Labyrinthe, Irrgärten




Gr. λαβύϱινϑος wohl aus lydisch λάβϱυς, zweischneidige Axt, Beil, λαύϱα, Weg, Passage, und -ινϑος; lat. labyrinthus, das deutsche Wort im 16. Jh. entlehnt. Das englische Wort labyrinth ist dem französischen labyrinthe entlehnt, dies dem lateinischen Begriff.

Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1418 labarinte « édifice, composé d’un grand nombre de pièces disposées de telle sorte qu’il était difficile d’en trouver l’issue » (Caumont, Voy. d’Outrem., p. 42 ds Gdf. Compl.); 1553 (Du Bellay, Antiquitez de Rome, éd. H. Chamard, II, 8 : Et son vieux Labyrinth’ la Crete n’oublira); 2. 1540 fig. labyrinthe (Amadis de Gaule, éd. H. Vaganay, 1er livre, p. 87); 3. 1677 labyrinthe « (dans un parc) petit bois coupé d’allées entrelacées » (Perrault ds Havard); 4. 1690 anat. (Fur.). Empr. au lat. labyrinthus « bâtiment dont il est difficile de trouver l’issue », attesté au sens fig. dès le b. lat., du gr. λαβύϱινϑος de mêmes sens. Au sens 3 l’angl. labyrinth est attesté dès 1611 ds NED; le fr. utilise le mot dedalus en 1477 : Extraits des comptes et mémoriaux du Roi René, éd. A. Lecoy de la Marche, p. 92, no 253.
Trésor de la langue française informatisé.

Labyrinth, aus dem griech. λαβύϱινϑος übernommen, gewöhnlich als neutr., seltener, dem griech. entsprechend, als masc., im 16. jahrh.: der labyrinth, yrgang, paedalea castra Maaler 258c, und auch später so bei Hoffmannswaldau, vgl. Kehrein gramm. 2, § 280, und anderwärts, der labyrinth, labyrinthus Steinbach 1, 955, vgl. unten die stellen aus Brockes und Wieland. das wort ist übertragen worden zunächst auf gebäude, anlagen, gegenden, in deren manigfachen gängen und windungen man sich schwer zurecht findet: labyrinth, labyrinthus, irrgarten. Frisch 1, 561c; baue labyrinthe von grünen wänden. S. Geszner (1762) 3, 158; auch würd ich in einsame gegenden irren, im labyrinthe des gesträuches. 159;

der labyrinth ist einer nymfe sitz,
die unter zauberschatten da, wie eine zweite
Armida, einen hof von liebesgöttern hält.
   Wieland 26, 83;

die erde selbst heiszt ein labyrinth:

tausendarmiger strom (quell des heils), der herab durch das grosze labyrinth strömt.
   Klopstock 1, 147;

wie auch das menschliche leben: einen sichern leitfaden durch den labyrinth des lebens. Wieland 3, 481 (401); dann aber gilt das wort von verwickelten zuständen, lagen, verhältnissen, selbst denkprocessen:

gottes wunder will ich lieber,
wie in allen, so auch hier,
höchst bewundern, als hierüber,
durch die eitle ehrbegier
in den labyrinth geführet,
sagen, was sich nicht gebühret.
   Brockes 9, 29;
(selig, wer genieszt) was, von menschen nicht gewuszt
oder nicht bedacht,
durch das labyrinth der brust
wandelt in der nacht.
   Göthe 1, 112;

er will mich ins labyrinth führen, cogitat me perniciei tradere. Steinbach 1, 955; sich aus seinem labyrinthe heraus helfen, emergere se ex malis. ebenda; er würde sich aus seinem labyrinthe (von schulden) durch die verzweiflung reiszen. Weisze lustsp. 2, 11; hätte ich nicht immer schmeichler und schmarotzer gefunden, o! so wäre ich nicht in diesem labyrinthe! 19; zeige sie mir einen andern weg aus meinem labyrinthe: ich musz es durchbrechen oder darin umkommen. 38; wir sehen weit hinaus auf fremde gefilde von glück; aber labyrinthe versperren den zugang. Geszner (1762) 3, 167; alle spekulazionen, die .. das gemüth nur in einen labyrinth von zweifeln führten. Wieland 3, 468 (390);

ein thor sucht blindlings ruhm im labyrinth der schande.
   Hagedorn 1, 32;
einst löst des schicksals vater in klarheit auf,
was labyrinth war.
   Klopstock 1, 60;
der die schickungen lenkt, heiszet den frömmsten wunsch,
mancher seligkeit goldnes bild,
oft verwehen, und ruft da labyrinth hervor,
wo ein sterblicher gehen will.
ist aus dem labyrinth, in dem du irrst,
denn andre rettung?
   9, 89;
aus diesem dunkeln labyrinth mich führen,
worin ein blinder eifer mich geworfen?
   Schiller Carlos 3, 4;

er sah die schwierigkeiten, einen plan zu machen, der ihm durch den labyrinth des hofes und des öffentlichen lebens zum leitfaden dienen könnte. Wieland 3, 64 (53).

In der anatomie heiszt labyrinth der aus dem vorhofe, den bogengängen und der schnecke bestehende, vielfach gewundene innerste theil des gehörorgans. — Auch eine schneckenart, trochus perspectivus, führt den namen labyrinth (Nemnich 4, 1497).
Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm. XII, 10-11.


Encyclopædia Britannica

Labyrinth (Gr. λαβύϱινϑος, Lat. labyrinthus), the name given by the Greeks and Romans to buildings, entirely or partly subterranean, containing a number of chambers and intricate passages, which rendered egress puzzling and difficult. The word is considered by some to be of Egyptian origin, while others connect it with the Gr. λαῦϱα, the passage of a mine. Another derivation suggested is from λάβϱυς, a Lydian or Carian word meaning a “double-edged axe” (Journal of Hellenic Studies, xxi. 109, 268), according to which the Cretan labyrinth or palace of Minos was the house of the double axe, the symbol of Zeus.

Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxxvi. 19, 91) mentions the following as the four famous labyrinths of antiquity.

1. The Egyptian: of which a description is given by Herodotus (ii. 148) and Strabo (xvii. 811). It was situated to the east of Lake Moeris, opposite the ancient site of Arsinoë or Crocodilopolis. According to Egyptologists, the word means “the temple at the entrance of the lake.” According to Herodotus, the entire building, surrounded by a single wall, contained twelve courts and 3000 chambers, 1500 above and 1500 below ground. The roofs were wholly of stone, and the walls covered with sculpture. On one side stood a pyramid 40 orgyiae, or about 243 ft. high. Herodotus himself went through the upper chambers, but was not permitted to visit those underground, which he was told contained the tombs of the kings who had built the labyrinth, and of the sacred crocodiles. Other ancient authorities considered that it was built as a place of meeting for the Egyptian nomes or political divisions; but it is more likely that it was intended for sepulchral purposes. It was the work of Amenemhē III., of the 12th dynasty, who lived about 2300 B.C. It was first located by the Egyptologist Lepsius to the north of Hawara in the Fayum, and (in 1888) Flinders Petrie discovered its foundation, the extent of which is about 1000 ft. long by 800 ft. wide. Immediately to the north of it is the pyramid of Hawara, in which the mummies of the king and his daughter have been found (see W. M. Flinders Petrie, Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoë, 1889).

2. The Cretan: said to have been built by Daedalus on the plan of the Egyptian, and famous for its connexion with the legend of the Minotaur. It is doubtful whether it ever had any real existence and Diodorus Siculus says that in his time it had already disappeared. By the older writers it was placed near Cnossus, and is represented on coins of that city, but nothing corresponding to it has been found during the course of the recent excavations, unless the royal palace was meant. The rocks of Crete are full of winding caves, which gave the first idea of the legendary labyrinth. Later writers (for instance, Claudian, De sexto Cons. Honorii, 634) place it near Gortyna, and a set of winding passages and chambers close to that place is still pointed out as the labyrinth; these are, however, in reality ancient quarries.

3. The Lemnian: similar in construction to the Egyptian. Remains of it existed in the time of Pliny. Its chief feature was its 150 columns.

Fig. 1. — Labyrinth of London and Wise.

4. The Italian: a series of chambers in the lower part of the tomb of Porsena at Clusium. This tomb was 300 ft. square and 50 ft. high, and underneath it was a labyrinth, from which it was exceedingly difficult to find an exit without the assistance of a clew of thread. It has been maintained that this tomb is to be recognized in the mound named Poggio Gajella near Chiusi.

Lastly, Pliny (xxxvi. 19) applies the word to a rude drawing on the ground or pavement, to some extent anticipating the modern or garden maze.

On the Egyptian labyrinth see A. Wiedemann, Ägyptische Geschichte (1884), p. 258, and his edition of the second book of Herodotus (1890); on the Cretan, C. Höck, Kreta (1823–1829), and ​A. J. Evans in Journal of Hellenic Studies; on the subject generally, articles in Roscher’s Lexikon der Mythologie and Daremberg and Saglio’s Dictionnaire des antiquités.

Fig. 2. — Labyrinth of Batty Langley.
Fig. 3. — Labyrinth at Versailles.

In gardening, a labyrinth or maze means an intricate network of pathways enclosed by hedges or plantations, so that those who enter become bewildered in their efforts to find the centre or make their exit. It is a remnant of the old geometrical style of gardening. There are two methods of forming it. That which is perhaps the more common consists of walks, or alleys as they were formerly called, laid out and kept to an equal width or nearly so by parallel hedges, which should be so close and thick that the eye cannot readily penetrate them. The task is to get to the centre, which is often raised, and generally contains a covered seat, a fountain, a statue or even a small group of trees. After reaching this point the next thing is to return to the entrance, when it is found that egress is as difficult as ingress. To every design of this sort there should be a key, but even those who know the key are apt to be perplexed. Sometimes the design consists of alleys only, as in fig. 1, published in 1706 by London and Wise. In such a case, when the farther end is reached, there only remains to travel back again. Of a more pretentious character was a design published by Switzer in 1742. This is of octagonal form, with very numerous parallel hedges and paths, and “six different entrances, whereof there is but one that leads to the centre, and that is attended with some difficulties and a great many stops.” Some of the older designs for labyrinths, however, avoid this close parallelism of the alleys, which, though equally involved and intricate in their windings, are carried through blocks of thick planting, as shown in fig. 2, from a design published in 1728 by Batty Langley. These blocks of shrubbery have been called wildernesses. To this latter class belongs the celebrated labyrinth at Versailles (fig. 3), of which Switzer observes, that it “is allowed by all to be the noblest of its kind in the world.”

Fig. 4. — Maze at Hampton Court.
Fig. 5. — Maze at Somerleyton Hall.

Whatever style be adopted, it is essential that there should be a thick healthy growth of the hedges or shrubberies that confine the wanderer. The trees used should be impenetrable to the eye, and so tall that no one can look over them; and the paths should be of gravel and well kept. The trees chiefly used for the hedges, and the best for the purpose, are the hornbeam among deciduous trees, or the yew among evergreens. The beech might be used instead of the hornbeam on suitable soil. The green holly might be planted as an evergreen with very good results, and so might the American arbor vitae if the natural soil presented no obstacle. The ground must be well prepared, so as to give the trees a good start, and a mulching of manure during the early years of their growth would be of much advantage. They must be kept trimmed in or clipped, especially in their earlier stages; trimming with the knife is much to be preferred to clipping with shears. Any plants getting much in advance of the rest should be topped, and the whole kept to some 4 ft. or 5 ft. in height until the lower parts are well thickened, when it may be allowed to acquire the allotted height by moderate annual increments. In cutting, the hedge (as indeed all hedges) should be ​kept broadest at the base and narrowed upwards, which prevents it from getting thin and bare below by the stronger growth being drawn to the tops.

The maze in the gardens at Hampton Court Palace (fig. 4) is considered one of the finest examples in England. It was planted in the early part of the reign of William III., though it has been supposed that a maze had existed there since the time of Henry VIII. It is constructed on the hedge and alley system, and was, it is believed, originally planted with hornbeam, but many of the plants have been replaced by hollies, yews, &c., so that the vegetation is mixed. The walks are about half a mile in length, and the ground occupied is a little over a quarter of an acre. The centre contains two large trees, with a seat beneath each. The key to reach this resting place is to keep the right hand continuously in contact with the hedge from first to last, going round all the stops.

Fig. 6. — Labyrinth in Horticultural Society’s Garden.

The maze in the gardens at Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft (fig. 5), was designed by Mr John Thomas. The hedges are of English yew, are about 612 ft. high, and have been planted about sixty years. In the centre is a grass mound, raised to the height of the hedges, and on this mound is a pagoda, approached by a curved grass path. At the two corners on the western side are banks of laurels 15 or 16 ft. high. On each side of the hedges throughout the labyrinth is a small strip of grass.

There was also a labyrinth at Theobald’s Park, near Cheshunt, when this place passed from the earl of Salisbury into the possession of James I. Another is said to have existed at Wimbledon House, the seat of Earl Spencer, which was probably laid out by Brown in the 18th century. There is an interesting labyrinth, somewhat after the plan of fig. 2, at Mistley Place, Manningtree.

When the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society at South Kensington were being planned, Albert, Prince Consort, the president of the society, especially desired that there should be a maze formed in the ante-garden, which was made in the form shown in fig. 6. This labyrinth, designed by Lieut. W. A. Nesfield, was for many years the chief point of attraction to the younger visitors to the gardens; but it was allowed to go to ruin, and had to be destroyed. The gardens themselves are now built over. (T. Mo.)
— 1911. XVI, pp. 32-34.


Comment expliquer l’importance qu’a prise la figure du labyrinthe à notre époque? De fait, le labyrinthe apparaît comme l’une des métaphores les plus aptes à représenter la complexité du monde contemporain et la confusion qui en découle. Sa figure revient constamment, que ce soit pour rendre compte du réseau Internet et du cyberespace, dont les développements rhizomatiques défient l’entendement, ou des dédales de la bureaucratie, du déploiement des villes et de leurs souterrains, de la maladie, etc. Tout est devenu labyrinthique. L’exil, la bureaucratie, la mémoire, le nationalisme, l’histoire, l’écriture, la folie... Tout ce qui semble à première vue inextricable, mais dont on parvient finalement à s’extirper. Sa présence dans les arts est incontournable, en littérature, au cinéma, au théâtre, en architecture, et même en musique.
— Bertrand Gervais: La ligne brisée. Labyrinthe, oubli, violence. Logiques de l’imaginaire. Tome II, Montréal: Le Quartanier, 2008.


Ἡϱοδότου ιστοϱίαι — Herodotus: The History

Καὶ δή σφι μνημόσυνα ἔδοξε λιπέσϑαι ϰοινῇ, δόξαν δέ σφι ἐποιήσαντο λαβύϱινϑον, ὀλίγον ὑπὲϱ τῆς λίμνης τῆς Μοίϱιος ϰατὰ Κϱοϰοδείλων ϰαλεομένην πόλιν μάλιστά ϰῃ ϰείμενον: τὸν ἐγὼ ἤδη εἶδον λόγου μέζω. εἰ γάϱ τις τὰ ἐξ Ἑλλήνων τείχεά τε ϰαὶ ἔϱγων ἀπόδεξιν συλλογίσαιτο, ἐλάσσονος πόνου τε ἂν ϰαὶ δαπάνης φανείη ἐόντα τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου τούτου. ϰαίτοι ἀξιόλογός γε ϰαὶ ὁ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐστὶ νηὸς ϰαὶ ὁ ἐν Σάμῳ. ἦσαν μέν νυν ϰαὶ αἱ πυϱαμίδες λόγου μέζονες, ϰαὶ πολλῶν ἑϰάστη αὐτέων Ἑλληνιϰῶν ἔϱγων ϰαὶ μεγάλων ἀνταξίη, ὁ δὲ δὴ λαβύϱινϑος ϰαὶ τὰς πυϱαμίδας ὑπεϱβάλλει: τοῦ γὰϱ1 δυώδεϰα μὲν εἰσὶ αὐλαὶ ϰατάστεγοι, ἀντίπυλοι ἀλλήλῃσι, ἓξ μὲν πϱὸς βοϱέω ἓξ δὲ πϱὸς νότον τετϱαμμέναι, συνεχέες: τοῖχος δὲ ἔξωϑεν ὁ αὐτός σφεας πεϱιέϱγει. οἰϰήματα δ᾽ ἔνεστι διπλᾶ, τὰ μὲν ὑπόγαια τὰ δὲ μετέωϱα ἐπ᾽ ἐϰείνοισι, τϱισχίλια ἀϱιϑμόν, πενταϰοσίων ϰαὶ χιλίων ἑϰάτεϱα. τὰ μέν νυν μετέωϱα τῶν οἰϰημάτων αὐτοί τε ὡϱῶμεν διεξιόντες ϰαὶ αὐτοὶ ϑεησάμενοι λέγομεν, τὰ δὲ αὐτῶν ὑπόγαια λόγοισι ἐπυνϑανόμεϑα: οἱ γὰϱ ἐπεστεῶτες τῶν Αἰγυπτίων δειϰνύναι αὐτὰ οὐδαμῶς ἤϑελον, φάμενοι ϑήϰας αὐτόϑι εἶναι τῶν τε ἀϱχὴν τὸν λαβύϱινϑον τοῦτον οἰϰοδομησαμένων βασιλέων ϰαὶ τῶν ἱϱῶν ϰϱοϰοδείλων. οὕτω τῶν μὲν ϰάτω πέϱι οἰϰημάτων ἀϰοῇ παϱαλαβόντες λέγομεν, τὰ δὲ ἄνω μέζονα ἀνϑϱωπηίων ἔϱγων αὐτοὶ ὡϱῶμεν: αἵ τε γὰϱ διέξοδοι διὰ τῶν στεγέων ϰαὶ οἱ ἑλιγμοὶ διὰ τῶν αὐλέων ἐόντες ποιϰιλώτατοι ϑῶμα μυϱίον παϱείχοντο ἐξ αὐλῆς τε ἐς τὰ οἰϰήματα διεξιοῦσι ϰαὶ ἐϰ τῶν οἰϰημάτων ἐς παστάδας, ἐς στέγας τε ἄλλας ἐϰ τῶν παστάδων ϰαὶ ἐς αὐλὰς ἄλλας ἐϰ τῶν οἰϰημάτων. ὀϱοφὴ δὲ πάντων τούτων λιϑίνη ϰατά πεϱ οἱ τοῖχοι, οἱ δὲ τοῖχοι τύπων ἐγγεγλυμμένων πλέοι, αὐλὴ δὲ ἑϰάστη πεϱίστυλος λίϑου λευϰοῦ ἁϱμοσμένου τὰ μάλιστα. τῆς δὲ γωνίης τελευτῶντος τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου ἔχεται πυϱαμὶς τεσσεϱαϰοντόϱγυιος, ἐν τῇ ζῷα μεγάλα ἐγγέγλυπται: ὁδὸς δ᾽ ἐς αὐτὴν ὑπὸ γῆν πεποίηται. τοῦ δὲ λαβυϱίνϑου τούτου ἐόντος τοιούτου ϑῶμα ἔτι μέζον παϱέχεται ἡ Μοίϱιος ϰαλεομένη λίμνη, παϱ᾽ ἣν ὁ λαβύϱινϑος οὗτος οἰϰοδόμηται: τῆς τὸ πεϱίμετϱον τῆς πεϱιόδου εἰσὶ στάδιοι ἑξαϰόσιοι ϰαὶ τϱισχίλιοι, σχοίνων ἑξήϰοντα ἐόντων, ἴσοι ϰαὶ αὐτῆς Αἰγύπτου τὸ παϱὰ ϑάλασσαν. ϰεῖται δὲ μαϰϱὴ ἡ λίμνη πϱὸς βοϱέην τε ϰαὶ νότον, ἐοῦσα βάϑος, τῇ βαϑυτάτη αὐτὴ ἑωυτῆς, πεντηϰοντόϱγυιος.
— II,148,1-149,1.

Moreover, they decided to preserve the memory of their names by a common memorial, and so they made a labyrinth1 a little way beyond lake Moeris and near the place called the City of Crocodiles. I have seen it myself, and indeed words cannot describe it; if one were to collect the walls and evidence of other efforts of the Greeks, the sum would not amount to the labor and cost of this labyrinth. And yet the temple at Ephesus and the one on Samos are noteworthy. Though the pyramids beggar description and each one of them is a match for many great monuments built by Greeks, this maze surpasses even the pyramids. It has twelve roofed courts with doors facing each other: six face north and six south, in two continuous lines, all within one outer wall. There are also double sets of chambers, three thousand altogether, fifteen hundred above and the same number under ground. We ourselves viewed those that are above ground, and speak of what we have seen, but we learned through conversation about the underground chambers; the Egyptian caretakers would by no means show them, as they were, they said, the burial vaults of the kings who first built this labyrinth, and of the sacred crocodiles. Thus we can only speak from hearsay of the lower chambers; the upper we saw for ourselves, and they are creations greater than human. The exits of the chambers and the mazy passages hither and thither through the courts were an unending marvel to us as we passed from court to apartment and from apartment to colonnade, from colonnades again to more chambers and then into yet more courts. Over all this is a roof, made of stone like the walls, and the walls are covered with cut figures, and every court is set around with pillars of white stone very precisely fitted together. Near the corner where the labyrinth ends stands a pyramid two hundred and forty feet high, on which great figures are cut. A passage to this has been made underground. Such is this labyrinth; and still more marvellous is lake Moeris, on which it stands. This lake has a circumference of four hundred and fifty miles, or sixty schoeni: as much as the whole seaboard of Egypt. Its length is from north to south; the deepest part has a depth of fifty fathoms.
— Translated by Alfred Denis Godley. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920.


Μανέϑων — Manetho: Aegyptiaca

Λαχάϱης, ἔτη ηʹ, ὃς τὸν ἐν Ἀϱσινοΐτῃ λαβύϱινϑον ἑαυτῷ τάφον ϰατεσϰεύασε.
— Fr. 34 Syncellus. Κατά Αφϱιϰανών.

Lacharēs (Λαμάϱης, Lamarēs, Amenemhēt III),​ for 8 years: he built the Labyrinth​ in the Arsinoïte nome as his own tomb.
— II, Dynasty XII, Fr. 34,4.


Διόδωϱος ὁ Σιϰελιώτης · Ιστοϱιϰή βιβλιοϑήϰη — Diodorus Siculus

Τοῦ δὲ βασιλέως τούτου τελευτήσαντος ἀνεϰτήσαντο τὴν ἀϱχὴν Αἰγύπτιοι, ϰαὶ ϰατέστησαν ἐγχώϱιον βασιλέα Μένδην, ὅν τινες Μάϱϱον πϱοσονομάζουσιν. οὗτος δὲ πολεμιϰὴν μὲν πϱᾶξιν οὐδ᾽ ἡντινοῦν ἐπετελέσατο, τάφον δ᾽ αὑτῷ ϰατεσϰεύασε τὸν ὀνομαζόμενον λαβύϱινϑον, οὐχ οὕτω ϰατὰ τὸ μέγεϑος τῶν ἔϱγων ϑαυμαστὸν ὡς πϱὸς τὴν φιλοτεχνίαν δυσμίμητον: ὁ γὰϱ εἰσελϑὼν εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ δύναται ῥᾳδίως τὴν ἔξοδον εὑϱεῖν, ἐὰν μὴ τύχῃ τινὸς ὁδηγοῦ παντελῶς ἐμπείϱου. φασὶ δέ τινες ϰαὶ τὸν Δαίδαλον εἰς Αἴγυπτον παϱαβαλόντα ϰαὶ ϑαυμάσαντα τὴν ἐν τοῖς ἔϱγοις τέχνην ϰατασϰευάσαι τῷ βασιλεύοντι τῆς Κϱήτης Μίνῳ λαβύϱινϑον ὅμοιον τῷ ϰατ᾽ Αἴγυπτον, ἐν ᾧ γενέσϑαι μυϑολογοῦσι τὸν λεγόμενον Μινώταυϱον. ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν ϰατὰ τὴν Κϱήτην ἠφανίσϑη τελέως, εἴτε δυνάστου τινὸς ϰατασϰάψαντος εἴτε τοῦ χϱόνου τοὖϱγον λυμηναμένου: ὁ δὲ ϰατ᾽ Αἴγυπτον ἀϰέϱαιον τὴν ὅλην ϰατασϰευὴν τετήϱηϰε μέχϱι τοῦ ϰαϑ᾽ ἡμᾶς βίου.
— I,61,1-4.

After the death of this king the Egyptians regained the control of their government and placed on the throne a native king, Mendes, whom some call Marrus. So far as war is concerned this ruler did not accomplish anything at all, but he did build himself a tomb known as the Labyrinth,​48 which was not so remarkable for its size as it was impossible to imitate in respect to its ingenious design; for a man who enters it cannot easily find his way out, unless he gets a guide who is thoroughly acquainted with the structure. And some say that Daedalus, visiting Egypt and admiring the skill shown in the building, also constructed for Minos, the king of Crete, a labyrinth like the one in Egypt, in which was kept, as the myth relates, the beast called Minotaur. However, the labyrinth in Crete has entirely disappeared, whether it be that some ruler razed it to the ground or that time effaced the work, but the one in Egypt has stood intact in its entire structure down to our lifetime.

