Saturday, March 08, 2014
Euripides, Hippolytus 1396, first states the rule (Artemis speaking, my translation):
It is not lawful for me to let fall a tear from my eyes.Ovid restates the rule at Metamorphoses 2.621-622 (tr. Frank Justus Miller):
κατ' ὄσσων δ' οὐ θέμις βαλεῖν δάκρυ.
For the cheeks of the heavenly gods may not be wet with tears.and Fasti 4.521 (tr. James George Frazer):
neque enim caelestia tingui
ora licet lacrimis.
For gods can never weep.Cf. also Friedrich Marx's emendation of Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.420:
neque enim lacrimare deorum est.
nec satis est nymphae flere et lacerare capillos 420The contrary to fact condition in Naevius' epitaph (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 1.24.2, tr. J.C. Rolfe) also implies the existence of this rule:
et dare plangorem: facit haec tamen omnia, seque
proripit ac Latios errat vesana per agros.
420 satis codd.: fas F. Marx, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 41 (1886) 559
If that immortals might for mortals weep,Despite the rule, classical literature provides several examples of gods (or, more often, goddesses) weeping. A selection follows.
Then would divine Camenae weep for Naevius.
inmortales mortales si foret fas flere,
flerent divae Camenae Naevium poetam.
Homer, Iliad 21.493-426 (tr. A.T. Murray):
Then weeping the goddess fled from before her even as a dove that from before a falcon flieth into a hollow rock, a cleft—nor is it her lot to be taken; even so fled Artemis weeping, and left her bow and arrows where they lay.Callimachus, Hymns 6.17 (hymn to Demeter, tr. Neil Hopkinson):
δακρυόεσσα δ᾽ ὕπαιθα θεὰ φύγεν ὥς τε πέλεια,
ἥ ῥά θ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἴρηκος κοίλην εἰσέπτατο πέτρην
χηραμόν· οὐδ᾽ ἄρα τῇ γε ἁλώμεναι αἴσιμον ἦεν·
ὣς ἣ δακρυόεσσα φύγεν, λίπε δ᾽ αὐτόθι τόξα.
No, no! let us not speak of what brought tears to Deo.Philicus of Corcyra, Hymn to Demeter (Supplementum Hellenisticum, fragment 680), line 40 (possibly referring to the creation of a spring from Demeter's tears, my translation):
μὴ μὴ ταῦτα λέγωμες ἃ δάκρυον ἄγαγε Δηοῖ.
You will bring forth a spring with your tears.Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6.8-9 (on Deo = Demeter, tr. W.H.D. Rouse):
σοῖς προσανήσεις δακρύοισι πηγήν.
The cheeks of the goddess were moistened with self-running tears.Vergil, Aeneid 1.227-229 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
βαρυνομένης δὲ θεαίνης
δάκρυσιν αὐτοχύτοισι καθικμαίνοντο παρειαί.
And lo! as on such cares he pondered in heart, Venus, saddened and her bright eyes brimming with tears, spake to him...Vergil, Aeneid 10.628 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
atque illum talis iactantem pectore curas
tristior et lacrimis oculos suffusa nitentis
And Juno weeping...Ovid, Amores 3.9.45-46 (on Venus, tr. Grant Showerman):
et Iuno adlacrimans...
She turned her face away who holds the heights of Eryx; some, too, there are who say she kept not back the tear.Propertius 2.16.54 (on Jupiter, tr. G.P. Goold):
avertit vultus, Erycis quae possidet arces;
sunt quoque, qui lacrimas continuisse negant.
Since he too, although a god, has been deceived and wept.Propertius 4.11.60 (on Augustus, tr. G.P. Goold):
deceptus quoniam flevit et ipse deus.
And we saw a god's tears flow.Claudian, Rape of Proserpine 1.192-193 (on Ceres = Demeter, tr. Maurice Platnauer):
et lacrimas vidimus ire deo.
Ah, how often, foreknowing of coming ill, did she mar her cheek with welling tears!Related post: Did Christ Ever Laugh?
heu quotiens praesaga mali violavit oborto