Abraham Bloemaert (Dutch; 1566–1651)
Apollo and Diana Punishing Niobe by Killing Her Children
Oil on canvas, 1591
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark
And she, Niobe, who toss’d her high disdainful head,
When thro’ the streets in solemn pomp she led
The throng that from Latona’s altar fled,
Assuming state beyond the proudest queen;
Was now the miserablest object seen.
Prostrate among the clay-cold dead she fell,
And kiss’d an undistinguish’d last farewel.
Then her pale arms advancing to the skies,
“Cruel Latona! triumph now,” she cries.
“My grieving soul in bitter anguish drench,
“And with my woes your thirsty passion quench;
“Feast your black malice at a price thus dear,
“While the sore pangs of sev’n such deaths I bear.
“Triumph, too cruel rival, and display
“Your conqu’ring standard; for you’ve won the day.
“Yet I’ll excel; for yet, tho’ sev’n are slain,
“Superior still in number I remain.”
Scarce had she spoke; the bow-string’s twanging sound
Was heard, and dealt fresh terrors all around;
Which all, but Niobe alone, confound.
Stunn’d, and obdurate by her load of grief,
Insensible she sits, nor hopes relief.
(Ovid. Metamorphoses, Book VI; translated by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al.)