Cacus – The One Who Dared Cross Hercules

Cacus – The One Who Dared Cross Hercules

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According to Roman mythology, Cacus was a thief who stole from the hero Hercules (whose Greek equivalent was Heracles), which was the action that resulted in the former’s death. There are several versions of this myth, as it has been recounted by different authors.

Although not considered to be amongst the most famous Roman myths, the story of Cacus and Hercules is significant for a number of reasons. For the ancient Romans, the story served as an etiology for the cult of Hercules at the Ara Maxima. The myth may also be read as an allegory of the gradual replacement of local Italic cultures (as symbolized by Cacus) by a Hellenistic one (represented by Hercules).

Cacus the Evil

The name ‘Cacus’ is said to be derived from ancient Greek, and means ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. Indeed, in all versions of the myth, Cacus plays the role of the antagonist. In some, however, he is presented as a monstrous creature. This is seen, for example, in Virgil’s Aeneid. In the Book 8 of this epic poem, Virgil has the story of Cacus and Hercules told to Aeneas by Evander, who founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, prior to the Trojan War .

Evander describes Cacus as a “foul-featured, half-human monster” who lived in “a cave which the rays of the Sun never reached.” The cave of Cacus is believed to be situated on the Aventine Hill. Evader also informs Aeneas that Cacus was the son of Vulcan (the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Hephaestus), and that “it was his father’s black fire he vomited from his mouth as he moved his massive bulk.”

Cacus was not only a monster in form, but also in behavior. Evander states that the floor of Cacus’ cave was “always warm with freshly shed blood,” whilst “the heads of men were nailed to his proud doors and hung there pale and rotting.” Therefore, the people of the area prayed to the gods to end Caucus’ reign of terror. Their prayers were eventually answered with the arrival of Hercules, who, at that point of time, had just accomplished one of his famous Twelve Labors.

Front panel frieze from a sarcophagus with the Labors of Hercules. (Museo nazionale romano di palazzo Altemps / )

These were a series of impossible tasks that the hero had to perform as penance. Hercules had killed his wife, Megara, and their children in a fit of madness sent by Hera, and was thus forced to become a servant of Eurystheus (one Hercules’ cousins, and the king of Tiryns) for twelve years. It was Eurystheus who came up with the Twelve Labors, and imposed them on Hercules.

The Tenth Labor: Slaying of the Giant

The myth of Cacus and Hercules is associated with the Tenth Labor, which is the acquisition of the cattle of Geryon. In order to complete this task, Hercules had to travel to island of Erythia (meaning ‘red’), which is said to be located in the westernmost part of the world, near the boundary of Europe and Libya. On the island was a herd of cattle whose coats were stained red by the rays of the setting Sun. The cattle, however, belonged to a terrifying giant called Geryon.

According to the myths, Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. The former was a man who had sprung from the body of the Gorgon Medusa when she was decapitated by Perseus, whilst the latter was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. The physical description of Geryon varies according to the source.

Heracles fighting Geryon, amphora by the E Group, c.540 BC. (Louvre Museum / )

In some, for instance, he is described as a giant with three heads attached to one body, whilst others state that he had three bodies. In some versions, Geryon is even said to have wings. In addition to Geryon, the cattle were guarded by herdsmen, one of whom, Eurytion, was slain by Hercules, as well as a two-headed dog called Orthus (the brother of Cerberus).

Having slain Eurytion, Orthus, and Geryon, Hercules faced no further opposition on the island, and was therefore able to begin his journey back to Tiryns with the cattle. This journey home turned out to be more troublesome than the initial theft of the cattle. Interestingly, the encounter with Cacus on the Aventine Hill in Rome was only one of the many troubles faced by Hercules as he brought the cattle before Eurystheus.

Hercules driving off the cattle of Geryon, at the right are the nymphs of Hesperides. (Giulio Bonasone (c.1531) / )

For example, in Liguria (in northwest Italy), two of Poseidon’s sons tried to steal the cattle, so Hercules killed them. In another instance, one of the cattle broke loose, and swam to the island of Sicily from Rhegium (in southern Sicily), before wandering off to a neighboring country. Apparently, the native word for ‘bull’ was ‘italus’, and hence the whole country became known as Italy.

Finally, as Hercules arrived at the edge of the Ionian Sea, and was on the verge of completing his labor, Hera sent a gadfly to attack the cattle, causing the herd to scatter far and wide. As a consequence, Hercules was forced to wander around Thrace in search of the missing cattle, before he could return home.

Theft From Under the Nose of Hercules

The story of Hercules’ journey from Erythia back to Tiryns with the cattle of Geryon shows that the hero travelled along the length of the Italian Peninsula. Therefore, it would not have been difficult for the Cacus episode to be inserted into this myth. According to Evander, when the herd was grazing in the valley, and drinking from the river, Cacus “stole from the pasture four magnificent bulls and as many lovely heifers”, and brought the animals to his cave.

Cacus, however, knew that Hercules would come looking for the stolen cattle. Therefore, in order to prevent any hoofprints from pointing to his cave, thereby revealing the location of the cattle, he “dragged them in by their tails to reverse the tracks”.

In the meantime, the remaining cattle had finished grazing, and Hercules was moving them out of the pasture, and prepared to continue on his journey. It was at this moment that Cacus’ theft of the cattle was revealed, “the cows began to low plaintively at leaving the place, filling the whole grove with their complaints, and bellowing to the hills they were leaving behind them. Then, deep in the cave, a single cow lowed in reply. Cacus had guarded her well, but she thwarted his hopes.”

Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli (1525–34), Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy. ( VarnakovR / Adobe stock)

Hercules’ Wrath Was Felt

The furious Hercules went after Cacus, who fled in terror back to his cave, and shut its entrance by jamming the doorposts with a huge rock. This proved to be a challenge, even for the mighty Hercules, “there was Hercules in a passion, trying every approach, turning his head this way and that and grinding his teeth. Three times he went around the whole of Mount Aventine in his anger. Three times he tried to force the great rock doorway without success. Three times he sat down exhausted in the valley.”

Having failed to move the stone from the entrance, Hercules climbed to the top of the cave, and unroofed it. There was no escape for Cacus, and a battle was fought between him and Hercules, “so Cacus was caught in the sudden rush of light and trapped in his cavern in the rock, howling as never before, while Hercules bombarded him from above with any missile that came to hand, belaboring him with branches of trees and rocks the size of millstones.

There was no escape for him now, but he vomited thick smoke from his monstrous throat and rolled clouds of it all round his den to blot it from sight. Deep in his cave he churned out fumes as black as night and the darkness was shot through with fire. Hercules was all past patience. He threw himself straight down, leaping through the flames where the smoke spouted thickest and the black cloud boiled in the vast cavern. There, as Cacus vainly belched his fire in the darkness, Hercules caught him in a grip and held him, forcing his eyes out of their sockets and squeezing his throat till the blood was dry in it.

Engraving of Hercules killing Cacus at his cave, from The Labors of Hercules. (Hans Sebald Beham (c.1525) / )

After slaying Cacus, Hercules opened the cave, and brought his cattle out. He also dragged the corpse out into the open for all to see. The death of Cacus was celebrated by the local population, who honored Hercules as a hero from then onwards, “ever since that time we have honored his name and succeeding generations have celebrated this day with rejoicing. This altar was set up in its grove by Potitius, the first founder of these rites of Hercules, and by the Pinarii, the guardians of the rites. We shall always call it the greatest altar, and the greatest altar it will always be.”

Varying Accounts: Just an Ordinary Shepperd?

The myth of Cacus and Hercules is found not only in Virgil’s Aeneid, but also in other Roman sources, such as Ovid’s Fasti, and Livy’s History of Rome . It may be mentioned, however, that there is no evidence for the existence of this myth prior to the Augustan period. Thus, it has been suggested that the myth may have been a recent invention, although it deals with the earliest history of Rome.

Interestingly, elements of Greek mythology can be detected in the story. For instance, the theft of Hercules’ cattle bears similarities to the theft of Apollo’s cattle by Hermes. It has also been argued that the myth may have been inspired by an obscure myth, in which Sisyphus steals the Mares of Diomedes (Hercules’ Eighth Labor). The comparison with Hermes and Sisyphus casts Cacus in a different light, i.e. as a cunning rogue, rather than a brutish monster.

Hermes and Apollo with the cattle in the background. (Francesco Albani / )

Although Virgil paints Cacus as a terrifying monster, this is not always the case with the other Roman writers. In Livy’s account, for example, Cacus is said to be a local shepherd who desired Hercules’ cattle, and therefore committed the theft.

Livy also explains how this ordinary shepherd was able to steal from the great hero, “he [Hercules] swam across the Tiber, driving the oxen before him, and wearied with his journey, lay down in a grassy place near the river to rest himself and the oxen, who enjoyed the rich pasture. When sleep had overtaken him, as he was heavy with food and wine, a shepherd living near, called Cacus, presuming on his strength, and captivated by the beauty of the oxen, determined to secure them.”

Like Virgil’s Cacus, Livy’s shepherd also drags the cattle into his cave by their tails, thereby concealing their tracks. Likewise, it was the lowing of the animals from inside the cave that revealed their hidden location. As a consequence, Hercules went to the cave, and Cacus was killed as he tried to stop the hero from entering it, “as Cacus tried to prevent him by force from entering the cave, he was killed by a blow from Hercules’ club, after vainly appealing for help to his comrades.”

Hercules beating Cacus with his club with the cattle behind him. (Marten Ryckaert / )

The story continues with the establishment of Hercules’ cult. This time, however, the hero is honored not because he vanquished a monster, but because of a prophecy. Evander, whom Livy claimed was the king at that time, was the son of a prophetess by the name of Carmenta, who prophesized that Hercules would one day become a god.

Therefore, after meeting Hercules, Evander decided to build a shrine for him, an offer which the hero accepted, “Hercules grasped Evander's right hand and said that he took the omen to himself and would fulfil the prophecy by building and consecrating the altar. Then a heifer of conspicuous beauty was taken from the herd, and the first sacrifice was offered; the Potitii and Pinarii, the two principal families in those parts, were invited by Hercules to assist in the sacrifice and at the feast which followed.”

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The Myth’s Legacy

Although the myth of Cacus and Hercules is not very well-known in modern times, it was an important one for the ancient Romans. This myth served as the foundation story of the Ara Maxima, the oldest cult center of Hercules in Rome. Although the monument is no longer in existence, it is believed that it once stood in the eastern part of the Forum Boarium (ancient Rome’s cattle market), not far from the so-called Temple of Hercules Victor.

The myth may also be interpreted as an allegory, in which the local Italic cultures, which were considered to be less advanced, were replaced by the more sophisticated culture of the Greeks. Alternatively, it may be argued that the story was meant to depict the Romans as the rightful successors of the Greek civilization.

Titus Livius (Livy), The History of Rome, Book 1 Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., Ed.

