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Ovid XIV Chapter 17: 698-771 Anaxarete and Iphis
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|'Once, Iphis, a youth, born of humble stock, saw noble Anaxarete, of the blood of Teucer, saw her, and felt the fire of passion in every bone. He fought it for a long time, but when he could not conquer his madness by reason, he came begging at her threshold. Now he would confess his sorry love to her nurse, asking her not to be hard on him, by the hopes she had for her darling. At other times he flattered each of her many attendants, with enticing words, seeking their favourable disposition. Often he gave them messages to carry to her, in the form of fawning letters. Sometimes he hung garlands on her doorpost wet with his tears, and lay with his soft flank on the hard threshold, complaining at the pitiless bolts barring the way. But she spurned, and mocked, him, crueler than the surging sea, when the Kids set; harder than steel tempered in the fires of Noricum; or natural rock still rooted to its bed. And she added proud, insolent words to harsh actions, robbing her lover of hope, as well. Unable to endure the pain of his long torment, Iphis spoke these last words before her door. "You have conquered, Anaxarete, and you will not have to suffer any tedium on my account. Devise glad triumphs, and sing the Paean of victory, and wreathe your brow with shining laurel! You have conquered, and I die gladly: now, heart of steel, rejoice! Now you will have something to praise about my love, something that pleases you. Remember that my love for you did not end before life itself, and that I lose twin lights in one. No mere rumour will come to you to announce my death: have no doubt, I myself will be there, visibly present, so you can feast your savage eyes on my lifeless corpse. Yet, if you, O gods, see what mortals do, let me be remembered (my tongue can bear to ask for nothing more), and suffer my tale to be told, in future ages, and grant, to my fame, the years, you have taken from my life." He spoke, and lifted his tear-filled eyes to the doorposts he had often crowned with flowery garlands, and, raising his pale arms to them, tied a rope to the cross-beam, saying: "This wreath will please you, cruel and wicked, as you are!" Then he thrust his head in the noose, though, as he hung there, a pitiful burden, his windpipe crushed, even then he turned towards her. The drumming of his feet seemed to sound a request to enter, and when the door was opened it revealed what he had done. The servants shrieked, and lifted him down, but in vain. Then they carried his body to his mother's house (since his father was dead). She took him to her breast, and embraced her son's cold limbs, and when she had said all the words a distraught father could say, and done the things distraught mothers do, weeping, she led his funeral procession through the heart of the city, carrying the pallid corpse, on a bier, to the pyre. The sound of mourning rose to the ears of stony-hearted Anaxarete, her house chancing to be near the street, where the sad procession passed. Now a vengeful god roused her. Still, she was roused, and said: "Let us see this miserable funeral" and went to a rooftop room with open windows. She had barely looked at Iphis, lying on the bier, when her eyes grew fixed, and the warm blood left her pallid body. Trying to step backwards she was rooted: trying to turn her face away, also, she could not. Gradually the stone that had long existed in her heart possessed her body. If you think this is only a tale, Salamis still preserves the image of the lady as a statue, and also possesses a temple of Gazing Venus. Remember all this, O nymph of mine: put aside, I beg you, reluctant pride, and yield to your lover. Then the frost will not sear your apples in the bud, nor the storm winds scatter them in flower.' When Vertumnus, the god, disguised in the shape of the old woman, had spoken, but to no effect, he went back to being a youth, and threw off the dress of an old woman, and appeared to Pomona, in the glowing likeness of the sun, when it overcomes contending clouds, and shines out, unopposed. He was ready to force her: but no force was needed, and the nymph captivated by the form of the god, felt a mutual passion.