Circa primam ferme noctis vigiliam , experrectus pavore subito , video praemicantis lunae candore nimio completum orbem commodum marinis emergentem fluctibus , nanctusque opacae noctis silentiosa secreta , certus etiam summatem deam praecipua maiestate pollere resque prorsus humanas ipsius regi providentia , nec tantum pecuina et ferina , verum inanima etiam divino eius luminis numinisque nutu vegetari , ipsa etiam corpora terra caelo marique nunc incrementis consequenter augeri , nunc detrimentis obsequenter imminui , fato scilicet iam meis tot tantisque cladibus satiato et spem salutis , licet tardam , subministrante , augustum specimen deae praesentis statui deprecari , confestimque discussa pigra quiete alacer exsurgo meque protinus purificandi studio marino lavacro trado , septiesque submerso fluctibus capite , quod eum numerum praecipue religionibus aptissimum divinus ille Pythagoras prodidit , laetus et alacer deam praepotentem lacrimoso vultu sic apprecabar :
Regina caeli , sive tu Ceres alma frugum parens originalis , quae , repertu laetata filiae , vetustae glandis ferino remoto pabulo , miti commonstrato cibo , nunc Eleusiniam glebam percolis ; seu tu caelestis Venus , quae primis rerum exordiis sexuum diversitatem generato amore sociasti et aeterna subole humano genere propagato nunc circumfluo Paphi sacrario coleris ; seu Phoebi soror , quae partu fetarum medelis lenientibus recreato populos tantos educasti praeclarisque nunc veneraris delubris Ephesi ; seu nocturnis ululatibus horrenda Proserpina triformi facie larvales impetus comprimens terraeque claustra cohibens , lucos diversos inerrans vario cultu propitiaris : ista luce feminea collustrans cuncta moenia et udis ignibus nutriens laeta semina et solis ambagibus dispensans incerta lumina—quoquo nomine , quoquo ritu , quaqua facie te fas est invocare : tu meis iam nunc extremis aerumnis subsiste , tu fortunam collapsam affirma , tu saevis exanclatis casibus pausam pacemque tribue ; sit satis laborum , sit satis periculorum . Depelle quadripedis diram faciem , redde me conspectui meorum , redde me meo Lucio : ae si quod offensum numen inexorabili me saevitia premit , mori saltem liceat , si non licet vivere .
Ad istum modum fusis precibus et adstructis miseris lamentationibus , rursus mihi marcentem animum in eodem illo cubili sopor circumfusus oppressit . Necdum satis conniveram , et ecce pelago medio venerandos diis etiam vultus attollens emergit divina facies : ae dehinc paulatim toto corpore pellucidum simulacrum excusso pelago ante me constitisse visum est . Eius mirandam speciem ad vos etiam referre conitar , si tamen mihi disserendi tribuerit facultatem paupertas oris humani , vel ipsum numen eius dapsilem copiam elocutilis facundiae subministraverit . Iam primum crines uberrimi prolixique et sensim intorti per divina colla passive dispersi molliter defluebant . Corona multiformis variis floribus sublimem destrinxerat verticem , cuius media quidem super frontem plana rotunditas in modum speculi vel immo argumentum lunae candidum lumen emicabat , dextra laevaque sulcis insurgentium viperarum cohibita , spicis etiam Cerialibus desuper porrectis Vestis multicolor bysso tenui pertexta , nunc albo candore lucida , nune croceo flore lutea , nune roseo rubore flammida , et , quae longe longeque etiam meum confutabat obtutum , palla nigerrima splendescens atro nitore , quae circumcirca remeans et sub dexterum latus ad numerum laevum recurrens umbonis vicem deiecta parte laciniae multiplici contabulatione dependula ad ultimas oras nodulis fimbriarum decoriter confluctuabat .
