“The Transformation of Actaeon into a Stag” – Ovid

by richibi

The Bath of Diana, 1855 - Camille Corot


           “The Bath of Diana(1855)


                       Camille Corot




                In a fair chace a shady mountain stood,


chace, chase


a fair chace, not far away

                Well stor’d with game, and mark’d with trails of blood;

                Here did the huntsmen, ’till the heat of day,

                Pursue the stag, and load themselves with rey:


rey, probably prey, cause rey is not

a word, and ray instead of rey would

lead to inanities, improbabilities, lead

to hunters, huntsmen, bearing branches,

or stalks, of flowers at best, at worst,

bolts of light

                When thus Actaeon calling to the rest:


Actaeongrandson of Cadmus

founder of Thebes


                “My friends,” said he, “our sport is at the best,

                The sun is high advanc’d, and downward sheds

                His burning beams directly on our heads;


let’s take a break, Actaeon says, it’s
midday, too hot, it’s scorching

                Then by consent abstain from further spoils,

                Call off the dogs, and gather up the toils,

                And ere to-morrow’s sun begins his race,

                Take the cool morning to renew the chace.”


we’ve gathered sufficient quarry, he

continues, let’s wait until to-morrow,

for the cool[er] morning, in order to

renew the chace


                They all consent, and in a chearful train

                The jolly huntsmen, loaden with the slain,

                Return in triumph from the sultry plain.


loaden, laden


the slain, the spoils from the hunt

                Down in a vale with pine and cypress clad,

                Refresh’d with gentle winds, and brown with shade,

                The chaste Diana’s private haunt, there stood


Diana / Artemis, goddess of the Hunt,
and of the Moon


                Full in the centre of the darksome wood

                A spacious grotto, all around o’er-grown

                With hoary moss, and arch’d with pumice-stone.


see above


                From out its rocky clefts the waters flow,

                And trickling swell into a lake below.

                Nature had ev’ry where so plaid her part,

                That ev’ry where she seem’d to vie with art.


to vie, to contend, to curry for

position, favour


                Here the bright Goddess, toil’d and chaf’d with heat,

                Was wont to bathe her in the cool retreat.

                Here did she now with all her train resort,

                Panting with heat, and breathless from the sport;

                Her armour-bearer laid her bow aside,

                Some loos’d her sandals, some her veil unty’d;

                Each busy nymph her proper part undrest;

                While Crocale, more handy than the rest,

                Gather’d her flowing hair, and in a noose

                Bound it together, whilst her own hung loose.


Crocale, one of Diana’s nymphs


                Five of the more ignoble sort by turns

                Fetch up the water, and unlade the urns.


ignoble, not noble, lacking authority,

pedigree, courtly experience 


unlade, empty


an idyll about to unravel


stay tuned



R ! chard