Charles Mills Gayley


Classic myths in english literature

Gayley, Charles Mills (1858-1932), Classic Myths in English Literature, Based Chiefly on Bulfinch’s “Age of Fable” (1855), Accompanied by an Interpretative and Illustrative Commentary, Edited by Charles Mills Gayley, Professor of the English Language and Literature in the University of California, Boston, Ginn & Company, 1898, XXXVIII-540 p. Source: Internet Archive.
Ont participé à cette édition électronique : Nejla Midassi (OCR, Stylage sémantique), Eric Thiébaud (Stylage sémantique) et Diego Pellizzari (Encodage TEI).

[Epigraph.] §

To the Muses.

Whether on Ida’s shady brow,
Or in the chambers of the East,
The chambers of the sun, that now
From ancient melody have ceas’d;

Whether in Heav’n ye wander fair,
Or the green corners of the earth,
Or the blue regions of the air,
Where the melodious winds have birth;

Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
Beneath the bosom of the sea,
Wandering in many a coral grove,
Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry;

How have you left the ancient love
That bards of old enjoyed in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move,
The sound is forc’d, the notes are few!
William Blake.

Preface. §

It has long been evident to me that much of our best English poetry lies beyond the imaginative reach of many readers because of their unfamiliarity with the commonplaces of literary allusion, reference, and tradition. Of such common places few are more frequently recurrent than the situations and agencies of myth.

In view of this consideration, the Academic Council of the University of California, some two years ago, introduced into its requirements for entrance in English the subject of Classical Mythology in its relation to English Literature, and recommended, as a text-book for preparation, Bulfinch’s Age of Fable. The experience of English and classical teachers in the schools of the state has attested the wisdom of the requirement; but the demand for some text-book adapted to the needs of the class-room has made necessary the preparation of this volume. For, while the Age of Fable offers a tempting collection of Greek, Norse, and Oriental narratives with illustrations from English literature, — while it has delighted one generation of American boys and girls, and will, no doubt, delight many generations to come, — it was designed neither as a school-book nor as a systematized presentation and interpretation of the myths that have most influenced English literature.

At the request of my publishers, I have accordingly undertaken such a revision and rearrangement of the materials of the Age of Fable as may adapt it to the purposes of teacher and pupil, and to the taste of readers somewhat more advanced in years than those addressed by the original work or by the edition which bears the name of the Rev. Edward Everett Hale. But, after a year’s work, I find that half my material for copy is altogether new, and that the remainder differs in many important respects from the book upon which it was based. Consequently, while the obligation to the Age of Fable is acknowledged in full, a new title has been selected for this volume. For, neither my publishers, nor I, would desire to have the scholarship or the taste of Mr. Bulfinch held accountable for liberties that have been taken with his work.

In the Classic Myths in English Literature, Chaps. XXV-XXX., containing paraphrases of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and of certain Norse lays, are a revision of corresponding chapters in the Age of Fable. Chaps. IX.-XXIII., comprising Attributes of Roman Divinities, Myths of the Greater Divinities of Heaven, Earth, the Underworld, and the Waters, Myths of the Lesser Divinities of the same regions, Myths of the Older Heroes, and Myths of the Younger Heroes, represent a careful rearrangement and recomposition of the original material, section by section, and frequently paragraph by paragraph, — such portions of the Age of Fable as have been retained being abridged or rewritten, and, in places too frequent to enumerate, supplemented by new and necessary sentences, paragraphs, and sections. The Introduction, the first eight chapters (on the origin, elements, distribution, and preservation of myth, the Greek myths of the creation, and the attributes of Greek divinities), Chaps. XXIVand XXXI. (On the Houses concerned in the Trojan War, and the Old Norse and German heroes), choice of illustrations, the footnotes referring to sources, and the Commentary are wholly, or essentially, my own.

Although in the Index of Mythological Subjects the more common myths of some other nations are briefly stated, no myths save those known to the Greeks, Romans, Norsemen, or Germans have been included in the body of the text. The scope of selection has been thus confined for three reasons: first, the regard for necessary limits; second, the desirability of emphasizing only such myths as have actually acclimated themselves in English-speaking lands, and have influenced the spirit, form, and habit of English imaginative thought; third, the necessity of excluding all but the unquestionably classic. The term Classic, however, is, of course, not restricted to the products of Greece and Rome; nor is it employed as synonymous with Classical or as antithetical to Romantic. From the extreme Classical to the extreme Romantic is a far cry; but as human life knows no divorce of necessity from freedom, so human art knows neither an unrelieved Classical nor an unrestrained Romantic. Classical and Romantic are relative terms. The Classical and the Romantic of one generation may merit equally to be the Classics of the next. Therefore certain Hellenic myths of romantic spirit or construction have been included in this work; and certain Norse and German myths have not been excluded. Whatever is admitted is admitted as first-class: first-class, because simple, spontaneous, and beautiful; because fulfilling the requirements of perennial freshness, of æsthetic potency, and of ideal worth.

In the matter of illustrative English and American poems the principle of selection has been that the verses shall translate a myth from the classic original, or exemplify the genuine poetic idealization and embellishment of the subject, or suggest the spirit and mien of ancient art. But in each case regard has been had to the æsthetic value of the poem or the citation. In the search for suitable examples I have derived valuable assistance from Mr. E. C. Guild’s Bibliography of Greek Mythology in English Poetry of the Nineteenth Century (Bowdoin College, Library Bulletin, N°. I).

In the Commentary four things have been attempted: first, an explanation, under each section, of ordinary textual difficulties; second, an unpretentious exposition of the myth or a brief statement of the more evident interpretations advanced by philologists or ethnologists; third, an indication of certain additional poems or verses that illustrate the myth; fourth, special mention of a few masterpieces of ancient and modern sculpture and painting that may serve to introduce the student or the general reader to a field of æsthetic profit neglected by the great mass of our people.

Since this book is intended for students of English poetry, and since in English poetry Latin names of mythological characters are much more frequently employed than Greek, the Latin designations, or Latinized forms of Greek names, have been, so far as possible retained. In the chapters, however, on the attributes of the Greek gods, names exclusively Greek have been placed in parentheses after the usual Roman equivalents, Latin appellations, or designations common to both Greek and Roman usage. In the transliteration of Greek names I have followed, also, the prevalent practice of our poets, which is, generally speaking, the practice of the Romans. The diphthong ει, for instance, is transliterated according to the accepted English pronunciation, which in individual words perpetuates the preference of the Latins for the ε or the ι, respectively. So Ἀτρείδης becomes Atrīdes; Ποσειδῶν, Posīdon; Ιφιμέδεια, Iphimedīa. But, on the other hand, Κυθέρεια becomes Cytherēa; Πηνειός, Penēus; and Μήδεια, Medēa. On the same principle, such a name Φειδίας as would be anglicized not Pheidias, nor even Phīdias, but — Phĭdias. A few names of islands, towns, persons, etc., that even in Latin retain their Greek forms, such as Delos, Naxos, Argos, Aglauros, Pandrosos, have been transferred without modification. In short, the practice aimed at has been not that of scientific uniformity, but of acknowledged poetic usage.

For the benefit of readers who have failed to acquire the fundamental rules for the pronunciation of Greek and Latin proper names in English, a brief statement of rules is prefixed to the Index; and in the Index of Mythological Subjects and their Sources names are not only accented, but, when there is possibility of error, syllabicated.

In the preparation of the Text and Commentary more or less use has been made of: Roscher’s Ausführliches Lexicon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie (Lieferungen 1-21, Teubner, Leipzig); Preller’s Griechische Mythologie (2 Bde. , Berlin: 1861); Max Müller’s Chips from a German Workshop, Science of Religion (Lond.: 1873), Science of Language (7th ed. 2 v., Lond.: 1873), Oxford Essays (1856); Sir G. W. Cox’s Mythology of the Aryan Nations (2 v., Lond.: 1878); Welcker’s Griechische Götterlehre; Baumeister’s Denkmäler des Klassischen Alterthums; Murray’s Manual of Mythology (N.Y.: 1880); Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology; Duruy’s Histories of Rome and Greece; Keightley’s Greek and Roman Mythology; Kelsey’s Outline of Greek and Roman Mythology (Boston: 1889); Horn’s Geschichte der Literatur des Skandinavischen Nordens (Leipzig: 1880); Cleasby and Vigfusson’s Icelandic Dictionary; Lüning’s Die Edda (Zurich: 1859); Vigfusson and Powell’s Corpus Poeticum Boreale (2 v., Oxford: 1883); Paul’s Grundriss der Germanischen Philologie, 1 Bd., 5 Lfg. (article Mythologie, by E. Mogk); Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology (translated by Stallybrass, 3 v.); Werner Hahn’s Das Nibelungenlied; Lang’s Myth, Ritual, and Religion (2 v., Lond.: 1887), and Mythology (Encyc. Brit., vol. 9); Tylor’s Anthropology (N.Y.: 1881) and Primitive Culture (2 v.); J. W. Powell’s Annual Reports of the Bureau of Ethnology (7 v., beginning 1879-80, Washington, D.C.); Keary’s Outlines of Primitive Belief; Fiske’s Myths and Mythmakers (Boston); Whitney’s Oriental and Linguistic Studies; The Origin of Myth, an exquisite and sympathetic lecture too little known to the public, by Professor, now President, William Preston Johnston of Tulane University (published by Morton & Co., Louisville: 1872); and of other works to which due reference is made in the footnotes and Commentary. The student is also referred to F. B. Jevons’ edition of Plutarch’s Romane Questions (transl. by Philemon Holland, Lond.: 1892) (introduction on Roman Mythology); and to C. G. Leland’s Etruscan-Roman Remains in Popular Tradition (Lond.: 1892).

For the illustrative cuts in the Text, I am indebted in some cases directly to Baumeister and Roscher, in other cases to the selection made by Messrs. Allen and Greenough, in their admirable school editions of Vergil and Ovid, from Baumeister, Roscher, the Archäologische Zeitung (Berlin), Herculaneum and Pompei (by H. Roux Aîné), Millin’s Galerie Mythologique (Paris: 1811), Müller’s Denkmäler der Alten Kunst (Göttingen: 1832), and other collections, to which reference is made in the List of Illustrations prefixed to the Text. The Maps, furnished by Messrs. Ginn & Co. from other of their publications, have, with the kind consent of the authors of those works, in some instances been adapted by me to suit the present purpose.

I take this opportunity of returning especial thanks to Messrs. W. B. Everett and W. S. Soule of the Soule Photograph Co. (338 Washington St., Boston), for the liberal collection of photographs, from works of art illustrating mythological subjects, that they have placed at my disposal, and of calling attention to the edition of this work (interleaved for illustration by photographs) to be published by that company. I also acknowledge the kindness of Mr. W. K. ickery (Publisher and Art Dealer, 224 Post St., San Francisco), who has lent me many photographs and engravings of works of art that, otherwise, might have escaped my notice.

In conclusion, I would acknowledge gratefully my obligation to my esteemed colleague, Professor Isaac Flagg, for untiring assistance in the reading of proof, and for critical suggestions not a few of which have been adopted.

Fourth Edition.

To this and the preceding edition have been added a number of full-page illustrations of which the list is given on p. xxviii. I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Walter Miller of Stanford, to Professor I. N. Demmon of Michigan, and to Professor Harold N. Fowler of Western Reserve, for suggestions which have been of assistance in the revision of the text and commentary.

List of Illustrations.1 §

1. Jupiter surveying the World. [Wall painting: H. and P. (Herculaneum and Pompei) by H. Roux Aîné.]

2. Minerva contending with a Giant. [Bronze: Mus. Kircherianum. Journal of Hellenic Studies, 4: 90; Roscher 10: 1666.]

3. Jupiter destroying the Giants. [Gem: Baumeister.]

4. Two of the Hours. [Vase: Compte Rendu de St. Petersbourg, 1862, Table 4; Roscher 16 and 17: 2727.]

5. Jupiter Enthroned. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

6. Bust of Juno. [Villa Ludovisi, Rome: Overbeck, Atlas 9: 8; Roscher 13: 2123.]

7. Minerva (Pallas). [Ancient MS. of Homer: Inghirami.]

8. Minerva (Athene of Velletri). [Statue from Velletri, in the Louvre: Roscher 4: 702.]

9. Mars (Ares Ludovisi). [Marble statue in the Villa Ludovisi, Rome: Roscher 3: 491.]

10. Vulcan. [Bronze statuette of Hephæstus, Berlin: Hirt, Bilderbuch 6: 2; Roscher 12: 2044.]

11. Apollo of the Belvedere. [Supplemented by the Ægis: Roscher 3: 438.]

12. Apollo. [In the Museum of Basle: Roscher 3: 465.]

13. Diana (Artemis of Versailles). [Marble statue in Louvre: Roscher 4: 603.]

14. Diana (Artemis Knagia). [Silver medallion from Herculaneum: Welcker, Alte Denkmäler, 2: 3, 5; Roscher 4: 566.]

15. Venus of Melos. [Louvre, Paris: Roscher 3: 403.]

16. Mercury (Hermes, with petasus, caduceus, and winged feet). [Wall Painting: Baumeister.]

17. Mercury conducting Souls to Pluto and Proserpine. [Hirt.]

18. Cupid. [Statue: Muller.]

19. The Ganymede of Leochares. [Bronze group: Overbeck, Gr. Plastik 22, Fig. 107; Roscher 9: 1597.]

20. Boreas. [Relief: Millin.]

21. Iris carrying a Child. [Vase picture: Roscher 20: 351.]

22. Ceres. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

23. Bacchus (Dionysus and Ampelos, the vine). [Group in British Museum: Roscher 2: 292.]

24. Youthful Satyrs, gathering grapes over a Crater. [Relief: Millin.]

25. A Roman Satyr, with grafting materials. [Ancient gem: Pitt’s Vergil.]

26. Mercury conducting a Soul to Charon. [Terra-cotta relief: Arch.Zeit.]

27. A Fury. [From a vase picture. The Erinys in garb of a huntress Pursues Orestes: Roscher 8: 1334. ]

28. Pluto (Hades enthroned; Cerberus). [Statue in Villa Borghese: Baumeister Denkm., 620; Roscher 11: 1803.]

29. Nereid on a sea-monster. [Wall painting: Müller.]

30. Neptune in his car. [Coin: Hirt.]

31. Sirens. [Engraved relief: Mittheilungen d. K. Deutsch. Archäol. Instituts, Athens.]

32. Bearded Janus. [Roman coin: Baumeister 964; Roscher 18: 50.]

33. Ganymede feeding the eagle. [Relief: Sepolcri.]

34. Mercury kills Argus in presence of Jupiter. [Vase picture: Roscher 19: 279.]

35. Europa on the Bull. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

36. Amphion with the lyre, and Zethus. [Relief in the Palazzo Spada: Roscher 2: 311.]

37. Minerva’s contest with Neptune. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

38. Minerva. [Statue: Muller.]

39. Mars and Venus. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

40. Cadmus slaying the Dragon. [Vase picture: Millin.]

41. Apollo, and Hyacinthus with quoit. [Marble group, Hope Collection. Roscher 16, 17: 2765.]

42. Apollo. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

43. Niobe. [Statue: Müller.]

44. Æsculapius. [Statue: Müller.]

45. Apollo playing the lyre (Citharædus). [Statue in the Vatican: Roscher 463.]

46. Griffins drawing car with symbols of Apollo. [Relief: Hirt.]

47. Head of Arethusa. [Coin: Baumeister.]

48. Young River-god. [Bronze head: Baumeister; Roscher 9: 1489.]

49. Actæon torn by his hounds. [Relief: Baumeister.]

50. Endymion. [Relief in the Capitoline Museum, Rome: Roscher 7: 1246.]

51. Celestial Venus. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

52. Diana. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

53. Genius with torch. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

54. Bacchus and Silenus. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

55. Bacchic dance of Satyrs and Bacchantes. [Vase picture: Inst. Arch.]

56. A Bacchante in frenzy. [Marble vase: Wælcken.]

57. Bacchic procession. [Vase picture: Arch. Zeit.]

58. Silenus. [Bronze lamp: H. and P.]

59. The Rape of Proserpina. [Relief: Baumeister.]

60. The Return of Proserpina. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

61. The Departure of Triptolemus. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

62. Hymen. [Wall painting: Roscher 16, 17: 2802.]

63. Tantalus, Ixion, and Sisyphus. [Relief: Sepolcri.]

64. Mercury, Eurydice, and Orpheus. [Relief in the Villa Albani: Roscher 14: 2407.]

65. Neptune with trident. [Relief: Müller.]

66. Phosphor, Eos (Aurora), and the Sun rising from ocean. [Vase Picture: Gerhard, Akadem. Abhandl.]

67. The God of Sleep. [Relief: Baumeister.]

68. Dancing Satyr. [Pitt’s Vergil.]

69. Young Satyr. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

70. 71. Rustics with baskets. [Ant. d’Hercul.: Thompson’s Horace.]

72. Galatea and Polyphemus. [Wall painting, Palatine: Roscher 9: 1587.]

73. Glaucus and Scylla. [Wall painting: Roscher 10: 1684.]

74. Scylla. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

75. Sea-monsters. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

76. The Danaïds. [Relief on an altar in the Vatican: Roscher 6: 951.]

77. Medusa. [Relief: Müller.]

78. Perseus with the Gorgon’s head. [Vase picture: Gerhard, Herakles der Satyr und Dreifussrauber.]

79. Perseus and Andromeda. [Relief in Capitoline Museum: Roscher 2: 346.]

80. Bellerophon and Pegasus. [Relief: Roscher 5: 762.]

81. Battle with the Amazons before Troy. [Relief on sarcophagus: Roscher 2: 279.]

82. Atlas bearing the world. [Statue: Müller.]

83. Hercules and Cerberus. [Vase picture: Müller.]

84. Pygmies fighting with Cranes. [Gem: O. Jahn’s Archäol.. Beiträge.]

85. The Apotheosis of Hercules. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

86. Jason conquering the Bulls and seizing the Golden Fleece. [Relief on sarcophagus: Roscher 18: 80.]

87. The Calydonian Hunt. [Relief: Baumeister.]

88. Dædalus and Icarus. [Relief in Villa Albani, Rome: Roscher 6: 934]

89. Theseus and the Minotaur. [Wall painting: H. and P.]

90. The Sleeping Ariadne. [Vatican: Roscher 4: 545.]

91. Head of Bacchus. [In Leyden: Roscher 7: 1128.]

92. Bacchus finding Ariadne. [Wall painting: Müller.]

93. Venus bringing together Paris and Helen. [Relief in Naples: Roscher 12: 1938.]

94. Achilles taken from Scyros by Ulysses and Diomedes. [Pompeian Wall painting: Roscher 1: 27.]

95. The Surrender of Briseis. [Pomp, wall painting: Roscher 5: 820.]

96. Hector fighting before the Ships. [Gem: Roscher 12: 1921.]

97. Ransom of Hector’s body. [Relief: De Clarac.]

98. Ajax with Achilles’body. [Roscher 1: 126.]

99. Head of Paris. [Bust: Münchener Antiken von C F. A. Von Lützow.]

100. Entry of the Wooden Horse; Women supplicating Pallas; Cassandra raving. [Wall painting: H. and. P.]

101. Orestes pursued by the Furies. [Vase picture: Roscher 8: 1331.]

102. Orestes taking refuge at Delphi: Fury, Apollo, Orestes, Tripod, Pallas. [Vase picture: Millin.]

103. Sirens and Ulysses. [Gem: Millin.]

104. Head of Minerva. (Copy of Pallas of the Parthenon.) [Statue: Hirt.]

105. Penelope at the loom. [Vase picture: Baumeister.]

106. Ulysses and Euryclea. [Relief: Roscher 9: 1423.]

107. Veneas, Anchises, and Iulus. [Gem: Mus. Flor.]

108. Scylla. [Carved end of table: Chefs d’œuvres de l’Art Antique, Paris, 1867.]

109. Charon receiving a passenger and his fare. [Relief: Sepolcri.]

110. Amazon. [Guhl & Koner.]

List of Maps. §

1. Greece and the Greek Colonies

2. Greece in the Fifth Century

3. Greece below Thermopylæ

4. Orbis Terrarum ex Sententia Homeri

5. Troas et Hellespontus

6. Gladstone’s Map of the Outer Geography of the Odyssey

7. Italy before the Growth of Rome

List of Full-page Engravings. §

1. Mars (Tuesday). Raphael

2. Apollo Belvedere (in the Vatican)

3. Diana. Correggio

4. Venus of Melos (in the Louvre)

5. The Flying Mercury. Giov. di Bologna

6. The Fates. Michael Angelo

7. The Forge of Vulcan. Velasquez

8. The Pleiades. Vedder

9. Atalanta’s Race. Poynter

10. Orpheus and Eurydice. Sir Frederick Leighton

11. Aurora. Guido Reni

12. Faun. Praxiteles

13. Perseus. Cellini

14. Œdipus and Antigone. Teschendorff

15. Hector’s Farewell to Andromache and Astyanax

16. Laocoön (in the Vatican)

The Study of Mythology in connection with English Poetry. §

Our American educational methods too frequently seek to produce the effect of polish upon a kind of sandstone information that will not stand polishing. With such fatuity many of our teachers in the secondary schools exercise their pupils in the study of English masterpieces and in the critical estimate of æsthetic qualities before acquainting them with the commonplace facts and fables that, transmitted through generations, are the material of much of our poetry because the material of daily converse, imagination, and thought. These commonplaces of tradition are to be found largely in the literature of mythology. Of course, the evil would be neither so widespread nor so dangerous if more of the guardians and instructors of our youth were at home even among the Greek and Latin classics. But for various reasons, — some valid, as, for instance, the importance of increased attention to the modern languages and the natural sciences; others worthless, as the so-called utilitarian protest, against the cultivation of “dead” languages, — for various reasons the study of the Classics is at present considerably impaired. It is, therefore, incumbent upon our universities and schools, recognizing this fact and deploring it, to abate, so far as possible, the unfortunate consequences that proceed therefrom, until, by a readjustment of subjects of instruction and of the periods allotted them, the Greek and Latin classics shall be reinstated in their proper place as a means of discipline, a humanizing influence, the historic background against which our present appears. For, cut off from the intellectual and imaginative sources of Greece and Rome, the state and statesmanship, legislation and law, society and manners, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and even artistic appreciation, run readily shallow and soon dry.

Now, one evident means of tempering the consequence of this neglect of the Classics is the study of them through translations and summaries. Such second-hand study must, indeed, be ever a makeshift; for the literature of a people inheres in its language, and loses its seeming and often its characteristic when caparisoned in the trappings of another speech, — an utterance totally dissimilar, — the outcome of diverse conditions of physical environment, history, social and intellectual tradition. But in dealing with the purely imaginative products of antiquity, the difficulty of the translation may be moderated if those products be reproduced, so far as possible, not in the prosaic but in the poetic atmosphere, and in the imaginative garb of modern art. For though the phenomena of plastic art are not the same in one continent as in another, or from one century to the next, and though the fashion of poetry itself varies from age to age and from clime to clime, the genesis of imagination is universal, its products are akin, and its process is continuous. For this reason the study of the imaginative thought of the ancients through the artistic creations of the moderns is commended to students and readers as feasible and profitable.

The benefits to be derived from such a study of the Classic Myths are general and specific.

1. In general, and in the first place, classic mythology has been for poetry a treasure-house replete with golden tales and glimmering thoughts, passions in the rough and smooth, and fancies rich bejewelled. Like Vergil’s Shadows that flit by the Lethean stream until at beck of Fate they revisit upper day and the ever-tranquil stars, these ghosts of “far-off things and battles long ago,” peopling the murmurous glades of myth, await the poet who shall bestow on each his new and predetermined form, and restore them, purified and breathing of Elysian air, to the world of life and art and ever-young mankind.

For the reader the study of mythology does, in this respect, as much as for the poet. It assists him to thrid the labyrinth of art: not merely with the clue of tradition, but with a thread of surer knowledge whose surest strand is sympathy. The study has led men soberly to trace the progress of their kind from the twilight of gray conjecture to the dawn of spiritual conviction and rational individuality; to discern an onward continuity of thought, an outward reach of imagination, an upward lift of moral and religious ideas; to confess the brotherhood of humanity and the fatherhood of One whose purposes hold good for every race, and through all time. And, so, the knowledge of mythic lore has led men broadly to appreciate the motives and conditions of ancient art and literature, and the uniform and ordered evolution of the æsthetic sense.

Beside enriching us with heirlooms of fiction, and pointing us to the sources of imaginative joy from which the forefathers of Hellenic verse, or Norse, or English, drank, the classic myths quicken our imaginative and emotional faculties in no inappreciable degree. How many a man held by the sorrows of the Labdacidæ or the love of Alcestis, by some curious wonder in Pausanias, or some woe in Hyginus, has waked to the consciousness of artistic fancy and creative force within himself! How many, indifferent to the well-known round, the trivial task, the nearest care of home, have read the Farewell to Andromache and lived a new sympathy, an unselfish thrill, a purified delight! And not only as an impulse toward artistic output, or patriotic devotion, or domestic altruism, but as a restraining influence, a chastener of æsthetic excess, a moderator of the “unchartered freedom” that knows no mean between idolatry and loathing, of the foolish frenzy that affects new things, abnormal and sensational, in literature, music, and the plastic arts, — as such a tutor and governor is the study of beautiful myths invaluable. Long familiarity with the sweet simplicity, the orderly restraint, the severe regard, the filial awe that pervade the myths of Greece and Rome, — or with the newness of life and fulness and wonder of it, the naïveté and the romance, of Eddie lore, — cannot but graciously temper our modern estimate of artistic worth.

Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that the myths of the ancients, as the earliest literary crystallization of social order and religious fear, record the incipient history of religious ideals and of moral conduct. For though ethnologists may insist that to search for truth in mythology is vain, the best of them will grant that to search for truth through mythology is wise and profitable. If we accept the statement (often stretched beyond its proper limit) that mythology is primitive philosophy, and the other statement that an ancient philosophy never dies, but by process of internal growth, of modification, and of accretion acquires a purer spirit and a new and higher form, — then, since truth was never yet conceived of error ( ex nihilo nihil fit), the truth now recognized, while it did not exist in that fraction of myth which happens to be irrational, existed as an archetypal impulse: set the myth in motion; and, as a process refining the mind of man, tended steadily to eliminate from primitive philosophy — that is, from the myths that embodied primitive philosophy — the savage, ephemeral, and irrational element. For all myths spring from the universal and inalienable desire to know, to enjoy, to teach. These impulses of knowledge, of imaginative relaxation, of conduct, are the throbbing of the heart of reason; the first or the second is the primal pulse of every myth; and to the life of every myth each impulse may be, at some period, contributory.

Let us, by way of example, consider the stages of mythologic philosophy described by Professor J. W. Powell in his First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology.2 We do not find the truth free from dross in what he calls the lowest stage, hecastotheism, where everything is endowed “with life: with personality, will, and design… where everything discovered by the senses is looked upon subjectively by the philosopher, and endowed with all the attributes supposed to be inherent in himself; where everything is a god.” Nor do we discover the truth unalloyed in zootheism, in which “men no longer attribute life indiscriminately to inanimate things; where the same powers and attributes recognized by subjective vision in man are attributed to the animals by which he is surrounded; … where man worships beasts, and the phenomena of nature are the doings of animal gods.” Nor do we hold truth undebased in the third stage, physitheism, where “animal gods are dethroned; the powers and phenomena of nature are personified and deified, and the gods are strictly anthropomorphic, having the form as well as the mental, moral, and social attributes of men.” In these deities of the sun, the moon, and the dawn, we do not yet know the pure, the genuine truth. Nor do we recognize it in psychotheism, a still higher plane of mythologic philosophy, where “mental, moral, and social characteristics are personified and deified,”… and gods of war, of love, of revelry, of wisdom, and of youth, “preside over the institutions and occupations of mankind.” In none of these presumptive stages of mythologic philosophy do we discover the truth without admixture; no later stage is without trace of earlier creed; but in every stage a power is manifest making for righteousness, a love yearning for sympathy divine, a moral sense striving through humanized nature and spiritualized man, through pantheism and monotheism to the Spirit in whom we live and move and have our being, — who lives and moves through all.

2. The benefits accruing from the consideration of mythology, and particularly of the classic myths, are not only general, but specific. For, the study, when illustrated by masterpieces of literature and art, should lead to the appreciation of concrete artistic productions of both these kinds.

It goes without saying that a rational series of somewhat consecutive stories is more serviceable to the reader than a congeries of data acquired by spasmodic consultation of the Classical Dictionary, — a mass of information bolted, as it were, but by no means digested. When, however, these stories are treated in genealogical and realistic sequence and are illustrated by lyric, narrative, and descriptive passages of modern literature, there is furnished not only that material of allusion and reference for which the student nowadays trusts to meagre and disjointed textbook notes, but a potentiality that should render the general reading of belles lettres more profitable. For, a previous acquaintance with the material of literary tradition heightens the appreciation of each allusive passage as it is encountered; it enables the reader to sympathize with the mood and to enter into the purpose of the poet, the essayist, the novelist, the orator; it expands the intellectual lungs for the atmosphere breathed by the artist, at any rate for a literary and social atmosphere less asthmatic than that to which so many of us are unconsciously habituated. Of course, all this advantage would far better result from the first-hand nutriment and discipline of the Greek and Latin classics; of course, direct familiarity with the writers of Greece and Rome is the sine qua non of level-headed criticism and broad evaluation of modern literature; and, of course, a sympathy with the imaginings of old is the best incentive to an æsthetic estimate not only of art, but of nature to-day; but if our American pupils and many of their teachers cannot quaff Massic and Falernian, they do well to scent the bouquet. In time, a sense of flavor may, perchance, be stimulated, and, ultimately, a desire for nearer acquaintance with the literatures that we inherit.

In respect of the plastic arts, a similar indirect instruction may well be conveyed. A modest collection of photographs of the paintings and sculptures that have best represented mythical subjects, would, if used in the school and at home in connection with the study of classic myths, avail much toward lifting our American public from the dead level of apathy and provinciality in matters of imagination. A ray of artistic culture, even though refracted through the medium of photography, might, at least, illuminate guides that now make hard for ditches, might clarify the ideals of callow youth, and orient the “ chorus of indolent reviewers.”

For, a second specific advantage to be derived from this study is that it quickens the æsthetic judgment, and heightens the enjoyment of such works of literature and art as not treating of mythical or classical subjects still possess the characteristics of the classic: the unconscious simplicity, the inevitable charm, and the noble ideality. The Lycidas, the Adonais, the Thyrsis, the In Memoriam, the Ode to Duty, the Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich, the Hymn of Man, Love is Enough, Prospice, Festus, the Ode of Life, the Dream of Gerontius, Lying in the Grass, and Simmenthal must mean little to one devoid of the spirit of classicism.

3. A few hints to teachers of the Classic Myths in their relation to English Literature may, perhaps, be acceptable.

From the outset care should be taken that pupils give to the classical names their proper accent, and that they anglicize both vowels and consonants according to the recognized rules laid down in the Latin grammars, and the English dictionaries.

Mythological and classical geography must also be carefully studied. The maps accompanying this volume will be serviceable; but there should be in the class-room one of Kiepert’s maps of the World as Known to the Ancients (Orbis Veteribus Notus), or maps of Ancient Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor. The teacher will find The International Atlas (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, N.Y.), A. Keith Johnston’s School and College Atlas of Ancient Geography, or the new edition of the same by James Cranstoun issued as Ginn and Company’s Classical Atlas, indispensable in the prosecution of general reading.

Most of the myths will naturally be studied out of class and recited in class. Some of the longer ones, however, such as the Wanderings of Ulysses, or the Adventures of Æneas, might in the latter part of the course be read aloud in class for some fifteen minutes every day, in order that interest in the narrative as a whole may be maintained while careful and continual review is had of the numerous allusions and references to earlier myths that each of the longer narratives contains. Throughout the course, all stories and all minutiæ should be kept fresh in the mind of the pupil, whether by oral reviews, informal and frequent questioning, or by compositions and written examinations. The knowledge of the myths and the proper perspective of their relation, one to another, should be fixed by the study of the family ties that motivate many of the incidents of mythical adventure, and that must have been commonplaces of information to the inventors and narrators of these stories.

The myths may well be reproduced as exercises in narration, comparison, description; and they may be regarded as stimulus for imaginative invention concerning local wonders and beauties of nature. Pupils may also be encouraged to consider, and to comment upon, the moral qualities of the heroes and heroines of mythology. Thus they may be led to recognize the difference between ancient and modern standards of right and wrong. To this end, and for the supply of further nutriment, it is important that teachers collect from their reading of the classic originals, or from translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Greek dramatists, the Æneid, the Metamorphoses, etc., material supplementary to the text, and give it freely to their classes. To facilitate this practice, the sources of the myths have been indicated in the footnotes of this volume, and a few of the best translations have been mentioned in §§ 10-12 of the Commentary. Instructors should also read to the classes illustrative English poems, or portions of them based upon the myths under consideration; and they should encourage the pupils to collect from their English reading additional examples of the literary survival or adaptation of ancient fable. For this purpose special sections of the Commentary have been prepared indicating some of the best-known literary applications of each myth.

The myths should provide not only nutriment for thought, but material for memory. Our youth in the push for scientific facts and methods, so-called discipline, and literary acquisition, masticate little, swallow everything, digest nothing, — and having agonized, forget. If fewer things were despatched, especially in the study of literature, and if more were entrusted to the memory, there would be something to assimilate, and time to assimilate it; there would be less dyspepsia and more muscle. Teachers and parents are over-considerate, nowadays, of the memory in children: they approach it gingerly; they have feared so much to wring its withers that in most children the memory has grown too soft for saddling. In our apprehension lest pupils may turn out parrots, we have too often turned them out loons. It is better that a few of the facts in their heads be wrong, than that no facts be there at all. With all our study of children and our gabble about methods of teaching them, while we insist, properly enough, that youth is the seed-time of observation, we seem to have forgotten that it is also the harvest-time of memory. It is easy for children to remember what they learn, it is a delight for them to commit to memory; we act criminally when we send them forth with hardly a fact, or a date, or a glorious verse in the memory of one out of ten of them. Such unfortunately is the case in many of our schools; and such was not the case in the day of our fathers. Pupils should be encouraged to recite memoriter the best poems and verses that accompany the myths here given; and they should not be allowed to pass allusions already explained without recalling verses that contain them.

But, above all things, should be cultivated, by means of this study, the spiritual capabilities of our youth. Pabulum for thought, accurate habits of memory, critical judgment, simplicity and directness of oral and written expression may all be furnished or developed by other educative agencies; but what stimulus to fancy, to poetic sensitiveness and reflection, to a near kinship with the spirit of nature humanized can be found more cogent than the contemplation of the poetic traditions that abide in verse? Mythology, fraught with the fire of imagination, kindles the present from the past.

In this new world of ours, shall slopes and mountains, gorges, canons, flowery fields and forests, rivers, bays, Titanic lakes, and shoreless reach of ocean be seen of eyes that lack insight, be known of men for whom nature does not live? Surely the age of myth is not yet wholly past; surely the beauties and the wonders of nature are a fable of things never fully revealed; surely this new republic of ours, no less than her prototypes by Tyrrhenian and Ægean seas, utters, in her queenly form and flowing robes, a spirit, a truth, a potential poetry, and a beauty of art, the mere grace of which we Americans for lack of imaginative training, and sympathy, and awe have not yet valued, and have yet to apprehend.


With young pupils, the teacher will probably find it best to begin recitations in this book at the fourth chapter (Greek Myths of the Creation). The first three chapters may be deferred until the class is better able to understand them, or may be summarized in informal talks supplementary to the earlier recitations. Pupils of advanced classes in the High Schools will experience no difficulty in mastering these chapters when they come to review them.

Since the myths are presented in a logical and genealogical arrangement, they should be recited in this order. When there is not time for detailed recitation on the whole book, some of the longer narratives, such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, or the Norse Myths, might be read at home, and reported in class by way of oral or written composition, once a week or fortnight. These narratives should not, however, be assigned in arbitrary and inconsequential fragments; their epical quality must be emphasized.

The Commentary is numbered in sections corresponding to those of the text. The Textual and Interpretative Notes should be studied by older pupils in connection with each lesson. But they should not be suffered to spoil the interest in the stories, as such. Allusions and interpretations which the younger pupil does not appreciate will, if the book is used for purposes of reference in his further English, Latin, or Greek studies, be clear before the end of his course. The masterpieces mentioned in the Illustrative Notes will suggest subjects for further study and for exercises in English Composition.

Chapter I.
The Origin and Elements of Myth. §

§ 1. Purpose of the Study. — Interwoven with the fabric of our English literature, of our epics, dramas, lyrics, and novels, of our essays and orations, like a golden warp where the woof is only too often of silver, are the myths of certain ancient nations. It is the purpose of this work to relate some of these myths, and to illustrate the uses to which they have been put in English literature, and, incidentally, in modern art.

The Fable and the Myth. — Careful discrimination must be made between the fable and the myth. A fable is a story, like that of King Log, or the Fox and the Grapes, in which characters and plot, neither pretending to reality nor demanding credence, are fabricated confessedly as the vehicle of moral or didactic instruction. Dr. Johnson narrows still further the scope of the fable: “It seems to be, in its genuine state, a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions.” Myths, on the other hand, are stories of anonymous origin, prevalent among primitive peoples, and by them accepted as true, concerning supernatural beings and events, or natural beings and events influenced by supernatural agencies. Fables are made by individuals; they may be told in any stage of a nation’s history — by a Jotham when the Israelites were still under the Judges, 1200 years before Christ, or by Christ himself in the days of the most critical Jewish scholarship; by a Menenius when Rome was still involved in petty squabbles of plebeians and patricians, or by Phædrus and Horace in the Augustan age of Roman imperialism and Roman letters; by an Æsop, well-nigh fabulous, to fabled fellow-slaves and Athenian tyrants, or by La Fontaine to the Grand Monarch and the most highly civilized race of seventeenth century Europe.

Fables are vessels made to order into which a lesson may be poured. Myths are born, not made. They are born in the infancy of a people. They owe their features not to any one historic individual, but to the imaginative efforts of generations of story-tellers. The myth of Pandora, the first woman, endowed by the immortals with heavenly graces, and of Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven for the use of man; the myth of the earth-born giants that in the beginning contested with the gods the sovereignty of the universe; of the moon-goddess who, with her buskined nymphs, pursues the chase across the azure of the heavens, or descending to earth cherishes the youth Endymion,— these myths, germinating in some quaint and childish interpretation of natural events or in some fire-side fancy, have put forth unconsciously under the nurture of the simple folk that conceived and tended them, luxuriant branches and leaves of narrative, and blossoms of poetic comeliness and form.

The myths that we shall relate present wonderful accounts of the creation, histories of numerous divine beings, adventures of heroes in which magical and ghostly agencies play a part, and where animals and inanimate nature don the attributes of men and gods. Many of these myths treat of divinities once worshipped by the Greeks and the Romans, and by our Norse and German forefathers in the dark ages. Myths, more or less like these, may be found in the literatures of nearly all nations; many are in the memories and mouths of savage races at this time existent. But the stories here narrated are no longer believed by any one. The so-called divinities of Olympus and of Asgard have not a single worshipper among men. They dwell only in the realm of memory and imagination; they are enthroned in the palace of art.

§ 2. Kinds of Myth. — If we classify these stories according to the reason of their existence, we observe that they are of two kinds: explanatory and æsthetic.

(1) Explanatory myths are the outcome of naive guesses at the truth, of mistaken and superstitious attempts to satisfy the curiosity of primitive and unenlightened peoples, to unveil the mysteries of existence, make clear the facts of the universe and the experiences of life, and to teach the meaning and the history of things. There are certain questions that nearly every child and every savage asks: What is the world, and what is man? Who made them? What else did the maker do? and what the first men? Whence came the commodities of life? What is death, and what becomes of us after death? The answers to such questions crystallized themselves gradually into stories of the creation, of the gods, and of the heroes — forefathers of men, but magnified, because unfamiliar, mysterious, and remote.

Old literatures abound in explanatory myths of so highly imaginative a character that we moderns are tempted to read into them meanings which probably they never possessed. For the diverse and contradictory significations that have in recent years been proposed for one and the same myth could not all, at any one time, have been entertained by the myth-makers. On the other hand, the current explanations of certain myths are sufficiently apparent to be probable. “To the ancients,” says John Fiske3 , “the moon was not a lifeless body of stones and clods; it was the horned huntress Artemis, coursing through the upper ether, or bathing herself in the clear lake; or it was Aphrodite, protectress of lovers, born of the sea-foam in the East, near Cyprus. The clouds were not bodies of vaporized water; they were cows, with swelling udders, driven to the milking by Hermes, the summer wind; or great sheep with moist fleeces, slain by the unerring arrows of Bellerophon, the sun; or swan-maidens, flitting across the firmament; Valkyries hovering over the battle-field, to receive the souls of falling heroes; or, again, they were mighty mountains, piled one above another, in whose cavernous recesses the divining-wand of the storm-god Thor revealed hidden treasures. The yellow-haired sun Phœbus drove westerly all day in his flaming chariot; or, perhaps, as Meleager, retired for a while in disgust from the sight of men; wedded at eventide the violet light (Œnone, Iole) which he had forsaken in the morning; sank as Hercules upon a blazing funeral-pyre, or, like Agamemnon, perished in a blood-stained bath; or, as the fish-god, Dagon, swam nightly through the subterranean waters to appear eastward again at daybreak. Sometimes Phaëthon, his rash, inexperienced son, would take the reins and drive the solar chariot too near the earth, causing the fruits to perish, and the grass to wither, and the wells to dry up. Sometimes, too, the great all-seeing divinity, in his wrath at the impiety of men, would shoot down his scorching arrows, causing pestilence to spread over the land.”

(2) Æsthetic myths have their origin in the universal desire for amusement; in the revulsion of the mind from the humdrum of actuality. They furnish information that may not be practical but is delightful; they elicit emotion — sympathy, tears, and laughter — for characters and events remote from our commonplace experience but close to the heart of things, and near and significant and enchanting to us in the atmosphere of imagination that embraces severed continents, inspires the dead with life, bestows color and breath upon the creatures of a dream, and wraps young and old in the wonder of hearing a new thing. The æsthetic, myth, first, removes us from the sordid world of immediate and selfish needs, and then unrolls a vision of a world where men and things exist simply for the purpose of delighting us. And the enduring measure of delight which the æsthetic myth affords is the test of what we call its beauty.

A myth, whether explanatory or æsthetic, is of unconscious growth, almost never concocted with a view to instruction.

According to their subjects, æsthetic myths are either historic or romantic, (a) If historic, they utilize events which have a skeleton of fact. They supply flesh and sinew of divine or heroic adventure and character, blood and breath of probability and imagination. In historic myths the dependence of gods, heroes, and events upon the stern necessity of an overruling power, of fate or providence, is especially to be observed. Of this class is the Iliad of Homer.

(b) If romantic, the myths are characterized by bolder selection or creation of fundamental events; indeed, events appear to be chosen with a view to displaying or developing the character of the hero. In such myths, circumstances are not so important as what the hero does with circumstances. The hero is more independent than in the historic myth, his liberty, his choice, — in judgment, in conduct, and in feeling, — his responsibility, are the centre of interest. In romantic myths like the Odyssey this sense of freedom does not impel the poet to capricious use of his material. But lesser bards than Homer have permitted their heroes to run riot in adventures that weary the imagination and offend the moral judgment.