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[p. 27] His first act was to fortify the Palatine, on which 3 he had himself been reared. To other gods he sacrificed after the Alban custom, but employed the Greek for Hercules, according to the institution of Evander. [ 4 ] The story is as follows: Hercules, after slaying Geryones, was driving off his wondrously beautiful cattle, when, close to the river Tiber, where he had swum across it with the herd before him, he found a green spot, where he could let the cattle rest and refresh themselves with the abundant grass and being tired from his journey he lay down himself. [ 5 ] When he had there fallen into a deep sleep, for he was heavy with food and wine, a shepherd by the name of Cacus, who dwelt hard by and was insolent by reason of his strength, was struck with the beauty of the animals, and wished to drive them off as plunder. But if he had driven the herd into his cave, their tracks would have been enough to guide their owner to the place in his search he therefore chose out those of the cattle that were most remarkable for their beauty, and turning them the other way, dragged them into the cave by their tails. [ 6 ] At daybreak Hercules awoke. Glancing over the herd, and perceiving that a part of their number was lacking, he proceeded to the nearest cave, in case there might be foot-prints leading into it. When he saw that they were all turned outward and yet did not lead to any other place, he was confused and bewildered, and made ready to drive his herd away from that uncanny spot. [ 7 ] As the cattle were being driven off, some of them lowed, as usually happens, missing those which had been left behind. They were answered with a low by the cattle shut up in the cave, and this made Hercules turn back. When he came towards the [p. 29] cave, Cacus would have prevented his approach with 4 force, but received a blow from the hero's club, and calling in vain upon the shepherds to protect him, gave up the ghost. [ 8 ] Evander, an exile from the Peloponnese, controlled that region in those days, more through personal influence than sovereign power. He was a man revered for his wonderful invention of letters, 5 a new thing to men unacquainted with the arts, and even more revered because of the divinity which men attributed to his mother Carmenta, whom those tribes had admired as a prophetess before the Sibyl's coming into Italy. [ 9 ] Now this Evander was then attracted by the concourse of shepherds, who, crowding excitedly about the stranger, were accusing him as a murderer caught red-handed. When he had been told about the deed and the reason for it, and had marked the bearing of the man and his figure, which was somewhat ampler and more august than a mortal's, he inquired who lie was. [ 10 ] Upon learning his name, his father, and his birth-place, he exclaimed, “Hail, Hercules, son of Jupiter! You are he, of whom my mother, truthful interpreter of Heaven, foretold to me that you should be added to the number of the gods, and that an altar should be dedicated to you here which the nation one day to [ 11 ] be the most powerful on earth should call the Greatest Altar, and should serve according to your rite.” [ 12 ] Hercules gave him his hand, and declared that he accepted the omen, and would fulfil the prophecy by establishing and dedicating an altar. Then and there men took a choice victim from the herd, and for the first time made sacrifice to Hercules. [ 13 ] For the ministry and the banquet they employed the Potitii and the Pinarii, being the families [p. 31] of most distinction then living in that region. It so 6 fell out that the Potitii were there at the appointed time, and to them were served the inwards the Pinarii came after the inwards had been eaten, in season for the remainder of the feast. [ 14 ] Thence came the custom, which persisted as long as the Pinarian family endured, that they should not partake of the inwards at that sacrifice. The Potitii, instructed by Evander, were priests of this cult for many generations, until, having delegated to public slaves the solemn function of their family, the entire stock of the Potitii died out. [ 15 ] This was the only sacred observance, of all those of foreign origin, which Romulus then adopted, honouring even then the immortality won by worth to which his own destiny was leading him. 7

2 A form of the legend preserved by Dion. Hal. i. 87, and Ovid, Fasti, iv. 843, names Celer, whom Romulus had put in charge of the rising wall, as the slayer of Remus.

5 Evander is said to have invented the Roman alphabet.

7 For the story of Cacus and the origin of the Ara Maxima see also Virgil, Aen. viii. 182-279 Prop. iv. 9 Ovid, Fasti, i. 543-586.

Book IV.1A:71-150 Horos’ soliloquy: Propertius’ role.

‘Where are you rushing to, Propertius, wandering rashly, babbling on about Fate? The threads you spin are not from a true distaff. Singing, you summon tears: Apollo’s averted: you demand words you’ll regret from an unwilling lyre. I’ll speak the truth from true sources, or prove myself a seer ignorant of how to move the stars on their bronze sphere. Orops of Babylon, child of Archytas, fathered me, Horos, and my house is descended from Conon. The gods are my witnesses I’ve not disgraced my family. Now men make profit from the gods (Jupiter’s tricked by gold) and the return of stars on the slanting zodiac’s circle, Jupiter’s fortunate planet, rapacious Mars, and heavy Saturn a weight on every head: what Pisces determines, Leo’s fierce sign, and Capricorn washed in the western sea.

When Arria was in labour with her twin sons (forbidden by a god, she gave her sons weapons), I foretold they’d fail to bring back their spears to their father’s household gods: and now in truth two graves confirm my word. Since Lupercus, protecting his horse’s wounded head, failed to defend himself, when the horse fell: while Gallus guarding the standards, entrusted to him in camp, died for the eagle’s beak, bathing it in his blood. Ill-fated boys, both killed by a mother’s greed! My prophecy touched on truth, though unwillingly.

I, too, cried out, when Lucina prolonged Cinara’s labour pains, and her womb’s tardy burden delayed: “Make Juno a vow she must hear!” She gave birth: my books won the prize! These things are not expounded in the desert cave of Jupiter Ammon, or by entrails that speak what the gods commit to them, or by him who interprets the crow’s wing-beats, or by the dead shade produced from mystic waters. The track of the heavens must be examined, and the path of truth among the stars, and knowledge looked for from the five zones.

Calchas was a profound example: since he freed at Aulis the ships clinging rightly to god-fearing cliffs: the same who bloodied a sword on the neck of Agamemnon’s girl, and granted the Atrides bloodstained sails. Yet the Greeks did not return: quench your tears, razed Troy, and consider Euboea’s bay! Nauplius raises his fires by night in vengeance, and Greece sails weighed down by her spoils. Victorious Ajax, son of Oileus, rape, then love, your prophetess, Cassandra, though Minerva forbids her to be stripped of her robe!

So much for history: now I turn to your stars: prepare yourself impartially to witness new grief. Ancient Umbria gave birth to you, at a noble hearth: am I lying? Or has my mouth revealed your country? Where misty Mevania wets the open plain, and the summer waters of the Umbrian lake steam, and the wall towers from the summit of climbing Assisi, that wall made more famous by your genius?

Not of an age to gather them, you gathered your father’s bones, and yourself were forced to find a meaner home. Since though many bullocks ploughed your fields, the merciless measuring-rod stole your wealth of land. Soon the bulla of gold was banished from your untried neck, and the toga of a free man assumed in front of your mother’s gods, then Apollo taught you a little of his singing, and told you not to thunder out your words in the frantic Forum.

But you create elegies, deceptive art: – this is your battlefield – that the rest of the crowd might write by your example. You will suffer the charming struggles of Venus’s arms, and will be an enemy fit for Venus’s boys. Since whatever victories your labour wins you, one girl will escape your grasp: and though you shake the deeply fixed hook from your mouth, it will do no good: the fishing-spear will spike your jaw.

You’ll gaze at night or day at her whim: unless she commands it the tear won’t fall from your eye. A thousand sentries won’t help you, or a thousand seals on her threshold: a crack is enough once she’s decided to cheat you.

Now whether your ship is tossed about in mid-ocean, or you go unarmed among armed men, or the trembling earth yawns in a gaping chasm: fear the avaricious back of the Crab, eight-footed Cancer.’

The crush of Hercules

Hercules ended the life of the king of Tartessos, Geryon, with a poisoned arrow. But it is not of this arrow-strike that we now write. Hercules’ first crush was the one he felt for that land on the edges of the Guadalquivir that he had just discovered. He named it Híspalis, which means plain next to a river, later known as Seville.

Guadalquivir River and Seville. | Shutterstock

According to legends, the King Geryon was also the monarch of these lands. However, Hercules always knew how to take everything from this three-headed giant. The territory was rich in livestock and full of bulls. The hero soon became familiar with the land and its inhabitants. He created in Híspalis such an important commercial industry that he managed to take control of the fur trade in the whole territory of Andalusia. Apart from being the strongest, he was more of a businessman than Wall Street guys.

A very fantastic story at first reading, but it contains some information that may have some historical basis. Not the most important one, that Hercules was actually the founder of the city. Although this is what is expressed on the plaque that Seville has placed in Puerta Jerez. However, the legend tells that the hero did it under the name of Melkart. Later, he was known as Heracles, until finally he was given the title of demigod and his name became Hercules.


As one of the most significant mythical creatures in Greek mythology , Pegasus, the winged horse was the offspring of Poseidon and Gorgon Medusa.

Simultaneously with his brother Chrysaor, Pegasus was given birth when Perseus killed his mother.

Some accounts suggest that these two creatures were born from the blood coming out of Medusa’s neck while others suggest that they were born from the Earth when Medusa’s blood fell onto it.

A third version of the story suggests that they were born from the mixture of sea foam, pain and Medusa’s blood implying that Poseidon played a role in their birth.

If the Palatine Hill was a person I could talk to, the first thing I would say would be “thank you”! All the Seven Hills that compose Rome’s landscape are deeply connected to how the city developed and how Romans lived, but without the Palatine Hill in specific, there would be no history to be told.

According to Roman mythology, it was in the Palatine Hill that Rome was born, which was confirmed over two millennials later when archaeologists found remains of Rome’s oldest stones at the hill. But giving birth to the Eternal City is not its only remarkable fact. During the Roman Empire, the Palatine Hill was also one of the most important locations in Rome, being both the home of many aristocrats and emperors and the venue of religious events.

The green and quiet hill is open for visitation upon the acquisition of a ticket, but before you wander around the houses of Livia and Augustus, the palace of Domitian, the Temple of Apollo Palatinus and many other monuments, let me introduce a quick history of the Palatine Hill in Rome to you.

Palatine Hill in Roman mythology

Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus discovered by Faustulus by Arnold Houbraken – WikiCommons

You most probably have already heard the story of Romulus and Remus, twin brothers who were rescued by a she-wolf after being left to die as newborns in the Tiber River. According to legend, when the twins were rescued, the she-wolf suckled them in a cave at the Palatine Hill. The boys were later found and adopted by a shepherd named Faustulus and his wife.

When they grew older, Romulus and Remus became shepherds like their adoptive father. One day, Remus engaged in a fight with other shepherds loyal to King Amulius, king of Alba Longa, and was taken to the palace as a prisoner. Romulus assaulted the palace with the help of other shepherds, rescued his brother and killed king Amulius.

Capitoline Wolf. Photo by Andy Montgomery – Flickr

Instead of taking over Alba Longa, Romulus and Remus gave the throne back to King Numitor – from whom Amulius had usurped it – and decided to found their own city. However, the brothers didn’t agree on the location of the new city: while Romulus wanted to build it at the Palatine Hill, Remus wanted to build it at the Aventine Hill. After a fight on who had the support of the gods, Romulus killed his brother, founded the new city at the Palatine Hill and became its first king. He named the city Rome after himself.

Although the legend speaks of the time of the foundation of Rome, which allegedly happened in 753 BC according to ancient Roman scholar Varro Reatinus, its earliest written record is from the 3 rd century BC, and little is known about the origins of the myth.


The photo of the excavated cave beneath on the Palatine Hill, believed to be the Lupercal. The photo was taken with a remote sensing device – WikiCommons

In 2007, a cave was found underneath the House of Livia during renovation works. The cave is decorated with mosaics, seashells and marble, and has the picture of a white eagle at the center of the ceiling, which was the symbol of the Roman Empire.

Italian archaeologist Irene Iacopi announced at the time that he had found the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf. Other scholars, however, affirm the grotto was more likely a nymphaeum or a formal dining room, and that the legendary one would be located more on the south. The cave is now known as Lupercal.

Hercules and Cacus

Monument by Baccio Bandinelli – Hercules and Cacus, Piazza della Signoria, Florence – WikiCommons

Another myth involving the Palatine Hill is that of Hercules and Cacus. Before the foundation of Rome, Cacus – the fire-breathing giant son of the god of fire – used to live in a cave in the Aventine Hill and feed on human flesh.

One day, Hercules passed by the Aventine and, in a minute of distraction, had some animals from his cattle stolen by Cacus. Hercules would have killed the giant at the Palatine with such a hard strike that a cleft was open on the southeast part of the hill, where an ancient staircase was built.

Archaeological discoveries and history

The Palatine Hill has been inhabited for a really long time. Modern archaeology has found evidences of Bronze Age settlements at the Palatine prior to the foundation of Rome. With all the traces of human settlements, archaeologists have collected enough indications that the city was indeed founded at the Palatine around the 8 th and the 9 th century BC, as Varro had suggested.

Imperial palaces

According to Italian historian Titus Livius (64 BC or 59 BC – 12 AD or 17 AD), after the Sabines and Albans moved to the city, the Palatine was mainly inhabited by original Romans. During the Republican Period, the hill was the home of many aristocrats and important figures. The same happened during the Roman Empire, when a number of emperors established their palaces at the Palatine Hill.

House of Augustus (Domus Augusti), South wall of the Mask Room, 2nd Pompeian style, Palatine Hill, Rome – by Carole Raddato – WikiCommons

Historians believe that emperors built their palaces at the hill because living at the place first chosen by Romulus would legitimate and strengthen their power. During your visit, you can see the ruins of the Houses of Augustus and Livia, the first emperor of Rome and his wife the House of Tiberius, son of Livia and stepson of Augustus, and second emperor of Rome and the Palace of Domitian, last member of the Flavian Dynasty.

Religious temples

Remains of the temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill in Rome. Photo by ”Antmoose / Anthony M”

But the Palatine was not just a residential area. Religious temples were also built there.

One of the most important temples ever built at the site was the Magna Mater Cybele. Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess associate by the Greek to nature, fertility, mountains, towns and city walls. The Romans called her Magna Mater (Great Mother) and built the first Roman temple dedicated to her at the Palatine Hill in 191 BC.

