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IDYLLIUM the EIGHTEENTH.
Soft hyacinthine wreathes adorn'd their hair
HE Greek ladies have different modes of dreffing the head at prefent-more or lefs ornamental; the difpofition of which they frequently vary. Sometimes the hair flows in treffes on the shoulders-at other times it is formed into a roll about the head, or negligently tied with flowers. In this laft method it is eafy to recognize the fashion of the Lacedæmonian ladies.
Nunc decet aut viridi nitidum caput impedire myrto,
To the light measure as they beat the ground.
Μαρμαρυγας θηει το ποδων, θαυμαζε δε θυμῷ.
And in the fame fenfe, HORACE:
Thee the voice, the dance, obey,
But the power of harmony to produce all the graces of motion in the body, is expreffed with inimitable beauty, in Mr. GRAY'S Progrefs of Poefy'-(excepting "The Bard") the fineft Ode in the English language.
With antic Sports, and blue-ey'd Pleafures,
In the marriage proceffion-on the fhield of ACHILLES, Iliad xviii. the new-married perfons are attended by fingers and dancers.
Here facred pomp and genial feaft delight,
Come, with her fellow-virgins let her play,
Hefpere, qui cælo fertur crudelior ignis?
How fimilar is the following defcription of M. Guys (who was prefent at a Grecian marriage) "The young bride richly dreffed, wearing long treffes of threads of gold interwoven with her beautiful hair, after the manner of the Greeks, defcended from her apartment: She eagerly advanced to kiss her father and mother. Who could behold with dry eyes a tender and refpectable mother unable to detach herself from a daughter
daughter whom she pressed in her arms, and whom she bedewed with tears, which an excess of joy and affection caused to flow on her maternal bofom?-At their return, the bride's mother conducted her daughter into an apartment fuperbly furnished; the tapestry and bed of which, embroidered on a ground of white, and adorned with beautiful flowers, were the work of this good mother. She had laboured at them privately, for ten years, without the knowledge of any one." They dance and fing ftill, all night; but the companions of the bride are excluded.
Anointed for the revels of the green.
To one who confiders these naked exhibitions of women according to the Spartan ufage, or views, in imagination, the Afiatic females in the baths at the present day, the Song of SOLOMON can prefent no exaggerated description, or unnatural delineations of beauty. Lady W. MONTAGUE feems to intimate an opinion (to which the Elegantes formarum Spectatores will probably affent) that he who, with an eye to beauty, should furvey the Turkish women in their baths, would little attend to the fineft face: His principal attention would be elsewhere directed.
Or, as the rifing of the purple morn.
'Αως αντέλλοισα καλον διέφαινε προζωπον, &c.
Τις αυτη η εκκυπλεσα ωσει ορθρυς; &c.—Who is the that looketh forth like the morning? Canticles.
Οι δε οφθαλμοι αυτε ειδος εωσφορ8. His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. JOB.
Χειμωνος ανεντος, &c.
Ιδε ο χείμων παρηλθεν, ο νέος απηλθεν-Lo the winter is paft the rain is over and gone. Canticles.
Αρματι Θεσσαλος ιππος
Τη ιππω μου εν αρμασι Φαραω ωμοιωσα με η πλησίον με. Septuag. Cant,
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Compare these paffages with THEOCRITUS.
Behold her various labors of the loom!
The fevere critic may call this, in the language of JOHNSON, a mere adumbration of the original." But a literal verfion would by no means please the English reader.
Love, charming boy, fits playing in her
If we recollect, that the eye was held facred to CUPID, where, PHILOTHRASTUS fays, he was fuppofed to lie in ambush, we shall fee a peculiar propriety in the image before us. Thus in MELEAGER'S beautiful epigram, where he hath imitated the firft Idyllium of MOSCHUS, Cupid lies hid in ZENOPHILA's eye. See Anthol. vii. ep. 16.
Ζηνοφίλας ομμασι κρυπτόμενος.
Be flowering lotus twin'd, that loves the ground.
ATHENÆUS tells us that the Alexandrians were particularly fond of garlands compofed of the lotus-flower. And lotus. wreaths are often observed in the Ægyptian monuments. MILLAR and MARTYN have given accurate defcriptions of two different lote-trees, neither of which appears to be the lotus of our author.
The leaves of the lote-tree or nettle-tree, fays MILLAR, are like those of the nettle; the flower confists of five leaves, expanded in form of a rofe, containing many fhort ftamina in the bofom: The fruit, which is a roundish berry, grows fingle in the bofom of its leaves. MARTYN thinks, it is more probable that the lotus of the Lotophagi, is what we call Zizyphus or the jujube-tree: The leaves of this are about an inch and a half in
length, an inch in breadth, of a shining green colour, and ferrated about the edges: The fruit is of the shape and fize of olives, and the pulp of it has a sweet taste like honey; and therefore cannot be the nettle-tree, the fruit of which is far from that delicacy which is ascribed to the lotus of the ancients.
According to PROSPER ALPINUS, the Ægyptian lotus (which grows along the Nile at the time of its inundations) is the fame as our great water-lily; the plant, perhaps, which occurs in HOMER'S Iliad, ix. Near Rofetta it grows in great abundance.
And give to HYMEN's joys.
For a particular account of the divinityship of HYMEN, fee Natalis Comes. The occafion of his Deification is thus related by an ingenious author: HYMEN was a young man of Athens, obfcurely born, but extremely beautiful. Falling in love with a young lady of diftinction, he difguifed himself in a female habit, in order to get accefs to her, and enjoy the pleasure of her company. As he happened to be one day in this disguise, with his miftrefs, and her female companions, celebrating, on the fea-fhore, the rites of CERES ELEUSINA, a gang of pirates came upon them, by a furprize, and carried them all off. The pirates, having conveyed them to a distant island, got drunk for joy, and fell asleep. HYMEN feized his opportunity; armed the virgins, and difpatched the pirates: After which, leaving the ladies on the island, he went in hafte to Athens, where he told his adventure to all the parents, and demanded her he loved in marriage, as her ranfom. His request was granted—and so fortunate was the marriage, that the name of HYMEN was ever after invoked on all future nuptials. And in progrefs of time, the Greeks enrolled him among their gods.'
DANCHET, Differtation fur Ceremonies Nuptiales.