Ἀκόντιος τὴν Κυδίππην καλὸς νεανίας καλὴν ἔγημε κόρην· ὁ γὰρ παλαιὸς λόγος εὖ ἔχει, ὡς ὅμοιον ὁμοίῳ κατὰ θεῖον ἀεὶ προσπελάζει. καὶ τὴν μὲν ἅπασι τοῖς ἑαυτῆς φιλοτίμως κεκόσμηκεν Ἀφροδίτη, μόνου τοῦ κεστοῦ φεισαμένη· καὶ γὰρ τοῦτον πρὸς τὴν παρθένον εἶχεν ἐξαίρετον ἡ θεός. καὶ τοῖς ὄμμασι χάριτες οὐ τρεῖς καθ' Ἡσίοδον ἀλλὰ δεκάδων περιεχόρευε δεκάς. τὸν δὲ νέον ἐκόσμουν ὀφθαλμοὶ φαιδροὶ μὲν ὡς καλοῦ, φοβεροὶ δὲ ὡς σώφρονος, καὶ φύσεως ἔρευθος εὐανθὲς ἐπέτρεχε ταῖς παρειαῖς. οἱ δὲ φιλοθεάμονες τοῦ κάλλους εἰς διδασκάλου προϊόντα περιεσκόπουν συνωθοῦντες ἀλλήλους, καὶ ἦν ὁρᾶν πρὸς τούτου πληθούσας μὲν ἀγοράς, στενοχωρουμένας δὲ λαύρας. καὶ πολλοί γε διὰ τὸ λίαν ἐρωτικὸν τοῖς ἴχνεσι τοῦ μειρακίου τοὺς ἑαυτῶν ἐφήρμοζον πόδας. οὗτος ἠράσθη Κυδίππης· ἔδει γὰρ τὸν καλὸν τοσούτους τετοξευκότα τῷ κάλλει μιᾶς ἀκίδος ἐρωτικῆς πειραθῆναί ποτε, καὶ γνῶναι σαφῶς οἷα πεπόνθασιν οἱ δι' αὐτὸν τραυματίαι. ὅθεν ὁ Ἔρως οὐ μετρίως ἐνέτεινε τὴν νευράν (ὅτε καὶ τερπνὴ πέφυκεν ἡ τοξεία), ἀλλ' ὅσον εἶχεν ἰσχύος προσελκύσας τὰ τόξα, σφοδρότατα διαφῆκε τὸ βέλος.
τοιγαροῦν εὐθέως, ὦ κάλλιστον παιδίον Ἀκόντιε, δυοῖν θάτερον, ἢ γάμον ἢ θάνατον διελογίζου βληθείς. πλὴν αὐτὸς ὁ τρώσας ἀεί τινας παραδόξους μηχανὰς διαπλέκων ὑπέθετό σοι καινοτάτην βουλήν, τάχα που τὸ σὸν αἰδούμενος κάλλος. αὐτίκα γοῦν κατὰ τὸ Ἀρτεμίσιον ὡς ἐθεάσω προκαθημένην τὴν κόρην τοῦ κήπου τῆς Ἀφροδίτης, κυδώνιον ἐκλεξάμενος μῆλον, ἀπατηλὸν αὐτῷ περιγεγράφηκας λόγον, καὶ λάθρᾳ διεκύλισας πρὸ τῶν τῆς θεραπαινὶς ποδῶν. ἢ δὲ τὸ μέγεθος καὶ τὴν χροιὰν καταπλαγεῖσα ἀνήρπασεν, ἅμα διαποροῦσα τίς ἄρα τοῦτο τῶν παρθένων μετεώρως ἀπέβαλε τοῦ προκολπίου. « ἆρα » φησίν « ἱερὸν πέφυκας, ὦ μῆλον; τίνα δέ σοι πέριξ ἐγκεχάρακται γράμματα; καὶ τί σημαίνειν ἐθέλεις; δέχου μῆλον, ὦ κεκτημένη, οἷον οὐ τεθέασαι πρότερον. ὡς ὑπερμέγεθες, ὡς πυρρωπόν, ὡς ἐρύθημα φέρον τῶν ῥόδων. εὖγε τῆς εὐωδίας ὅσον καὶ πόρρωθεν εὐφραίνει τὴν αἴσθησιν. λέγε μοι, φιλτάτη, τί τὸ περίγραμμα τοῦτο;» ἡ δὲ κόρη κομισαμένη καὶ τοῖς ὄμμασι περιθέουσα τὴν γραφὴν ἀνεγίνωσκεν ἔχουσαν ὧδε «μὰ τὴν Ἄρτεμιν Ἀκοντίῳ γαμοῦμαι.» ἔτι διερχομένη τὸν ὅρκον εἰ καὶ ἀκούσιόν τε καὶ νόθον, τὸν ἐρωτικὸν δόλον ἀπέρριψεν αἰδουμένη, καὶ ἡμίφωνον καταλέλοιπε λέξιν τὴν ἐπ' ἐσχάτῳ κειμένην, ἅτε διαμνημονεύουσαν γάμον, ὃν σεμνὴ παρθένος κἂν ἑτέρου λέγοντος ἠρυθρίασε. καὶ τοσοῦτον ἐξεφοινίχθη τὸ πρόσωπον, ὡς δοκεῖν ὅτι τῶν παρειῶν ἔνδον εἶχ́έ τινα ῥόδων λειμῶνα, καὶ τὸ ἐρύθημα τοῦτο μηδὲν τῶν χειλῶν αὐτῆς διαφέρειν. εἶπεν ἡ παῖς, ἀκήκοεν Ἄρτεμις· καὶ παρθένος οὖσα θεός, Ἀκόντιε, συνελάβετό σοι τοῦ γάμου.