The Temple of Magna Mater Cybele was unfortunately destroyed in 394 AD, but the Palatine Hill still holds some of its ruins, as well as the ruins of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus, which was built in 28 BC.

Renascence gardens

Giovanni Battista Falda, Pianta del giardino del duca di Parma su l’Monte Palatino, da G.B. Falda, Li giardini di Roma, 1683. Courtesy Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

In 1550, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese acquired some of the Palatine Hill’s northern area. He filled in some ruins of the Palace of Tiberius and built on top of them one of the first private botanical gardens in Europe, the Farnese Gardens.

The gardens were home for many exotic plants and birds, some of them brought for the first time to Europe from the American continent, which contributed to its popularity and prestige. However, they suffered from a long period of decline in the 18 th century as the male branch of the Farnese family disappeared.

Farnese Gardens by Giuseppe Vasi (1761)

At the time, men at the Farnese family, who ruled the Ducky of Parma, transferred the succession of the ducky to the female line through Elisabeth Farnese, who’d later become Queen of Spain. Her son, Infante Felipe, got married to the French princess Marie Louise Elisabeth of France, member of the House of Bourbon, and founded the House of Bourbon-Parma. The Farnese Gardens then became property of the Bourbon of Naples, who had little interest in their maintenance.

Nowadays, the gardens have little of the magnificent structure they once had. However, thanks to a thorough restoration work that started in 2013, there are lots of beautiful and interesting things to see. Restauration was concluded in 2018 and the gardens reopened after more than 30 years closed to the public.

How to visit the Palatine Hill

If you have a ticket to the Colosseum, then you can also visit the Palatine Hill. That’s because the tickets to the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are actually the same. The combined ticket gives you access to the three Roman sites within 48 hours.

During your visit to the Palatine Hill, you may also enter the Palatine Museum. No additional ticket is required. The museum was established where once stood the Monastery of the Visitation, built by the Catholic Church in 1868 over the ruins of Domitian’s palace. The museum holds many artifacts collected during two centuries of excavations in the Palatine, including pre-Rome Iron-Age objects and Roman statues.

The Palatine’s entrance and ticket office are on the right side of the Colosseum, a five-minute walk past the Arch of Costantino, at Via di San Gregorio.

Arch of Constantine and Palatine Hill by Sonse – Flickr


Now that you know its history, you are ready to fully enjoy a walk across the Palatine Hill! Don’t forget to wear your most comfortable pair of shoes and bring a bottle of water with you. You’ll certainly spend long hours in that magic place.


Mariana is a journalist passionate about the world and the history of humanity. For her, Rome is an endless source of inspiration where people become as eternal as the city. She is always wandering around its ruins, catacombs, monuments, museums and art galleries, and loves writing about what she sees. At night, she can be easily spotted bar hopping, always with a good Italian beer in hand.

Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold the primary power over women and their families in regards to the tradition, law, division of labor, and education women can take part in. [1] Women used cross-dressing to pass as men in order to live adventurous lives outside of the home, which were unlikely to occur while living as women. [2] Women who engaged in cross-dressing in earlier centuries were lower-class women who would gain access to economic independence as well as freedom to travel risking little of what they had. [3] Cross-dressing that consisted of women dressing as men had more positive attitudes than vice versa. Altenburger states that female-to-male cross-dressing depicted a movement forward in terms of social status, power, and freedom. [2]

Men who cross-dressed were looked down upon because they automatically lost status when dressed as a woman. [4] It was also said that men would cross-dress to gain access around women for their own sexual desire. [4]

Greek Edit

  • In punishment for his murder of Iphitus, Heracles/Hercules was given to Omphale as a slave. Many variants of this story say that she not only compelled him to do women's work, but compelled him to dress as a woman while her slave.
  • In Achilles on Skyros, Achilles was dressed in women's clothing by his mother Thetis at the court of Lycomedes, to hide him from Odysseus who wanted him to join the Trojan War. often goes to the aid of people in the guise of men in The Odyssey. was turned into a woman after angering the goddess Hera by killing a female snake that was coupling.
  • In the cult of Aphroditus, worshipers cross-dressed, men wore women's clothing and women dressed in men's clothing with false beards.

Norse Edit

    dressed as Freyja to get Mjölnir back in Þrymskviða. dressed as a female healer as part of his efforts to seduce Rindr. in the legend of Hagbard and Signy (the Romeo and Juliet of the Vikings). dressed as a shieldmaiden in one of his eastern campaigns. from the Hervarar saga. When Hervor learnt that her father had been the infamous Swedish berserker Angantyr, she dressed as a man, called herself Hjörvard and lived for a long time as a Viking.

Hindu Edit

  • The Mahabharata: In the Agnyatbaas ("exile") period of one year imposed upon the Pandavas, in which they had to keep their identities secret to avoid detection, Arjuna cross-dressed as Brihannala and became a dance teacher.
  • The goddess Bahuchara Mata: In one legend, Bapiya was cursed by her and he became impotent. The curse was lifted only when he worshiped her by dressing and acting like a woman.
  • Devotees of the god Krishna: Some male devotees of the god Krishna, specifically a sect called the sakhi bekhi, dress in female attire as an act of devotion. [5] Krishna and his consort Radha had cross-dressed in each other's clothing. Krishna is also said to have dressed as a gopi and a kinnari goddess. [6]

Ballads have many cross-dressing heroines. While some (The Famous Flower of Serving-Men) merely need to move about freely, many do it specifically in pursuit of a lover (Rose Red and the White Lily or Child Waters) and consequently pregnancy often complicates the disguise. In the Chinese poem the Ballad of Mulan, Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man to take her elderly father's place in the army.

Occasionally, men in ballads also disguise themselves as women, but not only is it rarer, the men dress so for less time, because they are merely trying to elude an enemy by the disguise, as in Brown Robin, The Duke of Athole's Nurse, or Robin Hood and the Bishop. According to Gude Wallace, William Wallace disguised himself as a woman to escape capture, which may have been based on historical information.

Fairy tales seldom feature cross-dressing, but an occasional heroine needs to move freely as a man, as in the German The Twelve Huntsmen, the Scottish The Tale of the Hoodie, or the Russian The Lute Player. Madame d'Aulnoy included such a woman in her literary fairy tale, Belle-Belle ou Le Chevalier Fortuné.

In the cities Techiman and Wenchi (both Ghana) men dress as women – and vice versa – during the annual Apoo festival (April/May).

Cross-dressing as a literary motif is well attested in older literature but is becoming increasingly popular in modern literature as well. [7] It is often associated with character nonconformity and sexuality rather than gender identity. [8]

Many societies prohibited women from performing on stage, so boys and men took the female roles. In the ancient Greek theatre men played females, as they did in English Renaissance theatre and continue to do in Japanese kabuki theatre (see onnagata).

Cross-dressing in motion pictures began in the early days of the silent films. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel brought the tradition of female impersonation in the English music halls when they came to America with Fred Karno's comedy troupe in 1910. Both Chaplin and Laurel occasionally dressed as women in their films. Even the beefy American actor Wallace Beery appeared in a series of silent films as a Swedish woman. The Three Stooges, especially Curly (Jerry Howard), sometimes appeared in drag in their short films. The tradition has continued for many years, usually played for laughs. Only in recent decades have there been dramatic films in which cross-dressing was included, possibly because of strict censorship of American films until the mid-1960s.

Cross-gender acting, on the other hand, refers to actors or actresses portraying a character of the opposite gender.

Medieval Europe Edit

It was once considered taboo in Western society for women to wear clothing traditionally associated with men, except when done in certain circumstances such as cases of necessity (as per St. Thomas Aquinas's guidelines in Summa Theologiae II), which states: "Nevertheless this may be done sometimes without sin on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some similar motive." [9] Cross-dressing is cited as an abomination in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy (22:5), which states: "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this", [10] but as Aquinas noted above this principle was interpreted to be based on context. Other people in the Middle Ages occasionally disputed its applicability for instance, the 15th-century French poet Martin le Franc, wrote:

Don't you see that it was forbidden
That anyone should eat of an animal
Unless it had a cleft foot
And chewed its cud?
To eat of a hare no one dared
Neither of sow nor of piglet,
Yet should you now be offered any,
You would take many a morsel. [11]

Historical figures Edit

Famous historical examples of cross-dressing people include:

Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting themselves or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for other purposes. Conversely, men would dress as women to avoid being drafted, the mythological precedent for this being Achilles hiding at the court of Lycomedes dressed as a girl to avoid participation in the Trojan War.

  • Several tales of the Desert Fathers speak of monks who were disguised women, and being discovered only when their bodies were prepared for burial. One such woman, Marina the Monk, died 508, accompanied her father to a monastery and adopted a monk's habit as a disguise. When falsely accused of getting a woman pregnant, she patiently bore the accusation rather than revealing her identity to clear her name, an action praised in medieval books of saints' lives as an example of humble forbearance.
  • In monarchies where the throne was inherited by male offspring, male descendants of deposed rulers were sometimes dressed as female so that they would be allowed to live. One example was the son of KoreanPrincess Gyeonghye, herself the daughter of a former king, who was dressed in female clothes in his early years to fool his great uncle into thinking he was not a male descendant of Munjong. [12]
  • The legend of Pope Joan alleges that she was a promiscuous female pope who dressed like a man and reigned from 855 to 858. Modern historians regard her as a mythical figure who originated from 13th-century anti-papal satire. [13]

Spain and Latin America Edit

Catalina de Erauso (1592–1650), known as la monja alférez "the Nun Lieutenant", was a Spanish woman who, after being forced to enter a convent, escaped from it disguised as a man, fled to America and enrolled herself in the Spanish army under the false name of Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán. [14] She served under several captains, including her own brother, and was never discovered. She was said to behave as an extremely bold soldier, although she had a successful career, reaching the rank of alférez (lieutenant) and becoming quite well known in the Americas. After a fight in which she killed a man, she was severely injured, and fearing her end, she confessed her true sex to a bishop. She nonetheless survived, and there was a huge scandal afterwards, specially since as a man she had become quite famous in the Americas, and because nobody had ever suspected anything about her true sex. Nevertheless, thanks to the scandal and her fame as a brave soldier, she became a celebrity. She went back to Spain, and was even granted a special dispensation by the pope to wear men's clothes. She started using the male name of Antonio de Erauso, and went back to the America, where she served in the army till her death in 1650.

Scandinavia Edit

Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar was a Swedish woman who served as a soldier during the Great Northern War and married a woman.

United States Edit

The history of cross-dressing in the United States is quite complicated as the title of ‘cross-dresser’ has been historically been utilized as an umbrella term for varying identities such as cisgender people who dressed in the other gender’s clothing, transgender people, and intersex people who dress in both genders’ clothing. [15] The term pops up in many arrest records for these identities as they are perceived to be a form of ‘disguise’ rather than a gender identity. For example, Harry Allen (1888-1922), born female under the name Nell Pickerell in the Pacific Northwest, was categorized as a ‘male impersonator’ who cross-dressed, rather than as a transgender male which is how he identified. [16]

Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, colonial governor of New York and New Jersey in the early 18th century is reported to have enjoyed going out wearing his wife's clothing, but this is disputed. [17] Hyde was an unpopular figure, and rumors of his cross-dressing may have begun as an urban legend.

Because female enlistment was barred, many women fought for both the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War while dressed as men.

Other contemporary cross-dressing artists include J.S.G. Boggs.

