A Hand-Book of Mythology for the Use of Schools and Academies
The importance of a knowledge of mythology is felt by all readers, even of our daily papers and magazines, and it is indispensable to the enjoyment of art and literature. It assists us to understand many allusions in the New Testament, and by revealing to us the ceremonies and maxims of Paganism, it inspires us with new respect for the majesty of the Christian religion.
The early races expressed by their religious legends their opinions on the origin and destiny of man, their motives for the performance of what they considered duty, and their ground of hope for the hereafter.
It has been fully proved that mythology is simply a phase in the growth of language, the study of which has explained many things in mythology which hitherto appeared contradictory.
The task of analyzing and comparing the myths of the Aryan nations has opened to me a source of unqualified delight. I feel bound to avow the conviction that it has done more. It has removed not a few perplexities, and has solved not a few difficulties which press hard on many thinkers. It has raised and strengthened my faith in the goodness of God, and has justified the wisdom which has chosen to educate mankind through impressions produced by the phenomena of the outside world.”
In this little work advantage has been taken of modern research, and, , , , , , , and others have been consulted, and when quoted, proper credit has been given.
Accents have been marked, so that pupils will have no difficulty in pronouncing names.
List of Subjects. §
Cosmogony and Theogony 18
The Titans and their Offspring 19
Uranus (The Heavens) 20
Nyx (The Night) 22
Helios (The Sun) 23
Eos (The Dawn) 26
Selene (The Moon) 27
Chronos (Time) 31
Rhea (Ops) 34
Zeus (Jupiter) 36
Hera (Juno) 46
Poseidon (Neptune) 49
Aides, or Pluto 53
Mœræ (The Fates) 59
Erinnys (The Furies) 60
Demeter (Ceres) 63
Persephone (Proserpine) 68
Ares (Mars) 69
Pallas-Athene (Minerva) 72
Hestia (Vesta) 76
Hephæstus (Vulcan) 78
Aphrodite (Venus) 81
Horæ (The Seasons) 83
Charites (The Graces) 84
Eros (Cupid) 85
Hymenæus, or Hymen 88
Phœbus (Apollo) 88
Artemis (Diana) 95
Hermes (Mercury) 98
Dionysus (Bacchus) 102
Musæ (The Muses) 106
The Sirens 109
The Nymphs 110
Iris (The Rainbow) 112
Hebe (Juventas) 113
Nike (Victoria) 114
Thaumas, Phorcys, and Ceto 121
The Winds 121
The Satyrs 125
Public Worship of the Ancient Greeks and Romans 126
The Creation and Primitive Condition of Mankind 132
Ages of the World 134
Deucalion and Pyrrha 135
Centaurs and Lapithæ 136
The Theban Legends 137
The Theban Wars 142
Calydonian Hunt 168
Dædalus and Icarus 169
The Argonautic Expedition 171
The Trojan War 177
The Return of the Greeks from Troy 189
Offices of the Deities 208
Greek Festivals 209
Roman Festivals 210
Egyptian Mythology 211
Assyrian Mythology 217
Persian Mythology 218
Hindu Mythology 220
Scandinavian Mythology 225
The Druids’ Mythology 230
American Mythology 234
“Mythology is a collection of tales, or legends, relating to the gods, heroes, demons, or other beings whose names have been preserved in popular belief.
“The gods, in almost every instance, were personifications of phenomena, or powers of Nature.
“Many ages ago, before any of the nations existed that now inhabit Europe, and while everything was new and strange to the people who then lived on the earth, men talked of the things which they saw and heard in a manner very different from our way of speaking now. We talk of the sun rising and setting as of something which is sure to happen; but they did not know enough to feel sure about these things, and so when the evening came they said, ‘Our friend, the sun, is dead; will he come back again?’ and when they saw him once more in the east, they rejoiced because he brought back their light and their life with him. Knowing but little about themselves and of the things which they saw in the world around them, they fancied that everything had the same kind of life which they had themselves. In this way they came to think that the sun and stars, the rivers and streams, could see, and feel, and think, and that they shone, or moved, of their own accord. Thus they spoke of everything as if it were alive, and instead of saying, as we do, that the morning comes before the sunrise, and that the evening twilight follows the sunset, they spoke of the sun as the lover of the dawn, or morning, who went before him, as longing to overtake her, and as killing her with his bright rays which shone like spears.
“We talk of the clouds which scud along the sky, but they spoke of the cows of the sun, which the children of the morning drove every day to their pastures in the blue fields of heaven. So, too, when the sun set, they said that the dawn with its soft and tender light had come to soothe her son, or her husband, in his dying hour.
“In the same way, the sun was the child of darkness, and in the morning he wove for his bride in the heavens a fairy net-work of clouds, which re-appeared when she came back to him in the evening.
“When the sun shone with a pleasant warmth, they spoke of him as the friend of men; when his scorching heat brought a drought, they said that the sun was slaying his children, or that someone else, who knew not how to guide them, was driving the horses of his chariot through the sky. As they looked on the dark clouds which rested on the earth without giving any rain, they said that the terrible being whom they named the snake or dragon was shutting up the waters in a prison-house. When the thunder rolled, they said that this hateful monster was uttering his hard riddles; and when, at last, the rain burst forth, they said that the bright sun had slain his enemy, and brought a stream of life for the thirsting earth.
“Now, so long as men remained in the same place, there was no fear that the words which they spoke would be misunderstood; but as time went on they scattered, and it came to pass that they kept the names which they had given to the sun, the clouds, and all other things when their original meaning had been quite forgotten. Thus, mythology, as we call it now, is simply a collection of the sayings by which men once described whatever they saw and heard in the countries where they lived. This key which has unlocked almost all the secrets of mythology was given us by Professor Max Müller, who has done more than all other writers to bring out the exquisite and touching poetry that underlies these ancient legends.”.
“Language has been called ‘a map of the science and manners of the people who speak it.’ Philology, or the study of language, has assisted students of mythology in two ways; first, by tracing the names of objects of worship to their root-forms, and thus showing their meaning and revealing the thought that lay at the root of the worship. Secondly, by proving the identity between gods of different nations whose names, apparently different, have been resolved into the same root-word, or to a root of the same meaning.
“Philology has enabled us to read the primitive thoughts of mankind. A large number of the names of Greek gods and heroes have no meaning in the Greek language, but their names occur in Sanskrit with plain, physical meanings.”.
“When the Hindu talked of ‘Father Dyaus,’ or the ‘sleek kine of Siva,’ he thought of the personified sky and clouds. But the Greek, in whose language these physical meanings were lost, had long before the Homeric epoch come to regard Zeus, Hermes, Athene, etc., as mere persons; and in most cases the originals of the Hindu myths were completely forgotten.
“One chief result arrived at by the comparison of creeds, and by unraveling the meaning of the names of ancient gods and heroes, is the discovery that a worship of different aspects and forces of nature lies at the foundation of all mythologies, and that the cause of the resemblance between the stories told of the gods and heroes is that they are in reality only slightly different ways of describing natural appearances according to the effect produced on different minds.
“The essence of all Paganism is a recognition of the forces of Nature as godlike, stupendous, personal Agencies, as gods and demons.
“The close resemblance which runs through the legends of different lands leads us to the conclusion that all these legends have a common source, namely, the words or phrases used by the most ancient tribes in speaking of the things which they saw, heard, or felt in the world around them.”.
“The study of mythology is a benefit because, by revealing to us the absurd ceremonies and impious maxims of Paganism, it may inspire us with new respect for the majesty of the Christian religion, and for the sanctity of its morals.
“It also enables us to understand the works of various authors as well as paintings, coins, statues, etc.
“The great mass of the Grecian people appear to have believed that their divinities were real persons, but their philosophers explained the legends concerning them as allegorical representations of general physical and moral truths. The Greeks worshiped the powers of Nature personified.
“Every heathen conception of deity in which we are likely to be interested has three distinct characters: —
“I. It has a physical character. It represents some of the great powers, or objects of Nature, — the sun, the moon, the heavens, the winds, or the sea. The fables first related about each deity represent, figuratively, the action of the natural power which it represents; such as the rising and setting of the sun, the tides of the sea, and so on.
“II. It has an ethical character, and represents in its history the moral dealings of God with man. Thus, Apollo is, first, physically the sun contending with darkness, but, morally, the power of divine life contending with corruption. Athene is physically the light of daybreak, morally the breathing of the divine spirit of wisdom. Poseidon*1 is physically the sea; morally, the supreme power of passion.
“III. It has a personal character, and is realized in the minds of its worshipers as a living spirit with whom men may speak face to face as a man speaks with his friend.”.
The Greek poets believed the earth to be flat and circular, their own country occupying the middle of it, the central point being either Mt. Olympus, the abode of the gods, or Delphi, so famous for its oracle.
The circular disk of the earth was crossed from west to east, and divided into two equal parts by the Sea as they called the Mediterranean, and its continuation the Euxine.
Around the earth flowed the River Ocean, its course being from south to north on the western side of the earth, and in a contrary direction on the eastern side. It flowed in a steady, equable current, unvexed by storm or tempest. The sea, and all the rivers on earth, received their waters from it.
The northern portion of the earth was supposed to be inhabited by a happy race named the Hyperboreans*, dwelling in everlasting bliss and spring beyond the lofty mountains, whose caverns were supposed to send forth the piercing blasts of the north wind, which chilled the people of Hellas, Greece.
Their country was inaccessible by land or sea. They lived exempt from disease or old age, from toils and warfare.has given us the “Song of the Hyperborean,” beginning, —
“I come from a land in the sun-bright deep,Where golden gardens glow;Where the winds of the north, becalmed in sleep,Their conch-shells never blow.”
On the south side of the earth, close to the stream of Ocean, dwelt a people happy and virtuous as the Hyperboreans. They were named the Æthiopians. The gods favored them so highly, that they were wont to leave at times their Olympian abodes, and go to share their sacrifices and banquets.
On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of Ocean, lay a happy place named the Elysian Plain, whither mortals favored by the gods were transported, without suffering death, to enjoy an immortality of bliss. This happy region was also called the “Fortunate Fields,” and the “Isles of the Blessed.”
We thus see that the Greeks of the early ages knew little of any people except those to the east and south of their own country, or near the coast of the Mediterranean. Their imagination peopled the western portion of this sea with giants, monsters, and enchantresses; while they placed around the disk of the earth nations enjoying the peculiar favor of the gods, and blessed with happiness and longevity.
The Dawn, the Sun, and the Moon were supposed to rise out of the Ocean, and to drive through the air, giving light to gods and men. The stars also, except those forming Charles’s Wain, or Bear, rose out of and sunk into the stream of Ocean. There the sun-god embarked in a winged boat, which conveyed him round by the northern part of the earth, back to his place of rising in the east.alludes to this in his “Comus.”
“Now the gilded car of dayHis golden axle doth allayIn the steep Atlantic stream,And the slope Sun his upward beamShoots against the dusky pole,Pacing towards the other goalOf his chamber in the east.”
“The ancient Greeks believed their gods to be of the same shape and form as themselves, but of far greater beauty, strength, and dignity. They also regarded them as being of much larger size than men, for in those times great size was esteemed a perfection both in man and woman, and consequently was supposed to be an attribute of their divinities, to whom they ascribed all perfections. A fluid named Ichor supplied the place of blood in the veins of the gods. They were not capable of death, but they might be wounded or otherwise injured. They could make themselves visible or invisible to men as they pleased, and assume the forms of men or of animals as it suited their fancy. Like men, they stood in daily need of food and sleep. The food of the gods was called Ambrosia, their drink Nectar. The gods when they came among men often partook of their food and hospitality.
“Like mankind, the gods were divided into two sexes, — namely, gods and goddesses. They married and had children, just as mortals do. To make the resemblance between gods and men more complete, the Greeks ascribed to their deities all human passions, both good and evil. They were capable of love, friendship, gratitude; of envy, jealousy, and revenge.
“The abode of the gods, as described by the more ancient Grecian poets, such as* and *, was on the summit of the snow-clad mountains of Olympus, in Thessaly. A gate of clouds, kept by the goddesses named Horæ* (the seasons), unfolded its valves to permit the passage of the Celestials to the earth, and to receive them on their return. The gods had their separate dwellings; but all, when summoned, repaired to the palace of Zeus, as did also those deities whose usual abode was the earth, the waters, or the under-world. It was also in the great hall of the palace of the Olympian king that the gods feasted each day on ambrosia and nectar, the latter being handed around by the lovely goddess Hebe*. Here they conversed of the affairs of heaven and earth; and, as they quaffed their nectar, Apollo, the god of music, delighted them with the tones of his lyre, to which the Muses sung in responsive strains.
“The following lines from the Odyssey will show howconceived of Olympus: —
‘So saying, Minerva, goddess azure-eyed,Rose to Olympus, the reputed seatEternal of the gods, which never stormsDisturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calmThe expanse and cloudless shines with purest day;There the inhabitants divine rejoiceForever’.
“Such were the abodes of the gods as the Greeks conceived them. The Romans, before they knew the Greek poetry, seem to have had no definite imagination of such an assembly of gods. But the Roman and Etruscan races were by no means irreligious. They venerated their departed ancestors, and in each family the worship of these ancestors was an important duty. Their images were kept in a sacred place, and each family observed, at fixed times, memorial rites in their honor, and for these and other religious observances the family hearth was consecrated.
“When the Greeks first settled in Italy, they found there a mythology belonging to the Celtic inhabitants, which, according to the Greek custom of paying reverence to all gods, known or unknown, they readily adopted, selecting and appropriating those divinities which had the greatest affinity to their own; and thus they formed a religious belief which naturally bore the impress of its ancient Greek source. As the primitive Celts, however, were a less civilized people than the Greeks, their mythology was of a more barbarous character, and this circumstance, combined with the fact that the Romans were not gifted with the vivid imagination of their Greek neighbors, leaves its mark on the Roman mythology, which is far less fertile in fanciful conceits, and deficient in all those fairy-like stories and wonderfully poetic ideas which so strongly characterize that of the Greeks.”.
Cosmogony and Theogony. §
By Cosmogony is meant the legends relating to the creation of the world; by Theogony, the legends relating to the origin of the gods.
An ancient Greek legend represents the world as having been formed from Chaos, which was regarded as a heterogeneous mass containing all the seeds of nature. According to the same legend, Gæa*, or Ge (the earth) first issued, in no very comprehensible manner, from Chaos, whereupon Tartarus (the abyss beneath the earth) immediately opened itself, and Eros* (the love that combines all things in pairs) sprung into existence.
Erebus* (Darkness) and Nyx* (Night) were the children of Chaos, and the parents of Hemera* (the day) and Æther* (the air).
In mythology, effects are called children.
Gæa then brought forth Uranus* (the heavens), Pontus* (the sea), and Oure* (the mountains).
The Race of Uranus. — The children of Uranus, according to, were the Titans, the Cyclopes*, and the Hecatoncheires*. There were twelve Titans: six males, Chronos*, Oceanus*, Cœus*, Crius*, Hyperion*, and Iapetus*; and six females, Thea*, Rhea*, Themis*, Mnemosyne*, Phœbe*, and Tethys*. The interpretation of these divinities is somewhat difficult, but they doubtless represented the elementary forces of nature.
The Cyclopes were three in number, Brontes* (thunder), Steropes* (forked-lightning), Arges* (sheet-lightning): these we can clearly see refer to the phenomena of the storm.
The Hecatoncheires (Centimani*, or Hundred-handed) were Briareus* (hurricane), Gyges* (earthquake), and Cottus* (volcano).
The Race of Pontus*. — By Pontus, Gæa became the mother of the fabulous sea-deities — Nereus*, Thaumas*, Phorcys*, Ceto*, and Eurybia*. Nereus represents the sea in its quiet state. Thaumas represents the majesty of the sea. He is the father of Iris* (the rainbow) and of the Harpies (storm-winds). Phorcys and Ceto, from whose union the frightful Gorgons* and Grææ* proceeded, typify the dangers and terrors of the sea.
The Titans and their Offspring. §
Oceanus* and Tethys*. — By making Oceanus the offspring of Uranus and Gæa, the ancients merely assert that the ocean is produced by the combined influence of heaven and earth; while, at the same time, their fervid and poetical imaginations led them to see in this, as in all manifestations of the powers of nature, an actual, tangible divinity.
Oceanus espoused his sister Tethys. Their offspring were the rivers of the earth, and three thousand daughters named Oceanides*, or Ocean-nymphs.
The abode of Oceanus was a grotto-palace beneath the stream of Ocean. It is not always easy to distinguish the god from the stream over which he rules.
Cœus* and Phœbe*. — The offspring of this pair were Leto* and Asteria*. Leto was the mother of Apollo* and Artemis*.
Crius*. — This Titan is said to be the sire of Astræus*, Pallas, and Perses. Astræus was the father of the Winds and Stars. Pallas and Styx* (the ocean-nymph) were the parents of Envy, Victory, Strength, and Force. Perses married Asteria. Hecate* was their daughter.
Hyperion* and Thea were the parents of Helios (the Sun), Selene* (the Moon), and Eos* (the Dawn).
The most important of all the Titans, however, are Chronos and Rhea, who pave the way for the universal dominion of their son Zeus.
Uranus* (The Heavens) §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Uranus*; Roman, Cœlum*; Hindu, Varuna*.
The sun, moon, and stars were emblems of Uranus or Cœlum. He is represented clothed with a starred mantle, his hands uplifted, pointing to the moon and stars.
Uranus was believed to have united himself in marriage with Gæa, the earth; and reflection will show what a truly poetical, and also what a logical idea this was; for, taken in a figurative sense, this union actually does exist. The smiles of heaven produce the flowers of earth; whereas his long-continued frowns exercise so depressing an influence upon his loving partner, that she no longer decks herself in bright and festive robes, but responds with ready sympathy to his melancholy mood.
Gæa, as earth-goddess, was a personification of productive earth, whether through fertile soil or through moisture.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Gæa*; Roman, Tellus or Terra; Hindu, Prithivi; Samothrace*, Great Goddess. She was also called Titania*.
Uranus, fearing that his turbulent offspring, the Hecatoncheires and Cyclopes, might one day seize his power, buried them in Tartarus directly after their birth. This displeased Gæa, their mother, who thereupon prompted the Titans to conspire against their father, and induced Chronos, the youngest and bravest of them, to lay violent hands on Uranus.
Uranus was mutilated, and from the drops of blood which fell upon the earth sprung Gigantes* (Giants) and Meliæ* (Melian Nymphs). From what fell into the sea sprung Aphrodite* (Venus).
Uranus cursed Chronos, and prophesied that he would suffer a similar fate at the hands of his own son.
Nyx* (The Night). §
Nyx was the daughter of Chaos, and sister of Erebus, to whom she bore Hemera and Æther. She is said then to have produced without a sire Mœræ* (Parcæ*, or Fates), Thanatos* (Death), Hypnos* (Sleep), Oneiros* (Dreams), Momus (Laughter), Cocytos* (Woe), Nemesis* (Vengeance), Eris* (Strife), the Hesperides*, and several other deities.
It is a principle of all cosmogony that darkness preceded light, which sprung from it; a truth here expressed by making Night the parent of Day and Æther.
Nyx, with her two sons, Thanatos and Hypnos, dwelt in a cave which
“behind where Atlas supports the heavens.” Hemera shared this abode, and she and Nyx rode forth alternately to minister to the world.
1. A female form, with or without wings, clothed in black drapery, and having a starry veil, riding in a chariot drawn by black steeds, and accompanied by the stars.
2. With starry veil floating in the air, coming towards the earth as if to extinguish a flaming torch which she carries in her hand.
3. A floating figure, clothed in a long, black robe, carrying m her arms Thanatos and Hypnos. Death is draped in black, and holds an inverted torch; while Sleep is robed in white, and has for his symbol the poppy.
4. Sitting beneath a tree, distributing poppies to Morpheus* and his brothers. Morpheus, the god of dreams, receives the poppies, while his brothers bend to gather the falling leaves.
Sacrifices offered to Nyx were black sheep. A cock was offered to her. because that bird announces the coming of Hemera even in the presence of Nyx.
Helios* (The Sun). §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Helios*; Roman, Sol*; Persian, Mithras* or Mithra*; Chaldean, Baal* or Bel*; Canaanite, Moloch*; Egyptian, Ra*, Osiris*, Horus*, Pthah*.
The office of Helios was to give light to men and gods during the day. He is described as rising every morning in the east, preceded by his sister Eos, who, with her rosy fingers, paints the tips of the mountains, and draws aside the misty veil through which her brother is about to appear. When he has burst forth in all the glorious light of day, Eos disappears, and Helios drives his flame-darting chariot along the accustomed track. This chariot, which is of burnished gold, is drawn by four fire-breathing steeds, behind which the young god stands erect with flashing eyes, his head surrounded with rays, holding in one hand the reins of those fiery coursers which in all hands save his are unmanageable. When towards evening he descends the curve in order to cool his burning forehead in the waters of the sea, he is followed closely by his sister Selene, who is now prepared to take charge of the world and illumine the dusky night.
and give no explanation of the manner in which Helios reaches the east in the morning after having disappeared in the west. In later times poets invented the fiction that when Helios had finished his daily course, a winged boat, or cup, which had been made for him by Hephæstus* (Vulcan), conveyed him, with his glorious equipage, to the east, where he recommenced his bright career.
Helios, as the god whose eye surveys all things, was invoked as a witness to solemn oaths.
Sun-worship was one of the first and most natural forms of idolatry. The island of Rhodes was sacred to Helios. Here was erected his celebrated colossal statue. He was represented on coins of the Rhodians by the head of a young man crowned with rays.
Sacrifices offered to Helios were honey, lambs, goats, white rams, and white horses.
From the Egyptian name Horus those parts into which the sun divides the day are called horse or hours.
Helios and the ocean-nymph Clymene* had a son named Phaethon*. The claims of this youth to a celestial origin being disputed by Epaphus*, son of Zeus and Io*, he journeyed to the palace of his sire, from whom he extracted an unwary oath that he would grant him whatever he asked. The ambitious youth instantly demanded permission to guide the solar chariot for one day, to prove himself thereby the undoubted progeny of the Sun-god. Helios, aware of the consequences, remonstrated, but to no purpose. The youth persisted, and the god, bound by his oath, reluctantly committed the reins to his hands, warning him of the dangers of the road, and instructing him how to avoid them.
Phaethon grasped the reins, the flame-breathing steeds sprung forward, but, soon aware of the feeble hand that guided them, they ran out of their course, the world was set on fire, and a total conflagration would have ensued, had not Zeus, at the prayer of Earth, launched his thunder, and hurled the terrified driver from his seat. He fell into the river Eridanus* (Po). His sisters, the Heliades*, as they lamented his fate, were turned into poplar-trees on its banks, and their tears, which still continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream. Cycnus*, the friend of the ill-fated Phaethon, also abandoned himself to mourning, and at length was changed into a swan.
“One who cannot guide the fiery horses sits in the chariot of the sun.” So ran the phrase which, scarcely disguised in the myth of Phaethon, rose naturally to the lips of men when all herbage was scorched and withered in times of drought.
Clytie* was a water-nymph, and in love with the Sun-god, who made her no return. She pined away, nine days she sat on the ground and tasted neither food nor drink. She gazed on the sun when he rose, and as he passed through his daily course to his setting; she saw no other object, her face turned constantly on him. At last, it is said, her limbs rooted in the ground, her face became a sun-flower, which turns on its stem so as always to face the sun throughout its daily course.
The sun-flower is a favorite emblem of constancy.uses it:
“The heart that has truly loved never forgets,But as truly loves on to the close;As the sun-flower turns on her god when he setsThe same look that she turned when he rose.”
Epithets applied to Helios by the poets were, mortal-delighting; mortal-illumining; unwearied.
Eos* (The Dawn). §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Eos*; Roman, Aurora*; Hindu, Sarunya*.
Eos, the goddess of the dawn, was daughter of Hyperion and Thea, and a sister of Helios and Selene. She was first married to Astræus, by whom she became the mother of the winds — Boreas* (north), Zephyrus* (west), Eurus* (east), and Notus (south). This is a mythological way of intimating the fact that the wind generally rises at dawn. She was also mother of Eosphorus* (dawn-bearer) and of the Stars of Heaven. She afterwards became united to Tithonus*, son of Laomedon*, king of Troy. Eos obtained for him from Zeus* the gift of immortality, forgetting, however, to add to it that of eternal youth. When Tithonus grew old, and lost the beauty which had won her admiration, Eos became disgusted with his infirmities, and at last shut him up in a chamber, where soon little else was left of him but his voice. Eos, pitying his unhappy condition, exerted her divine power, and changed him into a grasshopper.
Memnon, king of Ethiopia, celebrated in the story of the Trojan war, was a son of Eos and Tithonus. He came to the assistance of Troy, and was slain by Achilles*. Since then Eos has wept without ceasing for her darling son, and her tears fall to the earth as dew.
Eos had her own chariot, which she drove across the vast horizon both morning and night, before and after the sun-god. Hence she is a personification not merely of the rosy morn, but also of twilight. She is described by the poets as a beautiful maiden with rosy arms and fingers; she bears a star on her forehead and a torch in her hand. Wrapping around her the rich folds of her violet-tinged mantle, she leaves her couch before the break of day and yokes her two horses, Lampetus* and Phaethon, to her glorious chariot. She then hastens with cheerfulness to open the gates of heaven, in order to herald the approach of her brother, whilst the tender plants and flowers, reviving by the morning dew, lift up their heads to welcome her as she passes.
The Greeks explained the death of u youth by saying that Eos loved him, and had carried him into immortal life.
The views and fables connected with Eos were transferred by the Roman writers to the person of their goddess Aurora without alteration.
Epithets given to Eos, or Aurora, were rose-fingered, rose-armed, yellow-robed, gold-seated, well-seated, well-tressed, snow-footed, fair-lighting, mortal-illumining, much-seeing, air-born.
Selene* (The Moon). §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Selene*; Roman, Luna*.
Selene, daughter of Hyperion and Thea, represented the moon. The name signifies wanderer among the stars. She was supposed to drive her chariot across the sky whilst her brother Helios was reposing after the toils of the day. When the shades of evening began to enfold the earth, the two milk-white steeds of Selene rose out of the mysterious depths of Oceanus. Seated in a silvery chariot, and accompanied by her daughter Hersa*, the goddess of the dew, appeared the mild and gentle queen of the night, with a crescent on her fair brow, a gauzy veil flowing behind, and a lighted torch in her hand.
It was supposed that magicians and enchanters, particularly those of Thessaly, had an uncontrollable power over the moon, and that they could draw her down from heaven at pleasure by the mere force of their incantations. Her eclipses, according to their opinion, proceeded thence, and, on that account, it was customary to beat drums and cymbals to render the power of magic less effectual.
It was said that Selene was enamored of Endymion*, on whom Zeus had bestowed the gift of perpetual youth, but united with perpetual sleep, and that she descended to gaze on him every night on the summit of Mount Latmos*, the place of his repose.
The name Endymion denotes the sudden plunge of the sun into the sea. Endymion represents the tired sun hurrying to his rest, and dead to the love which is lavished upon him. The original meaning of Endymion being once forgotten, what was told originally of the setting sun was now told of a name which, in order to have any meaning, had to be changed into a god or a hero. The setting sun once slept in the Latmian cave, the cave of night — “Latmos” being derived from the same root as “Leto,” “Latona” the night; but now he sleeps on Mount Latmos, in Caria*. Endymion, sinking into sleep, was once the setting sun. In the ancient poetical language of Greece, people said “Selene loves and watches Endymion,” instead of “it is getting late;” “Selene embraces Endymion,” instead of “the sun is setting and the moon is rising;” “Selene kisses Endymion into sleep,” instead of “it is night.”
1. On coins by the bust of a fair young woman with a crescent on her head.
2. Clothed in a long robe, and a veil which covers the back of the head. Sometimes on her brow a crescent; at others, horns.
3. Scenes illustrating the story of Endymion.
Hecate was originally a moon-goddess worshiped by the Thracians*. She was the daughter of Perses* and Asteria, and her sway extended over earth, heaven, and the lower regions, for which reason she was invoked as the “triple goddess.” Hecate represented the moon in her invisible phases, and it was thought that when she was absent from the earth she was in the lower world.
As operating in the heavens, Hecate is identified with Selene; in her influence on the earth, with Artemis* (Diana*), and as having power in the lower world, with Persephone* (Proserpine*). She was believed to wander by night over the earth, seen only by the dogs, whose barking announced her approach.
Her statues, which were dog-headed, were set up at Athens and elsewhere, in the market-places and at crossroads. She was believed to preside over witchcraft and enchantment, and to haunt sepulchres, the point where two roads cross, and lonely spots where murders had been committed. She was supposed to be connected with the appearance of ghosts and spectres, to possess unlimited influence over the powers of the lower world, and to be able to lay to rest unearthly apparitions by her magic spells and incantations.
Hecate’s favor was propitiated by offerings of black female lambs, dogs, eggs, libations of milk, and honey. Festivals were held at night, by torchlight.
At the time of the new moon, the wealthy sent suppers to be placed before her statues, which the poor would then come and eat. This was called the “Supper of Hecate,” and the offering was made that she might prevent the souls of the dead from appearing.
Artemis represents the moonlight splendor of night; Hecate, its darkness and terrors.
1. As a woman having the head of a woman, or of a dog, or of a horse.
2. As a woman having two faces.
3. As a woman having three bodies, partly distinct and partly united, having three distinct faces united at the neck; such a figure was called “Triformis.”
Chronos* (Time). §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Chronos*; Roman, Saturn*; Hindu, Dyu; Phœnician, Moloch*; Egyptian, Seb.
Chronos was the god of time. He married Rhea, a daughter of Uranus and Gæa. Their children were three sons: Aides* or Pluto, Poseidon (Neptune), Zeus (Jupiter), and three daughters: Hestia (Vesta), Demeter* (Ceres), and Hera (Juno).
Chronos, having an uneasy conscience, was afraid that his children might one day rise up against his authority, and thus verify the prediction of his father, Uranus. In order, therefore, to render the prophecy impossible of fulfilment, Chronos swallowed each child as soon as it was born, greatly to the sorrow and indignation of his wife Rhea. When Zeus was born, she, by the advice of Uranus and Gæa, wrapped a stone in swaddling-clothes, and Chronos, in eager haste, swallowed it, without noticing the deception. Zeus was reared by the Nymphs in a cavern of Crete. Under their watchful care he throve rapidly, developing great physical powers, combined with extraordinary wisdom and intelligence. Grown to manhood, he determined to compel his father to restore his brothers and sisters to the light of day. He espoused Metis* (Prudence), who artfully persuaded Chronos to drink a potion, which caused him to give back the children he had swallowed. The stone which had counterfeited Zeus was placed at Delphi, where it was long exhibited as a sacred relic.
Chronos was so enraged at being circumvented that war between the father and son became inevitable. Zeus, with his brothers and sisters, took his stand on Mount Olympus, where he was joined by Oceanus, Themis, Mnemosyne, and Hyperion, who had forsaken Chronos on account of his oppressions. Chronos and his brother Titans took possession of Mount Othrys*, and prepared for battle. The struggle was fierce and lasted ten years. Zeus called to his aid the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires. The former brought tremendous thunderbolts, which the latter, with their hundred hands, hurled down upon the enemy, at the same time raising mighty earthquakes. Victory smiled upon Zeus. Chronos and his army were completely overthrown, his brothers despatched to the gloomy depths of the lower world, and Chronos himself was banished from his kingdom and deprived forever of the supreme power, which now became vested in his son Zeus. This war was called the Titanomachia*. The whole myth of the overthrow of Chronos and the triumph of Zeus covers long transition periods of earth’s history.
With the defeat of Chronos and his banishment from his dominions, his career as a ruling Greek divinity entirely ceases. But being, like all the gods, immortal, he was supposed to be still in existence, though possessing no longer either influence or authority.
The Romans, according to their custom of identifying their deities with those of the Greek gods whose attributes were similar to their own, declared Chronos to be identical with Saturn. They believed that after his defeat in the Titanomachia, and his banishment from his dominions by Zeus, Chronos took refuge with Janus, king of Italy, who received the exiled deity with great kindness, and even shared his throne with him. Their united reign became so thoroughly peaceful and happy, and was distinguished by such uninterrupted prosperity, that it was called the “Golden Age.”
A temple in honor of Saturn was erected at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, in which were deposited the public treasury and the laws of the State.
Greek festivals in honor of Chronos were called Chronia*.
The Roman festival in his honor was called “Saturnalia,” of which the Carnival is a survival. The Saturnalia was devoted to freedom, mirth, and indiscriminate hospitality.
1. On monuments, bound with cords of wool. There was a legend that Chronos was thus bound by Zeus to prevent irregularity in the movements of the heavenly bodies.
2. With wings (swiftness), feet of wool (noiseless), leaning on a scythe.
3. With an hour-glass and scythe.
4. Receiving a stone from Rhea.
5. Bust with serene countenance, full beard, back of head veiled.
Chronos chained by Zeus signified the revolution of the seasons chained to the course of the stars to prevent too immoderate speed.
A sickle as emblem of Chronos meant god of harvests, or decaying life, or rebellion against Uranus. A serpent meant renewed life of the year. A serpent with its tail in its mouth meant the year. A scythe meant the god of death.
A globe encircled by a starry zodiac meant the ordainer of systematic celestial movements.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Rhea; Roman, Ops*; Phrygian, Cybele*.
Rhea, the wife of Chronos and mother of Zeus and the other great gods of Olympus, like Gæa, personified the earth, and was regarded as the Great Mother, and unceasing producer of all plant-life. She was also believed to exercise unbounded sway over the animal creation, more especially over the lion.
The priests of Rhea were called Curetes* and Corybantes*. Her worship was always of a riotous character. At her festivals, which took place at night, the wildest music of flutes, cymbals, and drums resounded, whilst joyful shouts and cries, accompanied by dancing and loud stamping of feet, filled the air.
The principal seat of her worship was at Crete, into which place this divinity was introduced by its first colonists from Phrygia*, in Asia Minor, in which country she was worshiped under the name of Cybele. The people of Crete adored her as the Great Mother, more especially as the sustainer of the vegetable world. Seeing, however, that year by year, as winter appears, all her glory vanishes, her flowers fade, and her trees become leafless, they poetically expressed this process of nature under the figure of a lost love. She was said to have been tenderly attached to a youth of remarkable beauty named Atys*, who, to her grief and indignation, proved faithless to her. He was about to wed Sagaris*, daughter of the king of Pessinus, in Phrygia. In the midst of the wedding feast, Rhea suddenly appeared. A panic seized the assembled guests, and Atys, becoming frantic, rushed to the mountains and destroyed himself. He was turned into a pine-tree, into which his soul passed, while from his blood sprung a wreath of violets.
In April of each year, the Corybantes crowned a pine-tree and covered it with a veil of Cybele. They marched to the mountains, and to music of fifes and drums they rushed through the woods with frantic cries, searching for Atys. When he — an image of him — was found, the priests grew frenzied with joy and cut themselves with knives.
Rhea was called Idæa* Mater (Idæan Mother), from Mount Ida, on the island of Crete.
In Rome, the Greek Rhea was identified with Ops, the wife of Saturn. She was called Magna Mater, also Dindymene*. This latter title she acquired from three high mountains in Phrygia, whence she was brought to Rome as Cybele during the second Punic war, b. c. 205, in obedience to an injunction contained in the Sibylline books. She was represented as a matron crowned with towers, seated in a chariot drawn by lions.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Zeus*; Roman, Jove or Jupiter; Hindu, Dyaus.
Zeus, the son of Chronos and Rhea, when born, was concealed by his mother in a cave of Mount Ida, in Crete. A goat called Amalthea* provided him with milk; nymphs called Melissæ fed him with honey, and eagles and doves brought him nectar and ambrosia. The Curetes, or priests of Rhea, by beating their shields together, kept up a constant noise, which drowned the cries of the child and frightened away all intruders.
Zeus and his brothers having gained a complete victory over their enemies, settled by lot that Zeus should reign in Heaven, Aïdes in the Lower World, and Poseidon should have command over the Sea. The supremacy of Zeus was recognized in all three kingdoms. Earth and Olympus were common property. This new order of things was by no means securely established. The resentment of Gæa led her to produce the giant Typhœus*, a monster with a hundred fire-breathing dragons’ heads, whom she sent to overthrow the dominion of Zeus. A great battle took place, which shook heaven and earth. Zeus, by means of his never-failing thunderbolts, at length overcame the monster, and buried him beneath Mount Ætna*, in Sicily*, whence at times he still breathes out fire and flames towards heaven.
The Gigantes are said to have sprung from the drops of blood which fell on the earth from the mutilated Uranus. From the plains of Phlegra*, in Thessaly*, they sought to storm Olympus by piling Pelion* upon Ossa*. After a fierce battle, in which all the gods took part, they were conquered, and sent to share the fate of the vanquished Titans. The dominion of Zeus was now securely established, and no hostile attack ever after disturbed the peaceful ease of the inhabitants of Olympus.
To Zeus all the aërial phenomena, such as the thunder and lightning, the wind, the clouds, the snow, and the rainbow, are ascribed, and he sends them either as signs and warnings, or to punish the transgressions of men. Zeus is called the “father of gods and men;” his power over both is represented as supreme. In his palace on Olympus, Zeus was supposed to live after the fashion of a Grecian prince in the midst of his family.
Zeus was the earliest national god of the Greeks. His worship extended throughout the whole of Greece, though some of his shrines had a special importance. The most ancient of them was that of Dodona*, where the Pelasgian* Zeus was worshiped at a time prior to the existence of any temple in Greece. Mountain-tops were the earliest seats of his worship. He was represented in the celebrated form of the sacred oak, in the rustling of whose branches the deity revealed himself to the faithful. Later, near the temple at Dodona were two columns. On one was a brazen vase, on the other the figure of a child holding a whip with three brass chains, each chain having a knot at the end. The constant winds of Dodona caused these chains to frequently strike the brazen vase, and upon the longer or shorter duration of the sounds the priestess based her predictions.
But all the earlier shrines were overshadowed by the great national seat of the worship of Hellenic* Zeus at Olympia*, on the northern bank of the river Alpheus*, in Elis*, where the renowned Olympian games were celebrated. The magnificent statue of Zeus, by*, was an additional inducement to devotees, who flocked thither from every quarter. The Olympic games tended to the promotion of physical beauty and strength, the cultivation of heroic poetry, and the deepening of fraternal feeling. Rewards were crowns of olive leaves. Sacrifices offered were bulls and rams, accompanied with offerings of frankincense, wheat, and honey, with libations of wine.
The worship of Jupiter was no less extensive in Italy. The most renowned of all his shrines was undoubtedly the temple erected by Tarquin* on the Capitol at Rome. This, after being nearly destroyed by fire in the time of Sulla, was restored to more than its pristine splendor. The original earthen image was replaced by a statue of gold and ivory, the work of the Greek artist*, after the model of the Olympian Zeus.
Capitolini Ludi* were games yearly celebrated at Rome in honor of Jupiter, who was believed to have preserved the Capitol from the Gauls. The Capitol was the temple of Jupiter at Rome.
The earliest wife of Zeus was Metis*, a daughter of Oceanus. Zeus devoured her, fearing that she should beget a son, who would deprive him of the empire it had cost him so much to attain. Soon after this, feeling violent pains in his head, he sent for Hephæstus* (Vulcan), and ordered him to open it with an axe. His command was obeyed, and forth sprung Pallas Athene* (Minerva), fully armed. His second goddess-wife was Themis*, who was the mother of the Horæ* (Seasons) and Mœræ* (Fates). Dione* appears as the wife of Zeus of Dodona, and the mother of Aphrodite* (Venus), while Arcadian Zeus was wedded to Maia*, whose son was Hermes* (Mercury). Persephone* (Proserpine) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter* (Ceres). Zeus and Eurynome* were the parents of the Charites* (Graces); Zeus and Mnemosyne*, of the Muses; Zeus and Leto* (Latona), of Apollo and Artemis* (Diana). Hera* (Juno) was recognized as his only legitimate queen. She was the mother of Ares* (Mars), Hephæstus* (Vulcan), and Hebe*.