Εἰς ταύτην δὲ τὴν ἐπιβολὴν φιλοϰαλοῦντες ἔσπευσαν ὑπεϱβαλέσϑαι τῷ μεγέϑει τῶν ἔϱγων ἅπαντας τοὺς πϱὸ αὑτῶν. ἐϰλεξάμενοι γὰϱ τόπον παϱὰ τὸν εἴσπλουν τὸν εἰς τὴν Μοίϱιδος λίμνην ἐν τῇ Λιβύῃ ϰατεσϰεύαζον τὸν τάφον ἐϰ τῶν ϰαλλίστων λίϑων, ϰαὶ τῷ μὲν σχήματι τετϱάγωνον ὑπεστήσαντο, τῷ δὲ μεγέϑει σταδιαίαν ἑϰάστην πλευϱάν, ταῖς δὲ γλυφαῖς ϰαὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις χειϱουϱγίαις ὑπεϱβολὴν οὐϰ ἀπέλιπον τοῖς ἐπιγινομένοις. εἰσελϑόντι μὲν γὰϱ τὸν πεϱίβολον οἶϰος ἦν πεϱίστυλος, ἑϰάστης πλευϱᾶς ἐϰ τετταϱάϰοντα ϰιόνων ἀναπληϱουμένης, ϰαὶ τούτου μονόλιϑος ἦν ὀϱοφή, φάτναις διαγεγλυμμένη ϰαὶ γϱαφαῖς διαφόϱοις πεποιϰιλμένη. εἶχε δὲ τῆς πατϱίδος τῆς ἑϰάστου τῶν βασιλέων ὑπομνήματα ϰαὶ τῶν ἱεϱῶν ϰαὶ ϑυσιῶν τῶν ἐν αὐτῇ ταῖς ϰαλλίσταις γϱαφαῖς φιλοτέχνως δεδημιουϱγημένα. ϰαϑόλου δὲ τοιαύτην τῇ πολυτελείᾳ ϰαὶ τηλιϰαύτην τῷ μεγέϑει τὴν ὑπόστασιν τοῦ τάφου λέγεται ποιήσασϑαι τοὺς βασιλεῖς, ὥστ᾽ εἰ μὴ πϱὸ τοῦ συντελέσαι τὴν ἐπιβολὴν ϰατελύϑησαν, μηδεμίαν ἂν ὑπεϱβολὴν ἑτέϱοις πϱὸς ϰατασϰευὴν ἔϱγων ἀπολιπεῖν.
— I,66,3-6.

Being full of zeal for this undertaking they eagerly strove to surpass all preceding rulers in the magnitude of their structure. For selecting a site at the entrance to Lake Moeris in Libya​ they constructed their tomb of the finest stone, and they made it in form a square but in magnitude a stade in length on each side; and in the carvings and, indeed, in all the workmanship they left nothing wherein succeeding rulers could excel them. For as a man passed through the enclosing wall he found himself in a court surrounded by columns, forty on each side, and the roof of the court consisted of a single stone, which was worked into coffers​ and adorned with excellent paintings. This court also contained memorials of the native district of each king and of the temples and sacrificial rites therein, artistically portrayed in most beautiful paintings. And in general, the kings are said to have made the plan of their tomb on such an expensive and enormous scale that, had they not died before the execution of their purpose, they would have left no possibility for others to surpass them, so far as the construction of monuments is concerned.
— Translated by Charles Henry Oldfather. London: Heinemann, 1933.


Publius Vergilius Maro: Aeneis


At pater Aeneas nondum certamine misso
custodem ad sese comitemque impubis Iuli
Epytiden vocat, et fidam sic fatur ad aurem:
’vade age et Ascanio, si iam puerile paratum
agmen habet secum cursusque instruxit equorum,
ducat auo turmas et sese ostendat in armis
dic’ ait. ipse omnem longo decedere circo
infusum populum et campos iubet esse patentis.
incedunt pueri pariterque ante ora parentum
frenatis lucent in equis, quos omnis euntis
Trinacriae mirata fremit Troiaeque iuventus.
omnibus in morem tonsa coma pressa corona;
cornea bina ferunt praefixa hastilia ferro,
pars levis umero pharetras; it pectore summo
flexilis obtorti per collum circulus auri.
tres equitum numero turmae ternique vagantur
ductores; pueri bis seni quemque secuti
agmine partito fulgent paribusque magistris.
una acies iuvenum, ducit quam parvus ovantem
nomen avi referens Priamus, tua clara, Polite,
progenies, auctura Italos; quem Thracius albis
portat equus bicolor maculis, vestigia primi
alba pedis frontemque ostentans arduus albam.
alter Atys, genus unde Atii duxere Latini,
paruus Atys pueroque puer dilectus Iulo.
extremus formaque ante omnis pulcher Iulus
Sidonio est invectus equo, quem candida Dido
esse sui dederat monimentum et pignus amoris.
cetera Trinacriis pubes senioris Acestae
fertur equis.
excipiunt plausu pavidos gaudentque tuentes
Dardanidae, veterumque agnoscunt ora parentum.
postquam omnem laeti consessum oculosque suorum
lustravere in equis, signum clamore paratis
Epytides longe dedit insonuitque flagello.
olli discurrere pares atque agmina terni
diductis solvere choris, rursusque vocati
convertere vias infestaque tela tulere.
inde alios ineunt cursus aliosque recursus
adversi spatiis, alternosque orbibus orbis
impediunt pugnaeque cient simulacra sub armis;
et nunc terga fuga nudant, nunc spicula vertunt
infensi, facta pariter nunc pace feruntur.
ut quondam Creta fertur Labyrinthus in alta
parietibus textum caecis iter ancipitemque
mille viis habuisse dolum, qua signa sequendi
frangeret indeprensus et inremeabilis error;
haud alio Teucrum nati vestigia cursu
impediunt texuntque fugas et proelia ludo,
delphinum similes qui per maria umida nando
Carpathium Libycumque secant [luduntque per undas].
hunc morem cursus atque haec certamina primus
Ascanius, Longam muris cum cingeret Albam,
rettulit et priscos docuit celebrare Latinos,
quo puer ipse modo, secum quo Troia pubes;
Albani docuere suos; hinc maxima porro
accepit Roma et patrium servavit honorem;
Troiaque nunc pueri, Troianum dicitur agmen.
hac celebrata tenus sancto certamina patri.
Lusus Troiae, V,545–603.

Doch der Vater Äneas, bevor er entlassen das Kampfspiel,
Ruft den Geleiter und Rat des erblühenden Knaben Iulus,
Epytus Sohn, und vertraut dem Ohre des Redlichen solches:
Geh, dem Ascanius sage, wenn schon er bereitet die Schar hat
Edeler Knaben um sich und den Lauf der Rosse geordnet,
Führ’ er dem Ahn die Geschwader und zeige sich selbst in der Rüstung.
Sprach’s, und er selber entfernt weither aus dem Raum des Bezirkes
Alles sich drängende Volk, und gebeut, daß offenes Feld sei.
Auf ziehn jetzo die Knaben, und gleich vor den Augen der Eltern
Glühn auf gezäumeten Rossen sie her; und den Wandelnden staunet
Rings der Trinacrierschar und der troischen Jugend Gemurmel.
Allen drückt nach der Weise das Haar ein geschorener Helmkranz;
Zwei kornellene Spieße, mit Stahl vorblinkende, trägt man;
Dort ist die Schulter vom Köcher umglänzt, und am oberen Busen
Schwebt den Hals umwindend, ein Reif von gedrehetem Golde.
Drei der Reitergeschwader an Zahl, drei mutige Führer
Traben einher; zwölf Knaben, die jeglichem folgen in Ordnung,
Gehn in gesondertem Zug glanzvoll, und mit gleichen Erziehern
Eine prangende Schar der Jünglinge führet der kleine
Priamus, vom Großvater benannt, dein Sproß, o Polites,
Fort zu blühen bestimmt in Italia: den ein geschecktes
Thracierroß herträgt, mit schimmernden Flecken gezeichnet,
Weiß am vorderen Tritt, und weiß aufbäumend die Stirne.
Atys zunächst, der die Folge der latischen Atier anhebt,
Atys der klein’, als Knabe geliebt vom Knaben Iulus.
Aber zuletzt ragt herrlich an Reiz vor allen Iulus,
Vom sidonischen Rosse geführt, das die treffliche Dido
Ihm zum Pfand’ und Gedächtnis der herzlichen Liebe geschenket.
Sonst auf trinacrischen Rossen des altenden Helden Acestes
Reitet der Trupp.
Klatschend empfahn die Verschämten und freun sich die Dardaner ringsum
Schauend den Zug, und erkennen die Bildungen alter Erzeuger.
Als sie die sitzenden Männer nunmehr und der Ihrigen Anblick
Fröhlich vorübergeschwebt, da gab den Fertigen rufend
Epytus Sohn ein Zeichen von fern, und es hallte die Geißel.
Jene zerstreun sich in gleicher Gestalt und lösen den Heerzug
Dreifach all’ in Chöre gereiht; auf erneueten Zuruf
Wenden sie wieder den Schwung und sprengen mit feindlicher Wehr an.
Anderen Lauf beginnen sie nun und anderen Rücklauf,
Häufig entgegen geschwenkt und wechselnde Kreise mit Kreisen
Drehn sie herum, und stellen das Bild der gewaffneten Feldschlacht.
Bald in Flucht sind die Rücken geblößt; bald wenden sie feindlich
Spitzige Wehr; bald wieder vereiniget, schweben sie friedsam.
So wie das Kunstlabyrinth vormals in der felsigen Creta
Blinder Gewölb’ Ausschweif’, und tausendfache Verwicklung
Tappender Weg’ umdrehte zum Trug, wo Zeichen des Fortgehns
Eitelte unmerkbarer und unrückgängiger Irrtum:
Nicht mit anderem Lauf verwirrt die teucrische Jugend
Häufig die Spur: und sie tummeln in Flucht und spielendem Angriff:
Wie wenn ein Schwarm Delphine das Meer durchschwimmet, und spaltend
Bald carpathische Flut, bald libysche, spielt in der Wallung.
Diesen Gebrauch, dies Rennen des Kampfs hat Ascanius eh’mals,
Als er zuerst ummaurte die langgereihete Alba,
Eingeführt, und zu feiern gelehrt uralte Latiner,
So wie er selbst als Knabe zuvor mit der troischen Jugend.
Alba lehrte die Söhne hinfort, von welchen die große
Roma empfahn und behauptet die angeerbete Ehre:
Noch sind Troja die Knaben genannt, noch troischer Aufzug.
So weit daurten die Kämpfe, gefeiert dem göttlichen Vater.
— Übersetzt von Johann Heinrich Voß. Leipzig: Reklam, 1875.


Στϱάβων · Γεωγϱαφιϰά — Strabo: Geographica

Ἡ δὲ χώϱα τὴν μὲν πϱώτην διαίϱεσιν εἰς νομοὺς ἔσχε, δέϰα μὲν ἡ Θηβαΐς, δέϰα δ᾽ ἡ ἐν τῷ Δέλτα, ἑϰϰαίδεϰα δ᾽ ἡ μεταξύ: ὡς δέ τινες, τοσοῦτοι ἦσαν οἱ σύμπαντες νομοὶ ὅσαι αἱ ἐν τῷ λαβυϱίνϑῳ αὐλαί: αὗται δ᾽ ἐλάττους τῶν τϱιάϰοντα ϰαὶ ἕξ: πάλιν δ᾽ οἱ νομοὶ τομὰς ἄλλας ἔσχον: εἰς γὰϱ τοπαϱχίας οἱ πλεῖστοι διῄϱηντο, ϰαὶ αὗται δ᾽ εἰς ἄλλας τομάς: ἐλάχισται δ᾽ αἱ ἄϱουϱαι μεϱίδες.
— XVII,i,3.

The country was at first divided into nomes. The Thebaïs contained ten, the Delta ten, and the intermediate tract sixteen. But according to some writers, all the nomes together amounted to the number of chambers in the Labyrinth. Now these were less than thirty [six]. The nomes were again divided into other sections. The greater number of the nomes were distributed into toparchies, and these again into other sections; the smallest portions were the arouræ.

Πϱὸς δὲ τούτοις ἡ τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου ϰατασϰευὴ πάϱισον ταῖς πυϱαμίσιν ἐστὶν ἔϱγον ϰαὶ ὁ παϱαϰείμενος τάφος τοῦ ϰατασϰευάσαντος βασιλέως τὸν λαβύϱινϑον. ἔστι δὲ ϰατὰ τὸν πϱῶτον εἴσπλουν τὸν εἰς τὴν διώϱυγα πϱοελϑόντι ὅσον τϱιάϰοντα ἢ τετταϱάϰοντα σταδίους ἐπίπεδόν τι τϱαπεζῶδες χωϱίον, ἔχον ϰώμην τε ϰαὶ βασίλειον μέγα ἐϰ πολλῶν βασιλείων, ὅσοι πϱότεϱον ἦσαν νομοί: τοσαῦται γάϱ εἰσιν αὐλαὶ πεϱίστυλοι συνεχεῖς ἀλλήλαις ἐφ᾽ ἕνα στίχον πᾶσαι ϰαὶ ἐφ᾽ ἑνὸς τοίχου ὡς ἂν τείχους μαϰϱοῦ πϱοϰειμένας ἔχοντος τὰς αὐλάς: αἱ δ᾽ εἰς αὐτὰς ὁδοὶ ϰαταντιϰϱὺ τοῦ τείχους εἰσί: πϱόϰεινται δὲ τῶν εἰσόδων ϰϱυπταί τινες μαϰϱαὶ ϰαὶ πολλαί, δι᾽ ἀλλήλων ἔχουσαι σϰολιὰς τὰς ὁδοὺς ὥστε χωϱὶς ἡγεμόνος μηδενὶ τῶν ξένων εἶναι δυνατὴν τὴν εἰς ἑϰάστην αὐλὴν πάϱοδόν τε ϰαὶ ἔξοδον. τὸ δὲ ϑαυμαστόν, ὅτι αἱ στέγαι τῶν οἴϰων ἑϰάστου μονόλιϑοι, ϰαὶ τῶν ϰϱυπτῶν τὰ πλάτη μονολίϑοις ὡσαύτως ἐστέγασται πλαξὶν ὑπεϱβαλλούσαις τὸ μέγεϑος, ξύλων οὐδαμοῦ ϰαταμεμιγμένων οὐδ᾽ ἄλλης ὕλης οὐδεμιᾶς: ἀναβάντα τε ἐπὶ τὸ στέγος οὐ μεγάλῳ ὕψει ἅτε μονοστέγῳ ἔστιν ἰδεῖν πεδίον λίϑινον ἐϰ τηλιϰούτων λίϑων, ἐντεῦϑεν δὲ πάλιν εἰς τὰς αὐλὰς ἐϰπίπτοντα ἑξῆς ὁϱᾶν ϰειμένας ὑπὸ μονολίϑων ϰιόνων ὑπηϱεισμένας ἑπτὰ ϰαὶ εἴϰοσι: ϰαὶ οἱ τοῖχοι δὲ οὐϰ ἐξ ἐλαττόνων τῷ μεγέϑει λίϑων σύγϰεινται. ἐπὶ τέλει δὲ τῆς οἰϰοδομίας ταύτης πλέον ἢ στάδιον ἐπεχούσης ὁ τάφος ἐστί, πυϱαμὶς τετϱάγωνος, ἑϰάστην τετϱάπλεϑϱον πως ἔχουσα τὴν πλευϱὰν ϰαὶ τὸ ἴσον ὕψος: Ἰμάνδης δ᾽ ὄνομα ὁ ταφείς. πεποιῆσϑαι δέ φασι τὰς αὐλὰς τοσαύτας, ὅτι τοὺς νομοὺς ἔϑος ἦν ἐϰεῖσε συνέϱχεσϑαι πάντας ἀϱιστίνδην μετὰ τῶν οἰϰείων ἱεϱέων ϰαὶ ἱεϱειῶν, ϑυσίας τε1 ϰαὶ διϰαιοδοσίας πεϱὶ τῶν μεγίστων χάϱιν: ϰατήγετο δὲ τῶν νομῶν ἕϰαστος εἰς τὴν ἀποδειχϑεῖσαν αὐλὴν αὐτῷ.
— XVII,i,37.

We have here also the Labyrinth, a work equal to the Pyramids, and adjoining to it the tomb of the king who constructed the Labyrinth. After proceeding beyond the first entrance of the canal about 30 or 40 stadia, there is a table-shaped plain, with a village and a large palace composed of as many palaces as there were formerly nomes. There are an equal number of aulæ, surrounded by pillars, and contiguous to one another, all in one line and forming one building, like a long wall having the aulæ in front of it. The entrances into the aulæ are opposite to the wall. In front of the entrances there are long and numerous covered ways, with winding passages communicating with each other, so that no stranger could find his way into the aulæ or out of them without a guide. The (most) surprising circumstance is that the roofs of these dwellings consist of a single stone each, and that the covered ways through their whole range were roofed in the same manner with single slabs of stone of extraordinary size, without the intermixture of timber or of any other material. On ascending the roof, — which is not of great height for it consists only of a single story, — there may be seen a stonefield, thus composed of stones. Descending again and looking into the aulæ, these may be seen in a line supported by twenty-seven pillars, each consisting of a single stone. The walls also are constructed of stones not inferior in size to these. At the end of this building, which occupies more than a stadium, is the tomb, which is a quadrangular pyramid, each side of which is about four plethra in length, and of equal height. The name of the person buried there is Imandes. They built, it is said, this number of aulæ, because it was the custom for all the nomes to assemble there together according to their rank, with their own priests and priestesses, for the purpose of performing sacrifices and making offerings to the gods, and of administering justice in matters of great importance. Each of the nomes was conducted to the aula appointed for it.


Ἔπειτα Πτολεμαϊϰὴ πόλις, μεγίστη τῶν ἐν τῇ Θηβαΐδι ϰαὶ οὐϰ ἐλάττων Μέμφεως, ἔχουσα ϰαὶ σύστημα πολιτιϰὸν ἐν τῷ ἑλληνιϰῷ τϱόπῳ. ὑπὲϱ δὲ ταύτης ἡ Ἄβυδος, ἐν ᾗ τὸ Μεμνόνιον βασίλειον ϑαυμαστῶς ϰατεσϰευασμένον ὁλόλιϑον τῇ αὐτῇ ϰατασϰευῇ ᾗπεϱ τὸν λαβύϱινϑον ἔφαμεν, οὐ πολλαπλοῦν δέ: ϰαὶ ϰϱήνη ἐν βάϑει ϰειμένη ὥστε ϰαταβαίνειν εἰς αὐτὴν ϰαταϰαμφϑεισῶν ψαλίδων διὰ μονολίϑων ὑπεϱβαλλόντων τῷ μεγέϑει ϰαὶ τῇ ϰατασϰευῇ. ἔστι δὲ διῶϱυξ ἄγουσα ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον ἀπὸ τοῦ μεγάλου ποταμοῦ. πεϱὶ δὲ τὴν διώϱυγα ἀϰανϑῶν τῶν Αἰγυπτίων ἄλσος ἐστὶν ἱεϱὸν τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος. ἔοιϰε δὲ ὑπάϱξαι ποτὲ ἡ Ἄβυδος πόλις μεγάλη, δευτεϱεύουσα μετὰ τὰς Θήβας, νυνὶ δ᾽ ἐστὶ ϰατοιϰία μιϰϱά: εἰ δ᾽ ὥς φασιν ὁ Μέμνων ὑπὸ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων Ἰσμάνδης λέγεται, ϰαὶ ὁ λαβύϱινϑος Μεμνόνιον ἂν εἴη ϰαὶ τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἔϱγον οὗπεϱ ϰαὶ τὰ ἐν Ἀβύδῳ ϰαὶ τὰ ἐν Θήβαις: ϰαὶ γὰϱ ἐϰεῖ λέγεταί τινα Μεμνόνια. ϰατὰ δὲ τὴν Ἄβυδον ἔστιν ἡ πϱώτη αὔασις ἐϰ τῶν λεχϑεισῶν τϱιῶν ἐν τῇ Λιβύῃ, διέχουσα ὁδὸν ἡμεϱῶν ἑπτὰ ἐνϑένδε δι᾽ ἐϱημίας, εὔυδϱός τε ϰατοιϰία ϰαὶ εὔοινος ϰαὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἱϰανή, δευτέϱα δ᾽ ἡ ϰατὰ τὴν Μοίϱιδος λίμνην, τϱίτη δὲ ἡ ϰατὰ τὸ μαντεῖον τὸ ἐν Ἄμμωνι: ϰαὶ αὗται δὲ ϰατοιϰίαι εἰσὶν ἀξιόλογοι.
— XVII,i,42.

Then follows Ptolemaïs, the largest city in the Thebais, not inferior to Memphis, with a form of government after the Grecian mode. Above this city is Abydos, where is the palace of Memnon, constructed in a singular manner, entirely of stone, and after the plan of the Labyrinth, which we have described, but not composed of many parts. It has a fountain situated at a great depth. There is a descent to it through an arched passage built with single stones, of remarkable size and workmanship. There is a canal which leads to this place from the great river. About the canal is a grove of Egyptian acanthus, dedicated to Apollo. Abydos seems once to have been a large city, second to Thebes. At present it is a small town. But if, as they say, Memnon is called Ismandes by the Egyptians, the Labyrinth might be a Memnonium, and the work of the same person who constructed those at Abydos and at Thebes; for in those places, it is said, are some Memnonia. In the latitude of Abydos is the first Auasis (Oasis) of the three which are said to be in Africa. It is distant from Abydos a journey of seven days through a desert. It is an inhabited place, well supplied with good water and wine, and sufficiently provided with other articles. The second is that near the lake Mœris. The third is that at the oracle of Ammon: these are considerable settlements.
— Translated by H. C. Hamilton, W. Falconer. London: George Bell & Sons. 1903.


Publius Ovidius Naso: Metamorphoses

Vota Iovi Minos taurorum corpora centum
solvit, ut egressus ratibus Curetida terram
contigit, et spoliis decorata est regia fixis.
creverat obprobrium generis, foedumque patebat
matris adulterium monstri novitate biformis;
destinat hunc Minos thalami removere pudorem
multiplicique domo caecisque includere tectis.
Daedalus ingenio fabrae celeberrimus artis
ponit opus turbatque notas et lumina flexum
ducit in errorem variarum ambage viarum.
non secus ac liquidus Phrygiis Maeandros in undis
ludit et ambiguo lapsu refluitque fluitque,
occurrensque sibi venturas aspicit undas
et nunc ad fontes, nunc ad mare versus apertum
incertas exercet aquas: ita Daedalus implet
innumeras errore vias vixque ipse reverti
ad limen potuit: tanta est fallacia tecti.
Quo postquam geminam tauri iuvenisque figuram
clausit, et Actaeo bis pastum sanguine monstrum
tertia sors annis domuit repetita novenis,
utque ope virginea nullis iterata priorum
ianua difficilis filo est inventa relecto,
protinus Aegides rapta Minoide Diam
vela dedit comitemque suam crudelis in illo
litore destituit; desertae et multa querenti
amplexus et opem Liber tulit, utque perenni
sidere clara foret, sumptam de fronte coronam
inmisit caelo: tenues volat illa per auras
dumque volat, gemmae nitidos vertuntur in ignes
consistuntque loco specie remanente coronae,
qui medius Nixique genu est Anguemque tenentis.
— VIII,152-182.

Minos bestimmt, zu entfernen der ehlichen Kammer Beschimpfung,
Mit vielgängigem Haus’ und blindem Verschloß sie umhegend.
Dädalus, hochgepriesen in schaffender Kunst und Erfindung,
Gründet das Werk, und verwirret die Merkmal’, und in des Irrtums
Windungen führt er die Schwelle durch vielfach schlängelnden Umschweif
So wie in phrygischen Auen der lautere Strom des Mäandros
Scherzt, und in zweifelndem Laufe gekrümmt abfleußt und zurückfleußt;
Selbst begegnend sich selbst, erblickt er die kommenden Wasser;
Und nun gegen den Quell, nun gegen das offene Meer hin,
Treibt er die unentschiedene Flut: so drehet der Künstler
Zahllos irrender Gänge Gemisch. Kaum findet er selber
Sich zu der Schwelle zurück; so täuschet der Trug des Verschlosses.
Als er die Doppelgestalt des Stiers und des Jünglings einschloß,
Und das Gezücht, das zweimal mit attischem Blut sich gesättigt,
Sank dem dritten der Loose nach neun umrollenden Jahren;
Als zu der schwierigen Pforte, die kein Vorgänger gewonnen,
Durch jungfräulichen Rath der verschlungene Faden zurückwies:
Stracks nun lenkt der Aegide das schwellende Segel gen Dia,
Samt der entführeten Braut. Doch der Grausame ließ Ariadne
Dort am Gestade zurück. Der verlassenen, klagenden Fürstin
Nahete Liber mit Schuz und Umarmungen; und, daß ihr ewig
Strahle der Ruhm im Gestirn, die dem Haupt enthobene Krone
Sandt’ er zum Himmel empor, sie durchfliegt sanftathmende Lüfte;
Und wie sie fliegt, sind die Stein’ in plötzliche Funken verwandelt;
Und sie behaupten den Ort mit bleibendem Glanze der Krone,
Zwischen dem knieenden Bild’ und dem schlangehaltenden schwebend.
— Johann Heinrich Voß: Verwandlungen nach Publius Ovidius Naso. Berlin: Vieweg, 1798. II, pp. 60-62.


