Metamorphoses

By Ovid

From Book 5

The Metamorphose of Calisto

The Story of   The day was settled in its course; and Jove
Calisto        Walk'd the wide circuit of the Heavens above,
               To search if any cracks or flaws were made;
But all was safe: the Earth he then survey'd,
And cast an eye on ev'ry diff'rent coast,
And ev'ry land; but on Arcadia most.
Her fields he cloath'd, and chear'd her blasted face
With running fountains, and with springing grass.
No tracks of Heav'n's destructive fire remain,
The fields and woods revive, and Nature smiles again. 

But as the God walk'd to and fro the Earth,
And rais'd the plants, and gave the spring its birth,
By chance a fair Arcadian nymph he view'd,
And felt the lovely charmer in his blood.
The nymph nor spun, nor dress'd with artful pride,
Her vest was gather'd up, her hair was ty'd;
Now in her hand a slender spear she bore,
Now a light quiver on her shoulders wore;
To chaste Diana from her youth inclin'd,
The sprightly warriors of the wood she joyn'd.
Diana too the gentle huntress lov'd,
Nor was there one of all the nymphs that rov'd
O'er Maenalus, amid the maiden throng,
More favour'd once; but favour lasts not long. 

The sun now shone in all its strength, and drove
The heated virgin panting to a grove;
The grove around a grateful shadow cast:
She dropt her arrows, and her bow unbrac'd;
She flung her self on the cool grassy bed;
And on the painted quiver rais'd her head,
Jove saw the charming huntress unprepar'd,
Stretch'd on the verdant turf, without a guard.
"Here I am safe," he cries, "from Juno's eye;
Or shou'd my jealous queen the theft descry,
Yet wou'd I venture on a theft like this,
And stand her rage for such, for such a bliss!"
Diana's shape and habit strait he took,
Soften'd his brows, and smooth'd his awful look,
And mildly in a female accent spoke.
"How fares my girl? How went the morning chase?"
To whom the virgin, starting from the grass,
"All hail, bright deity, whom I prefer
To Jove himself, tho' Jove himself were here."
The God was nearer than she thought, and heard
Well-pleas'd himself before himself preferr'd. 

He then salutes her with a warm embrace;
And, e're she half had told the morning chase,
With love enflam'd, and eager on his bliss,
Smother'd her words, and stop'd her with a kiss;
His kisses with unwonted ardour glow'd,
Nor cou'd Diana's shape conceal the God.
The virgin did whate'er a virgin cou'd
(Sure Juno must have pardon'd, had she view'd);
With all her might against his force she strove;
But how can mortal maids contend with Jove? 

Possest at length of what his heart desir'd,
Back to his Heav'ns, th' exulting God retir'd.
The lovely huntress, rising from the grass,
With down-cast eyes, and with a blushing face,
By shame confounded, and by fear dismay'd,
Flew from the covert of the guilty shade,
And almost, in the tumult of her mind,
Left her forgotten bow and shafts behind. 

But now Diana, with a sprightly train
Of quiver'd virgins, bounding o'er the plain,
Call'd to the nymph; the nymph began to fear
A second fraud, a Jove disguis'd in her;
But, when she saw the sister nymphs, suppress'd
Her rising fears, and mingled with the rest. 

How in the look does conscious guilt appear!
Slowly she mov'd, and loiter'd in the rear;
Nor lightly tripp'd, nor by the Goddess ran,
As once she us'd, the foremost of the train.
Her looks were flush'd, and sullen was her mien,
That sure the virgin Goddess (had she been
Aught but a virgin) must the guilt have seen.
'Tis said the nymphs saw all, and guess'd aright:
And now the moon had nine times lost her light,
When Diana, fainting in the mid-day beams,
Found a cool covert, and refreshing streams
That in soft murmurs through the forest flow'd,
And a smooth bed of shining gravel show'd. 