τέως οὖν τὸν δείλαιον - ἀλλ' οὔτε θαλάττης τρικυμίας οὔτε πόθου κορυφούμενον σάλον εὐμαρὲς ἀφηγεῖσθαι. δάκρυα μόνον, οὐχ ὅπνον αἱ νύκτες ἐπῆγον τῷ μειρακίῳ· κλάειν γὰρ αἰδούμενος τὴν ἡμέραν, τὸ δάκρυον ἐταμιεύετο ταῖς νυξίν. ἐκτακεὶς δὲ τὰ μέλη καὶ δυσθυμίαις μαραινόμενος τὴν χροιὰν καὶ τὸ βλέμμα δεινῶς ὡρακιῶν ἐδεδίει τῷ τεκόντι φανῆναι, καὶ εἰς ἀγρὸν ἐπὶ πάσῃ προφάσει τὸν πατέρα φεύγων ἐφοίτα. διόπερ οἱ κομψότεροι τῶν ἡλικιωτῶν Λαέρτην αὐτὸν ἐπωνόμαζον, γηπόνον τὸν νεανίσκον οἰόμενοι γεγονέναι. ἀλλ' Ἀκοντίῳ οὐκ ἀμπελῶνος ἔμελεν, οὐ σκαπάνης, μόνον δὲ φηγοῖς ὑποκαθήμενος ἢ πτελέαις ὡμίλει τοιάδε. «εἴθε, ὦ δένδρα, καὶ νοῦς ὑμῖν γένοιτο καὶ φωνή , ὅπως ἂν εἴποιτε Κυδίππη καλή, ' ἢ γοῦν τοσαῦτα κατὰ τῶν φλοιῶν ἐγκεκολαμμένα φέροιτε γράμματα, ὅσα τὴν Κυδίππην ἐπονομάσει καλήν. Kυδίππη, καλήν σε καὶ εὔορκον ὁμοίως προσείπω ταχύ, μηδὲ Ἄρτεμις ἐπὶ σὲ ποιναῖον βέλος ἀφῇ καὶ ἀνέλῃ· μενεῖ δὲ τὸ πῶμα προσκείμενον τῇ φαρέτρᾳ. ὦ δυστυχὴς ἐγώ. τί δέ σοι τοῦτον ἐπῆγον τὸν φόβον; ὁπότε καί φασι τὴν θεὸν ἐπὶ πάσαις μὲν ἁμαρτάσι κινεῖσθαι δεινῶς, μάλιστα δὲ τοὺς ἀμελοῦντας τῶν ὅρκων πικρότερον τιμωρεῖσθαι. εἴθε μὲν οὖν ὡς ἀρτίως ηὐχόμην εὔορκος εἴης, εἴθε γάρ· εἰ δὲ ἀποβαίη ὅπερ μηδὲ λέγειν καλόν, ἡ Ἄρτεμις ἔστω σοι, παρθένε, πραεῖα· οὐ σε γὰρ ἀλλὰ τὸν δόντα τῆς ἐπιορκίας τὴν πρόφασιν κολαστέον. μαθήσομαι μόνον ὡς μεμέληκέ σοι τῶν γραμμάτων, καὶ τοῦ σοῦ πρηστῆρος τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχὴν ἀπαλλάττων οὐχ ἧττον αἵματος ἀφειδήσω τοῦ ἡμετέρου ἤπερ ὕδατος εἰκῆ χεομένου. ἀλλ' ὦ φίλτατα δένδρα, τῶν ἡδυφώνων ὀρνίθων οἱ θῶκοι, ἆρα κἀν ὑμῖν ἐστὶν οὗτος ὁ ἔρως, καὶ πίτυος τυχὸν ἠράσθη κυπάριττος ἢ ἄλλο φυτὸν ἑτέρου φυτοῦ; μὰ Δί' οὐκ οἶμαι· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἐφυλλορροεῖτε , καὶ τοὺς κλάδους ἁπλῶς ὁ πόθος κόμης ὁμοῦ καὶ ἀγλαίας ἐψίλου, ἀλλὰ καὶ μέχρι στελέχους τε καὶ ῥιζῶν ὑπονοστήσας τῷ πυρσῷ διικνεῖτο.»