The Gold Rush of 1849 led to a mass global migration of mainly male laborers to Northern California and the development of government backed economic interests in the Pacific Northwest region of the modern United States. The sudden explosive population increase resulted in a huge demand to import commodities including food, tools, sex, and entertainment, to these new male-oriented, homogeneous societies. As these societies evolved over the following decades, the growing demand for entertainment created a unique opportunity for male cross-dressers to perform. Cross-dressing was encouraged for entertainment purposes due to lack of women, yet the tolerance for the acts were limited to on-stage roles and did not extend to gender identities or same-sex desires. Julian Eltinge (1881-1941), a ‘female impersonator’ who performed in saloons in Montana as a kid and eventually made it to the Broadway stage, exemplifies this limited social acceptance for cross-dressing. His cross-dressing performances were celebrated by laborers who were starved for entertainment, yet his career was put at risk when he was exposed for exhibiting homosexual desires and behaviors. [15]

Cross-dressing was not just reserved for men on stage. It also played a crucial role in the development of female involvement in the United States’ industrial labor force. Many female-born workers dressed in men’s clothing to secure a laborer’s wage to provide for their families. Testimonial accounts from cross-dressing women who had been arrested reflect that many chose to identify as male due to financial incentives, even though basic cross-dressing had been deemed immoral and could lead to legal consequences. Women also chose to cross-dress because they feared they might become victims of physical harm while traveling alone across long distances. [16]

San Francisco, California, was one of approximately 45 cities to have criminalized cross-dressing by framing the act as a form of immoral sexual perversion. [18] The law was enforced by arrest in one case, doctor Hjelmar von Danneville was arrested in 1925, though she later negotiated with the city to obtain a permit to dress in masculine clothing. [19]

The ban against transvestism in the United States military dates back to 1961. [20]

US Laws Against Crossdressing Edit

The birth of anti-cross-dressing laws stemmed from the increase in non-traditional gender expression during the spread of Americas frontier, and the will to reinforce the two-gender system which was threatened by those who deviated from it. [21] Some of the earlier cases of US arrests made due to cross-dressing are seen in 19th century Ohio. In 1849, Ohio passed a law which prohibited its citizens from publicly presenting themselves "in a dress not belonging to his or her sex", and before WWI, 45 cities in the US went on to pass anti-cross-dressing laws. [22] These cities were noticeably focused in the West, [21] however across America many cities and states passed laws outlawing things such as public indecency or appearing in public under a disguise - effectively encompassing cross-dressing without mentioning sex or gender. The laws which did this often did not lend to an easy prosecution on the grounds of cross-dressing, because they were designed to prohibit presenting in disguise in order to commit a criminal offense. Because of this, the laws mainly served the purpose of allowing police to harass cross-dressers.

There is significant documentation of the origins of these laws in San Francisco. The city passed it's anti-cross-dressing law in 1863, and the specific criminalization of one publicly presenting "in a dress not belonging to his or her sex" was included in a wider law which criminalized general public indecency such as nudity. [23] This conflation of cross-dressing with acts such as prostitution was not unintentional, as many prostitutes at the time used cross-dressing to signify their availability. [23] This association between the two furthered the perception of cross-dressing as a perversion, and the law was effectively “one of the city’s very first “good morals and decency” laws". [23]

Throughout time, anti-cross-dressing laws became difficult to apply, as the definitions of feminine and masculine presentation grew more obscure. After the Stonewall riots of 1969, cross-dressing arrests decreased and became much less common. [24] Today, while there are little to no laws directly protecting transgender individuals from discrimination and harassment, the majority of anti-cross-dressing laws have been overturned.

France Edit

As the Hundred Years' War developed in the late Middle Ages, [25] cross dressing was a way for French women to join the cause against England. [26] Joan of Arc was a 15th-century French peasant girl who joined French armies against English forces fighting in France during the latter part of the Hundred Years' War. She is a French national heroine and a Catholic saint. After being captured by the English, she was burned at the stake upon being convicted by a pro-English religious court, with the act of dressing in male (soldiers') clothing being cited as one of the principal reasons for her execution. A number of eyewitnesses, however, later explained that she had said she wore soldiers' clothing in prison (consisting of hosen and long hip-boots attached to the doublet with twenty fasteners) because this made it more difficult for her guards to pull her clothing off during rape attempts. She was, however, burned alive in a long white gown. [27]

In the seventeenth century, France underwent a financially driven social conflict, the Fronde. [28] At this period, women disguised themselves as men and enlisted in the army, sometimes with their male family members. [29] Cross dressing also became a more common strategy for women to conceal their gender as they traveled, granting a safer and more efficient route. [29] The practice of cross dressing was present more in literary works than in real life situations, despite its effective concealing properties. [29]

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée Éon de Beaumont (1728–1810), usually known as the Chevalier d'Eon, was a French diplomat and soldier who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second half as a woman. In 1771 he stated that physically he was not a man, but a woman, having been brought up as a man only. From then on she lived as a woman. On her death it was discovered that her body was anatomically male.

George Sand is the pseudonym of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, an early 19th-century novelist who preferred to wear men's clothing exclusively. In her autobiography, she explains in length the various aspects of how she experienced cross-dressing.

Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter-ego of artist Marcel Duchamp, remains one of the most complex and pervasive pieces in the enigmatic puzzle of the artist's oeuvre. She first emerged in portraits made by the photographer Man Ray in New York in the early 1920s, when Duchamp and Man Ray were collaborating on a number of conceptual photographic works. Rrose Sélavy lived on as the person to whom Duchamp attributed specific works of art, Readymades, puns, and writings throughout his career. By creating for himself this female persona whose attributes are beauty and eroticism, he deliberately and characteristically complicated the understanding of his ideas and motives.

England, Scotland, and Ireland Edit

In medieval England, cross dressing was normal practice in the theatre, used by men and young boys dressing and playing both roles of male and female. [30] During early modern London, religious authorities were against cross-dressing in theater due to it disregarding social conduct and causing gender confusion. [31]

Later, during the eighteenth century in London, crossdressing became a part of the club culture. Crossdressing took a part in men's only clubs where men would meet at these clubs dressed as women and drink. [32] One of the most well known clubs for men to do this was known as the Molly Club or Molly House. [32]

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were 18th-century pirates. Bonny in particular gained significant notoriety, but both were eventually captured. Unlike the rest of the male crew, Bonny and Read were not immediately executed because Read was pregnant and Bonny stated that she was as well. Charles Edward Stuart dressed as Flora MacDonald's maid servant, Betty Burke, to escape the Battle of Culloden for the island of Skye in 1746. Mary Hamilton dressed as a man to learn medicine and later married a woman in 1746. It was also alleged that she had married and abandoned many others, for either financial gain or for sexual gratification. She was convicted of fraud for misrepresenting herself as a man to her bride. Ann Mills fought as a dragoon in 1740. Hannah Snell served as a man in the Royal Marines 1747–1750, being wounded 11 times, and was granted a military pension.

Dorothy Lawrence was a war reporter who disguised herself as a man so she could become a soldier in World War I.

Writer and doctor Vernon Coleman cross-dresses and has written several articles about men who cross-dress, stressing they are often heterosexual and usually do not want to change sex. Artist and Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry often appears as his alter-ego, Clare. Writer, presenter and actor Richard O'Brien sometimes cross-dresses and ran a "Transfandango" ball aimed at transgender people of all kinds in aid of charity for several years in the early 2000s (decade). Eddie Izzard, stand-up comedian and actor, states that he has cross-dressed his entire life. He often performs his act in feminine clothing, and has discussed his cross dressing as part of his act. He calls himself an "executive transvestite".

Japan Edit

Japan has a centuries-old tradition of male kabuki theatre actors cross-dressing onstage. [33] Transgender men (and more rarely, women) were also "conspicuous" in Tokyo's gei (gay) bar and club subculture in the pre- and post-World War II period. By the 1950s, publications concerning MTF cross-dressing were in circulation, advertising themselves as aimed at the "study" of the phenomenon. Fully-fledged "commercial" magazines aimed at cross-dressing 'hobbyists' began publishing after the launch of the first such magazine, Queen, in 1980. It was affiliated with the Elizabeth Club, which opened branch clubs in several Tokyo suburbs and other cities. [34] Yasumasa Morimura is a contemporary artist who cross-dresses.

Thailand Edit

Through the pre-modern age, cross-dressing and transgender appearance in Thailand was apparent in many contexts including same-sex theater performance. [35] The term Kathoey came to describe anyone from cross-dressers to transgender men (and women) as the practice became more prevalent in everyday life. [35] Lack of colonization by Western civilizations in Thailand have led to different ways of thinking about gender and self-identity. In turn, Thailand has fostered one of the most open and tolerant traditions towards Kathoeys and cross-dressers in the world. [36] In contrast to many Western civilizations, where homosexuality and cross-dressing have been historically criminal offenses, Thai legal codes have not explicitly criminalized these behaviors. [37] It was not until the 20th century that a public majority, whether on stage or in public, came to assume cross-dressing a sign of transgenderism and homosexuality. [35]

China Edit

Since the Yuan dynasty, cross-dressing has had a unique significance in Chinese opera. Period scholars cite it as the time in Chinese theatre as the "golden age." [38] The rise of dan, though characterized as female characters, was a prominent feature of the Peking Opera and many males took the roles of females. There were schools dedicated to the specific dan training as well. [39] Female crossdressers in the Chinese opera were also valued immensely and prospered far better than male crossdressers did. [38]

Hua Mulan, the central figure of the Ballad of Mulan (and of the Disney film Mulan), may be a historical or fictional figure. She is said to have lived in China during the Northern Wei, and to have posed as a man to fulfill the household draft quota, thus saving her ill and aged father from serving.

Shi Pei Pu was a male Peking Opera singer. Spying on behalf of the Chinese Government during the Cultural Revolution, he cross-dressed to gain information from Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat. Their relationship lasted 20 years, during which they married. David Henry Hwang's 1988 play M. Butterfly is loosely based on their story.



Attentive to your revered command, Master, I have in my destitute state committed this foolishness of mine to your judgment, suspended on the horns of a dilemma whether any reader will praise what I have put together or demolish what I have worked over. But since these matters in no way exalt my reputation or disguise my shortcomings (in the sense that if the reader improve his knowledge by them, he may acknowledge it to God for granting the improvement to him but if he find worse folly in them, he may blame it on the one who committed it), these things, therefore, are not ours, but His gift, and whatever improvements may result, their bestowal is of God, not man. Just as it is a sign of malice to keep silent on what I know, so it is not a fault to explain what I have understood. Therefore, if you do learn more about these matters, praise the sincerity of a mind which has not held back what it possessed and if you were ignorant of these matters before, you at least have from my efforts an arena in which you can exercise your own mental talents.


Philosophers have distinguished a threefold life for mankind, by which they mean first, the meditative second, the practical and third, the sensual &ndash or as we call them in Latin, the contemplative, the active, the voluptuary &ndash as the prophet David declared, &ldquoBlessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,&rdquo that is, does not go, does not stand, does not sit. For the first or contemplative life is that which has to do with the search for knowledge and truth, the life led in our days by bishops, priests, and monks, in olden days by philosophers. With these there is no greed for profit, no insane rage, no poisonous spite, no reek of lust and if concern for tracking down the truth and meditating on what is right keeps them thin, they are adorned by their good name and fed by their hope. The second kind of life is the active one, so eager for advantages, acquisitive of adornment, insatiable for possessions, sly in grasping them, assiduous in guarding them for it covets what it can get rather than seeks after knowledge, and thinks nothing of what is right when it seizes what is at hand it has no stability because it does not go about things honourably in olden times certain despots led such a life, among us the whole world leads it. The life is pleasure, entirely given up to lust, is the sinful kind which considers nothing honourable to be worthwhile, but seeking only the corrupt ways of living is either made effeminate by lust or bloodied by murder or burnt up by theft or soured by envy. This life of an Epicurean or pleasure-lover according to the ancients, what among us seems to natural way of life, is not a punishable offense: since no one pursues the good, no good can be produced. The poets explain in such terms as these the contest of the three goddesses &ndash that is, Minerva, Juno, and Venus &ndash rivals in the superior excellence of their beauty. They have said that Jove could not judge among these, perhaps because they did not realize that the judgment of his world has preordained limits, for they believed man was made with free will wherefore, if Jove had judged as God, in condemning two lives he would have committed the world to only one kind. But they pass the decision over to man, to whom a free choice is owed. But the shepherd Paris, being neither straight as an arrow nor sure as a spear nor handsome of face nor wise of mind, did a dull and stupid thing and, as is the way of wild beasts and cattle, turned his snail&rsquos eyes towards lust rather than selected virtue or riches. But let me explain what these three goddesses have to say for themselves on the three kinds of living.

The first or intellectual life we name in honor of contemplative wisdom thus they say that she as born from the head of Jove, because the intellect is situated in the brain and she was armed, because she is full of resource. They associate her with the Gorgon, worn on her breast as a symbol of fear, just as the wise man bears awe in his breast to guard against his enemies. They give her a plume and helmet, for the mind of the wise man is both armed and noble whence Plautus in his Tirnummus declares: &ldquoIt certainly has a head like a mushroom, it covers him completely.&rdquo She is also enfolded in a robe of three folds, either because all wisdom is many-sided or because it is kept hidden. She also carries a long spear, because wisdom strikes at long range with its pronouncements. The dress has three folds also because all wisdom is concealed from without and is rarely seen. They also choose to put the owl in her charge, because wisdom has its flashes of lightning even in the dark. Whereby they also claim that she was the founder of Athens, and Minerva in Greek is called Athene, for atbanate parthene, that is, immortal virgin, because wisdom cannot die or be seduced.

