Adonis

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Peter Paul Rubens, Venus & Adonis

Labitur occulte fallitque volatilis aetas,
et nihil est annis velocius: ille sorore
natus avoque suo, qui conditus arbore nuper,
nuper erat genitus, modo formosissimus infans,
iam iuvenis, iam vir, iam se formosior ipso est,
iam placet et Veneri matrisque ulciscitur ignes.
namque pharetratus dum dat puer oscula matri,
inscius exstanti destrinxit harundine pectus;
laesa manu natum dea reppulit: altius actum
vulnus erat specie primoque fefellerat ipsam.
capta viri forma non iam Cythereïa curat
litora, non alto repetit Paphon aequore cinctam
piscosamque Cnidon gravidamve Amathunta metallis;
abstinet et caelo: caelo praefertur Adonis.
(Ovid, Met. 10.519-532)

Time swiftly glides by in secret, escaping our notice,
and nothing goes faster than years do: the son of his sister
by his grandfather, the one so recently hidden
within a tree, so recently born, a most beautiful infant,
now is an adolescent and now a young man
even more beautiful than he was as a baby,
pleasing now even to Venus and soon the avenger
of passionate fires that brought his mother to ruin.
For while her fond Cupid was giving a kiss to his mother,
he pricked her unwittingly, right in the breast, with an arrow
projecting out of his quiver; annoyed, the great goddess
swatted him off, but the wound had gone in more deeply
than it appeared to, and at the beginning deceived her.
Under the spell of this fellow’s beauty, the goddess
no longer takes any interest now in Cythera,
nor does she return to her haunts on the island of Paphon,
or to fish-wealthy Cnidus or to ore-bearing Amethus;
she avoids heaven as well, now—preferring Adonis…
(tr. Charles Martin)

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