N I O B E in Distress for her Children slain by A P O L L O, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI. and from a view of the Painting of Mr. Richard Wilson.
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"N I O B E in Distress for her Children slain by A P O L L O, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI.and from a view of the Painting of Mr. Richard Wilson." in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.
London: Archibald Bell, 1773.
Copyright 2004. This text
is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header
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N I O B E in Distress for her Children slain by A P O L L O, from Ovid's
(43 B.C.E.-17 A.C.E.) Ovid is a Classical writer who is famous for his work Metamorphoses
Metamorphoses, Book VI.and from a view of the Painting of Mr. Richard Wilson
(1713-1782) Richard Wilson is a Welsh painter, famous for his landscapes..
Apollo is the son of Zues and the Greek god of music. wrath to man the dreadful
Of ills innum'rous, tuneful goddess, sing!
Thou who did'st first th� ideal pencil give,
And taught�st the painter in his works to live,
Inspire with glowing energy of thought,5.
What Wilson painted, and what Ovid wrote.
Muse! lend thy aid, nor let me sue in vain,
Tho� last and meanest of the rhyming train!
O guide my pen in lofty strains to show
Phrygian means "of Phrygia." Phrygia was a region in Asia Minor. queen, all beautiful in woe.10.
�Twas where Maeonia
Maeonia is another name for Lydia, which was a kingdom in Asia Minor. spreads her wide domain11.
Niobe is the queen of Thebes and the wife of Amphion dwelt, and held her potent reign:
See in her hand the regal sceptre shine,13.
The wealthy heir of Tantalus
Tantalus is the king of Sipylos and the son of Zeus divine,
He most distinguish�d by Dodonean Jove
Dodonean means "of Dodona," a region of northwestern Greece. Jove is another name for Jupiter, who is the king of the Roman pantheon. ,
To approach the tables of the gods above:
Her grandsire Atlas
Atlas was cursed by Zeus to carry the heavens on his shoulders, as depicted by statues of Atlas bearing the Earth on his shoulders., who with mighty pains
Th� ethereal axis on his neck sustains:18.
Her other gran sire
There should be a 'd' in "grandsire." However, the 1773 edition only has an inkless imprint of 'd' between "gran" and "sire." on the throne on high
Rolls the loud-pealing thunder thro� the sky.
Her spouse, Amphion
Amphion is the son of Zeus, the king of Thebes, and the husband of Niobe., who from Jove too springs,21.
Divinely taught to sweep the sounding strings.
Seven sprightly sons the royal bed adorn,23.
Seven daughters beauteous as the op�ning morn,
As when Aurora
Aurora is the personifaction of dawn in Roman mythology. fills the ravish�d sight,25.
And decks the orient realms with rosy light
From their bright eyes the living splendors play,
Nor can beholders bear the flashing ray.
Wherever, Niobe, thou turn�st thine eyes,29.
New beauties kindle, and new joys arise!
But thou had�st far the happier mother prov�d,31.
If this fair offspring had been less belov�d:
What if their charms exceed Aurora�s teint.
No words could tell them, and no pencil paint,
Thy love too vehement hastens to destroy
Each blooming maid, and each celestial boy.36.
Manto is the daughter of Tiresias. comes, endu�d with mighty skill,37.
The past to explore, the future to reveal.
Thebes is a city in ancient Greece. wide streets Tiresia�s
Tiresias was a famous, blind soothsayer of ancient Greece. daughter came,39.
Latona is the Roman name for Leto, the daughter of Phoebe and Coeus. mandate to proclaim:
The Theban maids to hear the orders ran,
When thus Maeonia�s prophetess began:
"Go, Thebans! great Latona�s will obey,
"And pious tribute at her altars pay:44.
"With rights divine, the goddess be implor�d,
"Nor be her sacred offspring unador�d."
Thus Manto spoke. The Theban maids obey,
And pious tribute to the goddess pay.
The rich perfumes ascend in waving spires,49.
And altars blaze with consecrated fires;
The fair assembly moves with graceful air,
And leaves of laurel bind the flowing hair.
Niobe comes with all her royal race,53.
With charms unnumber�d, and superior grace:
Her Phrygian garments of delightful hue,55.