In the union of Zeus with most of his immortal wives, we shall find that an allegorical meaning is conveyed. His marriage with Metis represents supreme power allied to wisdom and prudence. His union with Themis typifies the bond which exists between divine majesty and justice, law and order. Eurynome supplied the refining and harmonizing influences of grace and beauty, whilst his marriage with Mnemosyne typifies the union of genius with memory.
The celebrated hero Heracles* (Hercules) was the son of Zeus and Alcmena*.
Antiope*, daughter of Nycteus*, and niece of Lycus*, king of Thebes, was surprised by Jupiter in the form of a satyr. Dreading the anger of her father, she fled to Sicyon*, where she married Epopeus*. Nycteus put an end to his life, charging his brother Lycus to take vengeance on Antiope and her husband. Soon afterwards Lycus slew Epopeus, and led Antiope back a captive to Thebes. Her infant sons were exposed on the mountains, where they were found by a shepherd, who reared them, and named one Zethus*, the other Amphion*. Antiope, who was treated with great cruelty by Dirce*, the wife of Lycus, fled for protection to her sons when they were grown up. They attacked and slew Lycus, and, tying Dirce by the hair to a wild bull, let him drag her till she expired.2
Amphion, having become king of Thebes, fortified the city with a wall. It is said that when he played on his lyre, the stones moved of their own accord, and took their places in the wall.
In sculpture, Amphion is always represented with a lyre; Zethus, with a club.
Leda*, whose affections Zeus gained under the form of a swan, was the mother of four children — two mortal and two immortal. They were Castor* and Pollux*, called Dioscuri* (sons of Zeus), and Helen and Clytemnestra*, who were celebrated in connection with the Trojan war.
Castor was represented as a mortal, and the son of Tyndareus*, and Pollux as immortal, and the son of Zeus. After Castor had fallen in the contest with the sons of Aphareus*, his brother Pollux, unwilling to part from him, prevailed on Zeus to allow them to remain together, on condition of their spending one day in Olympus and the next in Hades*. They thus led a life divided between mortality and immortality.
“The interpretation of this myth is somewhat difficult. It is commonly supposed that they were ancient Peloponnesian divinities of light, who, after the Dorian invasion, were degraded to the rank of heroes. They are often interpreted as personifications of the morning and evening star, or of the twilight (dawn and dusk). They were venerated not only in their native Sparta, but throughout the whole of Greece, as kindly, beneficent deities, whose aid might be invoked either in battle or in the dangers of shipwreck. In this latter character they are lauded by an Homeric hymn, in which they are represented as darting through the air on their golden wings, in order to calm the storm at the prayer of the terror-stricken mariner. It has been remarked that these Dioscuri flitting about on their golden wings are probably nothing more than what is commonly called St. Elmo’s fire — an electric flame which is often seen playing round the tops of the masts during a storm, and which is regarded by sailors as a sign of its speedy abatement.”.
Europa* was the beautiful daughter of Agenor* (king of Phœnicia) and Telephassa*. She was one day gathering flowers with her companions in a meadow near the sea-shore, when Zeus, charmed with her great beauty, and wishing to win her love, transformed himself into a beautiful white bull, and quietly approached the princess. Surprised at the gentleness of the animal, and admiring its beauty, she caressed it, crowned it with flowers, and at last playfully seated herself on its back. The disguised god bounded away with his lovely burden, and swam across the sea with her to the island of Crete.
Europa was the mother of Minos*, Rhadamanthus*, and Sarpedon*. The first two became judges in the lower world after death.
“Europa is the morning with its broad-spreading light, born in the Phœnician, or purple land of the dawn. She is the child of Telephassa, — the being who shines from afar. But she is soon taken from her beautiful home. In Hindu myths, the bull Indra shatters the car of Daphne*; in the Greek tale, the bull carries Europa over seas and mountains, journeying always, like the sun, from east to west. The Dawn has been taken from the sky, but her mother follows her, until at length she sinks to sleep in the Thessalian plain in the evening, just as the pale and tender light which precedes the sun’s rising re-appears only to die out in the western heavens at eventide.”.
Zeus and Ægina* were the parents of Æacus*, so renowned for his justice that he was made one of the judges in the lower world.
Io*, daughter of the river-god Inachus, was a priestess of Hera. Her great beauty attracted the notice of Zeus. On remarking this, Hera, in her jealousy, changed lo into a white heifer, and set the hundred-eyed Argus* to watch her. When asleep, he closed only two eyes at a time. Hermes*, however, by the command of Zeus, succeeded in putting all his eyes to sleep with the sound of his magic lyre, and then, taking advantage of his helpless condition, slew him. It is related that Hera placed his eyes on the tail of the peacock. Hera avenged herself by sending a gadfly to torment lo, who, in her madness, wandered through Europe and Asia, until she at length found rest in Egypt, where, touched by the hand of Zeus, she recovered her original form and gave birth to a son, who was called Epaphus*. He afterwards became king of Egypt, and built Memphis.
“This myth has received many embellishments, for the wanderings of lo became more extensive with the growth of geographical knowledge. Bosphorus (cow-bearer) received its name from this story. Io (the wanderer) is the moon, whose apparently irregular course and temporary disappearance were considered a curious phenomenon by the ancients. The moon-goddess of antiquity was very frequently represented under the figure of a heifer; and Isis herself, the Egyptian goddess of the moon, was always depicted with horns. The guardian of the heifer, the hundred-eyed Argus, is a symbol of the starry heaven. Argus was slain by Hermes, the rain-god; in other words, the stars were rendered invisible by the thick clouds. There is nothing extraordinary in representing the apparent irregularity of the moon’s course, inexplicable as it was to the ancients, under the guise of mental disorder. In the south-east — the direction in which Egypt lay from Greece — Io again appears as the full moon, in her original shape.”.
Callisto*, the daughter of Lycaon*, king of Arcadia, was a huntress in the train of Artemis, devoted to the pleasures of the chase, who had made a vow never to marry, but Zeus, under the form of the huntress-goddess, succeeded in gaining her affections. Artemis drove the guiltless offender from her society. Callisto was mother of a son named Arcas*. Hera being extremely jealous changed her into a bear. Her son, when he grew up, meeting her in the woods, was about to kill her, when Zeus, transporting both mother and son to the skies, made them the constellations of the two bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Hera induced Oceanus and Tethys to forbid them from coming into their waters, and consequently the two constellations of the Great and Little Bears move round and round in heaven, but never sink, as the other stars seem to do, beneath the ocean.
Prometheus, in’s poem, says:
“One after one the stars have risen and set,Sparkling upon the hoar-frost of my chain;The Bear, that prowled all night about the foldOf the North Star, hath shrunk into his den.Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the dawn.”
The Greeks supposed that Zeus occasionally assumed a human form, and descended from his celestial abode, in order to visit mankind and observe their proceedings. On one occasion he made a journey through Arcadia. Being recognized by the Arcadians as king of heaven, he was received by them with becoming respect and veneration; but Lycaon*, their king, doubted the divinity of Zeus. He invited him to dinner, and served up for him a dish of human flesh, in order to test the god’s omniscience. But Zeus was not to be deceived, and the impious monarch received the punishment which his crime merited. He was transformed into a wolf, and his house was destroyed by lightning.
Zeus and Hermes once came in the evening to a village, where they sought hospitality, but nowhere did they receive welcome till they reached the cottage of an old man and his wife, called Philemon* and Baucis*, who entertained them as well as their humble means would allow. The gods revealed their rank, and desired the aged couple to accompany them to the summit of a neighboring hill. On looking down towards their village, they saw nothing but a lake, with their cottage standing on its side. As they gazed, it became a temple. Zeus asked the worthy pair to name any wish they particularly desired, and it should be granted. They accordingly begged that they might serve the gods in the temple below, and end life together. Their wish was granted; and one day, as they were standing before the temple, they were transformed into trees, remaining forever side by side.
Zeus is generally represented as sitting upon a golden or ivory throne, holding in one hand thunderbolts just ready to be hurled, and in the other a sceptre of cypress. His looks express majesty, his beard flows long, and an eagle stands with expanded wings at his feet. He generally appears with the upper part of his body nude, and the lower part carefully covered, as if to show that he is visible to the gods above, but that he is concealed from the sight of the inhabitants of earth.
At Lacedæmon*, or Sparta, he was represented with four heads, that he might seem to hear with greater readiness the different prayers which were daily offered to him from every part of the earth.
The Cretans* represented Zeus without ears, to signify that the sovereign master of the world ought not to give partial ear to any particular person, but be equally propitious to all.
At Argos*, there was an ancient wooden statue of Zeus which had a third eye in its forehead. The three eyes were indicative of the dominion of Zeus over heaven, earth, and the underworld.
As Jupiter Ammon*, he is represented as having the horns of a ram. The temple of Libyan* Jove was called, together with the surrounding country, Hammonia, and the temple was known to antiquity as the temple of Jupiter Hammon*. Siwah still bears the ruins of the oracle and shrine to which it owes its fame. Not only the surrounding countries of Africa, but the Italians and Greeks paid to this oracle a deference and respect unsurpassed by the veneration with which they consulted the oracular deities of Dodona and Delphi. Even in the fifth century of our era, it was not unusual to anticipate the Fates by consultation of the Libyan Jove.
The most singular representation is that exhibiting Jupiter Pluvialis*, designed to commemorate his interposition in sending rain on a certain occasion.
Pluvius was a surname of Jupiter as god of rain. He was invoked by that name among the Romans whenever the earth was parched by continual heat.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Hera*; Roman, Juno*; Egyptian, Sati*.
Hera, daughter of Chronos and Rhea, was believed to have been educated by Oceanus and Tethys. She seems, originally, to have personified the air (the lower aërial regions), but among the Greeks this natural signification seems to have quickly disappeared, and she was chiefly honored as the guardian of the marriage-tie.
The marriage of Zeus and Hera typified the union of heaven and earth in the fertilizing showers. It was called “the sacred marriage,” and every living being was invited. The nymph, Chelone*, not only refused to attend, but indulged in raillery. Hermes was sent in search of her, and found her in her house, which was upon the bank of a river. He threw the nymph into the river, and transformed her into a tortoise, which was condemned to carry its house upon its back; as a punishment for raillery, perpetual silence was enjoined upon her.
Gæa presented to Hera a tree laden with golden apples. It was placed under the charge of the Hesperides at the foot of Mount Atlas.
On the first day of every month a ewe-lamb and a sow were sacrificed to Hera. The hawk, goose, and peacock were sacred to her. Her favorite flowers were the dittany, poppy, and lily. Her most famous temples were at Olympia, Argos, and Samos*.
The Dædala* and Tonea* were Greek festivals in honor of Hera. The “Little Dædala” was celebrated every seven years, and the “Great Dædala” every sixty years.
The Tonea was a solemnity observed at Samos. It was usual to carry Hera’s statue to the sea-shore, to offer cakes before it, and afterwards to replace it in the temple. This was in commemoration of the theft of the Tyrrhenians*, who attempted to carry away the statue of the goddess, but were detained in the harbor by an invisible force.
Hera was jealous in the highest degree, and, to stop her complaints, Zeus often had recourse to violence. He punished her cruelties towards Heracles by suspending her from the heavens by a golden chain, and hanging anvils to her feet. Hephæstus attempted to release her, for which Zeus threw him out of heaven, and his leg was broken by the fall.
Hera was the mother of Ares, Hephæstus, Hebe, and Ilithyia*.
Hera resented with great severity any infringement on her rights as queen of heaven, or any apparent slight on her personal appearance.
At the marriage of Peleus* and Thetis*, all the deities were present except Eris*. Indignant at not being invited, she determined to cause dissension, and threw into the midst of the guests a golden apple, with the inscription on it “For the Fairest.” The claims of all others were obliged to yield to those of Hera, Pallas Athene, and Aphrodite, and the decision was left to Paris, son of Priam, King of Troy, who, ignorant of his noble birth, was at that time feeding flocks on Mount Ida. Hermes conducted the rival beauties to the young shepherd. Hera promised Paris extensive dominions if he would award the prize to her; Athené promised fame in war; Aphrodite promised the fairest of women. The queen of beauty was awarded the apple, and Paris3 soon afterwards carried off Helen, the wife of Menelaus*, King of Sparta. Hera was so indignant that she persecuted not only him, but all the family of Priam, whose dreadful sufferings and misfortunes during the Trojan war were attributed to her influence.
At one time Hera, being deeply offended with Zeus, determined to separate herself from him, and she accordingly took up her abode in Eubœa. Zeus effected a reconciliation by artifice. Cithæron*, King of Platea*, advised him to dress an image in bridal attire, place it in a chariot, and announce that this was Platea, his future wife. Hera, incensed at the idea of a rival, flew in great anger to meet the procession, and seizing the supposed bride, she furiously dragged off her nuptial attire. Her delight on discovering the deception was so great that a reconciliation took place, and committing the image to the flames, with joyful laughter she seated herself in its place and returned to Olympus.
It is probable that this story was invented to explain the ceremonies of the Dædala.
Juno, the Roman divinity, supposed to be identical with the Greek Hera, differed from her in important characteristics. Hera invariably appears as the haughty, unbending queen of heaven; Juno is revered and beloved as the type of a matron. Juno was believed to watch over and guard the life of every woman from her birth to her death.
On the first of March, a grand annual festival called the Matronalia* was celebrated in her honor by all the married women of Rome.
Moneta*, the adviser, was a surname of Juno, in whose temple at Rome money was coined.
The Roman consuls, when they entered upon office, were always obliged to offer to Juno a solemn sacrifice.
Hera is usually represented seated on a throne, a diadem on her head, and a golden sceptre in her right hand. Some peacocks generally sit by her, and a cuckoo often perches on her sceptre.
She is sometimes represented as carried through the air in a rich chariot drawn by peacocks.
Epithets. — Ox-eyed, white-armed, gold-seated, gold-shod.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Poseidon*; Roman, Neptune; Hindu, Varuna*.
Poseidon was a son of Chronos and Rhea. He was god of the sea, as having under his control the forces that affect its movements rather than as himself inhabiting its waters. Nereus* was believed to live in the deep waters, and he stood in the same relation to Poseidon which Helios, who was believed to dwell in the sun, bore to Phœbus Apollo, the lord of light.
In addition to his residence on Olympus, Poseidon had a splendid palace beneath the sea at Ægæ*, in Eubœa, where he kept his horses with golden manes and brazen hoofs. Like the element over which he presided, he was described by the poets as being at times quiet and composed, and at others as disturbed and angry. He was said to be haughty, powerful, vindictive and impatient. He was believed to be able to cause earthquakes at his pleasure, and to raise islands from the bottom of the sea with a blow of his trident.
Mariners always invoked and propitiated Poseidon by a libation before a voyage was undertaken, and sacrifices and thanksgivings were gratefully offered to him after a safe and prosperous voyage.
As the deity having special control over commerce, Poseidon was held in great reverence by the Phœnicians. He was the presiding deity over fishermen, and was on that account more particularly revered in countries bordering on the sea-coast, where fish naturally formed a staple commodity of trade. He was supposed to vent his displeasure by sending disastrous inundations, which completely destroyed whole countries, and were usually accompanied by terrible marine monsters, which devoured those whom the floods had spared. It is probable that these sea-monsters are the poetical figures which represent the demons of hunger and famine necessarily accompanying a general inundation.
In honor of Poseidon, the Greeks maintained the Isthmian Games, or Isthmia. This festival was celebrated on the isthmus of Corinth in April or May of each alternate year. The games consisted of athletic sports, also contests in music and poetry. The prizes were garlands of pine leaves or of ivy. The sacrifices offered were black bulls, rams, and boars. The gall of victims was also offered. The bodies were thrown into the sea.
The wife of Poseidon was Amphitrite*. Their children were Triton, Rhoda, and Benthesicyme*. Triton was his father’s trumpeter; Rhoda married the Sun-god. The island of Rhodes was named for her.
The Cyclops Polyphemus* was son of Poseidon and Thoosa*. The sea-god was the father of two giant sons called Otus* and Ephialtes*. When only nine years old, they attempted to scale heaven by piling mighty mountains one upon another. They had succeeded in placing Mount Ossa* on Pelion*, when this impious project was frustrated by Apollo, who destroyed them with his arrows.
Arion* was a horse, the offspring of Poseidon and Demeter*, which had the power of speech, the feet on the right side like those of a man, and the rest of the body like a horse.
The favorite animal of Poseidon was the horse, which he was supposed to have created. This may, perhaps, be due to the fact that the imagination of the Greeks pictured the horses of Poseidon in the rolling and bounding waves. In Athens, the origin of the horse was referred to the contest between Athené and Poseidon. They both claimed the right to name the city which Cecrops* had built. The dispute was settled by an assembly of the gods, who decided that the one who presented mankind with the most useful gift, should have the privilege of naming the city. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, and the horse sprung forth. From the spot which Athené touched with her wand issued the olive-tree. The gods unanimously awarded to her the victory, declaring her gift to be the emblem of peace and plenty, whilst that of Poseidon was the symbol of war and bloodshed. Athené called the city Athens. Poseidon tamed the horse for the use of mankind. In Arcadia he was worshiped under the name of Hippios*.
As a punishment for joining with Hera and Athené in a conspiracy to dethrone Zeus, he was deprived of his dominion over the sea for one year. It was during this time that, in conjunction with Apollo, he built for Laomedon* the walls of Troy. Because Laomedon refused to pay for the work, Poseidon favored the Greeks in the Trojan war.
Poseidon disputed with Apollo his right to the isthmus of Corinth. Briareus*, the Cyclops, who was mutually chosen umpire, gave the isthmus to Poseidon, and the promontory to Apollo. The contests between Poseidon and other deities merely signify the encroachments of the sea upon the land.
The Romans invested Neptune with all the attributes which belong to the Greek Poseidon. The Roman commanders never undertook am naval expedition without propitiating Neptune by a sacrifice.
His temple at Rome was in the Campus Martius, and the festival commemorated in his honor was the Neptunalia, or Consualia. Horses were led through the streets finely equipped and crowned with garlands, and all horses were allowed to rest from labor during this festival.
Consus* was the name of Neptune as god of counsel. His altar was underground. Counsel should generally be given privately, therefore Consus was worshiped in obscure and private places.
Sometimes he stands upright on a large shell, holding his trident, and arrayed in a mantle of blue or of sea-green. Often he is sitting in a chariot, or a shell with wheels, drawn by hippocampi. He is sometimes accompanied by Amphitrite. His image is very frequent on coins and medals. He is described as having black hair and blue eyes, and a serene and majestic aspect.
Epithets. — Earth-holding, earth-shaking, dark-haired, wide-ruling, loud-sounding.
Aïdes*, or Pluto §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Aïdes*, or Pluto; Roman, Orcus*, or Dis; Egyptian, Osiris*, or Serapis*; Hindu, Yama*.
Aides (Hades) was a son of Chronos and Rhea. The name Aides signifies dark, gloomy, melancholy, and invisible. The term Hades at a later time denoted the unseen world beneath the earth. When it was said that the dead had gone to Hades, all that was literally meant was that they had gone to the unseen place.
The Greek name Pluton, or Pluto, as well as the Latin name Dis, signifies wealth, because our wealth comes from the lowest parts of the earth.
“The early Greeks regarded Aides as their greatest foe, andtells us that he was ‘of all the gods the most detested,’ being in their eyes the grim robber who stole from them their nearest and dearest, and eventually deprived each of them of his share in the terrestrial existence.
“This conception was subsequently supplanted by one of a less dismal nature, in which the other side of his character is brought into prominence. From this point of view he is represented not only as sending nourishment to plants from the deep bosom of the earth, but also as offering unbounded riches to mankind in the shape of precious metals, which lie in his subterraneous passages and chambers.
“But though the original dismal conception of this deity as the inexorable god of death was much diminished in course of time, yet Hades, nevertheless, always conveyed to the Greek mind an idea of something mysterious and grim. He can, in fact, scarcely be said to have had a place in the public worship of the Greeks.”.
“In the Homeric age it was supposed that when a mortal ceased to exist, his spirit tenanted the shadowy outline of the human form it had quitted. These shades, as they were called, were driven by Aides into his dominions, where they passed their time in brooding over the vicissitudes of fortune which they had experienced on earth, or in regretting the lost pleasures they had enjoyed in life, but all in a state of semi-consciousness, from which the intellect could be roused to full activity only by drinking of the blood of the sacrifices offered to their shades by living friends.”.
The narcissus, maiden-hair fern, and cypress were sacred to Aides. He had temples erected to his honor at Olympia, Athens, and in Elis. His sacrifices, which took place at night, consisted of black sheep, and the blood, instead of being sprinkled on the altars or received in vessels as at other sacrifices, was permitted to run into the ground. The officiating priests wore black robes, and were crowned with cypress.
It was said that at the close of the Titan war the Cyclopes made for Pluto a helmet which rendered the wearer invisible.
The Romans supposed that there was in the centre of the earth a vast, gloomy, and impenetrably dark cavity called Orcus, which formed a place of eternal rest for the dead. But with the introduction of Greek mythology, the Roman Orcus became the Greek Hades, and all the Greek ideas with regard to a future state then prevailed with the Romans, who worshiped Aides under the name of Pluto, his other appellations being Dis (from dives, rich) and Orcus, from the dominions over which he ruled. He had no temple in Rome, but, in common with Proserpina*, he had a subterranean altar in the Campus Martius, which was uncovered and used once a year. Only black animals were sacrificed to him.
The Feralia* was a festival in honor of the dead, held in February, accompanied with a solemn expiation or purification of the city. This expiation was called “februatio,” whence the name of the month. It continued from the eighteenth to the end of the month, during which time presents were carried to the graves of deceased friends and relatives, the living held feasts of love and reconciliation, and the temples of the gods were closed.
Erebus* was a general term comprehending the palace and domain of Pluto, also Tartarus*, a place of imprisonment.
The souls of those who had lived a virtuous life were sent to the Elysian Fields.locates them in the “Isles of the Blessed” in the ocean.
Later poets mention various entrances to Hades; the most celebrated was in Italy, near Lake Avernus, over which it was said no bird could fly, so noxious were its exhalations.
Old Age, Disease, and Hunger — avengers of guilt — were supposed to dwell in caves near the entrance of Hades.
Field of Asphodel* was a place where spirits waited for those whose fate had not been decided.
In the dominions of Aides were several rivers — Acheron* (grief), Cocytus* (lamentation), Lethe* (oblivion), Pyriphlegethon* (fire-flaming), and Styx* (dread). The last was said to encompass these realms nine times, and could be crossed only by the aid of Charon*, the ferryman, a grim, unshaven old man. He took only those whose bodies had received funereal4 rites on earth, and who had brought with them the indispensable toll, which was a small coin (obolus), usually placed under the tongue of a dead person for that purpose.
All the shades were obliged to appear before Minos, the supreme judge, whose tribunal was guarded by the terrible triple-headed dog Cerberus*,5 which, with his three necks bristling with snakes, lay at full length on the ground. He permitted all shades to enter, but none to return.
The guilty souls, after leaving the presence of Minos, were conducted to the great judgment-hall of Hades, whose massive walls of solid adamant were surrounded by the river Phlegethon, the waves of which rolled flames of fire, and lit up, with their lurid glare, these awful realms. In the interior sat the judge, Rhadamanthus*, who declared to each comer the precise torments which awaited him in Tartarus. The wretched sinners were then seized by the Furies, who scourged them with their whips, and dragged them along to the great gate which closed the opening to Tartarus, into whose awful depths they were hurled, to suffer endless torture. Tartarus was supposed to be as far below Hades as the earth is distant from the skies.
The waters of the Lethe* had the power of producing utter forgetfulness of former events. According to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, it was supposed that, after the shades had inhabited Elysium* for a thousand years, they were destined to animate other bodies on earth, and before leaving Elysium they drank of the river Lethe, in order that they might enter upon their new career without any remembrance of the past.
Aides, or Pluto, is generally represented holding a two-pronged sceptre. He sometimes has keys in his hand, to intimate that whoever enters his kingdom cannot return.
Sometimes he is represented sitting on a throne with Persephone*. His head is veiled, and he holds a sceptre.
Epithets. — Subterranean-Zeus, people-collecting, much-receiving, gate-keeping, laughterless, horse-renowned, invisible, strong, hateful, cold.
[Sisyphus*. Ixion*. Tantalus*.] §
The punishments of great criminals in the infernal regions were a fruitful theme for the imagination of the poets. The most celebrated criminals were Tityus*, Tantalus*, Sisyphus*, Phlegyas*, Ixion*, and the Danaides*. The punishment of Tityus, who had offered violence to Leto*, consisted in having an enormous vulture prey without ceasing upon his liver, Tantalus had been deemed worthy to hold intercourse with the gods, until he put their omniscience to the test by setting before them the flesh of his son Pelops*. This crime he was condemned to expiate by the torments of continual hunger and thirst. Above his head were suspended the most beautiful fruits, but when he attempted to snatch them, a gust of wind blew them beyond his reach. At his feet gushed a fountain of purest water, but when he tried to quench his thirst, it suddenly vanished into the ground. Sisyphus, King of Corinth, was condemned, in consequence of his numerous crimes, to roll a huge stone up a high mountain, which, on reaching the top, always rolls down again to the plain.
“Not in Hades aloneDoth Sisyphus roll, ever frustrate, the stone,Do the Danaids ply, ever vainly, the sieve.Tasks as futile does earth to its denizens give.”.
Phlegyas, to avenge an injury received from Apollo, burned the temple of that god at Delphi. He was placed where a stone hanging over his head, and evermore threatening to fall, kept him in a perpetual state of terror.
Ixion, a not less insolent offender, was bound hand and foot to an ever-revolving wheel.
The Danaides, who, at their father’s command, had slain their husbands on their wedding-night, were condemned to pour water continually into a cask full of holes, which could never be filled.
“The story of Tantalus means that the sun, when he glared too fiercely, killed the fruits which his warmth was ripening, and dried up the streams over which he passed.
“The stone of Sisyphus is an emblem of the indestructibility of hope. It symbolizes the sun, which, daily after reaching the highest point, seems to drop down again.
“Ixion means the sun at mid-day, whose four-spoked wheel, in the words of, is seen whirling in the heavens.
“Sieve of the Danaides, or perforated cask, means the rainy sky.”.
The Fates were called Mœræ* in Greek and Parcæ* in Latin. Either term signifies a share, in the sense of allotting to every man his share. Some mythologists call them the daughters of Nyx, others of Zeus and Themis. They were three in number — Clotho*, Lachesis*, and Atropos*. To them was intrusted the management of the thread of life. Clotho drew the thread, Lachesis turned the wheel, and Atropos cut the thread with a pair of scissors. That is, Clotho gives life or brings us into the world, Lachesis determines the fortunes that shall befall us here, and Atropos concludes our lives.
speaks of one Mœræ only, the daughter of Night, who represents the moral force by which the universe is governed, and to whom both mortals and immortals were forced to submit, Zeus himself being powerless to avert her decrees; but in later times this conception of one inexorable, all-conquering fate became amplified by the poets into that described above.
It was considered the function of the Mœræ to indicate to the Erinnys* (Furies) the precise torture which the wicked should undergo for their crimes.
They had sanctuaries in many parts of Greece. The sacrifices offered were ewes, flowers, and honey.
The Mœræ were generally represented as three old women. One held a distaff, another the spindle, the third a pair of scissors.
Painters and sculptors depicted them as beautiful maidens of a grave but kindly aspect.
When represented at the feet of Aides in the lower world, they are clad in dark robes; but when they appear on Olympus, they wear bright garments bespangled with stars, and are seated on radiant thrones, with crowns on their heads.
The Erinnys* (Furies) were three in number, Alecto*, Megæra*, and Tisiphone*. They were female divinities, who personified the torturing pangs of an evil conscience and the remorse which inevitably follows wrong-doing.
Their office was to observe and punish crimes of the wicked, and to torment the consciences of those whose crimes had not been made public.
“Erinnys appears in Sanskrit as Sarunya, a word which signifies the light of morning creeping over the sky. As this reveals the evil deeds done under cover of night, so the lovely Dawn, or Erinnys, came to be regarded, under one aspect, as the terrible detector and avenger of iniquity.”.
According to, they sprung from the blood of Uranus when he was wounded by Chronos, and were hence supposed to be the embodiment of all the terrible imprecations which the defeated deity called down upon the head of his rebellious son.
Their place of abode was the lower world, where they were employed by Aides and Persephone to chastise and torment those shades who, during their earthly career, had committed crimes, and had not been reconciled to the gods before descending to Hades.
They appeared upon earth as the avenging deities who relentlessly pursued and punished murderers, perjurers, those who had failed m duty to their parents, in hospitality to strangers, or in the respect due to old age.
The early representations depicted them as beings of terrific appearance, with snakes instead of hair. They were sometimes winged. They were clad in black and carried a torch, a sword, a knife, a whip, or a serpent.
Such was the earlier and more dreadful idea of the Erinnys. Subsequently, they appear in a milder and more kindly guise. So long as men were under the dominion of the law of retaliation, — the dreadful
“eye for eye and tooth for tooth,” — they were able to derive pleasure from the idea of the inexorable and implacable nature of the Erinnys. But when these barbarous customs died out before advancing civilization, and society began to surround itself with regular laws which protected individual life from arbitrary assaults, then the conception of the Erinnys as compassionate and even benevolent, deities gained ground. Poetical mythology has associated this transformation with the institution of the Areopagus* at Athens, and the purification of Orestes*, effected by this court.
The story relates that Orestes, after having slain his mother, Clytemnestra*, and Ægisthus*, in revenge for the murder of his father, Agamemnon*, wandered for a long time about the earth in a condition bordering on madness, owing to the persecution of the Erinnys. They constantly held up a mirror to his horrified gaze, in which he beheld the face of his murdered mother. At length, however, he was befriended by Apollo and Athene. Apollo first purified him before his own altar at Delphi, and then defended him before the court of the Areopagus, which had been founded by Athene. Orestes was here acquitted, for Athene, when the votes for and against him were equal, declared that then, and in all future time, the criminal should have the benefit of the doubt.
The Furies were at first very angry, and threatened the land with barrenness, but Athene succeeded in pacifying them by promising that a shrine should be erected to them on the hill of the Areopagus. After they had taken possession of this sanctuary, they were venerated by the Athenians under the name of Semnae* (venerable), or Eumenides* (benevolent), as propitious deities, who, though they continued to punish crimes, were ever ready to grant mercy to the repentant sinner and to give succor to all good men. They were then represented, more especially in Athens, as earnest maidens, dressed, like Artemis*, in short tunics suitable for the chase, but still retaining in their hands the wand of office in the form of a snake.
Sacrifices to the Furies consisted of black sheep and a libation composed of honey and water called Nephalia*.
Besides the shrine in Athens, they had another near the city, a sacred grove in Colonus*, which was celebrated as the last refuge of the unfortunate Œdipus*.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Demeter*; Roman, Ceres*.
Demeter (from Ge-meter, earth-mother) was a daughter of Chronos and Rhea. She was the goddess of agriculture, and represented that portion of Gæa (the whole solid earth) which we call the earth’s crust, and which produces all vegetation. It is necessary to keep clearly in view the distinctive difference between the three great earth-goddesses Gæa, Rhea, and Demeter. Gæa represents the earth as a whole, with its mighty subterranean forces; Rhea is that productive power which causes vegetation to spring forth, thus sustaining men and animals; Demeter, by presiding over agriculture, directs and utilizes Rhea’s productive powers. The thriving of the crops was ascribed to her influence. She was regarded as the patroness of all those arts which are connected with agriculture, by means of which men were rescued from the lower grades of hunters and shepherds, and brought into subjection to law and morality. She thus becomes that
“bountiful daughter of Heaven” who, as
sings in his “Lay of the Bell:”
“Of oldCalled the wild man from waste and wold,And, in his hut thy presence stealing,Roused each familiar household feeling;And, best of all happy ties,The centre of the social band —The Instinct of the Father-land!”
The favor of Demeter was believed to bring mankind rich harvests and fruitful crops, whereas her displeasure caused blight, drought, and famine. The island of Sicily was supposed to be under her special protection, and there she was regarded with particular veneration, the Sicilians naturally attributing the wonderful fertility of their country to the partiality of the goddess.
The most celebrated legend linked with the name of Demeter is the story of the loss of her daughter, Persephone, or Cora*. The latter was once playing with the daughters of Oceanus in a flowery meadow, where they were picking flowers and making garlands. Persephone happened to leave her companions for a moment to pluck a narcissus, when suddenly the ground opened at her feet and Pluto appeared in a chariot. He seized and carried off the maiden. All this occurred with the knowledge of her father, Zeus, who had, unknown to Demeter, promised Persephone to Pluto.
When Demeter missed her darling child, and none could tell her where she had gone, she kindled torches, and during many days and nights wandered over all the earth, not even resting for food or sleep. At length, Helios, who sees everything, told Demeter what had happened, not disguising, however, that it had occurred with the consent of Zeus. Full of wrath and grief, the goddess now withdrew from the society of the other deities. Meanwhile all the fruits of the earth ceased, and a general famine threatened to extinguish the human race. In vain Zeus sent one messenger after another, beseeching the angry goddess to return to Olympus. Demeter swore that she would neither return nor allow the fruits of the earth to grow until her daughter was restored to her. At length Zeus sent Hermes with a petition to Pluto to restore Persephone to her mother. He consented, and she joyfully prepared to follow the messenger of the gods to light and life. Before taking leave of her husband, he presented to her a few seeds of pomegranate, which, in her excitement, she thoughtlessly swallowed. Ascalaphus* reported this, and, as it was a rule that if any immortal had tasted food in the realms of Pluto he must remain there forever, the hopes of the goddesses were disappointed. Zeus finally succeeded in effecting a compromise by inducing Pluto to allow Persephone to spend six months of the year with her mother, whilst during the other six she was to be the joyless companion of her grim lord. Every year at spring-tide she ascends from her subterranean kingdom to enjoy herself in her mother’s company, but returns again in autumn to the regions of darkness and death.
This legend grew out of the phrases which had at first described the change of summer and winter, and it signified the temporary loss which mother-earth sustains every year when the icy breath of winter robs her of her flowers, fruits, and grain. The sorrow of Demeter typifies the gloom which falls upon the earth during the cheerless months of winter. It is believed that in later times a still deeper meaning was conveyed by this beautiful myth, namely, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The grain, which, as it were, remains dead for a time in the dark earth, only to rise one day dressed in a newer and lovelier garb, was supposed to symbolize the soul, which, after death, is free from corruption and lives in a better and purer form.
Closely connected with this beautiful and expressive myth is another which refers to the institution of the Eleusinian* Mysteries. When Demeter, after the loss of her daughter, was wandering over the earth in the guise of a poor old woman, she came to Eleusis, in Attica. The daughters of Celeus*, the king of the city, found her sitting on a stone near a well. They offered the old woman service in their father’s house as nurse to their youngest brother Demophoon*, or Triptolemus*. The goddess consented, and was kindly received m the house of Celeus. She became so fond of the child that she resolved to make him immortal by anointing him with ambrosia, and then laying him at night in the glow of the fire. The imprudent curiosity of his mother, who watched the goddess and rushed into the room, deprived him of the intended blessing.
Demeter now revealed herself to Celeus and commanded him to build a temple for her in Eleusis. When it had been hastily completed, with the assistance of the goddess, she initiated Celeus and some other princes of Eleusis in the solemn rites of her service. In order to spread abroad the blessings which agriculture confers, Demeter presented to Triptolemus her chariot drawn by winged dragons, and, giving him some grains of corn, desired him to journey through the world, teaching mankind the arts of agriculture and husbandry.
The Eleusinian* Mysteries, or Eleusinia*, were observed at Eleusis every fifth year. They were in honor of Demeter, and were the most celebrated of the religious ceremonies of Greece. Some authorities state that Free-Masonry is a branch of the Eleusinian order. The chief object of these Mysteries was to disseminate better and purer ideas of a future life than the popular faith of the Greeks afforded. It was commonly believed that the souls of men after death led a dull, miserable existence in the world of shadows. Those initiated in the Mysteries, however, were taught that death was only a resurrection of the soul to a brighter and better life, on the condition, of course, that a man had fully pleased the gods, and rendered himself worthy of such a happy lot.
The sacrifices offered were millet and barley. Swine were sacrificed because they injure the fruits of the earth.
Demeter punished with severity those that incurred her displeasure. Stellio was a youth who ridiculed the goddess for the eagerness with which she was eating a bowl of porridge, when weary and faint in the vain search for her daughter. She angrily threw into his face the remainder of the food, and changed him into a spotted lizard.
Erysichthon* once cut down an oak-tree which was sacred to Demeter. As a punishment, she afflicted him with insatiate hunger, and, to procure the means to appease it, he sold all his substance, and finally his only daughter. As Poseidon had bestowed on this maiden the power of changing her form, she always escaped from the purchaser in the form of some animal, and returning to her father was sold again. Even this means not sufficing, Erysichthon devoured his own flesh and died.
Ceres of the Romans was the counterpart of the Greek Demeter, her attributes, worship, etc., being identical.
The Cerealia*, festivals in honor of Ceres, commenced on the 19th of April, and lasted several days.
Plutus, the son of Ceres and Jasion, was a personification of the wealth derived from grain. He is represented as being lame when he makes his appearance, and winged when he takes his departure. He was supposed to be blind, because he bestows his gifts without discrimination, frequently passing over good men to heap his treasures upon the bad.
Demeter is usually represented as a woman of majestic appearance with beautiful golden hair, the yellow locks being emblematical of the ripened ears of corn.
Sometimes she appears seated in a chariot drawn by winged dragons; in other representations she stands erect, and always fully draped. She bears a sheaf of wheat-ears in one hand and a lighted torch in the other. Her brows are frequently garlanded with poppies.
Epithets. — Blonde or yellow-haired, fair-tressed, well-garlanded, food-full, youth-rearing, bright-fruited, bright-gifted, season-bringer, gold-sickled, green.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Persephone*, or Cora*; Roman, Proserpina*.
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was queen of the lower world. The Athenians preferred to call her by her mystic name of Cora. She embodied two distinct conceptions. On the one hand, she appears as the wife of the dark god of the lower world, like him, a gloomy, awe-inspiring deity, who pitilessly drags down all that lives into the hidden depths of the earth, whence the grave is called “the chamber of Persephone.” On the other hand, she appears as Cora, the lovely daughter of Demeter, a personification of that force of nature which yearly causes the most luxuriant vegetation to spring up, only, however, to die again in the autumn.
In a somewhat narrower sense, Persephone may be regarded as a type of the grain which long remains in the ground, where it has been sown, as though dead, but afterwards breaks forth into new life. It was only natural to associate with this last conception, ideas of the immortality of the soul, of which, in the secret doctrines of the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone was a symbol.
Persephone is represented as a fair young maiden, or as the grave, severe queen of the world of shadows. In the latter character she may generally be recognized by her sceptre and diadem.
Epithets. — Illustrious, terrible, holy, white-armed, sable-vested.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Ares*; Roman, Mars.
“Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera, represents war from its fatal and destructive side, by which he is clearly distinguished from Athene, the wise disposer of battles. He was, probably, originally a personification of the angry, clouded sky. His home, according to, was in Thrace, the land of boisterous wintry storms, among whose warlike inhabitants he was held in high esteem, but his worship was not so extensive in Greece.”.
“Epic poets represent the god of battles as a wild, ungovernable warrior, who passes through the armies like a whirlwind, hurling to the ground the brave and cowardly alike; destroying chariots and helmets, and triumphing over the terrible desolation.”.
With strength he combined great agility, and was said to be the fleetest of the gods. He was, however, overmatched in battle by Athene, a palpable indication that prudent courage often accomplishes more than impetuous violence.
In Thebes, Ares was regarded as the god of pestilence; in Athens, as the god of vengeance.
In the Trojan war, Ares espoused the cause of the Trojans.
Ares upon one occasion incurred the displeasure of Poseidon by slaying his son Halirrhothius*. Poseidon summoned Ares to appear before the tribunal of the Olympic gods, which was held upon a hill in Athens. Ares was acquitted, and this event is supposed to have given rise to the name Areopagus (Hill of Ares), which afterwards became so famous as a court of justice.
Hermione* (Harmony) was said to be the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, because from Love and Strife, that is, attraction and repulsion, arises the order or harmony of the universe.
