“In antiquity this sylvan landscape was the scene of a strange and recurring tragedy. On the northern shore of the lake, right under the precipitous cliffs on which the modern village of Nemi is perched, stood the sacred grove and sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Wood… In this sacred grove there grew a certain tree round which at any time of the day, and probably far into the night, a grim figure might be seen to prowl. In his hand he carried a drawn sword, and he kept peering warily about him as if at every instant he expected to be set upon by an enemy. He was a priest and a murderer; and the man for whom he looked was sooner or later to murder him and hold his priesthood in his stead. Such was the rule of the sanctuary. A candidate for the priesthood could only succeed to office by slaying the priest, and having slain him, he retained office till he was himself slain by a stronger or a craftier…The post which he held by this precarious tenure carried with it the title of king; but surely no crowned head ever lay uneasier, or was visited by more evil dreams than his. For year in, year out, in summer and winter, in fair weather and in foul, he had to keep his lonely watch, and whenever he snatched a troubled slumber it was at the peril of his life.” Welkin, i.e., the celestial sphere, the vault of the world. What is the world? wood, wold, copse, dale, dell, glade, marsh, moor, bog, heath, valley, vale, meadow, fen, field, and pasture. Text: James George Frazier, “The King of the Wood,” “The Golden Bough.” Macmillon: New York, 1922. Image: J. M. W. Turner, “The Golden Bough,” 1041 mm x 1638 mm, 1835. Collection: Tate Museum, London.

under the welkin