Front Page Titles (by Subject) CANTO VI. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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CANTO VI. - 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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WHILE we were talking of our amours, we rambled out of our way; and having strayed for a long time, entered a large meadow, where we were conducted by a flowery path to the foot of a frightful rock. We there saw an obscure den, which we entered, thinking it the abode of some mortal. Ye Gods! who could have imagined that this place was so fatal! Scarce had I set my foot in it, when my whole body trembled, and my hair stood erect on my head! An invisible hand drew me into this fatal abode, and in proportion as my heart was agitated, its agitations increased. Friend, cried I, let us enter farther still, let us see if we shall increase our pain. I advanced to the place where the sun had never entered, and where the winds had never breathed. There I saw Jealousy, whose aspect appeared more gloomy than terrible: Paleness, Melancholy, and Silence surrounded her; and about her flew Sorrow and Disquietude. She breathed upon us; she placed her hand upon our hearts; she struck us upon the head; and our sight and imagination could perceive nothing but monsters.
Enter still further, unhappy mortals, said she; go, find a Goddess more powerful than I. We obeyed; and soon saw a frightful Deity, by the light of the inflamed tongues of the serpents that hissed about her head. This was Rage. She loosened one of her serpents, and threw it at me. I strove to catch it, and in an instant it imperceptibly slid into my heart. I stood for a moment stupid; but the poison had no sooner diffused itself into my veins, than I imagined myself in the midst of hell. My soul was set on fire. I could scarce contain myself; and was in such agitations, that I seemed tormented by the whips of the Furies. We abandoned ourselves to our transports, and an hundred times encompassed this dreadful cavern: we went from Jealousy to Rage, and from Rage to Jealousy. We called upon Themira; we called upon Camilla: but if Themira and Camilla had been there, we should have torn them in pieces with our own hands.
At length we returned to the light of day, which then appeared troublesome, and we almost regretted our having quitted the frightful cavern: we sunk down with lassitude, and even this repose appeared insupportable. Our eyes refused to shed tears, and our hearts could no longer form a sigh.
I however enjoyed a moment’s tranquillity: Sleep began to shed on me her sweet poppies. But, ye Gods! this sleep itself became cruel. I saw images that appeared more terrible to me, than the pale shades I had seen when awake. I every instant awoke at the infidelity of Themira. I saw her—I dare not yet express what I saw. What I before beheld only in imagination, I found realized in the horrors of this frightful sleep.
I must then, said I rising, fly equally darkness and light. Themira, the cruel Themira, torments me like the Furies! Who could have imagined, that in order to be happy I must forget her for ever?
Seized by a fit of madness, I cried, Friend, arise, let us destroy the flocks that feed in this meadow; let us pursue the shepherds who enjoy their loves in peace. No, I see at a distance a temple; it is, perhaps, that of Cupid: let us go and destroy it; let us break his statue, and render our rage formidable. We ran, and it seemed as if our ardour for committing a crime gave us new strength. We crossed the woods, the meadows, and the fields, and did not stop for a moment: a hill arose in vain; we ascended it, and entered the temple, which was consecrated to Bacchus.—How great is the power of the Gods! Our rage was immediately calmed. We looked at each other, and saw with surprize the extravagance of our conduct.
Great God! I cried, I return thee my thanks, not so much for having appeased my fury, as for having saved me from guilt. Then approaching the priestess; We are beloved by the God whom you serve, said I; he has just calmed the agitations of our minds; scarce did we enter this sacred place, than we were sensible of his favourable presence; we would therefore offer a sacrifice to him. Condescend, divine priestess, to offer it for us. I will go and seek a victim, and bring it to your feet.
While the priestess was preparing to give the mortal blow, Aristeus pronounced these words: Divine Bacchus, thou lovest to see joy diffused over the countenance of man; our pleasure is a worship paid to thee; and thou wilt be adored by none but the most happy of mortals.
Sometimes thou givest a sweet disorder to our reason: but when some cruel Deity has taken it from us, thou alone canst restore it.
Black Jealousy holds Love in bondage: but thou takest away the empire she assumes over our hearts, and sendest her back to her dismal abode.
After the sacrifice was ended, all the people assembled about us: and I related to the priestess, how we had been tormented in the habitation of Jealousy. Suddenly we heard a great noise, and a confused mixture of voices and musical instruments: upon which leaving the temple, we saw a troop of Bacchanals, who striking the earth with their thyrses, cried with a loud voice, Evoboe. Old Silenus followed, mounted on an ass: his head seemed to seek the ground, and whenever it seemed ready to fall from his shoulders, he balanced himself up with his body. The troop had their faces smeared with the lees of wine. Pan at length appeared with his pipe; and the Satyrs surrounded their King. Joy reigned in the midst of disorder; an amiable folly was mixed with their sports, their raillery, their dances, and their songs. At length came Bacchus in a chariot drawn by tygers; such as was seen at the river Ganges, at the end of the universe, bearing joy and victory.
By his side was the beautiful Ariadne. Lovely Princess, you still wept for the infidelity of Theseus, when the God took your crown, and placed it in the heavens. Had you not dried up your tears, you would have rendered a God more unhappy than yourself, who are a mortal. Love me, said he, Theseus is fled; bear no remembrance of his love; and even forget his perfidy: I will render you immortal, that I may love you for ever.
I saw Bacchus descend from his chariot; and I saw Ariadne also descend: when entering the temple, Amiable God, cried she, let us stay in this place, and here sigh our loves. Let eternal joy dwell in this delightful climate. Near this place the queen of hearts has fixed her empire: may the God of Joy reign near her, and increase the happiness of these people already so fortunate.
As for me, great God, I already perceive that my love is increased; and it is possible that thou mayst one day appear even more amiable! None but the immortals can love to excess, and with a constant growing affection; none but they can obtain more than they hope for; they alone are more limited when they desire, than when they enjoy. Here we will perform our eternal loves: for in the heavens the Gods are filled with their glory; and it is only on the earth, and in rural retreats, that they give way to love. While this troop therefore abandon themselves to extravagant transports, my joy, and my sighs shall incessantly proclaim my affection.
Bacchus smiled at Ariadne, and instantly led her into the sanctuary. Mean while joy took possession of our hearts; we felt a divine emotion: when being seized with the extravagance of old Silenus, and by the transports of the Bacchanals, we each took a thyrses, and mingled in the dances and concerts.