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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 198

Safe from access of each intruding power.
Touch'd with her secret key, the doors unfold:
Self-closed, behind her shut the valves of gold.
Here first she bathes; and round her body pours
Soft oils of fragrance, and ambrosial showers:
The winds, perfumed, the balmy gale convey
Through heaven, through earth, and all the aerial way:
Spirit divine! whose exhalation greets
The sense of gods with more than mortal sweets.
Thus while she breathed of heaven, with decent pride
Her artful hands the radiant tresses tied;
Part on her head in shining ringlets roll'd,
Part o'er her shoulders waved like melted gold.
Around her next a heavenly mantle flow'd,
That rich with Pallas' labour'd colours glow'd:
Large clasps of gold the foldings gather'd round,
A golden zone her swelling bosom bound.
Far-beaming pendants tremble in her ear,
Each gem illumined with a triple star.
Then o'er her head she cast a veil more white
Than new-fallen snow, and dazzling as the light.
Last her fair feet celestial sandals grace.
Thus issuing radiant with majestic pace,
[pg 258]
Forth from the dome the imperial goddess moves,
And calls the mother of the smiles and loves.
"How long (to Venus thus apart she cried)
Shall human strife celestial minds divide?
Ah yet, will Venus aid Saturnia's joy,
And set aside the cause of Greece and Troy?"
"Let heaven's dread empress (Cytheraea said)
Speak her request, and deem her will obey'd."
"Then grant me (said the queen) those conquering charms,
That power, which mortals and immortals warms,
That love, which melts mankind in fierce desires,
And burns the sons of heaven with sacred fires!
"For lo! I haste to those remote abodes,
Where the great parents, (sacred source of gods!)
Ocean and Tethys their old empire keep,
On the last limits of the land and deep.
In their kind arms my tender years were past;
What time old Saturn, from Olympus cast,
Of upper heaven to Jove resign'd the reign,
Whelm'd under the huge mass of earth and main.
For strife, I hear, has made the union cease,
Which held so long that ancient pair in peace.
What honour, and what love, shall I obtain,
If I compose those fatal feuds again;
Once more their minds in mutual ties engage,
And, what my youth has owed, repay their age!"
She said. With awe divine, the queen of love
Obey'd the sister and the wife of Jove;
And from her fragrant breast the zone embraced,233
With various skill and high embroidery graced.
In this was every art, and every charm,
To win the wisest, and the coldest warm:
Fond love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
The kind deceit, the still-reviving fire,
Persuasive speech, and the more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
This on her hand the Cyprian Goddess laid:
"Take this, and with it all thy wish;" she said.
With smiles she took the charm; and smiling press'd
The powerful cestus to her snowy breast.
Then Venus to the courts of Jove withdrew;

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