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"And heavenly quires the Hymenean sung." Paradise Lost, iv.

“Hymen, O Hymenæus, rejoice thou in this bridal.”

Theocritus, Id. xviii.

“ And Hymen also crowne with wreaths of vine,

And let the Graces daunce unto the rest,
For they can doo it best :
The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing,
To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring."

Spenser, Epithalamion, 256–260.

“ Hymen, O Hymen, to thy triumphs run,
And view the mighty spoils thou hast in battle won.”

Dryden, Epithalium of Helen and Menelaus.

20. Cinyras. King of Cyprus, priest of the Paphian Venus, and, according to some, the father of Adonis.

21. Dione. The mother of Aphrodite. But the word here probably alludes to Aphrodite herself.

22. Thou must wail again. There will be another festival to Adonis next year, when this wailing and weeping will be repeated.

"Be propitious now, dear Adonis, and mayest thou give pleasure next year." Theocritus, Id. xv.





An English Prose Version by Andrew Lang

If any man sing that hath a loveless heart, him do the Muses flee, and do not choose to teach him. But if the mind of any be swayed by Love, and sweetly he sings, to him the Muses all run eagerly.So wrote Bion, the Smyrnean, the sweet singer of many pastoral idyls and of love-ditties not a few. And a witness am 1,continued he, " that this saying is wholly true, for if I sing of any other, mortal or immortal, then falters my tongue, and sings no longer as of old; but if again to Love and Lycidas I sing, then gladly from my lips flows forth the voice of song." And afterwards he added, " I know not how nor is it fitting I should labor at what I have not learned. If my ditties are beautiful, then these only which the Muse has presented to me aforetime will give me renown. But if these be not to men's taste, what boots it me to labor at more ?And so he sang of Adonis, slain in his beauty on the wooded mountain-top, of the wild grief of Cytherea, and the sad lament of the Loves. He sang too of Scyra, and of Achilles, and his love for Deidamia; and of the seasons, " which is sweetest, spring, or winter, or the late autumn, or the summer"; and of the boy, who, with his bow and arrows, lay in wait for Love. Then he taught to others his store of pastoral song; he taughthow the cross-flute was invented by Pan, and the flute by Athene, and by Hermes the tortoise-shell lyre, and the harp by sweet Apollo.And were these songs pleasing to men? Let the memory of them which has been kept green for now more than two thousand years

Let the song with which Moschus, his friend and pupil, lamented his untimely death, answer.


The Lament for Bion.


Wail, let me hear you wail, ye woodland glades, and 1 thou Dorian water; and weep ye rivers, for Bion, the well-beloved ! Now all ye green things mourn, and now ye groves lament him, ye flowers now in sad clusters breathe yourselves away. Now redden ye roses in your sorrow, and now wax red ye wind-flowers, now thou 2 hyacinth, whisper the letters on thee graven, and add a deeper ai ai to thy petals; he is dead, the beautiful singer.

Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

3 Ye nightingales that lament among the thick leaves of the trees, tell ye to the Sicilian waters of 4 Arethusa the tidings that Bion the herdsman is dead, and that with Bion song too has died, and perished hath the 5 Dorian minstrelsy.

Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

Ye 6 Strymonian swans, sadly wail ye by the waters, and chant with melancholy notes the dolorous song,

, even such a song as in his time with voice like yours he was wont to sing. And tell again to the ?Eagrian maidens, tell to all the Nymphs Bistonian, how that he hath perished, the 8 Dorian Orpheus.


Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

No more to his herds he sings, that beloved herdsman, no more 'neath the lonely oaks he sits and sings, nay, but by Pluteus's side he chants 'a refrain of oblivion. The mountains too are voiceless: and the heifers that wander with the herds lament and refuse their pasture.


Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

Thy sudden doom, O Bion, Apollo himself lamented, 10 and the Satyrs mourned thee, and the 11 Priapi in sable

raiment, and the Panes sorrow for thy song, and the fountain fairies in the wood made moan, and 12 their tears turned to rivers of waters. And Echo in the rocks laments that thou art silent, and no more she mimics thy voice.

And in sorrow for thy fall the trees cast down their fruit, and 13 all the flowers have faded. From the ewes hath flowed no fair milk, no honey from the hives, nay, it hath perished for mere sorrow in the wax,

for now hath thy honey perished, and no more it be20 hooves men to gather the honey of the bees.

Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

Not so much did the 14 dolphin mourn beside the seabanks, nor ever sang so sweet the nightingale on the cliffs, nor so much lamented the swallow on the long ranges of the hills, nor shrilled so loud the 15 halcyon o'er his sorrows.

Begin, ye Sicilian Muses, begin the dirge.

Nor so much, by the gray sea-waves, did ever the seabird sing, nor so much in the dells of dawn did the 16 birds

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