Eumolpus in the Art Gallery
I walked into an art gallery, which had an astonishing range*
of pictures. What I saw there included the handiwork of
Zeuxis, not as yet overcome by the ravages of time, and with
a kind of awe I scrutinized rough drawings by Protogenes
which vied in authenticity with Nature herself. As for the
painting by Apelles* which the Greeks call The Crippled
Goddess, I even bent the knee before it; for the outlines of
his figures were so skilfully clear-cut that you could imagine
that he had painted their souls as well. There was one pic-
ture in which an eagle aloft was bearing away the lad from
Mt. Ida; in another, the fair-skinned Hylas was trying to fend
off a persistent Naiad; a third depicted Apollo* cursing his
guilty hands and adorning his unstrung lyre with a newly
sprung blossom. As I stood surrounded by these portrayals
of lovers' expressions, in a spirit of desolation I cried out:
'So even the gods are pricked by love. Jupiter found no
object for his affection in heaven, and though he visited
earth to sin, he did violence to no one. The Nymph who
took Hylas as her prize would have repressed her feelings
had she believed that Hercules would appear to forbid the
deed. Apollo summoned back the departed shade of his boy
to turn him into a flower. All these stories, and not just the
pictures, have described embraces enjoyed without a rival;
but the person I hospitably befriended has turned out to be
more cruel than Lycurgus.'
As I shared my disputation with the winds, a striking thing
occurred: a grizzled veteran* entered the gallery with a look
of concentration on his face which offered a hint of great-
ness. But his dress did not match his handsome appearance,
which made it perfectly clear that he was a man of letters,
such as the rich love to hate. This was the fellow, then, that
stood alongside me . . .
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Satyricon.
Contributors: Petronius - Author, P. G. Walsh - Translator.
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Place of publication: Oxford.
Publication year: 1997.
Page number: 71.
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