Heathen mythology

Anonyme, Heathen Mythology, Illustrated by Extracts from the Most Celebrated Writers, Both Ancient and Modern, on the Gods of Greece, Rome, India, Scandinavia, etc., etc.; and Embellished with Near Two Hundred Engravings, after Designs by M. Baron, London, Willoughby and Co., 1842, VIII-294 p. Source: Internet Archive.
Ont participé à cette édition électronique : Eric Thiébaud (Stylage sémantique) et Diego Pellizzari (Encodage TEI).

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Preface. §

Upon a subject which has occupied the thoughts, and employed the pens of our most profound thinkers, and our ablest writers, it is perhaps difficult to say much that is likely to interest the reader, without the chance of being irksome from its proving a thrice told tale: and yet the subject is in itself so interesting, and so intimately connected with all that is most fascinating to our remembrances, and so blended with all that reminds us of departed greatness, that it is scarcely possible to pass it coldly by, or to speak in the language of others those ideas which excite our own imaginations.

There was something very pleasing and very poetical in the thought, that each river had its nymph, and every wood its god: that a visible power watched over even the domestic duties of the people, ready to punish or reward; and that, too in a manner so strange and immediate, that it must have greatly affected their minds in stimulating to good, or deterring from evil. They were, indeed, the days of “visible poetry;” the “young hunter,” in the pursuit of his favourite sport, might image to his mind the form and figure of Diana, accompanying him in the chase, not perhaps without a holy fear lest she should become visible to him, and the fate of Acteon should prove to be his.

The lover, as he sought the presence of his mistress, might, in his enamoured idea of her beauty, fancy that his idolatry was a real one, and that he wooed Venus in the form of a mortal: or, in the tremor which then as now pervaded the lover’s bosom, he might fear that Jove himself would prove a rival, and, swan-like, or in some other as picturesque a form, win her he sought for his own: and thus, every class of society, from the patrician to the peasant, must have been imbued with feelings which, while they believed them to be religious, we regard but as poetical.

Leigh Hunt, who has said many things upon Mythology, quite as beautiful as his subject, remarks: —

“From having a different creed of our own, and always encountering the Heathen Mythology in a poetical and fabulous shape, we are apt to have a false idea of the religious feeling of the ancients. We are in the habit of supposing, that they regarded their fables in the same poetical light as ourselves; that they could not possibly put faith in Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; in the sacrifice of innocent turtle doves, the libation of wine, and the notions about Tartarus and Ixion.

“The greatest pleasure arising to a modern imagination from the ancient Mythology, is in a mingled sense of the old popular belief, and of the philosophical refinements upon it. We take Apollo, and Mercury and Venus, as shapes that existed in popular credulity, as the greater fairies of the ancient world: and we regard them, at the same time, as personifications of all that is beautiful and genial in the forms and tendencies of creation. But the result, coming, as it does too, through avenues of beautiful poetry, both ancient and modern, is so entirely cheerful, that we are apt to think it must have wanted gravity to more believing eyes. Every forest, to the mind’s eye of a Greek, was haunted with superior intelligences. Every stream had its presiding nymph, who was thanked for her draught of water. Every house had its protecting gods which had blessed the inmate’s ancestors; and which would bless him also, if he cultivated the social affections: for the same word which expressed piety towards the Gods, expressed love towards relations and friends. If in all this there was nothing but the worship of a more graceful humanity, there may be worships much worse as well as better.

“Imagine the feelings with which an ancient believer must have gone by the oracular oaks of Dodona, or the calm groves of the Eumenides, or the fountain where Proserpine vanished under ground with Pluto; or the laurelled mountain Parnassus, on the side of which was the temple of Delphi, where Apollo was supposed to be present in person. Imagine Plutarch, a devout and yet a liberal believer, when he went to study theology and philosophy at Delphi: with what feelings must he not have passed along the woody paths of the hill, approaching nearer every instant to the presence of the divinity, and not sure that a glance of light through the trees was not the lustre of the god himself going by. This is mere poetry to us, and very fine it is; but to him it was poetry, and religion, and beauty, and gravity and hushing awe, and a path as from one world to another.”

G. Moir Bussey has also observed, with much elegance and feeling: — “The Mythology of the Ancients is one long romance in itself, full of poetry and passion — a mysterious compound of supernatural wonders and of human thoughts and feelings. It entrances us by its marvels in childhood; and in manhood we ponder over it, if not with the same rapturous delight as formerly, yet at least with such a sense of pleasure as that inspired by the perusal of a magnificent poem — the product of immortal mind — refreshing, invigorating, exalting. Beauty and strength — the might of man, and the majesty and sublimity of the misunderstood intelligences of the godhead, not only constituted the worship of the Greeks of old, but governed their lives, their actions, their laws, and the very aspirations of their hearts. They aimed at excellence in the highest, in order that their statues might be installed in their national temples as those of demi-gods, and the struggle brought them sufficient knowledge and energy to win deathless renown among men. All that they achieved, all that they meditated, bespeaks the soaring of a race bent upon conquering every obstacle — natural or artificial — which stood between them and absolute perfection, whether in legislation, in philosophy, in art, in science, in literature, in poetry, in war, or in dominion.”

The reality of an every day world has now set its seal upon all that delighted the days of our youth, and would even arouse us from our reveries on this most charming of subjects: we will conclude with the words of Barry Cornwall —

“Oh! ye delicious fables, where the wave,
    And wood, were peopled; and the air, with things
So lovely — why, ah! why has science grave
    Scattered afar your secret imaginings?
Why seared the delicate flowers that genius gave,
    And dash the diamond drops from fancy’s wings.
Alas! the spirit languishes and lies
At mercy of life’s dull realities.

“No more by well or bubbling fountain clear
    The Naiad dries her tresses in the sun,
Nor longer may we in the branches hear
    The Dryad talk, nor see the Oread run
Along the mountains, nor the Nereid steer
    Her way among the waves when day is done.
Shadows nor shape remain —”

Introduction. §

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In the earlier part of the history of nations, Mythology has always been found to exist; imaginary beings have been adored, and a system of worship established, which, though imperfect in itself, was satisfactory to those, who, looking beyond the abstract circumstance of its idolatry, discovered the grand truth, that however rude, and however barbarous the people, there was a principle evidently acknowledged in their actions, of the necessity of a supreme being; and a feeling, of which they could not dispossess themselves, that a divine being watched over, and was the rewarder of their good, or the punisher of their evil deeds.

The priests of Phœnicia and Egypt were the origin of the elements of this profane faith, and through their means, its transmission may be traced to the Greeks, who, after adopting, purified, or at least assisted in greatly refining it, before its reception by the Romans who multiplied their Gods in about the same degree that their vices increased; while their armies, which overran the world, doubtless gave to the Scandanavians and the Gauls their ideas of the faith of Odin; and the fables of the Hindoos, and those of the American people, must be ascribed to the same source.

It has been with many an endeavour to trace, in the mythologies of various nations, a resemblance to the more holy histories of our own faith; and they assert that, in many of the fables with which we are familiar, are to be traced the types or symbols of part of that revelation which is the ground-work of our own belief. But this is, at best, so vague and shadowy, that its inculcators get lost in their own inventions, and their followers scarcely comprehend the assertions they are called on implicitly to believe. With this we have nothing to do; the object of the present work being the endeavour to offer a brief and succinct history of those Gods whose adventures have created most interest, and by means of them to give an additional zest to the perusal of the great poets and writers of antiquity, whose works are either founded on these actual adventures, or abound with allusions to them, and without the knowledge of which, it may be asserted, that the mind is scarcely able to do justice to them any more than to modern writers, since the works of the latter teem with images drawn from classical subjects. Nor indeed is this to be wondered at, when we consider the various subjects connected with fable; and in this view of our subject we are borne out by a distinguished writer in the following elegant remarks:

“Men of a phlegmatic disposition,” observes Dr. Turner, “or of a censorious temper, never cease to rail against the delightful fictions with which Homer and Hesiod, and their poetical imitators, have enriched and embellished their works; but although these fictions did not contain many useful instructions, and important truths, would there be any reason to attack and destroy a system, which peoples and animates nature, and which makes a solemn temple of the vast universe? These flowers, whose varied and shining beauty you so much admire, are the tears of Aurora. It is the breath of Zephyrus which gently agitates the leaves. The soft murmurings of the waters are the sighs of the Naiades. A god impels the wind; a god pours out the rivers; grapes are the gift of Bacchus; Ceres presides over the harvest; orchards are the care of Pomona. Does a shepherd sound his reed on the summit of a mountain, it is Pan, who with his pastoral pipe returns the amorous lay.

“When the sportsman’s horn rouses the attentive ear, it is Diana, armed with her bow and quiver, and more nimble than the stag that she pursues, who takes the diversion of the chase. The sun is a god, who, riding in a car of fire, diffuses his light through the world; the stars are so many divinities, who measure with their golden beams the regular progress of time; the moon presides over the silence of night, and consoles the world for the absence of her brother. Neptune reigns in the sea, surrounded by the Naiades, who dance to the joyous shells of the Tritons. In the highest heaven is seated Jupiter, master and father of men and gods. Under his feet roll the thunders, in the caverns of Etna, forged by the Cyclops; his smile rejoices nature; and his nods shakes the foundation of Olympus. Surrounding the throne of their sovereign, the other divinities quaff nectar, from a cup presented them by the young and beautiful Hebe. In the middle of the great circle shines, with distinguished lustre, the unrivalled beauty of Venus, alone adorned with a splendid girdle in which the Graces for ever play, and in her hand is a smiling boy whose power is universally acknowledged by heaven and earth. Sweet illusions of the fancy! pleasing errors of the mind! what objects of pity are those cold and insensible hearts who have never felt your charms! and what objects of pity and indignation those fierce and savage spirits, who would destroy a world that has so long been the treasury of the arts! a world, imaginary indeed, but delightful, and whose ideal pleasures are so well fitted to compensate for the real troubles and miseries of the world in which we live.”

If we turn to a still higher authority (and we acknowledge that the subject has been treated of so often and in so masterly a style by men of whom the world was scarcely worthy, that we are willing rather to present their mature opinions, than to obtrude our own) we shall find that Lord Bacon treats upon the subject in a manner which maintains his high character as a profound thinker. “I am not ignorant,” he says, “how uncertain fiction is, and how liable to be wrested to this or that sense, nor how prevalent wit and discourse are, so as ingeniously to apply such meanings as were not thought of originally; but let not the follies and license of a few lessen the esteem due to parables; for that would be profane and bold, since religion delights in such veils and shadows: but, reflecting on human wisdom, I ingenuously confess my real opinion is, that mystery and allegory were from the original intended in many fables of the ancient poets, this appears apt and conspicuous to me; whether ravished with a veneration for antiquity, or because I find such coherence in the similitude with the things signified, in the very texture of the fable, and in the propriety of the names which are given to the persons or actors in the fables; and no man can positively deny that this was the sense proposed from the beginning, and industriously veiled in this manner… No one should be moved, if he sometimes finds any addition for the sake of history, or by way of embellishment; or if chronology should happen to be confounded, or if part of one fable should be transferred to another, and a new allegory introduced: for these were all necessary, and to be expected, seeing they are the inventions of men of different ages, and who writ to different ends; some with a view to the nature of things and others to civil affairs. We have another sign, and that no small one, of this hidden sense which we have been speaking of, which is that some of these fables are in the narration so foolish and absurd, that they seem to claim a parable at a distance. Such as are probable may be feigned for amusement, and in imitation of history; but where no such designs appear, but they seem to be what none would imagine or relate, they must be calculated for other uses. What has a great weight with me is, that many of these fables seem not to be invented by those who have related them, Homer, Hesiod , and other writers; for were they the fictions of that age and of those who delivered them down to us, nothing great and exalted, according to my opinion, could be expected from such an origin; but if any one will deliberate on this subject attentively, these will appear to be delivered and related as what were before believed and received, and not as tales then first invented and communicated; besides, as they are told in different manners, by authors of almost the same times, they are easily perceived to be common, and derived from old tradition, and are various only from the additional embellishments diverse writers have bestowed on them… The wisdom of the ancients was either great or happy, great if these figures were the fruits of their industry; and happy if they looked no further, that they have afforded matter and occasion so worthy of contemplation.”

The Divinities of Fable. §

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The stars were the first recipients of the homage of mankind; and thus Heaven is the most ancient of the Gods. As the world increased they deified heroes.

The Gods of the ancients were divided into many classes. The principal, or Gods of the first order, amounted to twenty, viz: — Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Ceres, Mercury, Minerva, Vesta, Apollo, Diana, Venus, Mars, Vulcan, Destiny, Saturn, Genius, Pluto, Bacchus, Love, Cybele, and Proserpine. Besides these more important ones, they had others, such as Chaos; which did not belong to any particular class, and which were not the object of any faith.

“Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball,
And Heaven’s high canopy, that covers all,
One was the face of nature — if a face;
Rather a rude and indigested mass;
A lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed,
Of jarring seeds; and justly Chaos named.
No sun was lighted up, the world to view;
No moon did yet her blunted horns renew;
Nor yet was earth suspended in the sky;
Nor poised, did on her own foundations lie;
Nor seas about their shores the arms had thrown;
But earth, and air, and water were in one.
Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable,
And waters dark abyss unnavigable.
No certain form on any was imprest;
All were confused, and each disturbed the rest.
For hot and cold were in one body fix’d;
And soft with hard, and light with heavy mix’d.
    But God, or Nature, while they thus contend,
To these intestine discords put an end:
Then earth from air, and seas from earth were driven,
And grosser air sunk from ethereal Heaven.
The force of fire ascended first on high,
And took its dwelling in the vaulted sky:
Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire;
Whose atoms from unactive earth retire.
Earth sinks beneath, and draws a numerous throng
Of ponderous, thick, unwieldy seeds along.
About her coasts unruly waters roar,
And, rising on a ridge, insult the shore.
Thus when the God, whatever God was he,
Had formed the whole, and made the parts agree,
That no unequal portions might be found,
He moulded earth into a spacious round:
Then, with a breath, he gave the winds to blew;
And bade the congregated waters flow:
He adds the running springs, and standing lakes,
And bounding banks for winding rivers makes.
Some part in earth are swallowed up; the most
In ample oceans disembogued, are lost:
He shades the woods, the valleys he restrains
With rocky mountains, and extends the plains.
And as five zones the ethereal regions bind,
Five, correspondent, are to earth assigned:
The sun with rays, directly darting down,
Fires all beneath, and fries the middle zone:
The two beneath the distant poles, complain
Of endless winter, and perpetual rain.”

Chaos is often mentioned in the history of the Gods, but seems only to have had a momentary reign. He is the most ancient of all, for he presided over the elements that composed the universe. He is usually represented at the moment that he assigned to each element its place. To create the light of day, he repelled all the dark and thick clouds, and then formed the zodiac, glittering with stars above his head.

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The poetic idea of Chaos is found in sacred history, in the creation, as well as in all mythology, where we see the names of Bramah, Vishnu, and Siva.

Uranus, or Heaven. §

Uranus, or Heaven, was the Day. Espousing his sister Titæa, from their union sprang the Titans, those giants of antiquity who occupy so important a position in the annals of Fable. Of these children of the earth the principal were Titan, Saturn, and Hyperion, of the males; whilst among the females were comprised Thea, Rhea, Themis, and Mnemosyne. After this Titæa bore the Cyclops, three of whom became servants to Vulcan, forging, under his direction, the thunderbolts of the great Jove; while the remainder wandered around the coast, leading the lives of shepherds.

“Three sons are sprung from Heaven and Earth’s embrace,
The Cyclops bold, in heart a haughty race,
Brontes and Steropes, and Arges brave,
Who to the hands of Jove the thunder gave;
They for almighty power did lightning frame,
All equal to the gods themselves in fame;
One eye was placed (a large round orb, and bright)
Amidst their forehead to receive the light;
Hence were they Cyclops called.”

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Uranus, however, as time passed, began to fear lest the offspring, which rose to such gigantic strength, should dethrone him; and by his power he threw them down an abyss, into which the light of day could never penetrate. This tyranny, however, only ripened the spirit of rebellion which he feared, and their frightful confinement but urged them to greater efforts to escape. They all arose against him, but were compelled to yield after a desperate struggle for supremacy; while rebellion brought its accustomed curse in heavier chains and more rigorous captivity, to all save Saturn, who, led by ambition and vengeance, and assisted by his mother in his schemes, dethroned his sire, usurped his empire, and delivered his brethren.

The defeated monarch fell beneath his son’s parricidal hand; and from the blood thus shed sprang the Giants and the Furies, rendering fruitful also the foam of the sea, of which was born Venus Aphrodite.

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Saturn. §

By right of succession the sceptre of Uranus belonged to Titan, the eldest of the sons of the murdered monarch.

—— “Titan, heaven’s first born,
With his enormous brood, and birthright seized
By younger Saturn; he from mightier Jove
His own and Rhea’s son like measure found
—— Or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to the Hesperian fields,
And o’er the Celtic roamed the utmost Isles.”

Compelled to renounce his claim in favour of Saturn, who delivered them all from their confinement; but with the condition that whatever children might be born to him, should be destroyed. Saturn, faithful to his promise, swallowed, at their birth, all the male children brought to him by his wife Cybele. But a mother’s yearning for her offspring, appears to have filled even the breast of a goddess; and when delivered of Jupiter and Juno, she placed a stone instead of the newly-born, in the arms of the god, habited in an infant’s dress.

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—— “Jealous of the infant’s future power,
A stone the mother gave him to devour;
Greedy he seized the imaginary child,
And swallowed heedless, by the dress beguiled;
Nor thought the wretched god of aught to fear,
Nor knew the day of his disgrace was near;
Invincible remains his Jove alive,
His throne to shake, and from his kingdom drive
The cruel parent; for to him ’tis given
To rule the gods, and mount the throne of heaven.”

Saturn devoured this, as he had the previous offerings; and emboldened by her success, Cybele delivered in the same manner Pluto and Neptune, and afterwards, by administering a potion, compelled him to yield up those he had already swallowed. Jupiter, the first whom the Goddess had saved by her artifice, was brought up secretly in the Isle of Crete, by the Corybantes, or warrior priests, who, making a deafening noise with their drums and cymbals, prevented for a period the cries of the infant from reaching the ears of Titan: when, however, the latter discovered, as he eventually did, that his hopes had been deceived, and his agreement broken, he assembled an army, marched against Saturn, (who by this time was made aware of the deception, but refused to destroy his children), took him prisoner, and threw him into Tartarus, from whence he was delivered by Jupiter, and replaced upon his throne.

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But the fears of Saturn rendered him ungrateful to his deliverer, for Destiny having prophesied that Saturn should be dethroned by his son, the God attacked Jupiter in ambush, and finished, by declaring open war against him. Jupiter, however, again proved conqueror, chasing from heaven his father and his king, who took refuge in that part of Italy known as Latium; Janus, monarch of this city of refuge, succoured and received him, and Saturn, to recompense his hospitality, granted to him the gift of memory, and of looking into the future. From this cause, Janus is represented with a double face. The time which Saturn passed on earth is known as the age of gold.

“Ere Saturn’s rebel son usurped the skies;
When beasts were only slain in sacrifice;
While peaceful Crete enjoyed her ancient lord;
Ere sounding hammers forged the inhuman sword;
Ere hollow drums were beat; before the breath
Of brazen trumpets rung the peals of death,
The good old God his hunger did assuage
With roots and herbs, and gave the golden age.”
“The Golden age was first; when man yet new,
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew,
And with a native bent did good pursue!
Unforced by punishment, unawed by fear,
His words were simple, and his soul sincere.
Needless was written law, when none oppressed,
The law of man was written in his breast;
No suppliant crowds before the judge appeared,
No court erected yet, nor cause was heard;
But all was safe, for conscience was their guard:
The mountain trees in distant prospects please,
Ere yet the pine descended to the seas;
Ere sails were spread new oceans to explore,
And happy mortals unconcerned for more,
Confined their wishes to their native shore:
No walls were yet, nor fence, nor moat, nor mound,
Nor drum was heard, nor trumpets’ angry sound;
Nor swords were forged, but void of care or crime,
The soft creation slept away their time;
The teeming earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
And unprovoked did fruitful stores allow;
Content with food, which nature freely bred,
On wildings and on strawberries they fed:
The flowers unsown in fields and meadows reigned,
And western winds immortal spring maintained;
In following years the bearded corn ensued,
From earth unasked, nor was that earth renewed;
From veins of valleys, milk and nectar broke,
And honey sweating thro’ the pores of oak.”

From the gaieties and fêtes which then took place arose the name of Saturnalia, or fêtes of Saturn, which lasted three, four, and five days, and took place in December. All work was stayed, friend interchanged gifts with friend, the preparations for war and the execution of criminals were alike suspended, while masters waited on their slaves at table, in remembrance of the ideas of liberty and equality, which existed in ancient days.

Janus was represented supported by a staff, with a key in his hand, as he was believed to be the inventor of doors and of locks. From his name came the month of January. He worshipped at twelve altars, to represent the twelve months; and wore occasionally four faces, as tokens of the four seasons of the year. At Rome, in which his temple was placed, it was open in the time of war, and shut during that of peace.

Saturn, or Time, is represented sometimes on a flying chariot, and sometimes on a throne, under the figure of an old and bearded man, severe in aspect, thin and yet robust, his eyes marked by a stern light; a veil on his head, and a serpent round his waist; while in his hand he carries a harp. In later times he is represented with a scythe.

“Unfathomable sea! whose waves are years;
    Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe
Are brackish with the salt of human tears;
    Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow
Claspest the limits of mortality!
And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest wrecks on its inhospitable shore.
Treacherous in calm and terrible in storm,
    Who shall put forth on thee,
    Unfathomable sea?”

With his scythe and with his wings, our eyes are familiar, as, to the present day, he is never drawn without these accompaniments.

“To one that marks the quick and certain round
Of year on year, and finds that every day
Brings its grey hair, or bears a leaf away
From the full glory with which life is crowned,
Ere youth becomes a shade, and fame a sound:
Surely to one that feels his foot on sand
Unsure, the bright and ever visible hand
Of Time, points far above the lowly bound
Of pride that perishes: and leads the eye
To loftier objects and diviner ends;
A tranquil strength, sublime humility,
A knowledge of ourselves, a faith in friends,
A sympathy for all things born to die,
With cheerful love for those whom truth attends.”
Laman Blanchard.

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This fable is easy of explanation. Time is the child of heaven and earth; he has wings because he flies rapidly, a scythe because he destroys all, an hour-glass to measure his course equally; and the serpent is the symbol of eternity, which has neither a beginning nor an end. He slew his father, because, the world and time once created, he could exist no longer; he devoured his infants because time destroys all, and he threw them from his stomach because time returns with the years and days; and this part of the fable is also an image of the operations which nature accomplishes under the influence of time. He did not devour Jupiter, as he represents the celestial regions, nor Juno, she being the prototype of the air: Time, mighty and all-destroying as he is, having no influence over the elements.

Cybele, Vesta. §

This goddess was the daughter of Uranus, being the sister and wife of Saturn. As soon as she was born, she was exposed on a mountain, but being preserved and suckled by some of the wild beasts of the forest, she received the name of Cybele from the mountain where her life had been preserved. She is called also the ancient Vesta, to distinguish her from her daughter Vesta, who, with her mother, is also called Cybele. But the Deity of whom we now write is the earth, and is easy to distinguish from her daughter. In several temples of the ancients, the statues of Cybele were only a piece of stone, meant to represent the stability of the earth.

This great Goddess saw and became enamoured of a shepherd, who repulsed her affection, being in love with a mortal nymph; and rather than submit to the tyrannical passion of Cybele, he is said to have destroyed himself, and the goddess metamorphosed him into a pine-tree.

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In the mythology of every country, this Deity is found, though under various names. She is represented with keys in her hand, her head crowned with rising turrets, and sometimes with the leaves of an oak. She is also seen with many breasts, to intimate that the earth gives aliment to all living creatures.

To her daughter, who presided over the fiery element, Numa Pompilius consecrated an altar, where virgins, named Vestals, maintained perpetual fire. At Delphi and at Athens the priestesses were not virgins, as at the other temples, but widows who were past the time of marriage.

It was the employment of the Vestals to take care that the sacred fire of Vesta was not extinguished, for if it ever happened, it was deemed the prognostic of great calamities to the state: the offender was punished for negligence, and severely scourged by the high priest. The privileges of the Vestals were great: they had the most honourable seats at the public games and festivals, a lictor preceded them when they walked in public; they were carried in chariots when they pleased, and had the power of pardoning criminals if they encountered them on the way to execution, and the meeting was declared to be purely accidental.

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Such of them as forgot their vow, were placed in a large hole under the earth, where a bed was placed, with a little bread, wine, oil, and a lighted lamp: the guilty Vestal was stripped of the habit of her order, and compelled to descend into the subterranean cavity, which was immediately shut, and she was left to die of hunger.

    Vestal. Spare me! oh spare!
    Priest. Speak not, polluted one.
    Vestal. Yet spare me!
    Priest. Thou pleadst in vain — thy destiny is fixed.
Vestal. Mercy — oh! mercy; tho’ my sin be great,
Life is so beautiful I cannot die;
And earth seems smiling with intenser light,
And flowers give forth an odour ever new,
The stars look brighter still than when of old
I watched them fading from the mountain top:
Earth, sky and air, are all so beautiful,
I cannot, dare not, will not, think of death!
    Priest. It is thy doom! thy living grave is near.
Thou hast despoiled the Goddess of her due,
The vow thou gavest to her thou hast broken,
And thou must pay the awful penalty!
    Vestal. The grave — a living grave — thou meanst it not —
To ope my eyes in th’ ever during dark,
To breathe a thick and frightful atmosphere,
Drawn from my sighs and dampened with my tears!
    Priest. The Gods demand their victim!
    Vestal. ’Tis blasphemy to think it;
Oh! if thou ever knew’st a father’s love,
A mother’s sigh, a sister’s soft caress,
If but one human sympathy be left,
Pardon, oh! pardon!
    Priest. Cling not around me, girl, touch, touch me not;
The power to pardon lieth not in man.
Thy hour hath come.
    Vestal, (clasping him). I will not quit thee;
Thou art a man with human sympathies;
Madness will touch my brain; I cannot, will not yield.
Grant me some other death: poison or steel,
Or aught that sends me suddenly from earth;
But to be wrapt in clay, and yet not of it,
To feel the earth crumbling around my brow,
To scent its foul and noisome atmosphere,
Is more than frail mortality can bear.

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Jupiter. §

The nymphs of mount Ida, to whom Cybele had confided her son, educated him with great care; but his cries being likely to call the attention of Saturn and Titan, the priests invented a dance accompanied with noise, called the Dactyl, in which they interchanged blows on steel bucklers. His nourishment was received from a goat, who was afterwards placed among the heavenly constellations, having given his skin to form a shield, and one of his horns, which was presented to the nymphs, and named the Horn of Plenty. As Jupiter emerged from infancy, we have seen he had to strive with the Titans, who disputed with him the right to reign in Heaven.

The first of their feats was to heap mountain on mountain in order to scale the walls of Heaven; they then threw fragments of rocks and burning trees against “high Olympus.”

    “But vainly came Typhæus on,
    And vainly huge Porphyrion,
    Fierce Rhœtus of the vengeful stroke,
    And Minias strong as mountain oak,
With bold Encelædas, to heaven who strove
To dart the trees, uprooted, from the grove:

    For weak their might against the shield
    Which Pallas’ matchless arm did wield;
    While quick against the giant foes
    Juno, and ardent Vulcan, rose;
And to the fight the young Apollo sped,
Glittering afar with bows and arrows dread,

    Who bathing in Castalian dew,
    His tresses loose of golden hue,
    Rejoicing in his youth is seen
    Amid the Lycian valleys green,
Or in the Delian groves will sport oftwhile
Amid the flowers that deck his native isle.”

The Gods at first defended themselves with great courage, but at the appearance of the hundred-headed Typhon, all, save Bacchus, sought safety in flight, and hid themselves in Egypt, where they obtained refuge under various forms: from the different disguises they then assumed, may be traced the worship rendered by the Egyptians to both animals and vegetables.

Typhon, who thus, by his mere appearance, seemed to turn the tide of war, is thus described:

———— “Typhon, whose hands
Of strength are fitted to tremendous deeds;
And indefatigable are the feet
Of the strong God: and from his shoulders rise
A hundred snaky heads of dragon growth.”

Notwithstanding the dire appearance of this monster, Bacchus fought bravely against the foes of Heaven, and took the form of a Lion, while animated by the cries of Jupiter, who shouted “Courage, courage!” his bravery turned the tide of war.

“And now the murmur of incitement flies,
All ranged in martial order, through the skies;
Here Jove above the rest conspicuous shined,
In valour equal to his strength his mind;
Erect and dauntless see the thunderer stand,
The bolts red hissing from his vengeful hand;
He walks majestic round the starry frame;
And now the lightnings from Olympus flame.
The earth wide blazes with the fires of Jove,
Nor the flash spares the verdure of the grove.”

The invaders, at length, were overthrown, and crushed beneath the mountains which they themselves had prepared to execute their vengeance on Jupiter. Many times, though vainly, the Titans sought to avenge their defeat; and Olympus, from this time, was only troubled by internal dissensions.

——— “The bruised Titans mourned
Within a den where no insulting light
Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans
They felt, but heard not; hard flint they sat upon,
Couches of rugged stone and slaty ridge,
Stubborned with iron.
Cœus and Gyges and Briareus,
With many more, the brawniest in assault,
Were pent in regions of laborious breath;
Dungeoned in opague element to keep
Their clenched teeth still clenched, and all their limbs
Locked up like veins of metal cramped and screwed:
Without a motion save of their big hearts,
Heaving in pain.”

After his victory, Jupiter, who had driven Saturn from Heaven, and was in consequence its undisputed king, espoused Juno his sister. The commencement of their union was a happy one, and was called the age of silver, being an era of virtue, less pure, however, than that of the age of gold.

“But when good Saturn banished from above
Was driven to hell, the world was under Jove.
Succeeding times a silver age behold,
Excelling brass, but more excelled by gold;
Then summer, autumn, winter did appear,
And spring was but a season of the year.
The sun his annual course obliquely made,
Good days contracted and enlarged the bad.
Then air with sultry heat began to glow;
The wings of winds were clogged with ice and snow;
And shivering mortals into houses driven,
Sought shelter from the inclemency of heaven.
Those houses then were caves or homely sheds,
With twining osiers fenced, and moss their beds:
Then ploughs for seed the fruitful farrows broke,
And oxen laboured first beneath the yoke.”

Nor was crime long in making its appearance. Hyacon, King of Arcadia, violated all the laws of hospitality by the massacre of his guests. He had the cruelty to offer up to Jupiter, in one of the high festivals, the members of a slave, as an offering to the God. But his punishment was as swift as his conduct had been atrocious: his palace was reduced to ashes, and his form was changed into that of a wolf. From this Jupiter took the name which denotes him an avenger of the laws of hospitality.

Jupiter is also distinguished by the name of Ammon from the following circumstance:

Bacchus being in the midst of the sands of Arabia, was seized with a thirst so burning, that he was reduced to long even for a drop of water. Jupiter presented himself to him under the form of a battering-ram, and striking the earth, caused the grateful liquid to spring forth in abundance. Bacchus, to commemorate the deed, erected a temple to his benefactor in the deserts of Lybia, under the name of Jupiter Ammon, i. e. — sandy.

By this time mankind had owed their creation to the King of the Gods. Prometheus, grand-son of Uranus, having deceived Jupiter, he was punished by being withheld from the element of fire; and to enrage his sovereign, he formed a being of clay, of workmanship so exquisite, that it scarcely seemed to need life to add to its beauty, and to complete his performance, assisted by Minerva, he stole fire from the chariot of the sun, wherewith to animate his image.

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Enraged at this daring, Jupiter had him conveyed to Mount Caucasus, where being chained to the rock, a vulture preyed upon his entrails, which grew as fast as they were devoured, thus subjecting him to a never dying torture.

———— “Awful sufferer!
To thee unwilling, most unwillingly
I come, by the great Father’s will driven down,
To execute a doom of new revenge.
Alas! I pity thee, and hate myself,
That I can do no more: aye from thy sight
Returning, for a season, heaven seems hell,
So thy worn form pursues me night and day,
Smiling reproach. Wise art thou, firm and good,
But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in strife
Against the Omnipotent: as yon clear lamps,
That measure and divide the weary years
From which there is no refuge, long have taught
And long must teach. Even now the Torturer arms
With the strange might of unimagined pains
The powers who scheme slow agonies in hell;
And my commission is to lead them here,
Or what more subtle, foul, or savage fiends
People the abyss, and leave them to their task.
Oh that we might be spared: I to inflict,
And thou to suffer! once more answer me:
Thou knowest not the period of Jove’s power?
    Prometheus. I know but this, that it must come.
    First Fury. Prometheus!
    Second Fury. Immortal Titan!
    Third Fury. Champion of Heaven’s slaves!
    Pro. He whom some dreadful voice invokes is here,
Prometheus, the chained Titan. Horrible forms,
Whence and what are ye? Never yet there came
Phantasms so foul thro’ monster-teeming hell,
From the all miscreative brain of Jove;
Whilst I behold such execrable shapes,
Methinks I grow like what I contemplate,
And laugh and stare in loathsome sympathy.
    First Fury. We are ministers of pain, and fear,
And disappointment, and mistrust, and hate,
And clinging crime; and, as lean dogs pursue
Thro’ wood and lake some struck and sobbing fawn,
We track all things that weep, and bleed, and live,
When the great king betrays them to our will.
    Pro. Oh! many fearful natures in one name,
I know ye; and these lakes and echoes know
The darkness and the clangour of your wings.
But why more hideous than your loathed selves
Gather ye up in legions from the deep!
    Second Fury. We knew not that: Sisters, rejoice! rejoice!
    Pro. Can aught exult in its deformity?
    Second Fury. The beauty of delight makes lovers glad,
Gazing on one another: so are we,
As from the rose which the pale priestess kneels
To gather for a festal crown of flowers,
The aërial crimson falls, flushing her cheek,
So from our victim’s destined agony,
The shade which is our form invests us round;
Else we are shapeless as our mother night.
    Pro. I laugh your power, and his who sent you here,
To lowest scorn. Pour forth the cup of pain.
    First Fury. Thou thinkest we will rend thee bone from bone,
And nerve from nerve, working like fire within!
    Pro. Pain is my element, as hate is thine;
Ye rend me now; I care not.
    Second Fury. Dost imagine
We will but laugh into thy lidless eyes?
    Pro. I weigh not what ye do, but what ye suffer,
Being evil. Cruel is the power which called
You, or aught else so wretched into light!
    Third Fury. Thou think’st we will live through thee one by one,
Like animal life, and though we can obscure not
The soul which burns within, that we will dwell
Beside it, like a vain, loud multitude,
Vexing the self-content of wisest men:
That we will be dread thought beneath thy brain,
And foul desire round thine astonished heart,
And blood within thy labyrinthine veins,
Crawling like agony.
    Pro. Why use me thus now,
Yet am I king over my self’s rule,
The torturing and conflicting throes within,
As Jove rules you when hell grows mutinous.”

This provoked the vengeance of Jupiter, and he ordered Vulcan to create a female, whom they called Pandora. All the Gods vied in making presents. Venus gave her beauty, and the art of pleasing; Apollo taught her to sing; Mercury instructed her in eloquence; Minerva gave her the most rich and splendid ornaments. From these valuable presents which she received from the Gods, the woman was called Pandora, which intimates that she had received every necessary gift. Jupiter, after this, gave her a beautiful box, which she was ordered to present to the man who married her; and by the command of the god, Mercury conducted her to Prometheus. The artful mortal was sensible of the deceit; and as he had always distrusted Jupiter, he sent away Pandora without suffering himself to be captivated by her charms.

“He spoke, and told to Mulciber his will,
And smiling bade him his command fulfil;
To use his greatest art, his nicest care,
To frame a creature exquisitely fair;
To temper well the clay with water, then
To add the vigour and the voice of men;
To let her first in virgin lustre shine,
In form a goddess, with a bloom divine;
And next the sire demands Minerva’s aid,
In all her various skill to train the maid
Bids her the secrets of the loom impart,
To cast a curious thread with happy heart;
And golden Venus was to teach the fair
The wiles of love, and to improve her air;
And then in awful majesty to shed
A thousand graceful charms around her head.
Next Hermes, artful god, must form her mind,
One day to torture, and the next be kind:
With manners all deceitful, and her tongue
Fraught with abuse, and with detraction hung;
Jove gave the mandate, and the gods obeyed:
First Vulcan formed of earth the blushing maid;
Minerva next performed the task assigned,
With every female art adorned her mind;
To her the Beauties and the Graces join,
Around her person, lo! the diamonds shine.
To deck her brows the fair tressed seasons bring,
A garland breathing all the sweets of spring:
Each present Pallas gives its proper place,
And adds to every ornament a grace!
Next Hermes taught the fair the heart to move
With all the false alluring arts of love,
Her manners all deceitful, and her tongue
With falsehoods fruitful, and detraction hung;
The finished maid the gods Pandora call,
Because a tribute she received from all;
And thus ’twas Jove’s command the sex began
A lovely mischief to the soul of man!
Within her hand the nymph a casket bears,
Full of diseases and corroding cares:
Which opened, they to taint the world begin
And Hope alone remained entire within!
Such was the fatal present from above,
And such the will of cloud compelling Jove:
And now unnumbered woes o’er mortals reign
Alike infected is the land and main;
O’er human race distempers silent stray,
And multiply their strength by night and day!
’Twas Jove’s decree they should in silence rove,
For who is able to contend with Jove?”

When the box was opened, there issued from it a multitude of evils and distempers, which dispersed themselves over the world, and which from that fatal moment have never ceased to afflict the human race. Hope alone remained at the bottom, and that only has the power of easing the labours of man, and rendering his troubles less painful.

“But thou, oh! Hope, with eyes so fair,
    What was thy delighted measure?
    Still it whispered promised pleasure,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
    Still would her touch the strain prolong,
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
    She called on Echo still throughout the song;
And where her sweetest theme she chose
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close,
And Hope, enchanted, smiled and waved her golden hair!”
“Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all,
That men have deemed substantial since the fall,
Yet has the wondrous virtue to educe,
From emptiness itself, a real use;
And while she takes, as at a father’s hand,
What health and sober appetite demand,
From fading good derives with chemic art
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart.
Hope with uplifted foot set free from earth
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth;
Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast
The Christian vessel, and defies the blast.
Hope! nothing else can nourish and secure
His new born virtue, and preserve him pure.
Hope! let the wretch once conscious of the joy,
Whom now despairing agonies destroy,
Speak, for he can, and none so well as he,
What treasures centre, what delights in thee.
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land
That boasts the treasure, all at his command,
The fragrant grove, th’ inestimable mine,
Were light when weighed against one smile of thine.”

After this commenced the age of steel, when even Jupiter abandoned himself to the fiery passions of love, jealousy, and vengeance.

——— “Hard steel succeeded then:
And stubborn as the metal were the men.
Truth, modesty, and shame the world forsook;
Fraud, avarice, and force, their places took.
Then sails were spread to every wind that blew,
Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new;
Trees, rudely hollowed, did the waves sustain,
Ere ships in triumph, ploughed the watery plain.
    Then landmarks limited to each his right;
For all before was common as the light:
Nor was the ground alone required to bear
Her annual income to the crooked share,
But greedy mortals rummaging her store,
Dug from her entrails first the precious ore,
Which next to hell the prudent Gods had laid,
And that alluring ill to sight displayed.
Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,
Gave mischief birth, and made the mischief bold,
And double did wretched man invade,
By steel assaulted, and by gold betrayed.
Now (brandished weapons glittering in their hands)
Mankind is broken loose from moral bands:
No right of hospitality remain;
The guest, by him who harboured him, is slain.
The son-in-law pursues the father’s life,
The wife her husband murders, he the wife;
The step-dame poison for the son prepares;
The son inquires into his father’s years.
Faith flies, and piety in exile mourns;
And justice, here opprest, to heaven returns.”

He was enamoured of Antiope, Alcmena, Danae, Leda, Semele, Europa, Calista, and a crowd of other goddesses and mortals.

The principal names given to Jupiter are the Thunderer, the Avenger, the God of Day, the God of the Worlds, and lastly of Olympus, in which he dwelt, and on which poets and painters have exercised their imaginations.

The figures of Jupiter have varied according to the circumstances and the times in which they have appeared. He has been represented as a swan, a bull, a shower of gold, and as a cuckoo: but Homer appears to have inspired ideas of the most noble kinds to the sculptors of antiquity. The divine poet represents the King of Gods seated on a golden throne, at the feet of which are two cups, containing the principle of good and evil. His brow laden with dark clouds; his eyes darting lightning from beneath their lids; and his chin covered with a majestic beard. In one hand the sceptre, in the other a thunderbolt. The virtues are at his side: at his feet the eagle who bears the thunderbolt. One frown from his eyes makes the whole earth tremble.

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The Olympian games in Greece were instituted in honour of this God, from those celebrated at Olympus. The following, perhaps the finest description we have of Jupiter, while granting the prayer of Achilles, is from Homer’s Iliad.

“Twelve days were passed, and now the dawning light,
The Gods had summoned to the Olympian height.
Jove first ascending from the watery bowers,
Leads the long order of ethereal powers.
When like the morning mist in early days,
Rose from the flood the daughter of the seas;
And to the seats divine her flight addressed.
There far apart, and high above the rest
The Thunderer sat; where old Olympus shrouds
His hundred heads in heaven, and props the clouds.
Suppliant the Goddess stood: one hand she placed
Beneath his beard, and one his knees embraced:
‘If e’er, O father of the Gods!’ she said,
‘My words could please thee, or my actions aid;
Some marks of honour on my son bestow,
And pay in glory what in life you owe.
Fame is at least by heavenly promise due,
To life so short, and now dishonoured too.
Avenge this wrong, oh ever just and wise;
Let Greece be humbled, and the Trojans rise;
Till the proud king, and all the Achaian race,
Shall heap with honours him they now disgrace.’”

Jupiter is often described by the ancients as visiting the earth in disguise, and distributing to its inhabitants his punishments or rewards. Ovid relates one in connexion with the luxury of Rome, and in which the hospitality of Baucis and Philemon saved them from the fate of their friends. He is represented as the guardian of man, and dispenser of good and evil.

“While we to Jove select the holy victim,
Whom after shall we sing than Jove himself?
The God for ever great, for ever king,
Who slew the earth-born race, and measures right
To heaven’s great habitants.
Swift growth and wondrous grace, oh! heavenly Jove,
Waited thy blooming years: inventive wit,
And perfect judgment crowned thy youthful act.
Thou to the lesser gods hast well assigned
Their proper shares of power; thy own, great Jove,
Boundless and universal. Each monarch rules
His different realm, accountable to thee,
Great ruler of the world; these only have
To speak and be obeyed; to those are given
Assistant days to ripen the design;
To some whole months; revolving years to some;
Others, ill-fated, are condemned to toil
Their tedious life, and mourn their purpose blasted,
With fruitless act and impotence of counsel.
Hail! greatest son of Saturn, wise disposer
Of every good; thy praise what man yet born
Has sung? or who that may be born shall sing?
Again, and often, hail! indulge our prayer,
Great Father! grant us virtue, grant us wealth,
For without virtue, wealth to man avails not,
And virtue without wealth exerts less power,
And less diffuses good. Then grant us, Gracious,
Virtue and wealth, for both are of thy gift!”

Juno. §

Juno, who was the daughter of Saturn and Cybele, was also sister and wife to Jupiter. Her pride protected her beauty: for when the God, to seduce her, took the form of a cuckoo, she recognised him in his disguise, and refused to submit to his wishes, unless he would consent to marry her. At their nuptials, invitations were sent to all the Gods, and beings of even a lower order were not forgotten. But one nymph, by the insolence of her refusal, merited the punishment she received of being changed into a tortoise, and became the symbol of silence.

As might be expected, the marriage of Jupiter and Juno, was not productive of much happiness, the jealousy of the latter being a never-failing source of misery; it was this which caused the celebrated Trojan war; and this that caused Jupiter to suspend her from Heaven by a golden cord, in the attempt to rescue her from which, Vulcan achieved the wrath of his sire, the Thunderer.

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The intrigue of Jupiter with Io, is also celebrated in the history of his amours. Juno became jealous as usual, discovered the object of his affections, and surprised him in the company of Io; a change soon took place in the appearance of the latter, when, through the influence of the God, she assumed the form of a white heifer. Juno instantly discovered the fraud, and requested Jupiter to give her possession of an animal she so much admired.

The request was too reasonable to be refused, and Io became the property of Juno, who placed her under the control of the hundred-eyed Argus: but Jupiter, anxious for the situation of Io, sent Mercury, who destroyed Argus, and restored her to liberty.

“Down from the rock fell the dissevered head,
Opening its eyes in death, and falling bled,
And marked the passage with a crimson trail;
Thus Argus lies in pieces, cold and pale,
And all his hundred eyes with all their light
Are closed at once in one perpetual night;
These Juno takes, that they no more may fail,
And spreads them in her peacock’s gaudy tail.”

After undergoing the vengeance of Juno, who unrelentingly pursued her, she gave birth to an infant on the banks of the Nile, and was restored by Jupiter to her natural shape.

All who seemed to be favoured by, or who favoured Jupiter, she persecuted with the utmost rigour: but when it is remembered what cause Juno had for her jealousy, and that her husband metamorphosed himself into a swan for Leda, into a shepherd for Mnemosyne, into a shower of gold for Danae, and into a bull for Europa, she may easily be pardoned her restless spirit.

When Jupiter had assumed the form of a bull, he mingled with the herds belonging to Agenor, father of Europa, while the latter, with her female attendants, was gathering flowers in the surrounding meadows.

Europa caressed the beautiful animal, and at last had the courage to sit upon his back. Jupiter took advantage of her situation, and with precipitate steps retired towards the shore, crossed the sea with Europa on him, and arrived safe in Crete. Here he adopted his original shape, and declared his love. The nymph consented, though she had previously taken the vows of perpetual celibacy; and became the mother of Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthus.

“The ruler of the skies, the thundering God,
Who shakes the world’s foundation with a nod,
Among a herd of lowing heifers ran,
Frisked in a bull, and gallopped o’er the plain;
His skin was whiter than the snow that lies
Unsullied by the breath of southern skies,
His every look was peaceful, and expressed
The softness of the lover in the beast.
Agenor’s royal daughter, as she played
Among the fields, the milk white bull surveyed,
And viewed his spotless body with delight,
And at a distance kept him still in sight;
At length she plucked the rising flowers, that fed
The gentle beast, and fondly stroked his head.
She placed herself upon his back, and rode
O’er fields and meadows, seated on the God.
He gently marched along, and by degrees,
Left the dry meadows and approached the seas,
Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,
Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.”

At length Juno, unable to bear the many injuries her love had sustained, left Jupiter, and retired to the Isle of Samos, announcing, at the same time, that she should return no more to the court of the King of Heaven. The latter, not disheartened, dressed a statue as Queen of Olympus, placed it in his chariot, and declared it should be the future wife of the ruler of the Gods. This induced Juno to quit her hiding place; for, unable to restrain her jealousy, she rushed back with all speed, destroyed the statue, laughingly acknowledged her error, and was reconciled to her husband.

The wife of Jupiter is always represented as superbly arrayed, in a chariot drawn by two peacocks, where she sat with a sceptre in her hand, having always a peacock beside her. She was adored above all at Argos, where her feasts were celebrated by the sacrifice of a hundred bulls. At Rome, hers were the Lupercalian feasts. She was believed to preside over the birth-pangs of the Roman women, and the priests, to render the time fruitful, struck these grave matrons with a portion of the skin of a kid, which they asserted had formed one of the vestments of the Goddess.

In the spirit of a high mythology, Juno may be considered as representing the sublunary atmosphere; and, as opposed to Jupiter, the active origin and organizer of all, she is of a passive nature. These ideas are allied with those of Hymen, who is called Juno, the virtuous wife.

A statue of Juno recently discovered, is thus described: —

“The countenance expresses a stern unquestioned severity of dominion, with a certain sadness. The lips are beautiful, susceptible of expressing scorn, but not without sweetness. With fine lips a person is never wholly bad, and they never belong to the expression of emotions purely selfish, lips being the seat of imagination. The drapery is finely conceived; and the manner in which the act of throwing back one leg is expressed in the diverging folds of the drapery of the left breast, fading in bold, yet graduated lines, into a skirt, as it descends from the left shoulder, is admirably imagined.”


Ceres. §

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Ceres, daughter of Saturn and Cybele, was goddess of the productions of the earth. She taught man the art of agriculture, and is represented crowned with wheat, holding a torch in one hand, and in the other an ear of corn; sometimes she carries a sceptre, and sometimes a sickle, and her chariot is drawn by lions or by serpents.

——— “As tempered suns arise
Sweet beamed, and shedding through the lucid clouds
A pleasing calm: while broad and brown, below
Extensive harvests hang the heavy head.
Rich, silent, deep, they stand: for not a gale
Rolls its light billows o’er the bending plain:
A calm of plenty; till the ruffled air
Falls from its poise, and gives the breeze to blow.
Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky,
And back by fits the shadows sweep along.
A gaily chequered, heart-expanding view,
Far as the circling eye can shoot around,
Unbounded, tossing in a flood of corn.”

Loved by Jupiter, she had by the God a daughter called Proserpine, whom Pluto, God of Hell, seized near the beautiful vale of Enna, in Sicily, and carried with him to his dismal kingdom. Ceres, whose love for her child, almost surpassed even the usual love of mothers, placed on Mount Etna two torches, and sought her “from morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve,” throughout the world. At last, when she deemed her search well nigh hopeless, she was informed by the nymph Arethusa of the dwelling place of her child, and of the name of him who had torn her beloved one from her paternal care.

Ceres implored Jupiter to interfere, and withdraw her from the infernal regions, which he agreed to do, but found it would be beyond his power, as, by a decree of Destiny, she would not be able to quit her place of concealment, should she have partaken of any nourishment while there; and it was discovered that though she had refused all ordinary food, she had been tempted while in the gardens of Pluto, to pluck a pomegranate, and to eat a few of its seeds. This was sufficient; and the utmost Ceres could obtain, was that she should pass six months of the year with her mother and six months with Pluto, when she became his wife.

“Near Enna’s walls a spacious lake is spread,
Famed for the sweetly singing swans it bred;
Pergûsa is its name: and never more
Were heard, or sweeter sounds than on Cayster’s shore.
Woods crown the lake, and Phœbus ne’er invades
The tufted fences or offends the shades:
Fresh fragrant breezes fan the verdant bowers,
And the moist ground smiles with enamelled flowers,
The cheerful birds their airy carols sing,
And the whole year is one eternal spring.
    Here while young Proserpine, among the maids,
Diverts herself in these delicious shades;
While like a child with busy speed and care,
She gathers lilies here, and violets there;
While first to fill her little lap she strives,
Hell’s grizzly monarch at the shades arrives;
Sees her thus sporting on the flowery green,
And loves the blooming maid as soon as seen.
The frighted Goddess to her mother cries:
But all in vain, for now far off she flies;
His urgent flame impatient of delay,
Swift as his thought he seized the beauteous prey,
And bore her in his sooty car away.
Far she behind her leaves her virgin train;
To them too cries, and cries to them in vain.
And while with passion she repeats her call,
The violets from her lap and lilies fall:
She misses them, poor heart! and makes new moan:
Her lilies, oh! are lost, her violets gone.
O’er hills the ravisher, and valleys speeds,
By name encouraging his foamy steeds;
He rattles o’er their necks the rusty reins,
And ruffles with the stroke their shaggy manes
Throws to his dreadful steeds the slackened rein,
And strikes his iron sceptre through the main;
The depths profound thro’ yielding waves he cleaves,
And to hell’s centre a free passage leaves;
Down sinks his chariot, and his realms of night
The God soon reaches with a rapid flight.”

The attempts of Ceres to encourage the art of agriculture were not always favourably received: the King of the Scythians, who loved the sword more than the ploughshare, and the spear more than the reaping hook, having attempted to smother the art taught by Ceres in its infancy, was metamorphosed into a lynx. Nor was this the only instance of the vengeance of the Goddess, who was irritable, and prompt to punish. A young child, whose chief crime was having laughed to see her eat with avidity, was changed into a lizard: while a Thessalian, who had desecrated and attempted to destroy a sacred forest, was doomed to an hunger so cruel, that he devoured his own limbs, and died in the midst of fearful torments.

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Destiny. §

We have already seen that the decrees of Destiny, or Fate, were superior even to the will of Jupiter, as the King of the Gods could not restore Proserpine to her mother, Destiny having decreed otherwise. But of this being, as possessing a place among the heroes of mythology, we are left in considerable ignorance. Scarcely knowing even if he were a God, or only the name or symbol whereby to represent an immutable and unchangeable law. In the antique bas-reliefs he is often to be seen, with a bandage over his eyes, and near him an open book which the gods alone might consult: and in which are written those events which must inevitably come to pass, and which all are so anxious to discover.

“Thou power which all men strive to look into!
Thou power which dost elude all human search!
To thee alone is given the right to gaze
Into the fate prepared for all who live.
Oh! wilt thou ne’er unlock thine iron bars,
Oh! wilt thou ne’er enable us to look
Into the volume clasped at thy right hand?
The past is known to us, and doth contain
So much of evil and so little good,
So much of wrong, and oh! so little right,
So much of suffering, and so little peace,
That we would fain turn o’er the leaves which speak
Of future things to our sore troubled souls.
Yet no! perchance the burden is too much,
And is in mercy hidden from our eyes.
Earth is made up of so much care and woe,
The past, the present, and the future known,
Would sink us into deep and desperate sorrow.”

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Apollo. §

This Deity, whose name still lives with us, as the presiding divinity of the art of song, was the son of Jupiter, by the beautiful Latona, daughter of the Titan, Cœus. Asteria, her sister, disdaining the embraces of the God, threw herself into the sea, and was changed into the isle which bears the name of Delos; where Latona afterwards sought refuge from the fury of Juno, when about to overwhelm her, for her frailty with her husband. The irritated Goddess, to punish Latona for her crime, excited against her the serpent Python, who pursued her wheresoever she went; until at last, in the Isle of Delos, alone and unfriended, bearing in her bosom the fruit of her weakness, she gave birth to Apollo and Diana. Weary of her confinement, and wishing to return to her father Cœus, she arrived near his dominions, where, fatigued with her journey, she begged a drop of water from the peasants, whose cruel refusal to aid her she punished by changing them into frogs.

