|T h e P i e r i d e
s a n d t h e M u s e s
The contest of the Pierides
The Pierides (bottom left) challenging the Muses (bottom right)
on the banks of the spring Hippocrene (bottom center).
Apollo, Minerva, as the judges (top center), are pointing to
Painted by Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Rosso Fiorentino)
(Click the image for a full screen view)
The Story of the Pierides
The Muse yet spoke; when they
began to hear
A noise of wings that flutter'd in the air;
And strait a voice, from some high-spreading bough,
Seem'd to salute the company below.
The Goddess wonder'd, and inquir'd from whence
That tongue was heard, that spoke so plainly sense
(It seem'd to her a human voice to be,
But prov'd a bird's; for in a shady tree
Nine magpies perch'd lament their alter'd state,
And, what they hear, are skilful to repeat).
The sister to the wondring Goddess said,
These, foil'd by us, by us were thus repaid.
These did Evippe of Paeonia bring
With nine hard labour-pangs to Pella's king.
The foolish virgins of their number proud,
And puff'd with praises of the senseless crowd,
Thro' all Achaia, and th' Aemonian plains
Defy'd us thus, to match their artless strains;
No more, ye Thespian girls, your notes repeat,
Nor with false harmony the vulgar cheat;
In voice or skill, if you with us will vye,
As many we, in voice or skill will try.
Surrender you to us, if we excell,
Fam'd Aganippe, and Medusa's well.
The conquest yours, your prize from us shall be
The Aemathian plains to snowy Paeone;
The nymphs our judges. To dispute the field,
We thought a shame; but greater shame to yield.
On seats of living stone the sisters sit,
And by the rivers swear to judge aright.
Except from "Book the Fifth"
translated by Sir Samuel Garth
Ovid (1 C.E.)
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©1999 Roy George