τοιαῦτα μὲν τὸ παιδίον διελέγετο, πρὸς τῷ σώματι μαραινόμενος καὶ τὸν νοῦν· τῇ δὲ Κυδίππῃ πρὸς ἕτερον ηὐτρεπίζετο γάμος. καὶ πρὸ τῆς παστάδος τὸν ὑμέναιον ᾖδον αἱ μουσικώτεραι τῶν παρθένων καὶ μελίφωνοι, τοῦτο δὴ Σαπφοῦς τὸ ἥδιστον φθέγμα· ἀλλ' ἄφνω νενόσηκεν ἡ παῖς, καὶ πρὸς ἐκφορὰν ἀντὶ νυμφαγωγίας οἱ τεκόντες ἑώρων. εἶτα παραδόξως ἀνέσφηλε, καὶ δεύτερον ὁ θάλαμος ἐκοσμεῖτο· καὶ ὥσπερ ἀπὸ συνθήματος τῆς Τύχης αὖθις ἐνόσει. τρίτον ὁμοίως ταῦτα συμβέβηκε τῇ παιδί, ὁ δὲ πατὴρ τετάρτην οὐκ ἀνέμεινε νόσον, ἀλλ' ἐπύθετο τοῦ Πυθίου τίς ἄρα θεῶν τὸν γάμον ἐμποδίζει τῇ χόρῃ. ὁ δὲ Ἀπόλλων πάντα σαφῶς τὸν πατέρα διδάσκει, τὸν νέον, τὸ μῆλον, τὸν ὅρκον, καὶ τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος τὸν θυμόν· καὶ παραινεῖ θᾶττον εὔορκον ἀποφῆναι τὴν κόρην. «ἄλλως τε» φησί «Kυδίππγν Ἀκοντίῳ συνἅπτων οὐ μόλιβδον ἂν συνεπιμίξειας ἀργύρῳ, ἀλλ' ἑκατέρωθεν ὁ γάμος ἔσται χρυσοῦς.»
