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Metamorphoses
Ovid

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Bk XII:429-535 The transformation of Caeneus.

"Still Phaeocomes stands before my eyes, he, who had tied six lion skins together with knotted cords, as a covering, protecting both man and horse. Hurling a log, that two teams of oxen could hardly move, he crushed the skull-bone of Tectaphos, son of Olenus. The broad dome of his head was shattered, and the soft brain matter oozed out through the hollow nostrils, eyes and ears, like curdled milk through the oak lattice, or as liquid trickles through a coarse sieve, under the weight, and squeezes thickly through the close mesh. But even as Phaecomes prepared to strip the arms from the fallen man (your father knows this), I thrust my sword deep into the despoiler’s thigh. Chthonius and Teleboas also fell to my sword: the first carried a forked branch, the other a spear: he gave me a wound with the spear--see, the scar!--the mark of the old wound is still visible. In those days I would have been sent to capture Troy’s citadel; then, I could have entertained Hector greatly with my weapons, if not overcome him. But Hector at that time was a child or not yet born, now my age has weakened me.
        
What need to tell you how Periphas conquered dual-shaped Pyraethus? Why tell of Ampyx who drove his cornel-wood spear that had lost its tip into the opposing face of four-footed Echeclus? Macareus threw a crowbar at the chest of Pelethronian Erigdupus, killing him: and I remember how a hunting spear, from the hand of Nessus, buried itself in Cymelus’s groin. Nor would you have thought Mopsus, Ampycus’s son, only prophesied the future: bi-formed Hodites fell to Mopsus’s throw, trying in vain to speak, his tongue fixed to the floor of his mouth, the floor of his mouth to his throat.
        
Caeneus had killed five: Styphelos, Bromus, Antimachus, Elymus; and Pyracmos, who was armed with a battle-axe. I do not recall their wounds, but I noted their number, and their names. Then Latreus rushed forward, massive in body and limbs, armed with the spoils of Emathian Halesus whom he had killed. He was between youth and age, but had the strength of youth, his hair greying on his temples. Prancing in a circle, turning to face each of the battle-lines in turn, and conspicuous for his Macedonian lance, helmet and shield, he clashed his weapons, pouring out many proud words, into the empty air. 'Do I have to put up with you, Caenis? For you will always be a woman, Caenis, to me. Does your natal origin not remind you; does not the act you were rewarded for come to mind, at what cost you gained this false aspect of a man? Consider what you were born as, or what you experienced, go, pick up your distaff and basket of wool and twist the spun thread with your thumb: leave war to men.'
        
At this Caeneus threw his spear, ploughing a furrow in the centaur’s side, where man and horse joined, as he was stretched out in the act of galloping. Maddened with pain, Latreus struck the Phylleian youth in his unprotected face, with the lance: but it bounced off like a hailstone from a rooftop, or a small pebble from a hollow drum. Then he closed up on him, and tried to thrust his sword into his impenetrable side: the sword found no way in. The centaur shouted: 'You will still not escape! I will kill you with the sword’s edge if the point is blunt.' Turning his blade sideways he reached out for his enemy’s loins with his long right arm. The blow resounded, as if it struck a body of marble, and the weapon fractured in pieces as it hit the firm flesh.
       
When he had exposed his unwounded limbs for long enough to his wondering enemy, Caeneus said: 'Now let me try your body with my blade!’ and he drove his fatal weapon into the other’s side, turning and twisting his hand, buried in the guts, causing wound on wound. See, the centaurs maddened, rushed on him with a great shout, and all aimed and threw their spears at the one man. The spears fell, blunted: and Caeneus, son of Elatus, remained unpierced and unbloodied by all their efforts. This marvel astonished them.
        
'Oh, what overwhelming shame!' Monychus exclaimed. 'A people defeated by one who is scarcely a man: yet he is the man, and we, with our half-hearted attempts are what he once was. What use are our huge limbs? What use our twin powers, and that double nature uniting the strongest living things in us? We are not sons of a divine mother: nor of Ixion who was such as aspired to captivate great Juno: we are overcome by an enemy, who is half a man! Roll down rocks and tree trunks on him, and whole mountainsides, and crush that stubborn spirit with the forests we hurl! Let their mass constrict his throat, and let weight work instead of wounds.'

He spoke, and finding a chance tree-trunk toppled by a furious southerly wind, he threw it at his powerful enemy. He served as the example, and in a little while Mount Othrys was bare of trees, and Pelion had lost its shade. Buried under the huge pile, Caeneus strained against the weight of trees, and propped up the mass of oak on his strong shoulders, but as it mounted above his mouth and face, he had no breath of the air that he breathed, and lacking it, often, he tried in vain to raise himself into the air, and throw off the forest piled on him, and often heaved, as if steep Mount Ida, that we see there, look, was shaken by an earthquake.

His fate is doubtful: some said his body was thrust down to empty Tartarus, by the mass of forest: but Mopsus, the son of Ampycus denied this. He saw a bird with tawny wings fly into the clear air from the midst of the pile, which I saw also, then, for the first and last time ever. As Mopsus watched him smoothly circling his camp in flight, making a great noise, he pursued him with mind and vision, saying, 'Hail to you, Caeneus, glory of the race of Lapiths, once a great hero, but now a bird alone!' The thing was believed because of its author: grief was added to anger, and we could barely accept one man being conquered by so many enemies. Nor did we cease to work off our pain with the sword until half were dead, and half, fleeing, were swallowed by the night."
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