§ 3. Divisions of Inquiry. — We are next led to ask how these myths came into existence, and how it is that the same myth meets us under various forms in literatures and among peoples widely separate in time and place. These are questions of the Origin and Distribution of myths; and in this chapter we shall discuss the former.

§ 4. Elements of the Myth. — The myths preserved in the literatures of many civilized nations, such as the Greek, present to the imaginative and the moral sense aspects fraught with contradiction. In certain myths the gods display themselves as beautiful, wise, and beneficent beings; in others they indulge in cruel, foolish, and unbeautiful practices and adventures. These contradictory elements have been called the reasonable and the senseless.

A myth of Mother Earth (Demeter) mourning the loss of her daughter, the Springtide, is reasonable; a myth of Demeter devouring, in a fit of abstraction, the shoulder of the boy Pelops, and replacing it with ivory, is capricious, apparently senseless. “It is this silly, senseless, and savage element,” as Max Müller says, “that makes mythology the puzzle which men have so long found it.”

§ 5. Reasonable Myths. — If myths were always reasonable, it would not be difficult to reach an agreement concerning some way by which they may have come into existence.

Imagination. — If we assume that the peoples who invented these stories of supernatural beings and events had, with due allowance for the discrepancy in mental development, imaginations like our own, there is nothing in the history of reasonable myths to baffle our understanding. For, at the present time, not only children and simple-minded men, like sailors or mountaineers, but cultivated men of ordinary poetic sensibility, bestow attributes of life upon inanimate things and abstract ideas. The sun is nowadays thirsty, the ship is a woman, the clouds threaten, charity suffereth long, the waves are angry, time will tell, and death swallows all things. We look unto the hills whence cometh our help; the sun still rises, and, as Mr. Jasper maintains, “do move.” By personification we, every day, bestow the attributes of human beings upon inanimate nature, animals, and abstractions. By our metaphors, we perpetuate and diffuse the poetic illusion; we talk not perhaps of the arrows of Apollo, but of a sun-stroke; our poetry abounds in symbols of the moon, of the swift-winged wind, of the ravening sea. In our metonymies we use the sign for the thing signified, the crown for the king, the flag for the honor of the country; and the crown and the flag are to-day possessed of attributes and individuality just as efficient as those that endowed the golden handmaids of Vulcan, or the eagle of Jove, Nor is hyperbole any less in use among us than it was among the ancients; we glorify our political heroes with superlatives, they dignified theirs with divinity.

Belief. — But this resemblance in habits of imagination, while it may help us to appreciate the mental condition of primitive peoples, accentuates the distinction between our imagination and theirs. They, at some time or other, believed in these personifications. We do not believe. But their belief is easier to comprehend when we remember that the myths of savages clustered about beings whom they worshipped. Among primitive nations the sense of awe in the presence of magnificent objects of nature — mountains, the sky, the sun, the sea — is universal. It springs from the fact that savages do not deem themselves superior to nature. They are not conscious of souls whose flight is higher than that of nature. On the contrary, since sun, sea, and winds move, the savage invests them with free-will and personality like man’s. In proportion, however, as their size is grander or their movement more tremendous, these objects must be possessed of freedom, personality, and power exceeding those of man. Why, then, should not the savage believe, of beings worthy of worship and fear and gratitude, all and more than all that is accredited to man? Why not confer upon them human and superhuman passions and powers? If we were living, like the Greek of old, close to the heart of nature, such personification of natural powers would be more easy for us to appreciate.

“If for us also, as for the Greek,” says Mr. Ruskin, 4 “the sunrise means daily restoration to the sense of passionate gladness and of perfect life — if it means the thrilling of new strength through every nerve, — the shedding over us of a better peace than the peace of night, in the power of the dawn, — and the purging of evil vision and fear by the baptism of its dew; — if the sun itself is an influence, to us also, of spiritual good, — and becomes thus in reality, not in imagination, to us also, a spiritual power, — we may then soon over-pass the narrow limit of conception which kept that power impersonal, and rise with the Greek to the thought of an angel who rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, whose voice, calling to life and to labor, rang round the earth, and whose going forth was to the ends of heaven.”

Regarding thus the religious condition of the savage, we may comprehend the existence of myths, and his acceptance of them.

§ 6. Unreasonable Myths. — But he would maintain this attitude of acceptance only in the matter of good and beneficent gods and of righteous or reasonable myths.

For how could a human being believe of the god whom he worshipped and revered, deeds and attributes more silly and more shameful than man can conceive of his fellow-man? When, therefore, we find senseless and shameless myths existing side by side with stories of the justice and righteousness of the same god, we must conclude that, since the worshipper could not believe both sets of attributes, he preserved his religious attitude before the good god, only by virtue of rejecting the senseless myth.

A man’s religious belief would assist him to entertain only the reasonable myths. How, then, did the senseless and cruel stories come into existence? And were they ever believed?

How accounted for. — There are many answers to these questions. They may, however, be classified according to the theory of civilization that they assume.

According to the Theory of Deterioration, or Human Depravity, man, although he had in the beginning knowledge of common facts, pure moral and religious ideas, and true poetic conceptions, has forgotten, with the lapse of time, the significance of words, facts, men, and events, adopted corrupt moral and religious notions, and given license to the diseased imagining of untrue and unlovely conceptions.

According to the Theory of Improvement, or Progress, man, beginning with crude dreams and fancies about experience, life, the world, and God, has gradually developed truer and higher conceptions of his own nature, of his relation to the world about him, of duty, of art, and of religion.

§ 7. Theory of Deterioration. — Let us consider first the interpretations mythology that assume a backward tendency in early civilization. They are; —

(1) The Historical, or better called after its author, Euhemerus (b.c. 316), the Euhemeristic. This explanation assumes that myths of the gods are exaggerated adventures of historic individuals, chieftains, medicine-men, heroes; and that supernatural events are distortions of natural but wonderful occurrences. In fact, it attributes to our forefathers a disease of the memory which prompted them to pervert facts. Jupiter, Odin, and Hercules were accordingly men who, after death, had been glorified, then deified, then invested with numerous characteristics and adventures appropriate to their exalted conditions of existence.

The custom of worshipping ancestors, still existent in China and other countries is adduced in support of this method of investigating myths, and it is undoubtedly true that the method explains the origin and growth of some myths. But it accounts rather for the reasonable than the senseless element of mythical adventure, while it fails to show how savages come to exaggerate their heroes into beings entirely out of the realm of that actual experience which is the basis of the historical assumption.

(2) The Philological Interpretation5 assumes also a disease of the memory by reason of which men misunderstand and confuse the meanings of words, and misapply the words themselves. Professor Max Müller calls this affection a disease of language. In ancient languages every such word as day, night, earth, sun, spring, dawn, had an ending expressive of gender, which naturally produced the corresponding idea of sex. These objects accordingly became in the process of generations not only persons, but male and female. As, also, the phrases expressing the existence or the activity of these natural objects lost their ancient signification under new colloquial coloring, primitive and simple statements of natural events acquired the garb and dignity of elaborate and often incongruous narratives, no longer about natural events, but about persons. Ancient language may, for instance, have said sunrise follows the dawn. The word for sun was masculine; the word for dawn, feminine. In time the sentence came to mean Apollo the god of the sun chases Daphne, the maiden of the glowing dawn. But the word, Daphne, meant also a laurel that burned easily, hence might readily be devoted to the god of the sun. So Daphne, the maiden, assuming the form of Daphne, the laurel, escaped the pursuit of her ardent lover, by becoming the tree sacred to his worship.6 The merit of the philological method is, that, tracing the name of a mythical character through kindred languages, it frequently ascertains for us the family of the myth, brings to light kindred forms of the myth, discovers in what language the name was born, and sometimes, giving us the original meaning of the divine name, “throws light on the legend of the bearer of the name and on its origin and first home.” 7

But unfortunately there is very often no agreement among scholars about the original meaning of the names of mythical beings. The same name is frequently explained in half a dozen different ways. The same deity is reduced by different interpreters to half a dozen elements of nature. A certain goddess represents now the upper air, now light, now lightning, and yet again clouds. Naturally the attempts at construing her adventures must terminate in correspondingly dissimilar and unconvincing results. In fine, the philological explanation assumes as its starting-point masculine and feminine names for objects of nature. It does not attempt to show how an object like the ocean came to be male, and not female, or how it came to be a person at all. And this latter, in studying the origin of myths, is what should first be ascertained. We must not, however, fall into the error of supposing that the philologists look for the origin and growth of all myths in words and the diseases of words. Max Müller grants that mythology does not always create its own heroes, but sometimes lays hold of real history. He insists that mythologists should bear in mind that there may be in every mythological riddle elements which resist etymological analysis, for the simple reason that their origin was not etymological, but historical.

(3) The Allegorical Interpretation is akin to the philological in its results. It leads us to explain myths as embodiments in symbolic guise of hidden meaning: of physical, chemical, or astronomical facts; or of moral, religious, philosophical truth. The stories would at first exist as allegories, but in process of time would come to be understood literally. Thus Cronus, who devours his own children, is identified with the power that the Greeks called Chronos (Time), which may truly be said to destroy whatever it has brought into existence. The story of Io is interpreted in a similar manner. Io is the moon, and Argus the starry sky, which, as it were, keeps sleepless watch over her. The fabulous wanderings of Io represent the continual revolutions of the moon. This method of explanation rests upon the assumption that the men who made the allegories were proficient in physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc. and clever in allegory; but that, for some unknown reason, their descendants becoming stupid, knowledge as well as wit deserted the race. In some cases the myth was, without doubt, from the first an allegory; but where the myth was consciously fashioned as an allegory, in all probability it was preserved as such. It is not, however, likely that allegories of deep scientific or philosophical import were invented by savages. Where the myth has every mark of great antiquity, — is especially silly and senseless and savage, — it is safe to believe that any profound allegorical meaning, read into it, is the work of men of a later generation who thus attempted to make reasonable the divine and heroic narratives which they could not otherwise justify, and of whose existence they were ashamed. We find, moreover, in some cases a great variety of symbolic explanations of the same myth, one with as great claim to credence as another, since they spring from the same source, the caprice or fancy of the expounder.

Among the ancients Theagenes of Rhegium, six hundred years before Christ, suggested the allegorical theory and method of interpretation. In modern times he has been supported by Lord Bacon, whose “Wisdom of the Ancients” treats myths as “elegant and instructive fables,” and by many Germans, especially Professor Creuzer.

(4) The Theological Interpretation. — This premises that mankind, either in general or through some chosen nationality, received from God an original revelation of pure religious ideas, and that, with the systematic and continued perversion of the moral sense, this knowledge of truth, morality, and spiritual religion fell into corruption. So in Greek mythology the attributes of the various gods would be imperfect irradiations of the attributes of the one God. A more limited conception is, that all mythological legends are derived from the narratives of Scripture, though the real facts have been disguised and altered. Thus, Deucalion is only another name for Noah, Hercules for Samson, Arion for Jonah, etc. Sir Walter Raleigh, in his “History of the World,” says, “Jubal, Tubal, and Tubal-Cain were Mercury, Vulcan, and Apollo, inventors of pasturage, smithing, and music. The dragon which kept the golden apples was the serpent that beguiled Eve. Nimrod’s tower was the attempt of the giants against heaven.” There are doubtless many curious coincidences like these, but the theory cannot, without extravagance, be pushed so far as to account for any great proportion of the stories. For many myths antedate the scriptural narratives of which they are said to be copies; many more, though resembling the scriptural stories, originated among peoples ignorant of the Hebrew Bible. The theory rests upon two unproved assumptions: one, that all nations have had a’ chance to be influenced by the same set of religious doctrines; the other, that God made his revelation in the beginning once for all, and has done nothing to help man toward righteousness since then. The theological theory has been advocated by Voss and other Germans in the seventeenth century, by Jacob Bryant in 1774, and in this century most ably by Gladstone.8

§ 8. We are now ready for the explanation of myth-making based upon the Theory of Progress. This is best stated by Mr. Andrew Lang9, whose argument is, when possible, given in his own language. To the question how the senseless element got into myths, the advocates of this theory answer that it was in the minds and in the social condition of the savages who invented the myths. But since we cannot put ourselves back in history thousands of years to examine the habits of thought and life of early savages, we are constrained to examine whether anywhere nowadays there may exist “any stage of the human intellect in which these divine adventures and changes of men into animals, trees, stars, this belief in seeing and talking with the dead, are regarded as possible incidents of daily human life.” As the result of such scientific investigation, numerous races of savages have been found who at this present day accept and believe just such silly and senseless elements of myth as puzzle us, and have puzzled many of the cultivated ancients who found them in their inherited mythologies. The theory of development is, then, that “the savage and senseless element in mythology is, for the most part, a legacy from ancestors of civilized races who at the time that they invented the senseless stories were in an intellectual state not higher than that of our contemporary Australians, Bushmen, Red Indians, the lower races of South America, and other worse than barbaric people of the nineteenth century.” But what are the characteristics of the mental state of our contemporary savages? First and foremost, curiosity that leads them to inquire into the causes of things; and second, credulity that impels them to invent or to accept childish stories that may satisfy their untutored experience. We find, moreover, that savages nowadays think of everything around them as having life and the parts and passions of persons like themselves. “The sky, sun, wind, sea, earth, mountains, trees, regarded as persons, are mixed up with men, beasts, stars, and stones on the same level of personality and life.” The forces of nature, animals, and things have for these Polynesians and Bushmen the same powers and attributes that men have; and in their opinion men have the following attributes: —

“1. Relationship to animals and ability to be transformed, and to transform others into animals and other objects.

“2. Magical accomplishments, such as power to call up ghosts, or to visit ghosts and the region of the dead; power over the seasons, the sun, moon, stars, weather, and so forth.”10

The stories of savages to-day abound in adventures based upon qualities and incidents like these. If these stories should survive in the literature of these nations after the nations have been civilized, they would appear senseless and silly and cruel to the descendants of our contemporary savages. In like manner, “as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Norsemen advanced in civilization, their religious thought and artistic taste were shocked by myths which were preserved by local priesthoods, or in ancient poems, or in popular religious ceremonials… We may believe that ancient and early tribes framed gods like themselves in action and in experience, and that the allegorical element in myths is the addition of later peoples who had attained to purer ideas of divinity, yet dared not reject the religion of their ancestors.”11 The senseless element in the myths would, by this theory, be, for the most part, a “survival.” Instead, then, of deteriorating, the races that invented senseless myths are, with ups and downs of civilization, intellectually and morally improved, to such extent that they desire to repudiate the senseless element in their mythical and religious traditions, or to explain it as reasonable by way of allegory. This method of research depends upon the science of mind — psychology, and the science of man — anthropology. It may be called the Anthropological Method. The theory is that of “survival.”

It is of course probable that occasionally the questionable element of the myth originated in germs other than savage curiosity and credulity: for instance, in the adventures of some great hero, or in a disease of language by which statements about objects came to be understood as stories about persons, or perhaps in a conscious allegory, or, even, in the perversion of some ancient purer form of moral or religious truth. But, in general, the root of myth-making is to be found in the mental and social condition of primitive man, the confused personality that he extended to his surroundings, and the belief in magical powers that he conferred upon those of his tribesmen that were shrewdest and most influential. This mental condition of the myth-maker should be premised in all scientific explanations of myth-making.

Then, with the aid of the philological method of interpretation and of the euhemeristic, the transition is intelligible from a personification of the elements of nature or an exaggeration of historic facts to the notion of supernatural beings presiding over, and governing, the different objects of nature — air, fire, water, the sun, moon, arid stars, the mountains, forests, and streams — or possessing marvellous qualities of action, passion, virtue, foresight, spirituality, and vice.

The Greeks, whose imagination was lively, peopled all nature with such invisible inhabitants and powers. In Greece, says Wordsworth:12

“In that fair clime the lonely herdsman, stretched
On the soft grass through half a summer’s day,
With music lulled his indolent repose;
And, in some fit of weariness, if he,
When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear
A distant strain far sweeter than the sounds
Which his poor skill could make, his fancy fetched
Even from the blazing chariot of the Sun
A beardless youth who touched a golden lute,
And filled the illumined groves with ravishment.
The nightly hunter, lifting up his eyes
Toward the crescent Moon, with grateful heart
Called on the lovely Wanderer who bestowed
That timely light to share his joyous sport;
And hence a beaming goddess with her nymphs
Across the lawn and through the darksome grove
(Not unaccompanied with tuneful notes
By echo multiplied from rock or cave)
Swept in the storm of chase; as moon and stars
Glance rapidly along the clouded heaven
When winds are blowing strong. The traveller slaked
His thirst from rill or gushing fount, and thanked
The Naiad. Sunbeams upon distant hills
Gliding apace with shadows in their train,
Might, with small help from fancy, be transformed
Into fleet Oreads sporting visibly.
The Zephyrs, fanning, as they passed, their wings,
Lacked not for love fair objects whom they wooed
With gentle whisper. Withered boughs grotesque,
Stripped of their leaves and twigs by hoary age,
From depth of shaggy covert peeping forth
In the low vale, or on steep mountain side;
And sometimes intermixed with stirring horns
Of the live deer, or goat’s depending beard;
These were the lurking Satyrs, a wild brood
Of gamesome deities; or Pan himself,
The simple shepherd’s awe-inspiring god.”

The phases of significance and beauty through which the physical or natural myth may develop are expressed with poetic grace by Ruskin, in his “Queen of the Air.”13 The reader must, however, guard against the supposition that any myth has sprung into existence fully equipped with physical, religious, and moral import. Ruskin himself says, “To the mean person the myth always meant little; to the noble person, much.” Accordingly, as we know, to the savage the myth was savage; to the devotee it became religious; to the artist, beautiful; to the philosopher, recondite and significant — in the course of centuries.

“If we seek,” says Ruskin, “to ascertain the manner in which the story first crystallized into its shape, we shall find ourselves led back generally to one or other of two sources — either to actual historical events, represented by the fancy under figures personifying them, or else to natural phenomena similarly endowed with life by the imaginative power, usually more or less under the influence of terror. The historical myths we must leave the masters of history to follow; they, and the events they record, being yet involved in great, though attractive and penetrable, mystery. But the stars and hills and storms are with us now, as they were with others of old; and it only needs that we look at them with the earnestness of those childish eyes to understand the first words spoken of them by the children of men. And then, in all the most beautiful and enduring myths, we shall find not only a literal story of a real person — not only a parallel imagery of moral principle — but an underlying worship of natural phenomena, out of which both have sprung, and in which both forever remain rooted. Thus, from the real sun, rising and setting; from the real atmosphere, calm in its dominion of unfading blue and fierce in its descent of tempest — the Greek forms first the idea of two entirely personal and corporeal gods (Apollo and Athena), whose limbs are clothed in divine flesh, and whose brows are crowned with divine beauty; yet so real that the quiver rattles at their shoulder, and the chariot bends beneath their weight. And, on the other hand, collaterally with these corporeal images, and never for one instant separated from them, he conceives also two omnipresent spiritual influences, of which one illuminates, as the sun, with a constant fire, whatever in humanity is skilful and wise; and the other, like the living air, breathes the calm of heavenly fortitude and strength of righteous anger into every human breast that is pure and brave.

“Now, therefore, in nearly every myth of importance… you have to discern these three structural parts — the root and the two branches. The root, in physical existence, sun, or sky, or cloud, or sea then the personal incarnation of that, becoming a trusted and companionable deity, with whom you may walk hand in hand, as a child with its brother or its sister; and lastly, the moral significance of the image, which is in all the great myths eternally and beneficently true.”

Myth, in fine, “is not to be regarded as mere error and folly, but as an interesting product of the human mind. It is sham history, the fictitious narrative of events that never happened.”14 But that is not the full statement of the case. Myth is also actual history of early and imperfect stages of thought and belief: it is the true narrative of unenlightened observation, of infantine gropings after truth. Whatever reservations scholars may make on other points, most of them will concur in these: that some myths came into existence by a “disease of language”; that some were invented to explain names of nations and of places, and some to explain the existence of fossils and bones that suggested prehistoric animals and men; that many were invented to gratify the ancestral pride of chieftains and clans, and that very many obtained consistency and form as explanations of the phenomena of nature, as expressions of the reverence felt for the powers of nature, and as personifications, in general, of the passions and the ideals of primitive mankind.15

Chapter II.
The Distribution of Myths. §

§ 9. Several theories of the appearance of the same explanatory or æsthetic myth, under various guises, in lands remote one from another, have been advanced; but none of them fully unveils the mystery. The difficulty lies not so much in accounting for the similarity of thought or material in different stories, as for the resemblance in isolated incidents and in the arrangement of incidents or plot. The principal theories of the distribution of myths are as follows: —

(1) That the resemblances between the myths of different nations are purely accidental. This theory leaves us no wiser than we were.

(2) That the stories have been borrowed by one nation from another. This will account for exchange only between nations historically acquainted with each other. It will not account for the existence of the same arrangement of incidents in a Greek myth and in a Polynesian romance.

(3) That all myths, if traced chronologically backward, and geographically from land to land, will be found to have originated in India16. This theory fails to account for numerous stories current among the modern nationalities of Europe, of Africa, and of India itself. It leaves also unexplained the existence of certain myths in Egypt many centuries before India had any known history: such as, in all probability, the Egyptian myth of Osiris. The theory, therefore, is open to the objection made to the theory of borrowing.

(4) That similar myths are based upon historical traditions similar in various countries, or inherited from some mother country. But, although some historical myths may have descended from a mother race, it has already been demonstrated (§ 7.1) that the historical (Euhemeristic) hypothesis is inadequate. It is, moreover, not likely that many historical incidents like those related in the Iliad and the Odyssey happened in the same order, and as actual history, in Asia Minor, Ithaca, Persia, and Norway. But we find myths containing such incidents in all these countries.17

(5) That the Aryan tribes (from which the Indians, Persians, Phrygians, Greeks, Romans, Germans, Norsemen, Russians, and Celts are descended) “started from a common centre” in the highlands of Northern India, “and that from their ancient home they must have carried away, if not the developed myth, yet the quickening germ from which might spring leaves and fruits, varying in form and hue according to the soil to which it should be committed and the climate under which the plant might reach maturity.”18 Against this theory, it may be urged that stories having only the undeveloped germ or idea in common would not, with any probability, after they had been developed independently of each other, possess the remarkable resemblance in details that many widely separated myths display. Moreover, the assumption of this common stock considers only Aryan tribes: it ignores Africans, Mongolians, American Indians, and other peoples whose myths resemble the Aryan, but are not traceable to the same original germ. The Aryan germ-theory has, however, the merit of explaining resemblances between many myths of different Aryan nations.

(6) That the existence of similar incidents or situations is to be explained as resulting from the common facts of human thought, experience, and sentiment. This may be called the psychological theory. It was entertained by Grimm, and goes hand in hand with the anthropological, or “survivalist,” explanation of the elements of myth. “In the long history of mankind,” says Mr. Andrew Lang , “it is impossible to deny that stories may conceivably have spread from a single centre, and been handed on from races like the Indo-European and Semitic to races as far removed from them in every way as the Zulus, the Australians, the Eskimo, the natives of the South Sea Islands. But while the possibility of the diffusion of myths by borrowing and transmission must be allowed for, the hypothesis of the origin of myths in the savage state of the intellect supplies a ready explanation of their wide diffusion.” Many products of early art — clay bowls and stone weapons — are peculiar to no one national taste or skill, they are what might have been expected of human conditions and intelligence. “Many myths may be called ‘human’ in this sense. They are the rough product of the early human mind, and are not yet characterized by the differentiations of race and culture. Such myths might spring up anywhere among untutored men, and anywhere might survive into civilized literature.”19

The distribution of myth, like its origin, is inexplicable by any one theory. The discovery of racial families and of family traditions narrows the problem, but does not solve it. The existence of the same story in unrelated nationalities remains a perplexing fact, toward the explanation of which the theories of “borrowing” and of “similar historic tradition,” while plausible, are but unsubstantiated contributions. And until we possess the earliest records of those unrelated nationalities that have similar myths, or until we discover monuments and log-books of some commercial nation that, in prehistoric times, circumnavigated the globe, and deposited on remote shores and islands the seeds of the parent mythic plant, we must accept as our only scientific explanation the psychological, or so-called human, theory: — Given similar mental condition with similar surroundings, similar imaginative products, called myths, will result.20

Chapter III.
The Preservation of Myths. §

§ 10. Before the introduction of writing, myths were preserved in popular traditions, in the sacred ceremonials of colleges of priests, in the narratives chanted by families of minstrels or by professional bards wandering from village to village—from court to court, and in occasional hymns sung by privileged harpists, like Demodocus of Phæacia,21 in honor of a chieftain, an ancestor, or a god. Many of these early bards are mere names to us. Most of them are probably as mythical as the songs with which they are accredited. The following is a brief account of mythical prophets, of mythical musicians and poets, and of the actual poets and historians who recorded the mythologies from which English literature draws its classical myths: the Greek, the Roman, the Norse, and the German.

§ 11. In Greece. — (1) Mythical Prophets. — To some of the oldest bards was attributed the gift of prophecy. Indeed, nearly every expedition of mythology was accompanied by one of these seers, priests, or “medicine-men,” as we might call them.

Melampus was the first Greek said to be endowed with prophetic powers. Before his house there stood an oak tree containing a serpent’s nest. The old serpents were killed by the slaves, but Melampus saved the young ones. One day when he was asleep under the oak, the serpents licked his ears with their tongues, enabling him to understand the language of birds and creeping things.22 At one time his enemies seized and imprisoned him. But Melampus in the silence of the night heard from the woodworms in the timbers that the supports of the house were- nearly eaten through and the roof would soon fall in. He told his captors. They took his warning, escaped destruction, rewarded the prophet, and held him in high honor.

Other famous soothsayers were Amphiaraüs, who took part in the War of the Seven against Thebes; Calchas, who accompanied the Greeks during the Trojan War; Helenus and Cassandra, of King Priam’s family, who prophesied for the Trojan forces; Tiresias, the blind prophet of Thebes; and Mopsus, who attended the Argonauts. The stories of these expeditions will follow in due course.

(2) Mythical Musicians and Poets. — Since the poets of antiquity sang their stories or hymns to an accompaniment of their own upon the harp or lyre, they were skilled in the art of music as well as in that of verse.

Orpheus, whose adventures are elsewhere narrated,23 passes in tradition for the oldest of Greek lyrists, and the special favorite, even the son, of the god Apollo, patron of musicians. This Thracian bard is said to have taught mysterious truths concerning the origin of things and the immortality of the soul. But the fragments of Orphic Hymns which are attributed to him are probably the work of philosophers of a much later period in Greek literature.

Another Thracian bard, Thamyris, is said in his presumption to have challenged the Muses to a trial of skill. Conquered in the contest, he was deprived of his sight. To Musæus, the son of Orpheus, was attributed a hymn on the Eleusinian Mysteries,24 and other sacred poems and oracles. Milton couples his name with that of Orpheus: —

“But O, sad virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower,
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as warbled to the string,
Drew iron tears down Pluto’s cheek,
And made Hell grant what love did seek.” 25

Other legendary bards or musicians were Linus, Marsyas, and Amphion.26

(3) The Poets of Mythology. — Homer, from whose poems of the Iliad and Odyssey we have taken the chief part of our chapters on the Trojan War and the return of the Grecians, is almost as mythical a personage as the heroes he celebrates. The traditionary story is that he was a wandering minstrel, blind and old, who travelled from place to place singing his lays to the music of his harp, in the courts of princes or the cottages of peasants, — a dependant upon the voluntary offerings of his hearers. Byron calls him “the blind old man of Scio’s rocky isle”; and a well-known epigram, alluding to the uncertainty of the fact of his birthplace, runs: —

“Seven wealthy towns contend for Homer dead,
Through which the living Homer begged his bread.”

These seven places were Smyrna, Chios (now Scio), Colophon, Ithaca, Pylus, Argos, and Athens.

Modern scholars have doubted whether the Homeric poems are the work of any single mind. This uncertainty arises, in part, from the difficulty of believing that poems of such length could have been committed to writing in the age usually assigned to these, when materials capable of transmitting long productions were not yet in use. On the other hand, it is asked how poems of such length could have been handed down from age to age by means of the memory alone. This question is answered by the statement that there was a professional body of men whose business it was to commit to memory, and rehearse for pay, the national and patriotic legends.

Pisistratus of Athens ordered a commission of scholars (about 537 b.c.) to collect and revise the Homeric poems; and it is probable that at that time certain passages of the Iliad and Odyssey, as we now have them, were interpolated. Beside the Iliad and the Odyssey, many other epics passed in antiquity under Homer’s name. The so-called Homeric Hymns to the gods which were composed, by various poets, after the death of Homer, are a source of valuable information concerning the attributes of the divinities addressed.

The date assigned to Homer, on the authority of Herodotus, is 850 b.c. The preservation and further fashioning of myths fell, after Homer’s time, into the hands of the Rhapsodists, who chanted epic songs, and of the Cyclic Poets, who elaborated into various epic circles, or completed wholes, neglected traditions of the Trojan War and myths of the two wars against Thebes.27

Hesiod is, like Homer, one of the most important sources of our knowledge of Greek mythology. He is thought by some to have been a contemporary of Homer, but concerning the relative dates of the two poets there is no certainty. Hesiod was born in Ascra in Bœotia; he spent his youth as a shepherd on Mount Helicon, his manhood in the neighborhood of Corinth, and wrote two great poems, the Works and Days, and the Theogony, or Genealogy of the Gods. From the former we obtain a connected account of Greek traditions concerning the primitive commodities of life, the arts of agriculture and navigation, the sacred calendar, and the various prehistoric ages. From the latter poem we learn the Greek mythology of the creation of the world, the family of the gods, their wars, and their attitude toward primæval man. While Hesiod may have written at a somewhat later period than Homer, it is noteworthy that his stories of the gods have more of the savage or senseless element than Homer’s. The artist of the Iliad and the Odyssey seems to have refined the stories into poetic gold; Hesiod has gathered them in the ore like so many specimens for a museum.

A company of Lyric Poets, of whom Stesichorus (620 b.c.), Alcæus (611 b.c.), Sappho (610 b.c.), Arion (600 b.c.), Simonide of Ceos (556 b.c.), Ibycus (540 b.c.), Anacreon (530 b.c.), and Pindar (522 b.c.) are the most prominent, have contributed much to our knowledge of mythology. They have left us hymns to the gods, references to mythical heroes, and accounts of more or less pathetic legendary adventures.

Of the works of Sappho few fragments remain, but they establish her claim to eminent poetical genius. Her story is frequently alluded to. Being passionately in love with a beautiful youth named Phaon, and failing to obtain a return of affection, she is said to have thrown herself from the promontory of Leucadia into the sea, under a superstition that those who should take that “Lover’s-leap” would, if not destroyed, be cured of their love.

Of Arion the greatest work was a dithyramb or choral hymn to the god of wine. It is said that his music and song were of such sweetness as to charm the monsters of the sea; and that when thrown overboard on one occasion by avaricious seamen, he was borne safely to land by an admiring dolphin. Spenser represents Arion, mounted on his dolphin, accompanying the train of Neptune and Amphitrite: —

“Then was there heard a most celestial sound
Of dainty music which did next ensue,
And, on the floating waters as enthroned,
Arion with his harp unto him drew
The ears and hearts of all that goodly crew;
Even when as yet the dolphin which him bore
Through the Ægean seas from pirates’ view,
Stood still, by him astonished at his lore,
And all the raging seas for joy forgot to roar.”

Simonides was one of the most prolific of the early poets of Greece, but only a few fragments of his compositions have descended to us. He wrote hymns, triumphal odes, and elegies, and in the last species of composition he particularly excelled. His genius was inclined to the pathetic; none could touch with truer effect the chords of human sympathy. The Lamentation of Danaë, the most important of the fragments which remain of his poetry, is based upon the tradition that Danaë and her infant son were confined by order of her father Acrisius in a chest and set adrift on the sea. The myth of her son, Perseus, will be found in a later chapter of this book.28

Myths received their freest and perhaps most ideal treatment at the hands of the greatest lyric poet of Greece, Pindar (522 b.c.). In his hymns and songs of praise to gods and in his odes composed for the victors in the national athletic contests, he was accustomed to use the mythical exploits of Greek heroes as a text from which to draw morals appropriate to the occasion.

The three great Tragic Poets of Greece have handed down to us a wealth of mythological material. From the plays of Æschylus (525 b.c.) we gather, among other noble lessons, the fortunes of the family of Agamemnon, the narrative of the expedition against Thebes, the sufferings of Prometheus — benefactor of men. In the tragedies of Sophocles (495 b.c.) we have a further account of the family of Agamemnon, myths of Œdipus of Thebes and his children, stories connected with the Trojan War, and the last adventure and the death of Hercules. Of the dramas of Euripides (480 b.c.) there remain to us seventeen, in which are found stories of the daughters of Agamemnon, the rare and beautiful narrative of Alcestis, and the adventures of Medea. All of these stories will be recounted in their proper places.

The Comedies of Aristophanes, also, are replete with matters of mythological import.

Of the later poets of mythology, only two need be mentioned here, — Apollonius of Rhodes (194 b.c.), who wrote in frigid style the story of Jason’s Voyage for the Golden Fleece; and Theocritus of Sicily (270 b.c.), whose rural idylls are at once charmingly natural and romantic.29

(4) Historians of Mythology. — The earliest narrators in prose of the myths, legends, and genealogies of Greece lived about 600 b.c. Herodotus, the “father of history” (484 b.c.), embalms various myths in his account of the conflicts between Asia and Greece. Apollodorus (140 b.c.) gathers the legends of Greece later incorporated in the Library of Greek Mythology. That delightful traveller Pausanias makes special mention in his Tour of Greece, of the sacred customs and legends that had maintained themselves as late as his time (160 a.d.). Lucian, in his Dialogues of the Gods and Dialogues of the Dead, awakens “inextinguishable laughter” by his satire on ancient faith and fable.

§ 12. Roman Poets of Mythology. — Vergil, called also by his surname, Maro, from whose poem of the Æneid we have taken the story of Æneas, was one of the great poets who made the age of the Roman emperor, Augustus, celebrated. Vergil was born in Mantua in the year 70 b.c. His great poem is ranked next to those of Homer, in that noble class of poetical composition, the epic. Vergil is inferior to Homer in originality and invention. The Æneid, written in an age of culture and science, lacks that charming atmosphere of belief which invests the naive, or popular, epic. The myths concerning the founding of Rome, which Vergil has received from earlier writers, he has here fused into a literary epic. But what the Æneid lacks of epic simplicity, it makes up in patriotic spirit, in lofty moral and civic ideals, in correctness of taste, and in stylistic form.

Ovid, often alluded to in poetry by his other name, Naso, was born in the year 43 b.c. He was educated for public life, and held some offices of considerable dignity; but poetry was his delight, and he early resolved to cultivate it. Lie accordingly sought the society of contemporary poets, and was acquainted with Horace and saw Vergil, though the latter died when Ovid was yet too young and undistinguished to have formed his acquaintance. Ovid spent an easy life at Rome in the enjoyment of a competent income. He was intimate with the family of Augustus, the emperor; and it is supposed that some serious offence given to a member of that family was the cause of an event which reversed the poet’s happy circumstances, and clouded the latter portion of his life. At the age of fifty he was banished from Rome, and ordered to betake himself to Tomi, on the borders of the Black Sea. His only consolation in exile was to address his wife and absent friends. His letters were all in verse. They are called the “Tristia,” or Sorrows, and Letters from Pontus. The two great works of Ovid are his “Metamorphoses,” or Transformations, and his “Fasti,” or Poetic Calendar. They are both mythological poems, and from the former we have taken most of our stories of Grecian and Roman mythology. These poems have thus been characterized: —

“The rich mythology of Greece furnished Ovid, as it may still furnish the poet, the painter, and the sculptor, with materials for his art. With exquisite taste, simplicity, and pathos he has narrated the fabulous traditions of early ages, and given to them that appearance of reality which only a master-hand could impart. His pictures of nature are striking and true; he selects with care that which is appropriate; he rejects the superfluous, and when he has completed his work, it is neither defective nor redundant. The ‘Metamorphoses’ are read with pleasure by the young and old of every civilized land.”

In an incidental manner, Horace, the prince of Roman lyric poets, and the lyric and elegiac writers, Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, have liberally increased our knowledge of Greek and Roman myth.30

Seneca, the teacher of Nero, is best known for his philosophical treatises; but he wrote, also, tragedies, the materials of which are well known Greek legends. Apuleius, born in Africa, 114 a.d., interests us as the compiler of a clever romance, The Golden Ass,31 the most pleasing episode of which, the story of Cupid and Psyche, will hereafter be related.32

§ 13. Records of Norse Mythology. — A system of mythology of especial interest, — as belonging to the race from which we, through our English ancestors, derive our origin, — is that of the Norsemen, who inhabited the countries now known as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Their mythological lore has been transmitted by means of Runes, Skaldic poems, the Eddas, and the Sagas.

The Runes. — The earliest method of writing prevalent among the Norsemen was by runes. The word means hidden lore, or mystery. The earliest runes were merely fanciful signs supposed to possess mysterious power. As a synonym for writing, the term was first applied to the Northern alphabet, itself derived from ancient Greek and Roman coins. Of the old Scandinavian runes several specimens have been found—one an inscription on a golden horn of the third or fourth century a.d., which was dug up in Schleswig a hundred and sixty years ago; another, on a stone at Tune in Norway. From such an alphabet the Anglo-Saxon runes were derived. Inscriptions in later Scandinavian runes have been discovered in Sweden, Denmark, and the Isle of Man. The characters are of the stiff and angular form necessitated by the materials on which they were inscribed: tombstones, spoons, chairs, oars, and so forth.33 It is doubtful whether mythological poems were ever written in this way; dedications to pagan deities, ditties of the eleventh century, and love-spells have, however, been found.

TheSkaldic Poems. —The bards and poets of the Norsemen were the Skalds. They were the depositaries of whatever historic lore there was; and it was their office to mingle something of intellectual gratification with the rude feasts of the warriors, by rehearsing, with such accompaniments of poetry and music as their skill could afford, the exploits of heroes living or dead. Such songs were called Drapas. The origin of Skaldic poetry is lost in mythic or prehistoric darkness, but the Skalds of Iceland continued to play a most important part in the literary development of the north as late as the end of the fourteenth century. Without their cooperation, the greater part of the songs and Sagas of genuine antiquity could hardly have reached us. The Skaldic diction which was polished to an artistic extreme, with its pagan metaphors and similes, retained its supremacy over literary form even after the influence of Christianity had revolutionized national thought.34

TheEddas. — The chief mythological records of the Norse are the Eddas and the Sagas. The word Edda has usually been connected with the Icelandic for great-grandmother;35 it has also been regarded as a corruption of the High German Erda, Mother Earth, from whom, according to the lay in which the word first occurs, the earliest race of mankind sprang,36 — or as the point or head of Norse poetry,37 or as a tale concerned with death38 or as derived from Odde, the home of the reputed collector of the Elder Edda. But, of recent years, scholars have looked with most favor upon a derivation from the Icelandic óðr, which means mind, or poetry.39 There are two Icelandic collections called Eddas: Snorri’s and Sæmund’s. Until the year 1643 the name was applied to a book, principally in prose, containing Mythical Tales, a Treatise on the Poetic Art and Diction, a Poem on Metres, and a Rhymed Glossary of Synonyms, with an appendix of minor treatises on grammar and rhetoric — the whole intended as a guide for poets. Although a note in the Upsala manuscript, of date about 1300 a.d., asserted that this work was “put together” by Snorri Sturlason, who lived 1178-1241, the world was not informed of the fact until 1609, when Arngrim Johnsson made the announcement in his Constitutional History of Iceland.40 While the main treatises on the poetic art are, in general, Snorri’s, the treatises on grammar, and rhetoric have been, with more or less certitude, assigned to other writers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is probable, too, that in the Mythical Tales, or the Delusion of Gylfi, Snorri merely enlarged, and edited with poetical illustrations, the work of earlier hands. The poets of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries do not speak of Snorri, but they refer continually to the “rules of Edda,” and frequently to the obscurity and the conventionality of Eddic phraseology, figures, and art. Even at the present day, in Iceland, it is common to hear the term “void of Eddic art,” or “a bungler in Eddic art.” A rearrangement of Snorri’s Edda, by Magnus Olafsson (1574-1636), is much better known than the original work.

In 1642, Bishop Bryniolf Sveinsson discovered a manuscript of the mythological poems of Iceland. Misled by theories of his own and by a fanciful suggestion of the famous antiquary Biorn of Scardsa, he attributed the composition of these poems to Sæmund the Wise, a historian who lived 1056-1133. Henceforth, consequently, Snorri’s work is called the Younger, or Prose Edda, in contradistinction to Bryniolf’s find, which is known as the Elder, the Poetical Edda, or the Edda of Sæmund. The oldest manuscript of the Poetical Edda is of the thirteenth century. Its contents were probably collected not later than 1150. The composition of the poems cannot well be placed earlier than the ninth or tenth centuries after Christ; and a consideration of the habits, laws, geography, and vocabulary illustrated by the poems leads eminent scholars to assign the authorship to emigrants of the south Norwegian tribes who, sailing westward, “won Waterford and Limerick, and kinged it in York and East England.”41 The poems are Icelandic, however, in their general character and history. They are principally of heroic and mythical import: such as the stories of Balder’s Fate, of Skirnir’s Journey, of Thor’s Hammer, of Helgi the Hunding’s Bane, and the twenty lays that in fragmentary fashion tell the eventful history of the Völsungs and the Nibelungs.42

TheSagas. — The Eddas contain many myths and mythical features that contradict the national character of both Germans and Norsemen; but the Sagas have their roots in Norse civilization, and are national property.43 Of these mythic-heroic prose compositions the most important to us is the Völsunga Saga, which was put together probably in the twelfth century, and is based in part upon the poems of the Elder Edda, in part upon floating traditions, and in part upon popular songs that now are lost.44

§ 14. Records of German Mythology. —The story of the Völsungs and the Nibelungs springs from mythological sources common to the whole Teutonic race. Two distinct versions of the Saga survive, — the Low or North German, which we have already noticed in the lays of the Elder Edda and in the Norse Völsunga Saga, and the High or South German, which has been preserved in German folk-songs and in the Nibelungenlied, or Lay of the Nibelungs, that has grown out of them. The Norse form of the story exhibits a later survival of the credulous, or myth-making, mental condition. The Lay of the Nibelungs absorbed, at an earlier date, historical elements, and began sooner to restrict the personality of its heroes within the compass of human limitations.45

Although there are many manuscripts, or fragments of manuscripts, of the Nibelungenlied that attest its popularity between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was not until the Swiss critic, J. J. Bodmer, published, in 1757, portions of two ancient poems, “The Revenge of Kriemhild” and “The Lament over the Heroes of Etzel,” that the attention of modern scholars was called to this famous German epic. Since that time many theories of the composition of the Nibelungenlied have been advanced. It has been held by some that the German epic is an adaptation of the Norse version;46 by others, that the Scandinavians, not the Germans, borrowed the story; and by others still that the epics, while proceeding from a common cradle, are of independent growth. The last theory is the most tenable.47 Concerning the history of the Nibelungenlied, it has been maintained that since, during the twelfth century, when no poet would adopt any other poet’s stanzaic form, the Austrian Von Kürenberg used the stanzaic form of the Nibelungenlied, the epic must be his.48 It has also been urged that the poem, having been written down about 1140, was altered in metrical form by younger poets, until, in 1200 or thereabouts, it assumed the form preserved in the latest of the three great manuscripts.49 But the theory advanced by Lachmann is still of great value: that the poem consists of a number of ancient ballads of various age and uneven worth; and that, about 1210, a collector, mending some of the ballads to suit himself, strung them together on a thread of his own invention.