Inwove with gold, refulgent to the view,
Beyond description beautiful she moves
Like heav�nly Venus
Venus is the Roman goddess of love and beauty., �midst her smiles and loves:
She views around the supplicating train,
And shakes her graceful head with stern
Proudly she turns around her lofty eyes,
And thus reviles celestial deities:
"What madness drives the Theban ladies fair
"To give their incense to surrounding air?
"Say why this new sprung deity preferr�d? 65.
"Why vainly fancy your petitions heard?
"Or say why Caeus�
Caeus (also Coeus) is one of the Titans. offspring is obey�d,
"While to my goddesship no tribute�s paid?
"For me no altars blaze with living fires,
"No bullock bleeds, no frankincense transpires, 70.
Cadmus is the founder of Thebes. palace, not unknown to fame,
"And Phrygian nations all revere my name.
"Where�er I turn my eyes vast wealth I find.
"Lo! here an empress with a goddess join�d.
"What, shall a Titaness
Titaness is a feminine version of Titan. The Titans were gigantic personifications of the forces of nature Greek mythology. be deify�d, 75.
"To whom the spacious earth a couch deny�d?
"Nor heav�n, nor earth, nor sea receiv�d your queen,
"�Till pitying Delos
Delos is a Greek island. It is also the birthplace of Apollo and Phoebe. took the wand�rer in.
"Round me what a large progeny is spread!
"No frowns of fortune has my soul to dread.80.
"What if indignant she decrease my train
"More than Latona�s number will remain?
"Then hence, ye Theban dames, hence haste
"Nor longer off�rings to Latona pay?
"Regard the orders of Amphion�s spouse,85.
"And take the leaves of laurel from your brows."
Niobe spoke. The Theban maids obey�d,
Their brows unbound, and left the rights un-
The angry goddess heard, then silence broke89.
Mount Cynthus, located on Delos, is the birthplace of Apollo and Phoebe. summit, and indignant spoke;
Phoebus is another name for Apollo. See Apollo for more information.! behold, thy mother in disgrace,91.
"Who to no goddess yields the prior place
"Except to Juno�s
Junos is the queen of the Roman pantheon and the wife of Jupiter. self, who reigns above,
"The spouse and sister of the thund�ring Jove.
"Niobe sprung from Tantalus inspires
"Each Theban bosom with rebellious fires;96.
"No reason her imperious temper quells,
"But all her father in her tongue rebels;
"Wrap her own sons for her blaspheming breath,
"Apollo! wrap them in the shades of death."
Latona ceas�d, and ardent thus replies,101.
The God, whose glory decks th� expanded skies.
"Cease thy complaints, mine be the task as-
"To punish pride, and scourge the rebel mind."
Phoebe is the moon-goddess and Apollo's twin sister. join�d.�They wing their instant
Thebes trembled as th'immortal pow'rs alight.
With clouds incompass�d glorious Phoebus
The feather'd vengeance quiv'ring in his hands.
Near Cadmus� walls a plain extended lay,109.
Where Thebes� young princes pass�d in sport the
There the bold coursers bounded o�er the plains,111.
While their great masters held the golden reins.
Ismenus is one of Niobe and Amphion's sons. first the racing pastime led,
And rul�d the fury of his flying steed.
"Ah me," he sudden cries, with shrieking breath,
While in his breast he feels the shaft of death;116.
He drops the bridle on his courser's mane,
Before his eyes in shadows swims the plain,
He, the first-born of great Amphion�s bed,
Was struck the first, first mingled with the
Then didst thou, Sipylus
Sipylus is the land surrounding Mt. Sipylus in Asia Minor. Niobe fled to Sipylus after Apollo killed her children., the language hear121.
Of fate portentous whistling in the air:
As when th� impending storm the sailor sees123.
He spreads his canvas to the fav�ring breeze,
So to thine horse thou gav�st the golden reins,
Gav�st him to rush impetuous o�er the plains:
But ah! a fatal shaft from Phoebus� hand
Smites through thy neck, and sinks thee on the
Two other brothers were at wrestling found,129.
And in their pastime claspt each other round:
A shaft that instant from Apollo�s hand131.
Transfixt them both, and stretcht them on the
Together they their cruel fate bemoan�d,
Together languish�d, and together groan�d:
Together too th� unbodied spirits fled,
And sought the gloomy mansions of the dead.136.
Alphenor is one of Niobe's children who Apollo kills. saw, and trembling at the view,137.