Per intextam extremitatem et in ipsa eius planitie stellae dispersae coruscabant , earumque media semenstris luna flammeos spirabat ignes : quaqua tamen insignis illius pallae perfluebat ambitus , individuo nexu corona totis floribus totisque constructa pomis adhaerebat . Iam gestamina longe diversa : nam dextra quidem ferebat aereum crepitaculum , cuius per angustam laminam in modum baltei recurvatam traiectae mediae paucae virgulae , crispante brachio trigeminos iactus , reddebant argutum sonorem ; laevae vero cymbium dependebat aureum , cuius ansulae , qua parte conspicua est , insurgebat aspis caput extollens arduum , cervicibus late tumescentibus . Pedes ambroseos tegebant soleae palmae victricis foliis intextae . Talis ac tanta , spirans Arabiae felicia germina , divina me voce dignata est :
En adsum tuis commota , Luci , precibus , rerum naturae parens , elementorum omnium domina , saeculorum progenies initialis , summa numinum , regina manium , prima caelitum , deorum dearumque facies uniformis , quae caeli luminosa culmina , maris salubria flamina , inferum deplorata silentia nutibus meis dispenso : cuius numen unicum multiformi specie , ritu vario , nomine multiiugo totus veneratur orbis . Inde primigenii Phryges Pessinuntiam deum Matrem , hinc autochthones Attici Cecropeiam Minervam , illinc fluctuantes Cyprii Paphiam Venerem , Cretes sagittiferi Dictynnam Dianam , Siculi trilingues Stygiam Proserpinam , Eleusini vetustam deam Cererem , Iunonem alii , Bellonam alii , Hecatam isti , Rhamnusiam illi , et qui nascentis dei solis inchoantibus illustrantur radiis Aethiopes utrique priscaque doctrina pollentes Aegyptii , caerimoniis me propriis percolentes , appellant vero nomine reginam Isidem . Adsum tuos miserata casus , adsum favens et propitia . Mitte iam fletus et lamentationes omitte , depelle maerorem : iam tibi providentia mea illucescit dies salutaris . Ergo igitur imperiis istis meis animum intende sollicitum . Diem , qui dies ex ista nocte nascetur , aeterna mihi nuncupavit religio , quo , sedatis hibernis tempestatibus et lenitis maris procellosis fluctibus , navigabili iam pelago rudem dedicantes carinam primitias commeatus libant» mei sacerdotes : id sacrum nec sollicita nec profana !
mente debebis opperiri . Nam meo monitu sacerdos in ipso procinctu pompae roseam manu dextera sistro cohaerentem gestabit coronam . Incunctanter ergo dimotis turbulis alacer continuare pompam , mea volentia fretus , et de proxumo clementer velut manum sacerdotis osculabundus rosis decerptis pessimae mihique destabilis iamdudum beluae istius corio te protinus exue . Nec quicquam rerum mearum reformides ut arduum : nam hoc eodem momento quo tibi venio , simul et ibi praesens quae sunt sequentia sacerdoti meo per quietem facienda praecipio . Meo iussu tibi constricti comitatus decedent populi ; nec inter hilares caerimonias et festiva spectacula quisquam deformem istam quam geris faciem perhorrescet , vel figuram tuam repente mutatam sequius interpretatus aliquis maligne criminabitur . Plane memineris et penita mente conditum semper tenebis mihi reliqua vitae tuae curricula ad usque terminos ultimi spiritus vadata ; nec iniurium , cuius beneficio rediens ad homines , ei totum debere quod vives . Vives autem beatus , vives in mea tutela gloriosus ; et cum spatium saeculi tui permensus ad inferos demearis , ibi quoque in ipso subterraneo semirotundo me , quam vides Acherontis tenebris interlucentem Stygiisque penetralibus regnantem , campos Elysios incolens ipse , tibi propitiam frequens adorabis . Quod si sedulis obsequiis et religiosis ministeriis et tenacibus castimoniis numeri nostrum promerueris , scies ultra statuta fato tum spatia vitam quoque tibi prorogare mihi tantum licere .