In fine, the materials of the poem would persuade us not only of its origin in very ancient popular lays, but of their fusion and improvement by the imaginative effort of at least one, and, probably, of several poets, who lived and wrote between 1120 and 1200 a.d. The metrical structure, also, would indicate derivation from the German folk-song and modification due to multifarious handling on the part of popular minstrels and poets of written verse.50

§ 15. Records of Oriental Mythology.51 — Although the myths of Egypt, India, and Persia are of intense interest and importance, they have not materially affected English literature. The following is, however, a brief outline of the means by which some of them have been preserved.

Egyptian Records. — These are (1) The Hieroglyphs, or sacred inscriptions in Tombs of the Kings, and other solemn places, — conveying ideas by symbols, by phonetic signs, or by both; (2) The Sacred Papyri, containing hymns to the gods; (3) The Books of the Dead and of the Lower Hemisphere, — devoted to necromantic incantations, prayers for the souls of the departed, and other rituals.

Indian Records. — (1) The Vedas, or Holy Scriptures of the Hindoos, which fall into four divisions. The most ancient, the Rig-veda, consists of hymns of an elevated and spiritual character composed by families of Rishis, or psalmists, as far back, perhaps, as 3000 b.c., not later than 1400 b.c. They give us the religious conceptions of the Aryans when they crossed the Himalayas and began to push toward Southern Hindostan. The Sama-veda is a book of solemn chants and tunes. The Yajur-veda comprises prayers for sacrificial occasions, and interpretations of the same. The Atharva-veda shows, as might be expected of the youngest of the series, the influence upon the purer Aryan creed, of superstitions borrowed, perhaps, from the aboriginal tribes of India. It contains spells for exorcising demons and placating them.

(2) The Indian Epics of classical standing. They are the Mahâbhârata and the Râmâyana. Scholars differ as to the chronological precedence. The Great Feud of the Bhâratas has the air of superior antiquity because of the numerous hands and generations that have contributed to its composition. The Adventures of Rama, on the other hand, recalls a more primitive stage of credulity, and of savage invention. The Mahâbhârata is a storehouse of mythical tradition. It contains several well-rounded epic poems, the most beautiful of which is the Episode of Nala, — a prince who, succumbing to a weakness common to his contemporaries, has gambled away his kingdom. The Great Feud of the Bhâratas is, indeed, assigned to an author — but his name, Vyasa, means simply the Arranger. The Râmâyana purports to have been written by the poet Vâlmîki. It tells how Sita, the wife of Prince Rama, is carried off to Ceylon by Râvana, king of the demons, and how Rama, by the aid of an army of monkeys, bridges the straits between India and Ceylon, and slaying the demon, recovers his lovely and innocent wife. The resemblance between the plot and that of the Iliad has inclined some scholars to derive the Indian from the Greek epic. But, until the relative antiquity of the poems is established, the Iliad might as well be derived from the Râmâyana. The theory is unsubstantiated. These epics of India lack the artistic spirit and grace of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but they display a keener sympathy with nature and a more romantic appreciation of the loves and sorrows of mankind.

Persian Records. — The Avesta, or Sacred Book of the ancient Persians, composed in the Zend language and later translated into mediæval Persian, — or Pahlavi, — contains the Gáthás, or hymns of Zoroaster and his contemporaries, and scriptures of as recent a date as the fifth century b.c. Zoroaster, a holy man of God, was the founder or the reformer of the Persian religion. He lived as early as the fourteenth or fifteenth century b.c., and 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. The teachings of Zoroaster are characterized by beautiful simplicity and by an unwavering faith in the ultimate victory of righteousness (Ormuzd) over evil (Ahriman).

The stories of Greek, Roman, Norse, and German mythology that have most influenced our English literature will follow in the order named. The Romans, being by nature a practical, not a poetic, people, incorporated in their literature the mythology of the Greeks. We shall, however, append to our description of the Greek gods a brief account of the native Latin divinities that retained an individuality in Roman literature.

Map. 1. Greece and the Greek Colonies.

Chapter IV.
Greek Myths of the Creation.52 §

Fig. 1. Jupiter surveying the World.
[Wall painting: H. and P. (Herculaneum and Pompei) by H. Roux Aîné].

§ 16. Origin of the World. — There were among the Greeks several accounts of the beginning of things. Homer tells us that River Ocean, a deep and mighty flood, encircling land and sea like a serpent with its tail in its mouth, was the source of all. According to other myths Night and Darkness were the prime elements of Nature and from them sprang Light. Still a third theory, attributed to Orpheus, asserts that Time was in the beginning, but had himself no beginning; that from him proceeded Chaos, a yawning abyss wherein brooded Night and Mist and fiery air, or Æther; that Time caused the mist to spin round the central fiery air till the mass, assuming the form of a huge World-egg, flew, by reason of its rapid rotation, into halves. Of these, one was Heaven, the other Earth. From the centre of the egg proceeded Eros (Love) and other wondrous beings.

But the most consistent account of the origin of the world and of the gods is given by the poet Hesiod, who tells us that Chaos, the yawning abyss, composed of Void, Mass, and Darkness in confusion, preceded all things else. Next came into being broad-bosomed Earth, and beautiful Love who should rule the hearts of gods and men. But from Chaos itself issued Erebus,53 the mysterious darkness that is under Earth, — and Night, dwelling in the remote regions of sunset.

From Mother Earth proceeded first the starry vault of Heaven, durable as brass or iron, where the gods were to take up their abode. Earth brought forth next the mountains and fertile fields, the stony plains, the sea, and the plants and animals that possess them.

§ 17. Origin of the Gods. — So far we have a history of the throes and changes of the physical world; now begins the history of gods and of men. For in the heart of creation Love begins to stir, making of material things creatures male and female, and bringing them together by instinctive affinity. First Erebus and Night, the children of Chaos, are wedded, and from them spring Light and Day; then Uranus, the personified Heaven, takes Gæa, the Earth, to wife, and from their union issue Titans and hundred-handed monsters and Cyclopes.

The Titans54 appear to be the personification of mighty convulsions of the physical world, of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. They played a quarrelsome part in mythical history; they were instigators of hatred and strife. Homer mentions specially two of them, Iapetus and Cronus; but Hesiod enumerates thirteen. Of these the more important are Oceanus and Tethys, Hyperion and Thea, Cronus and Rhea, Iapetus, Themis, and Mnemosyne. The three Cyclopes represented the terrors of rolling thunder, of the lightning-flash, and of the thunderbolt; and, probably, for this reason, one fiery eye was deemed enough for each. The hundred-handed monsters, or Hecatonchires, were also three in number. In them, probably, the Greeks imaged the sea with its multitudinous waves, its roar, and its breakers that seem to shake the earth. These lightning-eyed, these hundred-handed monsters, their father Uranus feared and attempted to destroy, by thrusting them into Tartarus, the profound abysm of the earth. Whereupon Mother Earth, or Gæa, indignant, called for help upon her elder children, the Titans. None dared espouse her cause save Cronus, the crafty. With an iron sickle he lay in wait for his sire, fell, upon him, and drove him, grievously wounded, from the encounter. From the blood of the mutilated Uranus leaped into being the Furies, whose heads writhe with serpents; the Giants, a novel race of monsters; and the Melic Nymphs, invidious maidens of the ashen spear.

§ 18. The Rule of Cronus. — Now follows the reign of Cronus, lord of Heaven and Earth. He is, from the beginning, of incalculable years. In works of art his head is veiled, to typify his cunning and his reserve; he bears the sickle not only as memento of the means by which he brought his father’s tyranny to end, but as symbol of the new period of growth and golden harvests that he ushered in.

For unknown ages Cronus and Rhea, his sister-queen, governed Heaven and Earth. To them were born three daughters, Vesta, Ceres, and Juno, and three sons, Pluto, Neptune, and Jupiter. Cronus, however, having learned from his parents that he should be dethroned by one of his own children, conceived the well-intentioned but ill-considered device of swallowing each as it was born. His queen, naturally desirous of discouraging the practice, — when it came to the turn of her sixth child, palmed off on the insatiable Cronus a stone carefully enveloped in swaddling clothes. Jupiter (or Zeus), the rescued infant, was concealed in the island of Crete, where, nurtured by the nymphs, Adrastea and Ida, and fed on the milk of the goat Amalthea, he in due season attained maturity. Then, assisted by his grandmother Gæa, he constrained Cronus to disgorge the burden of his cannibal repasts. First came to light the memorable stone, which was placed in safe keeping at Delphi; then the five brothers and sisters of Jupiter, ardent to avenge themselves upon the unnatural author of their existence and their captivity.

§ 19. The War of the Titans. — In the war which ensued Iapetus and all the Titans, except Oceanus, ranged themselves on the side of their brother Cronus against Jupiter and his recently recovered kinsfolk. Jupiter and his hosts held Mount Olympus. For ages victory wavered in the balance. Finally Jupiter, acting again under the advice of Gæa, released from Tartarus, where Uranus had confined them, the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires. Instantly they hastened to the battle-field of Thessaly, the Cyclopes to support Jupiter with their thunders and lightnings, the hundred-handed monsters with the shock of the earthquake. Provided with such artillery, shaking earth and sea, Jupiter issued to the onslaught. With the gleam of the lightning the Titans were blinded, by the earthquake they were laid low, with the flames they were well-nigh consumed: overpowered and fettered by the hands of the Hecatonchires, they were consigned to the yawning cave of Tartarus. Atlas, the son of Iapetus, was doomed to bear the heavens on his shoulders. But a more famous son of the same Titan, Prometheus, who had espoused the cause of Jove, acquired dignity hereafter to be set forth.

§ 20. The Division of Empire. — In the council of the gods that succeeded, Jupiter was chosen Sovereign of the World. He delegated to his brother Neptune (or Posidon) the kingdom of the sea and of all the waters; to his brother Pluto (or Hades), the government of the underworld, dark, unseen, mysterious, where the spirits of the dead should dwell, and of Tartarus, wherein were held the fallen Titans. For himself Jupiter retained Earth and the Heaven, into whose broad and sunny regions towered Olympus, the favored mountain of the greater gods.55

§ 21. The Reign of Jupiter. — New conflicts, however, awaited this new dynasty of Heaven — conflicts, the subject of many a tale among the ancients. Gæa, though she had aided her grandson Jupiter in the war against Cronus, was soon seized with compunctions of conscience; and contemplating the cruel fate of her sons the Titans, she conceived schemes of vengeance upon their conqueror. Another son was born to her — Typhon, a monster more awful than his predecessors — whose destiny it was to dispute the sway of the almighty Zeus. From the neck of Typhon dispread themselves a hundred dragon-heads; his eyes shot fire, and from his black-tongued chaps proceeded the hissing of snakes, the bellowing of bulls, the roaring of lions, the barking of dogs, pipings and screams, and, at times, the voice and utterance of the gods themselves. Against Heaven this horror lifted himself; but quailing before the thunderbolt of Jove, he too descended to Tartarus, his own place and the abode of his brethren. To this day, however, he grumbles and hisses, thrusts upward a fiery tongue through the crater of a volcano, or, breathing siroccos, scorches trees and men.

Fig. 2. Minerva contending with a Giant.
[Bronze: Mus. Kircherianum. Journal of Hellenic Studies, 4: 90; Roscher 10: 1666.]

Later still, the Giants, offspring of the blood that fell from the wounded Uranus, renewed the revolt against the Olympian gods. They were creatures nearer akin to men than were the Titans, or the Cyclopes, or Typhon. They clothed themselves in the skins of beasts, and armed themselves with rocks and trunks of trees. Their bodies and lower limbs were of snakes. They were awful to encounter or to look upon. They were named, like men, the earth-born; and their characteristics would suggest some prehistoric brutish race, hot-headed, not amenable to reason.56 Of the Giants the more mighty were Alcyoneus of the winter storms and icebergs, Pallas, and Enceladus, and Porphyrion the fire-king, — leader of the crew. In the war against them, Juno and Minerva, divinities of the new dynasty of Heaven, took active part, — and Hercules, an earthly son of Jupiter, whose arrows aided in their defeat. It was from the overthrow of Pallas that Athene (or Minerva) derived, according to certain records, her proud designation of Pallas-Athene.57 In due course, like the Titans and Typhon, the Giants were buried in the abyss of eternal darkness. What other outcome can be expected when mere physical or brute force joins issue with the enlightened and embattled hosts of heaven?

Fig. 3. Jupiter destroying the Giants.
[Gem: Baumeister.]


§ 22. The Origin of Man was a question which the Greeks did not settle so easily as the Hebrews. Greek traditions do not trace all mankind to an original pair. On the contrary, the generally received opinion was that men grew out of trees and stones, or were produced by the rivers or the sea. Some said that men and gods were both derived from Mother Earth, hence both autochthonous; and some, indeed, claimed an antiquity for the human race equal to that of the divinities. All narratives, however, agree in one statement, — that the gods maintained intimate relations with men until, because of the growing sinfulness and arrogance of mankind, it became necessary for the immortals to withdraw their favor.

Prometheus, a Creator. — There is a story which attributes the making of man to Prometheus, whose father Iapetus had, with Cronus, opposed the sovereignty of Jupiter. In that conflict, Prometheus, gifted with prophetic wisdom, had adopted the cause of the Olympian deities. To him and his brother Epimetheus was now committed the office of making man and providing him and all other animals with the faculties necessary for their preservation. Prometheus was to overlook the work of Epimetheus. Epimetheus proceeded to bestow upon the different animals the various gifts of courage, strength, swiftness, sagacity; wings to one, claws to another, a shelly covering to a third. But Prometheus himself made a nobler animal than these. Taking some earth and kneading it with water, he made man in the image of the gods. He gave him an upright stature, so that while other animals turn their faces toward the earth, man gazes on the stars. Then since Epimetheus, always rash, and thoughtful when too late, had been so prodigal of his gifts to other animals that no blessing was left worth conferring upon the noblest of creatures, Prometheus ascended to heaven, lighted his torch at the chariot of the sun, and brought down fire. With fire in his possession man would be able, when necessary, to win her secrets and treasures from the earth, to develop commerce, science, and the arts.

§ 23. The Age of Gold. — Whether in this or in other ways the world was furnished with inhabitants, the first age was an age of innocence and happiness. Truth and right prevailed, though not enforced by law, nor was there any in authority to threaten or to punish. The forest had not yet been robbed of its trees to yield timbers for vessels, nor had men built fortifications round their towns. There were no such things as swords, spears, or helmets. The earth brought forth all things necessary for man, without his labor in ploughing or sowing. Perpetual spring reigned, flowers sprang up without seed, the rivers flowed with milk and wine, and yellow honey distilled from the oaks. This Golden Age had begun in the reign of Cronus.58 And when these heroes fell asleep in death, they were translated in a pleasant dream to a spiritual existence, in which, unseen by mortal eyes, they still attended men as monitors and guardians.

§ 24. The Silver Age came next, inferior to the golden. Jupiter shortened the spring, and divided the year into seasons. Then, first, men suffered the extremes of heat and cold, and houses became necessary. Caves were their dwellings, — and leafy coverts of the woods, and huts woven of twigs. Crops would no longer grow without planting. The farmer was constrained to sow the seed, and the ox to draw the plough. This was a race of manly men, but insolent and impious. And when they died, Jupiter made them ghosts of the underworld, but withheld the privilege of immortal life.

§ 25. Prometheus, Champion of Man. — During this age when, as Hesiod says, the altars of the blessed were neglected, and the gods were denied their due, Prometheus stood forth — the champion of man against the Olympians.59 For the son of Cronus had grudged mortals the use of fire, and was, in fact, contemplating their annihilation and the creation of a new race. Therefore, once upon a time, when gods and men were in dispute at Sicyon concerning the prerogatives of each, Prometheus, by an ingenious trick, attempted to settle the question in favor of man. Dividing into two portions a sacrificial bull; he wrapped all the eatable parts in the skin, cunningly surmounted with uninviting entrails; but the bones he garnished with a plausible mass of fat. He then offered Jupiter his choice. The king of Heaven, although he perceived the intended fraud, took the heap of bones and fat, and, forthwith availing himself of this insult as an excuse for punishing mankind, deprived the race of fire. But Prometheus regained the treasure, stealing it from Heaven in a hollow tube.

Pandora. — Doubly enraged, Jupiter, in his turn, had recourse to stratagem. He is declared to have planned for man a curse in the shape of woman. How the race had persisted hitherto without woman is a mystery; but that it had done so, with no slight degree of happiness, the experience of the Golden Age would seem to prove. However, the bewitching evil was fashioned, — in Heaven, properly enough, — and every god and goddess contributed something to her perfection. One gave her beauty, another persuasive charm, a third the faculty of music. And they named her Pandora, “the gift of all the gods.” Thus equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who, without hesitation, accepted the gift, though cautioned by his brother to beware of Jupiter and all his ways. And the caution was not groundless. In the hand of Pandora had been placed by the immortals a casket or vase which she was forbidden to open. Overcome by an unaccountable curiosity to know what this vessel contained, she one day lifted the cover and looked in. Forthwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man — gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body; envy, spite, and revenge for his mind — and scattered themselves far and wide. Pandora hastened to replace the lid; but one thing only remained in the casket, and that was hope.

Because of his unselfish devotion to the cause of humanity, Prometheus drew down on himself the anger of Olympian Jove, by whose order he was chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus, and subjected to the attack of a vulture which, for ages, preyed upon his liver, yet succeeded not in consuming it. This state of torment might have been brought to an end at any time by Prometheus, if he had been willing to submit to his oppressor; for he possessed a secret which involved the stability of Jove’s throne. But to reveal his secret he disdained. In this steadfastness he was supported by the knowledge that in the thirteenth generation there should arrive a hero, — a son of the mighty Jove — to release him.60 By his demeanor Prometheus has become the ensample of magnanimous endurance, and of resistance to oppression.

“Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality,
Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise,
What was thy pity’s recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,
Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh
Until its voice is echoless…

“Thy godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen man with his own mind.
But, baffled as thou wert from high,
Still, in thy patient energy,
In the endurance and repulse
Of thine impenetrable spirit,
Which earth and heaven could not convulse,
A mighty lesson we inherit.”61

§ 26. A happy application of the story of Prometheus is made by Longfellow in the following verses: —62

“Of Prometheus, how undaunted
On Olympus’ shining bastions
His audacious foot he planted,
Myths are told, and songs are chanted,
Full of promptings and suggestions.

“Beautiful is the tradition
Of that flight through heavenly portals,
The old classic superstition
Of the theft and the transmission
Of the fire of the Immortals!

“First the deed of noble daring,
Born of heavenward aspiration,
Then the fire with mortals sharing,
Then the vulture, — the despairing
Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.

“All is but a symbol painted
Of the Poet, Prophet, Seer;
Only those are crowned and sainted
Who with grief have been acquainted,
Making nations nobler, freer.

“In their feverish exultations,
In their triumph and their yearning,
In their passionate pulsations,
In their words among the nations,
The Promethean fire is burning.

“Shall it, then, be unavailing,
All this toil for human culture?
Through the cloud-rack, dark and trailing.
Must they see above them sailing
O’er life’s barren crags the vulture?

“Such a fate as this was Dante’s,
By defeat and exile maddened;
Thus were Milton and Cervantes,
Nature’s priests and Corybantes,
By affliction touched and saddened.

“But the glories so transcendent
That around their memories cluster,
And, on all their steps attendant,
Make their darkened lives resplendent
With such gleams of inward lustre!

“All the melodies mysterious,
Through the dreary darkness chanted;
Thoughts in attitudes imperious,
Voices soft, and deep, and serious,
Words that whispered, songs that haunted!

“All the soul in rapt suspension,
All the quivering, palpitating
Chords of life in utmost tension,
With the fervor of invention,
With the rapture of creating!

“Ah, Prometheus! heaven-scaling!
In such hours of exultation
Even the faintest heart, unquailing,
Might behold the vulture sailing
Round the cloudy crags Caucasian!

“Though to all there is not given
Strength for such sublime endeavor,
Thus to scale the walls of heaven,
And to leaven with fiery leaven
All the hearts of men forever;

“Yet all bards, whose hearts unblighted
Honor and believe the presage,
Hold aloft their torches lighted,
Gleaming through the Realms benighted,
As they onward bear the message!”

§ 27. Next to the Age of Silver came the Brazen Age,63 more savage of temper and readier for the strife of arms, yet not altogether wicked.

§ 28. Last came the hardest age and worst, the Age of Iron. Crime burst in like a flood; modesty, truth, and honor fled. The gifts of the earth were put only to nefarious uses. Fraud, violence, war at home and abroad were rife. The world was wet with slaughter; and the gods, one by one, abandoned it, Astræa, following last, goddess of innocence and purity.

The Flood. — Jupiter, observing the condition of things, burned with anger. He summoned the gods to council. Obeying the call, they travelled the Milky Way to the palace of Heaven. There, Jupiter set forth to the assembly the frightful condition of the earth, and announced his intention of destroying its inhabitants, and providing a new race, unlike the present, which should be worthier of life, and more reverent toward the gods. Fearing lest a conflagration might set Heaven itself on fire, he proceeded to drown the world. Not satisfied with his own waters, he called his brother Neptune to his aid. Speedily the race of men, and their possessions, were swept away by the deluge.

§ 29. Deucalion and Pyrrha. — Parnassus alone, of the mountains, overtopped the waves; and there Deucalion, son of Prometheus, and his wife Pyrrha, daughter of Epimetheus, found refuge — he a just man and she a faithful worshipper of the gods. Jupiter, remembering the harmless lives and pious demeanor of this pair, caused the waters to recede, — the sea to return to its shores, and the rivers to their channels. Then Deucalion and Pyrrha, entering a temple, defaced with slime, approached the unkindled altar, and, falling prostrate, prayed for guidance and aid. The oracle64 answered, “Depart from the temple with head veiled and garments unbound, and cast behind you the bones of your mother.” They heard the words with astonishment. Pyrrha first broke silence: “We cannot obey; we dare not profane the remains of our parents.” They sought the woods, and revolved the oracle in their minds. At last Deucalion spoke: “Either my wit fails me, or the command is one we may obey without impiety. The earth is the great parent of all; the stones are her bones; these we may cast behind us; this, I think, the oracle means. At least, to try will harm us not.” They veiled their faces, unbound their garments, and, picking up stones, cast them behind them. The stones began to grow soft, and to assume shape. By degrees, they put on a rude resemblance to the human form. Those thrown by Deucalion became men; those by Pyrrha, women. It was a hard race that sprang up, and well adapted to labor.

§ 30. The Demigods and Heroes. — As preceding the Age of Iron, Hesiod mentions an Age of Demigods and Heroes. Since, however, these demigods and heroes were, many of them, reputed to have been directly descended from Deucalion, their epoch must be regarded as subsequent to the deluge. The hero, Hellen, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, became the ancestor of the Hellenes or Greeks. The Æolians and Dorians were, according to legend, descended from his sons Æolus and Dorus; from his son Xuthus, the Achæans and Ionians derived their origin.

Another great division of the Greek people, the Pelasgic, resident in the Peloponnesus or southern portion of the peninsula, was said to have sprung from a different stock of heroes, that of Pelasgus, son of Phoroneus of Argos, and grandson of the river-god Inathus.

The demigods and heroes were of matchless worth and valor. Their adventures form the subject of many of the succeeding chapters. They were the chieftains of the Theban and the Trojan wars and of numerous other military or predatory expeditions.


Since most of the myths in Chapters IV to XXVII are best known to English poetry in their Latin form, the Latin designations, or Latinized forms of Greek names, have been retained; but, for the poetic conception of all these stories, except such as are contained in Sections 55, 56, 98 and 124, we are indebted not to the Roman but the Greek imagination.

Chapter V.
Attributes of the Gods of Heaven.65 §

§ 31. Olympus. —The heaven of the Greek gods was the summit of an ideal mountain called Olympus.66 A gate of clouds, kept by goddesses, the Hours or Seasons, opened to permit the passage of the Celestials to earth, and to receive them on their return. The gods had their separate dwellings; but all, when summoned, repaired to the palace of Jupiter, — even the deities whose usual abode was the earth, the waters, or the underworld. In the great hall of the Olympian king the gods feasted each day on ambrosia and nectar. Here they conversed of the affairs of heaven and earth; and as they quaffed the nectar that Hebe poured, Apollo made melody with his lyre, and the Muses sang in responsive strain. When the sun was set, the gods withdrew to their respective dwellings for the night.

Fig. 4. Two of the Hours.
[Vase: Compte Rendu de St. Petersbourg, 1862, Table 4; Roscher 16 and 17: 2727.]

The following lines from the Odyssey express the conception of Olympus entertained by Homer: —

“So saying, Minerva, goddess, azure-eyed,
Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat
Eternal of the gods, which never storms
Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm
The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day.
There the inhabitants divine rejoice

§ 32. The Great Gods. — The gods of Heaven were the following:68

Jupiter (Zeus).69

His daughter, Minerva (Athene), who sprang from his brain, full-grown and full-armed.

His sister and wife, Juno (Hera).

His children by Juno, — Mars (Ares), Vulcan (Hephæstus), and Hebe.

His children by Latona, — Apollo, or Phœbus, and Diana (Artemis).

His daughter by Dione, — Venus (Aphrodite).70

His son by Maia, — Mercury (Hermes).

His sister, Vesta (Hestia), the oldest born of Cronus and Rhea.

Of these all were deities of the highest order save Hebe, who must be ranked with the lesser gods. With the remaining ten “Great Gods” are sometimes reckoned the other sister of Jupiter, Ceres (Demeter), properly a divinity of earth, and Neptune (Posidon), ruler of the sea.

§ 33. Jupiter71 (Zeus). — The Greek name signifies the radiant light of heaven. Jupiter was the supreme ruler of the universe, wisest of the divinities and most glorious. In the Iliad he informs the other gods that their united strength would not budge him: that, on the contrary, he could draw them, and earth, and the seas to himself, and suspend all from Olympus by a golden chain. Throned in the high, clear heavens, Jupiter was the gatherer of clouds and snows, the dispenser of gentle rains and winds, the moderator of light and heat and the seasons, the thunderer, the wielder of the thunderbolt. Bodily strength and valor were dear to him. He was worshipped with various rites in different lands, and to him were sacred everywhere the loftiest trees and the grandest mountain peaks. He required of his worshippers cleanliness of surroundings and person and heart. Justice was his; his to repay violation of duty in the family, in social relations, and in the state. Prophecy was his; and his will was made known at the oracle of Dodona, where answers were given to those who inquired concerning the future. This oracular shrine was the most ancient in Greece. According to one account two black doves had taken wing from Thebes in Egypt. One flew to Dodona in Epirus, and, alighting in a grove of oaks, proclaimed to the inhabitants of the district that they should establish there an oracle of Jupiter. The other dove flew to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan oasis, and delivered a similar command. According to another account these were not doves, but priestesses, who, carried off from Thebes by the Phœnicians, set up oracles at Oasis and Dodona. The responses of the oracle were given by the rustling of the oak trees in the wind. The sounds were interpreted by priests.

That Jupiter himself, though wedded to the goddess Juno, should be charged with numerous other love affairs, not only in respect of goddesses, but of mortals, is, in part, explained by the fact that to the supreme divinity of the Greeks have been ascribed attributes and adventures of numerous local, and foreign, divinities that were gradually identified with him. It is, therefore, not wise to assume that the love affairs of Jupiter and of other divinities always symbolize combinations of natural or physical forces that have repeated themselves in ever-varying guise. It is important to understand that the more ideal Olympian religion absorbed features of inferior religions, and that Jupiter, when represented as appropriating the characteristics of other gods, was sometimes, also, accredited with their wives.

Beside the children of Jupiter already enumerated, there should here be mentioned, as of peculiar consequence, Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, a deity of earth, — Proserpine, the wife of Pluto and queen of the underworld, — and Hercules, the greatest of the heroes.

Conceptions of Jupiter. — The Greeks usually conceived the Jupiter of war as riding in his thunder-car, hurling the thunderbolt or lashing his enemies with a scourge of lightning. He wore a breastplate or shield of storm-cloud like the skin of a gray goat (the Ægis), fearful to behold, and made by the god of fire. His special messenger was the eagle. It was, however, only with the passage of generations that the Greeks came to represent their greatest of the gods by the works of men’s hands. The statue-of Olympian Jove by Phidias was considered the highest achievement of Grecian sculpture. It was of colossal dimensions, and, like other statues of the period, “chryselephantine”; that is, composed of ivory and gold. For the parts representing flesh were of ivory laid on a frame-work of wood, while the drapery and ornaments were of gold. The height of the figure was 1 feet; the pedestal twelve feet high. The god was represented as seated on his throne. His brows were crowned with; wreath of olive; he held in his right hand a sceptre, and in hi left a statue of Victory. The throne was of cedar, adorned with gold and precious stones.

Fig. 5. Jupiter Enthroned.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

The idea which the artist essayed to embody was that of the supreme deity of the Hellenic nation, enthroned as a conqueror, in perfect majesty and repose, and ruling with a nod the subject world. Phidias informs us that the idea was suggested by Homer’s lines in the first book of the Iliad: —

“Jove said, and nodded with his shadowy brows;
Waved on th’ immortal head th’ ambrosial locks, —
And all Olympus trembled at his nod.”72

Unfortunately, our knowledge of this famous statue is confined to literary descriptions, and to copies on coins. Other representations of Jove, such as that given above, have been obtained from the wall-paintings of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

§ 34. Juno73 (Hera), sister and wife of Jupiter. According to some, her name (Hera) means Splendor of Heaven, according to others, the Lady. Some think it approves her goddess of earth; others, goddess of the air; still others, for reasons by no means final, say that it signifies Protectress, and applies to Juno in her original function of moon-goddess, the chosen guardian of women, their aid in seasons of distress. Juno’s union with Jupiter was the prototype of earthly marriages. She is the type of matronly virtues and dignity.

Fig. 6. Bust of Juno.
[Villa Ludovisi, Rome: Overbeck, Atlas 9: 8; Roscher 13: 2123.]

She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, but was brought up by Oceanus and Tethys, in their dwelling in the remote west beyond the sea. Without the knowledge of her parents, she was wedded to Jupiter in this garden of the gods where ambrosial rivers flowed, and where Earth sent up in honor of the rite a tree of life, heavy with apples golden like the sunset. Juno was the most worthy of the goddesses, the most queenly; ox-eyed, says Homer; says Hesiod, golden-sandalled and golden-throned. Glorious, beyond compare, was her presence, when she had harnessed her horses, and driven forth the golden-wheeled chariot that Hebe made ready, and that the Hours set aside. Fearful, too, could be her wrath. For she was of a jealous disposition, which was not happily affected by the vagaries of her spouse; and she was, moreover, prone to quarrels, self-willed, vengeful, proud, even on occasion deceitful. Once, indeed, she conspired with Minerva and Neptune to bind the cloud-compeller himself. More than once she provoked him to blows; and once to worse than blows, — for her lord and master swung her aloft in the clouds, securing her wrists in golden handcuffs, and hanging anvils to her feet.

The cities that the ox-eyed goddess favored were Argos, Sparta, and Mycenæ. To her the peacock and the cow were dear, and many a grove and pasture rejoiced her sacred herds.

§ 35. Minerva (Athene), the virgin-goddess. She sprang from the brain of Jove, agleam with panoply of war, brandishing a spear, and with her battle-cry awakening the echoes of heaven and earth. She is goddess of the lightning that leaps like a lance from the cloud-heavy sky, and hence, probably, the name, Athene74. She is goddess of the storms and of the rushing thunder-bolt, and is, therefore, styled Pallas. She is the goddess of the thunder-cloud, which is symbolized by her tasselled breast-plate of goat-skin, the ægis, whereon is fixed the head of Medusa, the Gorgon, that turns to stone all beholders. She is also the goddess of war, rejoicing in martial music, and protecting the war-horse and the war-ship. On the other hand, she is of a gentle, fair, and thoughtful aspect. Her Latin name, Minerva, is connected with the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin words for mind. She is eternally a virgin, the goddess of wisdom, of skill, of contemplation, of spinning and weaving, of horticulture and agriculture. She is protectress of cities, and was specially worshipped in her own Athens, in Argos, in Sparta, and in Troy. To her were sacrificed oxen and cows. The olive-tree, created by her, was sacred to her, and, also, the owl, the cock, the serpent, and the crow.

Fig. 7. Minerva (Pallas).
[Ancient MS. of Homer: Inghirami.]

Fig. 8. Minerva (Athene of Velletri).
[Statue from Velletri, in the Louvre: Roscher 4: 702.]

§ 36. Mars (Ares),75 the war-god, son of Jupiter and Juno. The meaning of the name, Ares, is uncertain; the most probable significations are the Slayer, the Avenger, the Curse. The Roman god of war, Mars, is the bright and burning one. Homer, in the Iliad, represents Ares as the insatiable warrior of the heroic age, who, impelled by rage and lust of violence, exults in the noise of battle, revels in the horror of carnage. Strife and slaughter are the condition of his existence. Where the fight is thickest, there he rushes in without hesitation, without question as to which side is right. In battle-array, he is resplendent, — on his head the gleaming helmet and floating plume, on his arm the leathern shield, in his hand the redoubtable spear of bronze. Well-favored, stately, swift, unwearied, puissant, gigantic, he is still the foe of wisdom, the scourge of mortals. Usually he fights on foot, sometimes from a chariot drawn by four horses — the offspring of the North Wind and a Fury. In the fray his sons attend him — Terror, Trembling, Panic, and Fear, — also his sister Eris, or Discord (the mother of Strife), his daughter Enyo, ruiner of cities, — and a retinue of blood-thirsty demons. As typifying the chances of war, Mars is, of course, not always successful. In the battles before Troy, Minerva and Juno bring him more than once to grief; and when he complains to Jupiter, he is snubbed as a renegade most hateful of all the gods.76 His loved one and mistress is the goddess of beauty herself. In her arms the warrior finds repose. Their daughter Harmonia is the ancestress of the unquiet dynasty of Thebes. The favorite land of Mars was, according to Homer , the rough, northerly Thrace. His emblems are the spear and the burning torch; his chosen animals are haunters of the battle-field, — the vulture and the dog.

Fig. 9. Mars (Ares Ludovisi).
[Marble statue in the Villa Ludovisi, Rome: Roscher 3: 491.]

Pl. 1. Mars (Tuesday).

§ 37. Vulcan (Hephæstus), son of Jupiter and Juno, was the god of fire, especially of terrestrial fire, — volcanic eruption, incendiary flame, the glow of the forge or the hearth. But as the fires of earth are derived from that of heaven, perhaps the name, Hephæstus (burning, shining, flaming), referred originally to the marvellous brilliance of the lightning. Vulcan was the blacksmith of the gods, the finest artificer in metal among them. His forge in Olympus was furnished not only with anvils and all other implements of the trade, but with automatic handmaidens of silver and gold, fashioned by Vulcan himself. Poets later than Homer assign to Vulcan workshops under various volcanic islands. From the crater of Mount Ætna poured forth the fumes and flames of his smithy. He built the dwellings of the gods; he made the sceptre of Jove, the shields and spears of the Olympians, the arrows of Apollo and Diana, the breastplate of Hercules, the shield of Achilles.

He was lame of gait, — a figurative suggestion, perhaps, of the flickering, unsteady nature of fire. According to his own story,77 he was born halt; and his mother, chagrined by his deformity, cast him from Heaven out of the sight of the gods. Yet, again,78 he says that, attempting once to save his mother from Jupiter’s wrath, he was caught by the foot and hurled by the son of Cronus from the heavenly threshold: “All day I flew; and at the set of sun. I fell in Lemnos, and little life was left in me.” Had he not been lame before, he had good reason to limp after either of these catastrophes. He took part in the making of the human race, and in the special creation of Pandora. He assisted also at the birth of Minerva, to facilitate which he split Jupiter’s head open with an axe.

Fig. 10. Vulcan.
[Bronze statuette of Hephæstus, Berlin: Hirt, Bilderbuch 6: 2; Roscher 12: 2044.]

His wife, according to the Iliad and Hesiod’s Theogony, is Aglaia, the youngest of the Graces; but in the Odyssey, it is Venus. He is a glorious, good-natured god, loved and honored among men as the founder of wise customs and the patron of artificers; on occasion, as a god of healing and of prophecy. He seems to have been, when he chose, the cause of “inextinguishable laughter” to the gods, but he was by no means a fool. The famous god of the strong arms could be cunning, even vengeful, when the emergency demanded.

§ 38. Apollo, or Phœbus Apollo, the son of Jupiter and Latona, was preëminently the god of the sun. His name Phœbus signifies the radiant nature of the sunlight; his name Apollo, perhaps, the cruel and destructive heat of noonday. Soon after his birth, Jupiter would have sent him to Delphi to inculcate righteousness and justice among the Greeks; but the golden god Apollo chose first to spend a year in the land of the Hyperboreans, where for six continuous months of the year there is sunshine and spring, soft climate, profusion of herbs and flowers, and the very ecstasy of life. During this delay the Delphians sang pæans, — hymns of praise, — and danced in chorus about the tripod (or three-legged stool), where the expectant priestess of Apollo had taken her seat. At last, when the year was warm, came the god in his chariot drawn by swans, — heralded by songs of springtide, of nightingales and swallows and crickets. Then the crystal fount of Castalia and the stream Cephissus overflowed their bounds, and mankind made grateful offerings to the god. But his advent was not altogether peaceful. An enormous serpent, Python, had crept forth from the slime with which, after the flood, the Earth was covered; and in the caves of Mount Parnassus this terror of the people lurked. Him Apollo encountered, and after fearful combat slew, with arrows, weapons which the god of the silver bow had not before used against any but feeble animals, — hares, wild goats, and such game. In commemoration of this illustrious conquest, he instituted the Pythian games, in which the victor in feats of strength, swiftness of foot, or in the chariot race, should be crowned with a wreath of beech-leaves. Apollo brought not only the warm spring and summer, but also the blessings of the harvest. He warded off the dangers and diseases of summer and autumn; and he healed the sick. He was patron of music and of poetry. Through his oracle at Delphi, on the slopes of Parnassus in Phocis, the Pythian god made known the future to those who consulted him. He was a founder of cities, a promoter of colonization, a giver of good laws, the ideal of fair and manly youth, — a pure and just god, requiring clean hands and pure hearts of those that worshipped him. But though a god of life and peace, the far-darter did not shun the weapons of war. When presumption was to be punished, or wrong righted, he could bend his bow, and slay with the arrows of his sunlight. As in the days of his youth he slew the Python, so, also, he slew the froward Tityus, and so the children of Niobe. While Phœbus Apollo is the Olympian divinity of the sun, fraught with light and healing, spiritual, creative, and prophetic, he must not be confounded with a god of the older dynasty, Helios (offspring of Hyperion, Titanic deity of light), who represented the sun in its daily and yearly course, in its’ physical rather than spiritual manifestation. The bow of Apollo was bound with laurel in memory of Daphne, whom he loved. To him were sacred, also, many creatures, — the wolf, the roe, the mouse, the he-goat, the ram, the dolphin, and the swan.79

Fig. 11. Apollo of the Belvedere.
[Supplemented by the Ægis: Roscher 3: 438.]

Pl. 2. Apollo Belvedere
(in the Vatican).

“The sleepless Hours who watch me as I lie,80
Curtained with star-inwoven tapestries,
From the broad moonlight of the sky,
Fanning the busy dreams from my dim eyes, —
Waken me when their mother, the gray Dawn,
Tells them that dreams and that the moon is gone.

“Then I arise, and climbing Heaven’s blue dome,
I walk over the mountains and the waves,
Leaving my robe upon the ocean foam;
My footsteps pave the clouds with fire; the caves
Are filled with my bright presence, and the air
Leaves the green earth to my embraces bare.

“The sunbeams are my shafts, with which I kill
Deceit, that loves the night and fears the day;
All men who do or even imagine ill
Fly me, and from the glory of my ray
Good minds and open actions take new might,
Until diminished by the reign of night

“I feed the clouds, the rainbows, and the flowers
With their ethereal colors; the moon’s globe
And the pure stars in their eternal bowers
Are cinctured with my power as with a robe;
Whatever lamps on Earth or Heaven may shine,
Are portions of one power, which is mine.

“I stand at noon upon the peak of Heaven,
Then with unwilling steps I wander down
Into the clouds of the Atlantic even;
For grief that I depart they weep and frown:
What look is more delightful than the smile
With which I soothe them from the western isle?

“I am the eye with which the universe
Beholds itself and knows itself divine;
All harmony of instrument or verse,
All prophecy, all medicine, are mine,
All light of art or nature; — to my song,
Victory and praise in their own right belong.”

Fig. 12. Apollo.
[In the Museum of Basle: Roscher 3: 465.]

§ 39. Diana (Artemis), twin sister of Apollo, born on Mount Cynthus, in the island of Delos. Latona, the future mother of Diana and Apollo, flying from the wrath of Juno, had besought, one after another, the islands of the Ægean to afford her a place of rest; but they feared too much the potent queen of heaven. Delos alone consented to become the birthplace of the future deities. This isle was then floating and unstable; but on Latona’s arrival, Jupiter fastened it with adamantine chains to the bottom of the sea, that it might be a secure resting-place for his beloved. The daughter of Latona is, as her name Artemis indicates, a virgin goddess, the ideal of modesty, grace, and maidenly vigor. She is associated with her brother, the prince of archery, in nearly all his adventures, and in attributes she is his feminine counterpart. As he is identified with sunlight, so is she, his fair-tressed sister, with the chaste brilliance of the moon. Its slender arc is her bow; its beams are her arrows with which she sends upon womankind a speedy and painless death. In her prerogative of moon-goddess she is frequently identified with Selene, daughter of Hyperion, just as Apollo is with Helios. Despising the weakness of love, Diana imposed upon her nymphs vows of perpetual maidenhood, any violation of which she was swift and severe to punish. Graceful in form and free of movement, equipped for the chase, and surrounded by a bevy of fair companions, the swift-rushing goddess was wont to scour hill, valley, forest, and plain. She was, however, not only huntress, but guardian, of wild beasts, — mistress withal of horses and kine and other domestic brutes. She ruled marsh and mountain; her gleaming arrows smote sea as well as land. Springs and woodland brooks she favored, for in them she and her attendants were accustomed to bathe. She blessed with verdure the meadows and arable lands, and from them obtained a meed of thanks. When weary of the chase, she turned to music and dancing; for the lyre and flute and song were dear to her. Muses, Graces, nymphs, and the fair goddesses themselves thronged the rites of the chorus-leading queen. But ordinarily a woodland chapel or a rustic altar sufficed for her worship. There the hunter laid his offering — antlers, skin, or edible portions of the deer that Artemis of the golden arrows had herself vouchsafed him. The holy maid, however, though naturally gracious, gentle, and a healer of ills, was, like her brother, quick to resent injury to her sacred herds, or insult to herself. To this stern temper Agamemnon, Orion, and Niobe bore regretful testimony. They found that the “fair-crowned queen of the echoing chase,” though blithe and gracious, was by no means a frivolous personage.

Pl. 3. Diana.

Diana was mistress of the brute creation, protectress of youth, patron of temperance in all things, guardian of civil right. The cypress tree was sacred to her; and her favorites were the bear, the boar, the dog, the goat, and specially the hind.