Beat his torn breast, that chang�d its snowy hue.
He flies to raise them in a kind embrace;139.
A brother�s fondness triumphs in his face:
Alphenor fails in this fraternal deed,
A dart dispatch�d him (so the fates decreed:)
Soon as the arrow left the deadly wound,
His issuing entrails smoak�d upon the ground.144.
What woes on blooming Damasichon
Damasichon is one of Niobe's children who Apollo kills. wait!145.
His sighs portend his near impending fate.
Just where the well-made leg begins to be,147.
And the soft sinews form the supple knee,
The youth sore wounded by the Delian
Delian is referring to Apollo. However, Delia is also another name for Artemis, the Roman moon-goddess. god
Attempts t� extract the crime-avenging rod,
But, whilst he strives the will of fate t� avert,
Divine Apollo sends a second dart;152.
Swift thro� his throat the feather�d mischief flies,
Bereft of sense, he drops his head, and dies.
Ilioneus is one of Niobe's children who Apollo kills., the last, directs his pray�r,155.
And cries, "My life, ye gods celestial! spare."
Apollo heard, and pity touch�d his heart,157.
But ah! too late, for he had sent the dart:
Thou too, O Ilioneus, are doom�d to fall,
The fates refuse that arrow to recal.
On the swift wings of ever-flying Fame
Fame, also Pheme, is a spirit of Greek mythology that spreads rumours throughout the world. 161.
To Cadmus� palace soon the tidings came:
Niobe heard, and with indignant eyes163.
She thus express�d her anger and surprize:
"Why is such privilege to them allow�d?
"Why thus insulted by the Delian god?
"Dwells there such mischief in the pow�rs above?
"Why sleeps the vengeance of immortal Jove?"168.
For now Amphion too, with grief oppress�d,
Had plung�d the deadly dagger in his breast.
Niobe now, less haughty than before,
With lofty head directs her steps no more.
She, who late told her pedigree divine,173.
And drove the Thebans from Latona�s shrine,
How strangely chang�d!—yet beautiful in
She weeps, nor weeps unpity�d by the foe.
On each pale corse the wretched mother spread
Lay overwhelm�d with grief, and kiss�d her dead,178.
Then rais�d her arms, and thus, in accents slow,
"Be sated cruel Goddess! with my woe;
"If I�ve offended, let these streaming eyes,
"And let this sev�nfold funeral suffice:
"Ah! take this wretched life you deign�d to save,183.
"With them I too am carried to the grave.
"Rejoice triumphant, my victorious foe,
"But show the cause from whence your triumphs
"Tho� I unhappy mourn these children slain,
"Yet greater numbers to my lot remain."188.
She ceas�d, the bow-string twang�d with awful
Which struck with terror all th� assembly round,
Except the queen, who stood unmov�d alone,
By her distresses more presumptuous grown.
Near the pale corses stood their sisters fair193.
In sable vestures and dishevell�d hair;
One, while she draws the fatal shaft away,
Faints, falls, and sickens at the light of day.
To sooth her mother, lo! another flies,
And blames the fury of inclement skies,198.
And, while her words a filial pity show,
Struck dumb—indignant seeks the shades
Now from the fatal place another flies,
Falls in her flight, and languishes, and dies.
Another on her sister drops in death;203.
A fifth in trembling terrors yields her breath;
While the sixth seeks some gloomy cave in
Struck with the rest, and mingled with the slain.
One only daughter lives, and she the least;
The queen close clasp�d the daughter to her breast:
"Ye heav�nly pow�rs, ah spare me one," she cry�d,
"Ah! spare me one,� the vocal hills reply�d:
In vain she begs, the Fates her suit deny,211.
In her embrace she sees her daughter die.
This Verse to the End is the Work of another Hand.(This note was added by the original editors)"The queen of all her family bereft,
"Without or husband, son, or daughter left,
"Grew stupid at the shock. The passing air
"Made no impression on her stiff�ning hair.
"The blood forsook her face: amidst the flood217.
"Pour�d from her cheeks, quite fix�d her eye-balls
"Her tongue, her palate both obdurate grew,
"Her curdled veins no longer motion knew;
"The use of neck, and arms, and feet was gone,
"And ev�n her bowels hard�ned into stone:222.
"A marble statue now the queen appears,
"But from the marble steal the silent tears."