(written ~ 3rd century BC)

Hymn 5: The Bath of Pallas

by Callimachus

two translations

1) Based on an extract from Hymns, Epigrams, Select Fragments Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Stanley Lombardo and Diane Rayor With a Foreword by D. S. Carne-Ross THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS 1988 BALTIMORE AND LONDON

2) The Bath of Pallas by Callimachus
an epage for Tragedy's Workshop
by David Sheppard

Prepare, ladies, the bath of Pallas.
I have heard the neighing of her holy horses,
The goddess will glide forth5
my russet-haired Pelasgian ladies.
Athena never does bathe her long, shapely arms
before slapping the dust from her horses' flanks,
not even when she bore her gear battle-grimed10
returning from war with the lawless Giants,
but first unbridled her chariot team
by the springs of Ocean and cleansed them from sweat,
brightening their bits of all the jelled foam.

All ye that are companions of the Bath of Pallas, come forth, come forth! I heard but now the snorting of the sacred steeds, and the goddess is ready to go. Haste ye now, O fair-haired daughters of Pelasgus, haste! Never did Athena wash her mighty arms before she drave the dust from the flanks of her horses - not even when, her armour all defiled with filth, she returned from the battle of the lawless Giants; but far first she loosed from the car her horses' necks, and in the springs of Oceanus washed the flecks of sweat and from their mouths that champed the bit cleansed the clotted foam.

Ladies of Akhaia, come!15
but not with alabaster, not with myrrh
(I hear the whir of her axle now!)
no myrrh in alabaster for the bath of Pallas
the goddess Athena does not wear perfume
and no mirror either: she is sure of her beauty. 20
Not even when Paris judged the contest on Ida
did the great goddess gaze into orichalch's glow
Or the diaphanous flow of the river Simois.
Nor Hera,
but Kypris gleamed with bronze reflections,25
cosmetic alterations of a woman and her hair,
while my goddess ran a two-hundred stade course
like the twin Spartan stars on the banks of Eurotas,
then did her simple annointments:
oil from her olive tree, applied with skill,30
and the blush, my dear maidens, that ran up her body
was like dawn-rose and pomegranate.
Only this masculine, virgin oil
Kastor rubbed their bodies with olive)35
and a golden comb for the Goddess's sleek hair.

come, daughters of Achaea, and bring not perfume nor alabasters (I hear the voice of the axle-naves!); bring not, ye companions of the Bath, for Pallas perfume nor alabasters (for Athena loves not mixed unguents), neither bring ye a mirror. Always her face is fair, and, even when the Phrygian judged the strife on Ida, the great goddess looked not into orichale nor into the transparent eddy of Simois, nor did Hera. But Cypris [Aphrodite] took the shining bronze and often altered and again altered the same lock. But Pallas, after running twice sixty double courses, even as beside the Eurotas the Lacedaemonian Stars, took and skilfully anointed her with simple unguents, the birth of her own tree. And, O maidens, the red blush arose on her, as the colour of the morning rose or seed of pomegranate. Wherefore now also bring ye only the manly olive oil, wherewith Castor and wherewith Heracles anoint themselves. And bring her a comb all of gold, that she may comb her hair, when she hath anointed her glossy tresses.

Athena, come,
this company will please you,
these virgin children of Akestor's great line,
Athena, come,40
the ancient rite is begun,
Diomedes' shield is carried to Inakhos,
an Argive rite taught by Eumedes,
your beloved priest
who fled crafty death with your holy icon45
to the hill called Kreion
and set you in rocks,
you, Pallas, on the Kreion hill
in the rugged Pallatid rocks.

forth, Athena! A company pleasing to thy heart awaits thee, the maiden daughters of Acestor's mighty sons. And therewithal, O Athena, is borne the shield of Diomedes, since this is the Argive custom which in olden days Eumedes taught them: a priest who found favour with thee: who on a time, when he knew that the people were plotting and planning death for him, fled with thy holy image and dwelt on the Creion hill - dwelt on the hill of Creion and established thee, O goddess, on the rugged rocks, whose name is now the Pallatid rocks.

