My Own Notes

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Bk IX:595-665 The transformation of Byblis.
"Why, as far as that is concerned, everything, unerringly, warned me not to give way to my desire, at the moment when the tablets fell, as I was giving orders for them to be taken to him, meaning that my hopes would also fall away. Should not, perhaps, the day, or my whole intention, more so the day, have been altered? The god himself issued a warning, and gave a clear sign, if I had not been crazed with love. Also I should have told him myself, and revealed my passion to him in person, and not committed myself in writing. He would have seen the tears, and seen a lover's face. I could have said more than any letter can contain. I could have thrown my arms around his unwilling neck, and if I had been rejected, I could have seemed on the point of dying, embraced his feet, and lying there begged for life. I should have done all those things that, if not singly, all together, might have persuaded his stubborn mind. Maybe the messenger who was sent was at fault: did not approach him properly, I think, or choose a suitable moment, or discover when he and the time were free.
It has all harmed me. Truly, my brother is not born of the tigress. He does not have a heart of unyielding flint, solid iron, or steel. He was not suckled on the milk of a lioness. He will be won! I will try again, and not suffer any weariness in my attempts, while breath is left to me. Since I cannot undo my actions, it would have been best not to begin: but, having begun, the next best is to win through. In fact if I relinquished my longing, he could still not fail to remember what I have dared, and by desisting I will be seen to have been shallow in my desires, or to have been trying to tempt and snare him. He will even believe, I am sure, that I have not been conquered by the god, who, above all, impels and inflames our hearts, but by lust. In short, I cannot but be guilty of impiety, of writing, of wooing: my wishes are revealed. Though I add nothing to them, I cannot be said to be innocent. There is little left to be accused of, but much to long for."
So she argues, and (so great is the undecided conflict in her mind) while she repented of the attempt, she delights in attempting. Going beyond all moderation, and unsuccessful in what she tries, she is endlessly rejected. Finally, when there seems no end to it, he flees from this wickedness and from his home, and founds a new city in a foreign place: Caunus, in Caria.
Then, indeed, grief made Miletus's daughter lose her mind completely. Then, indeed, she tore the clothes from her breast, and beat her arms in frenzy. Her madness was now public, and she confessed her hope of illicit union, by leaving the country she hated, and her household gods, and following the footsteps of her fleeing brother. The women of Bubasos saw Byblis, howling in the open fields, as your Thracians, son of Semele, pricked by your thyrsus, keep your triennial festival.
Leaving them behind she wandered through Caria, through the lands of the armed Leleges, and on through Lycia. Now she was beyond Lycian Cragus, and Limyre, and the waters of the Xanthian plain, and the ridge of Mount Chimaera near Phaleris, where the fire-breathing monster lived, joining a lion's head and chest to a serpent's tail. Above the woods, when, wearied, you were weak from following, you fell, Byblis, your hair spread on the hard earth, and your face pressing the fallen leaves.

The Lelegeian nymphs often try to lift her in their tender arms, and often they teach her how she might remedy her love, and they offer comfort to her silent heart. She lies there, mute, clutching at the green stems with her fingers, and watering the grass with her flowing tears. They say the naiads created a spring from them, beneath her, which could never run dry. Well, what more could they offer her? There and then, Byblis, Phoebus's granddaughter, consumed by her own tears, is changed into a fountain: just as drops of resin ooze from a cut pine, or sticky bitumen from heavy soil, or as water, that has been frozen by the cold, melts in the sun, at the coming of the west wind's gentle breath: and even now in those valleys it retains its mistress's name, and flows from underneath a dark holm oak.
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