Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A lesson in cross-dressing

Ovid's Fasti contain a host of tales, some rather bawdy. Here's part of the tale (Fasti Book 2) of Faunus, who spied Omphale walking with Hercules and was wounded by love.
By chance Tirynthian Hercules was walking with Omphale,
His mistress, and Faunus saw them from a high ridge.
He saw and burned. ‘Mountain spirits,’ he said,
‘No more of your company: she will be my passion.’
It was midnight. What will unruly love not dare?
Faunus came through the dark to the dewy cave,
And seeing the servants lost in drunken slumber,
Had hopes of their master also being fast asleep.
Entering, as a reckless lover, he roamed around,
Following his cautious outstretched hands.
He reached the couches spread as beds, by touch,
And this first omen of the future was bright.
When he felt the bristling tawny lion-skin,
However, he drew back his hand in terror,
And recoiled, frozen with fear, as a traveller, troubled,
Will draw back his foot on seeing a snake.
Then he touched the soft coverings of the next couch,
And its deceptive feel misled him.
He climbed in, and reclined on the bed’s near side,
And his swollen cock was harder than horn.
But pulling up the lower hem of the tunic,
The legs there were bristling with thick coarse hair.
The Tirynthian hero fiercely repelled another attempt,
And down fell Faunus from the heights of the couch.
At the noise, Omphale called for her servants, and light:
Torches appeared, and events became clear.
Faunus groaned from his heavy fall from the high couch,
And could barely lift his limbs from the hard ground.
Hercules laughed, as did all who saw him lying there,
And the Lydian girl laughed too, at her lover.

 Tintoretto: Hercules expels Faunus from Omphale's bed

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