Fig. 13. Diana (Artemis of Versailles).
[Marble statue in Louvre: Roscher 4: 603.]

“Queen and Huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair.
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.

“Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia’s shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close:
Bless us then with wished sight,
Goddess excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal-shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever:
Thou that mak’st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright.”81

Fig. 14. Diana (Artemis Knagia).
[Silver medallion from Herculaneum: Welcker, Alte Denkmäler, 2: 3, 5; Roscher 4: 566.]

§ 40. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, was, according to the more ancient Greek conception, a daughter of Jupiter and Dione82; but Hesiod says that she arose from the foam of the sea at the time of the wounding of Uranus, and therefore was called, by the Greeks, Aphrodite, the foam-born.83 Wafted by the west wind, and borne upon the surge, she won first the island of Cythera; thence, like a dream, she passed to Cyprus, where the grace and blossom of her beauty conquered every heart. Everywhere, at the touch of her feet the herbage quivered into flower. The Hours and Graces surrounded her, twining odorous garlands and weaving robes for her, that reflected the hues, and breathed the perfume, of crocus and hyacinth, violet, rose, lily, and narcissus. To her influence is ascribed the fruitfulness of the animal and of the vegetable creation. She is goddess of gardens and flowers, of the rose, the myrtle, and the linden. The heaths and slumberous vales, pleasant with spring and vernal breezes, are hers. In her broidered girdle lurk “love and desire, and loving converse that steals the wits even of the wise.” For she is the mistress of feminine charm and beauty, the golden, sweetly-smiling Aphrodite, who rules the hearts of men. She lends to mortals seductive form and fascination. To a few, indeed, her favor is a blessing; but to many her gifts are treacherous, destructive of peace. Her various influence is exemplified in the stories of Pygmalion and Adonis, Paris and Æneas, Helen, Ariadne, Psyche, Procris, Pasiphaë, and Phædra. Her power extended over sea as well as land; and her temples rose from many a shore. On the waters swan and dolphin were beloved of her; in air, the sparrow and the dove. She was usually attended by her winged son Cupid, of whom much is to be told. Especially dear to her were Cyprus, Cnidos, Paphos, Cythera, Abydos, Mount Eryx, and the city of Corinth.

Pl. 4. Venus of Melos
(in the Louvre)

Of artistic conceptions of Aphrodite, the most famous are the statues called the Venus of Melos, and the Venus of the Medici.84 A comparison of the two conceptions is instituted in the following poem.85 The worshipper apostrophizes the Venus of Melos, that “inner beauty of the world,” whose tranquil smile he finds more fair than “The Medicean’s sly and servile grace”: —

“From our low world no gods have taken wing;
Even now upon our hills the twain are wandering:86
The Medicean’s sly and servile grace,
And the immortal beauty of thy face.
One is the spirit of all short-lived love
And outward, earthly loveliness:
The tremulous rosy morn is her mouth’s smile,
The sky, her laughing azure eyes above;
And, waiting for caress,
Lie bare the soft hill-slopes, the while
Her thrilling voice is heard
In song of wind and wave, and every flitting bird.
Not plainly, never quite herself she shows:
Just a swift glance of her illumined smile
Along the landscape goes;
Just a soft hint of singing, to beguile
A man from all his toil;
Some vanished gleam of beckoning arm, to spoil
A morning’s task with longing, wild and vain.
Then if across the parching plain
He seek her, she with passion burns
His heart to fever, and he hears
The west wind’s mocking laughter when he turns,
Shivering in mist of ocean’s sullen tears.
It is the Medicean: well I know
The arts her ancient subtlety will show, —
The stubble field she turns to ruddy gold;
The empty distance she will fold
In purple gauze; the warm glow she has kissed
Along the chilling mist:
Cheating and cheated love that grows to hate
And ever deeper loathing, soon or late.
Thou, too, O fairer spirit, walkest here
Upon the lifted hills:
Wherever that still thought within the breast
The inner beauty of the world hath moved;
In starlight that the dome of evening fills;
On endless waters rounding to the west:
For them who thro’ that beauty’s veil have loved
The soul of all things beautiful the best.
For lying broad awake, long ere the dawn,
Staring against; the dark, the blank of space
Opens immeasurably, and thy face
Wavers and glimmers there and is withdrawn.
And many days, when all one’s work is vain,
And life goes stretching on, a waste gray plain,
With even the short mirage of morning gone,
No cool breath anywhere, no shadow nigh
Where a weary man might lay him down and die,
Lo! thou art there before me suddenly,
With shade as if a summer cloud did pass,
And spray of fountains whispering to the grass.
Oh, save me from the haste and noise and heat
That spoil life’s music sweet:
And from that lesser Aphrodite there —
Even now she stands
Close as I turn, and O my soul, how fair!”

Fig. 15. Venus of Melos.
[Louvre, Paris: Roscher 3: 403.]

§ 41. Mercury (Hermes), born in a cave of Mount. Cyllene in Arcadia was the son of Jupiter and Maia (the daughter of Atlas). According to conjecture, his name Hermes means the Hastener. Mercury, swift as the wind, was the servant and herald of Jupiter and the other gods. On his ankles (in plastic art), and his low-crowned, broad-brimmed petasus, or hat, were wings. As messenger of Heaven, he bore a wand (caduceus) of wood or of gold, twined with snakes and surmounted by wings, and possessed of magical powers over sleeping, waking, and dreams. He was beautiful, and ever in the prime of youthful vigor. To a voice sweet-toned and powerful, he added the persuasiveness of eloquence. But his skill was not confined to speech: he was, also, the first of inventors — to him are ascribed the lyre, the syrinx, and the flute. He was the forerunner, too, of mathematicians and astronomers. His agility and strength made him easily prince in athletic pursuits. His cunning rendered him a dangerous foe; he could well play the trickster and the thief, as Apollo found out to his vexation, and Argus, and many another unfortunate. His methods, however, were not always questionable; although the patron of gamblers and the god of chance, he, at the same time, was the furtherer of lawful industry and of commerce by land and sea. The gravest function of the Messenger was to conduct the souls of the dead “that gibber like bats as they fare, down the dank ways, past the streams of Oceanus, past the gates of the sun and the land of dreams, to the mead of asphodel in the dark realm of Hades, where dwell the souls, the phantoms of men outworn.”87

Fig. 16. Mercury (Hermes, with petasus, caduceus, and winged feet).
[Wall Painting: Baumeister.]

Pl. 5. The Flying Mercury.
Giov. di Bologna.

Fig. 17. Mercury conducting Souls to Pluto and Proserpine.
[ Hirt.]

§ 42. Vesta (Hestia), goddess of the hearth, public and private, was the first-born child of Cronus and Rhea, and, accordingly, the elder sister of Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Pluto, and Ceres. Vesta was an old maid by choice. Averse to Venus and all her ways, she scorned the flattering advances of both Neptune and Apollo, and resolved to remain single. Whereupon Jupiter gave her to sit in the middle of his palace, to receive in Olympus the choicest morsels of the feast, — and, in the temples of the gods on earth, reverence as the oldest and worthiest of Olympian divinities. As goddess of the burning hearth, Vesta is the divinity of the home: of settled, in opposition to nomadic, habits of life. She was worshipped, first of the gods, at every feast. Before her shrine in city and state the holy flame was religiously cherished. From her altars those of the other gods obtained their fires. No new colony, no new home, was duly consecrated till on its central hearth there glowed coals from her ancestral hearth. In her temple at Rome a sacred fire, tended by six virgin priestesses called Vestals, was kept religiously aflame. As the safety of the city was held to be connected with its conservation, any negligence, by which it might go out, was severely punished. Whenever the fire did die, it was rekindled from the rays of the sun.

§ 43. Of the Lesser Divinities of Heaven the most worthy or mention are: —

(1) Cupid (Eros), small but mighty god of love, the son of Venus, and her constant companion. He was often represented with eyes covered because of the blindness of his actions. With his bow and arrows, he shot the darts of desire into the bosoms of gods and men. Another deity named Anteros, reputed the brother of Eros, was sometimes represented as the avenger of slighted love, and sometimes as the symbol of reciprocal affection. Venus was also attended at times by Hymen, a beautiful youth of divine descent, the personification of the wedding feast, and leader of the nuptial chorus.

Fig. 18. Cupid.
[Statue: Müller.]

“Within a forest, as I strayed
Far down a sombre autumn glade,
I found the god of love;
His bow and arrows cast aside,
His lovely arms extended wide,
A depth of leaves above,
Beneath o’erarching boughs he made
A place for sleep in russet shade.

“His lips, more red than any rose,
Were like a flower that overflows
With honey pure and sweet;
And clustering round that holy mouth,
The golden bees in eager drouth
Plied busy wings and feet;
They knew, what every lover knows,
There’s no such honey-bloom that blows.”88

(2) Hebe, daughter of Jupiter and Juno, goddess of youth, and cup-bearer to the gods. According to one story, she resigned that office on becoming the wife of Hercules. According to another, Hebe was dismissed from her position in consequence of a fall which she met with one day when in attendance on the gods. Her successor was Ganymede, a Trojan boy whom Jupiter, in the disguise of an eagle, seized and carried off from the midst of his playfellows on Mount Ida, bore up to Heaven, and installed in the vacant place.

Fig. 19. The Ganymede of Leochares.
[Bronze group: Overbeck, Gr. Plastik 22, Fig. 107; Roscher 9: 1597.]

(3) The Graces, daughters of Jove by Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus. They were goddesses presiding over the banquet, the dance, all social pleasures, and polite accomplishments. They were three in number, — Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia. Spenser describes the office of the Graces thus: —

These three on men all gracious gifts bestow
Which deck the body or adorn the mind,
To make them lovely or well-favored show;
As comely carriage, entertainment kind,
Sweet semblance, friendly offices that bind,
And all the complements of courtesy;
They teach us how to each degree and kind
We should ourselves demean, to low, to high,
To friends, to foes; which skill men call civility.

(4) The Muses, daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne (Memory). They presided over song, and prompted the memory. They are ordinarily cited as nine in number; and to each of them was assigned the presidence over some department of literature, art, or science. Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, Clio of history, Euterpe of lyric poetry, Melpomene of tragedy, Terpsichore of choral dance and song, Erato of love poetry, Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Urania of astronomy, Thalia of comedy.

(5) Themis, one of the Titans, a daughter of Uranus. She sat, as goddess of justice, beside Jupiter on his throne. She was’ beloved of the father of gods and men, and bore him the Hours, goddesses who regulated the seasons, and the Fates.

(6) The Fates, three in number, — Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Their office was to spin the thread of human destiny, and they were provided with shears, with which they cut it off when they pleased89 According to Hesiod, they were daughters of Night.

Pl. 6. The Fates.
Michael Angelo.

(7) Nemesis, daughter of Night. She represented the righteous anger and vengeance of the gods, particularly toward the proud, the insolent, and breakers of the law.

(8) Æsculapius, son of Apollo. By his skill in medicine, he restored the dead to life. Being killed by the lightning of Jove, he was translated to the ranks of Heaven. His function was the art of healing.

(9) The Winds, — Boreas or Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus or Favonius, the west; Notus or Auster, the south; and Eurus, the east. The first two, chiefly, have been celebrated by the poets, the former as the type of rudeness, the latter of gentleness. It is and sighing was out of the question. Weary at last of fruitless endeavors, he acted out his true character, seized the maiden and bore her off. Their children were Zetes and Calais, winged warriors, who accompanied the Argonautic expedition, and did good service in an encounter with those monstrous birds, the Harpies. Zephyrus was the lover of Flora (Chloris).

Fig. 20. Boreas.
[Relief: Millin.]

Here, too, may be mentioned Æolus, the king of the winds, although he is not a lesser divinity of Heaven. His palace was on the precipitous isle of Æolia, where, with his six sons and six daughters, he kept eternal carouse. The winds, which he confined in a cavern, he let loose as he saw fit, or as he was bidden by superior deities.

(10) Helios, Selene, and Eos, children of the Titan, Hyperion. Helios and Selene were the more ancient Greek divinities of Sun and Moon respectively. Helios, the charioteer of the sun, is, as has been already said, frequently identified with his successor, Apollo. The attributes and adventures of Selene were merged in those of the more modern Diana. Eos, or, in Latin nomenclature, Aurora, the rosy-fingered goddess of the Morn, was mother of the stars and of the morning and evening breezes.

(11) Phosphor, the morning-star, the star of Venus, son of Aurora and the hunter Cephalus. Hesper, the evening-star, was sometimes identified with Phosphor. He was king of the Western Land, and, say some, father of the Hesperides, who guarded the golden apples of the sunset.

(12) Various Other Personifications. — The constellation Orion, whose story will be narrated; Victoria (Nike), the goddess of Victory; Discors (Eris), the goddess of Strife; and Iris, goddess of the rainbow, who is represented frequently as a messenger of the gods.

Fig. 21. Iris carrying a Child.
[Vase picture: Roscher 20: 351.]

Chapter VI.
The Gods of Earth.90 §

§ 44. Conception of the World. — The Greek poets believed the earth to be flat and circular. In their opinion, their own country occupied the middle of it, and the central point was either Mount Olympus, the abode of the gods, or Delphi, 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, the only seas with which they were acquainted. Around the earth flowed River Ocean, from south to north on the western side, in a contrary direction on the eastern. 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 inhabited by the Hyperboreans, dwelling in bliss and everlasting spring beyond the mountains whose caverns sent forth the piercing blasts of the north wind. Their country was inaccessible by land or sea. They lived exempt from disease or old age, from toils and warfare. “I come” sings one of them:91

“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 the Æthiopians, whom the gods held in such favor that they left at times the Olympian abodes to partake of the Æthiopian sacrifices and banquets. On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of Ocean, lay the Elysian Plain, where certain mortals enjoyed an immortality of bliss.

The Dawn, the Sun, and the Moon were supposed to rise out of Ocean on the eastern side, and to drive through the air, giving light to gods and men. The stars, also, except those forming the Wain or Bear, and others near them, rose out of and sank into the stream of Ocean. There the sun-god embarked in a winged boat, which conveyed him by the northern part of the earth back to his place of rising in the east.

§ 45. Ceres (Demeter), the goddess of sowing and reaping, of harvest festivals, and of agriculture in general, was sister of Jupiter, and daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She is connected through her daughter Proserpine, queen of Hades, with the holy ceremonies and rites of death and of the lower world. Of the institutions founded, or favored, by her the most important were the mysteries celebrated at Eleusis, concerning which we know that, in the presence of individuals initiated in the secret ritual, and perhaps with their cooperation, scenes were enacted which represented the alternation of death and life in nature, and, apparently, forecast the resurrection and immortality of man. Sacred to Ceres and to Proserpine were golden sheaves of corn and soporific poppies; while, among animals, cows, sheep, and pigs were acceptable to them.

Fig. 22. Ceres.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

§ 45ª. Gæa, or Ge, the Mother Earth, wife of Uranus, belongs to the older order of gods; so also, another goddess of the earth, Rhea, the wife of Cronus and mother of Jupiter. In Phrygia, Rhea became identified with Cybele, whose worship, as mother of the gods, was, at a later period, introduced into Rome. The Greek mother, Rhea, was attended by the Curetes; the Phrygian mother by the Corybantes, who celebrated her orgies with enthusiastic din of trumpets, drums, and cymbals. Cybele presided over mountain fastnesses and fortified places.

§ 46. Bacchus, or Dionysus, the god of wine, was the son of Jupiter and Semele, daughter of Cadmus of Thebes. He was especially the god of animal life and vegetation. He represented not only the intoxicating power of wine, but its social and beneficent influences, and was looked upon as a promoter of civilization, a lawgiver and a lover of peace. His forehead was crowned with vine-leaves or ivy. He rode upon the tiger, the panther, or the lynx, or was drawn by them in a car. His worshippers were Bacchanals, or Bacchantes. He was attended by Satyrs and Sileni, and by women called Mænads, who, as they danced and sang, waved in the air the thyrsus, a staff entwined with ivy and surmounted by a pine cone.

“The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
Of Bacchus, ever fair, and ever young.
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums;
Flushed with a purple grace
He shows his honest face:
Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes.
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain;
Bacchus’ blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier’s pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.”92

Fig. 23. Bacchus (Dionysus and Ampelos, the vine).
[Group in British Museum: Roscher 2: 292.]

§ 47. The Lesser Divinities of Earth were: —

(1) Pan, son of Mercury and a wood-nymph or Dryad. He was the god of woods and fields, of flocks and shepherds. He dwelt in caves, wandered on the mountains and in valleys, amused himself with the chase, led the dances of the Dryads, and made love to them. But his suit was frequently of no avail, for though good-natured, he was not prepossessing; his hoofs and horns did not enhance his comeliness. He was fond of music, and was himself inventor of the syrinx, or shepherd’s pipe, which he played in a masterly manner. Like other gods who dwelt in forests, he was dreaded by those whose occupations caused them to pass through the woods by night; for gloom and loneliness oppress and appal the mind. Hence sudden unreasonable fright was ascribed to Pan, and called a Panic terror.

Fig. 24. Youthful Satyrs, gathering grapes over a Crater.
[Relief: Millin.]

(2) The Nymphs. — Pan’s partners in the dance, the Dryads, were but one of several classes of nymphs. There were, beside them, the Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottos; and the Water-nymphs, who are mentioned in § 54.

(3) The Satyrs, deities of the woods and fields. In early art, they appear as bearded creatures with snub noses, goats’ ears and horses’ tails (p. 175). Later they resemble youths, sometimes with sprouting horns. The goat-legged satyr is found in Roman poetry.

Fig. 25. A Roman Satyr, with grafting materials.
[Ancient gem: Pitt’s Vergil.]

Chapter VII: The gods of the underworld. §

§ 48. The Underworld was the region of darkness inhabited by the spirits of the dead, and governed by Pluto (Hades) and Proserpina, his queen. According to the Iliad, this realm lay deep in the bowels of the Earth93 but in the Odyssey, it is in the far west on a low-lying island of Ocean.94 The realm of darkness underground is bounded by awful rivers: the Styx, sacred even among the gods, for by it they sealed their oaths, and the Acheron, river of woe, — with its tributaries, Phlegethon, river of fire, and Cocytus, river of wailing. According to the Odyssey, it was the duty of Mercury to conduct the spirits of the dead to this realm of Pluto; but in later poems we read that Charon, a grim boatman, received them at the River of Woe, and ferried them across, if the money requisite for their passage had been placed in their mouths, and their bodies had been duly buried in the world above.95 Otherwise he left them gibbering on the hither bank. The abode of Pluto is represented as wide-gated, and thronged with guests. At the gate Cerberus, a three-headed, serpent-tailed dog, lay on guard, — friendly to the spirits entering, but inimical to those who would depart. The palace itself is dark and gloomy, set in the midst of uncanny fields haunted by strange apparitions.96 The groves are of sombre trees, — willows and silver poplars. The meads of Asphodel, where wander the shades, are barren, or, at best, studded with futile bushes and pale-flowered weeds. This is the Garden of Proserpine.

Fig. 26. Mercury conducting a Soul to Charon.
[Terra-cotta relief: Arch. Zeit.]

Here life has death for neighbor,
And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labor,
Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,
No heather-flower or vine,
But bloomless buds of poppies,
Green grapes of Proserpine,
Pale beds of blowing rushes, ‘
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
For dead men deadly wine.
Pale, beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love’s, who fears to greet her,
To men that mix and meet her
From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,
She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow,
And flowers are put to scorn.
We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light;
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight;
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal:
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.97

With the ghosts of Hades, the living might but rarely communicate, and only through certain oracles of the dead, situate by cavernous spots and sheer abysms, deep and melancholy streams, and baleful marshes. These naturally seemed to afford access to the world below. One of these descents to the Underworld was near Tænarum in Laconia; another, near Cumæ in Italy, was Lake Avernus, so foul in its exhalations that, as its name portends, no bird could fly across it.98 Before the judges of the lower world, — Minos, Æacus, and Rhadamanthus, — the souls of the dead were brought to trial. The condemned were assigned to regions where all manner of torment awaited them at the hands of monsters dire, — the fifty-headed Hydra and the avenging Furies. Some evil-doers, such as the Titans of old, were doomed to languish in the gulf of Tartarus immeasurably below. But the souls of the guiltless passed to the Elysian Fields, where each followed the chosen pursuit of his former life in a land of spring, sunlight, happiness, and song. And by the Fields there flowed the river Lethe, from which the souls of those that were to return to the earth in other bodies drank oblivion of their former lives.

Fig. 27. A Fury.
[From a vase picture. The Erinys in garb of a huntress Pursues Orestes: Roscher 8: 1334.]

A conception of the realm of Pluto in the western seas, to which Hermes conducts the outworn ghosts of mortals, is recorded in a passage of the Odyssey,99 already cited (§ 41). The White Rock which they pass on their way symbolizes, perchance, the bleaching skeletons of the dead. The people of this world — of ghosts and clouds and darkness — are also sometimes named the Cimmerians, and are then located in the far north, where the sun neither rises nor sets. But Homer’s Elysium of the western seas is a happy land, not tried by sun, nor cold, nor rain, but always fanned by the gentle breezes of Zephyrus. Hither favored heroes pass without dying, and live under the happy rule of Rhadamanthus. The Elysium of Hesiod and Pindar is likewise in the Western Ocean, on the Islands of the Blessed, the Fortunate Isles. From this dream of a western Elysium may have sprung the legend of the island Atlantis. The blissful region may have been wholly imaginary. It is, however, not impossible that the myth had its origin in the reports of storm-driven mariners who had caught a glimpse of occidental lands. In these Islands of the Blest, the Titans, released from Tartarus after many years, dwelt under the golden sway of the white-haired Cronus.100

There was no heavy heat, no cold,
The dwellers there wax never old,
Nor wither with the waning time,
But each man keeps that age he had
When first he won the fairy clime.
The night falls never from on high,
Nor ever burns the heat of noon;
But such soft light eternally
Shines, as in silver dawns of June
Before the sun hath climbed the sky!
All these their mirth and pleasure made
Within the plain Elysian,
The fairest meadow that may be,
With all green fragrant trees for shade,
And every scented wind to fan,
And sweetest flowers to strew the lea;
The soft winds are their servants fleet
To fetch them every fruit at will
And water from the river chill;
And every bird that singeth sweet,
Throstle, and merle, and nightingale,
Brings blossoms from the dewy vale, —
Lily, and rose, and asphodel, —
With these doth each guest twine his crown
And wreathe his cup, and lay him down
Beside some friend he loveth well.101

§ 49. Pluto, or Hades was brother of Jupiter. To him fell the sovereignty of the lower world and the shades of the dead. In his character of Hades, the viewless, he is hard and inexorable. By virtue of the helmet or cap given him by the Cyclopes, he moved hither and yon, dark, unseen, — hated of mortals. He was, however, lord not only of all that descends to the bowels of the earth, but of all that proceeds from the earth; and in the latter aspect he was revered as Pluto, or the giver of wealth. At his pleasure, he visited the realms of day, — as when he carried off Proserpina; occasionally he journeyed to Olympus; but otherwise he ignored occurrences in the upper world, nor did he suffer his subjects, by returning, to find them out. Mortals, when they called on his name, beat the ground with their hands, and, averting their faces, sacrificed black sheep to him and to his queen. He is known also as Dis, Orcus, and Tartarus.

Fig. 28. Pluto (Hades enthroned; Cerberus).
[Statue in Villa Borghese: Baumeister Denkm., 620; Roscher 11: 1803.]

§ 50. Proserpina (Persephone) was the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter. She was queen of Hades, — a name applied both to the ruler of the shades and to his realm. When she is goddess of spring, dear to mankind, Proserpina bears a cornucopia overflowing with flowers, and revisits the earth in duly recurring season. But when she is goddess of death, sitting beside Pluto, she directs the Furies, and, like her husband, is cruel, unyielding, inimical to youth and life and hope. In the story of her descent to Hades will be found a further account of her attributes and fortunes.

§ 51. The Lesser Divinities of the Underworld were: —

(1) Æacus, Rhadamanthus, and Minos, sons of Jupiter and judges of the shades in the lower world. Æacus had been during his earthly life a righteous king of the island of Ægina. Minos had been a famous lawgiver and king of Crete. The life of Rhadamanthus was not eventful.

(2) The Furies (Erinyes, or Eumenides), Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megæra, born of the blood of the wounded Uranus. They were attendants of Proserpina. They punished with the frenzies of remorse the crimes of those who had escaped from, or defied, public justice. The heads of the Furies were wreathed with serpents.

(3) Hecate, a mysterious divinity sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with Proserpina. As Diana represents the moonlight splendor of night, so Hecate represents its darkness and terrors. She haunted cross-roads and graveyards, was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and wandered by night, seen only by the dogs, whose barking told of her approach.

(4) Sleep, or Somnus (Hypnos), and Death (Thanatos), sons of Night.102 They dwell in subterranean darkness. The former brings to mortals solace and fair dreams, and can lull the shining eyes of Jove himself. The latter closes forever the eyes of men. Dreams, too, are sons of Night.103 They dwell beside their brother, Death, along the Western Sea. Their abode has two gates, — one of ivory, whence issue false and flattering visions; the other of horn, through which true dreams and noble pass to men.104

Chapter VIII.
The Gods of the Waters.105 §

§ 52. There were two dynasties of the sea. The Older, which flourished during the rule of Cronus, was founded by the Titans, Oceanus and Tethys, from whom sprang three thousand rivers, and ocean-nymphs unnumbered. The palace of Oceanus was beyond the limits of the bountiful earth,106 surrounded by gardens and all things fair. From ages immemorial another dweller in the glimmering caves of Ocean was Pontus (the deep sea, or the water-way), who became, by Mother Earth, father of Nereus. This Nereus, a genial old man of the sea, was distinguished for his prophetic gifts, his knowledge, his love of truth and justice. Taking to wife one of the daughters of Oceanus, the nymph Doris, he was blessed with a family of fifty fair daughters, the Nereïds. Of these daughters, the most famous are Galatea, Thetis, and Amphitrite; the last of whom gave her hand to Neptune, brother of Jove, and thus united the Older and the Younger dynasties of the sea.

Fig. 29. Nereid on a sea-monster.
[Wall painting: Müller.]

§ 53. Of the Younger Dynasty of the waters Neptune and Amphitrite were the founders. Neptune’s palace was in the depths of the sea, near Ægæ in Euboea; but he made his home on Olympus when he chose. The symbol of his power was the trident, or three-pronged spear, with which he could shatter rocks, call forth or subdue storms, and shake the shores of earth. He created the horse, and was the patron of horse races. His own steeds were brazen-hoofed and golden-maned. They drew his chariot over the sea, which became smooth before him, while dolphins and other monsters of the deep gambolled about his path. In his honor black and white bulls, white boars, and rams were sacrificed.

Fig. 30. Neptune in his car.
[Coin: Hirt.]

§ 54. Lesser Divinities of the Waters107 were: —

(1) Triton, the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, trumpeter of Ocean. By his blast on the sea-shell he stirred or allayed the waves.

(2) Proteus, an attendant, and according to certain traditions, a son of Neptune. Like Nereus, he was a little old man of the sea. He possessed the prophetic gift and the power of changing his shape at will.

(3) The Harpies, foul creatures, with heads of maidens, bodies, wings, and claws of birds, and faces pale with hunger. They are the offspring of Thaumas, a son of Pontus and Gæa.

(4) The uncanny offspring of Phorcys and Ceto, — children of Pontus, — who rejoiced in the horrors of the sea: —

(a) The Grææ, three hoary witches, with one eye between them which they used in turn.

(b) The Gorgons, whose glance was icy death.

(c) The Sirens, muses of the sea and of death, who by their sweet singing enticed seafarers to destruction.

(d) Scylla, also destructive to mariners, a six-headed monster, whose lower limbs were serpents and ever-barking dogs.

(5) Atlas, who stood in the far west, bearing on his shoulders the vault of heaven. He was once regarded as a divinity of the sea, but later as a mountain. He was the son of Iapetus, and the father of three classes of nymphs, — the Pleiads, the Hyads, and, according to some stories, the Hesperids. The last-mentioned, assisted by their mother, Hesperis, and a dragon, guarded the golden apples of the tree that had sprung up to grace the wedding of Jove and Juno. The daughters of Atlas were not themselves divinities of the sea.

(6) The Water-nymphs. — Beside the Oceanids and the Nereïds, who have already been mentioned, of most importance were the Naiads, daughters of Jupiter. They presided over brooks and fountains. Other lesser powers of the Ocean were Glaucus, Leucothea, and Melicertes, of whom more is said in another section.

The sympathy with classical ideals, which is requisite to a due appreciation of the Greek theogony, is nowadays a rare possession. There is, however, no strain of simulated regret in the. following statement of the difference between ancient and modern conceptions of nature.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are upgathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. — Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.108

Fig. 31. Sirens.
[Engraved relief: Mittheilungen d. K. Deutsch. Archäol. Instituts, Athens.]

Chapter IX.
The Roman Divinities. §

§ 55. Gods Common to Greece and Italy. — Of the deities already mentioned, the following, although they were later identified with certain Greek gods and goddesses109 whose characteristics and adventures they assumed, had developed an independent worship in Italy: Jupiter (Zeus); Juno (Hera); Minerva (Athene) Diana (Artemis); Mars (Ares); Venus (Aphrodite); Vulcanus, or Mulciber (Hephæstus); Vesta (Hestia); Mercurius (Hermes); Neptunus (Posidon); Ceres (Demeter); Liber (Bacchus); Libera (Proserpina); Magna Mater, the great mother of the gods (Rhea, Cybele); Orcus (Pluto, Hades); Tellus, the Earth (Gæa).

§ 56. Italian Gods. — There were also divinities always peculiar to Roman mythology. Of these the more important are: —

(1) Saturn, an ancient Italian deity. Fanciful attempts were made to identify him with the Grecian god Cronus; and it was fabled that after his dethronement by Jupiter, he fled to Italy, where he reigned during the Golden Age. In memory of his dominion, the feast of Saturnalia was held every year in the winter season. Then all public business was suspended; declarations of war and criminal executions were postponed; friends made presents to one another; and even slaves were indulged with great liberties. A feast was given them at which they sat at table, while their masters served, to show the natural equality of men, and that all things belonged equally to all, in the reign of Saturn. The wife of Saturn was Ops, goddess of sowing and harvest, (later confounded with Rhea).

(2) Janus, the porter of Heaven. He opens the year, the first month being named after him. He is the guardian deity of gates, on which account he is commonly represented as facing both ways. His temples at Rome were numerous. In war time the gates of the principal ones were always open. In peace they were closed; but they were shut only once between the reign of Numa and that of Augustus.

Fig. 32. Bearded Janus.
[Roman coin: Baumeister 964; Roscher 18: 50.]

(3) Quirinus, a war-god, said to be no other than Romulus, the founder of Rome, exalted after his death to a place among the immortals.

(4) Bellona, a war-goddess.

(5) Lucina, the goddess who brings to light, hence the goddess of childbirth: a title bestowed upon both Juno and Diana.

(6) Terminus, the god of landmarks. His statue was a rude stone or post, set in the ground to mark the boundaries of fields.

(7) Faunus, the grandson of Saturn. He was worshipped as a god of fields and shepherds, and also of prophecy. His name in the plural, Fauni, expressed a class of gamesome deities, like the Satyrs of the Greeks. There was also a goddess called Fauna, or Bona Dea (good goddess). To Maia, wife of Vulcan, this designation, Bona Dea, was sometimes applied.

(8) Sylvanus, presiding over forest-glades and ploughed fields.

(9) Pales, the goddess presiding over cattle and pastures. Flora, the goddess of flowers. Pomona, presiding over fruit trees. Vertumnus, the husband of Pomona, was guardian of fruit trees, gardens, and vegetables.

“Pomona loves the orchard,
And Liber loves the vine,
And Pales loves the straw-built shed
Warm with the breath of kine;
And Venus loves the whisper
Of plighted youth and maid
In April’s ivory moonlight,
Beneath the chestnut shade.”110

(10) The Penates, gods who were supposed to attend to the welfare and prosperity of the family. Their name is derived from Penus, the storehouse or inner chamber, which was sacred to them. Every master of a family was the priest to the Penates of his own house.

The Lares, or Lars, were also tutelary deities, but they differed from the Penates since they were regarded as the deified spirits of ancestors, who watched over and protected their descendants. The Lares were more particularly divinities presiding over the household or family; but there were also public Lares, or guardian spirits of the city, Lares of the precincts, Lares of the fields, Lares of the highways, and Lares of the sea. To the Penates, to the domestic Lares (whose images were preserved in a private shrine), and to the Manes (shades that hovered over the place of burial), the family prayers of the Romans were addressed. Other spirits, the Lemures and Larvæ, more nearly correspond to our ghosts.

The Romans believed that every man had his Genius, and every woman her Juno; that is, a spirit who had given them being, and was regarded as a protector through life. On birthdays men made offerings to their Genius, women to their Juno.

(11) Other Italian deities were the Camenæ, fountain-nymphs, goddesses of prophecy and healing, later identified with the Muses; Sol, the Sun; Luna, the Moon; Mater Matuta, the Dawn; Juventus, Youth; Fides, Honesty; Feronia, goddess of groves and freedmen; and a great number of personified abstractions of conduct and experience, such as Fortune and Health.

Many of these Latin divinities were derived from the earlier cult and ritual of the Etruscan inhabitants of Italy.

Map 2. Greece in the Fifth Century b.c.

Chapter X.
Myths of the Great Divinities of Heaven. §

1. Myths of Jupiter and Juno. §

§ 57. Not a few of the adventures of Jupiter turn upon his love affairs. Among the immortals, his queen had rivals in his affection: for instance, Latona, a goddess of darkness, daughter of the Titans Cœus and Phœbe. This goddess became, as we have already seen, the mother of Apollo and Diana. The ire of Juno against her was never appeased. In consequence of it, numerous trials were visited upon Latona, some of which find a place among the adventures of her children.

Fig. 33. Ganymede feeding the eagle.
[Relief: Sepolcri.]

§ 58. Not only with immortals but with mortals were Jupiter’s relations sometimes of a dubious character. His devotion to the beautiful daughters of men involved him in frequent altercations with his justly jealous spouse. Of his fondness for Danaë, whom he approached in a shower of gold, particulars are given in the story of her son Perseus; of his love for Alcmene, the granddaughter of that Perseus, we are informed in the myths of her son Hercules; and of his attentions to Leda, whom he wooed in guise of a swan, we learn in the accounts of their children Pollux and Helen. Other love passages, upon which narratives depend, concern Io, Callisto, Europa, Semele, Ægina, and Antiope.

§ 59. Io111 was of divine ancestry. Her father was the river-god Inachus, son of Oceanus. It is said that Juno, one day, perceiving the skies suddenly overcast, surmised that her husband had raised a cloud to hide some escapade. She brushed away the darkness, and saw him, on the banks of a glassy river, with a beautiful heifer standing near. Juno suspected, with reason, that the heifer’s form concealed some fair nymph of mortal mould. It was Io, whom Jupiter, when he became aware of the approach of his wife, had changed into that form.

The ox-eyed goddess joined her husband, noticed the heifer, praised its beauty, and asked whose it was, and of what herd. Jupiter, to stop questions, replied that it was a fresh creation from the earth. Juno begged it as a gift. What could the king of gods and men do? He was loath to surrender his sweetheart to his wife; yet how refuse so trifling a present as a heifer? He could not, without exciting suspicion; and he, therefore, consented. The goddess delivered the heifer to Argus, to be strictly watched.

Now Argus had a hundred eyes in his head, and never went to sleep with more than two at a time, so that he kept watch of Io constantly. He suffered her to graze through the day, and at night tied a rope round her neck. She would have stretched out her arms to implore freedom of Argus, but that she had no arms to stretch out, and her voice was a bellow. She yearned in vain to make herself known to her father. At length, she bethought herself of writing, and inscribed her name — it was a short one — with her hoof on the sand. Inachus recognized it, and discovering that his daughter, whom he had long sought in vain, was hidden under this disguise, mourned over her. While he thus lamented, Argus, observing, drove her away, and took his seat on a bank, from whence he could see in every direction.

Fig. 34. Mercury kills Argus in presence of Jupiter.
[Vase picture: Roscher 19: 279.]

Jupiter, grieved by the sufferings of his mistress, sent Mercury to despatch Argus. Mercury took his sleep-producing wand, and presented himself on earth as a shepherd driving his flock. As he strolled, he blew upon his syrinx or Pandæan pipes. Argus listened with delight. “Young man,” said he, “come and take a seat by me on this stone. There is no better place for your flock to graze in than hereabouts, and here is a pleasant shade such as shepherds love.” Mercury sat down, talked, told stories till it grew late, and played upon his pipes his most soothing strains, hoping to lull the watchful eyes to sleep, but in vain; for Argus still contrived to keep some of his eyes open, though he shut the rest.

But among other stories, Mercury told him how the instrument on which he played was invented. “There was a certain nymph,” said he, “whose name was Syrinx, — much beloved by the satyrs and spirits of the wood. She would have none of them, but was a faithful worshipper of Diana, and followed the chase. Pan, meeting her one day, wooed her with many compliments, likening her to Diana of the silver bow. Without stopping to hear him, she ran away. But on the bank of the river he overtook her. She called for help on her friends, the water-nymphs. They heard and consented. Pan threw his arms around what he supposed to be the form of the nymph, and found he embraced only a tuft of reeds. As he breathed a sigh, the air sounded through the reeds, and produced a plaintive melody. Whereupon, the god, charmed with the novelty, and with the sweetness of the music, said, ‘Thus, then, at least, you shall be mine.’ Taking some of the reeds, of unequal lengths, and placing them together, side by side, he made an instrument and called it Syrinx, in honor of the nymph.” Before Mercury had finished his story he saw the eyes of Argus all asleep. At once he slew him, and set Io free. The eyes of Argus Juno took and scattered as ornaments on the tail of her peacock, where they remain to this day.

But the vengeance of Juno was not yet satiated. She sent a gadfly to torment Io, who, in her flight, swam through the sea, named after her, Ionian. Afterward, roaming over many lands, she reached at last the banks of the Nile. Then Jupiter interceded for her; and upon his engaging not to pay her any further attention, Juno consented to restore her to her form.

In a poem dedicated to Leigh Hunt, by Keats, the following allusion to the story of Pan and Syrinx occurs: —

“So did he feel who pulled the boughs aside,
That we might look into a forest wide, …
Telling us how fair trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph — poor Pan — how he did weep to find
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain.”

§ 60. Callisto of Arcadia was another maiden who excited the jealousy of Juno. Her, the goddess changed into a bear. Often, frightened by the dogs, Callisto, though lately a huntress, fled in terror from the hunters. Often, too, she fled from the wild beasts, forgetting that she was now a wild beast herself; and bear, as she was, she feared the bears.

One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She saw him, and recognized him as her son Areas, grown to manhood. She stopped and felt inclined to embrace him. He, alarmed, raised his hunting-spear, and was on the point of transfixing her, but Jupiter arrested the crime, and snatching away both of them, placed them in the heavens as the Great and Little Bear.

Juno, enraged at seeing her rival so set in honor, hastened to ancient Tethys and Oceanus, and, complaining that she was supplanted in Heaven, cried, “So do my punishments result — such is the extent of my power! I forbade her to wear human form, — she and her hateful son are placed among the stars. Better that she should have resumed her former shape, as I permitted Io to do. Perhaps my husband means to take her to wife, and put me away! But you, my foster-parents, if you feel for me, and see with displeasure this unworthy treatment of me, show it, I beseech you, by forbidding this guilty couple from coming into your waters.” The powers of the Ocean assented, and consequently the two constellations of the Great and Little Bear move round and round in the neighborhood of the pole, but never sink, as do the other stars, beneath the Ocean.112

§ 61. Europa was the daughter of Agenor, king of Phœnicia, son of the god Neptune. The story of Jupiter’s love for her is thus told by the idyllic poet, Moschus: —

To Europa, princess of Asia, once on a time, a sweet dream was sent by Cypris, when the third watch of the night sets in, and near is the dawning; when sleep more sweet than honey rests on the eyelids, limb-loosening sleep, that binds the eyes with his soft bond, when the flock of truthful dreams fares wandering…

Then she beheld two continents at strife for her sake, Asia and the further shore, both in the shape of women. Of these one had the guise of a stranger, the other of a lady of that land, and closer still she clung about her maiden, and kept saying how she was her mother, and herself had nursed Europa. But that other with mighty hands, and forcefully, kept haling the maiden, nothing loth; declaring that, by the will of ægis-bearing Jupiter, Europa was destined to be her prize.

But Europa leaped forth from her strown bed in terror, with beating heart, in such clear vision had she beheld the dream… And she said, “Ah! who was the alien woman that I beheld in my sleep? How strange a longing for her seized my heart, yea, and how graciously she herself did welcome me, and regard me as it had been her own child! Ye blessed gods, I pray you, prosper the fulfilment of the dream!”

Therewith she arose, and began to seek the dear maidens of her company, girls of like age with herself, born in the same year, beloved of her heart, the daughters of noble sires, with whom she was always wont to sport, when she was arrayed for the dance, or when she would bathe her bright body at the mouths of the rivers, or would gather fragrant lilies on the leas…

Now the girls, so soon as they were come to the flowering meadows, took great delight in various sorts of flowers, whereof one would pluck sweet-breathed narcissus, another the hyacinth, another the violet, a fourth the creeping thyme; and on the ground there fell many petals of the meadows rich with spring. Others, again, were emulously gathering the fragrant tresses of the yellow crocus; but in the midst of them all the princess culled with her hand the splendor of the crimson rose, and shone preëminent among them all like the foam-born goddess among the Graces. Verily, she was not for long to set her heart’s delight upon the flowers… For of a truth, the son of Cronus, so soon as he beheld her, was troubled, and his heart was subdued by the sudden shafts of Cypris, who alone can conquer even Jupiter. Therefore, both to avoid the wrath of jealous Juno, and being eager to beguile the maiden’s tender heart, he concealed his godhead, and changed his shape, and became a bull…

He came into the meadow, and his coming terrified not the maidens, nay, within them all wakened desire to draw nigh the lovely bull, and to touch him, and his heavenly fragrance was scattered afar, exceeding even the sweet perfume of the meadows. And he stood before the feet of fair Europa, and kept licking her neck, and cast his spell over the maiden. And she still caressed him, and gently with her hands she wiped away the deep foam from his lips, and kissed the bull. Then he lowed so gently, ye would think ye heard the Mygdonian flute uttering a dulcet sound.

He bowed himself before her feet, and, bending back his neck, he gazed on Europe, and showed her his broad back. Then she spake among her deep-tressed maidens, saying, —

“Come, dear playmates, maidens of like age with me, let us mount the bull here and take our pastime, for truly, he will bear is on his back, and carry all of us! And how mild he is, and dear, and gentle to behold, and no whit like other bulls! A mind as honest as a man’s possesses him, and he lacks nothing but speech.”

So she spake, and smiling, she sat down on the back of the bull, and the others were about to follow her. But the bull leaped up immediately, now he had gotten her that he desired, and swiftly he sped to the deep. The maiden turned, and called again and again to her dear playmates, stretching out her hands, but they could not reach her. The strand he gained, and forward he sped like a dolphin, faring with unwetted hooves over the wide waves. And the sea, as he came, grew smooth, and the sea-monsters gambolled around, before the feet of Jupiter; and the dolphin rejoiced, and rising from the deeps, he tumbled on the swell of the sea. The Nereïds arose out of the salt water, and all of them came on in orderly array, riding on the backs of sea-beasts. And himself, the thunderous shaker of the world, appeared above the sea, and made smooth the wave, and guided his brother on the salt sea-path, and round him were gathered the Tritons, these hoarse trumpeters of the deep, blowing from their long conchs a bridal melody.

