Ovid's Metamorphoses in fifteen books. Translated by the most eminent hands. Adorn'd with sculptures:
Ovid, 43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D.
The Story of MEDUSA's Head.
The Heroe with his just Request complies,
Shows, how a Vale beneath cold Atlas lies,
Where, with aspiring Mountains fenc'd around,
He the two Daughters of old Phorcus found.
Fate had one common Eye to both assign'd,
Each saw by turns, and each by turns was blind.
Page 138 But while our strove to lend her Sister Sight,
He stretch'd his Hand, and stole their mutual Light,
And left both Eyeless, both involv'd in Night.
Thro' devious Wilds, and trackless Woods he past,
And at the Gorgon-Seats arriv'd at last:
But as he journey'd, pensive he survey'd,
What wasteful Havock dire Medusa made.
Here, stood still breathing Statues, Men before;
There, rampant Lions seem'd in Stone to roar.
Nor did he, yet affrighted, quit the Field,
But in the Mirror of his polish'd Shield
Reflected saw Medusa Slumbers take,
And not one Serpent by good chance awake.
Then backward an unerring Blow he sped,
And from her Body lop'd at once her Head.
The Gore prolifick prov'd; with sudden Force
Sprung Pegasus, and wing'd his airy Course.
The Heav'n-born Warrior faithfully went on,
And told the num'rous Dangers which he run.
What subject Seas, what Lands he had in view,
And nigh what Stars th' advent'rous Heroe flew.
At last he silent sate; the list'ning Throng
Sigh'd at the Pause of his delightful Tongue.
Some beg'd to know, why this alone should wear
Of all the Sisters such destructive Hair.
Great Perseus then: With me you shall prevail,
Worth the Relation, to relate a Tale.
Medusa once had Charms; to gain her Love
A rival Crowd of envious Lovers strove.
They, who have seen her, own, they ne'er did trace
More moving Features in a sweeter Face.
Page 139 Yet above all, her Length of Hair, they own,
In golden Ringlets wav'd, and graceful shone.
Her Neptune saw, and with such Beauties fir'd,
Resolv'd to compass, what his Soul desir'd.
In chaste Minerva's Fane, he, lustful, stay'd,
And seiz'd, and rifled the young, blushing Maid.
The bashful Goddess turn'd her Eyes away,
Nor durst such bold Impurity survey;
But on the ravish'd Virgin Vengeance takes,
Her shining Hair is chang'd to hissing Snakes.
These in her Aegis Pallas joys to bear,
The hissing Snakes her Foes more sure ensnare,
Than they did Lovers once, when shining Hair.