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the mind; for men's ignorance leads them to expect the renovation or restoration of things from their corruption and remains, as the phenix is said to be restored out of its ashes ; which is a very improper procedure, because such kind of materials have finished their course, and are become absolutely unfit to supply the first rudiments of the same things again ; whence, in cases of renovation, recourse should be had to more common principles.
XXII.–NEMESIS, OR THE VICISSITUDE OF
EXPLAINED OE THE REVERSES OF FORTUNE. NEMESIS is represented as a goddess venerated by all, but feared by the powerful and the fortunate. She is said to be the daughter of Nox and Oceanus.
She is drawn with wings, and a crown; a javelin of ash in her right hand ; a glass containing Ethiopians in her left; and riding upon a stag.
EXPLANATION. — The fable receives this explanation. The word Nemesis manifestly signifies revenge, or retribution ; for the office of this goddess consisted in interposing, like the Roman tribunes, with an “ I forbid it,” in all courses of constant and perpetual felicity, so as not only to chastise haughtiness, but also to repay even innocent and moderate happiness with adversity; as if it were decreed, that none of human race should be admitted to the banquet of the gods, but for sport. And, indeed, to read over that chapter of Pliny wherein he has
NEMESIS, OR THE VICISSITUDE OF THINGS. 323
collected the miseries and misfortunes of Augustus Cæsar, whom, of all mankind, one would judge most fortunate, — as he had a certain art of using and enjoying prosperity, with a mind no way tumid, light, effeminate, confused, or melancholic, - one cannot but think this a very great and powerful goddess, who could bring such a victim to her altar.
The parents of this goddess were Oceanus and Nox ; that is, the fluctuating change of things, and the obscure and secret divine decrees. The changes of things are aptly represented by the Ocean, on account of its perpetual ebbing and flowing; and secret providence is justly expressed by Night. Even the heathens have observed this secret Nemesis of the night, or the difference betwixt divine and human judgment.?
Wings are given to Nemesis, because of the sudden and unforeseen changes of things ; for, from the earliest account of time, it has been common for great and prudent men to fall by the dangers they most despised. Thus Cicero, when admonished by Brutus of the infidelity and rancor of Octavius, .coolly wrote back: “I cannot, however, but be obliged to you, Brutus, as I ought, for informing me, though of such a trifle.” 3
Nemesis also has her crown, by reason of the invidious and malignant nature of the vulgar, who generally rejoice, triumph, and crown her, at the fall of the fortunate and the powerful. And for the javelin in her right hand, it has regard to those whom she has actually struck and transfixed. But whoever escapes her stroke, or feels not actual calamity or misfortune, she affrights with a black and dismal sight in her left hand; for doubtless, mortals on the highest pinnacle of felicity have a prospect of death, diseases, calamities, perfidious friends, undermining enemies, reverses of fortune, &c., represented by the Ethiopians in her glass. Thus Virgil, with great elegance, describing the battle of Actium, says of Cleopatra, that, “she did not yet perceive the two asps behind her;" ? but soon after, which way soever she turned, she saw whole troops of Ethiopians still before her.
| As she also brought the author himself.
Qui fuit ex Teucris, et servantissimus æqui:
Diis aliter visum.” — Æneid, lib. ii. 8 Te autem mi Brute sicut debeo, amo, quod istud quicquid est nugarum me scire voluisti.
Lastly, it is significantly added, that Nemesis rides upon a stag, which is a very long-lived creature; for though perhaps some, by an untimely death in youth, may prevent or escape this goddess, yet they who enjoy a long flow of happiness and power, doubtless become subject to her at length, and are brought to yield.
XXIII.-ACHELOUS, OR BATTLE.
EXPLAINED OF WAR BY INVASION. The ancients relate, that Hercules and Achelous being rivals in the courtship of Deianira, the matter was contested by single combat; when Achelous having transformed himself, as he had power to do, into various shapes, by way of trial; at length, in the form of a fierce wild bull, prepares himself for the fight; but Hercules still retains his human
1 “Regina in mediis patrio vocat agmina sistro; Necdum etiam geminos a tergo respicit angues.".
Æneid, viii. 696.
shape, engages sharply with him, and in the issue broke off one of the bull's horns ; and now Achelous, in great pain and fright, to redeem his horn, presents Hercules with the cornucopia.
EXPLANATION. — This fable relates to military expeditions and preparations ; for the preparation of war on the defensive side, here denoted by Achelous, appears in various shapes, whilst the invading side has but one simple form, consisting either in an army, or perhaps a fleet. But the country that expects the invasion is employed infinite ways, in fortifying towns, blockading passes, rivers, and ports, raising soldiers, disposing garrisons, building and breaking down bridges, procuring aids, securing provisions, arms, ammunition, &c. So that there appears a new face of things every day; and at length, when the country is sufficiently fortified and prepared, it represents to the life the form and threats of a fierce fighting bull.
On the other side, the invader presses on to the fight, fearing to be distressed in an enemy's country. And if after the battle he remains master of the field, and has now broke, as it were, the horn of his enemy, the besieged, of course, retire inglorious, affrighted, and dismayed, to their stronghold, there endeavoring to secure themselves, and repair their strength; leaving, at the same time, their country a prey to the conqueror, which is well expressed by the Amalthean horn, or cornucopia.
XXIV.—DIONYSUS, OR BACCHUS.
EXPLAINED OF THE PASSIONS. The fable runs, that Semele, Jupiter's mistress, having bound him by an inviolable oath to grant her an unknown request, desired he would embrace her in the same form and manner he used to embrace Juno; and the promise being irrevocable, she was burnt to death with lightning in the performance. The embryo, however, was sewed up, and carried in Jupiter's thigh till the complete time of its birth ; but the burden thus rendering the father lame, and causing him pain, the child was thence called Dionysus. When born, he was committed, for some years, to be nursed by Proserpina ; and when grown up, appeared with so effeminate a face, that his sex seemed somewhat doubtful. He also died, and was buried for a time, but afterwards revived. When a youth, he first introduced the cultivation and dressing of vines, the method of preparing wine, and taught the use thereof; whence becoming famous, he subued the world, even to the utmost bounds of the Indies. He rode in a chariot drawn by tigers. There danced about him certain deformed demons called Cobali, &c. The Muses also joined in his train. He married Ariadne, who was deserted by Theseus. The ivy was sacred to him. He was also held the inventor and institutor of religious rites and ceremonies, but such as were wild, frantic, and full of corruption and cruelty. He had also the power of striking men with frenzies. Pentheus and Orpheus were torn to pieces by the frantic women