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rsz silenus on a mule 

Midas aureus



Nec satis hoc Baccho est: ipsos quoque deserit agros

cumque choro meliore sui vineta Timoli

Pactolonque petit, quamvis non aureus illo

tempore nec caris erat invidiosus harenis.

Hunc adsueta cohors satyri bacchaeque frequentant,

at Silenus abest: titubantem annisque meroque

ruricolae cepere Phryges vinctumque coronis

ad regem duxere Midan, cui Thracius Orpheus

orgia tradiderat cum Cecropio Eumolpo.

Quem simul agnovit socium comitemque sacrorum,

hospitis adventu festum genialiter egit

per bis quinque dies et iunctas ordine noctes.

Et iam stellarum sublime coegerat agmen

Lucifer undecimus, Lydos cum laetus in agros

rex venit et iuveni Silenum reddit alumno.















And not content with this, Bacchus resolved

to leave that land, and with a worthier train

went to the vineyards of his own Tmolus

and to Pactolus, though the river was

not golden, nor admired for precious sands.

His usual throng of Satyrs and of Bacchanals

surrounded him; but not Silenus, who

was then detained from him. The Phrygian folk

had captured him, as he was staggering, faint

with palsied age and wine. And after they

bound him in garlands, they led him to their king

Midas, to whom with the Cecropian

Eumolpus, Thracian Orpheus had shown all

the Bacchic rites. When Midas recognized

his old time friend Silenus, who had been

so often his companion in the rites

of Bacchus, he kept joyful festival,

with his old comrade, twice five days and nights.

Upon the eleventh day, when Lucifer

had dimmed the lofty multitude of stars,

King Midas and Silenus went from there

joyful together to the Lydian lands.

There Midas put Silenus carefully

under the care of his loved foster-child, 

Huic deus optandi gratum, sed inutile, fecit

muneris arbitrium, gaudens altore recepto.

Ille male usurus donis ait “effice, quidquid

corpore contigero fulvum vertatur in aurum.”

Adnuit optatis nocituraque munera solvit

Liber, et indoluit, quod non meliora petisset.







young Bacchus. He with great delight, because

he had his foster-father once again,

allowed the king to choose his own reward—

a welcome offer, but it led to harm.

And Midas made this ill-advised reply:

“Cause whatsoever I shall touch to change

at once to yellow gold.” Bacchus agreed

to his unfortunate request, with grief

that Midas chose for harm and not for good.

Laetus abit gaudetque malo Berecyntius heros

pollicitique fidem tangendo singula temptat

Vixque sibi credens non alta fronde virentem

ilice detraxit virgam: virga aurea facta est.

Tollit humo saxum: saxum quoque palluit auro.

Contigit et glaebam: contactu glaeba potenti

massa fit. Arentes Cereris decerpsit aristas:

aurea messis erat. Demptum tenet arbore pomum:

Hesperidas donasse putes. Si postibus altis

admovit digitos, postes radiare videntur.

Ille etiam liquidis palmas ubi laverat undis,

unda fluens palmis Danaen eludere posset.

Vix spes ipse suas animo capit aurea fingens

omnia. Gaudenti mensas posuere ministri

exstructas dapibus nec tostae frugis egentes.












The Berecynthian hero, king of Phrygia,

with joy at his misfortune went away,

and instantly began to test the worth

of Bacchus' word by touching everything.

Doubtful himself of his new power, he pulled

a twig down from a holm-oak, growing on

a low hung branch. The twig was turned to gold.

He lifted up a dark stone from the ground

and it turned pale with gold. He touched a clod

and by his potent touch the clod became

a mass of shining gold. He plucked some ripe,

dry spears of grain, and all that wheat he touched

was golden. Then he held an apple which

he gathered from a tree, and you would think

that the Hesperides had given it.

If he but touched a lofty door, at once

each door-post seemed to glisten. When he washed

his hands in liquid streams, the lustrous drops

upon his hands might have been those which once

astonished Danae. He could not now

conceive his large hopes in his grasping mind,

as he imagined everything of gold.

And, while he was rejoicing in great wealth,

his servants set a table for his meal,

with many dainties and with needful bread:

Tum vero, sive ille sua Cerealia dextra

munera contigerat, Cerealia dona rigebant,

sive dapes avido convellere dente parabat,

lammina fulva dapes admoto dente premebat.

Miscuerat puris auctorem muneris undis:

fusile per rictus aurum fluitare videres.




but when he touched the gift of Ceres with

his right hand, instantly the gift of Ceres

stiffened to gold; or if he tried to bite

with hungry teeth a tender bit of meat,

the dainty, as his teeth but touched it, shone

at once with yellow shreds and flakes of gold.

And wine, another gift of Bacchus, when

he mixed it in pure water, can be seen

in his astonished mouth as liquid gold.

Attonitus novitate mali, divesque miserque,

effugere optat opes et, quae modo voverat, odit.

Copia nulla famem relevat; sitis arida guttur

urit, et inviso meritus torquetur ab auro

Ad caelumque manus et splendida bracchia tollens

“da veniam, Lenaee pater! peccavimus,” inquit,

“sed miserere, precor, speciosoque eripe damno.”

Mite deum numen: Bacchus peccasse fatentem

restituit factique fide data munera solvit

“Neve male optato maneas circumlitus auro,

vade” ait “ad magnis vicinum Sardibus amnem

perque iugum ripae labentibus obvius undis

carpe viam, donec venias ad fluminis ortus,

spumigeroque tuum fonti, qua plurimus exit,

subde caput corpusque simul, simul elue crimen.”














Confounded by his strange misfortune—rich

and wretched—he was anxious to escape

from his unhappy wealth. He hated all

he had so lately longed for. Plenty could

not lessen hunger and no remedy

relieved his dry, parched throat. The hated gold

tormented him no more than he deserved.

Lifting his hands and shining arms to heaven,

he moaned. “Oh pardon me, father Lenaeus!

I have done wrong, but pity me, I pray,

and save me from this curse that looked so fair.”

How patient are the gods! Bacchus forthwith,

because King Midas had confessed his fault,

restored him and annulled the promise given,

annulled the favor granted, and he said:

“That you may not be always cased in gold,

which you unhappily desired, depart

to the stream that flows by that great town of Sardis

and upward trace its waters, as they glide

past Lydian heights, until you find their source.

Then, where the spring leaps out from mountain rock,

plunge head and body in the snowy foam.

At once the flood will take away your curse.”


Rex iussae succedit aquae: vis aurea tinxit

flumen et humano de corpore cessit in amnem.

Nunc quoque iam veteris percepto semine venae

arva rigent auro madidis pallentia glaebis.




King Midas did as he was told and plunged

beneath the water at the river's source.

And the gold virtue granted by the god,

as it departed from his body, tinged

the stream with gold. And even to this hour

adjoining fields, touched by this ancient vein

of gold, are hardened where the river flows

and colored with the gold that Midas left.





Ovid. Metamorphoses. Hugo Magnus. Gotha: Friedr. Andr. Perthes, 1892. Book XI: 85-145. Perseus. 

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Brookes More. Boston: Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. Book XI: 85-145. Perseus. 


The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174

Cantos LII - LXXI

confucius adams 2