This deity was regarded with a much greater degree of veneration in Rome under the appellation of Mars, or Mavors*. Among the earliest Italian tribes he was worshiped as the god of spring triumphing over the powers of winter.
As the god that strode with warlike step to the battlefield, he was called Gradivus* (from gradus, a step); it being popularly believed by the Romans that he marched before them to battle, and acted as their invisible protector.
The Romans regarded Mars as the father of Romulus*, and the founder and protector of their nation. He was said to have married Nerio*, and from her the Claudian family derived the name of Nero*.
Campus Martius* (Field of Mars) was a field in which the Roman youth practised gymnastic and warlike exercises.
The priests of Mars were twelve in number, and were called Salii*, or the dancers, because dancing in full armor formed an important part in their peculiar ceremonial. It is said that one morning, when Numa* was imploring the protection of Jupiter for the newly-founded city of Rome, the god of heaven sent down an oblong brazen shield (ancile*). As it fell at the feet of the king, a voice was heard declaring that Rome should endure as long as this shield was preserved. In order to prevent its abstraction, Numa caused eleven more to be made exactly like it, and instituted for their protection the Salii, who were selected from the noblest families in Rome. Every year in the month of March, which was sacred to Mars, they bore the sacred shields in solemn procession through the streets of Rome, executing warlike dances and chanting war-songs.
Sacrifices were horses, rams, wolves, and dogs, also grass, because it grows in towns laid desolate by war. Human sacrifices were offered in the earliest ages.
The assistance and protection of the god of war were always solemnly invoked before the departure of Roman army for the field of battle. Any reverses of fortune were ascribed to his anger.
1. Seated in a chariot drawn by furious horses, called Flight and Terror; sometimes accompanied by Enyo*, or Bellona* (godess of the war-cry).
2. As a youth of martial bearing, fully armed.
3. As descending from the sky, resting one hand on a mountain-cliff, while the other holds a spear and buckler.
Epithets. — Blood-stained, shield-borer, manslayer, town-destroyer, gold-helmed, brazen, people-rouser, impetuous.
Pallas Athene*. §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Pallas Athene*; Roman, Minerva; Hindu, Ushas; Egyptian, Neith*.
Athene was said to have been produced from the head of Zeus, which Hephæstus had been ordered to cleave open. The goddess of war, in full armor, sprung forth, while a great commotion both on sea and land announced the event to the world. She is also the goddess of wisdom, and as such is the protectress of states; all that their welfare requires in peace or war proceeds from her. Thus she appears as goddess of peace as well as of war. It was she who first taught mankind to manage the horse, to build ships and chariots, and to use the rake and the plough. By later writers she is represented as the patroness of every branch of science, art, and manufacture.
Parthenos* (virgin) was one of Athene’s names, whence the temple of Athens, where she was most religiously worshiped, was called the Parthenon*6 (Virgin’s Shrine).
calls Pallas Athene the moon. On the coins of Attica there was a moon as well as an owl and olive branch. It could scarcely have been from any other cause than that of her being regarded as the moon that the owl, whose broad, full eyes shine so brightly in the dark, was consecrated to her. The shield with the Gorgon’s* head on it seems to represent the full-orbed moon, and the title Glaucopis* (from the blueness of her eyes) is given to both Selene and Athene.
The sacred olive-tree, which Athene had caused to grow at the time of her contest with Poseidon about naming the city of Athens, was shown in the temple of Erechtheus* on the Acropolis,7 and it possessed such a wonderful vitality that, when burned by the Persians, it immediately put forth a fresh shoot.
Theseus gave political unity to the twelve towns of Attica, and established the general worship at Athens. The Athenæa*, which had been instituted by Erechthonius* (a serpent-legged son of Gæa and Hephæstus), were thereafter called Panathenæa*, and were celebrated every fifth year. Citizens from all parts of Attica assembled at Athens, bringing sacrifices consisting of oxen that had never been under the yoke, rams, cows, and lambs. The prizes in the athletic, musical, and literary contests were crowns of olive, and painted vases filled with oil made from the sacred olive-tree.
The Panathenaic* Procession was world-renowned. Its object was to bear a newly-wrought peplos to the Erechtheum*8 and place it upon the olive-wood statue of Athene, which was said to have fallen from heaven. The procession formed on the plains of Eleusis, and was composed of various classes of people, all crowned with flowers. The central object of this grand array was a ship moved automatically. It bore for a sail the sacred peplos, upon which young daughters of the noblest families had embroidered in gold the triumphs of Athene.
It was said that Athene wove her own robe and Hera’s. On one occasion, Arachne, a mortal maiden, challenged the goddess to a trial of skill in weaving. Arachne’s work was so perfect, that even Athene could find no fault with it; but she tore it in pieces. Arachne, in despair, hung herself. Athene loosened the rope and saved her life, but the rope was changed into a cobweb, while Arachne became a spider.
As Athene was one day bathing at the fount of Helicon with Chariclo*, one of her favorites, Tiresias*, son of Chariclo, approached the fount to drink, and beheld the goddess. As it was a law of the Celestials that whoever saw one of them without permission should never look upon another object, Tiresias was struck with blindness. To alleviate his misfortune, Athene bestowed upon him the gift of prophecy, and decreed that he should live through seven generations.
The Roman Minerva was early identified with the Greek Athene. In Rome, however, the warlike character of the goddess was merged in that of the peaceful inventress and patroness of the arts and sciences, and of all handiwork of women.
The chief Roman festival in honor of Minerva was the Quinquatrus Majores*. It was held on the 19th of March, and was in later times extended to five days. It was especially observed by all those engaged in intellectual pursuits and artists. As Minerva was also the patroness of schools, the school-boys took part in the celebration.
Goddess of just war, 1st, as offensive, with shield and brandished spear; 2d, as victorious and peacefully ruling, with arm and ægis partially covered with drapery, while the shield rests on the ground.
As the goddess that promoted domestic arts and progress, she is represented with a distaff and spindle.
Epithets. — Blue-eyed or green-eyed, town-destroying, town-protecting, unwearied, invincible, people-rouser. She was called Hippea*, because she taught mankind to manage the horse.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Hestia*; Roman, Vesta*; Egyptian, Anouka.
Hestia was a daughter of Chronos and Rhea. She was the goddess of the hearth, of the fire on it, and of the family. The name Hestia indicates the fixed, steady position of the hearth in the centre of the room in which the family assembled.
The hearth possessed among the ancients a far higher significance than it does in modern life. It served not only for the preparation of meals, but was also esteemed the sacred altar of the house. There the images of the household gods were placed, and there the father, who was the priest of the family, offered sacrifices on all important occasions of domestic life. No offering was made in which Hestia had not her share.
Each town had its Prytaneum* (public hall), where the prytanes*, or elders, held their meetings. There the sacred fire burning on the public hearth was never allowed to die out. If at any time it went out, either from neglect or by accident, it was restored by fire obtained by rubbing pieces of wood together, or by kindling them with a burning glass. The fire of Hestia was a symbol of the life of the State. When a colony was sent out, the bond of union with the parent State was kept unbroken by a portion of the sacred fire being carried with the colonists, to be kept forever in their new home.
The service of Vesta occupied a very important place in the public life of the Romans. Her most ancient temple was situated opposite the Forum. It was built in a circle and was of moderate dimensions. The priestesses, called Vestal Virgins, were six in number, and were chosen, between the ages of six and ten, from the noblest families in Rome. Their term of office was thirty years. During the first ten years they were initiated in their religious duties, during the second they performed them, and during the third they instructed novices. Their chief duty was to watch and feed the ever-burning flame, the extinction of which was regarded as a national calamity of ominous import. Great honors and privileges were accorded to them. The best seats were reserved for their use at all public spectacles. If they met a criminal on his way to execution, they had the power to pardon him, provided it could be proved that the meeting was accidental. The Vestals were vowed to chastity, a violation of which was punished by the offender being buried alive.
The Roman festival Vestalia* was celebrated on the 9th of June, on which occasion the Roman women made a pilgrimage, barefooted, to the temple of the goddess, and placed there offerings of food.
The young of animals were sacrificed to Vesta, also tender shoots of plants, fruits, and libations of wine, water, and oil.
In consequence of the dignity and sanctity of her character, Hestia was always represented as fully clothed, which may account for the fact that the ancients had so few statues of the goddess. The best example which has been preserved is the Vesta Giustiniani, which belongs to the private collection of Prince Torlonia, of Rome. The goddess is represented as standing, her right hand pressed against her side, while with her left she points towards heaven.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Hephæstus*; Roman, Vulcan, or Mulciber*; Egyptian, Pthah.
Hephæstus, the god of fire, was a son of Zeus and Hera. According to one account, he was born lame, and his mother cast him from heaven into the sea. The Oceanides Eurynome* and Thetis* tended him for nine years in a deep grotto of the sea, in return for which he made them many ornaments. Another story is that on the occasion of a quarrel between Zeus and Hera, Hephæstus assisted his mother, whereupon the angry god of heaven seized him by the foot and hurled him from Olympus. He fell for a whole day, and alighted at sundown on the isle of Lemnos. The inhabitants received him in their arms, but his leg was broken by the fall, and he remained lame in one foot. Grateful for the kindness of the Lemnians, he henceforth abode in their island.
“From mornTo noon lie fell, from noon to dewy eve,A summer’s day, and with the setting sunDropped from the zenith, like a falling star,On Lemnos, the Ægean isle.”’s “Paradise Lost,” Book I.
The same fundamental idea lies at the foundation of these legends, namely, that fire first came down from heaven in the form of lightning. He was worshiped by the Greeks as the god who had mastered the mighty element and compelled it to do grand service for man. Volcanoes were believed to be his workshops and the Cyclopes his workmen.
It is said that the first work of Hephæstus was a throne of gold, with secret springs, which he presented to Hera. When seated, she found herself unable to move, and all the efforts of the gods to extricate her were unavailing. Dionysus* induced Hephæstus to return to Olympus, where, after having released the queen of heaven from her undignified position, he became reconciled to his parents. He built for himself on Olympus a palace of gold. With the assistance of the Cyclopes, he forged for Zeus his thunderbolts. He constructed the palaces in which the gods resided, made the golden shoes with which they trod the air or water, built for them their wonderful chariots, and shod with brass the horses of celestial origin. He also made the tripods which moved automatically, and formed for Zeus the far-famed Ægis*. He also made various wonderful things for his favorites, or those of Zeus among men. Among these were the golden dogs which guarded the house of Alcinous*, king of the Phæacians*, the brass-footed, fire-breathing bull which guarded the Golden Fleece. He formed for Minos*. King of Crete, a brazen man named Talos*, who compassed the island three times a day to guard it from invasion. He destroyed people by making himself red-hot in the fire, and then embracing them. Hephæstus also made the armor of Achilles*, that of Æneas*, the shield of Heracles*, a collar given to Hermione, and the sceptre of Agamemnon.
Hephæstus was held in great esteem at Athens, also by the Greeks in Campania and Sicily.
Aphrodite was said to be the wife of Hephæstus. This was probably intended to convey the idea that truly artistic works can be created only in harmony with beauty.
The Romans called this god Vulcanus, or, according to its more ancient spelling, Volcanus. They honored in him the blessings and beneficial action of fire. They also sought his protection against conflagrations. Under the influence of the Greek writers, the original and more common conception of the god gave place to the popular image of the smith-god, or Mulciber, who had his forges in Ætna, or on the Lipari Isles.
The chief shrine of the god in Rome was the Volcanal*, which was not really a temple, but merely a covered fireplace. In the Campus Martius, however, was a temple, where the festival of the Vulcanalia, or Volcanalia, was celebrated on the 23d of August. Sacrifices were calves and male pigs. The streets were illuminated, fires were kindled, and animals thrown into the flames as a sacrifice to Vulcan for security against conflagrations.
Mature bearded man, with short garment so arranged as to leave the right arm and shoulder free; he wears a pointed cap, which is the badge of an artisan; he holds a hammer and stands near an anvil or forge. Sometimes he appears just ready to strike with the hammer; at others turning a thunderbolt, which an eagle beside him is waiting to carry to Zeus.
As artificer of the gods, seated at work in his palatial workshop.
Epithets. — Both-feet-lame, lame-foot, weak-ankled, feeble, renowned or bright artist, very-bright, wise.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Aphrodite*; Roman, Venus; Assyrian, Ishtar*; Babylonian, Mylitta*; Egyptian, Athor*; Phœnician, Astarte*; Jewish, Ashtoreth*.
In the Iliad, Aphrodite is represented as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the goddess of moisture. This account was replaced by another, that she was born of the foam of the sea, and first touched land on the island of Cyprus, which was henceforth sacred to her. She was probably a personification of the creative and generative forces of nature. Among the Greeks she was worshiped as the goddess of beauty and love.
Aphrodite was the most beautiful of all the goddesses. She possessed a magic girdle called the cestus, which was endowed with the power of inspiring affection for the wearer. Her usual attendants were the Horæ* and Charites*.
Sometimes Ares, sometimes Hephæstus, was said to be her husband. The children of Ares and Aphrodite were Hermione, Eros, Anteros*, Demus*, and Phobus*.
The dove, swan, swallow, sparrow, the myrtle, and the rose were sacred to Aphrodite.
The Venus of Milo is now in the Louvre at Paris. It was found in the year 1820, on the Island of Milo, hence its name. It is noted for the dignified expression of the head.
The Venus de Medici is so called from its having been in the possession of the princes of that name in Rome when it first attracted attention, about two hundred years ago. There is a story that the artist was employed by public authority to make a statue exhibiting the perfection of female beauty, and to aid him in his task, the most perfect forms the city (Athens) could supply were furnished him for models. It is to thisalludes in his “Summer.”
“So stands the statue that enchants the world;So bending tries to veil the matchless boast,The mingled beauties of exulting Greece.”
Greek festivals in her honor were called Aphrodisia. Sacrifices were goats and swine, with libations of wine, milk, and honey.
“The story of her love for the beautiful Adonis* is of Asiatic origin. The germ may be easily distinguished. It represents the decay of vegetation in autumn, and its resuscitation in spring. Adonis, whom Aphrodite tenderly loved, was killed by a wild boar while hunting. Inconsolable at her loss. Aphrodite piteously entreated Father Zeus to restore his life. Zeus at length consented that Adonis should spend one-half of the year in the world of shadows, and the other in the upper world. Clearly, the monster that deprived Adonis of life is only a symbol of the frosty winter, before whose freezing blast all life in nature decays.”.
The Roman Venus (the Lovely One) was regarded by the earlier Italian tribes as the goddess of spring, for which reason April, the month of buds, was held sacred to her. Annual festivals, called Veneralia*, were held in her honor. She was worshiped as Venus Cloacina* (the purifier).
“The surname of Libitina* points to her as goddess of corpses. All the apparatus of funerals were kept in this temple, and her attendants were the public undertakers of the city.”.
Julius Cæsar erected a temple to Venus Genetrix*, the goddess of wedlock.
In the more ancient temples of this goddess in Cyprus, she was represented under the form of a rude, conical stone; but the Grecian painters and sculptors vied with each other in forming her image the ideal of female beauty and attraction.
Epithets. — Smile-loving, well-garlanded, golden, quick-winking, well-tressed, care-dissolving, artful, gold-bridled, sea-born.
Horæ* (The Seasons.) §
The Horæ* were three beautiful maidens, daughters of Zeus and Themis. Their names were Eunomia* (wise legislation), Dike*, or Dice* (justice), and Irene* (peace). The Greeks recognized only three seasons, nature being supposed to be wrapped in death or slumber during the cheerless and unproductive portion of the year which we call winter.
The Horæ were also the deities of the fast-fleeting hours. In this capacity they assisted every morning in yoking the celestial horses to the chariot of the sun which they help to unyoke when he sinks to rest.
They were originally personifications of the clouds, and are described as opening and closing the gates of heaven and causing fruits and flowers to spring forth when they pour down upon them their refreshing and life-giving streams. They appeared as attendants upon Hera, Aphrodite, Apollo, and the Muses.
When they are depicted separately as personifications of the different seasons, the Horæ representing spring appears laden with flowers, that of summer bears a sheaf of corn, whilst the personification of autumn has her hands filled with clusters of grapes and other fruits.
Sometimes they appear as lovely girls dancing, and adorned with flowers, fruits, and garlands.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Charites*; Roman, Gratiæ*.
The name Charites is derived from Charis*, a term originally applied to a personification of grace and beauty. They were the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, and were three in number, Euphrosyne*, Aglaia*, and Thalia*.
They were believed to preside over those qualities which constitute grace, modesty, unconscious beauty, gentleness, purity, and eternal youth. Wherever joy or pleasure, grace and gayety reigned, they were supposed to be present. Music, eloquence, poetry and art, though the direct work of the Muses, received from the Graces additional refinement and beauty, for which reason they are always regarded as the friends of the Muses, with whom they resided on Mount Olympus. Their special function was to act, with the Seasons, as attendants upon Aphrodite, whom they adorned with wreaths of flowers.
Temples and altars were everywhere erected in their honor, and people of all ages and ranks entreated their favor. Incense was burned daily upon their altars, and at every banquet they were invoked, and a libation poured out to them.
Charitesia* were festivals in honor of the Charites or Graces, in which athletic games, music, and dancing held prominent places.
They are represented as beautiful, slender maidens in the full bloom of youth, with arms lovingly intertwined, and are either undraped, or wear a fleecy, transparent garment of an ethereal fabric.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Eros*; Roman, Cupid*, or Amor*.
Eros is apparently a personification of the principle of attraction, on which the coherence of the physical world depends. Eros, the divine spirit of Love, was said to have sprung forth from Chaos, and by his beneficent power to have reduced to harmony the shapeless elements. This beautiful conception gradually faded away, and he was replaced by the mischief-loving little god of love, the son of Ares and Aphrodite. His characteristic weapon is a golden bow, with which he shoots forth his arrows from secret lurking-places. Zeus himself is represented as unable to withstand his influence, an intimation that love is one of the most terrible and mighty forces of nature.
Anteros* was conceived by the imagination of the poets as the brother and companion of Eros.
Eros was venerated not only as the god that kindles love between the sexes, but was also regarded as the author of love and friendship between youths and men. On this account his statue was generally placed in the gymnasia between those of Hermes and Heracles, and the Spartans sacrificed to him before battle, binding themselves to hold together faithfully in battle, and to stand by one another in the hour of need.
This deity was termed by the Romans Amor, or Cupid, but this was in imitation of the Greek Eros.
The rose was held specially sacred to him, for which reason he often appears crowned with roses.9
The fiction of Cupid and Psyche* (the soul) is an allegory perhaps intended for a representation of the mystic union between the divine love and the human soul, and of the trials and purifications which the latter must undergo in order to be perfectly fitted for an enduring union with the divinity.
Psyche was the daughter of a king, and was the youngest of three sisters. She was so beautiful that people neglected the worship of Aphrodite for that of Psyche, and in revenge the goddess sent her son, Eros, to fill the heart of Psyche with love for some inferior being. When Eros saw the lovely maiden, his own heart was filled with love for her. In obedience to the oracle of Delphi, she was dressed as though for the grave, and conducted to the edge of a yawning precipice. The gentle Zephyrus* transported her to a verdant meadow, in the midst of which stood a stately palace surrounded by groves and fountains. Here dwelt Eros, who wooed her in the softest accents, but warned her, as she valued his love, not to endeavor to behold him. For some time Psyche was obedient, but in the midst of her happiness she longed for the society of her sisters. In accordance with her desire, they were conducted by Zephyrus to her fairy-like abode. Jealous of her happiness, they wished to destroy it, so they persuaded Psyche that her husband was a monster, and gave her a dagger to use for the purpose of delivering herself from his power. The unhappy bride foolishly yielded to their influences, so one night she went with a lighted lamp to solve the mystery of her husband’s appearance. She beheld the marvelous beauty of Eros, but while she was gazing a drop of oil from her lamp fell on the shoulder of the sleeping god; he awoke, and fled from her. Then the penitent Psyche sought long and sorrowfully for him. After many disappointments they were reunited, and Zeus made her immortal.10
“But never more they met! since doubts and fears,Those phantom-shapes that haunt and blight the earth,Had come ’twixt her, a child of sin and tears,And that bright spirit of immortal birth;Until her pining soul and weeping eyesHad learned to seek him only in the skies;Till wings unto the weary heart were given,And she became Love’s angel bride in heaven.”.
Eros is represented as a lovely boy, with rounded limbs, and a merry, roguish expression. He has golden wings, and a quiver slung over his shoulder. This contained his magical and unerring arrows. In one hand he bears his golden bow, and in the other a torch.
Hymenæus*, or Hymen* §
Hymenæus was a personification of the happiness of married life. By some authorities he is called a son of Apollo and the muse Urania. Others assert that he was a mortal, whose married life was so remarkably happy, that henceforth the name of Hymen became synonymous with conjugal felicity. He was invoked at all marriage festivities.
Phœbus Apollo*. §
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Phœbus Apollo*; Roman, Apollo; Phœnician, Reshiph-Mical*; Egyptian, Horus*.
Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. The island of Delos was his birthplace. He was the god of light, prophecy, archery, music, poetry, and of the arts and sciences.
He represented, first, the great orb of day which illumines the world, and, secondly, the heavenly light which animates the soul of man. We find Apollo, in later times, completely identified with Helios.
Soon after his birth he slew the giant Tityus* and the serpent Python*, — the latter a monster that inhabited the valley near Delphi, and destroyed both men and cattle. These myths merely represent the conquering power exercised by the genial warmth of spring over the dark gloom of winter. He is also represented as a terrible god of death, sending virulent pestilences, and dealing out destruction to men and animals by means of his unerring arrows. This may easily be explained. The rays of the sun do indeed put to flight the cold of winter, but, as their heat increases, they ultimately become the cause of disease and death.
With the first beams of the light of the sun, all nature awakens to renewed life, and the woods re-echo with the songs of the birds. Hence, Apollo is the god of music. He is himself the musician among the Olympic gods.
He attained his greatest importance among the Greeks as god of prophecy. His oracle of Delphi was in high repute all over the world.
That which raised the whole moral tone of the Greek nation was the belief that he was the god that accepted repentance as an atonement for sin, who pardoned the contrite sinner, and who acted as the protector of those who, like Orestes, had committed a crime which required long years of expiation.
The Greeks celebrated the Pythian* games in honor of Apollo in the third year of every Olympiad. There were at these games sacrifices of cakes and frankincense, expiatory rites, purifications through sprinkling by laurel boughs. Sacred hymns were sung in honor of the god, and sacred dances were performed by choruses, who danced around a blazing altar. Athletic games and chariot races were instituted about 585 b. c., and musical and literary competition held a high position in this festival.
The most splendid temple of Apollo was at Delphi, which was considered the centre of the earth. The oracle was second only to that of Dodona. The priestess, or Pythoness*, was seated upon a tripod over a chasm in the earth, whence issued a cold vapor, by aid of which, assisted sometimes by chewing leaves of laurel or by draughts of water from a sacred well, she was excited to a frenzy, which prepared her to receive the intimations of the will of deity. Priests trained in the office listened to her utterances and expressed them in ambiguous verse.
Soon after his victory over the Python, Apollo saw Eros bending his bow, and mocked at his efforts. Eros, to punish him, shot him in the heart with his golden arrow of love, and at the same time discharged his leaden arrow of aversion into that of Daphne*, daughter of the river-god Peneus. Daphne fled from Apollo, and calling to her father for aid, she was transformed into a laurel-bush. Apollo sorrowfully crowned his head with the leaves, and declared that, in memory of his love, it should henceforth remain ever green and be held sacred to him.
“The story of Daphne indicates the love of the Sun for the Dawn, who flees at his approach, and at length, as he draws nearer to her, vanishes away.”.
The renowned singer Orpheus* was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope*. He was a poet, a teacher of the Orphic mysteries, and great musician. The trees and rocks moved to the tones of his lyre. He married Eurydice*, and their life was full of happiness. But Eurydice, while fleeing from Aristæus*, was bitten in the foot by a venomous snake, and died of the wound. Her disconsolate husband determined to brave the horrors of the lower world to entreat Aides to restore her to him. He struck the chords of his lyre, and drew forth tones which softened the heart of the stern monarch of Erebus, and Eurydice was restored on condition that he should not look back upon her until they reached the upper world. They journeyed on through the gloomy regions of Erebus, and were about to pass the extreme limits, when Orpheus, to convince himself that his beloved wife was really behind him, looked back. The glance was fatal; she was caught back, and vanished from his sight forever. He shunned all society, music was his sole companion. At last he was torn to pieces by some Thracian women who were performing the rites of Dionysus (Bacchus). His head was thrown into the river Hebrus, and, as it floated down the stream, the lips continued to murmur the name of Eurydice.
“Eurydice stung by a serpent means that the evening twilight dies out before the coming night. Eurydice lost on her return means the early light which appears in the morning, but is seen no more when the sun is risen.”.
Cassandra*, a daughter of Priam*, king of Troy, was beloved by Apollo. She promised to marry him if he would confer upon her the gift of prophecy; but having received the boon, she refused to comply with the conditions upon which it had been granted. Unable to recall his gift, he rendered it useless by causing her predictions to fail in gaining credence, so, although she always prophesied correctly, no one believed her.
Apollo carried off Cyrene* to that part of Libya afterwards named for her. Their son was Aristæus, who discovered the culture of the olive and the mode of managing bees.
Apollo afterwards married Coronis*. One day, his favorite bird, the raven, flew to him with the intelligence that his wife had transferred her affections to another. Apollo instantly destroyed her with one of his death-bringing darts. He repented when too late. He punished the raven for its garrulity by changing its color from white to black.11
Coronis left an infant son named Asclepius* (Æsculapius*), who was educated by the Centaur Chiron*. He became a celebrated physician, and was so skilful that he could restore the dead to life. Aides complained to Zeus, who killed Asclepius with one of his thunderbolts. Apollo was so exasperated that he killed the Cyclops who had forged it. For this offence he was banished from Olympus. Coming to earth, he for nine years served Admetus* as a shepherd, and was treated by him with the utmost kindness. By the aid of Apollo, Admetus gained the hand of Alcestis, daughter of Pelias*. The exiled god obtained from the Fates the gift of immortality for Admetus, on condition that when his last hour approached some member of his family should be willing to die in his place. When the fatal time came, Alcestis took his place. But Heracles* (Hercules), happening to arrive at the house of Admetus, engaged and overcame death, and restored Alcestis to her family.
Hyacinthus* was a beautiful youth beloved by Apollo. As the god and his favorite were one day playing with the discus, it rebounded, and killed the youth. Apollo changed him into a flower, called for him the Hyacinth.
Cyparissus* killed by accident one of Apollo’s favorite stags. His grief so preyed on his mind that he gradually pined away, and died of a broken heart. He was transformed by the god into a cypress-tree.
Apollo and Poseidon built for Laomedon*, king of Troy, the walls of the city. It was said that when Apollo grasped the chords of his lyre, the huge blocks of stone moved of their own accord, adjusting themselves into the places assigned for them.
Marsyas* was a satyr*, who, having found the flute which Athene had thrown away in disgust, discovered that, having touched the lips of a goddess, it played most charmingly. He foolishly challenged Apollo to a musical contest. The god defeated the presumptuous mortal, flayed him while alive, and changed him into a river, which is still known by his name.
King Midas* had the bad taste to declare his preference for the music of Pan, in a contest which that god had with Apollo. The insulted deity caused his ears to grow in length and shape like those of an ass. Midas endeavored to conceal the deformity, but he could not hide the secret from his barber, whom he bound to secrecy. This man found it so painful to keep the secret to himself, that he dug a hole in the ground and whispered into it, “King Midas has the ears of an ass.” Some reeds sprung up from the spot, and repeated the words whenever the wind blew.
There was no sanctuary erected to Apollo in Rome until b. c. 430, when the Romans, to avert a plague, built a temple in his honor. His worship was especially exalted by the Emperor Augustus, who ascribed his victory at Actium to the assistance of the god. He accordingly erected a magnificent temple to Apollo on the Palatine.
The Roman games in honor of Apollo were Apollinares Ludi* and Ludi Seculares*, or Century games.
Apollo is always represented as having a youthful appearance. He is crowned with laurel, and wears a purple robe. The most beautiful and most celebrated of all the statues of Apollo is the “Apollo Belvedere*,” which was discovered in 1503, near Antium, and is now in the Vatican. It is a standing figure, in marble, more than seven feet high, nude, except for the cloak which is fastened around the neck and hangs over the extended left arm. It is supposed to represent the god in the moment when he has shot the arrow to destroy the monster, Python. The victorious divinity is in the act of stepping forward. The left arm, which seems to have held the bow, is outstretched, and the head is turned in the same direction. In attitude and proportion, the graceful majesty of the figure is unsurpassed. The effect is completed by the countenance, where, on the perfection of youthful godlike beauty, dwells the consciousness of triumphant power.
Epithets. — Crooked or bending (probably from the position of the archer when shooting), herding (as keeping the flocks and herds of the gods, or those of Admetus), silver-bowed, far-shooter, gold-sworded, unshorn-locked.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Artemis*; Roman, Diana*; Egyptian, Bubastis*.
Artemis was worshiped by the Greeks under various appellations. Thus she is known as the Arcadian, Ephesian, and Brauronian Artemis, and also as Selene-Artemis.
The Arcadian Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin-sister of Apollo. She was a moon-goddess, and also presided over hunting.
Artemis is the feminine counterpart of her brother, and, like him, though she deals out destruction and sudden death to men and animals, she is also able to alleviate suffering and cure diseases. She devoted herself to the chase. When it was ended, Artemis and her maidens loved to assemble in a shady grove or on the banks of a favorite stream, where they joined in song or the dance. The hind, dog, bear, and wild boar were sacred to her.
The purity and chastity generally ascribed to Artemis may have their origin in the pure light of the moon in southern regions. As a virgin-goddess, Artemis was especially venerated by young maidens, who before marrying sacrificed their hair to her.
The Ephesian Artemis, known to us as “Diana of the Ephesians,” was an ancient Asiatic divinity of Persian origin called Metra*, whom the Greek colonists in Asia Minor identified with their own Artemis. There was a magnificent temple erected to this divinity at Ephesus. It was considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
Artemis Orthia* was a dark and cruel deity to whom human sacrifices were offered in Laconia. Lycurgus* abolished this barbarous custom, but caused instead a number of boys to be cruelly whipped before the image of the goddess on the occasion of her annual festival. This is the same Artemis to whom Agamemnon was about to offer his daughter Iphigenia*, previous to the departure of the Greeks for Troy. The Scythians in Tauris likewise had a goddess whom they propitiated with human sacrifices. This caused her to be confounded with Artemis Orthia, and the story arose that Iphigenia was conveyed by the goddess to Tauris, from which place she subsequently, assisted by her brother Orestes, brought the image of the goddess to Brauron in Attica. She was then known as the Brauronian Artemis.
The most celebrated statue of this divinity is that known as the Diana of Versailles, now in the Louvre. In this statue the goddess appears in the act of rescuing a hunted deer from its pursuers, on whom she is turning with angry mien. One hand is laid protectingly on the head of the stag, whilst with the other she draws an arrow from the quiver which hangs over her shoulder.
The famous hunter Actæon*, happening to see Artemis and her attendents bathing, imprudently ventured to approach. The goddess, incensed at his audacity, sprinkled him with water, and transformed him into a stag. His own dogs tore him in pieces.
Niobe*, being the mother of seven sons and seven daughters, proudly set herself above Leto, who had but two children. The goddess complained to Apollo and Artemis, and soon all the children of Niobe lay slain by their arrows. Niobe, stiffening with grief, was turned into stone.
“The beauty of the children of Niobe is the beauty of clouds flushed with the light of the morning, which are scattered from before the face of the morning sun. Her tears are the rain-drops which turn to ice on the mountain-summits, where men fancy they see her form hardened into stone.”.
The Diana of the Romans was identified with the Greek Artemis. A temple was dedicated to her on the Aventine hill by Servius Tullius, who is said to have introduced the worship of this divinity into Rome.
The Nemoralia, or Grove Festivals, were celebrated in her honor on the 13th of August.
As Selene-Artemis, or the moon-goddess, she is always represented as wearing a crescent on her forehead, whilst a flowing veil, bespangled with stars, reaches to her feet, and a long robe completely envelops her.
As goddess of the chase she is represented as a youthful and slender maiden, taller than her attendant nymphs. She wears a short robe, and her feet are covered with buskins. She has a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder, and carries a bow.
Epithets. — Arrow-joying, gold-bridled, gold-shafted, deer-slaying, beast-marking, rushing, holy.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Hermes*; Roman, Mercury*; Hindu, Sarameyas; Egyptian, Thoth* (as god of letters and wisdom), Anubis (as conductor of souls to the lower world).
Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia* (one of the daughters of Atlas). He was the god that presided over commerce, eloquence, wrestling, thieving, and everything that required skill and ingenuity. He was messenger of Zeus, and conductor of souls to the underworld; as the latter he was called Psychopompos*. He was also god of the fertilizing rain. Later poets make him the inventor of the alphabet, and of the art of interpreting languages.
He was born in a cavern in Mount Cyllene, in Arcadia. The story is that four hours after his birth he set forth to steal some of the cattle of the gods which fed in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus, under the care of Apollo. At the door of the cavern he found a tortoise-shell, from which he formed the lyre.12 Arriving in Pieria, he drove off fifty cows, and took them to Arcadia unseen by any but a man named Battus*. Apollo, pursuing, came to the cave of the nymph Maia, and threatened the babe severely if he did not restore the oxen. Hermes denied the charge, and pleaded his extreme youth as proof of his innocence. At last Apollo carried him to the throne of Zeus to have their quarrel decided. Zeus ordered Hermes to restore the cattle. When the divine shepherd heard the music of the lyre, the chords of which Hermes touched as if by chance, he was so entranced that he gladly offered his oxen in exchange for this new instrument, and promised to give Hermes full dominion over flocks and herds. The offer was accepted. Apollo also gave Hermes the Caduceus*, or golden wand. This wand was surmounted by wings. Wishing to prove the truth of the assertion made by Apollo, that it had the power of uniting all beings divided by hate, Hermes threw it down between two snakes which were fighting. They curled around the staff and remained ever after permanently attached to it. The wand typified power; the wings, diligence; the serpents, wisdom or prudence.
“The story of Hermes sprung from the varying actions of the wind, which he personified. He was simply air in motion, which in one hour may breathe as softly as a child in its cradle, and in the next may tear up forests in its rage. The music which he produced was the melody of the winds. The cows which he stole were the bright clouds driven across the heaven.”.
It was in his character of wind-god that Hermes was believed to bear away the souls of the dead. The ancients believed that the wind carried away the souls of the dead, and this superstition still prevails in some parts of Europe.
As the patron of commerce, Hermes was supposed to be the promoter of intercourse between nations; hence he is the god of travelers, over whose safety he presided, and he severely punished those that refused assistance o the lost or weary wayfarer. He was also guardian of streets and roads, and his statues, called Hermæ* (pillars of stone surmounted by a head of Hermes), were placed at cross-roads and in streets.
Zeus presented to Hermes a winged cap (Petasus) and winged shoes (Talaria). The wings were emblematic of the wings which language gives to the thoughts of men.
“While Apollo represents the warm, genial sunshine, Hermes, as a power of nature, is the rain. Both appear in the character of deities benevolent and propitious towards mankind, and this is probably the reason why Hermes and Apollo have so many features in common. Their chief difference lies in the fact that while Apollo, as god of light, represents the higher intelligence of the mind, Hermes represents the practical wisdom of this world.”.
The sacrifices to Hermes were incense, honey, cakes, figs, young lambs, and goats. Tongues of animals were offered to him because the tongue is the organ of speech. Festivals were called Hermæa*.
Mercury was worshiped by the Romans solely as god of trade. The guild of merchants regarded him as their tutelary deity, and offered sacrifices to him and his mother, Maia, on the Ides of May.
In later times he was identified with the Greek Hermes.
“Much must he toil who serves the Immortal Gods,And I, who am their herald, most of all.No rest have I, nor respite. I no soonerUnclasp the winged sandals from my feet,Than I again must clasp them, and departUpon some foolish errand.”.
In his statues Hermes is represented as a beardless youth, with broad chest and graceful but muscular limbs.
As messenger of the gods, he wears the Petasus and Talaria, and bears in his hand the Caduceus, or herald’s staff.
As god of eloquence, he is often represented with chains of gold hanging from his lips; sometimes without arms, indicating that the power of speech can prevail over everything without the assistance of arms.
As patron of merchants, he bears a purse in his hand.
Epithets. — Argus-slayer, beneficent, kind, strong, powerful, performer, messenger, well-spying, gold-rodded, glorious.
Comparative Mythology. — Greek, Dionysus*; Roman, Bacchus*, or Liber*; Hindu, Schiva; Egyptian, Osiris*.
“Dionysus was called Bacchus both by the Greeks and Romans; that is, noisy or riotous god. It was originally a mere surname, and does not occur until after the time of.”.
Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele*, and he was snatched by Zeus from the devouring flames in which his mother perished when Zeus appeared to her in all the splendor of his divine glory Hera had visited Semele in the form of her nurse (Beroe*), and had persuaded her to request Zeus to appear to her in the full majesty of his divine form. He had sworn by the Styx to grant whatever she desired, so, as she refused to withdraw her foolish request, her death was the consequence.
“The infant was given to Ino (the sister of Semele), afterwards to the nymphs of Nysa*, to rear, and was finally educated in Lydia by Rhea. After growing up amidst the solitude of the forest, and strengthening himself by his contests with wild beasts, he at length planted the vine. Both the god and his attendants soon became intoxicated with its juice, after which, crowned with wreaths of ivy, and accompanied by nymphs, satyrs and fauns, he ranged the woods, which resounded with the cries of his inspired worshipers. The legend says that his education was then completed by Silenus, who is known as his foster-father. In company with him and the rest of his train, Dionysus then set forth to spread his worship and the cultivation of the vine among the nations of the earth. He did not confine himself to mere vine-planting, but proved a real benefactor of mankind by founding cities, and by introducing more civilized manners and a more sociable mode of life among men.”.
Seated in a chariot drawn by panthers, and accompanied by thousands of enthusiastic followers, each carrying a thyrsus (a staff entwined with vine-branches surmounted by a fir-cone), Dionysus made a triumphal progress through Syria, Egypt, Arabia, and India.
On his return to Thebes, he encountered great opposition from Pentheus*, who then governed the country. Agave*, the mother of the king, and her sisters, inspired with Bacchanalian* fury, had repaired to Mount Cithæron in order to join the worshipers of the wine-god. Pentheus resolved to see for himself the excesses of which he had heard such terrible reports, and he concealed himself behind a tree; but the art of Dionysus making him appear as a wild beast, he was torn to pieces by his own mother and her two sisters.
“The worship of Dionysus extended to every place where the vine was cultivated. He was regarded, by Greeks and Romans alike, as the god of wine and of vineyards. In his more extended meaning, he represents the blessings of autumn. It is he that causes the fruits to ripen; he also dispenses to mankind the blessings of civilization. The forms of his worship that were attended with wild revels and extravagant demonstrations, were the result of Asiatic influences; some of the expressions of its fury were loud music, frantic gestures, cutting of the flesh, and tearing in pieces the young of animals.”.
“Dionysus was regarded as the patron of the drama, and at the state festival of the Dionysia*, which was celebrated with great pomp in the city of Athens, dramatic entertainments took place in his honor, for which all the renowned Greek dramatists of antiquity composed their immortal tragedies and comedies.”.
The Greater Dionysia took place in March. An ancient wooden statue of the god was carried through the streets by people dressed as satyrs, in commemoration of the removal of this statue from the Lenæon* to Ceramicus*, which, according to an old legend, was once done by satyrs.
The Lesser Dionysia occurred in the latter part of November or the beginning of December. A he-goat was first solemnly sacrificed to the god. The chief amusement of the young men was dancing on the leather bag. Out of the skin of the slaughtered goat was made a leather bag, which was inflated and smeared with oil; the young men then attempted to dance on it.
The tiger, lynx, panther, and dolphin were sacred to Dionysus. His favorite plants were the vine and ivy. Goats were sacrificed to him because they were destructive to vineyards.