Publius Ovidius Naso: Epistulae heroidum

Ariadne Theseo

Illa relicta feris etiam nunc, improbe Theseu
vivit. Et haec aequa mente tulisse velis?
Mitius inveni quam te genus omne ferarum;
 credita non ulli quam tibi peius eram.
quae legis, ex illo, Theseu, tibi litore mitto
 unde tuam sine me vela tulere ratem,
in quo me somnusque meus male prodidit et tu,
 per facinus somnis insidiate meis.
Tempus erat, vitrea quo primum terra pruina
 spargitur et tectae fronde queruntur aves;
incertum vigilans ac somno languida movi
 Thesea prensuras semisupina manus:
nullus erat. referoque manus iterumque retempto
 perque torum moveo bracchia: nullus erat.
excussere metus somnum; conterrita surgo
 membraque sunt viduo praecipitata toro.
protinus adductis sonuerunt pectora palmis
 utque erat e somno turbida, rupta coma est.
Luna fuit; specto siquid nisi litora cernam;
 quod videant oculi, nil nisi litus habent.
nunc huc, nunc illuc et utroque sine ordine, curro,
 alta puellares tardat harena pedes.
interea toto clamanti litore „Theseu!“
 reddebant nomen concava saxa tuum
et quotiens ego te, totiens locus ipse vocabat;
 ipse locus miserae ferre volebat opem.
Mons fuit; apparent frutices in vertice rari;
 hinc scopulus raucis pendet adesus aquis.
adscendo; vires animus dabat; atque ita late
 aequora prospectu metior alta meo.
inde ego—nam ventis quoque sum crudelibus usa—
 vidi praecipiti carbasa tenta Noto.
aut vidi aut fuerant quae me vidisse putarem;
 frigidior glacie semianimisque fui.
nec languere diu patitur dolor. excitor illo,
 excitor et summa Thesea voce voco.
„quo fugis?“ exclamo „scelerate revertere Theseu!
 flecte ratem! numerum non habet illa suum!“
Haec ego. quod voci deerat, plangore replebam;
 verbera cum verbis mixta fuere meis.
si non audires, ut saltem cernere posses:
 iactatae late signa dedere manus.
candidaque imposui longae velamina virgae
 scilicet oblitos admonitura mei.
iamque oculis ereptus eras. tum denique flevi;
 torpuerant molles ante dolore genae.
quid potius facerent, quam me mea lumina flerent,
 postquam desieram vela videre tua?
aut ego diffusis erravi sola capillis,
 qualis ab Ogygio concita Baccha deo;
aut mare prospiciens in saxo frigida sedi,
 quamque lapis sedes, tam lapis ipsa fui.
saepe torum repeto qui nos acceperat ambos,
 sed non acceptos exhibiturus erat
et tua quae possum pro te vestigia tango
 strataque quae membris intepuere tuis.
incumbo lacrimisque toro manante profusis
 „pressimus“ exclamo „te duo, redde duos!
venimus huc ambo; cur non discedimus ambo?
 perfide, pars nostri, lectule, maior ubi est?“
Quid faciam? quo sola ferar? vacat insula cultu;
 non hominum video, non ego facta boum.
omne latus terrae cingit mare; navita nusquam.
 nulla per ambiguas puppis itura vias.
finge dari comitesque mihi ventosque ratemque,
 quid sequar? accessus terra paterna negat.
ut rate felici pacata per aequora labar,
 temperet ut ventos Aeolus; exul ero.
non ego te, Crete, centum digesta per urbes,
 adspiciam, puero cognita terra Iovi.
at pater et tellus iusto regnata parenti
 prodita sunt facto, nomina cara, meo,
cum tibi, ne victor tecto morerere recurvo,
 quae regerent passus, pro duce fila dedi.
tum mihi dicebas: „per ego ipsa pericula iuro
 te fore, dum nostrum vivet uterque, meam.“
Vivimus, et non sum, Theseu, tua, si modo vivis,
 femina periuri fraude sepulta viri.
me quoque, qua fratrem mactasses, improbe, clava!
 esset, quam dederas, morte soluta fides.
nunc ego non tantum, quae sum passura, recordor,
 sed quaecumque potest ulla relicta pati.
occurrunt animo pereundi mille figurae,
 morsque minus poenae quam mora mortis habet.
iam iam venturos aut hac aut suspicor illac,
 qui lanient avido viscera dente lupos.
forsitan et fulvos tellus alat ista leones?
 quis scit an et saevas tigridas insula habet.
et freta dicuntur magnas expellere phocas;
 quis vetat et gladios per latus ire meum?
Tantum ne religer dura captiva catena,
 neve traham serva grandia pensa manu,
cui pater est Minos, cui mater filia Phoebi,
 quodque magis memini, quae tibi pacta fui!
si mare, si terras porrectaque litora vidi,
 multa mihi terrae, multa minantur aquae.
caelum restabat; timeo simulacra deorum;
 destituor rapidis praeda cibusque feris.
sive colunt habitantque viri, diffidimus illis;
 externos didici laesa timere viros.
Viveret Androgeos utinam, nec facta luisses
 impia funeribus, Cecropi terra, tuis;
nec tua mactasset nodoso stipite, Theseu,
 ardua parte virum dextera, parte bovem;
nec tibi, quae reditus monstrarent, fila dedissem,
 fila per adductas saepe recepta manus.
non equidem miror, si stat victoria tecum
 strataque Cretaeam belua planxit humum.
non poterant figi praecordia ferrea cornu;
 ut te non tegeres, pectore tutus eras.
illic tu silices, illic adamanta tulisti,
 illic, qui silices, Thesea, vincat, habes.
Crudeles somni, quid me tenuistis inertem?
 aut semel aeterna nocte premenda fui.
vos quoque crudeles venti, nimiumque parati
 flaminaque in lacrimas officiosa meas;
dextera crudelis, quae me fratremque necavit,
 et data poscenti, nomen inane, fides:
in me iurarunt somnus ventusque fidesque:
 prodita sum causis una puella tribus.
Ergo ego nec lacrimas matris moritura videbo
 nec mea qui digitis lumina condat, erit.
spiritus infelix peregrinas ibit in auras
 nec positos artus unguet amica manus.
ossa superstabunt volucres inhumata marinae;
 haec sunt officiis digna sepulcra meis.
ibis Cecropios portus patriaque receptus,
 cum steteris urbis celsus in arce tuae
et bene narraris letum taurique virique
 sectaque per dubias saxea tecta vias;
me quoque narrato sola tellure relictam;
 non ego sum titulis subripienda tuis!
nec pater est Aegeus, nec tu Pittheidos Aethrae
 filius; auctores saxa fretumque tui.
Di facerent ut me summa de puppe videres,
 movisset vultus maesta figura tuos.
nunc quoque non oculis, sed qua potes, adspice mente
 haerentem scopulo quem vaga pulsat aqua;
adspice demissos lugentis more capillos
 et tunicas lacrimis sicut ab imbre graves!
corpus ut impulsae segetes aquilonibus horret
 litteraque articulo pressa tremente labat.
non te per meritum, quoniam male cessit, adoro;
 debita sit facto gratia nulla meo.
sed ne poena quidem. si non ego causa salutis,
 non tamen est cur sis tu mihi causa necis.
Has tibi plangendo lugubria pectora lassas
 infelix tendo trans freta lata manus;
hos tibi qui superant ostendo maesta capillos;
 per lacrimas oro, quas tua facta movent:
flecte ratem, Theseu, versoque relabere vento;
 si prius occidero, tu tamen ossa feres.

Even now, left to the wild beasts, she might live, cruel Theseus.
Do you expect her to have endured this too, patiently?
The whole tribe of creatures contrive to be gentler than you:
 not one have I had less confidence in than you.
Theseus, what you read has been sent to you from this land,
 from which your sails carried your ship without me,
in which my sleep, and you, evilly betrayed me,
 conceiving your plans against me while I slept.
It was the time when the earth’s first sprinkled with glassy frost,
 and the hidden birds lament in the leaves:
waking uncertainly, and stirring languidly in sleep,
 half-turning, my hand reached out for Theseus:
there was no one there. I drew back, and tried again,
 and moved my arm across the bed: no one there.
Fear broke through my drowsiness: terrified, I rose
 and hurled my body from the empty bed.
Straight away my hands drummed on my breast, and tore at my hair,
 just as it was, on waking, from my confused sleep.
There was a moon: I looked and saw nothing but the shore:
 wherever my eyes could see, there was nothing but sand.
I ran here and there without any sense of purpose,
 the deep sand slowing a girl’s feet.
Meanwhile I called: ‘Theseus!’ over the whole beach
 your name echoing from the hollow cliffs
and as often as I called you, the place itself called too:
 the place itself wished to give aid to my misery.
There was a hill: a few bushes were visible on its summit:
 a crag hangs there hollowed out by the harsh waves.
I climbed it: courage gave me strength: and I scanned
 the wide waters from that height with my gaze.
Then I saw – now the cruel winds were also felt –
 your ship driven before a fierce southerly gale.
Either with what I saw, or what I may have thought I’d seen:
 I was frozen like ice and half-alive.
But grief allowed no time for languor. I was roused by it,
 and roused, I called to Theseus at the top of my voice.
‘Where are you going?’ I shouted ‘turn back, wicked Theseus!
 Work your ship! You’re without one of your number!’
So I called. When my voice failed I beat my breast instead:
 my blows were interspaced with my words.
If you could not hear at least you might still see:
 I made wide signals with my outstretched hands.
I hung a white cloth on a tall branch,
 hoping those who’d forgotten would remember me.
Now you were lost to sight. Then finally I wept:
 till then my cheeks were numb with grief.
What could my eyes do but weep at myself,
 once they had ceased to see your sails?
Either I wandered alone, with dishevelled hair,
 like a Maenad shaken by the Theban god:
or I sat on the cold rock gazing at the sea,
 and I was as much a stone as the stones I sat on.
Often I seek again the bed that accepted us both,
 but it shows no sign of that acceptance,
and I touch what I can of the traces of you, instead of you,
 and the sheets your body warmed.
I lie there and, wetting the bed with my flowing tears,
 I cry out: ‘We two burdened you, restore the two!
We came here together: why shouldn’t we go together?
 Faithless bed, where’s the better part of me now?
What am I to do? Why endure alone? The island’s unploughed:
 I see no human beings: I can’t imagine there’s an ox.
The land’s encircled by the sea on every side: no sailors,
 no ship to set sail on its uncertain way.
Suppose I was given companions, winds and ship,
 where would I make for? My country denies me access.
If my boat slid gently through peaceful waters,
 calmed by Aeolian winds, I’d be an exile still.
I could not gaze at you, Crete, split in a hundred cities,
 a land that was known to the infant Jove.
But my father and that land justly ruled by my father,
 those dear names, were both betrayed by me.
while you, the victor who retraced your steps, would have died
 in the winding labyrinth, unless guided by the thread I gave you,
Then, you said to me: ‘I swear by the dangers overcome,
 that you’ll be mine while we both shall live.’
We live, and I’m not yours, Theseus, if you still live,
 I’m a woman buried by the fraud of a lying man.
Club that killed my brother, the Minotaur, condemn me too!
 The promise that you gave should be dissolved by death.
Now I see not only what I must endure,
 but what any castaway would suffer.
A thousand images of dying fill my mind,
 and I fear death less than delay in that penalty of death.
At every moment I dream it, coming from here or there,
 as if wolves tore my entrails with eager teeth.
Perhaps this land breeds tawny lions?
 Who knows if this island harbours savage tigers?
And they say that the ocean throws up huge sea-lions:
 and who could prevent some sword piercing my side?
If only I might not be a captive, bound with harsh chains,
 nor draw out endless threads with a slave’s hand,
I whose father is Minos, whose mother is the Sun’s daughter,
 because of that I remember the more, that I was bound to you!
If I see the ocean, the land and the wide shore,
 I fear many things on land, many on the waves.
The sky remains: I fear visions from the gods:
 I’m forsaken, a prey and food for swift beasts.
If men live here and cultivate this place, I distrust them:
 I’ve thoroughly learned to fear wounds from strangers.
I wish my brother Androgeos lived and you Athens, land of Cecrops,
 hadn’t paid with your children’s deaths for his impious murder:
and that you, Theseus hadn’t killed the Minotaur, half man, half bull,
 wielding a knotted club in your strong hand:
and that I hadn’t given you the thread that marked your way back,
 the thread so often received back into the hand that drew it.
I’m not surprised that victory was yours, and the monster,
 prone, lay groaning on the Cretan earth.
His horns could not pierce your iron heart:
 though you might fail to shield it, your breast would be safe.
There you revealed flints and adamants,
 there you’ve a Theseus harder than flint.
Cruel sleep, why did you hold me there, senseless?
 Rather I should have been buried forever in eternal night.
You too cruel winds, you gales, all too ready
 and officious in bringing tears to me:
cruel right hand that causes my death, and my brother’s,
 and offered the promise I asked, an empty name:
Sleep, the breeze, the promise conspired against me:
 one girl, I’m betrayed by three causes.
So it seems I’ll die without seeing my mother’s tears,
 and there’ll be no one to close my eyes.
My unhappy spirit will vanish on a foreign breeze,
 no friendly hand will anoint my laid-out body.
The seabirds will hover over my unburied bones:
 these are the ceremonies fit for my tomb.
You’ll be carried to Athens, and be received by your homeland,
 where you’ll stand in the high fortress of your city,
and speak cleverly of the death of man and bull,
 and the labyrinth’s winding paths cut from the rock:
speak of me also, abandoned in a lonely land:
 I’m not to be dropped, secretly, from your list!
Your father’s not Aegeus: Aethra, daughter of Pittheus,
 is not your mother: your creators were stone and sea.
May the gods have ordained that you saw me from the high stern,
 that my mournful figure altered your expression.
Now see me not with your eyes, but as you can, with your mind,
 clinging to a rock the fickle sea beats against:
see my dishevelled hair like one who is in mourning
 and my clothes heavy with tears like rain!
My body trembles like ears of wheat struck by a north wind
 and the letters I write waver in my unsteady fingers.
I don’t entreat you by my kindness, since that has ended badly:
 let no gratitude be owed for my deeds.
But no punishment either. If I’m not the cause of your health,
 that’s still no reason why you should cause me harm.
These hands weary of beating my sad breast for you,
 unhappily I stretch them out over the wide waters:
I mournfully display to you what remains of my hair:
 I beg you by these tears your actions have caused:
turn your ship, Theseus, fall back against the wind:
 if I die first, you can still bear my bones.
— Translated by A. S. Kline.


Gaius Plinius Secundus: Naturalis Historia

Dicamus et labyrinthos, vel portentosissimum humani inpendii opus, sed non, ut existimari potest, falsum. durat etiam nunc in aegypto in heracleopolite nomo qui primus factus est ante annos, ut tradunt, [iii] dc a petesuchi rege sive tithoe, quamquam herodotus totum opus xii regum esse dicit novissimique psammetichi. causas faciendi varie interpretantur, demoteles regiam moteridis fuisse, lyceas sepulchrum moeridis, plures soli sacrum id exstructum, quod maxime creditur. hinc utique sumpsisse daedalum exemplar eius labyrinthi, quem fecit in creta, non est dubium, sed centensimam tantum portionem eius imitatum, quae itinerum ambages occursusque ac recursus inexplicabiles continet, non – ut in pavimentis puerorumve ludicris campestribus videmus – brevi lacinia milia passuum plura ambulationis continentem, sed crebris foribus inditis ad fallendos occursus redeundumque in errores eosdem. secundus hic fuit ab aegyptio labyrinthus, tertius in lemno, quartus in italia, omnes lapide polito fornicibus tecti, aegyptius, quod miror equidem, introitu lapidis e paro columnisque, reliqua e syenite molibus compositis, quas dissolvere ne saecula quidem possint, adiuvantibus heracleopolitis, quod opus invisum mire spectavere. [27] positionem operis eius singulasque partes enarrare non est, cum sit in regiones divisum atque praefecturas, quas vocant nomos, xxi nominibus eorum totidem vastis domibus adtributis, praeterea templa omnium aegypti deorum contineat superque nemesis xl aediculis incluserit pyramides complures quadragenarum ulnarum senas radice ἀϱούϱας optinentes. fessi iam eundo perveniunt ad viarum illum inexplicabilem errorem, quin et cenacula clivis excelsa, porticusque descenduntur nonagenis gradibus; intus columnae porphyrite lapide, deorum simulacra, regum statuae, monstrificae effigies. quarundam domuum talis est situs, ut adaperientibus fores tonitrum intus terribile existat, maiore autem in parte transitus est per tenebras. aliae rursus extra murum labyrinthi aedificiorum moles; pteron appellant. inde aliae perfossis cuniculis subterraneae domus. refecit unus omnino pauca ibi chaeremon, spado necthebis regis, d ante alexandrum magnum annis. id quoque traditur, fulsisse trabibus spinae oleo incoctae, dum in fornices quadrati lapides adsurgerent. [28] et de cretico labyrintho satis dictum est. lemnius similis illi columnis tantum cl memorabilior fuit, quarum in officina turbines ita librati pependerunt, ut puero circumagente tornarentur. architecti fecere zmilis et rhoecus et theodorus indigenae. exstantque adhuc reliquiae eius, cum cretici italicique nulla vestigia exstent. namque et italicum dici convenit, quem fecit sibi porsina, rex etruriae, sepulchri causa, simul ut externorum regum vanitas quoque italis superetur. sed cum excedat omnia fabulositas, utemur ipsius M. Varronis in expositione ea verbis: „sepultus sub urbe clusio, in quo loco monimentum reliquit lapide quadrato quadratum, singula latera pedum tricenum, alta quinquagenum. in qua basi quadrata intus labyrinthum inextricabile, quo si quis introierit sine glomere lini, exitum invenire nequeat. supra id quadratum pyramides stant quinque, quattuor in angulis et in medio una, imae latae pedum quinum septuagenum, altae centenum quinquagenum, ita fastigatae, ut in summo orbis aeneus et petasus unus omnibus sit inpositus, ex quo pendeant exapta catenis tintinabula, quae vento agitata longe sonitus referant, ut dodonae olim factum. supra quem orbem quattuor pyramides insuper singulae stant altae pedum centenum. supra quas uno solo quinque pyramides.“ quarum altitudinem Varronem puduit adicere; fabulae etruscae tradunt eandem fuisse quam totius operis ad eas, vesana dementia, quaesisse gloriam inpendio nulli profuturo, praeterea fatigasse regni vires, ut tamen laus maior artificis esset.
— XXXVI,26-28.

We must speak also of the Labyrinths, the most stupendous works, perhaps, on which mankind has expended its labours; and not for chimerical purposes, merely, as might possibly be supposed. There is still in Egypt, in the Nome of Heracleopolites, a labyrinth[1], which was the first constructed, three thousand six hundred years ago, they say, by King Petesuchis or Tithöes: although, according to Herodotus, the entire work was the production of no less than twelve kings, the last of whom was Psammetichus. As to the purpose for which it was built, there are various opinions: Demoteles says that it was the palace of King Moteris, and Lyceas that it was the tomb of Mœris, while many others assert that it was a building consecrated to the Sun, an opinion which mostly prevails. That Dædalus took this for the model of the Labyrinth which he constructed in Crete, there can be no doubt; though he only reproduced the hundredth part of it, that portion, namely, which encloses circuitous passages, windings, and inextricable galleries which lead to and fro. We must not, comparing this last to what we see delineated on our mosaic pavements, or to the mazes[2] formed in the fields for the amusement of children, suppose it to be a narrow promenade along which we may walk for many miles together; but we must picture to ourselves a building filled with numerous doors, and galleries which continually mislead the visitor, bringing him back, after all his wanderings, to the spot from which he first set out. This[3] Labyrinth is the second, that of Egypt being the first. There is a third in the Isle of Lemnos, and a fourth in Italy. They are all of them covered with arched roofs of polished stone; at the entrance, too, of the Egyptian Labyrinth, a thing that surprises me, the building is constructed of Parian marble, while throughout the other parts of it the columns are of syenites.[4] With such solidity is this huge mass constructed, that the lapse of ages has been totally unable to destroy it, seconded as it has been by the people of Heracleopolites, who have marvellously ravaged a work which they have always held in abhorrence.

To detail the position of this work and the various portions of it is quite impossible, it being subdivided into regions and præfectures, which are styled nomes, thirty in number, with a vast palace assigned to each. In addition to these, it should contain temples of all the gods of Egypt, and forty statues of Nemesis in as many sacred shrines; besides numerous pyramids, forty ells in height, and covering six aruræ[5] at the base. Fatigued with wandering to and fro, the visitor is sure to arrive at some inextricable crossing or other of the galleries. And then, too, there are banquetting rooms situate at the summit of steep ascents; porticos from which we descend by flights of ninety steps; columns in the interior, made of porphyrites; figures of gods; statues of kings; and effigies of hideous monsters. Some of the palaces are so peculiarly constructed, that the moment the doors are opened a dreadful sound like that of thunder reverberates within: the greater part, too, of these edifices have to be traversed in total darkness. Then again, without the walls of the Labyrinth, there rises another mass of buildings known as the “Pteron;” beneath which there are passages excavated leading to other subterranean palaces. One person, and only one, has made some slight repairs to the Labyrinth; Chæremon[6], an eunuch of King Necthebis, who lived five hundred years before the time of Alexander the Great. It is asserted, also, that while the arched roofs of squared stone were being raised, he had them supported by beams of thorn boiled in oil.

As for the Cretan Labyrinth, what I have already stated must suffice for that. The Labyrinth of Lemnos[7] is similar to it, only that it is rendered more imposing by its hundred and fifty columns; the shafts of which, when in the stone-yard, were so nicely balanced, that a child was able to manage the wheel of the lathe in turning them. The architects were, Smilis[8], Rhœcus, and Theodorus, natives of the island, and there are still in existence some remains of it; whereas of the Cretan Labyrinth and of that in Italy not a vestige is left. As to this last, which Porsena, King of Etruria, erected as his intended sepulchre, it is only proper that I should make some mention of it, if only to show that the vanity displayed by foreign monarchs, great as it is, has been surpassed. But as the fabulousness of the story connected with it quite exceeds all bounds, I shall employ the words given by M. Varro himself in his account of it: — “Porsena was buried,” says he, “beneath the city of Clusium; in the spot where he had had constructed a square monument, built of squared stone. Each side of this monument was three hundred feet in length and fifty in height, and beneath the base, which was also square, there was an inextricable labyrinth, into which if any one entered without a clew of thread, he could never find his way out. Above this square building there stand five pyramids, one at each corner, and one in the middle, seventy-five feet broad at the base, and one hundred and fifty feet in height. These pyramids are so tapering in their form, that upon the summit of all of them united there rests a brazen globe, and upon that a petasus;[9] from which there hang, suspended by chains, bells, which make a tinkling when agitated by the wind, like what was done at Dodona[10] in former times. Upon this globe there are four other pyramids, each one hundred feet in height; and above them is a single platform, on which there are five more pyramids,”[11] — the height of which Varro has evidently felt ashamed to add; but, according to the Etruscan fables, it was equal to that of the rest of the building. What downright madness this, to attempt to seek glory at an outlay which can never be of utility to any one; to say nothing of exhausting the resources of the kingdom, and after all, that the artist may reap the greater share of the praise!
— Translated by John Bostock. London: Taylor and Francis, 1855.


Πλούταϱχου Θησεύς — Plutarch: Theseus

Ὀλίγῳ δὲ ὕστεϱον ἧϰον ἐϰ Κϱήτης τὸ τϱίτον οἱ τὸν δασμὸν ἀπάξοντες. ὅτι μὲν οὖν Ἀνδϱόγεω πεϱὶ τὴν Ἀττιϰὴν ἀποϑανεῖν δόλῳ δόξαντος, ὅ τε Μίνως πολλὰ ϰαϰὰ πολεμῶν εἰϱγάζετο τοὺς ἀνϑϱώπους ϰαὶ τὸ δαιμόνιον ἔφϑειϱε τὴν χώϱαν (ἀφοϱία τε γὰϱ ϰαὶ νόσος ἐνέσϰηψε πολλὴ ϰαὶ ἀνέδυσαν οἱ ποταμοί), ϰαὶ τοῦ ϑεοῦ πϱοστάξαντος ἱλασαμένοις τὸν Μίνω ϰαὶ διαλλαγεῖσι λωφήσειν τὸ μήνιμα ϰαὶ τῶν ϰαϰῶν ἔσεσϑαι παῦλαν, ἐπιϰηϱυϰευσάμενοι ϰαὶ δεηϑέντες ἐποιήσαντο συνϑήϰας ὥστε πέμπειν δι᾽ ἐννέα ἐτῶν δασμὸν ἠϊϑέους ἑπτὰ ϰαὶ παϱϑένους τοσαύτας, ὁμολογοῦσιν οἱ πλεῖστοι τῶν συγγϱαφέων: [2] τοὺς δὲ παῖδας εἰς Κϱήτην ϰομιζομένους ὁ μὲν τϱαγιϰώτατος μῦϑος ἀποφαίνει τὸν Μινώταυϱον ἐν τῷ Λαβυϱίνϑῳ διαφϑείϱειν, ἢ πλανωμένους αὐτοὺς ϰαὶ τυχεῖν ἐξόδου μὴ δυναμένους ἐϰεῖ ϰαταϑνήσϰειν, τὸν δὲ Μινώταυϱον, ὥσπεϱ Εὐϱιπίδης φησί,
 σύμμιϰτον εἶδος ϰἀποφώλιον βϱέφος
γεγονέναι, ϰαὶ
 ταύϱου μεμῖχϑαι ϰαὶ βϱοτοῦ διπλῇ φύσει.

[xvi]φιλόχοϱος δέ φησιν οὐ ταῦτα συγχωϱεῖν Κϱῆτας, ἀλλὰ λέγειν ὅτι φϱουϱὰ μὲν ἦν ὁ Λαβύϱινϑος, οὐδὲν ἔχων ϰαϰὸν ἀλλ᾽ ἢ τὸ μὴ διαφυγεῖν τοὺς φυλαττομένους, ἀγῶνα δὲ ὁ Μίνως ἐπ᾽ Ἀνδϱόγεῳ γυμνιϰὸν ἐποίει ϰαὶ τοὺς παῖδας ἆϑλα τοῖς νιϰῶσιν ἐδίδου τέως ἐν τῷ Λαβυϱίνϑῳ φυλαττομένους: ἐνίϰα δὲ τοὺς πϱοτέϱους ἀγῶνας ὁ μέγιστον παϱ᾽ αὐτῷ δυνάμενος τότε ϰαὶ στϱατηγῶν, ὄνομα Ταῦϱος, ἀνὴϱ οὐϰ ἐπιειϰὴς ϰαὶ ἥμεϱος τὸν τϱόπον, ἀλλὰ ϰαὶ τοῖς παισὶ τῶν Ἀϑηναίων ὑπεϱηφάνως ϰαὶ χαλεπῶς πϱοσφεϱόμενος. [2] Ἀϱιστοτέλης δὲ ϰαὶ αὐτὸς ἐν τῇ Βοττιαίων πολιτείᾳ δῆλός ἐστιν οὐ νομίζων ἀναιϱεῖσϑαι τοὺς παῖδας ὑπὸ τοῦ Μίνω, ἀλλὰ ϑητεύοντας ἐν τῇ Κϱήτῃ ϰαταγηϱάσϰειν: ϰαί ποτε Κϱῆτας εὐχὴν παλαιὰν ἀποδιδόντας ἀνϑϱώπων ἀπαϱχὴν εἰς Δελφοὺς ἀποστέλλειν, τοῖς δὲ πεμπομένοις ἀναμιχϑέντας ἐϰγόνους ἐϰείνων συνεξελϑεῖν: ὡς δὲ οὐϰ ἦσαν ἱϰανοὶ τϱέφειν ἑαυτοὺς αὐτόϑι, πϱῶτον μὲν εἰς Ἰταλίαν διαπεϱᾶσαι ϰἀϰεῖ ϰατοιϰεῖν πεϱὶ τὴν Ἰαπυγίαν, ἐϰεῖϑεν δὲ αὖϑις εἰς Θϱᾴϰην ϰομισϑῆναι ϰαὶ ϰληϑῆναι Βοττιαίους: διὸ τὰς ϰόϱας τῶν Βοττιαίων ϑυσίαν τινὰ τελούσας ἐπᾴδειν: ‘ἴωμεν εἰς Ἀϑήνας.’

