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“ Juno ” (c.1662 – c.1665)
Actaeon’s suff’rings, and Diana’s rage,
Did all the thoughts of men and Gods engage;
Some call’d the evils which Diana wrought,
Too great, and disproportion’d to the fault:
Others again, esteem’d Actaeon’s woes
Fit for a virgin Goddess to impose.
The hearers into diff’rent parts divide,
And reasons are produc’d on either side.
remember, not all the gods were
Juno alone, of all that heard the news,
Nor would condemn the Goddess, nor excuse:
queen , therefore, of the gods
She heeded not the justice of the deed,
But joy’d to see the race of Cadmus bleed;
For still she kept Europa in her mind,
And, for her sake, detested all her kind.
Europa had been whisked away
husband, and borne him several
children, to the enduring enmity
of the queen of the deities
Besides, to aggravate her hate, she heard
How Semele, to Jove’s embrace preferr’d,
Was now grown big with an immortal load,
And carry’d in her womb a future God.
philanderer apparently, had now
impregnated Semele, youngest
daughter of Cadmus, to Juno’s
utter disgust and dismay
Thus terribly incens’d, the Goddess broke
To sudden fury, and abruptly spoke.
let me reiterate here that the original
gods and goddesses of Olympus had
migrated with the Greeks to other
areas of the Mediterranean, but
became known, in the lands that
they’d settled, by other names
according to the languages and
customs that evolved in these new
territories, thus the Greek goddess
Hera was in Rome and its outlying
areas known as Juno, the Greek
though their home remained for
“Are my reproaches of so small a force?
‘Tis time I then pursue another course:
about his inveterate philandering,
her reproaches were not enough
to stop the god from his
she therefore ordains
It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die,
If I’m indeed the mistress of the sky,
If rightly styl’d among the Pow’rs above
The wife and sister of the thund’ring Jove
(And none can sure a sister’s right deny);
It is decreed the guilty wretch shall die.
Juno / Hera is not only the wife of
sister, both children of Cronos /
were themselves children of the
earth goddess Gaia and the sky
She boasts an honour I can hardly claim,
Pregnant she rises to a mother’s name;
While proud and vain she triumphs in her Jove,
And shows the glorious tokens of his love:
though Juno / Hera did indeed have
she is probably no longer here
bearing him any, I am supposing,
while Semele, is proud and vain,
now show[ing] the glorious tokens
of his love
But if I’m still the mistress of the skies,
By her own lover the fond beauty dies.”
/ Zeus the cause of Semele’s
This said, descending in a yellow cloud,
Before the gates of Semele she stood.
/ Zeus, would’ve been officiating at
the Cadmeia, the equivalent of the
Athenian Acropolis, at Thebes, the
city named after her father, its
sparks will surely fly
R ! chard
“ Diana and Actaeon “
Lucas Cranach the Elder
Now all undrest the shining Goddess stood, When young Actaeon, wilder’d in the wood,
wilder’d in the wood, wandered
in the wild, in the forest
To the cool grott by his hard fate betray’d,
betray’d, treacherously confronted,
his hard fate would not be on his
side for this one
The fountains fill’d with naked nymphs survey’d.
survey’d, observed, espied,
The frighted virgins shriek’d at the surprize
(The forest echo’d with their piercing cries).
listen, you can hear it
Then in a huddle round their Goddess prest: She, proudly eminent above the rest, With blushes glow’d; such blushes as adorn The ruddy welkin, or the purple morn;
ruddy welkin, red sky, as at sunset
And tho’ the crowding nymphs her body hide, Half backward shrunk, and view’d him from a side. Surpriz’d, at first she would have snatch’d her bow, But sees the circling waters round her flow; These in the hollow of her hand she took, And dash’d ’em in his face, while thus she spoke:
These, ’em, the circling waters
“Tell, if thou can’st, the wond’rous sight disclos’d, A Goddess naked to thy view expos’d.”
not a warning here, but a curse, if thou
can’st being the operative expression,
for Actaeon, now in the process of
transformation, will no longer be able
to utter words
This said, the man begun to disappear By slow degrees, and ended in a deer.
A rising horn on either brow he wears, And stretches out his neck, and pricks his ears; Rough is his skin, with sudden hairs o’er-grown, His bosom pants with fears before unknown:
the skittishness of a deer
Transform’d at length, he flies away in haste, And wonders why he flies away so fast.
how did I do that, Actaeon wonders
But as by chance, within a neighb’ring brook, He saw his branching horns and alter’d look.
his reflection, however by chance,
however inadvertently, in the water,
the neighb’ring brook, reveals to him
his transformation, his metamorphosis
Wretched Actaeon! in a doleful tone He try’d to speak, but only gave a groan; And as he wept, within the watry glass
the watry glass, the mirroring rivulet,
rill, waterway, brook
He saw the big round drops, with silent pace, Run trickling down a savage hairy face.
the association with Bambi here for
me is inescapable, however grim
might be later Actaeon’s own fate
What should he do? Or seek his old abodes, Or herd among the deer, and sculk in woods! Here shame dissuades him, there his fear prevails, And each by turns his aking heart assails.
something like the onset of puberty,
I think, that frightful fundamental
biological transformation, the fear,
the shame, remember
incidentally, the evidently unforgiving
deity before anything but unsullied
modesty, before uncompromised
chastity, who’s presently, consider,
As he thus ponders, he behind him spies His op’ning hounds, and now he hears their cries:
A gen’rous pack, or to maintain the chace,
Or snuff the vapour from the scented grass.
or to … Or, either to … Or
maintain the chace … snuff the vapour,
dogs doing what dogs do
He bounded off with fear, and swiftly ran O’er craggy mountains, and the flow’ry plain; Through brakes and thickets forc’d his way, and flew Through many a ring, where once he did pursue.
brakes, bracken, brush
a ring, a territory, a circumscribed
where once he did pursue, Actaeon
had earlier been not the hunted, but
In vain he oft endeavour’d to proclaim His new misfortune, and to tell his name; Nor voice nor words the brutal tongue supplies;
had warned, and now [n]or voice
nor words the brutal tongue supplies,
allows, Actaeon, to speak
From shouting men, and horns, and dogs he flies,
Deafen’d and stunn’d with their promiscuous cries.
When now the fleetest of the pack, that prest Close at his heels, and sprung before the rest, Had fasten’d on him, straight another pair, Hung on his wounded haunch, and held him there, ‘Till all the pack came up, and ev’ry hound Tore the sad huntsman grov’ling on the ground, Who now appear’d but one continu’d wound.
With dropping tears his bitter fate he moans, And fills the mountain with his dying groans. His servants with a piteous look he spies, And turns about his supplicating eyes.
His servants, ignorant of what had chanc’d,
what had chanc’d, the transformation,
the metamorphosis, Actaeon become
With eager haste and joyful shouts advanc’d, And call’d their lord Actaeon to the game.
Actaeon seemed to them not there,
He shook his head in answer to the name;
he couldn’t speak, could only [shake]
He heard, but wish’d he had indeed been gone,
gone, away, in another place, as [h]is
servants thought him to be
Or only to have stood a looker-on.
a looker-on, observing rather than
having been the centre, the subject
of the situation
But to his grief he finds himself too near,
too near, indeed present, central,
in the very thick of the fray
And feels his rav’nous dogs with fury tear Their wretched master panting in a deer.
Actaeon doesn’t survive this
transformation, nor is he
transmuted, like so many others
who’d displeased the gods, into
sets of stars, or constellations
a recurring theme seems to be,
as the poem advances, how
arbitrary the fate of humans is
in the hands of the, apparently
R ! chard