Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29th

November 29th marked the festival of Saturnia

"Juppiter [Zeus] [seduced the Nymphe Io, and] fore-sensing his spouse’s [Hera's] arrival, transformed poor Inachis [Io] into a sleek white heifer (lovely still although a cow). Saturnia [Hera], against her will, admired the creature and asked whose she was, and whence she came and to what herd belonged, pretending not to know the truth. He lied - ‘The earth had brought her forth’ - so to deflect questions about her birth. Then Saturnia [Hera] begged the heifer as a gift. What should he do? Too cruel to give his darling! Not to give - suspicious; shame persuades but love dissuades. Love would have won; but then - if he refused his wife (his sister too) so slight a gift, a cow, it well might seem no cow at all! The goddess won her rival, but distrust lingered and still she feared her husband’s tricks, till, for safe-keeping, she had given the cow to Arestorides [Argos] - Argus of the hundred eyes, all watching and on duty round his head, save two which took in turn their sleep and rest ... Heaven’s master [Zeus] could not endure Phoronis’ [Io’s] distress, and summoned his son [Hermes] ... and charged him to accomplish Argus’ death ... [So Hermes] visited him [Argos], and with many a tale he stayed the passing hours and on his reeds played soft refrains to lull the watching eyes ... [and Hermes] saw all Argus’ eyelids closed and every eye vanquished in sleep. He stopped and with his wand, his magic wand, soothed the tired resting eyes and sealed their slumber; quick then with his sword he struck off the nodding head and from the rock threw it all bloody, spattering the cliff with gore. Argus lay dead; so many eyes, so bright quenched, and all hundred shrouded in one night. Saturnia [Hera] retrieved those eyes to set in place among the feathers of her bird [the peacock] and filled his tail with starry jewels." Source: Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.624

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