de stipibus quas feres alteram, sic tamen ut ipse sua manu de tuo sumat ore. Nec setius tibi pigrum fluentum transmeanti quidam supernatans senex mortuus putres attollens manus orabit ut eum intra navigium trahas37; nec tu


tamen illicita afflectare pietate. Transito fluvio modicum te progressam38 textrices orabunt anus telam struentes, manus paulisper accommodes; nec id tamen tibi contingere fas est. Nam haec omnia tibi et multa alia de Veneris insidiis orientur, ut vel unam de manibus omittas offulam. Nec putes futile istud polentacium damnum leve: altera enim perdita, lux haec tibi prorsus denegabitur. Canis namque praegrandis, teriugo et satis amplo capite praeditus, immanis et formidabilis, tonantibus39 oblatrans faucibus mortuos, quibus iam nil mali potest facere, frustra territando, ante ipsum limen et atra atria Proserpinae semper excubans servat vacuam Ditis domum. Hunc offrenatum unius offulae praeda facile praeteribis ad ipsamque protinus Proserpinam introibis, quae te comiter excipiet ac benigne, ut et molliter assidere et prandium opipare suadeat sumere. Sed tu et humi reside et panem sordidum petitum esto; deinde nuntiato quid adveneris, susceptoque quod offeretur40 rursus remeans canis saevitiam offula reliqua redime; ac deinde, avaro navitae data quam reservaveras stipe transitoque eius fluvio, recolens41 priora vestigia ad istum caelestium siderum redies chorum. Sed inter omnia hoc observandum praecipue tibi censeo, ne velis aperire


Metamorphoses VI

are carrying; but make him take it out of your mouth with his own hand. Likewise, while you are crossing that sluggish steam a dead old man, floating on the surface, will lift up his rotting hands and beg you to pull him into the boat. But be not swayed by unlawful pity.

After you have crossed19 the river and gone on a little farther, some old women weaving at a loom will ask you to lend a hand for a moment. But you must not touch this either. All this and much more will arise from traps for you laid by Venus, to make you let at least one cake out of your hands. Do not suppose that this paltry loss of a barley-cake is of no consequence: if you lose either cake you will never see the daylight again. For there is a huge dog with a triple head of vast size, a monstrous, fearsome creature who barks with thundering jaws, trying in vain to frighten the dead, to whom he can do no harm now. He lies in constant watch in front of the threshold outside Proserpina’s black halls, guarding the insubstantial house of Dis. If you restrain him with one cake for prey, you will easily get by him and pass directly into Proserpina’s presence. She will receive you courteously and kindly and try to persuade you to sit down comfortably beside her and eat a sumptuous supper.17 But you must sit on the floor and ask for common bread and eat that. Then announce why you have come, take what is put before you, and return, buying off the dog’s cruelty with the remaining cake. Then give the greedy sailor the coin you have kept in reserve, cross his river, and by retracing your earlier steps you will return to this choir of heavenly stars. But above all else, I advise you to be especially careful not to open or

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.apuleius-metamorphoses.1996