They put Juno in charge of the active life, for Juno is named for getting ahead (a iuuando). She is said to rule over dominions, because this kind of life is so much concerned with riches she is also depicted with a scepter, because riches and dominions are close kin. They say that Juno has her head veiled, because all riches are always hidden they choose her as the goddess of birth, because riches are always productive and sometimes abortive. They also place the peacock under her patronage, because the whole acquisitive life of power is always looking to adorn its appearance and as the peacock adorns its front by spreading out in a curve the star-spangled sweep of its tail, and thereby shamelessly exposes its rear, so the striving for riches and renown is alluring for the moment but eventually exposes itself whence Theophrastus in his moral writings declared: &ldquoHeed what is left behind&rdquo and Solomon: &ldquoAnd in the end of a man is the disclosing of his works.&rdquo They also connect her with Iris as the rainbow of peace, because just as the man who is coloring various ornaments for the moment takes refuge in the curve of the rainbow, so fortune, thought at first glance brightly colored, soon after fades away.

They have taken Venus as the third one, as the symbol of the life of pleasure. Venus they explained either as the good things of life according to the Epicureans, or as the empty things of life according to the Stoics, for the Epicureans praise pleasure but the Stoics condemn it: the first cultivate license the others want no part of it. Whereby she is called Aphrodite, for in Greek afros is the word for foam, either because lust rises momentarily like foam and turns to nothing, or because ejaculation of seed is foamy. Then the poets relate that when Saturn&rsquos genitals were cut off with a scythe and thrown into the sea, Venus was born from them &ndash a piece of poetic folly meaning nothing less that that Saturn is called Chronos in Greek, for in Greek chronos is the word for time. The powers of the seasons, that is, crops, are totally cut off by the scythe and, cast into the liquids of the belly, as it were into the sea, needs must produce lust. For abundance of satiety creates lust, as Terence says: &ldquoVenus grows cold without Ceres and Bacchus.&rdquo Also they depict her naked, either because she sends out her devotees naked or because the sin of lust is never cloaked or because it only suits the naked. They also considered roses as under her patronage, for roses both grow red and have thorns, as lust blushes at the outrage of modesty and pricks with the sting of sin and as the rose gives pleasure, but is swept away by the swift movement of the seasons, so lust is pleasant for a moment, but then disappears forever. Also under her patronage they place doves, for the reason that birds of this species are fiercely lecherous in their love-making with her they also associate the three Graces (Carites), two turned toward us and one turned away from us, because all grace sets off alone but returns twofold the Graces are naked because no grace ahs any part of subtle ornament. They also depict her swimming in the sea, because all lust suffers shipwreck of its affairs, whence also Porfyrius in his Epigrams declares: &ldquoThe shipwrecked sailor of Venus in the deep, naked and destitute.&rdquo She is also depicted carrying a sea-shell, because an organism of this kind, as Juba notes in his physiological writings, is always linked in open coupling through its entire body.


Be moderate, I beg you, judges, with the labours to which you commit men. For whatever boyish or effeminate feeling was involved in his love, the virtue of Hercules fought hard in the battle against lust. For the allure of woman is greater than the world, because the greatness of the world cannot overcome him whom lust tightly held: it attacked through the evil of a woman his virtue which could not be secured by nature. For Hercules fell in love with Omphale, who persuaded him both to soften the delicate shrunken parts of fibers and to whirl the spindle round finely with his thumb. For Hercules is called in Greek, Heracles, that is, eroncleos, which in Latin we call the fame of strong men, whereby Homer says: &ldquoWe heard only a rumor.&rdquo So too he is said to be the grandson of Alcaeus, for alce in Greek is translated as the assumption of power and he has a mother Alcmene, for almera, which in Greek means salty. So from the fire of the mind, from Jove, the assumption of power, from his grandfather Alcaeus, and the saltiness of wisdom, from Alcmene, what else but the renown of valor is produced? Yet he is conquered by lust, for onfalon in Greek means the navel, for lust is ruled in the navel by women, as says the Holy Scripture: &ldquoThy navel was not cut,&rdquo as if to say: &ldquoYour sin was not cut off.&rdquo For the womb is firmly tied to this, whereby the umbilical cord is situated at the same place for securing the newly born. This shows that lust can conquer even virtue that is still unconquered.


If thieves give out smoke, anyone can spot the despoiler even when he denies it. Thus he thrusts out blackness or smoke so as not to be observed, and the very property which came by theft disappears in smoke. Cacus is said to have driven off some cattle of Hercules, which he concealed by having dragged them by the tails into his cave but Hercules throttled him to death. For cacon is the Greek for what we call evil. Thus all evil gives out smoke, that is, puts out either what is contrary to the truth, that is, light, or what is offensive to those who see it, as smoke is to the eyes, or what is dark and dismal raillery. And so evil in its manifold forms is two-faced, not straightforward: evil does harm also in three ways, either as aggressive when observed or subtly like a treacherous friend or secretly like an invisible thief. Thus he leads off the cattle, dragging them so that their tracks may be reversed, because every evil person, in order to seize another&rsquos property, depends for his protection on the reversing of his traces. Thus he covets the property of Hercules, because all evil is opposed to virtue. Finally he hides them in his cave because evil is never frank or open-faced but virtue slays the evil ones and redeems its own possessions.


Antaeus is explained as a form of lust, whence in Greek we say antion, contrary he was born of the earth because lust is conceived of the flesh. Also he emerged the more agile by keeping touch with the earth, for lust rises the more evilly as its shares the flesh. Also he is overcome by Hercules as by the strength of renown, for he perishes when contact with earth is denied him and when raised higher he could not draw upon his mother&rsquos aid whereby he showed the obvious legendary character of his doings. For when virtue bears aloft the whole mind and denies it the sight of flesh, it at once emerges victorious. Thus too he is said to have sweated hard and long in his wrestling, because it is a hard struggle when the dispute is with lust and vices, as Plato says in his philosophical writings: &ldquoWise men wage a greater war with vices than with human foes.&rdquo So too Diogenes the Cynic said when he was tormented by pain in the lungs and saw men rushing past to the amphitheatre: &ldquoWhat folly on men&rsquos part: they rush to see men fighting wild beasts, and they pass by me struggling with the pain provided by nature.&rdquo


Teiresias saw two snakes coupling when he struck at them with his staff, he was turned into a woman. After an interval of time he again saw them coupling, and in like fashion struck at them and was restored to his former sex. Thus when Juno and Jove had an argument about their respective degree of love-pleasure, they sought him out to be their arbiter. He said that a man has three-twelfths of love-pleasure, and a woman, nine. In a rage Juno deprived him of his sight, but Jove granted him divinity.

However monstrous a Greek fabrication this is, it can be explained. For they took Teiresias as an allegory of time, as for teroseon, that is perpetual summer. Thus in springtime, which is masculine because at that season there is a closing and immovability of plants, when he saw before him the creatures coupling and struck at them with his staff &ndash that is, in the heat of temper, he is turned into the female gender, that is, into the heat of summer. They took summer to be in the form of a woman because at that season all things blossom forth with their leaves. And because there are two seasons for mating, spring and autumn, having stopped their conceiving he returned again to his former appearance. For autumn so strips all things in its masculine guise that, with the veins of life-giving sap in the trees firmly checked once more and pulling tight the open network of the leaves, it stamps out its drooping baldness. Then he is sought as a judge between the two divinities &ndash that is, the two elements, fire and air &ndash as they argue on the true meaning of love. He gives an honest judgment, for in the blossoming of plants twice the amount of air as of fire is required for air combines with the soil and helps produce the leaves and impregnate the shoots, but the sun serves only to ripen the grain. In proof of this, he is blinded by Juno, for the reason that wintertime grows black with dark clouds in the air, but Jove assists with the conceiving of future growth by granting inner forces, that is foresight for this reason January is depicted with two faces, so that it can see both what is past and what is to come.


No protection was sought across the lands of earth until stealing finally reached heaven there, there was absence of silver or gold, but flame could be stolen. They say that Prometheus made man of clay, but made him without soul or feeling. Minerva in her admiration pledged this office, that if there were anything he desired by way of heavenly gifts, he might ask it to assist his task if it were possible she would carry him up to the gods and thereafter, if he saw anything suitable for his pottery shop, he might be the more readily taken for a sharp-eyed judge in the matter. She brought away the workman, bearing him up to the sky between the folds of her seven-coated shield and when he saw all the heavenly substance of life stirred up in flaming vapors, he secretly attached a stick of fennel to the wheels of Phoebus&rsquos chariot and stole some fire implanting this in the puny breast of man he gave his body life. Thus they describe how he was bound and endlessly exposed his liver to a vulture. And although Nicagorus, in the book he wrote called Distemistea, describes how he first gave rise to the image and explains the exposing of his liver to the vulture as a representation of spite, compare also Petronius Arbiter, who says:

The vulture picks over the liver within him and probes the breast and the intestines
But this is not he whom lukewarm poets name, but spite and debauchery in the heart

So too Aritoxenus in the book he wrote called Lindosecemarium makes a similar suggestion. Yet I take Prrometheus to be for pronianeu which in Latin we call divine foresight. By such divine foresight, and Minerva as heavenly wisdom, man was made and the divine fire they wanted they explain to us as the soul divinely inspired, which according to the pagans is said to be taken from the skies. The liver which Prometheus exposes to the vulture is what we call the heart, because no small number of philosophers have declared that wisdom dwells in the heart, whereby Juvenal says: &ldquoThe rustic youth feels no flutter in his left breast.&rdquo Thus they explain the vulture as an allegory of the world, because the world is both impelled by a sudden swift flight and fed with an endless supply of corpses and the newly born. Thus is fed and sustained the wisdom of divine providence, which cannot have an end to itself, nor can the world in any way cease from such food. Then it is told how Pandora was fashioned, for Pandora is the Greek for the gift of all, because the soul is universally bestowed on all.


The Sun fairly reveals the adultery of Venus, while the Moon is accustomed to keep it secret. Venus lay with Mars, and the Sun, detecting her, betrayed her to her husband Vulcan, who forged steel-hard fetters and, enchaining both the deities, showed them lying in their shame. She, in her grief, inflamed with love the five daughters of the Sun &ndash that is, Pasiphae, Medea, Phaedra, Circe, and Dirce. Let us look into what the prating of poets may allude to by this. Certainly for our present age there remains full evidence of this fable, for valor corrupted by lust becomes clear at the witness of the sun, whereby Ovid in the fifth book of his Metamorphoses says: &ldquoThis god was the first to see.&rdquo And this valor corrupted by lust is shamefully held in the fetterlike grip of its ardour. She thus inflamed with love the five daughters of the Sun, that is, the five human senses devoted to light and truth and as if made dark by this corrupting of the Sun&rsquos brood. For this reason also they chose names of this kind for the five daughters of the Sun: first, as was seen Pasiphae, that is, for pasinfanon, which in Latin we call evident to all, for sight looks into the other four senses since it sees the one who gives utterance, notices what can be touched, looks on what has been tasted, and points to what can be smelled the second, Medea, for what is heard, that is, mendenidean, which in Latin we call no sight, for the voice is hollow in the body third, Circe, for touch, that is, as if one said in Greek cironcrine, which in Latin we call judgment of the hands fourth, Phaedra, or odorous, as if one should say feronedon, for bearing sweetness fifth, Dirce, judge of taste, that is, for drimoncrine, which in Latin we call judging what is bitter.


The Sirens are named as deceivers in Greek, for the allure of love is interpreted in three ways, by song of by sight or by habit: some creatures are loved for [the pleasure of their song], some for beauty of appearance, and some for pleasant habits. The companions of Ulysses pass by these with ears stopped up, and he himself goes past tied up. For Ulysses in Greek is for olonxenos, that is, stranger to all and because wisdom is a stranger to all things of this world, so Ulysses is crafty. Then he both hears and sees, that is, recognizes and sizes up and still passes by the Sirens, that is, the allures of pleasure. And they die just because they are heard, in the sense that all self-indulgent feelings of a wise man die away. Also they are winged creatures, because they may quickly enter the minds of lovers whereby they have feet like a hen&rsquos, because the indulgence of lust dissipates all its possesses. And finally they are called Sirens, because sirene is the Greek for betray.


