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No. 233. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1711.
-Tanquam hæc sint nostri medicina furoris,
VIRG. Ecl. X. v. 60.
I shall in this paper discharge myself of the promise I have made to the public, by obliging them with a translation of the little Greek manuscript, which is said to have been a piece of those records that were preserved in the temple of Apollo, upon the promontory of Leucate. It is a short history of the Lover's Leap, and is inscribed, An account of persons, male and female, who offered up their vows in the temple of the Pythian Apollo in the forty-sixth Olympiad, and leaped from the promontory of Leucate into the lonian Sea, in order to cure themselves of the passion of love.
This account is very dry in many parts, as only mentioning the name of the lover who leaped, the person he leaped for, and relating in short, that he was either cured, or killed, or maimed by the fall. It indeed gives the names of so many who died by it, that it would have looked like a bill of mortality, had I translated it at full length; I have therefore made an abridgment of it, and only extracted such particular passages as have something extraordinary, either in the case or in the cure, or in the fate of the person who is mentioned in it. After this short preface take the account as follows:
Battus, the son of Menalcas the Sicilian, leaped for Bombyca the musician: got rid of his passion
with the loss of his right leg and arm, which were broken in the fall.
Melissa, in love with Daphnis, very much bruised, but escaped with life.
Cynisca, the wife of Æschines, being in love with Lycus; and Æschines her husband being in love with Eurilla ; (which had made this married couple very uneasy to one another for several years) both the husband and the wife took the leap by consent; they both of them escaped, and have lived very happily together ever since.
Larissa, a virgin of Thessaly, deserted by Plexippus, after a courtship of three years; she stood upon the brow of the promontory for some time, and after having thrown down a ring, a bracelet, and a little picture, with other presents which she had received from Plexippus, she threw herself into the sea, and was taken up alive. N. B. Larissa, before she leaped, made an offer
ing of a silver Cupid in the temple of Apollo. Simætha, in love with Daphnis the Myndian, perished in the fall.
Charixus, the brother of Sappho, in love with Rhodope the courtesan, having spent his whole estate upon her, was advised by his sister to leap in the beginning of his amour, but would not hearken to her until he was reduced to his last talent; being forsaken by Rhodope, at length resolved to take the leap. Perished in it.
Aridæus, a beautiful youth of Epirus in love with Praxinoe, the wife of Thespis; escaped without damage, saving only that two of his foreteeth were struck out and his nose a little flatted.
Clcora, a widow of Ephesus, being inconsolable for the death of her husband, was resolved to take this leap in order to get rid of her passion for his memory; but being arrived at the promon
tory, she there met with Dimmachus the Milesian, and after a short conversation with him, laid aside the thoughts of her leap, and married him in the temple of Apollo. N. B. Her widow's weeds are still seen hanging
up in the western corner of the temple. Olphis, the fisherman having received a box on the ear from Thestylis the day before, and being determined to have no more to do with her, leaped, and escaped with life.
Atalanta, an old maid, whose cruelty had several years before driven two or three despairing lovers to this leap; being now in the fifty-fifth year of her age, and in love with an officer of Sparta, broke her neck in the fall.
Hipparchus, being passionately fond of his own wife, who was enamoured of Bathyllus, leaped, and died of his fall: upon which his wife married her gallant.
Tettyx, the dancing-master, in love with Olympia, an Athenian matron, threw himself from the rock with great agility, but was crippled in the fall.
Diagoras, the usurer, in love with his cook maid; he peeped several times over the precipice, but his heart misgiving him, he went back, and married her that evening:
Cinædus, after having entered his own name in the Pythian records, being asked the name of the person whom he leaped for, and being ashamed to discover it, he was set aside and not suffered to leap.
Èunica, a maid of Paphos, aged nineteen, in love with Eurybates. Hurt in the fall, but recovered. N. B. This was the second time of her leap
Hesperus, a young man of Tarentum, in love with his master's daughter. Drowned, the boats nat coming in soon enough to his relief.
Sappho the Lesbian, in love with Phaon, arrived at the temple of Apollo habited like a bride, in garments as white as snow. She wore a garland of myrtle on her head, and carried in her hand the little musical instrument of her own invention. After having sung an hymn to Apollo, she hung up her garland on one side of his altar, and her harp on the other. She then tucked up her vestments like a Spartan virgin, and amidst thousands of spectators, who were anxious for her safety, and offered up vows for her deliverance, marched directly forwards to the utmost summit of the promontory, where, after having repeated a stanza of her own verses, which we could not hear, she threw herself off the rock with such an intrepidity as was never before observed in any who had attempted that dangerous leap. Many who were present related, that they saw her fall into the sea, from whence she never rose again; though there were others who affirmed that she never came to the bottom of her leap, but that she was changed into a swan as she fell, and that they saw her hovering in the air under that shape. But whether or no the whiteness and fluttering of her garments might not deceive ose who looked upon her, or whether she might not really be metamorphosed into that musical and melancholy bird, is still a doubt among the Lesbians.
Alcæus, the famous lyric poet, who had for some time been passionately in love with Sappho, arrived at the promontory of Leucate that very evening, in order to take the leap upon her account; but hearing that Sappho had been there before him, and that her body could be no where
found, he very generously lamented her fall, and is said to have written his hund red and twentyfifth ode upon that occasion.
Vellein in amicitiâ sic erraremus.
Hor. 1 Sat. iii. 41.
You very often hear people, after a story has been told with some entertaining circumstances, tell it over again with particulars that destroy the jest, but give light into the truth of the narration. This sort of veracity, though it is impertinent, has something amiable in it, because it proceeds from the love of truth, even in frivolous occasions. If such honest amendments do not promise an agreeable companion, they do a sincere friend; for which reason one should allow them so much of our time, if we fall into their company, as to sct us right in matters that can do us no manner