ἔοιϰε γὰϱ ὄντως χαλεπὸν εἶναι φωνὴν ἐχούσῃ πόλει ϰαὶ μοῦσαν ἀπεχϑάνεσϑαι. [3] ϰαὶ γὰϱ ὁ Μίνως ἀεὶ διετέλει ϰαϰῶς ἀϰούων ϰαὶ λοιδοϱούμενος ἐν τοῖς Ἀττιϰοῖς ϑεάτϱοις, ϰαὶ οὔτε Ἡσίοδος αὐτὸν ὤνησε ‘βασιλεύτατον’ οὔτε Ὅμηϱος ‘ὀαϱιστὴν Διὸς’ πϱοσαγοϱεύσας, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιϰϱατήσαντες οἱ τϱαγιϰοὶ πολλὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ λογείου ϰαὶ τῆς σϰηνῆς ἀδοξίαν αὐτοῦ ϰατεσϰέδασαν ὡς χαλεποῦ ϰαὶ βιαίου γενομένου. ϰαίτοι φασὶ τὸν μὲν Μίνω βασιλέα ϰαὶ νομοϑέτην, διϰαστὴν δὲ τὸν Ῥαδάμανϑυν εἶναι ϰαὶ φύλαϰα τῶν ὡϱισμένων ὑπ᾽ ἐϰείνου διϰαίων.

[xvii]ἐπεὶ δ᾽ οὖν ϰαϑῆϰεν ὁ χϱόνος τοῦ τϱίτου δασμοῦ, ϰαὶ παϱέχειν ἔδει τοὺς πατέϱας ἐπὶ τὸν ϰλῆϱον οἷς ἦσαν ἠΐϑεοι παῖδες, αὖϑις ἀνεφύοντο τῷ Αἰγεῖ διαβολαὶ πϱὸς τοὺς πολίτας, ὀδυϱομένους ϰαὶ ἀγαναϰτοῦντας ὅτι πάντων αἴτιος ὢν ἐϰεῖνος, οὐδὲν μέϱος ἔχει τῆς ϰολάσεως μόνος, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ νόϑῳ ϰαὶ ξένῳ παιδὶ τὴν ἀϱχὴν πεποιημένος αὐτοὺς πεϱιοϱᾷ γνησίων ἐϱήμους ϰαὶ ἄπαιδας ἀπολειπομένους. [2] ταῦτ᾽ ἠνία τὸν Θησέα, ϰαὶ διϰαιῶν μὴ ἀμελεῖν, ἀλλὰ ϰοινωνεῖν τῆς τύχης τοῖς πολίταις, ἐπέδωϰεν ἑαυτὸν ἄνευ ϰλήϱου πϱοσελϑών. ϰαὶ τοῖς μὲν ἄλλοις τό τε φϱόνημα ϑαυμαστὸν ἐφάνη ϰαὶ τὸ δημοτιϰὸν ἠγάπησαν, ὁ δὲ Αἰγεύς, ἐπεὶ δεόμενος ϰαὶ ϰαϑιϰετεύων ἀμετάπειστον ἑώϱα ϰαὶ ἀμετάτϱεπτον, ἀπεϰλήϱωσε τοὺς ἄλλους παῖδας.

[3] Ἑλλάνιϰος δέ φησιν οὐ τοὺς λαχόντας ἀπὸ ϰλήϱου ϰαὶ τὰς λαχούσας ἐϰπέμπειν τὴν πόλιν, αὐτὸν δὲ τὸν Μίνω παϱαγινόμενον ἐϰλέγεσϑαι ϰαὶ τὸν Θησέα πάντων ἑλέσϑαι πϱῶτον ἐπὶ τοῖς ὁϱισϑεῖσιν: ὡϱισμένον δ᾽ εἶναι τὴν μὲν ναῦν Ἀϑηναίους παϱέχειν, ἐμβάντας δὲ πλεῖν σὺν αὐτῷ τοὺς ἠϊϑέους μηδὲν ὅπλον ἀϱήϊον ἐπιφεϱομένους, ἀπολομένου δὲ τοῦ Μινωταύϱου πέϱας ἔχειν τὴν ποινήν.

[4] πϱότεϱον μὲν οὖν οὐδεμία σωτηϱίας ἐλπὶς ὑπέϰειτο: διὸ ϰαὶ μέλαν ἱστίον ἔχουσαν, ὡς ἐπὶ συμφοϱᾷ πϱοδήλῳ, τὴν ναῦν ἔπεμπον: τότε δὲ τοῦ Θησέως τὸν πατέϱα ϑαϱϱύνοντος ϰαὶ μεγαληγοϱοῦντος ὡς χειϱώσεται τὸν Μινώταυϱον, ἔδωϰεν ἕτεϱον ἱστίον λευϰὸν τῷ ϰυβεϱνήτῃ, ϰελεύσας ὑποστϱέφοντα σωζομένου τοῦ Θησέως ἐπάϱασϑαι τὸ λευϰόν, εἰ δὲ μή, τῷ μέλανι πλεῖν ϰαὶ ἀποσημαίνειν τὸ πάϑος.

[5] ὁ δὲ Σιμωνίδης οὐ λευϰόν φησιν εἶναι τὸ δοϑὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ Αἰγέως, ἀλλὰ ‘φοινίϰεον ἱστίον ὑγϱῷ πεφυϱμένον πϱίνου ἄνϑει ἐϱιϑάλλου:’ ϰαὶ τοῦτο τῆς σωτηϱίας αὐτῶν ποιήσασϑαι σημεῖον: ἐϰυβέϱνα δὲ τὴν ναῦν Ἀμαϱσυάδας Φέϱεϰλος, ὥς φησι Σιμωνίδης. [6] φιλόχοϱος δὲ παϱὰ Σϰίϱου φησὶν ἐϰ Σαλαμῖνος τὸν Θησέα λαβεῖν ϰυβεϱνήτην μὲν Ναυσίϑοον, πϱωϱέα δὲ Φαίαϰα, μηδέπω τότε τῶν Ἀϑηναίων πϱοσεχόντων τῇ ϑαλάττῃ: ϰαὶ γὰϱ εἶναι τῶν ἠϊϑέων ἕνα Μενέσϑην Σϰίϱου ϑυγατϱιδοῦν. μαϱτυϱεῖ δὲ τούτοις ἡϱῷα Ναυσιϑόου ϰαὶ Φαίαϰος εἱσαμένου Θησέως Φαληϱοῖ πϱὸς τῷ τοῦ Σϰίϱου ἱεϱῷ,1 ϰαὶ τὴν ἑοϱτὴν τὰ Κυβεϱνήσιά φασιν ἐϰείνοις τελεῖσϑαι.

[xviii]γενομένου δὲ τοῦ ϰλήϱου παϱαλαβὼν τοὺς λαχόντας ὁ Θησεὺς ἐϰ τοῦ πϱυτανείου, ϰαὶ παϱελϑὼν εἰς Δελφίνιον, ἔϑηϰεν ὑπὲϱ αὐτῶν τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι τὴν ἱϰετηϱίαν. ἦν δὲ ϰλάδος ἀπὸ τῆς ἱεϱᾶς ἐλαίας, ἐϱίῳ λευϰῷ ϰατεστεμμένος. εὐξάμενος δὲ ϰατέβαινεν ἕϰτῃ μηνὸς ἐπὶ ϑάλασσαν ἱσταμένου Μουνυχιῶνος, ᾗ ϰαὶ νῦν ἔτι τὰς ϰόϱας πέμπουσιν ἱλασομένας εἰς Δελφίνιον. [2] λέγεται δὲ αὐτῷ τὸν μὲν ἐν Δελφοῖς ἀνελεῖν ϑεὸν Ἀφϱοδίτην ϰαϑηγεμόνα ποιεῖσϑαι ϰαὶ παϱαϰαλεῖν συνέμποϱον, ϑύοντι δὲ πϱὸς ϑαλάσσῃ τὴν αἶγα ϑήλειαν οὖσαν αὐτομάτως τϱάγον γενέσϑαι: διὸ ϰαὶ ϰαλεῖσϑαι τὴν ϑεὸν Ἐπιτϱαγίαν.

[xix]ἐπεὶ δὲ ϰατέπλευσεν εἰς Κϱήτην, ὡς μὲν οἱ πολλοὶ γϱάφουσι ϰαὶ ᾁδουσι, παϱὰ τῆς Ἀϱιάδνης ἐϱασϑείσης τὸ λίνον λαβών, ϰαὶ διδαχϑεὶς ὡς ἔστι τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου τοὺς ἑλιγμοὺς διεξελϑεῖν, ἀπέϰτεινε τὸν Μινώταυϱον ϰαὶ ἀπέπλευσε τὴν Ἀϱιάδνην ἀναλαβὼν ϰαὶ τοὺς ἠϊϑέους. Φεϱεϰύδης δὲ ϰαὶ τὰ ἐδάφη τῶν Κϱητιϰῶν νεῶν φησιν ἐϰϰόψαι τὸν Θησέα, τὴν δίωξιν ἀφαιϱούμενον. [2] δήμων δὲ ϰαὶ τὸν Ταῦϱον ἀναιϱεϑῆναί φησι τὸν τοῦ Μίνω στϱατηγόν, ἐν τῷ λιμένι διαναυμαχοῦντα τοῦ Θησέως ἐϰπλέοντος. ὡς δὲ Φιλόχοϱος ἱστόϱηϰε, τὸν ἀγῶνα τοῦ Μίνω συντελοῦντος, ἐπίδοξος ὢν ἅπαντας πάλιν νιϰήσειν, ὁ Ταῦϱος ἐφϑονεῖτο. ϰαὶ γὰϱ ἡ δύναμις αὐτοῦ διὰ τὸν τϱόπον ἦν ἐπαχϑής, ϰαὶ διαβολὴν εἶχεν ὡς τῇ Πασιφάῃ πλησιάζων. διὸ ϰαὶ τοῦ Θησέως ἀξιοῦντος ἀγωνίσασϑαι συνεχώϱησεν ὁ Μίνως. [3] ἔϑους δὲ ὄντος ἐν Κϱήτῃ ϑεᾶσϑαι ϰαὶ τὰς γυναῖϰας, Ἀϱιάδνη παϱοῦσα πϱός τε τὴν ὄψιν ἐξεπλάγη τοῦ Θησέως ϰαὶ τὴν ἄϑλησιν ἐϑαύμασε πάντων ϰϱατήσαντος. ἡσϑεὶς δὲ ϰαὶ ὁ Μίνως μάλιστα τοῦ Ταύϱου ϰαταπαλαισϑέντος ϰαὶ πϱοπηλαϰισϑέντος, ἀπέδωϰε τῷ Θησεῖ τοὺς παῖδας ϰαὶ ἀνῆϰε τῇ πόλει τὸν δασμόν.
— 15-19.

Not long afterwards there came from Crete for the third time the collectors of the tribute. Now as to this tribute, most writers agree that because Androgeos was thought to have been treacherously killed within the confines of Attica, not only did Minos harass the inhabitants of that country greatly in war,1 but Heaven also laid it waste, for barrenness and pestilence smote it sorely, and its rivers dried up; also that when their god assured them in his commands that if they appeased Minos and became reconciled to him, the wrath of Heaven would abate and there would be an end of their miseries, they sent heralds and made their supplication and entered into an agreement to send him every nine years a tribute of seven youths and as many maidens. [2] And the most dramatic version of the story declares that these young men and women, on being brought to Crete, were destroyed by the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, or else wandered about at their own will and, being unable to find an exit, perished there; and that the Minotaur, as Euripides says, was

A mingled form and hybrid birth of monstrous shape,

and that

Two different natures, man and bull, were joined in him.

Philochorus, however, says that the Cretans do not admit this, but declare that the Labyrinth was a dungeon, with no other inconvenience than that its prisoners could not escape; and that Minos instituted funeral games in honor of Androgeos, and as prizes for the victors, gave these Athenian youth, who were in the meantime imprisoned in the Labyrinth and that the victor in the first games was the man who had the greatest power at that time under Minos, and was his general, Taurus by name, who was not reasonable and gentle in his disposition, but treated the Athenian youth with arrogance and cruelty. [2] And Aristotle himself also, in his Constitution of Bottiaea, clearly does not think that these youths were put to death by Minos, but that they spent the rest of their lives as slaves in Crete. And he says that the Cretans once, in fulfillment of an ancient vow, sent an offering of their first-born to Delphi, and that some descendants of those Athenians were among the victims, and went forth with them; and that when they were unable to support themselves there, they first crossed over into Italy and dwelt in that country round about Iapygia, and from there journeyed again into Thrace and were called Bottiaeans; and that this was the reason why the maidens of Bottiaea, in performing a certain sacrifice, sing as an accompaniment ‘To Athens let us go!’

And verily it seems to be a grievous thing for a man to be at enmity with a city which has a language and a literature. [3] For Minos was always abused and reviled in the Attic theaters, and it did not avail him either that Hesiod called him ‘most royal,’ or that Homer3 styled him ‘a confidant of Zeus,’ but the tragic poets prevailed, and from platform and stage showered obloquy down upon him, as a man of cruelty and violence. And yet they say that Minos was a king and lawgiver, and that Rhadamanthus was a judge under him, and a guardian of the principles of justice defined by him.

Accordingly, when the time came for the third tribute, and it was necessary for the fathers who had youthful sons to present them for the lot, fresh accusations against Aegeus arose among the people, who were full of sorrow and vexation that he who was the cause of all their trouble alone had no share in the punishment, but devolved the kingdom upon a bastard and foreign son, and suffered them to be left destitute and bereft of legitimate children. [2] These things troubled Theseus, who, thinking it right not to disregard but to share in the fortune of his fellow-citizens, came forward and offered himself independently of the lot. The citizens admired his noble courage and were delighted with his public spirit, and Aegeus, when he saw that his son was not to be won over or turned from his purpose by prayers and entreaties, cast the lots for the rest of the youths.

[3] Hellanicus, however, says that the city did not send its young men and maidens by lot, but that Minos himself used to come and pick them out, and that he now pitched upon Theseus first of all, following the terms agreed upon. And he says the agreement was that the Athenians should furnish the ship, and that the youths should embark and sail with him carrying no warlike weapon, and that if the Minotaur was killed the penalty should cease.

[4] On the two former occasions, then, no hope of safety was entertained, and therefore they sent the ship with a black sail, convinced that their youth were going to certain destruction; but now Theseus encouraged his father and loudly boasted that he would master the Minotaur, so that he gave the pilot another sail, a white one, ordering him, if he returned with Theseus safe, to hoist the white sail, but otherwise to sail with the black one, and so indicate the affliction.

[5] Simonides, however, says that the sail given by Aegeus was not white, but ‘a scarlet sail dyed with the tender flower of luxuriant holm-oak,’ and that he made this a token of their safety. Moreover, the pilot of the ship was Phereclus, son of Amarsyas, as Simonides says; [6] but Philochorus says that Theseus got from Scirus of Salamis Nausithous for his pilot, and Phaeax for his look-out man, the Athenians at that time not yet being addicted to the sea, and that Scirus did him this favour because one of the chosen youths, Menesthes, was his daughter’s son. And there is evidence for this in the memorial chapels for Nausithous and Phaeax which Theseus built at Phalerum near the temple of Scirus, and they say that the festival of the Cybernesia, or Pilot’s Festival, is celebrated in their honor.

When the lot was cast, Theseus took those upon whom it fell from the prytaneium and went to the Delphinium, where he dedicated to Apollo in their behalf his suppliant’s badge. This was a bough from the sacred olive-tree, wreathed with white wool. Having made his vows and prayers, he went down to the sea on the sixth day of the month Munychion, on which day even now the Athenians still send their maidens to the Delphinium to propitiate the god. [2] And it is reported that the god at Delphi commanded him in an oracle to make Aphrodite his guide, and invite her to attend him on his journey, and that as he sacrificed the usual she-goat to her by the sea-shore, it became a he-goat (‘tragos’) all at once, for which reason the goddess has the surname Epitragia.

When he reached Crete on his voyage, most historians and poets tell us that he got from Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him, the famous thread, and that having been instructed by her how to make his way through the intricacies of the Labyrinth, he slew the Minotaur and sailed off with Ariadne and the youths. And Pherecydes says that Theseus also staved in the bottoms of the Cretan ships, thus depriving them of the power to pursue. [2] And Demon says also that Taurus, the general of Minos, was killed in a naval battle in the harbor as Theseus was sailing out. But as Philochorus tells the story, Minos was holding the funeral games, and Taurus was expected to conquer all his competitors in them, as he had done before, and was grudged his success. For his disposition made his power hateful, and he was accused of too great intimacy with Pasiphae. Therefore when Theseus asked the privilege of entering the lists, it was granted him by Minos. [3] And since it was the custom in Crete for women to view the games, Ariadne was present, and was smitten with the appearance of Theseus, as well as filled with admiration for his athletic prowess, when he conquered all his opponents. Minos also was delighted with him, especially because he conquered Taurus in wrestling and disgraced him, and therefore gave back the youths to Theseus, besides remitting its tribute to the city.
— Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. London: Heinemann, 1914.


Pomponius Mela: De chorographia

Psammetichi opus labyrinthus, domos mille et regias duodecim perpetuo parietis ambitu amplexus, marmore exstructus ac tectus, unum in se descensum habet, intus paene innumerabiles vias, multis ambagibus huc et illuc remeantibus, sed continuo anfractu et saepe revocatis porticibus ancipites: quibus subinde alium super alios orbem agentibus, et subinde tantum redeunte flexu quantum processerat, magno et explicabili tamen errore perplexus est.
— I,48.

Le labyrinthe, ouvrage de Psammetichus, renferme trois mille maisons et douze palais dans une enceinte continue de murailles; il est fait et couvert de marbre; il n’a qu’une seule entrée, mais cette entrée se divise en une multitude presque innombrable de routes, qui se croisent, s’embrouillent et s’égarent en mille détours, pour aboutir sans cesse à des portiques; et ces portiques, tantôt décrivant des orbes les uns autour des autres, tantôt ramenant au point d’où on était parti, jettent le voyageur dans une perplexité d’où il ne se tire qu’avec la plus grande peine.
— Traduit par Louis Baudet. Paris: Panckoucke, 1843.


Βιβλιοϑήϰη — Bibliotheca

Ἀστεϱίου δὲ ἄπαιδος ἀποϑανόντος Μίνως βασιλεύειν ϑέλων Κϱήτης ἐϰωλύετο. φήσας δὲ παϱὰ ϑεῶν τὴν βασιλείαν εἰληφέναι, τοῦ πιστευϑῆναι χάϱιν ἔφη, ὅ τι ἂν εὔξηται, γενέσϑαι. ϰαὶ Ποσειδῶνι ϑύων ηὔξατο ταῦϱον ἀναφανῆναι ἐϰ τῶν βυϑῶν, ϰαταϑύσειν ὑποσχόμενος τὸν φανέντα. τοῦ δὲ Ποσειδῶνος ταῦϱον ἀνέντος αὐτῷ διαπϱεπῆ τὴν βασιλείαν παϱέλαβε, τὸν δὲ ταῦϱον εἰς τὰ βουϰόλια πέμψας ἔϑυσεν ἕτεϱον. ϑαλασσοϰϱατήσας δὲ πϱῶτος πασῶν τῶν νήσων σχεδὸν ἐπῆϱξεν. ὀϱγισϑεὶς δὲ αὐτῷ Ποσειδῶν ὅτι μὴ ϰατέϑυσε τὸν ταῦϱον, τοῦτον μὲν ἐξηγϱίωσε, Πασιφάην δὲ ἐλϑεῖν εἰς ἐπιϑυμίαν αὐτοῦ παϱεσϰεύασεν. ἡ δὲ ἐϱασϑεῖσα τοῦ ταύϱου συνεϱγὸν λαμβάνει Δαίδαλον, ὃς ἦν ἀϱχιτέϰτων, πεφευγὼς ἐξ Ἀϑηνῶν ἐπὶ φόνῳ. οὗτος ξυλίνην βοῦν ἐπὶ τϱοχῶν ϰατασϰευάσας, ϰαὶ ταύτην λαβὼν ϰαὶ ϰοιλάνας ἔνδοϑεν, ἐϰδείϱας τε βοῦν τὴν δοϱὰν πεϱιέϱϱαψε, ϰαὶ ϑεὶς ἐν ᾧπεϱ εἴϑιστο ὁ ταῦϱος λειμῶνι βόσϰεσϑαι, τὴν Πασιφάην ἐνεβίβασεν. ἐλϑὼν δὲ ὁ ταῦϱος ὡς ἀληϑινῇ βοῒ συνῆλϑεν. ἡ δὲ Ἀστέϱιον ἐγέννησε τὸν ϰληϑέντα Μινώταυϱον. οὗτος εἶχε ταύϱου πϱόσωπον, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ἀνδϱός: Μίνως δὲ ἐν τῷ λαβυϱίνϑῳ ϰατά τινας χϱησμοὺς ϰαταϰλείσας αὐτὸν ἐφύλαττεν. ἦν δὲ ὁ λαβύϱινϑος, ὃν Δαίδαλος ϰατεσϰεύασεν, οἴϰημα ϰαμπαῖς πολυπλόϰοις πλανῶν τὴν ἔξοδον.
— III,i

Asterius dying childless, Minos wished to reign over Crete, but his claim was opposed. So he alleged that he had received the kingdom from the gods, and in proof of it he said that whatever he prayed for would be done. And in sacrificing to Poseidon he prayed that a bull might appear from the depths, promising to sacrifice it when it appeared. Poseidon did send him up a fine bull, and Minos obtained the kingdom, but he sent the bull to the herds and sacrificed another. [Being the first to obtain the dominion of the sea, he extended his rule over almost all the islands.] But angry at him for not sacrificing the bull, Poseidon made the animal savage, and contrived that Pasiphae should conceive a passion for it. In her love for the bull she found an accomplice in Daedalus, an architect, who had been banished from Athens for murder. He constructed a wooden cow on wheels, took it, hollowed it out in the inside, sewed it up in the hide of a cow which he had skinned, and set it in the meadow in which the bull used to graze. Then he introduced Pasiphae into it; and the bull came and coupled with it, as if it were a real cow. And she gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur. He had the face of a bull, but the rest of him was human; and Minos, in compliance with certain oracles, shut him up and guarded him in the Labyrinth. Now the Labyrinth which Daedalus constructed was a chamber “that with its tangled windings perplexed the outward way.”
— Translated by Sir James George Frazer. London: Heinemann, 1921.

Ὡς δὲ ἧϰεν εἰς Κϱήτην, Ἀϱιάδνη ϑυγάτηϱ Μίνωος ἐϱωτιϰῶς διατεϑεῖσα πϱὸς αὐτὸν συμπϱάσσειν ἐπαγγέλλεται,ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃ γυναῖϰα αὐτὴν ἕξειν ἀπαγαγὼν εἰς Ἀϑήνας. ὁμολογήσαντος δὲ σὺν ὅϱϰοις Θησέως δεῖται Δαιδάλου μηνῦσαι τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου τὴν ἔξοδον. ὑποϑεμένου δὲ ἐϰείνου, λίνον εἰσιόντι Θησεῖ δίδωσι: τοῦτο ἐξάψας Θησεὺς τῆς ϑύϱας ἐφελϰόμενος εἰσῄει. ϰαταλαβὼν δὲ Μινώταυϱον ἐν ἐσχάτῳ μέϱει τοῦ λαβυϱίνϑου παίων πυγμαῖς ἀπέϰτεινεν, ἐφελϰόμενος δὲ τὸ λίνον πάλιν ἐξῄει. ϰαὶ διὰ νυϰτὸς μετὰ Ἀϱιάδνης ϰαὶ τῶν παίδων εἰς Νάξον ἀφιϰνεῖται. ἔνϑα Διόνυσος ἐϱασϑεὶς Ἀϱιάδνης ἥϱπασε, ϰαὶ ϰομίσας εἰς Λῆμνον ἐμίγη.ϰαὶ γεννᾷ Θόαντα Στάφυλον Οἰνοπίωνα ϰαὶ Πεπάϱηϑον.
Epitome, E,i.

And when he came to Crete, Ariadne, daughter of Minos, being amorously disposed to him, offered to help him if he would agree to carry her away to Athens and have her to wife. Theseus having agreed on oath to do so, she besought Daedalus to disclose the way out of the labyrinth. And at his suggestion she gave Theseus a clue when he went in; Theseus fastened it to the door, and, drawing it after him, entered in. And having found the Minotaur in the last part of the labyrinth, he killed him by smiting him with his fists; and drawing the clue after him made his way out again. And by night he arrived with Ariadne and the children at Naxos. There Dionysus fell in love with Ariadne and carried her off; and having brought her to Lemnos he enjoyed her, and begat Thoas, Staphylus, Oenopion, and Peparethus.
— Translated by Sir James George Frazer. London: Heinemann, 1921.


Λουϰιανού ὁ Σαμοσατεύς Πεϱὶ ὀϱχήσεως — Lucian: Über den mimischen Tanz

Ἀλλὰ ϰἂν εἰς τὴν Κϱήτην ἀφίϰῃ τῷ λόγῳ, πάμπολλα ϰἀϰεῖϑεν ἡ ὄϱχησις ἐϱανίζεται, τὴν Εὐϱώπην, τὴν Πασιφάην, τοὺς ταύϱους ἀμφοτέϱους, τὸν λαβύϱινϑον, τὴν Ἀϱιάδνην, τὴν Φαίδϱαν, τὸν Ἀνδϱόγεων, τὸν Δαίδαλον, τὸν Ἴϰαϱον, τὸν Γλαῦϰον, τὴν Πολυΐδου μαντιϰήν, τὸν Τάλω, τὸν χαλϰοῦν τῆς Κϱήτης πεϱίπολον.
— 49.