They say that Scylla was a most beautiful maiden loved by Glaucus, son of Anthedon. Circe, the daughter of the Sun, thought much of him and, growing jealous of Scylla, put magic herbs in the pool in which she was accustomed to bathe. When she immersed herself in it her loins were filled with wolves and wild sea dogs. For Scylla in Greek is said to be for exquina, which in Latin we call violence. And what is violence but lust? Glaucus loves this lust, for Glaucus is the Greek for one-eyed, whereby we call blindness glaucoma. For anyone who loves debauchery is blind. And he is said to have been the son of Anthedon, because Anthedon in Greek is for antiidon, which in Latin we call seeing the opposite thus inflammation of the eyes is produced by conflicting vision. And Scylla is explained as the symbol of a harlot, because all her lustful groin must be filled with dogs and wolves she is then truly filled with wolves and dogs, because she cannot satisfy her private parts with inroads of any other kind. But Circe is said to have hated her. Circe, as described above, is named for cironcrine, judgment of the hand or working skill, as Terence says: &ldquoFrom toil to pleasure, she took the offer, and afterwards set up in the trade.&rdquo Ulysses also sailed harmlessly past her, for wisdom scorns lust he had a wife called Penelope the chaste, because all chastity is linked to wisdom.


King Midas besought Apollo that whatever he touched might turn to gold since he deserved it, the boon turned into a punishment, and he began to be tortured by the effects of his own wish, for whatever he touched straightway did become gold. This, therefore, was golden penury and a rich poverty, for both food and drink stiffened and hardened into a gold substance. So he besought Apollo to change his evil choice and received the reply that he should immerse his head three times in the waters of the river Pactolus. From this action the Pactolus is said continuously to carry down golden sands. Clearly poets have sagaciously alluded here to avarice, for the reason that any seeker after avarice when he fixes everything at a price dies of hunger, and such was King Midas but the greatest contribution of his wealth, as Solicrates of Cyzicos relates in the books of his history, was that, with this total revenue of his, King Midas diverted the river Pactolus, which once ran to the sea, through innumerable channels for irrigating that territory and made the river fertile by the avarice he had dispensed. Midas in Greek is for medenidon, that is knowing nothing, for a miser is so stupid that he cannot help himself.


When Vulcan made the thunderbolts of Jove, he accepted a promise from Jove that he might take anything he wished. He asked for Minerva in marriage Jove ordered Minerva to defend her maidenhood by force of arms. When they were to enter the nuptial bed, Vulcan in the struggle spilt his seed on the floor, and from it was born Erichthonius with the feet of a serpent, for eris is the Greek for strife, and ctonus is the name for the earth. Minerva hid him in a basket and entrusted him, with a serpent nearby as guardian, to the two sisters, Aglauros and Pandora. It was he who first invented the chariot. They explained Vulcan as the fire of rage, whereby Vulcan is named as the heat of desire he made the lightning for Jove, that is, he stirred up rage. They chose him to be the husband of Minerva because even rage is somewhat depleted for the wise. She defended her maidenhood by force of arms, that is, all wisdom by strength of mind protects the integrity of its own habits against fury. Whence indeed Erichthonius was born, for eris is the Greek for strife, and tonos is not only earth, but can also mean envy, whereby Thales of Miletus says: &ldquoEvny is the devourer of worldly fame.&rdquo And what else but the strife of envy could the weakening rage of wisdom produce? Wisdom, that is, Minerva, hid it in a basket, that is, concealed it in her heart, for every wise man hides his rage in his heart. Minerva placed a serpent close by as a guardian, that is, destruction, which she entrusted to the two maidens, Aglauros and Pandora. For Pandora is called the gift of all, and Aglauros is for acouleron, that is, the forgetting of sadness. For the wise man entrusts his grief either to that kindheartedness which is the gift of all or to forgetting, as was said of Caesar: &ldquoYou who forget nothing except the wrongs done you.&rdquo When Erichthonius grew up, what is he said to have invented? Nothing less than the racecourse, where there is always the strife of envy, as Virgil says: &ldquoErichthonius firs dared to join chariots and four horses.&rdquo Take note what merit there is when chastity is joined to wisdom, for against it even the god of fire could not prevail.


Jove lay with Semele, by whom Father Liber was born he roared as he came against her with his thunderbolt whereby the father bearing off the boy placed him in his own thigh and later gave him to Maro for nursing. There were four sisters named, including Semele, namely Ino, Autonoë, Semele, and Agave. Let us investigate what this fable symbolizes. There are four stages of intoxication &ndash that is, first, excess of wine second, forgetting things third, lust fourth, madness &ndash whereby these four received the name of Bacchae: the Bacchae are so called for their raging (baccantes) with wine. First is Ino, for inos, the Greek word we have for wine second, Autonoë for autenunoe, that is, ignorant of herself third, Semele, for somalion, which in Latin we call the released body, where she is said to have born Father Liber, that is, intoxication born of lust fourth, Agave, who is comparable to insanity because in her violence she cut off her son&rsquos head. Thus he is called Father Liber because the rage of wine frees men&rsquos minds he is said to have conquered the people of India because that race is certainly given to wine, in two respects, one that the fierce heat of the sun makes them drinkers, the other that in that part of the world there is wine like that of Falernum or Meroë, in which there is such strength that even a confirmed drunkard will scarcely drink a pint in a whole month whereby Lucan says: &ldquoFalernian, to which add Meroë, forcing its stubborn nature to ferment,&rdquo for it cannot be in any way weakened by water. For nursing Dionysus was handed over to Maro, a form of Mero, for by merum is sustained all intoxication. He is also said to ride on tigers, because all intoxication goes with savageness and minds affected by wine are softened, whence he is also called Lyaeus, distinguished for softness. Dionysus is depicted as a youth, because drunkenness is never mature and he is shown as naked, either because every wine-bibber becomes exposed to robbery or because the drunkard lays bare the secrets of his mind.


Although love of lust is shameful in all men, yet it is never worse than when it is involved with honor. For lust in relation to honor, not knowing what it sets in motion, is always opposed to dignity. He who seeks what he wishes to be something so divine must beware lest it become what it had not been. For Jove disguised as a swan lay with Leda, who laid an egg from which were born the three, Castor, Pollux, and Helen of Troy. This legend carries the flavour of an allegorical interpretation, for Jove is explained as the symbol of power, and Leda is for lide, which in Latin we call either insult or reviling. Thus all power getting involved with insults changes the appearance of its magnanimity. He is said to have changed into a swan because the naturalists, particularly Melistus of Euboea who has expounded the meanings of all the natural scientists, declare that a bird of this species is so filled with reviling that when this bird clamors the rest of the birds nearby become silent. For this reason it is also called an olor, as if derived from oligoria, necessarily involved with insults. But let us see what is produced from this affair, no less than an egg, for, just as in an egg, all the dirt which is to be washed away at birth is retained inside, so too in the work of reviling everything is impurity. But from this egg are born the three, Castor, Pollux, and Helen, nothing less than a seedbed of scandal and strife, as I once wrote: &ldquoAnd the adulteress shatters both worlds with grief.&rdquo For they explain Castor and Pollux as symbols of destruction, whence they explain the signs (signa) of the Castors in the sea as creating peril they say that both of them rise up and fall down alternately, because pride always commands but always falls whereby in Greek iperefania is the word for pride. Iperefania is strictly the term for appearance above, because, in those two constellations which they call by the name of the brothers, once appears above and the other sinks down, like Lucifer and Antifer for in Greek Pollux is apo tu apollin, that is, seeking to destroy, and Castor is for cacon steron, that is, final evil


He who seeks for more than he should have will be less than he now is. Thus Ixion aspiring to marriage with Juno, she adorned a cloud in her likeness, and Ixion making love to it fathered the Centaurs. As there is nothing more attractive than Roman truth, so there is nothing more fanciful than Greek lies. They explained Ixion as for Axion, because in Greek axioma is called worth. Juno is the goddess of dominion, as I explained before therefore, worth striving for dominion deserves a cloud, that is, the mere simulation of worth. For dominion is to last forever, but fleeting temporal powe4r is envious of this and hastily seizing wings, giving the illusion of momentary achievement rather than the truth of it, takes on an empty look like the quality of the wind. So Vatinius the seer was accustomed to say that he honors of the various cities were acted out in a dream like a city farce and although each one declared it was not concerned, yet the honor of Rome was seen to be pre-eminent because it was in part true honor, where the rest was ridiculous and fleeting. For I believe that he had read the sentiment of Cleobulus the philosopher when he said: &ldquoLife is a farce.&rdquo Now therefore let us investigate the legend. Dromicrites in his Theologia writes that Ixion first aspired to the glory of a kingdom in Greece, and that he first of all men assembled for his use a hundred horsemen, whence the hundred armed men were called Centaurs (they ought to be called centippi, because they are depicted as part horses), but also as a real hundred armed men. So this Ixion, having in a short time seized an opportunist dominion, was driven form its rule whence they say he was condemned to the wheel, because the full circle of the wheel now brings back down what it holds aloft. By this they wished to show that all who aspire to dominion by arms and violence are one moment held aloft and the next cast down, like a wheel which at no time has a fixed high point.


Tantalus the giant, wishing to test the supernatural power of the gods, presented his son Pelops as a dish for the table for this he was severely punished. They say that in the lower world Tantalus was stood in a pool, the deceiving water of which tickles his lips with a fleeting touch, and fruits appear before him hanging down to his face, but at his fleeting touch turning to ashes. Thus he seemed to prosper but in fact had nothing: the deceiving water made him thirsty and the fruit forced him to be hungry. Petronius explains this tale briefly when he says:

Poor Tantalus, though impelled by his own cravings,
Can neither drink the water round him nor seize the hanging fruit.
This will be the image of the great and the rich man, who has all things in plenty,
And yet has to choke down his hunger dry-mouthed.


They chose the moon itself to be Proserpine in the lower world, either because it shines by night or because it takes a lower course and presides over the lands of earth, in the sense that not only the earth but the rocks or the minds of living creatures, and &ndash what may be much harder to believe &ndash even excrement which thrown over gardens at the time of the waxing moon produces little worms, all respond to its wanings and waxings. They also choose Diana, the moon, to rule over the woodlands, because she stimulates growth in the sap of trees and fruits. Then, too, wood cut by the light of the waxing moon goes rotten with the sawdust worm-holes of grubs. She is said to have fallen in love with the shepherd Endymion for one of two reasons, either that Endymion was the first man to discover the tracks of the moon, whereby having studied nothing in his life but this discovery he is said to have slept for thirty years (as Mnaseas has related in the first book of his work on Europa), or that she is said to have fallen in love with the shepherd Endymion because the moisture of the night dew, which the exhalations of the stars and the life-giving moon soak into the sap of the grass, serves well for success with sheep.


The shy glance of ignorance is always begging leave to make excuses for itself, so that, whatever mistakes are made through lack of knowledge, one who deserves critical attacks may be absolved by a plea for indulgence which has always covered over errors. But because writings sent to a kindly judge never think evil of themselves, I have committed my simple wares, Master, to your most openhearted judgment, confident that anything absurd has been passed on, not for you to scorn with your disfavour, but for you to set right with your great learning.


King Proetus had a wife named Anteia, who fell in love with Bellerophon. When she solicited him to adultery, he refused and she accused him before her husband. The latter, through his father-in-law, sent him to kill the Chimaera and Bellerophon slew it, seated on the horse Pegasus which had been born of the blood of the Gorgon. They explain Bellerophon as for buleformunia, whereby Homer says: &ldquoIt does not befit a counsellor of men to sleep all night through.&rdquo Similarly Menander in his comedy Disexapaton says: &ldquoYou have already described, Demeas, our idea of a counsellor.&rdquo And to complete the proof, Homer in his narrative says this of Bellerophon: &ldquoDevising upright thoughts, a most wise counsellor.&rdquo He rejects lust, that is, Anteia, for antion in Greek means opposed, as we say Antichrist for evantion tou christou, that is, opposed to Christ. Notice also whose wife Anteia is described as being, no less than Proetus&rsquos. Pritos in the Pamphylian language means heavy, as Hesiod in his Eclogues writes: &ldquoHeavy with the blood-colored dew of grapes well trampled.&rdquo And his wife is nothing but sordid lust. Then, too, Bellerophon, that is, good counsel, rides a horse which is none other than Pegasus, for pegaseon, that is, an everlasting fountain. The wisdom of good counsel is an everlasting fountain. So, too, is Pegasus winged, because he looks down on the whole nature of the world with a swift perception of its designs. Then, too, he is said to have opened up the fountain of the Muses with his heel, for wisdom supplies the Muses with a fountain. He is born of the blood of the Gorgon because the Gorgon is explained as fear: she is attached to the heart of Minerva, as Homer says in his book thirteen: &ldquoWhereon is embossed the Gorgon fell of aspect, glaring terrible.&rdquo Thus the interpretation can be one of two kinds: either wisdom is born when fear is ended, as Pegasus from death in the blood of the Gorgon, because folly is always fearful, or &ldquofear is the beginning of wisdom,&rdquo because wisdom grows from fear of its master, and when anyone fears fame he grows wise. Then he slew the Chimaera, with Chimaera for cymeron, that is, the surge of love, whereby Homer says: &ldquoThe dark billow lifts up its crest.&rdquo So too the Chimaera is depicted with three heads, because there are three stages of love &ndash that is, the start, the continuation, and the end. For when love first come, it makes a mortal attack like a lion, whence Epicharmus, the writer of comedies, says: &ldquoLust is a ruler more forceful than the strength of a lion&rdquo and Virgil in the Georgics alludes to this when he says: &ldquoForgetful of her whelps, the lioness has at no other time wandered more savagely in the fields.&rdquo And the she-goat which is depicted in the center of the Chimaera is truly the embodiment of lust, because an animal of this species is most disposed to lust, as Virgil says in the Eclogues: &ldquoFrisking young goats.&rdquo So too the Satyrs are depicted with goats&rsquo horns, because they can never satisfy their lust. And when the Chimaera is called &ldquobehind a serpent,&rdquo it is explained in this fashion, that after its completion it may give the death-blow of remorse and the poison of sin. So it is in this order of description that it first attacks in love second, completes it and third, has remorse from the death wound.