A few hours later I woke in sudden terror and saw the moon’s orb at the full , shining with dazzling brilliance , emerging from the sea . I knew that cloaked in the silent mysteries of nocturnal darkness , the supreme Goddess exercises her greatest power ; her guidance governs human affairs ; not only cattle and wild creatures but even lifeless things being quickened by her power and her light’s divine favour ; all individual bodies on land , in sea or air , waxing with her as she waxes , and waning in obedience to her waning . Now fate seemed sated with the magnitude and frequency of my sufferings , and offered me hope , though late , of deliverance , and I determined on praying to the powerful image of the Goddess before me . I swiftly shook off sluggish sleep and rose happy and eager . Wishing to purge myself I ran at once to the sea to bathe , plunging my head seven times under the waves since divine Pythagoras declared that number especially fitting for religious rites . Then , my face wet with tears , I prayed to the Great Goddess :
‘Queen of Heaven , whether you are known as bountiful Ceres , the
primal harvest mother , who , delighted at finding your daughter Proserpine again , abolished our primitive woodland diet , showed us sweet nourishment , and now dwell at Eleusis ; or heavenly Venus , who at the founding of the world joined the sexes by creating Love , propagating the human race in endless generation , and worshipped now in the sea-girt sanctuary of Paphos ; or Diana , Apollo’s sister , you who relieve the pangs of countless childbirths with your soothing remedies , venerated now at Ephesus ; or dread Proserpine herself , she of the night-cries , who triple-faced combats the assault of spirits shutting them from earth above , who wanders the many sacred groves , propitiated by a host of rites ; oh , light of woman , illuminating every city , nourishing the glad seed with your misty radiance , shedding that light whose power varies with the passage of the
sun ; in whatever aspect , by whatever name , with whatever ceremony we should invoke you , have mercy on me in the depths of my distress , grant good fortune , give me peace and rest after cruel tribulation . Let the toil , the dangers I’ve endured suffice . Rid me of this foul four-footed form , restore me to the sight of my own people ; make me the Lucius I once was . Or if I may not live , if I have offended some deity who hounds me with inexorable savagery , grant me the gift of death . ’
When I had poured out my prayers , ending them in pitiful
lamentation , my fainting spirit sank back , once more engulfed in sleep . I had scarcely closed my eyes when a divine apparition appeared , rising from the depths of the sea , her face worthy to be adored by the gods themselves . Slowly she rose , till her whole body was in view , shaking her self free of the brine to stand before me , a radiant vision . If the poverty of human speech allows me , if the goddess herself grants me a wealth of verbal inspiration , I shall try to describe her marvellous beauty to you .
Firstly her long thick hair in tapering ringlets was loosely spread
over her divine neck and shoulders , and her head was crowned with a
complex garland of interwoven flowers of every kind . At the centre , over her brow , a flat disc like a mirror or rather a moon-symbol shone with brilliant light . Coiled vipers reared from the right and left of her coronet which was bristling with erect ears of corn . Her multi-coloured robe was of finest linen , gleaming here pure white , here a saffron yellow , there flaming rose-red , with a woven border flowing with flowers and fruit , and what dazzled me most of all was her jet-black cloak with its full sheen , wrapped gleaming about her , slung from the left shoulder , knotted at the breast , and sweeping over her right hip . It hung in sweetly undulating complex folds down to a tasselled fringe , and along its borders and over its surface fell a
scatter of glittering stars , round a full moon at the centre breathing fiery rays . And she bore a host of emblems .
In her right hand she held the sistrum , a strip of bronze curved in a
loop , with small rods across its width that made a tinkling noise as her forearm shook to a triple beat . From her left hand hung a boat-shaped vessel of gold , an asp with tumescent neck rearing to strike from the outer point of its handle . Her ambrosial feet wore slippers woven from palmleaves , emblems of victory . And in such guise , exuding all the sweet scents of Arabia , she deigned to address me with celestial voice :
‘Behold , Lucius , here I am , moved by your prayer , I , mother of all Nature and mistress of the elements , first-born of the ages and greatest of powers divine , queen of the dead , and queen of the immortals , all gods and goddesses in a single form ; who with a gesture commands heaven’s glittering summit , the wholesome ocean breezes , the underworld’s mournful silence ; whose sole divinity is worshipped in differing forms , with varying rites , under many names , by all the world . There , at Pessinus , the Phrygians , first-born of men , call me Cybele , Mother of the Gods ; in Attica , a people sprung from their own soil name me Cecropian Minerva ; in sea-girt Cyprus I am Paphian Venus ; Dictynna-Diana to the Cretan archers ; Stygian Proserpine to the three-tongued Sicilians ; at Eleusis , ancient Ceres ; Juno to some , to others Bellona , Hecate , Rhamnusia ; while the races of both Ethiopias , first to be lit at dawn by the risen Sun’s divine
rays , and the Egyptians too , deep in arcane lore , worship me with my own rites , and call me by my true name , royal Isis . I am here in pity for your misfortunes , I am here as friend and helper . Weep no more , end your lamentations . Banish sorrow . With my aid , your day of salvation is at hand . So listen carefully to my commands .