Athena, city destroyer,
Athena, helmeted in gold,50
Athena, glad at the crash of horses and shields,
the city will drink from small springs and fountains,
but not from the river;55
girls will dip pitchers in Physadeia today,
maidens bear water from Amymone's pool
(Danios's daughter lives there)
For Inakhos will flow from the shepherding hills
flooding his waters with flowers and gold,60
this the fair bath of Pallas Athena.
But O
Pelasgian river,
brim your eyes to the queen:
the man who sees Pallas naked65
holder of cities
sees Argos no more.
Come, Lady Athena, and
I will tell to your coming a myth not mine
for all these women:70

forth, Athena, Sacker of Cities, golden-helmeted, who rejoicest in the din of horse and shield. Today, ye water-carriers, dip not your pitchers - today, O Argos, drink ye from the fountains and not from the river; today, ye handmaidens, carry your pitchers to Physadeia, or Amymone, daughter of Danaus. For, mingling his waters with gold and with flowers, Inachus will come from his pastoral hills, bringing fair water for the Bath of Athena. But beware, O Pelasgian, lest even unwittingly thou behold the Queen. Whoso shall behold Pallas, Keeper of Cities, naked, shall look on Argos for this the last time. Lady Athena, do thou come forth, and meanwhile I shall say somewhat unto these. The story is not mine but told by others.

There was a time in Thebes, my dears, Athena
loved a nymph, loved her to distraction,
loved her more than any other, the mother
of Tiresias, Khariklo by name.
And they were always together: when Athena75
drove her horses to ancient Thespiai
or to Plataia or Haliartos,
riding through the farmlands of Boietia,
or on to Koroneia, where her grove is heavy
with incense, and her altars lie close80
to the river Kurialos, it was goddess and nymph
in one chariot together.
No party or dance was ever complete
without Khariklo there: then it was sweet.

one nymph of old in Thebes did Athena love much, yea beyond all her companions, even the mother of Teiresias, and was never apart from her. But when she drave her steeds towards ancient Thespiae or towards Coroneia or to Haliartus, passing through the tilled fields of the Boeotians - or toward Coroneia where her fragrant grove and altars are set by the river Curalius - often did the goddess set the nymph upon her car and there was no dalliance of nymphs nor sweet ordering of dance, where Chariclo did not lead.

But even for Khariklo there were tears in store,85
dear as she was to Athena's heart.
One day these two unbuckled their robes.
It was by Horse Spring, on Helikon,
and the two were bathing in the beautiful creek.
It was noon on the hill, dead calm, silent heat,90
and they were bathing together. High noon. The hillside
was steeped in awesome quiet,
and Tiresias was hunting, alone with his dogs,
roaming that eerie hill.
He was young,95
just bearded. Dry thirst led him down to the creek.
And he stumbled upon the forbidden scene.
Controlling her anger, Athena spoke evenly:
"Some god - which one, son of Everes? -
has led you a rough road100
with an eyeless return."
And with her words night took the boy's eyes.

Yet even her did many tears await in the after day, albeit she was a comrade pleasing to the heart of Athena. One day those twain undid the buckles of the robes beside the fair-flowing Fountain of the Horse on Helicon and bathed; and noontide quiet held all the hill. Those two were bathing and it was the noontide hour and a great quiet held that hill. Only Teiresias, on whose cheek the down was just darkening, still ranged with his hounds the holy place. And, athirst beyond telling, he came unto the flowing fountain, wretched man! And unwillingly saw that which is not lawful to be seen: "What god, O son of Everes, led thee on this grievous way? hence shalt thou never more take back thine eyes!"

He stood there, speechless, pain gluing his knees,
his voice paralyzed with shock. But the nymph screamed:
"What have you done to my boy?105
is this how goddesses
show their friendship?
You've blinded him! Oh my poor baby,
you've seen the breast and thighs
of Pallas Athena110
but never the sunlight again.
Mountain of my sorrow,) Helikon,
never will I set foot on you again.
You trade too hard,
my son's eyes115
for a few roe and deer!"

She spake and night seized the eyes of the youth. And he stood speechless; for pain glued his knees and helplessness stayed his voice. But the nymph cried; "What has thou done to my boy, lady? Is such the friendship of you goddesses? Thou hast taken away the eyes of my son. Foolish child! thou hast seen the breast and body of Athena, but the sun thou shalt not see again. O me unhappy! O hill, O Helicon, where I may no more come, surely a great price for little hast thou exacted. Losing a few gazelles and deer, thou hast taken the eyes of my child."