Meanwhile Europa, riding on the back of the divine bull, with one hand clasped the beast’s great horn, and with the other caught up the purple fold of her garment, lest it might trail and be wet in the hoar sea’s infinite spray. And her deep robe was swelled out by the winds, like the sail of a ship, and lightly still did waft the maiden onward. But when she was now far off from her own country, and neither sea-beat headland nor steep hill could now be seen, but above, the air, and beneath, the limitless deep, timidly she looked around, and uttered her voice, saying, —

“Whither bearest thou me, bull-god? What art thou? How dost thou fare on thy feet through the path of the sea-beasts, nor fearest the sea? The sea is a path meet for swift ships that traverse the brine, but bulls dread the salt sea-ways. What drink is sweet to thee, what food shalt thou find from the deep? Nay, art thou then some god, for god-like are these deeds of thine.” …

So spake she, and the horned bull made answer to her again: “Take courage, maiden, and dread not the swell of the deep. Behold, I am Jupiter, even I, though, closely beheld, I wear the form of a bull, for I can put on the semblance of what thing I will. But ‘tis love of thee that has compelled me to measure out so great a space of the salt sea, in a bull’s shape. So Crete shall presently receive thee, Crete that was mine own foster-mother, where thy bridal chamber shall be.”113

Fig. 35. Europa on the Bull.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

According to tradition, from this princess the continent of Europe acquired its name. Her three sons are famous in Greek myth: Minos, who became king of Crete, and after his death a judge in the lower world; Rhadamanthus, who was also regarded as king and judge in the world of ghosts; and Sarpedon, who was ancestor of the Lycians.

The adventures of Europa’s brother Cadmus, who by the command of his father went forth in quest of the lost maiden, fall under the myths of Mars.114

§ 62. Semele was the daughter of Cadmus, founder of Thebes. She was descended, through both parents, from the gods; for her mother Harmonia was daughter to Mars and the laughter-loving Venus. To Semele Jupiter had appeared, and had paid court in unostentatious manner and simple guise. But Juno, to gratify her resentment against this new rival for her lord’s affections, contrived a plan for her destruction. Assuming the form of Beroë, the aged nurse of Semele, she insinuated doubts whether it was indeed Jove himself who came as a lover. Heaving a sigh, she said, “I hope it will turn out so, but I can’t help being afraid. People are not always what they pretend to be. If he is indeed Jove, make him give some proof of it. Ask him to come arrayed in all his splendors, such as he wears in Heaven. That will put the matter beyond a doubt.” Semele was persuaded to try the experiment. She asks a favor, without naming what it is. Jove gives his promise, and confirms it with the irrevocable oath, attesting the river Styx, terrible to the gods themselves. Then she made known her request. The god would have stopped her as she spake, but she was too quick for him. The words escaped, and he could neither unsay his promise nor her request. In deep distress, he left her, and returned to the upper regions. There he clothed himself in his splendors, not putting on all his terrors, as when he overthrew the giants, but what is known among the gods as his lesser panoply. With thunders and lightnings he entered the chamber of Semele. Her mortal frame could not endure the splendors of the immortal radiance. She was consumed to ashes.115 Her son was the god Bacchus.116 Semele, in the blissful seats of Heaven, whither she was transported by the sorrowful Jove, has been represented as recounting thus the story of her doom: —

“What were the garden-bowers of Thebes to me?
What cared I for their dances and their feasts,
Whose heart awaited an immortal doom?
The Greek youths mocked me, since I shunned in scorn
Them and their praises of my brows and hair.
The light girls pointed after me, who turned
Soul-sick from their unending fooleries….

“There came a change: a glory fell to me.
No more ’twas Semele, the lonely girl,
But Jupiter’s Beloved, Semele.
With human arms the god came clasping me:
New life streamed from his presence; and a voice,
That scarce could curb itself to the smooth Greek,
Now and anon swept forth in those deep nights,
Thrilling my flesh with awe; mysterious words —
I knew not what; hints of unearthly things
That I had felt on solemn summer noons,
When sleeping Earth dreamed music, and the heart
Went crooning a low song it could not learn,
But wandered over it, as one who gropes
For a forgotten chord upon a lyre.

“Yea, Jupiter! But why this mortal guise,
Wooing as if he were a milk-faced boy?
Did I lack lovers? Was my beauty dulled,
The golden hair turned dross, the lithe limbs shrunk?
The deathless longings tamed, that I should seethe
My soul in love like any shepherd girl?
One night he sware to grant whate’er I asked:
And straight I cried, ‘To know thee as thou art!
To hold thee on my heart as Juno does! ‘
Come in thy thunder— kill me with one fierce
Divine embrace! — Thine oath! — Now, Earth, at last!’

“The Heavens shot one swift sheet of lurid flame;
The world crashed: from a body scathed and torn
The soul leapt through, and found his breast, and died.
‘Died?’ — So the Theban maidens think, and laugh,
Saying, ‘She had her wish, that Semele!’
But sitting here upon Olympus’ height,
I look down, through that oval ring of stars,
And see the far-off Earth, a twinkling speck —
Dust-mote whirled up from the Sun’s chariot wheel —
And pity their small hearts that hold a man
As if he were a god; or know the god —
Or dare to know him —only as a man!
O human love! art thou forever blind?”117

§ 63. Ægina. — The extent to which those who were concerned only indirectly in Jupiter’s love affairs might yet be involved in the consequences of them, is illustrated by the fortunes of Ægina. This maiden, the daughter of Asopus, a river-god, attracted the attention of Jupiter, who straightway ran off with her. Now, on the one hand, Sisyphus, king of Corinth, having witnessed the intrigue, was indiscreet enough to disclose it. Forthwith the vengeance of the king of gods and men fell upon him. He was condemned to Hades, and attempting to escape thence, had resort to a series of deceptions that resulted in his eternal punishment.118 On the other hand, the inhabitants of the island that had the misfortune to bear Ægina’s name incurred the displeasure of Juno, who devastated their land with a plague. The following account of this calamity is placed in the mouth of Æacus, king of the island:119

“At the beginning the sky seemed to settle down upon the earth, and thick clouds shut in the heated air. For four months, together a deadly south wind prevailed. The disorder affected the wells and springs. Thousands of snakes crept over the land, and shed their poison in the fountains. The force of the disease was first spent on the lower animals, — dogs, cattle, sheep, and birds. The oxen fell in the midst of their work. The wool dropped from the bleating sheep. The horse groaned at his stall, and died an inglorious death. Everything languished; dead bodies lay in the roads, the fields, and the woods; the air was poisoned by them. Next the disease attacked the country people, and then the dwellers in the city. At first the cheek was flushed, and the breath drawn with difficulty. The tongue grew rough and swelled, and the dry mouth stood open, with its veins enlarged, and gasped for the air. Men could not bear the heat of their clothes or their beds, but preferred to lie on the bare ground. Nor could the physicians help, for the disease attacked them also. At last men learned to look upon death as the only deliverer from disease. All restraint laid aside, they crowded round the wells and fountains, and drank, without quenching thirst, till they died. On all sides lay my people strewn like over-ripened apples beneath the tree, or acorns under the storm-shaken oak. You see yonder a temple on the height. It is sacred to Jupiter. Often, while the priest made ready for sacrifice, the victim fell, struck down by disease without waiting for the blow. At length all reverence for sacred things was lost. Bodies were thrown out unburied, wood was wanting for funeral piles, men fought with one another for the possession of them. Finally there were none left to mourn; sons and husbands, old men and youths, perished alike unlamented.

“Standing before the altar, I raised my eyes to Heaven. ‘O Jupiter,’ I said, if thou art indeed my father, give me back my people, or take me also away!’ At these words a clap of thunder was heard. ‘I accept the omen,’ I cried. By chance there grew by the place where I stood an oak with widespreading branches, sacred to Jupiter. I observed on it a troop of ants busy with their labor. Observing their numbers with admiration, I said, ‘ Give me, oh, father, citizens as numerous as these, and replenish my empty city.’ The tree shook, and the branches rustled, though no wind agitated them. Night came on. The tree stood before me in my dreams, with its numerous branches all covered with living, moving creatures, which, falling to the ground, appeared to gain in size, and by-and-by to stand erect, and finally to assume the human form. Then I awoke. My attention was caught by the sound of many voices without. While I began to think I was yet dreaming, Telamon, my son, throwing open the temple-gates, exclaimed, ‘Father, approach, and behold things surpassing even your hopes!’ I went forth; I saw a multitude of men, such as I had seen in my dream. While I gazed with wonder and delight, they approached, and kneeling hailed me as their king. I paid my vows to Jove, and proceeded to allot the vacant city to the new-born race. I called them Myrmidons from the ant (myrmex), from which they sprang. They are a diligent and industrious race, eager to gain, and tenacious of their gains.”

The Myrmidons were the soldiers of Achilles, the grandson of King Æacus, in the Trojan War.

§ 64. Antiope was, according to the Odyssey, another daughter of Asopus, therefore a sister of Ægina. But later poets make this darling of Jove daughter of Nycteus, king of Thebes. While she was engaged in the Mænad dances, Jupiter as a satyr, wooed and won her. She bore him two sons, Amphion and Zethus, who, being exposed at birth on Mount Cithæron, grew up among the shepherds, not knowing their parentage. After various adventures Antiope fell into the hands of her uncle Lycus, the usurping king of Thebes, who, egged on by his wife Dirce, treated her with extreme cruelty. Finally, when doomed by Dirce to be dragged to death behind a bull, Antiope found means to inform her children of her kinship to them. As it happened, they had been ordered to execute the cruel sentence upon their mother. But with a band of their fellow-herdsmen, they attacked and slew Lycus instead, and, tying Dirce by the hair of her head to a bull, let her perish by her own device.120

While among the herdsmen, Amphion had been the special care of Mercury, who gave him a lyre and taught him to play upon it. His brother Zethus had occupied himself in hunting and tending the flocks. Amphion, himself, is one of the most famous of mythical musicians. Having become king of Thebes, it is said that when he played on his lyre, stones moved of their own accord, and took their places in the wail, with which he was fortifying the city.

36. Amphion with the lyre, and Zethus.
[Relief in the Palazzo Spada: Roscher 2: 311.]

… ’Tis said he had a tuneful tongue,
Such happy intonation,
Wherever he sat down and sung
He left a small plantation;
Wherever in a lonely grove
He set up his forlorn pipes,
The gouty oak began to move,
And flounder into hornpipes.

The mountain stirred its bushy crown,
And, as tradition teaches,
Young ashes pirouetted down
Coquetting with young beeches;
And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
Ran forward to his rhyming,
And from the valleys underneath
Came little copses climbing.

The linden broke her ranks and rent
The woodbine wreaths that bind her,
And down the middle, buzz! she went
With all her bees behind her:
The poplars, in long order due,
•With cypress promenaded,
The shock-head willows, two and two,
By rivers gallopaded.

Came wet-shot alder from the wave,
Came yews, a dismal coterie;
Each plucked his one foot from the grave,
Poussetting with a sloe-tree:
Old elms came breaking from the vine,
The vine streamed out to follow,
And, sweating rosin, plumped the pine
From many a cloudy hollow.

And wasn’t it a sight to see,
When, ere his song was ended,
Like some great landslip, tree by tree,
The country-side descended;
And shepherds from the mountain-eaves
Looked down, half-pleased, half-frightened,
As dashed about the drunken leaves
The random sunshine lightened.121

The musician’s life was, however, not all harmony and happiness. Owing to the pride of his wife, Niobe, daughter of King Tantalus, there befell him and his house a crushing calamity, which is narrated among the exploits of Apollo and Diana.122

§ 65. The kindly interest evinced by the Thunderer toward mortals is displayed in the story of

Baucis and Philemon. — Once on a time, Jupiter, in human shape, visited the land of Phrygia, and with him Mercury, without his wings. They presented themselves as weary travellers at many a door, seeking rest and shelter, but found all closed; for it was late, and the inhospitable inhabitants would not rouse themselves to open for their reception. At last a small thatched cottage received them, where Baucis, a pious old dame, and her husband Philemon had grown old together. Not ashamed of their poverty, they made it endurable by moderate desires and kind dispositions. When the two guests crossed the humble threshold, and bowed their heads to pass under the low door, the old man placed a seat, on which Baucis, bustling and attentive, spread a cloth, and begged them to sit down. Then she raked out the coals from the ashes, kindled a fire, and prepared some pot-herbs and bacon for them. A beechen bowl was filled with warm water, that their guests might wash. While all was doing, they beguiled the time with conversation.

The old woman with trembling hand set the table. One leg was shorter than the rest, but a piece of slate put under restored the level. When it was steady, she rubbed the table down with sweet-smelling herbs. Upon it she set some of chaste Minerva’s olives, some cornel berries preserved in vinegar, and added radishes and cheese, with eggs lightly cooked in the ashes. The meal was served in earthen dishes; and an earthen-ware pitcher, with wooden cups, stood beside them. When all was ready, the stew, smoking hot, was set on the table. Some wine, not of the oldest, was added; and for dessert, apples and wild honey.

Now while the repast proceeded, the old folks were astonished to see that the wine, as fast as it was poured out, renewed itself in the pitcher, of its own accord. Struck with terror, Baucis and Philemon recognized their heavenly guests, fell on their knees, and with clasped hands implored forgiveness for their poor entertainment. There was an old goose, which they kept as the guardian of their humble cottage, and they bethought them to make this a sacrifice in honor of their guests. But the goose, too nimble for the old folks, with the aid of feet and wings eluded their pursuit, and at last took shelter between the gods themselves. They forbade it to be slain, and spoke in these words: “We are gods. This inhospitable village shall pay the penalty of its impiety; you alone shall go free from the chastisement. Quit your house, and come with us to the top of yonder hill.” They hastened to obey. The country behind them was speedily sunk in a lake, only their own house left standing. While they gazed with wonder at the sight, that old house of theirs was changed. Columns took the place of the corner posts, the thatch grew yellow and appeared a gilded roof, the floors became marble, the doors were enriched with carving and ornaments of gold. Then spoke Jupiter in benignant accents: “Excellent old man, and woman worthy of such a husband, speak, tell us your wishes. What favor have you to ask of us?” Philemon took counsel with Baucis a few moments, then declared to the gods their common wish. “We ask to be priests and guardians of this thy temple, and that one and the same hour may take us both from life.” Their prayer was granted. When they had attained a great age, as they stood one day before the steps of the sacred edifice, and were telling the story of the place, Baucis saw Philemon begin to put forth leaves, and Philemon saw Baucis changing in like manner. While still they exchanged parting words, a leafy crown grew over their heads. “Farewell, dear spouse,” they said together, and at the same moment the bark closed over their mouths. The Tyanean shepherd still shows the two trees, — an oak and a linden, standing side by side.123

The story of Baucis and Philemon has been imitated by Swift, in a burlesque style, the actors in the change being two wandering saints, and the house being changed into a church, of which Philemon is made the parson: —

… They scarce had spoke, when, fair and soft,
The roof began to mount aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climbed slowly after.
The chimney widened and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fastened to a joist,
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below;
In vain, for a superior force,
Applied at bottom, stops its course;
Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
’Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels,
Increased by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion slower;
The flier, though’t had leaden feet,
Turned round so quick you scarce could see’t;
But slackened by some secret power,
Now hardly moves an inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other’s side.
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone;
But up against the steeple reared,
Became a clock, and still adhered;
And still its love to household cares
By a shrill voice at noon declares,
Warning the cook-maid not to burn
That roast meat which it cannot turn.
The groaning chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And with small change, a pulpit grew.
A bedstead of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphosed into pews,
Which still their ancient nature keep
By lodging folks disposed to sleep.

§ 66. Juno’s Best Gift. — What the queen of heaven deemed the greatest blessing reserved for mortals is narrated in the beautiful myth of Biton and Cleobis. One Cydippe, an ancient priestess of the white-armed goddess, had desired to behold the famous new statue of Hera at Argos. Her sons testified their affection for their mother, by yoking themselves, since no oxen were at hand, to her chariot, and so dragging her through heat and dust many aweary league till they reached the temple, where stood the gold and ivory master-work of Polyclitus. With admiration, the devoted priestess and her pious sons were received by the populace crowding round the statue. The priest officiating in the solemn rites thought meet that so reverend a worshipper should herself approach the goddess, — ay, should ask of Hera some blessing on her faithful sons: —

… Slowly old Cydippe rose and cried:
‘Hera, whose priestess I have been and am,
Virgin and matron, at whose angry eyes
Zeus trembles, and the windless plain of heaven
With hyperborean echoes rings and roars,
Remembering thy dread nuptials, a wise god,
Golden and white in thy new-carven shape,
Hear me! and grant for these my pious sons,
Who saw my tears, and wound their tender arms
Around me, and kissed me calm, and since no steer
Stayed in the byre, dragged out the chariot old,
And wore themselves the galling yoke, and brought
Their mother to the feast of her desire,
Grant them, O Hera, thy best gift of gifts!’

Whereat the statue from its jewelled eyes
Lightened, and thunder ran from cloud to cloud
In Heaven, and the vast company was hushed.
But when they sought for Cleobis, behold,
He lay there still, and by his brother’s side
Lay Biton, smiling through ambrosial curls,
And when the people touched them they were dead.124

2. Myths of Minerva. §

§ 67. The Contest with Neptune. — Minerva, as we have seen,125 presided over the useful and ornamental arts, both those of men — such as agriculture and navigation — and those of women — spinning, weaving, and needle-work. She was also a warlike divinity, but favored only defensive warfare. With Mars’ savage love of violence and bloodshed she, therefore, had no sympathy. Athens, her chosen seat, her own city, was awarded to her as the prize of a peaceful contest with Neptune, who also aspired to it. In the reign of Cecrops, the first king of Athens, the two deities had contended for the possession of the city. The gods decreed that it should be awarded to the one who produced the gift most useful to mortals. Neptune gave the horse; Minerva produced the olive. The gods awarded the city to the goddess, and after her Greek appellation it was named.

Fig. 37. Minerva’s contest with Neptune.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

Arachne. — In another contest, a mortal dared to come into competition with the gray-eyed daughter of Jove. This was Arachne, a maiden who had attained such skill in the arts of carding and spinning, of weaving and embroidery, that the Nymphs themselves would leave their groves and fountains to come and gaze upon her work. It was not only beautiful when it was done, but beautiful also in the doing. To watch her one would have said that Minerva herself had taught her. But this she denied, and could not bear to be thought a pupil even of a goddess. “Let Minerva try her skill with mine,” said she. “If beaten, I will pay the penalty.” Minerva heard this, and was displeased. Assuming the form of an old woman, she appeared to Arachne, and kindly advised her to challenge her fellow-mortals if she would, but at once to ask forgiveness of the goddess. Arachne bade the old dame to keep her counsel for others. “I am not afraid of the goddess; let her try her skill, if she dare venture.” “She comes,” said Minerva, and dropping her disguise, stood confessed. The Nymphs bent low in homage, and all the bystanders paid reverence. Arachne alone was unterrified. A sudden color dyed her cheek, and then she grew pale; but she stood to her resolve, and rushed on her fate. They proceed to the contest. Each takes her station, and attaches the web to the beam. Then the slender shuttle is passed in and out among the threads. The reed with its fine teeth strikes up the woof into its place, and compacts the web. Wool of Tyrian dye is contrasted with that of other colors, shaded off into one another so adroitly that the joining deceives the eye. And the effect is like the bow whose long arch tinges the heavens, formed by sunbeams reflected from the shower,126 in which, where the colors meet they seem as one, but at a little distance from the point of contact are wholly different.

Minerva wrought on her web the scene of her contest with Neptune. Twelve of the heavenly powers were represented, Jupiter, with august gravity, sitting in the midst. Neptune, the ruler of the sea, held his trident, and appeared to have just smitten the Earth, from which a horse had leaped forth. The bright-eyed goddess depicted herself with helmed head, her ægis covering her breast, as when she had created the olive-tree, with its berries and its dark green leaves.

Amongst these leaves she made a Butterfly,
With excellent device and wondrous slight,
Fluttering among the olives wantonly,
That seemed to live, so like it was in sight;
The velvet nap which on his wings doth lie,
The silken down with which his back is dight,
His broad outstretched horns, his hairy thighs,
His glorious colors, and his glistening eyes.

Which when Arachne saw, as overlaid
And mastered with workmanship so rare,
She stood astonished long, ne aught gainsaid;
And with fast-fixed eyes on her did stare.127

So wonderful was the central circle of Minerva’s web; and in the four corners were represented incidents illustrating the displeasure of the gods at such presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend with them. These were meant as warnings from Minerva to her rival to give up the contest before it was too late.

But Arachne did not yield. She filled her web with subjects designedly chosen to exhibit the failings and errors of the gods. One scene represented Leda caressing the swan; and another, Danaë and the golden shower. Still another depicted Europa deceived by Jupiter under the disguise of a bull. Its appearance was that of a real bull, so naturally was it wrought, and so natural the water in which it swam.

With such subjects Arachne filled her canvas, wonderfully well done, but strongly marking her presumption and impiety. Minerva could not forbear to admire, yet was indignant at the insult. She struck the web with her shuttle, and rent it in pieces; then, touching the forehead of Arachne, she made her realize her guilt. It was more than mortal could bear; and forthwith Arachne hanged herself. “Live, guilty woman,” said Minerva, “but that thou mayest preserve the memory of this lesson continue to hang, both thou and thy descendants, to all future times.” Then, sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, the goddess transformed her into a spider, forever spinning the thread by which she is suspended.128

3. Myths of Mars. §

§ 68. The relations of Mars to other deities may be best illustrated by passages from the Iliad, which, generally speaking, presents him in no very favorable light.

Mars and Diomede. — In the war of the Greeks and the Trojans,129 the cause of the former was espoused by Minerva, of the latter by Mars. Among the chieftains of the Greeks in a certain battle, Diomede, son of Tydeus, was prominent. Now when Mars, scourge of mortals, beheld noble Diomede, he made. straight at him.

38. Minerva.
[Statue: Müller.]

… And when they were come nigh in onset on one another, first Mars thrust over the yoke and horses’ reins with spear of bronze, eager to take away his life. But the bright-eyed goddess Minerva with her hand seized the spear, and thrust it up over the car, to spend itself in vain. Next Diomede of the loud war-cry attacked with spear of bronze; and Minerva drave it home against Mars’ nethermost belly, where his taslets were girt about him. There smote he him and wounded him, rending through his fair skin, — and plucked forth the spear again. Then brazen Mars bellowed loud as nine thousand warriors or ten thousand cry in battle as they join in strife and fray. Thereat trembling gat hold of Achseans and Trojans for fear, so mightily bellowed Mars insatiate of battle.

Even as gloomy mist appeareth from the clouds when after heat a stormy wind ariseth, even so to Tydeus’ son Diomede brazen Mars appeared amid clouds, faring to wide Heaven. Swiftly came he to the gods’ dwelling, steep Olympus, and sat beside Jupiter, son of Cronus, with grief at heart, and showed the immortal blood flowing from the wound, and piteously spake to him winged words: “Father Jupiter, hast thou no indignation to behold these violent deeds? For ever cruelly suffer we gods by one another’s devices, in showing men grace. With thee are we all at variance, because thou didst beget that reckless maiden and baleful, whose thought is ever of iniquitous deeds. For all the other gods that are in Olympus hearken to thee, and we are subject every one; only her thou chastenest not, neither in deed nor word, but settest her on, because this pestilent one is thine own offspring. Now hath she urged on Tydeus’ son, even overweening Diomede, to rage furiously against the immortal gods. The Cyprian first he wounded in close fight, in the wrist of her hand, and then assailed he me, even me, with the might of a god. Howbeit my swift feet bare me away; else had I long endured anguish there amid the grisly heaps of dead, or else had lived strengthless from the smitings of the spear.”

Then Jupiter the cloud-gatherer looked sternly at him, and said: “Nay, thou renegade, sit not by me and whine. Most hateful to me art thou of all gods that dwell in Olympus; thou ever lovest strife and wars and battles. Truly thy mother’s spirit is intolerable, unyielding, even Juno’s; her can I scarce rule with words. Therefore I deem that by her prompting thou art in this plight. Yet will I no longer endure to see thee in anguish; mine offspring art thou, and to me thy mother bare thee. But wert thou born of any other god unto this violence, long ere this hadst thou been lower than the sons of Heaven.”

So spake he and bade Pæan heal him. And Pæan laid assuaging drugs upon the wound, and healed him, seeing he was in no wise of mortal mould. Even as fig juice maketh haste to thicken white milk, that is liquid but curdleth speedily as a man stirreth, even so swiftly healed he impetuous Mars. And Hebe bathed him, and clothed him in gracious raiment, and he sate down by Jupiter, son of Cronus, glorying in his might.

Then fared the twain back to the mansion of great Jupiter, even Juno and Minerva, having stayed Mars, scourge of mortals, from his man-slaying.130

§ 69. Mars and Minerva. — It would seem that the insatiate son of Juno should have learned by this sad experience to avoid measuring arms with the ægis-bearing Minerva. But he renewed the contest at a later period in the fortunes of the Trojan War: —

… Jupiter knew what was coming as he sat upon Olympus, and his heart within him laughed pleasantly when he beheld that strife of gods. Then no longer stood they asunder, for Mars, piercer of shields, began the battle and first made for Minerva with his bronze spear, and spake a taunting word: “Wherefore, O dogfly, dost thou match gods with gods in strife, with stormy daring, as thy great spirit moveth thee? Rememberest thou not how thou movedst Diomede, Tydeus’ son, to wound me, and thyself didst take a visible spear and thrust it straight at me and pierce through my fair skin? Therefore deem I now that thou shalt pay me for all that thou hast done.”

Thus saying, he smote on the dread tasselled ægis that not even the lightning of Jupiter can overcome — thereon smote blood-stained Mars with his long spear. But she, giving back, grasped with stout hand a stone that lay upon the plain, black, rugged, huge, which men of old time set to be the landmark of a field; this hurled she, and smote impetuous Mars on the neck, and unstrung his limbs. Seven roods he covered in his fall, and soiled his hair with dust, and his armor rang upon him. And Minerva laughed, and spake to him winged words exultingly: “Fool, not even yet hast thou learnt how far better than thou I claim to be, that thus thou matchest thy might with mine. Thus, shalt thou satisfy thy mother’s curses, who deviseth mischief against thee in her wrath, for that thou hast left the Achæans, and givest the proud Trojans aid.”

Thus, having said, she turned from him her shining eyes. Him did Venus, daughter of Jupiter, take by the hand and lead away, groaning continually, for scarce gathered he his spirit back to him.131

§ 70. Toward mortals Mars could show himself, on occasion, as vindictive as his fair foe, the unwearied daughter of Jove. This fact, not only Cadmus, who slew a serpent sacred to Mars, but all the family of Cadmus found out to their cost.

Fig. 39. Mars and Venus.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

The Fortunes of Cadmus. — When Europa was carried away by Jupiter in the guise of a bull, her father Agenor commanded his son Cadmus to go in search of her, and not to return without her. Cadmus sought long and far; then, not daring to return unsuccessful, consulted the oracle of Apollo to know what country he should settle in. The oracle informed him that he would find a cow in the field, should follow her wherever she might wander, and where she stopped should build a city and call it Thebes. Cadmus had hardly left the Castalian cave, from which the oracle was delivered, when he saw a young cow slowly walking before him. He followed her close, offering at the same time his prayers to Phœbus. The cow went on till she passed the shallow channel of Cephissus, and came out into the plain of Panope. There she stood still. Cadmus gave thanks, and stooping down kissed the foreign soil, then lifting his eyes, greeted the surrounding mountains. Wishing to offer a sacrifice to his protecting deity, Minerva, he sent his servants to seek pure water for a libation. Near by there stood an ancient grove which had never been profaned by the axe, in the midst of which was a cave, thick covered with the growth of bushes, its roof forming a low arch, from beneath which burst forth a fountain of purest water. But in the cave lurked a serpent with crested head and scales glittering like gold; his eyes shone like fire; his body was swollen with venom; he vibrated a triple tongue, and showed a triple row of teeth. No sooner had the Tyrians dipped their pitchers in the fountain, and the ingushing waters had made a sound, than the monster, twisting his scaly body in a huge coil, darted upon them and destroyed some with his fangs, others in his folds, and others with his poisonous breath.

Cadmus, having waited for the return of his men till midday, went in search of them. When he entered the wood, and saw their lifeless bodies, and the dragon with his bloody jaws, not knowing that the serpent was sacred to Mars, scourge of mortals, he lifted a huge stone and threw it with all his force at the monster. The blow made no impression. Minerva, however, was present, unseen, to aid her worshipper. Cadmus next threw his javelin, which penetrated the serpent’s scales, and pierced through to his entrails. The monster attempted to draw out the weapon with his mouth, but broke it off, leaving the iron point rankling in his flesh. His neck swelled with rage, bloody foam covered his jaws, and the breath of his nostrils poisoned the air around. As he moved onward, Cadmus retreated before him, holding his spear opposite to the serpent’s opened jaws. At last, watching his chance, the hero thrust the spear at a moment when the animal’s head thrown back came against the trunk of a tree, and so succeeded in pinning him to its side.

While Cadmus stood over his conquered foe, contemplating its vast size, a voice was heard (from whence he knew not, but it was Minerva’s) commanding him to take the dragon’s teeth and sow them in the earth. Scarce had he done so when the clods began to move, and the points of spears to appear above the surface. Next helmets, with their nodding plumes, came up; next, the shoulders and breasts and limbs of men with weapons, and in time a harvest of armed warriors. Cadmus prepared to encounter a new enemy, but one of them said to him, “Meddle not with our civil war.” With that he who had spoken smote one of his earth-born brothers with a sword, and he himself fell pierced with an arrow from another. The latter fell victim to a fourth, and in like manner the whole crowd dealt with each other till all but five fell slain. These five joined with Cadmus in building his city, to which they gave the name appointed.

Fig. 40. Cadmus slaying the Dragon.
[Vase picture: Millin.]

As penance for the destruction of this sacred serpent, Cadmus served Mars for a period of eight years. After he had been absolved of his impiety, Minerva set him over the realm of Thebes, and Jove gave him to wife Harmonia, the daughter of Venus and Mars. The gods left Olympus to honor the occasion with their presence; and Vulcan presented the bride with a necklace of surpassing brilliancy, his own workmanship. Of this marriage ere born four daughters, Semele,132 Ino,133 Autonoë,134 and Agave,135 and one son, Polydorus.136 But in spite of the atonement made by Cadmus, a fatality hung over the family. The very necklace of Vulcan seemed to catch the spirit of ill-luck, and convey a baleful influence to such as wore it. Semele, Ino, Actæon, the son of Autonoë, and Pentheus, the son of Agave, all perished by violence. Cadmus and Harmonia quitted Thebes, grown odious to them, and emigrated to the country of the Enchelians, who received them with honor, and made Cadmus their king. But the misfortunes of their children still weighing upon their minds, Cadmus one day exclaimed, “If a serpent’s life is so dear to the gods, I would I were myself a serpent.” No sooner had he uttered the words than he began to change his form. Harmonia, beholding it, prayed the gods to let her share his fate. Both became serpents. It is said that, mindful of their origin, they neither avoid the presence of man, nor do they injure any one. But the curse appears not to have, passed from their house until the sons of their great-great-grandson Œdipus had by fraternal strife ended themselves and the family.137

4. Myths of Vulcan. §

§ 71. The stories of Vulcan are few, although incidents illustrating his character are sufficiently numerous. According to an account already given, Vulcan, because of his lameness, was cast out of Heaven by his mother Juno. The sea-goddesses, Enrynome and Thetis, took him mercifully to themselves, and for nine years cared for him, while he plied his trade and gained proficiency in it. In order to revenge himself upon the mother who had so despitefully used him, he fashioned in the depths of the sea a throne of cunning device, which he sent to his mother. She gladly accepting the glorious gift, sat down upon it, to find out that straightway all manner of invisible chains and fetters wound and clasped themselves about her so that she could not rise. The assistance of the gods was of no avail to release her. Then Mars sought to bring Vulcan to Heaven by force that he might undo his trickery; but before the flames of the fire-god, the impetuous warrior speedily retreated. One god, however, the jovial Bacchus, was dear to the blacksmith. He drenched Vulcan with wine, conducted him to Olympus, and by persuasion caused him to set the queen of gods and men at liberty.

Pl. 7. The Forge of Vulcan.

That Vulcan was not permanently hostile to Juno is shown by the services that on various occasions he rendered her. He forged the shield of her favorite Achilles; and, at her instance, he undertook a contest against the river Xanthus. Homer138 describes the burning of elms and willow trees and tamarisks, the parching of the plains, the bubbling of the waters, that signalized the fight, and how the eels and other fish were afflicted by Vulcan till Xanthus in anguish cried for quarter.

5. Myths of Apollo. §

§ 72. The myths which cluster about the name of Phœbus Apollo illustrate, first, his birth and the wanderings of his mother, Latona; secondly, his victory over darkness and winter; thirdly, his gifts to man, — youth and vigor, the sunshine of spring and the vegetation of early summer; fourthly, his baleful influence, — the sunstroke and drought of midsummer, the miasma of autumn; fifthly, his life on earth, as friend and counsellor, of mankind, — healer, soothsayer, and musician, prototype of manly beauty, and lover of beautiful women.

The Wanderings of Latona. — Persecuted by the jealousy of the white-armed Juno, Latona fled from land to land. At last, bearing in her arms the infant progeny of Jove, she reached Lycia, weary with her burden and parched with thirst. There the following adventure ensued. By chance the persecuted goddess espied in the bottom of the valley a pond of clear water, where the country people were at work gathering willows and osiers. She approached, and kneeling on the bank would have slaked her thirst in the cool stream, but the rustics forbade her. “Why do you refuse me water?” said she. “Water is free to all. Yet I ask it of you as a favor. I have no intention of washing my limbs in it, weary though they be, but only of quenching my thirst. A draught of water would be nectar to me, and I would own myself indebted to you for life itself. Let these infants move your pity, who stretch out their little arms as if to plead for me.”

But the clowns persisted in their rudeness; they added jeers, and threatened violence if she did not leave the place. They waded into the pond, and stirred up the mud with their feet, so as to make the water unfit to drink. Enraged, the goddess no longer supplicated the clowns, but lifting her hands to heaven exclaimed, “May they never quit that pool, but pass their lives there!” And it came to pass accordingly. They still live in the water, sometimes totally submerged, then raising their heads above the surface or swimming upon it; sometimes coming out upon the bank, but soon leaping back again into the water. Their voices are harsh, their throats bloated, their mouths distended by constant railing; their necks have shrunk up and disappeared, and their heads are joined to their bodies. Their backs are green, their disproportioned bellies white. They dwell as frogs in the slimy pool.139

§ 73. Apollo, the Light Triumphant. —Soon after his birth the sun-god spent a year among the Hyperboreans, whose shining land has been already described.140 On his return, slaying with his golden arrows the Python that had infested- the slopes near Delphi, he sang for the first time that song of victory, which, as the Pæan, is still among all nations synonymous with jubilation, praise, and thanksgiving. In his conflict with another monster of darkness and winter, the god of the silver bow had the assistance of his sister Diana. By their unerring fiery darts they subdued the giant Tityus, who not only had obstructed the peaceful ways to the oracle of Delphi, but had ventured to insult the mother of the twin deities. They overthrew also the Aloadæ, Otus and Ephialtes, sons of Iphimedia and Neptune. These monsters, the reputed sons of Aloeus, represent, perhaps, the unregulated forces of vegetation; they were renowned for their strength, stature, and courage. They grew at the rate of three cubits in height, and one in breadth, every year; and, when nine years of age, they attempted, by piling Mount Ossa upon Olympus, and Mount Pelion on top, to scale the skies and dethrone the immortals. It is reported that not Apollo and Diana, but Jupiter himself with his lightning slew them. They atoned for their presumption in Hades, where bound by serpents to a pillar, they were tormented by the perpetual hooting of a screech-owl.141

§ 74. Hyacinthus. —The fiery force of the Far-darter was not felt by the monsters of darkness alone. His friendship for the young and the vigorous was frequently as dangerous as it was dear to the objects of it. He was, for instance, passionately fond of a youth named Hyacinthus. The god of the silver bow accompanied the lad in his sports, carried the nets when he went fishing, led the dogs when he went to hunt, followed him in his excursions in the mountains, and neglected for him both lyre and arrows. One day they played a game of quoits; Apollo, heaving aloft the discus, with strength mingled with skill, sent it high and far. Hyacinthus, excited with the sport and eager to make his throw, ran forward to seize the missile; but it bounded from the earth, and struck him in the forehead. He fainted and fell. The god, as pale as himself, raised him and tried all his art to stanch the wound and retain the flitting life, but in vain. As when one has broken the stem of a lily in the garden it hangs its head and turns its flowers to the earth, so the head of the dying boy, as if too heavy for his neck, fell over on his shoulder . “Thou diest, Hyacinth,” spake Phœbus, “robbed of thy youth by me. Would that I could die for thee! But since that may not be, my lyre shall celebrate thee, my song shall tell thy fate, and thou shalt become a flower inscribed with my regret.” While the golden god spoke, the blood which had flowed on the ground and stained the herbage, ceased to be blood; and a flower of hue more beautiful than the Tyrian sprang up, resembling the lily, save that this is purple and that silvery white. Phœbus then, to confer still greater honor, marked the petals with his sorrow, inscribing “Ai! ai!” upon them. The flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and with returning spring revives the memory of his fate.142

Fig. 41. Apollo, and Hyacinthus with quoit.
[Marble group, Hope Collection. Roscher 16, 17: 2765.]

It was said that Zephyrus (the west wind), who was also fond of Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference of Apollo, blew the quoit out of its course to make it strike Hyacinthus.

§ 75. While this youth met his death by accident, another of Apollo’s favorites, his own son, brought death upon himself by presumption.

Phaëton143 was the son of Apollo and the nymph Clymene. One day Epaphus, the son of Jupiter and Io, scoffed at the idea of Phaëton’s being the son of a god. Phaëton complained of the insult to his mother Clymene. She sent him to Phœbus to ask for himself whether he had not been truly informed concerning his parentage. Gladly Phaëton travelled toward the regions of sunrise, and gained at last the palace of the Sun. He approached his father’s presence, but stopped at a distance, for the light was more than he could bear. Phœbus Apollo, arrayed in purple, sat on a throne that glittered with diamonds. Beside him stood the Day, the Month, the Year, the Hours, and the Seasons. Surrounded by these attendants, the Sun beheld the youth dazzled with the novelty and splendor of the scene, and inquired the purpose of his errand. The youth replied, “Oh, light of the boundless world, Phœbus, my father — if thou dost yield me that name—give me some proof, I beseech thee, by which I may be known as thine!” He ceased. His father, laying aside the beams that shone around his head, bade him approach, embraced him, owned him for his son, and swore by the river Styx144 that whatever proof he might ask should be granted. Phaëton immediately asked to be permitted for one day to drive the chariot of the sun. The father repented of his promise, and tried to dissuade the boy by telling him the perils of the undertaking. “None but myself,” he said, “may drive the flaming car of day. Not even Jupiter, whose terrible right arm hurls the thunderbolts. The first part of the way is steep, and such as the horses when fresh in the morning can hardly climb; the middle is high up in the heavens, whence I myself can scarcely, without alarm, look down and behold the earth and sea stretched beneath me. The last part of the road descends rapidly, and requires most careful driving. Tethys, who is waiting to receive me, often trembles for me lest I should fall headlong. Add to this that the heaven is all the time turning round and carrying the stars with it. Couldst thou keep thy course, while the sphere revolved beneath thee? The road, also, is through the midst of frightful monsters. Thou must pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of the Archer, and near the Lion’s jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches its arms in one direction and the Crab in another. Nor wilt thou find it easy to guide those horses, with their breasts full of fire that they breathe forth from their mouths and nostrils. Beware, my son, lest I be the donor of a fatal gift; recall the request while yet thou canst.” He ended; but the youth rejected admonition, and held to his demand. So, having resisted as long as he might, Phœbus at last led the way to where stood the lofty chariot.

It was of gold, the gift of Vulcan: the axle of gold, the pole and wheels of gold, the spokes of silver. Along the seat were rows of chrysolites and diamonds, reflecting the brightness of the sun. While the daring youth gazed in admiration, the early Dawn threw open the purple doors of the east, and showed the pathway strewn with roses. The stars withdrew, marshalled by the Daystar, which last of all retired also. The father, when he saw the earth beginning to glow, and the Moon preparing to retire, ordered the Hours to harness up the horses. They led forth from the lofty stalls the steeds full fed with ambrosia, and attached the reins. Then the father, smearing the face of his son with a powerful unguent, made him capable of enduring the brightness of the flame. He set the rays on the lad’s head, and, with a foreboding sigh, told him to spare the whip and hold tight the reins; not to take the straight road between the five circles, but to turn off to the left; to keep within the limit of the middle zone, and avoid the northern and the southern alike; finally, to keep in the well-worn ruts, and to drive neither too high nor too low, for the middle course was safest and best.145

Forthwith the agile youth sprang into the chariot, stood erect, and grasped the reins with delight, pouring out thanks to his reluctant parent. But the steeds soon perceived that the load they drew was lighter than usual; and as a ship without ballast is tossed hither and thither on the sea, the chariot, without its accustomed weight, was dashed about as if empty. The horses rushed headlong and left the travelled road. Then, for the first time, the Great and Little Bears were scorched with heat, and would fain, if it were possible, have plunged into the water; and the Serpent which lies coiled round the north pole, torpid and harmless, grew warm, and with warmth felt its rage revive. Bootes, they say, fled away, though encumbered with his plough, and unused to rapid motion.

When hapless Phaëton looked down upon the earth, now spreading in vast extent beneath him, he grew pale, and his knees shook with terror. He lost his self-command, and knew not whether to draw tight the reins or throw them loose; he forgot the names of the horses. But when he beheld the monstrous forms scattered over the surface of heaven, — the Scorpion extending two great arms, his tail, and his crooked claws over the space of two signs of the zodiac, — when the boy beheld him, reeking with poison and menacing with fangs, his courage failed, and the reins fell from his hands. The horses, unrestrained, went off into unknown regions of the sky, in among the stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places, now up in high heaven, now down almost to the earth. The moon saw with astonishment her brother’s chariot running beneath her own. The clouds began to smoke. The forest-clad mountains burned, —Athos and Taurus and Tmolus and Œte; Ida, once celebrated for fountains; the Muses’ mountain Helicon, and Hæmus: Ætna, with fires within and without, and Parnassus, with his two peaks, and Rhodope, forced at last to part with his snowy crown. Her cold climate was no protection to Scythia; Caucasus burned, and Ossa and Pindus, and, greater than both, Olympus, — the Alps high in air, and the Apennines crowned with clouds.