A family association, pleasant in itself, always lead to bias where hard work is involved, and qualities which have been gently trained cause bitterness when something you do not want occurs: it is better to be trained independently in a work free of such cares than for the apprentice to be unexpectedly fear-stricken by the ties of relationship. They say that Perdix was a hunter they describe him as torn from his mother&rsquos love when both unrestrained lust boiled up and the shame of new villainy came about, and as consumed and oppressed by extreme disease. He first invented the saw, as Virgil says: &ldquoFor at first men cut the divisible wood with wedges.&rdquo But as Fenestella writes in his Antiquities, he was first a hunter. When the bloody destruction involved in the slaughter of wild animals and the loneliness of the roving chase lost their pleasure for the wanderer, and he well realized that his companions of the chase (contiroletas), that is, Actaeon, Adonis, and Hippolytus, had been slain by the destructiveness of wretched death, he decided to put aside the pursuit of his former skill, and he took up with agriculture. For that reason he is said to have loved his own mother like the earth, the producer of all things. Consumed by this labor he is said to have become very poor and lean. And because he dragged all hunters away from the taint of their former art, he is said to have discovered the saw, as if it were a bad word. He has for mother Polycastes, like policarpen, which in Latin we call many-fruited, that is, the earth.


Curiosity, being allied to danger, will always produce for its devotees injury rather than pleasure. So Actaeon the hunter is said to have spied on Diana as she was bathing, and being turned into a stag he was not recognized by his own hounds and was devoured by their bites. Anaximenes, who discussed ancient art in his second book, says that Actaeon loved hunting, but when he had reached mature age, having considered the dangers of hunting, that is, taking a naked reckoning of his skill, he grew afraid. He had the heart of a stag, as Homer says: &ldquoHeavy with wine, having the eyes of a dog and the heart of a stag.&rdquo But while the excitement of the hunt left him, he did not love the qualities of dogs, for in idly gratifying them he lost all his substance for this reason he is said to have been devoured by his own hounds.


Love is often close to danger and when it has eyes only for what it prizes, it never sees what is expedient. In Greek eros is the word for love, while Leander could be said as lisiandrom, that is, the freeing of men: for release produces love in a man. He swims by night, that is, he risks danger in the dark. Hero, too, is depicted in the likeness of love. She carries a lantern, and what else is love but carrying a torch and lighting the perilous path for the beloved? But it is soon extinguished, because youthful love does not last long. Then, too, he swims naked, for love can strip its followers naked and fling them into danger as into the sea. For both of them death at sea is brought about by the extinguishing of the light, and this clearly signifies that for either sex desire dies with the extinguishing of the ardour of youth. For dying in the sea they are borne away as into the tears of old age: all the little fire of ardent youth grows cold in the decline of numbing dullness.


Nowhere with their false beliefs in demons rather than gods did the Greeks place their gods in a worse light than when they made their sleepy old mother not only a youthful lover but also a passionate one. So much did this envious old woman, inflamed with passion, blaze forth, in her rage not sparing her own services, that when she hoped for the fruit of lust, the aged whore sank under its weight. And although in the minds of women lust may obtain control, yet passion gains control over unsatisfied lust. Let us then explain what the Greeks intended to be meant by these matters. They intended Berecynthia for the queen of mountains they called her the mother of the gods because they wished the gods to be proudly named so they called those living on Olympus the highest and the proud but so they call demons according to Homer when he says: &ldquoTo the other gods,&rdquo for demos is the Greek for people, and is is for one and they were called demons because they wished to subdue the people and be alone over the people. So for the Romans they were the natives (indigetes) as if they lacked nothing (nibil indigentes). Thus they say that Berecynthia flourished on the mountains like spring flowers (uerniquintos), for quintos in the Attic tongue is called a flower, whence the hyacinth is for bioscintos, which in Latin we call the solitary flower because it is more beautiful than all others. For Epicharmus also says: &ldquoChrysalis advanced, covered with flowers and drunk with wine.&rdquo So, too, whoever loves a flower cuts it, as Berecynthia did to Attis, for antis is the Greek for flower. As Sosicles the Greek writes in his book which is called Teologumenon, the mother-goddess wished to be placed in a position of power, whence she is called Cibebe, for cidos bebeon, that is, firmness of glory whereby Homer says: &ldquoTo whom Jove vouchsafed renown.&rdquo She is depicted as furnished with towers, for all elevation of power is in the head she rules in a chariot of lions, for all power is lord over strength also she carries a royal scepter, for all power is attached to the royal state. The mother is called a god, for the reason that they wish to show precisely that whether natives or gods or demons they are named as divinities by the ancients. Thus the mother is the power of gods whence Homer, speaking of Agamemnon, says: &ldquoHappy son of Atreus, child of fortune, blest of the gods&rdquo and Euripides, comparing Tantalus to Jove in his tragedy of Electra, says: &ldquoOnce happy Tantalus, though I do not mock his fortunes, accounted equal to Jove.&rdquo Thus the renown of power is always both aflame with love and devoured by envy, and speedily cuts off what it delights in, while it also severs what it hates. Finally all power, now and always, cannot preserve affection among its followers from day to day, and what it loved it soon cuts off through passion or fears through revulsion. Thus they meant Attis to be for eton, for etos is the Greek for custom. Whatever love there may be among the powerful, it cannot be stable.


Apuleius in his books of Metamorphoses has clearly told this story, saying that in a certain state there lived a king and a queen who had three daughters, the elder two of moderate good looks, but the youngest of such surpassing beauty that one might have imagined an earthly Venus. Marriage came to the two elder ones who were moderately good-looking, but no one ventured to declare his love to the one like a goddess, being prone to worship her and so to displease her enemies. And so Venus, infected with her sense of the dignity of her supremacy and burning with envy, sought out her son Cupid so that he might harshly punish Psyche&rsquos state of obstinacy. Rushing to avenge his mother he fell in love with the maiden as soon as he laid eyes on her the punishment was in fact reversed, and it was as if the proud archer had pierced himself with his own arrow. By the stern sentence of Apollo, the maiden was ordered to be sent to the summit of a mountain and borne along as if in a funeral procession, she would have a winged serpent as her destined husband. Full of courage, the maiden was borne across the mountain slopes in a carriage and, when left alone, floated downwards, gently wafted by the breath of Zephyrs, and was taken into a golden mansion, which could only be thought rich by considering it beyond price and praise. There, by means of voices like those of servants, she was given the use of this mysterious mansion of her husband. By night her husband came to her, and Venus&rsquos warfare took place in the darkness, but as he came unseen at evening, so he departed still unknown with the dawn. Thus she had servants who were only voices, power which consisted only in breezes, love by night, and an unknown husband. But her sisters came to weep for her death, and with sad voices were entreating in sisterly words on the summit of the mountain they had climbed and although her husband who shunned the light forbade her with threats to set eyes on her sisters, yet the invincible ardour of her love for her blood kin overbore her husband&rsquos command.

So, borne along on the panting breath of the Zephyr breeze, her worried sisters were brought to her and falling in with their poisonous advice that she should seek to know her husband&rsquos appearance, she yielded to curiosity, their stepmotherly concern for her safety, and laying aside the judgment of caution, she adopted that ready credulity which is always the mother of deceptions. Believing her sisters that she was mated to a serpent for a husband, and prepared to slay him as a wild beast, she hid a sharp knife under the pillow and concealed a lamp near the bed. When her husband was stretched out in a deep slumber, she armed herself with the weapon and lit the lamp concealed by her bed as she recognized Cupid, he was burned by the dire results of her love, and she scorched her husband by spilling the glittering oil Cupid, as he fled from the house and strongly reproached the girl for her curiosity, left her to be a wanderer and a fugitive. At length, having been assailed by many persecutions on the part of Venus, her marriage was accepted at Jove&rsquos behest.

I could indeed recount the order of events of the whole story in this little book of mine, how she went down to the lower world and filled a small flask from the waters of the Styx, robbed the sun&rsquos flock of their golden fleece, separated the mixture of small seeds, and &ndash though open to death for it &ndash secured a small portion of Proserpine&rsquos beauty. But since Apuleius has described such a conglomeration of falsehoods very fully in almost two books, and Aristophontes of Athens has published the story, for those who wish to study it, at enormous length in the books which are called Disarestia, for this reason I have reckoned on inserting only a summary from these other books of mine, lest I should divert my works from what properly belongs to them and add to my obligations to others. But he who reads the story in my work may pass over these matters in the knowledge that their falsity has been shown him. They have chosen the state, in which they placed the queen, to represent God and matter, as representing the world. They add three daughters &ndash that is, the flesh the special quality (ultronietatem) that we call free will and the spirit. For Psyche in Greek is called the spirit, which they wished to be so much the more youthful because they said that the spirit was added after the body was formed and to be so much the more beautiful because it was higher than free will and nobler than the flesh. Venus envies her as lust to her she sends greed (cupiditatem) to do away with her but because greed is for good and evil alike, greed is taken with the spirit and links itself to her, as it were, in marriage. It persuades her not to look upon its countenance, that is, not to learn the pleasure of greed (thus Adam, although possessing sight, does not see himself as naked until he eats of the tree of covetousness), nor does she agree with her sisters &ndash that is, flesh and free will &ndash that she should satisfy her curiosity concerning its appearance, until frightened by their insistence she produces a lamp from beneath the bed, that is reveals the flame of desire concealed in her breast and loves and adores it now it is seen to be so delightful. She is said to have burned it by the bubbling over of the lamp because all greed grows hot to the extent that it is desired and marks the flesh with the stain of sin. Thus her fortune is stripped of naked and potent greed, and is flung into dangers and driven from the royal home. But, since as I said it takes a long time to cover all the details, I have given only the gist of the interpretation. If anyone reads this story in Apuleius he will find other details of my explanation which I have not gone into.


They say that Thetis signifies water, whence the nymph took her name. Jove as God married her to Peleus, and pelos in Greek is lutum, mud, in Latin. Thus they wish to produce a man commingled with water, whereby they say that Jove also wished to lie with Thetis but was prevented by the thought that she would produce one greater than himself who would drive him from his rule for it fire, that is, Jove, mingles with water, it is put out by the power of the water. So in the union of water and earth, that is, of Thetis and Peleus, discord alone is not invited, for the reason that there must be concord between the two elements for a man to be produced: their coming together shows that Peleus stands for earth, that is, the flesh, and Thetis for water, that is, fluid, and Jove who married the two for fire, that is, the spirit. In the conceiving of man from the blending of the elements three goddesses, as I described above, that is, three lives, are involved in conflict. So too discord is said to have rolled the golden apple, that is, greed, for the reason that there is in a golden apple what you look upon, not what you eat, just as greed can possess but cannot enjoy. Jove is said to have summoned all the gods to the wedding because the heathen believed that in a human being separate gods gained possession of separate parts &ndash for instance, Jove, the head Minerva, the eyes Juno, the arms Neptune, the breast Mars, the waist Venus, the kidneys and sex organs Mercury, the feet as Dromoclites describes in his physiology so too Homer says: &ldquoHis head and eyes like unto Zeus (Jove) whose joy is in thunder, and his waist like unto Ares (Mars), and his breast unto Poseidon (Neptune).&rdquo So, too, Tiberianus in his Prometheus says that the gods gave to man his individual traits. Then after Achilles was born his mother dipped him in the waters of the Styx to make him a perfect man, that is, she protected him securely against all trials, but his heel alone she did not dip, as much as to show the physical fact that he veins which are in the heel connect with the faculties of the kidneys, thighs, and sex organs, and that from them other veins run to the great toe for doctors treating women for inducing childbirth open the veins in the legs at this same place the covering plaster, which Africanus the teacher of medicine called stisidem, he taught should be applied to the big toe and heel. Orpheus himself demonstrates that this is the chief seat of lust, and in these same intestinal localities they teach that cauterizing must be effected. Thus he shows that human power, though protected, is subject and open to all the blows of lust. After this Achilles is assigned to the court of Lycomedes as if to the kingdom of lust, for Lycomedes is for the Greek gliconmeden, that is, sweet nothing, since all lust is both sweet and nothing. Then he dies of love for Polynexa and is killed as it were because of his heal. Polynexa in Greek is said to be foreigner to many, either because love causes men&rsquos passions to travel far from their minds, or because lust in its wandering state travels about among many peoples.


