Hail Iphis! May you never thirst!


Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.698-14.742
Iphis, born of a humble family, had seen the famed Anaxarete, who was of the race of ancient Teucer. — He had seen her and felt fire inflame his bones. Struggling a long time, he could not subdue his passion by his reason, so he came a suppliant to her doors. And having now confessed his ardent passion to her nurse, besought her by the hopes reposed in her by the loved girl, not to give him a cold heart and at another time, with fair words given to each of many servants he besought their kindest interest with an anxious voice. He often gave them coaxing words engraved on tablets of soft wax; and sometimes he would fasten garlands, wet with dew of tears, upon the door-posts; and he often laid his tender side nightlong on the hard threshold, sadly reproaching the obdurate bolt. Deafer than the deep sea that rises high when the rainy Constellation of the Kids is setting; harder than the iron which the fire of Noricum refines; more hard than rock which in its native state is fixed firm rooted; she despised and laughed at him and, adding to her cruel deeds and pride, she boasted and deprived him of all hope.

Iphis, unable to endure such pain prolonged, spoke these, his final words, before her door: ‘Anaxarete, you have conquered me, and you shall have no more annoyances to bear from me. Be joyful and prepare your triumph, and invoke god Paean, crown yourself with shining laurel. You are now my conqueror, and I resigned will die. Woman of iron, rejoice in victory! At least, you will commend me for one thing, one point in which I must please even you, and cause you to confess my right of praise. Remember that my star crossed love for you died only with the last breath of my life. And now in one short moment I shall be deprived a twofold light; and no report will come to you, no messenger of death. But doubt not, I will come to you so that I can be seen in person, and you may then satiate your cruel eyesight with my lifeless body. If, you gods above! You have some knowledge of our mortal ways remember me, for now my tongue can pray no longer. Let me be renowned in times far distant and give all those hours to Fame which you have taken from my life on earth.’ Then to the doorpost which he often had adorned with floral wreaths he lifted up his swimming eyes and both his pallid arms, and, when he had fastened over the capital a rope that held a dangling noose, he said, — ‘Are these the garlands that delight your heart? You cruel and unnatural woman?’ — Then, thrust in his head, turning even then towards her, and hung a hapless weight with broken neck. The door, struck by the motion of his feet as they were quivering, seemed to utter sounds of groaning, and, when it flew open, showed the sad sight. All the servants cried aloud, and after they had tried in vain to save him, carried him from there to his mother’s house, (to her because his father was then dead).