Dorthius And The Python

It is the story of a prince called Dorthius, who was loved by gods and given an eminent place among his people. Dorthius used to go alone in trips to meditate and witness the beauty of nature. Once, however, while he was wondering around in the wood, he saw a beautiful naked woman lying on a rock. He stood motionlessly watching her for a while. When Dorthius tried to come nearer, he made some noise and the woman instantly disappeared.

The prince looked for her but in vain. So he decided to come the next day. Six days passed and the woman did not show up. Realizing that he had fallen in love with her, the prince thought his life would become miserable without her. On the seventh day, however, while hiding in the wood, Dorthius saw a large snake approaching the rock, taking off her skin and lying on the rock. It was a great shock to Dorthius to discover that the woman he loved was actually a snake. Nevertheless, the prince kept coming to the rock to see the snake-woman sunbathing till the day he thought he had a brilliant idea.

The first thing he had to do was to hide away her skin so that she would not escape. Succeeding in doing so, the prince surprised her and she could do nothing. She could only act as a woman who had been stripped of her clothes and was waiting for someone to come for help.

The prince took her to his palace where she was treated respectfully, and few days later he proposed to her. She agreed and promised to be loyal to him.

Oracles in the city warned him not to marry her. “There will come a day when you choose your death moment if you marry her, ” they said. Apollo also gave him a piece of advice. “Man, ” said he, “be careful. Never kiss her.”

Years passed and things went on well. One day, however, Dorthius decided to kiss his snake-wife. Insisting on doing so, the prince held the woman between his arms and embraced her. At that moment, the Python’s tongue instinctively sprang out of her mouth, and, while kissing, she bit him. Poison ran through the prince’s body and he immediately died. Removed to the Underworld away from her, Dorthius remained in love with the python-woman.

After begging Pluto to be resurrected since he had not eaten from the food of the dead or even drunk, Dorthius was sent again to the Upper World provided that he would offer sacrifices for Zeus for seven years during which he would never see his snake-wife. Furthermore, he had to give her the skin and leave her forever.

When the period passed, the prince came back to his palace to fulfill his promise and give the woman her skin back. On seeing her for the first time after seven years, Dorthius rushed into her arms embracing and kissing her strongly to die again between her hands but this time with no return. While dying he said the following lines:

Thou art my love and I thy soul.
Let me praise thee and be thy goal
That ye wait for and love his words,
So my heart will soar with thee wor'ds.

That all thy love when ye love me,
Thy sight and heart for me will be.
Give me thy lips; forget not yet:
What more I need is that, thy breast.

I’ll live in thee and be thine eyes,
And from thy lips I’ll get my prize.
I won’t forget to play on tops
From which I’ll get th’ immortal hopes.

And when I call on thee to sleep,
I need thee fast; I need thee deep.
With thee I need to dream of love;
When we’re in bed, it soon will live.

But be careful of my kisses,
For rage in me can tempt godd’sses,
Who, for my love, worship me more.
But for thine eyes I’ll fight and roar.

Ye are a fool to leave the throne,
And all ye say so long fools fake.
Forget not what ye have been born:
Ye are a man and she’s a snake.

(26 November 1992)

by Montazar AnNayef

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