Ovid, Metamorphoses

LCL 42: 234-235

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Ovid

Addidit et longi non falsa pericula cursus, quae freta, quas terras sub se vidisset ab alto et quae iactatis tetigisset sidera pennis; 790ante exspectatum tacuit tamen. excipit unus ex numero procerum quaerens, cur sola sororum gesserit alternis inmixtos crinibus angues. hospes ait: “quoniam scitaris digna relatu, accipe quaesiti causam. clarissima forma 795multorumque fuit spes invidiosa procorum illa, nec in tota conspectior ulla capillis pars fuit: inveni, qui se vidisse referret. hanc pelagi rector templo vitiasse Minervae dicitur: aversa est et castos aegide vultus 800nata Iovis texit, neve hoc inpune fuisset, Gorgoneum crinem turpes mutavit in hydros. nunc quoque, ut attonitos formidine terreat hostes, pectore in adverso, quos fecit, sustinet angues.”

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Metamorphoses Book IV

The hero further told of his long journeys and perils passed, all true, what seas, what lands he had beheld from his high flight, what stars he had touched on beating wings. He ceased, while they waited still to hear more. But one of the princes asked him why Medusa only of the sisters wore serpents mingled with her hair. The guest replied: “Since what you ask is a tale well worth the telling, hear then the cause. She was once most beautiful in form, and the jealous hope of many suitors. Of all her beauties, her hair was the most beautiful—for so I learned from one who said he had seen her. ’Tis said that in Minerva’s temple Neptune, lord of the Ocean, ravished her. Jove’s daughter turned away and hid her chaste eyes behind her aegis. And, that the deed might be punished as was due, she changed the Gorgon’s locks to ugly snakes. And now to frighten her fear-numbed foes, she still wears upon her breast the snakes which she has made.”

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.ovid-metamorphoses.1916