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“The Goddess came, and kneeling on the brink,
Stooped at the fresh repast, prepared to drink:
Then thus, being hindered by the rabble race,
In accents mild expostulates the case:
‘Water I only ask, and sure ’tis hard
From Nature’s common rights to be debarred.
This, as the genial sun, and vital air,
Should flow alike to every creature’s share;
One draught, as dear as life I should esteem,
And water, now I thirst, would nectar seem:
Oh! let my little babes your pity move,
And melt your hearts to charitable love:
They (as by chance they did) extend to you
Their little hands, and my request pursue!’
Yet they the goddess’s request refuse,
And, with rude words, reproachfully abuse.
Her thirst by indignation was suppressed;
Bent on revenge, the Goddess stood confessed!
‘And may you live,’ she passionately cried,
‘Doomed in that pool for ever to abide!’
The Goddess has her wish ——”

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During her residence at her father’s court, Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, had the insolence to prefer herself to Latona, who had but two children, while Niobe possessed seven sons and seven daughters. She even ridiculed the worship which was paid to Latona, observing, that she had a better claim to altars and sacrifices than the mother of Apollo. This insolence provoked Latona, and she entreated her children to punish the arrogant Niobe. Her prayers were granted, and immediately all the sons of Niobe expired by the darts of Apollo, and all the daughters, except one, who was married, were equally destroyed by Diana; while Niobe, stricken by the greatness of the misfortune which had overwhelmed her, was changed into stone.

The bodies of Niobe’s children were left unburied in the plains for nine successive days, because Jupiter changed into stones all such as attempted to inter them. On the tenth, they were honoured with a funeral by the Gods.

While Apollo resided at the court of Jupiter, he retained the title of the God of Light; and though many writers consider Phœbus and Apollo to be different deities, there can be no doubt that the worship which is offered to Phœbus, as the sun, is due also to Apollo; and indeed, under both titles is he addressed by ancients, as well as moderns.

        “Giver of glowing light!
    Though but a God of other days,
            The kings and sages,
            Of wiser ages,
Still live and gladden in thy genial rays!

        “King of the tuneful lyre!
    Still poets hymns to thee belong,
        Though lips are cold,
        Whereon of old,
Thy beams all turned to worshipping and song!

        “Lord of the dreadful bow!
    None triumph now for Python’s death
        But thou dost save
        From hungry grave,
The life that hangs upon a summer’s breath!

        “Father of rosy day!
    No more thy clouds of incense rise;
    But waking flowers,
    At morning hours,
Give out their sweets to meet thee in the skies!

        “God of the Delphic fane!
    No more thou listenest to hymns sublime;
        But they will leave,
        On winds at eve,
A solemn echo to the end of time!”

By the invention of Phœbus, medicine became known to the world, as he granted to Æsculapius the secrets of this miraculous art, who afterwards sought to raise the dead, and while in the act of bringing to life Hippolitus, son of Theseus, Jupiter enraged with his impiety, smote him with a thunderbolt. Indignant at the punishment which had been awarded Æsculapius, Apollo sought the isle of Lemnos, to immolate the Cyclops to his indignation, who had forged the thunderbolt.

But so insolent an act could not remain unpunished, and Jupiter exiled him from Heaven. While on earth, he loved the nymph Daphne, and Mercury who had invented the lyre, gave it to him that he might the more effectually give vent to his passion. This lyre, was formed of the shell of a tortoise, and composed of seven cords, while to its harmonious tones were raised the walls of Troy. In vain, however, were the sweet sounds of the lyre tuned, to soften Daphne whose affection rested with another, and was insensible to that of Apollo, though he pursued her with fervour for a year.

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Daphne, still inexorable, was compelled to yield to the fatigue which oppressed her, when the Gods, at her entreaty, changed her into a laurel. Apollo took a branch and formed it into a crown, and to this day the laurel remains one of the attributes of the God. The leaves of this tree are believed to possess the property of preserving from thunder, and of making dreams an image of reality to those who place it beneath their pillow.

——— “Her feet she found
Benumbed with cold, and fastened to the ground,
A filmy rind about her body grows,
Her hair to leaves, her arms extend to boughs,”
“The nymph is all into a laurel gone,
The smoothness of her skin remains alone;
To whom the God: “Because thou canst not be
My mistress, I espouse thee for my tree;
Be thou the prize of honour and renown,
The deathless poet and the poem crown!
Thou shalt the Roman festivals adorn,
And after poets, be by victors worn!
Thou shalt returning Cæsar’s triumph grace,
When pomp shall in a long procession pass;
Wreathed on the posts before his palace wait,
And be the sacred guardian of the gate;
Secure from thunder and unharmed by Jove,
Unfading as the immortal powers above;
And as the locks of Phœbus are unshorn
So shall perpetual green thy boughs adorn.”

However earnest Apollo might have been in his pursuit of Daphne, he did not long remain inconsolable, but formed a tender attachment for Leucothoe, daughter of king Orchamus, and to introduce himself with greater facility, he assumed the shape and features of her mother. Their happiness was complete, when Clytie, her sister, who was enamoured of the God, and was jealous of his amours with Leucothoe, discovered the whole intrigue to her father, who ordered his daughter to be buried alive. Apollo passing by accident over the tomb which contained her, heard her last melancholy cries, but unable to save her from death, he sprinkled nectar and ambrosia over her tomb, which penetrating as far as the body, changed it into the beautiful tree that bears the frankincense; while the unhappy Clytie, tormented by remorse, and disdained by the God, was changed into a sunflower, the plant which turns itself without ceasing, towards its deity, the sun.

“On the bare earth she lies, her bosom bare,
Loose her attire, dishevelled is her hair;
Nine times the morn unbarred the gates of light,
As oft were spread the alternate shades of night,
So long no sustenance the mourner knew,
Unless she drank her tears, or sucked the dew,
She turned about, but rose not from the ground,
Turned to the sun still as he rolled his round;
On his bright face hung her desiring eyes,
Till fixed to earth, she strove in vain to rise,
Her looks their paleness in a flower retained,
But here and there, some purple streaks they gained.
Still the loved object the fond leaves pursue,
Still move their root, the moving sun to view
And in the Heliotrope the nymph is true.”

These unhappy endeavours of Apollo, determined him to take refuge in friendship, and he attached himself to the young Hyacinth;

—— “Hyacinth, long since a fair youth seen,
Whose tuneful voice turned fragrance in his breath,
Kissed by sad Zephyr, guilty of his death.”

But misfortune appeared to cling to all who were favoured by Apollo, for as they played at quoits with Zephyr, the latter fired by jealousy, blew the quoit of Apollo on the forehead of the unhappy mortal, who fell dead upon the green turf on which they were playing; while his blood sinking into the ground, produced the flower which still bears his name.

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    “Flower! with a curious eye we scan
    Thy leaf, and there discover
How passion triumphed — pain began —
Or in the immortal, or the man,
    The hero, or the lover.

    “The disk is hurled: — ah! fatal flight!
    Low droops that beauteous brow:
But oh! the Delian’s pang! his light
Of joy lies quenched in sorrow’s night:
    The deathless record thou.

    “Or, do they tell, these mystic signs,
    The self destroyer’s madness?
Phrensy, ensanguined wreaths entwines:
The sun of chivalry declines; —
    The wreck of glory’s gladness!”

Apollo was so disconsolate at the death of Hyacinth, that, as we have seen, he changed his blood into a flower which bore his name, and placed his body among the constellations.

The Spartans established yearly festivals in his honour, which continued for three days; they did not adorn their hair with garlands during their festivals, nor eat bread, but fed only upon sweetmeats. They did not even sing Pæans in honour of Apollo, or observe any of the solemnities usual at other sacrifices.

—— “Pitying the sad death
Of Hyacinthus when the cruel breath
Of Zephyr slew him, Zephyr, penitent,
Who now, ere Phœbus mounts the firmament,
Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.”

Saddened by his efforts to form an endearing friendship, Apollo once more sighed for the nymph Perses, daughter of Ocean, and had by her the celebrated Circe, remarkable for her knowledge of magic and venomous herbs.

Bolina, another nymph to whom he was attached, wishing to escape from his pursuit, threw herself into the waves, and was received by the nymphs of Amphitrion.

“I staid awhile to see her throw
Her tresses back, that all beset
The fair horizon of her brow,
With clouds of jet.

“I staid a little while to view
Her cheek, that wore in place of red,
The bloom of water, tender blue,
Daintily spread.

“I staid to watch a little space
Her parted lips, if she would sing;
The waters closed above her face,
With many a ring.

“And still I stayed a little more, —
Alas! she never comes again,
I throw my flowers from the shore
And watch in vain.”

After this, Apollo lost the young Cyparissus, who had replaced Hyacinth in his favour, and guarded his flocks; this young shepherd having slain by accident a stag of which Apollo was fond, expired of grief, and was changed into the tree which bears his name.

Apollo now attached himself to the sybil of Cumes, and granted to her the boon of prolonging her life as many years as there were grains in a handful of sand which she held. But she lived to repent of this frightful gift.

Alone in the world, her friends departed, and none to remind her of the days of the past, she implored the Gods to release her from the misery which overwhelmed her. Cassandra, daughter of Priam, consented to her prayer, if Apollo would grant to her the power of divination. Apollo agreed, and swore to the truth of his promise by the river Styx. Scarcely had he uttered the oath, than the gods, who could not absolve him from it, rallied him on his folly. Irritated at the ridicule they poured upon him, he added to this gift, the restriction, that she should never believe her own prophecies. After this he again yielded to the power of love, and sought to please Clymene, who was the mother of Phaeton. To this nymph succeeded the chaste Castalia, whom he pursued to the very foot of Parnassus, where the Gods metamorphosed her into a fountain. As Apollo was lamenting his loss on the bank of that river, he heard an exquisite melody escaping from the depth of the wood. He approached the place from whence the sound seemed to issue, and recognized the nine muses, children of Jupiter and Mnemosyne.

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“Mnemosyne, in the Pierian grove,
The scene of her intrigue with mighty Jove,
The empress of Eleuther, fertile earth,
Brought to Olympian Jove the Muses forth;
Blessed offsprings, happy maids, whose powerful art
Can banish cares, and ease the painful heart.
Clio begins the lovely tuneful race,
Which Melpomene and Euterpe grace;
Terpischore, all joyful in the choir,
And Erato, to love whose lays inspire;
To these Thalia and Polymnia join,
Urania and Calliope divine.”

The taste and feelings of Apollo responded to those of these noble sisters: they received him in their palace, and assembled together with him to converse on the arts and sciences.

Among their possessions, the Muses and Apollo had a winged horse, named Pegasus. This courser, born of the blood of Medusa, fixed his residence on Mount Helicon, and, by striking the earth with his foot, caused the spring of Hippocrene to gush from the ground. While the courser was thus occupied, Apollo mounted his back, placed the Muses with him, and Pegasus, lifting his wings, carried them to the court of Bacchus.

Envious of the fame of Apollo at this court, Marsyas, the Phrygian, declared that, with his flute, he could surpass the melody of the God’s divine lyre, and challenged Apollo to a trial of his skill as a musician; the God accepted the challenge, and it was mutually agreed, that he who was defeated should be flayed alive. The Muses were appointed umpires. Each exerted his utmost skill, and the victory was adjudged to Apollo. The God, upon this, tied his opponent to a tree, and punished him as had been agreed. The death of Marsyas was universally lamented; the fauns, satyrs and dryads, wept at his fate, and from their abundant tears flowed a river of Phrygia, well known by the name of Marsyas.

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Undeterred by this example, Pan, favourite of Midas, King of Lydia, wished also to compete with Apollo in the art of which the latter was master. Pan began the struggle, and Midas repeated his songs with enthusiasm, without paying the least attention to his celestial rival. Pan again sang, and Midas repeated; when, to his surprise, the latter felt, pressing through his hair, a pair of ears, long and shaggy. Alarmed at this phenomenon, Pan took to flight, and the prince, desolate at the loss of his favourite, made one of his attendants, some say his wife, the confidant of his misfortune, begging her not to betray his trust. The secret was too great for the bosom of its holder; she longed to tell it, but dared not, for fear of punishment; and as the only way of consoling herself, sought a retired and lonely spot, where she threw herself on the earth, whispering “King Midas has the ears of an ass, King Midas has the ears of an ass.” Not long after her visit, some reeds arose in this place; and as the wind passed through them, they repeated, “King Midas has the ears of an ass.” Enraged, no less than terrified, at this extraordinary occurrence, Midas sacrificed to Bacchus, who, to console, granted him the special favour of turning all that he touched into fine gold.

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“Midas the king, as in the book appears,
By Phœbus was endowed with ass’s ears,
Which under his long locks he well concealed;
As monarch’s vices must not be revealed:
For fear the people have them in the wind.
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind:
Nor apt to think from heaven their title springs,
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings.
This Midas knew, and durst communicate,
To none but to his wife his ears of state:
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit,
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit.
To this sagacious confessor he went,
And told her what a gift the Gods had sent:
But told it under matrimonial seal,
With strict injunction never to reveal.
The secret heard, she plighted him her troth,
(And secret sure is every woman’s oath,)
The royal malady should rest unknown,
Both for her husband’s honour and her own.
But ne’ertheless she pined with discontent,
The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
The thing she knew she was obliged to hide:
By interest and by oath the wife was tied:
But if she told it not the woman died.
Loth to betray her husband and a prince,
But she must burst or blab, and no pretence
Of honour tied her tongue in self defence.
The marshy ground commodiously was near,
Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear
Lest, if a word she spoke of any thing,
That word might be the secret of the king.
Thus full of council to the fen she went,
Full all the way, and longing for a vent.
Arrived, by pure necessity compelled,
On her majestic marrow-bones she kneeled,
Then to the water’s brink she laid her head,
And, as a bittern sounds within a reed,
‘To thee alone, oh! lake,’ she said, ‘I tell,
And as thy queen, command thee to conceal,
Beneath his locks, the king my husband wears
A goodly, royal pair of ass’s ears.
Now I have eased my bosom of the pain,
Till the next longing fit returns again!’”

The story of Phaeton, (son of Apollo under the name of Phœbus) is as follows: Venus becoming enamoured of Phaeton, entrusted him with the care of one of her temples. This distinguished favour of the Goddess rendered him vain and aspiring; and when told, to check his pride, that he was not the son of Phœbus, Phaeton resolved to know his true origin; and at the instigation of his mother, he visited the palace of the sun, to beg that Phœbus, if he really were his father, would give him proofs of his paternal tenderness, and convince the world of his legitimacy. Phœbus swore by the Styx that he would grant him whatever he required; and Phaeton demanded of him to drive his chariot (that of the sun) for one day. In vain Phœbus represented the impropriety of his request, and the dangers to which it would expose him; the oath must be complied with. When Phaeton received the reins from his father, he immediately betrayed his ignorance and incapacity. The flying horses took advantage of his confusion, and departed from their accustomed track. Phaeton repented too late of his rashness, for heaven and earth seemed threatened with an universal conflagration, when Jupiter struck the rider with a thunderbolt, and hurled him headlong into the river Po. His body, consumed by fire, was found by the nymphs of the place, and honoured with a decent burial.

The Heliades, his sisters wept for four months, without ceasing, until the Gods changed them into poplars, and their tears into grains of amber; while the young king of the Ligurians, a chosen friend of Phaeton, was turned into a swan at the very moment he was yielding to his deep regrets. Aurora is also the daughter of Apollo. She granted the gift of immortality to Tithonus, her husband, son of the king of Troy; but soon perceiving that the gift was valueless, unless the power of remaining ever young was joined with it, she changed him into a grasshopper. From their union sprang Memnon, who was killed by Achilles at the siege of Troy. The tears of his mother were the origin of the early dew, and the Egyptians formed, in honour of him, the celebrated statue which possessed the wonderful property of uttering a melodious sound every morning at sunrise, as if in welcome of the divine luminary, like that which is heard at the breaking of the string of a harp when it is wound up. This was effected by the rays of the sun when they fell on it. At its setting, the form appeared to mourn the departure of the God, and uttered sounds most musical and melancholy; this celebrated statue was dismantled by the order of Cambyses, when he conquered Egypt, and its ruins still astonish modern travellers by their grandeur and beauty.

“Unto the sacred sun in Memnon’s fane,
Spontaneous concords quired the matin strain;
Touched by his orient beam, responsive rings
The living lyre, and vibrates all its strings;
Accordant aisles the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song.”

Apollo having slain with his arrows, Python, a monstrous serpent which desolated the beautiful country around Parnassus, his victory was celebrated in all Greece by the young Pythians; where crowns, formed at first of the branches of oak, but afterwards of laurel, were distributed to the conquerors, and where they contended for the prize of dancing, music and poetry.

It is from his encounter with this serpent, that in the statues which remain of him, our eyes are familiar with the bow placed in his grasp.

—————— “The lord of the unerring bow,
The god of life, and poesy, and light,
The sun in human limbs arrayed, and brow,
All radiant from his triumph in the fight;
The shaft hath just been shot — the arrow, bright
With an immortal’s vengeance; in his eye
And nostril, beautiful disdain, and might,
And majesty, flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the Deity.

“But in his delicate form, a dream of love,
Shaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast
Longed for a deathless lover from above,
And maddened in that vision, are exprest
All that ideal beauty ever blest
The mind with, in its most unearthly mood,
When each conception was a heavenly guest,
A ray of immortality, and stood
Star like, around, until they gathered to a God!

“And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven
The fire which we endure, it was repaid
By him to whom the energy was given,
Which this poetic marble hath arrayed
With an eternal glory, which if made
By human hands, is not of human thought,
And Time himself hath hallowed it, nor laid
One ringlet in the dust, nor hath it caught
A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which ’twas wrought.”

But the gods grew jealous of the homage shewn to Apollo, and recalling him from earth, replaced him in his seat at Olympus.

The fable of Apollo is, perhaps, that which is most spread over the faith of antiquity. Pæans were the hymns chanted in his honour, and this was the war cry he shouted in his onset against the serpent Python. On his altars are immolated a bull or a white lamb — to him is offered the crow, supposed to read the future, the eagle who can gaze on the sun, the cock whose cry welcomes his return, and the grasshopper, who sings during his empire.

This God is represented in the figure of a young man without beard, with curling locks of hair, his brow wreathed with laurels, and his head surrounded with beams of light. In his right hand he holds a bow and arrows; in the left, a lyre with seven chords, emblem of the seven planets to which he grants his celestial harmony. Sometimes he carries a buckler, and is accompanied by the three Graces, who are the animating deities of genius and the fine arts, and at his feet is placed a swan.

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He had temples and statues in every country, particularly in Egypt, Greece, and Italy; the most famous was that of Delos, where they celebrated the Pythian games, that of Soractes, where the priests worshipped by treading with their naked feet on burning coals, though without feeling pain, and that of Delphi, in which the youth of the place offered to the gods their locks of hair, possibly because this offering was most difficult to the vanity of youth. Apollo made known his oracles through the medium of a sibyl. This was a female, named also a Pythoness, on account of her seat being formed of massive gold resembling the skin of the serpent Python. The history of the tripod will be found to afford much interest. The fishermen who had found it in their nets, sought the oracle to consult its responses. This was to offer it to the wisest man in Greece. They presented it to Thales, who had told them that the most difficult of all human knowledge was the art of knowing ourselves. Thales offered the tripod to Bias. When the enemy was reducing his native city to ashes, he withdrew, leaving behind him his wealth, saying, “I carry all that is worthy within myself.” After frequent adventures, and passing into the possession of many, the tripod finally returned to Thales, and was deposited in the temple; where, as we have seen, it served the sibyl for a seat. This story shows us at a glance, the principles and the conduct of the greatest philosophers of Greece. These sages who considered philosophy to consist in the science of practising virtue, and living happily, endeavoured to show by the adventures of the tripod that, though the way was sometimes different, the end was the same.

The sibyl delivered the answer of the god to such as came to consult the oracle, and while the divine inspiration was on her, her eyes sparkled, her hair stood on end, and a shivering ran through her body. In this convulsive state, she spoke the oracles of the deity, often with loud howlings and cries, and her articulations were taken down by the priest, and set in order. Sometimes the spirit of inspiration was more gentle, and not always violent, yet Plutarch mentions one of the priestesses who was thrown into such excessive fury, that not only those who consulted the oracle, but also the priests who conducted her to the sacred tripod, and attended her during her inspiration, were terrified and forsook the temple; and so violent was the fit, that she continued for some days in the most agonizing situation, and at last died.

It was always required that those who consulted this oracle should make presents to Apollo, and from thence arose the opulence, splendour, and magnificence, of the temple of Delphi.

There were other temples of Apollo more celebrated, such as that at Palmyra, which was constructed of the most gigantic proportions; and for which nothing was spared to give it a magnificence hitherto unknown. Augustus, who pretended to be the son of Apollo, built a temple to him on Mount Palatine. Delian feasts were those which the Athenian, and the other Greek states celebrated every four years at Delos.

The history of the Muses is so closely allied to that of Apollo that we shall present some of their adventures in this part of our work.

The first is the struggle which the Muses maintained against the nine daughters of Pierus, King of Macedon, who dared to dispute with them the palm of singing; being overcome, they were turned into magpies, and since their transformation, they have preserved the talent so dear to beauty, of being able in many words to express very little.

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One day when the Muses were distant from their place of abode, a storm surprised them, and they took shelter in the palace of Pyrenæus: but scarcely had they entered, when the tyrant shut the gates, and sought to offer them insult. They immediately spread their wings and flew away. The king wishing to fly after them, essayed the daring adventure, and throwing himself from the top of the tower as if he had wings, was killed in the attempt. Notwithstanding the high reputation of the Muses, it is pretended by some, that Rheseus was the son of Terpsichore, Linus of Clio, and Orpheus of Calliope. Arion and Pindar were also stated to be the children of the Muses, to whom the Romans built a temple and consecrated a fountain.

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Diana. §

The goddess Diana was daughter of Jupiter and Latona, and twin sister to Apollo. In heaven she bore another name, and conducted the chariot of the Moon, while on earth she presided over the chase, was the peculiar deity of hunters, and called Diana. In Hell she is named Hecate and revered by magicians.

———— “Hecate, loved by Jove,
And honour’d by the inhabitants above,
Profusely gifted from the almighty hand,
With power extensive o’er the sea and land;
And great the honour, she, by Jove’s high leave,
Does from the starry vault of heaven receive.
When to the gods the sacred flames aspire,
Does from the starry vault of heaven receive.
From human offerings, as the laws require,
To Hecate the vows are first prefer’d;
Happy of men whose prayers are kindly heard,
Success attends his every act below,
Honour, wealth, power, to him abundant flow.”

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She was also the Goddess of chastity, and it was in this character that her vengeance fell so heavily on Actæon, who following the chase one day with all the ardour of his profession, unhappily came suddenly on the retired spot, in which the pure Diana, with her nymphs, was enjoying, in the heat of the summer’s day, the luxury of bathing. Horrified by this violation, though unintentional, of her privacy, she changed him into a stag, and inspiring with madness the dogs that accompanied him to the chase, they turned upon their metamorphosed master, who, in horrible dread of the fate he had himself so often inflicted, fled rapidly from them. True to their breed, however, the dogs succeeded in running him down and devouring him.

Calista, nymph of Diana was seduced by Jupiter, who taking one of the innumerable shapes, which he is described as assuming when his passions were inflamed towards any particular nymph, introduced himself to her in the form of her mistress, and in this shape, what wonder that the nymph lost her virtue, or that the God was successful! Diana herself, however, took a very different view, and though Calista concealed the effects of her divine intrigue from her mistress for a long time, the latter noticed the alteration in her person when bathing in

“Such streams as Dian loves,
And Naiads of old frequented; when she tripped
Amidst her frolic nymphs, laughing, or when
Just risen from the bath, she fled in sport,
Round oaks and sparkling fountains,
Chased by the wanton Orcades.”
Barry Cornwall.

To evince her detestation of the crime, her divine mistress changed her into a bear. This however was before

“The veiled Dian lost her lonely sphere,
And her proud name of chaste, for him whose sleep
Drank in Elysium on the Latmos steep.”

In great horror at this transformation, Calista fled to the forests and brought forth a son, with whom she dwelt, until one day she was induced to enter a temple at Lycaen (where, with her son Arcas, she had been brought), and which it was not lawful to enter. The dwellers in the city, among whom was Arcas, enraged at the desecration, attacked her, and in all probability, she would have perished by the hands of her son, had not Jupiter snatched both to the sky, and placed them among the constellations, Calista being called “the Great Bear,” and Arcas, “the Little Bear.”

Æneas, king of Calydon, neglecting the worship of Diana, the Goddess revenged it by sending into his kingdom a monstrous wild boar; and to rid their country of its ravages, he caused the Greek princes to assemble to the chase. Atalanta, daughter of the king of Arcadia, wounded him first, but she would have fallen beneath the fury of its revenge, had it not been for Meleager, son of Æneas, who slew the boar. A quarrel having arisen for the possession of the head of this monster, Meleager killed his brothers. Indignant at this crime, the wife of Æneas threw into the flames a brand which bore with it the life of Meleager; a fire immediately spread itself through the vitals of the prince, and he expired in the midst of torments, the most cruel and excruciating, and his mother, stricken with despair at the sight of them, destroyed herself, and the sisters of the unhappy victim were changed into fowls.

Diana is usually represented in the costume of a huntress, with a quiver on her shoulder, and a bow in her hand; her dress is lifted, and her dog is always by her side ready for his prey. Her hair is banded over her brow, while sometimes a crescent is painted on her head, of which the points are turned towards Heaven. Sometimes she is seen in a chariot trained by stags, and in her hand is a torch which serves to frighten away the wild beasts.

The affection of this Goddess for Endymion —

———————— “Whom she,
The moonlit Dian on the Latmian hill,
When all the woods, and all the winds were still,
Kissed with the kiss of immortality”
Barry Cornwall.

has been the cause of many an ode, and many a touching story, and is perhaps, one of the most chaste, or at least most chastely told in Mythology:

“He was a poet, sure a lover too
Who stood on Latmos top, what time there blew
Soft breezes from the Myrtle vale below
And brought in faintness, solemn, sweet, and slow
A hymn from Dian’s Temple; while up-swelling
The incense went to her own starry dwelling.
But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,
Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,
The poet wept at her so piteous fate,
Wept that such beauty should be desolate:
So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,
And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.”

The beautiful Endymion, grandchild of Jupiter, having dared to offer his guilty love to Juno, he was condemned to live for ever in the infernal regions. However, smitten with his charms, as Diana saw him sleeping on the mountain of Latmos, she snatched him from the power of Pluto, and placed him in a grotto, where she came down from Heaven every night to enjoy his society.

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————— “Crescented Dian, who
’Tis said once wandered from the wastes of blue,
And all for love; filling a shepherd’s dreams
With beauty and delight. He slept, he slept,
And on his eyelids white, the huntress wept
Till morning, and looked thro’, on nights like this
His lashes dark, and left her dewy kiss;
But never more upon the Latmos hill
May she descend to kiss that forest boy,
And give — receive, gentle and innocent joy
When clouds are distant far and winds are still:
Her bound is circumscribed, and curbed her will.
Those were immortal stories: are they gone?
The pale queen is dethroned — Endymion
Hath vanished — ; and the worship of this earth
Is vowed to golden gods of vulgar birth!”
Barry Cornwall.

The fable of Endymion’s amours with Diana, or the Moon, arises from his knowledge of astronomy: and as he passed the night on some high mountain, to observe the heavenly bodies, it has been reported that he was courted by the Moon.

——————— “Oh! woodland Queen,
What smoothest air, thy smoother forehead woos?
Where dost thou listen to the wide halloos
Of thy departed nymphs? Through what dark tree
Glimmers thy crescent? Whatsoe’er it be
’Tis in the breath of Heaven: thou dost taste
Freedom, as none can taste it, nor dost waste
Thy loveliness in dismal elements.
But finding in our green earth sweet contents,
There livest blissfully.”

The mode of worship to Diana, differs in different nations. The most celebrated of her temples was that at Ephesus, which from its grandeur and magnificence has been placed among the seven wonders of the world, but was burned by Erostratus, the same day that Alexander the Great was born. This madman had no other end, than to render his name for ever notorious, and he succeeded, notwithstanding the Ephesians having decreed that his name should never be mentioned.

In one of the temples where Diana was worshipped, the presiding priest was always a slave who had slain his predecessor in office, and warned by the fate he had inflicted on others, he never went without a dagger, to protect himself from those who might be ambitious of his office, and reckless of his crime.

In another, she had an altar, whereon they immolated all those whom shipwreck had thrown on their inhospitable shores.

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“Mother of light! how fairly dost thou go
Over those hoary crests, divinely led!
Art thou that huntress of the silver bow
Fabled of old? ——————————
What art thou like? sometimes I see thee ride
A far bound galley on its perilous way,
Whilst breezy waves toss up their silvery spray —
Sometimes I watch thee on from steep to steep,
Timidly lighted by thy vestal torch,
Till in some Latmian cave I see thee creep
To catch the young Endymion asleep,
Leaving thy splendour at the jagged porch!

“Oh! thou art beautiful, however it be,
Huntress, or Dian, or whatever named,
And he the veriest Pagan, that first framed
A silver idol, and ne’er worshipped thee!
It is too late, or thou shouldst have my knee;
Too late now for the old Ephesian vows,
And not divine the crescent on thy brows:
Yet call thee nothing but the mere, mild moon,
Behind those chesnut boughs
Casting their dappled shadows at my feet;
I will be grateful for that simple boon
In many a thoughtful verse, and anthem sweet,
And bless thy dainty face whene’er we meet.

“So let it be: before I lived to sigh,
Thou wert in Avon, and a thousand rills,
Beautiful Dian! and so whene’er I lie
Trodden, thou wilt be gazing from thy hills.
Blest be thy loving light, where’er it spills,
And blessed thy fair face, O mother mild!
Still shine, the soul of rivers as they run,
Still lend thy lonely lamp, to lovers fond,
And blend their plighted shadows into one:
Still smile at even on the bedded child,
And close his eyelids with thy silver wand.”

Bacchus. §

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Semele, daughter of Cadmus, king of Thebes, had yielded to the licentious Jupiter, and felt within her the effect of her indiscretion. Jealous at the object who had again taken her lord’s affections, Juno sought for some mode in which to punish her, and taking the form of a nurse, suggested the desire of beholding the king of the Gods, arrayed in all his celestial glory. In vain did Jupiter, when pressed by Semele, implore her not to ask him to assume that form, which was too much for mortal eye to bear. Woman’s wit and woman’s fondness prevailed, and, in a moment of weakness, the God swore by the Styx, he would perform her request, and by this oath he was forced to abide. Armed with thunder, as a proof of his divinity, and in all the glory and majesty of his godhead, he presented himself to the presumptuous mortal, who, unable to bear his presence, fell scorched by his thunderbolt.

Jupiter, however, took the infant which Semele bore him, and confided it to the guardianship of the nymphs of the mountain of Nysa, who, for their care of the son of Jupiter, in process of time, were translated into heaven. When Bacchus, for thus was he named, had grown out of their guidance, Silenus became his preceptor and foster-father. This god, who is generally represented as fat and jolly, riding on an ass, crowned with flowers, and always intoxicated, could scarcely be considered as a tutor from whom Bacchus was likely to derive much good. In spite of the education he received through the medium of this being, however, the love of glory shone forth conspicuously in Bacchus.

After having valiantly combatted for Jupiter against the Giants when they invaded Olympus, he undertook his celebrated expedition into the East, to which he marched at the head of an army, composed of men as well as of women, all inspired with divine fury, armed with thyrsuses, and bearing cymbals, and other musical instruments. The leader was drawn in a chariot by a lion and a tiger, and was accompanied by Pan, Silenus, and all the satyrs. His conquests were easy and without bloodshed; the people easily submitted, and gratefully elevated to the rank of a god, the hero who taught them the use of the Vine, the cultivation of the earth, and the manner of making honey; amidst his benevolence to mankind, he was relentless in punishing all want of respect to his divinity. The refusal of Pentheus to acknowledge the godhead of Bacchus was fatal. He forbad his subjects to pay adoration to this new God, and when the Theban women had gone out of the city to celebrate his orgies, he ordered the God himself who conducted the religious multitude, to be seized. His orders were obeyed, but the doors of the prison in which Bacchus was confined, opened of their own accord. Pentheus became more irritated, and commanded his soldiers to destroy the band of Bacchanals. Bacchus, however, inspired the monarch himself with an ardent desire of witnessing the orgies.

Accordingly he hid himself in a wood on Mount Cithæron, from whence he hoped to view all the ceremonies unperceived. But his curiosity proved fatal; he was descried by the Bacchanals, who rushed upon him. His mother was the first to attack him, her example was instantly followed by his two sisters, and his body was torn to pieces.

As Bacchus was returning triumphantly in his ship, from the conquest we have recorded, crowned with vine leaves, and flushed with victory, in passing near a beautiful island, he heard a plaintive voice and beheld a female, who implored him to yield her his support.

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“Oh! think of Ariadne’s utter trance,
Crazed by the flight of that disloyal traitor,
Who left her gazing on the green expanse,
That swallowed up his track; oh! what could mate her
Even in the cloudy summit of her woe,
When o’er the far sea-brine she saw him go!

“For even now she bows and bends her gaze,
O’er the eternal waste, as if to sum
Its waves by weary thousands; all her days,
Dismally doom’d! meanwhile the billows come,
And coldly dabble with her quiet feet,
Like any bleaching stones they wont to greet.

    And thence into her lap have boldly sprung,
Washing her weedy tresses to and fro,
That round her crouching knees have darkly hung,
But she sits careless of waves’ ebb and flow:
Like a lone beacon on a desert coast
Showing where all her hope was wrecked and lost.”

It was Ariadne who addressed him, daughter of Memnos, whom Theseus, conqueror of the minotaur had abandoned after having seduced her. The God was so smitten with the candour and beauty of his youthful petitioner, that he married her, and offered to her acceptance a crown of seven stars, which after her death, was formed into a constellation.

“Where the rude waves in Dian’s harbour play
The fair forsaken Ariadne lay;
Here first the wretched maid was taught to prove,
The bitter pangs of ill-rewarded love,
Here saw just freed from a fallacious sleep,
Her Theseus flying o’er the distant deep;
Wistful she looked, nor what she saw, believed,
Hoped some mistake, and wished to be deceived:
While the false youth his way securely made,
His faith forgotten, and his vows unpaid;
Then sick with grief, and frantic with despair,
Her dress she rent, and tore her golden hair.
The gay tiara on her temples placed,
The fine wrought cincture that her bosom graced,
The fillets, which her heaving breasts confined,
Are rent, and scattered in the lawless wind.
Such trivial cares, alas! no room can find,
Her dear, deceitful Theseus fills her mind;
For him alone she grieves the live-long day,
Sickens in thought, and pines herself away.
To her relief the blooming Bacchus ran,
And with him brought his ever jovial train:
Satyrs and Fauns, in wanton chaces strove,
While the God sought his Ariadne’s love.
Around in wild distorted airs they fly,
And make the mountains echo to their cry:
Some brandish high an ivy woven spear,
The limbs, some scatter, of a victim steer:
Others in slippery folds of serpents shine,
Others apart, perform the rites divine.
To wicked men denied. These, tabors take,
These in their hands, the twinkling cymbals shake;
While many swell the horn in hoarser strain,
And make the shrill, discordant pipe complain,
While Bacchus, now enamoured of his prize,
Resolved to make her partner of the skies:
She, sweetly blushing, yielded to the God,
His car he mounted and sublimely rode:
And while with eager arms he grasped the fair,
Lashed his fleet tigers through the buxom air.”

It was not long before Bacchus formed an attachment to Erigone, the daughter of Icarius, and to accomplish his purpose took the form of a bunch of grapes; scarcely was it pressed upon her lips, than she felt thrilling through her frame, the effects of the sweet intoxication.

The shepherds residing in the neighbourhood of Athens, having come into the vine-yard of Icarius, drank to such excess of the juice which was so temptingly presented to their sight, that, in the fury of their intoxication, they slew their host, and threw him into a deep well. To expiate his crime, the Icarian games were instituted, and Mera the trusty dog of Icarius, having conducted Erigone to the fatal well, she hung herself in the first madness of her grief; while Mera, the faithful animal, overwhelmed with consternation at the loss of all he loved, died in sorrow. Icarius was changed into the star Bootes, Erigone took the sign of the Virgin, and Mera that of the Dog-star.

To console himself for his loss, the God of the Grape paid a visit to Proserpine, and the beautiful wife of Pluto, was by no means insensible to his merits; but after an absence of three years, Bacchus returned to Ariadne, whose truth and sweetness of disposition, were untouched by his forgetfulness; and from this time it is pleasing to relate that her wisdom and her faithfulness were rewarded by a constancy, which never afterwards deceived her.

One of the most pleasant stories in the whole range of Mythology, is related of the youth Bacchus.

When dwelling in the Isle of Naxos, where he had been for some years, becoming oppressed with the heat of the sun, he threw himself on the sea-shore, and fell fast asleep; some pirates who called there for water, struck with his extreme beauty, seized the dreaming boy with the determination of selling him for a slave: and so sound was the sleep of the God, that they had proceeded for a long space on their journey before he awoke.

Fully aware of his divine origin, the deity determined to make a sport of these bold robbers; and pretending the utmost terror, he implored them to say how he came there, and what they were going to do with him.

“You have nothing to fear,” was the reply, “only tell us what your wish is, and it shall be complied with.”

“I live at Naxos,” said the boy, “and there I would fain find myself.”

Perceiving that they continued to steer the wrong course for Naxos, Bacchus threw himself at their feet, as they made for shore.

“Those are not the trees of Naxos,” he exclaimed, “I do not see the hills and valleys of my native land.”

A speech like this, only drew forth the laughter of his captors, while they continued to row merrily to the shore with their prize.

“The beauteous youth now found himself betrayed,
And from the deck the rising waves surveyed,
And seemed to weep, and as he wept he said,
‘And do you thus my easy faith beguile?
Thus, do you bear me to my native isle?
Will such a multitude of men employ
Their strength against a weak defenceless boy?’”

But behold! the vessel becomes motionless; in vain they plied their oars, their bark moved not: and suddenly vine trees seemed to spring from the planks of the ship, mingling with the cordage and the sails, and twining round the oars, which also became immoveable.

Much as the sailors were astonished at this phenomenon, it was equalled by their horror, when Bacchus waved a spear he held in his hand, in answer to which, tigers and panthers, with others of the most savage beasts of the desert, seemed to swim round the vessel and wanton with the waters.

“The God we now behold with opened eyes,
An herd of spotted panthers round him lies,
In glaring forms: the grapy clusters spread,
On his fair brows and dangle on his head.”

Unable to bear the horror of the sight, the robbers threw themselves into the sea, and Bacchus turned them into Dolphins, then seizing the helm steered the ship towards Naxos, attended by his train of Dolphins and wild beasts!

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On the altar of Bacchus the goat was immolated, because he destroyed the bark and leaves of the vine, and the magpie, because wine makes the tongue of man to chatter like that of the bird. The ivy was consecrated to him, on account of its coolness, which dissipated the fumes of wine, and he carried in his hand a dart called the thyrsis, twined round with leaves of ivy, and of vine. The Bacchantes, his ordinary priestesses, bore also in their hands the thyrsis. His feasts were celebrated every three years, and were called orgies, from a word which signifies fury and impetuosity.

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The Bacchantes went into the mountains with torches in their hands, covered with the skins of tigers and panthers.

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“And as I sat over the light blue hills,
There came a noise of revellers; the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue,
    ’Twas Bacchus and his crew.
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din —
    ’Twas Bacchus and his kin.

“Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crowned with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
    To scare thee, melancholy!
O then, o then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June,
Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon,
    I rushed into the folly!

“Within his car aloft, young Bacchus stood.
Trifling his ivy dart, in dancing mood,
    With sidelong laughing,
And little rills of crimson wine embrued
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white,
    For Venus pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass,
    Tipsily quaffing.

“Whence came ye merry damsels! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
“Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
    Your lutes and gentler nature?
We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
    A conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him through kingdoms wide:
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be,
    To our wild minstrelsy!

“Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
    Your nuts in oak tree cleft?
For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath and yellow brooms,
    And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great God of breathless cups and chirping mirth,
Come hither lady fair, and joined be,
    To our mad minstrelsy.

“Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
    With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads — with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers, mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers’ toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
    Nor care for wind or tide.

“Mounted on panthers’ furs, and lions’ manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days’ journey in a moment done,
And always at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt, with spear and horn,
    On spleenful unicorn.

“I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown,
    Before the vine-wreathed crown;
I saw parched Abyssinia rouse and sing,
    To the silver cymbal’s ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
    Old Tartary the fierce,
The kings of eld their jewel sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
    And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink, turning pale!”

However, Bacchus was often found to be inspired by sentiments of a profoundly tender nature. Coressus, one of his favourite priests, having unhappily formed a violent attachment to a maiden named Callirhoe, found his love returned with hatred, and the more he sought to impress her with his affection, the more hateful did he become. Unable to gain her, the priest sought the aid of his God, who, to avenge his sufferings, struck the Calydonians with a continual drunkenness, many of them dying of it as of a disease. In the height of their misery they sought the oracle, which declared that their calamity would not cease, until Callirhoe was sacrificed, unless some one could be found to pay the penalty for her.

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The oracle must be obeyed: but who would be the substitute? Parents wept, and kindred mourned, but none would offer in her stead: and the hour arrived when the unhappy maiden, guilty only of not loving, was crowned and led to the altar, where he who had once been her lover, stood ready to be her slayer. At sight of her, his passion, which had slumbered for a while, burst forth anew, and in an agony of transport, rather than strike one so loved, he determined to be her substitute, and on the instant slew himself in her stead.

“Great father Bacchus, to my song repair,
For clustering grapes are thy peculiar care;
For thee large bunches load the bending vine,
And the last blessings of the year are thine;
To thee his joys the jolly autumn owes,
While the fermenting juice the vat o’erflows,
Come steep with me, my god; come drench all o’er
Thy limbs in wine, and drink at every pore!”
Thus Roman youth, derived from ruined Troy,
In rude Saturnian rhymes express their joy;
With taunts and laughter loud their audience please,
Deformed with vizards cut from bark of trees:
In jolly hymns they praise the god of wine,
Whose earthen images adorn the pine;
And there are hung on high, in honour of the vine
A madness so devout the vineyard fills,
In hollow valleys, and on rising hills,
On whate’er side he turns his honest face,
And dances in the wind, those fields are in his grace.
To Bacchus, therefore, let us tune our lays,
And in our mother tongue resound his praise.”

As Bacchus was the god of vintage, of wine and of drinkers, he is generally represented crowned with vine and ivy leaves, with a thyrsus in his hand. His figure is that of an effeminate young man, to denote the joys which commonly prevail at feasts; and sometimes an old man, to teach us that wine taken immoderately, will enervate us, consume our health, render us loquacious and childish, like old men, and unable to keep secrets.

Bacchus is sometimes represented like an infant, holding a thyrsus and clusters of grapes, with a horn.

His beauty is compared to that of Apollo, and like him, he is represented with fine hair, flowing loosely down his shoulders; the roundness of his limbs and visage, evidence the generous life he leads; while his smiling countenance and laughing eye, are meant to indicate the merry thoughts that are inspired by the juice of the grape. All writers agree in their delineation of the wild madness which distinguished his festivals: witness the following description of a pedestal, on which was an imitation of an altar to Bacchus.

“Under the festoons of fruits and flowers that grace the pedestal, the corners of which are ornamented by the sculls of goats, are sculptured some figures of mœnads, under the inspiration of the God. Nothing can be conceived more wild and terrible than their gestures, touching, as they do, the verge of distortion, into which their fine limbs and lovely forms are thrown. There is nothing, however, which exceeds the possibility of nature, though it borders on its utmost line.

“The tremendous spirit of superstition, aided by drunkenness, producing something beyond insanity, seems to have caught them in its whirlwinds, and to bear them over the earth, as the rapid volutions of a tempest have the everchanging trunk of a waterspout; or as the torrent of a mountain river whirls the autumnal leaves resistlessly along, in its full eddies.

“The hair, loose and floating, seems caught in the tempest of their own tumultuous motion; their heads are thrown back, leaning with a kind of delirium upon their necks, and looking up to heaven, whilst they totter and stumble, even in the energy of their tempestuous dance.

“One represents a faun, with the head of Pentheus in one hand, and in the other a great knife. Another has a spear with its pine cane, which was the thyrsus; another dances with mad voluptuousness; the fourth is beating a kind of tambourine.

“This was indeed a monstrous superstition, even in Greece, where it was alone capable of combining ideal beauty, and poetical and abstract enthusiasm, with the wild errors from which it sprung. In Rome it had a more familiar, wicked, and dry appearance; it was not suited to the severe and exact apprehensions of the Romans, and their strict morals were violated by it, and sustained a deep injury, little analagous to its effect upon the Greeks, who turned all things — superstition, prejudice, murder, madness — to beauty.”


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Venus. §

Venus, one of the most celebrated deities of the ancients, was the goddess of beauty, the mother of love, the queen of laughter, the mistress of the graces, and the patroness of pleasure. Some mythologists speak of more than one. Of these, however, the Venus sprung from the froth of the sea

“Where the moist Zephyrs to the favoured shore,
From Ocean’s foam the lovely goddess bore,”

after the mutilated body of Uranus had been thrown there by Saturn, is the most known, and of her in particular, ancient mythologists, as well as painters, make mention. She arose from the sea near the island of Cyprus,

    “Cytherea! whom the favoured earth
Of Cyprus claims, exulting in thy birth
Bright queen! adorned with every winning grace,
The smile enchanting, and the blooming face.
Goddess! o’er Cyprus fragrant groves who reigns,
And Salamis high cultivated plains.”

Hither she was wafted by Zephyr in a sea-shell, which served as a chariot, and received on the shore by the Seasons, daughters of Jupiter and Themis.

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She was soon after carried to heaven, where all the gods admired her beauty, and all the goddesses became jealous of her personal charms. Jupiter even attempted to gain her affections, but Venus refused, and the god, to fulfil her destiny, gave her in marriage to Vulcan, the most ugly and deformed of the Gods. This marriage did not prevent the goddess of love from gratifying her inclinations, and her conduct frequently tended to cast dishonour on her husband. Her love for Mars is perhaps the most notorious on account of the disgrace which accompanied it, while her great partiality for Adonis, induced her to abandon her seat in Olympus. This mortal, who was fond of the chase, was often cautioned by his mistress not to hunt wild beasts, fearful of his being killed in the attempt; this advice he however slighted, and at last received a mortal wound from a wild boar which he had speared; and great was the misery evinced by Venus at his loss.

    “Over one shoulder doth she hang her head;
Dumbly she passions, frantickly she doteth,
    She thinks he could not die, he is not dead;
Her voice is stopped, her joints forget to bow,
Her eyes are mad, that they have wept till now.
   “She looks upon his lips, and they are pale;
    She takes him by the hand, that is cold;
She whispers in his ears a heavy tale,
    As if they heard the woeful words she told:
She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes,
Where, lo! two lamps, burnt out, in darkness lies.”

Venus, after shedding many tears at his death, changed him into a flower.

“And in his blood, that on the ground lay spilled,
A purple flower sprung up, checkered with white;
Resembling well his pale cheeks and the blood,
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.”

Proserpine is said to have restored him to life, on condition of his spending six months of the year with her, and six with Venus, but this is a fable meant to apply to the alternate return of summer and winter.

    “There is a flower, Anemone,
    The mourner’s path it cheers:
Lo! Venus, bowed with agony,
By the slain huntsman bends the knee: —
    It springs, a child of tears.

    “Then hither, meekest flower! — here blow
    With Hyacinth: — whate’er
The legend, ’tis of ruth, of woe:
Companions meet, together grow,
    Twin nurslings of Despair.”

The affection also which Venus entertained for Anchises, a youth distinguished by the most exquisite beauty, again drew her from heaven, and induced her often to visit, in all her glory, the woods and solitary retreats of Mount Ida.

“She comes! the Goddess; through the whispering air,
Bright as the morn, descends her blushing car,
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers entwines,
And gemmed with flowers, the silken harness shines;
The golden bits with flowery studs are decked,
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.
And now on earth the silver axle rings,
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs;
Light from her airy seat the Goddess bounds,
And steps celestial, press the pansied grounds.”

Anchises, however, though warned by her not to speak of their intimacy, boasted of it one day at a feast, and was struck by thunder as a punishment for his disobedience. The power of Venus over the heart, was supported and assisted by a celebrated girdle, called zone by the Greeks, and cestus by the Latins. This mysterious girdle which gave beauty, grace, and elegance when worn even by the most deformed, was irresistible when around beauty: it excited love, and kindled even extinguished flames. Juno herself was indebted to this powerful ornament in gaining the favours of Jupiter; and Venus, though possessed of every charm, no sooner put on her cestus, than Vulcan, unable to resist the influence of love, forgot all the intrigues and infidelities of his wife, and fabricated arms even for her illegitimate children.

“In this was every art and every charm,
To win the wisest, and the coldest warm,
Kind love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
The kind deceit, the still reviving fire,
Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke and eloquence of eyes.”

The contest of Venus for the golden apple is well known. The Goddess of Discord, not having been invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, evinced her disappointment, by throwing among the assembly of the gods, who were celebrating the nuptials, a golden apple, on which was inscribed, Detur pulchriori. All the goddesses claimed it as their own, and the contention at first became general; however, Juno, Venus, and Minerva, were left at last to decide between them, their respective right to beauty. Neither of the gods was willing, by deciding in favour of one, to draw on him the enmity of the remaining two, they therefore appointed Paris to the unenviable task.

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The goddesses appeared before their judge, and endeavoured, by profuse offers, to influence his decision. Juno promised a kingdom, Minerva glory, and Venus the fairest woman in the world for a wife. When Paris had heard their several claims, he adjudged the prize to Venus, and gave her the apple, to which she seems entitled from her beauty.

The worship of Venus was universally established; statues and temples were erected to her in every kingdom; and the ancients were fond of paying homage to a divinity who presided over love, and by whose influence alone, mankind existed. In her sacrifices, and at the festivals celebrated in her honour, too much licentiousness prevailed: victims, however, were seldom offered to her, or her altars stained with blood. The rose, the myrtle, and the apple, were sacred to Venus; among birds, the dove, the swan, and the sparrow, were her favourites. The goddess of beauty was represented among the ancients in different forms. Among the most highly valued, was that in the temple of Jupiter Olympus, where she was represented by Phidias, as rising from the sea, and crowned by the goddess of Persuasion.

———— “ Phidias his keen chisel swayed
To carve the marble of the matchless maid,
That all the youth of Athens, in amaze,
At that cold beauty, with sad tears did gaze.”

She is generally imaged with her son Cupid, in a chariot drawn by doves, or at other times by swans or sparrows. The surnames of the goddess are numerous, and serve to show how well established her worship was all over the earth. She was called Cypria, because particularly worshipped in the island of Cyprus; and received the name of Paphia, because at Paphos, she had a temple with an altar, on which it was asserted rain never fell, though exposed in the open air.

    “O queen of love! whose smile all bright
    Glads Paphos and the Cyprian isle,
    Forsake those loved retreats awhile,
And to the temple bend thy flight,
Where Glycera, the young, the fair,
    Invokes thy presence high,
While clouds of incense fill the air,
    And waft her suppliant sigh.

    “Bring in thy train the vengeful boy,
    And Graces (while their robes loose flow
    Gives glances of a breast of snow;)
Wantoning in their thoughtless joy.
Let Hermes grace the jocund scene,
    And youth so gay and free;
For what is youth, though fair, oh! queen,
    If destitute of thee?”

The Cnidians worshipped her under the name of Venus Acræa, of Doris, and of Euploca. In her temple of Euploca, at Cnidos, was the most admired of her statues, being the most perfect piece of Praxiteles. It was formed of white marble, and appeared so much like life, that, according to some historians, a youth of the place secretly introduced himself into her temple, to offer his vows of adoration before the lifeless image.

Hero, in pursuit of whom, Leander braved the Hellespont, and whose touching story will be more minutely given hereafter, was one of the priestesses of Venus, and it was in this occupation that Leander first saw and loved her: a love which led to results so disastrous.

“Come hither, all sweet maidens, soberly,
Down looking, aye, and with a chastened light,
Hid in the fringes of your eye-lids white,
And meekly let your fair hands joined be,
As if so gentle that ye could not see
Untouched, a victim of your beauty bright,
Sinking away to his young spirit’s night,
Sinking bewildered mid the dreary sea:
’Tis young Leander toiling to his death;
Nigh swooning, he doth purse his weary lips
For Hero’s cheek, and smiles against her smile.
O horrid dream! see how his body dips,
Dead — heavy; arms and shoulders gleam awhile:
He’s gone — up bubbles all his amorous breath.”

Venus was also surnamed Cytheræa, because she was the chief deity of Cythera; Phillommeis, as the queen of laughter; Tellesigama, because she presided over marriage; Verticordia, because she could turn the hearts of women to cultivate chastity; Basilea, as the queen of love; Myrtea, from the myrtle being sacred to her; Mechanitis, in allusion to the many artifices practised in love; and also goddess of the sea, because born in the bosom of the waters;

“Behold a nymph arise, divinely fair,
Whom to Cythera first the surges bear;
Hence is she borne, safe o’er the deeps profound,
To Cyprus, watered by the waves around:
And here she walks, endowed with every grace
To charm, the goddess blooming in her face;
Her looks demand respect, and where she goes
Beneath her tender feet the herbage blows;
And Aphrodite, from the foam, her name,
Among the race of gods and men the same;
And Cytheræa from Cythera came;
Whence, beauteous crown’d, she safely cross’d the sea,
And call’d, O Cyprus, Cypria from thee;
Nor less by Philomeda known on earth,
A name derived immediate from her birth:
Her first attendants to the immortal choir
Were Love, the oldest god, and fair Desire;
The virgin whisper, and the tempting smile,
The sweet allurements that can hearts beguile,
Soft blandishments which never fail to move,
Friendship, and all the fond deceits in love,
Constant her steps pursue, or will she go
Among the gods above, or men below.”

As rising from the sea, the name of Anadyomine is applied to her, and rendered immortal by the celebrated painting of Apelles, which represented her issuing from the bosom of the waves, and wringing her tresses on her shoulder.

Description of the Anadyomine Venus.

“She has just issued from the bath, and yet is animated with the enjoyment of it. She seems all soft and mild enjoyment, and the curved lines of her fine limbs, flow into each other with a never ending sinuosity of sweetness. Her face expresses a breathless yet passive and innocent voluptuousness, free from affectation. Her lips, without the sublimity of lofty and impetuous passion, the grandeur of enthusiastic imagination of the Apollo of the capital, or the union of both like the Apollo Belvidere, have the tenderness of arch, yet pure and affectionate desire; and the mode in which the ends of the mouth are drawn in, yet lifted or half opened, with the smile that for ever circles round them, and the tremulous curve into which they are wrought, by inextinguishable desire, and the tongue lying against the lower lip, as in the listlessness of passive joy, express love, still love!

“Her eyes seem heavy and swimming with pleasure, and her small forehead fades on both sides into that sweet swelling, and then declension of the bone over the eye, in the mode which expresses simple and tender feelings.

