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Quote of the day: When he drank his destruction at Babylon
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Ovid XIII Chapter 7: 576-622 Aurora and the Memnonides
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But Aurora had no time for being moved by the fall and ruin of Hecuba and Troy, though she had aided its defence. A closer sorrow, and a private grief tormented her, the loss of her son Memnon, whom she, his bright mother, had seen wasted by Achilles's spear on the Phrygian plain. She saw it, and that colour, that reddens the dawn, paled, and the sky was covered with cloud. His mother could not bear to look at his body laid on the summit of the funeral pyre, but with dishevelled hair, just as she was, she did not scorn to fall at the feet of mighty Jove, adding tears to these words: 'I am the least of all, whom the golden heavens hold (since temples to me are the rarest in all the world), yet I come as a goddess: though not that you might give me sanctuaries, or sacred days, or altars to flame with sacrificial fires. Yet if you considered what I, as a woman, do for you, when each new dawn I keep the borders of night, you would think to give me some reward. But that is not my care, nor Aurora's errand, to ask for well-merited honours. I come bereft of my Memnon, who bore arms bravely, but in vain, for his uncle Priam, and in his youth has fallen to mighty Achilles (so you willed). I beg you to grant him some honour, as a solace for his death, great king of the gods, and lessen a mother's wound!' Jupiter nodded, while Memnon's steep pyre collapsed in leaping flames, and the daylight was stained with columns of black smoke, like the river-fog the naiad breathes out, that does not admit the light beneath it. Dark ashes flew upwards, and gathering into a ball and solidifying, they formed a shape, and it drew life and heat from the fire (its own lightness giving it wings). At first resembling a bird, then a true bird, it clapped its wings, and innumerable sisters, sprung from the same natal source, sounded too. Three times they circled the pyre, and three times their clamour rose in the air in consonance, on the fourth flight the flock divided. Then in two separate fierce bands they made war, wielding beaks and hooked talons in rage, wearying wing and breast in the struggle. Remembering they were sprung from a brave hero, they fell as offerings to the buried ashes of their kinsman's body. The source of these suddenly created birds gave them his name: from him they were called the Memnonides: and when the sun has transited his twelve signs, they war and die again in ritual festival. And so, while others wept to witness Hecuba's baying, Aurora was intent on her own grief, and even now she sheds tears, and wets the whole world with dew. 575
Non vacat Aurorae, quamquam isdem faverat armis,
cladibus et casu Troiaeque Hecabesque moveri.
cura deam propior luctusque domesticus angit
Memnonis amissi, Phrygiis quem lutea campis
vidit Achillea pereuntem cuspide mater;
vidit, et ille color, quo matutina rubescunt
tempora, palluerat, latuitque in nubibus aether.
at non inpositos supremis ignibus artus
sustinuit spectare parens, sed crine soluto
sicut erat, magni genibus procumbere non est
dedignata Iovis lacrimisque has addere voces:
'omnibus inferior, quas sustinet aureus aether,
(nam mihi sunt totum rarissima templa per orbem)
diva tamen, veni, non ut delubra diesque
des mihi sacrificos caliturasque ignibus aras:
si tamen adspicias, quantum tibi femina praestem,
tum cum luce nova noctis confinia servo,
praemia danda putes; sed non ea cura neque hic est
nunc status Aurorae, meritos ut poscat honores:
Memnonis orba mei venio, qui fortia frustra
pro patruo tulit arma suo primisque sub annis
occidit a forti (sic vos voluistis) Achille.
da, precor, huic aliquem, solacia mortis, honorem,
summe deum rector, maternaque vulnera leni!'
Iuppiter adnuerat, cum Memnonis arduus alto
corruit igne rogus, nigrique volumina fumi
infecere diem, veluti cum flumine Nais
exhalat nebulas, nec sol admittitur infra;
atra favilla volat glomerataque corpus in unum
densetur faciemque capit sumitque calorem
atque animam ex igni (levitas sua praebuit alas)
et primo similis volucri, mox vera volucris
insonuit pennis, pariter sonuere sorores
innumerae, quibus est eadem natalis origo,
terque rogum lustrant, et consonus exit in auras
ter plangor, quarto seducunt castra volatu;
tum duo diversa populi de parte feroces
bella gerunt rostrisque et aduncis unguibus iras
exercent alasque adversaque pectora lassant,
inferiaeque cadunt cineri cognata sepulto
corpora seque viro forti meminere creatas.
praepetibus subitis nomen facit auctor: ab illo
Memnonides dictae, cum sol duodena peregit
signa, parentali moriturae more rebellant.
ergo aliis latrasse Dymantida flebile visum est;
luctibus est Aurora suis intenta piasque
nunc quoque dat lacrimas et toto rorat in orbe.