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The Homeric Hymns A New Prose translation and Essays, Literary and Mythological

Page: 25

Among them that dwell in Crete, and the people of Athens, and isle Ægina, and Eubœa famed for fleets, and Ægæ and Peiresiæ, and Peparethus by the sea-strand, and Thracian Athos, and the tall crests of Pelion, and Thracian Samos, and the shadowy mountains of Ida, Scyros, and Phocæa, and the mountain wall of Aigocane, and stablished Imbros, and inhospitable Lemnos, and goodly Lesbos, the seat of Makar son of Æolus, and Chios, brightest of all islands of the deep, and craggy Mimas, and the steep crests of Mykale, and gleaming Claros, and the high hills of Æsageê, and watery Samos, and tall ridges of Mycale, and Miletus, and p. 106Cos, a city of Meropian men, and steep Cnidos, and windy Carpathus, Naxos and Paros, and rocky Rheneia—so far in travail with the Archer God went Leto, seeking if perchance any land would build a house for her son.

But the lands trembled sore, and were adread, and none, nay not the richest, dared to welcome Phœbus, not till Lady Leto set foot on Delos, and speaking winged words besought her:

“Delos, would that thou wert minded to be the seat of my Son, Phœbus Apollo, and to let build him therein a rich temple! No other God will touch thee, nor none will honour thee, for methinks thou art not to be well seen in cattle or in sheep, in fruit or grain, nor wilt thou grow plants unnumbered. But wert thou to possess a temple of Apollo the Far-darter; then would all men bring thee hecatombs, gathering to thee, and ever wilt thou have savour of sacrifice . . . from others’ hands, albeit thy soil is poor.”

Thus spoke she, and Delos was glad and answered her saying: p. 107

Leto, daughter most renowned of mighty Cœus, right gladly would I welcome the birth of the Archer Prince, for verily of me there goes an evil report among men, and thus would I wax mightiest of renown. But at this Word, Leto, I tremble, nor will I hide it from thee, for the saying is that Apollo will be mighty of mood, and mightily will lord it over mortals and immortals far and wide over the earth, the grain-giver. Therefore, I deeply dread in heart and soul lest, when first he looks upon the sunlight, he disdain my island, for rocky of soil am I, and spurn me with his feet and drive me down in the gulfs of the salt sea. Then should a great sea-wave wash mightily above my head for ever, but he will fare to another land, which so pleases him, to fashion him a temple and groves of trees. But in me would many-footed sea-beasts and black seals make their chambers securely, no men dwelling by me. Nay, still, if thou hast the heart, Goddess, to swear a great oath that here first he will build a beautiful temple, to be the shrine p. 108oracular of men—thereafter among all men let him raise him shrines, since his renown shall be the widest.”


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