From time immemorial the day born of this night has been dedicated
to my rites : on this coming day the winter storms cease , the ocean’s stormy waves grow calm , and my priests launch an untried vessel on the now navigable waters , and dedicate it to me as the first offering of the trading season . You must await this ceremony with a mind neither anxious nor irreverent . The high-priest , at my command , will carry in procession a garland of roses fastened to the sistrum in his hand . Don’t hesitate to join the crowd and , trusting in my protection , push your way towards the priest , then as if you wished to kiss his hand pluck gently at the roses with your mouth , and so at once throw off that wretched form of the most detestable of creatures .
And have faith in my power to oversee the execution of my orders ,
for at this very moment when I am here with you I am with my priest too telling him , in dream , what he must do . When I wish , the heaving crowd will part before you , and amidst the joyous rites and wild festivity no one will shrink from your unseemly shape , nor treat your sudden change of form as sinister and level charges at you out of spite .
Remember one thing clearly though , and keep it locked deep within
your heart : the life that is left to you , to the final sigh of your last breath , is pledged to me . It is right that all your days be devoted to she whose grace returns you to the world of men . Under my wing , you will live in happiness and honour , and when your span of life is complete and you descend to the shades , even there , in the sphere beneath the earth , you will see me , who am now before you , gleaming amidst the darkness of Acheron , queen of the Stygian depths ; and dwelling yourself in the Elysian fields , you will endlessly adore me and I will favour you . Know too that if by sedulous obedience , dutiful service , and perfect chastity you are worthy of my divine grace , I and I alone can extend your life beyond the limits set by fate . ’
When midnight came that I had slept my first sleepe , I awaked with suddaine feare , and saw the Moone shining bright , as when shee is at the full , and seeming as though she leaped out of the Sea . Then thought I with my selfe , that was the most secret time , when the goddesse Ceres had most puissance and force , considering that all humane things be governed by her providence : and not onely all beasts private and tame , but also all wild and savage beasts be under her protection . And considering that all bodies in the heavens , the earth and the seas , be by her increasing motions increased , and by her diminishing motions diminished : as weary of all my cruell fortune and calamity , I found good hope and soveraigne remedy , though it were very late , to be delivered from all my misery , by invocation and prayer , to the excellent beauty of the Goddesse , whom I saw shining before mine eyes , wherefore shaking off mine Assie and drowsie sleepe , I arose with a joyfull face , and mooved by a great affection to purifie my selfe , I plunged my selfe seven times into the water of the Sea , which number of seven is conveniable and agreeable to holy and divine things , as the worthy and sage Philosopher Pythagoras hath declared . Then with a weeping countenance , I made this Orison to the puissant Goddesse , saying : O blessed Queene of heaven , whether thou be the Dame Ceres which art the originall and motherly nource of all fruitfull things in earth , who after the finding of thy daughter Proserpina , through the great joy which thou diddest presently conceive , madest barraine and unfruitfull ground to be plowed and sowne , and now thou inhabitest in the land of Eleusie ; or whether thou be the celestiall Venus , who in the beginning of the world diddest couple together all kind of things with an ingendered love , by an eternall propagation of humane kind , art now worshipped within the Temples of the Ile Paphos , thou which art the sister of the God Phoebus , who nourishest so many people by the generation of beasts , and art now adored at the sacred places of Ephesus , thou which art horrible Proserpina , by reason of the deadly howlings which thou yeeldest , that hast power to stoppe and put away the invasion of the hags and Ghoasts which appeare unto men , and to keepe them downe in the closures of the earth : thou which art worshipped in divers manners , and doest illuminate all the borders of the earth by thy feminine shape , thou which nourishest all the fruits of the world by thy vigor and force ; with whatsoever name or fashion it is lawfull to call upon thee , I pray thee , to end my great travaile and misery , and deliver mee from the wretched fortune , which had so long time pursued me . Grant peace and rest if it please thee to my adversities , for I have endured too much labour and perill . Remoove from me my shape of mine Asse , and render to me my pristine estate , and if I have offended in any point of divine Majesty , let me rather dye then live , for I am full weary of my life . When I had ended this orison , and discovered my plaints to the Goddesse , I fortuned to fall asleepe , and by and by appeared unto