My Own Notes

Please Login to save notes.

If you are not a registered user, then click here.


Previous Page 193 of 301 Next Page
Bk IX:324-393 Iole tells the story of her half-sister Dryope.

She finished speaking, and sighed, her feelings stirred by the memory of her former servant. While she grieved, her daughter-in-law, Iole, said: "Mother, this is still the altered form of someone not of our blood that affects you. What if I were to relate to you my sister's strange fate? Though sadness and tears hold me back, and hinder me from talking. Dryope was her mother's only child – I was my father's by another wife – and she was known as the most beautiful girl in Oechalia. Suffering the assault of Apollo, that god who holds Delphi and Delos; her virginity lost; Andraemon married her; and was considered fortunate to have her as his wife.
There is a lake, whose sloping shoreline is formed by steep banks, their summits crowned with myrtle. Dryope went there, unaware of any restrictions, and, to make what happened more unacceptable, bringing garlands for the nymphs. At her breast she carried a sweet burden, her son, not yet a year old, whom she was suckling with her warm milk. Not far away, a water-loving lotus tree flowered from the swamp, with the promise of fruits to come, its colours imitating Tyrian purples. Dryope picked some of these blossoms, to offer the child as playthings, and I was looking to do the sameI was with herwhen I saw drops of blood fall from the flowers, and the branches move with a shiver of fear.  It appears, as the locals now tell us, at last, but too late, that Lotis, a nymph, running from obscene Priapus, turned into the tree, altering her features, keeping her name.
My sister had known nothing of this. When she wished to retreat, in fear, from the place, and escape by praying to the nymphs, her feet clung like roots. She struggled to tear them away, but nothing moved except her torso. Slowly, thick bark grew upward from her feet, hiding all her groin. When she saw this, and tried to tear at her hair, with her hands, her hands filled with leaves: leaves covered her whole head. But the child, Amphissos (so his grandfather, Eurytus, King of Oechalia, had named him) felt his mother's breast harden, and the milky liquid failed when he sucked. I was there, a spectator of your cruel destiny, sister, and could bring you no help at all. Only, as far as I could, I held back the developing trunk and branches with my embrace, and I bear witness that I longed to be sheathed in that same bark.
Then her husband, Andraemon, and her luckless father, Eurytus, came, asking for Dryope: the Dryope they searched for I revealed as the lotus. They kissed the living wood, and prostrate on the ground clung to the roots of their tree. You, my dear sister, displayed nothing but your face that was not already tree. Your tears rained on the leaves of your poor body, and while your mouth left a path for your voice, while you still could, you poured out your lament like this into the air: "If there is truth in suffering, I swear by the gods I do not deserve this wrong. I am being punished without guilt. I lived in innocence. If I lie, let me lose the leaves I have through drought, be levelled with the axe, and burned. Take this child from these maternal branches, and find him a nurse, and have him often drink his milk under this tree of mine, and play under this tree. And when he learns to talk, have him greet his mother and say, sadly, 'My mother is revealed in this tree.' Let him still fear lakes, and pick no flowers from the trees, and think all shrubs are the body of the goddess.
Dear husband, farewell, and you, sister; father! If you love me, defend me from the sharp knife, and my leaves from the browsing herd. And since I am not allowed to bend to you, reach up with your arms, and find my lips, while I can still feel, and lift my little son up to me! I can speak no more. Now the soft sapwood spreads slowly over my white neck: I am imprisoned in its highest reaches. Take your hands from my eyes. Without trying to help me, allow the enveloping bark to mask the fading light!" At the moment her mouth ceased speaking, at that moment it ceased to be. For a long time, the freshly created branches glowed with warmth, from her altered body."
Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page
Go to page:   

Copyright © 2023 Gleeditions, LLC. All rights reserved.