſs of childbirth alone did not know it,
for She ſat in the gold clouds high on the peak of Olympos
by the contrivance of Hera of white arms, who out of envy
kept Her away from the place: to a Son both faultleſs and mighty
Leto of beautiful treſses was juſt then going to give birth.
Then from the firm-ſet iſland the Goddeſses ſent away Îris ,
Eileithyia to fetch by promiſing Her a great necklace
faſtened together with gold-ſpun threads, nine cubits extended,
bade Her deliver the ſummons apart from Hera of white arms,
leſt with Her words that Goddeſs ſhould afterwards turn Her from coming.
But then, when to theſe things ſwift wind-footed Iris had liſtened,
She began running, ſo quickly accompliſhing all of the diſtance.
But then, when She arrived at the ſeat of the Gods, ſteep Olympos,
ſtraightway Eileithyia away from the chamber She ſummoned
out of the door, and in winged words there She ſpoke and addreſsed Her
all that the Goddeſses having their homes on Olympos had ordered.
In this way She perſuaded the heart in the breaſt of the Goddeſs;
then They departed on foot, in Their ſteps like timorous pigeons.
Soon as had ſet foot there on Delos the Goddeſs of childbirth
Eileithyia , the pangs ſeized Leto , who yearned to deliver.
Throwing Her arms then around a date-palm, She fell to Her knees right
there on the ſoft meadowland, and the earth began ſmiling beneath Her;
He leapt forth to the light; all the Goddeſses cried out rejoicing.
Thereupon, glorious Phœbos , the Goddeſses purely and cleanly
bathed Thee in beautiful water and ſwathed Thee in whiteſt apparel,
delicate, recently woven, and faſtened about Thee a gold band.
Nor was Apollon the God of the gold ſword nurſed by His Mother;
rather, of nectar and lovely ambroſia Themis provided
Him a due ſhare with Her deathleſs hands; then Leto was gladdened,
ſeeing that She had brought forth ſo mighty a Son and an Archer.
But then, Phœbos , as ſoon as Thou ate the ambroſial victuals,
then no longer the gold cords held Thee, panting and ſtruggling,
nor did the bonds reſtrain Thee, but all their knots were unlooſened.
Then to the deathleſs Goddeſses ſpoke forth Phœbos Apollon :
“Ever belovèd to me may the kithara be, and the curved bow;
I will declare to mankind great Zeus’s infallible purpoſe.”
So having ſpoken began to go forth on the earth of the wide ways
Phœbos of hair unſhorn who ſhoots from afar; and at Him then
marveled the Goddeſses all; and with gold all Delos was heavy
laden as She caught ſight of the Offspring of Zeus and of Leto ,
gladdened becauſe it was she that the God had choſen as dwelling,
over the iſlands and mainland — she loved Him the more in Her ſpirit,
blooming, as when with its woodland flowers a mountain-top bloſsoms.
Thou then, ſilvery-bowed Far-ſhooter, the lordly Apollon ,
ſometimes ſtrode on Thy way over Cynthos, rugged and rocky,
ſometimes Thou wouldst go roaming about among iſlands and peoples.
Many indeed are Thy temples and many the foreſted woodlands;
all of the crags are belovèd to Thee, and the ſharp promontories
jutting from ſteep high mountains, and rivers that flow to the ſea-brine;
but in Thy heart by Delos eſpecially Thou art delighted,
Phœbos , for there long-robed Ionians gather together,
they themſelves and as well their children and virtuous bedmates.
There in remembrance of Thou they give Thee delight with their boxing
matches and dancing and ſinging, whenever they ſet competitions.
One would ſuppoſe them immortal and ageleſs forever and ever,
He who had come upon thoſe Ionians meeting together;
He on beholding the grace of them all would delight in His ſpirit,
as at the men He gazed, and the women with beautiful girdles,
and at the ſhips, ſwift-ſailing,as well as their many poſseſsions.
Then there is this great marvel, of fame which never will periſh—
it is the Delian girls, handmaids of the great Far-ſhooter;
theſe, whenever at firſt in a hymn they have lauded Apollon
alſo Leto the Goddeſs and Artemis Shooter of arrows,
calling to memory tales of the men and the women of old times,
ſtraightway a hymn they ſing, enchanting the nations of mankind.
They know how to imperſonate all men’s voices and all their
muſical vocalizations, and each would imagine himſelf as
ſounding the words—ſo ſuited to them is their beautiful ſinging.
But come, be Thou propitious, Apollon , and Artemis alſo;
farewell, all of you maidens; and me then, even hereafter,
call to your memory, when ſomeone among men on the earth , ſome
much-tried ſuffering ſtranger, arrives here making inquiry:
“Maidens, for you which ſinger is it of men wandering hither
who is the ſweeteſt in ſong, and by whom you moſt are delighted?”
Then do you all, each one, make anſwer and tell him about me:
“It is a blind man dwelling in Chios, rugged and rocky,
whoſe ſongs, every one, are the beſt both now and hereafter.”
Thine is a fame, in turn, I will carry around as I wander
over the earth to the well-inhabited cities of mankind;
they will indeed be perſuaded, for this is the truth of the matter.
Never will I ceaſe lauding in hymns far-ſhooting Apollon ,
God of the ſilvery bow, whom Leto of beautiful hair bore.