Εὐρώπῃ ποτὲ Κύπρις ἐπὶ γλυκὺν ἧκεν ὄνειρον, νυκτὸς ὅτε τρίτατον λάχος ἵσταται ἐγγύθι δ’ ἠώς, ὕπνος ὅτε γλυκίων μέλιτος βλεφάροισιν ἐφίζων λυσιμελὴς πεδάᾳ μαλακῷ κατὰ φάεα δεσμῷ, 5εὖτε καὶ ἀτρεκέων ποιμαίνεται ἔθνος ὀνείρων. τῆμος ὑπωροφίοισιν ἐνὶ κνώσσουσα δόμοισι Φοίνικος θυγάτηρ ἔτι παρθένος Εὐρώπεια ὠίσατ’ ἠπείρους δοιὰς περὶ εἷο μάχεσθαι, Ἀσίδα τ’ ἀντιπέρην τε· φυὴν δ’ ἔχον οἷα γυναῖκες. 10τῶν δ’ ἣ μὲν ξείνης μορφὴν ἔχεν, ἣ δ’ ἄρ’ ἐῴκει ἐνδαπίῃ, καὶ μᾶλλον ἑῆς περιίσχετο κούρης, φάσκεν δ’ ὥς μιν ἔτικτε καὶ ὡς ἀτίτηλέ μιν αὐτή. ἡ δ’ ἑτέρη κρατερῇσι βιωομένη παλάμῃσιν εἴρυεν οὐκ ἀέκουσαν, ἐπεὶ φάτο μόρσιμον εἷο 15ἐκ Διὸς αἰγιόχου γέρας ἔμμεναι Εὐρώπειαν.
- 14 εἷο Ahrens: εἶναι M
Cypris1 once sent upon Europa a sweet dream. At the time when the third part of night begins and dawn is near; when limb-loosening sleep, sweeter than honey, sits on the eyelids and binds the eyes with a soft bond; and when the herd of true dreams goes afield2—at that time, as she slumbered in her upper chamber,3 Europa, daughter of Phoenix,4 still a virgin, thought she saw two continents contend for her, Asia and the land opposite;5 and they had the form of women.6 Of these, one had the appearance of a foreigner, while the other resembled a native woman and clung more and more to her daughter, and kept saying that she had herself borne and reared her. But the other, using the force of her strong hands, drew her not unwillingly along, for she said it was fated by Zeus who bears the aegis7 that Europa should be her prize.
- 1Aphrodite, born on the island of Cyprus (Hes. Theog. 191–200).
- 2Dreams seen just before daybreak were thought to be true ones (Pl. Resp. 572a).
- 3The women’s quarters were usually upstairs.
- 4Phoenix gave his name to Phoenicia, where the poem is set.
- 5Europe is of course not named: the poem is an etiology of how it came to be so called. Europa’s dream and her trip to the seashore are inspired by two famous passages in which a girl travels with her handmaidens to an erotic encounter: (1) Nausicaa’s dream and trip to the seashore in Odyssey 6; (2) Medea’s dream and her ride to meet Jason in Book 3 of Apollonius’ Argonautica.
- 6The personification is inspired by lines 181–87 of Aeschylus’ Persae, where the Persian queen Atossa sees Europe and Asia as two women in native dress; cf. Soph. Fr. 881 Lloyd-Jones.
- 7A traditional epithet of Zeus in Homer. The aegis was either a tasseled goatskin or a shield covered in goat hide (aix = goat). On it were depicted personifications of Strife and other horrors (Il. 5.738–42).