Gehen wir von da nach Creta über, so kann auch hier die Tanzkunst einen großen Vorrath sammeln: sie findet hier die Europa, die Pasiphaë, die beiden Stiere, das Labyrinthcf. 34: „γέϱανον ὀϱχεῖσϑαι“, Kranichtanz, der die Windungen des Labyrinths darstellt., die Ariadne, die Phädra, den Androgeos, Dädalus, Icarus, Glaucus, den Wahrsager Polyïdes, und den ehernen Talos, der täglich dreimal um die ganze Insel die Runde machte.
— Übersetzt von August Friedrich Pauly. Lucian’s Werke, Stuttgart: Metzler, 1827. VII, pp. 887-888.


Dante Alighieri: Commedia, Inferno

Cotal di quel burrato era la scesa;
e ’n su la punta de la rotta lacca
l’infamïa di Creti era distesa
che fu concetta ne la falsa vacca;
e quando vide noi, sé stesso morse,
sì come quei cui l’ira dentro fiacca.
Lo savio mio inver’ lui gridò: „Forse
tu credi che qui sia ’l duca d’Atene,
che sù nel mondo la morte ti porse?
Pàrtiti, bestia, ché questi non vene
ammaestrato da la tua sorella,
ma vassi per veder le vostre pene“.
Qual è quel toro che si slaccia in quella
c’ ha ricevuto già ’l colpo mortale,
che gir non sa, ma qua e là saltella,
vid’io lo Minotauro far cotale;
e quello accorto gridò: „Corri al varco;
mentre ch’e’ ’nfuria, è buon che tu ti cale“.
— XII,10-27.

So dieses Abgrunds Hang, und dort am Rand
War’s, wo von Felsentrümmern überhangen,
Sich ausgestreckt die Schande Kreta’s fand,
Einst von dem Scheinbild einer Kuh empfangen.
Sich selber biß er, als er uns erblickt,
Wie innerlich von wildem Grimm befangen.
Mein Meister rief: „Bist du vom Wahn bestrickt,
Als säh’st du hier den Theseus vor dir stehen,
Der dich von dort zur Höll’ herabgeschickt?
Fort, Unthier, fort. Den Weg, auf dem wir gehn,
Nicht deine Schwester hat ihn uns gelehrt,
Doch dieser kommt, um eure Qual zu sehen.“
So wie der Stier, vom Todesstreich versehrt,
Emporsetzt und nicht gehen kann, nur springen,
Und Satz um Satz hierhin und dorthin fährt,
So sahen wir den Minotaurus ringen;
Drum rief Virgil: „Jetzt weiter ohne Rast;
Indeß er tobt, ist’s gut, hinab zu dringen.“
— Übersetzt von Karl Streckfuß. Halle: Hemmerde und Schwetschke, 1824.


Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

fol. q2r

fol. t8r

Hic regum cernes exculta palatia, cultus
 Nympharum, fontes, egregiasque epulas.
Hinc bicolor chorea est latronum, expressaque tota
 In labyrintheis vita hominum tenebris
Anonymi elegia ad lectorem, fol. 22v.

Here you will see the perfect palaces of kings,
 The worship of nymphs, fountains and rich banquets.
The guards dance, dressed in motley, and the whole
 Of human life is expressed in dark labyrinths.
— p. 4.

fol. a3v

Finalmente in questo scabroso et invio bosco. Solamente della Pietosa Ariadne cretea desiderava el soccorso. Quando che essa per occidere el fratello monstro conscia, el maestrevole et ductrice filo ad lo inganevole Theseo porgette, per fora uscire del discolo labyrintho. Et io el simigliante per uscire della obscura Silva.
— I, foll. a4r.

At last, in this rough and pathless wood I prayed to the blessed Ariadne of Crete, who had given the ingenious thread to deceiving Theseus, so that he could kill her monstrous brother and come forth from the tangled Labyrinth, that she might likewise deliver me from this dark forest.
— p. 15.

Dalla parte all’incontro, per questo medesimo modo mirai la petulca Pasiphæ, succensa del infame amore, & mentiente nella machina lignea asconsa & obturata, & il robusto Tauro sopra il non cognosciuto coito lasciviante. Et poscia il Minotauro di monstrosa effigie, nel laborioso & devio labyrintho incluso, & incarcerato. Postremamente il sagace Dædalo fugibondo dal carceroso claustro ingeniosamente ad sé & ad Icaro le Ale fabricante. Il quale infelice non imitante il paterno iussu & vestigio, nel amplo pelago præcipite cadendo, alle aque Icaree moriente il suo nome dede, poscia il patre incolume reservatose, nel templo di Apolline la remigale machina di penne compaginata suspendendo per religioso voto promesso.
— I, foll. d2v-d3r.

On the part opposite this one, done in the same fashion, I admired the lewd Pasiphae inflamed with infamous passion and deceptively hiding herself in the wooden contraption, while the robust bull lasciviously covered her, all unknowingly. Then there was the monstrously formed Minotaur, shut up and imprisoned in the difficult and devious labyrinth. After this, the clever Daedalus making ingenious wings for himself and Icarus to escape from their imprisonment; but the unfortunate son did not follow his father’s command and example, and fell headlong into the Icarian waters, to which, dying, he gave his name. Last came the father, safe and sound, hanging up the oar-like device he had made from feathers in the temple of Apollo, in fulfillment of his solemn vow.
— pp. 60-61.

In quella primaria torre, præsidente habita æternalmente una pientissima matrona, & benigna largitora, dinanti alla quale stabilissimo sta una veterrima & sortitia & promptuaria urna, ornata di sette littere græce come vedi cusì. ΘΕΣΠΙΟΝ stipata di fatali melli, & ad gli introeunti a ciascuno lepidissima & munifica uno di quelli dona, sencia rispecto di conditione, ma secondo che occorre la eventicia dispositione. Questi recepti fora venendo incominciano a navichare nel labyrintho, sepiti gli meati di rose & arbori fructigeri. Transacta dunque la prima longa circuitione delle sette revolutione di Ariete ad la extrema cauda pissatile pervenendo alla seconda specula trovano innumere puelle di diversa conditione, le quale a tutti gli domandano la ostensione degli sui melli, & monstratolo ad quelle. Esse peritissime cognoscono il propriato & disposito mello, & quello amplexantilo hospite l’acceptano, & seco l’envitano, le altre sette circuitione pervagare, & secondo la sua inclinata promptecia, & cum diverso exercitio individue gli conducono fina alla tertia specula. In questo loco chi vole perseverare cum la sua comite, quella nunque ello abandona né lassa. Perché quivi altre più voluptuose damigelle trovano, & molti repudiano le prime, & ad queste adheriscono. Diqué partentise da quella specula secunda, per venire alla tertia, trovano l’aque alquanto contrarie, & fa ministerio di remigare. Adventati alla tertia & giunti, & de qui facendo discesso verso la quarta, trovano l’aqua più contrastare, quantunque in questi sette obliqui corsi, si veda grande & variabile & incostante dilecto. Pervenuti alla quarta specula, altre giovenette trovano athlete & pugnatrice, & queste examinati gli primi melli, traheno gli amicali al suo exercitio. Et quelli che non hano la sua consimilitudine, meare permeteno cum le sue. Et in queste circuitione l’aqua ancora trovano più obstante, ove bisogna maiore studio & erumnale fatica di remigare.
— I, foll. h3r-h3v.

‘In this first tower there dwells and presides eternally a pious matron who is kind and generous; firmly placed before her is an ancient and fateful urn, ornamented with these seven Greek letters: ΘΕΣΠΙΟΝ. It is crammed with future fates, and she gives one to everyone who enters, politely and freely, without respect to their condition but according to what will eventually happen to them. After receiving these, they go forward and begin to sail in the labyrinth, whose channels are divided by roses and fruit-trees. When they have completed the first long circuit of the seven revolutions, which are navigable to the very end of the spiral, and reach the second tower, they find innumerable girls of all conditions who ask them all to show them their futures. After these have been shown them, the girls easily recognize one particular destined future and, embracing him, welcome him as a guest and invite him to travel the second seven circuits with them. Each one is led as far as the third tower in a manner and speed conforming to his inclinations. If anyone wishes to proceed through this place with his companion, she will never abandon him; but since other, more attractive maidens are to be found here, many repudiate the first and join up with a new one. As they leave this second tower to go to the third, they find the water somewhat contrary and have to make use of oars. After they have arrived at the third and set out toward the fourth, they find the water more contrary, although in these seven oblique courses great pleasure can still be found, albeit variable and inconstant. On attaining the fourth tower, they find different maidens who are athletic and aggressive, and these, after examining their original futures, admit the suitable ones into their activities and allow those who are unlike them to remain with their own women. The water in these circuits is even more rough, demanding great effort and heavy exertions in rowing.
— Translated by Joscelyn Godwin: Hypnerotomachia Polifili. The Strife of Love in a Dream. London: Thames & Hudson, 2003. pp. 125-126.


John Dee: Sigillum Dei Æmeth

Sigillum Dei Aemeth by John DeeMysteriorum libri quinti, 1582. British Museum, MS Sloane 3188;
Dee’s sigillum is based on MS Sloane 313.


Here folowithe the makinge off the seale off the trwe and lyuinge god

Primo fac unum circulum cuius diameter sit trium digitorum propter tres clauos domini, vel *5* propter *5* plagas, vel 7 propter 7 sacramenta, vel 9 propter 9 ordines angelorum, sed communiter 5 digitorum fieri solet. deinde infra illum circulum fac alium circulum a primo distantem duobus granis ordei propter duas tabulas moysi, vel distantem a poimo [primo] tribus granis propter trinitatem parsonarm, deinde infra illos duos crculos in superiori parte quæ dicitur angulus meridiei fac vnam crucem, in cuius tibia aliquantulum intrat circulum interiorem. deinde a parte dextra crucis stribe .h. aspirationem deinde .t. deinde .o. deinde .e. x. o. r. a. b. a. l. a. y. q. c.t i. y. s. t. a. l. g. a. a. o. w. n o. s. v. l. a. r.t y. t. c. e. k. x.s p. f. y. o. m. e. m. a. n. a. r. e. l. a. t. e. v.t a. t. o. n. o. n. a. o. y. l. e.p o. t. s. y. m. a. et iste literæ sunt eque distantes, et circumdent circulum. eo ordine quo sunt prenominatæ et sic magnum nomen domini schemhamphoras 72 literarum erit completum. (...)
Liber iuratus, Royal MS 17Axlii et al.; MS Sloane 313, from the collection of John Dee with his handwritten marginal annotations.

First, make a circle with a diameter of three fingers, on account of the Lord’s three nails, or five on account of the five wounds, or seven on account of the seven sacraments, or nine on account of the nine orders of angels, but generally five fingers are customary. Then, below that circle make another circle, distant from the first by two barley grains (on account of the two Tablets of Moses), else the distance from the first can be three grains (on account of the three persons in the Trinity.) Then below those two circles in the uppermost part, which is called the southern angle, make a single cross, the leg of which may slightly enter the innermost circle. Then, from the right side of the cross, write .h. (the ‘exalation’), then .t., then .o. then .e. x . o. r. a. b. a. l. a. y. q. c. i. y. s. t. a. l. g. a. a. o. n. o. s. v. l. a. r [t]. y. t. c. e. k. s. p. f. y. o. m. e. m. a. n. a. r. e. l. a. c. e. d. a. t. o. n. o. n. a. o. y. l. e. [y]. o. t. m. a. and these letters may be made an equal distance apart, and may surround the circle. And with that series of letters which was previously named the circle will thus be filled with the great name of the Lord, Schemhamphoras, of 72 letters. (...)
— Edited by Joseph H. Peterson.


Michel de Montaigne: De Démocrite

Le jugement est un outil à tous sujets, et se mêle partout. A cette cause, aux essais que j’en fais là, j’y emploie toute sorte d’occasion. Si c’est un sujet que je n’entende point, à cela même je l’essaie, sondant le gué de bien loin ; et puis, le trouvant trop profond pour ma taille, je me tiens à la rive ; et cette reconnaissance de ne pouvoir passer outre, c’est un trait de son effet, voire de ceux de quoi il se vante le plus. Tantôt, à un sujet vain et de néant, j’essaie voir s’il trouvera de quoi lui donner corps et de quoi l’appuyer et étançonner. Tantôt, je le promène à un sujet noble et tracassé a, auquel il n’a rien à trouver de soi, le chemin en étant si frayé qu’il ne peut marcher que sur la piste d’autrui. Là, il fait son jeu à élire la route qui lui semble la meilleure, et, de mille sentiers, il dit que celui-ci ou celui-là, a été le mieux, choisi. Je prends de la fortune le premier argument. Ils me sont également bons. Et ne designe jamais de les produire entiers. Car je ne vois le tout de rien. Ne font pas, ceux qui promettent de nous le faire voir. De cent membres et visages, qu’a chaque chose, j’en prends un tantôt à lécher seulement, tantôt à effleurer, et parfois à pincer jusqu’à l’os. J’y donne une pointe, non pas le plus largement, mais le plus profondément que je sais. Et aime plus souvent à les saisir par quelque lustre inusité. Je me hasarderais de traiter à fond quelque matière, si je me connaissais moins. Semant ici un mot, ici un autre, échantillons dépris de leur pièce, écartés sans dessein et sans promesse, je ne suis pas tenu d’en faire bon, ni de m’y tenir moi-même, sans varier quand il me plaît; et me rendre au doute et incertitude, et à ma maîtresse forme, qu’est l’ignorance. Tout mouvement nous découvre.
Essais, I, Chapitre L.


Lodewijck Toeput: Pleasure Garden with a Maze

Pleasure Garden with a Maze — Ca. 1579-1584, oil on canvas, 147,4 × 200,0 cm. Royal Collection of the United Kingdom.


William Shakespeare: Venus and Adonis

And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare,
Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles
How he outruns the winds, and with what care
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles:
 The many musits through the which he goes
 Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.
— 679-684.


Ben Jonson: Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue.

Come on, come on! and where you go,
So interweave the curious knot,
As ev’n the observer scarce may know
Which lines are Pleasure’s, and which not.
First figure out the, doubtful way
At which a while all youth should stay,
Where she and Virtue did contend,
Which should have Hercules to friend.
Then as all actions of mankind
Are but a labyrinth or maze:
So let your dances be entwined,
Yet not perplex men unto gaze:
But measured, and so numerous too,
As men may read each act they do;
And when they see the graces meet
Admire the wisdom of your feet.


Robert Fludd: Utriusque Cosmi Maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica historia, Tomus primus


Baltasar Gracián y Morales: El Criticón

Cuando llegaron a ella, hallaron que lo que parecía clara por fuera, era confusa dentro; ninguna calle había derecha ni despejada: modelo de laberintos y centro de minotauros.
— Primera parte. Crisi séptima. La fuente de los Engaños.

Als sie dazu traten, stellten sie fest, daß das, was äußerlich klar schien, im Inneren verwirrt war; keine Straße war gerade oder frei: Modell des Labyrinthes und Stätte des Minotaurus.


Francis Bacon: Instauratio magna

Quare, ut quae dicta sunt complectamur, non videtur hominibus aut aliena fides aut industria propria circa scientias hactenus foeliciter illuxisse; praesertim quum et in demonstrationibus et in experimentis adhuc cognitis parum sit praesidii. Aedificium autem hujus universi, structura sua, intellectui humano contemplanti, instar labyrinthi est; ubi tot ambigua viarum, tam fallaces rerum et signorum similitudines, tam obliquae et implexae naturarum spirae et nodi, undequaque se ostendunt. Iter autem sub incerto sensus lumine, interdum affulgente, interdum se condente, per experientiae et rerum particularium sylvas perpetuo faciendum est. Quin etiam duces itineris (ut dictum est) qui se offerunt, et ipsi implicantur, atque errorum et errantium numerum augent. In rebus tam duris, de judicio hominum ex vi propria, aut etiam de foelicitate fortuita, desperandum est. Neque enim ingeniorum quantacunque excellentia, neque experiendi alea saepius repetita, ista vincere queat. Vestigia filo regenda sunt: omnisque via, usque a primis ipsis sensuum perceptionibus, certa ratione munienda. Neque haec ita accipienda sunt, ac si nihil omnino tot saeculis, tantis laboribus, actum sit. Neque enim eorum quae inventa sunt nos poenitet. Atque antiqui certe, in iis quae in ingenio et meditatione abstracta posita sunt, mirabiles se viros praestitere. Verum quemadmodum saeculis prioribus, cum homines in navigando per stellarum tantum observationes cursum dirigebant, veteris sane continentis oras legere potuerunt, aut maria aliqua minora et mediterranea trajicere; priusquam autem oceanus trajiceretur et novi orbis regiones detegerentur, necesse fuit usum acus nauticae, ut ducem viae magis fidum et certum, innotuisse: simili prorsus ratione, quae hucusque in artibus et scientiis inventa sunt, ea hujusmodi sunt ut usu, meditatione, observando, argumentando, reperiri potuerint; utpote quae sensibus propiora sint et communibus notionibus fere subjaceant; antequam vero ad remotiora et occultiora naturae liceat appellere, necessario requiritur ut melior et perfectior mentis et intellectus humani usus et adoperatio introducatur.
— Praefatio.

Kurz, um das Gesagte zusammenzufassen, weder das Vertrauen auf Andere noch die eigene Anstrengung scheint bis jetzt den Menschen in Betreff der Wissenschaften zum Glück gereicht zu haben. Auch in den bis jetzt bekannten Beweisen, und Versuchen ist wenig Hülfe zu finden. Denn das Bauwerk des Weltalls erscheint in seiner Einrichtung dem es betrachtenden menschlichen Geiste wie ein Labyrinth; wie in diesem, so zeigen sich auch hier viel Ungewisse Wege, viel trügerische Aehnlichkeiten zwischen Dingen und Zeichen, viel schiefe und verwickelte Windungen und Verschlingungen der Eigenschaften. Dabei führt der Weg in dem unsicheren Lichte der Sinne, was bald aufleuchtet, bald sich verbirgt, fortwährend durch eine Unzahl von Erfahrungen und einzelnen Dingen. Selbst Die, welche sich, wie gesagt, zu Führern erbieten, verirren sich und vergrößern die Zahl der Irrthümer und der Irrenden. In so schweren Dingen ist an der eignen Kraft des menschlichen Verstandes wie an dem glücklichen Zufall zu verzweifeln. Denn wenn auch die Kraft des Geistes noch so ausgezeichnet ist und das Wagstück der Erfahrung noch so oft wiederholt wird, so führen sie doch nicht zum Siege. Vielmehr muß man die Spur am Faden festhalten, und der ganze Weg muß vom Beginn der ersten Sinneseindrücke ab in fester Weise gesichert werden. Man verstehe das nicht so, als wenn in so vielen Jahrhunderten und mit so viel Arbeit gar nichts erreicht worden wäre. Die geschehenen Entdeckungen bereue ich nicht, und die Alten haben sich in dem, was vom Geist und dem reinen Nachdenken abhängt, als bewunderungswürdige Männer gezeigt. Aber so wie in frühem Jahrhunderten man bei der Schiffahrt den Weg nur nach den Sternen bestimmen konnte, sich an den Küsten des alten Kontinents halten mußte und nur kleine und binnenländische Meere durchschneiden konnte, und wie, bevor der Ocean beschifft und die Länder eines neuen Welttheils entdeckt werden konnten, der Gebrauch der Magnetnadel als eines sichereren und zuverlässigeren Führers bekannt sein mußte, so ist in ähnlicher Weise das bis jetzt in den Wissenschaften und Künsten Entdeckte nur derart, wie es durch Uebung, Nachdenken, Beobachtungen und Beweisführungen gefunden werden konnte, indem es den Sinnen näher steht und unter die gewöhnlichen Begriffe fällt; um aber zu dem Verborgeneren und Entfernteren in der Natur zu gelangen, ist nothwendig die Einführung eines besseren und vollkommeneren Gebrauchs und Wirkens des menschlichen Geistes und Verstandes erforderlich.
— Übersetzt durch Julius Heinrich von Kirchmann: Große Erneuerung der Wissenschaften. Berlin: Heimann, 1870.


Jan Amos Komenský: Labyrint světa a ráj srdce — Ioannes Amos Comenius

Schváliv mi to: „Kde pak vůdce jakého máš?“ řekl. Já odpověděl: „Žádného nemám, Bohu a svým očím se důvěřuji, že mne nezavedou.“ „Nespravíš nic,“ řekl on. „Slýchal-lis kdy co o Kretenském labyrintu?“ „Slýchal cosi,“ dím. On zase: „Zázrak světa byl, stavení z tak mnoha pokojů, příhrad, průchodišť vzdělané, že kdo se bez průvodčího do něho pustil, vždycky sem a tam chodě a motaje se, nikdý ven netrefil. Ale to žert byl proti tomu, jak sám světa tohoto labyrint, zvláště nyní, spořádán jest. Neradímť, věř mně zkušenému, samotně se tam pouštěti.“

„A kde pak takového vůdce vzíti mám?“ řekl sem. Odpověděl: „Já sem na to, abych takové, kteří něco shlédnouti a zkusiti žádají, prováděl a jim, kde co jest, ukazoval: protož sem tobě také vstříc vyšel.“ Já podivě se: „I kdo jsi ty,“ řekl sem, „můj milý?“ Odpověděl: „Jméno mé jest Všezvěd, příjmím Všudybud, kterýž všecken svět procházím, do všech koutů nahlédám, na každého člověka řeči a činy se vyptávám; co zjevného jest, vše spatřuji, co tajného, vše slídím a stíhám, summou beze mne nic se díti nemá, ke všemu dohlédati má jest povinnost: a ty půjdeš-li za mnou, uvedu tě do mnohých tajných míst, kamž by ty sic nikdá netrefil.“

Já slyše řeči takové, počnu sám v sobě vesel býti, že sem takového vůdce našel: a prosím ho, aby tedy sobě práce nevážil mne skrze svět provésti. Odpověděl: „Jak jiným v tom rád sloužím, tak i tobě;“ a ujav mne za ruku: „Poďmež,“ řekl. I šli sme; a já řekl: „Nu, rád se podívám, jaký jest toho světa běh, a také-li v něm co jest, čehož by se člověk bezpečně držeti mohl.“ To slyše tovaryš můj, zastavil se a řekl: „Příteli, jdeš-li ty tím umyslem, ne aby věci náše spatře obliboval, než aby o nich dle rozumu svého soud vynášel, nevím, jak by s tím královna náše, Její Milost, spokojena byla.“

„I kdo je to královna váše?“ dím já. Odpověděl: „Ta, kteráž všecken svět a běh jeho řídí, od končin až do končin: slove Moudrost, ač někteří mudrlanti Marnost ji říkají. Pravímť tedy časně, když tam choditi a prohlédati budeme, nemudruj nic: sic by sobě tu i jinde ledcos utržil, a já třebas vedlé tebe.“
— II. Poutník dostal Všudybuda za vůdce.

This pleased him well, and he said, “But where hast thou a guide?” I answered, “I have none. I trust to God and to my eyes, that they will not lead me astray.” “Thou wilt not succeed,” said he. “Hast thou heard of the labyrinth of Crete?” “I have heard somewhat,” I answered. He then replied, “It was a wonder of the world, a building consisting of so many chambers, closets, and corridors, that he who entered it without a guide walked and blundered through it in every direction, and never found the way out. But this was nothing compared to the way in which the labyrinth of this world is fashioned, particularly in these times. I do not, believe me, counsel a prudent man to enter it alone.”

“But where, then, shall I seek such a guide?” I asked. He answered: “I am able to guide those who wish to see and learn somewhat, and to show them where everything is; therefore, indeed, did I come to meet thee.” Wondering, I said: “Who art thou, my friend?” He answered: “My name is Searchall, and I have the by-name of Impudence. I wander through the whole world, peep into all corners, inquire about the words and deeds of all men, see everything that is visible, spy out and discover everything that is secret; generally, nothing can befall without me. It is my duty to survey everything; and if thou comest with me, I shall lead thee to many secret places, whereto thou wouldst never have found thy way.”

Hearing such speech, I begin to rejoice in my mind at having found such a guide, and beg him not to shun the labour of conducting me through the world. He answered: “As I have gladly served others in this matter, so will I gladly aid you also.” And seizing my hand, “Let us go,” he said, and we went; and I said: “Well, now will I gladly see what the ways of the world are, and also whether it contains that on which a man may safely rely.” Hearing this, my companion stopped and said: “Friend, if thou art starting on this voyage with the purpose, not of seeing our things with pleasure, but of passing judgment on them according to thine own understanding, I do not know if Her Majesty our Queen will be pleased with this.”

“And who, then, is your Queen?” I said. He answered: “She who directs the whole world and its ways from the beginning. She is called Wisdom, though some wiseacres call her Vanity. I therefore warn thee in time, when we shall go there and look round, do not cavil; then wouldst thou draw some evil upon thyself, even though I be close to thee.”
The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart. Translated by Count Lützow. New York: Dutton, 1901. pp. 61-62.


Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Carceri d’Invenzione


Jean le Rond d’Alembert: Discours préliminaire de l’Encyclopédie

Le système général des sciences et des arts est une espèce de labyrinthe, de chemin tortueux, où l’esprit s’engage sans trop connaitre la route qu’il doit tenir.

Pressé par ses besoins, et par ceux du corps auquel il est uni, il étudie d’abord les premiers objets qui se présentent à lui; pénètre le plus avant qu’il peut dans la connaissance de ces objets; rencontre bientôt des difficultés qui l’arrêtent, et soit par l’espérance ou même par le désespoir de les vaincre, se jette dans une nouvelle route; revient ensuite sur ses pas, franchit quelquefois les premières barrières pour en rencontrer de nouvelles; et passant rapidement d’un objet à un autre, fait sur chacun de ces objets à différents intervalles et comme par secousses, une suite d’opérations dont la génération même de ses idées rend la discontinuité nécessaire.

Mais ce désordre, tout philosophique qu’il est de la part de l’âme, défigurerait, ou plutôt anéantirait entièrement un arbre encyclopédique dans lequel on voudrait le représenter.

D’ailleurs, comme nous l’avons déjà fait sentir au sujet de la logique, la plupart des sciences qu’on regarde comme renfermant les principes de toutes les autres, et qui doivent par cette raison occuper les premières places dans l’ordre encyclopédique, n’observent pas le même rang dans l’ordre généalogique des idées, parce qu’elles n’ont pas été inventées les premières. En effet, notre étude primitive a dû être celle des individus; ce n’est qu’après avoir considéré leurs propriétés particulières et palpables, que nous avons par abstraction de notre esprit, envisagé leurs propriétés générales et communes, et formé la métaphysique et la géométrie; ce n’est qu’après un long usage des premiers signes, que nous avons perfectionné l’art de ces signes au point d’en faire une science; ce n’est enfin qu’après une longue suite d’opérations sur les objets de nos idées, que nous avons par la réflexion donné des règles à ces opérations même.