The most celebrated among the myths which testify to the wondrous power of Dionysus is the story of the punishment of the Tyrrhenian* pirates. Mistaking him for the son of a king, they carried him off and placed him on board their ship, in the hope of obtaining a large ransom. No sooner, however, had they left the shore, than the cords with which the smiling boy was fastened fell off, and a fragrant stream of wine ran through the ship; then suddenly a vine rose to the top-sail, the mast became entwined with ivy, and all the oars were covered with vine-leaves. The god appeared as a lion; terror seized the offenders, who leaped from the ship into the sea, where they were changed into dolphins. A fine representation of this scene still exists on the monument of Lysicrates*, at Athens.
Dionysus found Ariadne*, daughter of Minos*, king of Crete, on the isle of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus*, and she became his wife.
The Romans had a divinity called Liber*, who presided over vegetation, and was on this account identified with the Greek Dionysus, and worshiped under the name of Bacchus. His festival, called Liberalia*, was celebrated on the 17th of March. The chief object of this festival was to pray for the fertility of the vines. The voluptuous Bacchanalia* were afterwards introduced into Rome in imitation of the Greek orgies.
Brumatia* were festivals celebrated at Rome in honor of Bacchus about the month of December. They were first instituted by Romulus.
In the Medici gallery at Florence is a fine statue of Bacchus by. He is crowned with ivy and vine tendrils, and holds in his right hand a cnp, and in his left a cluster of grapes, of which a little satyr is endeavoring to take a taste.
In earlier art he was generally depicted as majestic and grave. In later art he became more youthful. The statues of this period are distinguished by the almost feminine expression of face. His soft hair, which falls about his shoulders in delicate ringlets, is generally intertwined with a garland of vine-leaves, or ivy.
Epithets. — Dionysus was called Dithyrambos*, from the odes of that name, or from a story of his double birth; he was also called Muse-leader, bull-headed, fire-born, dance-rouser, mountain-rover, sleep-giver.
Musæ* (The Muses). §
“The parents of the nine Muses were Zeus and Mnemosyne* (Memory).gives the following account of their origin: ‘After the defeat of the Titans, the celestials besought Zeus to create some beings who might perpetuate in song the mighty deeds of the gods. It was in answer to this prayer that the Muses were created. Tliey sing of the past, present, and future, while Apollo’s lute accompanies their sweet strains, which gladden the hearts of the gods as they sit assembled in the lofty palace of Father Zeus, on Mount Olympus.’ Looked at in connection with nature, there is little doubt but that the Muses were originally nymphs of the fountains. The veneration of the Muses first arose in Pieria, a district on the eastern declivity of Mount Olympus, in Thessaly, from whose steep and rocky heights a number of sweet rippling brooks descend to the plains. The perception of this natural music led to a belief in the existence of such song-loving goddesses. Originally, the Muses were only goddesses of song, though they are sometimes represented on vases holding musical instruments. In early times, too, they appeared only as a chorus, or company; but at a later period a separate function was assigned to each of them.”.
“The Muses were honored alike by mortals and immortals. On Olympus, where Apollo acted as their leader, no festivity was considered complete without their joy-inspiring presence; and on earth no social gathering was celebrated without libations being poured out to them. No task involving intellectual effort was undertaken without supplicating their assistance.”.
The mountains Pindus, Hehcon, and Parnassus were the favorite haunts of the Muses. They received appellations from hills and fountains that were sacred to them. They were called Pierides* from Mount Pieria, Libethrides* from the fount Libethron, Aganippides* from the fount Aganippe, Castalides* from that of Castalia.
The Romans venerated a number of fountain-nymphs under the name of Camenæ*. The Roman writers seem to have identified these goddesses with the Muses at pleasure.
The daughters of Pierus*, King of Æmathia, challenged the Muses to a contest in music. They were defeated, and changed into magpies by the indignant goddesses.
Thamyris* was struck blind and deprived of the power of song for the same offence.
Calliope* was the Muse of epic poetry. She holds in her hand a roll of parchment or a trumpet.
Clio* was the Muse of history. She holds a half-opened scroll.
Melpomene* was the Muse of tragedy. She leans on a club and holds a tragic mask.
Euterpe* was the Muse of lyric poetry. She holds in her hand a double flute.
Erato* was the Muse of hymeneal songs and lovepoetry. She plays on a nine-stringed lyre.
Terpsichore* was the Muse of choral dance and song. She appears dancing and holding a seven-stringed lyre.
Urania* was the Muse of astronomy. She holds in one hand a globe, and in the other a wand.
Thalia* was the Muse of comedy. She carries in her right hand a shepherd’s crook, and has a comic mask beside her.
Polyhymnia* was the Muse of eloquence and of sacred hymns. She is always represented in a thoughtful attitude, and entirely enveloped in drapery. She is crowned with a wreath of laurel.
The Sirens*. §
The Sirens were personifications of the numerous rocks and unseen dangers which abound on the sea-coast. They were gifted with such melodious voices that mariners were lured to shipwreck and destruction by their songs.
The Sirens* once entered into a contest with the Muses. The songs of the latter were loyal and true, whilst those of the former were false and deceptive. The Muses easily gained the victory, and they punished their rivals by plucking the feathers from their wings and wearing them on their own heads as a sign of superiority.
“Pegasus* was a beautiful winged horse that sprung from the body of Medusa* when she was slain by Perseus*. He was employed by Zeus to carry his thunder and lightning. The later poets represent Pegasus as being at the service of the Muses. He seems to represent that poetical inspiration which tends to develop man’s higher nature, and causes the mind to soar heavenwards.
“It is said that during their contest with the Pierides the Muses played and sung on the summit of Mount Helicon with such power and sweetness that heaven and earth stood still to listen, whilst the mountain raised itself in joyous ecstasy towards the abode of the celestial gods. Poseidon, seeing his special function thus interfered with, sent Pegasus to check the boldness of the mountain in daring to move without his permission. When Pegasus reached the summit he stamped the ground with his hoofs, and out gushed the waters of Hippocrene*, afterwards so renowned as the sacred fount from which the Muses quaffed their richest draughts of inspiration.”.
The Nymphs. §
“The Nymphs were the presiding deities of the woods, grottoes, streams, meadows, etc. They personified the restless activity and energy of nature. They were supposed to be tender, graceful maidens, who avoided human habitations and preferred the peaceful solitude of the woods and the mountains, where they led a merry, joyous life.”.
The water-nymphs comprised the Oceanides*, Nereides*, and Naiades*.
“The Oceanides were the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, and were believed to be endowed with the gift of prophecy. They were personifications of the vaporlike exhalations which, in warm climates, are emitted from the sea, more especially at sunset. They were represented as misty, shadowy beings, with graceful, swaying forms, and robed in blue gauze-like fabrics.”.
The Nereides were the daughters of Nereus and Doris, and were nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea.
The best known of the Nereides were Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon; Thetis*, the mother of Achilles; and Galatea*, who was beloved by the huge Cyclops Polyphemus*.
The Naiades* were the nymphs of fresh-water springs, lakes, brooks, rivers, etc. Like all the nymphs, they possessed the gift of prophecy, for which reason many of the springs and fountains over which they presided were believed to inspire mortals who drank of their waters with the power of foretelling future events.
The Napææ* were the nymphs of the valleys and glens, who appear in the train of Artemis.
The Oreades*, or mountain-nymphs, who were the constant companions of Artemis, were represented as tall, graceful maidens, attired as huntresses. They received special names from the particular mountains or districts which they inhabited. The most celebrated among them was the Bœotian nymph Echo. She loved the beautiful youth Narcissus*; and, finding that he did not reciprocate her affection, she pined away until she became nothing but bones and voice — the former the gods turned into stones; the latter may still be heard among the hills. Aphrodite avenged this injury on Tarcissus. As he was one day hunting on Mount Helicon, he bent down to quench his thirst from a spring clear as crystal, and the goddess caused him to fall in love with his own shadow, which was reflected in the water. The object of his desires being unattainable, he, too, pined away from grief; and the flower named for him has ever since continued an emblem of heartless beauty.
The Limoniades* haunted the meadows; the Meliades* watched over flocks of sheep; the Limniades* frequented the lakes and pools.
The Dryades*, or Hamadryades, or wood-nymphs, were believed to be born with the trees, and to perish when they were destroyed.
Sacrifices to the nymphs were goats, lambs, milk, and oil.
Iris* (The Rainbow). §
Iris*, the daughter of Thaumas* (Wonder) and Electra* (Brightness), personified the rainbow, and was the messenger of Hera.
“Most primitive nations have regarded the rainbow as a bridge of communication between heaven and earth; and this is doubtless the reason why Iris, who represented that beautiful phenomenon of nature, was invested by the Greeks with the office of communicating between gods and men.
“Iris is represented as a slender maiden of great beauty, robed in an airy fabric of variegated hues; her sandals are bright as burnished silver; she has golden wings; and wherever she appears, a, radiance of light pervades the air.”.
Hebe* (Juventas). §
Hebe* was the daughter of Zeus and Hera, and she represented the youthful bloom of nature.
Hebe was cup-bearer to the gods. In consequence of having slipped while serving them, she was deprived of her office, which was then assigned to Ganymedes*.
After the deification of Heracles, Hebe became his wife. She is represented pouring nectar from an upraised vessel, or bearing in her hand a shallow dish supposed to contain ambrosia.
Juventas* is the corresponding deity of the Romans, but they honored in her the unfading vigor of the State. She had a separate chapel in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.
Nike* (Victoria). §
Nike*, the goddess of victory, was a personification of the invincible power exercised by Zeus by means of lightning. In ancient sculpture she is usually represented in connection with the colossal statues of Zeus and Athene, in which case she is life-sized, and stands on a ball held in the open palm of the deity she accompanies.
A celebrated temple was erected to this divinity on the Acropolis, at Athens, which is still to be seen, and is in excellent preservation.
Far more extensive was the worship of this goddess at Rome under the name of Victoria. Her chief shrine was on the Capitol, where successful generals erected statues of the goddess in remembrance of their exploits. The most magnificent of these statues was the one erected by Augustus after his victory at Actium. The festival of this goddess took place on the 12th of April.
Ganymedes* was a son of Tros*, king of Troy. He was made immortal by Zeus, and installed as cup-bearer to the gods. It was said that Zeus had observed him drawing water from a well on Mount Ida, and, struck with his wonderful beauty, had sent his eagle to transport him to Olympus.
Momus* was the son of Nyx. He was the god of wit and ridicule, and was very unpopular. His comment upon the man made by Prometheus was, that the new being should have had a window in his breast, that his thoughts might be seen. A house which Athene constructed did not please Momus because it was not movable, and, therefore, could not be taken from a bad neighborhood. Momus tried in vain to detect some imperfection in the beauty of Aphrodite, but, failing to do this, he sneeringly said that she made too much noise with her feet when walking.
It is said that, in consequence of his unlovely and unjust spirit, Momus was banished from Olympus.
This god was represented as holding a small figure in his hand, and raising a mask from his face.
Nemesis*, a daughter of Nyx, was regarded as a goddess of equality, who sees that happiness and misfortune are allotted to man according to merit. Eventually, she was regarded only as the avenging goddess.
She is represented as a beautiful woman, wearing a diadem, and bearing in her hand a rudder, balance, and cubit. She is also sometimes seen with a wheel, to symbolize the rapidity with which she executes justice. As the avenger of crimes, she appears with wings, bearing in her hand a scourge, or a sword, and seated in a chariot drawn by griffins.
Tyche* (Fortuna*). §
Tyche* personified the fluctuations of fortune. She was worshiped by the Romans under the name of Fortuna*. Servius* Tullius erected a temple to her, and made the 24th of June the time for her festival.
The Romans honored a deity called Felicitas as the goddess of positive good fortune.
These deities were termed by the Greeks “dæmones,” and by the Romans “genii.” They were believed to be the invisible counselors of every individual, accompanying him from birth to death with advice and comfort. Offerings of wine, cake, incense, and garlands were made to them, particularly on birthdays.
Among the most important gods of the Romans was the celebrated Janus*, a deity unknown to the Greeks. In his original character, he was probably a god of the light and sun.
Janus was believed to begin the new year, whose first month, January, was called for him and dedicated to him. New-Year’s day was the most important festival of this god; the houses and doors were adorned with garlands and laurel boughs. Relatives and friends exchanged presents and good wishes for the coming year. The god himself received offerings of cake, wine, and incense, and his statue was adorned with fresh laurel boughs. This offering was repeated on the first day of every month, because he was believed to open every month. In the same way Janus was believed to begin every new day, and was called Matutinus Pater*. He appears also as the door-keeper of heaven, whose gates he opened in the morning and closed in the evening. He was regarded, also, as the presiding deity over ah gates, entrances, etc., on earth. In this character he was the protecting deity of the home, for which reason little shrines were erected to him over the doors of houses.
Janus possessed no temples. His shrines consisted of gateways in common places of resort, and at cross-roads, or of arched passages, in which the image of the god was erected. The “Temple of Janus,” near the Forum, was a sanctuary of this kind, closed with doors, which were open only in time of war.
Janus is always represented with two faces. As doorkeeper of heaven, he carries a key in one hand and a staff in the other.
Flora* was the goddess of flowers. Her festival, Florialia*, was celebrated from April 28th until May 1st. The doors of the houses were adorned with flowers, and wreaths were worn in the hair.
She is represented as a beautiful girl crowned with flowers.
Pomona* was the goddess of orchards and fruit-trees. It is said that she was wooed in vain by all the rural deities. At length Vertumnus* took the form of an old woman, and, representing the advantages of the married life, he produced such a change in her sentiments that, when he resumed his own form, she married him.
She is represented as a lovely maiden laden with branches of fruit-trees.
Vertumnus*, whose name is derived from verto, to change, was the god of garden and field produce. He personified the change of seasons and that process of transformation in nature by means of which the leaf-buds become developed into blossoms and the blossoms into fruit.
He is generally represented crowned with wheatsheaves, and bearing in his hand a cornucopia.
Terminus* was the god who presided over boundaries. All landmarks were held sacred to him, and their erection was attended with religious ceremonies.
His festival, the Terminalia*, was annually celebrated on the 23d of February. The proprietors of lands bordering on each other crowned the boundary-stone with garlands, and made an offering of a flat cake.
Silvanus* was god of the forest. His sacrifices consisted of milk, meat, wine, grapes, wheat-ears, and pigs. He is represented as an old man scattering flowers, and usually bears in his hand a pruning-knife.
Pales* was the ancient pastoral goddess of the Italian tribes, from whom the name Palatine — which originally meant a pastoral colony — was derived.
Her festivals, the Palilia*, were celebrated on the 21st of April. The offerings were cake and milk. During this festival, it was customary for shepherds to ignite a mass of straw, through which they rushed with their flocks, believing that they could thus purify themselves from their sins.
The Manes* were the spirits of the departed, and were of two kinds, the Lares* and Larvæ, or Lemures*.
The Lares were supposed to be the glorified spirits of ancestors, who exercised after death a protecting power over the prosperity of the family. Their statues stood on the hearth. They received their share at every meal„ and were crowned with garlands on every occasion of family rejoicing.
The Lemures were those Manes that haunted their former abodes on earth as evil spirits.
The Penates* were the guardians of the household, and were selected by each family or its individual members. Various causes led to the selection of certain deities as special patrons. Small images of them were placed around the hearth, and honors similar to those paid to the Lares were accorded to them.
Nereus* was a personification of the sea in its quiet, placid moods. He was represented as a kindly, benevolent old man, the good spirit of the Ægean Sea, where he and his wife, Doris*, dwelt with their fifty daughters, the Nereides.
Nereus possessed the gift of prophecy, and was ever ready to assist distressed mariners.
Proteus* was called by some a son, by others a servant, of Poseidon. He was familiarly known as “The Old Man of the Sea.” His office was to tend the seals, or sea calves. He had the power of foretelling future events, and could assume any form at pleasure, changing himself into fire or water, plant or animal. Sometimes, when consulted, he evaded an answer by a sudden metamorphosis. To those only who held him fast did he appear in his real character. He became wearied, and resuming his true form, gave the desired information.
Glaucus* was said to have been originally a fisherman. One day, he saw the fish which he had caught and thrown on the grass bite it, and instantly jump back into the water. His curiosity was excited, and he tasted a few blades of the grass. No sooner was this done, than he precipitated himself into the sea. Oceanus and Tethys cleansed him from all his human impurities, and gave him a place among the sea-gods.
Thaumas*, Phorcys*, and Ceto*. §
Thaumas* typified the wonders of the sea. He and Electra* (whose name signifies the sparkling light produced by electricity) were the parents of Iris and the Harpies. The latter personified the storm-winds. They were winged creatures, having the faces of maidens and the bodies of birds. They were continually tormented with an insatiable hunger.
Phorcys* and Ceto*, the brother and sister of Thaumas, personified the sea in its terrible aspect. They were the parents of the Gorgons*, the Grææ* and the dragon which, with the Hesperides*, guarded the golden apples.
The Winds. §
According to the oldest accounts, Æolus* was a king of the Æolian* Islands, to whom Zeus gave the command of the winds, which he kept shut up in a deep cave, and which he freed at his pleasure or at the command of the gods.
In later times the winds were regarded as distinct divinities, whose aspect accorded with the winds with which they were identified.
The principal winds were Boreas* (the north wind), Eurus* (the east wind), Zephyrus* (the west wind), and Notus* (the south wind). They were said to be the children of Eos and Astræus.
There was an altar erected at Athens in honor of Boreas, in commemoration of his having destroyed the Persian fleet sent to attack the Greeks.
On the Acropolis, at Athens, there was a celebrated octagonal temple, built by Pericles, which was dedicated to the winds. The ruins of this temple are still to be seen.
Pan* was the god of fertility, and the special patron of shepherds and huntsmen. He presided over all rural occupations, was chief of the Satyrs, and of all rural divinities.
He was the son of Hermes and an Arcadian nymph. He had horns sprouting from his forehead, beard and feet like a goat. At sight of him his mother tied in dismay. Hermes wrapped him in a hare-skin and carried him to Olympus. The assembled gods weie much pleased with the curious little creature, and they bestowed upon him the name of Pan (all), because he had delighted them all.
Pan was regarded as the protector of shepherds and huntsmen, and the patron of fishing and bee-keeping. Mountain caves, in which flocks and herds were gathered together at night or in threatening weather, were held sacred to him. All sudden and unaccountable sounds, which startle travelers in lonely places, were attributed to Pan, hence the term panic to indicate sudden fear. The Athenians ascribed their victory at Marathon to the alarm which he created among the Persians by his terrible voice.
Pan was gifted with the powers of prophecy, and he possessed an oracle in Arcadia, in which state he was more especially worshiped.
The usual offerings to Pan were milk and honey. Cows, lambs, and rams were also offered to him.
When Pan was wooing the nymph Pitys, Boreas, who was his rival, blew the nymph down from a rock and killed her. Pan changed her into a pine-tree.
Professorexplains that Boreas is the Greek for north wind, Pitys for pine-tree, and Pan, a deity representing the wind in its less destructive character. A Greek poet would tell his children of the wonders of the forest, and of poor Pitys, the pine-tree wooed by Pan, the gentle wind, and struck down by jealous Boreas, the north wind.
As the nymph Syrinx* was one day returning from the chase. Pan fell in love with her, and pursued her to the banks of the river Ladon, when, feeling escape impossible, she called on the gods for assistance. They transformed her into a reed just as Pan was about to seize her. While he was lamenting his unfortunate fate, the winds gently swayed the reeds and produced a low musical sound. Pan cut seven of them of unequal length, joined them together, and succeeded in producing the instrument called syrinx, or Pandean pipes.
“Here mythology has simply inverted history and while, in an account of the invention of musical instruments, one should probably be told that the wind whistling through the river reeds led to the invention of the shepherd’s pipe, the poet tells us that Pan, the wind, played with Syrinx, and that she was changed into a reed.”.
The Romans had an old Italian deity called Faunus*, who, as the god of shepherds, was identified with the Greek Pan. He is called Lupercus*, or the one that wards off wolves.
Silenus*, a son of Pan, was the foster-father of Dionysus, whom he accompanied in his wanderings. He was generally intoxicated, and was rarely seen without his can in his hand.
Some Phrygian shepherds once found Silenus when in a state of intoxication he had strayed from his companions. They took him to Midas*, the king, who entertained him sumptuously for ten days, and then restored him to Dionysus. Pleased with his kindness, the god ofiered, as a reward, to grant Midas anything he desired. The foolish king requested that everything he touched might turn to gold. The gift was bestowed. Midas laid his hand on a stone, it became a mass of gold; he touched the ears of corn, they vaved in golden lustre. When he sat down to eat, his teeth could not penetrate the golden bread, fish, fowl, wine, water — all was gold. In despair he acknowledged his error, and prayed to be relieved from the ruinous gift. Dionysus directed him to bathe in the river Pactolus, which has ever since washed down gold in its sands.
Silenus is represented either as the preceptor of the youthful Dionysus, holding the child in his arms and regarding him with a look of affection, or as a somewhat elderly man, with blunt nose, bald head, and hairy body. He generally has a satyr on each side supporting his half-drunken form.
The Satyrs*. §
The Satyrs* were inferior deities of the woods, and formed the attendant train of Dionysus. They were of a lively, frolicsome disposition, and were said to be bald, with short, sprouting horns, and goat-footed. They loved music and dancing, their instruments being the syrinx, flute, cymbals, and castanets.
There are some fine antique statues of Satyrs in the art-collections of Munich and Rome.
Priapus*, the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, was the god of fruitfulness, the protector of flocks, bees, the fruit of the vine, and all garden produce. He was chiefly worshiped at Lampsacus, his birthplace. Asses were sacrificed to him, and he received the first-fruits of the fields and gardens, with a libation of milk and honey.
His worship was introduced into Rome, with that of Aphrodite, and he was identified with a native Italian divinity named Mutunus.
The statues of Priapus, which were set up in gardens and vineyards, served as scarecrows as well as objects of worship. They represented him as having a red and very ugly face, bearing in his hand a pruning-knife, and having his head crowned with a wreath of vine leaves and laurel.
Public Worship of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. §
In very early times the Greeks and Romans had no shrines nor sanctuaries devoted to public worship. Believing that their divinities were enthroned above the clouds, they sought the highest available points, in order to place themselves in the closest communion possible with their gods. The more exalted the rank and importance of the divinity invoked, the more elevated was the site selected for his or her worship. The inconvenience attending this mode of worship gradually suggested the idea of erecting edifices which would afford means of shelter from the inclemency of the weather.
These structures were at first of the simplest form, and without decoration. As civilization progressed and wealth increased, temples were built and adorned with the greatest splendor; talent, labor and wealth being lavished unsparingly on their erection and decoration. So massive were some of them that they have, to a great extent, withstood the ravages of time. The city of Athens contains numerous remains of these buildings of antiquity. On the Acropolis may still be seen the temple of Athene Polias, and that of Theseus*. The latter is the best preserved ancient edifice in the world. On the island of Delos are to be seen the ruins of the temples of Apollo and Artemis in a wonderful state of preservation. These ruins are valuable because they are sufliciently complete to assist in the study of the plan and character of the original structure.
The most ancient temples known to us served a double purpose; they were not only consecrated to the service of the gods, but were at the same time monuments in honor of the dead. Thus, for instance, the temple of Pallas Athene, in the tower of the city of Larissa, served as the sepulchre of Acrisius, and the Acropolis at Athens received the ashes of Cecrops, founder of the city.
A temple was frequently dedicated to two or more gods, and was always built in the manner considered most acceptable to the particular divinities to whom it was consecrated; for just as trees, birds, and animals of every description were considered sacred to certain deities, so almost every god had a form of building peculiar to himself, which was deemed more acceptable to him than any other. Thus the Doric style of architecture was sacred to Zeus, Ares, and Heracles; the Ionic to Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysus; and the Corinthian to Hestia.
In the porch of the temple stood a vessel of stone or brass containing holy water (which had been consecrated by putting into it a burning torch taken from the altar), with which all those admitted to take part in the sacrifices were sprinkled. In the inmost recess of the sanctuary was the most holy place, into which none but the priests were permitted to enter.
Temples in the country were usually surrounded by groves of trees. The solitude of these shady retreats tended to inspire the worshiper with awe and reverence. So general became the custom of building temples in groves, that all places devoted to sacred purposes, even where there were no trees, were called groves. That this habit must be of very remote antiquity is proved by the biblical injunction, having for its object the separation of the Jews from all idolatrous practices,
“Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God.”
The Greeks had no representations of their gods until the time of Cecrops. The most ancient representations consisted of square blocks of stone, upon which the name of the deity intended to be represented was engraved. The first attempts at sculpture were rude images with a head and a shapeless trunk tapering slightly to the feet, which, however, were not divided, the limbs being in no way defined. But the artists of later times devoted all their genius to the successful production of the highest ideals of their gods.
On a pedestal in the centre of the edifice, surrounded by images of other gods, stood the statue of the divinity to whom the temple was dedicated.
The altar in a Greek temple was constructed of stone, of a circular form, and stood in front of the statue of the presiding deity. It was customary to engrave upon it the name or distinguishing symbol of the divinity to whom it was dedicated. If any malefactor fled to an altar, his life was safe from his pursuers, as to force him from this asylum was considered an act of sacrilege.
The most ancient altars were adorned with horns, which were emblems of power and dignity, as wealth, and consequently importance, consisted in the possession of flocks and herds. Altars were frequently raised in groves, on highways, or in the market-places of cities.
No altars were used in the service of the gods of the lower world, ditches or trenches being dug for the reception of the blood of the sacrifices ofi’ered to them.
The priests were recognized as a special social caste, and were distinguished not only by their sacerdotal vestments, but also by their piety, wisdom, and blameless lives. They were the chosen mediators between gods and men, and offered prayers and sacrifices in the name of the people, whom they also instructed as to what vows, gifts, and offerings would be most acceptable to the gods. Every deity had a different order of priests consecrated to his worship, and in every place a high-priest.
Sacrifices were of various kinds. Free-will offerings were grateful acknowledgments for benefits received, and usually consisted of the first fruits of the fields, or the finest of the flocks and herds; these were required to be without blemish. Propitiatory offerings were brought to appease the anger of the gods.
Sacrifices were also made with a view of obtaining success in an enterprise about to be undertaken, or in fulfilment of a vow, or at the command of an oracle. Every sacrifice was accompanied by salt, and also by a libation, usually of wine. The cup was always filled to the brim, to indicate that the offering was made without stint. Libations to the deities of the lower world were of blood.
The animals offered to the Olympian deities were white, those to the gods of the lower world were black. When a man offered a special sacrifice for himself or his family, it partook of the nature of his occupation; thus a shepherd brought sheep; a vine-grower, grapes. But in the case of public sacrifices, the supposed individuality of the deity was consulted. For instance, to Demeter a sow was offered, because that animal is apt to root up the seed-corn; to Dionysus, a goat, on account of its being destructive to vineyards.
It was regarded as a contempt of the gods for a rich man to bring a mean offering, but from a poor man the smallest oblation was considered acceptable.
When a sacrifice was to be offered, a fire was kindled on the altar; wine and frankincense were poured into it to increase the flame. In very ancient times the victim was laid upon the altar and burned whole; but after the time of Prometheus portions only were sacrificed, the remainder being the perquisites of the priests.
The officiating priests wore crowns composed of the leaves of the tree sacred to the deity they invoked. This practice of wearing crowns was, at a later period, adopted by the general public at banquets and other festivities.
On occasions of special solemnity the horns of the victim were overlaid with gold, and the altars decked with flowers and sacred herbs. A salt cake, the sacrificial knife, and the crowns were placed in a basket and carried to the sanctuary by a young maiden. The victim was conducted into the temple frequently to the accompaniment of music. If a small animal, it was driven loose to the altar; if a large one, it was led by a long trailing rope, to indicate that it was not an unwilling sacrifice. The priest, after walking round the altar, sprinkled it with a mixture of meal and holy water, after which he also sprinkled the worshipers, and exhorted them to join with him in prayer. After tasting the libation, the priest poured the remainder between the horns of the victim; frankincense was strewn upon the altar, and a portion of the meal and water poured upon the animal, which was then killed. If the victim escaped the stroke or became in any way restless, it was regarded as an evil omen; if it expired without a struggle, it was considered auspicious.
At the sacrifices to the aërial deities, music was added, whilst dances were performed round the altar, and sacred hymns sung. These hymns generally contained accounts of the famous actions of the gods, their clemency and beneficence, and the gifts conferred by them on mankind. In conclusion, the gods were invoked for a continuance of their favor. When the service was ended, a feast was held.
Knowledge of the future was sought by the Greeks from the oracles, whose predictions were interpreted to the people by priests specially appointed for that purpose. One month in the year was set apart in which to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
The following is an instance of the ambiguity of oracular predictions: Crœsus*, the rich king of Lydia*, before going to war with Cyrus, king of Persia, consulted an oracle as to the probable success of the expedition. The reply he received was, that if he crossed a certain river he would destroy a great empire. Interpreting the response as being favorable to his design, Crœsus* crossed the river and encountered the Persian king, by whom he was entirely defeated; and his own empire being destroyed, the prediction of the oracle was said to have been fulfilled.
Soothsayers (Augurs). §
In addition to the manifestation of the will of the gods by means of oracles, the Greeks also believed that certain men, called soothsayers, were gifted with the power of foretelling future events from dreams, from observing the flight of birds, the entrails of sacrificed animals, and the direction of the flames and smoke from the altar.
The Roman soothsayers were called augurs. No enterprise was undertaken without consulting them with regard to its ultimate success.
Festivals were instituted as seasons of rest, rejoicing, and thanksgiving, also as anniversaries to commemorate events of national importance. The most ancient festivals were those held after the ingathering of the harvest, or vintage, and were celebrated with rejoicings and merry-makings, which lasted several days. The firstfruits of the field were offered to the gods, accompanied by prayers and thanksgiving.
The festivals held in cities in honor of special divinities, or in commemoration of particular events, were conducted with elaborate ceremony. Gorgeous processions, games, chariot races, etc., were conspicuous features on these occasions, and dramatic performances representing particular episodes in the lives of the gods and heroes frequently took place.
The Creation and Primitive Condition of Mankind. §
The legends concerning the origin of the human race differ very widely. The most ancient are those which describe men as having sprung from the earth. Men saw the tender plants force their way through the ground in the early spring after the frost of winter had disappeared, and so they naturally concluded that man must also have issued from the earth in a similar manner.
Another tradition asserts that Prometheus, son of the Titan, Japetus, made men of clay and water, after which Athene breathed a soul into them. The gods met at Mecone*, in order to adjust the privileges and duties of men. It was decided that Prometheus, as the advocate of man, should slay an ox and divide it into two parts, and that the gods should select one portion which in all future sacrifices should be set apart for them. In order to secure for man the portion suitable to be eaten, Prometheus wrapped the flesh in the skin, while he enveloped the bones in the fair white fat. The animal thus divided was placed before Zeus that he might choose on the part of the gods. He pretended to be deceived, and chose the heap of bones, but he was so angry at the attempted deception that he avenged himself by refusing to mortals the gift of fire.
Prometheus, however, resolved to brave the anger of the ruler of Olympus. He stole some sparks from the chariot of the sun, and conveyed them to earth hidden in a hollow tube.
Furious at having been outwitted, Zeus determined to be revenged first on mankind and then on Prometheus. He ordered Hephæstus to make of clay a form resembling that of the goddesses, and to endow it with speech. Each god contributed something to perfect her, and she was called Pandora* (all-gifted). Hermes, the messenger of the gods, conducted her to the house of Epimetheus* (brother of Prometheus), who gladly accepted her, though warned by Prometheus to beware of Zeus and his gifts.
Epimetheus had in his house a jar in which were kept all kinds of diseases and ills. Pandora removed the cover and these escaped, and men have ever since been tormented by disease and care. She closed the jar in time to prevent the escape of Hope.
Another story is that Pandora brought with her a box containing her marriage presents, into which each god had put some blessing. She opened the box incautiously and the blessings all escaped, Hope only excepted. This story seems more consistent than the former.
“The idea that with the introduction of civilization many evils which were before unknown to man came into existence, is expressed in the myth of Pandora.”.
Zeus executed vengeance on Prometheus by having him chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, where during the daytime an eagle devoured his liver, which always grew again during the night. After thirteen generations had passed away, Heracles was permitted to kill the eagle and Prometheus was released.
“Care and anxiety, the love of gain, and other evil passions that torment man, are personified in the eagle that fed on the inconsumable liver of Prometheus.”
At the time of the Panathenaic* festival, in the evening, was a torch-race in honor of Prometheus. A torch, lighted at the altar of that deity, was passed from one competitor to another, and he who succeeded in longest preserving it lighted while he ran, was successful.
wrote three tragedies on the subjects of the confinement, the release, and the worship of Prometheus at Athens.
Ages of the World. §
In course of time temples were raised to the different gods, and priests were appointed to offer sacrifices to them, and to conduct their worship. These priests were looked upon as authorities in all religious matters, and the doctrine they taught was, that man had been created by the gods, and that there had been successive ages which were called Golden, Silver, Brazen, and Iron Ages.
The Golden race of men lived free from care and sorrow, while the earth spontaneously furnished them with all that was necessary to support life. Subject neither to the infirmities of age nor to the pangs of disease, men at last sunk peacefully to death. We are told that this race still continues to exist as good spirits who guard and protect mortals.
After this the gods created a Silver race of men who were far inferior to their predecessors both in mind and body. They refused to pay the gods due honors, and Zeus destroyed them.
The next was the Brazen race. They were of giant stature and great strength, and took pleasure in nothing but battle and strife. This race perished by each other’s hands.
The Iron race was last. The earth now yielded her increase only after much labor. The goddess of justice having abandoned mankind, no influence sufficiently powerful remained to preserve them from every kind of wickedness. Zeus, in his anger, drowned every one of this evil race except Deucalion* and Pyrrha*.
Deucalion* and Pyrrha*. §
Deucalion*, the son of Prometheus and Clymene*, was married to Pyrrha*, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, and reigned over the southern part of Thessaly at the time when Zeus resolved to destroy mankind by a flood. Warned by his father, he built an ark, into which he and his wife retired when the waters began to rise. Nine days and nights the ark was carried along by the waves; at length it rested on Mount Parnassus. Deucalion and Pyrrha left the ark and offered a sacrifice to Zeus.
When they saw the earth desolate and devoid of inhabitants, they were filled with sorrow. They repaired to an ancient oracle of the goddess Themis, hoping to obtain advice and consolation. On imploring the aid of the gods, they received the following response:
“From the fane depart,And veil your heads, and loose your girded clothes,And cast behind you your great parent’s bones!”
They heard the words with astonishment. At length it occurred to Deucalion that it must be stones, which may be called the bones of the earth, the great parent of all, that were meant by the oracle. They therefore flung stones behind their backs, — those cast by Deucalion became men, and those by Pyrrha became women. It was a hard race and well adapted to labor. The most distinguished persons of the race which occupied Greece after the restoration of mankind by Deucalion and Pyrrha were called by posterity the Heroes.
Centaurs* and Lapithæ*. §
Centaurs* and Lapithæ* are two mythic tribes which are always mentioned together. According to the ancient fable, the Centaurs were part man and part horse.
The most renowned of the Centaurs was Chiron*. He was famous for his wisdom and his knowledge of medicine, and for being the preceptor of Jason*, Asclepius* (Æsculapius), and Achilles. He was so superior to his savage kindred that he was reported to be a son of Chronos and Philyra*, one of the Oceanides. He inhabited a cave on Mount Pelion, afterwards he removed to Malea*. Heracles accidentally wounded him with a poisoned arrow. He suffered extreme pain, and in answer to his prayer to Zeus for relief he was placed among the stars as the constellation Sagittarius*.
At the marriage of Pirithous*, one of the Lapithæ*, and Hippodamia*, Eurytion*, one of the Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with wine, attempted to carry off the bride. A dreadful conflict arose in which several of the Centaurs were slain; the others were driven from Thessaly.
It is the opinion ofthat the Centaurs and Lapithæ are two purely poetic names used to designate two opposite races of men; the former, the rude horseriding tribes which tradition records to have been spread over the north of Greece; the latter, the more civilized race which founded towns, and gradually drove their wild neighbors back into the mountains. He thinks the word Centaurs meant air-piercers, as that idea is suggested by the figure of a Cossack leaning forward with his protruded lance as he gallops along. Lapithæ, he considers, meant stone-persuaders, a poetic appellation for the builders of towns.
The Theban* Legends. §
Zeus, under the form of a white bull, carried Europa, daughter of Agenor*, king of Tyre, away to Crete. Grieved for the loss of his only daughter, Agenor ordered his sons Cadmus*, Phœnix*, and Cilix* to go in search of her, and not to return until they found her. They went, accompanied by their mother, Telephassa*, and Thasos*, a son of Poseidon. They could obtain no intelligence of Europa, and fearing to return without her, they resolved to settle in various countries. Phœnix established himself in Phœnicia, Cilix in Cilicia. Thasos founded in Thrace a town, which he named for himself. Telephassa died, and Cadmus went to Delphi to consult the oracle about Europa. The answer was to cease searching for her, to follow a cow as his guide, and to build a city where she should lie down. On leaving the temple he passed through Phocis, and meeting a cow he followed her through Bœotia, until at length, on the site where Thebes afterwards stood, she looked towards heaven and, gently lowing, lay down. Grateful for this mark of divine favor, Cadmus decided to sacrifice the cow to Athene. He sent some of his companions to bring water from a neighboring spring, where they were slain by a dragon, sacred to Ares, which guarded the spring. Cadmus then went himself, and slew the dragon, whose teeth he sowed in the ground, according to the advice of Athene. There arose a band of armed men, at whom Cadmus flung stones. They turned their arms against each other and were all slain except five. These joined with Cadmus to build the city of Thebes. Their posterity were called the Sparti* (the sown).
For killing the sacred dragon, Cadmus was compelled to spend eight years in servitude to Ares. At the expiration of that time, the god of war became reconciled to Cadmus, and gave him his daughter Hermione, or Harmonia, in marriage. All the gods assembled in the palace of Cadmus to celebrate this marriage. He presented to the bride a magnificent robe, and a collar, the work of Hephæstus. According to tradition, Cadmus introduced into Greece the letters of the alphabet, which were invented by the Phœnicians.
The children of Cadmus and Hermione were Ino*, Agave*, Autonoe*, Semele*, and a son named Polydorus*. They were all persecuted by Hera. Semele, the mother of Dionysus, was consumed by the lightnings of Zeus. Agave became the mother of Pentheus, who opposed the worship of Dionysus, and was torn to pieces by his mother and other votaries of the god. Ino was persecuted by Hera for having taken care of Dionysus in his infancy. She was married to Athamas*, who, seized by a sudden fury, dashed their son, Learchus*, against a rock. Ino fled with her younger son, Melicertes*, to the verge of a rock, from which she sprung into the sea. The gods made them deities of the sea, Ino under the name of Leucothea* and Melicertes under that of Palæmon*.
In consequence of the misfortunes of his family, Cadmus abandoned Thebes and retired to the country of the Enchelians*, in Illyria. He and his wife were finally changed into serpents and sent by Zeus to the Elysian Plain.
Laius*, a great grandson of Cadmus, married Jocasta. He was told by the oracle that he was doomed to die by the hands of his son, who would then marry his mother. Accordingly, when their infant son was born, Laius ordered the child to be exposed on Mount Cithæron. The servant who was intrusted with this commission pierced the heels of the child, in order to recognize it if it should ever reappear. The infant was found by Phorbas*, the herdsman of Polybus*, king of Corinth. He took the babe to his master, who, being childless, adopted and named it Œdipus* (swollen-foot). When Œdipus had grown to manhood, a Corinthian noble taunted him at a banquet with not being the son of the king. He appealed to Merope*, his supposed mother, but she gave him an equivocal reply. He repaired to Delphi to consult the oracle, and was told to shun his native country, or he would slay his father and marry his mother.
Œdipus resolved never to return to Corinth, believing that to be his native place, and took the way towards Thebes. In driving through a narrow pass, he met an old man, and a herald, driving in a chariot, and when he refused to make way for them, the herald killed one of his horses, which so exasperated Œdipus, that he killed both the strangers, and fled without discovering that one of them was Laius, king of Thebes. On his arrival at Thebes he found the people afflicted by the Sphinx,13 which had been sent by Hera to torment them. This monster had the face of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird.
