Thursday, July 23, 2009

Perseus and Atlas


"The most remote land was under Atlas’s rule, and the ocean, into which Sol's panting horses plunged, and where his straining axle was welcomed. He had a thousand flocks, and as many herds of cattle straying through the grass, and no neighbouring soil was richer than his. The leaves of the trees, bright with radiant gold, covered branches of gold, and fruit of gold. Perseus said to him ‘Friend, if high birth impresses you, Jupiter is responsible for my birth. Or if you admire great deeds, you will admire mine. I ask for hospitality and rest.’
Atlas remembered an ancient prophecy. Themis on Parnassus had given that prophecy. ‘Atlas, the time will come when your tree will be stripped of its gold, and he who steals it will be called the son of Jupiter.’ Fearful of this, Atlas had enclosed his orchard with solid walls, and set a huge dragon to guard it, and kept all strangers away from his borders. To Perseus, he said ‘Go far away, lest the glory of the deeds, that you lie about, and Jupiter himself, fail you!’ He added weight to his threats, and tried to push him away with his great hands, Perseus delaying resolutely, and combining that with calm words. Inferior in strength (who could equal Atlas in strength?), he said, ‘Well now, since you show me so little kindness, accept a gift’ and turning away himself, he held out Medusa’s foul head, on his left hand side. Atlas became a mountain, as huge as he himself had been. Now his hair and beard were changed into trees, his shoulders and hands into ridges. What had been his head before was the crest on the mountain summit. His bones became stones. Then he grew to an immense height in every part (so you gods determined) and the whole sky, with its many stars, rested on him."

Ovid

5 Comments:

Blogger Eurodog said...

Powerful stuff, WW.

9:31 pm  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I love these tales, WW.

9:23 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Merci, ED

I'm glad, WL. It's interesting to revisit myths and also the tales of the Old Testament as you see details which you'd missed on your first reading/in younger days. Ovid is such a marvellous writer: fabulous descriptions!

7:30 am  
Blogger Phidelm said...

More metamorphoses, please! Lovely to be reminded of these myths; they're so rich in so many ways.

11:40 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

So glad you like metamorphoses, Phildelm!

9:12 pm  

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