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THE LAMENT FOR ADONIS.
red from the red soil of the hills through which it flows. Izaak Walton has probably this river in mind when he says, “There is a river in Arabia of which all the sheep that drink thereof have their wool turned into a vermilion.color.”
After the introduction of the worship of Adonis among the Greeks, festivals in his honor were held in various places, and especially at Alexandria, generally continuing eight days. Theocritus, in his Adoniazusa (Idyl xv. alluded to above), describes a visit to one of these festivals — doubtless on a day of rejoicing and allows us to listen to the song of one of the maidens chanting the praise of Adonis :
“ Him will we, ere the dew of dawn is o'er,
Bear to the waves that foam upon the shore;
Thou, dear Adonis!”
Shakespeare, Macbeth, ii. 2. Compare with Adonais, iii. 2.
3. Cytherea. Cythera was the name of a mountainous island off the southwest coast of Laconia. This island was colonized in very ancient times by the Phænicians who here introduced the worship of Aphrodite. Certain traditions relate that it was near the shore of Cythera that Aphrodite first rose from the foam of the sea; and the island was for a long time celebrated as one of her favored places of worship. See note 10,
4. Oread Nymphs. The Oreades, or Nymphs of the mountains and grottoes. See Pastorall Æglogue upon the Death of Sir Philip Sidney, 1. 62.
5. Assyrian. According to Panyasis, Adonis was the son of Theias, king of Assyria, and hence an Assyrian. Compare this passage with Adonais, xiv. 3-6.
6. rivers sorrow. See Lament for Bion, line 2; also note 21, page 48.
7. Who would not have lamented, etc. Compare with Lycidas, 10. Also with Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, line 214: –
“Who would not weep if Atticus were he ?" 8. Acheron, and its gloomy, cruel king. By the figure of Synecdoche, Acheron is here used to denote the entire region of Hades. See
note 24, page 17. The cruel king is Pluto, or Aidoneus, i.e. death, the
king of terrors.” See Job xviii. 14: His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.”
9. Persephone. Queen of Hades, to whose share “falls the whole of what is beautiful.” “ Thou art thyself far more powerful than I.” Love is sometimes represented as being strong as Death, but not so here: –
"Love, strong as death, the poet led
Pope's Ode on St. Cecilia's Day.
“Love is strong as death." — Song of Solomon, viii. 6.
10. my longing is fled as a dream. See Job xx. 8: “He shall flee away as a dream, and shall not be found; yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.”
11. charmed girdle. Venus's girdle was said to have the magical power of exciting love.
" It gave the virtue of chaste love
Spenser, Fuerie Queene, canto iii. Homer describes it as being
"wrought with every charm
Iliad, xiv. (Lord Derby's trans.). 12. wast thou mad enough ? etc. Compare with Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, line 615:
“Thou knowest not what it is With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore.” 13. Paphian goddess. From Paphos, a city in Cyprus, the chief seat of the worship of Venus.
14. The blood begets a rose, and the tears the anemone. See Spenser's Astrophel, line 181:
"The gods ... pittying this paire of lovers trew,
See also Moschus's Lament for Bion: “Redden, ye roses, in your sorrow, and now wax red, ye wind-flowers.” And Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, lines 1167–1171:—
"And in his blood that on the ground lay spill'd,
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood." The red maithes or pheasant's eye, sometimes called Adonis flower, and in French goute de sang, is said to have sprung from the blood of Adonis.
15. Lay him amid chaplets and flowers. See Lycidas, lines 139– 152. Also Shakespeare, Cymbeline, iv. 2:
“ With fairest flowers
Out-sweeten’d not thy breath."
" Bring hether the pincke and purple cullambine,
Worne of paramoures :
The prety pawnce
And the chevisaunce,
Shall match with the fayre flowre Delice."
"Beds of hyacinth and roses,
Sadly sits the Assyrian queen.”
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses
The flower-de-luce being one!” It was said that Adonis delighted in gardens. Pliny remarks that among the ancients there were none more wonderful than those of the Hesperides, of Adonis, and of Alcinous. Shakespeare, in 1. Henry IV., says:
“Thy promises are like Adonis' gardens,
That one day bloom'd and fruitful were the next.” Spenser, in The Faerie Queene, iii. 6, gives a detailed and beautiful allegorical description of the gardens of Adonis :
“Whether in Paphos, or Cytheron hill,
The Gardin of Adonis, far renowned by fame." The boxes and pots of flowers used at the festivals of Adonis were also called “ Adonis gardens.” They were reared specially for the occasion, and after the feast they were thrown away. Hence the expression “Adonis garden” is sometimes used to designate any short-lived pleasure.
16. All flowers have become withered. Ben Jonson, in The Sad Shepherd, represents the flowers dying of grief for the loss of a loved
“A spring, now she is dead! of what ? of thorns,
Briars, and brambles ? thistles, burs and docks ?
How the vale wither'd the same day?"
“ The mantled medowes mourne
Shepheards Calender, November,
And Pope :
“ Ye weeping Loves, the stream with myrtles hide,
"Mourn, little harebells o'er the lee!
In scented bowers!
The first o' flowers !" – Elegy on Matthew Henderson.
17. Locks shorn for Adonis. An allusion to an ancient custom of shearing the bair in token of mourning for the dead :
“In the midst Patroclus came,
"I do not blame
Odyssey, iv, 197–201.
"So he (Socrates) dropped his hand and stroked my head, and pressed my hair which lay upon my neck — he often used to play with my hair — and said, ‘Phædo, I suppose you intend to cut off those beautiful locks to-morrow, as a sign of mourning.'" — Plato, Phædo, 86.
"And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing.” — Ezekiel, xxvii. 31. See Adonais, xi. 3.
18. breaking his well-feather'd quiver. See quotation from Pope, note 16, above. Also Adonais, xi. 6. 19. Hymen. The bridal song: