“The Story of Coronis, and Birth of Aesculapius” (III) – Ovid

by richibi


   “Minerva, or Pallas Athena (1898) 


             Gustav Klimt





             But you, perhaps, may think I was remov’d, 

             As never by the heav’nly maid belov’d:


says the daw to the still snowy plume[d], 

[w]hite as the whitest dove’s unsully’d 

breast raven


remov’d, rejected, discarded and



the heav’nly maid, Minerva

             But I was lov’d; ask Pallas if I lye; 


Pallas, another name for Minerva

             Tho’ Pallas hate me now, she won’t deny: 


hate, note, is in the subjunctive here, 

the mood of conjecture, where the s 

is removed from the ending of the 

third person singular, that she, he, or 

one, for instance, read, no s on read, 

Ovid, would be a part of any Latin 


             For I, whom in a feather’d shape you view, 
             Was once a maid (by Heav’n the story’s true) 
             A blooming maid, and a king’s daughter too. 
             A crowd of lovers own’d my beauty’s charms; 


own’d, admitted to, acknowledged

             My beauty was the cause of all my harms; 


to a vain friend once who complained 

to me of the rigours of being beautiful, 

I said, your beauty, girl, to upend the, 

otherwise tiresome, conversation, is 

your curse, get over it, which he did, 

it did, in at least that instance

             Neptune, as on his shores I wont to rove, 


Neptune, god of the Sea


wont, to be used to, predisposed to

             Observ’d me in my walks, and fell in love. 
             He made his courtship, he confess’d his pain, 
             And offer’d force, when all his arts were vain; 


all of the gods, it appears, are engines, 

ever, of irrepressible lust, perhaps 

allegorically alluding to the unquenchable 

generative powers of very Nature 

             Swift he pursu’d: I ran along the strand, 
             ‘Till, spent and weary’d on the sinking sand, 
             I shriek’d aloud, with cries I fill’d the air 
             To Gods and men; nor God nor man was there: 


who hasn’t been there, forlorn, 

abandoned, desolate, forsaken

             A virgin Goddess heard a virgin’s pray’r. 


virgin Goddess, Minerva / Pallas 



note that Minerva / Pallas / Athena,

the virgin Goddess, remains, however 

unconventionally, however irregularly,

the mother of Erichthonius 


             For, as my arms I lifted to the skies, 
             I saw black feathers from my fingers rise; 
             I strove to fling my garment on the ground; 
             My garment turn’d to plumes, and girt me round: 
             My hands to beat my naked bosom try; 
             Nor naked bosom now nor hands had I: 


the king’s daughter, still unnamed, note, 

attesting to the interchangeability of 

virgin’s in Greek and Roman mythology, 

is in the process of becoming a daw, a

black bird

             Lightly I tript, nor weary as before 
             Sunk in the sand, but skim’d along the shore; 


it appears there are advantages 

to becoming a bird

             ‘Till, rising on my wings, I was preferr’d 
             To be the chaste Minerva’s virgin bird: 


go, girl

             Preferr’d in vain! I am now in disgrace: 
             Nyctimene the owl enjoys my place. 


Nyctimene, Minerva’s owl


friendship, it appears, can turn 

on a dime, or an inadvertent,

but decisive, irritation



R ! chard