Enfin le système de nos connaissances est composé de différentes branches, dont plusieurs ont un même point de réunion; et comme en partant de ce point il n’est pas possible de s’engager à la fois dans toutes les routes, c’est la nature des différents esprits qui détermine le choix.

Aussi est-il assez rare qu’un même esprit en parcoure à la fois un grand nombre.

Dans l’étude de la nature les hommes se sont d’abord appliqués tous, comme de concert, à satisfaire les besoins les plus pressants; mais quand ils en sont venus aux connaissances moins absolument nécessaires, ils ont dû se les partager, et y avancer chacun de son côté à-peu-près d’un pas égal.

Ainsi plusieurs sciences ont été, pour ainsi dire, contemporaines; mais dans l’ordre historique des progrès de l’esprit, on ne peut les embrasser que successivement.

Il n’en est pas de même de l’ordre encyclopédique de nos connaissances.

Ce dernier consiste à les rassembler dans le plus petit espace possible, et à placer, pour ainsi dire, le philosophe au-dessus de ce vaste labyrinthe dans un point de vue fort élevé d’où il puisse apercevoir à la fois les sciences et les arts principaux; voir d’un coup d’oeil les objets de ses spéculations, et les opérations qu’il peut faire sur ces objets; distinguer les branches générales des connaissances humaines, les points qui les séparent ou qui les unissent; et entrevoir même quelquefois les routes secrètes qui les rapprochent.

C’est une espèce de mappemonde qui doit montrer les principaux pays, leur position et leur dépendance mutuelle, le chemin en ligne droite qu’il y a de l’un à l’autre; chemin souvent coupé par mille obstacles, qui ne peuvent être connus dans chaque pays que des habitants ou des voyageurs, et qui ne sauraient être montrés que dans des cartes particulières fort détaillées.

Ces cartes particulières seront les différents articles de l’encyclopédie, et l’arbre ou système figuré en sera la mappemonde.


Donatien Alphonse François de Sade: Labyrinthe

— Государственный исторический музей. Alexandre Stroev: Des dessins inédits du Marquis de Sade. In: Dix-huitième Siècle, n°32, 2000. Le rire. p. 327.


William Blake: The Mental Traveller

I traveld thro’ a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women too
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth wanderers never knew
For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe
Just as we Reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did Sow
And if the Babe is born a Boy
He’s given to a Woman Old
Who nails him down upon a rock
Catches his Shrieks in Cups of gold
She binds iron thorns around his head
She pierces both his hands & feet
She cuts his heart out at his side
To make it feel both cold & heat
Her fingers number every Nerve
Just as a Miser counts his gold
She lives upon his shrieks & cries
And She grows young as he grows old
Till he becomes a bleeding youth
And She becomes a Virgin bright
Then he rends up his Manacles
And binds her down for his delight
He plants himself in all her Nerves
Just as a Husbandman his mould
And She becomes his dwelling place
And Garden fruitful Seventy fold
An aged Shadow soon he fades
Wandring round an Earthly Cot
Full filled all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got
And these are the gems of the Human Soul
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye
The countless gold of the akeing heart
The martyrs groan & the lovers sigh
They are his meat they are his drink
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the way faring Traveller
For ever open is his door
His grief is their eternal joy
They make the roofs & walls to ring
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring
And she is all of solid Fire
And gems & gold that none his hand
Dares to stretch to touch her Baby form
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band
But She comes to the Man she loves
If young or old or rich or poor
They soon drive out the aged Host
A Beggar at anothers door
He wanders weeping far away
Until some other take him in
Oft blind & age-bent sore distrest
Until he can a Maiden win
And to allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms
The Cottage fades before his sight
The Garden & its lovly Charms
The Guests are scatterd thro’ the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses will themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball
The stars sun moon all shrink away
A desert vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desert all around
The honey of her Infant lips
The bread & wine of her sweet smile
The wild game of her roving Eye
Does him to Infancy beguile
For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger & younger every day
And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay
Like the wild Stag she flees away
Her fear plants many a thicket wild
While he pursues her night & day
By various arts of Love beguild
By various arts of Love & Hate
Till the wide desart planted oer
With Labyrinths of wayward Love
Where roams the Lion Wolf & Boar
Till be becomes a wayward Babe
And she a weeping Woman Old
Then many a Lover wanders here
The Sun & Stars are nearer rolld
The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
To all who in the desart roam
Till many a City there is Built
And many a pleasant Shepherds home
But when they find the frowning Babe
Terror strikes thro the region wide
They cry the Babe the Babe is Born
And flee away on Every side
For who dare touch the frowning form
His arm is witherd to its root
Lions Bears Wolves all howling flee
And every Tree does shed its fruit
And none can touch that frowning form
Except it be a Woman Old
She nails him down upon the Rock
And all is done as I have told

I travelled through a land of men,
 A land of men and women too;
And heard and saw such dreadful things
 As cold earth-wanderers never knew.
For there the babe is born in joy
 That was begotten in dire woe;
Just as we reap in joy the fruit
 Which we in bitter tears did sow.
And, if the babe is born a boy,
 He’s given to a woman old,
Who nails him down upon a rock,
 Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.
She binds iron thorns around his head,
 She pierces both his hands and feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side,
 To make it feel both cold and heat.
Her fingers number every nerve
 Just as a miser counts his gold;
She lives upon his shrieks and cries
 And she grows young as he grows old.
Till he becomes a bleeding youth,
 And she becomes a virgin bright;
Then he rends up his manacles,
 And binds her down for his delight.
He plants himself in all her nerves
 Just as a husbandman his mould,
And she becomes his dwelling place
 And garden fruitful seventyfold.
An aged shadow soon he fades,
 Wandering round in earthly cot,
Full-filled all with gems and gold
 Which he by industry had got.
And these are the gems of the human soul,
 The rubies and pearls of a lovesick eye,
The countless gold of the aching heart,
 The martyr’s groan and the lover’s sigh.
They are his meat, they are his drink;
 He feeds the beggar and the poor;
To the wayfaring traveller
 For ever open is his door.
His grief is their eternal joy,
 They make the roofs and walls to ring;
Till from the fire on the hearth
 A little female babe does spring.
And she is all of solid fire
 And gems and gold, that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her baby form,
 Or wrap her in his swaddling-band.
But she comes to the man she loves,
 If young or old or rich or poor;
They soon drive out the aged host,
 A beggar at another’s door.
He wanders weeping far away,
 Until some other take him in;
Oft blind and age-bent sore distressed,
 Until he can a maiden win.
And, to allay his freezing age,
 The poor man takes her in his arms;
The cottage fades before his sight,
 The garden and its lovely charms.
The guests are scattered through the land;
 For the eye altering alters all;
The senses roll themselves in fear,
 And the flat earth becomes a ball.
The stars, sun, moon, all shrink away,
 A desert vast without a bound,
And nothing left to eat or drink,
 And a dark desert all around.
The honey of her infant lips,
 The bread and wine of her sweet smile,
The wild game of her roving eye,
 Do him to infancy beguile.
For as he eats and drinks he grows
 Younger and younger every day,
And on the desert wild they both
 Wander in terror and dismay.
Like the wild stag she flees away;
 Her fear plants many a thicket wild,
While he pursues her night and day,
 By various arts of love beguiled;
By various arts of love and hate
 Till the wide desert’s planted o’er
With labyrinths of wayward love,
 Where roam the lion, wolf, and boar.
Till he becomes a wayward babe,
 And she a weeping woman old;
Then many a lover wanders here,
 The sun and stars are nearer rolled;
The trees bring forth sweet ecstasy
 To all who in the desert roam;
Till many a city there is built,
 And many a pleasant shepherd’s home.
But, when they find the frowning babe,
 Terror strikes through the region wide:
They cry—“The babe, the babe is born!”
 And flee away on every side.
For who dare touch the frowning form,
 His arm is withered to its root:
Bears, lions, wolves, all howling flee,
 And every tree doth shed its fruit.
And none can touch that frowning form
 Except it be a woman old;
She nails him down upon the rock,
 And all is done as I have told.


Ludwig Tieck: Der Geheimnißvolle

Aber, der Mensch – der arme Mensch! Kaum ist ihm die Zunge gelöst, so umfängt ihn schon im ersten Lallen die Lüge, und läßt ihn auch nicht wieder los; selbst seine innersten Gedanken werden unwahr, seine Pulse heucheln, und er verliert im Labyrinth der Zweifel, der Entschuldigung, des Aufputzes, der Eitelkeit sich selbst. Und doch ist es so bequem, ehrlich und wahr zu seyn. Die Sache selbst, wenn die Lüge kaum Schatten zu nennen ist. Hat denn wohl Affectation und durch Lüge erzwungenes Lob und Bewunderung meinem Herzen nur einige der Schmerzen, der Vernichtungen vergüten können, die es erdulden mußte, wenn man meiner Armseligkeit auf die Spur kam, oder sie ganz entdeckte? Ja, von heut, von jetzt an will ich allen Täuschungen entsagen, und das Leben selbst finden, das sich mir bisher immer hinter Schattengebilden verborgen hielt.
— In: Merkur. Dresden: Hilscher, 1822.


Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Witch of Atlas

Before those cruel Twins, whom at one birth
 Incestuous Change bore to her father Time,
Error and Truth, had hunted from the Earth
 All those bright natures which adorned its prime,
And left us nothing to believe in, worth
 The pains of putting into learned rhyme,
A lady-witch there lived on Atlas’ mountain
Within a cavern, by a secret fountain.
2Her mother was one of the Atlantides:
 The all-beholding Sun had ne’er beholden
In his wide voyage o’er continents and seas
 So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden
In the warm shadow of her loveliness;—
 He kissed her with his beams, and made all golden
The chamber of gray rock in which she lay—
She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away.
3’Tis said, she first was changed into a vapour,
 And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit,
Like splendour-winged moths about a taper,
 Round the red west when the sun dies in it:
And then into a meteor, such as caper
 On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit:
Then, into one of those mysterious stars
Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.
4Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent
 Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
With that bright sign the billows to indent
 The sea-deserted sand—like children chidden,
At her command they ever came and went—
 Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden
Took shape and motion: with the living form
Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm.
5A lovely lady garmented in light
 From her own beauty—deep her eyes, as are
Two openings of unfathomable night
 Seen through a Temple’s cloven roof—her hair
Dark—the dim brain whirls dizzy with delight.
 Picturing her form; her soft smiles shone afar,
And her low voice was heard like love, and drew
All living things towards this wonder new.
6And first the spotted cameleopard came,
 And then the wise and fearless elephant;
Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame
 Of his own volumes intervolved;—all gaunt
And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame.
 They drank before her at her sacred fount;
And every beast of beating heart grew bold,
Such gentleness and power even to behold.
7The brinded lioness led forth her young,
 That she might teach them how they should forego
Their inborn thirst of death; the pard unstrung
 His sinews at her feet, and sought to know
With looks whose motions spoke without a tongue
 How he might be as gentle as the doe.
The magic circle of her voice and eyes
All savage natures did imparadise.
8And old Silenus, shaking a green stick
 Of lilies, and the wood-gods in a crew
Came, blithe, as in the olive copses thick
 Cicadae are, drunk with the noonday dew:
And Dryope and Faunus followed quick,
 Teasing the God to sing them something new;
Till in this cave they found the lady lone,
Sitting upon a seat of emerald stone.
9And universal Pan, ’tis said, was there,
 And though none saw him,—through the adamant
Of the deep mountains, through the trackless air,
 And through those living spirits, like a want,
He passed out of his everlasting lair
 Where the quick heart of the great world doth pant,
And felt that wondrous lady all alone,—
And she felt him, upon her emerald throne.
10And every nymph of stream and spreading tree,
 And every shepherdess of Ocean’s flocks,
Who drives her white waves over the green sea,
 And Ocean with the brine on his gray locks,
And quaint Priapus with his company,
 All came, much wondering how the enwombed rocks
Could have brought forth so beautiful a birth;—
Her love subdued their wonder and their mirth.
11The herdsmen and the mountain maidens came,
 And the rude kings of pastoral Garamant—
Their spirits shook within them, as a flame
 Stirred by the air under a cavern gaunt:
Pigmies, and Polyphemes, by many a name,
 Centaurs, and Satyrs, and such shapes as haunt
Wet clefts,—and lumps neither alive nor dead,
Dog-headed, bosom-eyed, and bird-footed.
12For she was beautiful—her beauty made
 The bright world dim, and everything beside
Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade:
 No thought of living spirit could abide,
Which to her looks had ever been betrayed,
 On any object in the world so wide,
On any hope within the circling skies,
But on her form, and in her inmost eyes.
13Which when the lady knew, she took her spindle
 And twined three threads of fleecy mist, and three
Long lines of light, such as the dawn may kindle
 The clouds and waves and mountains with; and she
As many star-beams, ere their lamps could dwindle
 In the belated moon, wound skilfully;
And with these threads a subtle veil she wove—
A shadow for the splendour of her love.
14The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling
 Were stored with magic treasures—sounds of air,
Which had the power all spirits of compelling,
 Folded in cells of crystal silence there;
Such as we hear in youth, and think the feeling
 Will never die—yet ere we are aware,
The feeling and the sound are fled and gone,
And the regret they leave remains alone.
15And there lay Visions swift, and sweet, and quaint,
 Each in its thin sheath, like a chrysalis,
Some eager to burst forth, some weak and faint
 With the soft burthen of intensest bliss.
It was its work to bear to many a saint
 Whose heart adores the shrine which holiest is,
Even Love’s:—and others white, green, gray, and black,
And of all shapes—and each was at her beck.
16And odours in a kind of aviary
 Of ever-blooming Eden-trees she kept,
Clipped in a floating net, a love-sick Fairy
 Had woven from dew-beams while the moon yet slept;
As bats at the wired window of a dairy,
 They beat their vans; and each was an adept,
When loosed and missioned, making wings of winds,
To stir sweet thoughts or sad, in destined minds.
17And liquors clear and sweet, whose healthful might
 Could medicine the sick soul to happy sleep,
And change eternal death into a night
 Of glorious dreams—or if eyes needs must weep,
Could make their tears all wonder and delight,
 She in her crystal vials did closely keep:
If men could drink of those clear vials, ’tis said
The living were not envied of the dead.
18Her cave was stored with scrolls of strange device,
 The works of some Saturnian Archimage,
Which taught the expiations at whose price
 Men from the Gods might win that happy age
Too lightly lost, redeeming native vice;
 And which might quench the Earth-consuming rage
Of gold and blood—till men should live and move
Harmonious as the sacred stars above;
19And how all things that seem untameable,
 Not to be checked and not to be confined,
Obey the spells of Wisdom’s wizard skill;
 Time, earth, and fire—the ocean and the wind,
And all their shapes—and man’s imperial will;
 And other scrolls whose writings did unbind
The inmost lore of Love—let the profane
Tremble to ask what secrets they contain.
20And wondrous works of substances unknown,
 To which the enchantment of her father’s power
Had changed those ragged blocks of savage stone,
 Were heaped in the recesses of her bower;
Carved lamps and chalices, and vials which shone
 In their own golden beams—each like a flower,
Out of whose depth a fire-fly shakes his light
Under a cypress in a starless night.
21At first she lived alone in this wild home,
 And her own thoughts were each a minister,
Clothing themselves, or with the ocean foam,
 Or with the wind, or with the speed of fire,
To work whatever purposes might come
 Into her mind; such power her mighty Sire
Had girt them with, whether to fly or run,
Through all the regions which he shines upon.
22The Ocean-nymphs and Hamadryades,
 Oreads and Naiads, with long weedy locks,
Offered to do her bidding through the seas,
 Under the earth, and in the hollow rocks,
And far beneath the matted roots of trees,
 And in the gnarled heart of stubborn oaks,
So they might live for ever in the light
Of her sweet presence—each a satellite.
23“This may not be,” the wizard maid replied;
 “The fountains where the Naiades bedew
Their shining hair, at length are drained and dried;
 The solid oaks forget their strength, and strew
Their latest leaf upon the mountains wide;
 The boundless ocean like a drop of dew
Will be consumed—the stubborn centre must
Be scattered, like a cloud of summer dust.
24And ye with them will perish, one by one;—
 If I must sigh to think that this shall be,
If I must weep when the surviving Sun
 Shall smile on your decay—oh, ask not me
To love you till your little race is run;
 I cannot die as ye must—over me
Your leaves shall glance—the streams in which ye dwell
Shall be my paths henceforth, and so—farewell!”—
25She spoke and wept:—the dark and azure well
 Sparkled beneath the shower of her bright tears,
And every little circlet where they fell
 Flung to the cavern-roof inconstant spheres
And intertangled lines of light:—a knell
 Of sobbing voices came upon her ears
From those departing Forms, o’er the serene
Of the white streams and of the forest green.
26All day the wizard lady sate aloof,
 Spelling out scrolls of dread antiquity,
Under the cavern’s fountain-lighted roof;
 Or broidering the pictured poesy
Of some high tale upon her growing woof,
 Which the sweet splendour of her smiles could dye
 In hues outshining heaven—and ever she
Added some grace to the wrought poesy.
27While on her hearth lay blazing many a piece
 Of sandal wood, rare gums, and cinnamon;
Men scarcely know how beautiful fire is—
 Each flame of it is as a precious stone
Dissolved in ever-moving light, and this
 Belongs to each and all who gaze upon.
The Witch beheld it not, for in her hand
She held a woof that dimmed the burning brand.
28This lady never slept, but lay in trance
 All night within the fountain—as in sleep.
Its emerald crags glowed in her beauty’s glance;
 Through the green splendour of the water deep
She saw the constellations reel and dance
 Like fire-flies—and withal did ever keep
The tenour of her contemplations calm,
With open eyes, closed feet, and folded palm.
29And when the whirlwinds and the clouds descended
 From the white pinnacles of that cold hill,
She passed at dewfall to a space extended,
 Where in a lawn of flowering asphodel
Amid a wood of pines and cedars blended,
 There yawned an inextinguishable well
Of crimson fire—full even to the brim,
And overflowing all the margin trim.
30Within the which she lay when the fierce war
 Of wintry winds shook that innocuous liquor
In many a mimic moon and bearded star
 O’er woods and lawns;—the serpent heard it flicker
In sleep, and dreaming still, he crept afar—
 And when the windless snow descended thicker
Than autumn leaves, she watched it as it came
Melt on the surface of the level flame.
31She had a boat, which some say Vulcan wrought
 For Venus, as the chariot of her star;
But it was found too feeble to be fraught
 With all the ardours in that sphere which are,
And so she sold it, and Apollo bought
 And gave it to this daughter: from a car
Changed to the fairest and the lightest boat
Which ever upon mortal stream did float.
32And others say, that, when but three hours old,
 The first-born Love out of his cradle lept,
And clove dun Chaos with his wings of gold,
 And like a horticultural adept,
Stole a strange seed, and wrapped it up in mould,
 And sowed it in his mother’s star, and kept
Watering it all the summer with sweet dew,
And with his wings fanning it as it grew.
33The plant grew strong and green, the snowy flower
 Fell, and the long and gourd-like fruit began
To turn the light and dew by inward power
 To its own substance; woven tracery ran
Of light firm texture, ribbed and branching, o’er
 The solid rind, like a leaf’s veined fan—
Of which Love scooped this boat—and with soft motion
Piloted it round the circumfluous ocean.
34This boat she moored upon her fount, and lit
 A living spirit within all its frame,
Breathing the soul of swiftness into it.
 Couched on the fountain like a panther tame,
One of the twain at Evan’s feet that sit—
 Or as on Vesta’s sceptre a swift flame—
Or on blind Homer’s heart a winged thought,—
In joyous expectation lay the boat.
35Then by strange art she kneaded fire and snow
 Together, tempering the repugnant mass
With liquid love—all things together grow
 Through which the harmony of love can pass;
And a fair Shape out of her hands did flow—
 A living Image, which did far surpass
In beauty that bright shape of vital stone
Which drew the heart out of Pygmalion.
36A sexless thing it was, and in its growth
 It seemed to have developed no defect
Of either sex, yet all the grace of both,—
 In gentleness and strength its limbs were decked;
The bosom swelled lightly with its full youth,
 The countenance was such as might select
Some artist that his skill should never die,
Imaging forth such perfect purity.
37From its smooth shoulders hung two rapid wings,
 Fit to have borne it to the seventh sphere,
Tipped with the speed of liquid lightenings,
 Dyed in the ardours of the atmosphere:
She led her creature to the boiling springs
 Where the light boat was moored, and said: “Sit here!”
And pointed to the prow, and took her seat
Beside the rudder, with opposing feet.
38And down the streams which clove those mountains vast,
 Around their inland islets, and amid
The panther-peopled forests whose shade cast
 Darkness and odours, and a pleasure hid
In melancholy gloom, the pinnace passed;
 By many a star-surrounded pyramid
Of icy crag cleaving the purple sky,
And caverns yawning round unfathomably.
39The silver noon into that winding dell,
 With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops,
Tempered like golden evening, feebly fell;
 A green and glowing light, like that which drops
From folded lilies in which glow-worms dwell,
 When Earth over her face Night’s mantle wraps;
Between the severed mountains lay on high,
Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky.
40And ever as she went, the Image lay
 With folded wings and unawakened eyes;
And o’er its gentle countenance did play
 The busy dreams, as thick as summer flies,
Chasing the rapid smiles that would not stay,
 And drinking the warm tears, and the sweet sighs
Inhaling, which, with busy murmur vain,
They had aroused from that full heart and brain.
41And ever down the prone vale, like a cloud
 Upon a stream of wind, the pinnace went:
Now lingering on the pools, in which abode
 The calm and darkness of the deep content
In which they paused; now o’er the shallow road
 Of white and dancing waters, all besprent
With sand and polished pebbles:—mortal boat
In such a shallow rapid could not float.
42And down the earthquaking cataracts which shiver
 Their snow-like waters into golden air,
Or under chasms unfathomable ever
 Sepulchre them, till in their rage they tear
A subterranean portal for the river,
 It fled—the circling sunbows did upbear
Its fall down the hoar precipice of spray,
Lighting it far upon its lampless way.
43And when the wizard lady would ascend
 The labyrinths of some many-winding vale,
Which to the inmost mountain upward tend—
 She called “Hermaphroditus!”—and the pale
And heavy hue which slumber could extend
 Over its lips and eyes, as on the gale
A rapid shadow from a slope of grass,
Into the darkness of the stream did pass.
44And it unfurled its heaven-coloured pinions,
 With stars of fire spotting the stream below;
And from above into the Sun’s dominions
 Flinging a glory, like the golden glow
In which Spring clothes her emerald-winged minions,
 All interwoven with fine feathery snow
And moonlight splendour of intensest rime,
With which frost paints the pines in winter time.
45And then it winnowed the Elysian air
 Which ever hung about that lady bright,
With its aethereal vans—and speeding there,
 Like a star up the torrent of the night,
Or a swift eagle in the morning glare
 Breasting the whirlwind with impetuous flight,
The pinnace, oared by those enchanted wings,
Clove the fierce streams towards their upper springs.
46The water flashed, like sunlight by the prow
 Of a noon-wandering meteor flung to Heaven;
The still air seemed as if its waves did flow
 In tempest down the mountains; loosely driven
The lady’s radiant hair streamed to and fro:
 Beneath, the billows having vainly striven
Indignant and impetuous, roared to feel
The swift and steady motion of the keel.
47Or, when the weary moon was in the wane,
 Or in the noon of interlunar night,
The lady-witch in visions could not chain
 Her spirit; but sailed forth under the light
Of shooting stars, and bade extend amain
 Its storm-outspeeding wings, the Hermaphrodite;
She to the Austral waters took her way,
Beyond the fabulous Thamondocana,—
48Where, like a meadow which no scythe has shaven,
 Which rain could never bend, or whirl-blast shake,
With the Antarctic constellations paven,
 Canopus and his crew, lay the Austral lake—
There she would build herself a windless haven
 Out of the clouds whose moving turrets make
The bastions of the storm, when through the sky
The spirits of the tempest thundered by:
49A haven beneath whose translucent floor
 The tremulous stars sparkled unfathomably,
And around which the solid vapours hoar,
 Based on the level waters, to the sky
Lifted their dreadful crags, and like a shore
 Of wintry mountains, inaccessibly
Hemmed in with rifts and precipices gray,
And hanging crags, many a cove and bay.
50And whilst the outer lake beneath the lash
 Of the wind’s scourge, foamed like a wounded thing,
And the incessant hail with stony clash
 Ploughed up the waters, and the flagging wing
Of the roused cormorant in the lightning flash
 Looked like the wreck of some wind-wandering
Fragment of inky thunder-smoke—this haven
Was as a gem to copy Heaven engraven,—
51On which that lady played her many pranks,
 Circling the image of a shooting star,
Even as a tiger on Hydaspes’ banks
 Outspeeds the antelopes which speediest are,
In her light boat; and many quips and cranks
 She played upon the water, till the car
Of the late moon, like a sick matron wan,
To journey from the misty east began.
52And then she called out of the hollow turrets
 Of those high clouds, white, golden and vermilion,
The armies of her ministering spirits—
 In mighty legions, million after million,
They came, each troop emblazoning its merits
 On meteor flags; and many a proud pavilion
Of the intertexture of the atmosphere
They pitched upon the plain of the calm mere.
53They framed the imperial tent of their great Queen
 Of woven exhalations, underlaid
With lambent lightning-fire, as may be seen
 A dome of thin and open ivory inlaid
With crimson silk—cressets from the serene
 Hung there, and on the water for her tread
A tapestry of fleece-like mist was strewn,
Dyed in the beams of the ascending moon.
54And on a throne o’erlaid with starlight, caught
 Upon those wandering isles of aery dew,
Which highest shoals of mountain shipwreck not,
 She sate, and heard all that had happened new
Between the earth and moon, since they had brought
 The last intelligence—and now she grew
Pale as that moon, lost in the watery night—
And now she wept, and now she laughed outright.
55These were tame pleasures; she would often climb
 The steepest ladder of the crudded rack
Up to some beaked cape of cloud sublime,
 And like Arion on the dolphin’s back
Ride singing through the shoreless air;—oft-time
 Following the serpent lightning’s winding track,
She ran upon the platforms of the wind,
And laughed to hear the fire-balls roar behind.
56And sometimes to those streams of upper air
 Which whirl the earth in its diurnal round,
She would ascend, and win the spirits there
 To let her join their chorus. Mortals found
That on those days the sky was calm and fair,
 And mystic snatches of harmonious sound
Wandered upon the earth where’er she passed,
And happy thoughts of hope, too sweet to last.
57But her choice sport was, in the hours of sleep,
 To glide adown old Nilus, where he threads
Egypt and Æthiopia, from the steep
 Of utmost Axumè, until he spreads,
Like a calm flock of silver-fleeced sheep,
 His waters on the plain: and crested heads
Of cities and proud temples gleam amid,
And many a vapour-belted pyramid.
58By Mœris and the Mareotid lakes,
 Strewn with faint blooms like bridal chamber floors,
Where naked boys bridling tame water-snakes,
 Or charioteering ghastly alligators,
Had left on the sweet waters mighty wakes
 Of those huge forms—within the brazen doors
Of the great Labyrinth slept both boy and beast,
Tired with the pomp of their Osirian feast.
59And where within the surface of the river
 The shadows of the massy temples lie,
And never are erased—but tremble ever
 Like things which every cloud can doom to die,
Through lotus-paven canals, and wheresoever
 The works of man pierced that serenest sky
With tombs, and towers, and fanes, ’twas her delight
To wander in the shadow of the night.
60With motion like the spirit of that wind
 Whose soft step deepens slumber, her light feet
Passed through the peopled haunts of humankind.
 Scattering sweet visions from her presence sweet,
Through fane, and palace-court, and labyrinth mined
 With many a dark and subterranean street
Under the Nile, through chambers high and deep
She passed, observing mortals in their sleep.
61A pleasure sweet doubtless it was to see
 Mortals subdued in all the shapes of sleep.
Here lay two sister twins in infancy;
 There, a lone youth who in his dreams did weep;
Within, two lovers linked innocently
 In their loose locks which over both did creep
Like ivy from one stem;—and there lay calm
Old age with snow-bright hair and folded palm.
62But other troubled forms of sleep she saw,
 Not to be mirrored in a holy song—
Distortions foul of supernatural awe,
 And pale imaginings of visioned wrong;
And all the code of Custom’s lawless law
 Written upon the brows of old and young:
“This,” said the wizard maiden, “is the strife
Which stirs the liquid surface of man’s life.”
63And little did the sight disturb her soul.—
 We, the weak mariners of that wide lake
Where’er its shores extend or billows roll,
 Our course unpiloted and starless make
O’er its wild surface to an unknown goal:—
 But she in the calm depths her way could take,
Where in bright bowers immortal forms abide
Beneath the weltering of the restless tide.
64And she saw princes couched under the glow
 Of sunlike gems; and round each temple-court
In dormitories ranged, row after row,
 She saw the priests asleep—all of one sort—
For all were educated to be so.—
 The peasants in their huts, and in the port
The sailors she saw cradled on the waves,
And the dead lulled within their dreamless graves.
65And all the forms in which those spirits lay
 Were to her sight like the diaphanous
Veils, in which those sweet ladies oft array
 Their delicate limbs, who would conceal from us
Only their scorn of all concealment: they
 Move in the light of their own beauty thus.
But these and all now lay with sleep upon them,
And little thought a Witch was looking on them.
66She, all those human figures breathing there,
 Beheld as living spirits—to her eyes
The naked beauty of the soul lay bare,
 And often through a rude and worn disguise
She saw the inner form most bright and fair—
 And then she had a charm of strange device,
Which, murmured on mute lips with tender tone,
Could make that spirit mingle with her own.
67Alas! Aurora, what wouldst thou have given
 For such a charm when Tithon became gray?
Or how much, Venus, of thy silver heaven
 Wouldst thou have yielded, ere Proserpina
Had half (oh! why not all?) the debt forgiven
 Which dear Adonis had been doomed to pay,
To any witch who would have taught you it?
The Heliad doth not know its value yet.
68’Tis said in after times her spirit free
 Knew what love was, and felt itself alone—
But holy Dian could not chaster be
 Before she stooped to kiss Endymion,
Than now this lady—like a sexless bee
 Tasting all blossoms, and confined to none,
Among those mortal forms, the wizard-maiden
Passed with an eye serene and heart unladen.
69To those she saw most beautiful, she gave
 Strange panacea in a crystal bowl:—
They drank in their deep sleep of that sweet wave,
 And lived thenceforward as if some control,
Mightier than life, were in them; and the grave
 Of such, when death oppressed the weary soul,
Was as a green and overarching bower
Lit by the gems of many a starry flower.
70For on the night when they were buried, she
 Restored the embalmers’ ruining, and shook
The light out of the funeral lamps, to be
 A mimic day within that deathy nook;
And she unwound the woven imagery
 Of second childhood’s swaddling bands, and took
The coffin, its last cradle, from its niche,
And threw it with contempt into a ditch.
71And there the body lay, age after age.
 Mute, breathing, beating, warm, and undecaying,
Like one asleep in a green hermitage,
 With gentle smiles about its eyelids playing,
And living in its dreams beyond the rage
 Of death or life; while they were still arraying
In liveries ever new, the rapid, blind
And fleeting generations of mankind.
72And she would write strange dreams upon the brain
 Of those who were less beautiful, and make
All harsh and crooked purposes more vain
 Than in the desert is the serpent’s wake
Which the sand covers—all his evil gain
 The miser in such dreams would rise and shake
Into a beggar’s lap;—the lying scribe
Would his own lies betray without a bribe.
73The priests would write an explanation full,
 Translating hieroglyphics into Greek,
How the God Apis really was a bull,
 And nothing more; and bid the herald stick
The same against the temple doors, and pull
 The old cant down; they licensed all to speak
Whate’er they thought of hawks, and cats, and geese,
By pastoral letters to each diocese.
74The king would dress an ape up in his crown
 And robes, and seat him on his glorious seat,
And on the right hand of the sunlike throne
 Would place a gaudy mock-bird to repeat
The chatterings of the monkey.—Every one
 Of the prone courtiers crawled to kiss the feet
Of their great Emperor, when the morning came,
And kissed—alas, how many kiss the same!
75The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths, and
 Walked out of quarters in somnambulism;
Round the red anvils you might see them stand
 Like Cyclopses in Vulcan’s sooty abysm,
Beating their swords to ploughshares;—in a band
 The gaolers sent those of the liberal schism
Free through the streets of Memphis, much, I wis,
To the annoyance of king Amasis.
76And timid lovers who had been so coy,
 They hardly knew whether they loved or not,
Would rise out of their rest, and take sweet joy,
 To the fulfilment of their inmost thought;
And when next day the maiden and the boy
 Met one another, both, like sinners caught,
Blushed at the thing which each believed was done
Only in fancy—till the tenth moon shone;
77And then the Witch would let them take no ill:
 Of many thousand schemes which lovers find,
The Witch found one,—and so they took their fill
 Of happiness in marriage warm and kind.
Friends who, by practice of some envious skill,
 Were torn apart—a wide wound, mind from mind!—
She did unite again with visions clear
Of deep affection and of truth sincere.
78These were the pranks she played among the cities
 Of mortal men, and what she did to Sprites
And Gods, entangling them in her sweet ditties
 To do her will, and show their subtle sleights,
I will declare another time; for it is
 A tale more fit for the weird winter nights
Than for these garish summer days, when we
Scarcely believe much more than we can see.


