Agon to Minerva and Apollon – Entry #13 (Minerva) and #14 (Apollo)
When they brought her statue
to the foot of the Caelian Hill
like a spoil of war for Nerio
after it had been taken
from Civita Castellana
they had no idea how she
would enthrall all of them.
The Carmen Saliare would sound
as the shields clanged together
on the Quinquatrus each year
before her temple at the Caelian
and the Aventine as well.
She was like a second Bellona,
but not married to Mars,
and more temples would come
when she was considered a third
of the Capitoline Triad
and when Nerva completed
the work of Domitian
in time to inspire Hadrian.
Arachne, they say, would challenge
Minerva’s supremacy in skill
at weaving, but in truth,
Minerva had captured them all
in her web, woven from Etruria
to Athens to Dalmatia to Britannia—
most patient divine spider, web-spinner.
My father Zeus on altars high
received the sacrifices grim;
for this I suffer and I sigh,
for loss of grace, for loss of him!
The ephebe of Arcadia
in cohorts taking from the pot
would fear that it would be to he
to whom would fall the fateful lot.
Eating flesh forbidden to men
by Zeus’ law–supreme, divine–
would get the youths nine years astray
across the lake in shapes lupine.
The ancient warlike primal race
had generations acting so;
thus by the Fates fair Zephyros
would blow to foul my discus throw.
Thousands of those youths uncounted
would return to polis intact,
but every death in wilds accounted
a debt to me in this dark pact.
And so I suffered when in love
not mere exquisite pains of joy
but sorrow, loss, and tragedy
for that fair flowering Spartan boy.
He was my own ephebic friend,
companion, hero, light of day,
a lover never truer found
nor with more passion in his play!
But jealousy of Zephyros
soon blowed to foul my discus throw
and struck full sore the hero’s head
with blood outpouring, laid him low.
He was cruel ransom for the deaths
of so many in wolfish form
as Lykaon’s sin was repaid
by Zeus in diluvial storm.
We gods are not apart from pain,
no strangers are gods to sorrow;
for short moments I had pleasure,
but no more will come tomorrow.
I joined myself to his body,
I took myself his name renowned;
his glory celebrated yearly,
with wilting sadness I am crowned.
Make offerings on his behalf
and mourn a day for love ended;
I howl from Arcadia’s peaks
with wolfish heart, never mended!