The Rape of Europa

By Ovid 43–17 Ovid

Translated By Daryl Hine Read the translator's notes

From "Metamorphoses," Book II, 846-875

Majesty is incompatible truly with love; they cohabit
Nowhere together. The father and chief of the gods, whose right hand is   
Armed with the triple-forked lightning, who shakes the whole world with a nod, laid   
Dignity down with his sceptre, adopting the guise of a bull that   
Mixed with the cattle and lowed as he ambled around the fresh fields, a   
Beautiful animal, colored like snow that no footprint has trodden   
And which no watery south wind has melted. His muscular neck bulged,   
Dewlaps hung down from his chin; his curved horns you might think had been hand carved,   
Perfect, more purely translucent than pearl. His unthreatening brow and   
Far from formidable eyes made his face appear tranquil. Agenor's   
Daughter was truly amazed that this beautiful bull did not seem to   
Manifest any hostility. Though he was gentle she trembled at first to   
Touch him, but soon she approached him, adorning his muzzle with flowers.   
Then he rejoiced as a lover and, while he looked forward to hoped for   
Pleasures, he slobbered all over her hands, and could hardly postpone the   
Joys that remained. So he frolicked and bounded about on the green grass,   
Laying his snowy-white flanks on the yellowish sands. As her fear was
Little by little diminished, he offered his chest for her virgin   
Hand to caress and his horns to be decked with fresh flowers. The royal   
Maiden, not knowing on whom she was sitting, was even so bold as   
Also to climb on the back of the bull. As the god very slowly   
Inched from the shore and the dry land he planted his spurious footprints   
Deep in the shallows. Thus swimming out farther, he carried his prey off   
Into the midst of the sea. Almost fainting with terror she glanced back,   
As she was carried away, at the shore left behind. As she gripped one   
Horn in her right hand while clutching the back of the beast with the other,   
Meanwhile her fluttering draperies billowed behind on the sea breeze.

Source: Poetry (April 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2008

Biography

Ovid (43 BCE–17 CE), the influential Roman poet, wrote in a number of genres.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Epic

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