Delphis

David Wynne, Boy with dolphin
David Wynne, Boy with a dolphin (1974)

Καί πού τις Λίβυος κούρου πόθον οἶδεν ἀκούων,
τοῦ ποτε ποιμαίνοντος ἐράσσατο θερμὸν ἔρωτα
δελφίς, σὺν δ’ ἤθυρε παρ’ ᾐόσι, καὶ κελαδεινῇ
τερπόμενος σύριγγι λιλαίετο πώεσιν αὐτοῖς
μίσγεσθαι πόντον τε λιπεῖν ξυλόχους τ’ ἀφικέσθαι.
ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ ἠϊθέοιο πόθους ἐπὶ πᾶσα λέλησται
Αἰολίς· οὔτι παλαιόν, ἐφ’ ἡμετέρῃ δὲ γενέθλῃ·
δελφὶς ὥς ποτε παιδὸς ἐράσσατο νησαίοιο·
νήσῳ δ’ ἐνναίεσκεν, ἀεὶ δ’ ἔχε ναύλοχον ὅρμον,
ἀστὸς ὅπως, ἕταρον δὲ λιπεῖν ἠναίνετο θυμῷ,
ἀλλ’ αὐτοῦ μίμναζε παρέστιος ἐξέτι τυτθοῦ,
σκύμνος ἀεξηθείς, ὀλίγον βρέφος, ἤθεσι παιδὸς
σύντροφος· ἀλλ’ ὅθ’ ἵκοντο τέλος γυιαλκέος ἥβης,
καί ῥ’ ὁ μὲν ἠϊθέοισι μετέπρεπεν, αὐτὰρ ὁ πόντῳ
ὠκύτατος δελφὶς ἑτέρων προφερέστατος ἦεν,
δή ῥα τότ’ ἔκπαγλόν τε καὶ οὐ φατὸν οὐδ’ ἐπίελπτον
θάμβος ἔην ξείνοισι καὶ ἐνναέτῃσιν ἰδέσθαι·
πολλοὺς δ’ ὤρορε φῆμις ἰδεῖν σέβας ὁρμηθέντας,
ἠΐθεον δελφῖνι συνηβώοντας ἑταίρους·
πολλαὶ δ’ ἠϊόνων ἀγοραὶ πέλας ἦμαρ ἐπ’ ἦμαρ
ἱεμένων ἵσταντο σέβας μέγα θηήσασθαι.
ἔνθ’ ὁ μὲν ἐμβεβαὼς ἄκατον κοίλοιο πάροιθεν
ὅρμου ἀναπλώεσκε, κάλει δέ μιν οὔνομ’ ἀΰσας
κεῖνο, τό μιν φήμιξεν ἔτι πρώτης ἀπὸ φύτλης·
δελφὶς δ’ ἠΰτ’ ὀϊστός, ἐπεὶ κλύε παιδὸς ἰωήν,
κραιπνὰ θέων ἀκάτοιο φίλης ἄγχιστος ἵκανε,
σαίνων τ’ οὐραίῃ κεφαλήν τ’ ἀνὰ γαῦρος ἀείρων,
παιδὸς ἐπιψαῦσαι λελιημένος· αὐτὰρ ὁ χερσὶν
ἦκα καταρρέζεσκε, φιλοφροσύνῃσιν ἑταῖρον
ἀμφαγαπαζόμενος, τοῦ δ’ ἵετο θυμὸς ἱκέσθαι
αὐτὴν εἰς ἄκατον παιδὸς πέλας· ἀλλ’ ὅτ’ ἐς ἅλμην
κοῦφα κυβιστήσειεν, ὃ δ’ ἐγγύθι νήχετο κούρου,
αὐτῇσι πλευρῇσιν ἀνὰ πλευρὰς παρενείρων,
αὐτῇσι γενύεσσι πέλας γένυν, ἠδὲ καρήνῳ
ἐγχρίμπτων κεφαλήν· φαίης κέ μιν ἱμείροντα
κῦσσαι καὶ στέρνοισι περιπτύξαι μενεαίνειν
ἠΐθεον· τοίῃ γὰρ ὀπάονι νήχετο ῥιπῇ.
ἀλλ’ ὅτε καὶ πελάσειε παρ’ ᾐόσιν, αὐτίκα κοῦρος
ἁψάμενος λοφιῆς διερῶν διερῶν ἐπεβήσατο νώτων·
αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ἀσπασίως παιδὸς δέμας ἔμφρονι θυμῷ
δεξάμενος φοίτασκεν, ὅπῃ νόος ἠϊθέοιο
ἤλαεν, εἴτ’ ἄρα πόντον ἐπ’ εὐρέα τῆλε κελεύοι
στέλλεσθ’, εἴθ’ αὔτως λιμένος διὰ χῶρον ἀμείβειν,
ἢ χέρσῳ πελάειν, ὁ δ’ ἐπείθετο πᾶσαν ἐφετμήν.
οὔτε τις ἡνιόχῳ πῶλος τόσον ἐν γενύεσσι
μαλθακὸς εὐγνάμπτοισιν ἐφέσπεται ὧδε χαλινοῖς,
οὔτε τις ἀγρευτῆρι κύων ἐθὰς ὀτρύνοντι
τόσσον ὑπεικαθέων ἐπιπείθεται, ᾗ κεν ἄγῃσιν,
οὔτ’ ἔτι κεκλομένοιο τόσον θεράποντες ἄνακτος
πειθόμενοι ῥέζουσιν ἑκούσιον ἔργον ἑκόντες,
ὅσσον ὑπ’ ἠϊθέῳ δελφὶς φίλος ὀτρύνοντι
πείθετ’ ἄνευ ζεύγλης τε βιαζομένων τε χαλινῶν.
οὐ μέν μιν μοῦνον φορέειν θέλεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἄλλῳ
πείθετο, τῷ μιν ἄνωγεν ἄναξ ἑός, ἀν δ’ ἐκόμιζε
νώτοις, οὔτινα μόχθον ἀναινόμενος φιλότητι.
τοίη μὲν ζωῷ φιλίη πέλεν· ἀλλ’ ὅτε παῖδα
πότμος ἕλε, πρῶτον μὲν ὀδυρομένῳ ἀτάλαντος
δελφὶς ἠϊόνεσσιν ἐπέδραμεν, ἥλικα κοῦρον
μαστεύων· φαίης κεν ἐτήτυμον ὄσσαν ἀκούειν
μυρομένου· τοῖόν μιν ἀμήχανον ἄμπεχε πένθος·
οὐδ’ ἔτι κικλήσκουσιν ἐπείθετο πολλάκις ἀστοῖς
νησαίοις, οὐ βρῶσιν ὀρεγνυμένην ἐθέλεσκε
δέχνυσθαι, μάλα δ’ αἶψα καὶ ἐξ ἁλὸς ἔπλετ’ ἄϊστος
κείνης, οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν ἐπεφράσατ’, οὐδ’ ἔτι χῶρον
ἵκετο· τὸν μέν που παιδὸς πόθος οἰχομένοιο
ἔσβεσε, σὺν δὲ θανόντι θανεῖν ἔσπευσεν ἑταίρῳ.
(Oppian, Hal. 5.453-518)

