Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Cypress Godess

As one goes up to Corinth are tombs, and by the gate is buried Diogenes of Sinope, whom the Greeks surname the Dog. Before the city is a grove of cypresses called Craneum. Here are a precinct of Bellerophontes, a temple of Aphrodite Melaenis and the grave of Lais, upon which is set a lioness holding a ram in her fore-paws.
- Pausanias

Quis tumulus? cuia urna? Ephyraeae est Laidos, & non
Erubuit tantum perdere Parca decus?
Nulla fuit tum forma, illam iam carpserat aetas,
Iam speculum Veneri cauta dicarat anus.
Quid scalptus sibi vult Aries, quem parte leaena
Unguibus apprensum posteriore tenet?
Non aliter captos, quòd & ipsa teneret amantes,
Vir gregis est aries, clune tenetur amans.

What tomb, whose urn is this? - It belongs to Lais of Ephyre. - Ah, was not the goddess of Fate ashamed to destroy such loveliness? - She had no beauty then. Age had already worn it away. She had become an old woman and had already wisely dedicated her mirror to Venus. - What’s the meaning of the ram carved there, which a lioness holds tight, gripping its hind-quarters with her claws? - It is there because she too would hold her captive lovers in just this way. The male of the flock is the ram. The lover is held by the buttocks.

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