A covert so obscure, and streams so clear,
The Goddess prais'd: "And now no spies are near
Let's strip, my gentle maids, and wash," she cries.
Pleas'd with the motion, every maid complies;
Only the blushing huntress stood confus'd,
And form'd delays, and her delays excus'd;
In vain excus'd: her fellows round her press'd,
And the reluctant nymph by force undress'd,
The naked huntress all her shame reveal'd,
In vain her hands the pregnant womb conceal'd;
"Begone!" the Goddess cries with stern disdain,
"Begone! nor dare the hallow'd stream to stain":
She fled, for ever banish'd from the train. 

This Juno heard, who long had watch'd her time
To punish the detested rival's crime;
The time was come; for, to enrage her more,
A lovely boy the teeming rival bore. 

The Goddess cast a furious look, and cry'd,
"It is enough! I'm fully satisfy'd!
This boy shall stand a living mark, to prove
My husband's baseness and the strumpet's love:
But vengeance shall awake: those guilty charms
That drew the Thunderer from Juno's arms,
No longer shall their wonted force retain,
Nor please the God, nor make the mortal vain." 

This said, her hand within her hair she wound,
Swung her to Earth, and drag'd her on the ground:
The prostrate wretch lifts up her arms in pray'r;
Her arms grow shaggy, and deform'd with hair,
Her nails are sharpen'd into pointed claws,
Her hands bear half her weight, and turn to paws;
Her lips, that once cou'd tempt a God, begin
To grow distorted in an ugly grin.
And, lest the supplicating brute might reach
The ears of Jove, she was depriv'd of speech:
Her surly voice thro' a hoarse passage came
In savage sounds: her mind was still the same,
The furry monster fix'd her eyes above,
And heav'd her new unwieldy paws to Jove,
And beg'd his aid with inward groans; and tho'
She could not call him false, she thought him so. 

How did she fear to lodge in woods alone,
And haunt the fields and meadows, once her own!
How often wou'd the deep-mouth'd dogs pursue,
Whilst from her hounds the frighted huntress flew!
How did she fear her fellow-brutes, and shun
The shaggy bear, tho' now her self was one!
How from the sight of rugged wolves retire,
Although the grim Lycaon was her sire! 

But now her son had fifteen summers told,
Fierce at the chase, and in the forest bold;
When, as he beat the woods in quest of prey,
He chanc'd to rouze his mother where she lay.
She knew her son, and kept him in her sight,
And fondly gaz'd: the boy was in a fright,
And aim'd a pointed arrow at her breast,
And would have slain his mother in the beast;
But Jove forbad, and snatch'd 'em through the air
In whirlwinds up to Heav'n, and fix'd 'em there!
Where the new constellations nightly rise,
And add a lustre to the northern skies. 

When Juno saw the rival in her height,
Spangled with stars, and circled round with light,
She sought old Ocean in his deep abodes,
And Tethys, both rever'd among the Gods.
They ask what brings her there: "Ne'er ask," says she,
"What brings me here, Heav'n is no place for me.
You'll see, when night has cover'd all things o'er,
Jove's starry bastard and triumphant whore
Usurp the Heav'ns; you'll see 'em proudly rowle
And who shall now on Juno's altars wait,
When those she hates grow greater by her hate?
I on the nymph a brutal form impress'd,
Jove to a goddess has transform'd the beast;
This, this was all my weak revenge could do:
But let the God his chaste amours pursue,
And, as he acted after Io's rape,
Restore th' adultress to her former shape;
Then may he cast his Juno off, and lead
The great Lycaon's offspring to his bed.
But you, ye venerable Pow'rs, be kind,
And, if my wrongs a due resentment find,
Receive not in your waves their setting beams,
Nor let the glaring strumpet taint your streams." 

The Goddess ended, and her wish was giv'n.
Back she return'd in triumph up to Heav'n;
Her gawdy peacocks drew her through the skies.
Their tails were spotted with a thousand eyes;
The eyes of Argus on their tails were rang'd,
At the same time the raven's colour chang'd.

Translated under the direction of Sir Samuaul Garth by John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, William Congreve and others.