the incestuous love of Mirrha
for her father
"What is thus, my misfortune Not being born in these countries Where the mother couple with her son Where the father couple with his daughter Where the brother couple with his sister And where family tenderness is reinforced by Love What is thus, the misfortune that strikes me!" "If I was not the daugther of Cyniras I could share the couch of Cyniras. Now that my father is already mine He cannot however, be with me, becouse relative, he causes my loss. If I were a stranger he would be completely mine And I could assume without these remorses That assails me, to love him and to have to hide it." "I would like to be far but a carnal heat retains me To remain at the sides of Cinyras, To see him, to touch him, or to talk to him, to embrace him Since nothing more is allowed to me." "What is thus, this madness that takes me To be at the same time the rival of my mother and the mistress of my father What is then this madness I carry! Oh that I would like this cherished father, to be hooked by the same madness as mine! "The other beings coupled themselves without having to choose. It is not shameful for an heifer to carry its own father on its belly; The horse takes its daughter for wife, And the goat coupled to the same goats he procreated; The bird conceives itself from the seed of those by which it was conceived. Happy the beings who have the license to act this way! The freedom that admits nature, the law of men refuses it to me." This is how Mirrha was thinking, virgin and daugther of Cyniras king of Cypre While her hesitant father introduced these valorous young men to her Among the crowd of the aspirants worthy to possess her And to whom she would like to belong. Mirrha looked at him tenderly and melted into tears. Believing in a virginal timidity from her part Cinyras comforted her, dried her tears and embraced her And asked her of what kind of husband she wishes. And Mirrha full of joy by the kisses that he gave her, answered to him: "I want one that resembles you." Mirrha, not knowing anymore where her desires would carry her Pulled between the desire of a filial love and that of a real Love Knowing that only death could free her from this incestuous passion She decided to hang herself. " Good-bye Cinyras my Love, And try to understand what pushed me to die! " Her nurse who was not always very far And who tried to guess the torments that assails her Understood, by the whispers of Mirrha, The existence of a secret lover. "Tell me what disturbs you like so, If it is madness, I will be able to cure you with charms and grass If someone gave you evil, I know magic rites that will deliver you And if it is all about the anger of the gods We will be able to alleviate it with sacrifices. You are not boor and you have a loving mother and father, Why thus, this sudden desire to die whereas fortunate and so young? Would it be that you are in love, then I will help you I swear it to you; And never will your father, suspect the desires that ignite your heart; But for that, you must tell me who is the happy man you choose?" And the nurse approaching the tender Mirrha to take her into her arms And to collect her confidence, listen to her pronounce these words: "How happy is my mother to have such a husband! " The nurse understood then, that Mirrha was in love with her father, And that this love was prohibited to her But she had swear to help her. During the festivals of Ceres that take place in these times The midwifes of the country, all dressed in white Prohibit herselves during nine entire nights The act of Love and any contact with a man. Cenchreis, the wife of the king takes part in this sacred mystery Deserting for a time, the couch of the king. The nurse thus, finds Cinyras in his apartments, solitary and heated by wine, She describes to him the charms of a compensatory love with a virgin girl Whom she will hide the true name but she will say to the king: "She is young and virgin, she has the age and the beauty of Myrrha" Mirrha is pulled between the remorse and the desire So great are the contradictions of her heart; She is delivered to the couch of the king, her father, pushed by her nurse Who will couple their two bodies in the night: " Take her, this child is yours, Cinyras " Thus the king receives in his couch, the one which is his own flesh; He calms her virginal alarms, trembling he reassures her Without knowing who she really is, plebeian or princess, foreign or related But understanding her youth, he speaks to her like this: "My daugther" And she answers to him: "My father" So that, even the names are not foreign to their guilty union. Myrrha will leave pregnant the bridal room of the king, She will carry in her belly the child of Cinyras her own father.
Marco Polo or the imaginary journey (Mythologies, translated august 2000) © 1999 Jean-Pierre Lapointe
Ovide, the metamorphosis, and the paintings of the great-masters, music by Yokubota.