And one knows, methinks, by hearsay the love of the Libyan boy whom as he herded his sheep a Dolphin loved with burning love and played with him beside the shores and for delight in his shrill pipe was fain to live among the very sheep and forsake the sea and come to the woods. Nay, nor has all Aeolis forgotten the love of a youth — not long ago but in our own generation — how a Dolphin once loved an island boy and in the island it dwelt and ever haunted the haven where ships lay at anchor, even as if it were a townsman and refused to leave its comrade, but abode there and made that its house from the time that it was little till it was a grown cub, like a little child nurtured in the ways of the boy. But when they came to the fullness of vigorous youth, then the boy excelled among the youths and the Dolphin in the sea was more excellent in swiftness than all others. Then there was a marvel strange beyond speech or thought for strangers and indwellers to behold. And report stirred many to hasten to see the wondrous sight, a youth and a Dolphin growing up in comradeship, and day by day beside the shore were many gatherings of those who rushed to gaze upon the mighty marvel. Then the youth would embark in his boat and row in front of the embayed haven and would call it, shouting the name whereby he had named it even from earliest birth. And the Dolphin, like an arrow, when it heard the call of the boy, would speed swiftly and come close to the beloved boat, fawning with its tail and proudly lifting up its head fain to touch the boy. And he would gently caress it with his hands, lovingly greet his comrade, while it would be eager to come right into boat beside the boy. But when he dived lightly into the brine, it would swim near the youth, its side right by his side and its cheek close by his and touching head with head. Thou wouldst have said that in its love the Dolphin was fain to kiss and embrace the youth: in such close companionship it swam. But when he came near the shore, straightway the youth would lay his hand upon its neck and mount on its wet back. And gladly and with understanding it would receive the boy upon its back and would go where the will of the youth drave it, whether over the wide sea afar he commanded it to travel or merely to traverse the space of the haven or to approach the land: it obeyed every behest. No colt for its rider is so tender of mouth and so obedient to the curved bit; no dog trained to the bidding of the hunter is so obedient to follow where he leads; nay, nor any servants are so obedient, when their master bids, to do his will willingly, as that friendly Dolphin was obedient to the bidding of the youth, without yoke-strap or constraining bridle. And not himself alone would it carry but it would obey any other whom his master bade it and carry him on its back, refusing no labour in its love. Such was its friendship for the boy while he lived; but when death took him, first like one sorrowing the Dolphin visited the shores in quest of the companion of its youth: you would have said you heard the veritable voice of a mourner — such helpless grief was upon it. And no more, though they called it often, would it hearken to the island townsmen nor would it accept food when offered it, and very soon it vanished from that sea and none marked it any more and it no more visited the place. Doubtless sorrow for the youth that was gone killed it, and with its dead comrade it had been fain to die. (tr. Alexander William Mair)

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