Seated on a rock near the city, she proposed to every passer-by the riddle, “What animal is it that goes in the morning upon four feet, at noon upon two, and in the evening upon three?” Everyone who was unable to answer was hurled into the abyss.
Creon, brother-in-law of Laius, had seized the government of Thebes, and when his son fell a victim to the Sphinx, he issued a proclamation that the kingdom, and the hand of his sister, Jocasta, should be awarded to him who should succeed in solving the riddle. Tempted by such a reward, Œdipus came forward and explained the riddle. “Man, as a child, in the morning of life creeps upon hands and feet, at the noon-tide of life he walks on two feet, and in the evening, when old age has stolen upon him, he needs a staff for a support, and goes, as it were, upon three feet.” Full of rage, the Sphinx precipitated herself from the rock and perished.
Œdipus received the promised reward, and for many years enjoyed great happiness and tranquillity. The children of Œdipus and Jocasta were two sons, Eteocles* and Polynices*, and two daughters, Antigone* and Ismene*.
At last Thebes was afflicted with a pestilence. Œdipus consulted an oracle, and the response was that the pestilence would continue to rage until the land was purified of the blood of king Laius, whose murderer was living unpunished at Thebes. The king sent for the blind prophet Tiresias*, and implored him to reveal the author of the crime. Tiresias at first hesitated, but yielding to the earnest solicitations of Œdipus, he said: “Thou art the murderer of the old king, Laius, who was thy father, and thou art wedded to his widow, thine own mother.” The old servant who had exposed the infant on Mount Cithæron, and the shepherd who had carried him to the king of Corinth, identified him. Horrified at this dreadful revelation, Œdipus, in despair, deprived himself of sight, and the unfortunate Jocasta hanged herself.
The Thebans banished Œdipus, and his sons refused to interfere in his behalf. Guided by his faithful daughter, Antigone, he wandered to the grove of the Eumenides* at Colonus, near Athens, and here his life terminated in a miraculous manner, — the ground opened and he disappeared.
“This legend has localized a number of phrases which described originally some phenomena of the outer world. There must have existed in ancient languages a large number of names for the sun, the sky, the dawn, and the earth. The sun (Œdipus) is the child of the darkness (Laius), and he is doomed to slay his father. He is also the child of the dawn (Jocasta), whose soft, violet hues tint the clouds of early morning. When the evening comes, these violet hues re-appear; so Œdipus weds Jocasta. The tender light of evening is suddenly blotted out by the vapors, the light of the sun is quenched in gloom. In other words, Jocasta dies, and Œdipus tears out his eyes.
“Antigone is the light which looks forth from the east when the sun sinks down in the west.”.
The Theban Wars. §
Eteocles* and Polynices* succeeded their father in the government, agreeing to reign alternately one year at a time. Eteocles, being the elder, first ascended the throne, but at the expiration of the year he refused to resign it to his brother.
Polynices sought the assistance of Adrastus*, king of Argos, who received him kindly, gave him his daughter in marriage, and promised to assist him in gaining the government of Thebes. Adrastus invited the most powerful chiefs in his kingdom to join in the expedition. They all readily obeyed the call, with the exception of Amphiaraus*, his brother-in-law, who, having the gift of prophecy, foresaw the disastrous termination of the war, and endeavored to prevent it. He concealed himself in a hiding-place, known only to his wife Eriphyle*, who was sister to Adrastus. On the occasion of the marriage of Amphiaraus, it had been agreed, that if he ever differed in opinion with the king, his wife should decide the question. Polynices offered her the collar which had been presented to Harmonia, if she would induce her husband to join in the expedition. She accepted the bribe, and Amphiaraus was compelled to go with them. Before leaving his home, he extorted a promise from his son Alcmæon* that, should he perish, he would avenge his death on Eriphyle.
The leaders in this expedition were seven in number: Adrastus, Polynices, Tydeus*, Amphiaraus, Capaneus*, Parthenopæus*, and Hippomedon*. To oppose each of these leaders, Eteocles placed within the walls one whom he regarded as his equal. The brothers were stationed against each other.
A battle ensued equally fatal to both parties. Hippomedon and Parthenopæus fell under the swords of the enemy; Capaneus, who had mounted the walls, was killed by a flash of lightning; Tydeus fell by the hand of Melanippus*; Eteocles and Polynices killed each other in single combat; Amphiaraus was swallowed up by the earth, and Adrastus owed his life to the swiftness of the steed Arion*.
Creon, who again became king, forbade the burial of Polynices, but Antigone gave sepulture to his remains, and Creon buried her alive. His son, who had been betrothed to Antigone, in despair threw himself upon his own sword and expired.
The Epigoni*. §
Ten years after these events, the sons of the slain heroes, who were called Epigoni* (descendants), resolved to avenge the death of their fathers. By the advice of the Delphic oracle, the command was intrusted to Alcmæon, son of Amphiaraus, but, remembering the injunction of his father, he hesitated to accept the position before executing vengeance on his mother Eriphyle. Thersander*, son of Polynices, presented to Eriphyle the robe of Harmonia, and yielding to her representations, Alcmæon accepted the command of the troops, and at the head of a large and powerful army advanced against Thebes. A fierce battle ensued, in which the Theban leader fell by his hand. The Thebans, unable longer to hold their city, followed the advice of Teresias, and withdrew under the cover of darkness. The aged Tiresias expired on the road. Next morning the Argives entered Thebes, plundered it, and placed Thersander*, son of Polynices, on the throne.
Alcmæon consulted the oracle of Apollo, to know how he should punish his mother for her cupidity to his father and himself, and he was directed to put her to death. He obeyed, but was instantly assailed by the Erinnys. He roamed in madness through Arcadia, and was at length purified by Phegeus*, king of Psophis*, who gave him his daughter Arsinoe* in marriage. He presented his bride with the robe and collar of Harmonia. A drought oppressed the land on his account, and the oracle directed him to go and build a town on the river Achelous. Alcmæon took leave of his wife and little son, and set forth. At the springs of the Achelous he was purified by the river-god himself, who gave him in marriage his daughter Callirrhoe*, and he built his town on the soil deposited by the stream at its mouth. Unfortunately, Callirrhoe had heard of the robe and collar of Harmonia, and she desired to possess them. Alcmæon returned to Arcadia, and telling Phegeus that he had suffered from another attack of insanity, and that the oracle had informed him that his malady would be cured only when he placed the robe and collar in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, he obtained them from Arsinoe. Alcmæon’s servant betrayed his secret, and the sons of Phegeus lay in ambush and killed him.
Callirrhoe, on learning the fate of Alcmæon, implored Zeus that her infant sons might grow at once to manhood, and avenge the death of their father. Her prayer was granted. The youths met and slew the sons of Phegeus, and then went to Psophis and killed Phegeus and his wife. They brought the robe and collar to their mother, and by the direction of Achelous these fatal treasures were deposited in the temple of the Delphian god.
Perseus* was the son of Zeus and Danae*, daughter of Acrisius*, king of Argos. An oracle having declared that Acrisius would lose his life by the hand of a son of Danae, her father imprisoned her in a brazen tower. Zeus visited her in the form of ashower of gold, and she became the mother of Perseus. When he was four years old, Acrisius chanced to pass by the brazen chamber and heard him cry. Enraged at finding his precautions unavailing, he enclosed both mother and child in a chest, which he cast into the sea. It was cared for by Zeus, who caused it to float to the island of Seriphos, where Danae and Perseus were rescued by Dictys*, brother of the king, Polydectes*. The latter educated Perseus, but his genius and courage displeased the king. Polydectes invited his vassals to a banquet, requiring all who came to present him with a beautiful horse. It was not in the power of Perseus to furnish the requisite gift, but he told the king, as he could not bring a horse, he would bring him the head of Medusa*, if he desired it. The king accepted the proposal which Perseus had made rashly, and the latter was filled with terror at the prospect of so perilous an adventure.
The Gorgons* were three sisters who dwelt by the ocean-stream. Medusa was the only one of them that was mortal. They turned to stone all who beheld them.
While Perseus was bemoaning his hard fate, Hermes appeared to him, and told him that he and Athene would be his guides and advisers. Athene loaned him her shield; Hermes, the harpé or crooked sword.
After a long journey, Perseus arrived on the borders of Oceanus, where dwelt the Grææ*, sisters of the Gorgons, who were gray from their births, and had but one eye and one tooth, which they shared in common. They were the only ones who could direct him to the abode of the Nymphs, who had charge of the winged shoes, the magic wallet, and the helmet of Aides (Pluto), which made its wearer invisible. Hermes contrived to take the eye and tooth as they were handing them from one to another, but promised to restore them if they would give him the desired information. They were obliged to comply, and the Nymphs gladly agreed to lend their precious possessions to the protege of the gods. Thus equipped with these, he flew to the abode of the Gorgons, whom he found asleep. Athene pointed out to him Medusa, and, fearing to gaze on their petrifying visages, he turned towards them the polished shield which he bore, and looking on Medusa as she was reflected in it, he cut off her head with his sword. Placing the trophy in the magic wallet, he flew away, just as the two immortal sisters were awakened by the hissings of their snaky locks. From the body of the slain Gorgon sprung Chrysaor* and the winged horse Pegasus*.
Perseus continued his flight until he reached the kingdom of Atlas, in Mauritania, of whom he sought rest and shelter. Atlas refused the hospitality which the hero demanded, because it had been predicted that his orchard, in which the trees bore golden fruit, would be robbed by a son of Zeus. Perseus was exasperated, and produced from his wallet the head of Medusa, which he held toward the king. Atlas became transformed into a stony mountain. Beard and hair extended themselves into forests; shoulders, hands, and limbs became huge rocks; and the head grew up into a craggy peak, which reached into the clouds. (Atlas Mountains in northern part of Africa.) Perseus then resumed his travels. In passing Ethiopia, he beheld a maiden fastened with chains to a rock, and a monster rising out of the sea ready to devour her, while her parents stood on the shore wringing their hands in despair. Perseus rushed down at the moment when the monster was about to seize its prey, and, holding before its eyes the head of Medusa, the hideous body became transformed into a huge black rock. Perseus then delivered the maiden to her parents.
Cassiopea*, mother of Andromeda and wife of Cepheus*, had dared to compare her own beauty with that of the Nereides*, who thereupon besought Poseidon to avenge them. He granted their request, and not only overwhelmed the land with disastrous floods, but also sent a terrible sea-monster, which devoured men and beasts. The oracle of Ammon declared the land could be saved only by the sacrifice of the king’s daughter, Andromeda. Cepheus, after some time, yielded to the entreaties of his people, and she was chained to a rock close to the sea.
The parents of Andromeda, having been witnesses to their daughter’s rescue, readily complied with the wish of her deliverer, and gave her to Perseus in marriage. Phineus*, however, brother of Cepheus, to whom Andromeda had been betrothed, appeared at the wedding-feast, accompanied by his warriors, and furiously assailed the bridegroom, who would have been overpowered but for the head of Medusa. Warning his friends of the dangerous power of the Gorgon’s head, they turned away their eyes; but on showing it to his adversaries, they all stiffened into stone.
Perseus, accompanied by his bride, returned to Seriphos, where he found that Polydectes had been treating Danae with great cruelty. He proceeded to the palace where the king and his friends were assembled, and displayed the formidable Gorgon’s head. Each person present was changed to a statue.
Perseus returned to Hermes the shoes, wallet, and helmet, by whom they were taken to the Nymphs. He gave the Gorgon’s head to Athene, who had it placed in the middle of her shield. He then sent a messenger to his grandfather, informing him that he intended returning to Argos; but Acrisius, fearing the fulfilment of the prediction of the oracle, fled for protection to the king of Larissa. Some time after, Perseus went to Larissa to contend at some games. As he was throwing the discus, it accidentally struck an old man among the spectators, and caused his death. The old man was Acrisius, and thus Perseus unintentionally fulfilled the prediction. Feeling unwilling to occupy the throne of one whose death he had caused, he exchanged kingdoms with the king of Tiryns.
“The golden shower in the prison of Danae is the light of morning which streams in upon the darkness of night. By the sword which Perseus bears is meant the piercing rays of the sun. Perseus, Bellerophon, Heracles, Theseus, Apollo, Achilles, Odysseus, and a host of others, are only different forms of the same person, and this personification has grown out of the phrases which originally described the course of the sun in its daily or yearly round.
“Medusa is the starlit night, solemn in its beauty, and doomed to die when the sun rises; her sisters represent the absolute darkness which it was supposed the sun could not penetrate.
“The Grææ* represent the twilight or gloaming, or else the graymists which are seen at the mouth of caverns near the sea-shore.”.
Perseus occupies a prominent position in Greek art. There is in the Capitoline Museum at Eome a marble relief depicting the rescue of Andromeda.
His common attributes are the winged sandals, the sickle with which he slew Medusa, and the helmet of Aides. In bodily form, as well as in costume, he closely resembles Hermes.
Bellerophon* was son of Glaucus*, king of Corinth. Having accidentally slain Bellerus*, a Corinthian noble, he went to Argos to be purified, and was kindly received by the king, Prœtus*. The queen, Sthenobœa*, made false charges against Bellerophon. The rites of hospitality were too sacred to allow Prœtus to kill his guest; he therefore sent him to Iobates*, his father-in-law, king of Lycia, with a letter written in strange characters, desiring him to avenge the crime of which the bearer was accused, by putting him to death. Iobates, however, did not read the letter until he had hospitably received Bellerophon, after which he, too, abhorred the thought of violating the sacred rites of hospitality. Nevertheless, he concluded that Prœtus must have had good reasons for his conduct, and that probably Bellerophon had been guilty of a crime which deserved death, so he decided to send him on dangerous enterprises, in which he would in all probability lose his life.
He first sent him to kill the Chimæra, a monster which was at that time devastating the country. It had the head of a lion, the body of a goat, the tail of a serpent, and flames issued from its mouth. Bellerophon applied to the prophet Polyides* for advice, and was directed by him to go sleep in the temple of Athene. He obeyed; the goddess appeared to him, and giving him a bridle, directed him to sacrifice a bull to Poseidon, and then to repair to a certain spring at which the winged steed Pegasus was wont to drink, to approach him boldly and put the bridle on his head. Bellerophon did as directed. Pegasus at once yielded, and the hero mounting him rose in the air above the reach of the monster, which he slew with his spear.
Iobates then sent him on an expedition against the Solymi*, a fierce neighboring tribe with whom he was at enmity. Bellerophon succeeded in vanquishing them, and was then sent to make war upon the Amazons, but, greatly to the astonishment of Iobates, the hero again returned victorious.
The last effort of the king to cause the death of Bellerophon was placing in ambush the bravest of the Lycians for the purpose of destroying him, but he bravely defended himself and slew them all. The king then gave him his daughter in marriage, and shared the kingdom with him.
Bellerophon became elated by his victories, and attempted to mount to heaven by means of Pegasus. Zeus sent a gad-fly to sting the horse, which became so restive that his rider was precipitated to the earth. The winged horse flew up to heaven and became bearer of the thunderbolts.
Filled with remorse at having offended the gods, Bellerophon fell a prey to the deepest melancholy, and wandered about for the remainder of his life in the loneliest and most desolate places.
After death he was honored at Corinth as a hero, and he had a shrine in the grove of Poseidon*.
“There was a burning mountain in Lycia called Chimæra, whose top was the resort of lions on account of its desolate wilderness; the middle, which was fruitful, was covered with goats, and at the base the marshy ground abounded with serpents. Bellerophon was said to have conquered the Chimæra, because he was the first to make his habitation on that mountain.”
“In the story of Bellerophon, the reference to the sun is obvious. He was called the son of Poseidon, who was sometimes called Glaucus. None could appreciate this genealogy better than the Corinthians, who daily saw the sun rise out of the sea. The fall of Bellerophon is the rapid descent of the sun towards evening, and the plain over which he wandered is the broad expanse of somber light through which the sun is sometimes seen to travel sullenly and alone to his setting. The contest of Bellerophon with the Chimæra may be a representation of the drying up, by means of the sun’s rays, of the furious mountain torrents which flood the cornfields.”.
Heracles* (Hercules). §
Heracles*, the most renowned hero of antiquity, was the son of Zeus and Alcmena*. On the day on which he was to be born, Zeus announced to the gods that on that day would be born one of his race who should rule over all his neighbors. Hera hated Alcmena, so, hastening to earth, she caused the birth of Eurystheus*, grandson of Perseus, to occur before that of Heracles. Iphicles* was twin-brother of Heracles.
Not satisfied with having subjected the hero to the will of the weak and cowardly Eurystheus, Hera sent two serpents to kill the child ivhen he was about eight months old. Heracles, however, gave the first proof of his divine origin by strangling them with his hands. Zeus then acknowledged his son. Finding Hera sleeping, he laid Heracles by her side, who by this means obtained the divine milk without her consent. When Hera awoke she flung him away from her, sprinkling upon the vault of the sky the milk that fell from her breast, the marks of which form the Galaxy, or Milky Way, on which the gods walk.
Heracles grew up in Thebes, and was under the care of the best preceptors. Linus* taught him music; but one day, when he corrected his pupil rather severely, the youth angrily struck him with his lyre and killed him.
As a punishment, Amphitryon*, his step-father, sent him into the country where his flocks and herds were feeding, and there Heracles remained until eighteen years of age. His extraordinary strength and stature became the wonder and admiration of all.
One day, Heracles was in a solitary spot meditating upon what use to make of the wonderful powers with which he had been endowed by the gods. Two female figures appeared to him — one was Vice, the other, Virtue. Each represented to him the advantages to be gained by following her. He listened attentively to both speakers, and then, after mature deliberation, he decided to follow Virtue.
The first exploit of Heracles was the slaying of an enormous lion which was in the habit of destroying the herds grazing on Mount Cithæron. The hide of the animal he wore afterwards over his shoulders, the skin of the head forming a helmet.
His next act was to free the Thebans from a tribute which they were compelled to pay to the Minyans*, a neighboring people. Creon*, king of Thebes, in gratitude, gave the hero his daughter, Megara*, in marriage, and Iphicles married her sister.
Hera, still hostile to Heracles, caused him to become insane, and while in this condition he killed three of his own children and two of those of his brother Iphicles. When he regained his reason he was horrified at what he had done, and went to Thestius* to be purified. He then proceeded to Delphi to consult the oracle, and was told that he must serve Eurystheus by performing twelve tasks which should be imposed by him, after which he would be made immortal.
The Twelve Labors of Heracles. §
1. The Nemean Lion. — The first task which Eurystheus imposed upon Heracles was to bring him the skin of the Nemean* lion which ravaged the country, and whose skin bade defiance to every weapon. Heracles succeeded in strangling it with his hands. He then made himself a suit of armor of the skin, and a new helmet of the head of the animal. Eurystheus was so alarmed by this heroic feat that he forbade Heracles henceforth to come within the walls of the city, but commanded him to receive orders for the future through the herald, Copreus*.
2. The Lernæan Hydra*. — The Hydra* was a monster serpent having nine heads, one of which was immortal. After driving her from her lair by means of his arrows, he advanced fearlessly and began striking off the heads with his sword. To his amazement, in the place of each head he struck off two sprung up. He then ordered his nephew, Iolaus*, to set on fire a neighboring wood, and with the firebrands he seared the throats as Heracles cut off the heads, thus preventing the growth of others. Heracles buried the immortal head and placed over it a heavy stone. He then dipped his arrows in her poisonous blood, thus rendering wounds inflicted by them incurable.
3. The Stag of Diana. — The third task was to bring alive and unhurt to Eurystheus the stag of Diana, famous for its swiftness, its golden horns, and brazen hoofs. Heracles pursued her for a whole year, and finally overtook her on the banks of the river Ladon; but in order to secure her he was obliged to wound her, after which he lifted her on his shoulders and carried her through Arcadia. On his way he met Artemis (Diana) and her brother, Apollo. The goddess reprimanded him for molesting an animal sacred to her. By representing the commands of Eurystheus, he appeased her, and she permitted him to take it to Mycenæ.
4. The Erymanthian* Boar. — The fourth task imposed upon Heracles was to bring alive to Eurystheus the Erymanthian boar. This animal inhabited the mountain district of Erymanthus, in Arcadia, and was the scourge of the surrounding country.
On his way thither, Heracles was entertained in a cavern by the Centaur Pholus*. After an abundant repast, Heracles asked his host for some wine. Pholus explained that the wine was the common property of all the Centaurs, and that it was against the rules for a cask to be opened unless all were present to partake of it. Heracles prevailed upon his host to make an exception in his favor; but the odor of the wine soon spread over the mountain and brought to the spot large numbers of Centaurs, all armed with huge rocks and fir-trees. Heracles drove them back with arrows and firebrands, and pursued them to Malea, where they took refuge with the good Centaur Chiron. Unfortunately, one of the poisoned arrows pierced the knee of Chiron. On returning to the cave of Pholus, Heracles found him dead. Having drawn an arrow out of one of the slain Centaurs, he accidentally let it fall on his foot and died from the wound. The hero buried him, and then set forth to hunt the boar.
With loud shouts, Heracles drove him out of the thickets into the snow-drifts on the summit of the mountain, where he caught and bound him, and then carried him to Mycenæ.
5. Cleansing the Stables of Augeas*. — The fifth task of Heracles was to cleanse in one day the stables of Augeas, king of Elis, whose wealth in cattle had become proverbial. Heracles presented himself before the king, and offered to cleanse in one day the stables in which there were three thousand oxen, provided he should receive in return a tenth part of the herds. Augeas, thinking the feat impossible, accepted his offer. Heracles then turned the course of the rivers Alpheus and Peneus through the stalls, and thus carried off the filth.
When Augeas learned that Heracles had undertaken the labor at the command of Eurystheus, he refused to give him the stipulated reward — a breach of faith for which Heracles afterwards took terrible vengeance on the king.
6. The Stymphalian* Birds. — The sixth task of Heracles was to chase away the immense birds of prey whose home was on the shore of Lake Stymphalis, in Arcadia, where they caused great destruction among men and cattle.
While the hero stood deliberating how he should get within reach of the birds, Athene brought him a pair of brazen clappers made by Hephæstus. He ascended a neighboring hill and commenced to rattle them violently. The birds rose into the air in terror, when he shot them with his arrows.
7. The Cretan Bull. — The seventh labor of Heracles was to capture the Cretan bull. Poseidon once sent up a bull out of the sea for Minos*, king of Crete, to sacrifice, but Minos was induced by the beauty of the animal to place it among his own herds, and sacrificed another in its stead. Poseidon caused the animal to become mad, and commit such havoc in the island as to endanger the safety of the inhabitants. Minos gladly gave the hero permission to capture this bull. Heracles took it to Mycenæ, where it was set free by Eurystheus. It was eventually killed by Theseus on the plains of Marathon.
8. The Mares of Diomedes*. — The eighth task of Heracles was to bring to Eurystheus the mares of Diomedes, king of the Bistonians*, in Thrace. These mares were exceedingly fierce and fed on human flesh. All strangers who entered the country were made prisoners by Diomedes and flung before the horses, who devoured them. Heracles overpowered Diomedes and threw him to the carnivorous beasts. He delivered the mares to Eurystheus, who set them loose on Mount Olympus, where they became the prey of wild beasts.
9. The Girdle of Hippolyte*. — Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons, had received from Ares a beautiful girdle, which she wore as a sign of her royal power and authority. Admete*, daughter of Eurystheus, was anxious to obtain this girdle, so Heracles was commanded to bring it as his ninth task. The Amazons were a nation of female warriors who dwelt on the banks of the river Thermodon*, near the Black Sea. After various adventures, Heracles and the heroes that accompanied him arrived at the town of the Amazons, and Hippolyte was so impressed by his extraordinary stature and noble bearing that, on learning his errand, she at once consented to give him the girdle. But Hera, in the guise of an Amazon, spread a report that Heracles was about to carry off their queen. The Amazons attacked Heracles and his followers, and in the battle which ensued Hippolyte was killed. The hero secured the girdle and departed.
On his journey homeward occurred his celebrated adventure with Hesione*, daughter of Laomedon*, king of Troy. This king had refused Poseidon and Apollo the rewards he had promised them for their assistance in building the walls of Troy. In consequence of his perfidy, Apollo sent a pestilence, and Poseidon, a sea-monster, which swallowed all the people that came within his reach. The oracle being consulted, declared that the plague would never cease till Laomedon had given his daughter, Hesione, to be devoured by the monster. The princess had just been chained to a rock when Heracles arrived. He offered to destroy the monster if Laomedon would give him the horses which Tros had received from Zeus as a compensation for the loss of Ganymedes. Laomedon agreed, and Heracles slew the monster. Laomedon, however, again proved false to his word, and Heracles, with a threat of future vengeance, departed.
10. The Oxen of Geryon*. — The tenth task of Heracles was to capture the cattle belonging to the giant Geryon*. This monster had three bodies united at the waist, three heads, six hands, and six feet. He possessed a herd of splendid cattle which were famous for their size, beauty, and color. They were guarded by another giant named Eurytion*, and a two-headed dog called Orthrus*. Geryon inhabited an island in the far west in the region of the setting sun.
After a wearisome journey Heracles arrived at the western coast of Africa, where, as a monument of his perilous expedition, he erected the famous “Pillars of Heracles,” one of which he placed on each side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Here he found the heat so insufferable that he raised his bow and threatened to shoot the sun-god. Helios was so struck with admiration at his audacity that he lent the hero his golden boat, and thus Heracles crossed over safely to the island of Erythia. He first slew the herdsman and dog, and was proceeding to drive off the cattle, when he was overtaken by Geryon. A desperate encounter took place in which the giant perished. Heracles is then supposed to have placed the oxen in the boat of Helios, in which he recrossed the ocean, and then journeyed on foot through Iberia, Gaul, and Italy. At length he arrived at Mycenæ, where Eurystheus sacrificed the oxen to Hera.
11. The Apples of the Hesperides*. — The eleventh task imposed by Eurystheus was to bring him the golden apples of the Hesperides, which grew on a tree presented by Gæa to Hera on her wedding-day. This tree was guarded by four maidens called Hesperides, and by a terrible dragon which never slept. The hero was in total ignorance of the locality of the garden of the Hesperides, and he made several fruitless efforts before he succeeded in reaching the desired spot. He applied to the nymphs of the river Po for advice, and was told that Xereus, if properly managed, would direct him. Heracles seized Nereus while he was sleeping, and the sea-god, unable to escape from his grasp, gave him the desired information.
Heracles then proceeded to Libya, where he was challenged to a wrestling-match by the giant Antæus*, a powerful son of Earth, who received new strength every time he touched the ground. The hero lifted him up in the air and squeezed him to death in bis arms.
He then passed into Egypt, where Busiris* was in the habit of sacrificing all strangers to Zeus. Heracles allowed himself to be bound, but, when brought before the altar, he burst asunder his bonds and slew Busiris and his son.
From Egypt he journeyed into Ethiopia, where he slew Emathion*, son of Eos and Tithonus, for his cruelty to strangers. He then wandered through Arabia, and at last arrived at Moutit Caucasus, where Prometheus groaned in unceasing agony. Heracles shot the eagle, and Prometheus, grateful for his deliverance, instructed him how to find his way to that remote region in the far west, where Atlas supported the heavens on his shoulders, near which lay the Garden of the Hesperides.
On arriving at his destination, Heracles, by the advice of Prometheus, offered to support the heavens for Atlas if he would bring the apples. Atlas did as requested, but announced his intention of bearing the apples himself to Eurystheus. Heracles, apparently agreeing, asked Atlas to hold the heavens whilst he made a pad for his head. When Atlas resumed his former position, Heracles gathered up the apples and went away. Eurystheus, having seen the apples, gave them back, and Heracles presented them to Athene.
12. Cerberus*. — The twelfth and last task was to bring up Cerberus from the lower world. In this undertaking he was assisted by Hermes and Athene. After having been initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Heracles made his descent into the lower world at Cape Tænarum. Close to the gates of Hades he found the heroes Theseus* and Pirithous seated on an enchanted rock, where they had been placed by Aides as a punishment for attempting to carry off Persephone. Heracles succeeded in setting Theseus free, but he was obliged to leave Pirithous because the earth quaked when he attempted to touch him.
Aides consented to his taking Cerberus, on condition that he should master him without using any weapons. Heracles seized the furious beast, and, having chained him, he conducted him to the upper world. After Eurystheus had seen Cerberus, Heracles returned him to his place in the lower world. With the completion of this task the servitude of Heracles to Eurystheus ended.
The hero, after his release from servitude, returned to Thebes, where he gave his wife, Megara, in marriage to Iolaus. He then proceeded to the court of Eurytus*, who had promised his daughter, Iole*, in marriage to the man who should vanquish himself and his sons in shooting with the bow. Heracles gained a complete victory, but Eurytus, nevertheless, refused to give him his daughter. Heracles, with many threats of future vengeance, withdrew, and when not long afterwards Iphitus*, the son of Eurytus, fell into his hands, he hurled him from a high tower into the plain below. This treacherous action was explained by the story that Iphitus was a friend of Heracles, and had advocated his cause with Eurytus, and that Heracles had been suddenly seized with insanity.
Heracles sought in vain for some one to purify him from the murder of Iphitus. When he sought the aid of the oracle at Delphi, he was denied a response; whereupon the angry hero seized the tripod, and was in the act of bearing it away in order to erect an oracle of his own, when he was confronted by the angry deity Apollo. A violent struggle would have ensued had not Zeus interfered by separating them with his lightning.
The Pythian priestess now commanded Heracles to allow himself to be sold into slavery for three years, the money to be given to Eurytus in compensation for the loss of his son. Accordingly, Hermes led him into Lydia and sold him to Omphale*, queen of that country. It is said the queen clad her illustrious slave in female attire, and set him to spin with the distaff and spindle, while she arrayed herself in the lion’s skin and carried the club.
After the expiration of his servitude, Heracles undertook an expedition against the faithless Laomedon, king of Troy. The city was taken by storm; Laomedon and all his sons, except Priam, were killed. Hesione was given in marriage to Telamon*. Soon afterwards he took similar vengeance on Augeas, king of Elis, and placed Phyleus on the throne.
Heracles now proceeded to Calydon, where he wooed the beautiful Deianeira*, daughter of Œneus*. His rival was the river-god Achelous, and it was agreed that their claims should be decided by single combat. Achelous trusted to his power to assume different forms, but, having transformed himself into a bull, Heracles broke off one of his horns, and Achelous declared himself vanquished. Heracles restored the horn, and received in exchange that of the goat Amalthea, called the Horn of Plenty, which produced everything its owner desired.
After his marriage with Deianeira, Heracles lived for three years at the court of his father-in-law. In consequence of an accidental murder, he banished himself from Ætolia and set out to visit King Ceyx*, taking with him his wife and son, Hyllus*. On coming to the river Evenus, Heracles intrusted Deianeira to the Centaur Nessus to be carried across while he forded the stream with his little son in his arms. The Centaur, charmed with the beauty of his fair burden, attempted to carry her off. Heracles heard the screams of his wife, and shot Nessus through the heart with one of his poisoned arrows. He directed Deianeira to secure some of the blood which flowed from his wound, assuring her that it would act as a charm by which she could always retain the love of her husband.
Heracles had long meditated vengeance on Eurytus, who had refused to give him his daughter, Iole, after he had won her by shooting with the bow. He now marched against him with an army. The town and citadel were destroyed, and Eurytus and his sons slain, while the beautiful Iole fell into the hands of the conqueror. Wishing to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Zeus, he sent to his wife for a sacrificial robe. Hearing of the beauty of Iole, Deianeira anointed the tunic which she sent with the blood of Nessus. Heracles arrayed himself and prepared to sacrifice, but as the flames from the altar heated the tunic, the effect of the hydra’s blood began to appear. He endeavored to tear it off, but the flesh came with it. In his frenzy he seized the herald Lichas*, the bearer of the robe, and dashed him in pieces against a rock of the sea. Convinced that death was inevitable, he proceeded to Mount Œta*. Deianeira, full of sorrow and despair on beholding the terrible suffering of which she was the innocent cause, hanged herself.
The hero caused a pyre to be constructed, mounted it, and implored the bystanders to set fire to it. No one had the courage to obey him until Pœas*, the father of Philoctetes*, happened to pass by and rendered him the service, in return for which Heracles presented him with his bow and arrows. As the flames rose high, a cloud descended from heaven, and, amidst furious peals of thunder, a chariot with four horses, driven by Athene, appeared and bore the illustrious hero to Olympus, where he was joyfully received by the gods. Hera, in token of her reconciliation, gave him the hand of her daughter, Hebe, in marriage.
Heracles was deified as the god of strength, and was especially honored as patron of the gymnasia. He had temples and festivals in various parts of Greece. In Marathon, games were celebrated in his honor every four years, at which silver cups were given as prizes. The fourth day of every month was held sacred to him, being regarded as his birthday.
“The story of Heracles is the most complicated of all the Greek myths. It sprung from the old phrases which had spoken of the sun as toiling for so poor and weak a creature as man. Every feature of the many legends connected with his name may be traced back to phrases which spoke of the sun as born to a life of toil, as entering on his weary tasks after a brief but happy infancy, and as sinking finally to his rest after a fierce battle with the clouds which had hindered his journey.
“Darkness of night is meant by the serpents killed by Heracles. Iole, the violet-colored clouds that are seen at sunrise and sunset. The ‘golden apples,’ the golden-colored clouds which are grouped around the sun as he sinks in the western sky.
“The death-scene in the story of Heracles is the last incident in what has been called the ‘Tragedy of Nature’ — the battle of the sun with the clouds, which gather around him at his setting like mortal enemies. As he sinks, the fiery mists embrace him, and the purple vapors rush across the sky like the streams of blood which gush from the hero’s body, while the violet-colored evening clouds seem to cheer him in his dying agony.”.
Theseus*, son of Ægeus*, king of Athens, and Æthra*, daughter of Pittheus*, king of Trœzen*, was one of the most famous heroes of antiquity. Ægeus, who was privately married to Æthra, before leaving Trœzen concealed his sword and sandals under a rock, and told Æthra that, if her child should be a son, not to send him to Athens until he had become strong enough to raise the stone, and then to allow him to take with him these tokens of his identity.
Theseus was carefully trained and educated by his grandfather, Pittheus. When he was sixteen years of age, his mother led him to the stone on which he was to try his strength. Lifting it, he took from beneath his father’s sword and sandals, which Æthra desired him to carry to Ægeus.
His early adventures consisted in overcoming a series of obstacles that beset him on his journey from Trœzen to Athens. Between Trœzen and Epidaurus he slew Periphetes*, a son of Hephæstus, because he was in the habit of murdering travelers with his iron club. Theseus appropriated the club as a trophy of his victory.
He next delivered the Isthmus of Corinth from a powerful robber named Sinis*, who forced all travelers to bend with him one of the branches of a tall pine-tree. Having dragged it to the ground, Sinis suddenly released his hold, and the stranger was dashed to the ground and killed. Theseus conquered Sinis and inflicted the same fate upon him. In the woody district of Crommyon*, he destroyed a dangerous wild sow that laid waste the country.
On the borders of Megara* dwelt another monster called Sciron*, who compelled travelers to wash his feet, and then kicked them into the sea. Theseus overcame him and threw his body over the cliff.
In the neighborhood of Eleusis he vanquished the giant Cercyon*, who forced all who came that way to wrestle with him, and then killed those whom he vanquished.
On the banks of the Cephissus* he met the giant Damastes*, called Procrustes* (Stretcher), who had two iron beds, one being long and the other short. In the short one he placed the tall men, whose limbs he cut to the size of the bed. The short ones he took to the long bed, and pulled them to fit it; thus he left his victims to expire. Theseus slew him.
On reaching Athens he found his father Ægeus married to the enchantress Medea*. By her insinuations, the king became so suspicious of the young stranger, that he was handing him a cup of poison, when the sword which he bore attracting his attention, he recognized and acknowledged his son. Medea fled, but a new danger awaited the hero. The sons of Pallas*, the brother of Ægeus, who had flattered themselves with the hope of succeeding their childless uncle in the government of Athens, excited a revolt, which, however, was immediately quelled by Theseus.
Theseus resolved to perform some service for the state which should gain for him the hearts of the people. The Marathonian* bull was at this time committing great ravages. Theseus went to Marathon, caught the bull, and, having exhibited him in chains to the astonished people, he offered it in sacrifice to Apollo.
The next enterprise undertaken by Theseus secured to him the admiration and gratitude of his fellow-citizens. This was the slaying of the Minotaur*, a monster half man, half bull, whose lair was in the wonderful labyrinth constructed by Dædalus* for Minos*, king of Crete.
Androgeus*, son of Minos, having come to the public games at Athens, vanquished all his competitors. Ægeus, jealous of his success, laid an ambush for him, and he was thus treacherously murdered. To avenge the death of his son, Minos invaded Attica, conquered Athens and the adjoining towns, and compelled the Athenians to send him a yearly tribute of seven youths and seven maidens to be devoured by the Minotaur.
Theseus resolved to deliver his country from this shameful tribute. Accordingly, when the time came for sending the youths and maidens, who were drawn by lot, he offered himself as one of the victims, notwithstanding the entreaties of his father, Ægeus. The ship departed under black sails, as usual. Theseus promised his father to change them for white in case of his returning victorious. When they arrived in Crete, the youths and maidens were exhibited before Minos; and Ariadne*, his daughter, being present, became deeply enamored of Theseus, by whom her love was readily returned. She furnished him with a sword with which to encounter the Minotaur, and with a clue of thread by which he might find his way out of the labyrinth. He was successful, slew the Minotaur, escaped from the labyrinth, and accompanied by Ariadne, he with his rescued companions sailed for Athens. On the way they stopped at the island of Naxos, where Theseus abandoned Ariadne, because Athene had appeared to him in a dream and warned him that Ariadne was destined to become the wife of Dionysus, the wine-god.
On approaching the coast of Attica, Theseus, forgetting the signal appointed by his father, neglected to raise the white sails. Ægeus, who was on the beach anxiously awaiting his son’s return, saw the black sails, and, thinking his son had perished, he threw himself into the sea and was drowned. The sea was named for him Ægean.
Theseus succeeded his father as king of Athens. He united the twelve towns of Attica under one government, renewed the Isthmian Games, and instituted the Panathenæa in honor of Athene-Polias.
Theseus accompanied Heracles to the country of the Amazons, and distinguished himself so much in the engagement with these female warriors that Heracles gave him Antiope*, sister of Hippolyte*. He carried her off to Athens and made her his queen. Their son was Hippolytus*, famed for his unhappy fate.
The friendship between Theseus and Pirithous* originated in the midst of arms. Pirithous made an irruption into the plains of Marathon and carried off the herds of the king of Athens. Theseus went to repel the plunderers. The moment Pirithous beheld him, he was seized with admiration, and, stretching out his hand in token of peace, he cried, “Be judge thyself; what satisfaction dost thou require?” “Thy friendship,” replied Theseus, and they swore inviolable fidelity. They ever continued true brothers in arms. Each of them aspired to espouse a daughter of Zeus. Theseus fixed his choice on Helen, then but a child, afterwards so celebrated as the cause of the Trojan war, and with the aid of his friend he carried her off.
Pirithous now requested Theseus to assist him in his ambitious scheme of descending to the lower world and carrying off Persephone, the queen of Aides. Theseus would not forsake his friend, and together they entered the gloomy realm. Aides set them on an enchanted rock at his palace gate, where they remained until Heracles liberated Theseus; but, in obedience to an injunction of the gods, Pirithous was left to endure forever the punishment of his too daring ambition.
After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phædra*, daughter of Minos, king of Crete, and sister of Ariadne. Phædra fell in love with Hippolytus, but he repulsed her advances, and her love was changed to hate. She used her influence over her husband to cause him to be jealous of his son. Theseus besought Poseidon to punish his faithless son. As Hippolytus was one day driving his chariot along the shore, a sea-monster raised himself above the waves and frightened the horses so that they ran away and dashed the chariot to pieces. When Phædra learned of the fate of her unfortunate victim, she put an end to her own life, and Theseus, when too late, discovered the innocence of his son.