“The neck is full and panting, as with the aspiration of delight, and flows with gentle curves into her perfect form.

“Her form is indeed perfect. She is half sitting and half rising from a shell, and the fullness of her limbs, and their complete roundness and perfection, do not diminish the vital energy with which they seem to be animated. The position of the arms, which are lovely beyond imagination, is natural, unaffected and easy. This perhaps is the finest personification of Venus, the deity of superficial desire, in all antique statuary. Her pointed and pear-like person, ever virgin, and her attitude modesty itself.”

——— “Breathe softly, flutes;
Be tender of your strings, ye soothing lutes;
Nor be the trumpet heard! O vain, O vain!
Nor flowers budding in an April rain,
Nor breath of sleeping dove, nor river’s flow —
No, nor the Œolian twang of Love’s own bow,
Can mingle music fit for the soft ear
Of goddess Cytheræa!
Yet deign, white queen of beauty, thy fair eyes
On our souls’ sacrifice.”

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Vulcan. §

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Vulcan, the son of Jupiter and Juno, was thrown from heaven by the former, for attempting to assist the queen of Olympus when under her husband’s displeasure. The whirlwind employed by Jove, precipitated him into the island of Lemnos.

———— “I felt his matchless might,
Hurled headlong downward from the ethereal height;
Tossed all the day in rapid circles round;
Nor till the sun descended, touched the ground;
Breathless I fell in giddy motion lost;
The Sinthians raised me on the Lemnian coast.”

He fell with sufficient velocity to break his thigh, an accident, which, as it made him lame, did not at all tend to render his appearance less ugly than it is usually described.

—————— “His hand was known
In heaven, by many a towered structure high,
Where sceptred angels held their residence,
And sate as princes;
Nor was his name unheard, or unadored,
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land
Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell
From heaven they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o’er the chrystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer’s day; and with the setting sun,
Dropped from the zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos, the Ægean isle.”

He was educated by the nymphs of the sea, and trained in his youth in the art of working metals, and was able to cultivate those mechanical abilities which he is represented to possess.

———————— “He taught
Man’s earth-born race, that, like the bestial brood,
Haunted the rugged cave, or sheltering wood,
Th’ inventive powers of dædal art to know,
And all the joys from social life that flow;
In search no more of casual seats to roam,
But rear with skilful hand the lasting dome.”

In his labours he was assisted by the Cyclops, who are said by some, to have possessed but one eye, placed in the middle of the forehead. They inhabited the western part of the island of Sicily; but the tradition of their only having one eye originated, in all probability, from their custom of wearing small bucklers of steel which covered their faces, with a small aperture in the middle, corresponding exactly to the eye. They were sometimes reckoned among the Gods, and had a temple at Corinth, where worship and sacrifices were solemnly offered.

“The Cyclops brethren, arrogant of heart,
Who forged the lightning shaft, and gave to Jove
His thunder; they were like unto the gods,
Save that a single ball of sight was fixed
In their mid forehead. Cyclops was their name,
From that round eye-ball in their brow infixed;
And strength, and force, and manual craft were theirs.”
         “Thou trusty pine!
“Prop of my God-like steps, I lay thee by —
Bring me a hundred reeds of decent growth
To make a pipe for my capacious mouth —”

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The first fruit of the mechanical skill of Vulcan, was invented as a punishment for Juno, to whom, as it was through her he fell from heaven, he attributed his deformity. This was a throne of gold, with secret springs, on which the goddess no sooner sate, than she found herself unable to move. In vain the Gods attempted to deliver her; with Vulcan, only rested the secret and the power to disenthral her; and as the price of her freedom, Juno promised to procure him a wife from amongst the heavenly conclave. Vulcan fixed his desires on Minerva; the Goddess of Wisdom, however, laughed his suit to scorn, and Vulcan is represented as having been very violent at his rejection.

Juno then pressed the suit of her son on Venus, whose power was already established at the celestial court. The beautiful Goddess rejected him with horror, and Juno overwhelmed her with supplications; but as these could not subdue the ugliness of the suitor, she implored Jupiter to exercise his power; and with all the determination of a Goddess, poured so many entreaties, accompanied with tears, that the king of heaven must have complied, had it not been for the more touching and feminine attributes of Venus, the soft eyes of whom filled with tears, and whose downy cheek grew pale, at the idea of the union.

But Destiny, the irrevocable, interposed, and pronounced the decree by which the most beautiful of the Goddesses, was united to the most unsightly of the Gods. During the festival which followed their union, the altar of Hymen was that which received all the offerings.

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A marriage thus assorted, however, was not likely to prove a happy one, and ere long it was followed by a discovery which created an ecstacy among the scandal-mongers of Olympus. This was no less than an improper liason between Mars, God of War, and the charming Venus. Vulcan, suspecting the infidelity of his wife, formed an invisible net around them, and drew upon the lovers the laughter of the remaining divinities. Mars, betwixt rage and confusion, retired for a time to Thrace, and Venus took refuge in the isle of Cyprus, where she gave birth to Cupid.

Vulcan, as we have recorded, was celebrated for the ingenious works and automatical figures which he made, and many speak of two golden statues, which not only seemed animated, but which walked by his side, and assisted him in working metals.

“Then from the anvil the lame artist rose,
Wide with distorted leg, oblique he goes;
And stills the bellows, and in order laid,
Locks in their chests his instruments of trade:
With his huge sceptre graced, and red attire,
Came halting forth the sovereign of the fire:
The monarch’s steps two female forms uphold,
That moved and breathed in animated gold.
To whom was voice, and sense, and science given
Of works divine, such wonders are in heaven!”

The most known of the works of Vulcan, which were presented to mortals, are the arms of Achilles, those of Æneas, and the shield of Hercules described by Hesiod. The chariot of the sun was also by this deity.

“A golden axle did the work uphold,
Gold was the beam, the wheels were orbed with gold:
The spokes in rows of silver pleased the sight,
The seat with parti-coloured gems was bright.”

The worship of Vulcan was well established, particularly in Egypt, at Athens, and at Rome. It was customary to burn the whole victim to him and not reserve part of it, as in the immolations to the remainder of the Gods. He was represented as blowing with his nervous arm the fires of his forges. His vast breast hairy, and his forehead blackened with smoke; while his enormous shoulders seemed borrowed from the Cyclops. Some represent him lame and deformed, holding a hammer in his hand, ready to strike; while with the other, he turns a thunderbolt on his anvil, for which an eagle waits by his side to carry it to Jupiter.

He appears on some monuments with a long beard, dishevelled hair, half naked, and a small round cap on his head, while he holds a hammer and pincers in his hand.

“——— The Vulcanean dome, eternal frame,
High, eminent, amidst the works divine,
Where Heavens far beaming mansions shine,
There the lame architect the goddess found
Obscure in smoke, his forges flaming round;
While bathed in sweat, from fire to fire he flew,
And puffing loud, the roaring bellows blew.”

It is stated that Bacchus made him intoxicated after he had been expelled from Olympus, and then prevailed on him to return, where he was reconciled to his parents. He seems, however, to have been retained there more for ridicule than any other purpose; and was indeed the great butt of Olympus, even his wife laughing at his deformities, and mimicking his lameness to gain the smiles of her lovers.

“Vulcan with awkward grace, his office plies,
And unextinguished laughter shakes the skies.”

In the month of August, the Vulcanalia took place at Rome, streets were illuminated, fires kindled, and animals thrown into the flames as a sacrifice. Romulus caused a temple to be erected in his honour, and Tarquin presented to him the arms and spoils of the conquered; and to him also, was dedicated the lion.

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Cupid. §

This Deity, “the boy-god,” as poets love to call him, was the offspring of Venus and Mars; when Venus had given birth to him, Jupiter foresaw the mischief he would create in the world, as well as in his more immediate kingdom; he therefore banished him from his court, and menaced him with his wrath, should he return. The Goddess conveyed him to the isle of Cyprus, where he was suckled by the wild beasts of the forest.

No sooner had strength come with years, than Cupid, forming a bow of the ash tree, and arrows of the cypress, ungratefully turned against the animals who had supported him.

“His quiver, sparkling bright with gems and gold,
From his fair plumed shoulder graceful hung,
And from its top in brilliant chords enrolled,
Each little vase resplendently was slung,
Still as he flew, around him sportive clung
His frolic train of winged Zephyrs light,
Wafting the fragrance which his tresses flung:
While odours dropped from every ringlet bright,
And from his blue eyes beamed ineffable delight.”
Mrs. Tighe.

Experience gave confidence to the youthful deity, and when an opportunity offered, he sent his arrows to the hearts of men, so bold did he even become, that he ventured to dart one, dipped in the subtle poison against his mother.

    “Love! oh! he breathes and rambles round the world
    An idol and idolator: he flies
Touching, with passing beauty, ringlets curled,
    Ripe lips, and bosoms white, and starry eyes,
And wheresoe’er his colours are unfurled,
    Full many a young and panting spirit lies.”
Barry Cornwall.

The nymph Perestere felt his vengeance in a different manner. Cupid was wandering with his mother over a meadow, beautifully enamelled with flowers “all fragrance and of various hues,” when, in a playful mood, the youthful deity challenged Venus to see which could gather the greatest number in the least time. Cupid would have been triumphant, had not Perestere, who accompanied them, attempted to win the favour of the goddess, by assisting to fill her basket. In revenge, Cupid changed her into a dove.

The beautiful fable of the winged deity’s love for Psyche, is the most pleasing of those related of him.

The nymph Psyche was one of those exquisite beings, so seldom met with in the present degenerate days; and even then, so rare was her beauty, that the people of earth looked on her almost as a divinity, and in some instances would have worshipped her in the belief that she was Venus, visiting the earth.

    “In her bower she lay, like a snow-wreath flung,
    Mid flowers of brightest hue:
Pouting roses about her hung,
Violets ’neath her mantle sprung,
    Shedding their light of blue.

    “Pillowed on one fair arm she lay,
    Beneath her silver veil;
Her golden locks in wanton play,
As sunbeams through the mist make way,
    Stole round her bosom pale!

    “Falling waters afar were heard,
    To lull the slumb’ring fair:
Yet ever and aye, her soul seemed stirred,
In dove-like murmurs, as if the bird
    Of dreams sat brooding there.

    “All rude winds were hushed to rest;
    Only the enamoured south,
Wantoning round her swan-like breast —
The silken folds of her azure vest
    Kissed with its fragrant mouth.”

To one so jealous as Venus, this homage paid to Psyche was an enormous crime, and she determined to take vengeance for the offence, by punishing her in the tenderest part of a woman’s nature; for she commanded Cupid to make her fall deeply in love, with the ugliest being he could find.

With the intention of fulfilling this commission, Cupid visited Psyche, but so beautiful was the being he came to see, that he found himself compelled to pay the same homage to her which others had done; and finished by becoming deeply enamoured himself, as he saw

“Upon her purple couch sweet Psyche laid,
Her radiant lips a downy slumber sealed,
In light transparent veil alone arrayed,
Her bosom’s opening charms were half revealed,
And scarce the lucid folds her polished limbs concealed.

“He half relenting on her beauties gazed,
Just then awaking with a sudden start,
Her opening eye in humid lustre blazed,
Unseen he still remained, enchanted and amazed.”
Mrs. Tighe.

Fearful, however, of his mother’s displeasure, he carried on the affair with great secrecy, and by his divine power, conveyed her to a palace he had formed in a region full of beauty: here, when the shadows of night had visited the earth, Cupid sought the presence of his love.

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“——— Who first told how Psyche went
On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment?
What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips
First touched; ……………………………………
……………………… With all their sighs
And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:
The silver lamp — the ravishment — the wonder —
The darkness — loneliness, and fearful thunder.”

But the happiness which had fallen to the lot of the beautiful Psyche, was too delightful and too pure, not to meet with something which should realize the after thought of the poet, that “the course of true love never did run smooth.” The restless nature of the nymph would not allow her to remain quietly in possession or her beautiful lot, or in the enchanted place which the power of the God had raised for her, though few could be so delightful, when,

“In broad pinions from the realms above,
Descending Cupid seeks the Cyprian grove;
To his wide arms enamoured Psyche springs
And clasps her lover with Aurelian wings,
A purple sash across his shoulder bends,
And fringed with gold the quivered shafts suspends;
The bending bow obeys the silken string,
And, as he steps, the silver arrows ring.
Thin folds of gauze, with dim transparence flow,
O’er her fair forehead and her neck of snow;
The winding woof her graceful limbs surrounds
Swells in the breeze, and sweeps the velvet grounds;
As hand in hand along the flowery meads,
His blushing bride the quivered hero leads;
Charmed round their heads pursuing Zephyrs throng,
And scatter roses as they move along;
Bright beams of spring in soft effusion play,
And halcyon hours invite them on their way.
Delighted Hymen hears their whispered vows,
And binds his chaplets round their polished brows,
Guides to his altar, ties the flowery bands,
And as they kneel unites their willing hands.”

The love which had fallen upon Psyche, and the affection which dropped in honied words from Cupid’s lips, was so endearing, that the nymph longed to communicate the delightful story of her good fortune to her less gifted, but envious sisters.

She therefore told them of the glories of her marriage; though her bridegroom had never made himself visible to her, and though to her he had no name save that fond one of husband, yet still she could talk of the beauties of her magic palace, of the musical voice of her invisible lover, and of the heart-touching and passionate endearments he bestowed on her.

But all this was no pleasant intelligence to them, for with the malice of ill-nature, they determined to be revenged on her for a happiness which was no fault. They affected to believe that her husband had wicked designs in his concealment, and that he would desert his Psyche if he became visible to her — or they asserted that they had no doubt though the lips and skin of this mysterious being seemed so soft to their sister, it was by the power of enchantment, and that the light would reveal a monster whose presence would astonish no less than it would frighten: and succeeded in persuading her, by their next meeting, to provide herself with the means of procuring a light, and a dagger to stab him, should he prove the monstrous being they averred.

The next night came, and Psyche, when she heard the thrilling tones of her husband’s voice, could scarcely keep her secret. Dreading the anger of her sisters, however, she waited until Cupid was locked in slumber, and from its hiding place procured the light and the dagger.

—————— “She softly rose,
And seized the lamp — where it obscurely lay,
With hand too rashly daring to disclose
The sacred veil which hung mysterious o’er her woes.”

For a time the nymph scarcely dared to cast a glance on the being she was so anxious to view; and stood half shrinking from the desired sight.

—— “In her spiritual divinity,
Young Psyche stood the sleeping Eros by,
What time she to the couch had, daring, trod;
And, by the glad light, saw her bridegroom God!
O’er him she knelt enamoured, and her sigh
Breathed near and nearer to his silent mouth,
Rich with the hoarded odours of the south!”

But who can conceive her rapturous delight, when, instead of the fearful being she dreaded, she beheld one whose every limb, and every feature, shone with a radiant and celestial beauty.

“All imperceptibly to human touch,
His wings display celestial essence light;
The clear effulgence of the blaze is such,
The brilliant plumage shines so heavenly bright,
That mortal eyes turn dazzled from the sight;
A youth he seems in manhood’s freshest years;
Round his fair neck, as changing with delight,
Each golden curl resplendently appears,
Or shades his darker brow, which grace majestic wears.”

Her eyes were rivetted on his exquisite form, until they forgot all else; even her love, her kindness, and her passionate endearments, all vanished in that long, earnest, and delighted gaze.

“Speechless with awe; in transport strangely lost,
Long Psyche stood, with fixed, adoring eye;
Her limbs immoveable, her senses tossed
Between amazement, fear, and ecstacy,
She hangs enamoured o’er the deity.”

In the trembling transport which pervaded her, however, there fell a drop of burning wax from the light which she held, on the marble-like shoulder of Cupid, and he awoke.

“From her trembling hand extinguished falls
The fatal lamp. He starts — and suddenly
Tremendous thunders echo through the halls,
While ruins hideous crash bursts o’er the affrighted walls.”

The spell was broken — the palace vanished — the God disappeared, and Psyche, mourning in bitter tears for her foolish curiosity, found herself standing on a desolate rock.

“Dread horror seizes on her sinking heart,
A mortal chillness shudders at her breast,
Her soul shrinks, fainting, from death’s icy dart,
The groan scarce uttered, dies, but half expressed,
And down she sinks in deadly swoon oppressed:
But when at length, awaking from her trance,
The terrors of her fate stood all confessed,
In vain she casts around her timid glance,
The rudely frowning scenes, her former joys enhance.

“No traces of those joys, alas! remain;
A desert solitude alone appears.
No verdant shade relieves the sandy plain,
The wide spread waste, no gentle fountain cheers;
One barren face the dreary prospect wears;
Nought thro’ the vast horizon meets her eye
To calm the dismal tumult of her fears,
No trace of human habitation nigh,
A sandy wild beneath, above a threatening sky.”

The abandoned Psyche attempted to drown herself in the neighbouring waters. The stream, fearing the power of the God, returned her to earth upon a bank of flowers.

She then went through the world in search of her lost love, persecuted, and subjected to numerous trials by Venus; who, determined on destroying, sent her to Proserpine with a box to request some of her beauty. The mission was accomplished in safety, but Psyche nearly fell a victim to curiosity and avarice; for she opened the box to look at its contents, and endeavoured to take a portion of it to herself, that she might appear more beautiful in the eyes of her lost husband. On opening it, a deep slumber fell on the unwary mortal, and she lay upon the earth, until Cupid, luckily escaping from the confinement to which his mother had subjected him, found his lost love, and reproached her for her curiosity.

In addition to this, Venus imposed upon Psyche the most difficult tasks; she poured upon the nymph torments the most excruciating, and took delight in rendering her miserable, who, not content with being taken for the goddess of beauty, had concluded by seducing from her the duty of her son.

Jupiter, however, was moved to pity by this relentless rigour, and by the touching nature of the story; he took her up to heaven, restored Cupid to his place, and making Psyche immortal, gave her in marriage to the God of love, in the presence of the celestial inhabitants. To use the elegant language of Mr. Keightley,

“The hours shed roses through the sky, the Graces sprinkled the halls of heaven with fragrant odours, Apollo plays on his lyre, the Arcadian God on his reeds, the Muses sing in chorus, while Venus dances with grace and elegance, to celebrate the nuptials of her son.”

“So pure, so soft, with sweet attraction shone
Fair Psyche, kneeling at the ethereal throne;
Won with coy smiles the admiring court of Jove,
And warmed the bosom of unconquered love.
Beneath a moving shade of fruits and flowers,
Onward they march to Hymen’s sacred bowers;
With lifted torch he lights the festive strain,
Sublime, and leads them in his golden chain;
Joins the fond pair, indulgent to their vows,
And hides with mystic veil their blushing brows.
Round their fair forms their mingling arms they fling,
Meet with warm lip, and clasp with nestling wing.
Hence plastic nature, as oblivion whelms
Her fading forms, repeoples all her realms;
Soft joys disport on purple plumes unfurled,
And love and beauty rule the willing world.”

Thus Cupid was at length re-united to his beloved Psyche, and their loves were speedily crowned by the birth of a child, whom his parents named Pleasure.

Psyche. §

    “Oh! Goddess, hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
    By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung,
    Even into thine own soft-couched ear:
Surely I dreamt to day, or did I see
    The winged Psyche with awakened eyes?
I wandered in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side,
    In deepest grass, beneath the whispering roof
    Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
        A brooklet, scarce espied:
’Mid hushed, cool rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
    Blue, silver white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm breathing on the bedded grass;
    Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
    Their lips touched not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft handed slumber,
And ready still, past kisses to outnumber,
    At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
        The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
    His Psyche true!

    “O latest born and loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phœbus sapphire-regioned star
    Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
Fairer than these, tho’ temple thou hast none,
        Nor altar heaped with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
        Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet,
    From chain swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
    Of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming.
O brightest! though too late for antique vows
    Too, too late for the fond, believing lyre
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
    Holy the air, the water and the fire.”

Of this deity, poets have written until the God, become identified with the passion, which is addressed by many as immortal.

        “They sin who tell us Love can die;
        With life all other passions fly,
        All others are but vanity;
    In heaven ambition cannot dwell
    Nor avarice in the vaults of hell:
Earthly these passions of the earth
They perish where they have their birth;
    But Love is indestructible:
Its holy flame for ever burneth,
From heaven it came, to heaven returneth.
    Too oft on earth a troubled guest,
    At times deceived, at times opprest,
        It here is tried and purified,
    Then hath in heaven its perfect rest:
        It soweth here with toil and care,
        But the harvest time of Love is there.”

Cupid is usually represented as a winged infant, naked, armed with a bow and quiver full of arrows. On gems and all other pieces of antiquity, he is represented as amusing himself with childish diversions. Sometimes, like a conqueror, he marches triumphantly with a helmet on his head, a spear on his shoulder, and a buckler on his arm, intimating that even Mars himself owns the superiority of love.

“To Love, the soft and blooming child,
I touch the harp in descant wild;
To Love, the babe of Cyprian bowers,
The boy who breathes and blushes flowers,
To Love, for heaven and earth adore him,
And gods and mortals bow before him!”

Among the ancients, he was worshipped with the same solemnity as his mother Venus; and as his influence was extended over the heavens, the sea and the earth, and even the empire of the dead, his divinity was universally acknowledged, and vows, prayers and sacrifices, were daily offered to him.

————— “Bright-winged child!
Who has another care when thou hast smiled?
Unfortunates on earth, we see at last
All death-shadows, and glooms that overcast
Our spirits, fanned away by thy light pinions.
O sweetest essence! sweetest of all minions!
God of warm pulses, and dishevelled hair;
Dear unseen light in darkness! eclipser
Of light in light! delicious poisoner!
Thy venomed goblet will we quaff, until
We fill — we fill!”

One of the most beautiful of his temples was built within a myrtle grove, the God being extended in the attitude of a sleeping child, under the title of L’Amore Dominatore.

“They built a temple for the God,
    ’Twas in a myrtle grove,
Where the sweet bee and butterfly,
    Vied for each blossom’s love.

“I looked upon the altar, — there
    The pictured semblance lay,
Of him the temple’s lord, it shone
    More beautiful than day.

“It was a sleeping child, as fair
    As the first-born of spring:
Like Indian gold waved the bright curls,
    In many a sunny ring.

“I heard them hymn his name, his power,
    I heard them, and I smiled:
How could they say the earth was ruled,
    By but a sleeping child?

“I went then forth into the world,
    To see what might be there;
And there I heard a voice of woe,
    Of weeping, and despair.

“I saw a youthful warrior stand
    In his first light of fame,
His native city, filled the air
    With her deliverer’s name:

“I saw him hurry from the crowd,
    And fling his laurel crown,
In weariness, in hopelessness,
    In utter misery down.

“And what the sorrow, then I asked.
    Can thus the warrior move,
To scorn his meed of victory?
    They told me it was Love!

“I sought the Forum, there was one,
    With dark and haughty brow,
His voice was as the trumpet’s tone,
    Mine ear rings with it now.

“They quailed before his flashing eye,
    They watched his lightest word:
When suddenly that eye was dim,
    That voice no longer heard.

“I looked upon his lonely hour,
    The weary solitude:
When over dark, and bitter thoughts,
    The sick hearts’ left to brood.

“I marked the haughty spirit’s strife,
    To rend its bonds in vain:
Again I heard the cause of ill,
    And heard loves name again.

“I saw an Urn, and round it hung,
    An April diadem
Of flowers, telling they mourned one,
    Faded and fair like them.

“I turned to tales of other days,
    They spoke of breath and bloom:
And proud hearts that were bowed by love,
    Into an early tomb.

“I heard of every suffering,
    That on this earth can be:
How can they call a sleeping child,
    A likeness, love, of thee?

“They cannot paint thee, let them dream
    A dark and nameless thing:
Why give the likeness of the dove,
    Where is the serpent’s sting?
L. E. L.

We cannot better conclude our account of this important Deity, than by the following epigram, written under one of his statues.

“Whoe’er thou art, thy master see,
Who was, or is, — or is to be.”

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Minerva. §

Minerva, the Goddess of wisdom, war, and all the liberal arts, came forth, armed and grown up, from her father’s brain, and was immediately admitted into the association of the Gods, becoming one of the most faithful counsellors of her father. She was indeed the only one of all the divinities whose authority, and consequence, were equal to those of Jupiter.

“From Jove’s awful head sprang forth to light,
In golden panoply superbly dight;
And while the glittering spear thy hands essayed,
Olympus trembled at the martial maid.
Affrighted earth sounds from her deepest caves,
And swell of Ocean tides the sable waves;
The turgid billows sink; in heaven’s high plains
His steeds the son of Hyperion reins,
Till Pallas lays her arms divine aside,
While Jove his daughter views with conscious pride.”

The strife of this Goddess with Neptune is worthy attention: each of them claimed the right of giving a name to the capital of Cecropia, and the assembly of the Gods decided the dispute by promising preference to whichever could produce the most useful and necessary present to the inhabitants of the earth.

Neptune, upon hearing this, struck the ground with his trident, and immediately a horse issued therefrom. Minerva produced the olive, and obtained the victory by the unanimous voice of the gods, who considered the olive, as the emblem of peace, to be far preferable to the horse, the symbol of war and bloodshed. The victorious deity called the capital Athenæ, and became the tutelar divinity of the place.

————— “The sandals of celestial mould,
Fledged with ambrosial plumes and rich with gold
Surround her feet: with these sublime she sails
Th’ aerial space, and mounts the winged gales;
O’er earth and ocean wide, prepared to soar,
Her dreaded arm a beaming javelin bore,
Ponderous and vast: which, when her fury burns,
Proud tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o’erturns.”

Arachne, a woman of Colophon, having acquired great perfection in working with her needle, became impressed with a belief that her powers were superior to those of Minerva, goddess of the art. This wounded Minerva’s jealous pride, which was increased by Arachnes challenging her to a trial of skill.

“From famed Pactolus’ golden stream,
Drawn by her art the curious Naiads came
Nor would the work, when finished, please so much
As, while she wrought, to view each graceful touch:
Whether the shapeless wool in balls she wound,
Or with quick motion turned the spindle round,
Or with her pencil drew the neat design,
Pallas, her mistress, shone in every line.
This the proud maid, with scornful air denies,
And e’en the goddess at her work defies,
Disowns her heavenly mistress every hour,
Nor asks her aid, nor deprecates her power.”

Beautiful as the production of Arachne was, which recorded the intrigues of Jove, yet it could not compete with that of Minerva, who by her divine skill, surpassed all her rival’s efforts.

“Pallas in figures wrought the heavenly powers,
And Mars’s skill among the Athenean bowers,
Each god, by proper features was exprest;
Jove with majestic mien, excelled the rest,
His nine forked mace the dewy sea-god shook,
And, looking sternly, smote the ragged rock;
When, from the stone, leaped forth the sprightly steed
And Neptune claims the city for the deed.
Herself she blazons with a glittering spear,
And crested helm that veiled her braided hair,
With shield, and scaly breast-plate, implements of war.
Struck with her pointed lance, the teeming earth
Seemed to produce a new surprising birth,
When from the glebe, the pledge of conquest sprung,
A tree, pale green with fairest olives hung.”

Although her work was perfect and masterly, the Goddess was so vexed at the subjects Arachne had chosen, that she struck her two or three times on the forehead.

“The bright goddess, passionately moved,
With envy saw, yet inwardly approved,
The scene of heavenly guilt, with haste she tore,
Nor longer the affront with patience bore;
A boxen shuttle in her hand she took,
And more than once, Arachne’s forehead struck.”

The high spirited mortal, indignant at the blows, and in despair at her defeat, hung herself, and was changed into a spider by Minerva.

———— “She sprinkled her with juice,
Which leaves of baleful aconite produce.
Touched with the poisonous drug, her flowing hair
Fell to the ground, and left her temples bare.
Her usual features vanished from their place,
Her body lessened — but the most, her face,
Her slender fingers, hanging on each side,
With many joints the use of legs supplied,
A spider’s bag, the rest, from which she gives
A thread, and still, by constant spinning lives.”

Minerva when amusing herself by playing upon her favourite flute before Juno and Venus, was ridiculed by the goddesses for the distortion of her face while blowing the instrument; Minerva convinced of the truth of their remarks, by looking at herself in a fountain near Mount Ida, threw the flute away, and denounced a melancholy death to him who should find it. Marsyas was the unfortunate being, and in the history of Apollo may be found the fate he experienced through the veracity of her decree.

Minerva was called Athena Pallas, either from her killing the giant Pallas, or because the spear which she seems to brandish in her hands is called “pallein.”

According to the different characters in which she has appeared, has the goddess been represented. Usually with a helmet on her head, and a large plume nodding in the air. In one hand she holds a spear, and in the other, a shield, with the dying head of Medusa upon it.

“With bright wreaths of serpent tresses crowned,
Severe in beauty, young Medusa frowned;
Erewhile subdued, round Wisdom’s Ægis rolled,
Hissed the dread snakes, and flamed in burnished gold
Flashed on her brandished arm the immortal shield,
And terror lightened o’er the dazzled field.”

Sometimes the Gorgon’s head was on her breast-plate, with living serpents writhing round it, as well as on her shield and helmet.

It was in one of her temples that the following occurrence took place, from which she adopted this device.

Medusa was the only one of the Gorgons who was subject to mortality, and was celebrated for her personal charms; particularly for the beauty of her hair. Neptune became enamoured of her.

“Medusa once had charms, to gain her love
A rival crowd of envious lovers strove.
They who have seen her, own they ne’er did trace,
More moving features, in a sweeter face:
Yet above all, her length of hair they own,
In golden ringlets waved, and graceful shone.
Her, Neptune saw: and with such beauties fired,
Resolved to compass what his soul desired.
The bashful goddess turned her eyes away,
Nor durst such bold impurity survey.”

This violation of the sanctity of her temple provoked Minerva, and she changed the beautiful locks of Medusa, which had inspired the love of Neptune, into ghastly and living serpents, as a punishment for the desecration of that sanctuary, where only worship and incense should have been offered.

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    “It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,
    Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;
Below, the far lands are seen tremblingly:
    Its horror and its beauty are divine.
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie,
    Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine,
Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,
The agonies of anguish and of death.

    “Yet it is less the horror than the grace,
    Which turns the gazer’s spirit into stone:
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face
    Are graven, till the characters be grown
Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
    ’Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
Which humanize and harmonize the strain.

    “And from its head as from one body grow,
    As grass out of a watery rock,
Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow,
    And their long tangles in each other lock:
And with unending involutions show,
    Their mailed radiance as it were to mock,
The torture and the death within, and saw
The solid air with many a ragged jaw,

    “’Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;
    For from the serpents gleam a brazen glare,
Kindled by that inextricable error,
    Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Become a strange, and ever shifting mirror
    Of all the beauty, and the terror there —
A woman’s countenance, with serpent locks,
Gazing in death on heaven, from those evil rocks.”

Some of the statues of Minerva represented her helmet with a sphinx in the middle, supported on either side by griffins. In some medals, a chariot drawn by four horses, appears at the top of her helmet.

But it was at the Panathenæa, instituted in her behalf, that she received the greatest honour. On the evening of the first day, there was a race with torches, in which men on foot, and afterwards on horseback, contended.

To celebrate these festivals, also, the maidens divided into troops, and armed with sticks and stones, attacked each other with fury. Those who were overcome in this combat, were devoted to infamy, while they who conquered, and had received no wounds, were honoured with triumphant rejoicings.

These fêtes, established in Lybia, were transferred to Athens, the city to which Minerva had granted the olive tree, and which she had taken under her protection.

She was adored at Troy by the title of Pallas, and her statue guarded the city under the name of Palladium. Some authors maintain that this was made with the bones of Pelops — while Apollodorus asserts, it was no more than a piece of clock-work which moved of itself. To its possession, was attached the safety of the city; and during the Trojan war, Ulysses and Diomedes were commissioned to steal it away.

Description of Minerva in the Florence Gallery.

“The head is of the highest beauty. It has a close helmet from which the hair, delicately parted on the forehead, half escapes. The attitude gives entire effect to the perfect form of the neck, and to that full and beautiful moulding of the lower part of the face and mouth, which is in living beings the seat of the expression of a simplicity and integrity of nature. Her face, upraised to heaven, is animated with a profound, sweet, and impassioned melancholy, with an earnest, and fervid and disinterested pleading against some vast and inevitable wrong. It is the joy and poetry of sorrow making grief beautiful, and giving it that nameless feeling, which, from the imperfection of language, we call pain, but which is not all pain, though a feeling which makes not only its possessor, but the spectator of it, prefer it to what is called pleasure, in which all is not pleasure. It is difficult to think that this head, though of the highest ideal beauty is the head of Minerva, although the attributes and attitude of the lower part of the statue certainly suggest that idea.

“The Greeks rarely in their representations of the characters of their Gods — unless we call the poetic enthusiasm of Apollo a mortal passion — expressed the disturbance of human feeling; and here is deep and impassioned grief animating a divine countenance. It is indeed divine. The drapery of the statue, the gentle beauty of the feet, and the grace of the attitude, are what may be seen in many other statues belonging to that astonishing era which produced it: such a countenance is seen in few.”


We have already seen that Minerva, not satisfied with being goddess of Wisdom, claimed also pre-eminence in beauty, although Paris by his judgment, gave the palm of loveliness to Venus.

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Mars. §

Mars, the God of War, was the son of Juno, who jealous of the birth of Minerva, consulted Flora, and on the plains near Olenus, was shown by her a flower, through the very touch of which she might become a mother. The goddess tried, and from her touch sprang Mars. His education was entrusted by Juno to the god Priapus, who instructed him in dancing, and in every manly exercise. His trial before the celebrated court of Areopagus, for the murder of Hallirhotius, who insulted a daughter of Mars because she slighted his addresses, forms an important epoch in his history. The fiery blood of Mars, which would submit to no insult, was immediately in arms at so tender a point, and he slew the insulter. Neptune, father of the slain, cited Mars to appear before the tribunal of justice, to answer for the murder of his son. The cause was tried at Athens, in a place which has been called from thence Areopagus, and Mars was acquitted.

“Mars! God of Armies! mid the ranks of war,
Known by thy golden helm, and rushing car,
Before whose lance, with sound terrific, fall
The massy fortress and embattled wall.

“Father of victory! whose mighty powers,
And brazen spears, protect Olympus’ towers;
By whom the brave to high renown are led,
Whom justice honours, and whom tyrants dread.
Hail! friend to man! whose cares to youth, impart
The arm unwearied, and the undaunted heart!”

During the Trojan war, Mars interested himself on the side of the Trojans; but while he defended these favourites of Venus with great activity, he was wounded by Diomedes, and hastily retreated to Heaven, complaining to Jupiter that Minerva had directed the unerring weapon of his antagonist.

“Wild with his pain, he sought the bright abodes,
There, sullen, sate beneath the sire of gods,
Shewed the celestial blood, and with a groan,
Thus poured his plaints before the immortal throne.
Can Jove, supine, flagitious acts survey
And brook the furies of the daring day?
For mortal men, celestial powers engage,
And gods on gods exert eternal rage.
From thee, O father! all these ills we bear,
And thy fell daughter with the shield and spear.
Thou gavest that fury to the realms of light,
Pernicious, wild, regardless of the right;
All Heaven besides, reveres thy sovereign sway,
Thy voice we hear, and thy behests obey:
’Tis hers to offend, and e’en offending, share
Thy breast, thy counsels, thy distinguished care:
So boundless she, and thou so partial grown,
Well may we deem, the wondrous birth thine own;
Now frantic Diomed, at her command,
Against the immortals lifts his raging hand;
The heavenly Venus first his fury found:
Me next encountering, me he dared to wound:
Vanquished I fled; e’en I, the god of fight,
From mortal madness, scarce was saved by flight,
Else hadst thou seen me sink on yonder plain,
Heaped round, and heaving under loads of slain,
Or pierced with Grecian darts, for ages lie
Condemned to pain, though fated not to die.’”

The Thunderer treated with disregard the complaint of Mars against his favourite daughter, and thus upbraided him:

“‘To me, perfidious! this lamenting strain,
Of lawless force, shall lawless Mars complain?
Of all the gods who tread the spangled skies,
Thou most unjust, most odious in our eyes!
Inhuman discord is thy dire delight,
The waste of slaughter, and the rage of fight.
No bound, no law, thy fiery temper quells,
And all thy mother in thy soul rebels.
In vain our threats, in vain our power, we use,
She gives the example, and her son pursues.
Yet long the inflicted pangs thou shalt not mourn,
Sprung since thou art from Jove, and heavenly born:
Else singed with lightning, hadst thou hence been thrown,
Where, chained on burning rocks, the Titans groan.’”

Under the direction of Jupiter, the God of War soon recovered.

“Thus he, who shakes Olympus with his nod,
Then gave to Pæon’s care the bleeding god.
With gentle hand, the balm he poured around,
And healed th’ immortal flesh, and closed the wound.
Cleansed from the dust and gore, fair Hebe dressed
His mighty limbs in an immortal vest,
Glorious he sat, in majesty restored,
Fast by the throne of Heaven’s superior lord.”

The worship of Mars, was not very universal among the ancients, nor were his temples very numerous in Greece, but among the warlike Romans he received great homage, as they were proud of sacrificing to a deity, whom they considered the patron of their city, and the father of the first of their monarchs; a faith to which they loved to give credit. Among this people, it was customary for the consul, before he went on an expedition, to visit the temple of Mars, where he offered his prayers, and shook in a solemn manner, the spear which was in the hand of the statue of the God, exclaiming “Mars vigila! God of War, watch over the safety of this city.”

The influence of Cupid, as God of love, was felt even by Mars, who was compelled to acknowledge his power, and the sharpness of his arrows.

“As in the Lemnian caves of fire,
The mate of her who nursed desire,
Moulded the glowing steel, to form
Arrows for Cupid, melting, warm;
Once to this Lemnian cave of flame,
The crested lord of battles came;
’Twas from the ranks of war he rushed,
His spear with many a life-drop blushed;
He saw the mystic darts, and smiled
Derision on the archer child.
‘And dost thou smile?’ said little Love;
‘Take this dart, and thou mayest prove
That tho’ they pass the breeze’s flight,
My bolts are not so feathery light.’
He took the shaft — and oh! thy look,
Sweet Venus! when the shaft he took,
He sighed, and felt the urchin’s art,
He sighed in agony of heart;
‘It is not light, I die with pain!
Take, take thine arrow back again.’
‘No,’ said the child ‘it must not be,
That little dart was made for thee.’”

The result of his amour with Venus has been related in another part of this work.

He is usually represented in a chariot of steel, conducted by Bellona, goddess of War: on his cuirass are painted several monsters; the figures of Fury and Anger ornament his helmet, while Renown precedes him.

His priests, named Salii, carried small bucklers, supposed to be sacred, and to have fallen from the skies. To him was consecrated the cock, because it was vigilant and courageous, but they preferred offering the wolf; they sacrificed however, to him, all kinds of animals, and even human victims.

The statues and portraits of Mars, as the God of War, and consequently the winner of victory, have been very numerous.

His most celebrated temple at Rome, was built by Augustus, after the battle of Phillippi, and was dedicated to “Mars the avenger.”

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     “Rivers. And this is he, the fabled God of War.
    Evadne. Aye, Mars the conqueror, see how he stands;
The lordly port, the eye of fierce command,
The threatening brow, and look that seems to dare
A thousand foes to battle.
— It was a beautiful faith that gave these gods
A name and office! Is he not glorious?
    Rivers. To my poor thought, there’s that within his glance
So fierce, I scarce dare meet it.
    Evadne. It is your studious nature, yet methinks
To gaze upon that proud and haughty form,
To think upon the glorious deeds of war,
The pomp and pride and circumstance of battle,
The neighing of the steed, the clash of arms,
The banner waving in the glowing breeze,
The trumpet sound, the shout.
Oh! there is nought so beautiful as this.
    Rivers. Aye, but to see the living and the dead,
Lying in mortal agony, side by side,
Their bright hair dabbled in unrighteous blood,
Their vestures tinctured with its gory red,
The quivering limb, the eye that’s glazed in death,
The groan —
    Evadne. ’Tis lost boy, in the drum and trumpet’s voice.
’Tis lost in shouts of glorious victory,
’Tis lost in high, triumphal tones of gladness.
    Rivers. But then to think upon the hearts that grieve.
For those who peril thus their lives in war,
The misery that sweeps along the brain,
The widows’ moan, the orphans’ tears of woe,
The love that watcheth at the midnight hour,
And hopeth on, but hopeth on in vain.
    Evadne. And that is lost too in their country’s shouts
The voice of gratitude for those that fell,
Drowns every thought in those who live to mourn;
The hand of charity for those who are left.
Fills every heart and dries up every fear;
The record of a nation’s loud applause,
Writes on their tombs in characters of brass.
And graves within our very souls, the words,
‘Here lies his country’s saviour.’
    Rivers. But these can never pay the wrung in heart:
Pride is a poor exchange for those adored:
And even a nation with its giant strength,
Cannot supply the vacant place of love!
    Evadne. Shame on such craven thoughts,
The image of the God frowns on your words —
All glorious Mars! be thou my god and guide,
Be thou the image to fill up my heart,
Be thou the spirit leading me to glory,
And be my latest hour still cheered by thee,
While round me dwells the shout of victory!”

Mars was the presider over gladiators, and was the god of all exercises, which have in them a manly or spirited character.

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Neptune, §

———— “The God whose potent hand
Shakes the tumultuous sea, and solid land:
The Ocean Lord, o’er Helicon who reigns,
O’er spacious Ægæ’s wide extended plains;
To whom the gods, with equal skill concede,
To guide the bark and tame the fiery steed,”

was the son of Saturn, and brother to Jupiter, Pluto, and Juno; being restored to life by the draught administered to Saturn, the portion of the kingdom allotted to him was that of the sea. This, however, did not seem equivalent to the empire of heaven and earth, which Jupiter had claimed; he therefore conspired with the other gods to dethrone his brother. The conspiracy was discovered, and Jupiter condemned Neptune to assist in building the walls of Troy, and to be subservient to his sceptre for a year. When the work was completed, Laomedon refused to reward the labours of the god, and in retribution, his territories were soon afterwards laid waste by the god of the sea, and his subjects visited with a pestilence sent by Apollo.

Besides the dispute this deity had with Minerva, related in her history, he claimed the isthmus of Corinth from Apollo; and Briareus, the Cyclops, who was mutually chosen umpire, gave the isthmus to Neptune, and the promontory to Apollo.

Neptune, as god of the sea, was entitled to more power than any of the other deities, except Jupiter. Not only the oceans, rivers, and fountains, were subjected to him, but he could also cause earthquakes at pleasure, and raise islands from the sea by a blow of his trident.

———————— “King of the stormy sea!
Brother of Jove, and co-inheritor
Of elements Eternally before
Thee, the waves awful bow. Fast, stubborn rock;
At thy feared trident, shrinking, doth unlock
Its deep foundations, hissing into foam.
All mountain-rivers, lost, in the wide home
Of thy capacious bosom, ever flow.
Thou frownest, and old Æolus, thy foe,
Skulks to his cavern, mid the gruff complaint
Of all his rebel tempests. Dark clouds faint
When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam
Slants over blue dominion. Thy bright team
Gulfs in the morning light, and scuds along
To bring thee nearer to that golden song
Apollo singeth, while his chariot
Waits at the door of heaven. Thou art not
For scenes like this; an empire stern hast thou;
And it hath furrowed that large front: yet now,
As newly come of heaven, dost thou sit,
To blend and inter-knit
Sudued majesty with this glad time.
O shell born king sublime!
We lay our hearts before thee evermore —
We sing and we adore!”

He obtained Amphitrite, daughter of Ocean, in marriage, through the skill of a dolphin, although she had made to herself a vow of perpetual celibacy; and had by him, Triton, one of the sea deities. To the story of Neptune, may be attached the beautiful fable of Arion, the illustrious rival of Amphion and Orpheus.

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This famous lyric poet and musician, having gone into Italy, with Periander, tyrant of Corinth, he obtained immense treasures through his profession. On his return to his native country with his riches, the sailors of the vessel in which he had embarked, resolved to murder him, that they might obtain possession of his wealth; when the poet discovered their intention, he endeavoured to outwit them.

“Allow me,” said Arion, with all the earnestness of an enthusiast. “Ere I leave this world, oh! allow me to touch once more, and for the last time, the strings of the lyre which has so often cheered me: let the last moments of my life, be soothed by its gentle influence.”

The boon was granted, and the divine strains of the master, issued in solemn beauty over the deep. At the sound, the traitors were struck silent, and hesitated in their course, but they had gone too far: it was too late to recede, and the poet was thrown into the deep. When lo! the dolphins, attracted by the sweet tones which they had heard, gathered round him; and Arion, mounted on the back of one, and accompanied by the remainder arrived safely at the end of his voyage. It is added, as an instance of the ingratitude of mortals, that the dolphin, having proceeded too far upon the sand, was unable to get back to the water, and the ungrateful Arion allowed his liberator to perish.

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The worship of Neptune was established in almost every part of the earth, and the Libyans in particular, venerated him above all other Gods.

——— “Great Neptune! I would be
Advanced to the freedom of the main,
And stand before your vast creation’s plain,
And roam your watery kingdom thro’ and thro’
And see your branching woods and palace blue,
Spar-built and domed with crystal: aye and view
The bedded wonders of the lonely deep;
And see on coral banks, the sea-maids sleep,
Children of ancient Nereus, and behold
Their streaming dance about their father old,
Beneath the blue Egean; where he sate,
Wedded to prophecy, and full of fate!
Or rather, as Arion harped, indeed,
Would I go floating on my billow-steed,
Over the billows, and triumphing there,
Call the white syren from her cave to share
My joy, and kiss her willing forehead fair.”

To him was consecrated the horse, and in his honour were celebrated the Isthmian games. His throne was a chariot drawn by four fiery steeds; his stature is grand, and his appearance imposing; he wears the look of an old man, his long beard and hair, wet with the vapour of the water.

In his hand he holds the trident, which bids the waves of ocean to rise, and causes the thunder of its tempests. With this trident also, he shakes the world, and bids the earth to tremble.

During the Consualia of the Romans, horses were led through the streets, finely equipped, and crowned with garlands, as the God in whose honour the festivals were instituted, had produced the horse, an animal so beneficial for the use of mankind.

As monarch of the sea, he is supposed to have had possession of the deep, and all the treasures which the stormy winds sent to his domain.

“What hid’st thou in thy treasure-caves and cells?
Thou hollow-sounding, and mysterious main!
Pale glistening pearls, and rainbow-coloured shells,
Bright things which gleam unrecked of, and in vain;
Keep, keep thy riches, melancholy sea.
                               We ask not such from thee!

“Yet more, the depths have more! what wealth untold,
Far down, and shining thro’ their stillness lies;
Thou hast the starry gems, the burning gold,
Won from ten thousand royal argosies;
Sweep o’er thy spoils, thou wild and wrathful main;
                               Earth claims not these again!

“Yet more, the depths have more! thy waves have rolled,
Above the cities of a world gone by!
Sand hath filled up the palaces of old,
Sea-weed o’er-grown the halls of revelry.
Dash o’er them, ocean! in thy scornful play!
                               Man yields them to decay

“Yet more! the billows and the depths have more!
High hearts and brave are gathered to thy breast!
They hear not now the booming waters roar,
The battle thunders will not break their rest;
Keep thy red gold and gems, thou stormy grave,
                               Give back the true and brave!

“Give back the lost and lovely! those for whom
The place was kept at board and hearth so long;
The prayer went up thro’ midnight’s breathless gloom,
And the vain yearning woke midst festal song!
Hold fast thy buried isles, thy towers o’erthrown,
                               But all is not thine own!

“To thee the love of woman hath gone down,
Dark flow thy tides o’er manhood’s noble head,
O’er youth’s bright locks, and beauty’s flowery crown,
Yet must thou hear a voice — restore the dead!
Earth shall reclaim her precious things from thee!
                               Restore the dead thou sea!”

Pluto. §

The name of Pluto, as god of the kingdom of hell, and whatever is under the earth, where

————— “Cerberus, the cruel worm of death,
Keeps watchful guard, and with his iron throat,
Affrights the spirits in their pale sojourn,”

is as well known to the readers of Mythology as that of his brother Jupiter.

The place of his residence being gloomy, and consequently unbearable to those goddesses whose hand he sought in marriage, and who looked for a gayer life than he could offer them, they all refused to become the sharer of his possessions. Pluto, however, was by no means willing to sit quietly down in single blessedness, thinking, perhaps, that the very reason which they assigned for their refusal, was an additional one in his favour for wishing a soother of his lot.

It was in his visit to the island of Sicily, that the God saw and became enamoured of Proserpine, as she gathered flowers in the plains of Enna.

——— “He comes to us
From the depths of Tartarus.
For what of evil doth he roam
From his red and gloomy home.
In the centre of the world
Where the sinful dead are hurled?
Mark him as he moves along,
Drawn by horses black and strong.
Such as may belong to night,
Ere she takes her morning flight,
Now the chariot stops: the God
On our grassy world hath trod,
Like a Titan steppeth he,
Yet full of his divinity.
On his mighty shoulders lie
Raven locks, and in his eye
A cruel beauty, such as none
Of us may wisely look upon.”
Barry Cornwall.

In vain she called upon her attendants for help, the God bore her off to his dominions, and she became his bride.

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“So in Sicilia’s ever blooming shade,
The playful Proserpine from Ceres strayed.
Led with unwary step her virgin trains
O’er Etna’s steeps, and Enna’s golden plains;
Plucked with fair hand the silver blossomed bower,
And purpled mead, — herself a fairer flower;

“Sudden, unseen amid the twilight glade,
Rushed gloomy Dis, and seized the trembling maid.
Her startling damsels sprung from mossy seats,
Dropped from their gauzy laps the gathered sweets,
Clung round the struggling nymph, with piercing cries
Pursued the chariot, and invoked the skies; —
Pleased as he grasps her in his iron arms,
Frights with soft sighs, with tender words alarms;
The wheels descending, rolled in smoky rings,
Infernal Cupids flapped their demon wings;
Earth with deep yawn received the fair amazed,
And far in night, celestial beauty blazed.”

At the entrance of the place of torments was an enormous vestibule, tenanted by black Anxieties, Regrets, Groans, Remorse, pale Malady, Decay, Fright, Hunger, Poverty, Death, Sleep, fierce Joy, Rage, and the Eumenides, or Furies, who were seated on a couch of iron, and crowned with blood-stained serpents. A deep and dark cavern led towards Tartarus, which was surrounded by the river Acheron; Charon conducted over this water the souls of those sent to him by Death, while any to whom the rites of sepulchre had not been granted, were for a hundred years allowed to solicit their passage in vain. If any living person presented himself to cross the lake, he could not be admitted before he showed Charon a golden bough; and Charon was once imprisoned for a year, because he had ferried Hercules over without this passport.

Cerberus, a dog with three heads, watched at the entrance to Tartarus.

“A horrid dog and grim, couched on the floor,
Guards, with malicious art, the sounding door;
On each, who in the entrance first appears,
He fawning wags his tail, and cocks his ears;
If any strive to measure back the way,
Their steps he watches, and devours his prey.”

Surrounded by an outer wall of iron, this terrible place was enclosed within a wall of adamant.

Pluto is generally represented as holding a trident with three prongs, and has a key in his hand, to intimate that whoever enters can never return. He is considered as a hard-hearted and inexorable deity, with a grim and dismal countenance, for which reason, temples were not raised to his honour, as to the remainder of the gods; though the story of Orpheus shews that he could be occasionally less severe.

“When ill-fated Orpheus tuned to woe
His potent lyre, and sought the realms below;
Charmed into life unreal forms respired,
And list’ning shades the dulcet note admired.
Love led the sage through Death’s tremendous porch,
Cheered with his smile, and lighted with his torch;
Hell’s triple dog his playful jaws expands,
Fawns round the god, and licks his baby hands;
In wondering groups the shadowy nations throng,
And sigh or simper, as he steps along;
Sad swains, and nymphs forlorn, on Lethe’s brink,
Hug their past sorrows, and refuse to drink;
Night’s dazzled empress feels the golden flame
Play round her breast, and melt her frozen frame;
Charms with soft words, and sooths with amorous wiles,
Her iron-hearted lord, and Pluto smiles.
His trembling bride the bard triumphant led
From the pale mansions of the astonished dead;
Gave the fair phantom to admiring light,
Ah! soon again to tread irrevocable night!”

Black victims, and particularly the bull, were the only sacrifices which were offered to him, and their blood was not sprinkled on the altars, but permitted to run down into the earth to penetrate the realms of the God.

The Syracusans paid yearly homage to him near the fountain of Cyane, into which one of the attendant maidens of Proserpine had been metamorphosed, and where he had, according to the received traditions, disappeared with the goddess.

———— “On the ground,
She sinks without a single sound,
And all her garments float around;
Again, again she rises light,
Her head is like a fountain bright,
And her glossy ringlets fall
With a murmur musical,
O’er her shoulders, like a river
That rushes and escapes for ever.
Is the fair Cyane gone?
Is this fountain left alone
For a sad remembrance, where
We may in after times repair,
With heavy heart and weeping eye,
To sing songs to her memory?”
Barry Cornwall.

From the functions, and the place he inhabited, he received different names, and became the god of the infernal regions, of death, and of funerals.

That he might govern with order and regularity, the spirits who were inhabitants of his vast dominions, he committed part of his power to three judges of the infernal regions, of whom Minos and Rhadamanthus were the most important. He sate in the middle, holding a sceptre in his hand. The dead pleaded their different causes before him, and the impartial judge shakes the fatal urn which is filled with the destinies of mankind. Rhadamanthus was employed in compelling the dead to confess their crimes, and in punishing them for their offences.

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“Awful Rhadamanthus rules the state.
He hears and judges each committed crime,
Inquires into the manner, place, and time:
The conscious wretch must all his acts reveal,
Loth to confess, unable to conceal,
From the first moment of his vital breath,
To his last year of unrepenting death.”

Amongst the most notorious criminals plunged in Tartarus, were the Titans; Sisyphus, a celebrated robber, condemned to roll an enormous stone to the summit of a high mountain, from which it fell again without ceasing, that he might be eternally employed in this punishment; Ixion who had dared to offer impure vows to Juno, and was affixed to a wheel which went constantly round, rendering his punishment also eternal; with Tantalus, condemned to a burning thirst, and surrounded by the grateful liquid which always vanished before his touch.

——— “Tantalus condemned to hear
The precious stream still purling in his ear;
Lip-deep in what he longs for, and yet curst
With prohibition and perpetual thirst.”

The Danaides, daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, were also there, who, in obedience to the cruel advice of their parent, had caused their husbands to perish; with Tityus, who having had the audacity to attempt the honour of Latona, was doomed to feel a vulture constantly gnawing his entrails.

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Ulysses sought the realm of Pluto, among his many adventures.