ταῦτα μὲν ἔχρησεν ὁ μαντῷος θεός, ὁ δὲ ὅρκος ἄμα τῷ χρησμῷ συνεπληροῦτο τοῖς γάμοις. αἱ δὲ τῆς παιδὸς ἡλικιώτιδες ἐνεργὸν ὑμέναιον ᾖδον, οὐκ ἀναβαλλόμενον ἔτι οὐδὲ. διακοπτόμενον νόσῳ. καὶ ἡ διδάσκαλος ὑπέβλεπε τὴν ἀπᾴδουσαν, καὶ εἰς τὸ μέλος ἱκανῶς ἐνεβίβαζε χειρονομοῦσα. ἕτερος δὲ τοῖς ᾄσμασιν ἐπεκρότει, καὶ ἡ δεξιὰ τοῖς δακτύλοις ὑπεσταλμένοις ὑποκειμένην τὴν ἀριστερὰν ἔπληττεν εἰς τὸ κοῖλον, ἵν' ὦσιν αἱ χεῖρες εὔφωνοι συμπληττόμεναι τρόπον κυμβάλων. ἅπαντα δ' οὖν ὅμὼς βραδύνειν ἐδόκει τῷ Ἀκοντίῳ, καὶ οὔτε ἡμέραν ἐκείνης ἐνόμισε μακροτέραν ἑορακέναι οὔτε νύκτα βραχυτέραν τῆς νυκτὸς ἐκείνης, ἧς οὐκ ἂν ἠλλάξατο τὸν Μίδου χρυσόν, οὐδὲ τὸν Ταντάλου πλοῦτον ἰσοστάσιον ἡγεῖτο τῇ κόρῃ. καὶ σύμψηφοι πάντες ἐμοί, ὅσοι μὴ καθάπαξ τῶν ἐρωτικῶν ἀμαθεῖς· τὸν γὰρ ἀνέραστον οὐκ ἀπεικὸς ἀντίδοξον εἶναι. ὃ δ' οὖν τῇ παρθένῳ βραχέα νυκτομαχήσας ἐρωτικῶς, τό γε λοιπὸν εἰρηναίων ἀπέλαυεν ἡδονῶν. ἐκάοντο δὲ κατὰ δώματα δᾷδες ἐκ λιβανωτοῦ συγκείμεναι, ὥστε ἅμα κάεσθαι καὶ θυμιᾶσθαι καὶ παρέχειν τὸ φῶς μετ' εὐωδίας. πάλαι τοίνυν αἱ παρθένοι, συναριθμουμένης αὐταῖς τῆς Κυδίππης, ἐπλεονέκτουν σφόδρα τῶν γυναικῶν, τὸν κολοφῶνα φέρουσαι τῆς εὐπρεπείας· νυνὶ δέ, τῆς νύμφης ἐν γυναιξὶ ταττομένης, μειονεκτοῦσιν αἱ κόραι· τοσοῦτον ἡ φύσις ἁπανταχοῦ τὸ λαμπρὸν αὐτῆς ἐκορυφώσατο κάλλος. ὥσπερ δὲ χρυσόπολις ἡ πόα τῷ χρυσῷ μείρακι συνήπτετο προσφυῶς. ἄμφω δὲ λαμπροῖς ὄμμασιν, οἷον ἀστέρες ἀνταυγοῦντες ἀλλήλοις, φαιδρότερον τῆς ἀλλήλων ἀπέλαυον ἀγλαίας.
Text after Rudolf Hercher (1873). Epistolographoi hellenikoi. Epistolographi graeci, recensuit, recognovit, adnotatione critica et indicibus instruxit Rudolphus Hercher; accedunt Francisci Boissonadii ad Synesium notae ineditae.
Acontius a noble youth married Cydippe a beautiful girl. The old saying is right that by divine law like always draws near like. And Aphrodite adorned her with all her own gifts, sparing only her girdle. For the goddess had this raising her in dignity before the girl. And in her eyes there were not three Graces as in Hesiod, but a host of ten dancing around ten. And bright eyes adorned the boy, as of a fair youth, but fearful as one of sound mind, and the blooming flush of nature played over his cheeks. All those admirers of beautiful youths watched him, pressing against each other, as he went to his teacher and one could see them filling up the agora and crowding the walkway. And, indeed, many adapt their own feet to the footsteps of the youth out of excessive desire. But he desired Cydippe. For it was fated that the beautiful youth who had shot so many with his beauty should, at some point, experience a single arrow of desire, and perceive clearly what those hurt on account of him had suffered. For this reason, Eros did not pull his bow moderately (his archery causes pleasure then), but drawing the bow so far as he had strength, he let the arrow fly most violently.
Therefore Acontius, fairest of boys, straightaway you were considering one of two things, marrige or death. However, having wounded someone, Eros always weaves some incredible contrivance; for you he proposed a novel plan, perhaps in respect for your beauty. At all events, as soon as you saw the girl sitting in the Artemision, you picked an apple from the garden of Aphrodite, writing a deceptive phrase on it, and stealthily rolled it in front of the feet of her maid. Amazed by its great size and color, she picked it up, being at a loss as to which absent-minded one of the girls had dropped it from the folds of her robe. "Are you sacred, Apple?" she asked. "What letters are engrave around you? What do you mean to say? Take the apple, mistress, I have not seen one like it. How exceedingly large, how fiery in color, how rose-red. How truly sweet-smelling, it pleases the senses even from afar. Tell me, dearest, what it this written around it?" Taking it and running her eyes over the inscription, she read aloud what it contained as follows, "By Artemis I will marry Acontius." Still completing the oath— involuntary and false as it was— she threw away the amorous snare, blushing, leaving half-spoken the word at the end, as it mentioned marriage, which an honorable maiden would blush at even if another were speaking. And her face became so red, that it seemed a meadow of roses bloomed on her cheeks, and this redness didn't differ at all from her lips. The girl spoke, Artemis heard; and the goddess, even being a maiden, took part in your marriage, Acontius.
