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

Page: 38

So spake he with twinkling eyes, and twisted brows, glancing hither and thither, with long-drawn whistling breath, hearing Apollo’s word as a vain thing. Then lightly laughing spake Apollo the Far-darter:

“Oh, thou rogue, thou crafty one; verily methinks that many a time thou wilt break into stablished homes, and by night leave many a man bare, silently pilling through his house, such is thy speech to-day! And many herdsmen of the steadings wilt thou vex in the mountain glens, when in lust for flesh thou comest on the herds and sheep thick of fleece. Nay come, lest thou sleep p. 150the last and longest slumber, come forth from thy cradle, thou companion of black night! For surely this honour hereafter thou shalt have among the Immortals, to be called for ever the captain of reivers.”

So spake Phœbus Apollo, and lifted the child, but even then strong Argus-bane had his device, and, in the hands of the God, let forth an Omen, an evil belly-tenant, with tidings of worse, and a speedy sneeze thereafter. Apollo heard, and dropped renowned Hermes on the ground, then sat down before him, eager as he was to be gone, chiding Hermes, and thus he spoke:

“Take heart, swaddling one, child of Zeus and Maia. By these thine Omens shall I find anon the sturdy kine, and thou shalt lead the way.”

So spake he, but swiftly arose Cyllenian Hermes, and swiftly fared, pulling about his ears his swaddling bands that were his shoulder wrapping. Then spake he:

“Whither bearest thou me, Far-darter, of Gods most vehement? Is it for wrath about p. 151thy kine that thou thus provokest me? Would that the race of kine might perish, for thy cattle have I not stolen, nor seen another steal, whatsoever kine may be; I know but by hearsay, I! But let our suit be judged before Zeus Cronion.”

Now were lone Hermes and the splendid son of Leto point by point disputing their pleas, Apollo with sure knowledge was righteously seeking to convict renowned Hermes for the sake of his kine, but he with craft and cunning words sought to beguile,—the Cyllenian to beguile the God of the Silver Bow. But when the wily one found one as wily, then speedily he strode forward through the sand in front, while behind came the son of Zeus and Leto. Swiftly they came to the crests of fragrant Olympus, to father Cronion they came, these goodly sons of Zeus, for there were set for them the balances of doom. Quiet was snowy Olympus, but they who know not decay or death were gathering after gold-throned Dawn. Then stood Hermes and Apollo of the Silver Bow before p. 152the knees of Zeus, the Thunderer, who inquired of his glorious Son, saying:

“Phœbus, whence drivest thou such mighty spoil, a new-born babe like a Herald? A mighty matter this, to come before the gathering of the Gods!”