Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

Page: 93

“Saturn fled before victorious Jove,
Driven down and banish’d from the realms above.
He, by just laws, embodied all the train,
Who roam’d the hills, and drew them to the plain;
There fixed, and Latium called the new abode,
Whose friendly shores concealed the latent god.
These realms, in peace, the monarch long controlled,
And blessed the nations with an age of gold.”
Virgil (C. Pitt’s tr.).
Janus’ two faces.

Janus is generally represented with two faces, turned in opposite directions, because he was acquainted with the past and future as well as with the present, and because he is considered an emblem of the sun, which opens the day at its rising, and closes the day at its setting.

Refer to caption

GENIUS OF DEATH.—Canova. (Tomb of Clement XIII.; St. Peter’s, Rome.)

“Deep in a cavern dwells the drowsy god:
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising sun,
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon:
[210] But lazy vapors round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight, and a doubtful sky;
No crowing cock does there his wings display,
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day:
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb with nightly noise the sacred peace:
Nor beast of nature, nor the tame, are nigh,
Nor trees with tempest rock’d, nor human cry;
But safe repose, without an air of breath,
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death.
An arm of Lethe, with a gentle flow,
Arising upwards from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o’er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps;
Around its entry nodding poppies grow,
And all cool simples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And passing, sheds it on the silent plains:
No door there was the unguarded house to keep,
On creaking hinges turn’d to break his sleep.
But in the gloomy court was rais’d a bed,
Stuff’d with black plumes, and on an ebon sted:
Black was the covering too, where lay the god,
And slept supine, his limbs display’d abroad.
About his head fantastic visions fly,
Which various images of things supply,
And mock their forms; the leaves on trees not more,
Nor bearded ears in fields, nor sands upon the shore.”
Ovid (Dryden’s tr.).