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Ovid - Metamorphoses - The Story of Phaeton 3

Identifier

006624

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

The poem essentially describes uncontrolled spiritual experience - what happens when someone is let loose in the spiritual world who has not been taught how to handle the manoevering etc

The reference to maze in my opinion more closely symbolically applies to the labyrinth, but I have put a cross reference to both.

 

 

A description of the experience

Ovid - The Story of Phaeton

The ground, deep-cleft, admits the dazling ray,
And startles Pluto with the flash of day.
The seas shrink in, and to the sight disclose
Wide naked plains, where once their billows rose;
Their rocks are all discover'd, and increase
The number of the scatter'd Cyclades.
The fish in sholes about the bottom creep,
Nor longer dares the crooked dolphin leap
Gasping for breath, th' unshapen Phocae die,
And on the boiling wave extended lye.
Nereus, and Doris with her virgin train,
Seek out the last recesses of the main;
Beneath unfathomable depths they faint,
And secret in their gloomy caverns pant.
Stern Neptune thrice above the waves upheld
His face, and thrice was by the flames repell'd.

 The Earth at length, on ev'ry side embrac'd
With scalding seas that floated round her waste,
When now she felt the springs and rivers come,
And crowd within the hollow of her womb,
Up-lifted to the Heav'ns her blasted head,
And clapt her hand upon her brows, and said
(But first, impatient of the sultry heat,
Sunk deeper down, and sought a cooler seat):
"If you, great king of Gods, my death approve,
And I deserve it, let me die by Jove;
If I must perish by the force of fire,
Let me transfix'd with thunder-bolts expire.
See, whilst I speak, my breath the vapours choak
(For now her face lay wrapt in clouds of smoak),
See my singe'd hair, behold my faded eye,
And wither'd face, where heaps of cinders lye!
And does the plow for this my body tear?
This the reward for all the fruits I bear,
Tortur'd with rakes, and harrass'd all the year?
That herbs for cattle daily I renew,
And food for Man, and frankincense for you?
But grant me guilty; what has Neptune done?
Why are his waters boiling in the sun?
The wavy empire, which by lot was giv'n,
Why does it waste, and further shrink from Heav'n?
If I nor he your pity can provoke,
See your own Heav'ns, the Heav'ns begin to smoke!
Shou'd once the sparkles catch those bright abodes,
Destruction seizes on the Heav'ns and Gods;
Atlas becomes unequal to his freight,
And almost faints beneath the glowing weight.
If Heav'n, and Earth, and sea, together burn,
All must again into their chaos turn.
Apply some speedy cure, prevent our fate,
And succour Nature, ere it be too late."
She cea'sd, for choak'd with vapours round her spread,
Down to the deepest shades she sunk her head.

 Jove call'd to witness ev'ry Pow'r above,
And ev'n the God, whose son the chariot drove,
That what he acts he is compell'd to do,
Or universal ruin must ensue.
Strait he ascends the high aetherial throne,
From whence he us'd to dart his thunder down,
From whence his show'rs and storms he us'd to pour,
But now cou'd meet with neither storm nor show'r.
Then, aiming at the youth, with lifted hand,
Full at his head he hurl'd the forky brand,
In dreadful thund'rings. Thus th' almighty sire
Suppress'd the raging of the fires with fire.

 At once from life and from the chariot driv'n,
Th' ambitious boy fell thunder-struck from Heav'n.
The horses started with a sudden bound,
And flung the reins and chariot to the ground:
The studded harness from their necks they broke,
Here fell a wheel, and here a silver spoke,
Here were the beam and axle torn away;
And, scatter'd o'er the Earth, the shining fragments lay.

 The breathless Phaeton, with flaming hair,
Shot from the chariot, like a falling star,
That in a summer's ev'ning from the top
Of Heav'n drops down, or seems at least to drop;
'Till on the Po his blasted corps was hurl'd,
Far from his country, in the western world.

Peter Paul Rubens – La Chute de Phaeton

The Latian nymphs came round him, and, amazed,
On the dead youth, transfixed with thunder, gazed;
And, whilst yet smoking from the bolt he lay,
His shattered body to a tomb convey,
And o'er the tomb an epitaph devise:
Here he, who drove the sun's bright chariot, lies;
His father's fiery steeds he could not guide,
But in the glorious enterprise he died."

The source of the experience

Ovid

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

References