Theseus at length lost the favor of his people and retired to the court of Lycomedes*, king of Scyros*, who at first received him kindly, but afterwards treacherously slew him. Long after his death the Athenians obtained his bones from the island of Scyros and interred them. In his honor a temple was erected, which is still standing, and serves as a museum of art.
The Athenians revered Theseus as a demi-god, brought offerings to his altars, and instituted festivals to his memory.
Calydonian Hunt. §
Œneus*, king of Calydon, in Ætolia, had incurred the displeasure of Artemis by inadvertently neglecting her in a general sacrifice to the gods after a bountiful harvest. To punish this neglect, she sent a huge wild boar, which devastated the fields of Calydon, and seemed invincible by any ordinary means on account of its vast size. Meleager*, the son of Œneus, proclaimed a general hunt, and invited to it the most famous heroes of the age. Among those that responded to his call were Jason*, Castor* and Pollux*, Idas* and Lynceus*, Peleus*, Telamon*, Admetus*, Pirithous, and Theseus. The brothers of Althea, wife of Œneus, joined the hunters, also the fleet-footed huntress Atalanta*.
After Œneus had entertained his guests for nine days, the hunt began, and the huge beast was driven from its lair. Atalanta was the first to inflict a wound. After a long and desperate encounter, Meleager succeeded in killing the monster, and presented the head and hide to Atalanta, because she had been the first to wound the boar. The uncles of Meleager forcibly deprived Atalanta of the prize, and in the struggle which ensued Meleager killed his uncles and restored hide and head to Atalanta. When Althea beheld the dead bodies of her brothers, her grief and anger knew no bounds.
The Mœræ* (Fates) had appeared to Althea soon after the birth of Meleager, and informed her that her son would live only until a certain brand, that was then burning on the fire, was consumed. Althea immediately snatched it from the flames and carefully treasured it. After Meleager had slain her brothers, she threw the fatal brand into the fire. As it burned, the vigor of Meleager wasted away, and when it was consumed he expired. Althea, full of sorrow for her hasty deed, put an end to her own life.
Atalanta had been told by the oracle to avoid marriage, as it would prove fatal to her. To all suitors she proposed a race, promising to be the prize of the one who should outrun her, but those who were vanquished were to be put to death. Notwithstanding this hard condition, some would try, and numerous youths had paid the penalty of their rashness, when Hippomenes*, a son of Poseidon, challenged her to a trial of swiftness. He invoked the aid of Aphrodite (Venus), who gave him three golden apples, and told him how to use them. In the race he threw them on the ground at different times. Atalanta, who was dazzled by the beauty of the golden fruit, repeatedly stopped to secure it, and thus Hippomenes won the race and carried off his prize.
But the lovers were so full of their own happiness that they forgot to pay due honor to Aphrodite. Provoked at their ingratitude, she caused them to give offence to Cybele. That goddess changed them into lions and yoked them to her car, where they are still to be seen in all representations of the goddess Cybele.
Dædalus* and Icarus*. §
Dædalus was one of the most celebrated artificers of the legendary period. He was so proud of his achievements that he could not endure the thought of having a rival. His nephew gave striking evidences of ingenuity. Walking on the sea-shore, he picked up the spine of a fish. Imitating it, he notched a piece of iron on the edge, and thus invented the saw. He also invented a pair of compasses. Dædalus, envious of his nephew’s performances, one day pushed him off the top of a high tower. Athene, who saw him falling, changed him into a bird called the partridge. This bird always avoids high places.
Dædalus fled with his son Icarus to Crete, where they were welcomed by Minos. He built the Labyrinth, besides many other wonderful works of art, but afterwards, having lost the favor of the king, both father and son were imprisoned. They contrived to escape from the prison, but, as the king kept strict watch on all the vessels, they could not leave the island by sea; so Dædalus made wings of feathers fastened together with wax, and equipped himself and son. He taught Icarus to fly, and charged him to keep at a moderate height. Icarus fell into the sea, which was named for him Icarium* Mare, but Dædalus reached Cumæ in safety.
The Argonautic Expedition. §
Æson*, king of Iolcus, in Thessaly, was deprived of his throne by his half-brother, Pelias*. Æson rescued his little son Jason* from Pelias, and committed him to the care of the Centaur Chiron*. After completing his twentieth year, Jason determined to return to Iolcus and demand of his uncle his rightful inheritance. As he was crossing the river Anauros* he lost one of his sandals, and was obliged to proceed without it. He arrived in the market-place of Iolcus, and Pelias, happening to see him, shuddered when he saw the youth had but one sandal, because he had been warned by the oracle to beware of the one-sandaled man. Pelias disguised his fears, conversed kindly with Jason, and drew from him his name and errand. Pretending to be pleased with his nephew, Pelias entertained him sumptuously for five days. On the sixth, Jason demanded from him the throne and kingdom. Pelias declared his willingness to resign the crown if Jason would bring back the Golden Fleece from Colchis*. Jason at once accepted the perilous adventure. Athene and Hera assisted him to build the ship Argo, in the prow of which was placed a plank from the speaking oak of Dodona. When it was finished, Jason invited the heroes of Greece to join him in the enterprise.
The Story of the Golden Fleece. §
Athamas*, a king of Bœotia, married Nephele, a cloud nymph. Their two children were Phryxus* and Helle*. He afterwards married Ino*, a daughter of Cadmus, and she, being jealous of her step-children, resolved to destroy them. She persuaded the women to parch the seed-corn without their husbands’ knowledge. The land consequently yielded no increase, and when the oracle was consulted, Ino bribed the messengers to say that the evil could be removed only by sacrificing Phryxus and Helle to Zeus. But the watchful Nephele apprised her children of their danger, and, placing them on a golden-fleeced ram which had been given her by Hermes, and which, like the celestial steeds, could run through the air, she directed them to flee to Colchis.
On the way, Helle fell into the sea and was drowned; so the sea was called for her Hellespont (Helle’s Sea). Phryxus arrived safely in Colchis. He sacrificed to Zeus the ram which had borne him thither, and suspended the skin or golden fleece in a grove sacred to Ares (Mars), and placed a dragon to guard it. He married Calciope*, daughter of the king Æetes*, but soon afterwards died.
The Voyage of the Argonauts. §
When everything was in readiness, Jason sacrificed to Zeus, who, as a sign of his favor, answered by thundering. Jason was commander-in-chief of the expedition. The number of the heroes was fifty, the most distinguished of whom were Heracles, Theseus, Castor and Pollux, Telamon, Peleus, Admetus, Idas and Lynceus, Laertes*, Amphiaraus*, Zetes* and Calais*, Pirithous, Pœas, Meleager, Orpheus; Æsculapius was surgeon, and Tiphys, pilot. For a time all things were favorable, when suddenly a storm forced the adventurers to seek refuge in the harbor of Lemnos. They were hospitabty entertained by the Lemnian women, and after remaining several days they again embarked.
On arriving at the coast of Mysia they went ashore. Here Hylas was lost, and while Heracles and Telamon were searching for him, the Argo departed, leaving them behind. The Argonauts next arrived in Bebrycia, where Amycus* reigned. He always challenged strangers to a trial of strength. He was vanquished and slain in a combat with Pollux.
They sailed on to Salmydessus, on the European coast, where the prophet Phineus* reigned, whom the gods had punished with blindness. To complete his misery, he was perpetually tormented by the Harpies. As soon as food was set before the unhappy prince, they came and devoured a portion of it and defiled the remainder.
The heroes, having landed, proceeded to the palace of Phineus to consult him as to their further course. He promised to give them ample directions if they would deliver him from the Harpies. Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of Boreas, pursued the monsters to the islands named Strophades. Here the Boreades seized them, but, on their swearing never to molest Phineus again, their captors released them and they rejoined their companions. In gratitude for his deliverance, Phineus instructed the Argonauts how to overcome the dangers awaiting them.
They once more set sail, but they had not proceeded far on their course, when they heard a fearful crash. This was caused by the meeting of two immense rocks called the Symplegades*, which floated about in the sea, and constantly met and separated, crushing everything that came between them. Phineus had told the heroes to let loose a dove, and if it ventured to fly through they might safely follow. The bird passed swiftly, but lost some of the feathers of her tail, so quickly did the rocks reunite. Seizing the moment when they separated, the Argonauts, aided by Hera, worked vigorously at the oars and achieved the perilous passage in safety. The rocks then became immovable, for it had been decreed they should if any vessel passed through in safety.
The Capture of the Golden Fleece. §
After a prosperous course along the Asiatic coast, the Argo entered the harbor of Colchis. Jason filled a golden cup with wine and offered a libation to mother-earth, the gods of the country, and the shades of those of the heroes that had died on the voyage. It was decided that Jason, with a few chosen companions, should proceed to the royal palace, leaving the remainder of the crew to guard the Argo.
Jason informed Æetes of the cause of his visit, and that monarch promised to relinquish the Golden Fleece if Jason would perform the tasks which he should set for him. The first was to harness to a plough two brazen-footed, fire-breathing bulls which Æetes had received from Hephæstus, and with them to till an uncultivated field. The second was to sow in it the teeth of the serpent killed by Cadmus, some of which Athene had given to Æetes; and, finally, to overcome the armed crop which should spring up.
Jason was in great perplexity when he heard these conditions. He went to the temple of Hecate to supplicate that mighty goddess, and was met there by Medea*, daughter of Æetes, and a great enchantress, who had fallen in love with him the instant she beheld him. She promised her assistance in the dangers which threatened him, and her powerful help in accomplishing his glorious undertaking, provided he would swear fidelity to her. Jason took the required oath, and Medea gave him a magic salve, which possessed the property of rendering any person anointed with it invulnerable for one day. She instructed him to also anoint his spear and shield, and gave him a stone which he was to cast among the warriors that would spring up from the dragon’s teeth, and also a potion for lulling to sleep the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece.
On the following day, Jason, surrounded by his companions, appeared on the field of Ares in the presence of the king and a multitude of people. The bulls rushed upon him, but the powerful charm with which Medea had armed him suddenly made them tame and obedient. Without resistance, they bent their necks under the yoke, permitting Jason to put them to the plough, and quietly made the furrows into which he sowed the dragon’s teeth. Armed men sprung up, but Jason, remembering the instructions of Medea, hurled amidst them the stone she had given him, and they immediately attacked each other. The ground was soon covered with their slain bodies.
Æetes not only refused to give Jason the Fleece which he had so bravely earned, but he determined to destroy all the Argonauts and to burn their vessel.
Becoming aware of the treacherous designs of her father, Medea, in the darkness of the night, went on board the Argo and warned the heroes of their approachmg danger. She then advised Jason to accompany her without loss of time to the sacred grove, in order to secure the coveted treasure. They set out together; Medea led the way, and they advanced boldly into the grove. The tall oak-tree was soon discovered, from the topmost boughs of which hung the Golden Fleece. At the foot of this tree, keeping his ever-wakeful watch, lay the dreadful sleepless dragon, who at sight of them bounded forward.
Medea, quietly approaching the monster, threw over him a few drops of a potion, which soon took effect and lulled him to sleep, whereupon Jason, seizing the opportunity climbed the tree and secured the Fleece. Their perilous task being now accomplished, Jason and Medea hastened on board the Argo, which immediately put to sea.
Æetes soon discovered the flight of his daughter, and attempted to overtake the fugitives, but Medea slew her young brother, Absyrtus*, whom she had taken with her, and scattered his limbs in the sea. Her father stopped to collect the remains of his unfortunate son, and the Argonauts quietly proceeded on their voyage.
As the Argonauts were sailing by the Absyrtian islands, they were assailed by a storm, and a voice was heard from the plank which had been taken from the speaking oak of Dodona, “You are not destined to reach your home until Jason and Medea are absolved from the murder of Absyrtus.” They accordingly steered for the island of Ææa*, where dwelt Circe, a famous enchantress and aunt to Medea. By her they were purified, but she severely reprimanded them for the horrible murder of which they had been guilty.
The Argo at length arrived safely at Iolcus, and Jason delivered the Golden Fleece to his uncle. Pelias, however, still refused to surrender the throne to Jason, and Medea determined to destroy him. Having persuaded the daughters of Pelias that she possessed the power of making the old young again, she directed them to slay their father, cut him in pieces, and boil the limbs in a cauldron; this they did in the vain expectation of seeing him restored to youth.
Medea and Jason fled to Corinth, where they lived happily for ten years. At length Jason wearied of her, and was about to marry Creusa*, the daughter of the king. Medea concealed her rage, and sent a splendid robe as a present to the bride; but it was poisoned, and caused the death of Creusa.
Medea then murdered her two children, after which she fled to Athens in her chariot drawn by winged dragons, and found protection at the court of Ægeus. Jason either put an end to his own life or was killed by the fall of a beam from the Argo.
“The Argonautic Expedition, 1263 b. c., forms a memorable epoch in the Grecian history, a sort of separation point between the fabulous and the authentic. Various explanations have been given. One writer thinks the Golden Fleece was the raw silk of the East. Another asserts that the phrase arose from the habit of collecting gold washed down from the mountains, by putting sheepskins in the channels of the streams.”
“The story of the Argonauts was originally only a Thessalian myth based on natural phenomena, but in the hands of the poets it swelled to a mass of legends common to all the tribes of Greece. By the Golden Fleece was meant the sunlight, Phryxus personified a rain-shower, and Helle a ray of light.”
The Trojan War. §
Troy, or Ilion*, was the capital of a kingdom in Asia Minor, situated near the Hellespont. It was founded by Ilus*, a son of Tros, who was a descendant of Zeus and Electra, one of the Pleiades*. Tros had three sons, Ilus*, Assaracus*, and Ganymedes. The last was carried off by Zeus to be his cup-bearer. Assaracus was the grandfather of Æneas, son of Anchises* and Aphrodite.
Ilus was directed by the oracle to follow a spotted cow, and build a town where she should lie down. He followed the cow until she came to the hill of Ate* (Mischief), where he built the town named Ilion, from himself, and Troy from his father. He prayed to Zeus to bestow upon him some sign of favor. The next morning he found in front of his tent the celebrated Palladium* — an image of Pallas Athene carved in wood, and the oracle declared that the safety of Troy depended upon its preservation.
After the death of Ilus, his son Laomedon* became king of Troy, and he was succeeded by Priam, who was king at the time of the Trojan War. He was married to Hecuba*, and the most renowned of their children were the valiant Hector*, the prophetess Cassandra*, and Paris, the cause of the Trojan war.
When Paris was born, it was predicted that he would prove the ruin of his country; and the soothsayer recommended that he should be exposed on the mountain, to perish. This was accordingly done; but the servant who had left him, found five days later that a bear had taken care of the infant. Surprised at the incident, he took the child, named him Paris, and reared him as his own son. Paris afterwards distinguished himself by his strength and courage in repelling robbers from the flocks, and the shepherds then gave him the name of Alexander (man-aider). He married the nymph Œnone*,14 whom Rhea had taught prophecy. It was about this time that Paris gave his famous decision in favor of the beauty of Aphrodite.
Soon after this event, Priam proposed a contest among his sons and other princes, promising to reward the conqueror with one of the finest bulls from Mount Ida. On sending to procure the animal, it was found in the possession of Paris, who reluctantly allowed it to be taken away. Desirous of recovering his favorite, he went to Troy, and entered the list of combatants.
Paris proved successful, and gained advantage over Hector himself. A strife followed, which would have ended in bloodshed but for the appearance of Cassandra, who told them that the young shepherd was their brother Paris. Priam acknowledged his son, the prediction was forgotten, and Paris enjoyed all the privileges of a prince of Troy.
Hesione, sister of Priam, had been carried away captive by Heracles, and given in marriage to Telamon*. Although she lived happily with her husband, her brother Priam had never ceased to regret her loss, and it was now proposed that Paris should take the command of an expedition to demand the restoration of Hesione.
Under the command of Paris, the fleet set sail, and arrived safely in Greece. Arriving at Sparta, where Menelaus*, the husband of Helen, was reigning, he met with a hospitable reception. Menelaus soon after sailed to Crete; Paris availed himself of his absence, gained the affections of Helen, and bore her away to his native city.
Helen was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and the loveliest woman of her time. The fame of her beauty drew many kings to the court of Tyndareus*, her foster-father, in the hope of obtaining her as a wife. Tyndareus feared that, as she could be given to but one of the suitors, the pretended friendship of the others might change to hatred and revenge, which might be dangerous to him. At length Odysseus* (Ulysses*) offered to relieve him from his embarrassment if Tyndareus would obtain for him the hand of Penelope*. Tyndareus gladly consented, and Ulysses then told him to exact an oath from all the suitors that, in case of any violence or injury being offered to the successful candidate, they would all aid in procuring satisfaction. The hand of Helen was then bestowed upon Menelaus.
Preparations for the War. §
Ambassadors were sent to Priam to demand the restitution of Helen, and in consequence of his refusal, the kings of Greece formed a coalition, swearing to overthrow the city of Troy. A powerful army was collected, from which few names of note were missing. Only in the case of two great heroes did Menelaus experience any difficulty.
Ulysses, famed for his wisdom, was at this time living happily at Ithaca with his fair young wife Penelope and his little son Telemachus*, and was unwilling to leave his happy home for a perilous foreign expedition of uncertain duration. Hearing that Palamedes* had come to summon him to the field, he pretended to be insane. He yoked a horse and a bull together, and began ploughing the sands of the sea-shore, sowing salt instead of grain. Palamedes caused the infant Telemachus to be laid before the plough, and the manner in which the father hastened to remove the child convinced every one that his insanity was feigned. He was therefore obliged to join the expedition against Troy, but he never forgave Palamedes for having exposed the stratagem.
Achilles was the son of Peleus* and the sea-goddess Thetis*, who is said to have dipped her son, when a babe, in the river Styx, and thereby rendered him invulnerable, except in the right heel, by which she held him. Calchas*, the soothsayer, had declared that Troy could not be taken without the aid of Achilles. Thetis, who was aware that her son was destined to perish if he joined the expedition, disguised him in female attire, and concealed him among the daughters of King Lycomedes*, on the isle of Scyros*. Ulysses was sent to discover his retreat, and did so by stratagem. Attired as a traveling merchant, he presented himself at the court of Lycomedes, and displayed before the queen and her maidens various ornaments, among which he had placed some arms. By the order of Ulysses, a trumpet was suddenly blown, when the disguised Achilles betrayed himself by seizing the armor. The young warrior was then induced to accompany the Greeks to Troy.
The troops, numbering a hundred thousand, assembled at Aulis, in Bœotia. In the bay were a thousand ships. The command of this mighty host was intrusted to Agamemnon*, king of Mycenæ, the most powerful of all the Greek princes. The army offered a solemn sacrifice, during which a serpent appeared and devoured nine little birds in their nest, and afterward the mother. Calchas predicted from this incident that the siege would last ten years.
The fleet lay a long time in the harbor waiting for a fair wind. Just as the expedition was about to start, Agamemnon had the misfortune to kill a hind sacred to Artemis, who, in her anger, sent continuous calms, which prevented the fleet from Setting sail. Calchas, on being consulted, announced that the sacrifice of Iphigenia*, the daughter of Agamemnon, would alone appease the incensed goddess. For a long time the unhappy father refused to listen to all arguments, but at length the other generals succeeded in persuading him that it was his duty to make the sacrifice. He accordingly despatched a messenger to his wife, Clytemnæstra*, begging her to send Iphigenia to him, alleging, as a pretext, that the hero Achilles desired to make her his wife. Rejoicing at the brilliant destiny which awaited her beautiful daughter, the mother obeyed, and sent the maiden to Aulis. When she was about to be sacrificed, Artemis substituted a hind, and conveyed Iphigenia to Tauris, where she became a priestess in the temple of the goddess.
The Departure of the Fleet. §
The fleet now sailed with a fair wind. The expedition first stopped at Tenedos, opposite the coast of Troy. Here, Philoctetes*, who possessed the bow and arrows of Heracles, on which the conquest of Troy depended, was bitten on the foot by a serpent, and, on account of his cries and the offensive odor of the wound, was carried to Lemnos, and there left to his fate.
The Commencement of Hostilities. §
Having received intelligence of the impending invasion of their country, the Trojans sought the assistance of the neighboring states, who all gallantly responded to their call for help, and thus ample preparations were made to receive the enemy. King Priam being too advanced in years for active service, the command of the army devolved upon his eldest son, the brave Hector.
At the approach of the Greek fleet, the Trojans appeared on the coast to prevent their landing. But great hesitation prevailed among the troops as to who should be the first to set foot on the enemy’s soil, it having been predicted that the one who did so would fall a sacrifice. Protesilaus*, however, disregarding the prediction, leaped on shore, and fell by the hand of Hector.
The Greeks then succeeded in effecting a landing, and in the engagement which ensued the Trojans were signally defeated, and driven within the walls of the city. With Achilles at their head, the Greeks now made an attempt to take the city by storm, but they were repulsed with terrible loss. After this defeat, the invaders, foreseeing a long campaign, drew up their ships on land, erected tents, etc., and formed an intrenched camp on the coast.
In this war the celestials took part. In favor of the Greeks were Hera (Juno), Pallas Athene (Minerva), Poseidon (Neptune), Hephæstus (Vulcan), and Hermes (Mercury). On the side of the Trojans were Zeus (Jupiter), Apollo, Artemis (Diana), and Aphrodite (Venus).
Several attacks on the town being repelled by the Trojans, the Greeks confined themselves to making plundering excursions into the surrounding country, in which Achilles was always the most prominent actor. The wearisome monotony of the siege for the first nine years was broken only by the single combat between Achilles and Troilus*, the youngest son of Priam, in which Troilus was slain, and by the death of Palamedes, which was caused by the treachery of Ulysses.
The Wrath of Achilles. §
At length, in the tenth year of the war, a quarrel broke out between Achilles and Agamemnon respecting a female slave that had been taken captive. Achilles, in his wrath, retired to his tent, and refused to take any further part in the war, while the Trojans, who feared him more than all the other Greeks, became bolder, and no longer kept within the walls. Zeus, at the request of Thetis, gave them the victory in their first engagement with the Greeks. Hector drove the latter back to their ships, and was about to set them on fire, when Achilles consented to allow his friend Patroclus* to wear his armor, and lead his Myrmidons* to the assistance of the Greeks. The Trojans were now driven back, but Patroclus, in the ardor of pursuit, was slain by Hector and deprived of the armor. Menelaus, with the assistance of the Greater Ajax* and other heroes, succeeded in rescuing his corpse only after a severe and obstinate struggle. The wrath of Achilles was now entirely diverted by the desire to avenge on Hector the death of his much-loved friend, Patroclus. Thetis brought him new armor from the workshop of Hephæstus.
The Death of Hector. §
Achilles became reconciled to Agamemnon, and rejoined the Greek army. Arrayed in his new armor, he led the troops against the enemy, who were defeated and put to flight, until, near the gates of the city, Achilles and Hector encountered each other. Hector was slain, and his body dragged at the chariot wheels of Achilles three times around the walls of Troy, and then thrown into the dust within the Greek camp. The gods, indignant at the ferocious anger of Achilles, cared for the body of Hector by preserving it from corruption. Moved at last by the supplications of Priam, who came to beg the body of his son, Achilles surrendered the corpse, and the Trojans celebrated the obsequies of him who had been the hope and stay of Troy.
Immediately after Hector’s death, Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, came to the assistance of the Trojans, and fought bravely at the head of her army of female warriors. Achilles slew her, but restored her body to the Trojans.
The Death of Memnon*. §
Memnon was the son of Eos (Aurora) and Tithonus. He was king of the Ethiopians, and came with his warriors to assist the kindred of his father. King Priam received him with great honors. The day after his arrival, Memnon led his troops to the field. Antilochus*, the brave son of Nestor, fell by his hand, and the Greeks were put to flight, when Achilles appeared, and restored the battle. A long and doubtful contest ensued; at length Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled in dismay. When Aurora saw him fall, she directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to Paphlagonia. In the evening she came, accompanied by the Hours and Pleiades, and wept and lamented over her son. Night, in sympathy with her grief, spread the heavens with clouds. The Ethiopians raised his tomb in the grove of the Nymphs. Zeus caused the sparks and cinders of his funeral pyre to be turned into birds, which fight continually over the tomb of Memnon.15 Eos remains inconsolable for the loss of her son. Her tears still flow, and may be seen at early morning, in the form of dew-drops, on the grass.
The Death of Achilles. §
The triumph of Achilles was not of long duration. In an assault on the Scæan gate, Achilles was killed by an arrow of Paris, which was directed by Apollo. A furious contest, lasting a whole day, took place for the possession of his corpse and armor. Ulysses and Ajax succeeded in conveying it to a place of safety. Mourning and confusion reigned among the Greeks at the death of Achilles. During seventeen days and nights, Thetis, with the whole band of Nereides*, bewailed his untimely fate in such mournful melodies that neither gods nor men could refrain from tears.
The death of the bravest of the Greeks was followed by a quarrel between Ajax and Ulysses respecting his armor. It was finally adjudged to Ulysses. The unfortunate Ajax lost his reason, and put an end to his existence.
Final Measures. §
Soon after this the Greeks captured the Trojan seer, Helenus*, a son of Priam, and extorted from him the secret that Troy could not be taken without the arrows of Heracles, the assistance of Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, and the possession of the Palladium.
The arrows of Heracles were in the possession of Philoctetes, who had remained on the island of Lemnos, his wound still unhealed, suffering abject misery. Ulysses and Diomedes were sent to Lemnos for Philoctetes, whose wound was then healed by Machaon*, a son of Æsculapius*.
In an engagement which took place soon after, he mortally wounded Paris. Death did not immediately ensue, and remembering the prediction of the oracle, that only his deserted wife, Œnone, could cure him if wounded, Paris caused himself to be taken to her on Mount Ida. Œnone sternly bade him depart, but afterwards her tenderness revived, and with frantic haste she followed him. On her arrival in Troy she beheld the burning pyre of Paris, and in her despair she threw herself on the lifeless form of her husband, and perished in the flames.
Odysseus repaired to the island of Scyros, where he found Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. Having succeeded in rousing the ambition of the youth, he resigned to him the armor of his father, and conveyed him to the Greek camp. He immediately distinguished himself in single combat with Eurypylus*, a grandson of Heracles, who had come to aid the Trojans.
The third and most difficult condition being unfulfilled, all efforts to take the city were unavailing. Ulysses and Diomedes accomplished the perilous task of stealing the Palladium, on which the safety of the city depended. Ulysses then devised the celebrated wooden horse and the stratagem which led to the capture of the city. In the horse, which was built by the sculptor Epeus*, one hundred chosen Greek warriors concealed themselves. The rest of the Greeks set fire to their camp, and sailed away to Tenedos.
The Destruction of Troy. §
When the Trojans saw the enemy depart and the Greek camp in flames, they believed themselves safe, and great numbers went out of the town to view the site of the Greek encampment. They found the wooden horse, which they examined with curiosity.
The crafty Odysseus had left his trusty friend Sinon* with full instructions as to his course of action. He now approached King Priam with fettered hands, alleging that the Greeks, in obedience to the command of an oracle, had attempted to immolate him as a sacrifice, but that he had contrived to escape, and now sought protection from the king.
The monarch, believing his story, released his bonds, and then begged him to explain the meaning of the wooden horse. Sinon declared that Pallas Athene was so deeply offended at the removal of her sacred image, the Palladium, from her temple in Troy, that she had refused all further aid to the Greeks until it was restored to its place; hence the Greeks had returned home in order to seek fresh instructions from an oracle. Calchas had advised building this gigantic horse as a tribute to the offended goddess, hoping to appease her anger.
The Trojans urged that it should be taken into the city without delay. In vain did Laocoon*, priest of Apollo, seek to divert them from their folly. None would listen to his warnings; and when, soon afterwards, he and his two sons were destroyed by two serpents that came up out of the sea, the Trojans regarded this as a punishment sent by the gods for his evil counsel, and were the more confirmed in their purpose.
The gates being too low to admit the horse, a breach was made in the walls, and it was conveyed in triumph into the heart of the city. The Trojans, believing that the siege had been abandoned, and that they now had a sacred object in the place of the Palladium, abandoned themselves to festivities, until, exhausted, they were sunk in deep sleep.
The Greek fleet quietly approached the shore at a signal from Sinon. The heroes who were hidden in the horse descended and opened the gates to the Greek host, who rushed into the doomed city. A terrible scene of plunder and carnage ensued, the Trojans, in their dismay and confusion, offering no resistance. Priam perished before the altar of Zeus. The men were put to death; the women and children, with the rich booty, were carried off, the former being destined to a lot of slavery. Among them was the aged queen Hecuba, with all her daughters and daughters-in-law. Helen, the cause of all this misfortune, professed penitence, was received by Menelaus, and returned with him to Greece.
The tradition of the siege remained among the inhabitants of the country, though even in Roman times learned men had begun to declare that “Old Troy” must have had another site. Now, when the very existence of’s Troy had been declared a fable, the palace and the traces of the conflagration have been found. Dr. Schliemann has excavated the legendary site. We can scarcely tell at present the full importance of these discoveries.
“the siege of Troy is a repetition of the daily siege of the East by the solar powers that every evening are robbed of their brightest treasures in the West.”
« The great conflict of the Iliad is the battle of the powers of light and darkness. Paris represents the night fighting with the children of day.”
“That the story of the Trojan war is almost wholly mythical, has been conceded by even the most obstinate champions of Homeric unity. That it contains some few grains of actual history is all they venture to urge.”.
The Return of the Greeks from Troy. §
The Greeks, after sacrificing Polyxena*, a daughter of Priam, on the grave of Achilles, prepared to return to their country. In consequence of the acts of desecration and cruelty of which they had been guilty during the destruction of Troy, the wrath of the gods was roused, for which reason their homeward voyage was beset with manifold disasters, and many perished.
Agamemnon, after escaping a storm, landed safely on his native shores, accompanied by Cassandra, who, in vain, warned him of his impending fate. During his absence, his wife, Clytemnæstra, had married Ægisthus*. She received Agamemnon with every mark of affection, but at the banquet given in the evening to celebrate his safe return, he and his companions were massacred. Their death was afterwards avenged by Orestes.16
Menelaus having become reconciled to Helen embarked with her, but their vessel was driven by violent tempests to the coast of Egypt. After eight years of wanderings, they finally reached their home.
Ajax, the Locrian*, had offended Pallas Athene by desecrating her temple on the night of the destruction of Troy. He was shipwrecked, and as he grasped a rock to save himself, Poseidon split it with a blow of his trident, and precipitated him into the waves, where he perished.
Odysseus*, or Ulysses*. §
The hardest fate befell Odysseus. With his twelve ships laden with treasures captured from Troy, Odysseus set sail for Ithaca. On doubling Cape Malea, in Laconia, he encountered a violent north-east wind, which drove him along the sea till he reached the land of the Lotus-eaters*, westward from Libya. His men, who went on shore, were kindly received and given some of the lotus plant to eat. The effect of this food was such that those who partook of it lost all thought of home. Odysseus was obliged to drag them away and fasten them to the benches of the ship.
They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes. The name means “round eye,” and these giants were so called because they had but one eye, and that was placed in the middle of the forehead.
Odysseus left his fleet at anchor, and with twelve chosen companions set out to explore the country, carrying with them a jar of wine. Near the shore they found a vast cave, which they entered. They found it stored with quantities of cheese, pails of milk, lambs and kids in their pens. Presently Polyphemus*, a son of Poseidon, and master of the cave, arrived, bearing an enormous load of wood on his shoulders, and driving before him a large flock of sheep. Entering the cave, he rolled to its mouth an enormous rock that twenty oxen could not have drawn.
Having kindled a fire, he discerned the strangers and demanded who they were, and where they were from. Odysseus informed him they were shipwrecked mariners, and claimed his hospitality in the name of Zeus. Polyphemus deigned no reply, but reaching out his hand he seized two of the Greeks, dashed out their brains and then devoured them with great relish. He then stretched himself on the floor, and soon fell asleep before the fire.
Odysseus drew his sword and was about to slay the giant when he remembered that the rock with which the cave was closed was far beyond their power to remove, and that they would therefore be in hopeless imprisonment.
Next morning two more of the Greeks were despatched as their companions had been the night before. Polyphemus then moved away the rock from the entrance, drove out his flocks, and went out, carefully replacing the barrier after him. He came home at evening, rolled away the stone, and drove in his flocks as usual. After milking them and making his arrangements as before, he seized two more of his prisoners and made his evening meal upon them. Odysseus then approached and handed him a bowl of wine, saying,
“Cyclops, this is wine; taste and drink after thy meal of man’s flesh.” Delighted with the delicious beverage, he called for more, and was again supplied. The giant was so much pleased, that he promised to allow Odysseus to be the last to be devoured. He asked his name, to which Odysseus replied, “Outis” (Noman).
After his supper, the giant lay down to repose, and soon fell into a heavy sleep. Then Odysseus and his companions thrust into the fire the end of a stake which they had already sharpened. When it was red hot, they thrust it into the eye of Polyphemus and effectually blinded him. His cries being heard by the other Cyclopes dwelling in caves not far distant, they flocked around his den and inquired the cause of his outcry. He replied,
“O friends, I die, and Noman gives the blow.” They answered,
“If no man hurts thee, it is the stroke of Jove, and thou must bear it.” So saying, they left him.
Next morning Polyphemus rolled away the stone to let his flocks out to pasture, but stationed himself in the door of the cave to feel of all as they went out, that Odysseus and his men should not escape with them. But the subtlety of the hero proved more than a match for the giant’s strength. The sheep were very large, and Odysseus, with bands of willow, had linked them together three abreast, and under each centre one had secured one of his companions, Odysseus himself being on the last one. As the sheep passed out the giant felt carefully among them for his victims, but not finding them on the backs of the animals he let them pass, and thus they escaped.
The Grreeks now hastened aboard their vessel, taking a good part of the flock with them. Thinking himself at a safe distance, Odysseus shouted out his real name, whereupon Polyphemus seized a huge rock, and following the direction of the voice, hurled it towards the ship, which narrowly escaped destruction.
Odysseus next arrived at the island of Æolus*, to whom Zeus had intrusted the command of the winds. He treated the Greeks hospitably, and at their departure gave Odysseus a leather bag tied with a silver string, into which he had placed all the contrary winds, and then, having cautioned him on no account to open it, he caused the gentle winds to blow the barks towards their own country.
Nine days they sailed before the wind, all that time Odysseus had stood at the helm without sleep. At last, quite exhausted, he lay down to sleep. His comrades, thinking Æolus had given hira a treasure in the bag which he so sedulously guarded, seized this opportunity and opened it to secure some portion for themselves. Immediately the adverse winds rushed out and drove them back to the Æolian island. Æolus refused to assist them further, and they were obliged to labor over their course once more by means of their oars.
The next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of Læstrygonians*. The vessels entered the harbor, Odysseus alone moored his vessel outside. As soon as the Læstrygonians found the ships completely in their power they attacked them, hurling huge rocks, which sunk eleven of the ships with all on board. Odysseus, finding no safety but in flight, exhorted his men to ply their oars vigorously, and they escaped.
They pursued their way till they arrived at the island of Ææa*, where dwelt Circe*, the daughter of the sun. Landing here, Odysseus sent one-half of his crew under the command of Eurylochus*, to see what prospect of hospitality they might find. They soon came to a magnificent marble palace, which was situated in a charming and fertile valley. Here dwelt the beautiful enchantress Circe. The entrance to her abode was guarded by wolves and lions, which, however, to the great surprise of the strangers, were tame and harmless as lambs. All these animals had once been men, but had been changed by Circe’s enchantments into the forms of beasts. The sounds of soft music were heard from within. Eurylochus called aloud, and the goddess came forward and invited them to enter. They all gladly entered except Eurylochus, who suspected danger. The sorceress had her guests served with wine and delicacies. When they had feasted heartily, she touched them one by one with her wand, and they became changed into swine in
“head, body, voice, and bristles,” yet with their intellects as before.
When Odysseus heard from Eurylochus of the terrible fate which had befallen his companions, he resolved to make an effort to rescue them. As he strode onward alone, he met a youth who addressed him familiarly, and announced himself as Hermes. He informed Odysseus of the danger of approaching Circe, gave him a sprig of the plant Moly, and instructed him how to act. Odysseus proceeded, and reaching the palace was courteously received by Circe, who entertained him as she had his companions, and then touched him with her wand, saying,
“Hence, seek the sty and wallow with thy friends.” Instead of obeying, he drew his sword and rushed toward her. She fell on her knees and begged for mercy. He dictated a solemn oath that she would release his companions and practise no further sorceries against him or them. She promised to dismiss them all in safety after hospitably entertaining them.
The men were restored to their shapes, the rest of the crew summoned from the shore, and all magnificently entertained day after day until Odysseus seemed to have forgotten his native land. At length his companions induced him to pursue their homeward voyage, and Circe instructed them how to pass safely by the coast of the Sirens. She warned him that his future would be beset by many dangers, and commanded him to consult the blind old seer Tiresias, in the realm of Aides, concerning his future destiny. She then loaded his ship with provisions, and reluctantly bade him farewell.
Though somewhat appalled at the prospect of seeking the gloomy realm inhabited by the shades of the dead, Odysseus obeyed the directions he had received. Favored by gentle breezes they soon reached their destination in the far west. On arriving at the spot indicated by Circe, where the waters of the rivers Acheron* and Cocytus* mingled at the entrance to the lower world, Odysseus landed unattended by his companions.
Having dug a trench to receive the blood of the sacrifices, he offered a black ram and ewe to the powers of darkness. Crowds of shades rose up from the yawning gulf, eager to quaff the blood of the sacrifice which would restore to them for a time their mental vigor. Remembering the injunction of Circe, Odysseus brandished his sword and allowed none to approach until Tiresias had appeared. The great prophet, after drinking of the sacrifice, proceeded to warn the hero of the numerous perils that would assail him, not only during his homeward voyage, but also on his return to Ithaca, and instructed him how to avoid them.
Tiresias having retired, Odysseus allowed the other shades to approach. Among them he recognized his mother. From her he learned that she had died of grief at her son’s protracted absence, and that his aged father, Laertes*, was wearing his life away in anxious longings for his return. He also conversed with Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Achilles. At last so many shades came round him, that the courage of Odysseus failed, and he fled in terror back to his ship. Having rejoined his companions, they once more put to sea and returned to Ææa, where they spent one day with Circe. They then took a final leave of her, and in a few days approached the island of the Sirens. Odysseus filled the ears of his men with wax, after having given directions that they should bind him firmly to the mast, and on no account to release him until they were out of sight of the island.
The Sirens, when they heard the dashing of the oars, raised their song in praise of Odysseus. He struggled to free himself, but his comrades bound him still faster, and he alone heard the song of the Sirens and escaped.
They now approached the terrible dangers of Scylla* and Charybdis*. Scylla was once a beautiful maiden, and was changed into a snaky monster by Circe. She had six heads, each of which took a man out of every ship that passed. It was said Charybdis had been an avaricious woman, and was changed into a whirlpool, which three times a day absorbed and regorged the water.
While Odysseus and his men were endeavoring to avoid Charybdis, Scylla seized six of them. At length they reached the island of Trinacria (Sicily), where the sun-god pastured his flocks and herds. Odysseus had been warned by both Tiresias and Circe to avoid this island. He urged his companions to pass it, but they insisted upon landing for the night, and took an oath that they would not touch the sacred cattle. During the night the wind changed, and they were detained on the island a month. Their provisions were all consumed, and they lived on what fish and birds they could catch. One day, in the absence of Odysseus, they slew some of the cattle, vainly attempting to make amends for the deed by offering a portion of them to the offended powers. Odysseus was horrified at what they had done, especially on account of the portentous signs which followed. The skins crept on the ground, and the joints of meat lowed on the spits while roasting.
After feasting for seven days they set sail, but were overtaken by a terrible storm. The ship was struck by lightning and went to pieces. All the crew perished, Odysseus alone was saved. Clinging to a mast, he floated about in the open sea for nine days. He once more escaped from Charybdis, and on the tenth day was cast ashore on the island of Ogygia*.
