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

Page: 51

So spake she and the Goddess nodded assent. So rejoicing they filled their shining pitchers with water and bore them away. Swiftly they came to the high hall of their p. 193father, and quickly they told their mother what they had heard and seen, and speedily she bade them run and call the strange woman, offering goodly hire. Then as deer or calves in the season of Spring leap along the meadow, when they have had their fill of pasture, so lightly they kilted up the folds of their lovely kirtles, and ran along the hollow chariot-way, while their hair danced on their shoulders, in colour like the crocus flower. They found the glorious Goddess at the wayside, even where they had left her, and anon they led her to their father’s house. But she paced behind in heaviness of heart, her head veiled, and the dark robe floating about her slender feet divine. Speedily they came to the house of Celeus, the fosterling of Zeus, and they went through the corridor where their lady mother was sitting by the doorpost of the well-wrought hall, with her child in her lap, a young blossom, and the girls ran up to her, but the Goddess stood on the threshold, her head touching the p. 194roof-beam, and she filled the doorway with the light divine. Then wonder, and awe, and pale fear seized the mother, and she gave place from her high seat, and bade the Goddess be seated. But Demeter the bearer of the Seasons, the Giver of goodly gifts, would not sit down upon the shining high seat. Nay, in silence she waited, casting down her lovely eyes, till the wise Iambe set for her a well-made stool, and cast over it a glistering fleece. {194} Then sat she down and held the veil before her face; long in sorrow and silence sat she so, and spake to no man nor made any sign, but smileless she sat, nor tasted meat nor drink, wasting with long desire for her deep-bosomed daughter.

So abode she till wise Iambe with jests and many mockeries beguiled the lady, the holy one, to smile and laugh and hold a happier heart, and pleased her moods even thereafter. Then Metaneira filled a cup of sweet wine and offered it to her, but she refused it, saying, that it was not permitted for her to p. 195drink red wine; but she bade them mix meal and water with the tender herb of mint, and give it to her to drink. Then Metaneira made a potion and gave it to the Goddess as she bade, and Lady Deo took it and made libation, and to them fair-girdled Metaneira said:

“Hail, lady, for methinks thou art not of mean parentage, but goodly born, for grace and honour shine in thine eyes as in the eyes of doom-dealing kings. But the gifts of the Gods, even in sorrow, we men of necessity endure, for the yoke is laid upon our necks; yet now that thou art come hither, such things as I have shall be thine. Rear me this child that the Gods have given in my later years and beyond my hope; and he is to me a child of many prayers. If thou rear him, and he come to the measure of youth, verily each woman that sees thee will envy thee, such shall be my gifts of fosterage.”


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