Jones, Sir William - Caissa
Type of Spiritual Experience
In 1763, at the age of 17, Jones wrote the poem Caissa in Latin hexameters, based on a 658-line poem called "Scacchia, Ludus" published in 1527 by Marco Girolamo Vida, giving a mythical origin of chess that has become well known in the chess world. He also published an English-language version of the poem.
In the poem the nymph Caissa initially repels the advances of Mars, the god of war. Spurned, Mars seeks the aid of the god of sport, who creates the game of chess as a gift for Mars to win Caissa's favour. Mars wins her over with the game.
Caissa has been since been characterised as the "goddess" of chess, her name being used in several contexts in modern chess playing.
A description of the experience
The Game at Chess; a Poem.
(written in the year 1763, by Sir William Jones)
Of armies on the chequer'd field array'd,
And guiltless war in pleasing form display'd;
When two bold kings contend with vain alarms,
In ivory this, and that in ebon arms;
Sing, sportive maids, that haunt the sacred hill
Of Pindus, and the fam'd Pierian rill.
Thou, joy of all below, and all above,
Mild Venus, queen of laughter, queen of love;
Leave thy bright island, where on many a rose
And many a pink thy blooming train repose:
Assist me, goddess! since a lovely pair
Command my song, like thee devinely fair.