Ogygia was the abode of Calypso*, a daughter of Atlas. She received the hero hospitably, and wished to bestow upon him immortality and make him her husband, but he longed to return to his wife Penelope. After having been detained on the island seven years, he was released by the command of Zeus. Calypso supplied Odysseus with the means to construct a raft, and gave him clothing and provisions. His course was prosperous for many days; but Poseidon, still enraged at the hero, who had blinded and insulted his son, caused a tempest to arise, during which the raft was destroyed. He floated about for two days and nights, but at last the sea goddess, Leucothea*, aided him, and he was cast ashore on the island of Scheria*, the home of the Phæacians*. He crept into a thicket, and lying down on some dried leaves soon fell asleep.
Nausicaa*, the beautiful daughter of the king, Alcinous*, and his queen, Arete*, had come down to the shore, accompanied by her maidens, to wash the linen which was to form part of her marriage portion. When they had finished their task, they bathed and sat down to a repast, after which they amused themselves with singing and playing ball. Their joyous clamor awoke the sleeping hero, and coming forth he implored the protection of the princess. She gave him food and clothes and directed him to follow her to the town.
Odysseus was cordially received by the king and queen, and in return for their kindness he related to them the history of his long and eventful voyage. When he at last took leave of his royal host and hostess, Alcinous loaded him with rich gifts, and ordered him to be conveyed to Ithaca in one of his own ships.
The voyage was a short and prosperous one, during which Odysseus lay in a deep sleep. When the vessel arrived in the harbor of Ithaca, the sailors, concluding that so unusually profound a slumber must be sent by the gods, conveyed him on shore without disturbing him, and left him with the treasure King Alcinous had bestowed upon him.
It was now twenty years that Odysseus had been away from Ithaca, and when he awoke he did not recognize his native land. Pallas Athene appeared to him in the form of a shepherd, and informed him that he was in his native land, and told him the state of affairs at his palace. Many nobles of Ithaca and the neighboring islands had for years harassed Penelope with their solicitations to select another husband, as they believed Odysseus to be dead. In order to gain time, Penelope had promised to make a choice among them as soon as she had finished weaving a burial-robe for the aged Laertes; but by secretly undoing at night what she had done in the day, she prevented the completion of the work. One of her maids had betrayed her, and the suitors were now more clamorous than ever.
At the suggestion of Athene, who accompanied him under the form of a man named Mentor, Telemachus had gone to the courts of the other kings who had returned from the Trojan expedition, hoping to gain tidings of his father.
That Odysseus might be able to take vengeance on the suitors, Athene gave him the appearance of an old beggar, and as such he was kindly received by Eumæus*, the swineherd. It chanced that the following morning Telemachus returned from his fruitless search for his father. He went first to Eumæus to learn something of the state of affairs at the palace.
Athene now urged Odysseus to make himself known to his son, at the same time she touched him and gave him the appearance of vigorous manhood, which belonged to him. Telemachus viewed him with astonishment, and at first thought he must be more than mortal; but Odysseus announced himself as his father, and explained that Athene had changed his appearance.
“Then threw TelemachusHis arms around his father’s neck and wept.”
The father and son took counsel together, and it was arranged that Telemachus should proceed to the palace and mingle with the suitors as formerly; that Odysseus should go as a beggar, and he charged his son not to display any unusual interest in him. As they entered the courtyard his faithful dog Argus, though feeble with age, recognized his master, and then expired at his feet.
At the palace they found the usual scene of feasting and riot. The suitors pretended to receive Telemachus with joy. The old beggar was permitted to enter, and was provided with food from the table. As he sat eating his portion, the suitors became insolent to him, but Penelope, hearing of their cruel conduct, was touched with compassion, and desired her maidens to bring the poor mendicant into her presence. She spoke kindly to him, inquiring his name and whence he came. He gave her a fictitious account of himself, but told her he had seen Odysseus, who would certainly arrive before the year was out. The queen, overjoyed at the glad tidings, ordered her maidens to treat the stranger as an honored guest. As Euryclea*, his old nurse, was bathing his feet, her eye fell on a scar which Odysseus had received in his youth, and instantly recognizing her beloved master, she would have cried aloud in her joy, but the hero implored her not to betray him.
The next day Penelope brought into the hall the bow of Odysseus, which he had used in former times, and declared that she would marry the suitor who could bend this bow and send an arrow through twelve rings (a feat which she had seen Odysseus perform.)
All the suitors tried their skill, but not one possessed the strength to bend the bow in order to attach the string. Odysseus asked permission to be allowed to try. The suitors mocked at his audacity, but Telemachus interfered and bade him try. The pretended beggar took the bow, with ease adjusted the cord to its notch, then fitting an arrow to the bow he drew the string, and it sped through the rings. Turning to Antinous*, the most insolent of the suitors, he pierced him to the heart just as he was raising a goblet of wine to his lips.
“There’s many a slip’Twixt the cup and the lip.”Odyssey.
The suitors, springing to their feet, looked around for arms, but, in obedience to Odysseus, Telemachus had removed them. He, with his father and Eumæus, slew the suitors.
The joyful intelligence of the return of Odysseus being conveyed to Penelope, she descended to the hall, but refused to recognize in the aged beggar her gallant husband. She determined to test his identity, and commanded that his own bed should be brought from his chamber. This bed had been made by Odysseus himself from an ohve-tree, which was still rooted in the ground, and around it he had built the walls of the chamber. Knowing, therefore, that the bed could not be moved, he exclaimed that the errand was useless, for that no mortal man could stir it from its place. Then Penelope knew that it must be Odysseus who stood before her, and a most touching and affectionate greeting took place between the long-separated husband and wife.
The next morning Odysseus went into the country to see his aged father Laertes. While he was absent, Eupithes*, the father of one of the slain suitors, incited the people to avenge their death. They took up arms and followed the hero. A conflict ensued, in which Eupithes was slain by Laertes. Athene, under the form of Mentor, assisted Odysseus. Zeus thundered, and ended the conflict. Athene established peace between Odysseus and his subjects.
“The legends of the return of the Greeks, especially of Odysseus, or Ulysses, and his companions, had their origin in phrases which described the general phenomena of daytime from the rising of the sun to its setting.
“The Sun (Odysseus) leaves his bride, the Twilight (Penelope), in the sky when he sinks beneath the sea to journey in silence and darkness to the scene of the great conflict with the powers of darkness.
« The ten weary years of the war are the hours of the night. In the tenth the fortress falls, as the dark shades are scattered at break of day. The victory is won, but the Sun still longs to see again the fair and beautiful bride from whom he was parted yester-eve. Dangers may await him, but he cannot arrest his steps. Do what he will, he cannot reach his home until another series of ten long years come to an end. The sun cannot see the twilight until another day is done.”
“‘Land of the Lotus-eaters,’ the fair fields of the deep blue heavens where the bright clouds float lazily, as if they would linger there forever.”
“In the legend of Polyphemus, Ulysses encounters the one-eyed monster, the child of the sea (Poseidon), and the storm-cloud (Thoösa). The shapeless vapors which arise from the waters, and through which, like a huge eye, the sun sheds a sickly light, assume strange and gigantic forms.
“‘The Sirens,’ the soft and treacherous calms which tempt the mariner to his ruin.
“‘Cattle of Helios,’ the fleecy clouds.
“‘Cave of Calypso,’ the bright and beautiful night which veils the sun from mortal eyes.
“‘Phæacian land,’ the region of the bright clouds unsullied by grosser vapors.
“‘The chief seizes his bow,’ the hidden sun darts his ray through the cloud-rift, and scatters the heavy vapors which had gathered round the dawn-hght.
“‘Penelope’ is the weaver but her web, though often begun, cannot be finished until Odysseus returns, because the web of morning clouds reappears only at sundown.”.
Æneas* was the son of Aphrodite (Venus) and Anchises*, and was one of the most valiant of the Trojans. On the night of the destruction of Troy, Æneas, with his father, wife, and young son Ascanius* or Iulus*, escaped from the scene of destruction. As Anchises was too old to walk, Æneas carried him upon his shoulders. In the confusion, his wife was lost. They sought refuge on Mount Ida, where with other fugitives they remained until the following summer. During this time they constructed a fleet, in which such of the Trojans who were willing to go in search of new settlements, embarked under the command of Æneas.
They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace, and were preparing to build a city, Æneas plucked some twigs from a myrtle; to his dismay, the wounded part dropped blood, and a voice cried out,
“Spare me, Æneas. I am your kinsman Polydore, here murdered with many arrows, from which a bush has grown, nourished with my blood.” Æneas recollected that Polydore was a young prince of Troy, whom Priam had sent to be brought up in Thrace, away from the horrors of war. The king to whom he was sent murdered him, and seized the treasures which had been sent with him. Æneas and his companions hastened away, and next landed on the island of Delos. Here Æneas consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received the ambiguous answer,
“Seek your ancient mother; there the race of Æneas shall dwell, and reduce all other nations to their sway.”
Anchises remembered a tradition that their forefathers came from Crete, to which place they accordingly steered. They began to build a city, but a pestilence broke out among them, and the fields that they had planted yielded no crops, Æneas was warned in a dream to leave the country and seek a western land called Hesperia, whence Dardanus, the true founder of the Trojan race, had originally migrated.
The Trojans sailed without delay, but they were driven by a storm to the Strophades*, islands which were then the abode of the Harpies. They saw herds of cattle, some of which they slew, and prepared for a feast. But no sooner had they seated themselves at the table, than the Harpies came rushing upon them, and seized and defiled all the meats, Æneas and his companions drew their swords on them in vain, their feathers were impenetrable. Celæno*, one of the Harpies, perching on a lofty rock, foretold that, though they would reach Hesperia (Italy), they would not be able to found a city till famine should have forced them to eat the tables off which they fed.
The adventurers next came to Epirus, and were rejoiced to learn that Helenus*, one of the sons of Priam, was reigning in that country. He had married Andromache*, widow of Hector. Helenus and Andromache treated the exiles with the utmost hospitality, and when they departed loaded them with gifts.
After a short voyage, they landed at the foot of Mount Ætna, in Sicily, where the Cyclopes dwelt. Here, meeting one of the companions of Ulysses who had been left behind, and had since lived in constant dread of the Cyclopes, they took him on board and sailed round to the other side of the island. Here Anchises died.
Seeing the Trojans speeding their way prosperously towards their destined shore, Hera (Juno) hastened to Æolus, the ruler of the winds, and by her directions he sent forth the winds, and a terrible storm scattered the fleet. Poseidon (Neptune) stilled the tempest, and the Trojans sought the nearest shore, which was the coast of Africa, where Dido* was then building the city of Carthage.
Dido received the illustrious exiles with friendliness and hospitality.
“Not unacquainted with distress,” she said, “I have learned to succor the unfortunate.” Months rolled away in the enjoyment of pleasant intercourse, and it seemed as if Italy and the empire destined to be founded on its shores were forgotten. Zeus (Jupiter) sent Hermes (Mercury) to the hero, commanding him to embark without delay.
Æneas made the necessary preparations for departure, disregarding the tears and reproaches of the queen. When Dido found that the Trojans had really departed, she ascended a funeral pyre which she had previously had constructed, and slew herself with the sword Æneas had left behind him.
Æneas returned to Sicily, where he celebrated funeral games in honor of his father, who had been dead exactly a year. He left with Acestes*, a Trojan prince who governed a part of the island, the women, the aged men, and all that were likely to be useless in the wars which awaited him.
The Trojans re-embarked, and at last landed at Cumæ, in Italy. This was the abode of a famous Sibyl, whom Helenus had directed Æneas to consult. She foretold labors and perils through which he was destined to make his way to final success. Her closing words have become proverbial,
“Yield not to disasters, but press onward the more bravely.”
Having been directed in a dream to seek the abode of the dead, that he might confer with his father Anchises, and receive from him a revelation of his future fortunes, he asked her assistance to enable him to accomplish the task. The Sibyl told him to seek in the adjoining forest for a tree on which grew a golden bough. This branch was to be borne as a gift to Proserpine. Aphrodite (Venus) sent two of her doves to fly before him and show him the way, and by their assistance he found the tree, plucked the branch, and hastened back with it to the Sibyl. She conducted him to a cave near Lake Avernus, and here Æneas offered sacrifices to Proserpine, Hecate, and the Furies. The ground rocked, Æneas and the Sibyl entered the dark descent, and proceeded to the river Acheron*, over which they were ferried by Charon*. They encountered the dog Cerberus, but the Sibyl threw him a medicated cake, which he devoured, and then fell asleep.
After seeing much that was wonderful, and passing through regions inhabited by diflerent classes of departed souls, they entered the plains of Elysium. Here, in a fragrant meadow, Æneas found the shade of Anchises, who showed him the souls which were destined to return to earth and become the future heroes of Rome. He told also of the events to be accomplished before the complete establishment of Æneas and his followers in Italy. Wars were to be waged, battles fought, a bride to be won, and a Trojan state founded, from which should rise the Roman power to be in time the sovereign of the world.
Æneas and the Sibyl then took leave of Anchises and returned to the upper world. Having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined his fleet, Æneas coasted along the shore of Italy, and cast anchor in the mouth of the Tiber.
Latinus*, third in descent from Saturn, governed the country. He had a daughter named Lavinia, whose hand had been promised to Turnus*, prince of the Rutulians*; but Latinus was warned by an oracle that his destined son-in-law was to come from afar, and that his daughter’s descendants were destined to subdue the world.
The Trojans landed, and while eating their first meal on shore, the prediction of the Harpy was fulfilled. Seated on the grass, the men placed their food on biscuits, and when all else was consumed, they ate them also. Iulus cried out in sport,
“See; we are eating our tables!” Æneas caught the words and accepted the omen.
Æneas sent an embassy to Latinus, requesting permission to settle in the country. The latter concluded that the Trojan prince was the son-in-law indicated by the oracle, and invited him to his palace. All now seemed to promise a peaceful settlement to the harassed Trojans; but the enmity of Hera (Juno) was not yet appeased. She sent the Fury Alecto to the palace of Turnus, with orders to excite that prince against the stranger who was to rob him of his promised bride. Alecto then went to the camp of the Trojans, where she saw Iulus and his companions hunting. She inspired the dogs with a sudden madness, and led them to rouse up from the thicket a tame stag belonging to Silvia*, the daughter of Tyrrheus*, chief herdsman of King Latinus.
A javelin from the hand of Iulus wounded the animal, which at once ran homewards and died at the feet of its mistress. Tyrrheus, with his sons and other herdsmen, assaulted the hunting party. These were protected by their friends, and the herdsmen were finally driven back, with the loss of two of their number.
A long war ensued. At length Turnus fell in a personal combat with Æneas, who, having triumphed over his foe, obtained Lavinia as his bride.
-Æneas built a city called Lavinium. Here he governed his Trojan and Italian subjects, who became one people under the name of Latins. The new kingdom was attacked by several of the neighboring princes, led by Mezentius, king of Etruria. Æneas defeated the allies, but was killed in the moment of victory.
Uranus, or Cœlum, personified the heavens.
Gæa, or Terra, personified the earth, with its subterranean forces.
Cyclopes personified the energies of the sky.
Titans personified the forces that formed the earth in the early ages.
Chronos, or Saturn, personified time.
Rhea, or Ops, personified the productive power of the earth.
Zeus, or Jupiter, personified the sky.
Hera, or Juno, personified the heavenly air, or the atmosphere.
Iris personified the rainbow.
Aides, or Pluto, personified the unseen cause of phenomena that were antagonistic to light, life, and progress.
Demeter, or Ceres, personified the fertility of the earth in producing grain.
Persephone, or Proserpine, personified the absence of vegetation from the surface of the earth during winter, and its reappearance in summer; also the immortality of the soul.
Poseidon, or Neptune, personified the forces which affect the movements of the sea.
Pallas Athene, or Minerva, personified mind working throughout the universe, carrying out the plans of Zeus.
Ares, or Mars, personified the angry, clouded sky.
Hebe personified the freshness of Nature.
Phœbus Apollo personified the light of the sun in its illuminating, energizing power; also intellectual light.
Artemis, or Diana, personified the moonlight splendor of night.
Aphrodite, or Venus, personified the creative and generative forces of Nature.
Eros, or Cupid, personified the principle of attraction.
Hermes, or Mercury, personified air in motion; also the rain, also practical wisdom.
Dionysus, or Bacchus, personified wine and its efiects; also the blessings of autumn.
Charites, or Graces, personified grace and beauty.
Horæ, or Seasons, personified the regularity with which the changes of the seasons occur.
Nemesis personified conscience.
Erinnys, or Furies, personified the stings of conscience.
Plutus personified the wealth derived from grain.
Offices of the Deities. §
Chronos, or Saturn, presided over time and the systematic movements of the heavenly bodies.
Rhea, or Ops, presided over the development of material wealth.
Helios, or Sol, presided over the light of the sun, and was believed to live in the sun.
Selene, or Luna, presided over the moon.
Hecate presided over the darkness and terrors of night; also over magic.
Zeus, or Jupiter, presided over all phenomena of the heavens, the alternation of day and night, and the change of the seasons.
Hera, or Juno, presided over the atmosphere; also over marriage.
Aides, or Pluto, presided over the lower world, and assisted vegetation by the internal warmth of the earth.
Demeter, or Ceres, presided over agriculture.
Persephone, or Proserpine, presided over the life of the seed concealed in the earth.
Poseidon, or Neptune, presided over the sea in its relation to storms and earthquakes, in its relation to commerce, and as the source of vegetation on its shores.
Hestia, or Vesta, presided over the hearth fires and altar fires.
Pallas Athene, or Minerva, presided over wisdom, just war, temperate celestial heat, and over the moon.
Ares, or Mars, presided over rude and fierce war.
Phœbus Apollo presided over archery, prophecy, and music; also over light from the sun and intellectual light.
Artemis, or Diana, presided over the chase, and represented the moonlight splendor of night.
Hermes, or Mercury, presided over eloquence and commerce. He was messenger of the gods, and, as guide of souls to and from Hades, was called Psychopompus.
Musæ, or Muses, presided over music, song, poetry, and the fine arts.
Charites, or Graces, presided over social enjoyments, and promoted temperance, gentleness, and good manners.
The Nymphs preserved the freshness of Nature, renewed the freshness of the waters and of vegetation, and cared for the well-being of flocks and herds.
Dionysus, or Bacchus, presided over the cultivation of the grape-vines.
Hephæstus, or Vulcan, presided over fire, and compelled it to do service for man.
Aphrodite, or Venus, presided over love and beauty.
Eros, or Cupid, presided over love.
Heracles, or Hercules, presided over strength.
Greek Festivals. §
Chronia, in honor of Chronos.
Olympic Games, in honor of Zeus.
Dædalæ, in honor of Hera.
Isthmian Games, in honor of Poseidon.
Eleusinia, in honor of Demeter.
Panathenæa, in honor of Pallas Athene.
Chalcea, in honor of Hephæstus.
Aphrodisia, in honor of Aphrodite.
Charitesia, in honor of Charites.
Pythian Games, in honor of Phœbus Apollo.
Hermæa, in honor of Hermes.
Greater Dionysia, in honor of Dionysus.
Lesser Dionysia, —————————
“Supper of Hecate” was held on the last day of each month.
Roman Festivals. §
Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn.
Capitolini Ludi, in honor of Jupiter.
Matronalia, in honor of Juno.
Neptunalia, or Consualia, in honor of Neptune,
Feralia, in honor of the dead.
Cerealia, in honor of Ceres.
Quinquatrus Majores, in honor of Minerva.
Vulcanalia, in honor of Vulcan.
Veneralia, in honor of Venus.
Ludi Apollinares, in honor of Apollo.
Ludi Seculares, ————————
Festum Mercatorum, in honor of Mercury.
Liberalia, in honor of Bacchus or Liber Pater.
Brumatia, in honor of Bacchus.
Egyptian Mythology. §
Some of the Egyptian myths seem to have a more direct reference to facts of astronomy than do the myths in Greek mythology; but there is no doubt that, like the Greek myths, those of the Egyptians had their foundation in phrases which described the sights and objects of the outer world.
The Egyptian and the Greek systems of mythology grew up quite independently of each other. After Egypt had been thrown open to Greek commerce, the Greeks were so impressed with the grandeur of the country and the elaborate mysticism of the priesthood, that they not only identified their own deities with those of Egypt, but fancied that their names, as well as the actions ascribed to them, were derived from Egypt.
The mystical system of the Egyptian priests was grafted, in process of ages, on simpler myths, which corresponded essentially to the phrases which lie at the root of Hindu, Greek, and Teutonic mythology. They believed in one invisible, overruling, self-created God; the immortality of the soul; a judgment after death; the final annihilation of the wicked, and the ultimate absorption of the good into the eternal Deity.
“God created his own members, which are the gods” they said; and so out of one God grew a host of lesser ones, regarded by the priests as only his attributes and manifestations, but becoming to the people distinct and separate divinities. Natural objects and principles were thus deified — the soil, the sky, the east, the west, even the general idea of time and space. Each month and day had its own god. The Nile, as the source of the country’s fertility, was especially revered, and the conflict of God with sin was seen in the life-giving river, and the barren, encroaching desert.
The Sun, especially in later times, was the great exponent of Deity. His mysterious disappearance each night, and his return every morning to roll over the heavens with all the splendor of the preceding day, were events full of symbolic meaning. The rising sun was the beautiful young god Horus*; in his mid-day glory he was Ra*; as he neared the western horizon he became Tum, and during the night he was Amun. Each of these gods, as well as the many others connected with the sun, had his own specific character. This complex sun-god was imagined to float through the sky in a boat, accompanied by the souls of the “Supremely Blest,” and at night to pass into the regions of the dead.
There were three orders of gods. The first was for the priesthood, and represented the ideal and spiritual part of the religion; the second impersonated human faculties and powers; and the third — the most popular of all among the people — was made up of forms and forces of Nature.
Each town or city had its especially-honored triad of deities to whom its temples were dedicated. The triads often consisted of father, mother, and son; but sometimes of two gods and a king. Osiris*, who, with Isis* and Horus, formed the most celebrated of the triads, was worshiped throughout the land. So popular were these deities that it has been said,
“With the exception of Amun and Neph, they comprise all Egyptian mythology.” Osiris personified the sun as “Lord of all things;” Isis, the moon, and Horus, the rising sun.
In Thebes, Amun-Ra*, the “Concealed God,” or “Absolute Spirit,” headed the deities of the first order. He was represented as having the head of a ram; the hieroglyphic of a ram also signifying concealment.
In Memphis, Pthah, “Father of the Beginnings,” the Creator, was chief; his symbol was the Scarabæus, or beetle, an image of which was placed over the heart of every mummy. Pthah was father of Ra, the sun-god. Ra was, in the mystic sense, that which is to-day, the existing present; the hawk was his emblem.
Pasht*, sister of Ra, and one of the personifications of the sun’s strong rays, sometimes healthful, sometimes baneful, was both loved and feared. She was especially worshiped as Bubastis*; but her statues, having the head of a cat, are common all over Egypt.
Neph*, often confounded with Amun, and, like him, wearing the ram’s head, was the Divine Breath or Spirit pervading matter; sheep were sacred to him.
Thoth*, son of Neph, was god of intelligence; the ibis was his emblem.
Sate*, the wife of Neph, and one of the forms of Isis, was the goddess of vigilance; she was the eastern sky waiting for the morning sun.
Athor*, goddess of love, was the beautiful western sky, wife of the evening sun, taking the wearied traveler to rest in her arms after each day’s labor; the cow was her emblem.
Neith*, wife of Pthah, was the goddess of wisdom; she was the night sky which induces reflection.
Maut, the Mother Goddess, was the cool night sky tenderly brooding over the hot, exhausted earth; the shrew-mouse was sacred to her.
Typhon* was the common enemy of all the other gods; his emblems were the pig, the ass, and the hippopotamus.
It was related that Osiris once went about the earth doing good, and that on his return he was slain by Seb (Typhon), his brother. A temple of surpassing magnificence was erected in his honor at Philoe, which became ever after the great burial-place of the nation, and the spot to which pilgrimages were made from all parts of the country.
The soul of Osiris was supposed to exist in some way in the sacred bull Apis*, of which Serapis* is probably another name.
“Apis is a young bull whose hair is black, on his forehead a white triangle, on his back an eagle, a beetle under his tongue, and the hair of his tail double.”
* says he is of various colors.
says he has a crescent on his right side. These superstitions varied from age to age. Apis was worshiped with the greatest reverence by the Egyptians.
As soon as a bull with the marks above described was found by those in search of him, he was placed in a building facing the east, and was fed with milk for four months. At the expiration of this time the priests repaired, at new moon, with great pomp, to his habitation, and saluted him “Apis.” He was placed in a vessel magnificently decorated, and conveyed down the Nile to Memphis, where a temple with two chapels, and a court for exercise, were assigned to him. Sacrifices were made to him, and once every year, about the time when the Nile began to rise, a golden cup was thrown into the river, and a grand festival was held to celebrate his birthday. The people believed that during this festival the crocodiles became harmless.
Apis was not allowed to live more than twenty-five years. If he lived to that age, the priests drowned him in the sacred cistern, and then buried him in the temple of Serapis*. On the death of this bull, whether it occurred in the course of nature or by violence, the whole land was filled with sorrow and lamentations, which lasted until his successor was found.
A new Apis was found as late as the reign of Hadrian*. A mummy of one of the Sacred Bulls may be seen in the Egyptian collection of the Historical Society of New York.
Oracle of Apis. §
At Memphis, the sacred bull Apis gave answers to those who consulted him by the manner in which he received or rejected what was presented to him. If the bull refused food from the inquirer, it was considered an unfavorable sign, and the contrary when he received it.
The calf Mnevis*, at Heliopolis, and the white cow of Athor*, at Athribis*, were also reverenced as incarnations of Deity. Other animals were considered as only emblems. Of these, the hawk, ibis, ape, cat,17 and asp were everywhere worshiped; but crocodiles, dogs, jackals, frogs, beetles, and shrew-mice, as well as certain plants and vegetables, were venerated in different sections of the country. Those sacred in one place were often, in others, hated and hunted, or used for food.
Thus, at Thebes, the crocodile and the sheep were worshiped, while the goat was eaten; at Mendes* the sheep was eaten and the goat worshiped; at Apollinopolis the crocodile was so abhorred as an emblem of the evil spirit, that a special day was set apart to hunt and kill as many crocodiles as possible. The dead bodies were thrown before the temple of their own god.
The crocodile was principally worshiped about Lake Mœris. A chosen number of these animals were kept in the temples, where they were given elegant apartments, and treated to every luxury, at the public expense. Imagine a crocodile fresh from a warm, sumptuous bath, anointed with the most precious ointments and perfumed with fragrant odors, its head and neck glittering with jewels, wallowing on a rich and costly carpet, to receive the worship of intelligent human beings!
Its death was mourned as a public calamity; its body, wrapped in linen, was carried to the embalmers, attended by a train of people weeping and beating their breasts in grief; then, having been expensively embalmed and bandaged in gayly-colored mummy-cloths, amid imposing ceremonies, it was laid away in its rock sepulchre.
The most celebrated Egyptian book is the “Book of the Manifestations to Light,” often called the “Book of the Dead.” It is a ritual for the use of the soul in its journeys after death, and a copy more or less complete, according to the fortune of the deceased, was enclosed in the mummy-case.
The soul was described as making long and perilous journeys in the under-world. Instructions were given by which it could vanquish the frightful monsters that constantly assailed it before reaching the first gate of heaven. That passed, it entered upon a series of transformations, becoming successively a hawk, lotus-flower, heron, crane, serpent, and crocodile, all being symbols of Deity. Meanwhile it retained a mysterious connection with its mummied body, and was at liberty to come and go from the grave, during the day-time, in any form it chose. At last the body, carefully preserved from decay, joined the soul in its travels, and they went on together to new dangers and ordeals. The most dreaded of all encounters was the trial in the “Great Hall of Justice,” before Osiris and his forty-two assessors, where the heart was weighed in the infallible scales of Truth, and its fate irrevocably fixed. The accepted soul was identified with Osiris, and set out on a series of ecstatic journeys in the boat of the Sun, the final glory being a blissful and eternal rest. The rejected soul was sent back to the earth in the form of a pig, or some other unclean animal, to suffer degradation and torture.
Assyrian Mythology. §
The names of the Assyrian deities were at first mere epithets of the sun, but came in course of time to denote different gods. Thus the sun was worshiped as Bel*, or Baal*, the Lord, and as Moloch*, or the King, these names being gradually set apart for separate deities, just as Endymion, Hyperion, Apollo, Perseus, all originally mere names of Helios (the sun), became at length names of different persons.
The sun was chiefly worshiped as Baal, in Babylon. His worship was also introduced by Ahab* into Israel*.
The Phœnicians were widely known for their devotion to Moloch. They appeased him with the blood of infants, especially of the first-born. Carthage was noted for these horrid sacrifices; five hundred children, it is said, were placed at once in the fiery jaws of the idol when the Sicilian, Agathocles*, was about to attack the city.
The worship of Moloch was practised by the Jews with great persistency until the time of the Babylonish captivity.
In Assyria, Asshur* was the supreme object of worship. He was the guardian deity of king and country. He was vaguely considered as the fount or origin of Deity, but he was too dimly comprehended to be popular.
Bel* was also a favorite god, but Nin* and Nergal*, the winged bull and lion, that presided over war and hunting, were more devotedly worshiped. The race of kings was, according to tradition, derived from Nin, and his name was given to Nineveh.
Below the “Great Gods” there were innumerable inferior ones, each town and city having its own local deities, which elsewhere received little respect. Good and evil spirits were represented as perpetually warring with each other. Pestilence, fever, and all the ills of life were personified, and man was like a bewildered traveler struggling through a strange land, exposed to the malice of a host of unseen foes, whom he could subdue only by charms and exorcisms.
The Assyrians apparently had no set religious festivals. When a feast was to be held in honor of any god, the king made special proclamation. During a fast, not only king, nobles, and people abstained from food and drink, clothed themselves in sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on their heads, but all the animals within the city walls were made to join in the penitential observances. (See Jonah iii. 5-9.)
The stone, clay, and metal images which adorned the temple shrines of Assyria and Babylonia were worshiped as real gods. So identified was a deity with its idol, that, in the inscriptions of kings, where the great gods were invoked in turn, the images of the same deity placed in different temples were often separately addressed, as Ishtar* of Babylon, Ishtar of Arbela, Ishtar of Nineveh, etc. In worship, living sacrifices and offerings were made and oblations poured, the king taking the chief position instead of the priest, as in Egypt.
Persian Mythology. §
“Our knowledge of the religion of the ancient Persians is principally derived from the Zend Avesta, or sacred books of that people. Zoroaster* was the founder of their religion, or rather the reformer of the religion which preceded him. His system became the dominant religion of Western Asia from the time of Cyrus* (550 b. c.) to the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great.
“Zoroaster taught the existence of a Supreme Being, who created two other mighty beings, and imparted to them so much of his own nature as seemed proper to him. Of these Ormuzd* (Greek Oromazes*) remained faithful to his creator, and was regarded as the source of all good, while Ahriman* (Ahrimanes*) rebelled, and became the author of all evil upon earth. Ormuzd created man, and supplied him with all the materials of happiness; but Ahriman marred this happiness by introducing evil into the world, and creating savage beasts and poisonous reptiles and plants. In consequence of this, evil and good are now mingled together in every part of the world, and the followers of good and evil — the adherents of Ormuzd and Ahriman — carry on incessant war. But the time will come when the followers of Ormuzd shall everywhere be victorious, and Ahriman and his adherents be consigned to eternal darkness.
“The religious rites of the ancient Persians were very simple. They used neither temples, altars, nor statues, and performed their sacrifices on the tops of mountains. They adored fire, light, and the sun, as emblems of Ormuzd, the source of all light and purity, but did not regard them as independent deities. The rites and ceremonies were regulated by the priests, who were called Magi*. The learning of the Magi was connected with astrology and enchantment, in which they were so celebrated that their name was applied to all orders of magicians and enchanters.
“The religion of Zoroaster continued to flourish even after the introduction of Christianity, and in the third century was the dominant faith of the East till the rise of the Mahometan power and the conquest of Persia by the Arabs in the seventh century, who compelled the greater part of the Persians to renounce their ancient faith. Those who refused to abandon the religion of their ancestors fled to the deserts of Kerman and to Hindustan, where they still exist under the name of Parsees*, a name derived from Pars, the ancient name of Persia. At Bombay, the Parsees are at this day a very active, intelligent, and wealthy class. They are noted for their purity of life, honesty, and conciliatory manners. They have numerous temples to Fire, which they adore as the symbol of the divinity.
“The Persian religion is the subject of the finest tale inLalla Rookh, the ‘Fire Worshipers.’”.
Hindu Mythology. §
The Hindus, as well as the Persians, were Aryans. In all respects, except color, they resemble the Europeans. It is probable that they emigrated from Iran* (Persia) earlier than 1500 b. c. By mixing with the dark races which inhabited the country, the fair-skinned invaders lost the Aryan progressiveness and energy.
Castes were established by the early Aryans. I. The Brahmins*, or priests, who had the right of interpreting the sacred books, and possessed a monopoly of knowledge. II. The Kshatriyas, or soldiers. III. The Vaisya, or traders and farmers. IV. The Sudras*, or laborers, who consisted of the conquered people, and were slaves.
The literature of the Sanskrit is rich in fancy and exalted poetry, and embalms the remains of that language which was nearest the speech of our Aryan forefathers. A portion of the Vedas, the sacred books of Brahma, was compiled 1200 b. c. The Rig-Veda contains ten hundred and twenty-eight hymns, invoking: as gods the sun, moon, and other powers of nature.
“The Vedic, or earliest Hindu mythology, is especially valuable as furnishing a key to that of the Persians, Greeks, Latins, Romans, and other races. The names by which the Greeks denoted different gods and heroes are in the Vedas mere epithets, the meaning of which cannot be mistaken; and the most complicated legends can be traced to their germ in some phrase which, in these most ancient of all poems, simply described some incident or phenomenon in the course of the outward world.”.
In the Veda, Arjuni*, Brisaya*, Dahana*, Ushas*, Sarama*, and Saranyu* are names for the morning light.
The Greeks regarded them as separate beings, whom they knew as Argynnis*, Briseis*, Daphne*, Eos*, Helen, and Erinnys. In the same way the Vedas spoke of the Panis* as tempting Sarama to be unfaithful; with the Greeks this phrase grew into the stealing of Helen by Paris, and the legend of the Trojan war.
The chief deities mentioned in the ancient hymns are Varuna*, Agni*, and Indra*.
By Varuna was meant the broad heaven which is spread over and veils the earth. Many of the hymns addressed to Varuna are addressed to him simply as a name for the One God who has made and who governs all things.
Varuna is found in Greek mythology as Uranus, but in Greece Zeus (the Sanskrit Dyaus*) became the name for the supreme God, and Uranus lost his importance.
Agni was a name for the fire which, when the fuel is kindled, steps forth like a war-horse from his prison, leaving a dark path (of smoke) behind him. The name Agni is found in the Latin word ignis fire.
Indra was god of the clear heaven, and so of light, warmth, and fertilizing rain, so named from a root denoting moisture, and thus corresponds to the Jupiter Pluvius of the Latins.
Indra is chiefly represented as doing battle with Vritra*, the enemy, who, by shutting up the rain, brings drought upon the earth.
Vritra is described as a great dragon smitten by the lance of Indra, as Python* is pierced by that of Apollo. As such he is called Ahi*, which is the same as the Greek Echidna* and the Latin word anguis, a snake. In Greek mythology, Vritra corresponds to the Sphinx in the story of Œdipus, as well as to many monsters slain by other heroes.
Yama* was the Hindu god of the dead. As from the east came all life, so in the west lay the land of the dead, the Elysian fields, and thither the sun hastens as he sinks down from the heights of heaven. Thus,
“Yama is said to have crossed the rapid waters, to have shown the way to many, to have first known the path on which our fathers crossed over.”
In the Vedic hymns, the Harits are the bright horses of the sun; in the West, they became beautiful women, called by the Greeks, Charites*, by the Latins, Gratiæ, or Graces (from a root, Ghar, to shine).
Trita and Traitana were names given to the god of the clear heaven. They reappear in the Greek Triton and Tritogenia*.
The Maruts were the storm-winds, whose name (from mar, to grind) reappears in the Greek Ares, the Latin Mars, and Mors, death, and in the Teutonic Thor, the crusher.
Ushas was a name for the dawn, and corresponds to the Greek Eos, and the Latin Aurora.
Arusha was a name for the sun as he begins his course in the heaven. He is represented as a beautiful child. He is identical with the Greek Eros, or god of love, and the Latin Cupid. Arusha was said to awaken the earth with his rays.
Brahma is called a son of Brahm, a name for the Great First Cause of all things. Brahma, Vishnu*, and Siva* compose the later Trimurti, or Trinity; Brahma being the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer.
Siva is frequently called Mahâdeva, or Mahadeo* (in Greek, Megas Theos*), the great god, and is regarded as a reproducer; to destroy, according to Indian philosophy, being only to reproduce under another form.
The Avatars* of Vishnu are incarnations of the god for the accomplishment of a special purpose. It is believed the number of the Avatars will not exceed ten. Kalki is the name of the tenth Avatar, in which Vishnu will appear at the end of the present age of the world to destroy all vice and wickedness, and to restore mankind to virtue and purity.
Krishna* was a being produced, according to some legends, from one of the hairs of Vishnu, and Krishna produced Rudra*, the destroyer, the father of the tempest-gods.
Savitar is a name for the sun, as golden-handed, referring to his rays. When the name was taken literally, the story grew up that the sun, offering up a sacrifice, cut off his hand, which was replaced by a golden one.
Manu is a wise lawgiver, and the son of Brahma. He is the same as the Greek Minos, and the name is derived from the same root with the words, mind and man; man being so called as the measurer, or thinker.
The worshipers of Vishnu and Siva form two sects, each of which proclaims the superiority of its favorite deity, denying the claims of the other. Brahma, the creator, having finished his work, seems to be regarded as no longer active, and has now only one temple in India, while Mahadeva, or Siva, and Vishnu, have many. The worshipers of Vishnu are generally distinguished by a greater tenderness for life, and consequent abstinence from animal food, and a worship less cruel than that of the followers of Siva.
The Hindus believe that if a man lead a pure life, his soul will pass, after death, into another human body; but that if he has been wicked, it will enter into the body of some unclean animal. They think the soul will transmigrate many times before being finally united to Brahma.
Authorities diflfer as to whether the worshipers of Juggernaut* are to be reckoned among the followers of Vishnu or Siva. The temple stands near the shore, about three hundred miles south-west of Calcutta. The idol is a carved block of wood with a hideous face, painted black, and a distended, blood-red mouth. On festival days, the throne of the image is placed on a tower sixty feet high, moving on wheels. Six long chains are attached to the tower, by which the people draw it along. The priests and their attendants stand round the throne on the tower, and occasionally turn to the worshipers with songs and gestures. Formerly, while the tower moved along, numbers of the devout worshipers threw themselves on the ground in order to be crushed by the wheels, and the multitude shouted in approbation of the act, as a pleasing sacrifice to the idol. The British government prohibited this sacrifice about ten years ago. Every year, particularly at two great festivals in March and July, pilgrims flock in crowds to the temple. Not less than seventy or eighty thousand people are said to visit the place on these occasions, when all castes eat together.
Buddha*, whom the Vedas represent as a delusive incarnation of Vishnu, is said by his followers to have been a mortal sage named Guatama, and also Buddha, the Wise. It is probable he lived about a thousand years before Christ. He was the son of a king, and was distinguished for his wisdom, virtue, and personal beauty. He was so disgusted with the wickedness of men, that he retired into a desert place, where he spent six years in prayer and meditation. He then began his career as a religious teacher. His doctrines were received with so much favor that he lived to see them spread over all India. Buddha died at the age of eighty.
Buddhism was tolerated by the Brahmins for several centuries, and it extended to Ceylon and the eastern peninsula. Afterwards, a long-continued persecution in India had the effect of entirely abolishing it in the country in which it had originated, and of spreading it in the adjacent countries. Buddhism appears to have been introduced into China about the year 65 of our era. From China it subsequently extended to Corea, Japan, and Java.
Scandinavian Mythology. §
Scandinavian Mythology includes the ancient superstitions of that portion of Northern Europe now known as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.