Charles Baudelaire: Rêve Parisien

   À Constantin Guys.
De ce terrible paysage,
Tel que jamais mortel n’en vit,
Ce matin encore l’image,
Vague et lointaine, me ravit.
Le sommeil est plein de miracles !
Par un caprice singulier,
J’avais banni de ces spectacles
Le végétal irrégulier,
Et, peintre fier de mon génie,
Je savourais dans mon tableau
L’enivrante monotonie
Du métal, du marbre et de l’eau.
Babel d’escaliers et d’arcades,
C’était un palais infini,
Plein de bassins et de cascades
Tombant dans l’or mat ou bruni ;
Et des cataractes pesantes,
Comme des rideaux de cristal,
Se suspendaient, éblouissantes,
À des murailles de métal.
Non d’arbres, mais de colonnades
Les étangs dormants s’entouraient,
Où de gigantesques naïades,
Comme des femmes, se miraient.
Des nappes d’eau s’épanchaient, bleues,
Entre des quais roses et verts,
Pendant des millions de lieues,
Vers les confins de l’univers ;
C’étaient des pierres inouïes
Et des flots magiques ; c’étaient
D’immenses glaces éblouies
Par tout ce qu’elles reflétaient !
Insouciants et taciturnes,
Des Ganges, dans le firmament,
Versaient le trésor de leurs urnes
Dans des gouffres de diamant.
Architecte de mes féeries,
Je faisais, à ma volonté,
Sous un tunnel de pierreries
Passer un océan dompté ;
Et tout, même la couleur noire,
Semblait fourbi, clair, irisé ;
Le liquide enchâssait sa gloire
Dans le rayon cristallisé.
Nul astre d’ailleurs, nuls vestiges
De soleil, même au bas du ciel,
Pour illuminer ces prodiges,
Qui brillaient d’un feu personnel !
Et sur ces mouvantes merveilles
Planait (terrible nouveauté !
Tout pour l’œil, rien pour les oreilles !)
Un silence d’éternité.
En rouvrant mes yeux pleins de flamme
J’ai vu l’horreur de mon taudis,
Et senti, rentrant dans mon âme,
La pointe des soucis maudits ;
La pendule aux accents funèbres
Sonnait brutalement midi,
Et le ciel versait des ténèbres
Sur le triste monde engourdi.


Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

— Chapter VI. Pig and Pepper. Illustration: John Tenniel, 1865.


Karl Kraus: Der Irrgarten

Die Sprache ist, dies glaubt mir auf mein Wort,
ein Zwist, bei dem ein Wort das andre gibt.
Es leben Lust und Zweifel immerfort
im Zwiespalt und es neckt sich, was sich liebt.
Was treibt es nur? Geburt zugleich und Mord?
Ich steh’ dabei und habe nichts verübt.
Wie kam ich an den zauberischen Ort?
Die Welt ist durch das Sieb des Worts gesiebt.


Edwin Muir: The Labyrinth

Since I emerged that day from the labyrinth,
Dazed with the tall and echoing passages,
The swift recoils, so many I almost feared
I’d meet myself returning at some smooth corner,
Myself or my ghost, for all there was unreal
After the straw ceased rustling and the bull
Lay dead upon the straw and I remained,
Blood-splashed, if dead or alive I could not tell
In the twilight nothingness (I might have been
A spirit seeking his body through the roads
Of intricate Hades) – ever since I came out
To the world, the still fields swift with flowers, the trees
All bright with blossom, the little green hills, the sea,
The sky and all in movement under it,
Shepherds and flocks and birds and the young and old,
(I stared in wonder at the young and the old,
For in the maze time had not been with me;
I had strayed, it seemed, past sun and season and change,
Past rest and motion, for I could not tell
At last if I moved or stayed; the maze itself
Revolved around me on its hidden axis
And swept me smoothly to its enemy,
The lovely world) – since I came out that day,
There have been times when I have heard my footsteps
Still echoing in the maze, and all the roads
That run through the noisy world, deceiving streets
That meet and part and meet, and rooms that open
Into each other – and never a final room –
Stairways and corridors and antechambers
That vacantly wait for some great audience,
That smooth sea-tracks that open and close again,
Tracks undiscoverable, undecipherable,
Paths on the earth and tunnels underground,
And bird-tracks in the air – all seemed apart
Of the great labyrinth. And then I’d stumble
In sudden blindness, hasten, almost run,
As if the maze itself were after me.
And soon must catch me up. But taking thought,
I’d tell to myself, ʻYou need not hurry. This
Is the firm good earth. All roads lie free before you’.
But my bad spirit would sneer, ʻNo, do not hurry.
No need to hurry. Haste and delay are equal
In this one world, for there’s no exit, none,
No place to come to, and you’ll end where you are,
Deep in the centre of the endless maze’.
I could not live if this were not illusion.
It is a world, perhaps; but there’s another.
For once in a dream or trance I saw the gods
Each sitting on the top of his mountain-isle,
While down below the little ships sailed by,
Toy multitudes swarmed in the harbours, shepherds drove
Their tiny flocks to the pastures, marriage feasts
Went on below, small birthdays and holidays,
Ploughing and harvesting and life and death,
And all permissible, all acceptable,
Clear and secure as in a limpid dream.
But they, the gods, as large and bright as clouds,
Conversed across the sounds in tranquil voices
High in the sky above the untroubled sea,
And their eternal dialogue was peace
Where all these things were woven, and this our life
Was a chord deep in that dialogue,
As easy utterance of harmonious words,
Spontaneous syllables bodying forth a world.
That was the real world; I have touched it once,
And now shall know it always. But the lie,
The maze, the wild-wood waste of falsehood, roads
That run and run and never reach an end,
Embowered in error – I’d be prisoned there
But that my soul has bird wings to fly free.
Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.


Walter Benjamin

Aber ein anderes System von Galerien, die unterirdisch durch Paris sich hinziehen: die Metro, wo am Abend rot die Lichter aufglühen, die den Weg in den Hades der Namen zeigen. Combat – Elysee-Georges V – Etienne Marcel – Solferino – Invalides – Vaugirard haben die schmachvollen Ketten der rue, der place von sich abgeworfen, sind hier im blitzdurchzuckten, pfiffdurchgellten Dunkel zu ungestalten Kloakengöttern, Katakombenfeen geworden. Dies Labyrinth beherbergt in seinem Innern nicht einen sondern Dutzende blinder, rasender Stiere, in deren Rachen nicht jährlich eine thebanische Jungfrau, sondern allmorgentlich tausende bleichsüchtiger Midinetten, unausgeschlafener Kommis sich werfen müssen.

Labyrinthe. Je n’ai jamais pu sortir. J’habite pour toujours un batiment qui va crouler, un batiment travaille par une maladie secrete. - Je calcule en moi-meme, pour m’amuser, si une si prodigieuse masse de pierres. de marbres, de statues, de murs qui vont se choquer reciproquement, seront tres-souilles par cette multitude de cervelles, de chairs humaines et d’ossements concasses.

Die Masse bei Baudelaire. Sie legt sich als Schleier vor den Flaneur: sie ist das neueste Rauschmittel des Vereinsamten. — Sie verwischt, zweitens, alle Spuren des Einzelnen: sie ist das neueste Asyl des Geächteten. — Sie ist, endlich, im Labyrinth der Stadt das neueste und unerforschlichste Labyrinth. Durch sie prägen sich bislang unbekannte chthonische Züge ins Stadtbild ein.
Das Passagen-Werk, Aufzeichnungen und Materialien. Gesammelte Schriften, V,1. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1982. pp. 135-136, 389-390, 559.


Robert Desnos

Tu viens au labyrinthe où les ombres s’égarent
Graver sur les parois la frise d’un passé
Où la vie et le rêve et l’oubli, espacés
Par les nuits, revivront en symboles bizarres.
Je viens au labyrinthe où, plus gros qu’une amarre,
Se noua le vieux fil avant de se casser.
Ses deux bouts sur le sol roulent sans se lasser
Tout se tait, mais je sens naître au loin la fanfare.
Tu viens au labyrinthe et, d’un pas sans défaut,
Du seuil au seuil tu vas, tu passes sans assaut,
Ton être se dissout dans sa propre légende.
Je viens au labyrinthe oublier mes cinq sens.
J’ai choisi le courant sans en choisir le sens.
La fanfare s’éteint avant que je l’entende.


Wystan Hugh Auden: The Labyrinth

Anthropos apteros for days
Walked whistling round and round the Maze,
Relying happily upon
His temperment for getting on.
The hundredth time he sighted, though,
A bush he left an hour ago,
He halted where four alleys crossed,
And recognized that he was lost.
“Where am I?” Metaphysics says
“No question can be asked unless
It has an answer, so I can
Assume this maze has got a plan.
If theologians are correct,
A Plan implies an Architect:
A God-built maze would be, I’m sure,
The Universe in minature.
Are data from the world of Sense,
In that case, valid evidence?
What in the universe I know
Can give directions how to go?
All Mathematics would suggest
A steady straight line as the best,
But left and right alternately
Is consonant with History.
Aesthetics, though, believes all Art
Intends to gratify the heart:
Rejecting disciplines like these,
Must I, then, go which way I please?
Such reasoning is only true
If we accept the classic view,
Which we have no right to assert,
According to the Introvert.
His absolute pre-supposition
Is - Man creates his own condition:
This maze was not divinely built,
But is secreted by my guilt.
The centre that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious Mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there.
My problem is how not to will;
They move most quickly who stand still;
I’m only lost until I see
I’m lost because I want to be.
If this should fail, perhaps I should,
As certain educators would,
Content myself with the conclusion;
In theory there is no solution.
All statements about what I feel,
Like I-am-lost, are quite unreal:
My knowledge ends where it began;
A hedge is taller than a man.”
Anthropos apteros, perplexed
To know which turning to take next,
Looked up and wished he were a bird
To whom such doubts must seem absurd.


Jorge Luis Borges

 El inmortal — The Immortal

En el alba, la lejanía se erizó de pirámides y de torres. Insoportablemente soñé con un exiguo y nítido laberinto: en el centro había un cántaro; mis manos casi lo tocaban, mis ojos lo veían, pero tan intrincadas y perplejas eran las curvas que yo sabia que iba a morir antes de alcanzarlo. (...)
   He dicho que la Ciudad estaba fundada sobre una meseta de piedra. Esta meseta comparable a un acantilado no era menos ardua que los muros. En vano fatigué mis pasos: el negro basamento no descubría la menor irregularidad, los muros invariables no parecían consentir una sola puerta. La fuerza del día hizo que yo me refugiara en una caverna; en el fondo habla un pozo, en el pozo una escalera que se abismaba hacia la tiniebla inferior. Bajé; por un caos de sórdidas galerías llegué a una vasta cámara circular, apenas visible. Habla nueve puertas en aquel sótano; ocho daban a un laberinto que falazmente desembocaba en la misma cámara; la novena (a través de otro laberinto) daba a una segunda cámara circular, igual a la primera. Ignoro el número total, de las cámaras; mi desventura y mi ansiedad las multiplicaron. El silencio era hostil y casi perfecto; otro rumor no había en esas profundas redes de piedra que un viento subterráneo, cuya causa no descubrí; sin ruido se perdían entre las grietas hilos de agua herrumbrada. Horriblemente me habitué a ese dudoso mundo; consideré increíble que pudiera existir otra cosa que sótanos provistos de nueve puertas y que sótanos largos que se bifurcan. Ignoro el tiempo que debí caminar bajo tierra; sé que alguna vez confunda en la misma nostalgia, la atroz aldea de los bárbaros y mi ciudad natal, entre los racimos.

En el fondo de un corredor, un no previsto muro me cerró el paso, una remota luz cayó sobre mi. Alcé los ofuscados ojos: en lo vertiginoso, en lo altísimo, vi un circulo de cielo tan azul que pudo parecerme de púrpura. Unos peldaños de metal escalaban el muro. La fatiga me relajaba, pero subí, sólo deteniéndome a veces para torpemente sollozar de felicidad. Fui divisando capiteles y astrágalos, frontones triangulares y bóvedas, confusas pompas del granito y del mármol. Así me fue deparado ascender de la ciega región de negros laberintos entretejidos a la resplandeciente Ciudad.

Emergí a una suerte de plazoleta; mejor dicho, de patio. Lo rodeaba un solo edificio de forma irregular y altura variable; a ese edificio heterogéneo pertenecían las diversas cúpulas y columnas. Antes que ningún otro rasgo de ese monumento increíble, me suspendió lo antiquísimo de su fábrica. Sentí que era anterior a los hombres, anterior a la tierra. Esa notoria antigüedad (aunque terrible de algún modo para los ojos) me pareció adecuada al trabajo de obreros inmortales. Cautelosamente al principio, con indiferencia después, con desesperación al fin, erré por escaleras y pavimentos del inextricable palacio. (Después averigüé que eran inconstantes la extensión y la altura de los peldaños, hecho que me hizo comprender la singular fatiga que me infundieron.) Este palacio es fábrica de los dioses, pensé primeramente. Exploré los inhabitados recintos y corregí: Los dioses que lo edificaron han muerto. Noté sus peculiaridades y dije: Los dioses que lo edificaron estaban locos. Lo dije, bien lo sé, con una incomprensible reprobación que era casi un remordimiento, con más horror intelectual que miedo sensible.

A la impresión de enorme antigüedad se agregaron otras: la de lo interminable, la de lo atroz, la de lo complejamente insensato. Yo había cruzado un laberinto, pero la nítida Ciudad de los Inmortales me atemorizó y repugnó. Un laberinto es una casa labrada para confundir a los hombres; su arquitectura, pródiga en simetrías, está subordinada a ese fin. En el palacio que imperfectamente exploré, la arquitectura carecía de fin. Abundaban el corredor sin salida, la alta ventana inalcanzable, la aparatosa puerta que daba a una celda o a un pozo, las increíbles escaleras inversas, con los peldaños y la balaustrada hacia abajo. Otras, adheridas aéreamente al costado de un muro monumental, morían sin llegar a ninguna parte, al cabo de dos o tres giros, en la tiniebla superior de las cúpulas. Ignoro si todos los ejemplos que he enumerado son literales; sé que durante muchos años infestaron mis pesadillas; no puedo ya saber si tal o cual rasgo es una transcripción de la realidad o de las formas que desatinaron mis noches. Esta Ciudad (pensé) es tan horrible que su mera existencia y perduración, aunque en el centro de un desierto secreto, contamina el pasado y el porvenir y de algún modo compromete a los astros. Mientras perdure, nadie en el mundo podrá ser valeroso o feliz. No quiero describirla: un caos de palabras heterogéneas, un cuerpo de tigre o de toro, en el que pulularan monstruosamente, conjugados y odiándose, dientes, órganos y, cabezas, pueden (tal vez) ser imágenes aproximativas.

No recuerdo las etapas de mi regreso, entre los polvorientos y húmedos hipogeos. únicamente sé que no me abandonaba el temor de que, al salir del último laberinto, me rodeara otra vez la nefanda Ciudad de los Inmortales. Nada más puedo recordar. Ese olvido, ahora insuperable, fue quizá voluntario; quizá las circunstancias de mi evasión fueron tan ingratas que, en algún día no menos olvidado también, he jurado olvidarlas.
El Aleph, 1949.

I left my path to the will of my horse. At dawn, the distance bristled with pyramids and towers. I dreamed, unbearably, of a small and orderly labyrinth at whose center lay a well; my hands could almost touch it, my eyes see it, but so bewildering and entangled were the turns that I knew I would die before I reached it. (...)
   I have said that the City was builded on a stone plateau. That plateau, with its precipitous sides, was as difficult to scale as the walls. In vain did my weary feet walk round it; the black foundation revealed not the slightest irregularity, and the invariance of the walls proscribed even a single door. The force of the day drove me to seek refuge in a cavern; toward the rear there was a pit, and out of the pit, out of the gloom below, rose a ladder. I descended the ladder and made my way through a chaos of squalid galleries to a vast, indistinct circular chamber. Nine doors opened into that cellarlike place; eight led to a maze that returned, deceitfully, to the same chamber; the ninth led through another maze to a second circular chamber identical to the first. I am not certain how many chambers there were; my misery and anxiety multiplied them. The silence was hostile, and virtually perfect; aside from a subterranean wind whose cause I never discovered, within those deep webs of stone there was no sound; even the thin streams of iron-colored water that trickled through crevices in the stone were noiseless. Horribly, I grew used to that dubious world; it began to seem incredible that anything could exist save nine-doored cellars and long, forking subterranean corridors. I know not how long I wandered under the earth; I do know that from time to time, in a confused dream of home, I conflated the horrendous village of the barbarians and the city of my birth, among the clusters of grapes.

At the end of one corridor, a not unforeseen wall blocked my path — and a distant light fell upon me. I raised my dazzled eyes; above, vertiginously high above, I saw a circle of sky so blue it was almost purple. The metal treads of a stairway led up the wall. Weariness made my muscles slack, but I climbed the stairs, only pausing from time to time to sob clumsily with joy. Little by little I began to discern friezes and the capitals of columns, triangular pediments and vaults, confused glories carved in granite and marble. Thus it was that I was led to ascend from the blind realm of black and intertwining labyrinths into the brilliant City.

I emerged into a kind of small plaza — a courtyard might better describe it. It was surrounded by a single building, of irregular angles and varying heights. It was to this heterogeneous building that the many cupolas and columns belonged. More than any other feature of that incredible monument, I was arrested by the great antiquity of its construction. I felt that it had existed before humankind, before the world itself. Its patent antiquity (though somehow terrible to the eyes) seemed to accord with the labor of immortal artificers. Cautiously at first, with indifference as time went on, desperately toward the end, I wandered the staircases and inlaid floors of that labyrinthine palace. (I discovered afterward that the width and height of the treads on the staircases were not constant; it was this that explained the extraordinary weariness I felt.) This palace is the work of the gods, was my first thought. I explored the uninhabited spaces, and I corrected myself: The gods that built this place have died. Then I reflected upon its peculiarities, and told myself: The gods that built this place were mad. I said this, I know, in a tone of incomprehensible reproof that verged upon remorse—with more intellectual horror than sensory fear.

The impression of great antiquity was joined by others: the impression of endlessness, the sensation of oppressiveness and horror, the sensation of complex irrationality. I had made my way through a dark maze, but it was the bright City of the Immortals that terrified and repelled me. A maze is a house built purposely to confuse men; its architecture, prodigal in symmetries, is made to serve that purpose. In the palace that I imperfectly explored, the architecture had no purpose. There were corridors that led nowhere, unreachably high windows, grandly dramatic doors that opened onto monklike cells or empty shafts, incredible upside-down staircases with upside-down treads and balustrades. Other staircases, clinging airily to the side of a monumental wall, petered out after two or three landings, in the high gloom of the cupolas, arriving nowhere. I cannot say whether these are literal examples I have given; I do know that for many years they plagued my troubled dreams; I can no longer know whether any given feature is a faithful transcription of reality or one of the shapes unleashed by my nights. This City, I thought, is so horrific that its mere existence, the mere fact of its having endured — even in the middle of a secret desert — pollutes the past and the future and somehow compromises the stars. So long as this City endures, no one in the world can ever be happy or courageous. I do not want to describe it; a chaos of heterogeneous words, the body of a tiger or a bull pullulating with teeth, organs, and heads monstrously yoked together yet hating each other — those might, perhaps, be approximate images.

