Antinous for Everybody

Hymn XVII: To Antinous Apollon, Lover

How many are your loves, Antinous Apollon,
and how many the stories with unhappy endings.
How often your beloveds shrink away in fear
or fall prey to jealous rivals; how often the light
of your regard turns mortals into plants.
Laurel and cypress and hyacinth bear testimony
to the terror your purity of love can inspire.
Yet to those who yield, you give joy and fruitfulness;
many are your sons by many mothers, and
how poor we would be without their gifts.
If you insist on loving us, father of Aristaios and
Asklepios, then make us worthy of your favor
and sensible of our worthiness in your sight.
O Antinous Apollon, if you approach us mortals,
be gentle; if we flee your light, do not pursue
too swiftly; if we hesitate between mortal and
immortal love, do not judge too harshly, for we
are as moths to your flame, dust motes in your
beams, herbs thrown onto the fire sweetly to burn.

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