Front Page Titles (by Subject) CANTO II. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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CANTO II. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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THERE is at Gnidus another sacred grove inhabited by the nymphs, where the Goddess delivers her oracles. The earth sends forth no hollow sound under your feet; the hair is not raised erect upon the head; and there is no priestess as at Delphos, where Apollo fills with convulsive agitations the trembling Pythia: but Venus herself lends an ear to the requests of mortals, without sporting with their hopes or fears.
A coquette of the isle of Crete came to Gnidus; she was surrounded by all the young Gnidians; she smiled at one, whispered to another, threw her arm upon a third, and called to two others to follow her. She was beautiful, and adorned with art, and the sound of her voice was as deceitful as her eyes. O heavens! how were the faithful, the tender lovers, among the fair, alarmed! She presented herself before the Oracle with as much confidence as a Goddess: but suddenly we heard a voice proceed from the sanctuary: Perfidious wretch! how darest thou carry thy artifices even into the places where I reign with candour and sincerity? Severely shalt thou be punished: I will take away thy charms; but leave thy heart as it is: thou shalt call about thee all the men thou seest; but they shall fly from thee as from a plaintive ghost, and thou shalt die rejected, and loaded with contempt.
At length came a courtezan of Nocretis, shining with the spoils of her lovers. Go, said the Goddess, thou deceivest thyself in believing that thou hast added to the glory of my empire. Thy beauty proclaims that thou hast pleasure to bestow; but none does it give: thy heart is like iron, and though thou shouldest see my son himself, thou couldest not love him. Go, bestow thy favours on the base men who demand them, and whom they fill with disgust: go, shew them charms which shall suddenly vanish, and be lost for ever. Thou art only fit to render my power despised.
Some time after came a rich man, who collected tribute for the king of Lydia. Thou askest, said the Goddess, one thing which I cannot perform, though I am the Goddess of Love. Thou askest for beauties, that if thou mayest taste the raptures of love; but thou lovest them not because thou hast bought them: thy treasures are not useless; they serve to fill thee with disgust against every thing most charming in nature.
A young man of Doris, named Aristeus, at length presented himself. He had seen at Gnidus the charming Camilla, and was fallen desperately in love with her. He perceived the excess of his passion, and came to ask Venus that he might love her still more.
I know thine heart, said the goddess; thou art sensible of the power of love. I have found Camilla worthy of thee. I could have given her to the greatest king upon earth; but kings have less merit than shepherds.
I at last appeared with Themira; when the goddess said: There is not in all my empire a mortal who knows how to submit himself to my power better than thee; but what wouldest thou have me do for thee? I cannot render thee more in love, nor Themira more charming. O great goddess, said I, I have a thousand favours to ask: May Themira think only of me; may she see none but me; may she awake dreaming of me: may she fear to lose me when I am present; hope for me in my absence; and always charmed with seeing me, still regret every moment she passes without me.