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IDYLLIUM the EIGHTEENTH.
Soft hyacinthine wreathes adorn'd their hair THE "HE Greek ladies have different modes of dressing the head
at present-more or less ornamental; the disposition of which they frequently vary. Sometimes the hair flows in tresses on the shoulders--at other times it is formed into a roll about the head, or negligently tied with flowers. In this last method it is easy to recognize the fashion of the Lacedæmonian ladies.
To the light measure as they beat the ground.
And in the same sense, Horace:
Alterno terram quatiunt pede. But the power of harmony to produce all the graces of motion in the body, is expressed with inimitable beauty, in Mr. GRAY's - Progress of Poesy'-(excepting « The Bard") the fineft Ode in the English language.
Thee the voice, the dance, obey,
With antic Sports, and blue-ey'd Pleasures,
Glance their many-twinkling feet. In the marriage proceffion-on the shield of Achilles, Iliad xviii. the new-married persons are attended by fingers and dancers.
Here facred pomp and genial feast delight,
And own a mother's care, till dawn of day.
Hespere, qui cælo fertur crudelior ignis?
Carm. Nupt. How similar is the following description of M. Guys (who was present at a Grecian marriage) “ The young bride richly dressed, wearing long tresses of threads of gold interwoven with her beautiful hair, after the manner of the Greeks, descended from her apartment: She eagerly advanced to kiss her father and mother. Who could behold with dry eyes a tender and respectable mother unable to detach herself from a
daughter daughter whom she prefed in her arms, and whom she bedewed with tears, which an excess of joy and affection caused to flow on her maternal bosom?--At their return, the bride's mother conducted her daughter into an apartment superbly 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 sing still, all night; but the companions of the bride are excluded.
30. Anointed for the revels of the
green. To one who considers these naked exhibitions of women according to the Spartan usage, or views, in imagination, the Afiatic females in the baths at the present day, the Song of Solomon can present no exaggerated description, or unnatural delineations of beauty. Lady W. Montague seems to intimate an opinion (to which the Elegantes formarum Spectatores will probably affent) that he who, with an eye to beauty, should survey the Turkish women in their baths, would little attend to the finest face: His principal attention would be elsewhere directed.
LINE 35 Or, as the rising of the purple morn. 'Aως αντελλουσα καλον διεφαινε σεοωπον, &c.
Τις αυτη η εκκυπίεσα ωσει ορθρυς; &c.-Who is the that looketh forth like the morning ?
Canticles. Οι δε οφθαλμοι αυτο ειδος εωσφορά.-His
eye-, lids of the morning.
JOB. Χειμωνος ανεντος, &c. Ιδε ο χειμων παρηλθ. ν, ο υεθος απηλθεν-Lo the winter is partthe rain is over and gone.
Canticles. Αρματι θεσσαλος ιππος. Τη ιππω μου εν αρμασι Φαραω αμοιωσα ζε η πλησιον μ8. Sep
eyes are like the
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Compare these passages with THEOCRITUS.
40. Behold her various labors of the loom ! The severe critic may call this, in the language of JOHNSON, “ a mere adumbration of the original.” But a literal version would by no means please the English reader.
LINE 48. Love, charming boy, sits playing in her eye. If we recollect, that the eye was held sacred to Cupid, where, PHILOTHRASTUS says, he was supposed to lie in ambush, we shall see a peculiar propriety in the image before us. Thus in Meleager's beautiful epigram, where he hath imitated the first Idyllium of Moschus, Cupid lies hid in ZENOPHILA's eye.
Ζηνοφιλας ομμασι κρυσίομενος. See Anthol. vii. ep. 16.
LINE 55. Be flowering lotus twin'd, that loves the ground. ATHENÆUS tells us that the Alexandrians were particularly fond of garlands composed of the lotus-flower. And lotus wreaths are often observed in the Ægyptian monuments. Millar and Martyn have given accurate descriptions 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, says Millar, are like those of the nettle; the flower consists of five leaves, expanded in form of a rose, containing many short ftamina in the bosom: The fruit, which is a roundish berry, grows single 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 size 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 same as our great water-lily; the plant, perhaps, which occurs in Homer's Iliad, ix. Near Rosetta it grows in great abundance.
And give to Hymen's joys. For a particular account of the divinityship of Hymen, see Natalis Comes. The occasion of his Deification is thus related by an ingenious author: • Hymen was a young man of Athens, obscurely born, but extremely beautiful. Falling in love with a young lady of distinction, he disguised himself in a female habit, in order to get access to her, and enjoy the pleasure of her company. As he happened to be one day in this disguise, with his mistress, and her female companions, celebrating, on the sea-shore, the rites of CERES Eleusina, a gang of pirates came upon them, by a surprize, and carried them all off. The pirates, having conveyed them to a distant island, got drunk for joy, and fell asleep. Hymen seized his opportunity; armed the virgins, and dispatched the pirates: After which, leaving the ladies on the island, he went in haste to Athens, where he told his adventure to all the parents, and demanded her he loved in marriage, as her ransom. 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 progress of time, the Greeks enrolled him among their gods.'
Danchen, Dillertation sur Ceremonies Nuptiales.