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The Gods Wishing To Instruct A Son Of Jupiter
by [?]

For Monseigneur The Duke Du Maine.

To Jupiter was born a son,[3]
Who, conscious of his origin,
A godlike spirit had within.
To love, such age is little prone;
Yet this celestial boy
Made love his chief employ,
And was beloved wherever known.
In him both love and reason
Sprang up before their season.
With charming smiles and manners winning,
Had Flora deck’d his life’s beginning,
As an Olympian became:
Whatever lights the tender flame,–
A heart to take and render bliss,–
Tears, sighs, in short the whole were his.
Jove’s son, he should of course inherit
A higher and a nobler spirit
Than sons of other deities.
It seem’d as if by Memory’s aid–
As if a previous life had made
Experiment and hid it–
He plied the lover’s hard-learn’d trade,
So perfectly he did it.
Still Jupiter would educate
In manner fitting to his state.
The gods, obedient to his call,
Assemble in their council-hall;
When thus the sire: ‘Companionless and sole,
Thus far the boundless universe I roll;
But numerous other offices there are,
Of which I give to younger gods the care.
I’m now forecasting for this cherish’d child,
Whose countless altars are already piled.
To merit such regard from all below,
All things the young immortal ought to know.’
No sooner had the Thund’rer ended,
Than each his godlike plan commended;
Nor did the boy too little yearn
His lesson infinite to learn.
Said fiery Mars, ‘I take the part
To make him master of the art
Whereby so many heroes high
Have won the honours of the sky.’
‘To teach him music be my care,’
Apollo said, the wise and fair;
‘And mine,’ that mighty god replied,
In the Nemaean lion’s hide,
‘To teach him to subdue
The vices, an envenom’d crew,
Like Hydras springing ever new.
The foe of weakening luxury,
The boy divine will learn from me
Those rugged paths, so little trod,
That lead to glory man and god.’
Said Cupid, when it came his turn,
‘All things from me the boy may learn.’

Well spoke the god of love.
What feat of Mars, or Hercules,
Or bright Apollo, lies above
Wit, wing’d by a desire to please?

[A] To Jupiter was born a son.–Jupiter here is Louis XIV., and his son is the Duke du Maine to whom the fable is addressed. The duke was the son of Louis and Madame de Montespan. He was born at Versailles in 1670; and when La Fontaine wrote this address to him he was about eight years old, and the pupil of Madame de Maintenon, his mother’s successor in the affections of the king.