As she said this she cradled her son in her arms,
mourning over him like a nightingale,
and led him away. But the goddess Athena
pitied her friend and said this to her:120
"You've spoken in anger, divine woman. Take back your words.
It was not I who struck your son blind.
Putting out young eyes is not sweet to Athena,
but the laws of Kronos demand
that whoever sees an immortal against the god's will125
must pay for the sight, and pay dearly.
What is done, divine woman, cannot be undone;
this is the thread the Moirai spun
when you brought him to light. Now, son of Everes,
accept like a man what is only your due.130
How many sacrifices would Autonoe burn,
how many would Aristasios, her husband,
to see their son Aktaion merely go blind?
He will run in the company of great Artemis,
but neither their hunts in the hills together13S
nor all of the arrows they'll shoot
will save him when he sees the bath of the goddess,
not wanting to, mind you, but still his hounds
will chew their master to bits, and his mother will gather
his bones from bushes all over the hill.140
She will think you lucky and a fortunate woman
to have your son home from the hills only blind.

Therewith the mother clasped her beloved child in both her arms and, wailing the heavy plaint of the mournful nightingale, led him away. And the goddess Athena pitied her comrade and spake to her and said: "Noble lady, take back all the words that thou hast spoken in anger. It is not I that made they child blind. For no sweet thing is it for Athena to snatch away the eyes of children. But the laws of Cronus order thus: Whosoever shall behold any of the immortals, when the god himself chooses not, at a heavy price shall he behold. Noble lady, the thing that is done can no more be taken back; since thus the thread of the Fates span when thou didst bear him at the first; but now, O son of Everes, take thou the issue which is due to thee. How many burnt offerings shall the daughter of Cadmus burn in the days to come? How many Aristaeus: -- Actaeon, blind. And yet he shall be companion of the chase to great Artemis. But him neither the chase nor comradeship in archery on the hills shall save in that hour, when, albeit unwillingly, he shall behold the beauteous bath of the goddess. Nay, his own dogs shall then devour their former lord. And his mother shall gather the bones of her son, ranging over all the thickets. Happiest of women shall she call thee and of happy fate, for that thou didst receive thy son home from the hills - blind.

"You mustn't grieve so, darling. Your son will be honored,
all for your sake, by divine gift to him.
I'll make him a prophet, his fame will be mythic,145
the greatest prophet that ever has been:
He'll know all the birds in the sky, those of good omen
and those whose flight presages doom.
He'll give oracles to the Boietians, oracles to Kadmos,
oracles to the mighty descendants of Labdakos.150
I will give him a great staff to guide his footsteps,
and I will give him time, a long term of life,
and he alone, when he dies, will walk among the dead,
wits intact, honored by Agesilaos, host of the dead."

Therefore, O comrade, lament not; for to this thy son - for thy sake - shall remain many other honours from hereafter, yea, more excellent far that any other. He shall know the birds - which is of good omen among all the countless birds that fly and what birds are of ill-omened flight. Many oracles shall he utter to the Boeotians and many unto Cadmus, and to the mighty sons of Labdacus in later days. Also will I give him a great staff which shall guide his feet as he hath need, and I will give him a long term of life. And he only, when he dies, shall walk among the dead having understanding, honoured of the great leaders of the Peoples."

When she had finished speaking Athena nodded her head,155
ensuring fulfillment of all that she said.
Pallas alone of all Zeus's daughters
has received paternal prerogatives,
for no mother bore her, but the high brow of Zeus,
and neither brow bends to affirm what is false,160

she spake and bowed her head; and that word is fulfilled over which Pallas bows; since to Athena only among his daughters hath Zeus granted that she should win all things that belong to her sire, O companions of the Bath, and no mother bare that goddess, but the head of Zeus. The head of Zeus bows not in falsehood, and in falsehood his daughter hath no part.

[ ... ]
0 ladies who attend the bath of Pallas.
And now the goddess comes,
Athena is coming.
Receive the goddess, receive her with prayers,
You who are chosen receive her rejoicing.
Alleluia, Goddess, preserve Argos of Inakhos,
Alleluia, Goddess, when you drive out with horses,
Alleluia, Goddess, when you drive them back home,
Save all the estate of the Danaans forever.

comes Athena in very deed. O maidens, whose task it is, receive ye the goddess with pious greeting and with prayer, and with the voice of thanksgiving. Hail, goddess, and have thou Inachian Argos in they keeping! Hail when thou drivest forth they steeds, and home again mayst thou drive them with joy, and do thou preserve all the estate of the Danaans.



To Top of Document


TPH Twilight Archive

HTML validation by:

W3C online validation service for HTML 4.0

last modified: September 27, 2001