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Out of the EIGHTH BOOK of
CONNECTION to the former STORY.
Ovid, having told how Thefeus had freed Athens from the tribute of children, which was imposed on them by Minos king of Creta, by killing the Minotaur, here makes a digreffion to the ftory of Meleager and Atalanta, which is one of the most inartificial connections in all the Metamorphofes: for he only fays, that Thefeus obtained fuch honour from that combat, that all Greece had recourse to him in their neceffities; and, amongst others, Calydon; though the hero of that country, prince Meleager, was then living.
FROM him, the Caledonians fought relief;
Though valiant Meleagrus was their chief.
The caufe, a boar, who ravag'd far and near:
Of Cynthia's wrath, th' avenging minifter.
For Oeneus, with autumnal plenty bless'd,
In gifts to heaven his gratitude exprefs'd :
Cull'd fheaves, to Ceres; to Lyæus, wine;
To Pan, and Pales, offer'd sheep and kine;
And fat of olives, to Minerva's fhrine.
Beginning from the rural Gods, his hand
Was liberal to the powers of high command:
Each Deity in every kind was bless'd,
Till at Diana's fane th' invidious honour ceas'd.
Wrath touches ev'n the Gods; the queen of night,
Fir'd with disdain, and jealous of her right,
Unhonour'd though I am, at least, said she,
Not unreveng'd that impious act fhall be.
Swift as the word, she sped the boar away,
With charge on thofe devoted fields to prey.
No larger bulls th' Ægyptian paftures feed,
And none fo large Sicilian meadows breed:
His eye-balls glare with fire, fuffus'd with blood
His neck fhoots up a thickset thorny wood;
His briftled back a trench impal'd appears,
And ftands erected, like a field of spears.
Froth fills his chaps, he fends a grunting found,
And part he churns, and part befoams the ground.
For tusks with Indian elephants he strove,
And Jove's own thunder from his mouth he drove.
He burns the leaves; the fcorching blast invades
The tender corn, and shrivels-up the blades:
Or, fuffering not their yellow beards to rear,
He tramples down the fpikes, and intercepts the year.
In vain the barns expect their promis'd load,
Nor barns at home, nor reeks are heap'd abroad :
In vain the hinds the threshing-floor prepare,
And exercise their flails in empty air.
With olives ever green the ground is strow'd,
And grapes ungather'd shed their generous blood.
Amid the fold he rages, nor the sheep
Their fhepherds, nor the grooms their bulls can keep.
From fields to walls the frighted rabble run,
Nor think themselves fecure within the town:
Till Meleagrus, and his chofen crew,
Contemn the danger, and the praise pursue.
Fair Leda's twins, (in time to stars decreed)
One fought on foot, one curb'd the fiery fteed;
Then iffued forth fam'd Jason after these,
Who mann'd the foremost ship that fail'd the feas;
Then Thefeus join'd with bold Pirithous came:
A fingle concord in a double name :
The Theftian fons, Idas who fwiftly ran,
And Ceneus, once a woman, now a man.
Lynceus, with eagle's eyes and lion's heart;
Leucippus, with his never-erring dart;
Acaftus, Phileus, Phænix, Telamon,
Echion, Lelex, and Eurytion,
Achilles' father, and great Phocus' fon;
Dryas the fierce, and Hippafus the strong;
With twice old Iolas, and Neftor then but
Laertes active, and Ancæus bold;
Mopfus the fage, who future things foretold;
And t'other seer yet by his wife unfold.
A thousand others of immortal fame;
Among the reft fair Atalanta came,
Grace of the woods; a diamond buckle bound
Her veft behind, that elfe had flow'd upon the ground,
And shew'd her bufkin'd legs; her head was bare,
But for her native ornament of hair;
Which in a fimple knot was ty'd above,
Sweet negligence, unheeded bait of love!
Her founding quiver on her fhoulder ty'd,
One hand a dart, and one a bow fupply'd.
Such was her face, as in a nymph display'd
A fair fierce boy, or in a boy betray'd
The blushing beauties of a modeft maid.
The Caledonian chief at once the dame
Beheld, at once his heart receiv'd the flame,
With heavens averfe. O happy youth, he cry'd;
For whom thy fates reserve so fair a bride!
He sigh'd, and had no leisure more to say :
His honour call'd his eyes another way,
And forc'd him to pursue the now neglected prey.
There stood a foreft on the mountain's brow,
Which over-look'd the fhaded plains below,
No founding ax prefum'd those trees to bite ;
Coeval with the world, a venerable fight.
The heroes there arriv'd, fome fpread around
The toils, fome fearch the footsteps on the ground,
Some from the chains the faithful dogs unbound.
Of action eager, and intent on thought,
The chiefs their honourable danger fought:
A valley ftood below; the common drain
Of waters from above, and falling rain :
The bottom was a moift and marshy ground,
Whofe edges were with bending ofiers crown'd;
The knotty bulrush next in order stood,
And all within of reeds a trembling wood.