“When lo! appeared along the dusky coasts,
Thin, airy shoals of visionary ghosts:
Fair, pensive youths, and young enamoured maids;
And withered elders, pale and wrinkled shades;
Ghastly with wounds the forms of warriors slain,
Stalked with majestic port, a martial train;
These and a thousand more, swarmed o’er the ground,
And all the dire assembly shrieked around.
Astonished at the sight, aghast I stood,
And a cold fear ran shivering through my blood.”

While here he saw the ghosts of all those famed in story, who had descended to the infernal regions for punishment.

“High on a throne, tremendous to behold,
Stern Minos waves a mace of burnished gold;
Around, ten thousand, thousand spectres stand,
Thro’ the wide dome of Dis, a trembling band.
Still as they plead, the fatal lot he rolls,
Absolves the just, and dooms the guilty souls.
    There huge Orion, of portentous size,
Swift thro’ the gloom, a giant hunter flies;
A ponderous mace of brass with direful sway
Aloft he whirls to crush the savage prey!
Stern beasts in trains that by his truncheon fell,
Now grisly forms, shoot o’er the lawns of hell.
    There Tityus, large and long, in fetters bound,
O’erspreads nine acres of infernal ground;
Two ravenous vultures, furious for their food,
Scream o’er the fiend, and riot in his blood,
Incessant gore the liver in his breast,
Th’ immortal liver grows, and gives the immortal feast.
    There Tantalus along the Stygian bounds
Pours out deep groans (with groans all hell resounds);
Ev’n in the circling floods refreshment craves,
And pines with thirst amidst a sea of waves;
When to the water he his lip applies,
Back from his lip the treacherous water flies,
Above, beneath, around his hapless head,
Trees of all kinds delicious fruitage spread;
There figs sky-dy’d, a purple hue disclose,
Green looks the olive, the pomegranate grows,
There dangling pears exalting scents unfold,
And yellow apples ripen into gold:
The fruit he strives to seize, but blasts arise,
Toss it on high, and whirl it to the skies.
    I turned my eye, and, as I turned, surveyed
A mournful vision! the Sisyphian shade;
With many a weary step, and many a groan,
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone;
The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
Thunders impetuous down and smokes along the ground,
Again the restless orb his toil renews,
Dust mounts in clouds, and sweat descends in dews.”

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Mercury. §

Though according to Cicero, there were no less than five gods of this name; yet to the son of Jupiter and Maia, the actions of all the others have been probably attributed, as he is the most famous and the best known.

Mercury was the messenger of the gods and the patron of travellers and shepherds; he conducted the souls of the dead into the infernal regions, and not only presided over orators and merchants, but was also the god of thieves, pickpockets, and all dishonest persons.

———— “A babe, all babes excelling,
A schemer subtle beyond all belief,
A shepherd of thin dreams, a cow stealing,
A night watching and door waylaying thief.”

The day following his birth he offered an early proof of his dishonest propensities, by stealing away the oxen of Admetus which Apollo tended.

“The babe was born at the first peep of day,
He began playing on the lyre at noon,
And the same evening did he steal away
Apollo’s herds.”

He gave another proof of this propensity, by throwing himself upon the timid Cupid, and wrestling from him his quivers; and increased his notoriety by robbing Venus of her girdle, Mars of his sword, Jupiter of his sceptre, and Vulcan of his mechanical instruments.

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“Hermes with gods and men, even from that day
Mingled and wrought the latter much annoy,
And little profit, going far astray,
Through the dun night.”

As the messenger of Jupiter, he was entrusted with all his secrets and permitted to make himself invisible whenever he pleased, or to assume any shape he chose.

The invention of the lyre and seven strings is ascribed to him, which he gave to Apollo, and received in exchange the celebrated caduceus, with which the God of poetry used to drive the flocks of King Admetus. This celebrated instrument was a rod entwined at one end by two serpents.

———————————— “Come take
The lyre — be mine the glory of giving it —
Strike the sweet chords, and sing aloud and wake
The joyous pleasure out of many a fit
Of tranced sound — and with fleet fingers make
Thy liquid voiced comrade talk with thee;
It can talk measured music eloquently.
Then bear it boldly to the revel loud,
Love wakening dance, or feast of solemn state,
A joy by night or day, for those endowed
With art and wisdom, who interrogate!
It teaches, bubbling in delightful mood
All things which make the spirit most elate,
Soothing the mind with sweet familiar play,
Chasing the heavy shadows of dismay.”
“O Hermes, thou who couldst of yore
    Amphion’s bosom warm,
And breathe into his strains the power,
    The rugged rocks to charm;
Breathe, breathe into my lyre’s soft string,
And bid its music sweet notes fling,
For what O lyre, can thee withstand?
Touched by an Orpheus’ magic hand,
    Thou calm’st the tiger’s wrath:
The listening woods thou draw’st along,
The rivers stay to hear thy song,
    And listen still as death.
Tityos with pleasure heard thy strain,
And Ixion smiled amid his pain.”

Numerous were the modes of sacrifice to Mercury, and the places in which they were offered; among others, the Roman merchants yearly celebrated a festival in his honour. After the votaries had sprinkled themselves with water, they offered prayers to the divinity, and entreated him to be favourable to them, and to forgive any artful measures, perjuries, or falsehoods they had used in the pursuit of gain; and this may be considered to have been particularly necessary when it is remembered that the merchants, who had promised him all the incense in the world to obtain his protection, proved that they had profited by his principles, by offering him only a hundredth part, when they had secured his good offices.

Jupiter soon missed the services of his intelligent messenger, and recalled him to Olympus. Here, Mercury rendering some kindness to Venus, the goddess fell in love with him, and bore to him Hermaphrodite, a child which united the talents of his father with the graces of his mother; at the age of fifteen, he began to travel, and bathing one day in a fountain in Cana, excited the passion of Salmaeis, the nymph who presided over it.

“From both the illustrious authors of his race
The child was named; nor was it hard to trace
Both the bright parents through the infant’s face.
When fifteen years, in Ida’s cool retreat,
The boy had told, he left his native seat,
And sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil:
The pleasure lessened the attending toil.
With eager steps the Lycian fields he crossed,
And fields that border on the Lycian coast;
A river here he viewed so lovely bright,
It showed the bottom in a fairer light,
Nor kept a sand concealed from human sight.
The fruitful banks with cheerful verdure crowned,
And kept the spring eternal on the ground.
A nymph presides, nor practised in the chase,
Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race;
Of all the blue-eyed daughters of the main,
The only stranger to Diana’s train;
Her sisters often, as ’tis said, would cry
‘Fye, Salmaeis, what always idle! fye;
Or take the quiver, or the arrows seize
And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease.’
Nor quivers she, nor arrows e’er would seize,
Nor mix the toils of hunting with her ease;
But oft would bathe her in the crystal tide,
Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide;
Now in the limped streams she views her face,
And dressed her image in the floating glass:
On beds of leaves she now reposed her limbs,
Now gathered flowers that grew about her streams,
And there by chance was gathering as she stood
To view the boy —”

Hermaphroditus continued deaf to all entreaties and offers; and Salmacis, throwing her arms around him, entreated the Gods to render her inseparable from him whom she adored. The Gods heard her prayer, and formed of the two, a being of perfect beauty, preserving the characteristics of both sexes.

Offerings were made to him of milk and honey, because he was the God of eloquence, whose powers were sweet and persuasive. Sometimes his statues represent him without arms, because the power of speech can prevail over everything.

The Greeks and Romans celebrated his festivals, principally in the month of May. They frequently placed on his back the statue of Minerva, and offered to him the tongues of the victims whom they immolated to the goddess.

“Who beareth the world on his shoulders so broad;
Hear me, thou power, who, of yore, by thy words
Couldst soften the hearts of the barbarous hordes,
And by the Palæstia taught him of the wild
To be gentle, and graceful, and meek as a child.
Thou messenger fleet of the cloud-throned sire,
’Twas thou who inventedst the golden-stringed lyre;
I hail thee the patron of craft and of guile,
To laugh while you grieve, to deceive while you smile,
When you chafed into wrath bright Apollo of old,
His dun-coloured steers having stol’n from the fold,
He laughed; for, while talking all fiercely he found
That his quiver, alack! from his back was unbound.
’Twas thou, who old Priam didst guide on his way,
When he passed unperceived thro’ the hostile array,
Of the proud sons of Atreus, who sought to destroy
The towers of high Ilion, the city of Troy.
O Hermes, ’tis thou who conductest the blest
To the seats where their souls shall for ever exist,
Who governest their shades by the power of thy spell,
The favourite of Heaven, the favourite of Hell.”

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Nereids. §

These divinities were children of Nereus and Dorus. As the Dryads and Hamadryads presided over forests — as the Naiads watched over fountains and the sources of rivers — as the Oreads were the peculiar guardians of the hills, so the Nereids guided and commanded the waves of the ocean, and were implored as its deities. They had altars chiefly on the coast of the sea, where the piety of mankind made offerings of milk, oil, and honey, and often of the flesh of goats. When they were on the sea shore, they generally resided in grottos and caves, adorned with shells.

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There were fifty of them, all children of Nereus, who is represented as an old man with a long flowing beard, and hair of an azure colour. The chief place of his residence was in the Egean Sea, where he was attended by his daughters, who often danced in chorus round him. He had the gift of prophecy, and informed those who consulted him, of the fate which awaited them, though such was the god’s aversion to his task, that he often evaded the importunities of the inquirers, by assuming different shapes, and totally escaping from their grasp.

Divinities of the Second Class. §

The gods of the first order, were endowed by the writers of antiquity, with natures partly real, and partly imaginary. By their power, the government of the universe was carried on; but mortals in attributing to these gods their own passions and weaknesses, began to blend with them divinities of a secondary class, to preside over those less important affairs, which might be supposed unworthy the notice of the superior intelligences.

For the most part, therefore, these Immortals have no origin in history; but, as allusions are constantly made to them in the eloquent language of the orator, or in the beautiful metaphor of the poet, it is necessary to introduce those who are considered to be the most celebrated.

And for the future, the poetry offered will principally be that which relates rather to the attributes they were supposed to possess, than to the gods themselves. Thus, with such deities as Æolus and Mors, we shall introduce poems addressed to the Wind and Death, over which they presided, as suited to the modern character of our Mythology, and more generally appreciated by the readers of the nineteenth century.

Divinities of the Earth. §

Pan. §

Pan was the god of shepherds, and of all inhabitants of the country; he was the son of Mercury by Driope, and is usually described as possessing two small horns on his head, his complexion ruddy, his nose flat, and his legs, thighs, tail and feet hairy, like those of a goat. When he was brought into the world, the nurse, terrified at sight of him, ran away in horror, and his father wrapping him up in the skins of beasts, carried him to Heaven, where Jupiter and the other Gods, entertained themselves with the oddity of his appearance; Bacchus was delighted with him, and gave him the name of Pan.

————— “Sprung the rude God to light;
Of dreadful form, and horrible to sight;
Goat-footed, horned, yet full of sport and joy,
The nurse, astonished, fled the wondrous boy:
His shaggy limbs, the trembling matron feared,
His face distorted, and his rugged beard:
But Hermes from her hands received the child,
And on the infant god auspicious smiled.
In the thick fur wrapped of a mountain hare,
His arms the boy to steep Olympus bear;
Proudly he shows him to imperial Jove,
High seated ’mid the immortal powers above.
With friendly joy and love, the race divine,
But chiefly Bacchus, god of mirth and wine,
Received the dauntless god, whom Pan they call,
Pan, for his song delights the breast of all.”

This god of the shepherds chiefly resided in Arcadia, where the woods and the mountains were his habitation.

—————— “His mighty palace roof doth hang
From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death,
Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness.
Who loves to see the hamadryads dress
Their ruffled locks, where meeting hazels darken,
And through whole solemn hours, dost sit and harken
The dreary melody of bedded reeds.”

The flute was invented by Pan, and formed of seven reeds, which he called Syrinx, in honour of a beautiful nymph of the same name, who, refusing his addresses, was changed into a reed.

———————— “A nymph of late there was,
Whose heavenly form her fellows did surpass,
The pride and joy of fair Arcadia’s plains,
Beloved by deities, adored by swains.
Like Phœbe clad, e’en Phœbe’s self she seems,
So tall, so straight, such well proportioned limbs,
The nicest eye did no distinction know
But that the goddess bore a golden bow,
Descending from Lycæus, Pan admires
The matchless nymph, and burns with new desires.
A crown of pine upon his head he wore,
And then began her pity to implore.
But ere he thus began, she took her flight,
So swift she was already out of sight,
Nor staid to hear the courtship of the god:
But bent her course to Ladon’s gentle flood:
There by the river stopped, and tired before
Relief from water-nymphs her prayers implore,
Now while the rural god with speedy pace,
Just thought to strain her in his strict embrace,
He filled his arms with reeds, new rising in the place:
And while he sighs his ill success to find,
The tender canes were shaken by the wind,
And breathed a mournful air unheard before,
That much surprizing Pan, yet pleased him more,

Admiring this new music, ‘Thou’ he said,
‘Who cans’t not be the partner of my bed,
At least shall be the consort of my mind,
And often, often to my lips be joined.’
He formed the reeds, proportioned as they are,
Unequal in their length and waxed with care,
They still retain the name of his ungrateful fair.”

He was continually employed in deceiving the neighbouring nymphs, and often with success. Though deformed in shape and features, he had the good fortune to captivate Diana in the appearance of a beautiful white goat.

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His adventure with Omphale is amusing; while the latter was travelling with Hercules, a sacrifice which was to take place on the following day, caused Omphale and the hero to seek separate apartments. In the night, Pan introduced himself, and went to the bed of the queen; but there seeing the lion’s skin of Hercules, he fancied he had made a mistake, and repaired to that of the hero; where the female dress which the latter had adopted, deceived the rural God, and he laid himself down by his side. The hero awoke, and kicked the intruder into the middle of the room. The noise aroused Omphale, and Pan was discovered lying on the ground, greatly discomfited and ashamed.

The worship of Pan was well established, particularly in Arcadia, and his statue was usually placed under the shadow of a pine-tree. Upon his altars were laid both honey and milk, fit offerings for a rural divinity.

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“With cloven feet and horned front who roves
With choirs of nymphs, amid the echoing groves;
He joins in active dance the virgin throng,
To Pan, the pastoral god, they raise the song.

“To Pan, with tangled locks, whose footsteps tread
Each snow-crowned hill, and mountain’s lofty head;
Or wander careless through the lowly brake,
Or by the borders of the lucid lake.”

He loved the nymph Echo, but in this instance was unsuccessful in his passion, for the latter adored the beautiful Narcissus, and wandered over hill and dale in search of the youth on whom she had lavished all her affections, but who unfortunately returned them not.

To whom is not the tale of the self-slain Narcissus known, though perhaps the exquisite story of Echo’s love for him may be less familiar to the mind.

After Echo had been dismissed by Jupiter, for her loquacity in proclaiming his numerous amours, she fell in love with the beautiful Narcissus.

“And at the sight of the fair youth she glows,
And follows silently where’er he goes.”

Unable, however, to address him first, she waited the sound of his beloved voice.

“Now several ways his young companions gone,
And for some time Narcissus left alone,
‘Where are you all?’ at last she hears him call,
And she straight answers him, ‘where are you all?’

“‘Speak yet again,’ he cries, ‘is any nigh?’
Again the mournful Echo answers, ‘I,’
‘Why come not you,’ he said, ‘appear in view,’
She hastily returns, ‘why come not you?’

“‘Then let us join,’ at last Narcissus said,
Then let us join,’ replied the ravished maid.”

In vain had the wondering youth up to this moment looked for the frolic companions, whom he imagined had hid themselves in play. But Echo, charmed with his last exclamation, hastily appeared, and threw herself on the bosom of the astonished youth, who, far from submitting with pleasure to the intrusion,

“With all his strength unlocks her fold,
And breaks unkindly from her feeble hold;
Then proudly cries, ‘life shall this breast forsake,
Ere you, loose nymph, on me your pleasure take;’
‘On me your pleasure take,’ the nymph replies
While from her the disdainful hunter flies.”

As the youth wandered on, anxious only to escape from the society of Echo, he suddenly came upon a fountain, in which, as he reclined on the ground, he fancied he saw the figure of a beautiful nymph.

“Deep through the spring, his eye-balls dart their beams,
Like midnight stars that twinkle in the streams,
His ivory neck the crystal mirror shows,
His waving hair, above the surface flows,
His own perfections all his passions moved,
He loves himself, who for himself was loved.”

Half maddened by the appearance of a beauty, of which hitherto he had been unconscious, he made every possible effort to grasp what appeared to be the guardian spirit of the water.

“Oft with his down-thrust arms he thought to fold,
About that neck that still deludes his hold,
He gets no kisses from those cozening lips,
His arms grasp nothing, from himself he slips;
He knows not what he views, and yet pursues
His desperate love, and burns for what he views.”

Nothing could win the self-enamoured boy from his devoted passion; but bending over the lucid spring, he fed his eyes with the delusive shade which seemed to gaze on him from the depths. At last

“Streaming tears from his full eye-lids fell,
And drop by drop, raised circles in the well,
The several rings larger and larger spread,
And by degrees dispersed the fleeting shade.”

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Narcissus fancied that the nymph upon whom he supposed he had been gazing, was deserting him, and unable to bear the misery which the thought occasioned, he wounded himself in his agony, deeming that life without her would be insupportable. Echo, however resentful she had felt for the scorn with which he had treated her, hovered near his footsteps and witnessed this last infatuation with redoubled sorrow.

“Now hanging o’er the spring his drooping head,
With a sad sigh these dying words he said,
‘Ah! boy beloved in vain,’ thro’ all the plain
Echo resounds, ‘Ah! boy beloved in vain!’
‘Farewell,’ he cries, and with that word he died,
Farewell,’ the miserable nymph replied.
Now pale and breathless on the grass he lies,
For death had shut his miserable eyes.”

The Gods, however, taking pity upon his melancholy fate, changed him into the flower Narcissus.

Many morals have been attempted to be deduced from this beautiful fable, but in none of them have their authors been very successful, unless we may gather a warning of the fatal effects of self-love.

“What first inspired a bard of old to sing
Narcissus pining o’er the mountain spring?
In some delicious ramble, he had found
A little space, with boughs all woven round,
And in the midst of all a clearer pool
Than ere reflected in its pleasant cool
The blue sky, here and there divinely peeping
Through tendril wreaths, fantastically creeping;
And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,
A meek and forlorn flower with nought of pride,
Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness
To woo its own sweet image unto nearness;
Deaf to light Zephyrus, it would not move,
But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love;
So while the poet stood in this sweet spot;
Some fainted dreamings o’er his fancy shot;
Nor was it long ere he had told the tale
Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s vale.”

Poor Pan, undeterred by the zealous passion of Echo for Narcissus, still continued to love her, and pleased himself by wandering in the woods and deserts, there calling upon her, for the pleasure of hearing her voice in reply.

“In thy cavern-hall,
    Echo! art thou sleeping?
By the fountain’s fall
    Dreamy silence keeping?
        Yet one soft note borne
        From the shepherd’s horn,
Wakes thee, Echo! into music leaping,
Strange sweet Echo! into music leaping.

    “Then the woods rejoice,
    Then glad sounds are swelling,
From each sister voice
    Round thy rocky dwelling;
        And their sweetness fills
        All the hollow hills,
With a thousand notes of one life telling!
Softly mingled notes, of one life telling.

    “Echo! in my heart
    Thus deep thoughts are lying,
Silent and apart,
    Buried, yet undying,
        Till some gentle tone
        Wakening haply one,
Calls a thousand forth, like thee replying!
Strange sweet Echo, even like thee replying.”

This god, so adored and loved in the country, had the power of spreading terror and confusion when he pleased. The Gauls, who under Brennus, invaded Greece, when on the point of pillaging the Temple at Delphi, were seized with a sudden panic and took to flight. This terror was attributed to Pan, and they believed all panics, the cause of which was unknown, were produced by him.

It was by the counsel of Pan, that the Gods at the moment of the assault of Typhon, took the figures of various animals, changing himself into a goat, the skin of which was transported to Heaven, and formed the sign of Capricorn.

    “From the forests and highlands,
    We come, we come!
From the river-girt islands,
    Where the loud waves are dumb,
                     Listening to my sweet pipings.
The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
    The bees in the bells of the lime,
The birds in the myrtle bushes,
    The cicale above in the thyme,
And the lizard below in the grass,
Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,
                     Listening to my sweet pipings.
Liquid Peneus was flowing,
    And all dark Tempe lay
In Pelion’s shadow, outgrowing
    The light of the dying day,
                     Speeded by my sweet pipings.
The Sileni, and Sylvans, and Fauns,
    And the nymphs of woods, and waves,
To the edge of the moist river lawns,
    And the brink of the dewy caves,
And all that did there attendant follow,
Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,
                     With envy of my sweet pipings.
“I sang of the dancing stars,
    I sang of the dædal earth,
And of heaven, and giant wars,
    And love, and death, and birth, —
                     And then I changed my pipings.
Singing how down the vale of Menalus,
    I pursued a maiden and clasped a reed;
Gods and men were all deluded thus,
    It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed:
All wept, as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
                     At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.”

Fauns, Sylvans, and Satyrs. §

The Fauns were descended from Faunus, son of Picus King of Italy, who was changed by Circe into a woodpecker.

“Faunus who lov’st, thro’ woodland glade,
To pursue the Sylvan maid,
Pass propitious now, I pray,
Where my tender lambkins stray:
Let each field and mountain high,
Own thy genial presence nigh.
Since with each returning year,
In thy presence, I appear,
With the victim’s votive blood,
Mighty monarch of the wood,
And upon thy sacred shrine,
Place the love inspiring wine,
And, o’er all that hallowed ground,
Make the incense breathe around,
Hear O Faunus, hear my prayer,
My lands to bless, my flocks to spare.
When December’s nones return
Labour’s yoke no more is borne,
Sport the cattle in the meads,
The blythesome dance the peasant leads,
Even, ’mid that time of peace,
Beasts of prey their fury cease,
The lambkin roams all free and bold,
Tho’ feeds the wolf beside the fold,
Knowing well thy potent arm
Then protects from every harm.
Lo, to hail the Sylvan king,
Woods their leafy honours bring,
Strewing in profusion gay,
Verdant foliage all the way.
Freed from toil, the labourer blythe
Flings aside the spade and scythe,
Glad to trip in nimble jig,
The earth which he dislikes to dig.”

They were the divinities of the woods and fields, and were represented as having the legs, feet, and ears of goats; the remainder of the body being human; the lamb and kid were offered to them by the peasants with great solemnity.

The Sylvans were the children of the foster father of God Bacchus, who accompanied the latter in all his travels. Bacchus having been well received and entertained at the court of Midas, King of Phrygia, he obtained from him the choice of whatever recompense he should name. Midas demanded the power of turning all that he touched into gold.

“‘Give me,’ says he, (nor thought he asked too much,)
‘That with my body whatsoe’er I touch,
Changed from the nature which it held of old,
May be converted into yellow gold:’
He had his wish: but yet the god repined,
To think the fool no better wish could find.
But the brave king departed from the place,
With smiles of gladness, sparkling in his face:
Nor could contain, but, as he took his way,
Impatient longs to make the first essay;
Down from a lowly branch a twig he drew,
The twig strait glittered with a sparkling hue:
He takes a stone, the stone was turned to gold,
A clod he touches, and the crumbling mould
Acknowledged soon the great transforming power,
In weight and substance like a mass of ore.
He plucked the corn, and straight his grasp appears,
Filled with a bending tuft of golden ears.
An apple next he takes, and seems to hold
The bright, Hesperian, vegetable gold.
His hand he careless on a pillar lays,
With shining gold, the fluted pillars blaze.
And while he wishes, as the servants pour,
His touch converts the stream to Danae’s shower.”

He was quickly brought however to repent his avarice, when the very meat which he attempted to eat, turned to gold in his mouth, and the wine to the same metal, as it passed down his throat. He was now as anxious to be delivered from this fatal gift, as he was before to receive it, and implored the god to revoke a present so fatal to the recipient.

“The ready slaves prepare a sumptuous board,
Spread with rich dainties for their happy lord,
Whose powerful hands the bread no sooner hold,
But its whole substance is transformed to gold:
Up to his mouth he lifts the savoury meat,
Which turns to gold as he attempts to eat:
His patron’s noble juice, of purple hue,
Touched by his lips a gilded cordial grew:
Unfit for drink, and wondrous to behold,
It trickles from his jaws a fluid gold.
The rich, poor fool confounded with surprize,
Staring on all his various plenty lies:
Sick of his wish, he now detests the power
For which he asked so earnestly before:
Amidst his gold with pinching famine curst,
And justly tortured with an equal thirst.
At last his shining arms to heaven he rears
And, in distress, for refuge flies to prayers.
‘O father Bacchus, I have sinned,’ he cried,
‘And foolishly thy gracious gift applied,
Thy pity now, repenting, I implore;
Oh! may I feel the golden plague no more!’”

He was told to wash himself in the river Pactolus; he performed the necessary ablution, and the very sands were turned into gold by the touch of Midas. Divine honours were given to Silenus in Arcadia, and from him the Fauns and Satyrs are often called Sileni.

The Satyrs, also gods of the Country, were considered as mischievous, and inspired by their appearance, great fright in the shepherds — although they bore with them a flute or tambourine, to make the nymphs dance, when they inflamed their senses by the burning nature of their harmony, and the rapid measure with which they trod to the music of these demi-gods.

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To them were offered the first fruits of everything, and they attended chiefly upon Bacchus, rendering themselves conspicuous in his orgies, by their riot and lasciviousness. It is said, that a Satyr was brought to Sylla, as that general returned from Thessaly; the monster had been surprised asleep in a cave; his voice was inarticulate, when brought into the presence of the Roman general, and Sylla was so disgusted with the sight, that he ordered it instantly to be removed. The creature is said to have answered the description which poets and painters have given of the Satyrs.

Priapus was the most celebrated among them, as the the son of Venus, who meeting Bacchus on his return from his Indian expedition, was enamoured of him, and with the assistance of Juno, became the mother of Priapus. Juno having vowed vengeance against the goddess of beauty, took that opportunity to deform her son in all his limbs; notwithstanding which, as he grew up, his inclinations and habits became so vicious, that he was known as the god of lewdness. His festivals took place principally at Lampsacus, where they consecrated the ass to him; and the people naturally indolent, gave themselves up to every impurity during the celebration. When however his worship was introduced into Rome, he became more the God of Orchards and Gardens, than the patron of licentiousness. He was there crowned with the leaves of the vine, and sometimes with laurel or rocket, the last of these plants, which is said to raise the passions and excite love, being sacred to him.

The Sylvans, were, like the Fauns and Satyrs, the guardian deities of the woods and wild places of the earth.

Terminus was a somewhat curious divinity, presiding over bounds and limits, and punishing all usurpation. His worship was first introduced by Numa Pompilius, who persuaded his subjects that the limits of their lands and states, were under the immediate inspection of heaven. His temple was on the Tarpeian rock, and he was represented with a human head, though without feet or arms, to intimate that he never moved, wherever he might be placed.

The people of the country assembled once a year with their families, and crowned with garlands and flowers, the stones which divided their different possessions. It is said that when Tarquin the proud, wished to build a temple on the Tarpeian rock to Jupiter, the God Terminus refused to give place, though the other gods resigned theirs with cheerfulness, and the oracles declared from this, that the extent of the Empire should never be lessened.

Hebe §

was the daughter of Jupiter and Juno; though by many she is said to be the daughter of Juno only, who conceived her after eating lettuces.

Being fair, and always possessed of the bloom of beauty and youth, she was termed the Goddess of youth, and made by her mother the cup-bearer to all the Gods.

She was dismissed from her office by Jupiter, however, because she fell down as she was pouring nectar to the Gods, at a grand festival, and Ganymedes, a favourite of Jupiter, succeeded to her office.

            “’Twas on a day
When the immortals at their banquet lay,
            The bowl
    Sparkled with starry dew,
The weeping of those myriad urns of light,
    Within whose orbs, the almighty Power
            At nature’s dawning hour
Stored the rich fluid of ethereal soul.
            But oh!
    Bright Hebe, what a tear,
And what a blush were thine,
When, as the breath of every Grace
Wafted thy feet along the studded sphere
With a bright cup, for Jove himself to drink,
Some star, that shone beneath thy tread,
    Raising its amorous head
To kiss those matchless feet,
    And all heaven’s host of eyes.
    Checked thy career so fleet:
Entranced, but fearful all,
Saw thee, sweet Hebe, prostrate fall.
But the bright cup? the nectared draught
Which Jove himself was to have quaffed!
    Alas, alas, upturned it lay
        By the fallen Hebe’s side;
While in slow lingering drops, th’ ethereal tide,
As conscious of its own rich essence, ebbed away.”

Her mother employed her to prepare her chariot, and to harness her peacocks, when required. To her was granted the power of restoring to age the vigour of youth; and after Hercules was elevated to the rank of a God, he became reconciled to Juno by marrying her daughter Hebe.

The Centaurs. §

After the creation of the Fauns and Sylvans by the poets, the imagination of the latter invented the Centaur, a monster, of which the superior part was that of a man, and the remainder that of the horse.

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Lycus, a mortal, being detained by Circe in her magical dominion, was beloved by a water-nymph who desired to render him immortal; she had recourse to the sorceress, and Circe gave her an incantation to pronounce.

As Lycus walked sorrowfully in the enchanted place, astonished at the many wondrous things which met his eye, he beheld

——— “The realized nymph of the stream,
Rising up from the wave, with the bend and the gleam
Of a fountain, and o’er her white arms she kept throwing
Bright torrents of hair, that went flowing and flowing
In falls to her feet, and the blue waters rolled
Down her limbs like a garment, in many a fold.”

Struck with each other’s charms they loved, but unhappily the nymph, in her anxiety for her lover’s immortality, and while calling upon her mistress to assist her, saw

——————— “The Witch Queen of that place,
Even Circe the Cruel, that came like a death
Which I feared, and yet fled not, for want of my breath,
There was thought in her face, and her eyes were not raised
From the grass at her foot, but I saw, as I gazed
Her hate —”

This hate Lycus soon experienced; as the spell desired by the nymph, was in the act of being pronounced,

———————— “I felt with a start,
The life blood rush back in one throb to my heart,
And saw the pale lips where the rest of that spell
Had perished in terror, and heard the farewell
Of that voice that was drowned in the dash of the stream!
How fain had I followed, and plunged with that scream
Into death, but my being indignantly lagged
Thro’ the brutalized flesh that I painfully dragged
Behind me —”

From this time his existence become a torture to him. Though there were none of his former beings to consort with, yet still he loved to haunt the places of his humanity, and with a beating heart and bursting frame, behold the various occupations and pleasures in which he had formerly joined.

“I once had a haunt near a cot. where a mother
Daily sat in the shade with her child, and would smother
Its eye-lids in kisses, and then in its sleep
Sang dreams in its ears, of its manhood, while deep
In a thicket of willows I gazed o’er the brooks
That murmured between us, and kissed them with looks;
But the willows unbosomed their secret, and never
I returned to a spot I had startled for ever;
Tho’ I oft longed to know, but could ask it of none,
Was the mother still fair, and how big was her son?”

Time brought no remedy, for still he was troubled by the absence of sympathy, and the repression of that human feeling which yet clung like a curse to him.

“For the haunters of fields, they all shunned me by flight,
The men in their horror, the women in fright:
None ever remained, save a child once that sported
Among the wild blue bells, and playfully courted
The breeze; and beside him a speckled snake lay
Tight strangled, because it had hissed him away
From the flower at his finger; he rose and drew near
Like a son of immortals, one born to no fear,
But with strength of black locks, and with eyes azure bright,
To grow to large manhood of merciful might,
He came, with his face of bold wonder, to feel
The hair of my side and to lift up my heel,
And questioned his face with wide eyes, but when under
My lids he saw tears, — for I wept at his wonder,
He stroked me, and uttered such kindliness then,
That the once love of women, the friendship of men
In past sorrow, no kindness, e’er came like a kiss
On my heart in its desolate day, such as this
And I yearned at his cheeks in my love, and down bent
And lifted him up in my arms with intent
To kiss him — but he cruel — kindly alas!
Held out to my lips a plucked handful of grass!
Then I dropped him in horror, but felt as I fled,
The stone he indignantly hurled at my head,
That dissevered my ear, but I felt not, whose fate,
Was to meet more distress in his love his hate!”

The only mitigation of his sorrow, was that when in Thessaly

“He met with the same as himself,”

and obtained with them, if not sympathy, at least companionship.

Chiron was the wisest of the Centaurs. Music, divination, astronomy, and medicine, were equally familiar to him, and his name is blended with those of the principal sages of Greece, whom he instructed in the use of plants and medicinal herbs.

The battle of the Centaurs with the Lapithæ at the bridal of Perithous is famous in history, and was the cause of their destruction.

The Centaurs inflamed with wine, behaved with rudeness and even offered violence to the bride, and to the women that were present.

“Now brave Perithous, bold Ixion’s son,
The love of fair Hippodamé had won.
The cloud begotten race, half men, half beast,
Invited came to grace the nuptial feast:
In a cool cave’s recess the treat was made,
Whose entrance, trees, with spreading boughs o’ershade,
They sat; and summoned by the bridegroom, came,
To mix with those, the Lapythæan name:
——————— The roofs with joy resound,
And Hymen, Iö Hymen, rung around.
Raised altars shone with holy fires: the bride
Lovely herself, (and lovely by her side
A bevy of bright nymphs, with sober grace,)
Came glittering like a star, and took her place.
Her heavenly form beheld, all wished her joy;
And little wanted, but in vain their wishes all employ.
For one, most brutal of the brutal brood,
Or whether wine or beauty fired his blood,
Or both at once, beheld with lustful eyes
The bride: at once resolved to make his prize.
Down went the board, and fastening on her hair,
He seized with sudden force the frighted fair.
’Twas Eurytus began; his bestial kind
His crime pursued, and each as pleased his mind
On her, whom chance presented, took. The feast
An image of a taken town expressed.”

Flora, Pomona, Vertumnus, the Seasons. §

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Flora was unknown among the Greeks, having her birth with the Romans. She was the Goddess of Flowers,

———————————— “which unveil
Their breasts of beauty, and each delicate bud
O’ the Season, comes in turn to bloom and perish.
But first of all the Violet, with an eye
Blue as the midnight heavens, the frail snow-drop,
Born of the breath of winter, and on his brow,
Fixed like a pale and solitary star,
The languid hyacinth, and wild primrose,
And daisy, trodden down like modesty,
The fox-glove, in whose drooping-bells the bee
Makes her sweet music: the Narcissus, named
From him who died for love, the tangled woodbine
Lilacs and flowering limes, and scented thorns,
And some from whom the voluptuous winds of June
Catch their perfumery.”
Barry Cornwall.

She married Zephyrus, and received from him the privilege of presiding over flowers, and enjoying perpetual youth.

Pomona was the Goddess of Fruits and Fruit Trees, and supposed to be the Deity of Gardens.

“Her name Pomona, from her woodland race,
In garden culture none could her excel,
Or form the pliant souls of plants so well;
Or to the fruit more generous flavours lend,
Or teach the trees with nobler loads to bend.”

Pleased with her office, and unwilling to take upon herself the troubles of marriage, she vowed perpetual celibacy. Numerous were the suitors who attempted to win her from her rash determination, but to all of them the answer was alike in the negative: tho’ Vertumnus, one of the most zealous, pursued her with unchanging ardour.

“Long had she laboured to continue free
From chains of love and nuptial tyranny;
And in her orchard’s small extent immured,
Her vow’d virginity she still secured.
Oft would loose Pan, and all the lustful train
Of satyrs, tempt her innocence in vain.
Vertumnus too pursued the maid no less,
But with his rivals, shared a like success.”

Miserable, but not cast down, by the many refusals he met with, Vertumnus took a thousand shapes to influence the success of his suit.

“To gain access, a thousand ways he tries
Oft in the hind, the lover would disguise,
The heedless lout comes shambling on, and seems
Just sweating from the labour of his teams.
Then from the harvest, oft the mimic swain
Seems bending with a load of bearded grain.
Sometimes a dresser of the vine he feigns,
And lawless tendrils to their boughs restrains.
Sometimes his sword a soldier shews; his rod
An angler; still so various is the God.
Now, in a forehead cloth some crone he seems,
A staff supplying the defect of limbs:
Admittance thus he gains; admires the store
Of fairest fruit; the fair possessor more;
Then greets her with a kiss; th’ unpractised dame
Admired, a grandame kissed with such a flame.
Now seated by her, he beholds a vine,
Around an elm in amorous foldings twine,
“If that fair elm,” he cried, “alone should stand,
No grapes would glow with gold, and tempt the hand;
Or if that vine without her elm should grow,
’Twould creep a poor neglected shrub below.
Be then, fair nymph, by these examples led,
Nor shun for fancied fears, the nuptial bed.”

In this disguise, Vertumnus recommended himself and his virtues to Pomona.

“On my assurance well you may repose,
Vertumnus scarce Vertumnus better knows,
True to his choice all looser flames he flies,
Nor for new faces fashionably dies.
The charms of youth, and every smiling grace,
Bloom in his features, and the god confess.”

The pertinacious wooing of the metamorphosed deity, had, at last its effect, in preparing Pomona for Vertumnus, when he should assume his natural shape.

“The story oft Vertumnus urged in vain,
But then assumed his heavenly form again;
Such looks and lustre the bright youth adorn,
As when with rays glad Phœbus paints the morn.
The sight so warms the fair admiring maid,
Like snow she melts, so soon can youth persuade;
Consent on eager wings succeeds desire,
And both the lovers glow with mutual fire.”

Pomona had a temple at Rome, and a regular priest, who offered sacrifices to her divinity for the preservation of fruit: she is generally represented sitting on a basket, full of flowers and fruit, holding a bough in one hand, and apples in the other.

Vertumnus is represented under the figure of a young man, crowned with various plants, bearing in his left hand fruits, and in his right a horn of abundance.

The Goddess Pomona is often confounded with Autumn, Ceres with Summer, and Flora with Spring.

The four seasons have also been described with great distinctness, by poets, both ancient and modern, all of whom were delighted to pour forth tributes of praise in their honour; Spring is usually drawn as a nymph, with her head crowned by a wreath of flowers; and many are the strains attributed to her.

“I come, I come! ye have called me long,
I come o’er the mountains with light and song!
Ye may trace my step o’er the wakening earth,
By the winds which tell of the violet’s birth,
By the primrose stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass.

I have breathed in the south, and the chesnut flowers,
By thousands have burst from the forest bowers,
And the ancient graves, and the fallen fanes,
Are veiled with wreaths on Italian plains:
But it is not for me in my hour of bloom,
To speak of the ruin or the tomb.

I have looked o’er the hills of the stormy north,
And the larch has hung all his tassels forth,
The fisher is out in the stormy sea,
And the rein-deer bounds o’er the pastures free,
And the fence has a fringe of softer green,
And the moss looks bright where my foot hath been.

I have sent thro’ the wood-paths a glowing sigh,
And called out each voice of the deep blue sky;
From the night bird’s lay thro’ the starry time,
In the groves of the soft Hesperian clime,
To the swan’s wild note by the Iceland lakes,
When the dark fir-branch into verdure breaks.

From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain,
They are sweeping on to the silvery main,
They are flashing down from the mountain brows,
They are flinging spray o’er the forest boughs,
They are bursting fresh from their sparry caves,
And the earth resounds with the joy of waves!

Come forth, O ye children of gladness, come!
Where the violets lie may be now your home.
Ye of the rose-lip and dew-bright eye,
And the bounding footstep to meet me fly!
With the lyre, and the wreath, and the joyous lay,
Come forth to the sunshine, I may not stay.

Away from the dwellings of care-worn men,
The waters are sparkling in grove and glen!
Away from the chamber and sullen hearth,
The young leaves are dancing in breezy mirth!
Their light stems thrill to the wild wood strains.
And youth is abroad in my green domains.

But ye! ye are changed since ye met me last!
There is something bright from your features past!
There is something come over brow and eye,
Which speaks of a world where the flowers must die!
Ye smile! — but your smile hath a dimness yet —
Oh! what have ye looked on since last we met?

Ye are changed, ye are changed! and I see not here
All whom I saw in the vanished year!
There were graceful heads with their ringlets bright,
Which tossed in the breeze with a play of light,
There were eyes, in whose glistening laughter lay
No faint remembrance of dull decay!

There were steps that flew o’er the cowslip’s head,
As if for a banquet all earth were spread;
There were voices that rung thro’ the sapphire sky,
And had not a sound of mortality!
Are they gone? is their mirth from the mountains passed?
Ye have looked on death since ye met me last!

I know whence the shadow comes o’er you now,
Ye have strewn the dust on the sunny brow!
Ye have given the lovely to earth’s embrace,
She hath taken the fairest of beauty’s race,
With their laughing eyes and their festal crown,
They are gone from amongst you in silence down!

The Summer is coming, on soft winds borne,
Ye may press the grape, ye may bind the corn!
For me I depart to a brighter shore,
Ye are marked by care, ye are mine no more,
I go where the loved, who have left you, dwell,
And the flowers are not death’s — farewell, farewell!”

Summer is drawn naked, bearing an ear of corn, just arriving at its fullness, to denote the harvest yielded by its light and heat; with a scythe in her hand, to intimate that it is the season of harvest.

“A welcome to the summer’s pleasant song,
A welcome to the summer’s golden hour,
A welcome to the myriad joys that throng,
With a deep loveliness, o’er tree and flower,
The earth is glad with beauty, the sky
Smiles in calm grandeur over vale and hill,
And the breeze murmurs forth a gentle sigh,
And the fish leap from out the smiling rill.
The town’s pale denizens come forth to breathe.
The free, fresh air, and lave their fevered brows;
And beauty loves young fairy flowers to wreathe
Beneath some stately forest’s antique boughs.
Oh! art hath nought like this, the very air
Breatheth of beauty, banishing despair.”

At other times, she is represented surrounded by the flowers which blossom latest, mingled with the delicious fruits which are the offspring of the summer season.

“Come away! the sunny hours
Woo thee far to founts and bowers!
O’er the very waters now,
                     In their play,
Flowers are shedding beauty’s glow —
                     Come away!
Where the lily’s tender gleam
Quivers on the glancing stream —
                     Come away!
All the air is filled with sound,
Soft, and sultry, and profound;
Murmurs through the shadowy grass
                     Lightly stray;
Faint winds whisper as they pass —
                     Come away;
Where the bee’s deep music swells
From the trembling fox-glove bells —
                     Come away!
In the skies the sapphire blue
Now hath won its richest hue;
In the woods the breath of song
                     Night and day
Floats with leafy scents along —
Where the boughs with dewy gloom
                     Come away!
Darken each thick bed of bloom
                     Come away!
In the deep heart of the rose
Now the crimson love-hue glows;
Now the glow-worm’s lamp by night
                     Sheds a ray,
Dreamy, starry, freely bright —
                     Come away!
Where the fairy cup-moss lies,
With the wild-wood strawberries,
                     Come away!
Now each tree by summer crowned,
Sheds its own night twilight round;
Glancing there from sun to shade,
               Bright wings play;
Here the deer its couch hath made —
                     Come away!
Where the smooth leaves of the lime
Glisten in the honey time,
                     Come away — away!”

Autumn appears clad in a robe red with the juice of the vintage, which he yields to gladden the heart of man: while a dog is placed at his feet to denote it as the season of the chase.

“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn,
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;
Shaking his tangled locks all dewy bright
With spangled gossamer that fell by night,
    Pearling his coronet of golden corn.
Where are the songs of summer? with the sun,
Opening the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up alone,
And morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds? Away, away
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
        Lest owls should prey
        Undazzled at noon-day,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.

Where are the blooms of Summer? in the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours,
When the mild eve by sudden night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatched from her flowers
        To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer, — the green prime —
The many, many leaves all twinkling? — There
On the moss’d elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling, — and one upon the old oak tree!
        Where is the Dryad’s immortality?
    Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long, gloomy winter through
        In the smooth holly’s green eternity.

The squirrel gloats on his accomplished hoard,
The Ants have trimm’d their garners with ripe grain,
        And honey bees have stored
The sweets of summer in their luscious cells;

“The swallows all have winged across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
        And sighs her tearful spells,
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
        Alone, alone,
        Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone,
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the withered world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drowned past
In the hushed mind’s mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, grey upon the grey.

O go and sit with her, and be o’ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair;
She wears a coronal of flowers faded,
Upon her forehead, and a face of care; —
There is enough of withered every where
To make her bower, — and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died — whose doom
Is beauty’s, — she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks, most beautifies the light;
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl,
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul.”

Winter, as the oldest season, is drawn with shrivelled limbs, and white and hoary locks, to represent the appearance of old age.

“When first the fiery mantled sun
His heavenly race began to run;
Round the earth, in ocean blue
His children four the Seasons flew; —
First, in the green apparel dancing,
    The young Spring smiled with angel grace;
Rosy Summer next advancing,
    Rushed into her sire’s embrace: —
Her bright haired sire, who bade her keep
    For ever nearest to his smiles,
On Calpe’s olive shaded steep,
    On India’s citron covered isles:
Now remote and buxom brown,
    The queen of vintage bowed before his throne;
A rich pomegranate gemmed her crown,
    A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar,
To hills that prop the polar star,
And loves on deer-borne car to ride
With barren Darkness by his side,
Round the shore where loud Lofoden
    Whirls to death the roaring whale,
Round the hall where Runic Oden
    Howls his war song to the gale;

    “Save when a-down the ravaged globe
    He travels on his native storm,
Deflowering Nature’s grassy robe,
    And trampling on her faded form:
Till light’s returning lord assume
    The shaft that drives him to his polar field,
Of power to pierce his raven plume,
    And chrystal covered shield.
Oh, sire of storms, whose savage ear
The Lapland drum delights to hear,
When frenzy with her bloodshot eye
Implores thy dreadful deity,
Archangel! power of desolation!
    Fast descending as thou art,
Say, hath mortal invocation
    Spells to touch thy stony heart?
Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer,
And gently rule the ruined year;
Nor chill the wanderer’s bosom bare,
Nor freeze the wretch’s falling tear.
To shuddering want’s unmantled bed,
Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead,
And gently on the orphan head
Of innocence descend.
But chiefly spare, O King of clouds,
The sailor on his airy shrouds;
When wrecks and beacons strew the steep,
And spectres walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes
    Pour on yonder tented shores,
Where the Rhine’s broad billow freezes,
    Or the dark brown Danube roars.
Oh, winds of Winter! list ye there
    To many a deep and dying groan;
Or start, ye demons of the midnight air,
    At shrieks and thunders louder than your own.
Alas! e’en your unhallowed breath,
    May spare the victim fallen low;
But man will ask no truce to death,
    No bounds to human woe.”

Divinities of the Sea. §

Oceanus and Thetis. §

Oceanus, one of the most powerful deities of the sea, was, according to Homer, the parent of all the gods, and on that account received frequent visits from the remainder of the deities. He is represented as an old man, with a long, flowing beard, and sitting upon the waves of the sea. He often holds a pike in his hand, whilst ships under sail appear at a distance, or a sea monster stands near him.

Oceanus presided over every part of the sea, and even the rivers were subjected to his power. The ancients were very reverential in their homage to Oceanus, and worshipped with great solemnity a deity, to whose care they entrusted themselves when going on any voyage.

He was the father of the Oceanides to the number of three thousand.

“Three thousand graceful Oceanides
Long-stepping, tread the earth, or far and wide
Dispersed, they haunt the glassy depth of lakes,
A glorious sisterhood of goddess birth.”

Thetis, one of the sea deities, was daughter of Nereus and Doris and is often confounded with Tethys, her grandmother. She was loved by Neptune and Jupiter; but when the gods were informed that her son would become greater than his father, they ceased their addresses, and Peleus, the son of Æacus, was permitted to solicit her hand. Thetis refused him, but the lover had the artifice to catch her when asleep, and by binding her strongly, prevented her escaping from his grasp. When Thetis found she could not elude the vigilance of Peleus, she consented to marry him, though much against her inclination. Their nuptials were celebrated on Mount Peleon with great pomp, at which all the deities attended.

“Proteus thus to virgin Thetis said,
‘Fair goddess of the waves, consent to wed,
A son you’ll have, the terror of the field,
To whom, in fame and power, his sire shall yield.’
Jove, who adored the nymph with boundless love,
Did, from his breast, the dangerous flame remove;
He knew the fates, nor cared to raise up one,
Whose fame and greatness, should eclipse his own.
On happy Peleus he bestowed her charms,
And blessed his grandson in the goddess’ arms:
— A silent creek Thessalia’s coast can show,
Two arms project, and shape it like a bow;
’Twould make a bay, but the transparent tide
Does scarce the yellow, gravel bottom hide;
A grove of fragrant myrtle near it grows,
Whose boughs, though thick, a beauteous grot disclose
The well wrought fabric, to discerning eyes,
Rather by art than nature seem to rise.
A bridled dolphin, oft fair Thetis bore
To this her loved retreat, her favourite shore:
Here Peleus seized her slumbering where she lay,
And urged his suit, with all that love could say:
The nymph o’erpowered, to art for succour flies,
And various shapes the eager youth surprize.

“A bird she seems, but plies her wings in vain,
His hand the fleeting substance still detain:
A branchy tree, high in the air she grew,
About its bark, his nimble arms he threw:
A tiger next she glares with flaming eyes,
The frightened lover quits his hold and flies.
The sea-gods he with sacred rites adores,
Then a libation on the ocean pours;
While the fat entrails crackle in the fire,
And sheets of smoke in sweet perfume aspire:
Till Proteus, rising from his oozy bed,
Thus to the poor, desponding lover said,
‘No more in anxious thoughts your mind employ,
For yet you shall possess the dear, expected joy,
You must once more the unwary nymph surprize,
As in her cooly grot she slumbering lies:
Then bind her fast with unrelenting hands,
And strain her tender limbs with knotted bands;
Still hold her under every distant shape,
Till tired, she tries no longer to escape?
Thus he then sunk beneath the glassy flood,
And broken accents fluttered where he stood.
Bright Sol had almost now his journey done,
And down the steepy, western convex run;
When the fair Nereid left the briny wave,
And, as she used, retreated to her cave,
He scarce had bound her fast, when she arose,
And into various shapes her body throws;
She went to move her arms, then found them tied,
Then with a sigh ‘Some god assists,’ she cried,
And in her proper shape stood blushing by his side.”

Thetis became mother of several children by Peleus, but all these she destroyed by fire in attempting to see whether they were immortal. Achilles would have shared the same fate, if Peleus had not snatched him from her hand, as she was going to repeat the cruel operation. She afterwards rendered his body invulnerable by plunging him in the waters of the Styx, excepting that part of the heel by which she held him. As Thetis well knew the future fate of her son, she attempted to remove him from the Trojan war, by concealing him in the court of Lycomedes. This, however, was useless, as he went with the rest of the Greeks. The mother, still anxious for his preservation, prevailed upon Vulcan to make him a suit of armour; but after it was done, she refused to fulfil the promise she had made to the god. When Achilles was killed by Paris, Thetis issued out of the sea with the Nereids to mourn his death, and after she had collected his ashes in a golden urn, raised a monument to his memory, and instituted festivals in his honour.

Triton, Proteus, Portumnus, Glaucus, Æolus, the Syrens, Charybdis and Scylla, Circe and the Harpies. §

Triton was the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, and was reckoned of much importance among the sea deities, being able to raise or to calm storms at his pleasure. He is generally represented with a shell in his hand.

“Old Triton blowing his sea horn.”

His body above the waist, is that of a man, but below, a dolphin’s, while by some he is shown with the fore feet of a horse. He usually precedes the chariot of the god of the sea, sounding his shell, and is resembled, in this, by his sons the Tritons.

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Proteus, son of Oceanus and Thetis, was guardian of the subjects of Neptune, and had the power of looking into the future, from that God, because he had tended for him the monsters of the sea.

“The shepherd of the seas, a prophet, and a god,
High o’er the main, in watery pomp he rides,
His azure car and finny coursers guides.
With sure foresight, and with unerring doom
He sees what is, and was, and is to come.”

From his knowledge of futurity, mankind are said to have received the greatest benefits.

—————— “Blue Proteus dwells,
Great Neptune’s prophet, who the ocean quells;
He in a glittering chariot courses o’er
The foaming waves, him all the nymphs adore,
Old Nereus too, because he all things knows,
The past, the present, and the future shows;
So Neptune pleased who Proteus thus inspired,
And with such wages to his service hired,
Gave him the rule of all his briny flocks,
That feed among a thousand ragged rocks.”

The changes which this deity was able to make in his appearance, caused the name of Proteus to be synonymous with change. Thus

“The Proteus lover woos his playful bride,
To win the fair he tries a thousand forms,
Basks on the sands, or gambols in the storms.
A dolphin now, his scaly sides he laves;
And bears the sportive damsel on the waves;
She strikes the cymbals as he moves along,
And wondering Ocean listens to the song.
And now a spotted pard the lover stalks,
Plays round her steps, and guards her favoured walks;
As with white teeth he prints her hand, caressed,
And lays his velvet paw upon her breast,
O’er his round face her snowy fingers strain
The silken knots and fit the ribbon-rein.
And now a swan he spreads his plumy sails,
And proudly glides before the fanning gales;
Pleased on the flowery brink with graceful hand
She waves her floating lover to the land;
Bright shines his sinuous neck with crimson beak,
He prints fond kisses on her glowing cheek,
Spreads his broad wings, elates his ebon crest,
And clasps the beauty to his downy breast.”

He usually resided on the Carpathian sea, and like the rest of the sea gods, reposed upon the shore, where those resorted who wished to consult him to obtain any revelation; but it was necessary to secure him, lest by taking some unnatural shape, he should elude their vigilance.

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Portumnus, the guardian of doors, was at first known as Melicerta, and was the son of Athamas and Ino. He was saved by his mother from the fury of his father, Athamas, who became inflamed by such a sudden fury, that he took Ino for a Lioness, and her two children for whelps. In this fit of madness, he dashed one of them against a wall; Ino fled with Melicerta in her arms, and threw herself into the sea from a high rock, and was changed into a sea deity, by Neptune, who had compassion on her misfortunes. It is supposed by many, that the Isthmian games were in honour of Portumnus.

Glaucus was a fisher of Bœotia, and remarking, on one occasion, that the fish which he threw on the grass, seemed to receive fresh vigour from touching the ground, he attributed it to the grass, and tasting it, was seized with a sudden desire to live in the sea.

Upon this, he leapt into the water, and was made a sea deity by Oceanus, at the request of the marine gods.

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Æolus, god of the winds, reigned in the Vulcanean islands, and was under the power of Neptune, who allowed him to give liberty to the winds, or to recall them into their caverns at his pleasure.

    “Oh many a voice is thine thou wind!
    Full many a voice is thine,
From every scene thy wing o’ersweeps
    Thou bear’st a sound and sign;
A minstrel wild and strong thou art,
    With a mastery all thine own,
And the spirit is thy harp, O wind!
    That gives the answering tone.

