“Europa’s Rape” – Ovid

by richibi

Bulls, 1948 - Bertalan Por

       Bulls” (1948)


               Bertalan Por





though I’d heard, indeed, of the rape of

Europa, I wasn’t aware, I’d thought, of

the details, was loathe, therefore, to

read on, in the next segment of Ovid’s

Metamorphoseshaving been earlier

put off by such incidents in that text


as it turned out, Europa isn’t raped,

but, rather, abducted, more or less

willingly, however innocently, by

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, and will even,

later, consensually, bear his children


who will then migrate, from their base

in Crete, to populate, to people, the

continent which we’ll come to know

as Europe, after their mum


but that’s a whole other story




           When now the God his fury had allay’d,

           And taken vengeance of the stubborn maid,

           From where the bright Athenian turrets rise

           He mounts aloft, and re-ascends the skies.


the God, Hermes / Mercury, if you’ll

remember, had just transformed

Aglauros, the stubborn maid, into a

statue for having been impudent

with him, and mounts aloft now,

re-ascends the skies over Athens,

where the damsel had lived

           Jove saw him enter the sublime abodes,


the sublime abodes, Olympus,

home of the gods

           And, as he mix’d among the crowd of Gods,

           Beckon’d him out, and drew him from the rest,

           And in soft whispers thus his will exprest.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus wants something

from Hermes / Mercury

“My trusty Hermes, by whose ready aid

           Thy sire’s commands are through the world convey’d.


sire, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus is the father

of Hermes / Mercury, his sire


Hermes / Mercury, the messenger god,

patron of travellers, heralds, newscasters,

those who convey information

through[out] the world

           Resume thy wings, exert their utmost force,

           And to the walls of Sidon speed thy course;


Sidon, a city still in Lebanon

There find a herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           The neighb’ring hill, and drive ’em to the shore.”

           Thus spoke the God, concealing his intent.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, the God, has

an ulterior motive, a conceal[ed] …


           The trusty Hermes, on his message went,

           And found the herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           A neighb’ring hill, and drove ’em to the shore;


mission accomplished

           Where the king’s daughter, with a lovely train
           Of fellow-nymphs, was sporting on the plain.


the conceal[ed] …intent is exposed,

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, in character,

is on the prowl


           The dignity of empire laid aside,

           (For love but ill agrees with kingly pride)


power, empire, will not abide being

deprived, we’ve seen ample examples

of that in our, even most recent, past

           The ruler of the skies, the thund’ring God,

           Who shakes the world’s foundations with a nod,


Jove / Jupiter, Zeus, god, remember,

of Thunder


           Among a herd of lowing heifers ran,

           Frisk’d in a bull, and bellow’d o’er the plain.


Frisk’d, accoutered, dressed up as,

in the guise of, a bull


           Large rowles of fat about his shoulders clung,


rowles, rolls

           And from his neck the double dewlap hung.


dewlap, a looseflap of skin hanging

from the throat of some animals, or

birds, cattle, for instance, turkeys,

a wattle

           His skin was whiter than the snow


see above


                                                             that lies

           Unsully’d by the breath of southern skies;


breath of southern skies would

melt away white snow, revealing,

fatefully, ignominiously, patches

of [ ]sully’d earth

           Small shining horns on his curl’d forehead stand,

           As turn’d and polish’d by the work-man’s hand;

           His eye-balls rowl’d, not formidably bright,


rowl’d, rolled

           But gaz’d and languish’d with a gentle light.


as in doe eyes

           His ev’ry look was peaceful, and exprest

           The softness of the lover in the beast.


a wolf, if here a bull, in

sheep’s clothing


stay tuned



R ! chard