Meanwhile, the wretched boy—but it is not easy to narrate either a mighty wave of the sea or the rising swell of desire. The nights supplied only tears, not sleep, for the boy. For, being ashamed to weep duriong the day, he stored up his tears for the nights. His limbs wasted away and his skin withered with despair, his look terribly faint, he feared to be seen and went to the country upon all kinds of excuses, fleeing his father. As a result, his wittier peers called him Laertes, supposing the young man had become a farmer. But Acontius didn't care about a vineyard or spade, only sitting and addressing oak or elm trees thus, "If only, trees, you were to have a mind and voice so as to say 'Cydippe is beautiful.' At least you may bear carved upon your bark so many letters as to name Cydippe beautiful. Cydippe, if only I could soon call you beautiful and, similarly, faithful to your oath, lest Artemis shoot and kill you with her avenging arrow. But let the cover remain lying on her quiver. O unlucky me. Why have I exposed you to this fear; it is said that the goddess attacks wrong-doers terribly, but exacts vengence more bitterly from those who are neglectful of their oaths most of all. Would that you are faithful to your oath, just as I prayed, would that. . .But if it happens, which it is not auspicious to speak about, let Artemis be gentle to you, maiden; for the cause of the perjury should be punished, not you. I will only learn that you have had a care for the message, and freeing my spirit from the hurricane of you, I will be as careless of my blood as if it were water pouring out. But dearest trees, resting palces for the sweet-sounding birds, is there even for you desire like this, does the cypress perhaps also love the pine or any other tree another? I don't think so by Zeus. For you wouldn't simply shed your leaves; and yearning would not pluck your glory, the foliage, from your branches, but would penetrate you with fire sinking as far as your trunk and roots."
Thus spoke the youth, wasting away in body and mind. But, for Cydippe, marraige to another was being prepared . And the more musical and sweet-voiced of the girls were singing the wedding song in front of her room, as the pleasant saying of Sappho goes. But, all of a sudden, the child became sick and her parents were looking at carrying a burial rather than a bridal procession. Then, incredibly, she recovered and the bridal chamber was being prepared a second time. Bus just as if by some sign of Fate, she again fell ill. When this happened to the girl a third time in like manner, her father did not wait for a forth illness, but inquired of the Pythia which one of the gods was impeding the marriage of his daughter. Apollo explained everything clearly to the father: the youth, the apple, the oath, and Artemis' anger. He advised that the girl quickly render herself in accordance with the oath. "Besides," he said, "you would not be mixing lead with silver in joining Cydippe with Acontius, but on each side the marriage will be golden."
These things the prophetic god declared and the oath was fulfilled together with the oracle by the wedding. And the girl's peers sang the wedding song not delaying and no longer interrupted by illness. And the choir mistress looked askance at one singing out of tune, and indicating the mode with her hands, led her back to the melody. Another clapped to the songs, his right hand striking the hollow palm of his left with the fingers curled, so that his hands striking togther were tunful like cymbals. But, still, all these things seemed to Acontius to delay and he though he had seen neither a longer day, nor a shorter night. Acontiius would not have traded that night for the gold of Midas; nor did he hold the wealth of Tantalus equal in value to the girl. And eveyone will agree with me unless they are absolutely ignorant of love; for it is not unreasonable the one unacquainted with love to disagree. But he, having waged a brief amorous night-campaign, thereafter enjoyed peaceful pleasures. Torches made with incense burned throughout the house, so that they might burn and produce fragrance at the same time to provide light along with pleasant odors. Now before, so long as Cydippe was one of their number, the maidens had a significant advantage over the women, having among them the height of beatuy. But now, with the young woman in the rank and file of the women, the girls fell short. Nature made her radiant beauty excel by so much. Just like the plant chrysopolis, she was inseparably attached to her golden boy. Both of them, their eyes shinging like stars, reflected the other's brilliance with greater brightness and rejoiced in their splendor.