me a divine and venerable face , worshipped even of the Gods themselves . Then by little and little I seemed to see the whole figure of her body , mounting out of the sea and standing before mee , wherefore I purpose to describe her divine semblance , if the poverty of my humane speech will suffer me , or her divine power give me eloquence thereto . First shee had a great abundance of haire , dispersed and scattered about her neck , on the crowne of her head she bare many garlands enterlaced with floures , in the middle of her forehead was a compasse in fashion of a glasse , or resembling the light of the Moone , in one of her hands she bare serpents , in the other , blades of corne , her vestiment was of fine silke yeelding divers colours , sometime yellow , sometime rosie , sometime flamy , and sometime ( which troubled my spirit sore ) darke and obscure , covered with a blacke robe in manner of a shield , and pleated in most subtill fashion at the skirts of her garments , the welts appeared comely , whereas here and there the starres glimpsed , and in the middle of them was placed the Moone , which shone like a flame of fire , round about the robe was a coronet or garland made with flowers and fruits . In her right hand shee had a timbrell of brasse , which gave a pleasant sound , in her left hand shee bare a cup of gold , out of the mouth whereof the serpent Aspis lifted up his head , with a swelling throat , her odoriferous feete were covered with shoes interlaced and wrought with victorious palme . Thus the divine shape breathing out the pleasant spice of fertill Arabia , disdained not with her divine voyce to utter these words unto me : Behold Lucius I am come , thy weeping and prayers hath mooved mee to succour thee . I am she that is the naturall mother of all things , mistresse and governesse of all the Elements , the initiall progeny of worlds , chiefe of powers divine , Queene of heaven ! the principall of the Gods celestiall , the light of the goddesses : at my will the planets of the ayre , the wholesome winds of the Seas , and the silences of hell be diposed ; my name , my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners , in variable customes and in many names , for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods : the Athenians , Minerva : the Cyprians , Venus : the Candians , Diana : the Sicilians Proserpina : the Eleusians , Ceres : some Juno , other Bellona , other Hecate : and principally the Aethiopians which dwell in the Orient , and the Aegyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine , and by their proper ceremonies accustome to worship mee , doe call mee Queene Isis . Behold I am come to take pitty of thy fortune and tribulation , behold I am present to favour and ayd thee , leave off thy weeping and lamentation , put away all thy sorrow , for behold the healthfull day which is ordained by my providence , therefore be ready to attend to my commandement . This day which shall come after this night , is dedicated to my service , by an eternall religion , my Priests and Ministers doe accustome after the tempests of the Sea , be ceased , to offer in my name a new ship as a first fruit of my Navigation . I command thee not to prophane or despise the sacrifice in any wise , for the great Priest shall carry this day following in procession by my exhortation , a Garland of Roses , next the timbrell of his right hand : follow thou my procession amongst the people , and when thou commest to the Priest make as though thou wouldest kisse his hand , but snatch at the Roses , whereby I will put away the skin and shape of an Asse , which kind of beast I have long time abhorred and despised , but above all things beware thou doubt not nor feare any of those things , as hard and difficill to bee brought to passe , for in the same houre that I am come to thee , I have commanded the Priest by a vision what he shall doe , and all the people by my commandement shall be compelled to give thee place and say nothing ! Moreover , thinke not that amongst so faire and joyfull Ceremonies , and in so good a company that any person shall abhorre thy ill-favoured and deformed figure , or that any man shall be so hardy , as to blame and reprove thy suddaine restoration to humane shape , wherby they should gather or conceive any sinister opinion : and know thou this of certaine , that the residue of thy life untill the houre of death shall be bound and subject to me ! And think it not an injury to be alwayes serviceable towards me , since as by my meane and benefit thou shalt become a man : thou shalt live blessed in this world , thou shalt live glorious by my guide and protection , and when thou descendest to Hell , where thou shalt see me shine in that subterene place , shining ( as thou seest me now ) in the darkness of Acheron , and raigning in the deepe profundity of Stix , thou shalt worship me , as one that hath bin favourable to thee , and if I perceive that thou art obedient to my commandement , addict to my religion , and merite my divine grace , know thou , that I will prolong thy dales above the time that the fates have appointed , and the celestial Planets ordeined .