I cannot recall the stages by which I returned, nor my path through the dusty, humid crypts. I know only that I was accompanied by the constant fear that when I emerged from the last labyrinth I would be surrounded once again by the abominable City of the Immortals. I remember nothing else. That loss of memory, now insurmountable, was perhaps willful; it is possible that the circumstances of my escape were so unpleasant that on some day no less lost to memory I swore to put them out of my mind.
— Translated by Andrew Hurley.

La casa de Asterión — The House of Asterion

Sé que me acusan de soberbia, y tal vez de misantropía, y tal vez de locura. Tales acusaciones (que yo castigaré a su debido tiempo) son irrisorias. Es verdad que no salgo de mi casa, pero también es verdad que sus puertas (cuyo número es infinitoEl original dice catorce, pero sobran motivos para inferir que, en boca de Asterión, ese adjetivo numeral vale por infinitos.) están abiertas día y noche a los hombres y también a los animales. Que entre el que quiera. No hallará pompas mujeriles aqui ni el bizarro aparato de los palacios, pero sí la quietud y la soledad. Asimismo hallará una casa como no hay otra en la faz de la Tierra. (Mienten los que declaran que en Egipto hay una parecida.) Hasta mis detractores admiten que no hay un solo mueble en la casa. Otra especie ridícula es que yo, Asterión, soy un prisionero. ¿Repetiré que no hay una puerta cerrada, añadiré que no hay una cerradura? Por lo demás, algún atardecer he pisado la calle; si antes de la noche volví, lo hice por el temor que me infundieron las caras de la plebe, caras descoloridas y aplanadas, como la mano abierta. Ya se había puesto el Sol, pero el desvalido llanto de un niño y las toscas plegarias de la grey dijeron que me habían reconocido. La gente oraba, huía, se prosternaba; unos se encaramaban al estilóbato del templo de las Hachas, otros juntaban piedras. Alguno, creo, se ocultó bajo el mar. No en vano fue una reina mi madre; no puedo confundirme con el vulgo; aunque mi modestia lo quiera.

El hecho es que soy único. No me interesa lo que un hombre pueda trasmitir a otros hombres; como el filósofo, pienso que nada es comunicable por el arte de la escritura. Las enojosas y triviales minucias no tienen cabida en mi espíritu, que está capacitado para lo grande; jamás he retenido la diferencia entre una letra y otra. Cierta impaciencia generosa no ha consentido que yo aprendiera a leer. A veces lo deploro porque las noches y los días son largos.

Claro que no me faltan distracciones. Semejante al carnero que va a embestir, corro por las galerías de piedra hasta rodar al suelo, mareado. Me agazapo a la sombra de un aljibe o a la vuelta de un corredor y juego a que me buscan. Hay azoteas desde las que me dejo caer, hasta ensangrentarme. A cualquier hora puedo jugar a estar dormido, con los ojos cerrados y la respiración poderosa. (A veces me duermo realmente, a veces ha cambiado el color del día cuando he abierto los ojos.) Pero de tantos juegos el que prefiero es el de otro Asterión. Finjo que viene a visitarme y que yo le muestro la casa. Con grandes reverencias le digo: Ahora volvemos a la encrucijada anterior o Ahora desembocamos en otro patio o Bien decía yo que te gustaría la canaleta o Ahora verás una cisterna que se llenó de arena o Ya veras cómo el sótano se bifurca. A veces me equivoco y nos reímos buenamente los dos.

No sólo he imaginado esos juegos; también he meditado sobre la casa. Todas las partes de la casa están muchas veces, cualquier lugar es otro lugar. No hay un aljibe, un patio, un abrevadero, un pesebre; son catorce (son infinitos) los pesebres, abrevaderos, patios, aljibes. La casa es del tamaño del mundo; mejor dicho, es el mundo. Sin embargo, a fuerza de fatigar patios con un aljibe y polvorientas galerías de piedra gris he alcanzado la calle y he visto el templo de las Hachas y el mar. Eso no lo entendí hasta que una visión de la noche me reveló que también son catorce (son infinitos) los mares y los templos. Todo está muchas veces, catorce veces, pero dos cosas hay en el mundo que parecen estar una sola vez: arriba, el intrincado Sol; abajo, Asterión. Quizá yo he creado las estrellas y el Sol y la enorme casa, pero ya no me acuerdo.

Cada nueve años entran en la casa nueve hombres para que yo los libere de todo mal. Oigo sus pasos o su voz en el fondo de las galerías de piedra y corro alegremente a buscarlos. La ceremonia dura pocos minutos. Uno tras otro caen sin que yo me ensangriente las manos. Donde cayeron, quedan, y los cadáveres ayudan a distinguir una galería de las otras. Ignoro quiénes son, pero sé que uno de ellos profetizó, en la hora de su muerte, que, alguna vez llegaría mi redentor. Desde entonces no me duele la soledad, porque sé que vive mi redentor y al fin se levantará sobre el polvo. Si mi oído alcanzara todos los rumores del mundo, yo percibiría sus pasos. Ojalá me lleve a un lugar con menos galerías y menos puertas. ¿Cómo será mi redentor?, me pregunto. ¿Será un toro o un hombre? ¿Será tal vez un toro con cara de hombre? ¿O será como yo?

El Sol de la mañana reverberó en la espada de bronce. Ya no quedaba ni un vestigio de sangre.

-¿Lo creerás, Ariadna? -dijo Teseo-. El minotauro apenas se defendió.

I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps of madness. Such accusations (for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are derisory. It is true that I never leave my house, but it is also true that its doors (whose numbers are infiniteThe original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for infinite.) are open day and night to men and to animals as well. Anyone may enter. He will find here no female pomp nor gallant court formality, but he will find quiet and solitude. And he will also find a house like no other on the face of this earth. (There are those who declare there is a similar one in Egypt, but they lie.) Even my detractors admit there is not one single piece of furniture in the house. Another ridiculous falsehood has it that I, Asterion, am a prisoner. Shall I repeat that there are no locked doors, shall I add that there are no locks? Besides, one afternoon I did step into the street; If I returned before night, I did so because of the fear that the faces of the common people inspired in me, faces as discolored and flat as the palm of one’s hand. the sun had already set ,but the helpless crying of a child and the rude supplications of the faithful told me I had been recognized. The people prayed, fled, prostrated themselves; some climbed onto the stylobate of the temple of the axes, others gathered stones. One of them, I believe, hid himself beneath the sea. Not for nothing was my mother a queen; I cannot be confused with the populace, though my modesty might so desire.

The fact is that that I am unique. I am not interested in what one man may transmit to other men; like the philosopher I think that nothing is communicable by the art of writing. Bothersome and trivial details have no place in my spirit, which is prepared for all that is vast and grand; I have never retained the difference between one letter and another. A certain generous impatience has not permitted that I learn to read. Sometimes I deplore this, for the nights and days are long.

Of course, I am not without distractions. Like the ram about to charge, I run through the stone galleries until I fall dizzy to the floor. I crouch in the shadow of a pool or around a corner and pretend I am being followed. There are roofs from which I let myself fall until I am bloody. At any time I can pretend to be asleep, with my eyes closed and my breathing heavy. (Sometimes I really sleep, sometimes the color of day has changed when I open my eyes.) But of all the games, I prefer the one about the other Asterion. I pretend that he comes to visit me and that I show him my house. With great obeisance I say to him “Now we shall return to the first intersection” or “Now we shall come out into another courtyard” Or “I knew you would like the drain” or “Now you will see a pool that was filled with sand” or “You will soon see how the cellar branches out”. Sometimes I make a mistake and the two of us laugh heartily.

Not only have I imagined these games, I have also meditated on the house. All parts of the house are repeated many times, any place is another place. There is no one pool, courtyard, drinking trough, manger; the mangers, drinking troughs, courtyards pools are fourteen (infinite) in number. The house is the same size as the world; or rather it is the world. However, by dint of exhausting the courtyards with pools and dusty gray stone galleries I have reached the streetand seen the temple of the Axes and the sea. I did not understand this until a night vision revealed to me that the seas and temples are also fourteen (infinite) in number. Everything is repeated many times, fourteen times, but two things in the world seem to be repeated only once: above, the intricate sun; below Asterion. Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer remember.

Every nine years nine men enter the house so that I may deliver them from evil. I hear their steps or their voices in the depths of the stone galleries and I run joyfully to find them. The ceremony lasts a few minutes. They fall one after another without my having to bloody my hands. They remain where they fell and their bodies help distinguish one gallery from another. I do not know who they are, but I know that one of them prophesied, at the moment of his death, that some day my redeemer would come. Since then my loneliness does not pain me, because I know my redeemer lives and he will finally rise above the dust. If my ear could capture all the sounds of the world, I should hear his steps. I hope he will take me to a place with fewer galleries fewer doors. What will my redeemer be like? I ask myself. Will he be a bull or a man? will he perhaps be a bull with the face of a man? or will he be like me?

The morning sun reverberated from the bronze sword. There was no longer even a vestige of blood.

“Would you believe it, Ariadne?” said Theseus “The Minotaur scarcely defended himself.”
— Translated by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, 1964.

Los dos reyes y los dos laberintos — Die beiden Könige und die beiden Labyrinthe

Cuentan los hombres dignos de fe (pero Alá sabe más) que en los primeros días hubo un rey de las islas de Babilonia que congregó a sus arquitectos y magos y les mandó construir un laberinto tan complejo y sutil que los varones más prudentes no se aventuraban a entrar, y los que entraban se perdían. Esa obra era un escándalo, porque la confusión y la maravilla son operaciones propias de Dios y no de los hombres. Con el andar del tiempo vino a su corte un rey de los árabes, y el rey de Babilonia (para hacer burla de la simplicidad de su huésped) lo hizo penetrar en el laberinto, donde vagó afrentado y confundido hasta la declinación de la tarde. Entonces imploró socorro divino y dio con la puerta. Sus labios no profirieron queja ninguna, pero le dijo al rey de Babilonia que él en Arabia tenía otro laberinto y que, si Dios era servido, se lo daría a conocer algún día. Luego regresó a Arabia, juntó sus capitanes y sus alcaides y estragó los reinos de Babilonia con tan venturosa fortuna que derribó sus castillos, rompió sus gentes e hizo cautivo al mismo rey. Lo amarró encima de un camello veloz y lo llevó al desierto. Cabalgaron tres días, y le dijo: «¡Oh, rey del tiempo y sustancia y cifra del siglo!, en Babilonia me quisiste perder en un laberinto de bronce con muchas escaleras, puertas y muros; ahora el Poderoso ha tenido a bien que te muestre el mío, donde no hay escaleras que subir, ni puertas que forzar, ni fatigosas galerías que recorrer, ni muros que te veden el paso.»

Luego le desató las ligaduras y lo abandonó en mitad del desierto, donde murió de hambre y de sed. La gloria sea con Aquél que no muere.

Von glaubwürdigen Menschen wird erzählt (doch Allah weiß mehr), daß es in den frühesten Tagen einen König der Inseln von Babylon gab, der seine Baumeister und Magier um sich versammelte und ihnen auftrug, ein so verzwicktes und fein ausgesponnenes Labyrinth zu bauen, daß die klügsten Männer nicht wagen sollten hineinzugehen und die hineingehen würden, sich verirren sollten. Dieses Werk war ein Ärgernis, denn die Verwirrung und das Wunder sind Taten Gottes, nicht aber der Menschen. Wie nun die Zeit verging, kam an seinen Hof ein König der Araber, und der König von Babylon (um den Gast ob seiner Einfalt zu verhöhnen) ließ ihn in das Labyrinth hineingehen, wo er erschreckt und verwirrt bis zum sinkenden Abend umherschweifte. Dann erflehte er den Beistand Gottes und fand die Türe. Von seinen Lippen fiel keine Klage, doch sagte er zu dem König von Babylon, er hätte in Arabien ein noch besseres Labyrinth, und wenn Gottes Wille geschehe, wolle er ihn eines Tages damit bekannt machen. Dann kehrte er nach Arabien zurück, sammelte seine Hauptleute und Gemeindeobersten und verwüstete die Ländereien Babylons unter einem derart günstigen Stern, daß er ihre Festungen schleifte, ihre Leute aufrieb und den König selber gefangennahm. Er schnallte ihn auf ein schnelles Kamel und entführte ihn in die Wüste. Sie ritten drei Tage, da sprach er zu ihm: „O König der Zeit und der Beständigkeit, du Inbegriff des Jahrhunderts! In Babylon wolltest du mich in einem Labyrinth aus Bronze verderben, mit vielen Treppen, Türen und Mauern; jetzt hat es dem Allmächtigen gefallen, daß ich dir meines zeige, wo keine Treppen zu ersteigen, keine Türen aufzustoßen und keine ermüdenden Gänge zu durchwandern sind und wo keine Mauern dir den Weg verlegen.“

Darauf band er ihn von seinen Fesseln los und verließ ihn mitten in der Wüste, wo er an Hunger und Durst starb. Ruhm sei bei Ihm, der nicht stirbt.
— Übersetzt von Kark August Horst. Labyrinthe. Erzählungen. München: Hanser, 1959. pp.109-110

El laberinto The Labyrinth

Zeus no podría desatar las redes
De piedra que me cercan. He olvidado
Los hombres que antes fui; sigo el odiado
Camino de monótonas paredes
Que es mi destino. Rectas galerías
Que se curvan en círculos secretos
Al cabo de los años. Parapetos
Que ha agrietado la usura de los días.
En el pálido polvo he descifrado
Rastros que temo. El aire me ha traído
En las cóncavas tardes un bramido
O el eco de un bramido desolado.
Sé que en la sombra hay Otro, cuya suerte
Es fatigar las largas soledades
Que tejen y destejen este Hades
Y ansiar mi sangre y devorar mi muerte.
Nos buscamos los dos. Ojalá fuera
Este el último día de la espera.

Zeus, Zeus himself could not undo these nets
Of stone encircling me. My mind forgets
The persons I have been along the way,
The hated way of monotonous walls,
Which is my fate. The galleries seem straight
But curve furtively, forming secret circles
At the terminus of years; and the parapets
Have been worn smooth by the passage of days.
Here, in the tepid alabaster dust,
Are tracks that frighten me. The hollow air
Of evening sometimes brings a bellowing,
Or the echo, desolate, of bellowing.
I know that hidden in the shadows there
Lurks another, whose task is to exhaust
The loneliness that braids and weaves this hell,
To crave my blood, and to fatten on my death.
We seek each other. Oh, if only this
Were the last day of our antithesis!
— Translated by John Updike.


Jorge Luis Borges: Parábola del palacio

Aquel día, el Emperador Amarillo mostró su palacio al poeta. Fueron dejando atrás, en largo desfile, las primeras terrazas occidentales que, como gradas de un casi inabarcable anfiteatro, declinan hacia un paraíso o jardín cuyos espejos de metal y cuyos intrincados cercos de enebro prefiguraban ya el laberinto. Alegremente se perdieron en él, al principio como si condescendieran a un juego y después no sin inquietud, porque sus rectas avenidas adolecían de una curvatura muy suave pero continua y secretamente eran círculos. Hacia la medianoche, la observación de los planetas y el oportuno sacrificio de una tortuga les permitieron desligarse de esa región que parecía hechizada, pero no del sentimiento de estar perdidos, que los acompañó hasta el fin. Antecámaras y patios y bibliotecas recorrieron después y una sala hexagonal con una clepsidra, una mañana divisaron desde una torre un hombre de piedra, que luego se les perdió para siempre. Muchos resplandecientes ríos atravesaron en canoas de sándalo, o un solo río muchas veces. Pasaba el séquito imperial y la gente se prosternaba, pero un día arribaron a una isla en que alguno no lo hizo, por no haber visto nunca al Hijo del Cielo, y el verdugo tuvo que decapitarlo. Negras cabelleras y negras danzas y complicadas máscaras de oro vieron con indiferencia sus ojos; lo real se confundía con lo soñado o, mejor dicho, lo real era una de las configuraciones del sueño. Parecía imposible que la tierra fuera otra cosa que jardines, aguas, arquitecturas y formas de esplendor. Cada cien pasos una torre cortaba el aire; para los ojos el color era idéntico, pero la primera de todas era amarilla y la última escarlata, tan delicadas eran las gradaciones y tan larga la serie.

Al pie de la penúltima torre fue que el poeta (que estaba como ajeno a los espectáculos que eran maravilla de todos) recitó la breve composición que hoy vinculamos indisolublemente a su nombre y que, según repiten los historiadores más elegantes, le deparó la inmortalidad y la muerte. El texto se ha perdido; hay quien entiende que constaba de un verso; otros, de una sola palabra. Lo cierto, lo increíble, es que en el poema estaba entero y minucioso el palacio enorme, con cada ilustre porcelana y cada dibujo en cada porcelana y las penumbras y las luces de los crepúsculos y cada instante desdichado o feliz de las gloriosas dinastías de mortales, de dioses y de dragones que habitaron en él desde el interminable pasado. Todos callaron, pero el Emperador exclamó: “¡Me has arrebatado el palacio!” y la espada de hierro del verdugo segó la vida del poeta.

Otros refieren de otro modo la historia. En el mundo no puede haber dos cosas iguales; bastó (nos dicen) que el poeta pronunciara el poema para que desapareciera el palacio, como abolido y fulminado por la última sílaba. Tales leyendas, claro está, no pasan de ser ficciones literarias. El poeta era esclavo del Emperador y murió como tal; su composición cayó en el olvido porque merecía el olvido y sus descendientes buscan aún, y no encontrarán, la palabra del universo.
El Hacedor. 1960.

That day, the Yellow Emperor showed the poet his palace. They left behind, in long succession, the first terraces on the west which descend, like the steps of an almost measureless amphitheater, to a paradise or garden whose metal mirrors and intricate juniper hedges already prefigured the labyrinth. They lost themselves in it, gaily at first, as if condescending to play a game, but afterwards not without misgiving, for its straight avenues were subject to a curvature, ever so slight, but continuous (and secretly those avenues were circles). Toward midnight observation of the planets and the opportune sacrifice of a turtle permitted them to extricate themselves from that seemingly bewitched region, but not from the sense of being lost, for this accompanied them to the end. Foyers and patios and libraries they traversed then, and a hexagonal room with a clepsydra, and one morning from a tower they descried a stone man, whom they then lost sight of forever. Many shining rivers did they cross in sandalwood canoes, or a single river many times. The imperial retinue would pass and people would prostrate themselves. But one day they put in on an island where someone did not do it, because he had never seen the Son of Heaven, and the executioner had to decapitate him. Black heads of hair and black dances and complicated golden masks did their eyes indifferently behold; the real and the dreamed became one, or rather reality was one of dream’s configurations. It seemed impossible that earth were anything but gardens, pools, architectures, and splendrous forms. Every hundred paces a tower cleft the air; to the eye their color was identical, yet the first of all was yellow, and the last, scarlet, so delicate were the gradations and so long the series.

It was at the foot of the next-to-the-last tower that the poet — who was as if untouched by the wonders that amazed the rest — recited the brief composition we find today indissolubly linked to his name and which, as the more elegant historians have it, gave him immortality and death. The text has been lost. There are some who contend it consisted of a single line; others say it had but a single word. The truth, the incredible truth, is that in the poem stood the enormous palace, entire and minutely detailed, with every illustrious porcelain and every sketch on every porcelain and the shadows and the light of the twilights and every unhappy or joyous moment of the glorious dynasties of mortals, gods, and dragons who had dwelled in it from the interminable past. All fell silent, but the Emperor exclaimed, “You have robbed me of my palace!” And the executioner’s iron sword cut the poet down.

Others tell the story differently. There cannot be any two things alike in the world; the poet, they say, had only to utter his poem to make the palace disappear, as if abolished and blown to bits by the final syllable. Such legends, of course, amount to no more than literary fiction. The poet was a slave of the Emperor and as such he died. His composition sank into oblivion because it deserved oblivion and his descendants still seek, nor will they find, the word that contains the universe.
Dreamtigers. Translated by Mildred Boyer.


Guillermo del Toro

There are many permutations. For instance, the labyrinth that Daedalus built to hold the minotaur was really a maze. Daedalus makes it mechanized, to shift and change, so you never find the exit. It makes it its own creature. Then, as time goes by, I think the labyrinth becomes a symbol of transition, of a trip. In many cases during the Holy Wars, the labyrinth becomes a transit that is supposed to allow you to walk along a path while you are meditating or praying. Inevitably, you will end up in the center. It reminds me of the human brain, so a labyrinth for me can be a historical labyrinth, in that metaphorically Spain is a princess who forgot who she was and where she came from. And in that process, she’s going to give birth to herself and to a generation that will never know the name of the fascist.

The second aspect of the movie is that it’s a journey into the labyrinth of Ofelia’s mind, into the core of her being. And finally, the labyrinth is anecdotal. As Borges, Greek mythology, and oral folklore will tell you, the labyrinth reflects the values of its time. I think symbols are individual to everyone reading them, and the labyrinth is a symbol. What does it mean exactly to you? It can vary.
— Guillermo del Toro. In: Cynthia Fuchs: A Symbol of Transition: Interview with Guillermo del Toro, 2007.


Alain Robbe-Grillet

Dans le labyrinthe

Sur la droite s’alignent les fenêtres des rez-de-chaussée, dont la succession n’est interrompue que par les portes des immeubles, fenêtres identiques et portes identiques, assez semblables elles-mêmes aux fenêtres par leur forme et leurs dimensions. [...] Sur la gauche de la porte aux vantaux mal joints, il y a seulement deux fenêtres, puis l’arête de la maison, puis dans la direction perpendiculaire une nouvelle succession de fenêtres et portes identiques, qui paraissent être l’image des premières, comme si un miroir avait été dressé là, faisant un angle obtus (un angle droit augmenté de la moitié d’un angle droit) avec le plan des façades : et la même série se répète : deux fenêtres, une porte, quatre fenêtres, une porte, etc. La première porte est entrouverte sur un corridor obscur, laissant entre ses deux battants inégaux un intervalle noir assez large pour que s’y glisse un homme, ou du moins un enfant.

Il se trouve à l’extrémité d’un corridor obscur, sur lequel donnent plusieurs portes. A l’autre bout se devine l’amorce d’un escalier, qui s’élève dans le prolongement du corridor et se perd vite dans le noir. Le fond de cette étroite et longue entrée donne ausssi accès à un autre couloir, perpendiculaire, signalé par des ténèbres plus épaisses, juste avant l’escalier, de chaque côté de celui-ci.

Il ne connaissait pas la ville. Il a pu se tromper d’endroit. C’était au croisement de deux rues perpendiculaires, près d’un bec de gaz. Il avait mal entendu, ou mal retenu, le nom des rues. Il s’est fié aux indications topographiques, suivant de son mieux l’itinéraire prescrit. Le carrefour resemblait à la description fournie, mais le nom ne correspondait pas à la vague consonnance gardée en mémoire. [...] Il a cherché dans les environs. Il a attendu à un autre croisement, identique. Il a erré dans tout le quartier. Il est retourné plusieurs fois à l’endroit primitif, autant du moins qu’il était capable de le reconnaître, ce jour-là et les jours suivants.
— pp. 20-21, 53-54, 208-209.

Topologie d’une cite fantôme

Mais il n’y a plus rien, ni cri, ni roulement, ni rumeur lointaine ; ni le moindre contour discernable accusant quelques différences, quelque relief, entre les plans successifs de ce qui formait ici des maisons, des palais, des avenues. La brume qui progresse, plus dense d’heure en heure, a déjà tout noyé dans sa masse vitreuse, tout immobilisé, tout éteint. Avant de m’endormir, tenace encore cependant, la ville morte... Voici. Je suis seul. Il est tard. Je veille. Dernière sentinelle après la pluie, après le feu, après la guerre, j’écoute encore à travers des épaisseurs sans fin de glace blanche les imperceptibles bruits absents : derniers craquements des murailles brûlées, cendre ou poussière s’écoulant en menu filet d’une fissure, de l’eau qui goutte au fond d’une cave à la voûte fêlée, une pierre qui se détache à la façade éventrée d’un immeuble monumental, dégringole en rebondissant d’anfractuosité en corniches, et roule sur le sol parmi les autres pierres.

Je longe le couloir du deuxième en déchiffrant, l’une après l’autre, ces identifications sommaires, tracées à l’encre bleue d’une même écriture appliquée sur des rectangles tous pareils, dont le format est celui des cartes de visite courantes. La disposition des chambres est la même qu’en dessous, les portes alternent avec régularité d’un côté puis de l’autre du corridor, c’est-à-dire : une à à droite, trois pas, une à gauche, trois pas, une à droite, etc. Leur nombre, à présent, me paraît bien plus élevé qu’au premier et le couloir beaucoup plus long, ce qui est tout à fait impossible.
— pp. 10, 117-118.


John Maddox Roberts: The River God’s Vengeance

The sign that let you know you had found the right place was infamous throughout the world. It was named the Labyrinth for the maze beneath the palace of Minos, and the sign was a statue depicting the most notorious queen of that palace, the insatiable Pasiphae. That queen, you will recall, was caused by Poseidon to conceive an inappropriate passion for an exceptionally beautiful bull, which her husband, Minos, had refused to sacrifice to the god. Pasiphae sought the aid of Daedalus in consummating this difficult lust, which he accomplished by building a lifelike wooden cow and concealing the queen therein. The bull was deceived, the queen was presumably satisfied, and the result was the birth of the bull-headed Minotaur.

The statue depicted this bizarre coupling, but the artificial cow was represented symbolically by a pair of horns bound to the queen’s brow and cleft hooves covering her hands and feet. Otherwise, the voluptuous queen was depicted as nude, and the bull was more than merely realistic. Both figures were life sized and rendered in the most exacting detail. This day had turned into an extended art lesson.
— New York: Dunne, 2004. p. 198.