Diana and Actaeon

There was a valley, thick set with pitch-trees and the sharp-pointed cypress; by name Gargaphie, sacred to the active Diana. In the extreme recess of this, there was a grotto in a grove, formed by no art; nature, by her ingenuity, had counterfeited art; for she had formed a natural arch, in the native pumice and the light sand-stones. A limpid fountain ran murmuring on the right hand with its little stream, having its spreading channels edged with a border of grass. Here, when wearied with hunting, the Goddess of the woods was wont to bathe her virgin limbs in clear water.

After she had entered there, she handed to one of the Nymphs, her armor-bearer, her javelin, her quiver, and her unstrung bow. Another Nymph put her arms under her mantle, when taken off: two removed the sandals from her feet. But Crocale, the daughter of Ismenus, more skilled than they, gathered her hair, which lay scattered over her neck, into a knot, although she herself was with her hair loose. Nephele, and Hyale, and Rhanis, fetch water, and Phyale do the same, and pour it from their large urns. And while the Titanian Goddess was there bathing in the wonted stream, behold! the grandson of Cadmus, having deferred the remainder of his sport till next day, came into the grove, wandering through the unknown wood, with uncertain steps; thus did his fate direct him.

Soon as he entered the grotto, dropping with its springs, the Nymphs, naked as they were, on seeing a man, smote their breasts, and filled all the woods with sudden shrieks, and gathering round Diana, covered her with their bodies. Yet the Goddess herself was higher than they, and was taller than them all by the neck. The color that is wont to be in clouds, tinted by the rays of the sun when opposite, or that of the ruddy morning, was on the features of Diana, when seen without her garments. She, although surrounded with the crowd of her attendants, stood sideways, and turned her face back; and how did she wish that she had her arrows at hand; and so she took up water, which she did have at hand, and threw it over the face of the man, and sprinkling his hair with the avenging stream, she added these words, the presages of his future woe: “Now thou mayst tell, if tell thou canst, how that I was seen by thee without my garments.” Threatening no more, she places on his sprinkled head the horns of a lively stag; she adds length to his neck, and sharpens the tops of his ears; and she changes his hands into feet, and his arms into long legs, and covers his body with a spotted coat of hair; fear, too is added.

Text –Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III, translated by Henry T. Riley
Image –Diana and Actaeon by Giuseppe Cesari, c. 1602
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