Metamorphoses

By Ovid

From Book 2

Minerva at Envy's Cave

Minerva at   She star'd him in the face with looks amaz'd,
Envy's       As when she on Minerva's secret gaz'd,
Cave         And asks a mighty treasure for her hire;
             And, 'till he brings it, makes the God retire.
Minerva griev'd to see the nymph succeed;
And now remembring the late impious deed,
When, disobedient to her strict command,
She touch'd the chest with an unhallow'd hand;
In big-swoln sighs her inward rage express'd,
That heav'd the rising Aegis on her breast;
Then sought out Envy in her dark abode,
Defil'd with ropy gore and clots of blood:
Shut from the winds, and from the wholesome skies,
In a deep vale the gloomy dungeon lies,
Dismal and cold, where not a beam of light
Invades the winter, or disturbs the night. 

Directly to the cave her course she steer'd;
Against the gates her martial lance she rear'd;
The gates flew open, and the fiend appear'd.
A pois'nous morsel in her teeth she chew'd,
And gorg'd the flesh of vipers for her food.
Minerva loathing turn'd away her eye;
The hideous monster, rising heavily,
Came stalking forward with a sullen pace,
And left her mangled offals on the place.
Soon as she saw the goddess gay and bright,
She fetch'd a groan at such a chearful sight.
Livid and meagre were her looks, her eye
In foul distorted glances turn'd awry;
A hoard of gall her inward parts possess'd,
And spread a greenness o'er her canker'd breast;
Her teeth were brown with rust, and from her tongue,
In dangling drops, the stringy poison hung.
She never smiles but when the wretched weep,
Nor lulls her malice with a moment's sleep,
Restless in spite: while watchful to destroy,
She pines and sickens at another's joy;
Foe to her self, distressing and distrest,
She bears her own tormentor in her breast.
The Goddess gave (for she abhorr'd her sight)
A short command: "To Athens speed thy flight;
On curst Aglauros try thy utmost art,
And fix thy rankest venoms in her heart."
This said, her spear she push'd against the ground,
And mounting from it with an active bound,
Flew off to Heav'n: the hag with eyes askew
Look'd up, and mutter'd curses as she flew;
For sore she fretted, and began to grieve
At the success which she her self must give.
Then takes her staff, hung round with wreaths of thorn,
And sails along, in a black whirlwind born,
O'er fields and flow'ry meadows: where she steers
Her baneful course, a mighty blast appears,
Mildews and blights; the meadows are defac'd,
The fields, the flow'rs, and the whole years laid waste:
On mortals next, and peopled towns she falls,
And breathes a burning plague among their walls. 

When Athens she beheld, for arts renown'd,
With peace made happy, and with plenty crown'd,
Scarce could the hideous fiend from tears forbear,
To find out nothing that deserv'd a tear.
Th' apartment now she enter'd, where at rest
Aglauros lay, with gentle sleep opprest.
To execute Minerva's dire command,
She stroak'd the virgin with her canker'd hand,
Then prickly thorns into her breast convey'd,
That stung to madness the devoted maid:
Her subtle venom still improves the smart,
Frets in the blood, and festers in the heart. 

To make the work more sure, a scene she drew,
And plac'd before the dreaming virgin's view
Her sister's marriage, and her glorious fate:
Th' imaginary bride appears in state;
The bride-groom with unwonted beauty glows:
For envy magnifies what-e'er she shows. 

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