Myrrha is said to have fallen in love with her father, whose bed she shared when he was drunk. When her father discovered that she was pregnant and her monstrous crime was known, he began to pursue her with a sword. She was turned into a myrrh tree, and as the father struck at the tree with his sword, Adonis was born from it. Let me explain what this story signifies. The myrrh is a kind of tree from which the sap oozes out she is said to have fallen in love with her father. These same trees are found in India, glowing with the heat of the sun and since they always said that a father is the sun of all things, by whose aid the growth of plant life develops, so she in this fashion is said to have fallen in love with her father. When she had developed a strong wood which crackled with the sun&rsquos heat, she produces fissures from which there oozes out a resin called myrrh and as if in tears she exudes a weeping pleasantly scented from the gaping cuts. It is told of her that she gave birth to Adonis because adon is the Greek for a sweet savor. So they say that Venus fell in love with him because this kind of liquid is so very fiery so, too Petronius Arbiter says that he drank a draught of myrrh to arouse his sexual desires so too Sutrius the writer of comedies introduces the licentious Glico, who says: &ldquoBring me myrrh so that I can attack the strongholds with virile weapons.&rdquo


Minerva invented the double flute from a bone, but when she played on it at a banquet of the gods and all the gods laughed at her puffed out cheeks, she went to the salt lake Tritonia, in North Africa and observing her image in the water and having adjudged shameful the blowing out of her cheeks, she threw the flute away. Marsyas, finding it, made himself skilful at it and, eager for a hard contest, challenged Apollo to perform. They chose King Midas as umpire. Because he did not judge correctly, Apollo disfigured him with asses&rsquo ears. He revealed something of this state of shame to the servant who cut his hair, promising him that, if he could hide the shame, he would give him a share in his kingdom. The servant dug a hole in the earth and spoke his lord&rsquos secret into the ditch and then filled it in. On the same spot a reed sprang up, whereby a shepherd made himself a flute and when he cut it the reed said: &ldquoKing Midas has asses&rsquo ears,&rdquo singing out exactly what it had absorbed from the earth. Thus Petronius Arbiter declared:

So the greedy servant, fearful of disclosing the secret committed to him,
Dug a hole in the ground and spoke into it about the king&rsquos hidden ears,
For the earth absorbed the sound, and the murmuring reeds
Found Midas to be as the informer had devised.

Now, therefore, we may seek the hidden sense of this mysterious story. The story is shown to be associated with musicians, as Orpheus wrote in his Theogonia, for musicians have established two stages for their art, adding a third as it were of necessity, as Hermes Trismegistus declares, saying admenon, psallomenon, aulumenon &ndash that is, singing, plucking the lyre, or playing the flute. The first is the living voice, which rapidly covers all musical requirements, for it can both develop intervals (limmata), harmonize changes (parallelos), blend different pitches (distonas), link together the sounds of music (ptongos), and ornament with trills (quilismata). But the flute could strictly fulfil only the lowliest role in the art of music. For the lyre has five sets of scales (simfonia), according to what Pythagoras stated when he adduced arithmetic sets of numbers to fit with the scales: the first scale is the diapason or octave, which is the diplasion of arithmetic, what in Latin we call 2 to 1 the second scale is the diapente or fifth, the emiolius of arithmetic, what in Latin we call 3 to 2 the third scale is the diatessaron or perfect fourth, the epitritus of arithmetic, that is, 4 to 3 the fourth scale is called the tonus or major third, known to arithmeticians as the epocdous, for us 5 to 4 and since the order in arithmetic is not allowed to go beyond the limit of nine, because a new set in a second series begins with ten, the limit is reached in having a fifth scale, which is called the armonia or major tone, that is, 9 to 8. You will find no digit joined to another beyond that point. Thus music has seven parts, that is, the elements (genera), the notation (diastemata), the composition (systemata), the instrumental sounds (ptongos), the modes or keys (tonos), the transposing (metabolas), and the theory (melopias) whence Virgil says in his sixth book: &ldquoThen too did Orpheus the Thracian seer, in a trailing gown, answer their rhythm on seven intervals of notes.&rdquo For in arithmetic of this kind the full series is like that in geometry, or the modes (tonus) in music. The voice has innumerable sets of scales, as much as nature has endowed the voice with arsis or rising and thesis or sinking, which in Latin we call going up and down. The flute, however, produces scarcely one and a half scales, although each scale has five notes (symphonias). So it was according to the art of music that Minerva discovered the double flute, which anyone skilled in music despises for the poverty of its sounds. They are said to have laughed at her puffed out cheeks because the flute sounds windily with its music and, with loss of individuality in its special tones (idiomatum), hisses rather than clearly enunciates its matter. Thus anyone at all skilled laughs at her harshly blowing and so Minerva, that is, wisdom, reproaching herself, throws it away, and Marsyas picks it up. For Marsyas in Greek is morosis, that is, a solitary fool, for wanting to place the flute in musical effect above the lyre whence he is depicted with a hog&rsquos tail. King Midas judged between these two contestants, for Midas in Greek is said to be for medenidon, what we call in Latin an ignoramus. So also he is said to have asses&rsquo ears, because being totally lacking in discernment he is in no way different from an ass. Also they relate that his servant betrayed his secrets, for the reason that we must keep our mind a servant obedient to all we wish and guardian of our secrets. But when he betrayed to the reed, &ldquothrough the reed pipe of his throat,&rdquo means &ldquothrough speech.&rdquo And in that a shepherd heard it, shepherds are those who foster strange things by gently stamping down the earth.


Now this legend is an allegory (designatio) of the art of music. For Orpheus stands for oreafone, that is, matchless sound, and Eurydice is deep judgment. In all the arts there is a first and a second stage: for boys learning their letters there is first the alphabet, second learning to write at the grammar level, first reading, second clear speech at the rhetorical level, first rhetoric, second dialectic in geometry, first pure geometry, second arithmetic in astronomy, first learning the science, second applied astrology in medicine, first the diagnosis, second the therapy in divination, first the inspection of omens, second their application and in music, first the melody, second the effect. It is one thing for teachers to recognize different aspects of their subject, another to put them into effect it is one thing for instructors in rhetoric to have profuse, unbridled, and unrestrained fluency, another to impose a rigorous and scrupulous control over the investigation of truth it is one thing for astrologers to know the courses and movements of the stars and the constellations, another to trace their significance it is one thing in medicine to recognize the cause of diseases, another to cure the onslaught of the sickness it is one thing in geometry to construct lines and formulas, another to adapt numbers to the formulas it is one thing in divination to inspect entrails and orts, another according to Battiades to read the changes in events and in music it is one thing to deal with scales of notes (ptongorum), compositions (sistematum), and notation (diastematum), another to explain the effect of the scales and the power of the words, for the beauty of the voice as it appeals to the inner secrets of the art also ahs to do with the mysterious power of words.

Again, Eurydice was desired by the best, that is, by Aristaeus &ndash for ariston is the Greek for best &ndash as art itself avoids the common level of men. She died by the blow of a snake, as it were, by the interception of skill and she was removed to the secret places of the lower world. For after art ahs been sought out and raised toward the light, the voice of melody sinks down, because it both assists in the ultimate appeal of the sound and by a secret power gives these hidden forces the effect of delight: for we can say that the Dorian mode or the Phrygian is like Saturn in soothing wild beasts, or like Jove in charming the birds but if the explanation why this happens is sought for, the theory of the subject inquired into dies away. Therefore, Orpheus is forbidden to look upon Eurydice, and loses her when he does look upon her therefore the highly skilled Pythagoras when he adapted tunes to numbers and pursued the depths of musical composition in arithmetical terms through their melodies and rhythms and tunes, yet could not explain the reason for their effect.


Phineus is taken as a symbol of greed the name is said to be from fenerando. He is blind because all greed is blind in not recognizing itself. The Harpies snatched away his food because pillaging refuses to share anything of itself. The fact that they befouled his meals with the discharge of their filth shows that the life of usurers is befouled with a flood of pillaging. But Zetes and Calais drove them out of his sight, as we say in Greek zeton calon, seeking good. They have wings because no search for good is ever involved with earthly matters. They are the sons of the north wind because the search for good is of the spirit of the spirit, not the flesh, and as goodness comes all pillaging is put to flight.


The river Alpheus loved the nymph Arethusa. When it pursued her, she was turned into a fountain. When passing through the midst of the sea, it retains its freshness as it plunges into her hollow. Hence it is said that in the lower world it bears oblivion to the souls. For Alpheus is the Greek aletiasfos, that is, the light of truth while Arethusa is for areteisa, that is, equality of excellence. For what can the truth love but equity, or the light but excellence? And it retains its freshness when passing through the sea because clear truth cannot by mingling be polluted by the surrounding saltiness of evil ways. Yet all the light of truth sinks into the hollow of equitable power, for as it goes down to the lower world, that is into the hidden knowledge of good and evil, the light of truth always entails the forgetting of evil things.


This monster’s father was Vulcan his were the black fires he belched forth, as he moved with massive bulk. In due course, time brought the help and presence of a god. For to us, too, in our need, the mightiest of avengers, glorying in the slaughter and spoils of triple Geryon, Hercules came, and this way drove his huge bulls in triumph, and his oxen filled vale and riverside. But Cacus, his wits wild with frenzy, that no crime or craft might prove to be left un-dared or untried, drove from their stalls four bulls of surpassing form, and as many heifers of peerless beauty. And that there might be no tracks pointing forward, the rustler dragged them by the tail into his cave, and, with the signs of their course thus turned backwards, the thief hid them in the rocky darkness: anyone who sought them could find no marks leading to the cave. Meanwhile, when Amphitryon’s son was now moving the well-fed herds from their stalls and making ready to set out, the cattle lowed as they went all the grove they fill with their plaint, and with clamour quit the hills. One heifer returned the cry, lowed from the high cave’s depths, and from her prison baffled the hopes of Cacus. At this the wrath of Alcides furiously blazed forth with black gall seizing in hand his weapons and heavily knotted club, he seeks with speed the crest of the steep mountain. Then first our people saw Cacus afraid and with trouble in his eyes in a twinkling he flees swifter than the East Wind and seeks his cave fear lends wings to his feet.

Just as he shut himself in and, bursting the chains, dropped the giant rock suspended in iron by his father’s


Bacchus: he will forge a path by destruction, and he will want to rule in an empty sky. Swollen with confidence in his well-tested might, he has learnt through bearing the heavens that his strength can conquer them. When he bent his head to support the sky, the toil of that immense weight did not bow his shoulders no, the firmament rested more securely on Hercules’ neck. Without budging, his back supported the stars and heavens—and my pressure. Yes, he is seeking a path to the gods.

Onward, my anger, onward! Crush this overreacher! Grapple with him, tear him apart with your own hands. Why delegate such hatred? Let the wild beasts go, let Eurystheus too rest, weary with giving commands. Release the Titans who dared disrupt Jove’s sway open the cavern in the Sicilian peak, and let the Dorian land, which trembles whenever the giant struggles, free the pinioned neck of that horrific monster. 9

But he has defeated these! Do you need a match for Alcides? 10 There is none but himself. Now he must war with himself. The Eumenides must be summoned here from the lowest depths of Tartarus, their burning hair must scatter fire, their cruel hands brandish snaky whips. Go ahead, proud man, aspire to the gods’ abodes, despise human status! You think you have now escaped the Stygian world and its merciless spirits? Here I will show you infernal powers. I shall call up one buried in deep darkness,

Watch the video: Achelous and Hercules from Ovids Metamorphoses (December 2022).

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