Beware of Spring Flowers!

Homeric, Hymn to Demeter. 8-21.

The narcissus was Gaia’s trap for the blooming girl,
Zeus’s wish and a favor for Hades, Host of All.
Stunning, shining flower: awe at the sight of it,
for immortal gods and mortal men alike.
From one root one hundred blooms sprang up!
Sweetest fragrance! The whole wide sky above
and all the earth laughed, the briny sea swell too.

The girl was amazed; flung out her hands
to pluck the lovely charm. But earth with its wide ways
ripped open the Nysian plain. Lord Host of All,
son of many-named Cronos, sprang out with deathless steeds.
He snatched the struggling girl, and on his golden car
dragged her off wailing. With piercing voice she cried out,
called to her father, Cronos’s son, the most high and best.

νάρκισσόν θʼ, ὃν φῦσε δόλον καλυκώπιδι κούρῃ
Γαῖα Διὸς βουλῇσι χαριζομένη Πολυδέκτῃ,
θαυμαστὸν γανόωντα· σέβας τό γε πᾶσιν ἰδέσθαι
ἀθανάτοις τε θεοῖς ἠδὲ θνητοῖς ἀνθρώποις·
τοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ ῥίζης ἑκατὸν κάρα ἐξεπεφύκει·
κὦζʼ ἥδιστʼ ὀδμή, πᾶς τʼ οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν
γαῖά τε πᾶσʼ ἐγελάσσε καὶ ἁλμυρὸν οἶδμα θαλάσσης.
ἣ δʼ ἄρα θαμβήσασʼ ὠρέξατο χερσὶν ἅμʼ ἄμφω
καλὸν ἄθυρμα λαβεῖν· χάνε δὲ χθὼν εὐρυάγυια
Νύσιον ἂμ πεδίον, τῇ ὄρουσεν ἄναξ Πολυδέγμων
ἵπποις ἀθανάτοισι, Κρόνου πολυώνυμος υἱός.
ἁρπάξας δʼ ἀέκουσαν ἐπὶ χρυσέοισιν ὄχοισιν
ἦγʼ ὀλοφυρομένην· ἰάχησε δʼ ἄρʼ ὄρθια φωνῇ,
κεκλομένη πατέρα Κρονίδην ὕπατον καὶ ἄριστον.

Color photograph from an urban park. Flowering grasses and flowering trees
In ambiguous light Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Could be mistaken for the Nysian plain.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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