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CIRCE STANDING ON SCYLLA SPILLING POISON

"Circe Invidiosa" (see details) (see related A | B | C | D), 1892 John William Waterhouse (1849–1917) Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

This painting shows a scene with many elements mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses. A jealous Circe spills a magic potion into a bay where Scilla, a maiden, was transformed into a fierce sea monster.

Scylla sauntered naked …
Made for a little land-locked cove …
in its sheltered waves enjoyed a cooling bathe,
Suddenly, … Glaucus appeared …
he stopped, his heart transfixed, then spoke to her, …
But Scylla fled (her terror gave her speed)
I am no monster nor a savage beast
I am a sea-god.
Yet I was once a mortal …
I picked some stalks and chewed …
the juice, the unknown juice
“ad hardly passed my throat when suddenly
I felt my heart-strings tremble and soul consumed
with yearning for that other world …
land never more my home …
The sea-gods welcomed me to join
but Scylla fled …
he searched in fury
for the magic halls of Circe
Goddess, he said
have pity on a god.
I beg of you …
(render Scylla to love me as I love her)
See, I, the daughter of the shining Sun,
A goddess who possess the magic powers
of spell and herb
I, Circe, pray that
I be yours
spurn her (Scylla) who spurns you
welcome one who wants you
by one act requite us both!
Scylla said …
sooner shall green leaves grow the sea
or seaweed on the hills
than I shall change my love while Scylla lives …
Rage filled the goddess’ heart  
she had no power nor wish to wound him
for she loved him well
so turned her anger on the girl he chose …
she ground together her ill-famed herb …
then in a robe of deepest blue went forth …
Out of her palace through the fawning throng of beasts
over the raging waves
she passed as if she stepped on solid ground … 
there was a little bay 
a place of peace where Scylla loved to laze …
against her coming Circe had defiled
this quiet bay with her deforming drugs …
Scylla came and waded in waist deep  
when round her loins she saw
foul monstrous barking beasts  …
looking at her thighs
her legs, her feet found gaping jaws …
Glaucus, her lover  wept and
fled the embrace of Circe …
who had used too cruelly
the power  of her magic  … 

Extract from Ovid's Metamorphoses  translated by A. D. Melville
Book Xiii - Scylla and Glaucus  

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