dimanche 31 août 2008

Andromeda 8

Then as soon as the procession reaches the shore of the tumultuous sea, her soft arms are stretched out on the hard rocks; they bound her feet to crags and cast chains upon her; and there to die on her virgin cross the maiden hung. Even in the hour of sacrifice she yet preserves a modest mien: her very sufferings become her, for, gently inclining her snow-white neck, she seemed in full possession of her liberty. The folds of her robe slipped from her shoulders and fell from her arms, and her streaming locks covered her body.

You, princess, halcyons in circling flight lamented and with plaintive song bewailed your fate, shading you by linking their spans of wing. To look at you the ocean checked its waves and ceased to break, as was its wont, upon the cliffs, whilst the Nereids raised their countenance above the surface of the sea and, weeping for your plight, moistened the very waves. Even the breeze, refreshing with gentle breath your pinioned limbs, resounded tearfully about the cliff-tops.

At length a happy day brought to those shores Perseus returning from his triumph over the monstrous Gorgon [Perseus is carrying the head of the Gorgon Medusa in his left hand, marked by the beta star of the constellation Perseus, Algol. On seeing the girl fastened to the rock, he, whom his foe [the Gorgon Medusa] had failed to petrify with her aspect, froze in his tracks and scarcely kept his grasp of the spoil [the Gorgon's head]: the vanquisher of Medusa was vanquished at the sight of Andromeda. Now he envies the very rocks and calls the chains happy to clasp such limbs. On learning from the maiden's lips the cause of her punishment, he resolves to go through war against the sea to win her hand, undaunted though a second Gorgon come against him, the sea-monster]. He quickly cuts a path through the air and by his promise to save their daughter's life awakens hope in the tearful parents; with the pledge of a bride he hastens back to the shore.

Now had a heavy surge begun to rise and long lines of breakers were fleeing before the thrust of the massive monster. As it cleaves the waves, its head emerges and disgorges sea, the waters breaking loudly about its teeth and the swirling sea afloat in its very jaws; behind rise its huge coils like rings of an enormous neckchain, and its back covers the whole sea. Ocean clamors in every quarter, and the very mountains and crags quake at the creature's onset.

What terror then, unhappy maiden, was expressed on your countenance, defended though you were by such a champion! How all your breath fled into the air! How all the blood ebbed from your limbs, when from the cleft in the rocks you beheld with your own eyes your fate, the avenging monster swimming towards you and driving the waves before it, how helpless you a victim for the sea!

Hereupon with a nutter of winged sandals Perseus flies upwards and from the skies hurls himself at the foe, driving home the weapon stained with the Gorgon's blood. The beast rises to meet him, rears its head, twisting it out of the water, leaps aloft upon its support of winding coils, and towers high in the air with all its bulk. But as much as it rises hurtling up from the deep, always so much does Perseus fly higher and mock the sea-beast through the yielding air, and strike its head as it attacks. Yet not submitting to the hero the monster bites furiously at the breezes, though its teeth snap vainly and inflict no wounds; it spouts forth sea towards heaven, drenches its winged assailant with a blood-stained deluge, and sends in spray the ocean to the stars.

The princess watches the duel of which she is the prize and, no longer mindful of herself, sighs with fear for her gallant champion: her feelings more than her body hang in suspense.
At last, its frame riddled with stabs, through which the sea fills its body, the beast sinks, returns once more to the surface, and covers the mighty ocean with its massive corpse, still a fearful sight, and not for a maiden's eyes to look on.
Having bathed his body in pure water, Perseus, a greater warrior now, flies from the sea to the lofty crags and releases from the chains which bind her to the rock the girl whose betrothal was sealed by his readiness to fight and who could now become a bride thanks to the bridegroom's dowry of her life.

Thus did Perseus win place in heaven for Andromeda and hallow in a constellation the prize of that glorious battle, wherein a monster no less terrible than the Gorgon herself perished and in perishing relieved the sea of a curse

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