Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Boothby: The Thief Robbing the Altar

His lanthorn at Jove's Altar lit,
A Robber, by the light of it,
Pillag'd the shrines; and as away
He bore his sacrilegious prey,
A voice that from the sanctuary call'd,
Thus his ferocity appall'd:
"Though wicked men, whose bribes I hate,
Those offerings gave, not less thy fate,
Thou impious wretch, shall surely be,
To pay with life the penalty.
As now prescrib'd, the hour shall come,
For thy inevitable doom.
And that henceforth the sacred fire,
Lighted devotion to inspire,
May shine for no flagitious deed,
That none shall take it, is decreed."
Hence is the rite, that no one dare
The consecrated fuel share,
Or with unhallow'd flame repair.
The moral that this tale contains,
He who invents it thus explains,
That what we cherish, and suppose
Useful, oft turns to ill; that those
Who God offend, will soon or late
Suffer their retributed fate;
And last, that to the best of things
The vile contamination brings.

Source: Boothby - Phaedrus 4.11.

(image source: Neptume Pool at Hearst Castle)
(not in Mille) Perry513

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