Bk VIII:1-80 Scylla decides to betray her city of Megara.
Now Lucifer dispelling night, and unveiling shining day, the east wind dropped, and rain clouds gathered. The mild south wind, gave Cephalus and the Aeacides safe return, bringing them, more quickly than they expected, to the harbour they steered for, by its favourable action. Meanwhile Minos was laying waste the coast of Megara, and testing his military strength against the city of Alcathoüs, where Nisus ruled, who had a bright lock of purple hair, on the crown of his head, amongst his distinguished grey tresses, that guaranteed the safety of his kingdom.
The horns of a new moon had risen six times and the fortunes of war still hung in the balance, so protractedly did Victory hover between the two, on hesitant wings. There was a tower of the king, added to walls of singing stone, where Apollo, Latona's son, once rested his golden lyre, and the sound resonated in the rock. In days of peace, Scylla, the daughter of King Nisus, often used to climb up there, and make the stones ring using small pebbles. In wartime also she would often watch the unyielding armed conflicts from there, and now, as the war dragged on, she had come to know the names of the hostile princes, their weapons, horses, armour and Cretan quivers. Above all she came to know the face of their leader, Europa's son, more than was fitting.
If he covered his head with a plumed helmet, she thought him handsome in a helmet. If he carried his shining bronze shield, a shield became him well. When he hurled his heavy spear, with taut limbs, the girl admired his strength combined with skill. When he bent the broad arc of his bow, with a flight notched in it, she swore that it was Phoebus Apollo, standing there, with his arrow ready. But when he exposed his face, free of the bronze, and when, clothed in purple, he took to horseback, his white horse conspicuous with its embroidered trappings, and he controlled its foaming bit, Nisus's daughter was scarcely in control of herself, scarcely in a rational frame of mind. Happy the spear he held, she said, and happy the reins he lifted in his hand. Her impulse was to run, though only a girl, if it had been allowed, through the enemy lines; her impulse was to throw herself from the top of the tower into the Cretan camp, to open the bronze gates to their army, or anything else Minos might wish.
As she sat gazing at the white tents of the Dictaean king, she said, "I am not sure whether I should show joy or grief at this miserable war. I grieve because Minos is the enemy of one who loves him, but if there had been no war, he would never have been known to me! If he accepted me as a hostage he could abandon the war: he would have me as his companion, me as a pledge of peace. If she, who gave birth to you, most handsome of kings, was as beautiful as you are, no wonder the god was on fire for her. O I would be three times happy if I could take wing, through the air, and stand in the camp of the Cretan king, and reveal myself, and my love, and ask what dowry he would need to win me: so long as he does not demand my country's stronghold! Rather let my hopes of marriage die, than that I be capable of betrayal!--Though often many have found it better to be defeated, if a peace-loving conqueror showed clemency. Indeed he wages a just war because of his murdered son: his cause is powerful, and the arms that support his cause. Then, I think we will be conquered. And if that is the end that awaits the city, why should his strength breach these walls of mine, rather than my love?
It would be better for him to win, without slaughter, or delay, and without the shedding of his own blood. At least I would not be afraid lest someone inadvertently wound your breast, Minos: for who would be so cruel as to venture to aim his throw at you, unless he was careless? The idea pleases me, and I am firm in my decision to deliver myself to you, with my country as my dowry, and so put an end to war. But, it is not enough merely to want it! There is a guard watching the entrance, and my father holds the keys of the gate. I only fear through him I might be unlucky: only he hinders my wishes. Would that the gods had devised things so that I had no father! Surely everyone is their own god: Fortune rejects idle wishes. Another girl, fired with as great a passion as mine, would, long ago, have destroyed anything that stood in the way of her love. And why should another be braver than I am? I would dare to go through fire and sword: but there is no need here to brave fire or sword: I need one lock of my father's hair. That is more precious than gold to me, that purple lock of hair will bless me, and let me achieve my desire.