Theokritos XV

Is Praxinoa in? Dear Gorgoi what timing, come inside.
I am impressed that you came; Eunoa see to it that she
has a chair with a cushion. How lovely! Do have a seat.
Oh, my light-hearted wits; I barely made it to you alive,
Praxinoa, thru the bustling mob and the horse carts; all
the soldiers’ uniforms and all of the chariot drivers. The
road never sleeps! And you live so away far from me.
That wild horse of a man went to the ends of the earth
for this hole (not a home!) so that we wouldn’t live next
to each other out of spite, jealousy; he will never change.
Don’t talk about your husband like that in front of the
little one, my dear friend, don’t you see how he looks at
you? Cheer up Zopurion, sweetie; she didn’t mean daddy.
My child understands, by Perseph… He is a fine dad.
Well ‘father’ just th’other day (we always speak of the
past) left the house to go buy soap and blush, but he comes
home to us carrying a bag of salt—the man is 13-feet dense!
Mine’s the same, Diocleidas: he is a bastard with money.
Just yesterday he bought for seven drachmas a-piece five
fleeces made of old purses, the dregs!, just more work for
me, but come on. Get your dress and jacket on, it is time to
go to the rich house of our lavish king Ptolemy, so that we
can see the Adonis festival; I hear the Queen is putting on
a gorgeous service. So it is, blessed at the house of the
blessed—what you see’s what you tell to who didn’t see it.
So it’s about time to go. It is always a holiday for the lazy.
Eunoa, take the yarn back to the middle of the room, you
worthless thing (cats always begging for a soft place to
sleep). C’mon now! Bring the water more quickly—I ask for
water & she brings soap! Give it here, don’t pour too much,
you mis’rable waste; what are you washing my dress now?
Stop! Gods would think any thing like this had been baptized.
Where is the key to the big trunk? So bring it here then.
Praxinoa, that dress with the pleated skirt fits you so very
well; do tell me how much it cost you off of the loom?
I would like to forget, Gorgoi; more than a penny or two of
hard cash, not to mention the work I poured myself out for.
I thought you did not want to speak of it. You said that right.
Bring my dress and breton, now put them on me, how lovely!
I won’t take you, little monster: the horse will bite. Cry and
kick as much as you want, there’s no need to break your
foot. Let’s go; Anatolia, take the little one to play.
Call the dog inside now, and make sure you lock the gate.
Oh, gods, such a rush of the crowd! When, and how, should we
try to break thru this mob? They’re ants, endlessly uncounted!
Quite a few gorgeous works, Ptolemy, have been finished by
you since your father went to th’immortals; no criminal lurking
harms travelers like they like to do, those Egyptian folk and
the tricks that they pull, nothing but a big ball of deception;
every one of them is alike: wicked game’s what they’re into.
But sweetest Gorgoi, what will become of us? Here’s the palace
horses led by the King’s guard. Kind sir, don’t run me over!
(A fire-crotch always stands upright.) Look at the country
bum, it’s a wild-dog; Eunoa, do back off, he is going after
the first one. I am so very glad that my baby’s at home.
Take cheer, Praxinoa; we’re behind them now that they have come
into position & I’m already starting to get a hold of myself.
Horses and the chilling snake have I always feared since a child;
but let’s make tracks, the huge crowd’s streaming right by us.
Out & about ol’ mother? I am dear children. Is it tough
to get in? The Greeks made it inside of Troy just by trying.
My beautiful child—try everything to accomplish.
Th’elder lady disappeared right after she prophesied!
Women know everything—even how Zeus married with Hera.
Look Praxinoa, how many people are crowding the entrance.
O, holy crowd! Gorgoi, give me your hand & take mine.
Eunoa, grab hold of Faustine, tight so you are not
separated. Every one of us will enter together.
Stay close by Eunoa. Oh me, my—my sun-dress is al-
ready torn, Gorgoi! For the love of Zeus, if you would
be nice enough, kind sir: Watch out for my dress please.
It’s not up to me, but I’ll watch it alright. Crowded mob,
they’re herding like sows! Cheer up, lady we are just fine.
You ought to be fine yourself, dear man, for your days wi’the
way you’re watching over us: Mercy, I’m in need of a good man.
Eunoa is squashing us; go force your way in, you timid wretch; oh
wonderful: “All ladies in!” the man said shutting the door on his bride.
Praxinoa, come o’er here first; look at the tapestries, how
fine and glamorous! You’ll say they are robes of the great gods!
Dear lady Athena, how many servants worked on such labor?
How many designers to depict such vivid, detailed artwork?
How life-like do they stand and how realistic seem to move
like life, not designs! Humankind certainly is a clever piece
of work; and lying on his silver couch, what a marvelous
man sprouting soft down from along his jaw and chin
is Adonis three-times loved & was adored, even in Hades.
Oh stop, you awful ladies, prattling on endlessly like
doves; they will wear us out with all their ‘Ah-a’ talk.
My, oh—where does this one get off? What is it to you
if we chat? Go buy a slave to give commands. You’re order-
ing women from Syracuse around. You ought know this: We’re
from Corinth by descent & so was Bellerephon. We talk like
we’re from Sparta; it’s fitting, I think, for Dorians to
be Dorian? Persphone, don’t let some man become our lord
except one; I’m done with you, don’t wear down my store!
Quiet Praxinoa, she is about to sing Adonis’ song—the
Greek woman’s daughter, a well-known songstress; last
year she took the prize for performing best lament, I know
she will make her clear vowels rise: she’s getting ready.

My lady, who lov’d Idalion and Golgos,
tall Eryx: Aphrodite playing golden—how
tender-treading did the Hours bring Adonis
to you from Acheron after a full year, slow-
est of the Blessed, beloved Hours, but so
desired do approach all mortals and bear
a gift; O Cyprus, Dion’s daughter, you
made Berenice deathless (so the tale), a mor-
tal by dripping into her breast ambrosial nectar.

And delighting in your many names and temples,
Berenice’s daughter Arsinoe, gorgeous en-
tirely like Helen, fawns o’er Adonis;
around him lie fruits the tree-tops bear &
flower gardens tended of soft baskets in
silver, gold vials of Syrian perfume,
cakes that the women slaved over in tins
with which combining every type of blossom,
they mix them sweet with honey and olive oil in

Shapes of things that fly or creep are placed before
him, leaf-green parasols set up, laden
with anise sweet; and lads, the loves, that soar
like nightingales fly from the towering
trees assaying their wings from twig to twig;
oh ebony, oh gold, oh two ivory eagles
bearing Zeus a boy to bring his cup!, the rugs
of purple will Miletos call “More soft
than sleep,” & so does he who herds sheep in Samos.

Another bed is strewn for beautiful Adonis,
one that Cyprus keeps, one for Adonis’ pink
arms—a love of eighteen or nineteen—his kisses
do not chafe, a light beard around red lips;
and now that Cyprus holding farewell bids
her groom we will crowd with morning dew
outdoors, carry to the gurgrling waves’
shore with hair flowing, robes unfurled to
the knees, bare-bosomed will we begin our ringing tune.

You crawl, Adonis dear, from here and in
to Acheron’s stream, they say, alone of demi-
gods; this not to Agamemnon, nor great raging
Aias, nor Hector, eldest of Hekabe’s twenty
sons; nor Patroclus, nor Pyrrhus who from Troy
returned, nor heroes before—Lapiths, Deucalion’s
or Pelop’s sons, nor Argive Pelasgian chiefs:
Be loved Adonis now, in new year kind! You’ve
come Adonis, when you arrive you will have been loved. . . .

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