    “Thou hast been across red fields of war,
    Where shivered helmets lie,
And thou bringest thence the thrilling note
    Of a clarion in the sky:

    “A rustling of proud banner folds,
    A peal of stormy drums, —
All these are in thy music met,
    As when a leader comes.

    “Thou hast been o’er solitary seas,
    And from their wastes brought back
Each noise of waters that awoke
    In the mystery of thy track;
The chime of low, soft southern waves
    On some green palmy shore,
The hollow roll of distant surge,
    The gathered billows roar.

    “Thou art come from forests dark and deep,
    Thou mighty, rushing wind!
And thou bearest all their unisons
    In one, full swell combined;
The restless pines, the moaning stream,
    All hidden things and free,
Of the dim, old sounding wilderness,
    Have lent their soul to thee.

    “Thou art come from cities lighted up
    For the conqueror passing by,
Thou art wafting from their streets, a sound
    Of haughty revelry:
The rolling of triumphant wheels,
    The harpings in the hall,
The far off shout of multitudes,
    Are in thy rise and fall.

    “Thou art come from kingly tombs and shrines,
    From ancient minsters vast,
Through the dark aisles of a thousand years
    Thy lonely wing hath passed;
Thou hast caught the anthem’s billowy swell,
    The stately dirge’s tone;
For a chief, with sword and shield, and helm,
    To his place of slumber’s gone.

    “Thou art come from long forsaken homes,
    Wherein our young days flew,
Thou hast found sweet voices lingering there,
    The loved, the kind, the true!
Thou callest back those melodies,
    Though now all changed and fled,
Be still, be still, and haunt us not
    With music from the dead!

    “Are all these notes in thee, wild wind?
    These many notes in thee?
Far in our own unfathomed souls
    Their fount must surely be;
Yes! buried, but unsleeping, there;
    Thought watches, memory lies,
From whose deep urn the tones are poured
    Through all earth’s harmonies.”

The principal winds are Boreas, Auster, Eurus and Zephyrus. Boreas, God of the North, carried away Orithya, who refused to receive his addresses. By her he had Zetes and Calais, Cleopatra and Cheone. He once changed himself into a horse, to unite himself with the mare of Dardanus, by which he had a female progeny of twelve, so swift, that they ran or rather flew over the sea without wetting a foot. The Athenians dedicated altars to him when Xerxes invaded Europe.

Auster, God of the south wind, appeared generally as an old man with grey hair, a gloomy countenance, a head covered with clouds, a sable vesture and dusky wings. He is the dispenser of rain and of all heavy showers.

Eurus, God of the east, is represented as a young man, flying with great impetuosity, and often appearing in a playful and wanton humour.

Zephyrus, God of the West, the warmest of all the winds, married Flora, and was said to produce flowers and fruits, by the sweetness of his breath. Companion of love, he has the figure of a youth, and the wings of a butterfly.

Songs of the Winds.

“We are free! we are free! in our home the skies,
When we calmly sleep, or in tumult rise,
When we smile on the vision-like realms below,
Or vengefully utter the chords of woe.
When we dance in the sunbeams, or laughingly play
With the spring clouds that fly from our kisses away,
When we grapple and fight with the bellowing foam,
Or slumber and sleep in our shadowless home.”

North Wind.

    “I’ve blastingly wandered
    Where nature doth pant;
And gloomily pondered
    O’er sadness and want.

An old man was sighing
    O’er angel lips gone,
His cherub was dying,
    And he was alone.

On his grey locks I clotted
    An ice-crown cold, —
His sinews I knotted;
    His tale is told.”

South Wind.

    “I met two young lovers,
    And listed their vows,
Where the woodbine covers
    The old oak boughs.

Enhancing their pleasures
    I fluttered around.
And joined with glad measures
    Their soft sighs’ sound.

They blessed me for bringing
    Sweet perfumes near,
They blessed me for singing
    A cadence so dear.”

East Wind.

    “I’ve wafted through bowers
    Where angels might muse,
And kiss their bright flowers
    Of loveliest hues.

And maidens were singing
    Of beauty and love,
Their symphonies ringing,
    Resounded above.

I parted the tresses,
    From fairy-like brows,
Where the lily impresses
    Its earliest vows.”

West Wind.

    “I’ve rolled o’er the regions
    Of earth and sea,
And laughed at the legions
    That trembled at me.

I’ve madly gambolled
    With clouds and waves;
And closed, as I rambled,
    My victim’s grave.

I’ve roared and I’ve revelled,
    With fiend-like glee,
Earth’s palaces levelled,
    Wrecks dashed o’er the sea.”


“We are free, we are free, in our realms of air,
We list to no sorrow, we own no care;
We hold our carousals aloft with the stars,
Where they glitter along in their golden cars,
We frolic and bound with the playful wave,
Which the prison-like confines of earth doth lave;
We are glad, we are glad, and in breeze or in blast,
We will sport round the world as long as ’twill last.”

Alcyone, the daughter of Æolus, married Ceyx, who was drowned as he was going to Claros to consult an oracle. Alcyone was apprized in a dream of her husband’s fate, and finding on the morrow his body upon the shore, she threw herself into the sea. The Gods, touched by her fidelity, changed her and her husband into the birds of the same name, who keep the waters calm and serene while they build and sit on their nests in the surface of the sea.

                          “O, poor Alcyone!
What were thy feelings on the stormy strand,
When thou saw’st Ceyx borne a corse to land?
                          O, I could weep with thee,
And sit whole tides upon the pebbly shore,
And listen to the waves lamenting roar,
                          O, poor Alcyone!
But now thy stormy passion past,
Thou upon the wave at last,
                          Buildest, from all tempest free,
Thou and Ceyx, side by side,
Charming the distempered tide,
                          O, dear Alcyone!”

The Syrens were three in number, and were companions of Proserpine, at the time of her being carried off; they prayed for wings from the Gods, to unite their efforts with those of Ceres.

In despair at the uselessness of their search, they retired to the sea shore, where, in the midst of desolate rocks, they sang songs of the most enchanting and attractive nature, while those who were drawn by their beauty to listen to them, perished on the spot.

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    “Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul,
And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause.”

Charybdis was an avaricious woman, who, stealing from Hercules, was slain by him, and became one of the divinities of the sea.

Scylla, daughter of Hecate and of Phorcys, was a beautiful nymph, greatly beloved by Glaucus, also one of the deities of the sea. Scylla scorned his addresses, and the God, to render her propitious, sought the aid of Circe, who no sooner saw him than she became enamoured, and, instead of assisting him, tried to win his love to herself tho’ in vain. To punish her rival, Circe poured the juice of poisonous herbs into the waters of the fountain where Scylla bathed, and no sooner had the nymph entered, than her body, below the waist, was changed into frightful monsters, like dogs, which never ceased barking, while the remainder of her form assumed an equally hideous appearance, being supported by twelve feet, with six different heads, each bearing three rows of teeth. This sudden metamorphose so alarmed her, that she threw herself into that part of the sea which separates the coast of Italy and Sicily, where she was changed into rocks which continue to bear her name, and which were deemed as dangerous to sailors, as the whirlpool of Charybdis, on the coast of Sicily, and from which has arisen the proverb, “By avoiding Charybdis we fall upon Scylla!”

“Upon the beech a winding bay there lies,
Sheltered from seas, and shaded from the skies;
This station Scylla chose; a soft retreat
From chilling winds and raging cancer’s heat.
The vengeful sorceress visits this recess,
Her charm infuses, and infects the place.
Soon as the nymph wades in, her nether parts
Turn into dogs, then at herself she starts.
A ghastly horror in her eyes appears
But yet she knows not what it is she fears,
In vain she offers from herself to run,
And drag’s about her what she strives to shun.
“Oppressed with grief the pitying god appears,
And swells the rising surges with his tears;
From the detested sorceress he flies,
Her art reviles, and her address denies,
Whilst happless Scylla, changed to rocks, decrees
Destruction to those barks that beat the seas.”

The Harpies were monsters with the faces of old women, the wings and body of a vulture, the ears of a bear, having claws on their feet and hands, and spreading famine wherever they made their hideous appearance.

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Divinities of the Infernal Regions. §

[The Parcæ.] §

The Parcæ or Fates, were three powerful goddesses, who presided over the birth and life of mankind. Clotho, the youngest of the sisters, governed the moment of birth, and held a distaff in her hand: Lacheses spun out all the events and actions in the time; and Atropos, the eldest, cut the thread of humanity with her scissors.

—— “The fates, in vengeance pitiless;
Who at the birth of men dispense the lot
Of good and evil. They of men and gods
The crimes pursue, nor ever pause from wrath
Tremendous, till destructive on the head
Of him that sins the retribution falls.”

Their powers were great and extensive, and they are represented by some as sitting at the foot of the throne of the King of Hell; while others make them appear on radiant seats amidst the celestial spheres, clothed in robes spangled with stars, and wearing crowns on their heads.

Their dresses are differently described by some authors.

Clotho has on a variegated robe, and on her head a crown of seven stars. She holds a distaff in her hand, reaching from heaven to earth. The garment which Lacheses wore was variegated with a great number of stars, and near her a variety of spindles. Atropos was clothed in black; she held scissors in her hand, with clues of threads of various sizes, according to the length or shortness of the lives whose destinies they were supposed to contain.

“The three Parcæ, Fates fair offspring born,
The world’s great spindle as its axle turn;
Round which eight spheres in beauteous order run,
And as they turn, revolving Time is spun,
Whose motions all things upon earth ordain,
Whence revolutions date their fickle reign.
These robed in white, at equal distance throned,
Sit o’er the spheres, and twirl the spindle round,
On each of which a syren loudly sings,
As from the wheel the fatal thread she flings;
The Parcæ answer, in the choir agree
And all those voices make one harmony.”

The worship of the Parcæ was well established in some parts of Greece, and though mankind knew they were inexorable, and that it was impossible to mitigate their decrees, yet they evinced a respect for their divinity, by raising statues to them.

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Night. §

Nox, one of the most ancient deities among the heathens, was the daughter of Chaos. From her union with her brother Erebus, she gave birth to day and light: she is called by some of the poets, the mother of all things, of gods no less than of men, and was worshipped with great solemnity by the ancients, who erected to her a famous statue in Diana’s temple at Ephesus. The cock was offered to her, as the bird which proclaims the coming of the day. She is drawn mounted on a chariot, and covered with a veil bespangled with stars, and the constellations preceded her as her messengers.

Sometimes she is seen holding two children under her arms, one of which is dark like night, and the other light like day.

“Night, when like perfumes that have slept
All day within the wild flower’s heart,
Steal out the thoughts the soul has kept
In silence and apart:
And voices we have pined to hear,
Through many a long and lonely day,
Come back upon the dreaming ear,
From grave lands far away,
And gleams look forth of spirit eyes
Like stars along the darkening skies!”

She has been described by some of the modern writers, as a woman clothed in mourning, crowned with poppies, and drawn in a chariot by owls and bats.

Song of Night.

                        “I come to thee, O Earth!
With all my gifts; for every flower, sweet dew
In bell, and urn, and chalice, to renew
                        The glory of its birth.

                        I come with every star;
Making thy streams, that on their noon-day track,
Give but the moss, the reed, the lily back,
                        Mirrors of world’s afar.

                        I come with peace; I shed
Sleep through the wood walks, o’er the honey bee,
The lark’s triumphant voice, the fawn’s young glee,
                        The hyacinth’s meek head.

                        On my own heart I lay
The weary babe; and sealing with a breath
Its eyes of love, send fairy dreams, beneath
                        The shadowing lids to play.

                        I come with mightier things!
Who calls me silent? I have many tones —
The dark skies thrill with low mysterious moans,
                        Borne on my sweeping wings.

                        I waft them not alone
From the deep organ of the forest shades,
Or buried streams, unheard amidst their glades
                        Till the bright day is done.

                        But in the human breast,
A thousand still, small voices I awake,
Strong in their sweetness, from the soul to shake
                        The mantle of its rest.

                        I bring them from the past,
From true hearts broken, gentle spirits torn,
From crushed affections, which, though long o’erborne,
                        Make their tones heard at last.

                        I bring them from the tomb!
O’er the sad couch of late repentant love
They pass — though low as murmurs of a dove —
                        Like trumpets through the gloom.

                        I come with all my train;
Who calls me lonely? Hosts around me tread,
The intensely bright, the beautiful, the dead,
                        Phantoms of heart and brain.

                        Looks from departed eyes —
These are my lightnings! fill’d with anguish vain,
Or tenderness too precious to sustain,
                        They smite with agonies.

                        I that with soft control,
Shut the dim violet, hush the woodland song,
I am the avenging one! the arm’d, the strong,
                        The searcher of the soul.

                        I that shower dewy light
Through slumbering leaves, bring storms! — the tempest birth
Of memory, thought, remorse: — be holy, Earth!
                        I am the solemn night!”

Death. §

Poets have given to Death a heart of iron, bowels of steel, black wings, and a net with which she envelopes her victims. Statuaries carve her under the form of a large skeleton, armed with a scythe, and bearing wings. Sparta and Elis honoured her, but Phœnicia and Spain paid to her more particularly the homage of a divinity. She inhabits the infernal regions; and though, in more modern times, Death has been always addressed as a divinity of the masculine gender. The Lacedæmonians indeed, regarded her, not as an existing, but as an imaginary being.

    “Mysterious power! whose dark and gloomy sway
    Extends o’er all creation, what art thou?
They call thee ‘King of Terrors!’ drear dismay
    Followeth thy footsteps, and around thy brow
Hovers a thick impenetrable cloud,
Which, to some hearts, is Hope’s sad funeral shroud.

Beside the infant on its cradle bed,
    The mother watches thro’ the hour of night;
Hope hath not quite her lonely spirit fled,
    Tho’ o’er her first-born babe hath passed the blight
Of fell disease: wait, wait one moment more,
Thy hand has touched it, Death, and hope is o’er.

Thou turn’st the hall of revelry to gloom,
    The wedding garment to a garb of woe;
Thou com’st in silence to the banquet room,
    Ceased is the noisy mirth, the red wine’s flow,
And men look pale at thee, and gasp for breath,
Thou doest this, thou doest more, oh! Death

Thou twin’st the cypress wreath round victory’s brow,
    The brave have won the fight, but, fighting, fell;
It was thine arm that laid the victor low,
    And toll’d amid the triumph, a lone knell
For his departure: Death — thy gloomy power
Can throw a sadness o’er the happiest hour.

Thou comest to the monarch in his hour
    Of pomp, and pride, and royalty’s array;
And the next victim of thy reckless power
    May be the beggar in his hut of clay:
Thy hand can lay the tattered vagrant down
Beside the head that wore the kingly crown.

    “Childhood is thine, its unexpanded bloom,
    Shrinks to decay beneath thy chilling breath;
Gay Youth, thou witherest, with thy touch of doom,
    Stern Manhood shrinks beneath thy grasp, oh, death,
And fragile Age by worldly cares opprest,
Sinks, softly sinks, into those arms for rest.

And then methought death’s hollow voice replied,
    ‘Rash mortal — would’st thou tempt the dangerous gloom,
Launch thy frail bark upon the awful tide
    That leaves the lonely islands of the tomb;
Darest thou, in thy vain impotence of pride
Demand the knowledge to frail man denied?

Call’st thou me reckless, when I place my hand
    Upon the earliest buddings of the spring?
Had I allowed those sweet buds to expand,
    What would the skies of gloomy autumn bring?
Darkness, dismay: those sweet buds, leaf by leaf,
Had sadly faded, full of tears and grief.

What though I slew the victor in his pride,
    ’Tis meet the brave on battle field should die,
His name is echoed thro’ the nations wide,
    Reared is the column where his ashes lie;
He sought for fame, he won it, bravely won;
He died for fame, when his great task was done.
What tho’ I turn the banquet room to grief,
    The wedding garment to a garb of woe,
Do I not bring to wounded hearts relief?
    Do I not ease the wretched of his woe?
Then taunt me not with wanton cruelty,
Man knows ’tis written ‘thou must surely die!’

But at what hour, no mortal power may know,
    Whether at morn, at dewy eve, or night,
When sinks the heart beneath its weight of woe,
    Or throb the pulses with supreme delight,
Vain mortal! cease God’s sovereign will to scan,
Be thou prepared to meet the son of man!’”

Sleep. §

Sleep, the accustomed companion of night, inhabits the lower regions, though Ovid has placed his palace in the cold Scythia.

—————— “In his dark abode
Deep in a cavern dwells the drowsy god,
Whose gloomy mansion nor the rising sun
Nor setting, visits, nor the lightsome noon;
But lazy vapours round the region fly,
Perpetual twilight and a doubtful sky;
No crowing cock does there his wings display
Nor with his horny bill provoke the day;
Nor watchful dogs, nor the more wakeful geese,
Disturb, with nightly noise, the sacred peace:
Nor beast of nature nor the laws, are nigh,
Nor trees with tempests rocked, nor human cry,
But safe repose, without an air of breath,
Dwells here, and a dumb quiet next to death,
An arm of Lethe with a gentle flow,
Arising upward from the rock below,
The palace moats, and o’er the pebbles creeps,
And with soft murmurs calls the coming sleeps.
Around its entry nodding poppies grew,
And all cool simples that sweet rest bestow;
Night from the plants their sleepy virtue drains,
And passing, sheds it on the silent plains:
No door there was th’ unguarded house to keep,
On creaking hinges turned to break his sleep.
But in the gloomy court was raised a bed,
Stuffed with black plumes, and in an ebon stead;
Black was the covering too where lay the god,
And slept supine, his limbs displayed abroad.”

The principal minister of Sleep is Morpheus, son of Somnus, who was the presider over sleep; the former was the parent of dreams, of whom, by a beautiful idea, imagination was said to be the mother. The palace of Somnus was a dark cave, where the god lies asleep on a bed of feathers. The dreams stand by him, and Morpheus, as his principal minister, watches, to prevent any noise from awaking him.

    “Oh lightly, lightly tread,
    A holy thing is sleep;
On the worn spirit shed,
    And eyes that wake to weep.
A holy thing from heaven,
    A gracious, dewy cloud,
A covering mantle given,
    The weary to enshroud!

Oh! lightly, lightly tread;
    Revere the pale, still brow,
The meekly drooping head,
    The long hair’s willowy flow.
Ye know not what ye do,
    That call the slumberers back,
From the world unseen by you
    Unto life’s dim faded track.

Her soul is far away,
    In her childhood’s land, perchance,
Where her young sisters play,
    Where shines her mother’s glance.
Some old sweet native sound
    Her spirit haply weaves;
A harmony profound,
    Of woods with all their leaves.

A murmur of the sea,
    A laughing tone of streams;
Long may her sojourn be
    In the music land of dreams.
Each voice of love is there,
    Each gleam of beauty fled,
Each lost one still more fair —
    Oh! lightly, lightly tread!”

By the Lacedæmonians, the image of Somnus was always placed near that of death on account of their apparent resemblance.

    “How wonderful is death,
    Death and his brother Sleep!
One, pale as yonder waning moon,
    With lips of lurid blue;
The other rosy as the morn
    When throned in ocean’s wave,
    It blushes o’er the world:
Yet both so passing wonderful!”
————— “The one glides gentle o’er the space
Of earth, and broad expanse of ocean waves,
Placid to man. The other has a heart
Of iron; yea, the heart within his breast
Is brass, unpitying; whom of men he grasps
Stern he retains.”

Manes. §

The Manes was a name applied generally to the soul after it has separated from the body, and were among the infernal deities being supposed to preside over the grave, burial places, and monuments of the dead.

They were worshipped with great great solemnity, particularly by the Romans, and were always invoked by the Augurs before proceeding about their sacerdotal offices.

It was believed that these spirits quitted, during the hours of night, their melancholy dwelling-place, and “revisited the glimpses of the moon,” to exercise their benevolence or their fury. They were allowed also to leave their tombs three times during the course of the year while their fêtes, which were the most pompous in Rome, were proceeding in their honour.

Nemesis. §

Nemesis, Goddess of Justice and of Vengeance, was the daughter of Necessity. This divinity had wings, a fillet of serpents round her brow, and a sword to strike the unhappy criminals who merited its blow; — though always ready to punish the impious, she was equally liberal in rewarding the good and the virtuous. The people of Smyrna were the first who made her statue with wings, to show with what celerity she is prepared to punish the crimes of the wicked.

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The Romans were particularly attentive in their adoration of this deity, whom they solemnly invoked, and to whom they offered sacrifices before declaring war, to evince to the world that they were commenced upon equitable grounds.

The Athenians instituted fêtes called Nemesia, in memory of deceased persons, as the goddess was supposed to defend the relics and the memory of the dead from insult.

Domestic Divinities. §

The Lares and the Penates. §

The Lares were the household divinities who presided over the interests of private families. Their worship is supposed to have arisen from the ancient custom among the Romans and other nations, of burying their dead within their houses, and the belief that the spirits of the departed continually hovered over their former dwellings, for the protection of the inhabitants. Their statues were placed in a niche behind the doors of the houses, or around the hearths; while at their feet was placed a dog barking, to intimate the watchfulness they exhibited. Their festivals were observed at Rome in the month of May, when their statues were crowned with garlands of flowers, and fruit offerings presented to them.

The Penates also closely resembled the Lares, and presided over houses and the domestic affairs of families. It was at the option of every master of a family to choose his Penates, and therefore Jupiter and some of the superior gods, are often invoked as domestic divinities.

They were originally the manes of the dead, but when mankind had been taught by superstition to pay deep reverence to the statues or images of their deceased friends, that reverence was soon changed for a more regular worship, and they were admitted by their votaries to share immortality and power, with the remainder or the Gods.

The statues of the Penates were generally formed of wax, silver, ivory, or earthenware, according to the poverty or riches of the worshipper.

When offerings were made to them, their shrines were crowned with garlands, and besides one day in every month set apart for their homage, their festivals were celebrated during the Saturnalia.

Hymn to the Penates.

“Yet one song more! one high and solemn strain,
Ere, Phœbus! on thy temples ruined wall
I hang the silent harp: one song more!
Penates! hear me! for to you I hymn
The votive lay. Venerable powers!
Hearken your hymn of praise. Though from your rites
Estranged, and exiled from your altars long,
I have not ceased to love you, Household Gods!
O ye whom youth has ‘wildered on your way,
Or vice with fair mask’d foulness, or the lure
Of Fame that calls ye to her crowded path
With folly’s rattle, to your Household Gods
Return: for not in Vice’s gay abodes,
Not in the unquiet, unsafe halls of Fame
Doth Happiness abide!”
——————— “To your Household Gods
Return, for by their altars, Virtue dwells,
And Happiness with her; hearken your hymn of praise,
Penates! to your shrines I come for rest, —
There only to be found. Household Deities,
There only shall be Happiness on earth
When man shall feel your sacred power, and love
Your tranquil joys; then shall the city stand
A huge, void sepulchre, and rising fair
Amid the ruins of the palace pile,
The olive grow, there shall the tree of peace
Strike its roots deep, and flourish.”

Genius. §

The Genius was a kind of spirit which, as the ancients supposed, presided over the actions of mankind, gave them their private councils, and carefully watched over their most secret intentions. Some of the ancient philosophers maintained, that every man had two of these, the one bad, the other good. They had the power of changing themselves into whatever form they pleased, and of assuming whatever shapes were most subservient to their intentions. At the moment of death, they delivered up to judgment the person with whose care they had been entrusted; and according to the evidence he delivered, sentence was passed upon the body. The Genius of Socrates is famous in history. That great philosopher asserted that the Genius informed him when any of his friends were going to engage in some unfortunate enterprise, and stopped him from the commission of all crimes and impiety. The Genii, though at first reckoned only as the subordinate ministers of the superior deities, received divine honour for a length of time, and we find altars and statues erected to them.

Principal Divinities of the Second Order. §

The Graces. §

The Graces, who were daughters of Jupiter and of Venus, presided over the enjoyments of the mind, as well as over those of the heart. Thus the orator received from them the force and brilliancy of his ideas; the artist, his perception of the beautiful; the wise man, that spirit of amiability which appreciates the charms of virtue; the rich man, a love of beneficence and desire of giving; the poor gaiety and patience; the maiden, candour and modesty; and the warrior, bravery united with moderation.

The worship of the Graces appeals to have had birth in Samothracia; then Elis, Perinthia, Delphi, and Rome adopted the three sisters. By some it is asserted, that the beautiful trio remained unwedded; Homer, however, has given Sleep to the youngest as a husband.

During the many sacrifices which were instituted in the various cities, offerings to them were mingled with those to Bacchus, Mercury, the Muses, and Apollo.

The Spartan heroes before going to combat, sacrificed to Love and to the Graces. They were invoked at festivals, and three cups were drunk by those who feasted in honour of Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia.

Of them, the greatest statuaries have erected the most groups, and Socrates himself, before he joined the philosophy in which he ultimately became so eminent, had taken the chisel in his hand, and represented them of slight figure, pure countenance, smiling faces, small mouths, hair negligently tied over their head, and with their hands placed in a graceful attitude.

They sometimes bear with them a branch of myrtle and of roses, the flowers peculiarly consecrated to them.

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Comus, Momus. §

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Comus, God of the pleasures of the table and of good living, was the presider over feasts and festivals, and was honoured most by the dissipated youth who, to do him reverence, wandered about at night in masks, dancing to the sound of musical instruments, and knocking at the doors of dwelling places. During his festivals, men and women exchanged each others dresses. He is represented as a young and drunken man, with a garland of flowers upon his head, his face lit up by the deity of wine, and with a flambeau in his hand which appears falling.

Song of Comus.

“Welcome joy, and feast,
Midnight shout and revelry,
Tipsy dance and jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odours, dropping wine,
Rigour now is gone to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head:
Strict age and sour severity,
With their grave saws, in slumber lie.
We, that are of purer fire,
Imitate the starry quire,
Who, in their nightly watchful spheres,
Lead in swift round the months and years.
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweets to prove;
Venus now wakes, and wakens love.
Come, let us our rites begin;
’Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dim shades will ne’er report.
Come, knot hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.”

Momus, his companion, is the god of joy and pleasantry, and was the buffoon and satirist of Olympus. He wears as head dress, a cap adorned with small bells, a mask in one hand, and on the other a bauble, the symbol of folly. He was constantly engaged in mocking the Gods, and whatever they did was freely turned into ridicule. He laughed at Minerva, who had made a house, because she had not formed it moveable, that the annoyance of a bad neighbourhood might be avoided. He sneered at Neptune’s bull, because the eyes were not placed near enough to the horn, to render his blows surer. He irritated Vulcan, by observing that if he wished to make man perfect, he should have placed a window at his heart; and when he found the beauty of Venus was too perfect to allow of any truth to be mixed with his bitterness, he declared that the noise made by the goddess in walking was far too loud to be agreeable, and detracted from her beauty. At last these illiberal reflections were the cause of his being turned out of Olympus.

Momus has been sung many times by the choice spirits whom he inspired, as well as by the dissipated youth of the city, and occupies in poetry, a rank more elevated than that of Comus. He was greatly honoured during the more dissipated times of Rome, and it was the custom to pour libations to him, before commencing a nocturnal revel.

Hymen. §

This child of Venus and Bacchus presided over marriages, and has the appearance of a beautiful youth, holding a torch in his hand, and in the other a purple garment, with his head ornamented by a crown of roses.

“Till Hymen brought his love-delighted hour.
There dwelt no joy in Eden’s rosy bower!
In vain the viewless seraph lingering there,
At starry midnight charmed the silent air;
In vain the wild bird carolled on the steep
To hail the sun, slow wheeling from the deep;
In vain, to soothe the solitary shade,
Aerial notes in mingling pleasure played;
The Summer wind that shook the spangled trees,
The whispering wave, the murmuring of the breeze;
Still slowly passed the melancholy day,
And still the stranger wist not where to stray.
The world was sad; the garden was a wild!
And man, the hermit, sighed, — till woman smiled!”

According to the more received opinions of others, Hymenæus was a young Athenian of extraordinary beauty, but of low origin. Becoming enamoured of one of the richest and noblest of his countrywomen, he worshipped her at a distance, and followed her, though respectfully, wherever she went: and, on one occasion, joined the nations of Athens in a religious procession, disguising his sex by women’s clothes. When they reached Eleusis, a great part of the procession were seized by a band of pirates, who suddenly appeared amongst them: Hymenæus shared the captivity of his mistress, and encouraging the captives, they slew their ravishers while they slept. Immediately after this, Hymenæus repaired to Athens, and promised to deliver them if he were allowed to marry the one he might choose from amongst them.

The Athenians consented; and the lover received so much happiness in the marriage state, that festivals were instituted in his honour, and he was solemnly invoked at their nuptials.

“Hail, wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety,
In paradise of all things common else!
By thee adulterous lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known,
Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place;
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefiled, and chaste pronounced,
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.
Here love his golden shafts employs, here lights
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels, not in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition; nor in court amours,
Mixed dance or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenade, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.”

It was supposed that he always attended at nuptials; if not, matrimonial connections were fatal, and ended unhappily, and therefore people ran about calling aloud, Hymen! Hymen!

“God of the torch, whose soul-illuming flame
Beams brightest radiance o’er the human heart,
                Of many a woe the cure,
                Of many a joy the source.

Friend to each better feeling of the soul,
I sing to thee, for many a joy is thine,
                And many a virtue comes
                To join thy happy train.

Parent of every bliss, the busy hand
Of Fancy, oft will paint in brightest hues
                How calm, how clear thy torch
                Illumes the wintry hour.

We’ll paint the well-trimmed fire, the frugal meal,
Prepared with good solicitude to please,
                The ruddy children round,
                Climbing the father’s knee.

And oft will fancy rise above the lot
Of honest poverty, and dream how man
                Nor rich, nor poor, enjoys
                His best and happiest state.

When toil no longer irksome, and restrained
By hard necessity, but comes to please,
                To vary the still hour
                Of tranquil happiness,

Lured by the splendour of thy sacred torch,
The beacon light of bliss, young Love draws near,
                And leads his willing slaves
                To wear thy flowery chain.”
“Hymen, late, his love-knots selling,
Called at many a maiden’s dwelling;
None could doubt, who saw, or knew them,
Hymen’s call was welcome to them.
        ‘Who’ll buy my love-knots?
        Who’ll buy my love knots?’
Soon as that sweet cry resounded,
How his baskets were surrounded!

Maids, who now first dreamt of trying
Those gay knots of Hymen’s tying;
Dames, who long had sat to watch him
Passing by, but ne’er could catch him,
        ‘Who’ll buy my love-knots?
        Who’ll buy my love-knots?’
All at that sweet cry assembled;
Some laughed, some blushed, and others trembled.
‘Here are knots,’ said Hymen, taking
Some loose flowers of Love’s own making;
‘Here are good ones, you may trust ‘em,’
(These, of course, found ready custom,)
        ‘Come buy my love-knots,
        Come buy my love-knots!
Some are labelled-knots to tie men,
Love, the maker — Bought of Hymen.’

Scarce their bargains were completed,
When the nymphs all cried, ‘We’re cheated;
‘See these flowers, they’re drooping sadly,
This gold-knot, too, ties but badly’ —
        ‘Who’ll buy my love-knots,
        Who’ll buy my love-knots!’
Even this tie, with Love’s name round it,
All a sham, he never bound it!

Love, who saw the whole proceeding,
Would have laughed, but for good breeding;
While old Hymen, who was used to,
Cries like that these dames gave loose to,
        ‘Take back our love-knots,
        Take back our love-knots!’
Coolly said, ‘There’s no returning
Wares on Hymen’s hands — Good morning!’”

Plutus §

————— “All bountiful, who roams
Earth, and the expanded surface of the sea;
And him that meets him on his way, whose hands
He grasps, him gifts he with abundant gold,
And large felicity.”

Plutus is the god of Riches, and as the minister of the deity of the dead, inhabits the court of Pluto, thereby indicating that the precious metals are in the bowels of the earth. He was brought up by the goddess of peace, and the Greeks spoke of him as a fickle divinity, because represented as blind, he spreads by chance in his rapid course, the gold, silver, and precious stones, which escape from a box he holds in his hands; as lame, because he came slow and gradually; and with wings, to intimate that he flew away with greater velocity than he approached mankind.

Fortuna was the goddess of Fortune, and from her hands were derived riches and poverty, pleasures and misfortunes, blessings and pains.

Governed by Destiny, she guides by Occasion; and before her marches Necessity, the inflexible goddess.

In Bœotia she had a statue, represented as holding Plutus in her arms, to intimate that fortune is the source whence wealth and honours flow. She is blind-folded, and her hand rests on a wheel, to intimate her inconstancy.

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Harpocrates. §

Harpocrates, the son of Isis and Osiris, is the god of Silence. He is represented, in his statues as young, but with a countenance calm and severe, and on his brow a mitre, divided into two equal portions. His finger is placed upon his lip, to intimate the silence he maintains, and hence, all modern works of art adopt the same sign, when they wish to represent the quality over which Harpocrates is supposed to preside.

The Romans placed his statue at the entrance of their temples, to intimate that the mysteries of religion should never be revealed to the people.

“There is a lake that to the North
Of Memphis, stretches grandly forth,
Upon whose silent shore the dead
    Have a proud city of their own,
With shrines and pyramids o’erspread —
Where many an ancient, kingly head
    Slumbers, immortalized in stone;
And where, through marble grots beneath,
    The lifeless, ranged like sacred things,
Nor wanting aught of life, but breath,
    Lie in their painted loveliness,
And in each new successive race,
    That visit their dim haunts below,
Look with the same unwithering face,
    They wore three thousand years ago.
There Silence, thoughtful god, who loves
The neighbourhood of death, in groves
Of Asphodel lies hid, and weaves
His hushing spell among the leaves —
Nor ever noise disturbs the air,
    Save the low, humming, mournful sound
Of priests, within their shrines at prayer,
For the fresh dead, entombed around.”

Themis, Astræa. §

Themis, daughter of heaven and of earth, was the goddess of Justice, She wears a bandage over her eyes, and holds in her hands a sword, scales, and the mirror of truth. Her temple is always open.

Astræa, with Law and Peace, are her children, the former of whom was worshipped as Justice on the earth during the golden age; but the wickedness of mankind drove her from the world, during the succeeding periods of brass and iron, and she was placed among the constellations of the Zodiac, under the name of Virgo. She is represented as a maiden, with a stern but majestic countenance, holding a pair of scales in one hand, and a sword in the other.

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Demi-Gods. §

The demi-gods are those, who, sprung from the union of a mortal with a divinity, have taken their place among the Immortals; and “Fabulous History” is the name given to the recital of their deeds.

Castor and Pollux. §

From the love of Jupiter for Leda, wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta, sprang these twin-brothers. Under the form of a swan, pursued by Venus: in the shape of an eagle, the God sought refuge in Leda’s arms, who in due time produced two eggs, from one of which came Pollux and Helena, and from the other, Castor and Clytemnestra.

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Scarcely had Pollux emerged from childhood, when, being on an expedition with the Argonauts, they stopped in the domains of Amycus, (famous for his skill in the management of the cestus,) who challenged all strangers seeking his dominions to a trial of strength. Pollux accepted his challenge, and surpassed him in skill, on which Amycus attempting to conquer by fraud, Pollux slew him on the spot; and became the patron of athletic exercises.

Castor was skilful in the art of guiding chariots, and subduing the most fiery coursers. These brothers fought Theseus for outraging their sister Helena; they destroyed the pirates who infested Hellespont and the neighbouring seas, and from this have always been considered as gods favourable to sailors. During the Argonautic expedition, in which they had accompanied Jason, when a violent storm was raging, a couple of names were seen playing over their heads, and immediately the tempest was appeased, and the sea became calm.

They were invited to a marriage feast, in which Lynceus and Idas were to be wedded to Phœbe and Talaria the daughters of Leucippus, who was brother to Tyndarus. Becoming enamoured of the two women whose nuptials they had met to celebrate, they resolved to carry them off. This violence provoked the bridegrooms: a combat ensued, in which Castor killed Lynceus, and was slain in return by Idas — Pollux revenged the death of his brother, by slaying Idas, but was unable after this to support life, so devotedly was he attached to his brother: and implored Jupiter either to restore him to life, or that he might be deprived himself of his immortality. His prayers were granted, and the two brothers passed in turn six months in the infernal regions, and six months on earth. This fraternal affection Jupiter rewarded by turning the two brothers into constellations, under the name of Gemini.

Sparta, celebrated in honour of them, a fête called Dioscuria, which was observed with jovial festivity: and in which free use was made of the gifts of Bacchus, accompanied with sports, in which wrestling matches always formed an important part.

Jason. §

This celebrated hero was the son of Alcemede, by Æson; the education of the youthful Jason, whose right of succession to the throne of Iolchos had been wrested from him by Pelias, was entrusted to the care of the centaur Chiron, and he was removed from the presence of the usurper of the kingdom of Iolchos, because the latter had been informed by an oracle that one of the descendants of Æolus, (from whom Jason had come) would dethrone him. After he had distinguished himself by the most rapid success in every branch of science, Jason left the country, and by the advice of his preceptor, went to consult the oracle. He was ordered to go to Iolchos, his native country, covered with the spoils of a leopard, and dressed in the garments of a Magnesian. In his journey he was stopped by the inundation of a river, over which, however, he was carried by Juno, in the character of an old woman. In crossing the stream, he lost one of his sandals, and on his arrival at Iolchos, the singularity of his dress, and the fairness of his complexion, attracted the notice of the people, and drew a crowd round him in the market place. Pelias came to see him with the others, and, as he had been warned by the oracle, to beware of a man who should appear at Iolchos with one foot bare, and the other shod, the appearance of Jason, who as we have seen, had lost one of his sandals, alarmed him, and his terrors were soon after augmented, as Jason, accompanied by his friends repaired to the palace of Pelias, and demanded the kingdom of which he had been unjustly deprived. The boldness of Jason intimidated Pelias; he was unwilling to abdicate the crown, yet he feared the resentment of his adversary.

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As Jason was young and desirous of glory, Pelias reminded him that their common relation, Phryxus, had been inhumanly murdered by Æetes, king of Colchis, in order to obtain possession of the golden fleece which belonged to the murdered man; observing, that, the deed merited punishment, and was one which would produce a crown of glory to him who should inflict it; adding, that if Jason, were to undertake it, he would resign his own crown and kingdom to him, immediately on his return. Burning with the desire of military fame, Jason readily undertook an expedition which seemed to promise so much glory. The expedition was bruited about all Greece, and the young and ardent of the nation were called upon to join him in the glory and the danger.

They set sail in a ship called Argo and after a series of adventures arrived at Colchis. Alarmed at an invasion which appeared so formidable, Æetes promised to restore the golden fleece for the possession of which he had slain Phryxus, provided the invaders consented to the conditions he should propose, and which were as follows: Jason was to tame bulls whose breath were fierce flames, with feet and horns of brass, and to plough with them, when subdued, a field sacred to Mars. He was then to sow in the ground the teeth of a serpent, from which armed men would spring up, whose rage would be directed against him who should be daring enough to plough the field; and as a conclusion to his arduous tasks, he was to kill a frightful dragon which remained ever on the watch at the tree where the golden fleece was suspended. All were in fear for the fate of the Argonauts, but Juno watched over their safety, and extricated them from their difficulties. Medea, the king’s daughter, fell in love with Jason, and in an interview with her lover in the temple of Hecate, in which they swore a mutual fidelity, and bound themselves by the most solemn oaths, she pledged herself to deliver her lover from all his dangers. Her knowledge of herbs, enchantments and incantations, was uncommon, and he received from her whatever instruments and herbs could protect him against the coming dangers.

“She then retires to Hecate’s shrine, that stood
Far in the covert of a shady wood:
She finds the fury of her flames assauged,
But, seeing Jason there, again they raged.
Blushes and paleness did by turns invade
Her tender cheeks, and secret grief betrayed;
As fire, that sleeping under ashes lies,
Fresh blown and roused, does up in blazes rise,
New kindled by her lover’s sparkling eyes,
So flamed the virgin’s breast.
For chance, that day, had with uncommon grace;
Adorned the lovely youth, and thro’ his face
Displayed an air so pleasing, as might charm
A goddess, and a vestal’s bosom warm.
Her ravished eyes survey him o’er and o’er,
As some gay wonder never seen before;
Transported to the skies she seems to be
And thinks she gazes on a deity,
But when he spoke and pressed her trembling hand,
And did with tender words her heart demand,
With vows and oaths to make her soon his bride,
She wept a flood of tears, and thus replied.
‘I see my error, yet to ruin move,
Nor owe my fate to ignorance, but love:
Your life I’ll guard, and only crave of you
To swear once more — and to your oath be true.’
He swears by Hecate, he would all fulfil,
And by her grandfather’s prophetic skill
By everything that doubting love could press,
His present danger and desired success.
She credits him, and kindly does produce
Enchanted herbs, and teaches him their use,
Their mystic names, and virtues he admires.
And with his booty joyfully retires.”

He made his appearance in the field of Mars, he tamed the fury of the oxen, he ploughed the earth, and he sowed the teeth of the dragon. Immediately a band of armed men arose and rushed towards Jason: nothing daunted, the hero threw a stone amongst them, and they fell one upon the other till they were entirely destroyed. He lulled to sleep the watchfulness of the dragon, by the power of herbs, and grasped in triumph the golden fleece which was the the object of his expedition.

“Impatient for the wonders of the day,
Aurora drives the loitering stars away.
Now Mars’s mount the pressing people fill,
The crowd below, the nobles crown the hill:
The king himself, high throned above the rest,
With ivory sceptre, and in purple drest.
    Forthwith the brass hoofed bulls are set at large,
Whose furious nostrils sulphurous flames discharge,
The blasted herbage by their breath expires,
As forges rumble with excessive fires,
And furnaces with fiercer fury glow,
When water in the panting mass ye throw,
With such a noise from their convulsive breast,
Through bellowing throats the struggling vapour pressed.
Yet Jason marches up without concern,
While on the adventurous youth the monsters turn
Their glaring eyes, and eager to engage,
Brandish their steel-tipt horns in threatening rage:
With brazen hoofs they beat the ground, and choke
The ambient air, with clouds of dust and smoke.
Each gazing Grecian for his champion shakes,
While bold advances he securely makes
Through singeing blasts: such wonders magic art
Can work, when love conspires and plays his part.
The passive savages like statues stand,
While he their dewlap strokes with soothing hand;
To unknown yokes their brawny necks they yield,
And like tame oxen, plough the wondering field.
The Colchians state, the Grecians shout, and raise
Their champion’s courage with inspiring praise.
    Emboldened now, in fresh attempts he goes,
With serpent’s teeth the fertile furrows sows;
The glebe, fermenting with enchanted juice,
Makes the snakes’ teeth a human crop produce,
And from the labouring earth, no single birth
But a whole troop of lusty youths rush forth,
And what’s more strange, with martial fury warmed,
And for encounter all completely armed;
In rank and file, as they were sowed, they stand
Impatient for the signal of command,
No foe, but the Æmonian youth appears,
As there they level their steep pointed spears.
Wonders ensue, among his gazing foes
The fragment of a massy rock he throws,
This charm in civil war engaged them all,
By mutual wounds these earth-born brothers fall.
    One labour more remains, and, though the last,
In danger far surmounting all the past;
That enterprize by fate in store was kept
To make the dragon sleep, that never slept,
Whose crest shoots dreadful lustre; from his jaws
A triple tier of forked stings he draws,
With fangs and wings of a prodigious size;
Such was the guardian of the golden prize.
Yet him besprinkled with Lethean dew
The fair enchantress into slumber threw;
While the soft guest his drowsy eyelids seals,
Th’ unguarded golden fleece the stranger steals;
Proud to possess the purchase of his toil,
Proud of his royal bride, the richer spoil,
To sea both prize and patroness he bore,
And lands triumphant on his native shore.”

All these deeds being performed in the presence of the monarch and his subjects, they were struck with surprise at the boldness and success of the young hero, who immediately embarked for Europe with Medea, the great instrument of his preservation. Enraged at the desertion of his daughter, Æetes sent his son Absyrtus to bring back the fugitives. Absyrtus overtook them, but was slain by Medea, who scattered his limbs upon the path of his father, trusting that Æetes’ paternal affection, would make him anxious to render due homage to the remains of his son, and prevent him from following with success.

On the return of the expedition to Thessaly, they were received with unusual festivity; but Æson, Jason’s father was unable to be there, owing to the infirmities of age, and Medea at her husband’s desire, restored him to all the power and vigour of youth.

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“With looks averted backward they advance,
Who strike and stab, and leave the blows to chance
Waking in consternation, he essays,
Weltering in blood, his feeble arms to raise;
Environed by so many swords; ‘From whence
This barbarous usage? what is my offence?
What fatal fury, what infernal charm,
‘Gainst a kind father does his daughter arm?’
Hearing his voice, as thunderstruck they stopped
Their resolution, and their weapons dropped:
Medea then the mortal blow bestows.”

The subjects of the deceased king, when they were informed of the cause of his death, were anxious to avenge it, and Medea found herself compelled to fly with Jason to Corinth, in which place they resided forty years.

Unhappily their matrimonial happiness was disturbed by Jason’s infidelity with Glaucus, the daughter of the King of the Country, for whom Medea was divorced, that he might follow his amour in comfort. This infidelity was severely avenged by Medea, who after destroying the children of Glaucus in her presence, presented to her a poisoned gown, and induced her to put it on; it immediately set her whole body on fire, and she died in the most painful torments.

This deed was followed by one still more revolting to the mind, for Medea slew two of her own children in their father’s presence, and when the incensed Jason attempted to avenge their murder on the barbarous mother, she escaped by flying through the air in a chariot drawn by dragons.

“When Medea left her native soil,
Unawed by danger, unsubdued by toil:
Her weeping sire, and beckoning friends withstood,
And launched enamoured in the boiling flood;
One ruddy boy her gentle lips caressed,
And one fair girl was pillowed on her breast;
While high in air the golden treasure burns,
And Love and Glory guide the prow by turns.
But when Thessalia’s inauspicious plain,
Received the matron-heroine from the main;
While hours of triumph sound, and altars burn.
And shouting nations hail their Queen’s return:
Aghast, she saw new-decked the nuptial bed,
And proud Creusa to the temple led;
Saw her in Jason’s mercenary arms.
Deride her virtues and insult her charms:
Saw her dear babes from fame and empire torn,
In foreign realms deserted and forlorn:
Her love rejected, and her vengeance braved
By him, her beauties won, her virtues saved.
“To the stern King of Ghosts she next applied.
And gentle Proserpine, his ravished bride,
That for old Æson with the laws of fate;
They would dispense, and lengthen his short date.
Thus with repeated prayers she oft assails,
The infernal tyrant, and at last prevails;
Then calls to have decrepid Æson brought,
And stupifies him with a sleeping draught;
This done, th’ enchantress, with her locks unbound
About her altar trips a frantic round;
Piecemeal the consecrated wood she splits,
And dips the splinters in the gory pits,
Then hurls them on the piles; the sleeping sire
She lustrates thrice, with sulphur, water, fire.
His feeble frame resumes a youthful air,
A glossy brown his hoary head of hair,
The meagre paleness from his aspect fled,
And in its room sprung up a florid red:
Through all his limbs a youthful vigour flies,
His emptied arteries swell with fresh supplies.
Gazing spectators scarce believe their eyes.
But Æson is the most surprised to find
A happy change in body and in mind,
In sense and constitution the same man,
As when his fortieth active year began.”

Pelias the usurper, was desirous of following so pleasant an example, and his daughters persuaded by Medea, who was anxious to avenge her husband’s wrongs, destroyed him with their own hands. Their credulity met with a severe punishment, for Medea refused to restore him to life.

Meanwhile Pelias with his guards lay bound
In magic sleep, scarce that of death so sound:
The daughters now are by the Sorceress led,
Into his chamber and surround his bed,
‘Your fathers health’s concerned and can ye stay?
Unnatural nymphs, why this unkind delay?
Unsheath your swords, dismiss his lifeless blood,
And I’ll recruit it with a vital flood:
Your father’s life and health are in your hand,
And can ye thus, like idle gazers stand?
Unless you are of common sense bereft,
If yet one spark of piety is left,
Dispatch a father’s cure, and disengage
The monarch from his loathsome load of age.
Thus urged, the poor deluded maids proceed
Betrayed by zeal to an inhuman deed,
And in compassion, make a father bleed.
Yes, she who has the kindest, tenderest heart,
Is foremost to perform the bloody part.
Yet, though to act the butchery betrayed,
They could not bear to see the wounds they made,
With stern regard she eyed the traitor king,
And felt ingratitude, the keenest sting;
“Nor Heaven” she cried, “nor earth, nor Hell can hold
A heart abandoned to the thirst of gold!
Stamped with wild foot and shook her torrent brow,
And called the furies from their dens below!”

When in Athens, to which place Medea came after leaving Corinth, she underwent the penance necessary to purify her from the crimes she had committed, after which she became the wife of King Ægeus, to whom she bore a son called Medus.

Before his intimacy with Medea, Ægeus had a son named Theseus, who had been sent to Athens with his father’s sword, by the sight of which he was to introduce himself to his father’s knowledge when he grew up; as Theseus attempted to make himself known to his father, Medea, who had grown jealous of the glory he had achieved, tried to poison him at an entertainment to which he had been invited. She failed in her purpose. The king, recognized by the sword he bore, his long lost son, and Medea had recourse to her dragons once more, to make her escape through the air, to Colchis, where, by some it is stated, she was re-united to Jason; while according to other authorities, Jason lived a melancholy and unhappy life; and, as he was reposing one day by the side of the ship which had borne him to Colchis, a large beam fell upon and crushed him to death. Medea also died at Colchis, and after her death is said to have been married to Achilles in Elysium.

It is asserted by some writers, that the murder of the two youngest of Jason’s children, was not committed by Medea, but by the Corinthians themselves, in the Temple of Juno Acrea; and that to avoid the vengeance of heaven, and to free themselves from a plague which devoured the country after so frightful a massacre, they engaged the poet Euripides to write a tragedy which should tend to clear them of the murder, and throw the crime upon the guilty Medea. Festivals were also appointed, in which the mother was represented as destroying her own offspring, with all the attributes of a fury, and was regarded as a day of solemn mourning.

“O haggard queen! to Athens dost thou guide
    Thy glowing chariot, steeped in kindred gore;
Or seek to hide thy foul infanticide
    Where peace and mercy dwell for evermore?

The land where Heaven’s own hallowed waters play,
    Where friendship binds the generous and the good,
Say, shall it hail thee from thy frantic way,
    Unholy woman! with thy hands embrued.

In thine own children’s gore? Oh! ere they bleed,
    Let Nature’s voice thy ruthless heart appal!
Pause at the bold, irrevocable deed —
    The mother strikes — the guiltless babes shall fall!
When o’er each babe you look a last adieu,
    And gaze on Innocence that smiles asleep,
Shall no fond feeling beat to Nature true,
    Charm thee to pensive thought — and bid thee weep?

When the young suppliants clasp their parent dear,
    Heave the deep sob, and pour the artless prayer,
Ay! thou shalt melt; and many a heart-shed tear
    Gush o’er the hardened features of despair!

Nature shall throb in every tender string, —
    Thy trembling heart the ruffian’s task deny;
Thy horror smitten hands afar shall fling
    The blade, undrenched in blood’s eternal dye.


Hallowed Earth! with indignation
    Mark, oh mark, the murderous deed.
Radiant eye of wide creation,
    Watch th’ accursed infanticide!

Yet, ere Colchia’s rugged daughter
    Perpetrate the dire design,
And consign to kindred slaughter
    Children of the golden line!

Shall mortal hand, with murder gory,
    Cause immortal blood to flow!
Sun of Heaven! — array’d in glory
    Rise, forbid, avert the blow!

In the vales of placid gladness
    Let no rueful maniac range;
Chase afar the fiend of Madness,
    Wrest the dagger from Revenge!

Say, hast thou, with kind protection,
    Reared thy smiling race in vain;
Fostering Nature’s fond affection,
    Tender cares, and pleasing pain?

Hast thou, on the troubled ocean,
    Braved the tempest loud and strong,
Where the waves, in wild commotion,
    Roar Cyanean rocks among?

Didst thou roam the paths of danger,
    Hymenean joys to prove?
Spare, O sanguinary stranger,
    Pledges of thy sacred love!

Ask not Heaven’s commiseration,
    After thou hast done the deed;
Mercy, pardon, expiation,
    Perish when thy victims bleed”

Hercules. §

This celebrated hero was, after his death, as a reward for the many courageous deeds he had performed, placed among the gods, and rewarded with divine honours. It has been asserted that there were many of the same name, some writers extending the number to forty-three; though of these the son of Jupiter and Alcmena is the most celebrated, and as such, doubtless, many of their actions have been attributed to him. In order to gain the affections of Alcmena, Jupiter took the form of her husband, and from this union was born Hercules, who was brought up at Tirynthus; Juno, however, could not look upon him with pleasure, and before he was nine months old, sent two snakes intending them to devour him. Far from fearing these terrible enemies, the child grasped them boldly in both his hands, and strangled them, while his brother Iphiclus shrieked aloud in terror.

He was early instructed in those arts in which he afterwards became so famous, for Castor taught him to fight, Eurytus to shoot with the bow and arrows, and Autolycus to drive a chariot; after this, he perfected himself under the tuition of the Centaur, Chiron. When in the eighteenth year of his age, a huge lion devastated the people, and preyed on the flocks of Amphitryon, laying waste also the adjacent country. From this monster Hercules relieved them, and when Erginus, King of Orchomedas, sent for his yearly tribute of one hundred crowns, Hercules mutilated the servants who came to raise it, and on Erginus coming to avenge their death, he slew him, and delivered his country from the inglorious tribute.

These heroic deeds soon became bruited abroad, and Creon, who reigned in Thebes, rewarded his courage by giving him his daughter in marriage, and entrusting him with the government of his people.

As Hercules was by the will of Jupiter, subjected to the power of Eurystheus, the latter, jealous of the fame he was achieving, ordered him to appear before him.

Proud of his strength and of his successes, the hero refused, and Juno to punish him, struck him with a sudden madness, in which he killed his own offspring, imagining them to be those of Eurystheus.