Phaëton beheld the world on fire, and felt the heat intolerable. Then, too, it is said, the people of Ethiopia became black because the blood was called by the heat so suddenly to the surface; and the Libyan desert was dried up to the condition in which it remains to this day. The Nymphs of the fountains, with dishevelled hair, mourned their waters, nor were the rivers safe beneath their banks; Tanaïs smoked, and Caïcus, Xanthus, and Mæander; Babylonian Euphrates and Ganges, Tagus, with golden sands, and Caÿster where the swans resort. Nile fled away and hid his head in the desert, and there it still remains concealed. Where he used to discharge his waters through seven mouths into the sea, seven dry channels alone remained. The earth cracked open, and through the chinks light broke into Tartarus, and frightened the king of shadows and his queen. The sea shrank up. Even Nereus and his wife Doris, with the Nereïds, their daughters, sought the deepest caves for refuge. Thrice Neptune essayed to raise his head above the surface, and thrice was driven back by the heat Earth, surrounded as she was by waters, yet with head and shoulders bare, screening her face with her hand, looked up to heaven, and with husky voice prayed Jupiter if it were his will that she should perish by fire, to end her agony at once by his thunderbolts, or else to consider his own heaven, how both the poles were smoking that sustained his palace, and that all must fall if they were destroyed.

Earth, overcome with heat and thirst, could say no more. Then Jupiter, calling the gods to witness that all was lost unless some speedy remedy were applied, thundered, brandished a lightning bolt in his right hand, launched it against the charioteer, and struck him at the same moment from his seat and from existence. Phaëton, with his hair on fire, fell headlong, like a shooting star which marks the heavens with its brightness as it falls, and Eridanus, the great river, received him and cooled his burning frame. His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, were turned into poplar trees, on the banks of the river; and their tears, which continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream. The Italian Naiads reared a tomb for him, and inscribed these words upon the stone: —

“Driver of Phœbus’ chariot, Phaëton,
Struck by Jove’s thunder, rests beneath this stone.
He could not rule’ his father’s car of fire,
Yet was it much so nobly to aspire.” 146

§ 76. It was not, however, only by accident, or by the ill-advised action of those whom he loved, that Apollo’s gifts of light and heat were turned into misfortunes. Mortals who offended him were levelled by the cruel sunstroke, by arrows of malarial venom, of manifold sickness and death.

The Plague sent upon the Greeks before Troy. — When the host of the Achæans was encamped before Troy, the king of men, Atrides, unjustly declined to restore his captive, Chryseis of the fair cheeks, to her father Chryses, the priest of far-darting Apollo. Then the aged Chryses went apart, and prayed aloud, “Hear me, god of the silver bow, ... let the Danaans pay by thine arrows for my tears!”

Fig. 42. Apollo.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

So spake he in prayer; and Phœbus Apollo heard him, and came down from the peaks of Olympus wroth at heart, bearing on his shoulders his bow and covered quiver. And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders in his wrath, as the god moved; and he descended like to night. Then he sate him aloof from the ships, and let an arrow fly; and there was heard a dread clanging of the silver bow. First did he assail the mules and fleet dogs, but afterward, aiming at the men his piercing dart, he smote; and the pyres of the dead burnt continually in multitude. Nor until Agamemnon had sent back his winsome captive to her father did Apollo remove from the Danaans the loathsome pestilence.147

§ 77. The Punishment of Niobe is another illustration of the swift and awful vengeance of Apollo, and also of his sister Diana. This Niobe was the daughter of a certain Tantalus, king of Phrygia, who had been received at the table of the gods by his father, Jupiter. But there was a strain of ingratitude and conceit in both father and daughter. The father not only betrayed the secrets of the gods, but, to ridicule their reputed omniscience, attempted, at a banquet, to deceive them into eating the roasted flesh of his own son Pelops. The gods were not deceived. Pelops was restored to life, — Tantalus consigned to Tartarus. The daughter, Niobe, although she owed her happy marriage with Jupiter’s son Amphion, and her seven stalwart sons and seven blooming daughters, to the favor of the gods, and of Latona in particular, boasted of her birth, her marriage, and her offspring, bragged of her superiority to Latona, and, on one occasion, scoffed at the annual celebration in honor of the goddess and -her two children. Surveying the people of Thebes with haughty glance, she said, “What folly to prefer beings whom you have never seen to those who stand before your eyes! Will you prefer to me this Latona, the Titan’s daughter, with her two children? I have seven times as many. Were I to lose some of my children, I should hardly be left as poor as Latona with her two only. Put off the laurel from your brows, — have done with this worship!” The people left the sacred services uncompleted.

The goddess was indignant. On the Cynthian mountain top she thus addressed her son and daughter: “My children, I who have been so proud of you both, and have been used to hold myself second to none of the goddesses except Juno alone, begin now to doubt whether I am indeed a goddess. I shall be deprived of my worship altogether unless you protect me.” She was proceeding in this strain, but Apollo interrupted her. “Say no more,” said he; “speech only delays punishment.” So said Diana also. Darting through the air, veiled in clouds, they alighted on the towers of the city. Spread out before the gates was a broad plain, where the youth of the city pursued their warlike sports. The sons of Niobe were there with the rest, — some mounted on spirited horses richly caparisoned, some driving gay chariots. Ismenos, the first-born, as he guided his foaming steeds, was struck by an arrow from above. “Ah me!” he cried, dropped the reins and fell lifeless. Another, hearing the sound of the bow, gave the rein to his horses and attempted to escape. The inevitable arrow overtook him as he fled. Two others, younger, stood, wrestling, breast to breast: one arrow pierced them both. Alphenor, an elder brother, hastened to the spot to render assistance, but fell in the act of brotherly duty. One only was left, Ilioneus. “Spare me, ye gods!” he cried, addressing all of them, in his ignorance that all needed not his supplication; and Apollo would have spared him, but the arrow had already left the string, and it was too late.

Fig. 43. Niobe.
[Statue: Müller.]

When Niobe was acquainted with what had taken place, she was indignant that the gods had dared and amazed that they had been able to do it. Her husband, Amphion, overwhelmed with the blow, destroyed himself. But the mother knelt over the lifeless bodies, and kissed them Raising her pallid arms to heaven, “Cruel Latona,” said she, “satiate thy hard heart, while I follow to the grave my seven sons. Yet where is thy triumph? Bereaved as I am, I am still richer than thou, my conqueror.” Scarce had she spoken, when the bow sounded and struck terror into all hearts except Niobe’s alone. She was brave from excess of grief. Her daughters stood in garments of mourning over the biers of their dead brothers. One after another they fell, struck by arrows, beside the corpses that they were bewailing. Only one remained, whom the mother held clasped in her arms, and covered, as it were, with her whole body. “Spare me one, and that the youngest! Oh, spare me one of so many!” she cried; and while she spoke, that one fell dead. Desolate she sat, among sons, daughters, husband, all dead, and seemed torpid with grief. The breeze moved not her hair, no color was on her cheek, her eyes glared fixed and immovable, there was no sign of life about her. Her very tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth, and her veins ceased to convey the tide of life. Her neck bent not, her arms made no gesture, her foot no step. She was changed to stone, within and without. Yet tears continued to flow; and, borne on a whirlwind to her native mountain, she still remains, a mass of rock, from which a trickling stream flows, the tribute of her never-ending grief.148

“Amid nine daughters slain by Artemis
Stood Niobe: she rais’d her head above
Those beauteous forms which had brought down the scath
Whence all nine fell, rais’d it, and stood erect,
And thus bespake the goddess enthroned on high:
‘Thou heardest, Artemis, my daily prayer
That thou wouldst guide these children in the pass
Of virtue, through the tangling wilds of youth,
And thou didst ever guide them: was it just
To smite them for a beauty such as thine?
Deserv’d they death because thy grace appear’d
In ever modest motion? ’twas thy gift,
The richest gift that youth from heaven receives.
True, I did boldly say they might compare
Even with thyself in virgin purity:
May not a mother in her pride repeat
What every mortal said?
One prayer remains
For me to offer yet.
Thy quiver holds
More than nine arrows: bend thy bow; aim here!
I see, I see it glimmering through a cloud.
Artemis, thou at length art merciful:
My children will not hear the fatal twang.’”149

§ 78. The Lamentation for Linus. — How the people of Argos fell under the displeasure of Apollo is told in the story of Linus, a beautiful son of Apollo and Psamathe. In fear of her father the king, Psamathe exposed the child on the mountains, where, brought up by shepherds among the lambs, he was in tender youth torn to pieces by dogs. Meanwhile Psamathe, herself, was driven from her father’s home, wherefore Apollo sent against the land of the Argives a monster that for a season destroyed the children, but at last was slain by a noble youth named Corœbus. To appease the wrathful deity, a shrine was erected midway between Argos and Delphi; and every year Linus and his mother were bewailed in melancholy lays by the mothers and children of Argos, especially by such as had lost by death their own beloved.

§ 79. Æsculapius. — The Thessalian princess Coronis (or the Messenian, Arsinoë) bore to Apollo a child who was named Æsculapius. On his mother’s death the infant was intrusted to the charge of Chiron, most famous of the Centaurs, himself instructed by Apollo and Diana in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. When the sage returned to his home bearing the infant, his daughter Ocyrrhoe came forth to meet him, and at sight of the child burst into a prophetic strain, foretelling the glory that he should achieve. Æsculapius, when grown up, became a renowned physician; in one instance he even succeeded in restoring the dead to life. Pluto resented this; and, at his request, Jupiter struck the bold physician with lightning and killed him, but after his death received him into the number of the gods.150

Fig. 44. Æsculapius.
[Statue: Müller.]

§ 80. Apollo in Exile. — Apollo, indignant at the destruction of this son, wreaked his vengeance on the innocent workmen who had made the thunderbolt. These were the Cyclopes, who had their workshop under Mount Ætna, from which the smoke and flames of their furnaces are constantly issuing. Apollo shot his arrows at the Cyclopes, a deed which so incensed Jupiter that he condemned him to serve a mortal for the space of one year. Accordingly, Apollo went into the service of Admetus, king of Thessaly, and pastured his flocks for him on the verdant banks of the river. Amphrysus. How the god lived among men, and what, they thought of him, is well told in the following verses: —

The Shepherd of King Admetus.151

There came a youth upon the earth,
Some thousand years ago,
Whose slender hands were nothing worth,
Whether to plough, or reap, or sow.

Upon an empty tortoise-shell
He stretched some chords, and drew
Music that made men’s bosoms swell
Fearless, or brimmed their eyes with dew.

Then King Admetus, one who had
Pure taste by right divine,
Decreed his singing not too bad
To hear between the cups of wine:

And so, well pleased with being soothed
Into a sweet half-sleep,
Three times his kingly beard he smoothed,
And made him viceroy o’er his sheep.

His words were simple words enough,
And yet he used them so,
That what in other mouths was rough
In his seemed musical and low.

Men called him but a shiftless youth,
In whom no good they saw;
And yet, unwittingly, in truth,
They made his careless words their law.

They knew not how he learned at all,
For idly, hour by hour,
He sat and watched the dead leaves fall,
Or mused upon a common flower.

It seemed the loveliness of things
Did teach him all their use,
For, in mere weeds, and stones, and springs,
He found a healing power profuse.

Men granted that his speech was wise,
But, when a glance they caught
Of his slim grace and woman’s eyes,
They laughed, and called him good-for-naught.

Yet after he was dead and gone
And e’en his memory dim,
Earth seemed more sweet to live upon,
More full of love, because of him.

And day by day more holy grew
Each spot where he had trod,
Till after-poets only knew
Their first-born brother as a god.

§ 81. Admetus and Alcestis.152 — Admetus was a suitor, with others, for the hand of Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, who promised her to him who should come for her in a chariot drawn by lions and boars. This task Admetus performed by the assistance of his divine herdsman, and was made happy in the possession of Alcestis. But Admetus fell ill, and being near to death, Apollo prevailed on the Fates to spare him on condition that some one should consent to die in his stead. Admetus, in his joy at this reprieve, thought little of the ransom, and, perhaps remembering the declarations of attachment which he had often heard from his courtiers and dependents, fancied that it would be easy to find a substitute. But it was not so. Brave warriors, who would willingly have perilled their lives for their prince, shrunk from the thought of dying for him on the bed of sickness; and old servants who had experienced his bounty and that of his house from their childhood up were not willing to lay down the scanty remnant of their days to show their gratitude. Men asked, “Why does not one of his parents do it? They cannot in the course of nature live much longer, and who can feel like them the call to rescue the life they gave from an untimely end?” But the parents, distressed though they were at the thought of losing him, shrunk from the call. Then Alcestis, with a generous self-devotion, proffered herself as the substitute. Admetus, fond as he was of life, would not have submitted to receive it at such a cost; but there was no remedy. The condition imposed by the Fates had been met, and the decree was irrevocable. As Admetus revived, Alcestis sickened, rapidly sank, and died.

Just after the funeral procession had left the palace, Hercules, the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, arrived. He, to whom no labor was too arduous, resolved to attempt her rescue. Said he: —

“I will go lie in wait for Death, black-stoled
King of the corpses!153 I shall find him, sure,
Drinking, beside the tomb, o’ the sacrifice:
And if I lie in ambuscade, and leap
Out of my lair, and seize — encircle him
Till one hand join the other round about —
There lives not who shall pull him out from me,
Rib-mauled, before he let the woman go!
But even say I miss the booty, — say,
Death comes not to the boltered blood, — why, then,
Down go I, to the unsunned dwelling-place
Of Kore and the king there, — make demand,
Confident I shall bring Alkestis back,
So as to put her in the hands of him
My host, that housed me, never drove me off:
Though stricken with sore sorrow hid the stroke,
Being a noble heart and honoring me!
Who of Thessalians, more than this man, loves
The stranger? Who that now inhabits Greece?
Wherefore he shall not say the man was vile
Whom he befriended, — native noble heart!”
So, one look upward, as if Zeus might laugh
Approval of his human progeny, —
One summons of the whole magnific frame,
Each sinew to its service, — up he caught,
And over shoulder cast the lion-shag,
Let the club go, — for had he not those hands?
And so went striding off, on that straight way
Leads to Larissa and the suburb tomb.
Gladness be with thee, Helper of our world!
I think this is the authentic sign and seal
Of Godship that it ever waxes glad,
And more glad, until gladness blossoms, bursts
Into a rage to suffer for mankind,
And recommence at sorrow: drops like seed
After the blossom, ultimate of all.
Say, does the seed scorn earth and seek the sun?
Surely it has no other end and aim
Than to drop, once more die into the ground,
Taste cold and darkness and oblivion there:
And thence rise, tree-like grow through pain to joy,
More joy and most joy, — do man good again.
So to the struggle off strode Herakles.

Long time the Thessalians waited and mourned. As for Herakles, no doubt they supposed him dead. When — but can it be? —

… Ay, he it was advancing! In he strode,
And took his stand before Admetos, — turned
Now by despair to such a quietude,
He neither raised his face nor spoke, this time,
The while his friend surveyed him steadily.
That friend looked rough with fighting: had he strained
Worst brute to breast was ever strangled yet?
Somehow, a victory — for there stood the strength,
Happy, as always; something grave, perhaps;
The great vein-cordage on the fret-worked front,
Black-swollen, beaded yet with battle-dew
The golden hair o’ the hero! — his big frame
A-quiver with each muscle sinking back
Into the sleepy smooth it leaped from late.
Under the great guard of one arm, there leant
A shrouded something, live and woman-like,
Propped by the heartbeats ‘neath the lion-coat.
When he had finished his survey, it seemed,
The heavings of the heart began subside,
The helpful breath returned, and last the smile
Shone out, all Herakles was back again,
As the words followed the saluting hand.

“Admetus,” said he, “take and keep this woman, my captive, till I come thy way again.” But Admetus would admit no woman into the hall that Alcestis had left empty. Then cried Herakles, “Take hold of her. See now, my friend, if she look not somewhat like that wife thou hast lost.”

Ah, but the tears come, find the words at fault!
There is no telling how the hero twitched
The veil off; and there stood, with such fixed eyes
And such slow smile, Alkestis’ silent self!
It was the crowning grace of that great heart,
To keep back joy: procrastinate the truth
Until the wife, who had made proof and found
The husband wanting, might essay once more,
Hear, see, and feel him renovated now —
Able to do now all herself had done,
Risen to the height of her: so, hand in hand,
The two might go together, live and die.

Beside, when he found speech, you guess the speech.
He could not think he saw his wife again:
It was some mocking God that used the bliss,
To make him mad! Till Herakles must help:
Assure him that no spectre mocked at all;
He was embracing whom he buried once,
Still, — did he touch, might he address the true,
True eye, true body of the true live wife?
… And Herakles said little, but enough —
How he engaged in combat with that king
O’ the dæmons: how the field of contest lay
By the tomb’s self: how he sprang from ambuscade,
Captured Death, caught him in that pair of hands.

But all the time, Alkestis moved not once
Out of the set gaze and the silent smile;
And a cold fear ran through Admetos’ frame:
“Why does she stand and front me, silent thus?”
Herakles solemnly replied, “Not yet
Is it allowable thou hear the things
She has to tell thee; let evanish quite
That consecration to the lower Gods, -
And on our upper world the third day rise!
Lead her in, meanwhile; good and true thou art,
Good, true, remain thou! Practise piety
To stranger-guests the old way! So, farewell!
Since forth I fare, fulfil my urgent task
Set by the king, the son of Sthenelos.”154

§ 82. Apollo, the Musician. — Not only in Arcadia, Laconia, and Thessaly did Apollo care, as a herdsman, for the cattle of a mortal master; in Mount Ida, too, by the order of Jupiter he herded for a year the “shambling, crook-horned kine” of King Laomedon, and, playing on the lyre, aided Neptune to build the walls of Troy, just as Amphion, in his turn, had aided in the building of Thebes. Apollo’s life as herdsman was spent in establishing wise laws and customs, in musical contests on the flute, and the lyre, or in passages of love with nymphs and maidens of mortal mould.

§ 83. Apollo, Pan, and Midas.155 — It is said that on a certain occasion Pan had the temerity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and to challenge the god of the lyre to a trial of skill. The challenge was accepted, and Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen umpire. The senior took his seat, and cleared away the trees from his ears to listen. At a given signal Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower Midas, who happened to be present. Then Tmolus turned his head toward the sun-god, and all his trees turned with him. Apollo rose; his brow wreathed with Parnassian laurel, while his robe of Tyrian purple swept the ground. In his left hand he held the lyre, and with his right hand struck the strings. Tmolus at once awarded the victory to the lyric god, and all but Midas acquiesced in the judgment. He dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo promptly transformed his depraved pair of ears into those of an ass.

King Midas tried to hide his misfortune under an ample turban But his hair-dresser found it too much for his discretion to keep such a secret; he dug a hole in the ground, and, stooping down, whispered the story, and covered it up. But a thick bed of reeds springing up in the meadow began whispering the story, and has continued to do so from that day to this, every time a breeze passes over the place.

Fig. 45. Apollo playing the lyre (Citharædus).
[Statue in the Vatican: Roscher 463.]

In the following “Hymn,”156 Pan taunts Apollo as he might have done when Midas was sitting contentedly by: -

From the forests and highlands
We come, we come;
From the river-girt islands,
Where loud waves are dumb,
Listening to my sweet pipings.
The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
The bees on the bells of thyme,
The birds on the myrtle bushes,
The cicale above in the lime,
And the lizards below in the grass,
Were as silent as ever old
Tmolus was Listening to my sweet pipings.

Liquid Peneüs was flowing,
And all dark Tempe lay,
In Pelion’s shadow, outgrowing
The light of the dying day,
Speeded by my sweet pipings.
The Sileni, and Sylvans, and Fauns,
And the Nymphs of the woods and waves,
To the edge of the moist river-lawns,
And the brink of the dewy caves,
And all that did then attend and follow
Were silent with love, as you now,
Apollo, With envy of my sweet pipings.

I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the dædal Earth,
And of Heaven — and the giant wars,
And Love, and Death, and Birth, —
And then I changed my pipings, —
Singing how down the vale of Menalus
I pursued a maiden, and clasp’d a reed:
Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed:
All wept, as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.

§ 84. The Loves of Apollo. — Beside Psamathe of Argos,157 Coronis of Thessaly158, and the nymph Clymene159, Apollo loved the muse Calliope, who bore him Orpheus160, and the nymph Cyrene, whose son was Aristæus161. Of his relations with two other maidens the following myths exist.

§ 85. Daphne.162 — The lord of the silver bow was not always prosperous in his wooing. His first love, which, by the way, owed its origin to the malice of Cupid, — was specially unfortunate. It appears that Apollo, seeing the boy playing with his bow and arrows, had tauntingly advised him to leave warlike weapons for hands worthy of them and content himself with the torch of love. Whereupon the son of Venus had rejoined, “Thine arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike thee.”

So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, — one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river-god Peneüs, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart. Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, but she, more than ever, abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase. Spurning all lovers, she prayed her father that she might remain always unmarried, like Diana. He consented, but, at the same time, warned her that her beauty would defeat her purpose. It was the face of this huntress-maiden that Apollo saw. He saw the charming disorder of her hair, and would have arranged it; he saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not satisfied with only seeing them. He longed for Daphne. He followed her; she fled, swifter than the wind, nor delayed a moment at his entreaties. “Stay,” said he, “daughter of Peneüs; I am not a foe. It is for love I pursue thee. I am no clown, no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father. I am lord of Delphi and Tenedos. I know all things, present and future. I am the god of song and the lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark; but alas! an arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing plants. Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure.”

The nymph continues her flight, and leaves his plea half uttered. But even as she flies she charms him. The wind catches her garments, and her unbound hair streams loose behind her. The god, sped by Cupid, gains upon her in the race. His panting breath blows upon her hair. Her strength begins to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river-god: “Help me, Peneüs! open the earth to enclose me, or change my form, which has brought me into this danger!” Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized her limbs; and little by little she took on the appearance of a laurel tree. Apollo embraced the branches, and lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank from his lips. “Since thou canst not be my wife,” said he, “thou shalt assuredly be my tree. I will wear thee for my crown. I will decorate with thee my harp and my quiver. When the Roman conquerors conduct the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, thou shalt be woven into wreaths for their brows. And, as eternal youth is mine, thou also shalt be always green, and thy leaf know no decay.” The laurel tree bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.

The delicious humor of Lowell’s extravaganza upon the story amply justifies the following citation: —

Phœbus, sitting one day in a laurel tree’s shade,
Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was made,
For the god being one day too warm in his wooing,
She took to the tree to escape his pursuing;
Be the cause what it might, from his offers she shrunk,
And, Ginevra-like, shut herself up in a trunk;
And, though ’twas a step into which he had driven her,
He somehow or other had never forgiven her;
Her memory he nursed as a kind of a tonic,
Something bitter to chew when he’d play the Byronic,
And I can’t count the obstinate nymphs that he brought over
By a strange kind of smile he put on when he thought of her.
“My case is like Dido’s,” he sometimes remarked;
“When I last saw my love, she was fairly embarked
In a laurel, as she thought — but (ah, how Fate mocks!)
She has found it by this time a very bad box;
Let hunters from me take this saw when they need it, —
You’re not always sure of your game when you’ve treed it.
Just conceive such a change taking place in one’s mistress!
What romance would be left? — who can flatter or kiss trees?
And, for mercy’s sake, how could one keep up a dialogue
With a dull wooden thing that will live and will die a log, —
Not to say that the thought would forever intrude
That you’ve less chance to win her the more she is wood?
Ah! it went to my heart, and the memory still grieves,
To see those loved graces all taking their leaves;
Those charms beyond speech, so enchanting but now,
As they left me forever, each making its bough!
If her tongue had a tang sometimes more than was right,
Her new bark is worse than ten times her old bite.”163

§ 86. Clytie.164 — In the story of Clytie the conditions are reversed. She was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears and the chilly dew her only sustenance. 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 eyes fixed constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs took root in the ground, and her face became a flower, turning on its stem to follow the journeying sun.

In the following lines, Thomas Moore uses the flower as an emblem of constancy: —

The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose.

Fig. 46. Griffins drawing car with symbols of Apollo.
[Relief: Hirt.]

6. Myths of Diana. §

§ 87. In company with her radiant brother, we find Diana subduing Tityus and the Python and assisting in the punishment of Niobe. The speedy transformation of Daphne has been attributed to this goddess, the champion of maidenhood. According to some, it was she, too, that changed Callisto into a bear, when for love of Jupiter that nymph deserted the huntress-band. Numerous are the myths that celebrate the severity of the goddess of the unerring bow toward those who offended her. How she served Agamemnon for slaying one of her hinds is told in the story of Troy;165 how she punished Œneus for omitting a sacrifice to her is narrated in the episode of the Calydonian hunt.166 Similar attributes of the goddess are exemplified in the myths of Arethusa, Actæon, and Orion. It is only when she is identified with Selene, the peaceful moonlight, that we perceive a softer side of character, such as that displayed in her relations with Endymion.

§ 88. The Flight of Arethusa.167 — A woodland nymph of Elis was this Arethusa; she delighted not in her comeliness, but in the joys of the chase. One day, returning from the wood, heated with exercise, she descended to a stream silently flowing, so clear that you might count the pebbles on the bottom. She laid aside her garments; but while she sported in the water, she heard an indistinct murmur rising as out of the depths of the stream. She made haste to reach the nearest bank. A voice followed her, “Why flyest thou, Arethusa? Alpheüs am I, the god of this stream.” The nymph ran, the god pursued. Arethusa, at last exhausted, cried for help to Diana, who, hearing, wrapped her votary in a thick cloud. Perplexed, the river-god still sought the trembling maiden. But a cold sweat came over her. In less time than it takes to tell, she had become a fountain. Alpheüs attempted then to mingle his stream with hers. But the Cynthian queen cleft the ground; and Arethusa, still endeavoring to escape, plunged into the abyss, and passing through the bowels of the earth, came out in Sicily, still followed by the passionate river-god.

Fig. 47. Head of Arethusa.
[Coin: Baumeister.]

In the following version of the pursuit,168 Arethusa was already a river when Alpheüs espied her.

Arethusa arose
From her couch of snows
In the Acroceraunian mountains, —
From cloud and from crag,
With many a jag,
Shepherding her bright fountains,
She leapt down the rocks,
With her rainbow locks
Streaming among the streams; —
Her steps paved with green
The downward ravine
Which slopes to the western gleams:
And gliding and springing
She went, ever singing,
In murmurs as soft as sleep;
The Earth seemed to love her,
And Heaven smiled above her,
As she lingered towards the deep.

Then Alpheus bold,
On his glacier cold,
With his trident the mountain strook
And opened a chasm
In the rocks; — with the spasm
All Erymanthus shook.
And the black south wind
It concealed behind
The urns of the silent snow,
And earthquake and thunder
Did rend in sunder
The bars of the springs below;
The beard and the hair
Of the River-god were
Seen through the torrent’s sweep,
As he followed the light
Of the fleet nymph’s flight
To the brink of the Dorian deep.

“Oh, save me! Oh, guide me!
And bid the deep hide me,
For he grasps me now by the hair!”
The loud Ocean heard,
To its blue depth stirred,
And divided at her prayer;
And under the water
The Earth’s white daughter
Fled like a sunny beam;
Behind her descended
Her billows unblended
With the brackish Dorian stream: —
Like a gloomy stain
On the emerald main,
Alpheus rushed behind, —
As an eagle pursuing
A dove to its ruin
Down the streams of the cloudy wind.

Under the bowers
Where the Ocean Powers
Sit on their pearled thrones,
Through the coral woods
Of the weltering floods,
Over heaps of unvalued stones;
Through the dim beams
Which amid the streams
Weave a network of colored light;
And under the caves,
Where the shadowy waves
Are as green as the forest’s night:
Outspeeding the shark,
And the sword-fish dark,
Under the ocean foam,
And up through the rifts
Of the mountain clifts
They past to their Dorian home.

And now from their fountains
In Enna’s mountains,
Down one vale where the morning basks
Like friends once parted
Grown single-hearted,
They ply their watery tasks.
At sunrise they leap
From their cradles steep
In the cave of the shelving hill;
At noontide they flow
Through the woods below
And the meadows of Asphodel:
And at night they sleep
In the rocking deep
Beneath the Ortygian shore; —
Like spirits that lie
In the azure sky
When they love but live no more.

Fig. 48. Young River-god.
[Bronze head: Baumeister; Roscher 9: 1489.]

§ 89. The Fate of Actæon.169 — Diana’s severity toward young Actæon, grandson of Cadmus whose kindred fell under the curse of Mars, is thus narrated.

One day, having repaired to a valley enclosed by cypresses and pines where gushed a fountain of sparkling water, the chaste Diana handed her javelin, her quiver, and her bow to one nymph, her robe to another, while a third unbound the sandals from her feet. Then Crocale, the most skilful of them, arranged her hair, and Nephele, Hyale, and the rest drew water in capacious urns. While the huntress-queen was thus employed in the labors of the toilet, Actæon, the son of Autonoë and Aristæus, having quitted his companions of the chase, and rambling without any especial object, came to the place, led thither by his destiny. As he presented himself at the entrance of the cave, the nymphs, seeing a man, screamed and rushed towards the goddess to hide her with their bodies. But she was taller than the rest, and overtopped them all by a head. Such a color as tinges the clouds at sunset or at dawn came over the countenance of Diana thus taken by surprise. Surrounded as she was by her nymphs, she yet turned half away, and sought with a sudden impulse for her arrows. As they were not at hand, she dashed the water into the face of the intruder, saying, “Now go and tell, if you can, that you have seen Diana unapparelled.” Immediately a pair of branching stag’s horns grew out of the huntsman’s head, his neck gained in length, his ears grew sharp-pointed, his hands became feet, his arms, his long legs, and his body were covered with a hairy spotted hide. Fear took the place of his former boldness, and the hero fled What should he do? — go home to the palace, or lie hid in the woods? While he hesitated his dogs saw him. Over rocks and cliffs, through mountain gorges that seemed impracticable, he fled, and they followed. The air resounded with the bark of the dogs. Presently one fastened on his back, another seized his shoulder; the rest of the pack came up and buried their teeth in his flesh. His friends and fellow-huntsmen cheered on the dogs, and looking everywhere for Actæon, called on him to join the sport. At the sound of his name, he turned his head, and heard them regret that he should be away. He earnestly wished he was. But Diana had no pity for him, nor was her anger appeased till the dogs had torn his life out.

Fig. 49. Actæon torn by his hounds.
[Relief: Baumeister.]

§ 90. The Fortunes and Death of Orion. — Orion, the son of Neptune, was a giant and a mighty hunter, whose prowess and manly favor gained for him the rare good-will of Diana.

It is related that he loved Merope, the daughter of Œnopion, king of Chios, and sought her in marriage. He cleared the island of wild beasts, and brought the spoils of the chase as presents to his beloved; but as Œnopion constantly deferred his consent, Orion attempted to gain possession of the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at this conduct, made Orion drunk, deprived him of his sight, and cast him out on the seashore. The blinded hero, instructed by an oracle to seek the rays of morning, followed the sound of a Cyclops’ hammer till he reached Lemnos, where Vulcan, taking pity on him, gave him Cedalion, one of his men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Cedalion on his shoulders, Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the sun-god, was restored to sight by his beam.170

After this he dwelt as a hunter with the queen of the echoing chase; and it was even hinted that she loved him. Her brother, highly displeased, often chid her, but to no purpose. One day, therefore, observing Orion as he waded through the sea, with his head, just above the water, Apollo pointed out the black object to his sister, and maintained that she could not hit it. The archer-goddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim: the waves rolled the dead body of Orion to the land. Then bewailing her fatal error with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he appears as a giant, with a girdle, sword, lion’s skin, and club. Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the Pleiads fly before him.171 In the beginning of winter, all through the night, Orion follows the chase across the heavens; but with dawn he sinks toward the waters of his father Neptune. In the beginning of summer, he may be seen with daybreak in the eastern sky, where, beloved by Aurora, he remains gradually paling before the light of day till, finally, Diana, jealous of his happiness, draws her gentle darts, and slays him.

§ 91. The Pleiads,172 who still fly before Orion in the heavens, were daughters of Atlas, and nymphs of Diana’s train. One day Orion saw them in Bœotia, became enamoured of them, and gave pursuit. In their distress they prayed to the gods to change their form. Jupiter, accordingly, turned them into pigeons, and made them a constellation. Though their number was seven, only six stars are visible; for Electra, it is said, left her place that she might not behold the ruin of Troy, which had been founded by her son Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on her sisters that they blanched, and have been pale ever since. But Electra became a comet; her hair floating wildly behind her, she still inconsolably ranges the expanse of heaven. According to some, the lost Pleiad is Merope, who was vested with mortality in consequence of her marriage with the mortal Sisyphus, king of Corinth.

Pl. 8. The Pleiades.

Tennyson’s reference to the Pleiads, in “Locksley Hall,” is of course familiar to all readers.

§ 92. Endymion. — The frequent absence of Diana from her duties in heaven is said to have awakened suspicion among the deities of Olympus, who doubted whether she actually occupied these intervals with hunting. It is easy to imagine the satisfaction with which Venus, who so often had been reproached by Diana with her undue fondness of beautiful youths, would welcome news of a corresponding weakness on the part of the cold-hearted and apparently unyielding huntress-queen. And such satisfaction Venus once enjoyed, if we may trust the later classical, and the modern, poets who have identified Diana with Selene, the more ancient goddess of the moon.

Fig. 50. Endymion.
[Relief in the Capitoline Museum, Rome: Roscher 7: 1246.]

For one calm, clear night, Selene looked down upon the beautiful Endymion, who fed his flock on Mount Latmos; and saw him sleeping. The heart of the goddess was unquestionably warmed by his surpassing beauty. She came down to him; she kissed him; she watched over him while he slept. She visited him again and again. But her secret could not long be hidden from the company of Olympus. For more and more frequently she was absent from her station in the sky; and toward morning she was ever paler and more weary with her watching. When, finally, her love was discovered, Jupiter gave Endymion, who had been thus honored, a choice between death in any manner that was preferable, or perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Endymion chose the latter. He still sleeps in his Carian cave, and still the mistress of the moon slips from her nocturnal course to visit him. She takes care, too, that his fortunes shall not suffer by his inactive life: she yields his flock increase, and guards his sheep and lambs from beasts of prey.173

Keats, whose Endymion journeys on a mission under sea, thus describes a meeting of the goddess and her lover: —

On gold sand impearled
With lily shells and pebbles milky white,
Poor Cynthia greeted him, and soothed her light
Against his pallid face: he -felt the charm
To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
Of his heart’s blood: ’twas very sweet; he stayed
His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes’ tails.
And so he kept, until the rosy veils,
Mantling the east, by Aurora’s peering hand
Were lifted from the water’s breast, and fanned
Into sweet air; and sobered morning came
Meekly through billows: — when like taper-flame
Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
He rose in silence, and once more ‘gan fare
Along his fated way.174

7. Myths of Venus. §

§ 93. Round the goddess of love cluster romances of her own tender passion, of the affairs of the winged Cupid, and of the loves of the worshippers at her shrine. Of the affection of Venus for Mars and of her relations with Anchises,175 the father of Æneas, mention is elsewhere made. The following is the myth of Venus and Adonis.

Adonis.176 — The sweetly smiling goddess, playing one day with her boy Cupid, wounded her bosom with one of his arrows. Before the wound healed, she looked upon Adonis, the son of Cinyras and Myrrha, and was captivated by him. She no longer took any interest in her favorite resorts, — Paphos, and Cnidos, and Amathus, rich in metals. She absented herself even from Olympus, for Adonis was dearer to her than heaven. Him she followed, and bore him company. She who loved to recline in the shade, with no care but to cultivate her charms, now rambled through the woods and over the hills, girt like the huntress Diana. She chased game that is safe to hunt, but kept clear of the wolves and bears. She charged Adonis, too, to beware of dangerous animals. “Be brave toward the timid,” she would say, “courage against the courageous is not safe.” Having thus, on one occasion, warned him, she mounted her chariot drawn by swans, and drove away through the air. But Adonis was too noble to heed such counsels. The dogs had roused a wild boar from his lair; and the youth threw his spear, and wounded the animal with a sidelong stroke. The beast drew out the weapon with his jaws, and rushing after Adonis, buried his tusks in the lad’s side, and stretched him dying upon the plain. The rest of the story is thus recounted: —

Fig. 51. Celestial Venus.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

The Lament for Adonis.177

… Low on the hills is lying the lovely Adonis, and his thigh with the boar’s tusk, his white thigh with the boar’s tusk is wounded; and sorrow on Cypris he brings, as softly he breathes his life away.

His dark blood drips down his skin of snow, beneath his brows his eyes wax heavy and dim; and the rose flees from his lip, and thereon the very kiss is dying, the kiss that Cypris will never forego.

… She hath lost her lovely lord, with him she hath lost her sacred beauty. Fair was the form of Cypris while Adonis was living, but her beauty has died with Adonis! Woe, woe for Cypris, the mountains all are saying. And the oak-trees answer, Woe for Adonis! And the rivers bewail the sorrows of Aphrodite, and the wells are weeping Adonis on the mountains. The flowers flush red for anguish, and Cytherea through all the mountain-knees, through every dell doth shrill the piteous dirge:

Woe, woe for Cytherea, he hath perished, the lovely Adonis!

… When she saw, when she marked the unstaunched wound of Adonis, when she saw the bright red blood about his languid thigh, she cast her arms abroad, and moaned, “Abide with me, Adonis, hapless Adonis, abide!… Awake, Adonis, for a little while, and kiss me yet again, the lastest kiss! ... This kiss will I treasure, even as thyself, Adonis, since, ah ill-fated, thou art fleeing me, thou art fleeing far, Adonis, and art faring to Acheron, to that hateful king and cruel, while wretched I yet live, being a goddess, and may not follow thee! Persephone, take thou my lover, my lord, for thyself art stronger than I, and all lovely things drift down to thee. But I am ill-fated, inconsolable is my anguish; and I lament mine Adonis, dead to me, and I have no rest for sorrow.

“Thou diest, oh, thrice-desired, and my desire hath flown away as a dream! Nay, widowed is Cytherea, and idle are the Loves along the halls! With thee has the girdle of my beauty perished. For why, ah, overbold, didst thou follow the chase, and being so fair, why wert thou thus overhardy to fight with beasts?”

So Cypris bewailed her, the Loves join in the lament:

Woe, woe for Cytherea, he hath perished, the lovely Adonis!

A tear the Paphian sheds for each blood-drop of Adonis, and tears and blood on the earth are turned to flowers. The blood brings forth the rose; the tears, the wind-flower.

Woe, woe for Adonis, he hath perished, the lovely Adonis!

… Cease, Cytherea, from thy lamentations, to-day refrain from thy dirges. Thou must again bewail him, again must weep for him another year.

§ 94. Cupid and Psyche.178 — A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was such that the poverty of language is unable to express its praise. In fact, Venus found her altars deserted, while men paid their vows to this virgin. When Psyche passed, the people sang her praises, and strewed her way with chaplets and flowers.

This perversion of homage gave great offence to Venus, who complained that Paris might just as well not have yielded her the palm of beauty over Pallas and Juno, if a mortal were thus to usurp her honors. Wherefore she called Cupid, and pointing out Psyche to him, bade him infuse into the bosom of that haughty girl a passion for some low, unworthy being.

There were, in Venus’s garden, two fountains, — one of sweet waters, the other of bitter. Cupid filled two amber vases, one from each fountain, and suspending them from the top of his quiver, hastened to the chamber of Psyche, whom he found asleep. He shed a few drops from the bitter fountain over her lips, though the sight of her almost moved him to pity; and then he touched her side with the point of his arrow. She awoke, and opening her eyes upon Cupid (himself invisible), so startled him that in his confusion he wounded himself with his arrow. Heedless of his wound, his thought now was to repair the mischief he had done. He poured, at once, the waters of joy over her silken ringlets.

But Psyche, henceforth frowned upon by Venus, derived no benefit from her charms. Her two elder sisters had long been married to princes; but Psyche’s beauty failed to awaken love. Consequently her parents, afraid that they had unwittingly incurred the anger of the gods, consulted the oracle of Apollo. They received answer, “The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover. Her husband awaits her on the top of the mountain. He is a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist.”

This dreadful decree of the oracle filled the people with dismay; but, at Psyche’s request, preparations for her fate were made. The royal maid took her place in a procession, which more resembled a funeral than a nuptial pomp, and with her parents, amid the lamentations of their subjects, ascended the mountain, where she was left alone.

While Psyche stood there, panting with fear and with eyes full of tears, the gentle Zephyr lifted her and, with an easy motion, bore her to a flowery dale. By degrees her mind became composed, and she laid herself down on the grassy bank to sleep. When she awoke refreshed with sleep, she beheld near by a pleasant grove of tall and stately trees. Entering, she discovered in the midst a fountain, and fast by a palace whose august front showed that it was not the work of mortal hands, but the happy retreat of some god. She approached the building and entered. Every object she met filled her with pleasure and amazement. Golden pillars supported the vaulted roof, and the walls were enriched with carvings and paintings that represented beasts of the chase and rural scenes. Other apartments were filled with still other beautiful and precious productions of nature and art.

While her eyes were thus occupied, the voice of an invisible being addressed her: “Sovereign lady, all that thou beholdest is thine. We whose voices thou dost hear are thy servants. Retire, we pray thee, to thy chamber, repose on thy bed of down, and when it may please thee repair to the bath. Food awaits in the adjoining alcove.”

After repose and the refreshment of the bath, Psyche seated herself in the alcove, where, without any visible aid, a table immediately presented itself, covered with delicacies and nectareous wines. Her ears, too, were delighted with music from invisible performers.

For a long time, she did not see her husband. He came in the hours of darkness, and fled before the dawn of morning; but his accents were full of love, and inspired a like passion in her. Often, she begged him to stay and let her behold him, but he would not consent. “Having looked upon me,” he said, “mayhap thou wouldst fear, mayhap adore, me; but all I ask of thee is love. I would rather thou shouldst love me as an equal than adore me as a god.” This reasoning somewhat quieted Psyche for a time. But the thought of her parents and of her sisters, left in ignorance of her fate, preyed on her mind to such a degree that at last, telling her distress to her lord, she drew from him an unwilling consent that her sisters should be brought to see her.

Zephyr, promptly obedient, soon brought them across the mountain down to their sister’s valley. They embraced her, she returned their caresses, and then committed them to the care of her attendant voices, who should refresh them in her bath and at her table, and show them her treasures. The view of these delights caused envy to enter their bosoms. They plied their fortunate sister with questions about her husband. Psyche replied that he was a beautiful youth, who generally spent the daytime in hunting upon the mountains. The sisters, not satisfied with this reply, soon made her confess that she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to fill her bosom with dark suspicions. Probably her husband was a dreadful monster, such as the Pythian oracle had prophesied. Probably he was a direful serpent, who nourished her now to devour her by. and by. They advised her to provide herself against the night with a lamp and a sharp knife, told her what to do if her husband turned out the monster that they surmised, and, so saying, departed.

These persuasions Psyche resisted as well as she could, but they did not fail to have their effect on her mind. She prepared a lamp and a sharp knife, and hid them out of sight of her husband. That night, when he had fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her lamp —

Scarce kept back a cry
At what she saw; for there before her lay
The very Love brighter than dawn of day;
And as he lay there smiling, her own name
His gentle lips in sleep began to frame,
And, as to touch her face, his hand did move;
O then, indeed, her faint heart swelled for love,
And she began to sob, and tears fell fast
Upon the bed. — But as she turned at last
To quench the lamp, there happed a little thing
That quenched her new delight, for flickering
The treacherous flame cast on his shoulder fair
A burning drop; he woke, and seeing her there
The meaning of that sad sight knew full well,
Nor was there need the piteous tale to tell.179

Without a word, Cupid spread his white wings, and flew out of window. Psyche, in vain endeavoring to follow, fell to the earth. For but an instant Cupid, staying, reproached her with distrust of him. “No other punishment inflict I than to leave thee forever. Love cannot dwell with suspicion.” And so he flew away.

