Dumque ibi perluitur solita Titania lympha,
ecce nepos Cadmi dilata parte laborum
per nemus ignotum non certis passibus errans
pervenit in lucum: sic illum fata ferebant.
qui simul intravit rorantia fontibus antra,
sicut erant, nudae viso sua pectora nymphae
percussere viro subitisque ululatibus omne
implevere nemus circumfusaeque Dianam
corporibus texere suis; tamen altior illis
ipsa dea est colloque tenus supereminet omnes.
qui color infectis adversi solis ab ictu
nubibus esse solet aut purpureae Aurorae,
is fuit in vultu visae sine veste Dianae.
quae, quamquam comitum turba est stipata suarum,
in latus obliquum tamen adstitit oraque retro
flexit et, ut vellet promptas habuisse sagittas,
quas habuit, sic hausit aquas vultumque virilem
perfudit spargensque comas ultricibus undis
addidit haec cladis praenuntia verba futurae:
‘nunc tibi me posito visam velamine narres,
si poteris narrare, licet!’ nec plura minata
dat sparso capiti vivacis cornua cervi,
dat spatium collo summasque cacuminat aures,
cum pedibusque manus, cum longis bracchia mutat
cruribus et velat maculoso vellere corpus;
additus et pavor est. fugit Autonoeius heros
et se tam celerem cursu miratur in ipso.
ut vero vultus et cornua vidit in unda,
‘me miserum!’ dicturus erat: vox nulla secuta est;
ingemuit: vox illa fuit, lacrimaeque per ora
non sua fluxerunt; mens tantum pristina mansit.
(Ovid, Met. 3.173-203)
And while Diana bathes as usual,
see where Actaeon on a holiday,
wandering clueless through the unfamiliar
forest, now finds his way into her grove,
for so Fate had arranged.
At sight of him
within the misty precincts of their grotto,
the naked nymphs began to beat their breasts
and filled the grove with shrill and startled cries;
in their concern, they poured around Diana,
attempting to conceal her with a screen
of their own bodies, but to no avail,
for the goddess towered over all of them.
The color taken from the setting sun
by western clouds, so similar to that
which rosy-tinted Dawn so often shows,
was the same color on Diana’s face
when she was seen undressed. And even though
her virgin comrades squeezed themselves around her,
she managed to turn sideways and look back
as if she wished she had her arrows handy—
but making do with what she had, scooped up
water and flung it in Actaeon’s face,
sprinkling his hair with the avenging droplets,
and adding words that prophesied his doom:
“Now you may tell of how you saw me naked,
tell it if you can, you may!”
No further warning:
the brow which she has sprinkled jets the horns
of a lively stag; she elongates his neck,
narrows his eartips down to tiny points,
converts his hands to hooves, his arms to legs,
and clothes his body in a spotted pelt.
Lastly, the goddess endows him with trembling fear:
that heroic son of Autonoe flees,
surprised to find himself so swift a runner.
But when he stopped and looked into a pool
at the reflection of his horns and muzzle—
“Poor me!” he tried to say, but no words came,
only a groaning sound, by which he learned
that groaning was now speech; tears streamed down cheeks
that were no longer his: only his mind
was left unaltered by Diana’s wrath.
(tr. Charles Martin)