Hercules. “Hast thou beheld the carnage of my sons?
Theseus. I heard, I saw the ills thou showest me.
Hercules. Why hast thou then unveiled me to the Sun?
Theseus. Why not? Can mortal man pollute the Gods?
Hercules. Fly, thou unhappy, my polluting guilt!
Theseus. Friends, from their friends, no stain of guilt contract.
Hercules. This hath my thanks, indeed, I thought thee good.
Theseus. And for that good deed, now I pity thee!
Hercules. I want thy pity, I have slain my sons.
Theseus. Thee, for thy grace, in other ills I mourn!
Hercules. Whom hast thou known involved in ills like these?
Theseus. Thy vast misfortunes reach from earth to heaven.
Hercules. I therefore am prepared, and fixed to die.
Theseus. And deemest thou the gods regard thy threats?
Hercules. The gods regard not me, nor I the gods!
Theseus. Forbear: lest thy proud words provoke worse ill.
Hercules. I now am full, and can contain no more.
Theseus. What dost thou? Whither doth thy rage transport thee?
Hercules. From whence I came, to death’s dark realms I go.
Theseus. This is the language of a vulgar spirit.
Hercules. Thou from misfortune free, canst counsel me;
Theseus. Doth the much suffering Hercules say this?
Hercules. He had not suffered this, had ills a mean.
Theseus. The brave protector, the kind friend of men.
Hercules. They nought avail me.
Theseus. Greece will not suffer thee to die thus rashly.
Hercules. Now hear me whilst my arguments refute
All thy monitions. Whilst I yet
Hung on the breast, two hideous serpents came,
Sent by Juno to destroy me, rolled their spires
Within my cradle. When my age advanced
To youth’s fresh bloom, why should I say what toils
I then sustained? What lions — what dire forms
Of Triple Typhons, or what giants, what
Of monsters banded in the Centaur war,
Did I not quell? The Hydra, raged around,
With heads still spouting from the sword I slew.
These and a thousand other toils endured,
To the dark regions of the dead I went,
To drag the triple headed dog to light,
That guards the gate of Pluto; — the command
Of stern Eurystheus. This last bloody deed,
(Wretch that I am!) the murder of my sons
Have I achieved, to crown my house with ills.
I am reduced to this unhappiness,
At my loved Thebes I cannot dwell, for here
What temple, what assembly of my friends
Can I approach? Pollutions rank as mine,
Allow no converse. Should I go to Argos?
How, since I fly my country, should I seek
Refuge in other states, malignant eyes
Would scowl on me when known, and bitter tongues
Goad me with these reproaches: — Is not this
The son of Jove, who slew his sons and wife?
Then bid me thence with curses on my head.
And to the man, whose former days were passed
In happier fortune, mournful is the change;
But him, that in distresses hath been trained,
Naught grieves, as though lie were allied to ills.
And to this misery shall I come, I ween.
The earth will cry aloud, forbidding me
To touch her soil, to pass its waves, the sea,
And every fountain whence the rivers flow.
Thus like Ixions, on the whirling wheel
In chains, will be my stake: and this were best,
That never Grecian might behold me more,
With whom in better days I have been happy.
Why therefore should I live? What blessing were it
To gain a useless and unhallowed life?”

After his recovery he consulted the oracle of Apollo, and was told that he must act in compliance with the will of Jupiter, and be subservient to the commands of Eurystheus for twelve years, and that after he had been successful in the labours to be imposed upon him, he would be admitted amongst the gods. This answer determined him to bear with fortitude whatever gods or men might command, and Eurystheus, seeing so perfect a hero subjected to him, ordered him to perform the most terrible and dangerous deeds he could imagine, which are now generally known as the twelve labours of Hercules.

The favors of the gods had completely armed him when he undertook his labours. He had received a coat of arms and helmet from Minerva, a sword from Mercury, a horse from Apollo, and from Vulcan a golden cuirass and brazen buskin, with a celebrated club of brass, according to the opinion of some writers, but more generally supposed to be of wood, and cut by the hero himself in the forest of Nemæa. The first labour imposed upon Hercules by Eurystheus, was to kill the lion of Nemæa, which ravaged the country near Mycenæ. The hero, unable to destroy him with his arrow, boldly attacked him with his club, pursued him to his den, and after a close and sharp engagement, he choked him to death. He carried the dead beast on his shoulders to Mycenæ, and ever after clothed himself with the skin. Eurystheus was so astonished at the sight of the beast, and at the courage of Hercules, that he ordered him never to enter the gates of the city when he returned from his expeditions, but to wait for his orders without the walls. He even made himself a hiding place into which he retired whenever Hercules returned. The second labour of Hercules was to destroy the Lernæan hydra, which had seven heads. This celebrated monster he attacked with his arrows, and soon after he came to a close engagement, and by means of his heavy club, destroyed the heads of his enemy. But this was productive of no advantage, for as soon as one head was beaten to pieces by the club, immediately two sprang up, and the labour of Hercules would have remained unfinished, had he not commanded his friend Iolas, who accompanied him, to burn, with a hot iron, the root of the head which he had crushed to pieces. This succeeded, and Hercules became victorious, opened the belly of the monster, and dipped his arrow in the gall, to render the wounds which he gave, fatal and incurable. He was ordered in his third labour to bring alive and unhurt, into the presence of Eurystheus, a stag, famous for its incredible swiftness, its golden horns, and brazen feet. This celebrated animal frequented the neighbourhood of Œnoe, and Hercules was employed for a whole year in continually pursuing it; at last, he caught it in a trap, or when tired, or according to others by slightly wounding it, and lessening its swiftness. As he returned victorious, Diana snatched the stag from him, and severely reprimanded him for molesting an animal which was sacred to her. Hercules pleaded necessity, and by representing the commands of Eurystheus, he appeased the goddess and obtained the beast.

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The fourth labour was to bring alive to Eurystheus a wild boar which ravaged the neighbourhood of Erymanthus. In this expedition he destroyed the Centaurs, and caught the boar by closely pursuing him through the deep snow. Eurystheus was so frightened at the sight of the boar, that, according to Diodorus, he hid himself in a brazen vessel for some days. In his fifth labour Hercules was ordered to clean the stables of Augias, where three thousand oxen had been confined for many years. For the sixth, he was ordered to kill the carnivorous birds which ravaged the country near the lake Stymphalis, in Arcadia. In his seventh, he brought alive into Peloponnesus a prodigious wild bull, which laid waste the island of Crete. In his eighth, he was employed in obtaining the mares of Diomedes, which fed upon human flesh. He killed Diomedes, and gave him to be eaten by his mares, which he brought to Eurystheus. They were sent to Mount Olympus by the King of Mycenæ, where they were devoured by the wild beasts; or, according to others, consecrated to Jupiter, and their breed still existed in the age of Alexander the Great. For his ninth labour, he was commanded to obtain the girdle of the Queen of the Amazons. In his tenth, he killed the monster Geryon, King of Gades, and brought to Argos his numerous flocks which fed upon human flesh. The eleventh labour was to obtain apples from the garden of Hesperides, three celebrated daughters of Hesperus, who were appointed to guard some golden apples, given by Jupiter to Juno on the day of their marriage.

Ignorant of the precise situation of the beautiful garden containing them, Hercules applied to the nymphs in the neighbourhood of the Po for information, and was told that Nereus, if properly managed, would direct him in his pursuits. The hero seized Nereus while he slept, and the sea god, unable to escape from his grasp, answered all the questions he proposed, which led him to Atlas, in Africa, and of him, he demanded three of the golden apples. Atlas placed the burden of the heavens on the shoulders of Hercules, and went in quest of the apples. At his return, Hercules expressed a wish to ease his load by putting something on his head, and when Atlas assisted him to remove the inconvenience, he artfully left the burden, and seized the apples which Atlas had thrown on the ground. According to other accounts, Hercules gathered them without the assistance of Atlas, after killing a dragon which guarded the tree.

The twelfth and last, and most dangerous of his labours, was to bring upon earth the three-headed dog Cerberus. This was cheerfully undertaken by Hercules, and he descended into hell by a cave on Mount Tænarus. He was permitted by Pluto to carry away his friends Theseus and Pirithous, who were condemned to punishment in hell; and Cerberus also was granted to his prayers, provided he made use of no arms, but only force to drag him away. Hercules, as some report, carried him back to hell, after he had brought him before Eurystheus. Besides these arduous labours, which the jealousy of Eurystheus imposed upon him, he also achieved others of his own accord, equally great and celebrated.

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He delivered Hesione, a daughter of Laomedon, King of Troy, from a sea monster, to whom the Trojans yearly presented a marriageable maiden; and when the hero had fulfilled his task, Laomedon refused to give him the tribute of six beautiful horses, which he had promised to him. Hercules, incensed at his treachery, besieged Troy, and put the king and his family to the sword.

“First, two dread snakes, at Juno’s vengeful nod,
Climbed round the cradle of the sleeping God;
Waked by the shrilling hiss, and rustling sound,
And shrieks of fair attendants trembling round,
Their gasping throats with clenching hands he holds;
Till death entwists their convoluted folds.
And in red torrents from her seven gold heads
Fell Hydra’s blood in Lerna’s lake he sheds;
Grasps Achelous with resistless force,
And drags the roaring river to his course:
Binds with loud bellowing and with hideous yell
The monster bull, and three-fold dog of hell.”

“Then, where Nemea’s howling forests wave,
He drives the Lion to his dusky cave;
Seized by the throat the howling fiend disarms,
And tears his gaping jaws with sinewy arms;
Lifts proud Antæus from his mother-plains,
And with strong grasp, the struggling giant strains;
Back falls his fainting head, and clammy hair,
Writhe his weak limbs, and flits his life in air; —
By steps reverted o’er the blood-dropped fen
He tracks huge Cacus to his forest den!
Where breathing flames through brazen lips, he fled,
And shakes the rock-roofed cavern o’er his head!
Last, with wide arms the solid earth he tears,
Piles rock on rock, on mountain, mountain rears;
Heaves up huge Abyla in Afric’s sand,
Crowns with huge Calpe Europe’s salient strand,
Crests with opposing towers the splendid scene,
And pours from urns immense, the sea between.
Loud o’er her whirling flood Charybdis roars
Affrighted Scylla bellows round her shores,
Vesuvius groans through all his echoing caves,
And Etna thunders o’er the insurgent waves.”

When these were performed, he became deeply enamoured of Iole, daughter of Eurystheus, but she, being refused to his entreaties, he became insane a second time, and murdered Iphitus, the only one of the sisters of Iole who was willing to assist him in obtaining her.

After some time had passed, he was purified from this murder, and his insanity was at an end. However, the gods were not satisfied, but persecuted him still further, for he was smitten with an indisposition which compelled him once more to consult the oracle of Delphi.

Not being pleased with the manner in which his application was received, he resolved, in the heat of passion, to desecrate the sacred temple by plundering it, and carrying away the holy tripod. Apollo opposed him, and a fierce conflict ensued, to put an end to which, however, Jupiter interfered with his Thunderbolts.

Indignant at the insult offered to the sacred edifice, the oracle declared that it could only be wiped away by the hero becoming a slave, and remaining in the most abject servitude for three years.

In compliance with the decree, Mercury, by the order of Jupiter, sold him to Omphale, Queen of Lydia, as a slave. But his services to this queen so astonished her, that she freed him from his servitude and married him. When the term for which he had been sold expired, Hercules left her, and returned to Peloponnesus, where he re-established Tyndarus on the throne of Sparta.

After this, he became one of the numerous suitors of Dejanira, who had been promised by her father in marriage to that one who should prove the strongest of all his competitors. The most dangerous foe to Hercules was Achelous, a river god, who, finding himself inferior in strength, changed himself into a serpent, and afterwards into an ox. Serpent strangling was, however, nothing new to Hercules, and he had but little trouble with his enemy as an ox, until at last Achelous retired in disgrace to his bed of waters.

After his marriage with Dejanira, he was compelled to leave his father-in-law’s kingdom, from having accidentally slain one of the citizens.

On his way to Ceyx, accompanied by Dejanira, he was stopped by a swollen stream, and Nessus, the Centaur, offered to convey her safely on his back to the opposite side of the river. As the hero’s only anxiety was for her, he accepted the offer with thanks, and when he saw them through the worst part of the water in safety, prepared to follow, but no sooner had the Centaur landed with Dejanira, than he attempted to offer violence to his beautiful burthen, and to carry her away in the very sight of her husband.

The extraordinary efforts of the enraged Hercules, brought him up in time to let fly a poisoned arrow at the ravisher, which mortally wounded him. In his anguish, and burning for vengeance on his slayer, he gave Dejanira his tunic, which was covered with his blood.

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“Take this,” he said, feigning a repentance, “if ever your husband prove unfaithful, it will recall him to your arms;” and with this he expired.

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“For now his bridal charge employed his cares.
The strong limbed Nessus thus officious cried,
For he the shallows of the stream had tried,
‘Swim thou, Alcides, all thy strength prepare,
On yonder bank I’ll lodge thy nuptial care.’
Th’ Aonian chief to Nessus trusts his wife.
All pale, and trembling for her hero’s life:
Clothed as he stood in the fierce lion’s hide,
The laden quiver o’er his shoulder tied.
“Far cross the stream his bow and club were cast,
Swift he plunged in, ‘these billows shall be past,’
He said, nor sought where smoother waters glide
But stemmed the rapid dangers of the tide.
The bank he reached, again the bow he bears,
When, hark! his bride’s known voice alarms his ears,
‘Nessus, to thee I call,’ aloud he cries, —
‘Vain is thy trust in flight, be timely wise;
Thou monster double shaped, my right set free,
If thou no reverence owe my fame and me,
Yet kindred should thy lawless lust deny,
Think not perfidious wretch, from me to fly;
Tho’ winged with horse’s speed, wounds shall pursue,’
Swift as his words the fatal arrow flew,
The Centaur’s back admits the feathered wood,
And thro’ his breast the barbed arrow stood,
Which when in anguish, thro’ the flesh he tore
From both the wounds gushed forth the spumy gore,
Mixed with the Lernæan venom, this he took,
Nor dire revenge his dying breast forsook,
His garment, in the reeking purple dyed
To rouse love’s passion, he presents the bride.”

Ceyx received them both with great favour, but Hercules could not forget that he had been refused the hand of Iole, although in possession of the heart of Dejanira, and therefore made war against her father, killing him, with three of his sons, while his former lover, Iole, fell into his hands, and found that she still held no slight possession of his affections.

She accompanied him to Œta, where he was going to raise an altar, and offer a sacrifice to Jupiter. Dejanira, aware of his purpose, and of the affection he had manifested for her rival, sent to him the tunic given her by the Centaur, Nessus, but no sooner had he put it on, than the poison with which it was saturated, penetrated through his bones, and attaching itself to the flesh, eat into it like fire.

“She now resolves to send the fatal vest,
Dyed with Lernæan gore, whose power might move
His soul anew, and rouse declining love,
Nor knew she what her sudden rage bestows,
When she to Lychas trusts her future woes;
With soft endearment she the boy commands,
To bear the garment to her husband’s hands.
Th’ unwilling hero takes the gift in haste,
And o’er his shoulders Lerna’s poison cast,
At first the fire with frankincense he strews,
And utters to the gods his holy vows;
And on the marble altar’s polished frame
Pours forth the grapy stream; the rising flame
Sudden dissolves the subtle poisoning juice
Which taints his blood, and all his nerves bedews.
With wonted fortitude he bore the smart,
And not a groan confessed his burning heart,
At length his patience was subdued by pain
Œtes wide forests echo with his cries;
Now to rip off the deathful robe he tries.
Where’er he plucks the vest, the skin he tears
The mangled muscles and huge bones he bares.
(A ghastly sight!) or raging with his pain,
To rend the sick’ning plague, he tugs in vain.
As the red iron hisses in the flood,
So boils the venom in his curdling blood.
Now with the greedy flame his entrails glow,
And livid sweats down all his body flow.
The cracking nerves, burnt up, are burst in twain,
The lurking venom melts his swimming brain.”

When Lychas, by the command of Dejanira, had brought the fatal scarf, and Hercules became aware of its dreadful power, he seized the messenger, and hurled him into the sea with fearful violence.

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In vain did he attempt to pull it off, he only tore with it masses of flesh. In the midst of his miserable tortures, his groans of anguish were mixed with imprecations on the credulity of Dejanira, and the jealousy and hatred of Juno, to whom he attributed all his pains.

“Then lifting both his hands aloft, he cries,
‘Glut thy revenge, dread empress of the skies;
Sate with my death the rancour of thy heart,
Look down with pleasure and enjoy my smart;
Or, if e’er pity moved a hostile breast
For here I stand thy enemy profest;’
“Meanwhile, whate’er was in the power of flame,
Was all consumed; his body’s nervous frame
No more was known; of human form bereft —
The eternal part of Jove alone was left.
As an old serpent casts his scaly vest,
Wreathes in the Sun, in youthful glory drest;
So, when Alcides’ mortal mould resigned,
His better part enlarged, and grew refined:
August his visage shone; almighty Jove,
In his swift car his honoured offspring drove:
High o’er the hollow clouds the coursers fly,
And lodge the hero in the starry sky.”

If his fame had been universal, his worship soon became equally so, and Juno, once so inveterate, consented to his receiving her daughter Hebe in marriage.

Hercules is generally represented as gigantically proportioned, sometimes naked, sometimes covered with the skin of the Nemean lion; a thick and knotted club in his hands, on which he is often seen leaning.

Such are the most important parts of the life of Hercules, who is held out by the ancients as a complete pattern of virtue and piety, and is asserted by them to have been employed for the benefit of mankind, and for this was deservedly rewarded with immortality.

“O worthy end of his laborious life,
The nectared cup, and Hebe for a wife!
Her golden youth did with new transports play,
And crowned his toils in empyrean day.
Yet did he oft, though in her arms he lay,
And tasted to the height immortal youth,
Sigh for young Iole, who, soft as May,
And rich as Summer, yielded up her truth;
There by Euripus, ever fickle stream,
He won a world in her immortal arms,
And found his prized honour but a dream
Lost in the Ocean of her gentle charms.”

He has received many surnames and epithets, either from the place where his worship was established, or from the labours which he had achieved; his temples were numerous and magnificent. The Phœnicians offered Quails on his altars, and as it was supposed that he presided over dreams, the sick and infirm were sent to sleep in his temples, that they might receive in their visions the agreeable presages of their approaching recovery.

The children of Hercules are as numerous as the labours and difficulties which he underwent, and became so powerful after his death, that they alone had the bravery to invade the Peloponnesus.

“‘Take hence this hateful life, with tortures torn,
Inured to trouble, and to labours born.
Death is the gift most welcome to my woe,
And such a gift a stepdame may bestow.
Was it for this Busiris was subdued,
Whose barbarous temples reeked with stranger’s blood?
Pressed in these arms his fate Antæus found,
Nor gained recruited vigour from the ground.
Did I not triple-formed Geryon fell?
Or, did I fear the triple dog of hell?
Did not these hands the bull’s armed forehead hold?
Are not our mighty toils in Elis told?
Did not Stymphalian lakes proclaim my fame?
And fair Parthenian woods resound my name?
Who seized the golden belt of Thermodon?
And who the dragon-guarded apples won?
Could the fair Centaur’s strength my force withstand?
Or the fell boar that spoiled the Arcadian land?
Did not these arms the Hydra’s rage subdue,
Who from his wounds to double fury grew.
What if the Thracian horses, fat with gore,
Who human bodies in their manger tore,
I saw, and with their barbarous lord, o’erthrew?
What if these hands Nemæa’s lion slew?
Did not this neck the heavenly globe sustain?
The female partner of the Thunderer’s reign,
Fatigued at length, suspends her harsh commands,
Yet no fatigue has slacked these valiant hands;
But now, new plagues consume me; neither force,
Nor arms, nor darts can stop their raging course,
Devouring flame through my racked entrails strays,
And on my lungs and shrivelled muscles preys.’”

As, however, the distemper was incurable, and death inevitable, he determined to die the hero he had lived, and giving his bow and arrow to Philoctetes, he erected a funeral pile on Mount Œta, and spreading upon it his lion’s skin, lay down with dignity and composure, his head placed upon his club, to await his death. The pile was lighted, and the flames arose in volumes, but the hero gazed calmly upon them, unalarmed at his impending doom. His mind was resolved to meet his fate, when, suddenly, the burning pile was surrounded with dark smoke, the fire burned like a furnace, and when it had consumed the mortal portion of Hercules, a chariot and horses was seen awaiting, which carried his immortal part to heaven, there to be seated amongst the gods. Loud claps of thunder accompanied his exaltation, and when his friends sought his ashes to grant them burial, unable to find them, they erected an altar to his memory, upon the spot where the burning pile had been.

Perseus. §

This hero was the son of Jupiter and Danae, the daughter of Acresius. As the latter had confined his daughter in a brazen tower, to prevent her becoming a mother, because, according to the words of an oracle, he was to perish by the hands of his daughter’s son, Perseus was no sooner born, than Acresius caused him to be thrown into the sea, with his mother, Danae. The hopes of the father were frustrated; for the slight bark which carried Danae and her son, was driven on the island of Seriphos, one of the Cyclades, where they were found by a fisherman named Dictys, and carried by him to Polydectes, the monarch of the place, by whom they were received with much kindness, and the priests of Minerva’s temple had the charge of the youthful Perseus entrusted to them.

His rising genius and great courage fell under the displeasure of Polydectes, who feared, lest the love with which he soon became inspired towards Danae, and the intentions which he harboured towards her, should meet with the resentment of her son. The monarch, however, resolved to remove every obstacle out of his way, and made a sumptuous banquet, decreeing that all who came should present him with a beautiful horse. To this feast Perseus was invited, Polydectes being aware that he would not be able to procure the present which the wealth of the remaining guests could enable them to offer.

To a high spirited man this was unbearable, and unable to submit to the position of being the only one who had brought no present, and unwilling to appear inferior to the remainder of the guests in splendour, he told Polydectes, that though he was unable to give him a horse, he would bring him the head of one of the Gorgons, and Medusa being the only one subject to mortality, she must be the victim.

For more than one reason this was very agreeable to Polydectes, in the first place, as it would remove Perseus from the island, and the next that, from its seeming impossibility, the attempt might end in his ruin.

The gods, however, are the protectors of innocence, and that of Perseus was made their peculiar care. Pluto lent him his helmet, possessing the wonderful power of making the bearer invisible. The buckler of Minerva, as resplendent as glass, was given him by that goddess. Mercury gave him wings and the Calaria, with a short dagger formed of diamonds. With this assistance Perseus boldly commenced his expedition, traversing the air, conducted by Minerva. He went first to the Graces, the sisters of the Gorgons, who possessed but one eye and one tooth among the three; with the assistance of Pluto’s helmet, which rendered him invisible, Perseus was able to steal their eye and their tooth while sleeping, and refused to return them until they had informed him where their sisters, the Gorgons resided.

When the necessary information had been received, Perseus sought the habitation of the Gorgons, whom he fortunately found asleep. Knowing that if he fixed his eyes upon them, he would be changed to stone, he used his shield, which was transparent, as a mirror to reflect the object he sought to destroy. Keeping his eyes thus fixed upon them, he approached, Minerva supporting his courage, and with one blow of his sword, cut off Medusa’s head.

The noise of the blow awoke the two remaining sisters, who frantic with rage, looked around for the murderer of their sister, but in vain, for he had already put on the invisible helmet of Pluto, and the attempts of the Gorgons to avenge the death of the sister were fruitless.

The conqueror pursued his way through the air, and from the blood which dropped from the head of the slain Gorgon he carried with him, arose the innumerable serpents which have for ages infested the sandy deserts of Lybia.

“Where western waves on furthest Lybia beat,
Dreadful Medusa fixed her horrid seat.
’Twas from this monster, to afflict mankind,
That nature first produced the snaky kind:
On her at first their forky tongues appeared,
From her their dreadful hissings first were heard.”

Chrysaor, who married Callirhoe, one of the Oceanides, sprung with his golden sword from those drops of blood, as well as the winged Pegasus, which flew directly through the air, and stopping on the Mount bearing the same name, became a favorite with the Muses.

In the meantime young Perseus pursued his flight through the air, across the deserts of Lybia. The approach of night compelled him to seek a brief shelter with Atlas, monarch of Mauritania.

“The victor Perseus, with the Gorgon head,
O’er Lybian sands his airy journey sped.
The gory drops distilled as swift he flew,
And from each drop envenomed serpents grew.
The mischiefs brooded on the barren plains,
And still the unhappy fruitfulness remains.
Thence Perseus, like a cloud, by storms was driv’n,
Thro’ all the expanse beneath the cope of heaven.
The jarring winds unable to control,
He saw the southern and the northern pole:
And eastward thrice, and westward thrice was whirled,
And from the skies surveyed the nether world.
But when grey ev’ning showed the verge of night,
He feared in darkness to pursue his flight.
He poised his pinions, and forgot to soar,
And sinking, closed them on th’ Hesperian shore:
Then begged to rest, till Lucifer begun
To wake the morn, the morn to wake the sun.
    Here Atlas reigned of more than human size,
And in his kingdom the world’s limit lies.
Here Titan bids his wearied coursers sleep,
And cools the burning axle in the deep.
The mighty monarch, uncontrolled, alone,
His sceptre sways; no neighb’ring states are known.
A thousand flocks on shady mountains fed,
A thousand herds o’er grassy plains were spread:
Her wondrous trees their shining stores unfold,
Their shining stores too wondrous to be told;
Their leaves, their branches, and their apples, gold.
    Then Perseus the gigantic prince addressed,
Humbly implored a hospitable rest:
If bold exploits thy admiration fire,
(He said), I fancy, mine thou wilt admire:
Or if the glory of a race can move,
Not mean my glory, for I spring from Jove.”

He went to his palace, expecting to meet with an hospitable reception from Atlas, by announcing himself the son of Jupiter, but he found himself grievously deceived. It occurred to the recollection of Atlas, that an ancient tradition had announced that his gardens were to be plundered of their fruits by one of the sons of the King of Heaven; and not only did he rudely refuse to shelter him, but offered violence to his person, and attempted to slay him.

Finding himself unable to contend with so powerful a foe, Perseus was obliged to have recourse to the head of Medusa, and Atlas was instantly changed into a large mountain, which bore the same name in the deserts of Africa.

“At this confession Atlas ghastly stared,
Mindful of what an oracle declared,
That the dark womb of time concealed a day,
Which should, disclosed, the gloomy gold betray:
All should at once be ravished from his eyes,
And Jove’s own progeny enjoy the prize.
    For this, the fruit he loftily immured,
And a fierce dragon the strait pass secured;
For this, all strangers he forbade to land,
And drove them from the inhospitable strand,
    To Perseus then: ‘Fly quickly, fly this coast,
Nor falsely dare thy acts and race to boast.’
    In vain the hero for one night entreats;
Threat’ning he storms, and next adds force to threats.
By strength not Perseus could himself defend,
For who in strength with Atlas could contend? —
‘But since short rest to me thou wilt not give,
A gift of endless rest from me receive. —’
He said, and backward turned, no more concealed
The present, and Medusa’s head reveal’d.
    Soon the high Atlas a high mountain stood;
His locks, and beard, became a leafy wood:
His hands and shoulders into ridges went,
The summit head still crowned the deep ascent:
His bones a solid, rocky hardness gained:
He thus immensely grown (as fate ordained),
The stars, the heavens, and all the gods sustained.

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As Perseus pursued his journey, after inflicting this just punishment upon his foe, across the territories of Lybia, he discovered on the coast of Ethiopia, the beautiful Andromeda, exposed to the fury of a sea-monster, which for some time had ravaged the country, and to appease which, the oracle of Jupiter Ammon had declared, nothing could avail, excepting the exposure of the maiden to its anger. At this moment, when the monster was going to destroy her, Perseus saw, and was captivated with her beauty.

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He offered Cepheus, her father, his aid in delivering her from danger, provided he would give the maiden to him in marriage, as a reward for his exertions.

“Chained to a rock she stood; young Perseus stayed
His rapid flight, to view the beauteous maid.
So sweet her form, so exquisitely fine,
She seemed a statue by a hand divine,
Had not the wind her waving tresses shewed
And down her cheeks the melting sorrows flowed.
Her faultless form the hero’s bosom fires,
The more he looks, the more he still admires.
Th’ admirer almost had forgot to fly,
And swift descended, fluttering, from on high.”

This princess had been promised in marriage to Phineus, her uncle, when Neptune sent a sea-monster to ravage the country, because Cassiope, her mother, had boasted herself fairer than Juno and the Nereides.

“In me the son of thundering Jove behold,
Got in a kindly shower of fruitful gold,
Medusa’s snaky head is now my prey,
And through the clouds I boldly wing my way.
If such desert be worthy of esteem,
And, if your daughter I from death redeem.
Shall she be mine? Shall it not then be thought,
A bride, so lovely, was too cheaply bought?
For her, my arms, I willingly employ,
If I may beauties, which I save, enjoy.”

Cepheus consented to bestow his daughter upon Perseus, and immediately the hero raised himself in the air, flew towards the monster, as it advanced to devour Andromeda, and plunging his dagger in his right shoulder, destroyed it. This happy event was attended with great rejoicings, and the nuptials of Andromeda with Perseus, soon followed.

The universal joy, was, however, quickly interrupted: for Phineus, dissatisfied with thus losing his promised bride, entered the palace with a number of armed men, and attempted to carry her off. In vain did the father and mother of Andromeda interfere.

“Chief in the riot, Phineus first appeared,
The rash ringleader of this boisterous herd,
And brandishing his brazen pointed lance,
‘Behold,’ he said, ‘an injured man advance,’
Stung with resentment for his ravished wife,
Nor shall thy wings O Perseus, save thy life;
Nor Jove himself, tho’ we’ve been often told
He got thee in the form of tempting gold.
His lance was aimed, when Cepheus ran and said;
‘Hold, brother, hold, what brutal rage has made
Your frantic mind so black a crime conceive?
Are these the thanks that you to Perseus give?
This the reward that to his worth you pay,
Whose timely valour saved Andromeda?
Nor was it he, if you would reason right,
That forced her from you, but the jealous spite
Of envious Nereids, and Jove’s high degree,
And that devouring monster of the sea,
That, ready with his jaws wide gaping stood,
To eat my child, the fairest of my blood.
You lost her then when she seemed past relief,
And wish’d, perhaps, her death, to ease your grief
With my afflictions; not content to view
Andromeda in chains, unhelped by you,
Her spouse and uncle, will you grieve that he
Exposed his life, the dying maid to free?
And shall you claim his merit? Had you thought
Her charms so great, you should have bravely sought,
That blessing on the rocks where fixed she lay;
But now let Perseus bear his prize away.
By service gained, by promised faith possessed;
To him I owe it, that my age is blest
Still with a child: nor think that I prefer
Perseus to thee, but to the loss of her.”

A fierce contest ensued, and Perseus must have fallen a victim to the fury of Phineus, had he not employed the same arms which had proved so successful against Atlas.

“Fierce Phineus now repents the wrongful fight,
And views his varied friends, a dreadful sight;
He knows their faces, for their help he sues,
And thinks, not hearing him, that they refuse,
By name lie begs their succour, one by one,
Then doubts their life, and feels the friendly stone.
Struck with remorse, and conscious of his pride,
Convict of sin he turn’d his eyes aside;
With suppliant mien to Perseus thus he prays,
‘Hence with the head, as far as winds and seas
Can bear thee: Hence; oh! quit the Cephan shore
And never curse it with Medusa more;
That horrid head which stiffens into stone,
Those impious men who daring death, look on:
I warred not with thee out of hate or strife,
My honest cause was to defend my wife,
First pledged to me; what crime could I suppose
To arm my friends, and vindicate my spouse?
’Twas thine to conquer by Minerva’s power,
Favoured of heaven, thy mercy I implore,
For life I sue, the rest to thee I yield:
In pity from my sight remove the shield!’
    Phineus turned to shun the shield,
Full in his face the staring head he held,
As here and there he strove to turn aside,
The wonder wrought, the man was petrified,
All marble was his frame, his burned eyes,
Dropped tears which hung upon the stone like ice;
In suppliant posture, with uplifted hands
And fearful look, the guilty statue stands.”

He but showed the head of the Gorgon to his adversaries, and they turned to stone in the very attitudes they were when they first beheld it. The friends of Cepheus, however, and those who assisted Perseus, were saved from the same fate by a previous warning of Perseus.

Soon after this memorable adventure, Perseus went to Seriphos, and arrived there at the very moment that his mother Danae sought the altar of Minerva, to save herself from the violence of Polydectes; Dictys, who had preserved her and Perseus from the sea, had attempted to defend her from her enemy, and Perseus therefore sensible of his merit and of his humanity, placed him on the throne of Seriphos, after he had employed Medusa’s head to turn the wicked Polydectes into stone, with those of his court who were accomplices in his guilt.

When these celebrated exploits were finished, Perseus felt a desire to return to his native country, and arrived with his mother and Andromeda on the Peloponnesian coast, as some funeral games were being celebrated in honour of the deceased King of Larissa. Here he sought to signalise himself in throwing the quoit, but in this he was attended by an evil fate, and had the misfortune to kill a man with a quoit which he had thrown in the air: this proved to be Acresius, who thus met the fate the oracle had decreed, and to avoid which, he had been guilty of the barbarous act of throwing his daughter and her son into the sea.

This unfortunate murder preyed upon the spirit of Perseus, and though by the death of Acresius he was entitled to the throne of Argos, he refused to accept it, fearing it would constantly remind him of the parricide he had committed; and exchanged his kingdom for the maritime coast of Argolis.

The time of the death of Perseus is unknown, it is universally agreed however, that he received divine honours like the rest of the ancient heroes.

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Heroes. §

Heroes are mortals, who, by their glorious achievements, have excited the admiration of their kind, and received the respect due to those immortal spirits, who have distinguished themselves in the service of their country.

Homer represents a hero as a prince of the ancient time, loved and protected by the Gods: while in Hesiod, they are the early order of beings who preceded the frail human race.

Theseus. §

“Aye, this is he,
A proud and mighty spirit: how fine his form,
Gigantic! moulded like the race that strove
To take Jove’s heaven by storm, and scare him from
Olympus. There he sits, a demi-god,
Stern as when he of yore forsook the maid
Who, doating saved him from the Cretan toil,
Where he had slain the Minotaur. Alas!
Fond Ariadne, thee did he desert,
And heartless left thee on the Naiad’s shore
To languish. This is he who dared to roam
The world infernal, and on Pluto’s queen,
Ceres’ own lost Proserpina, did lay
His hand: thence was he prisoned in the vaults
Beneath, ‘till freed by Hercules. Methinks
(So perfect is the Phidian stone) his sire,
The sea god Neptune, hath in anger stopped
The current of life, and with his trident touch
Hath struck him into marble.”
Barry Cornwall.

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This hero, one of the most celebrated of antiquity, was the son of Ægeus, by Æthra, daughter of Pittheus, though not publicly acknowledged to be the King of Athens, being educated at Træzene, in the house of Pittheus. When he came to maturity, he was sent by his mother to Ægeus, and a sword which had been hidden beneath a stone until he became of age, and by which he was to make himself known to his parent, was shown to him, and ordered to be taken. The usual journey for travellers to his father’s court, at Athens, was by sea, but Theseus determined to signalise himself by encountering the dangers which attended the journey on land, and which consisted in robbers and wild beasts, rendering the road almost impassable: however, these obstacles were all met, and destroyed by his courage. He arrived at Athens in safety, where his reception was not so cordial as he hoped, for Medea, who resided with Ægeus, felt that her influence with this monarch would be destroyed, if once Theseus gained his proper footing in his father’s house, and she tried to poison him before his return was known to the Athenians. With a refinement of cruelty, she endeavoured to make Ægeus give a cup of poison to him, as an unknown stranger at a feast; but the sword at his side saved Theseus, for his father recognised it, and introduced him to the people of Athens as his son, all of whom gladly hailed the illustrious man, who had cleansed them of robbers and pirates, as the offspring of their monarch.

The Pallantides, however, who expected to succeed their uncle on his throne, were enraged at the reception of Theseus, and attempted to assassinate him; their barbarous intent recoiled upon themselves, for they were all slain by young Theseus.

The bull of Marathon which ravaged the neighbouring country, next engaged his attention, and taking the animal alive, he led it through the streets of Athens, previously to sacrificing it on the altar of Minerva.

At this time, the Minotaur was receiving the annual tribute of seven of the noblest youth of Athens, and Theseus could not fail of being ranked among them, to be devoured by the monster.

————— “The Minotaur was fed,
With human victims for Androgeos dead.
The flower of Athens were compelled to bleed,
For thus the cruel oracle decreed,
Till Theseus; to preserve his country’s blood,
Himself devoted for the public good.”

The wish to deliver his native land from this danger, induced him voluntarily to undertake the expedition; and before his departure, he promised his father, if he should be successful, to hoist a white sail on his return.

Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, became enamoured of him and by assisting him in the enterprise, he was successful and killed the Minotaur.

On his return from his victory there, he was driven by contrary winds on the Isle of Naxos, where he had the meanness to desert Ariadne, whose conduct had been the means of his glorious triumph, and to whom he was even indebted for his life.

When he came in sight of Athens, he forgot, in the height of his success, to hoist the white sail he had promised his father, who, seeing a black sail upon his son’s ship, despairingly threw himself into the sea.

“On a high rock that beetles o’er the flood,
With daily care the pensive father stood;
And when he saw impatient from afar?
The fatal signal floating in the air,
Thinking his Theseus was untimely slain,
He rashly plunged himself beneath the main!”

His ascension to his father’s throne was received with much pleasure, the country was governed with mildness, new reputation acquired and new laws enacted.

The renown he gained by his victory and policy, made his alliance courted in general; but Pirithous king of the Lapithæ, sought the more singular mode of gaining it by meeting him in fight.

He invaded the territories of Theseus, and when the latter assembled his forces to meet him, the two foes as they gazed on each other, were seized with a sudden and mutual friendship, and rushed into each others arms: from that time, their affection became proverbial.

Theseus was present at the nuptials of his friend, and when the brutal Centaurs attempted to insult the bride, was one of the most forward to defend: and when Pirithous, after this, had lost Hippodamia, he agreed with Theseus to carry away one of the daughters of the gods.

They first attempted their scheme upon Helen, the beautiful daughter of Leda, and when they had obtained their victim, cast lots for her: Theseus was successful, and she became his prize. Shortly after, he assisted his friend in his attempt to descend into the infernal regions and carry away Proserpine, but Cerberus was too watchful, and Pluto apprised of their intentions, stopped them: Pirithous was placed on Ixion’s wheel, and Theseus secured to a large stone on which he had seated himself to rest.

By the assistance of Hercules, however, in his descent into hell, the two heroes were released from their captivity, and when Theseus returned to Athens, he found that Mnestheus had usurped the crown which should have fallen upon his children. In vain did Theseus attempt to eject the usurper, the Athenians remained faithful to their new choice, and Theseus retired in disgust to the court of Lycomedes, King of Scyros.

Here he met with apparent sympathy, but Lycomedes soon showed his true character, for enticing his guest to the top of a high mountain, he took an opportunity of throwing Theseus over a deep precipice.

The children of this hero at the death of the usurper, regained the throne of Athens: and that the memory of their father might not be without honour, sent for his remains from Scyros, and gave them a magnificent burial.

They also raised to him statues and a temple; festivals and games were also instituted in his honour, to commemorate the actions of a hero who had rendered such signal services to the Athenian people.

    Leonarde. “’Tis one of those bright fictions that have made
The name of Greece only another word,
For love and poetry: with a green earth,
Groves of the graceful myrtle, summer skies,
Whose stars are mirrored in ten thousand streams,
With winds that move in perfume and in music,
And more than all, the gift of woman’s beauty.
What marvel that the earth, the sky, the sea,
Were filled with all those fine imaginings
That love creates, and that the lyre preserves!
    Alvine. But for the history of that pale girl
Who stands so desolate on the sea-shore?
    Leonarde. She was the daughter of a Cretan king —
A Tyrant. Hidden in the dark recess
Of a wide labyrinth, a monster dwelt,
And every year was human tribute paid
By the Athenians. They had bowed in war;
And every spring the flowers of all the city,
Young maids in their first beauty, stately youths,
Were sacrificed to the fierce king! They died
In the unfathomable den of want,
Or served the Minotaur for food. At length
There came a royal youth, who vowed to slay
The monster or to perish! Look, Alvine,
That statue is young Theseus!
    Alvine. Glorious!
How like a god he stands, one haughty hand
Raised in defiance! I have often looked
Upon the marble, wondering it could give
Such truth to life and majesty.
    Leonarde. You will not marvel Ariadne loved.
She gave the secret clue that led him safe
Throughout the labyrinth, and she fled with him.
    Alvine. Ah! now I know your tale: he proved untrue —
This ever has been woman’s fate, to love,
To know one summer day of happiness,
And then to be most wretched!
    Leonarde.                              She was left
By her so heartless lover while she slept.
She woke from pleasant dreams — she dreamt of him —
Love’s power is left in slumber — woke and found
Herself deserted on the lonely shore.
The bark of the false Theseus was a speck
Scarce seen upon the waters, less and less,
Like hope diminishing, till wholly past.
I will not say, for you can fancy well,
Her desolate feelings as she roamed the beach,
Hurled from the highest heaven of happy love!
But evening crimsoned the blue sea, a sound
Of music and of mirth, came on the wind,
And radiant shapes and laughing nymphs danced by,
And he the Theban god, looked on the maid,
And looked and loved, and was beloved again.
He has just flung her starry crown on high,
And bade it there, a long memorial shine,
How a god loved a mortal — He is springing
From out his golden car, another bound,
Bacchus is by his Ariadne’s side.”
L. E. L.

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Theseus married Phædra, daughter of Minos, sister of the unfortunate Ariadne whom he had left to perish. Phædra, however, unhappily, felt a guilty love for Hippolytus, son of Theseus by a previous union. Venus, having a dislike to Minos, the father of Phædra, sent Cupid to pierce her with his shafts.

For a long time she struggled with the pangs which raged within her, but they grew too fierce to be endured, and she revealed to him her love.

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    Phæ. “‘My lord, ’tis said you soon will part from us.
    Hip. Madam!
    Phæ. I pray you do not leave us!
    Hip. My duty, lady! —
    Phæ. Would that that duty, were in pleasing me;
    Hip. To please you, lady, were my highest wish,
To gain your love, my highest privilege.
    Phæ. To gain my love?
    Hip. Aye, madam!
    Phæ. Hippolytus! the fearful truth will out,
My love is gained!
    Hip. I hope, indeed so, — as a mother.
Phæ. aside — (How coldly doth he speak, while thro’ my veins
The hot blood bounds in fierce convulsive starts.)
Not as a mother do I love thee,
But — as a woman — now my breast is free
Of the stern secret which so long hath burned
And given a fever to my very looks.
    Hip. Madam! I do not understand you;
    Phæ. You must! fierce, burning love is mine,
For you, Hippolytus, the son of Theseus!
    Hip. And you his wife?
    Phæ. Aye, boy, ’tis even so;
Nay, look not so: — I say Hippolytus,
That from the very hour I saw, I loved thee;
That from the very moment that thy voice
Rang in my ears, it entered in my heart,
That from the hour I was Theseus’ wife,
Even at the altar, where my plight was vowed,
My thoughts were all of thee. Speak, speak, and say
Thou dost not hate me.
    Hip. Some sudden frenzy hath upset thy brain —
Thou knowest not what thou speakest.
    Phæ. I am not mad! would to the gods I were —
Think not that I have yielded willingly,
Unto the passion which I now avow,
Daily, and hourly, have I striven against it:
And night by night, when visions and when dreams
Pressed on my brain in many a confused shape,
All bearing one image, and that image thine,
I have striven, wrestled, fought against this love,
But all in vain.
    Hip. I scarcely dare believe mine ears, a dream
Seems on me, like a man in sleep,
A mass of dim confusion gathers round me;
Am I indeed Hippolytus, and art thou Phædra?
    Phæ. I am thy Phædra! Theseus has my hand,
But thou, Hippolytus, thou hast my heart.
    Hip. Theseus — my father —
    Phæ. Thy father and my husband, what of that?
Love knows no ties save those he makes himself,
Speak to me —
Say that I yet may hope to lay my head
On that dear bosom, say thou wilt not spurn
The heart that rests its only hope on thee.
Say, or, but look, a clear return of love,
And I will fall upon my knees adoring thee!
    Hip. Madam, I would not, could not wrong my father;
And thou, how canst thou meet his face?
Shame, shame, upon the wanton love that leaves
The marriage bed, even were it but in thought:
And thou above thy compeers raised afar,
In that thy name is mated with my father’s,
Shouldst pray the gods to scourge this passion from thee.
    Phæ. Oh! by thine hopes of heaven I pray thee peace!
    Hip. Peace, thou! adultress! peace, thou, shameless one,
Away, lest I should change a husband’s love,
Into a husband’s hate.
    Phæ. Thou canst not do it!
    Hip. What if I did proclaim to him thy guilt?
What if I said — father! thy wife, my mother,
Hath offered me the love due but to thee,
Hath with a shameless love, and wanton’s insolence,
Deemed she could win me to her bed —
Woman, I tell thee —
    Phæ. And I tell thee, that he would not believe thee.
Yet — say it not, Hippolytus! for I
Do love thee as —
    Hip. I’ll hear no more!
Mother! I leave thee, and I pray the gods
To visit not on thee, this awful crime!’”

Fearful lest Hippolytus should betray her, when she found he would not return her sinful passion, Phædra accused his son to Theseus of the very crime of which she had herself been guilty, and excited the father’s ire against his son in a terrible degree.

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    The. “‘Dost thou dare look upon me boy?
    Hip. My father?
    The. Dost see this sword?
    Hip. Aye!
    The. Dost dread it?
    Hip. No; the innocent have nought to fear;
    The. Now by my crown, this is most base effrontery,
But ’tis in vain, thy mother hath told all,
Hath told how, with an impious love, thy heart
Hath turned to her’s; how with an impure lip,
Thy words have pierced her to the soul.
    Hip. And dost thou doubt me father?
    The. Perfidious wretch! can’st stand before me thus?
Monster too long escaped Jove’s fearful thunder,
After a love filled with an awful horror
And transports of affection fiercely urged,
That would pollute thy father’s marriage bed,
Thou darest present to me thy traitor brow,
And vow thine innocence.
Away from these scenes of thine infamy,
Away and seek beneath a sky unknown,
A land where Theseus’ name hath never sounded;
Fly, traitor! brave no longer here, my hate!
Within a court that I shall hold with dread,
For ever will the curse cling to my name,
And endless infamy my memory,
That, having given birth to one so shameless,
I dared not take the life I gave to him!
Wretch that thou art, dost thou not answer me?
    Hip. Sire, I am not the wretch that thou would’st make me.
Horror — astonishment — have kept me silent —
    The. Darest thou add falsehood to thine infamy?
    Hip. Thy words are most unjust!
    The. And there thou standest with a brow as calm
As innocence itself.
    Hip. In this I am most innocent! —
Nay, interrupt me not, for I will speak —
Thou hast accused me of an awful crime,
Thou hast accursed me with a father’s curse,
And I must vindicate myself or die?
Phædra, my mother, and thy wife, avowed
In accents shameless as the wish she breathed,
A most incestuous passion for my person:
With fierce disdain I spurned her offered love,
Implored her to remember that I stood
Before her as thy son, and did entreat her
To come back to the straight path of her duty.
    The. And dost thou think that thou canst thus deceive me?
Away, away, no more pollute my court;
Wert thou not called my son, thy time were short.’”

Banished thus from the court of his father, the only consolation for a long time that Hippolytus possessed, was the consciousness of innocence. Remorse, however, at last preyed upon the bosom of Phædra; after taking poison she confessed to Theseus the crime of which she had been guilty, and Hippolytus was restored to the affections of his father.

The name of Theseus had been rendered by his bravery so conspicuous and so dreaded by his enemies, that a tradition became popular, to the effect that he appeared at the battle of Marathon to fight for the Greeks, who seemed likely to be overwhelmed by the numbers of their opponents.

     “Know ye not when our dead
    From sleep to battle sprung?
When the Persian charger’s tread
    On their covering greensward rung!
When the trampling march of foes
    Had crushed our vines and flowers,
When jewelled crests arose
    Through the holy laurel bowers,
                    When banners caught the breeze,
                    When helms in sunlight shone,
                    When masts were on the seas,
                    And spears in Marathon.

    “There was one a leader crowned,
    And armed for Greece that day;
But the falchions made no sound
    On his gleaming war array.
In the battle’s front he stood,
    With his tall and shadowy crest;
But the arrows drew no blood,
    Though their path was thro’ his breast.
                    When banners caught the breeze, &c.

    “His sword was seen to flash
    Where the boldest deeds were done;
But it smote without a clash;
    The stroke was heard by none!
His voice was not of those
    That swelled the rolling blast,
And his steps fell hushed like snows, —
    ’Twas the shade of Theseus passed!
                    When banners caught the breeze, &c.

    “Far sweeping thro’ the foe,
    With a furious charge he bore,
And the Mede left many a bow
    On the sounding ocean shore,
And the foaming waves grew red,
    And the sails were crowded fast,
When the sons of Asia fled
    As the shade of Theseus passed!
                    When banners caught the breeze,
                    When helms in sunlight shone,
                    When masts were on the seas,
                    And spears in Marathon!”

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Orpheus. §

The distinguished honour which the ancients rendered to Orpheus, appears to have been an homage paid by the refinement of the age to music and poetry, of which he was so distinguished an ornament. He was the son of Œager by the muse Calliope, though some assert him to have been the son of Apollo, because the god, owing to the genius he showed for music, presented him with a lyre, to the improvement of which Orpheus added two cords, — and upon which he played with so masterly a hand, that the river in its rapid current ceased to flow, the wild beasts of the forest forgot their nature, and gazed on him in mute admiration, while the very rocks moved towards him to express their joy.

“The rocks re-echo shrill, the beasts of forest wild
Stand at the cavern’s mouth, in listening trance beguiled.
The birds surround the den, and, as in weary rest,
They drop their fluttering wings, forgetful of the rest,
Amazed the Centaur saw; his clapping hands he beat,
And stamped in ecstacy the rock with hoofed and horny feet.”

But though this beautiful art was his master passion, he did not forget the charms of theology and philosophy, in both of which he was a proficient, and in Egypt, to which place he made a voyage, he was admitted to the sacred mysteries of Isis and Osiris. On his return he was the originator of many changes in the religious ceremonials of his country, and was received as the minister and interpreter of the will of the gods.

Nature itself seemed charmed and animated by his presence, and the nymphs made his company their chief desire. It was not long before the winged deity pierced him with his arrows, and Orpheus loved the nymph Eurydice, the only one whose charms touched the melodious musician; with her his happiness was made perfect by an union, at which Hymen presided.

This happiness, however, was not destined to last very long, for Aristæus became enamoured of the musician’s bride, and with all the violence of an illicit passion, sought to win her from the bridegroom’s affections. Eurydice resisted and fled; but as she fled from him, a serpent stung her with so deadly a bite, that she died on the field.

Deep was the despair felt by Orpheus at his unexpected loss, and the daring determination was formed by him to recover her, or perish in the attempt.

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“His own despair the very stones admire
And rolling follow his melodious lyre,
He forced the heart of hardest oak to groan,
And made fierce tigers leave their rage and moan.”

With his resistless lyre in his hands, he crossed the Styx, penetrated into the infernal regions, and gained admission to the presence of Pluto! Here the power of his genius was yet more eminently exhibited; for even the tortures of Hell gave way to it.

“At his powerful song the very seats
Of Erebus were moved; the retreats
Of all the ghosts were opened, and they swarm
Like bees in clusters, when the sun grows warm!”

Not only was the god of the infernal regions delighted, but the very wheel of Ixion paused; the stone of Sisyphus rested, as they listened to its sounds: the cooling water reached Tantalus’ burning mouth, and even the Furies relented.

“Already had he passed the courts of Death,
And charmed with sacred verse the powers beneath;
While Hell with silent admiration hung,
On the soft music of his harp and tongue;
No longer Tantalus essayed to sip
The springs that fled from his deluded lip;
Their urn the fifty maids no longer fill,
Ixion leant and listened on his wheel,
And Sysiphus’ stone for once stood still;
The ravenous vulture had forsook his meal,
And Titius felt his growing liver heal;
Relenting fiends to torture souls forbore,
And Furies wept who never wept before.
All Hell in harmony was heard to move,
With equal sweetness as the spheres above.
The wondrous numbers softened all beneath
Hell, and the inmost flinty seats of death:
Snakes round the Furies heads did upward rear,
And seemed to listen to the pleasing air,
While fiery Styx in milder streams did roll,
And Cerberus gaped, but yet forbore to howl,
No longer was the charming prayer denied,
All Hell consented to release his bride.”

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The sorrow and love of Orpheus penetrated the hearts of Pluto and Proserpine; they consented to restore him to the arms of Eurydice, if he could forbear to look behind him before he reached the borders of hell. Gladly were these conditions accepted by Orpheus, and already was he by the river Styx, eager to be conveyed across by the infernal boatman, when a touching thought of Eurydice and her love crossed his mind, and he looked back.

“Near the confines of ethereal air,
Unmindful and unable to forbear,
Mistrusting also lest her steps might stray,
And gladsome of the glimpse of dawning day,
He stopped — looked back — (what cannot love persuade?)
To take one view of the unhappy maid.
His longing eyes impatient backward cast,
To catch a lover’s look — but looked his last:
Here all his pains were lost, one greedy look,
Defeats his hopes, and Hell’s conditions broke,
A fatal messenger from Pluto flew,
And snatched the forfeit from a second view,
For instant dying, she again descends,
While he to empty air his arms extends!”

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The condition being thus broken, he saw her, but at the same moment she was turned into a shadow.

“And fainting cries, ‘What fury thee possest?
What frenzy, Orpheus, seized upon thy breast?
Once more my eyes are seized with endless sleep,
And now farewell, I sink into the deep.’
Oblivious cells surrounded all with night.
No longer thine: in vain to stop my flight
I stretch my arms, in vain thou stretchest thine,
In vain thou grievest, I in vain repine.’”

He returned to the upper world, where the only solace which he could find, was to soothe his grief with the tones of his musical instrument, to the sound of which, the mountains and caves of his native land bore a melancholy echo. He secluded himself entirely from the company of mankind; in vain was his society sought by the Thracian women; he rejected their overtures with coldness, until enraged at his behaviour, they attacked him while celebrating the Bacchanalian orgies.

“Here while the Thracian bard’s enchanting strain,
Sooths beasts and woods, and all the listening plain:
The female Bacchanals devoutly mad,
In shaggy skins, like savage creatures clad,
Warbling in air perceived his lovely lay,
And from a rising ground beheld him play:
When one, the wildest, with dishevelled hair
That loosely streamed, and ruffled in the air:
Soon as her frantic eye the lyrist spied
‘See, see, the hater of our sex,’ she cried,
Then at his face her missive javelin sent,
Which whizzed along, and brushed him as it went;
But the soft wreaths of Ivy twisted round,
Prevent a deep impression of the wound,
Next their fierce hands the bard himself assail,
Nor can his song against their wrath prevail;
In vain he lifts his suppliant hands, in vain
He tries, before his never failing strain;
And, from those sacred lips, whose thrilling sound
Fierce tigers and insensate rocks could wound,
Ah Gods! how moving was the mournful sight,
To see the fleeting soul now take its flight!”

After tearing his body to pieces, they threw his head into the Hebrus, which, as it rolled down the current, ejaculated with touching tenderness, ‘Eurydice! Eurydice!’ until it reached the Ægean sea.

