The House of Rumour
from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
In the centre of the world, situated between earth and sky and sea, at the point where the three realms of the universe meet, is a place from which everything the world over can be seen, however far away, and to its listening ears come every sound. There Rumour lives, in a home she has chosen for herself on a hilltop. Night and day the house lies open, for she has given it a thousand apertures and countless entrances, with never a door to barricade her thresholds. The whole structure is of echoing brass, and is full of noises, repeating words and giving back the sounds it hears. There is no quiet within, no silence in any part, and yet there is no loud din, but only murmured whisperings, like the sound of the sea’s waves, heard at a distance, or the last rumbles of thunder when Jupiter has crashed dark clouds together. A whole host inhabits these halls: they come and go, a shadowy throng, and a thousand rumours, false mixed with true, stray this way and that, while confused words flit about. Some of them pour their stories into idle ears, other carry off elsewhere the tales they have been told, the story grows, and each new teller adds something to what he has heard. Here live Credulity, a hot-headed Error, groundless Joy and craven Fears, Sedition newly-born, and Whispers whose origin no one knows. Rumour herself sees everything that goes on in heaven, in earth, and on the sea, and seeks information the world over.