Byblis was beside herself


Troubled thoughts perplexed her… ‘What will become of me? Away, perverted passion! Let me love my brother with a proper sister’s love! Yet if his love had first been fired by me, maybe his madness would have found me willing. Well then, if I were willing had he wooed, I’ll woo myself. Can I speak out? Can I confess? Love will compel me! Yes, I can. Or if shame locks my lips, then I’ll reveal by private letter love my lips conceal.’… Poor girl, she passed any bounds, kept offering herself to his rebuffs, and soon, no end in sight, her brother fled, fled from his country and the scene of shame to found a city in a foreign land. Then Byblis was beside herself with grief. She beat herself in frenzy and down the tunic from her breast. Now she raved with no attempt to hide her hope of lawless love, and in despair forsook the home she hated and her father- land to trace her brother, find that fugitive …

“She was turned to a fountain, which in those same vallyes beares”

Byblis ran howling through the countryside, watched by the wives of Bubasis, then on through Caria and Lycia she roamed, among the warrior Leleges, and now Cragus was far behind her and the streams of Limyre and Xanthos… The forest failed; on the hard ground she fell, exhausted by her quest, and lay face down, with tumbled hair, among the fallen leaves. Often the Nymphae Lelegeides [of the Leleges] tried to cradle her in their soft arms and often sought to salve the fever of her love, and comforted with soothing words her heart that heard no more. She lay in silence, clutching the small sedge, and water- ing the greensward with her tears. And these, men say, the Naides made a rill, for ever flowing – what could they give more? At fist, as resin drips from damaged bark, or asphalt oozes from the earth’s dark womb, or, When the west wind breathes its balm, the sun unlocks the water that the frost has bound, so, wasting by her weeping any away, Byblis became a spring. Still in that dale it keeps its mistress’ name, still mournfully trickles below the tall dark ilex tree.”

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