The inhabitants of Dian asserted that his tomb was in their city, but the people of Mount Libethrus, in Thrace, claimed the same honour, remarking that the nightingales which formed their nests near it, excelled all others in melody and beauty. After his death, he is reported by some to have received divine honours, the muses rendering the rites of sepulture to his remains, and his lyre becoming one of the constellations.

Admetus §

was the king of Thessaly, whose flocks were tended by Apollo for nine years, when banished from heaven. During his servitude to this monarch he obtained a promise from the Fates, that Admetus should never die if another person would lay down his life for him.

Being one of the Argonauts, he was at the hunt of the Calydonian boar, when Pelias promised his daughter in marriage to him only, who could bring him a chariot drawn by a lion and wild boar. With the aid of Apollo, Admetus effected this, and obtained the hand of Alcestis.

By the fortune of war, he became a prisoner, and was condemned to death; Alcestis, with a beautiful display of conjugal affection, laid down her life to save her husband from the cruel death prepared for him.

Death-Song of Alcestis.

“She came forth in her bridal robes arrayed,
And midst the graceful statues round the hall
Shedding the calm of their celestial mien,
Stood pale, yet proudly beautiful as they:
Flowers in her bosom, and the star-like gleam
Of jewels trembling from her braided hair
And death upon her brow! but glorious death!
Her own heart’s choice, the token of the seal
Of love, o’ermastering love; which till that hour,
Almost an anguish in the brooding weight
Of its unutterable tenderness,
Had burdened her full soul. But now, oh! now,
Its time was come — and from the spirit’s depths
The passion and the melody
Of its immortal voice, in triumph broke
Like a strong rushing wind!
                                              The soft pure air
Came floating through that hall — the Grecian air,
Laden with music — flute notes from the vales,
Echoes of song — the last sweet sounds of life
And the glad sunshine of the golden clime
Streamed, as a royal mantle, round her form —
The glorified of love! But she — she look’d
Only on him for whom ’twas joy to die,
Deep — deepest, holiest joy! — or if a thought
Of the warm sunlight, and the scented breeze,
And the sweet Dorian songs, o’erswept the tide
Of her unswerving soul — ’twas but a thought
That owned the summer loveliness of life
To him a worthy offering — so she stood
Wrapt in bright silence, as entranced awhile,
Till her eye kindled, and her quivering frame
With the swift breeze of inspiration shook,
As the pale priestess trembles to the breath
Of unborn oracles! then flushed her cheek,
And all the triumph, all the agony,
Born on the battling waves of love and death
All from her woman’s heart, in sudden song
Burst like a fount of fire,

                                        ‘I go, I go,
Thou sun, thou golden sun, I go
Far from thy light to dwell:
Thou shalt not find my place below,
Dim is that world — bright sun of Greece, farewell!
    The laurel and the glorious rose
    Thy glad beam yet may see,
But where no purple summer glows
O’er the dark wave I haste from them and thee.
    Yet doth my spirit faint to part,
    I mourn thee not, O sun!

    Joy, solemn joy, o’erflows my heart,
Sing me triumphant songs! my crown is won.
    Let not a voice of weeping rise — ,
    My heart is girt with power
    Let the green earth and festal skies
Laugh, as to grace a conqueror’s closing hour!
    For thee, for thee, my bosom’s lord!
    Thee, my soul’s loved! I die;
    Thine is the torch of life restored,
Mine, mine the rapture, mine the victory.
    Now may the boundless love, that lay
    Unfathomed still before
    In one consuming burst find way,
In one bright flood all, all its riches pour.
    Thou knowest — thou knowest what love is now!
    Its glory and its might —
    Are they not written on my brow?
And will that image ever quit thy sight?
    No! deathless in thy faithful breast,
    There shall my memory keep
    Its own bright altar place of rest,
While o’er my grave the cypress branches weep.
    Oh, the glad light! the light is fair,
    The soft breeze warm and free;
    And rich notes fill the scented air,
And all are gifts, my love’s last gifts to thee!
    Take me to thy warm heart once more!
    Night falls, my pulse beats low;
    Seek not to quicken, to restore —
Joy is in every pang, — I go, I go!
    I feel thy tears, I feel thy breath,
    I meet thy fond look, still
    Keen is the strife of love and death;
Faint and yet frantic grows my bosom’s thrill.
    Yet swells the tide of rapture strong,
    Though mists o’ershade mine eye!
    Sing Pæans! sing a Conqueror’s song!
For thee, for thee, my spirit’s lord, I die!’”

Amphion and Niobe. §

Amphion was king of Thebes, the favourite of Apollo and rival of the celebrated Orpheus in the science of music. It is related of him, that in order to build the walls which surrounded his capital, he played upon his lyre, and by its divine power, the stones came and ranged themselves in order.

He married Niobe, by whom he had seven sons and seven daughters; the trials of this princess have been given in the history of Apollo, leaving a touching memorial

Œdipus, King of Thebes. §

Œdipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta; and being descended from Venus, was compelled to endure all the troubles which Juno might choose to inflict on him, from the hatred she bore to the goddess of beauty.

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No sooner had the marriage of Laius taken place with Jocasta, than it was foretold by the oracle, that he would fall by the hands of his son. Alarmed at so fearful a prediction, he resolved not to approach his wife. Having broken this wise resolution, however, he became the father of Œdipus, but to avert the oracle, he ordered Jocasta to destroy the infant immediately he was born. The mother was unable to obey this cruel command, but gave him in charge to one of her domestics, with directions to leave him on the mountains. Instead of obeying this order, the servant bored a hole in the feet of the child, and hung him on a tree on Mount Cithæron, where he was soon found by one of the shepherds of Polybus, King of Corinth.

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The shepherd took him and presented him to Peribœa, the wife of Polybus, who conceived a maternal tenderness for the deserted child, and adopted him as her own.

The accomplishments of the boy, who was named Œdipus, soon became the admiration of the age; he was informed that he was illegitimate, though Peribœa, when he appealed to her, told him, out of kindness, that his suspicions were unfounded. He remained dissatisfied however, and consulted the Delphian oracle, by which he was told not to return home, or he must inevitably become the murderer of his father, and the husband of his mother.

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As he travelled towards Phocis, he met, in a narrow passage, Laius, his father, in a chariot with his arm bearer. Laius insolently ordered the youth to move out of his way, which Œdipus, not knowing him, and irritated at his tone and language, refused. A conflict ensued, and Laius with his companion was slain.

———————— “‘His demeanour bold,
Imperative, and arrogant: from far
He waved his hand, that I should quit the path.
Most narrow was the place, and scarce allowed
To one, free passage. I was incensed
At his deportment, free myself by birth,
Hence I advanced with an undaunted step:
He, with a terrible accent, cried, “Make way.”
I, on the other hand, exclaimed with rage,
Returned his menace, and bade him retire.
Already had we met: he from his side,
Unsheathed a dagger, and upon me leap’d.
I had no dagger, but I lacked not courage.
Me he assailed. I combated his onset,
Grasp’d him, and in less time than I relate it;
Flung him upon the earth: in vain he strove;
When to the contest he perceived himself
Inadequate, insidiously he feigned
Terms of submission: I consented to them:
Quitted my grasp, when treacherously a blow,
Such as thou sees’t here, he aimed at me,
And pierced my clothes. The weapon grazed my flesh
The wound is slight, but boundless was my rage.
Blind with revenge I snatched the dagger from him,
And weltering in his blood he lay transfixed.’”

Ignorant of the rank of the man he had killed, he continued his way to Thebes, attracted thither by the noise which had been vented about of the Sphynx, a frightful monster then laying waste the country around Thebes, and devouring all who could not expound the enigma it proposed, which was — “What animal in the morning walks upon four legs, in the afternoon upon two, and in the evening upon three legs.” The answer of Œdipus was “That in infancy man goes upon his hands and feet; in manhood he walks upright, and in old age with the assistance of a staff.” Enraged at this solution, the monster dashed its head against a rock, and delivered Thebes from his unwelcome presence.

The prediction, partly fulfilled, was now entirely brought to pass, for Œdipus mounted the throne, and married Jocasta, his mother, by whom he had two sons, Polynice and Eteocles, and two daughters, Ismene and Antigone.

Some years after, a plague visited his territories, and the oracle was consulted, which stated that it would only cease when the murderer of King Laius was banished from the country. The slayer of this king had never been discovered, and the whole of Thebes was in violent excitement, anxious to discover the murderer, to avert the plague which raged; Œdipus himself instituted all possible inquiry, resolved to overcome every difficulty. What was his sorrow at learning as the result of his unwearied zeal, that he himself was the unhappy parricide, and still more, that he was the husband of his own mother.

Œdipus. “‘Why speak you not according to my charge?
Bring forth the rack, since mildness cannot win you
Torment shall force.
Phorbas. Hold, hold, Oh! dreadful sir,
You will not rack an innocent man.
Œd. Speak, then.
Phor. Alas! what would you have me say?
Œd. Did this old man take from your arms an infant?
Phor. He did, and oh! I wish to all the gods,
Phorbas had perished in that very moment.
Œd. Moment! thou shalt be hours, days, years undying,
Here, bind his hands, he dallies with my fury,
But I shall find a way —
Phor.                                By the gods,
I do conjure you to enquire no more.
Œd. Furies and Hell! Hæmon bring forth the rack,
Fetch hither cords and knives, and sulphurous flames.
He shall be bound and gashed, his skin flead off
And burned alive.
Phor. O spare my age.
Œd. Who gave that infant to thee?
Phor. O wretched state! I die, unless I speak;
And if I speak most certain death attends me.
Œd. Thou shalt not die; speak then, who was it? Speak,
While I have sense to understand the horror,
For I grow cold.
Phor. The Queen, Jocasta told me
It was her son by Laius.
Œd. O you gods — break, break not yet my heart,
Though my eyes burst, no matter, wilt thou tell me,
Or must I ask for ever? For what end?
Why gave she thee her child?
Phor. To murder it.
Œd. O more than savage! murder her own bowels
Without a cause.
Phor. There was a dreadful one
Which had foretold that most unhappy son
Should kill his father, and enjoy his mother.
Œd. ’Tis well! I thank you gods! ’tis wondrous well!
Dagger and poison — O there is no need
For my dispatch; and you, ye merciless powers,
Hoard up your thunder stones; keep, keep your bolts
For crimes of little note.
Adrastus. Help — and bow him gently forward,
Chafe, chafe his temples — He breathes again,
And vigorous nature breaks through opposition.
How fares my royal friend?
Œd. The worse for you.
O barbarous men, and oh! the hated light,
What did you force me back to curse the day,
To curse my friends, to blast with this dark breath
The yet untainted earth and circling air?
To raise new plagues and call new vengeance down,
Why did you tempt the gods, and dare to touch me?
Methinks there’s not a hand that grasps thy hell,
But should run up like flax, all blazing fire.
Stand from this spot, I wish you as my friends,
And come not near me, lest the gaping earth
Swallow you too.’”

In the depth of his anguish he deprived himself of sight, as unworthy ever more to behold the light, and banished himself from Thebes for the good of his country; or as many assert, he was banished from thence by his sons.

He retired towards Attica, led by his daughter Antigone, and came to a place sacred to the Furies. Here the remembrance flashed across his mind, that he was to die in a place like this, that such had been the decree of the oracle, and that he was to become the great source of prosperity to the country in which his bones should be laid. He sent therefore to Theseus, king of the place, to inform him, that on his arrival he would make known to him the resolution which he had made. Theseus came, and found Œdipus with his face covered by a black veil, a knife in one hand, and a vessel containing the blood of a sacrifice in the other. With a prophetic voice he exclaimed: —

“Lo! the immortal gods have called — the ground on which we stand, shall be my grave!”

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As he spoke, he walked without a guide to the appointed spot of earth, which in token of approval, opened, and received the victim to its bosom.

The tomb of Œdipus was near the Areopagus in the age of Pausanias, and some of the ancient poets have represented him in hell, as the place, which crimes like his, would seem to deserve.

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Eteocles and Polynice. §

From the unhappy union of Œdipus with Jocasta sprung Eteocles and Polynice; when they came to manhood an arrangement was made between them, by which it was agreed, that they should exercise the kingly authority for one year alternately. Eteocles was the eldest, and took to himself the first period of government; but when his year had past, the throne had proved so agreeable, that he refused to keep his promise of abdicating.

Polynice disgusted at such conduct retired to Argos, where Adrastus, king of the place, gave him his daughter in marriage, and attempted to persuade Eteocles into some feeling of justice; but not only did the latter persist in his conduct, but sought to slay the famous Tydius, the ambassador of Adrastus, who however escaped this danger with increased renown; and on his return to his king was appointed by him to join a numerous army, selected to trench against the walls of Thebes; nor was this an ungrateful task to the warrior who had been so treacherously assaulted.

—————— “Frowning he speaks, and shakes
The dark crest, streaming o’er his shaded helm
In triple wave; whilst dreadful ring around
The brazen bosses of his shield; he stands
Close to the river’s margin, and with shouts
Demands the war, like an impatient steed,
That pants upon the foaming curb.”

Amphiaraus, who was famous for his knowledge of futurity, and a warrior of great renown: knew from his power of divination, that he was sure to perish if he accompanied the expedition, and therefore secreted himself so successfully, that his wife only, knew the the place of his concealment; she however consented to betray him, bribed by an offer of a bracelet of great worth from Polynice, who was desirous of gaining so important an auxiliary. Previous to Amphiaraus quitting Argos for Thebes, he told his son Alcmeon to slay his mother, if news of his death should reach him; and when Alcmeon heard that his father’s chariot had been swallowed by the earth, which opened to receive its victim, he sacrificed Euriphyle to the vengeance of his dead sire. But so execrable a crime could not pass unpunished, and he was tortured by the Furies until he retired to Arcadia, where he married Alphisibaus. To fill up the measure of his crimes, he repudiated her, and took for his spouse Callirhoe. The brothers of his deserted wife however, assassinated him in revenge; and Callirhoe in the extremity of her anguish, devoted her two sons in the presence of their dead father, to revenge his death.

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Her wishes were fulfilled, they slew the murderers of Alcmeon, but to appease the gods, the fatal bracelet was sacrificed upon the altar of Apollo.

Meanwhile the war beneath the the walls of Thebes was conducted with fierce and vigorous bravery, by the chiefs who had assembled for its attack, until Eteocles and Polynice perceiving that the combat was unlikely soon to terminate, offered to finish the battle by a single combat, on which the crown should depend.

——————— “From the flying troops
Eteocles leaps forth in furious guise,
And with a terrible accent he exclaims,
‘To Polynice.’ With presumptuous rage,
His steps he traces, and at last he finds him.
‘Thebans,’ he cried, with a tremendous voice,
‘Thebans and Argives, cease your guilty rage!
Ye have descended to the field of battle
In our contention, prodigal of life
Ours is the strife, be ours the forfeiture.
Let us ourselves, to a conclusion bring
This unjust waste of blood, within your presence,
And on this field of death — And thou, whom I
Should call no more my brother, do thou spare
The blood of Thebes: thy hate, thy rage, thy sword,
All, all, on me let fall, on me alone!’
To speak and leap with fury to the charge
Were actions of one instant.
                                              Drunk with blood,
And fury, of his own life quite regardless,
Provided his antagonist he slew,
Eteocles upon his wretched brother
Falls with his sword, and all his strength collects.
For a long time, intent to ward his blows
Stands Polynice. But at length he cries
‘I call to witness Heaven and Thebes
Thou will’st it!’ While to heaven his eyes he raised,
And thus exclaimed, his sword he onward thrust:
The hovering furies guide the reckless blow
To pierce the bosom of Eteocles.
He falls — upon his brother spouts his blood!”

This unnatural combat was brief, though fierce, Eteocles the king was the first who fell, and Polynice regarding him with ill-disguised pleasure; and although the blood was flowing fast and free from his own mortal wounds, exclaimed:

—————— “‘Thou diest, and I am king,
Within these hands, red with a brother’s blood,
Shall dwell the sceptre thou didst wrest from me.
Thy brow on which doth rest the same bright drop,
Shall bear the crown thou did’st usurp from me.
And that thy soul may fly with more regret
Know traitor that thy last blow comes from me.’”

He approached the fallen monarch, and striking him once more with his sword, Eteocles expired beneath the blow, while Polynice himself exhausted with his efforts to subdue his pain, and the death struggle which tore his bosom, fell in the very act of striking him.

Their implacable hatred manifested itself even after death, for when their bodies were placed on the bier, their ashes refused to mingle, and the very flames separated as they arose in bright columns from the funeral pile.

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Tantalus, Pelops, Atreus, and Thyestes. §

Tantalus, son of Jupiter, reigned in Phrygia. Wishing to test the divinity of the gods who were visiting him, he murdered his son Pelops, and served up to them his limbs, demanding of them to name what the new meat was. The faithless cruelty of Tantalus was discovered, and the Gods refused to touch the horrible repast, with the exception of Ceres, who, thinking only on her lost Proserpine, eat one of his shoulders, with her accustomed appetite. Jupiter enraged at this atrocious conduct of Tantalus, destroyed his palace with a thunderbolt, and ordered Mercury to precipitate him to the bottom of hell. Here he is represented as punished with an insatiable thirst, and placed up to the chin in the midst of a pool of water, that passes around, yet never touches his lips; while, above his head, hangs a bough, laden with delicious fruit, which, when his hand would grasp it, is borne away by a sudden blast of wind.

Pelops was restored to life by Jupiter, and supplied with an ivory shoulder, in place of that which had been devoured by Ceres, and to which was granted the power of healing, by its touch, every complaint. He succeeded to the throne of his father, and maintained the war against the King of Troy for a long time, but was at last forced to leave Phrygia and seek a retreat in Pisa, where he married Hippodamia, the daughter of the king, that monarch having declared that she should only wed the man who would run on foot as fast as he could proceed in his chariot. This difficulty was overcome by Pelops, who bribed the charioteer to give his master an old chariot which broke down in the middle of the course, and killed Œnomaus; and when the charioteer would have claimed the reward of his infamy, he threw him into the sea, under pretext of punishing his negligence.

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Thus master of the kingdom of Pisa, and the hand of Hippodamia, he made bold war upon his neighbour, and conquered their land, which he named Peloponnesus, or the isle of Pelops.

In the family of the Pelopides murder and assassination seem never to have ceased their fearful course. Atreus and Thyestes, the sons of Pelops, having been counselled by Hippodamia to kill Chrysippus, who was an illegitimate son of Pelops, they refused to obey, which so exasperated her, that she stabbed the child with her own hands.

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Pelops, suspecting his two sons of the crime, banished them from his court. Atreus sought the kingdom of Eurystheus, King of Argos, and succeeded him on his throne, after marrying his daughter. Here he treated his brother Thyestes, who had followed him to the court, with great kindness, but he was recompensed with ingratitude, for his brother succeeded in winning the affections of his wife.

Irritated at so unlooked for a crime, Atreus took a fearful vengeance. Having been banished from the city for some time, Thyestes was again recalled, and invited to a sumptuous feast, at which was served up the children born to him by the connexion with his brother’s wife, all of whom had been sacrificed to his vengeance.

When the repast was over he showed to him the heads of the children, a sight which struck Thyestes with horror. The deed was so cruel and impious, that the very sun is said to have started back in amazement; and the unhappy Thyestes slew himself with his sword.

There was now one son left, named Egisthus, who, himself the fruit of a great crime, had been brought up by Agamemnon, and to him did the spectre of Thyestes appear, to exhort him to revenge upon his brother the cruel act he had performed; nor were the fates satisfied until the deed had been accomplished, which revenged upon Atreus the infamous and atrocious conduct at which the very sun itself had started.

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“Asked by his wife to his inhuman feast,
Tereus, unknowingly, is made a guest:
While she, her plot the better to disguise
Styles it some unknown mystic sacrifice:
And such the nature of the hallowed rite,
The wife her husband only could invite,
The slaves must all withdraw, and be debarred the sight.
Tereus on a throne of antique state,
Loftily raised, before the banquet sate;
And, glutton-like, luxuriously pleased
With his own flesh, his hungry maw appeased.
Nay, such a blindness o’er his senses falls,
That he for Itys to the table calls.
When Procne, now impatient to disclose
The joy that from her full revenge arose,
Cries out, in transports of a cruel mind,
‘Within yourself, your Itys you may find.’
Still at this puzzling answer with surprise,
Around the room he winds his curious eyes;
And, as he still enquired, and called aloud;
Fierce Philomela, all besmeared with blood,
Her hand with murder stained, her spreading hair
Hanging dishevelled, with a ghastly air,
Stepped forth, and flung full in the tyrant’s face
The head of Itys, gory as it was:
Nor ever longed so much to use her tongue,
And, with a just reproach, to vindicate her wrong.
    The Thracian monarch from the table flings
While with his cries the vaulted parlour rings;
His imprecations echo down to hell,
And rouse the snaky furies from their Stygian cell.
One while, he labours to disgorge his breast,
And free his stomach from the cursed feast;
Then, weeping o’er his lamentable doom,
He styles himself his son’s sepulchral tomb,
Now, with drawn sabre, and impetuous speed,
In close pursuit he drives Pandion’s breed;
Whose nimble feet spring with so swift a force
Across the fields, they seem to wing their course:
And now, on real wings themselves they raise,
And steer their airy flight by different ways:
One to the woodland’s shady covert hies,
Around the smoky roof the other flies;
Whose feathers yet the marks of murder stain,
Where, stampt upon her breast, the crimson spots remain.
Tereus, through grief, and haste to be revenged,
Shares the like fate, and to a bird is changed:
Fixed on his head, the crested plumes appear;
Long is his beak, and sharpened like a spear;
Thus armed, his looks his inward mind display,
And, to a lapwing turned, he fans his way.”

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Agamemnon and Menelaus. §

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Agamemnon and Menelaus were educated with Atreus, until banished the kingdom by Thyestes, they went to Calydonia, and they were treated with great kindness, and from thence to Sparta, where, like the remainder of the Greek princes, they sought the hand of Helen. By the advice and artifice of Ulysses, Menelaus became her husband, Agamemnon marrying Clytemnestra; and Tyndarus, their father, monarch of Sparta, assisted in recovering for them their father’s kingdom.

Menelaus succeeded to his father in law’s throne, and became King of Sparta, and Paris, son of Priam, King of Troy, was one of the numerous visitors at his court. To this prince Venus had promised the possession of the finest woman in Greece. The absence of Menelaus in Crete gave to Paris every opportunity, and he succeeded in corrupting the fidelity of Helen, who abandoned herself to her seducer, and followed him to his palace at Troy. Vainly were ambassadors sent to Priam, to make known to him the infamous conduct of his son. Not only did he refuse all reparation, but he embittered the interview by recalling all the ancient grievances of the two kingdoms.

This unjust conduct gave birth to a terrible war; Agamemnon embraced the cause of his brother with fervour, awoke all Greece to the wrongs of Menelaus, and was proclaimed the chief of the kings, who united their armies beneath the walls of Argos; and showed his personal zeal by furnishing one hundred ships, and lending sixty more for her assistance.

The Greek army amounted to sixty thousand soldiers, and their fleet to twelve hundred vessels, but at the very moment that they reckoned on starting, a deep calm settled on the waters.

The oracle was consulted, which declared that nothing less than the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, could suffice, as the latter had excited the wrath of Diana, by killing a favourite stag. The father heard the decree with the greatest horror and indignation, and, as chief of the forces, ordered his herald to command them all to retire to their separate homes.

Ulysses and the other generals interfered; and at last Agamemnon was persuaded to sacrifice a daughter so tenderly beloved but as she was a great favourite with Clytemnestra, her mother, the Greeks sent for Iphigenia, pretending that they sought her hand in marriage for Achilles.

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Clytemnestra gladly gave her consent; but when they came to Aulis, Iphigenia saw the bloody preparation for her sacrifice. In vain did she implore the protection of her father: tears and entreaties were alike unavailing, but as the fatal blow was about to be struck, a goat of great beauty was found in her place for the sacrifice. The supernatural change animated the Greeks, the wind suddenly became favourable, and the combined fleet set sail.

“Fair Iphigenia, the devoted maid,
Was by the weeping priests in linen robes arrayed,
All mourn her fate; but no relief appeared:
The royal victim bound, the knife already reared
When that offended power who caused their woe,
Relenting, ceased her wrath, and stopped the coming blow.
A mist before the ministers she cast,
And in the virgin’s room a hind she placed.”

After the fall of Troy the beautiful Cassandra came to the share of Agamemnon, and she foretold that his wife Clytemnestra would put him to death. He, however, returned with Cassandra to Argos, where the sad prediction was fulfilled. One day as he came from the bath, Clytemnestra gave him a tunic, the sleeves of which were sewn together, and as he was embarrassed with the folds, she brought him to the ground with the stroke of a hatchet, while Egisthus, with whom she had dishonoured herself during Agamemnon’s absence, gave him the finishing blow.

Clytemnestra. What have I done? —
Where am I?
Egisthus. Hast thou slain the tyrant? Now
At length thou art worthy of me.
Cly. See with blood
The dagger drops: — my hands — my face — my garment,
All, all are blood. Ah! for a deed like this
What vengeance shall be wreaked? I see already,
Already to my breast that very sword
I see hurled back — and by what hand! I freeze,
I faint, I shudder, I dissolve with horror!
My strength, my utterance fail me. Where am I,
What have I done? Alas!
Egis. Tremendous cries
Resound on every side throughout the palace.
Cly. He had no power to escape, or to resist,
Entangled in the gorgeous robe that shone
Fatally rich. I struck him twice, and twice
He groaned, then died. A third time as he lay
I gored him with a wound; a grateful present
To the stern god that in the realms below
Reigns o’er the dead.
    There let him take his seat,
He lay, and spouting from his wounds a stream
Of blood, bedewed me with these crimson drops.”

The tradition of the meeting of Iphigenia with her father in the lower regions, after his death, when the latter was ignorant of the infamy of her mother, and the cause of her father’s death, is thus beautifully described: —

Iphigenia. Father! I now may lean upon your breast,
And you with unreverted eyes will grasp
Iphigenia’s hand.
                We are not shades
Surely! for yours throbs yet,
                And did my blood
Win Troy for Greece?
                Ah! ’twas ill done to shrink;
But the sword gleamed so sharp; and the good priest
Trembled, and Pallas frowned above, severe.
Agamemnon. Daughter!
Iphig. Beloved father! is the blade
Again to pierce a bosom now unfit
For sacrifice? no blood is in its veins,
No God requires it here; here are no wrongs
To vindicate, no realms to overthrow.
You standing as at Aulis in the fane,
With face averted, holding (as before)
My hand; but yours burns not, as then it burned.
This alone shews me we are with the blest,
Nor subject to the sufferings we have borne.
I will win back past kindness.
                Tell me then,
Tell how my mother fares who loved me so,
And grieved, as ‘twere for you, to see me part.
Frown not, but pardon me for tarrying
Amid too idle words, nor asking how
She praised us both (which most?) for what we did.
Aga. Ye Gods who govern here! do human pangs
Reach the pure soul thus far below? do tears
Spring in these meadows?
Iphig. No, sweet father, no.
I could have answered that; why ask the Gods?
Aga. Iphigenia! O my child! the Earth
Has gendered crimes unheard of heretofore,
And nature may have changed in her last depths,
Together with the Gods and all their laws.
Iphig. Father! we must not let you here condemn;
Not, were the day less joyful: recollect
We have no wicked here; no king to judge.
Poseidon, we have heard, with bitter rage
Lashes his foaming steeds against the skies,
And, laughing with loud yell at winged fire,
Innoxious to his fields and palaces
Affrights the eagle from the sceptred hand;
While Pluto, gentlest brother of the three
And happiest in obedience, views sedate
His tranquil realm, nor envies their’s above.
No change have we, not even day for night,
Nor spring for summer,
                All things are serene,
Serene too be your spirit! none on earth
Ever was half so kindly in his house,
And so compliant, even to a child.
Never was snatched your robe away from me,
Though going to the council. The blind man
Knew his good king was leading him in doors,
Before he heard the voice that marshal’d Greece.
Therefore all praised you.
                Proudest men themselves
In others praise humility, and most
Admire it in the sceptre and the sword.
What then can make you speak thus rapidly
And briefly? in your step thus hesitate?
Are you afraid to meet among the good
Incestuous Helen here?
Aga. Oh! Gods of Hell!
Iphig. She hath not past the river.
                We may walk
With our hands linked, nor feel our house’s shame.
Aga. Never may’st thou, Iphigenia! feel it!
Aulis had no sharp sword, thou would’st exclaim,
Greece no avenger — I, her chief so late,
Through Erebus, through Elysium, writhe beneath it.
Iphig. Come, I have better diadems than those
Of Argos and Mycenai — come away,
And I will weave them for you on the bank.
You will not look so pale when you have walked
A little in the grove, and have told all
Those sweet fond words the widow sent her child.
Aga. Oh Earth! I suffered less upon thy shores!
The bath that bubbled with my blood, the blows
That spilt it (O worse torture) must she know?
Ah! the first woman coming from Mycenai
Will pine to pour this poison in her ear,
Taunting sad Charon for his slow advance.
Iphig. Why thus turn away?
Calling me with such fondness! I am here,
Father! and where you are, will ever be.
Aga. Thou art my child — yes, yes, thou art my child.
All was not once what all now is! Come on,
Idol of love and truth! my child! my child!
Fell woman! ever false! false was thy last
Denunciation, as thy bridal vow;
And yet even that found faith with me! the dirk
Which severed flesh from flesh, where this hand rests,
Severs not, as thou boasted’st in thy scoffs,
Iphigenia’s love from Agamemnon:
The wife’s a spark may light, a straw consume,
The daughter’s not her hearts whole fount hath quenched,
’Tis worthy of the Gods, and lives for ever.
Iphig. What spake my father to the Gods above?
Unworthy am I then to join in prayer?
If, on the last, or any day before,
Of my brief course on earth, I did amiss,
Say it at once, and let me be unblest;
But, O my faultless father! why should you?
And shun so my embraces?
                Am I wild
And wandering in my fondness?
                We are shades!!
Groan not thus deeply; blight not thus the season
Of full orbed gladness! Shades we are indeed,
But mingled, let us feel it, with the blest.
I knew it, but forgot it suddenly,
Altho’ I felt it all at your approach.
Look on me; smile with me at my illusion —
You are so like what you have ever been
(Except in sorrow!) I might well forget
I could not win you as I used to do.
It was the first embrace since my descent
I ever aimed at: those who love me live,
Save one, who loves me most, and now would chide me.
Aga. We want not O Iphigenia, we
Want not embrace, nor kiss that cools the heart
With purity, nor words that more and more
Teach what we know, from those we know, and sink
Often most deeply where they fall most light.
Time was when for the faintest breath of thine
Kingdom and life were little.
Iphig. Value them
As little now.
Aga. Were life and kingdom all!
Iphig. Ah! by our death many are sad who loved us.
They will be happy too.
                Cheer! king of men!
Cheer! there are voices, songs — Cheer! arms advance.
Aga. Come to me, soul of peace! these, these alone,
These are not false embraces.”
W. S. Landor.

The Trojan War. §

The sails were spread, and the vessels destined to the attack of Troy advanced quickly towards its shores. Priam and his brave sons though they received the enemy with vigour, could not prevent them from landing, and the siege commenced by a blockade, which lasted for the space of nine years, and might have lasted much longer, as more than valour was necessary to take the city; for destiny had dictated the conditions to be fulfilled, ere its capture could be accomplished.

An ancient oracle had foretold that among the besiegers must be one of the descendants of Eachus, who had worked on the wall of of Ilion, and Achilles, son of Thetis, considered Eachus as his ancestor. This young hero had been hidden by his frightened mother in the isle of Cyros. Clothed in female garments, he there lived with the beautiful Deidomia, and enslaved by Love, forgot over the cradle of his offspring, the glory of his country, and the precepts of his tutor, Chiron, the centaur. But it was necessary that he should be discovered; and that he should be animated with higher thoughts and more exalted sentiments.

Ulysses, King of Ithaca, took upon himself the charge of bringing the young Achilles from his inglorious ease to the post which awaited him in the camp. Disguised as a merchant, Ulysses introduced himself into the palace of the future hero, and as he paraded himself before the women with jewels and arms, one of them disdained the gems, and seized a sword! — It was Achilles! — who thus betrayed his manly inclinations.

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Thus discovered, the eloquence of Ulysses was exerted, and the youthful hero listened with astonishment to the King of Ithaca, as he told him of the dangers already overcome, and of the future conquests which awaited him. Ulysses departed, but not alone, for the spirit of glory was aroused in Achilles, and one more defender was added to the cause of Menelaus. But the besiegers were also to possess the arrows of Hercules, which this hero in dying had bequeathed to Philoctetes, who, however, would not give up the terrible arms that no mortal dared take from him. Ulysses presented himself to Philoctetes, who, at the command of the manes of Hercules, sought the Grecian camp with his terrible weapons to assist them against their enemies.

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But this was not enough. It was necessary to take from the Trojans the talismanic protector of their city, the Palladium.

Ulysses was also charged with this mission, and the intrepid Diomedes assisted him to triumph over the obstacles which would have resisted his single efforts, and they went forth to seek the statue of Pallas, in the very city of their intrepid foes.

It was necessary likewise that Rhesus, King of Thrace, should be prevented from allowing his horses to drink of the waters of the Xanthus, an ancient oracle having declared that if they drank of those waters or fed in the Trojan plain, that Troy would never be taken. In this too they succeeded; for Diomedes and Ulysses intercepted him on his journey to the Trojan camp, entered his tent at night and slew him; they then carried off the horses which had been the innocent causes of his melancholy fate.

All the oracles being now fulfilled, the siege was commenced with vigour, when an unforeseen quarrel stopped the operations of the Greeks. Achilles having been deprived by Agamemnon of his favourite mistress, retired into his tent. Reverses of fortune instantly signalised his absence. A general assault, however, was ordered, but directly the army displayed itself before the walls, Paris challenged Menelaus to single combat, and promised to return Helen if he was vanquished. The King of Sparta, protected by his bravery and the justice of his cause, accepted his challenge, and would have sacrificed the coward Trojan to his vengeance, when he took flight, and escaped by the aid of Venus.

——— “Poised in air, the javelin sent,
Through Paris’ shield the fearful weapon went,
His corslet pierces, and his garment rends,
And, glancing downward, near his flank descends.
The wary Trojan, bending from the blow,
Eludes the death, and disappoints his foe:
But fierce Atrides waved his sword, and struck
Full on his casque, the crested helmet shook:
The brittle steel, unfaithful to his hand,
Broke short, the fragments glittered on the sand.
The raging warrior to the spacious skies
Raised his upbraiding voice and angry eyes.
‘Then is it vain in Jove himself to trust?
And is it thus the Gods assist the just?
When crimes provoke us, Heaven success denies,
The dart falls harmless, and the falchion flies.’
Furious he said, and tow’rd the Grecian crew
Seized by the crest, th’ unhappy warrior drew;
Struggling he followed, while th’ embroidered throng,
That tied his helmet dragged the chief along.
Then had his ruin crowned Atrides’ joy,
But Venus trembled for the Prince of Troy;
Unseen she came, and burst the golden band,
And left an empty helmet in his hand.”

The Greeks claimed the execution of the promise, and in return a Trojan archer sent an arrow which wounded Agamemnon. A general melée ensued, the formidable Diomedes dashed into the midst of the Trojans, wounded Venus, who protected Paris, and struck Mars himself; and Hector, the brave son of Priam was compelled to retire, exhorting the Trojans to supplicate Pallas to withdraw Diomedes from the combat.

After this bloody action, in which the Gods themselves had taken part, the two armies engaged in several skirmishes without much advantage on either side. The siege still continued, and the anger of Achilles remained, until his revenge was aroused by the death of Patroclus, his friend, who was slain in battle by Hector.

“Thus by an arm divine and mortal spear
Wounded at once, Patroclus yields to fear,
Retires for succour to his social train,
And flies the fate which Heaven decreed, in vain.
Stern Hector as the bleeding chief he views,
Breaks through the ranks, and his retreat pursues:
The lance arrests him with a mortal wound;
He falls, earth shudders, and his arms resound.
With him all Greece was sunk, that moment all
Her yet surviving heroes seemed to fall.
Patroclus thus, so many chiefs o’erthrown,
So many lives effused, expires his own.”

To avenge the death of his comrade in arms, Achilles conducted the Greeks to the attack. The Gods again mingled in the fight. Hector and Achilles met in fierce combat, and the first fell gloriously. The son of Peleus refused to the Trojans the last and only consolation of thinking that the remains should be given to the aged Priam. He had the cruelty to tie the body to his chariot, and in that way to drag it three times round the city, a sacrifice to the tomb of Patroclus, and the unfortunate Priam was obliged to give a large ransom for the remains of Hector.

“Then his fell soul a thought of vengeance bred,
Unworthy of himself and of the dead,
The nervous ancles bored, his feet he bound
With thongs inserted through the double wound;
These fixed up high behind the rolling wain,
His graceful head was hauled along the plain.
Proud on his car th’ insulting victor stood,
And bore aloft his arms distilling blood.
He smites the steeds, the rapid chariot flies;
The sudden clouds of circling dust arise.
Now lost is all that formidable air,
The face divine and long descending hair,
Purple the ground, and streak the sable sand;
Deformed, dishonoured, in his native land,
Given to the rage of an insulting throng,
And in his parents sight now dragged along.
The mother first beheld with sad survey,
She rent her tresses venerably gray:
And cast far off the regal veils away.
With piercing shriek his bitter fate she moans,
While the sad father answers groans with groans;
Tears after tears his mournful cheeks o’erflow,
And the whole city wears one face of woe.”

After this barbarous act, Achilles, led by Destiny, obtained sight of Polyxena, the daughter of Priam, in the temple of Apollo.

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Availing himself of treachery, Paris basely slew him by shooting him in the heel, the only part not rendered invulnerable, by being washed in the river Styx. When Achilles died, the Greeks erected a superb tomb to his memory upon the shores of the Hellespont, and after the taking of Troy, Polyxena was sacrificed to the manes of Achilles. So glorious had been his arms, that Ajax and Ulysses disputed for them, and they were given to the King of Ithaca which so enraged Ajax that he slew himself, and the blood which flowed from him was turned into a hyacinth.

Æneas, son of Venus and Anchises, took part in all the battles which preceded the fall of his country, and relates the stratagem by which the Greeks gained possession of the city. Repulsed in many assaults, they constructed an enormous horse of wood, and shut up in it the best and bravest of their soldiers. Then pretending to raise the siege, they left it, and embarked, casting anchor near the isle of Tenedos. The Trojans, happy to see their sails retreating from their shores, left their walls to look at the immense machine which remained behind. Some proposed to destroy it. The most superstitious demanded on the contrary, that it should be conducted to the city, and offered to Minerva. Laocoon, grand priest of Neptune, in the spirit of prophecy, told them to destroy it, and to doubt the gift of an enemy. Vainly he cried, “fear the Greeks and their gifts!” They would not listen to him. At this moment a Greek named Sinon was brought before them. This perfidious man said that his brothers in arms, irritated against him, had abandoned him, and that this horse was an offering made by the Greeks, to moderate the anger of Minerva, and to obtain from her a happy return.

In vain did Laocoon persist in his assertion that danger was near, and in vain was he commissioned by the Trojans to offer a bullock to Neptune, to render him propitious.

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During the sacrifice, two enormous serpents issued from the sea, and attacked Laocoon’s two sons, who stood next to the altar. The father immediately attempted to defend them, but the serpents coiling round him, squeezed him in their complicated wreaths, so that he died in the greatest torture.

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———— “By Scamander when Laocoon stood,
Where Troy’s proud turrets glittered in the flood,
Raised high his arm and with prophetic call
To shrinking realms announced her fated fall;
Whirled his fierce spear with more than mortal force,
And pierced the thick ribs of the echoing horse;
Two serpent forms incumbent on the main
Lashing the white waves with their redundant train,
Arched their blue necks, and shook their towering crests,
And ploughed their foamy way with speckled breasts;
Then, darting fierce amid the affrighted throngs,
Rolled their red eyes, and shot their forked tongues. —
— Two daring youths to guard the hoary sire,
Thwart their dread progress, and provoke their ire,
Round sire and sons the scaly monsters rolled,
Ring above ring in many a tangled fold,
Close and more close their writhing limbs surround,
And fix with foamy teeth the envenomed wound.
With brow upturned to Heaven the holy sage
In silent agony sustains their rage;
While each fond youth, in vain, with piercing cries
Bends on the tortured Sire his dying eyes.”
        “Laocoon’s torture, dignifying pain —
        A father’s love and mortal’s agony
        With an immortal’s patience blending: — vain
The struggle; vain, against the coiling strain
And gripe, and deepening of the dragon’s grasp,
The old man’s clench; the long envenomed chain
        Rivets the living links, — the enormous asp
        Enforces pang on pang and stifles gasp on gasp.”

The Trojans following the advice of Sinon, beat down part of the wall to make an entrance for the horse into the city; they then celebrated the deliverance of their country with feasts and festivals.

Aided by the darkness of night the Greek ships left Tenedos and set sail with all haste towards Troy. Their soldiers disembarked, and penetrated through the breach which had been made to admit the horse. At the same time the warriors that were hidden within the colossal structure appeared, spreading slaughter and devastation all over the city. Æneas awoke, put on his arms, and ran to the palace of Priam, in time to see, but not to save, the aged monarch, his daughters, and his sons, from falling beneath the edge of the sword.

He then sought to rally the Trojans, and make head against the enemy, but when he abandoned himself to feelings of grief and rage at not being able, his mother made known to him the uselessness of his efforts.

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Æneas followed the council of Venus. He awoke his father Anchises, placed the old man on his shoulders, took the young Ascanius, his son, by the hand, and led him away from the tumult, giving him in charge to Creusa, his wife, telling her to follow closely, and not to leave him. The unfortunate woman, however, lost sight of him, and was put to death by the Greeks.

After a vain search to find Creusa, the hero joined the Trojans that survived, and all retired to mount Ida, where they constructed a fleet of twenty vessels, in which they set sail, endeavouring to find out a new country.

The conquerors razed Troy to the ground, and divided the plunder. The widows and daughters of the Trojan princes who were left behind, were obliged to remain in the country. Several of them, famed for beauty, inspired their masters with passions which manifested themselves in quarrels, finishing by many a bloody catastrophe. Among this number was Andromache, widow of Hector, and mother of Astyanax. She fell to the share of Neoptolemus, but though she conceived an aversion for him, the widow of Hector promised her hand to him, on condition that he would save the life of her son, which was menaced by the Greeks: and accompanied into Epirus the ambassadors sent to claim from Pyrrhus the last scion of a foeman’s race; Orestes, the ambassador, explained to the king the object of his mission, he was met by a stern refusal, which so irritated the warrior, that he stabbed Pyrrhus for attempting that which he designated a base treason.

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Following the fortunes of Ulysses — scarcely had he quitted the Phrygian shores, than he and his companions became the sport of Neptune and Juno, and a crowd of miseries beset them. At length, after a thousand reverses on the seas, a tempest precipitated his vessel on a rock, he saved himself on a floating wreck, and was driven by the waves towards the shores of the isle of the Phæacians. He saw on the shores the beautiful Nausica, who took him to King Alcinous, her father, from whom he received every hospitality. At the end of the repast to which he had been invited, he related his wonderful adventures.

He told of his arrival in the country of the Lotophagi, people who lived on lotos, and of the frightful dangers he encountered in the isle of Cyclops.

“The land of Cyclops first, a savage kind,
Nor tamed by manner, nor by laws confined:
Untaught to plant, to turn the glebe and sow;
They all their products to free nature owe.
The soil untill’d a ready harvest yields,
With wheat and barley wave the golden fields,
Spontaneous wines from weighty clusters pour,
And Jove descends in each prolific shower.
By these no statutes and no rights are known,
No council held, no monarch fills the throne.
But high on hills, or airy cliffs, they dwell,
Or deep in caves whose entrance leads to hell.
Each rules his race, his neighbour not his care,
Heedless of others, to his own severe.”

Polyphemus, whose one eye expressed a savage ferocity, shut up Ulysses and his companions in a cavern, where he kept his sheep. In the morning Polyphemus came, took two sailors and devoured them; at his repast in the evening he took two more. Ulysses, horrified at his danger, thought how he could avoid it. He amused the Cyclop by his recitals; and by giving him intoxicating drink, the monster slept; then, assisted by his companions, he put out his eye. Ulysses had provided for their escape, for fastening himself under the stomach of a sheep when it was going to the fields, and ordering his companions to follow his example, they escaped the rage of the Cyclop, who could only indulge his wrath by throwing at random large pieces of rock after their vessel, which was bearing them quickly away from the scene of their danger.

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He arrived in the isle of Æolia, where reigned Æolus, king of the winds. This monarch treated him with much kindness, and to assure him a prosperous voyage, he gave him, enclosed in a leather bottle, all the dangerous winds. The vessels went first to the borders of Ithaca, when the companions of Ulysses opened the leather bottle, believing that a precious wine was contained in it, all the winds escaped, and a furious tempest convulsed the sea. The vessels were thrown upon the coast of the Lestrigones, who ate human flesh. Two Greeks were devoured by them. In alarm the vessels again put to sea, and they landed in an isle where abode Circe, a famous magician.

When he had anchored, he sent some of his men on shore, to discover what place it was, but Circe gave them drink under pretence of refreshing them, which transformed them into swine. One only tasted not of the enchanted drink, and escaped to acquaint Ulysses with the strange metamorphose. Ulysses was astonished and resolved to seek the witch in person: and, provided with a certain herb, to preserve himself from witchcraft, he went to her with his drawn sword, to compel her to restore his companions to their previous shapes. The fascinations of Circe proved more powerful than the sword of Ulysses, and he staid with her on the island, in the enjoyment of her society, for the space of a year.

After concluding his eventful history, he remained some time with Alcinous, who gave him a ship, which carried him safely to Ithaca.

It was now the twentieth year of the absence of Ulysses from his home, during which time his wife had held him in continual remembrance, and though she had been pressed by her numerous suitors to consider him as dead and make a second choice, yet she retained such faithful love for her husband, with such a full and prophetic assurance that she should once more see him, that all their efforts to influence her were vain.

In order to put them off more effectually, she undertook to make a piece of cloth, promising that when it was finished, she would choose one of her numerous suitors: but the better to deceive them, she undid at night that which she worked in the day, so that when Ulysses arrived, she was no nearer its completion than at first.

Meanwhile Ulysses scarcely knew how to discover himself with safety to his own person, fearing that he might be slain by those who were suitors to his wife. By the advice of Minerva, he disguised himself as a beggar, first making himself known to Telemachus, and one of the old officers of the kingdom.

In the same disguise he introduced himself to Penelope, by whom he was received with joy; and with the assistance of his friends, who flocked around him, he entered in possession of his throne.

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But still his mind was uneasy and disturbed, as Tyresias, the soothsayer, had informed him that he should be killed by one of his sons. To prevent this misery, he determined to forsake the world, and retire into some solitary place, to end his days in peace.

About that time, Telegonus, one of his sons by Circe, came to his city to pay unto him his respects; and, as he was striving to enter the palace, there arose a great tumult, the officers of the place refusing him admission; at this moment Ulysses stepped out, and Telegonus not knowing him, ran him through with his lance, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the soothsayer.

Æneas. §

Charged to save himself from the wreck of Troy, and to accomplish the decrees of fate, Æneas embarked with a small band in twenty vessels, which Juno however pursued with her wrath. Æolus obedient to the goddess, dispersed the fleet and menaced them with complete destruction. Neptune appeared, and the winds were silent. Æneas, however, found himself separated from the greater part of his companions, seven only of whom remained with him.

He landed on an unknown shore and Venus informed him, that the rest of his companions were in safety. Æneas, hidden in a cloud went to the palace of Dido, Queen of Carthage, a new town in which this queen had built the most gorgeous edifices; in one of which, where she gave to him a splendid entertainment, the hero related to her the history of the siege of Troy and his own adventures.

The glowing language and animating gestures of the young prince, together with the high deeds which he announced, won the heart of Dido. Nor was Æneas long in perceiving the love felt for him by the beautiful listener, and yielding himself to her charms, staid with her for a considerable time in the enjoyment of all that renders life desirable.

Jupiter, however, grew dissatisfied with Æneas, despatched Mercury to him to command him to leave Africa, to try the destiny which called him to Italy.

In vain Dido endeavoured to stop him, she saw in Æneas a man resolved to leave her, and she loaded him with the curses and reproaches of an infuriated and forsaken lover.

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Unable to bear life in the prospect of a desertion so infamous, she prepared a funeral pile, determined to immolate herself; mounting with a calm resolution she gave way to her despair.

“What shall I do? what succour can I find?
Shall I with this ungrateful Trojan go,
Forsake an empire to attend a foe?
Himself I refuged and his train relieved,
’Tis true, but am I sure to be received?
Can gratitude in Trojan souls have place?
Laomedon still lives in all his race!
Then shall I seek alone the flying crew,
Or with my fleet their flying souls pursue?
Rather with steel thy guilty breast invade,
And take the fortune thou thyself hast made!”

With one strong blow she smote herself to the heart, and fell dead upon the pile she had erected.

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“Then swiftly to the fatal place she passed,
And mounts the funeral pile with furious haste;
Unsheathes the sword the Trojan left behind,
Not for so dire an enterprize designed;
But when she viewed the garb so loosely spread,
Which once he wore, and saw the conscious bed,
She saw and with a sigh the robes embraced,
Then on the couch her trembling body cast,
Repressed the ready tears and spoke her last;
‘Dear pledges of my love, while heaven so pleased,
Receive a soul of mortal anguish eased.
My fatal course is finished, and I go,
A glorious name among the ghosts below,’
Then kissed the couch ‘and must I die,’ she said,
‘And unrevenged, ’tis doubly to be dead;
Yet even this death with pleasure I receive,
On any terms ’tis better than to live;
These flames from far, may the false Trojan view,
These boding omens, his false flight pursue!’
She said and struck; deep entered in her side,
The piercing steel, with reeking purple dyed,
Clogged in the wound, the cruel weapon stands;
The spouting blood came streaming on her hands;
Her sad attendants saw the deadly stroke
And with loud cries, the sounding palace shook.
Thrice Dido tried to raise her drooping head,
And, panting, thrice fell grovelling on the bed.
Thrice ope’d her heavy eyes, and saw the light,
But having found it, sickened at the sight,
And closed her lids at last in endless night.”

Allegorical Divinities. §

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The ancients, following the inspirations of an undisciplined imagination, deified alike Virtues, Vices, and Evil principles. These divinities, the number of whom was constantly increasing, had both altars and temples consecrated to them: and from this kind of god, poets, painters, and sculptors have taken ideas, and have blended the deity and the virtue in beautiful unison, giving to them new and delightful charms.

Virtue, §

daughter of Truth, is represented clothed in white, as an emblem of purity; sometimes holding a sceptre, at others crowned with laurel; while she is in many instances drawn with wings, and placed upon a block of marble, to intimate her immoveable firmness.

Truth, §

daughter of Jupiter and Saturn, is the parent of Justice and of Virtue. The great Apelles has represented her, in his painting of Calumny, under the appearance of a modest female; in her hand is placed a round mirror.

Ancient writers say, that she was for a long time hidden from the world at the bottom of a well, but leaving its quiet on one occasion, she was scared at the reception she met with, and returned to her hiding place, which is intended to intimate, according to Democritus, the difficulty with which she is discovered.

Honour. §

The emblems of this god are, the crown of laurel, the lance, and the horn of plenty; though he is sometimes represented, instead of arms, with the olive branch of peace, as the reward of bravery.

At Rome he had two temples; one founded by Marcellus, at the same time with the one to Virtue. An augur having warned Marcellus that these two divinities would not dwell in the circumference of the same temple, he built the two distinct edifices to which we have alluded; but, to arrive at the temple of Honour, it was necessary to pass through that of Virtue.

Peace. §

This daughter of Jupiter and Themis, wears a crown of laurel; in her hand is a branch of the olive-tree, and against her side the statue of Plutus, to intimate that peace gives rise to prosperity and opulence.

Venus and the Graces were her companions, and an altar was erected to her at Athens; but at Rome, the capital in which the God of War was also peculiarly honoured, several altars were dedicated to her, one of the most magnificent of which was raised by Vespasian, after the war of Judea, and contained all the treasures taken from the temple at Jerusalem, consisting of a splendid library, busts, statues and pictures; with an enormous quantity of natural curiosities.

This temple was however consumed in the reign of Commodus, previous to which it was customary for men of learning to assemble there, and even to deposit their most valuable writings as a place of peculiar safety; and, consequently the loss which took place when it was consumed, could scarcely be estimated.

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Fidelity §

was adored even before Romulus and Numa had given laws to their people; and the oath sworn in her name was regarded by them as inviolable. She is represented clothed in white, with clasped hands. Her priests were dressed in a white cloth during her public ceremonies; but victims were not sacrificed upon her altar, because she was deemed inflexible, and could not yield to prayers, however urgent.

Two hands, joined together, are the emblems of faith, given and received.

Friendship §

the Greeks represented clothed in a clasped garment, her head bare, her bosom revealed near the heart, holding in the left hand an elm, around which a vine, filled with grapes, is clinging.

At Rome, she was a young maiden with a white robe, her bosom half bare, her head adorned with myrtle and pomegranate flowers intermixed. On the border of her tunic was written “Death and Life,” — on her front “Summer and Winter.” — Her side was opened, and the heart visible, bearing these words, “Far and near.”

Liberty §

wears sometimes a cap, with a rod in her hand, both signs of independence, as the latter was used by the magistrates in the manumission of slaves, and the cap was worn by those who were to be soon liberated, while at other times she appears in a chariot.

She is, however, more frequently represented holding the book of the laws, and in her hand a sword with which to defend them.

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A temple was raised to her by Gracchus on Mount Aventine, adorned with elegant statues and brazen columns, with a gallery in which were deposited the public acts of the state.

Victory. §

Styx, daughter of Ocean and Thetis, was the mother of Victory. This deity attended at the conquests of all countries and of all heroes. At Italy and Greece, temples were elevated to her; at Greece she was named Nice, and Sylla instituted festivals in her honour at the former place. In the temple of Jupiter, on the Capitoline hill, a golden statue of the goddess was placed, weighing three hundred and twenty pounds.

A thunderbolt having fallen on the statue and broken its wings, Pompey restored the courage of the people, who were dejected at the accident, by crying,

“Romans! the gods have broken the wings of Victory; henceforth she cannot escape from us.”

Victory, by the commands of her mother, aided Jupiter in his battle with the Titans; and the monarch of Olympus to reward her powerful services, decreed that the Gods should swear by her, and that those who violated the oath, should be exiled ten years from the celestial court, and deprived of the nectar and ambrosia of Olympus.

Voluptuousness §

is a female figure, nearly naked, her hair wreathed with roses, and her face and form, full, but exquisitely developed.

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In her hand is a cup of gold, from which a serpent is drinking, while around her are supposed to exist all the luxuries which attend her reign.

