Diana, the sweet virgin, was not there;
She had risen early and o’er woodland green
Had gone to wash her clothes in fountain fair
Upon the Tuscan shore—romantic scene.
And not returning till the northern star
Had rolled through dusky air and lost its sheen,
Her mother made excuses quite provoking,
Knitting at the time, a worsted stocking.
Juno-Lucina did not go—and why?
She anxious wished to wash her sacred head.
Menippus, Jove’s chief taster, standing by
For the disastrous Fates excuses made.
They had much tow to spin, and lint to dry,
And they were also busy baking bread.
The cellarman, Silenus, kept away,
To water the domestics’ wine, that day.
On starry benches sit the famous warriors
Of the immortal kingdom, in a ring;
Now drums and cymbals, echoing to the barriers,
Announce the coming of the gorgeous king;
A hundred pages, valets, napkin-carriers
Attend, and their peculiar offerings bring.
And after them, armed with his club so hard,
Alcides, captain of the city guard.
With Jove’s broad hat and spectacles arrived
The light-heeled Mercury; in his hand he bore
A sack, in which, of other means deprived,
He damned poor mortals’ prayers, some million score;
Those he disposed in vessels, well contrived,
Which graced his father’s cabinet of yore;
And, wont attention to all claims to pay,
He regularly signed them twice a day.
Then Jove himself, in royal habit dressed,
With starry diadem upon his head,
And o’er his shoulders an imperial vest
Worn upon holidays.—The king displayed
A sceptre, pastoral shape, with hooked crest:
In a rich jacket too was he arrayed,
Given by the inhabitants of Sericane,
And Ganymede held up his splendid train.
(Pliny, the Younger, writes the following
in a letter relative to
the death of Minicia Marcella, the daughter of his friend, Fundanus.)
Tristissimus haec tibi scribo, Fundani nostri filia minore defuncta, qua puella nihil umquam festivius, amabilius, nec modo longiore vita sed prope immortalitate dignius vidi. Nondum annos quattuor decem impleverat, et iam illi anilis prudentia, matronalis gravitas erat, et tamen suavitas puellaris cum virginali verecundia. Ut illa patris cervicibus inhaerebat! Ut nos amicos paternos et amanter et modeste complectabatur! ut nutrices, ut paedagogos, ut praeceptores, pro suo quemque officio diligebat! quam studiose, quam intellegenter lectitabat! ut parce custoditeque ludebat! Qua illa temperantia, qua patientia, qua etiam constantia novissimam valetudinem tulit! Medicis obsequebatur, sororem, patrem adhortabatur, ipsamque se destitutam corporis viribus vigore animi sustinebat. Duravit hic illi usque ad extremum nec aut spatio valetudinis