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Hyacinthus

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - MAY DAY





BY OVID (ADAPTED)

Once when the golden-beamed Apollo roamed the earth, he made a companion
of Hyacinthus, the son of King Amyclas of Lacedaemon; and him he loved
with an exceeding great love, for the lad was beautiful beyond compare.

The sun-god threw aside his lyre, and became the daily comrade of
Hyacinthus. Often they played games, or climbed the rugged mountain
ridges. Together they followed the chase or fished in the quiet and
shadowy pools; and the sun-god, unmindful of his dignity, carried the
lad's nets and held his dogs.

It happened on a day that the two friends stripped off their garments,
rubbed the juice of the olive upon their bodies, and engaged in throwing
the quoit. First Apollo poised it and tossed it far. It cleaved the air
with its weight and fell heavily to earth. At that moment Hyacinthus ran
forwards and hastened to take up the disc, but the hard earth sent
it rebounding straight into his face, so that he fell wounded to the
ground.

Ah! then, pale and fearful, the sun-god hastened to the side of his
fallen friend. He bore up the lad's sinking limbs and strove to stanch
his wound with healing herbs. All in vain! Alas! the wound would not
close. And as violets and lilies, when their stems are crushed,
hang their languid blossoms on their stalks and wither away, so did
Hyacinthus droop his beautiful head and die.

Then the sun-god, full of grief, cried aloud in his anguish: "O Beloved!
thou fallest in thy early youth, and I alone am the cause of thy
destruction! Oh, that I could give my life for thee or with thee! but
since Fate will not permit this, thou shalt ever be with me, and thy
praise shall dwell on my lips. My lyre struck with my hand, my songs,
too, shall celebrate thee! And thou, dear lad, shalt become a new
flower, and on thy leaves will I write my lamentations."

And even as the sun-god spoke, behold! the blood that had flowed from
Hyacinthus's wound stained the grass, and a flower, like a lily in
shape, sprang up, more bright than Tyrian purple. On its leaves did
Apollo inscribe the mournful characters: "ai, ai," which mean "alas!
alas!"

And as oft as the spring drives away the winter, so oft does Hyacinthus
blossom in the fresh, green grass.





Next: Echo And Narcissus

Previous: Clytie The Heliotrope



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