The mythical systems of the tribes of Northern Europe, like those of the Greeks, had their germ in phrases which described the sights and sounds of the material world. The Scandinavian mythology has none of the grace and poetic beauty which characterizes the fables of Greece and Rome. The wild and rugged North made its own impress on the Scandinavian tribes, and their superstitions were gloomy and extravagant, with an element of savage grandeur and sublimity.
These mythological records are contained in two collections called the Eddas*. The older is in poetry and dates back to the year 1056, the more modern, or prose Edda, is dated 1640; so that for a long time this mythology must have been transmitted by oral tradition only. The word Edda means ancestress, and it is so called because it is considered the mother of Icelandic poetry. The Sagas* were written in Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula.
According to the Eddas, there was once no heaven above or earth beneath, but only a bottomless deep, and a world of mist in which flowed a fountain. Twelve rivers issued from this fountain, and when they had flowed far from their source they froze into ice, and one layer accumulating over another, the great deep was filled up.
Southward from the world of mist was the world of light. From this flowed a warm wind and melted the ice. The vapors rose in the air and formed clouds, from which sprung Ymir*, the Frost giant, and his progeny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded food to the giant. The cow obtained nourishment by licking the hoar-frost and salt from the ice. While she was one day licking the salt stones, there appeared the hair of a man; on the second day the whole head, and on the third the entire form, endowed with beauty and power. This new being was a god, from whom and his wife, a daughter of the giant race, sprung the three brothers Odin*, Vili*, and Ve*. They slew the giant Ymir, and out of his body formed the earth — his blood became the seas; his bones, the mountains; his hair, the trees; his skull, the heavens; his brain, the clouds charged with hail and snow.
Odin next regulated the days and seasons by placing the sun and moon in the heavens and appointing them their respective courses. When the sun shed its rays upon the earth, the plants and trees began to bud and sprout. The three gods walked by the side of the sea, admiring their new creation, but seeing that it was uninhabited, they resolved to create man. Aske* and Embla*, the first man and woman, were then formed, the man of an ash-tree and the woman of an alder. They were the parents of the human race.
Asgard* was the abode of the gods. It could be entered only by crossing the bridge Bifrost* (the rainbow). It contained gold and silver palaces, the dwellings of the gods; but the most famous and beautiful of these was Valhalla*, the residence of Odin. When seated on his throne, he overlooked all heaven and earth. Upon his shoulders were the ravens Hugin* (Mind) and Munin* (Memory), who flew every day over the whole world and reported all they had seen and heard. At his feet lay two wolves, Geri* and Freki*, to whom Odin gave all the meat that was set before him, for he himself stood in no need of food. Mead was for him both food and drink.
None were admitted to Valhalla but heroes who had fallen in battle. Women, children, and all who had died a peaceful death were excluded. The joys of Valhalla consisted in eating, drinking, and fighting. They feasted on the flesh of the boar Schrimnir, which was cooked every day, and became whole again every night. The goat Heidrun* supplied them with never-failing draughts of mead, which they drank from the skulls of their slaughtered enemies. For pastime, they fought and cut one another in pieces. When the hour for feasting came, they recovered from their wounds, and were whole as before.
Odin’s name was sometimes written Woden*, and from this was derived the name of the fourth day of the week, Wednesday. The wife of Odin was Frigga*, whose name remains in our Friday. She presided over marriage.
Thor18 was Odin’s eldest son, and was god of thunder. His mighty strength depended upon three things — his hammer, his belt of strength, and his iron gloves. The hammer when thrown returned to his hand of its own accord. When he girded the belt around him, his strength was doubled. Whenever he put on his iron gloves, he could use his hammer efliciently. From Thor’s name was derived our name Thursday.
Loki* was a malevolent deity described as the great serpent that encircles the earth, and as the father of Hela, the queen of the regions below the earth.
Baldur was the most beautiful of all the dwellers in Valhalla; but, although all the other gods had sworn not to hurt him, no oath had been taken from Loki, who destroyed him with the mistletoe.
The Elves were beautiful spirits clothed in delicate garments. They loved the light and were kindly disposed towards mankind. The country of the Elves was called Alfheim*, and was the domain of Freyr, the god of the sun, in whose light they were always sporting.
The Night Elves, also called Gnomes*, and sometimes Brownies*, were at times exceedingly malicious. They were ugly dwarfs of a dark-brown complexion, and were never seen except at night, because the sun’s rays had the power to change them into stones. They dwelt in mountain caverns and the clefts of rocks. Many stories were told of their malicious pranks.
Heimdall* was the watchman of the gods, and was stationed to guard the bridge Bifrost, as the gods continually feared that the giants might force their way over the shining arch and invade Valhalla.
Heimdall required less sleep than a bird; his sight was so keen that he could distinguish the smallest object for a thousand leagues around, even in the darkest night. As related in the Eddas,
“His hearing was so quick that he could hear the wool growing on the sheep’s backs and the grain sprouting in the fields!”
The Valkyries* were warlike virgins, whom Odin sent to every battle-field to make choice of those who should be slain. When they rode forth mounted upon war steeds and in full armor, their shields and helmets shed a strange flickering light, which flashed up over the northern skies. This light was called by men the Aurora Borealis*.
Ragnarok*, or the Twilight of the Gods, was a phrase used to denote the time when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla, the inhabitants of earth, men, giants, and elves, will be destroyed. The Eddas give a wild description of the last battle-field on which the prowess of good and evil shall contend, and on which all are doomed to perish. When all are slain, the world will be wrapped in flames, the sun will become dim, the stars will fall from heaven, and time shall be no more.
After this universal destruction a new heaven and a new earth will rise out of the abyss. This new earth will produce its fruits without labor or care, perpetual spring will reign, and sin and misery will be unknown.
The constant struggle of life and death is described in the tale of the Volsung, which was afterwards remodeled in the great epic poem called the “Nibelungen-Lied,”* or “Lay of the Children of the Mist.” Sigurd*, the son of Sigmund*, the son of Volsung, a descendant of Odin, is the hero of this story.
He was born after the death of his father, and became the foster-child of Regin (the smith of the king of Denmark), who urged him on to slay the dragon Fafnir, who lay coiled on the glistening heath.
Sigurd became possessed of the treasure which lay within his mighty folds, and by eating his heart he also gained a wisdom beyond that of mortal men. Going on his way he came to a heath, in the midst of which a fierce flame surrounded a house in which the fair maiden, Brynhild, lay asleep. Sigurd rode through the fire, and at his touch she awoke. They then plighted their troth, and Sigurd rode on to the house of Giuki, the Niflung*, who determined that he should marry his daughter Gudrun, and that Brynhild should become the wife of his son Gunnar. But Gunnar could not ride through the flame, and by magic arts Sigurd was made to assume the form and voice of Gunnar, and to hand over Brynhild to him. Discovering the treachery, Brynhild urged Gunnar to slay Sigurd, but he and his brothers had sworn not to injure the hero. They therefore induced Guttorm to slay Sigurd during his sleep. His death reawakened all the love of Brynhild, who died heart-broken on his funeral pile.
The Niflungs* or Nibelungs* are the dwellers in Niflheim*, the land or home of the cold mists.
The Eddas and Sagas have come to us from Iceland. The following is from
“In that strange island Iceland, — burst up, the geologists say, by fire from the bottom of the sea, a wild land of barrenness and lava, swallowed many months of every year in black tempests, yet with a wild gleaming beauty in summer time, towering up there stern and grim in the North Ocean, with its snow yokuls (mountains), roaring geysers, sulphur pools, and horrid volcanic chasms, like the waste, chaotic battle-field of Frost and Fire, — where, of all places, we least looked for literature or written memorials, — the record of these things was written down. On the seaboard of this wild land is a rim of grassy country where cattle can subsist, and men by means of them and of what the sea yields; and it seems they were poetic men these, men who had deep thoughts in them and uttered musically their thoughts. Much would be lost had Iceland not been burst up from the sea, not been discovered by the Northmen!”
The Druids*. §
The Druids* were the priests or ministers of religion among the ancient Celtic nations in Gaul, Britain, and Germany.
The word Druid is supposed to have been derived from “De,” God, and “rouyd,” speaking. It would, therefore, seem to signify those who speak of or for God.
The Druids taught the existence of one God, to whom they gave a name, “Be’al,” which is believed to have meant, “the life of everything,” or “the source of all beings.” This name probably had affinity with the Phœnician Baal. The Druids as well as the Phœnicians identified this, their supreme deity, with the Sun.
The principal characteristics of Druidism were, — the belief in one Supreme Being, in the immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and punishments.
The Druids were priests of the highest order, who remained secluded in caves and grottos, or in the depths of oak forests, where they were supposed to study the deeper mysteries of nature and religion, and to consult more directly the secret will of the divinity. They were also the teachers of youth. Their teaching was oral. The
“they paid much attention to the order and laws of nature, and investigated and taught to the youth under their charge many things concerning the stars and their motions, the size of the world and the lands, and concerning the might and power of the immortal gods.”
The Bards were an essential part of the Druidical hierarchy.
“The bards were supposed to be endowed with powers equal to inspiration. They were the oral historians of all past transactions, public and private. They were also accomplished genealogists.”
gives a minute account of the Eisteddfode, or sessions of the bards and minstrels, which were held in Wales for many centuries, long after the Druidical priesthood in its other departments became extinct. At these meetings none but bards of merit were permitted to rehearse their pieces, and minstrels of skill to perform. Judges were appointed to decide upon their respective abilities, and suitable degrees were conferred. In the earlier period judges were appointed by the Welsh princes, and, after the conquest of Wales, by commission from the kings of England.
The Druids used no images to represent the object of their worship, nor did they meet in temples or buildings of any kind for the performance of their sacred rites. A circle of stones, each of vast size, enclosing an area of from twenty feet to thirty yards in diameter, constituted their sacred place. The most celebrated of these, now remaining, is Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, England.
These sacred circles were generally situated near some stream, or under the shadow of a grove or wide-spreading oak. In the centre of the circle stood the Cromlech, or altar, which was a large stone placed as a table upon other stones set up on end.
The Cairns were large stones or piles of stones on the summits of hills. They were used in the worship of the deity under the symbol of the sun.
There can be no doubt that the Druids offered sacrifices to their deity, but there is some uncertainty as to what they offered, and nothing is known of the ceremonies connected with their religious services. The Roman writers assert that on great occasions they offered human sacrifices.
“They have images of immense size, the limbs of which are framed with twisted twigs and filled with living persons. These being set on fire, those within are encompassed by the flames.”
The Druids observed two festivals in each year. The Baltane, or “fire of God,” took place in the beginning of May. On this occasion a large fire was kindled on some elevated spot, in honor of the sun, whose returning beneficence they thus welcomed after the gloom and desolation of winter.
The other great festival of the Druids was called “Samhin,” or the “fire of peace,” and was held on Hallow-eve (last of October). On this occasion the Druids assembled in the most central part of the district to discharge the judicial functions of their order. All questions, whether public or private, all crimes against persons or property, were at this time brought before them for adjudication. With these judicial acts were combined certain superstitious usages, especially the kindling of the sacred fire, from which the fires in the district — which had all been extinguished — might be relighted. This custom of kindling fires on Hallow-eve lingered in the British Isles long after the establishment of Christianity.
The Druids were in the habit of observing the full moon, and also the sixth day of the moon. On the latter they sought the mistletoe, which grew on their favorite tree, the oak. The discovery of it was an occasion of rejoicing and solemn worship.
“They call it by a word in their language which means ‘heal-all,’ and having made solemn preparation for feasting and sacrifice under the tree, they drive thither two milk-white bulls, whose horns are then for the first time bound. The priest, robed in white, ascends the tree, and cuts off the mistletoe with a golden sickle. It is caught in a white mantle, after which they proceed to slay the victims, at the same time praying that God will render his gift prosperous to those to whom He has given it. They drink the water in which it has been infused, and think it a remedy for all diseases. The mistletoe is a parasitic plant, and is not always found on the oak, so that when it is found, it is the more precious.”
Amber was valued for certain mysterious properties. It was manufactured into beads by the Druids, and given as charms to warriors going to battle; such beads are sometimes found in their tombs.
Druidism was suppressed in Graul by the Roman conquerors, who built temples and introduced the worship of their own gods. Druidism found a temporary refuge in the German forests and in Armorica. It was suppressed in Britain during the reign of Nero. The persecuted Druids took refuge in the island of Mona or Anglesea, whence they were driven by the Roman troops with great slaughter. They found a last asylum in the island of Iona, where they maintained an influence until the latter part of the sixth century, when the inhabitants of the island were converted by the preaching of St. Columba, a native of Ireland, where Christianity had been established for nearly a century.
American Mythology. §
Personification lies at the foundation of all myths. Many expressions which seem grossly materialistic were intended to convey to the mind the self-renewing power of life in nature, which is exemplified in the sowing of the seed and the development of the fruits, the winter and the summer, the dry and the rainy seasons, and especially the sunset and sunrise.
At the time of the discovery of America, the area east of the Mississippi River and south of Hudson Bay was peopled by the Algonquins and the Iroquois. They differed in temperament and language, but their religious ideas were not dissimilar.
Light is the most important of all things, and, realizing this, the primitive savage made Light his chief god. The light appears in the east and disappears in the west. These two cardinal points are represented as twins — the one sending forth the sun, the other lying in wait to conquer it; but, though the sun is apparently conquered each night, it rises with undiminished glory in the morning. As we see and learn by sight and light, it was natural to attribute to the light-god the progress in the arts. Light came to be personified as the embodiment of wisdom. The fair complexion always given to these gods has reference to the white light of the dawn. Their long hair and flowing beard are the rays of the sun. Their loose and large robes typify the enfolding of the firmament by the light and the winds.
“The mythic lore of the American Indians is comparatively scanty and prosaic, as befits the product of a lower grade of culture and a more meagre intellect. Not only are the personages less characteristically portrayed, but there is a continual tendency to extravagance, the sure index of an inferior imagination.”.
The Myth of Michabo. §
“The beginning of things, according to the northern Algonquins, was at a period when boundless waters covered the face of the earth. On this infinite ocean floated a raft, upon which were many species of animals, the captain and chief of whom was Michabo, the Great Hare. They ardently desired land on which to live; so this mighty hare ordered the beaver to dive and bring him up ever so little a piece of mud. The beaver obeyed, and remained down long, even so that he came up utterly exhausted, but reported that he had not reached bottom. Then the hare sent down the otter, but he also returned nearly dead, and without success. Great was the disappointment of the company on the raft, for what better divers had they than the beaver and the otter?
“In the midst of their distress, the female muskrat came forward and announced her willingness to make the attempt. Her proposal was received with derision; but as poor help is better than none in an emergency, the hare gave her permission, and down she dived. She, too, remained long — a whole day and night — and they gave her up for lost. But at length she floated to the surface, unconscious, as if dead. They hastily hauled her on the raft, and examined her paws one by one. In the last one of the four they found a small speck of mud! that was all that was needed. The muskrat was soon restored; and Michabo, the Great Hare, exerting his creative power, moulded the little fragment of soil; and as he moulded it, it grew into an island, into a mountain, into a country, finally into this great earth that we dwell upon. As it grew, Michabo walked round it, to see how big it was, and the story added that he is not yet satisfied, and he continues his journey and labor, walking forever around the earth, and ever increasing it more and more.
“The animals on the raft soon found homes on the new earth. Michabo, the Great Hare, formed the trees by shooting his arrows into the soil; they became tree trunks, and he then transfixed them with other arrows, which became branches. It was said that he married the muskrat that had been of such service to him, and they were the ancestors of the various races of mankind which people the earth.
“Having closely watched the spider spreading her web to catch flies, he invented the art of making nets for fish, and taught it to his descendants. He was believed to confer fortune in the chase, and therefore the hunters invoked him, and offered to him tobacco and other dainties, placing them in the clefts of the rocks. Though called the Great Hare, he was always referred to as a man, the mighty father or elder brother of the race.”.
Sometimes Michabo was said to dwell in the skies with his brother, the Snow, or, like many great spirits, to have built his wigwam in the far north, on some floe of ice in the Arctic Ocean. In the oldest accounts he was alleged to reside towards the east.
Michabo was a personification of the solar life-giving power which daily comes forth from its home in the east, making the earth rejoice. The name Michabo is compounded of “michi,” great, and “wabos,” which means both “hare” and “white.” So that Michabo is the Great White One, the god of the Dawn and the East.
“The word for muskrat in Algonquin is ‘wajashk,’ and this is almost the word for mud, or wet earth, ‘ajishki.’ The one word was probably substituted for the other. The original statement was, that from wet mud, dried by the sunlight, the solid earth was formed; and again, that this damp soil was warmed and fertilized by the sunlight, so that from it sprung organic life, even man himself, who, in so many mythologies, is the ‘earthborn.’
“After the darkness of the night, man first learns his whereabouts by the light kindling in the Orient. Wandering through pathless forests, the east became to primitive man the most important of the fixed points in space; by it were located the west, the north, the south; from it spread the welcome dawn; in it was born the glorious sun; hence it became to him the home of the gods of life, light, and wisdom.”.
In the Algonquin legends, four brothers were prominent characters. They were personifications of the cardinal points. Their names were Wabun, the East; Kabun, the West; Kabibonokka, the North, and Shawano, the South. Wabun was the chief and leader, and assigned to his brothers their various duties, especially to blow the winds. The Indians told
“We have five gods in all; our chief god often appears to us in the form of a mighty great hare; the other four have no visible shape, but are indeed the four winds, which keep the four corners of the earth.” We thus see that Wabun, the East, was distinguished from Michabo, the eastern light, and the original number was increased to five.
“The morning star, which at certain seasons heralds the dawn, was sacred to Michabo; its name is Wabanang, from Waban, the East. The rays of light are his messengers and servants. Seated at the extreme east, ‘at the place where the earth is cut off,’ watching in his medicine-lodge, or passing his time fishing in the endless ocean, which, on every side, surrounds the land, Michabo sends forth his messengers, who, in the myth, are called Gijigouai, which means ‘those who make the day,’ and they light the world. He is never identified with the sun, nor was he supposed to dwell in it, but he is distinctly the impersonation of light.
“Michabo was at times the god of light, at others, of the winds; and as these are the rain-bringers, he was also at times spoken of as the god of waters. He was said to have scooped out the basins of the lakes, and to have built the cataracts in the rivers, so that there should be fish preserves and beaver dams.”.
“As teacher and instructor, it was he who pointed out to the ancestors of the Indians the roots and plants which are fit for food, and which are of value as medicine; he gave them fire, and recommended them never to allow it to become wholly extinguished in their villages; the sacred rites of the religion were defined and taught by him; the maize was his gift, and the pleasant art of smoking was his invention.”.
Michabo is said to sleep through the winter months; and at the time of the falling leaves, by way of composing himself for his nap, he fills his great pipe and divinely smokes; the blue clouds gently floating over the landscape, fill the air with the haze of Indian summer.
The Myth of Ioskeha. §
The most ancient myth of the Iroquois represents this earth as covered with water, in which dwelt aquatic animals. The heavens were far above, peopled by supernatural beings. One of these, a woman named Ataensic, threw herself through a rift in the sky, and fell towards the earth. There a turtle offered her his broad back as a resting-place, until, from a little mud which was brought to her by some animal, she, by magic power, formed dry land on which to reside.
In this tradition appear twin brothers, sons of a virgin, who was the daughter of Ataensic. The names of the brothers were Ioskeha and Tawiskara, which signified the White One and the Dark One. Ioskeha went about the earth, which was arid, and called forth the springs and lakes, and formed the brooks and rivers. But Tawiskara created an immense frog, which swallowed all the water, and left the earth as dry as before. A partridge informed Ioskeha of this, and he set out for his brother’s country, for they had divided the earth between them. He soon came to the gigantic frog, which he pierced in the side, and the waters flowed out. A terrible contest between the brothers ensued, and Tawiskara was driven from the earth and forced to reside in the far west, where he became ruler of the spirits of the dead. The victorious Ioskeha returned to his grandmother, and
“established his lodge in the far east, on the borders of the great ocean, whence the sun comes. In time he became the father of mankind, and special guardian of the Iroquois.” He caused the earth to bring forth, stocked the woods with game, and taught his children the use of fire.
“In the Oneida dialect of the Iroquois, Ioskeha means literally ‘it is about to grow white,’ that is, to become light, to dawn. Ataensic is from the root aouen, water, and means literally ‘she who is in the water.’ Plainly expressed, the sense of the story is that the sun rises daily out of the boundless waters which are supposed to surround the land, preceded by the dawn (the virgin mother), which fades as soon as the sun has risen.”.
“Neither the redskin nor the Indo-European had any choice as to the main features of the career of his solar divinity. He must be born of the Night, or of the Dawn, must travel westward, must slay harassing demons. Here the resemblance between the Aryan and barbaric legends is at an end. But little reflection is needed to assure us that the imagination of the barbarian, who either carries away his wife by brute force, or buys her from her relatives as he would buy a cow, could never have originated legends in which maidens are lovingly solicited, or in which their favor is won by the performance of deeds of valor. These stories owe their existence to the romantic turn of mind which has always characterized the Aryan, whose civilization, even in the times before the dispersion of his race, was sufficiently advanced to allow of his entertaining such comparatively exalted conceptions of the relations between men and women.”.
Acheron, 56, 195, 205.
Achilles, 27, 80, 111, 137, 148, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 189, 195.
Acrisius, 127, 145, 148.
Acropolis, 114, 122, 126.
Admetus, 93, 94, 95, 168, 173.
Adrastus, 142, 143.
Æetes, 174, 175, 176.
Ægeus, 163, 164, 165, 177.
Ægisthus, 62, 189.
Æneas, 80, 177, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206.
Æolus, 121, 192, 193, 203.
Æsculapius, 93, 137, 173, 186.
Æther, 18, 22.
Æthra, 163, 164.
Agamemnon, 62, 80, 97, 181, 183, 184, 189, 195.
Agave, 103, 139.
Agenor, 41, 137, 138.
Aides, 31, 37, 53, 54, 55, 61, 91, 93, 146, 167, 194, 207, 208.
Ajax, 183, 185, 186, 190.
Alcestis, 93, 94.
Alcinous, 79, 197.
Alcmæon, 142, 143, 144.
Alcmena, 39, 151.
Alexander, 178, 218.
Algonquins, 234, 237.
Althea, 168, 169.
Amalthea, 36, 161.
Amazons, 150, 166.
Amor, 85, 86.
Amphiaraus, 142, 143, 173.
Amphitrite, 51, 53.
Amun, 212, 213.
Anchises, 177, 202, 203, 204, 205.
Andromeda, 147, 148.
Anteros, 81, 86.
Antigone, 141, 142, 143.
Antiope, 39, 40, 166, 167.
Aphrodisia, 82, 210.
Aphrodite, 21, 39, 48, 71, 80, 81, 82, 84, 86, 111, 115, 125, 169, 177, 178, 183, 202, 205, 208, 209, 210.
Apis, 214, 215.
Apollinares Ludi, 95, 210.
Apollo, 12, 16, 19, 39, 52, 59, 62, 84, 88, 90, 91, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 106, 108, 126, 127, 131, 148, 154, 157, 165, 183, 185, 188, 202, 207, 209, 210, 217, 222.
Areopagus, 62, 71.
Ares, 39, 47, 69, 70, 71, 72, 81, 86, 127, 172, 175, 207, 209, 222.
Argo, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176.
Argonauts, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177.
Argus, 42, 43, 199.
Ariadne, 105, 166, 167.
Arion, 51, 143.
Aristæus, 91, 92.
Artemis, 19, 30, 39, 43, 95, 96, 97, 98, 111, 126, 127, 154, 156, 168, 181, 182, 183, 207, 209.
Asclepius. See Æsculapius.
Asteria, 19, 20, 30.
Astræus, 20, 26, 121.
Atalanta, 168, 169.
Athamas, 139, 172.
Athene, 11, 12, 39, 48, 51, 52, 62, 69, 72, 73, 74, 75, 114, 115, 126, 127, 133, 145, 146, 148, 155, 162, 166, 170, 172, 178, 183, 187, 190, 198, 200, 201, 207, 209, 213.
Athor, 81, 213, 215.
Atlas, 99, 146, 159, 196.
Atropos, 59, 60.
Augeas, 155, 161.
Aurora. See Eos.
Aurora Borealis, 228.
Baal, 23, 217, 231.
Bacchanalia, 105, 210.
Bacchus. See Dionysus.
Bel, 23, 217.
Bellerophon, 148, 149, 150, 151.
Bifrost, 226, 228.
Boreas, 26, 121, 123, 173.
Brahma, 220, 222, 224.
Brahmins, 220, 225.
Briareus, 19, 52.
Brumatia, 105, 210.
Bubastis, 95, 213.
Cadmus, 137, 138, 139, 172, 174.
Caduceus, 100, 102.
Calchas, 180, 181, 187.
Calliope, 91, 106, 108.
Calypso, 196, 197, 201.
Campus Martius, 55, 71, 80.
Capitolini Ludi, 39, 210.
Cassandra, 92, 178, 179, 188.
Castor, 40, 173.
Cecrops, 51, 127, 128.
Centaurs, 136, 137, 154, 155.
Ceralia, 67, 210.
Cerberus, 56, 159, 160, 205.
Ceres. See Demeter.
Ceto, 19, 121.
Chaos, 18, 22, 85.
Charites, 39, 81, 84, 85, 208, 209, 210, 222.
Charitesia, 85, 210.
Charon, 56, 205.
Chimæra, 149, 151.
Chiron, 93, 137, 154, 171.
Chronia, 33, 209.
Chronos, 18, 20, 21, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 46, 50, 53, 61, 63, 76, 137, 207, 208.
Circe, 176, 193, 194, 195, 196.
Clio, 106, 108.
Clytemnestra, 40, 62, 181, 188.
Cocytus, 22, 56, 195.
Cœlum, 20, 21, 207.
Cœus, 18, 19.
Consualia, 52, 210.
Cora, 64, 68.
Coronis, 92, 93.
Corybantes, 34, 35.
Creon, 140, 143, 153.
Crius, 18, 20.
Cupid, 85, 86, 208, 209, 222.
Curetes, 34, 36.
Cybele, 34, 35, 36, 169.
Cyclopes, 18, 19, 21, 32, 55, 79, 93, 190, 192, 203, 207.
Cyrus, 131, 218.
Dædala, 47, 48, 210.
Dædalus, 165, 169, 170.
Danae, 145, 147, 148.
Danaides, 57, 58, 59.
Daphne, 42, 89, 91.
Deianeira, 161, 162.
Demeter, 31, 39, 51, 63, 65, 67, 68, 69, 129, 207, 208, 210.
Deucalion, 135, 136.
Diana. See Artemis,
Diomedes, 156, 186, 187.
Dionysia, 104, 210.
Dionysus, 92, 102, 103, 104, 105, 124, 127, 139, 166, 208, 209, 210.
Dioscuri, 40, 41.
Dis. See Aides.
Doris, 111, 120.
Druidism, 233, 234.
Druids, 230, 231, 233, 234.
Dyaus, 11, 36, 221.
Eddas, 225, 228, 229, 230.
Electra, 112, 121, 177.
Eleusinian Mysteries, 66, 81, 159, 210.
Elgin Marbles, 72.
Elysian Plain, 14, 55, 139.
Elysium, 57, 203.
Endymion, 28, 29, 217.
Eos, 20, 23, 26, 27, 121, 159, 184, 185, 220, 222.
Epaphus, 24, 42.
Erato, 107, 109.
Erebus, 18, 22, 55, 92.
Erinnys, 60, 61, 144, 208, 221.
Eriphyle, 142, 143.
Eris, 22, 47.
Eros, 18, 81, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 208, 209, 222.
Eteocles, 141, 142, 143.
Eumæus, 198, 200.
Eumenides, 61, 141.
Europa, 41, 42, 137, 138.
Eurus, 26, 121.
Eurydice, 91, 92.
Eurylochus, 193, 194.
Eurynome, 39, 78, 84.
Eurystheus, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 158, 159, 160.
Eurytion, 137, 157.
Eurytus, 160, 161, 162.
Euterpe, 107, 109.
Festum Mercatorum, 210.
Furies, 57, 205.
Gæa, 18, 19, 21, 31, 32, 34, 37, 47, 63, 74, 158, 207.
Galaxy, or Milky Way, 152.
Ganymedes, 113, 114, 117.
Geryon, 157, 158.
Gigantes, 21, 37.
Glaucus, 120, 149, 150.
Golden Fleece, 172, 176, 177.
Gorgons, 19, 74, 121, 145, 146, 148.
Graces, 84, 208, 209.
Grææ, 19, 121, 146, 148.
Gratiæ, 84, 222.
Gunnar, 229, 230.
Hades, 41, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57.
Harmonia (Harmony), 71, 138, 142.
Harpies, 121, 173, 203, 206.
Hebe, 16, 39, 47, 113, 162, 207.
Hecate, 20, 29, 30, 174, 205, 208, 210.
Hecatoncheires, 18, 19, 21, 32.
Hector, 178, 179, 182, 183, 184, 203.
Hecuba, 178, 188.
Helen, 40, 48, 167, 179, 180, 188, 190, 221.
Helenus, 186, 203, 204.
Helicon, 75, 108.
Helios, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 50, 65, 88, 158, 201, 208, 217.
Helle, 172, 177.
Hemera, 18, 22.
Hephæstus, 24, 39, 47, 74, 78, 79, 80, 81, 133, 138, 155, 164, 174, 183, 184, 209, 210.
Hera, 31, 39, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48, 69, 75, 78, 79, 84, 102, 112, 113, 139, 140, 152, 153, 158, 162, 172, 203, 206, 207, 208, 210.
Heracles, 39, 47, 80, 86, 94, 113, 127, 134, 137, 148, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 163, 166, 173, 179, 182, 186, 187, 209.
Hercules. See Heracles.
Hermæa, 101, 210.
Hermes, 11, 39, 42, 43, 44, 46, 86, 98, 99, 100, 101, 122, 133, 145, 146, 147, 159, 172, 183, 194, 204, 208, 209.
Hermione, 71, 80, 81, 138, 139.
Hesiod, 16, 18.
Hesione, 157, 179.
Hesperides, 22, 47, 121, 158, 159.
Hestia, 31, 76, 77, 127, 209.
Hippolyte, 156, 157, 166.
Hippolytus, 166, 167.
Homer, 16, 54.
Horse, 16, 39, 81, 83, 84, 208.
Horus, 23, 24, 88, 212.
Hymen, Hymenæus, 88.
Hyperion, 18, 20, 26, 28, 32, 217.
Hypnos, 22, 23.
Icarus, 169, 170.
Idæa Mater, 35,
Idas, 167, 173.
Iliad, 81, 89.
Ilus, 177, 178,
Indra, 42, 221, 222.
Ino, 103, 139, 172.
Io, 24, 42, 43.
Iobabes, 149, 150.
Iolaus, 153, 160.
Iole, 160, 161, 162, 163.
Ioskeha, 238, 239.
Iphicles, 151, 153.
Iphigenia, 97, 181, 182.
Iris, 112, 121, 207.
Iroquois, 234, 239.
Ishtar, 81, 218.
Isis, 43, 212, 213.
Isthmian Games, 166, 210.
Iulus, 202, 206.
Ixion, 57, 58, 89.
Janus, 33, 116, 117.
Jason, 137, 168, 172, 174, 175, 176, 177.
Jocasta, 140, 141, 142.
Jove. See Zeus.
Julius Cæsar, 83.
Juno. See Hera.
Jupiter. See Zeus.
Jupiter Ammon, 45.
Jupiter Pluvius, 221.
Laertes, 173, 195, 198, 200.
Laius, 140, 141.
Laomedon, 26, 52, 94, 157, 161, 178.
Lapithæ, 136, 137.
Lares, 119, 120.
Latinus, 205, 206.
Latona, 27, 39.
Leda, 40, 179.
Lethe, 56, 57.
Leto, 19, 27, 39, 58, 88, 96, 97.
Leucothea, 139, 197.
Liber, 102, 105, 210.
Liberalia, 105, 210.
Loki, 227, 228.
Lotus-eaters, 190, 201.
Ludi Apollinares, 210.
Ludi Seculares, 210.
Luna, 27, 208.
Lycaon, 43, 44.
Lycomedes, 167, 181.
Lycus, 39, 40.
Lynceus, 168, 173.
Magna Mater, 35.
Maia, 39, 99, 100, 101.
Mars. See Ares.
Matronalia, 48, 210.
Matutinus Pater, 117.
Medea, 165, 174, 175, 176, 177.
Medusa, 109, 145, 146, 147, 148.
Megara, 153, 160.
Megas Theos, 223.
Meleager, 168, 169, 173.
Melian Nymphs, 21.
Melpomene, 106, 108.
Memnon, 27, 184, 185.
Menelaus, 48, 179, 180, 183, 187, 190.
Mentor, 198, 200.
Mercury. See Hermes.
Metis, 32, 39,
Michabo, 235, 236, 237, 238.
Midas, 94, 124.
Minerva. See Athene.
Minos, 41, 56, 79, 105, 156, 165, 166, 170, 223.
Minotaur, 165, 166.
Mnemosyne, 18, 32, 39, 106.
Mœræ, 22, 39, 59, 60, 168.
Moloch, 23, 31, 217.
Momus, 22, 115.
Mulciber, 78, 80.
Muses, 16, 84, 106, 108, 110, 209.
Naiades, 110, 111.
Neith, 72, 213.
Nemesis, 22, 115, 208.
Neph, 212, 213.
Neptunalia, 51, 210.
Neptune. See Poseidon.
Nereides, 110, 111, 120, 147, 185.
Nereus, 19, 50, 111, 120, 158.
Nero, 71, 234.
Nessus, 161, 162.
Niobe, 97, 98.
Notus, 26, 121.
Nycteus, 39, 40.
Nymphs, 110, 146, 147, 209.
Nyx, 18, 22, 23, 59, 115.
Oceanides, 19, 110, 137.
Oceanus, 18, 19, 28, 32, 39, 43, 46, 64, 110, 120, 146.
Odin, 226, 227, 228.
Odysseus, 148, 179, 186, 187, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202.
Œdipus, 62, 140, 141, 142, 222.
Œneus, 161, 168.
Œnone, 178, 186.
Olympic Games, 209.
Olympus, 13, 32.
Ops, 34, 35, 206, 208.
Orcus, 53, 55.
Orestes, 62, 90, 97, 189.
Orpheus, 91, 92, 173.
Osiris, 23, 53, 102, 212, 213, 216.
Palamedes, 180, 183.
Palladium, 178, 187, 188.
Pallas, 20, 165.
Pallas Athene. See Athene.
Pan, 94, 122, 123, 124.
Panathenæa, 74, 134, 166, 210.
Pandora, 133, 134.
Parcæ, 22, 59.
Paris, 48, 178, 179, 185, 186, 189.
Patroclus, 183, 184, 195.
Pegasus, 109, 110, 146, 150.
Peleus, 47, 168, 173, 180.
Pelias, 93, 171, 176.
Penelope, 179, 180, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202.
Peneus, 90, 155.
Pentheus, 103, 139.
Persephone, 30, 39, 55, 57, 61, 65, 68, 69, 167, 205, 206, 208.
Perses, 20, 29.
Perseus, 109, 145, 147, 151, 217.
Petasus, 101, 102.
Phæacians, 79, 197, 201.
Phaethon, 24, 25, 27.
Philoctetes, 162, 182, 186.
Phineus, 147, 173, 174.
Phlegyas, 57, 59.
Phœbe, 18, 19.
Phœbus Apollo. See Apollo.
Phorcys, 19, 121.
Phryxus, 172, 177.
Pierides, 108, 110.
Pillars of Heracles, 157.
Pirithous, 137, 159, 166, 167, 168, 173.
Pittheus, 163, 164.
Pleiades, 177, 185.
Pluto. See Aides.
Plutus, 67, 208.
Pœas, 162, 173.
Pollux, 40, 168, 173.
Polydectes, 145, 147.
Polymnia, 107, 109.
Polynices, 141, 142, 143, 144.
Polyphemus, 51, 111, 190, 191, 192, 201.
Poseidon, 12, 31, 37, 49, 50, 51, 52, 67, 70, 74, 94, 111, 120, 138, 147, 150, 156, 157, 169, 183, 190, 197, 201, 204, 206, 209, 210.
Priam, 48, 92, 161, 178, 179, 180, 182, 183, 184, 186, 187, 188, 189,202, 203.
Prometheus, 43, 115, 128, 133, 134, 135, 159.
Proserpine. See Persephone.
Psyche, 86, 87.
Psychopompos, 95, 99.
Pthah, 23, 78, 212, 213.
Pyrrha, 135, 136.
Pythian, 90, 210.
Python, 89, 90, 95, 222.
Quinquatrus Majores, 75, 210.
Ra, 23, 212, 213.
Rhadamanthus, 41, 57.
Rhea, 18, 20, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 46, 50, 53, 63, 64, 76, 103, 207, 208.
Sagas, 225, 230.
Sarunya, 26, 61.
Saturn. See Chronos.
Saturnalia, 33, 210.
Satyrs, 122, 125.
Seb, 31, 213.
Selene, 20, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 74, 98.
Semele, 102, 103, 139.
Serapis, 53, 214.
Sibyl, 204, 205.
Silenus, 103, 124.
Sirens, 109, 194, 195, 201.
Sisyphus, 57, 58, 59.
Siva, 11, 222, 223, 224.
Sol. See Helios.
Sphinx, 140, 141, 222.
St. Elmo, 41.
Styx, 20, 56, 103, 180.
Syrinx, 123, 124.
Talaria, 101, 102.
Tantalus, 57, 58.
Tartarus, 18, 21, 55, 57.
Telamon, 161, 168, 173, 179.
Telemachus, 180, 198, 199, 200.
Telephassa, 41, 42, 138.
Tellus. See Gæa.
Terpsichore, 107, 109.
Terra. See Gæa.
Tethys, 18, 19, 43, 46, 110, 120.
Thalia, 84, 107, 109.
Thanatos, 21, 23.
Thaumas, 19, 112, 121.
Thea, 18, 19, 26, 27.
Themis, 18, 32, 39, 59, 83, 136.
Theseus, 74, 105, 126, 148, 156, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 173.
Thetis, 47, 77, 180, 183, 185.
Thoosa, 51, 201.
Thor, 222, 227.
Thoth, 98, 213.
Tiresias, 75, 141, 144, 194, 195, 196.
Titanomachia, 32, 33.
Titans, 18, 207.
Tithonus, 26, 27, 159, 184.
Tityus, 57, 58, 59.
Tonea, 47, 210.
Triton, 51, 222.
Tros, 114, 177.
Turnus, 205, 206.
Tyndareus, 40, 179.
Tyrrhenians, 47, 105.
Ulysses, 179, 180, 181, 183, 185, 186, 187, 190, 201.
Urania, 88, 107, 109.
Uranus, 18, 20, 21, 31, 32, 34, 61, 207, 221.
Ursa Major, 43.
Ursa Minor, 43.
Ushas, 72, 221, 222.
Valhalla, 227, 228, 229.
Varuna, 20, 48, 221.
Vedas, 220, 224.
Veneralia, 82, 210.
Venus. See Aphrodite.
Vesta. See Hestia.
Vesta Giustiniani, 77.
Vestal Virgins, 77.
Vishnu, 222, 223, 224.
Vritra, 221, 222.
Vulcan. See Hephæstus.
Yama, 53, 222.
Zephyrus, 26, 87, 121.
Zeus, 11, 16, 20, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 44, 45, 59, 60, 65, 67, 69, 77, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 86, 88, 93, 96, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106, 107, 110, 113, 114, 121, 127, 135, 137, 139, 144, 145, 150, 151, 158, 160, 162, 167, 172, 177, 178, 179, 183, 185, 188, 191, 192, 197, 200, 204, 206, 208, 209, 210.
Zoroaster, 218, 219.
[Table des noms accentués] §
Achʹeron, Ăchʹeron, Aϵheron
Єharites, Єhărʹites, Єhărʹitēs
Iphigeniʹa, Iphĭgenīʹa, Ĭphigenĭʹa
Nereʹides, Nerēʹides, Nērēʹidēs
Telʹamon, Tělʹamon, Tělʹamŏn