She was the goddess of sensual pleasures, and had a temple at Rome, where she was worshipped under the title of Volupia.

Calumny and Envy §

are the daughters of Night, and though poets have been peculiarly the victims of these evils, yet they have frequently celebrated them in their verses; nor could more important engines in the mischiefs which arose in the world be well chosen; for, from Calumny, which is the offspring of Falsehood, arises crushed hearts and broken friendships — while of Envy it has well been remarked, “Open your heart once to receive her as a guest, and farewell to joy, peace, and contentment.”

Famine §

is the daughter of Night, and inhabited the infernal regions, though the Lacedemonians dedicated to her an altar in the Temple of Minerva.

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She is drawn miserable, pale, wan, meagre, and dejected: her eyes hollow and sunken, her complexion of a leaden hue, her teeth yellow, and her whole appearance worn and melancholy.

Discord, §

daughter of Night, is the mother of a family of evils, almost too numerous to mention. Having been refused admission to the nuptials of Thetis and Peleus, it is said that it was she, who, to revenge herself, threw on the table among the festal company, the apple, with the inscription, “To the most beautiful.”

This apple was the origin of the Trojan war, and of innumerable misfortunes to the Greeks.

The goddess is represented with a pale and ghastly look, her garments torn, her eyes sparkling with fire, holding a dagger concealed in her bosom. Her head is generally enwreathed with serpents, and she is imagined to be the cause of all the miseries, dissensions, and quarrels, which fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.

We have now enumerated the most remarkable of the Allegorical Divinities, the number being too great to mention all. For the same reason we must omit the crowd of Emperors, Kings, and Princes, who, having the folly to believe themselves gods, found mortals sufficiently weak to grant them faith, and to accord them homage.

[Fables.] §

In concluding the Greek Mythology, however, we must mention several fables, which are so intimately connected therewith, as almost to form part of its history.

Philemon and Baucis. §

Philemon and Baucis were an aged couple, of Phrygia, who, unblessed by the goods of fortune, found in their mutual and deep affection, a happiness, which nothing could overwhelm.

———————— “There
Had lived long married and a happy pair
Now old in love, tho’ little was their store,
Inured to want, their poverty they bore,
Nor aimed at wealth, professing to be poor.”

As they were sitting together, enjoying the sweets of mutual affection, two travellers, with a melancholy and impoverished appearance, after having asked hospitality, and been refused by the inhabitants of the village, sought refuge under their humble roof. Unaccustomed to visitors, they were, however, received by them with kindness, and invited to partake of a modest repast.

As they sate in kind communion, the forms of those whom they entertained suddenly changed, and they beheld Jupiter and Mercury in the place of the miserable beings they had received; the ancient couple throwing themselves on their knees, offered to their guests the deep homage of their hearts.

The Gods were pleased with their entertainment; but could not forget the inhospitality with which they had been received by their countrymen, and let loose the waves, and sent the thunderbolt to consume the town and its inhabitants. Philemon and Baucis, were, however, saved, and a superb temple replaced their lowly dwelling, of which they were made the priests.

They lived long and happily, and having entreated Jupiter that neither might outlive the other, they both died on the same day, and their bodies were changed into trees, and placed before the door of the Temple which had arisen on the ruins of their lowly cottage.

“Lost in a lake the floated level lies;
A watery desert covers all the plains,
Their cot alone, as on an isle, remains
Wond’ring with weeping eyes, while they deplore
Their neighbours’ fate, and country now no more,
Their little shed, scarce large enough for two,
Seems, from the ground, in height and bulk to grow
A stately temple shoots within the skies,
The crotchets of their cot in columns rise,
The pavement polished marble they behold,
The gates with sculpture graced, the spires and roof of gold!”

Pyramus and Thisbe. §

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Pyramus and Thisbe were two young Thebans, who, being greatly enamoured of one another, had their union opposed by their friends, between the families of whom there had been a variance for many years.

“But to prevent their wandering in the dark,
They both agree to fix upon a mark;
A mark that could not their designs expose:
The tomb of Venus was the mark they chose;
There they might rest secure beneath the shade,
Which boughs, with snowy fruit encumbered, made.
A wide spread mulberry tree its rise had took
Just in the margin of a gurgling brook.”

They determined, however, if possible, to elude the vigilance of their persecutors, and agreed to meet outside the walls of the city, under the mulberry tree which grew there, and then to celebrate their union. Thisbe was the first who arrived at the place appointed, when the sudden arrival of a lioness so frightened her, that she fled away, dropping her veil in her flight. This the lioness smeared with blood, and then disappeared, leaving it under the trysting tree.

In a short time Pyramus arrived, but found that she, for whom he looked, was absent: the bloody veil alone met his anxious gaze, which he instantly recognized, and concluded that she had been torn to pieces by wild beasts. In his despair he drew his sword and killed himself.

When the fears of Thisbe were passed away, she returned to the mulberry tree, but found only the lifeless remains of her lover. In the agony which overcame her, she fell upon the weapon with which Pyramus had destroyed himself, and joined him in his endless rest.

“But when her view the bleeding love confessed,
She shrieked, she tore her hair, she beat her breast,
She raised the body, and embraced it round,
And bathed with tears unfeigned, the gaping wound,
Then her warm lips to the cold face applied —
‘And is it thus, ah! thus we meet,’ she cried
My Pyramus, whence sprang thy cruel fate?
My Pyramus; ah! speak, ere ’tis too late:
I, thy own Thisbe; but one word implore,
One word thy Thisbe never asked before!
Fate, though it conquers, shall no triumph gain,
Fate, that divides us, still divides in vain.
Now, both our cruel parents, hear my prayer,
My prayer to offer for us both I dare,
O see our ashes in one urn confined,
Whom love at first, and fate at last, has joined.
Thou tree, where now one lifeless lump is laid,
Ere long o’er two shall cast a friendly shade,
Still let our loves from thee be understood,
Still witness, in thy purple fruit our blood —
She spoke, and in her bosom plunged the sword
All warm, and reeking from its slaughtered Lord.”

Acis and Galatea. §

Polyphemus, the most dreadful and hideous of the Cyclops, loved Galatea, one of the beautiful race of the sea-nymphs. Day by day, did the giant sit by the side of a fountain, neglecting his flocks, and murmuring love songs the most touching and impassioned; while he adorned his person and endeavoured to render himself as agreeable, by these and other means, to his nymph as possible.

Galatea treated all his attentions with disrespect, and bestowed her affections upon Acis; meeting him in secret in a grotto, there enjoying the sweet society of one another, unsuspicious of the danger which threatened them.

—————— “Acis knelt
At Galatea’s feet. She gazed awhile,
One delicate hand was pressed against her cheek,
That flushed with pleasure, and her dark hair streamed
Shadowing the brightness of her fixed eye,
Which on the young Sicilian shepherd’s face
Shone like a star —
’Twas strange that she, a high sea-nymph should leave,
Her watery palaces, and coral caves,
Her home, and all immortal company,
To dwell with him, a simple shepherd boy.”
Barry Cornwall.

Polyphemus, however, discovered their retreat, and with it, the cause of all the scorn and indifference, with which he had been treated.

————— “At once he saw
His rival, and the nymph he loved so well,
Twined in each other’s arms. ‘Away,’ he cried,
‘Away thou wanton nymph, and thou, my slave.
Earth born and base, thou — thou whom I could shake
To atoms, as the tempest scatters abroad
The sea-sand tow’rd the skies, away, away!’”

Acis came forth from his retreat, and Polyphemus threw an enormous rock upon him, which crushed him beneath its weight.

——————— “The shepherd boy,
He felt the Cyclop’s wrath, for on his head
The mighty weight descended: not a limb,
Or bone, or fragment, or a glossy hair,
Remained of all his beauty.”

Galatea was in despair, and as she could not restore him to life, she changed him into a river, on the banks of which, she could still sport at even time, and sing to her beautiful, but lost love.

——————— “She changed,
As Grecian fables say, the shepherd boy
Into a stream, and on its banks would lie,
And utter her laments in such a tone,
As might have moved the rocks, and then would call
Upon the murdered Acis. He the while
Ran to the sea, but oft on summer nights
Noises were heard, and plaintive music like,
The songs you hear in Sicily — shepherd swains
For many an age would lie by that lone stream,
And from its watery melodies catch an air,
And tune it to their simple instruments.”
Barry Cornwall.

Hero and Leander. §

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Hero was a priestess of Venus, at Sestos, whom Leander met during one of the festivals held annually at the fane of the goddess, in honour of Adonis.

“As thro’ the temple passed the Sestian maid,
Her face a softened dignity displayed;
And as she shone superior to the rest,
In the sweet bloom of youth and beauty dress’d,
Such softness, tempered with majestic mien,
The earthly priestess matched the heavenly queen.”

The appearance of Hero inflamed the bosom of Leander, nor was he long in expressing his love to the beautiful being who had won it. In the very temple of the goddess, whose priestess she was, and while warmed with the rites at which she had been assisting, Leander avowed his passion.

“Her lily hand he seized, and gently pressed,
And softly sighed the passion of his breast,
Then to the temples last recess conveyed
The unreluctant, unresisting maid,
Silent she stood, and wrapt in thought profound,
Her modest eyes were fixed upon the ground,
Her cheeks she hid, in rosy blushes drest,
And veiled her lily shoulders with her vest.”

The earnest wooing of Leander was assisted by the boy-god, and Hero, won by his passionate pleading, and by a love as strong as it was sudden, consented to become his bride.

———————— “How more than sweet,
That moment, as he knelt at Hero’s feet,
Breathing his passion in each thrilling word,
Only by lovers said, and lovers heard.”
L. E. L.

Before they parted, she told him of her place of abode over the broad Hellespont, which he must cross, ere he could enjoy her society, and pointed out the spot to which he should look at night for a torch to guide his way.

“Dimly and slowly the hours passed by, until
Leander saw day’s bright orb disappear:
He thought of Hero and the lost delight,
Her last embracings, and the space between;
He thought of Hero, and the future night,
Her speechless rapture, and enamoured mien.”

At last the twilight came, followed by the darkness of night, and the bright star of Venus alone looked down on the expectant lover. He saw not the dark rush of Helle’s wave, he heard not the fierce sweep of its waters; he thought only of the beautiful bride, who had sate watching, and waiting for the weary sun to go down; when, lo

“Her turret torch was blazing high,
Though rising gale and breaking foam,
And shrieking sea birds warned him home;
And clouds aloft, and tides below,
With sighs, and sounds, forbade to go;
He could not see, he would not hear,
Or sound or sign foreboding fear;
His eye but saw that light of love,
The only star it hailed above;
His ear but rang with Hero’s song,
‘Ye waves divide not lovers long!’”

With a strong hand and anxious heart, the husband-lover dashed aside the impetuous waves; and sought and gained in safety the shore which the blazing light had signalled. And, oh! the tenderness of that meeting; the obstacles which intervened added an additional zest, and the waves seemed to have nerved the youth to a higher excitement, as he gazed on Hero. But the sorrowful morning came, and

—————— “They parted, but they met again —
The blue sea rolled between them — but in vain!
Leander had no fear, he cleft the wave,
What is the peril fond hearts will not brave!
Delicious were their moonlight wanderings,
Delicious were the kind, the gentle things
Each to the other breathed; a starry sky,
Music and flowers, this is earth’s luxury.
The measure of its happiness is full,
When all around, like it, is beautiful.
There were sweet birds to count the hours, and roses,
Like those on which a blushing cheek reposes,
Violets as fresh as violets could be;
Stars over head, with each a history
Of love told by its light; and waving trees
And perfumed breathings upon every breeze.”
L. E. L.

But their intercourse was soon stopped, it seemed too beautiful for earth; Leander, however, thought not of this, but with the enthusiastic ardour of youth, looked forward to a long life of delights. The day to him was a dull blank, and was employed in watching the spot, where at night he saw the beacon which cheered his way. But alas! the change came too soon.

———————— “One night the sky,
As if with passion, darkened angrily,
And gusts of wind swept o’er the troubled main
Like hasty threats, and then were calm again;
That night, young Hero by her beacon kept
Her silent watch, and blamed the night and wept,
And scarcely dared to look upon the sky;
Yet lulling still her fond anxiety.”
L. E. L.

Morning came, and came after a night of such terror, as but rarely is known to mortals; for the first time Leander had not sought her bower, and an indistinct shadow brooded over her mind, of some vague, uncertain dread, as she wandered down to the sea shore.

“Her heart sick with its terror, and her eye,
Roving in tearful, dim uncertainty.
Not long uncertain, — she marked something glide,
Shadowy and indistinct upon the tide;
On rushed she in that desperate energy,
Which only has to know, and knowing, die —
— It was Leander!”
L. E. L.

The melancholy tale is told; storm nor tempest had power to keep the husband from his wife, and in the wildness of his struggles for life, when hope was gone and despair succeeded, his last glance sought the watch light in Abydos, and his last sigh was given to the fond being who looked in vain from its rocky strand.

Pygmalion §

was a statuary, celebrated in Cyprus for the exquisite skill of his statues. He became disgusted to such a degree with the debauchery of the females of Amathus, that he resolved never to marry, but to devote himself to his art.

In this he became so proficient, that his marble busts seemed almost like life — and one, the figure of a female, was regarded by him with such affection that he grew deeply enamoured of it, worshipping it with all the devotion which mortals usually pay to woman.

The passion increased, and the gods, pitying his despair, changed the statue into that of a beautiful female, whom he married, and had by her a son called Paphos, who founded the town of the same name in Cyprus.

“There was a statuary, one who loved
And worshipped the white marble that he shaped;
Till, as the story goes, the Cyprus’ queen,
Or some such fine, kind hearted deity,
Touched the pale stone with life, and it became
At last Pygmalion’s bride.”
Barry Cornwall.

Sappho and Phaon. §

The story of Sappho and of Phaon has become almost, if not quite as well known, as that of Hero and Leander. Sappho was celebrated for her beauty and her poetical talents, all of which she bestowed in love on Phaon.

“A youth so shaped, with such a mien,
A form like that of Jove serene,
With sparkling eyes, and flowing hair,
And wit, that ever charms the fair.”

He gave himself up for a time to the pleasure of her society, but man was as fickle then as now, and he grew tired, even conceiving a disdain for her who had so quickly given herself to his arms.

To a mind like Sappho’s, finely wrought, as that of poets usually are, this became insupportable; life was a burthen; song, now that the one had gone whose praise she valued more than all beside, became neglected; and in a fit of insupportable madness she threw herself into the sea.

    “From Leucadia’s promontory
Flung herself headlong for the Lesbian boy,
(Ungrateful he to work her such annoy;)
But time hath as in sad requital, given
A branch of laurel to her, and some bard
Swears that a heathen God or Goddess gave
Her swan-like wings wherewith to fly to heaven.
And now, at times, when gloomy tempests roar
Along the Adriatic, in the waves
She dips her plumes, and on the watery shore
Sings as the love-crazed Sappho sung of yore.”
Barry Cornwall.

Of all her compositions, but two now remain; which, fragments as they are, shew by their uncommon sweetness and beauty, how worthily the praises of the ancients were bestowed upon a poet, whom they even ventured to call the tenth muse.

“Then came a dark browed spirit, on whose head
Laurel and withering roses loosely hung:
She held a harp, amongst whose chords her hand
Wandered for music — and it came. She sang
A song despairing, and the whispering winds
Seemed envious of her melody and streamed
Amidst the wires to rival her, in vain.
Short was the strain but sweet: methought it spoke
Of broken hearts, and still and moonlight seas,
Of love, and loneliness, and fancy gone,
And hopes decayed for ever: and my ear
Caught well remembered names, ‘Leucadia’s rock,’
At times, and ‘faithless Phaon:’ then the form
Passed not, but seemed to melt in air away:
This was the Lesbian Sappho.”
Barry Cornwall.

The Lesbians were so enraptured with her strains, that they raised her to divine honours, and erected a temple to her, and even stamped their money with her image.

                “Thou! whose impassioned face
                The poet loves to trace,
Theme of the sculptor’s art, and poet’s story,
                How many a wandering thought
                Thy loveliness hath brought,
Warming the heart with its imagined glory!
                Yet, was it History’s truth.
                That tale of wasted youth,
Of endless grief, and love forsaken, pining?
                What wert thou, thou whose woe
                The old traditions show,
With Fame’s cold light around thee vainly shining!
                Did’st thou indeed sit there
                In languid lone despair?
Thy harp neglected by thee idly lying?
                Thy soft and earnest gaze,
                Watching the lingering rays,
In the far west, where Summer-day was dying?
                Did’st thou, as day by day,
                Rolled heavily away,
And left thee anxious, nerveless and dejected,
                Wandering thro’ bowers beloved,
                Roving where he had roved,
Yearn for his presence, as for one expected?
                Did’st thou, with fond wild eyes
                Fix’d on the starry skies,
Wait feverishly for each new day to waken?
                Trusting some glorious morn
                Might witness his return,
Unwilling to believe thyself forsaken?
                And when contrition came,
                Chilling that heart of flame,
Did’st thou, O saddest of Earth’s grieving daughters,
                From the Lucadian steep,
                Dash, with a desperate leap,
And hide thyself within the whelming waters?
                Such is the tale they tell,
                Vain was thy beauty’s spell —
Vain all the praise thy song could still inspire,
                Though many a happy band,
                Rung with less skilful hand,
The borrowed love notes of thy echoing lyre.
                Fame, to thy breaking heart,
                No comfort could impart,
In vain thy brow the laurel wreath was wearing;
                One grief and one alone
                Could bow thy bright head down,
— Thou wert a woman, and wert left despairing!”
Mrs. Norton.

Numa Pompilius. §

This hero was born on the very day that Romulus laid the foundation of the Roman city: he married Tatia, the daughter of the Sabine king, whom however he had the misfortune to lose; owing to which, he retired into the country that he might devote his time more uninterruptedly to study.

When, upon the death of Romulus, he was chosen by the senators to be their sovereign, it was with great difficulty that he could be persuaded to undertake the onerous task, which, however, he filled to the satisfaction of his subjects, dismissing the body guards who usually attended upon the Roman Emperor, thus showing he had no distrust of his subjects.

His great object was to quell the spirit of war and conquest which he found in the people, and to inculcate the love of peace, with a reverence for the deity, whose worship by images he forbade, and established a priesthood for it, the effect of which was to prevent any graven images or statues from appearing in their sanctuaries for upwards of one hundred and thirty years.

This wise monarch, aware that superstition is one of the greatest engines in governing a people, encouraged a report that he regularly visited the nymph Egeria, who indeed, according to Ovid, became his wife.

In her name he introduced all his laws and regulations into the state, and solemnly declared in the presence of his people, that they were sanctified by the approval of that being, an approval, which gave them additional favour in the eyes of this superstitious people.

At his death, which took place after a reign of forty-three years, not only the Romans, but the neighbouring nations were anxious to pay their testimony of reverence to a monarch, whom they could not help respecting no less for his abilities, than for his moderation in the application of them.

He forbade the Romans to burn his body, after their usual custom, but ordered them to bury it near Mount Jerusalem, with some of the books which he had written, which being accidentally found four hundred years after his death, were burned by order of the senate.

They are stated merely to have contained the reasons why he had made the innovations into the ceremonies of their religion.

“Egeria! sweet creation of some heart,
Which found no mortal resting place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate’er thou art
Or wert, — a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair;
Or it might be, a beauty of the earth,
Who found a more than common votary there
Too much adoring; whatso’er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth

Here did’st thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
The purple midnight veiled that mystic meeting
With her most starry canopy, and seating
Thyself by thine adorer, what befel?
This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting
Of an enamoured goddess, and the cell
Haunted by holy love — the earliest oracle!

And did’st thou not, thy breast to his replying,
Blend a celestial with a human heart;
And love, which dies as it was born, in sighing,
Share with immortal transports? could thine art
Make them indeed immortal, and impart
The purity of heaven to earthly joys,
Expel the venom and not blunt the dart —
The dull satiety which all destroys —
And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys?”

Cadmus. §

Cadmus was the son of Agenor, and brother of Europa, who was carried away by Jupiter in the likeness of a bull; this prince being ordered by his father never to return if he was unable to find and bring back his sister; he at last consulted the oracle of Delphos, to obtain its assistance in accomplishing his mission.

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“Look no longer for thy sister,” replied Apollo, “but follow the first cow which presents itself to thy sight, and wherever that shall stop, build a city for thee and thy successors.” Cadmus obeyed and was guided in this manner towards Bœotia, which he founded.

Previous to this, wishing to thank the gods by a sacrifice, he sent his companions to fetch some water from a neighbouring grove; becoming alarmed at their delay, he went in search of them, and found they had desecrated a fountain sacred to Mars, and that the dragon which presided over it had slain them. He arrived but just in time to witness him finishing the meal, which had followed their destruction.

In fierce despair Cadmus attacked, and by the aid of Minerva overcame the monster, he then sowed the teeth of the dragon in the plain, upon which armed men rose suddenly from the ground.

In his alarm he threw a stone at them, and they instantly attacked one another, leaving only five, who assisted him in building the city.

He soon after married Hermione, the daughter of Venus; and had by her four sons and four daughters, whom Juno, out of hatred to Venus, cruelly persecuted.

Cadmus was the first who introduced the use of letters into Greece, though others maintain that the alphabet brought by him from Phœnicia, was only different from that used by the ancient inhabitants of Greece.

It was composed of seventeen letters, and to these were added some time after, by Palamedes, an additional four, and by Simonides of Melos, also, the same number.

In addition to the alphabet, by which the name of Cadmus has become renowned, he introduced likewise, the worship of many of the Egyptian and Phœnician deities, to the inhabitants of Greece, into which country, he is believed to have come about one thousand four hundred and ninety years before the christian era.

In stories so remote, it is difficult to separate the true from the false, and still more so to give a plausible explanation of apparent incongruities: it has, however, been suggested, that the dragon’s fable, arose from some country which Cadmus conquered; that the armed men who are stated to have arisen from the field, were men armed with brass, a crop very likely to arise from the attempted subjection of a free country.

We have now related the most celebrated fables in the Mythology of the Greeks and Romans, without asserting that we have given all of them, some of which would be out of keeping in a work meant to be placed in the hands of youth, while others are not sufficiently authenticated, or do not bear sufficient interest, to induce us to present them to our readers.

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Bellerophon §

was son of Glaucus, King of Corinth, and named at first Hipponous. The murder of Beller, his brother, by him, procured his second name of Bellerophon or the murderer of Beller; after he had committed which, he fled to the court of Prœtus, King of Argos, where being of a noble and fine person, he won the affections of the wife of the king; he refused to listen to her passion, and in revenge he was accused by her to her husband, of attempting her virtue.

Prœtus, was very unwilling to trespass upon the laws of hospitality by punishing him, but sent him with a letter to Jobates the father of his queen, entreating him to put to death the man who would have insulted the honour of his daughter.

Jobates to satisfy his son-in-law, sent Beller to attack a monster called Chimæra, in the full expectation that he would be destroyed. By the assistance of Minerva, however, who lent him Pegasus the winged horse, he succeeded in conquering the monster, and returned victorious to the court of Jobates.

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After this he was sent on various expeditions of great danger, in all of which he was so successful, that Jobates imagined he was under the protection of the gods, and gave him the hand of his daughter Cassandra in marriage, naming him as his successor to the throne.

It has been asserted by some that he attempted to fly to Olympus upon Pegasus, but that Jupiter sent an insect which stung the horse, who threw his rider headlong to the earth; and that for many years he remained melancholy, languishing, and full of pain and weakness.

Milo §

was one of the most celebrated of the Greek wrestlers, who having early accustomed himself to carry great burthens, became so strong, that nothing seemed too much for his vast efforts. It is recorded of him that he carried on his shoulders a young bullock, four years old, for more than forty yards, that he then killed it with a blow of his fist, and to crown the feat, afterwards eat it up.

This man was one of the disciples of Pythagoras, whose life he had saved, by supporting the whole weight of the building on his shoulders, when the roof of the school in which he was teaching gave way.

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In his old age a melancholy fate awaited him; for failing in an attempt to pull up a tree by the roots, his hands remained fast pinched in the tree, when a lion suddenly sprang upon him, which he was unable to escape, and fell beneath the fury of the beast.

The Principal Divinities of Indian Mythology. §

It is scarcely possible for any religion to possess a more metaphysical and abstract character, than the creeds of the various sects which distinguish India. They present, however, too much interest to enable us to dispense with a few of the leading ones among them, this work not having for its object a deep research into obscure mysteries, but is meant to excite useful and pleasing ideas, without entering into elaborate explanations.

Brahma! §

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This deity, according to the Hindoos, is the Eternal, the Creator! and is one of the three members of the Indian Trinity.

Previous to his commencing the grand work of creating the world, and all that it contains, he passed thirty six millions of years contemplating the panorama of Chaos, which was spread out before him.

He then produced seven starry spheres, the Earth, and its two luminaries, with seven inferior regions, lit by the sparkling light of eight Carbuncles, placed on the heads of the same number of Serpents. He next proceeded to the creation of the beings who were to people it, in the accomplishment of which, he was aided by the pure spirits who surrounded him.

The earth, being yet uninhabited, he made the first man and the first woman wherewith to people it.

Brahma is the object of the most ancient adoration of the Brahmins; he is considered the intelligence who existed before time, and will continue throughout eternity: he watches over the events of each age and revolution of the universe; he is the power by which everything was created, and everything is sustained; he is the invisible head of the Brahmins, and as such, is worshipped by them with devoted respect.

The Hindoos invoke him regularly morning and evening, and throw water from the palms of their hands upon the ground, and towards the sun, which they adore as the likeness of the Eternal, while at mid-day, they renew their homage by the offer of a flower.

The Hindoo painters always represent Brahma with four heads and four faces, analagous to the four cardinal points, and long beards descending from his four chins. In his four hands he holds the mysterious chain, to which are suspended the worlds, and the book of the law; the pencil to write it, and the fire of sacrifice.

Vishnu. §

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Vishnu, the second deity of the Indian Trinity, is considered as the preserver of the world, which Brahma has created out of nothingness. He descended on the earth by a sacrifice of which he alone was capable, and to save it from certain ruin, submitted to all the weaknesses of humanity.

He became teacher, warrior, and prophet, that he might leave to the world on his quitting it, the model of a man. He resided in the centre of the worlds, and all the worlds were in him.

Vishnu is usually represented near his wife, whom he enfolds in his arms. His complexion is blue, his eyes are like the flowers of the lotos, and his visage burns with an eternal youth. He is strong and vigorous in appearance, his four hands are sometimes raised, as if in the act of blessing the human race, while on his head is placed a triple storied crown.

In the middle of his side sparkles the magnificent diamond in which all things are reflected; while garments of a costly price clothe his noble form.

To him are consecrated the eagle, the hawk, and the bee; at his side is placed a fantastic kind of bird, a beautiful mixture of the man and of the eagle.

The faith of Vishnu is spread over all India.

Siva §

is the third person of the Indian Trinity, and is the destroyer, as opposed to Brahma, who creates, and to Vishnu, who preserves.

According to the Hindoos, who believe in the doctrine of metempsychosis, the spirit passes from one form to another. To be born, is to appear under a new shape; to die, is to appear no longer under the same form.

But, as it is impossible to disown destruction, as regards material things, they admit the existence of a god, whose power was of a double nature, and who could destroy and produce at the same time.

Siva is drawn with five heads, four hands, and three eyes in his principal head. He is carried by a bull, and holds in his hands a trident and a dwarf stag.

When they would paint him menacing and terrible, his sharp teeth start from his gums; fire breathes from his lips; and human sculls form his diadem. Serpents are entwining round his waist; the sword and the lance sparkle in his hands, and the tiger has taken the place of the bull; while his body assumes the appearance of a white cinder, a terrible symbol of his implacable rage.

Buddh. §

This is the being from whom the enormous number of followers take their stand, under the title of Bouddhism, and with whom christianity alone has the power of claiming an equal number of followers.

The books of his priests signalize twelve great epochs in his career, classed and entitled as follows: —

1. The celestial origin of Buddh.

2. His miraculous and divine conception in the bosom of a mortal mother.

3. His birth.

4. His progress in wisdom.

5. His marriage and royal splendour.

6. His retreat from the world.

7. His life as a hermit.

8. His appearance, whereby he is known as a saint.

9. His predictions.

10. His victory over the six chiefs of the earth.

11. The end of his career.

12. His burial.

The doctrine of this deity is founded on the principle that the universe is animated by one spirit, and recommends ten precepts, which are, —

1. Not to kill.

2. Not to steal.

3. To be chaste.

4. Not to bear false testimony.

5. Not to speak untruly.

6. Not to swear.

7. To avoid all impure words.

8. To be disinterested.

9. To forgive injuries.

10. Not to be superstitious.

This religion, all peace and all love, prescribes gentleness and pity, abolishing the brutalizing and tyrannical distinction of castes, and invites the world to peace, life eternal, and to the identification of spirits with the supreme essence.

The grand lama is the Supreme priest of one of the great parties of this church, which has its principal home in Thibet; and the veneration of his votaries for this human representative of their god, is celebrated over Europe.

Below this sovereign pontiff, are patriarchs charged with the spiritual government of the provinces; a council of lamas who assemble in conclave, and whose insignia answer to those of the cardinals of the Roman church. They admit oral confession, and make prayers for the dead.

The images of Buddh are multiplied in great numbers in all the pagodas of India, of Tartary, of China, and the countries of Asia. He is represented on a mat, his limbs crossed, his bust stiff, and his head elevated in an imposing attitude, announcing both instruction and education.

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In ordinary cases he is naked and of a black colour, and with the bosom of a female.

Near him are groups of domestic animals, in allusion to the gentleness of the worship of this deity, which forbids the shedding of blood.

[Secondary Divinities.] §

Beside the superior gods whom we have described, the numerous populations of India recognize a crowd of secondary divinities, whose history approaches in many instances to those of the Greek and Roman deities, and if their legends offer an interest by their singularity, they prove at the same time, that the founders of these various faiths have sought to give them a character of obscurity, that they may agree with the general mysticism of the East.

The fables of India, essentially metaphysical and philosophical, are less agreeable than those of the people of the West, who indulge their sensual ideas to a considerable extent.

Below the Supreme being, whose belief is spread among all nations, are placed the embodyings of the principal god: then, (of an order still less important,) are placed idols of all kinds, and of all forms, adored by these ignorant and credulous people.

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Of the many deities of the second category, the most remarkable is Ganga, who is the river Ganges personified, a river sacred alone to the Hindoos.

    “A stream descends in Meru mountain,
        None hath seen its secret fountain;
            It had its birth, so sages say,
                Upon the memorable day
            When Parvati presumed to lay,
                In wanton play,
Her hands, too venturous goddess, in her mirth,
    On Seeva’s eyes, the light and life of earth.
    Thereat the heart of the Universe stood still;
The elements ceased their influences; the hours
Stopt in the eternal round; motion and breath,
Time, change, and life, and death,
In sudden trance opprest, forgot their powers.
A moment and the dread eclipse was ended,
But, at the thought of nature thus suspended,
    The sweat on Seeva’s forehead stood,
And Ganges thence upon the world descended,
    The holy river, the redeeming flood.
    None hath seen its secret fountain,
    But on the top of Meru mountain
    Which rises o’er the hills of earth,
    In light and clouds, it hath its mortal birth:
    Earth seems that pinnacle to rear,
    Sublime above this worldly sphere,
    Its cradle, and its altar, and its throne:
    And there the new born river lies,
    Outspread beneath its native skies,
    As if it there would love to dwell,
    Alone and unapproachable.”

To perform their ablutions in its waters, to die on its brink, to be thrown after death into its waves, are the supreme happiness of the disciples of Vishnu and of Brahma. The dying carcasses are generally abandoned to the current of the wave.

The most famous of their places of worship is that point of the peninsula, where the Ganges, suddenly abandoning the mountains, is precipitated down the plains of Hindostan. A temple is elevated in the middle of the waters, and surmounted by two cupolas.

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Here are constantly assembled a large crowd of pilgrims, and a willing contribution is paid to the Brahmins. The two sexes bathe together, while the most rigid of the devotees walk to the bath escorted by two Brahmins.

“How sweetly Ganga smiles and glides
Luxuriant o’er her broad Autumnal bed!
Her waves perpetual verdure spread,
Whilst health and plenty deck her golden sides:
As when an eagle, child of light,
O’er her eyry proudly reared,
Sits brooding and her plumage vast expands,
Thus Ganga o’er her cherished lands,
To Brahma’s grateful race endeared,
Throws wide her fostering arms, and on her banks divine,
Sees temples, groves, and glittering towers, that in her crystal shine.

“What name, sweet bride, will best allure,
Thy sacred ear, and give the honour due?
Vishnupedi? mild Bhishmasu?
Smooth Suranimnaga? Trisrota pure?
By that I call; its power confess:
With growing gifts thy suppliants bless,
Who with full sails in many a light-oared boat,
On thy jasper bosom float;
Nor frown, dread goddess, on a peerless race,
With liberal heart and martial grace,
Wafted from colder isles remote:
As they preserve our laws and bid our terror cease,
So be their darling laws preserved, in wealth, in joy, in peace!”
Sir W. Jones.

The elephant plays a prominent part in the Hindoo tales. They pretend that the world is sustained by four of these animals, who are placed at the four cardinal points. In most of their temples one of them is sure to be seen.

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His colour is white, his tusks are sometimes four in number, and all his body is covered with carpet, sparkling in the light of diamonds and precious stones.

The Hindoos revere also a large serpent as a god:

“‘The god! the very god!’ he cried, and howled
One long, shrill, piercing, modulated cry;
Whereat from that dark temple issued forth
A serpent, huge and hideous. On he came,
Straight to the sound, and curled around the priest
His mighty folds innocuous, overtopping
His human height, and arching down his head,
Sought in their hands for food.
Then quitting, reared, and stretched and waved his neck
And glanced his forky tongue.”

A cow, of whom the gods disputed the possession, is also worshipped by them; she was obtained by one of them through a stratagem very like that employed by Jupiter with Europa.

They pay homage also to peculiar divinities, such as the goddess of pleasure, and the god of war.

The former was fabled, like Venus, to have arisen from the sea when agitated by the gods.

The poetry of the East frequently alludes to fairies of great and exquisite beauty, who people the air, the earth, the rivers, and the woods, and are placed by them among the inferior divinities.

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Camdeo, the god of love, takes the same standing in the East, as Cupid in the mythology of which we have already treated; though the Indian description of his person and his arms, his family, attendants and attributes, has new and peculiar characteristics.

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He is represented as a beautiful youth, sometimes conversing with his mother and consort, in the midst of his gardens and temples. His bow of sugar-cane or flowers, with a string of bees, and his five arrows, each pointed with an Indian blossom of a heating quality, are allegories equally new and beautiful.

This deity is adored in India, under a great number of names, Camdeo, however, being the one by which he is best known, and under which he is most worshipped.

“What potent god from Agra’s orient bowers,
Floats through the lucid air while living flowers,
With sunny twine the vocal arbours wreathe,
And gales enamoured, heavenly fragrance breathe?
        Hail power unknown! for at thy beck
        Vales and groves their bosoms deck,
        And every laughing blossom dresses
        With gems of dew, his musky tresses.
I feel, I feel thy genial flame divine,
And hallow thee and kiss thy shrine.

“‘Knowest thou not me?’ celestial sounds I hear!
‘Knowest thou not me? Ah! spare a mortal ear!
Behold — ’ my swimming eyes entranced I raise,
But oh! they sink before the excessive blaze.
        Yes, son of Maya, yes, I know
        Thy bloomy shafts and cany bow,
        Cheeks with youthful glory beaming,
        Locks in braids ethereal streaming,
Thy scaly standards, thy mysterious arms,
And all thy pains, and all thy charms.

‘O thou for ages born, yet ever young,
For ages may thy Brahmins’ lay be sung!
And when thy glory spreads his emerald wings
To waft thee high above the tower of kings,
        Whilst o’er thy throne the moon’s pale light
        Pours her soft radiance through the night,
        And to each floating cloud discovers,
        The haunts of blessed or joyless lovers,
Thy mildest influence to thy bard impart,
To warm, but not consume his heart.”
Sir W. Jones.

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Scandinavia. §

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The Edda, forming the mythological history of the ancient people of the North, is a complete receptacle of poetry no less than of history: and forms of itself a work of great interest.

Scandinavia. §

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The most important of the gods of Scandinavia is Odin, who was in all probability one of their kings, and whose amours, as numerous as those of Jupiter, are perpetuated in a thousand legends. Like Jupiter too, he married his sister Frea, and in the sacred books of the priesthood, he is known by upwards of a hundred names, all of them high sounding and magnificent.

His adventures, which are numberless, are interwoven with the whole of the Scandinavian history.

Frigga or Frea, his wife, was the most powerful of the goddesses, and by many supposed to be identical with Ceres, or the Earth; the future was as familiar to her as to Odin, with whom she is seated upon his throne, and whose government of the remaining deities she shared.

When the warriors of the land seek glory in battle, she sends an inferior goddess to watch over the safety of those whom she favours, while they who fall, are honoured by the mighty mother Frigga, herself mourning over their fate, not indeed for their sake, but for the sake of the country they would have adorned and the land for which they fought.

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One of the children of Frigga and Odin, by name Thor, presided over the works of creation, and over the variations of the atmosphere. The tempests and the apparent strife of nature, is caused by the struggle which Thor constantly has with a famous serpent, whose vast folds embrace the whole circumference of the earth.

Balder, another son of Odin and Frigga, is described as the finest and the best of their race. He was distinguished no less for his eloquence than for his kindness and wisdom. It was his doom to meet with a premature death. Aware, from her knowledge of the future, of the destiny which awaited him, Frigga yet sought to avert it: and administered an oath to all the objects of nature, not to injure her beautiful and beloved Balder. The stones, the trees, the fish, the very diseases were sworn to respect his life.

No sooner had this been done, than his brothers determined to see, if indeed, he had a charmed life, and essayed successively the various means of death on the unhappy Balder, who fell a victim to their folly; aided by the cunning of Loke, who, through a stratagem which proved successful, showed how impossible it is to avert destiny.1

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His body was placed upon a funeral pile, and his wife was burned with him. No sooner was the funeral terminated, than a fellow-god, leading a fleet steed, went to demand the body of Balder from the dark goddess Hel, who replied that he should be returned if all created beings would shed a tear for him. One only refused, and Balder was doomed, to the great grief of his mother, to rest in the infernal regions.

Among the amusements of Odin, hunting forms a very important and prominent part; when the bows, arrows, and javelins were prepared by one deity; while another gilded the heavens with stars; a third protected and guided the steps of the hunters in the sacred wood; and the most successful of them received from Odin the gift of immortality.

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Each of the three superior deities had their respective priests, who exercised absolute authority over all that was connected with their religion, as well as presided over their sacrifices. Nor was it unusual to blend the priestly and the princely character, as in the case of Odin.

Frigga was attended upon by king’s daughters, who were entitled goddesses and prophetesses. They uttered oracles, devoted themselves to a lasting virginity, and like the vestals of the Greek and Roman mythology, kept a perpetual fire in the temple of their goddess.

“The power of inflicting pains and penalties,” says Mr.  Howitt, “of striking and binding a criminal, was vested in the priests alone; and men so haughty that they thought themselves dishonoured if they did not revenge the slightest offence, would tremblingly submit to blows, and even death itself, from the hand of a pontiff, whom they took for the instrument of an angry deity.”

The councils of the divinities were held beneath the branches of an ancient oak, whose roots spread below over a fountain of water, remarkable for the number of serpents which it harboured.

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Teutates, the most celebrated of their minor deities, was the vital and acting principle of the world; to whom was attributed many of the functions which were supposed to belong to Mars, to Hercules, and to Mercury. They worshipped him under the form of a dart, when they sought his aid in battle, and under that of an oak, when they endeavoured to inspire themselves with his advice; and his fêtes were kept at the hour of night, in high places, or in solemn forests, by the rays of the moon, and the flashing of torches. The field where his holy ceremonies had been celebrated, was sown with stones, and from thenceforth doomed to know no more the voice of the sower, the song of the reaper, or the gladness of harvest time.

Under very important circumstances, it was by no means unusual to sacrifice human victims to this god, which were accompanied by flashing eyes, wild cries, and fierce gestures.

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“But the general cause which regulated these sacrifices,” says Mr.  Howitt, (again to quote from his admirable work on priestcraft) “was a superstitious opinion, which made the Northern nations regard the number three as sacred and peculiarly dear to the gods. Thus every ninth month they renewed this bloody ceremony, which was to last nine days, and every day they offered up nine victims, whether men or animals. But the most solemn sacrifices were those which were offered at Upsal, in Sweden, every ninth year. Then they chose from among the captives, in time of war, and amongst the slaves in time of peace, nine persons to be sacrificed. The choice was partly regulated by the opinion of bystanders, and partly by lot. The wretches upon whom it fell were then treated with such honours by all the assembly; they were so overwhelmed with caresses for the present, and promises for the life to come, that they sometimes congratulated themselves in their destiny. But they did not always sacrifice such mean persons. In great calamities, in oppressive famine, for instance, if the people thought they had a sure pretext to impute the cause of it to the king, they sacrificed him without hesitation, as the highest price they could pay for the divine favour. In this manner the first King of Vermland was burned in honour of Odin, to put away a great dearth. The ancient history of the North abounds in similar examples.

“These abominable sacrifices were accompanied with various ceremonies. When the victim was chosen, they conducted him towards the altar on which the sacred fire was kept burning night and day. It was surrounded by all sorts of iron and brazen vessels. Among them was one distinguished by its superior size; in this they received the blood of their victim.

“When they offered up animals, they speedily killed them at the foot of the altar; then they opened their entrails, and drew auguries from them, as among the Romans: but when they sacrificed men, those they pitched on were laid upon a large stone, and quickly strangled or knocked on the head.”

Irminsul was another, and not the least celebrated of the gods adored by the Germans; he had a magnificent temple, and a statue, which represented him in the figure of a warrior, was placed upon a column of marble. A great number of priests of both sexes served in the temple. Women acted as prophetesses, while the men employed themselves in sacrifices, and the choice of victims. The priests of this God possessed great importance in public affairs. During certain solemnities, armed warriors performed their evolutions around the idol, and in his sanctuary was placed immense treasure, both in arms and in precious stones.

The temple was however destroyed by Charlemagne, who broke the statue, and with poetical justice, slaughtered the priests on the threshold of the very place which they had so often deluged with human blood.

One column however remained standing, which was to the eyes of the Saxons, holier and dearer in its melancholy reminiscences, than if it had still possessed the statue of the god, which the emperor threw in the depths of the sea.

The sacrifices to these deities were sometimes varied; there was a deep well in the neighbourhood of the temple at Upsal, where the chosen person was thrown in headlong, in honour of the deity representing the earth. If the body fell to the bottom, the goddess was supposed to accept it; if not, she refused it, and it was hung up in a sacred place. Near this place was a forest, named Odin’s grove, every leaf of which was regarded as sacred, and was filled with the bodies of those who had been sacrificed.

Occasionally the blood of their children was not spared even by the monarchs of the land — Hacon of Norway, shed the blood of his son on the altar to secure a viceroy; and Aune of Sweden, in an attempt to obtain a continuance of life, sacrificed the lives of nine of his offspring; examples which could not fail to produce an effect upon their people.

But not only did they delight in the sacrifices of human life, they also gave way in their orgies to unbounded licentiousness. While at Uulel, at the feast of Thor, the license was carried to such a pitch as to become merely bacchanalian meetings, where, amidst shouts, dancing, and indecent gestures, so many unseemly actions were committed, as to disgust the wiser part of the community.

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America. §

The greater part of the American nations were abandoned to Polytheism, and allowed a crowd of divinities: and nearly all adored the Sun, as the best representation of the Eternal.

In Peru, at the time of its discovery by Pizarro, Viracocha was supposed to be the creator of the gods, and below him, they believed in two triads; the first was Chuquilla, Catuilla, and Intyllapa; and the second Apomti, Churunti, and Inti-quaoqui.

The creator of the world, according to the Mexicans, was Mexitli, who was seated on an azure coloured stool, placed on a litter; his hand grasped an azure staff, in the shape of a serpent, and to crown all, he was of an azure complexion. Tlaloc was their second, and Tezcallipuca their third deity. This last was considered the god of repentance: and it was by the direction of the first, that they built the magnificent city of Mexico in the midst of a lake.

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They had, besides these, Tangatanga, an idol which was, according to them, three-in-one and one-in-three. They possessed also a Venus, who, with her three sisters, presided over love. It is not unusual to represent her reclining on a couch, while the favoured lover is shewn sitting by her side, hand in hand, as an emblem of mutual affection.

The Mexicans also had a goddess of old age, to whom they rendered honours of the highest character. They immolated on her altar once every year a female, whom they forced to dance in presence of the idol to whom she was to be sacrificed: while in the evening, the priests ran wildly in the streets, striking children and females with small bundles of hay.

When any solemn feast was in preparation, they made choice of a young and beautiful slave, whom, after bathing in the lake dedicated to their Gods, they clothed in the richest costume, offering to him the highest honour for a space of forty days; all that could tend to allure the mind to earth, or render life desirable, was showered upon the victim, his wishes were anticipated, and his desires fulfilled. Nine days, however, before the sacrifice took place, the priest, prostrating himself, uttered this brief sentence,

“You have yet nine days to live!”

Intoxicating liquors were then given him, to sustain his courage until the day of the solemnity arrived, when he paid the penalty, by death; his heart was torn from his body, which was afterwards precipitated from the platform of the temple, mid the wild cries of the priests, and the yet more savage greetings of the multitude.

The religious orgies of the Mexicans were of a gloomy and frightful character; to enable them to go through which, their priests anointed themselves with a particular ointment, and used various fantastic ceremonies to deprive themselves of timidity. They then would rush forth to celebrate their rites, during which their vestal-virgins, and the priests were wont frantically to cut themselves with knives.

Quetsalocatl was the deity to whom the highest honours were paid in the valley of Cholula.

The air, commerce, war, and divination were under his control; and it was through him that the remarkable prophecy was supposed to originate, which prepared the Mexicans for the coming of the Spaniards into their territory.

The ceremonials attached to his faith were of an inhuman nature, they sacrificed to him an enormous number of human victims. Cholula, was, indeed, the Mecca of this false divinity, and in order to receive the crowd of pilgrims, who day by day assembled, it was found necessary to maintain as many temples as there are days in the year.

The principal one of these was an immense pyramid of thirteen hundred and fifty-five feet round its base, and about one hundred and seventy in height.

Of all the offerings which could be given to their god, human sacrifices were considered most acceptable: a belief, which, with a superstitious and warlike people, necessarily produced an enormous number of victims; as every prisoner taken in war soon came to be considered a fitting subject for the cruelties of the temple, and the worship of their gods.

It has been suggested, that some navigators of Phœnicia might have been thrown upon the then unknown shore of America, from which place they did not return, but gave to their descendants their religion, which in the lapse of ages became lost; because in some things it bears a resemblance that cannot fail to bring that of Egypt to the mind, an idea, which the vestiges of monuments of gigantic proportions, with forms and hieroglyphics, strongly tend to aid.

“Pyramids,” says an able writer of the present day, “not inferior to the Egyptian, exist in many parts of the Mexican Territories and of new Spain. Some of these pyramids are of larger base than the Egyptian, and composed of equally durable materials; vestiges of noble architecture are visible at Cholula, Otumba, Oaxica, Mitlan, and Tlascola.

“The ancient town of Palenque, exhibits not only excellent workmanship in the temples, palaces, private houses, and baths, but a boldness of design in the architect, as well as skill in the execution, which will not shrink from a comparison with the works, at least, of the earlier ages of Egyptian power. In the sanctuaries of Palenque, are found sculptured representations of Idols, which resemble the most ancient gods of Egypt and Syria; Planispheres and Zodiacs exist, which exhibit a superior astronomical and chronological system to that which was possessed by the Egyptians.

“Statues, sculptured in a purely classical style, have been found; and vases, agreeing both in shape and ornament with the earliest specimens of Egyptian and Etruscan pottery, have been found in their sepulchral excavations.

“Evidences also exist in Mexico, of two great branches of hieroglyphical language, both having striking affinities with the Egyptians, and yet distinguished from it by characteristics perfectly American.”

The same authority says,

“The gods of the Tultecans, appear sculptured in bas relief, in the dark inner rooms of extant temples.

We will take one, as an instance of the analogy to which we allude. Pourtrayed on the inner wall of the Adytum of one of the sanctuaries belonging to the great temple of Palenque, appears the chief god of the Tultecan people. Our opinion is, that he is strongly identifiable with the Osiris of Egypt, and the Adonis of Syria; or rather, that he is the ancient god, called Adoni-Siris, a well known classical combination, therefore an identification, of both divinities.

In the first place he is enthroned on a couch, perfectly Egyptian in its model; it is constructed somewhat in the form of a modern couch, a cushioned plinth, resting on the claws, and four limbs of the American lion: we may at once emphatically say that there is no real difference between the above couch, and that peculiarly designated as Egyptian, and which is observable in all the tombs and palaces of Egypt; on his head he wears a conical cap, not differing much from that which the Osiris of Egypt wears. Two additional symbols, the one Egyptian, the other not, but equally intelligible, namely the lotus and the column affixed to the cap, clearly indicate the same tri-une divinity?”

The following description of one of their gods, we think, also affords additional ground for this opinion.

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“In the midst of an enclosure, which does not yield in size or grandeur to the proudest monuments of Egypt, and on the top of an immense pyramid stands the image.

“It is placed on a throne upheld by an azure globe; and on its head are plumes of divers colours. His face, severe and frightful, is marked with two blue lines. He has two vast wings formed like a bat, and the feet of a goat; while in his middle is drawn the head of a lion.”

As a proof of the bloody nature of the religion of the Mexicans, we may mention, that on solemnizing the building of their principal temple, sixty thousand prisoners were sacrificed. Cortez found in an enormous edifice the skulls of those who had been slain, the number of which amounted to upwards of one hundred and fifty thousand.

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Africa. §

The supreme deity of the Hottentots, is supposed by them to possess a human form, and his residence is believed to be in the moon. When he renders himself visible to mortals, he appears in the shape and form of a Hottentot, and is, according to their ideas, possessed of exquisite beauty; they never worship him, and their reason for this absence of homage is stated by them to be, that the god has uttered a curse upon those who shall attempt to serve him; one thing is certain, that this people hold sorcery in great esteem.

Ovisara is the supreme being of another part of Africa. Invisible, everywhere present, omniscient, and infinitely good, he is never invoked. “The better he is” say the Negroes, “the more useless it is to pray to him,” and as a natural consequence, their minds have recourse to, and believe implicitly in demons, in shadows and in divination. A pot pierced through the bottom in three places, is the organ used by the priests to give their oracles to the people; and from the sound which issues from the vessel, is drawn the good or evil augury: this sound is explained by jugglers, who, perfect masters of their trade, never find their address at fault.

The priests take but a small part in the public affairs; and it is forbidden to them, under very severe penalties, to enter the capital. On great occasions, when a sacrifice of prisoners is to be made, recourse however is had to them, to give an additional solemnity to the proceedings.

These ceremonies take place before the greater idols, who, according to the negroes, represent the evil spirits; and the number of victims should be five and twenty: unlike most other lands, who in the same circumstances are too eager for blood, they are allowed to ransom their lives, should it be in their power.

The negroes of Senegal adore a river, trees, and serpents, with a crowd of shapeless idols, the legends of whom neither amuse by their incident, or excite the imagination by the beauty of their poetry.

In parts of Africa, they worship the soul of the dead, and a being named Molongo, upon whom they are most prodigal in bestowing titles; such as sovereign of nature, and of the Sun and Moon, and king of the earth and sea; while on others, they pay deep reverence to monkeys, who are brought up with care, and covered with honours.

Among the nations of Congo, and in the Caffre-land, the people are abandoned to the grossest superstitions. In the middle and to south of Africa, the worship of idols is universal; while in Abyssinia and at the Cape, are some faint gleams of Christianity mingled with impure legends, which have doubtless been derived from the mythologies of Greece and India.

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Polynesia. §

The inhabitants of Polynesia, are, like all those whose faith is primitive and simple, devoted to the worship of the Sun, which they regard as a divinity; and which they imagine at one time to have been a human being: they believe he married his sister, who, when all the rest of her family came upon earth, remained by herself in the skies, and from their union sprang the months.

The Otaheitians, more advanced in civilization, have also more extended ideas of the divinity. They worship a supreme deity whose wife is material and corporeal, and of a nature therefore entirely different from his own.

They gave birth to a class of supernatural beings, which correspond with the inferior divinities of other Mythologies, from one of whom, sprang the three persons, forming the Trinity peculiar to this people; of these one is the creator, and lord of the starry hemisphere; another is the Neptune of their seas, the next watches over the hurricanes which sweep along the Pacific Ocean, and presides over the winds.

But the mode in which they account for the formation of the numerous islands for which the place is remarkable, is not the least curious of their beliefs.

One of their divinities, they say, took his wife, and threw her with so strong an arm into the Sea, that she fell to the bottom, and by the force of the concussion was broken into pieces. As she rebounded, lacerated, and divided into myriads of fragments of all sizes, they turned into the rocks, the shoals, and the numerous isles of Polynesia. An enormous fragment floated to the East, and formed America.

The principal goddess of the Sandwich islands, is remarkable chiefly for her hideous appearance. The face is tatooed, the nostrils are enormous, and her eyes, which are so small they are scarcely to be seen, resemble a leaf of laurel. Along her mouth are spread rows of teeth, which from the sharpness of their appearance, might belong to a wild beast, the neck is of an immense thickness; and the whole appearance is one which may vie in frightfulness with any deity or demon of this idolatrous people.

[Conclusion.] §

Our task is now closed; the religions of those who have gone before us, have been given with as much accuracy as the lapse of ages has permitted. We have sought the hidden beauties of poetry, to aid us in our endeavours, and to render them palatable to our readers; to those who have accompanied us in our wanderings; to those who have been with us among the elegant reminiscences of the Greek mythology, and followed us to the more painful and revolting creed of the American, we can only say, that we hope to them, as to us, the subject has excited interest, and that a perusal of the fables we have been able to lay before them, may induce them to take a greater interest, and place a higher value on that faith, and on those truths which are set before them in the word of the One Great God.

With the following lines of the lamented L. E. L. we shall close our work, not doubting that our readers will perceive and appreciate their beauty.

—————— “The days
Of visible poetry have long been past! —
No fear that the young hunter may profane
The haunt of some immortal, — but there still —
For the heart clings to old idolatry,
If not with true belief with tenderness —
Lingers a spirit in the woods and flowers
Which have a Grecian memory, — Some tale
Of olden love, or grief, linked with their bloom,
Seem beautiful beyond all other ones.
The marble pillars are laid in the dust,
The golden shrine and its perfume are gone
But there are natural temples still for those
Eternal, tho’ dethroned deities,
Where from green altars, flowers send up their incense.”
L. E. L.

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