When Psyche had recovered some degree of composure, she looked around her. The palace and gardens had vanished. She found herself not far from the city where her sisters dwelt. Thither she repaired, and told them the story of her misfortunes, whereat they inwardly rejoiced. “For now,” thought they, “he will perhaps choose one of us.” With this idea, they rose early the next morning and, ascending the mountain, each called upon Zephyr to receive her and bear her to his lord, then, leaping up, failed of the support of Zephyr, fell down the precipice, and was dashed to pieces.

Psyche, meanwhile, wandered day and night, without food or repose, in search of her husband. Finally she reached a temple of Ceres, where she won the favor of the goddess by arranging in due order the heaps of mingled grain and ears and the carelessly scattered harvest implements that lay there. The holy Ceres then counselled her to submit to Venus, to try humbly to win her forgiveness, and, mayhap, through her favor regain the lover that was lost.

Obeying the commands of Ceres, Psyche took her way to the temple of the golden-crowned Cypris. That goddess received her with angry countenance, called her an undutiful and faithless servant, taunted her with the wound given to her husband, and insisted that for so ill-favored a girl there was no way of meriting a lover save by dint of industry. Thereupon she ordered Psyche to be led to the storehouse of the temple, where was laid up a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, vetches, beans, and lentils prepared for food for her pigeons, and gave order, “Take and separate all these grains, putting all of the same kind in a parcel by themselves, — and see that thou get it done before evening.” This said, Venus departed, and left the girl to her task. But Psyche, in perfect consternation at the enormous task, sat stupid and silent, nor would the work have been accomplished had not Cupid stirred up the ants to take compassion on her. They separated the pile, sorting each kind to its parcel, and vanishing out of sight in a moment.

At the approach of twilight, Cytherea returned from the banquet of the gods, breathing odors and crowned with roses. Seeing the task done, she promptly exclaimed, “This is no work of thine, wicked one, but his, whom to thine own and his misfortune thou hast enticed,” — threw the girl a piece of black bread for her supper, and departed.

Next morning, however, the goddess, ordering Psyche to be summoned, commanded her to fetch a sample of wool gathered from each of the golden-shining sheep that fed beyond a neighboring river. Obediently the princess went to the river-side, prepared to do her best to execute the command. But the god of that stream inspired the reeds with harmonious murmurs that dissuaded her from venturing among the golden rams while they raged under the influence of the rising sun. Psyche, observing the directions of the compassionate river-god, crossed when the noontide sun had driven the cattle to the shade, gathered the woolly gold from the bushes where it was clinging, and returned to Venus with her arms full of the shining fleece. But, far from commending her, that implacable mistress said, “I know very well that by the aid of another thou hast done this; not yet am I assured that thou hast skill to be of use. Here, now, take this box to Proserpine, and say, ‘My mistress Venus entreats thee to send her a little of thy beauty, for in tending her sick son she hath lost some of her own.’”

Psyche, satisfied that her destruction was at hand, doomed as she was to travel afoot to Erebus, thought to shorten the journey by precipitating herself, at once, from the summit of a tower. But a voice from the tower, restraining her from this rash purpose, explained how by a certain cave she might reach the realm of Pluto; how she might avoid the peril of the road, pass by Cerberus, and prevail on Charon to take her across the black river and bring her back again. The voice, also, especially cautioned her against prying into the box filled with the beauty of Proserpine.

So, taking heed to her ways, the unfortunate girl travelled safely to the kingdom of Pluto. She was admitted to the palace of Proserpine, where, contenting herself with plain fare instead of the delicious banquet that was offered her, she delivered her message from Venus. Presently the box, filled with the precious commodity, was restored to her; and glad was she to come out once more into the light of day.

But having got so far successfully through her dangerous task, a desire seized her to examine the contents of the box, and to spread the least bit of the divine beauty on her cheeks that she might appear to more advantage in the eyes of her beloved husband.

Therewith down by the wayside did she sit
And turned the box round, long regarding it;
But at the last, with trembling hands, undid
The clasp, and fearfully raised up the lid;
But what was there she saw not, for her head
Fell back, and nothing she remembered
Of all her life, yet nought of rest she had,
The hope of which makes hapless mortals glad;
For while her limbs were sunk in deadly sleep
Most like to death, over her heart ‘gan creep
Ill dreams; so that for fear and great distress
She would have cried, but in her helplessness
Could open not her mouth, or frame a word.180

But Cupid, now recovered from his wound, slipped through a crack in the window of his chamber, flew to the spot where his beloved lay, gathered up the sleep from her body and enclosed it again in the box; then waked Psyche with the touch of an arrow. “Again,” said he, “hast thou almost perished by thy curiosity. But now perform the task imposed upon thee by my mother, and I will care for the rest.”

Then Cupid, swift as lightning, penetrating the heights of heaven, presented himself before Jupiter with his supplication. Jupiter lent a favoring ear, and pleaded the cause of the lovers with Venus. Gaining her consent, he ordered Mercury to convey Psyche to the heavenly abodes. On her advent, the king of the immortals, handing her a cup of ambrosia, said, “Drink this, Psyche, and be immortal. Thy Cupid shall never break from the knot in which he is tied; these nuptials shall, indeed, be perpetual.” Thus Psyche was at last united to Cupid; and in due season a daughter was born to them whose name was Pleasure.

The allegory of Cupid and Psyche is well presented in the following lines: —

They wove bright fables in the days of old,
When reason borrowed fancy’s painted wings;
When truth’s clear river flowed o’er sands of gold,
And told in song its high and mystic things!
And such the sweet and solemn tale of her
The pilgrim-heart, to whom a dream was given,
That led her through the world, — Love’s worshipper, —
To seek on earth for him whose home was heaven!

In the full city, — by the haunted fount, —
Through the dim grotto’s tracery of spars, —
’Mid the pine temples, on the moonlit mount,
Where silence sits to listen to the stars;
In the deep glade where dwells the brooding dove,
The painted valley, and the scented air,
She heard far echoes of the voice of Love,
And found his footsteps’ traces everywhere.

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 eyes
Had 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!181

The story of Cupid and Psyche first appears in the works of Apuleius, a writer of the second century of our era. It is therefore of much more recent date than most of the classic myths. To this fact Keats alludes in his exquisite Ode to Psyche.

O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I set
The winged Psyche with awakened eyes?
I wandered in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whispering roof
Of leaves and tumbled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied!

“’Mid hushed, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing on the budded grass;
Their arms embraced, and their pinions, too;
Their lips touched not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjointed by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of Aurorean love:
The winged boy I knew:
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true!

“O latest born and loveliest vision far
Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phœbe’s sapphire-regioned star,
Or Vesper, amorous glowworm of the sky;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
Nor altar heaped with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
Of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming.

“O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retired
From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.
‘So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
From swinged censer teeming,
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
Of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming.

“Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
Far, far around shall those dark-clustered trees
Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds and bees,
The moss-lain Dryads shall be lulled to sleep;
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
With the wreathed trellis of a working brain,
With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,
Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same;
And there shall be for thee all soft delight
That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
To let the warm Love in!”

§ 95. The loves of the devotees of Venus are as the sands of the sea for number. Below are given the fortunes of a few: Hippomenes, Hero, Pygmalion, Pyramus, and Phaon. The favor of the goddess toward Paris, who awarded her the palm of beauty in preference to Juno and Minerva, will occupy our attention in connection with the story of the Trojan War.182

Fig. 52. Diana.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

Atalanta’ s Race.183 — Atalanta, the daughter of Schœneus of Bœotia, had been warned by an oracle that marriage would be fatal to her happiness. Consequently she fled the society of men, and devoted herself to the sports of the chase. Fair, fearless, swift and free: in beauty and in desire she was a Cynthia, — of mortal form, and with a woman’s heart. To all suitors (for she had many) she made answer: “I will be the prize of him only who shall conquer me in the race; but death must be the penalty of all who try and fail.” In spite of this hard condition some would try. Of one such race Hippomenes was to be judge. It was his thought, at first, that these suitors risked too much for a wife. But when he saw Atalanta lay aside her robe for the race, he changed his mind, and began to swell with envy of those that seemed likely to win.

The virgin darted forward. As she ran she looked more beautiful than ever. The breezes gave wings to her feet; her hair flew over her shoulders, and the gay fringe of her garment fluttered behind her. A ruddy hue tinged the whiteness of her skin, such as a crimson curtain casts on a marble wall. Her competitors were distanced, and were put to death without mercy. Hippomenes, not daunted by this result, fixed his eyes on the virgin, and said, “Why boast of beating those laggards? I offer myself for the contest.” Atalanta looked at him with pity in her face, and hardly knew whether she would rather conquer so goodly a youth or not. While she hesitated, the spectators grew impatient for the contest, and her father prompted her to prepare. Then Hippomenes addressed a prayer to Cypris: “Help me, Venus, for thou hast impelled me.” Venus heard, and was propitious.

Pl. 9. Atalanta’s Race.

She gathered three golden apples from the garden of her temple, in her own island of Cyprus, and, unseen by any, gave them to Hippomenes, telling him how to use them. Atalanta and her lover were ready. The signal was given.

They both started; he, by one stride, first,
For she half pitied him so beautiful,
Running to meet his death, yet was resolved
To conquer: soon she near’d him, and he felt
The rapid and repeated gush of breath
Behind his shoulder.

From his hand now dropt
A golden apple: she lookt down and saw
A glitter on the grass, yet on she ran.
He dropt a second; now she seem’d to stoop:
He dropt a third; and now she stoopt indeed:
Yet, swifter than a wren picks up a grain
Of millet, rais’d her head: it was too late,
Only one step, only one breath, too late.
Hippomenes had toucht the maple goal
With but two fingers, leaning pronely forth.
She stood in mute despair; the prize was won.
Now each walkt slowly forward, both so tired,
And both alike breathed hard, and stopt at times.
When he turn’d round to her, she lowered her face
Cover’d with blushes, and held out her hand,
The golden apple in it.

“Leave me now,”
Said she, “I must walk homeward.”
He did take
The apple and the hand.
“Both I detain,”
Said he, “the other two I dedicate
To the two Powers that soften virgin hearts,
Eros and Aphrodite; and this on?
To her who ratifies the nuptial vow.”
She would have wept to see her father weep;
But some God pitied her, and purple wings
(What God’s were they?) hovered and interposed.184

But the oracle was yet to be fulfilled. The lovers, full of their own happiness, after all, forgot to pay due honor to Aphrodite; and the goddess was provoked at their ingratitude. She caused them to give offence to Cybele. That powerful goddess took from them their human form: the huntress heroine, triumphing in the blood of her lovers, she made a lioness; her lord and master a lion, — and yoked them to her car, where they are still to be seen in all representations, in statuary or painting, of the goddess Cybele.

§ 96. Hero and Leander.185

On Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offer’d as a dower his burning throne,
Where she should sit, for men to gaze upon…

Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin’d,
And, looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true: so like was one the other,
As he imagined Hero was his mother;
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And, with still panting rockt, there took his rest.

In Abydos dwelt the manly Leander, who, as luck would have it, bethought himself one day of the festival of Venus in Sestos, and thither fared to do obeisance to the goddess.

On this feast-day, — O cursed day and hour! —
Went Hero thorough Sestos, from her tower
To Venus’ temple, where unhappily,
As after chanc’d, they did each other spy.
So fair a church as this had Venus none;
The walls were of discolored jasper-stone, …
And in the midst a silver altar stood:
There Hero, sacrificing turtle’s blood,
Vail’d to the ground, veiling her eyelids close;
And modestly they opened as she rose:
Thence flew Love’s arrow with the golden head;
And thus Leander was enamoured.
Stone-still he stood, and evermore he gaz’d,
Till with the fire, that from his countenance blaz’d,
Relenting Hero’s gentle heart was strook:
Such power and virtue hath an amorous look.

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overrul’d by fate.
When two are stript long e’er the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice,
What we behold is censur’d by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:

Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?

He kneel’d; but unto her devoutly prayed:
Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said,
‘Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him’;
And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him.
He started up; she blush’d as one asham’d;
Wherewith Leander much more was inflam’d.
He touch’d her hand; in touching it she trembled:
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled…

So they conversed by touch of hands, till Leander, plucking up courage, began to plead with words, with sighs and tears.

These arguments he us’d, and many more;
Wherewith she yielded, that was won before.
Hero’s looks yielded, but her words made war:
Women are won when they begin to jar.
Thus having swallow’d Cupid’s golden hook,
The more she striv’d, the deeper was she strook:
Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still,
And would be thought to grant against her will.
So having paus’d awhile, at last she said,
‘Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid?
Ay me! such words as these should I abhor,
And yet I like them for the orator.’
With that Leander stoop’d to have embrac’d her,
But from his spreading arms away she cast her,
And thus bespake him: ‘Gentle youth, forbear
To touch the sacred garments which I wear.’ …

Then she told him of the turret by the murmuring sea where all day long she tended Venus’ swans and sparrows: —

‘Come thither.’ As she spake this, her tongue tripp’d,
For unawares, ‘Come thither,’ from her slipp’d;
And suddenly her former colour chang’d,
And here and there her eyes through anger rang’d;
And, like a planet moving several ways
At one self instant, she, poor soul, assays,
Loving, not to love at all, and every part
Strove to resist the motions of her heart:
And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such
As might have made Heaven stoop to have a touch,
Did she uphold to Venus, and again
Vow’d spotless chastity; but all in vain;
Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings...

Fig. 53. Genius with torch.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

For a season all went well. Guided by a torch which his mistress reared upon the tower, he was wont of nights to swim the strait, that he might enjoy her company. But one night a tempest arose, and the sea was rough; his strength failed, and he was drowned. The waves bore his body to the European shore, where Hero became aware of his death, and in her despair cast herself into the, sea and perished.

A picture of the drowning Leander is thus described by Keats186: —

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

§ 97. Pygmalion and the Statue.187— Pygmalion saw so much to blame in women, that he came at last to abhor the sex and resolved to live unmarried. He was a sculptor, and had made with wonderful skill a statue of ivory, so beautiful that no living woman was to compare with it. It was indeed the perfect semblance of a maiden that seemed to be alive, and that was prevented from moving only by modesty. His art was so perfect that it concealed itself, and its product looked like the workmanship of nature. Pygmalion at last fell in love with his counterfeit creation. Oftentimes he laid his hand upon it as if to assure himself whether it were living or not, and could not even then believe that it was only ivory.

The festival of Venus was at hand, — a festival celebrated with great pomp at Cyprus. Victims were offered, the altars smoked, and the odor of incense filled the air. When Pygmalion had performed his part in the solemnities, he stood before the altar and, according to one of our poets, timidly said: —

“O Aphrodite, kind and fair,
That what thou wilt canst give,
Oh, listen to a sculptor’s prayer,
And bid mine image live!
For me the ivory and gold
That clothe her cedar frame
Are beautiful, indeed, but cold;
Ah, touch them with thy flame!
Oh, bid her move those lips of rose,
Bid float that golden hair,
And let her choose me, as I chose,
This fairest of the fair!
And then an altar in thy court
I’ll offer, decked with gold;
And there thy servants shall resort,
Thy doves be bought and sold! ”188

According to another version of the story, he said not, “bid mine image live,” but “one like my ivory virgin.” At any rate, with such a prayer, he threw incense on the flame of the altar. Whereupon Venus, as an omen of her favor, caused the flame to shoot up thrice a fiery point into the air.

When Pygmalion reached his home, to his amazement he saw before him his statue garlanded with flowers.

Yet while he stood, and knew not what to do
With yearning, a strange thrill of hope there came,
A shaft of new desire now pierced him through,
And therewithal a soft voice called his name,
And when he turned, with eager eyes aflame,
He saw betwixt him and the setting sun
The lively image of his loved one.

He trembled at the sight, for though her eyes,
Her very lips, were such as he had made,
And though her tresses fell but in such guise
As he had wrought them, now was she arrayed
In that fair garment that the priests had laid
Upon the goddess on that very morn,
Dyed like the setting sun upon the corn.

Speechless he stood, but she now drew anear,
Simple and sweet as she was wont to be,
And once again her silver voice rang clear,
Filling his soul with great felicity,
And thus she spoke, “Wilt thou not come to me,
O dear companion of my new found life,
For I am called thy lover and thy wife?…
“My sweet,” she said, “as yet I am not wise,
Or stored with words aright the tale to tell,
But listen: when I opened first mine eyes
I stood within the niche thou knowest well,
And from my hand a heavy thing there fell
Carved like these flowers, nor could I see things clear,
But with a strange, confused noise could hear.

“At last mine eyes could see a woman fair,
But awful as this round white moon o’erhead,
So that I trembled when I saw her there,
For with my life was born some touch of dread,
And therewithal I heard her voice that said,
‘Come down and learn to love and be alive,
For thee, a well-prized gift, to-day I give.’”189

A fuller account of Venus’ address to the statue is the following: —

“O maiden, in mine image made!
O grace that shouldst endure!
While temples fall, and empires fade,
Immaculately pure:
Exchange this endless life of art
For beauty that must die,
And blossom with a beating heart
Into mortality!
Change, golden tresses of her hair,
To gold that turns to gray;
Change, silent lips, forever fair,
To lips that have their day!
Oh, perfect arms, grow soft with life,
Wax warm, ere cold ye wane;
Wake, woman’s heart, from peace to strife,
To love, to joy, to pain!”190

The maiden was called Galatea. Venus blessed the nuptials, and from the union Paphos was born, by whose name the city, sacred to Venus, is known.

§ 98. Pyramus and Thisbe.191 — Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the fairest maiden, in Babylonia, where Semiramis reigned. Their parents occupied adjoining houses. Propinquity brought the young people together, and acquaintance ripened into love. They would gladly have married, but their parents forbade. One thing, however, parents could not forbid (for Venus and Cupid favored the match), — that love should glow with equal ardor in the bosoms of both. They conversed by signs and glances, and the fire burned the more intensely that it was covered. In the wall between the two houses there was a crack, caused by some fault in the structure. It afforded a passage to- the voice; and tender messages passed back and forth through the gap. When night came and they must say farewell, the lovers pressed their lips upon, the wall, she on her side, he on his.

One morning, when Aurora had put out the stars, and the sun had melted the frost from the grass, they met at the accustomed spot, and arranged a meeting for that night, at a well-known edifice, standing without the city’s bounds, — the Tomb of Ninus. The one who first arrived should await the other at the foot of a white mulberry-tree, near a cool spring. Evening came. Thisbe, arriving first, sat alone by the monument in the dim light of the evening. Suddenly she descried a lioness, her jaws reeking with recent slaughter, approaching the fountain to slake her thirst. The maiden fled at the sight, dropping her veil as she ran. The lioness, after drinking at the spring, turned toward the woods, and, seeing the veil on the ground, tossed and rent it with her bloody mouth.

Now Pyramus approached the place of meeting. He saw in the sand the footsteps of the lion. He found the veil all rent and bloody. “O, hapless girl,” cried he, “I have been the cause of thy death; but I follow thee!” So saying, he drew his sword and plunged it into his heart. The blood spurted from the wound, and tinged the white mulberries of the tree all red, and, sinking into the earth, reached the roots, so that the sanguine hue mounted through the trunk to the fruit.

By this time, Thisbe, still trembling with fear, yet wishing not to disappoint her lover, stepped cautiously forth, looking anxiously for the youth, eager to tell him the danger she had escaped. When she came to the spot and saw the changed color of the mulberries, she doubted whether it was the same place. While she hesitated, she saw the form of her lover struggling in the agonies of death. She screamed and beat her breast, she embraced the lifeless body, poured tears into its wounds, and imprinted kisses on the cold lips. “O, Pyramus,” she cried, “what has done this? It is thine own Thisbe that speaks.” At the name of Thisbe Pyramus opened his eyes, then closed them again. She saw her veil stained with blood and the scabbard empty of its sword. “Thine own hand has slain thee, and for my sake,” she said. “I, too, can be brave for once, and my love is as strong as thine. But ye, unhappy parents of us both, deny us not our united request. As love and death have joined us, let one tomb contain us. And thou, tree, retain the marks of slaughter. Let thy berries still serve for memorials of our blood.” So saying, she plunged the sword into her breast. The two bodies were buried in one sepulchre, and the tree henceforth produced purple berries.

§ 99. Phaon ferried a boat between Lesbos and Chios. One day the queen of Paphos and Amathus,192 in the guise of an ugly crone, begged a passage, which was so good-naturedly granted that, in recompense, she bestowed on the ferryman a salve possessing magical properties of youth and beauty. As a consequence of the use made of it by Phaon, the women of Lesbos went wild for love of him. None, however, admired him more than the poetess Sappho, who addressed to him some of her warmest and rarest love-songs.

§ 100. Venus did not fail to follow with her vengeance those who dishonored her rites or defied her power. The youth Hippolytus who, eschewing love, preferred Diana to her, she brought miserably to his ruin (§ 157). Polyphonte she transformed into an owl, Arsinoë into a stone, and Myrrha into a myrtle-tree.193 Her influence in the main was of mingled bane and blessing; as in the cases of Helen, Œnone, Pasiphaë, Ariadne, Procris, Eriphyle, Laodamia, and others whose stories are elsewhere told.194

8. Mercury. §

§ 101. Homer’s Hymn to Mercury. — Maia bore Mercury at the peep of day, — a schemer subtle beyond all belief. He began playing on the lyre at noon; for, wandering out of the lofty cavern of Cyllene, he found a tortoise, picked it up, bored the life out of the beast, fitted the shell with bridge and reeds, and accompanied himself therewith as he sang a strain of unpremeditated sweetness. At evening of the same day, he stole the oxen of his half-brother Apollo from the Pierian mountains, where they were grazing. He covered their hoofs with tamarisk twigs, and, still further to deceive the pursuer, drove them backward into a cave at Pylos. There rubbing laurel branches together, he made fire, and sacrificed, as an example for men to follow, two heifers to the twelve gods (himself included). Then home he went and slept, innocent as a new-born child! To his mother’s warning that Apollo would catch and punish him, this innocent replied, in effect, “I know a trick better than that!” And when the puzzled Apollo, having traced the knavery to this babe in swaddling clothes, accused him of it, the sweet boy swore a great oath by his father’s head that he stole not the cows, nor knew even what cows might be, for he had only that moment heard the name of them. Apollo proceeded to trounce the baby; with scant success, however, for Mercury persisted in his assumption of ignorance. So the twain appeared before their sire, and Apollo entered his complaint: he had not seen nor ever dreamed of so precocious a cattle-stealer, liar, and full-fledged knave as this young rascal. To all of which Mercury responded that he was, on the contrary, a veracious person, but that his brother Apollo was a coward to bully a helpless little newborn thing that slept, nor ever had thought of “lifting” cattle. The wink with which the lad of Cyllene accompanied this asseveration threw Jupiter into uncontrollable roars of laughter. Consequently, the quarrel was patched up: Mercury gave Apollo the new-made lyre; Apollo presented the prodigy with a glittering whip-lash, and installed him herdsman of his oxen. Nay even, when Mercury had sworn by sacred Styx no more to try his cunning in theft upon Apollo, that god in gratitude invested him with the magic wand of wealth, happiness, and dreams (the caduceus), it being understood, however, that Mercury should indicate the future only by signs, not by speech or song, as did Apollo. It is said that the god of gain avenged himself, for this enforced rectitude, upon others: upon Venus, whose girdle he purloined; upon Neptune, whose trident he filched; upon Vulcan, whose tongs he borrowed; and upon Mars, whose sword he stole.

The most famous exploit of the Messenger, the slaughter of Argus, has already been narrated.195

Chapter XI.
Myths of the Great Divinities of Earth.
Myths of Bacchus. §

§ 102. Since the adventures of Ceres, although she was a goddess of earth, are intimately connected with the life of the underworld, they will be related in the sections pertaining to Proserpine and Pluto. The god of vernal sap and vegetation, of the gladness that comes of youth or of wine, the golden-curled, sleepy-eyed Bacchus, — his wanderings, and the fortunes of mortals brought under his influence: Pentheus, Acetes, Ariadne, and Midas, here challenge our attention.

Fig. 54. Bacchus and Silenus.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

The Wanderings of Bacchus. — After the death of Semele,196 Jove took the infant Bacchus and gave him in charge to the Nysæan nymphs, who nourished his infancy and childhood, and for their care were placed by Jupiter as the Hyades, among the stars. Another guardian and tutor of young Bacchus was the pot-bellied, jovial Silenus, son of Pan and a nymph, and oldest of the Satyrs. Silenus was probably an indulgent preceptor. He was generally tipsy, and would have broken his neck early in his career, had not the Satyrs held him on his ass’s back as he reeled along in the train of his pupil. After Bacchus was of age, he discovered the culture of the vine and the mode of extracting its precious juice; but Juno struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through various parts of the earth. In Phrygia the goddess Rhea cured him and taught him her religious rites; and then he set out on a progress through Asia, teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. The most famous part of his wanderings is his expedition to India, which is said to have lasted several years. Returning in triumph, he undertook to introduce his worship into Greece, but was opposed by certain princes who dreaded the disorders and madness it brought with it. Finally he approached his native city Thebes, where his own cousin, Pentheus, son of Agave and grandson of Harmonia and Cadmus, was king. Pentheus, however, had no respect for the new worship, and forbade its rites to be performed.197 But when it was known that Bacchus was advancing, men and women, young and old, poured forth to meet him and to join his triumphal march.

Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;
Ivy crowns that brow, supernal
As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal.

Round about him fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes and thyrses,
Wild from Naxian groves or Zante’s
Vineyards, sing delirious verses.198

Fig. 55. Bacchus dance of Satyrs and Bacchantes.
[Vase picture: Inst. Arch.]

It was in vain Pentheus remonstrated, commanded, and threatened. His nearest friends and wisest counsellors begged him not to oppose the god. Their remonstrances only made him the more violent.

§ 103. The Story of Acetes. — Soon the attendants returned who had been despatched to seize Bacchus. They had succeeded in taking one of the Bacchanals prisoner, whom, with his hands tied behind him, they brought before the king. Pentheus, threatening him with death, commanded him to tell who he was and what these new rites were that he presumed to celebrate.

The prisoner, unterrified, replied that he was Acetes of Mæonia; that his parents, being poor, had left him their fisherman’s trade, which he had followed till he had acquired the pilot’s art of steering his course by the stars. It once happened that he had touched at the island of Dia, and had sent his men ashore for fresh water. They returned, bringing with them a lad of delicate appearance whom they had found asleep. Judging him to be a noble youth, they thought to detain him in the hope of liberal ransom. But Acetes suspected that some god was concealed under the youth’s exterior, and asked pardon for the violence done. Whereupon the sailors, enraged by their lust of gain, exclaimed, “Spare thy prayers for us!” and, in spite of the resistance offered by Acetes, thrust the captive youth on board and set sail.

Then Bacchus (for the youth was indeed he), as if shaking off his drowsiness, asked what the trouble was, and whither they were carrying him. One of the mariners replied, “Fear nothing; tell us where thou wouldst go, and we will convey thee thither.” “Naxos is my home,” said Bacchus; “take me there, and ye shall be well rewarded.” They promised so to do; but, preventing the pilot from steering toward Naxos, they bore away for Egypt, where they might sell the lad into slavery. Soon the god looked out over the sea, and said in a voice of weeping, “Sailors, these are not the shores ye promised me; yonder island is not my home. It is small glory ye shall gain by cheating a poor boy.” Acetes wept to hear him; but the crew laughed at both of them, and sped the vessel fast over the sea. All at once it stopped, in mid sea, as fast as if it were fixed on the ground. The men, astonished, pulled at their oars, and spread more sail, but all in vain. Ivy twined round the oars and clung to the sails, with heavy clusters of berries. A vine, laden with grapes, ran up the mast and along the sides of the vessel. The sound of flutes was heard, and the odor of fragrant wine spread all around. The god himself had a chaplet of vine leaves, and bore in his hand a spear wreathed with ivy. Tigers crouched at his feet, and forms of lynxes and spotted panthers played around him. The whole crew became dolphins and swam about the ship. Of twenty men Acetes alone was left. “Fear not,” said the god; “steer towards Naxos.” The pilot obeyed, and when they arrived there, kindled the altars and celebrated the sacred rites of Bacchus.

Fig. 56. A Bacchante in frenzy.
[Marble vase: Wælcken.]

So far had Acetes advanced in his narrative, when Pentheus, interrupting, ordered him off to his death. But from this fate the pilot, rendered invisible by his patron deity, was straightway rescued.

Meanwhile the mountain Cithæron seemed alive with worshippers, and the cries of the Bacchanals resounded on every side. Pentheus, angered by the noise, penetrated through the wood, and reached an open space where the chief scene of the orgies met his eyes. At the same moment the women saw him, among them his mother, Agave, and Autonoë and Ino, her sisters. Taking him for a wild boar, they rushed upon him and tore him to pieces, — his mother shouting, “Victory! Victory! the glory is ours! ” .

So the worship of Bacchus was established in Greece.

It was on the island of Naxos that Bacchus afterward found Ariadne, — the daughter of Minos, king of Crete, — who had been deserted by her lover, Theseus. How Bacchus comforted her is related in another section.199

Behold, behold! the granite gates unclose,
And down the vales a lyric people flows;
Dancing to music, in their dance they fling
Their frantic robes to every wind that blows,
And deathless praises to the vine-god sing.
Nearer they press, and nearer still in sight,
Still dancing blithely in a seemly choir;
Tossing on high the symbol of their rite,
The cone-tipped thyrsus of a god’s desire;
Nearer they come, tall damsels flushed and fair,
With ivy circling their abundant hair:
Onward, with even pace, in stately rows,
With eye that flashes, and with cheek that glows,
And all the while their tribute-songs they bring,
And newer glories of the past disclose,
And deathless praises to the vine-god sing.
… But oh! within the heart of this great flight,
Whose ivory arms hold up the golden lyre?
What form is this of more than mortal height?
What matchless beauty, what inspired ire!
The brindled panthers know the prize they bear,
And harmonize their steps with stately care;
Bent to the morning, like a living rose,
The immortal splendor of his face he shows,
And where he glances, leaf and flower and wing
Tremble with rapture, stirred in their repose,
And deathless praises to the vine-god sing.200

Fig. 57. Bacchus procession.
[Vase picture: Arch. Zeit.]

§ 104. The Choice of King Midas.201 — Once Silenus, having wandered from the company of Bacchus in an intoxicated condition, was found by some peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas. Midas entertained him royally, and on the eleventh day restored him in safety to his divine pupil. Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice of a reward. The king asked that whatever he might -touch should be changed into gold. Bacchus consented. Midas hastened to put his new-acquired power to the test. A twig of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, became gold in his hand. He took up a stone; it changed to gold. He touched a sod, with the same result. He took an apple from the tree; you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the Hesperides. He ordered his servants, then, to set an excellent meal on the table. But, to his dismay, when he touched bread, it hardened in his hand; when he put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth. He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like melted gold.

Fig. 58. Silenus.
[Bronze lamp: H. and P.]

He strove to divest himself of his power; he hated the gift he had lately coveted. He raised his arms, all shining with gold, in prayer to Bacchus, begging to be delivered from this glittering destruction. The merciful deity heard, and sent him to wash away his fault and its punishment in the fountain head of the river Pactolus. Scarce had Midas touched the waters, before the gold-creating power passed into them, and the river sands became golden, as they remain to this day.

Thenceforth Midas, hating wealth and splendor, dwelt in the country, and became a worshipper of Pan, the god of the fields. But that he had not gained common sense is shown by the decision that he delivered somewhat later in favor of Pan’s superiority, as a musician, over Apollo.202

Chapter XII.
From the Earth to the Underworld.
Myths of Ceres, Pluto, and Proserpine. §

The search of Ceres for Proserpine, and of Orpheus for Eurydice, are stories pertaining both to Earth and Hades.

Fig. 59. The Rape of Proserpina.
[Relief: Baumeister.]

§ 105. The Rape of Proserpine.203 — When the giants were imprisoned by Jupiter under Mount Ætna, Pluto feared lest the shock of their fall might expose his kingdom to the light of day. Under this apprehension, he mounted his chariot, drawn by black horses, and made a circuit of inspection to satisfy himself of the extent of the damage. While he was thus engaged, Venus, who was sitting on Mount Eryx playing with her boy Cupid, espied him, and said, “My son, take thy darts which subdue all, even Jove himself, and send one into the breast of yonder dark monarch. who rules the realm of Tartarus. Dost thou not see that even in heaven some despise our power? Minerva and Diana defy us; and there is that daughter of Ceres, who threatens to follow their example. Now, if thou regardest thine own interest or mine, join these two in one.” The boy selected his sharpest and truest arrow, and sped it right to the heart of Pluto.

In the vale of Enna is a lake embowered in woods, where Spring reigns perpetual. Here Proserpine was playing with her companions, gathering lilies and violets, when Pluto saw her, loved her, and carried her off. She screamed for help to her mother and her companions; but the ravisher urged on his steeds, and outdistanced pursuit. When he reached the river Cyane, it opposed his passage, whereupon he struck the bank with his trident, and the earth opened and gave him a passage to Tartarus.

The Wanderings of Ceres.204 — Ceres sought her daughter all the world over. Bright-haired Aurora, when she came forth in the morning, and Hesperus, when he led out the stars in the evening, found her still busy in the search. At length, weary and sad, she sat down upon a stone, and remained nine days and nights, in the open air, under the sunlight and moonlight and falling showers. It was where now stands the city of Eleusis, near the home of an old man named Celeus. His little girl, pitying the old woman, said to her, “Mother,” — and the name was sweet to the ears of Ceres, — “why sittest thou here alone upon the rocks?” The old man begged her to come into his cottage. She declined. He urged her. “Go in peace,” she replied, “and be happy in thy daughter; I have lost mine.” But their compassion finally prevailed. Ceres rose from the stone and went with them. As they walked, Celeus said that his only son lay sick of a fever. The goddess stooped and gathered some poppies. Then, entering the cottage, where all was in distress, — for the boy, Triptolemus, seemed past recovery, — she restored the child to life and health with a kiss. In grateful happiness the family spread the table, and put upon it curds and cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While they ate, Ceres mingled poppy juice in the milk of the boy. When night came, she arose and, taking the sleeping boy, moulded his limbs with her hands, and uttered over him three times a solemn charm, then went and laid him in the ashes. His mother, who had been watching what her guest was doing, sprang forward with a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then Ceres assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all around. While they were overcome with astonishment, she said, “Mother, thou hast been cruel in thy fondness; for I would have made thy son immortal. Nevertheless, he shall be great and useful. He shall teach men the use of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the soil.” So saying, she wrapped a cloud about her, and mounting her chariot rode away.

Ceres continued her search for her daughter, till at length she returned to Sicily, whence she at first set out, and stood by the banks of the river Cyane. The river nymph would have told the goddess all she had witnessed, but dared not, for fear of Pluto; so she ventured merely to take up the girdle which Proserpine had dropped in her flight, and float it to the feet of the mother. Ceres, seeing this, laid her curse on the innocent earth in which her daughter had disappeared. Then succeeded drought and famine, flood and plague, until, at last, the fountain Arethusa made intercession for the land. For she had seen that it opened only unwillingly to the might of Pluto; and she had also, in her flight from Alpheus through the lower regions of the earth, beheld the missing Proserpine. She said that the daughter of Ceres seemed sad, but no longer showed alarm in her countenance. Her look was such as became a queen, — the queen of Erebus; the powerful bride of the monarch of the realms of the dead.

Fig. 60. The Return of Proserpina.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

When Ceres heard this, she stood a while like one stupefied; then she implored Jupiter to interfere to procure the restitution of her daughter. Jupiter consented on condition that Proserpine should not during her stay in the lower world have taken any food; otherwise, the Fates forbade her release. Accordingly, Mercury was sent, accompanied by Spring, to demand Proserpine of Pluto. The wily monarch consented; but alas! the maiden had taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her, and had sucked the sweet pulp from a few of the seeds. A compromise, however, was effected by which she was to pass half the time with her mother, and the rest with the lord of Hades.

§ 106. Triptolemus and the Eleusinian Mysteries. — Ceres, pacified with this arrangement, restored the earth to her favor. Now she remembered, also, Celeus and his family, and her promise to his infant son Triptolemus. She taught the boy the use of the plough, and how to sow the seed. She took him in her chariot, drawn by winged dragons, through all the countries of the earth; and under her guidance he imparted to mankind valuable grains, and the knowledge of agriculture. After his return, Triptolemus built a temple to Ceres in Eleusis, and established the worship of the goddess, under the name of the Eleusinian mysteries, which, in the splendor and solemnity of their observance, surpassed all other religious celebrations among the Greeks.

Fig. 61. The Departure of Triptolemus.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

“Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom,
Gods, and men, and beasts, have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.
“If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow, in scent and hue,
Fairest children of the hours,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.” 205

§ 107. Orpheus and Eurydice.206 — Of mortals who have visited Hades and returned, none has a sweeter or sadder history than Orpheus, son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. Presented by his father with a lyre and taught to play upon it, he became the most famous of musicians; and not only his fellow-mortals but even the wild beasts were softened by his strains. The very trees and rocks were sensible to the charm. And so also was Eurydice, — whom he loved and won.

Pl. 10. Orpheus and Eurydice.
Sir Frederick Leighton.

Fig. 62. Hymen.
[Wall painting: Roscher 16, 17: 2802.]

Hymen was called to bless with his presence the nuptials of Orpheus with Eurydice, but he brought no happy omens with him. His torch smoked and brought tears into the eyes. In coincidence with such prognostics, Eurydice, shortly after her marriage, was seen by the shepherd Aristseus, who was struck with her beauty, and made advances to her. In flying she trod upon a snake in the grass, was bitten in the foot, and died. Orpheus sang his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both gods and men, and finding his complaint of no avail, resolved to seek his wife in the regions of the dead. He descended by a cave situated on the side of the promontory of Tænarus, and arrived in the Stygian realm. He passed through crowds of ghosts, and presented himself before the throne of Pluto and Proserpine. Accompanying his words with the lyre, he sang his petition for his wife. Without her he would not return. In such tender strains he sang that the very ghosts shed tears. Tantalus, in spite of his thirst, stopped for a moment his efforts for water, Ixion’s wheel stood still, the vulture ceased to tear the giant’s liver, the daughters of Danaüs rested from their task of drawing water in a sieve,207 and Sisyphus sat on his rock to listen.208 Then for the first time, it is said, the cheeks of the Furies were wet with tears. Proserpine could not resist, and Pluto himself gave way. Eurydice was called. She came from among the new-arrived ghosts, limping with her wounded foot. Orpheus was permitted to take her away with him on condition that he should not turn round to look at her till they should have reached the upper air. Under this condition, they proceeded on their way: he leading, she following. Mindful of his promise, without let or hindrance the bard passed through the horrors of hell. All Hades held its breath.

Fig. 63. Tantalus, Ixion, and Sisyphus.
[Relief: Sepolcri.]

… On he stept,
And Cerberus held agape his triple jaws;
On stept the bard. Ixion’s wheel stood still.
Now, past all peril, free was his return,
And now was hastening into upper air
Eurydice, when sudden madness seized
The incautious lover; pardonable fault,
If they below could pardon: on the verge
Of light he stood, and on Eurydice
(Mindless of fate, alas! and soul-subdued)
Lookt back.

There, Orpheus! Orpheus! there was all
Thy labour shed, there burst the Dynast’s bond,
And thrice arose that rumour from the lake.
“Ah, what! ” she cried, “what madness hath undone
Me! and, ah, wretched! thee, my Orpheus, too!
For lo! the cruel Fates recall me now;
Chill slumbers press my swimming eyes… Farewell!
Night rolls intense around me as I spread
My helpless arms… thine, thine no more… to thee.”
She spake, and, like a vapour, into air
Flew, nor beheld him as he claspt the void
And sought to speak; in vain; the ferry-guard
Now would not row him o’er the lake again,
His wife twice lost, what could he? whither go?
What chant, what wailing, move the Powers of Hell?
Cold in the Stygian bark and lone was she.

Beneath a rock o’er Strymon’s flood on high,
Seven months, seven long-continued months, ‘tis said,
He breath’d his sorrows in a desert cave,
And sooth’d the tiger, moved the oak, with song.209

Fig. 64. Mercury, Eurydice, and Orpheus.
[Relief in the Villa Albani: Roscher 14: 2407.]

The Thracian maidens tried their best to captivate him, but he repulsed their advances. Finally, excited by the rites of Bacchus, one of them exclaimed, “See yonder our despiser!” and threw at him her javelin. The weapon, as soon as it came within the sound of his lyre, fell harmless at his feet: so also the stones that they threw at him. But the women, raising a scream, drowned the voice of the music, and overwhelmed him with their missiles. Like maniacs they tore him limb from limb; then cast his head and lyre into the river Hebrus, down which they floated, murmuring sad music, to which the shores responded. The Muses buried the fragments of his body at Libethra, where the nightingale is said to sing over his grave more sweetly than in any other part of Greece. His lyre was placed by Jupiter among the stars; but the shade of the bard passed a second time to Tartarus, and rejoined Eurydice.

The superior melody of the nightingale’s song over the grave of Orpheus is alluded to by Southey in his Thalaba: —

“Then on his’ear what sounds
Of harmony arose!
Far music and the distance-mellowed song
From bowers of merriment;
The waterfall remote;
The murmuring of the leafy groves;
The single nightingale
Perched in the rosier by, so richly toned,
That never from that most melodious bird
Singing a love-song to his brooding mate,
Did Thracian shepherd by the grave
Of Orpheus hear a sweeter melody,
Though there the spirit of the sepulchre
All his own power infuse, to swell
The incense that he loves.”

Other mortals who visited the Stygian realm and returned were Hercules, Theseus, Ulysses, and Æneas.210

Chapter XIII.
Myths of Neptune, Ruler of the Waters. §

Fig. 65. Neptune with trident.
[Relief: Müller.]

§ 108. Neptune was lord both of salt waters and of fresh. The myths that turn on his life as lord of the sea illustrate his defiant invasions of lands belonging to other gods, or his character as earth-shaker and earth-protector. Of his contests with other gods, that with Minerva for Athens has been related. He contested Corinth with Helios, Argos with Juno, Ægina with Jove, Naxos with Bacchus, and Delphi with Apollo. That he did not always make encroachments in person upon the land that he desired to possess or to punish, but sent some monster instead, will be seen in the myth of Andromeda211 and in the following story of Hesione,212 the daughter of Laomedon of Troy.

