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Jupiter and the Thunderbolts

(Recueil 2, Livre 8, Fable 20)



Said Jupiter, one day,

As on a cloud he lay,

"Observing all our crimes,

Come, let us change the times,

By leasing out anew

A world whose wicked crew

Have wearied out our grace,

And cursed us to our face.

Hie hellward, Mercury;

A Fury bring to me,

The direst of the three.

Race nursed too tenderly,

This day your doom shall be!"

Even while he spoke their fate,

His wrath began to moderate.

O kings, with whom His will

Has lodged our good and ill,

Your wrath and storm between

One night should intervene!

The god of rapid wing,

And lip unfaltering,

To sunless regions sped,

And met the sisters dread.

To grim Tisiphone,

And pale Megaera, he

Preferred, as murderess,

Alecto, pitiless.

This choice so roused the fiend,

By Pluto's beard she swore

The human race no more

Should be by handfuls gleaned,

But in one solid mass

The infernal gates should pass.

But Jove, displeased with both

The Fury and her oath,

Despatched her back to hell.

And then a bolt he hurled,

Down on a faithless world,

Which in a desert fell.

Aimed by a father's arm,

It caused more fear than harm.

(All fathers strike aside.)

What did from this betide?

Our evil race grew bold,

Resumed their wicked tricks,

Increased them manifold,

Till, all Olympus through,

Indignant murmurs flew.

When, swearing by the Styx,

The sire that rules the air

Storms promised to prepare

More terrible and dark,

Which should not miss their mark.

"A father's wrath it is!"

The other deities

All in one voice exclaimed;

"And, might the thing be named,

Some other god would make

Bolts better for our sake."

This Vulcan undertook.

His rumbling forges shook,

And glowed with fervent heat,

While Cyclops blew and beat.

Forth, from the plastic flame

Two sorts of bolts there came.

Of these, one misses not:

It's by Olympus shot,

That is, the gods at large.

The other, bearing wide,

Hits mountain top or side,

Or makes a cloud its targe.

And this it is alone

Which leaves the father's throne.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 8, Fable 20



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