Deucalion & Pyrrha

… Sed quid temptare nocebit?
Discedunt velantque caput tunicasque recingunt
et iussos lapides sua post vestigia mittunt.
Saxa (quis hoc credat, nisi sit pro teste vetustas?)
ponere duritiem coepere suumque rigorem
mollirique mora mollitaque ducere formam.
Mox ubi creverunt naturaque mitior illis
contigit, ut quaedam, sic non manifesta, videri
forma potest hominis, sed, uti de marmore coepta,
non exacta satis rudibusque simillima signis.
Quae tamen ex illis aliquo pars umida suco
et terrena fuit, versa est in corporis usum;
quod solidum est flectique nequit, mutatur in ossa;
quae modo vena fuit, sub eodem nomine mansit;
inque brevi spatio superorum numine saxa
missa viri manibus faciem traxere virorum,
et de femineo reparata est femina iactu.
Inde genus durum sumus experiensque laborum
et documenta damus qua simus origine nati.

But what is wrong in trying? They set out;
they veil their heads, they both ungird their clothes;
and they throw stones behind them as they go.
And yes (if those of old did not attest
the tale I tell you now, who could accept
its truth?), the stones began to lose their hardness;
they softened slowly and, in softening,
changed form. Their mass grew greater and their nature
more tender; one could see the dim beginning
of human forms, still rough and inexact,
the kind of likeness that a statue has
when one has just begun to block the marble.
Those parts that bore some moisture from the earth
became the flesh; whereas the solid parts –
whatever could not bend – became the bones.
What had been veins remained, with the same name.
And since the gods had willed it so, quite soon
the stones the man had thrown were changed to men,
and those the woman cast took women’s forms.
From this, our race is tough, tenacious; we
work hard – proof of our stony ancestry.

The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Book 1
Latin (Hugo Magnus, 1892) from Perseus

trans. by Allen Mandelbaum (Harcourt, 1993), p. 19


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