Neptune and Apollo had fallen under the displeasure of Jupiter, after the overthrow of the giants. They were compelled, it is said, to resign for a season their respective functions, and to serve Laomedon, then about to build the city of Troy. They aided the king in erecting the walls of the city, but were refused the wages agreed upon. Justly offended, Neptune ravaged the land by floods, and sent against it a sea-monster, to satiate the appetite of which the desperate

Laomedon was driven to offer his daughter Hesione. But Hercules appeared upon the scene, killed the monster, and rescued the maiden. Neptune, however, nursed his wrath; and it was still warm when the Greeks marched against Troy.213

§ 109. Of a like impetuous and ungovernable temper were the sons of Neptune by mortal mothers. From him were sprung the savage Læstrygonians, Orion, the Cyclops Polyphemus, the giant Antæus, whom Hercules slew, Procrustes, and many another redoubtable being whose fortunes are elsewhere recounted.214

As earth-shaker, the ruler of the deep was known to effect convulsions of nature that made Pluto leap from his throne lest the firmament of the underworld might be falling about his ears. But as god of the streams and fountains, Neptune displayed milder characteristics. When Amymone, sent by her father Danaüs to draw water, was pursued by a satyr, Neptune gave ear to her cry for help, despatched the satyr, made love to the maiden, and boring the earth with his trident called forth the spring that still bears the Danaïd’s name. He loved the goddess Ceres also, through whose pastures his rivers strayed; and Arne the shepherdess, daughter of King Æolus, by whom he became the forefather of the Bœotians. His children, Pelias and Neleus, by the princess Tyro, whom he wooed in the form of her lover Enipeus, became keepers of horses— animals especially dear to Neptune. Perhaps it was the similarity of horse-taming to wave-taming that attracted the god to these quadrupeds; perhaps it was because they increased in beauty and speed on the pastures watered by his streams. It is said, indeed, that the first and fleetest of horses, Arion, was the offspring of Neptune and Ceres, or of Neptune and a Fury.

§ 110. Pelops and Hippodamia.215— To Pelops, brother of Niobe, Neptune imparted skill in training and driving horses, — and with good effect. For it happened that Pelops fell in love with Hippodamia, daughter of Œnomaüs, king of Elis and son of Mars, — a girl of whom it was reported that none could win her save by worsting the father in a chariot race, and that none might fail in that race and come off alive. Since an oracle, too, had warned Œnomaüs to beware of the future husband of his daughter, he had provided himself with horses whose speed was like the cyclone. But Pelops, obtaining from Neptune winged steeds, entered the race and won it, — whether by the speed of his horses or by the aid of Hippodamia, who, it is said, bribed her father’s charioteer, Myrtilus, to take a bolt out of the chariot of Œnomaüs, is uncertain. At any rate, Pelops married Hippodamia. He was so injudicious, however, as to throw Myrtilus into the sea; and from that treachery sprang the misfortunes of the house of Pelops. For Myrtilus, dying, cursed the murderer and his race.216

Chapter XIV.
Myths of the Lesser Divinities of Heaven. §

§ 111. The tales of the Stars and the Winds, lesser powers of the celestial regions, are closely interwoven. That the winds, which sweep heaven, should kiss the stars is easy to understand. The stories of Aurora, and of Aura, of Phosphor, and of Halcyone form, therefore, a ready sequence.

Fig. 66. Phosphor, Eos (Aurora), and the Sun rising from ocean.
[Vase Picture: Gerhard, Akadem. Abhandl.]

§ 112. Cephalus and Procris.217 — Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Cephalus, a young huntsman. She stole him away, lavished her love upon him, tried to content him, but in vain. He cared for his young wife Procris more than for the goddess. Finally Aurora dismissed him in displeasure, saying, “Go, ungrateful mortal, keep thy wife; but thou shalt one day be sorry that thou didst ever see her again.”

Cephalus returned, and was as happy as before in his wife. She being a favorite of Diana, had received from her, for the chase, a dog and a javelin, which she handed over to her husband. Of the dog it is told that when about to catch the swiftest fox in the country, he was changed with his victim into stone. For the heavenly powers who had made both, and rejoiced in the speed of both, were not willing that either should conquer. The javelin was destined to a sad office. It appears that Cephalus, when weary of the chase, was wont to stretch himself in a certain shady nook to enjoy the breeze. Sometimes he would say aloud, “Come, gentle Aura, sweet goddess of the breeze, come and allay the heat that burns me.” Some one, foolishly believing that he addressed a maiden, told the secret to Procris. Hoping against hope, she stole out after him the next morning, and concealed herself in the place which the informer had indicated. Cephalus, when tired with sport, stretched himself on the green bank, and summoned fair Aura, as usual. Suddenly he heard, or thought he heard, a sound as of a sob in the bushes. Supposing it to proceed from some wild animal, he threw his javelin at the spot. A cry told him that the weapon had too surely met its mark. He rushed to the place, and raised his wounded Procris from the earth. She, at last, opened her feeble eyes, and forced herself to utter these words: “I implore thee, if thou hast ever loved me, if I have ever deserved kindness at thy hands, my husband, grant me this last request; marry not that odious Breeze!” So saying, she expired in her lover’s arms.

An altogether different story is the following:218

Procris, the nymph, had wedded Cephalus; —
He, till the spring had warmed to slow-winged days
Heavy with June, untired and amorous,
Named her his love; but now, in unknown ways,
His heart was gone; and evermore his gaze
Turned from her own, and even farther ranged
His woodland war; while she, in dull amaze,
Beholding with the hours her husband changed,
Sighed for his lost caress, by some hard god estranged.

So, on a day, she rose and found him not.
Alone, with wet, sad eye, she watched the shade
Brighten below a soft-rayed sun that shot’
Arrows of light through all the deep-leaved glade;
Then, with weak hands, she knotted up the braid
Of her brown hair, and o’er her shoulders cast
Her crimson weed; with faltering fingers made „
Her golden girdle’s clasp to join and past
Down to the trackless wood, full pale and overcast.

And all day long her slight spear devious flew,
And harmless swerved her arrows from their aim,
For ever, as the ivory bow she drew,
Before her ran the still unwounded game.
Then, at last, a hunter’s cry there came,
And, lo! a hart that panted with the chase.
Thereat her cheek was lightened as with flame,
And swift she gat her to a leafy place,
Thinking, “I yet may chance unseen to see his face.”

Leaping he went, this hunter Cephalus,
But in his hand his cornel bow he bare,
Supple he was, round limbed and vigorous,
Fleet as his dogs, a lean Laconian pair.
He, when he spied the brown of Procris’ hair
Move in the covert, deeming that apart
Some fawn lay hidden, loosed an arrow there;
Nor cared to turn and seek the speeded dart,
Bounding above the fern, fast following up the hart.

But Procris lay among the white wind-flowers,
Shot in the throat. From out the little wound
The slow blood drained, as drops in autumn showers
Drip from the leaves upon the sodden ground.
None saw her die but Lelaps, the swift hound,
That watched her dumbly with a wistful fear,
Till, at the dawn, the hornèd wood-men found
And bore her gently on a sylvan bier,
To lie beside the sea, — with many an uncouth tear.

§ 113. The son of Aurora and Cephalus was Phosphor, the Star of Morning. His son Ceÿx, king of Trachis in Thessaly, had married Halcyone, daughter of Æolus.219 Their reign was happy until the brother of Ceÿx met his death. The direful prodigies that followed this event made Ceÿx feel that the gods were hostile to him. He thought best therefore to make a voyage to Claros in Ionia, to consult the oracle of Apollo. In spite of his wife’s entreaties (for as daughter of the god of winds, she knew how dreadful a thing a storm at sea was), Ceÿx set sail. He was shipwrecked and drowned. His last prayer was that the waves might bear his body to the sight of Halcyone, and that it might receive burial at her hands.

In the meanwhile Halcyone counted the days till her husband’s promised return. To all the gods she offered frequent incense, but more than all to Juno. The goddess, at last, could not bear to be further pleaded with for one already dead. Calling Iris, she enjoined her to approach the drowsy dwelling of Somnus, and bid him send a vision to Halcyone, in the form of Ceÿx, to reveal the sad event.

The Cave of Sleep. — Iris puts on her robe of many colors, and tinging the sky with her bow, seeks the cave near the Cimmerian country, which is the abode of the dull god, Somnus. Here Phœbus dare not come. Clouds and shadows are exhaled from the ground, and the light glimmers faintly. The cock never there calls aloud to Aurora, nor watch-dog nor goose disturbs the silence. No wild beast, nor cattle, nor branch moved with the wind, nor sound of human conversation breaks the stillness. From the bottom of the rock the river Lethe flows, and by its murmur invites to sleep. Poppies grow before the door of the cave, from whose juices Night distils slumbers, which she scatters over the darkened earth. There is no gate to creak on its hinges, nor any watchman. In the midst, on a couch of black ebony, adorned with black plumes and black curtains, the god reclines, his limbs relaxed in sleep. Around him lie dreams, resembling all various forms, as many as the harvest bears stalks, or the forest leaves, or the seashore sandgrains.

Fig. 67. The God of Sleep.
[Relief: Baumeister.]

Brushing away the dreams that hovered around her, Iris lit up the cave, and delivered her message to the god, who, scarce opening his eyes, had great difficulty in shaking himself free from himself.

Then Iris hasted away from the drowsiness creeping over her, and returned by her bow as she had come. But Somnus called one of his sons — Morpheus — the most expert in counterfeiting forms of men, to perform the command of Iris; then laid his head on his pillow, and yielded himself again to grateful repose.

The Halcyon Birds. — Morpheu flew, on silent wings, to the Hæmonian city, where he assumed the form of Ceÿx. Pale like a dead man, naked and dripping, he stood before the couch of the wretched wife, and told her that the winds of the Ægean had sunk his ship; that he was dead.

Weeping and groaning, Halcyone sprang from sleep, and, with the dawn, hastening to the seashore, descried an indistinct object, washed to and fro by the waves. As it floated nearer, she recognized the body of her husband. In despair, leaping from the mole, she was changed instantly to a bird, and poured forth a song of grief as she flew. By the mercy of the gods Ceÿx was likewise transformed. For seven days before and seven days after the winter solstice, Jove forbids the winds to blow. Then Halcyon broods over her nest; then the way is safe to seafarers. Æolus confines the winds that his grandchildren may have peace.

§ 114. Aurora and Tithonus.220 — Aurora seems frequently to have been inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite, and almost her latest, was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but forgetting to have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old. When his hair was white she left his society; but he still had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in celestial raiment. In time he lost the power of using his limbs; and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice might at times be heard. Finally she turned him into a grasshopper. The following is, according to the finest of poetic conceptions, the lament of the white-haired shadow:221

Pl. 11. Aurora.
Guido Reni.

“The woods decay, the woods decay and fall.
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-haired shadow roaming like a dream
The ever silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.

“Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man —
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem’d
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask’d thee, ‘Give me immortality.
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men who care not how they give;
But thy strong Hours indignant work’d their wills,
And beat me down and marr’d- and wasted me,
And tho’ they could not end me, left me maim’d
To dwell in presence of immortal youth,
Immortal age beside immortal youth,
And all I was, in ashes. Can thy love,
Thy beauty, make amends, tho’ even now,
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide,
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears
To hear me? Let me go; take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men,
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?

“A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew’d.
Thy cheek begins to redden thro’ the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosen’d manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.

“Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
In silence, then before thine answer given
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek.

“Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
‘The gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.’

“Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
In days far-off, and with what other eyes
I used to watch — if I be he that watched —
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings;
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood
Glow with the glow that slowly crimson’d all
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay,
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss’d
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
While Ilion like a mist rose into towers.

“Yet hold me not forever in thine East:
How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
Of happy men that have the power to die,
And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.”

§ 115. Memnon, the son of Aurora and Tithonus, was king of the Æthiopians. He went with warriors to assist his kindred in the Trojan War, and was received by King Priam with honor. He fought bravely, slew Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor, and held the Greeks at bay, until Achilles appeared. Before that hero he fell.

Then Aurora, seeing her son’s fate, directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks of the river Æsepus, in Mysia. In the evening, Aurora, accompanied by the House and the Pleiads, bewept her son. Night spread the heaven with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the Dawn. The Æthiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream, in the grove of the Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing into two flocks fought over the pile till they fell into the flame. Every year at the anniversary of his death they celebrated his obsequies in like manner. Aurora remained inconsolable. The dew-drops are her tears.222

The kinship of Memnon to the Dawn is certified even after his death. On the banks of the Nile are two colossal statues, one of which is called Memnon’s; and it was said that when the first rays of morning fell upon this statue, a sound like the snapping of a harp-string issued therefrom.223

“So to the sacred Sun in Memnon’s fane
Spontaneous concords choired the matin strain;
Touched by his orient beam responsive rings
The living lyre and vibrates all its strings;
Accordant aisles the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song.” 224

Chapter XV.
Myths of the Lesser Divinities of Earth, and the Underworld. §

§ 116. Pan and the Personification of Nature. — It was a pleasing trait in the old paganism that it loved to trace in evei y operation of nature the agency of deity. The imagination of the Greeks peopled the regions of earth and sea with divinities, to whose agency it attributed the phenomena that our philosophy ascribes to the operation of natural law. So Pan, the god of woods and fields,225 whose name seemed to signify all, came to be considered a symbol of the universe and a personification of Nature. “Universal Pan,” says Milton in his description of the creation: —

“Universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Led on the eternal Spring.”

Later, Pan came to be regarded as a representative of all the Greek gods, and of paganism itself. Indeed, according to an early Christian tradition, when the heavenly host announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ, a deep groan, heard through the isles of Greece, told that great Pan was dead, that the dynasty of Olympus was dethroned, and the several deities sent wandering in cold and darkness.

“The lonely mountains o’er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
With flower-enwoven tresses torn,
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.”226

Many a poet has lamented the change. For even if the head did profit, for a time, by the revolt against the divine prerogative of nature, it is more than possible that the heart lost in due proportion. Indeed, it is only a false Christianity that fails to recognize God’s presence in the birds of the air and the lilies of the field as well as in man. True Christianity is not selfish.

His sorrow at this loss of imaginative sympathy among the moderns, Wordsworth expresses in the sonnet, already cited, beginning, “The world is too much with us.”227 Schiller, also, by his poem, The Gods of Greece, has immortalized his sorrow for the decadence of the ancient mythology. It was this poem that provoked the well-known reply of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, contained in “The Dead Pan.” Her argument may be gathered from the following stanzas: —

“By your beauty which confesses
Some chief Beauty conquering you,
By our grand heroic guesses
Through your falsehood at the True,
We will weep not! earth shall roll
Heir to each god’s aureole,
And Pan is dead.

“Earth outgrows the mythic fancies
Sung beside her in her youth;
And those debonair romances
Sound but dull beside the truth.
Phœbus’ chariot course is run!
Look up, poets, to the sun!
Pan, Pan is dead.”

True enough from the philosophical point of view, but hardly from the poetic. Phœbus’ chariot course shall not be finished so long as there is a sun, or a poet to gaze upon it. And that Pan is not yet dead, but alive even in the practical atmosphere of our western world, the exquisite poem here appended would indicate: —

Fig. 68. Dancing Satyr.
[ Pitt’s Vergil.]

Just where the Treasury’s marble front228
Looks over Wall Street’s mingled nations, —
Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont
To throng for trade and last quotations, —
Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold
Outrival, in the ears of people,
The quarter-chimes, serenely toll’d
From Trinity’s undaunted steeple.

Even there I heard a strange wild strain
Sound high above the modern clamor,
Above the cries of greed and gain,
The curbstone war, the auction’s hammer,
And swift, on Music’s misty ways,
It led, from all this strife for millions,
To ancient sweet-do-nothing days
Among the kirtle-robed Sicilians.

And as it still’d the multitude,
And yet more joyous rose, and shriller,
I saw the minstrel where he stood
At ease against a Doric pillar:
One hand a droning organ play’d,
The other held a Pan’s pipe (fashion’d
Like those of old) to lips that made
The reeds give out that strain impassion’d.

’Twas Pan himself had wandered here,
A-strolling through the sordid city,
And piping to the civic ear
The prelude of some pastoral ditty!
The demigod had cross’d the seas, —
From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr,
And Syracusan times, — to these
Far shores and twenty centuries later.

A ragged cap was on his head:
But — hidden thus — there was no doubting
That, all with crispy locks o’erspread,
His gnarled horns were somewhere sprouting:
His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,
Were cross’d, as on some frieze you see them,
And trousers, patch’d of divers hues,
Conceal’d his crooked shanks beneath them.

He fill’d the quivering reeds with sound,
And o’er his mouth their changes shifted,
And with his goat’s eyes look’d around
Where’er the passing current drifted;
And soon, as on Trinacrian hills
The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him,
Even now the tradesmen from their tills,
With clerks and porters, crowded near him.

The bulls and bears together drew
From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley,
As erst, if pastorals be true,
Came beasts from every wooded valley;
The random ‘passers stay’d to list, —
A boxer Egon, rough and merry, —
A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst
With Naïs at the Brooklyn Ferry.

A one-eyed Cyclops halted long
In tatter’d cloak of army pattern,
And Galatea joined the throng, —
A blowsy, apple-vending slattern;
While old Silenus stagger’d out
From some new-fangled lunch-house handy,
And bade the piper, with a shout,
To strike up “Yankee Doodle Dandy!”

A newsboy and a peanut girl
Like little Fauns began to caper:
His hair was all in tangled curl,
Her tawny legs were bare and taper.
And still the gathering larger grew,
And gave its pence and crowded nigher.
While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew
His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.

O heart of Nature! beating still
With throbs her vernal passion taught her, —
Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,
Or by the Arethusan water!
New forms may fold the speech, new lands
Arise within these ocean portals,
But Music waves eternal wands, —
Enchantress of the souls of mortals!

So thought I; — but among us trod
A man in blue with legal baton;
And scoff’d the vagrant demigod,
And push’d him from the step I sat on.
Doubting I mused upon the cry —
“Great Pan is dead!” — and all the people
Went on their ways: — and clear and high
The quarter sounded from the steeple.

§ 117. Of the company of the lesser gods of earth, beside Pan, were the Sileni, the Sylvans, the Fauns, and the Satyrs, all male; the Oreads and the Dryads or Hamadryads, female. To these may be added the Naiads, for, although they dwelt in the streams, their association with the deities of earth was intimate. Of the nymphs, the Oreads and the Naiads were immortal. The love of Pan for Syrinx has already been mentioned, and his musical contest with Apollo.229 Of Silenus we have seen something in the adventures of Bacchus. What kind of existence the Satyr enjoyed is conveyed in the following soliloquy: —

Pl. 12. Faun.

“The trunk of this tree,230
Dusky-leaved, shaggy-rooted,
Is a pillow well suited
To a hybrid like me,
Goat-bearded, goat-footed;
For the boughs of the glade
Meet above me, and throw
A cool, pleasant shade
On the greenness below;
Dusky and brown’d
Close the leaves all around;
And yet, all the while,
Thro’ the boughs I can see
A star, with a smile,
Looking at me. ...

“Why, all day long,
I run about
With a madcap throng,
And laugh and shout.
Silenus grips
My ears and strides
On my shaggy hips,
And up and down
In an ivy crown
Tipsily rides;
And when in doze
His eyelids close,
Off he tumbles, and I
Can his wine-skin steal,
I drink — and feel
The grass roll — sea high;
Then with shouts and yells,
Down mossy dells,
I stagger after
The wood-nymphs fleet,
Who with mocking laughter
And smiles retreat;
And just as I clasp
A yielding waist,
With a cry embraced,
— Gush! it melts from my grasp
Into water cool,
And — bubble! trouble!
Seeing double I!
I stumble and gasp
In some igy pool!”

Fig. 69. Young Satyr.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

§ 118. Echo and Narcissus.231 — Echo was a beautiful Oread, fond of the woods and hills; a favorite of Diana, whom she attended in the chase. But by her chatter she came under the displeasure of Juno, who condemned her to the loss of voice save for purposes of reply.

Subsequently having fallen in love with Narcissus, the beautiful son of the river-god Cephissus, Echo found it impossible to express her regard for him in any way but by mimicking what he said; and what he said, unfortunately, did not always convey her sentiments. When, however, he once called across the hills to her, “Let us join one another,” the maid, answering with all her heart, hastened to the spot, ready to throw her arms about his neck. He started back, exclaiming, “Hands off! I would rather die than thou shouldst have me!” “Have me,” said she; but in vain. From that time forth she lived in caves and among mountain cliffs, and faded away till there was nothing left of her but her voice. But through his future fortunes she was constant to her cruel lover.

This Narcissus was the embodiment of self-conceit. He shunned the rest of the nymphs, as he had shunned Echo. One maiden, however, uttered a prayer that he might some time or other feel what it was to love and meet no return of affection. The avenging goddess heard. Narcissus, stooping over a river-brink, fell in love with his own image in the water. He talked to it, tried to embrace it, languished for it, and pined until he died. Indeed, even after death, it is said that when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters. The nymphs mourned for Narcissus, especially the water-nymphs; and when they smote their breasts, Echo smote hers also. They prepared a funeral pile, and would have burned the body, but it was nowhere to be found. In its place had sprung up a flower, purple within and surrounded with white leaves, which bears the name and preserves the memory of the son of Cephissus.

§ 119. Echo, Pan, Lyde, and the Satyr. — Another interesting episode in the life of Echo is given by Moschus: 232

Pan loved his neighbor Echo; Echo loved
A gamesome Satyr; he, by her unmoved,
Loved only Lyde; thus through Echo, Pan,
Lyde and Satyr, Love his circle ran.
Thus all, while their true lovers’ hearts they grieved,
Were scorned in turn, and what they gave received.
O all Love’s scorners, learn this lesson true:
Be kind to love, that he be kind to you.

§ 120. The Naiads guarded streams and fountains of fresh water; kept them like the Naiad of the following verses, sacred for Diana, or some other divinity.

“Dian white-arm’d has given me this cool shrine,233
Deep in the bosom of a wood of pine:
The silver-sparkling showers
That hive me in, the flowers
That prink my fountain’s brim, are hers and mine;
And when the days are mild and fair,
And grass is springing, buds are blowing,
Sweet it is, ’mid waters flowing,
Here to sit and know no care,
’Mid the waters flowing, flowing, flowing,
Combing my yellow, yellow hair.

“The ounce and panther down the mountain-side
Creep thro’ dark greenness in the eventide;
And at the fountain’s brink
Casting great shades, they drink,
Gazing upon me, tame and sapphire-eyed;
For, awed by my pale face, whose light
Gleameth thro’ sedge and lilies yellow
They, lapping at my fountain mellow,
Harm not the lamb that in affright
Throws in the pool so mellow, mellow, mellow,
Its shadow small and dusky-white.

“Oft do the fauns and satyrs, flusht with play,
Come to my coolness in the hot noon-day.
Nay, once indeed, I vow
By Dian’s truthful brow,
The great god Pan himself did pass this way,
And, all in festal oak-leaves clad,
His limbs among these lilies throwing,
Watch’d the silver waters flowing,
Listen’d to their music glad,
Saw and heard them flowing, flowing, flowing,
And ah! his face was worn and sad!

“Mild joys like silvery waters fall;
But it is sweetest, sweetest far of all,
In the calm summer night,
When the tree-tops look white,
To be exhaled in dew at Dian’s call,
Among my sister-clouds to move
Over the darkness, earth bedimming,
Milky-robed thro’ heaven swimming,
Floating round the stars above,
Swimming proudly, swimming proudly, swimming,
And waiting on the Moon I love.
“So tenderly I keep this cool, green shrine,
Deep in the bosom of a wood of pine;
Faithful thro’ shade and sun,
That service due and done
May haply earn for me a place divine
Among the white-robed deities
That thread thro’ starry paths, attending
My sweet Lady, calmly wending
Thro’ the silence of the skies,
Changing in hues of beauty never ending,
Drinking the light of Dian’s eyes.”

§ 121. The Dryads, or Hamadryads, assumed, at times, the forms of peasant girls, shepherdesses, or followers of the hunt. But they were believed to perish with certain trees which had been their abode, and with which they had come into existence. Wantonly to destroy a tree was therefore an impious act, sometimes severely punished, as in the cases of Erysichthon and Dryope.

Erysichthon,234 a despiser of the gods, presumed to violate with the axe a grove sacred to Ceres. A venerable oak, whereon votive tablets had often been hung inscribed with the gratitude of mortals to the nymph of the tree, — an oak, round which the Dryads hand in hand, had often danced, he ordered his servants to fell. When he saw them hesitate, he snatched an axe from one, and boasting that he cared not whether it were a tree beloved of the goddess or not, addressed himself to the task. The oak seemed to shudder and utter a groan. When the first blow fell upon the trunk, blood flowed from the wound. Warned by a bystander to desist, Erysichthon slew him; warned by a voice from the nymph of the tree, he redoubled his blows, and brought down the oak. The Dryads invoked punishment upon Erysichthon.

The goddess Ceres, whom they had supplicated, nodded her assent. She despatched an Oread to ice-clad Scythia, where Cold abides, and Fear, and Shuddering, and Famine. At Mount Caucasus, the Oread stayed the dragons of Ceres that drew her chariot; for, afar off she beheld Famine, forespent with hunger, pulling up with teeth and claws the scanty herbage from a stony field. To her the nymph delivered the commands of Ceres; then returned in haste to Thessaly, for she herself began to be an hungered.

The orders of Ceres were executed by Famine, who, speeding through the air, entered the dwelling of Erysichthon, and as he slept, enfolded him with her wings, and breathed herself into him. In his dreams, the caitiff craved food; and when he awoke, his hunger raged. The more he ate, the more he craved; till, in default of money, he sold his daughter into slavery for edibles. Neptune, however, rescued the girl by changing her into a fisherman; and in that form she assured the slave-owner that she had seen no woman or other person, except herself, thereabouts. Then, resuming her own appearance, she was again and again sold by her father; while by Neptune’s favor she became on each occasion a different animal, and so regained her home. Finally, increasing demands of hunger compelled the father to devour his own limbs; and in due time he finished himself off.

§ 122. Dryope, the wife of Andræmon, purposing, with her sister Iole, to gather flowers for the altars of the nymphs, plucked the purple blossoms of a lotus-plant that grew near the water, and offered them to her child. Iole, about to do the same thing, perceived that the stem of the plant was bleeding. Indeed, the plant was none other than a nymph, Lotis, who, escaping from a base pursuer, had been thus transformed.

Dryope would have hastened from the spot, but the displeasure of the nymph had fallen upon her. While protesting her innocence, she began to put forth branches and leaves. Praying her husband to see that no violence was done to her, to remind their child that every flower or bush might be a goddess in disguise, to bring him often to be nursed under her branches, and to teach him to say “My mother lies hid under this bark,” — the luckless woman assumed the shape of a lotus.

§ 123. Rhœcus.235

Hear now this fairy legend of old Greece,
As full of freedom, youth, and beauty still,
As the immortal freshness of that grace
Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze.236

The Hamadryads could appreciate services as well as punish injuries. Rhœcus, happening to see an oak just ready to fall, propped it up. The nymph, who had been on the point of perishing with the tree, expressed her gratitude to him, and bade him ask what reward he would. Rhœcus boldly asked her love, and the nymph yielded to his desire. At the same time charging him to be mindful and constant, she promised to expect him an hour before sunset and, meanwhile, to communicate with him by means of her messenger, — a bee: —

Now, in those days of simpleness and faith,
Men did not think that happy things were dreams
Because they overstepped the narrow bourn
Of likelihood, but reverently deemed
Nothing too wondrous or too beautiful
o be the guerdon of a daring heart.
So Rhœcus made no doubt that he was blest,
And all along unto the city’s gate
Earth seemed to spring beneath him as he walked,
The clear, broad sky looked bluer than its wont,
And he could scarce believe he had not wings,
Such sunshine seemed to glitter through his veins
Instead of blood, so light he felt and strange.

But the day was past its noon. Joining some comrades over the dice, Rhœcus forgot all else. A bee buzzed about his ear. Impatiently he brushed it aside: —

Then through the window flew the wounded bee,
And Rhœcus, tracking him with angry eyes,
Saw a sharp mountain-peak of Thessaly
Against the red disk of the setting sun, —
And instantly the blood sank from his heart. …
… Quite spent and out of breath he reached the tree,
And, listening fearfully, he heard once more
The low voice murmur, “Rhœcus!” close at hand:
Whereat he looked around him, but could see
Naught but the deepening glooms beneath the oak.
Then sighed the voice, “O Rhœcus! nevermore
Shalt thou behold me or by day or night,
Me, who would fain have blessed thee with a love,
More ripe and bounteous than ever yet
Filled up with nectar any mortal heart:
But thou didst scorn my humble messenger
And sent’st him back to me with bruised wings.
We spirits only show to gentle eyes,
We ever ask an undivided love,
And he who scorns the least of Nature’s works
Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from all.
Farewell! for thou canst never see me more.”

Then Rhœcus beat his breast, and groaned aloud,
And cried, “Be pitiful! forgive me yet
This once and I shall never need it more!”
“Alas!” the voice returned, “‘tis thou art blind,
Not I unmerciful; I can forgive,
But have no skill to heal thy spirit’s eyes;
Only the soul hath power o’er itself.”
With that again there murmured, “Nevermore!”
And Rhœcus after heard no other sound,
Except the rattling of the oak’s crisp leaves,
Like the long surf upon a distant shore,
Raking the sea-worn pebbles up and down.
The night had gathered round him: o’er the plain
The city sparkled with its thousand lights,
And sounds of revel fell upon his ear
Harshly and like a curse; above, the sky,
With all its bright sublimity of stars,
Deepened, and on his forehead smote the breeze:
Beauty was all around him and delight,
But from that eve he was alone on earth.

According to the older tradition, the nymph deprived Rhœcus of his physical sight; but the superior insight of Lowell’s interpretation is evident.

§ 124. Pomona and Vertumnus.237 — Pomona was a Hamadryad, guardian especially of the apple-orchards, but presiding also over other fruits. “Bear me, Pomona,” sings one of our poets: —

Fig. 70. Rustics with baskets.
[Ant. d’Hercul.: Thompson’s Horace.]

“Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves,
To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclined
Beneath the spreading tamarind that shakes,
Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit.”238

This nymph had scorned the offers of love made her by Pan, Sylvanus, and innumerable Fauns and Satyrs. Vertumnus, too, she had time and again refused. But he, the deity of gardens and of the changing seasons, unwearied, wooed her in as many guises as his seasons themselves could assume. Now as a reaper, now as haymaker, now as ploughman, now as vine-dresser, now as apple-picker, now as fisherman, now as soldier, — all to no avail. Finally, as an old woman, he came to her, admired her fruit, admired especially the luxuriance of her grapes, descanted on the dependence of the luxuriant vine, close by, upon the elm to which it was clinging; advised Pomona, likewise, to choose some youth — say, for instance, the young Vertumnus — about whom to twine her arms. Then he told how the worthy Iphis, spurned by Anaxarete, had hanged himself to her gate-post; and how the gods had turned the hard-hearted virgin to stone even as she gazed on her lover’s funeral. “Consider these things, dearest child,” said the seeming old woman, “lay aside thy scorn and thy delays, and accept a lover. So may neither the vernal frosts blight thy young fruits, nor furious winds scatter thy blossoms!”

Fig. 71. Rustics with baskets.
[Ant. d’Hercul.: Thompson’s Horace.]

When Vertumnus had thus spoken, he dropped his disguise, and stood before Pomona in his proper person, — a comely youth. Such wooing, of course, could not but win its just reward.

§ 125. The Cranes of Ibycus.239 — The Furies, called also Diræ (the terrible ones), Erinyes (the persecutors, or the angered ones), and finally, by way of euphemism, Eumenides (the well-meaning), visited earth to punish filial disobedience, irreverence to old age, perjury, murder, treachery to guests, even unkindness toward beggars. They avenged the ghosts of such as, dying violent deaths, possessed on earth no representatives either by law or by kindred to avenge them. Therefore, as we shall see, they persecuted Orestes, who had slain his mother. Therefore, like the accusing voice of conscience, they marshalled to punishment the murderers of Ibycus.

This poet, beloved of Apollo, was, while journeying to the musical contest of the Isthmus at Corinth, attacked by two robbers in the Corinthian grove of Neptune. Overcome by them, he commended his cause, as he fell, to a flock of cranes that happened to be screaming hoarsely overhead. But when his body was found, all Greece, then gathered at the festival, demanded vengeance on the murderer.

Soon afterward, the vast assemblage in the amphitheatre sat listening to a play in which the Chorus personated the Furies. The Choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless hands torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Advancing with measured step, they formed ranks in the orchestra. Their cheeks were bloodless, and in place of hair writhing serpents curled around their brows. Forming a circle, these awful beings sang their hymn. High it swelled, overpowering the sound of the instruments: —

“Happy the man whose heart is pure from guilt and crime! Him we avengers touch not; he treads the path of life secure from us. But woe! woe! to him who has done the deed of secret murder. We, the fearful brood of Night, fasten ourselves upon him, soul and flesh. Thinks he by flight to escape us? Fly we still faster in pursuit, twine our snakes around his feet and bring him to the ground. Unwearied we pursue; no pity checks our course; still on, still on to the end of life, we give no peace, no rest.”

Stillness like the stillness of death sat over the assembly. Suddenly a cry burst from one of the uppermost benches, — “Lo, comrade, the cranes of Ibycus !” A dark object sailed across the sky. “The murderer has informed against himself,” shouted the assemblage. The inference was correct. The criminals, straightway seized, confessed the crime and suffered the penalty.

Chapter XVI.
Myths of Lesser Divinities of the Waters. §

These gods may be roughly classed as dwellers in the sea, and dwellers in the streams.

§ 126. Galatea. — Of the sea-divinities, daughters of Nereus and Doris, none was fairer than Galatea, sister of Amphitrite and Thetis. She loved Acis, the son of Faunus by a Naiad, and was loved in return; but her happiness was disturbed and finally ruined by the persistent and jealous attentions of the Cyclops Polyphemus.

Polyphemus in Love. — For the first time in his life the Cyclops began to care for his appearance; he harrowed his coarse locks with a curry-comb, mowed his beard with a sickle, and, looking into the sea when it was calm, soliloquized, “Beautiful seems my beard, beautiful my one eye, — as I count beauty, — and the sea reflects the gleam of my teeth whiter than the Parian stone.”240

… He loved, not with apples, nor roses, nor locks of hair, but with fatal frenzy; and all things else he held but trifles by the way. Many a time from the green pastures would his ewes stray back, self-shepherded, to the fold. But he was singing of Galatea; and pining in his place, he sat by the seaweed of the beach from the dawn of day with the direst hurt beneath his breast of mighty Cypris’s sending, — the wound of her arrow in his heart!

Yet this remedy he found, and sitting on the crest of the tall cliff, and looking to the deep, ’twas thus he would sing: —

“Oh, milk-white Galatea, why cast off him that loves thee? More white than is pressed milk to look upon, more delicate than the lamb art thou, than the young calf wantoner, more sleek than the unripened grape! Here dost thou resort, even so, when sweet sleep possesses me, and home straightway dost thou depart when sweet sleep lets me go, fleeing me like an ewe that has seen the gray wolf. I fell in love with thee, maiden, I, on the day when first thou earnest, with my mother, and didst wish to pluck the hyacinths from the hill, and I was thy guide on the way. But to leave loving thee, when once I had seen thee, neither afterward, nor now at all, have I the strength, even from that hour. But to thee all this is as nothing, by Zeus, nay, nothing at all!

“I know, thou gracious maiden, why it is that thou dost shun me. It is all for the shaggy brow that spans my forehead, from this to the other ear, one long, unbroken eyebrow. And but one eye is on my forehead, and broad is the nose that overhangs my lip. Yet I (even such as thou seest me) feed a thousand cattle, and from these I draw and drink the best, milk in the world. And cheese I never lack, in summer time or autumn, nay, nor in the dead of winter, but my baskets are always overladen.

“Also I am skilled in piping, as none other of the Cyclopes here, and of thee, my love, my sweet apple, and of myself, too, I sing, many a time, deep in the night. And for thee I tend eleven fawns, all crescent browed, and four young whelps of the bear. Nay, come thou to me, and thou shalt lack nothing that now thou hast. …

“But if thou dost refuse because my body seems shaggy and rough, well, I have faggots of oak-wood, and beneath the ashes is fire unwearied, and I would endure to let thee burn my very soul, and this my one eye, the dearest thing that is mine.

“Ah me, that my mother bore me not a finny thing, so would I have gone down to thee, and kissed thy hand, if thy lips thou would not suffer me to kiss! And I would have brought thee either white lilies, or the soft poppy with its scarlet petals. Nay, these are summer’s flowers, and those are flowers of winter, so I could not have brought thee them all at one time.

“Now, verily, maiden, now and here will I learn to swim, if perchance some stranger come hither, sailing with his ship, that I may see why it is so dear to thee to have thy dwelling in the deep. Come forth, Galatea, and forget as thou comest, even as I that sit here have forgotten, the homeward way!…

“Oh, Cyclops, Cyclops, whither are thy wits wandering? Ah, that thou wouldst go, and weave thy wicker-work, and gather broken boughs to carry to thy lambs: in faith, if thou didst this, far wiser wouldst thou be!

“Milk the ewe that thou hast; why pursue the thing that shuns thee? Thou wilt find, perchance, another, and a fairer, Galatea. Many be the girls that bid me stay with them, and softly they all laugh, if perchance I answer them. On land it is plain that I, too, seem to be somebody! ” 241

Having, one day, in such wise, sung, Polyphemus wandered, beside himself for passion, into the woods. On a sudden he came in sight of Galatea and Acis, in the hollow of a rock, where they had hearkened to the strains of the Cyclops. The monster, infuriate, crying that this should be the last of their love-meetings, overwhelmed his rival with a tremendous rock. Purple blood spirted from under the stone, by degrees grew paler, and finally became the stream that still bears the name of the unfortunate youth. But Galatea remained inconsolable.242

Fig. 72. Galatea and Polyphemus.
[Wall painting, Palatine: Roscher 9: 1587.]

§ 127. Glaucus and Scylla.243 — Another deity of the sea was Glaucus, the son of that Sisyphus who was punished in Hades for his treachery to the gods. Glaucus had been a comely young fisherman; but having noticed that a certain herb revived fishes after they were brought to land, he ate of it, and suffered metamorphosis into a something new and strange, half man, half fish, and after the fashion of a sea-god. Of his experience during this “sea-change,” the following is an account: —

Fig. 73. Glaucus and Scylla.
[Wall painting: Roscher 10: 1684.]

“I plunged for life or death. To interknit
One’s senses with so dense a breathing stuff
Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
Forgetful utterly of self-intent,
Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
Then like a new-fledged bird that first doth show
His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
I tried in fear the pinions of my will.
’Twas freedom! and at once I visited
The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed.”244

He became guardian of fishes and divers, and of those who go down to the sea in ships. Later, being infatuated of the fair virgin Scylla (daughter of the sea-god Phorcys and granddaughter of Pontus), he paid his court to her. But the maiden rejected him. Whereupon, in desperation, Glaucus sought the aid of Circe, an enchantress. She, because she coveted for herself the handsome sea-green god, transformed her rival into a monster hideously fashioned of serpents and barking dogs.245 In this shape Scylla, there after, infested the shore of Sicily, and worked evil to mariners,246 till finally she was petrified as a reef, none the less perilous to all seafarers.

Fig. 74. Scylla.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

A modern version of the fate of Glaucus and Scylla is given by Keats in the Endymion. Glaucus consents to Circe’s blandishments for a season. But becoming disgusted with her treachery and cruelty, he endeavors to escape from her. The attempt proving unsuccessful, he is brought back, and sentenced to pass a thousand years in decrepitude and pain. Consequently, returning to the sea, he there discovers the body of Scylla, whom the goddess has not transformed, but drowned; and learns that if he passes his thousand years in collecting the bodies of drowned lovers, a youth beloved of the gods will, in time, appear and help him. This prophecy is fulfilled by Endymion, who aids in restoring Glaucus to youth, and Scylla and the drowned lovers to life.

§ 128. Nisus and Scylla.247 — The daughter of Phorcys is frequently confounded with another Scylla, daughter of King Nisus of Megara. Scylla of Megara betrayed her father to his enemy, Minos II. of Crete, with whom, although the kings were at war, she had fallen violently in love. It seems that Nisus had on his head a purple lock of hair, upon which depended his fortune and his life. This lock his daughter clipped, and conveyed to Minos. But recoiling from the treacherous gift, that king, after he had conquered Megara, bound Scylla to the rudder of his ship, and so dragged her through the waves toward Crete. The girl was ultimately transformed into the monster of the barking dogs, or, according to another authority, into a bird continually the prey of the sea-eagle, whose form her father Nisus had assumed.

§ 129. Leucothea.248 — Another sea-change was that of Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and wife of Athamas, who, flying from her frantic husband, sprang, with her child Melicertes in her arms, from a cliff into the sea. The gods, out of compassion, made her a goddess of the sea, under the name of Leucothea, and her son a god under that of Palæmon. Both were held powerful to save from shipwreck, and were invoked by sailors. Palæmon was usually represented as riding on a dolphin. In his honor the Isthmian games were celebrated. By the Romans he was called Portumnus, and had jurisdiction of ports and shores.

§ 130. Proteus and Aristæus.249 — Though Aristæus, the lover of Eurydice, was son of Apollo and guardian himself of herds and flocks, protector of vine and olive, and keeper of bees, still, he was son of Cyrene, a water-nymph, and his most interesting adventure brought him into contact with another deity of the sea.

His bees having perished, Aristæus resorted for aid to his mother. She, surrounded by her maidens in the crystalline abode under her river, overheard his complaints, and ordered that he should be brought into her presence. The stream at her command opened itself, and let him enter, while it stood heaped like a mountain on either side. Cyrene and her nymphs, having poured out libations to Neptune, gave the youth to eat, and listened to his complaint: theinformed him that an aged prophet named Proteus, who dwelt in the sea, and pastured the sea-calves of Neptune, could explain the cause of the mortality among the bees, and how to remedy it. But that the wizard would have to be chained and compelled to answer; and that even when chained, he would try to escape by assuming a series of dreadful forms. “Still, thou hast but to keep him fast bound,” concluded Cyrene; “and at last, when he finds his arts of no avail, he will obey thy behest.” The nymph then sprinkled her son with nectar, whereupon an unusual vigor filled his frame and courage his heart.

Cyrene led her son to the prophet’s cave, which was in the island of Pharos, or of Carpathos,250 and concealed him. At noon issued Proteus from the water, followed by his herd of sea-calves, which spread themselves along the shore. He, too, stretched himself on the floor of the cave, and went to sleep. Aristæus immediately clapped fetters on him, and shouted at the top of his voice. Proteus, finding himself captured, resorted to his craft, becoming first a fire, then a flood, then a horrible wild beast, in rapid succession; nor did he succumb till all schemes had failed to set him free. Then he resumed his own form and, in response to the questioning of Aristæus, said: “Thou receivest the merited reward of thy deed, by which Eurydice met her death. To avenge her, the nymphs have sent this destruction on thy bees. Their anger thou must appease. Four bulls shalt thou select, of perfect form and size, and four cows of equal beauty; and four altars shalt thou build to the nymphs; and shalt sacrifice the animals, leaving their carcasses in the leafy grove. To Orpheus and Eurydice thou shalt pay such funeral honors as may allay their resentment. Returning after nine days, examine the bodies of the cattle slain, and see what has befallen.” Aristseus faithfully obeyed these directions. Returning to the grove, on the ninth day, he found that a swarm of bees had taken possession of one of the carcasses, and were pursuing their labors there as in a hive.251

§ 131. Acheloüs and Hercules.252— A similar contest took place between Hercules and the river-god Acheloüs. The cause of the strife was Dejanira of Calydon, whom both heroes loved. Hercules boasted his divine descent. Acheloüs, not content with advancing his claim as lord of the mightiest and most ancient river of Greece, insinuated suspicions with regard to the value of Hercules’ pretensions. Then began a mighty struggle. Finding he was no match for Hercules in the wrestler’s art, Acheloüs glided away in the form of a serpent. Hercules, remarking that it was the labor of his infancy to strangle snakes,253 clasped the neck of Acheloüs, and choked him. Then Acheloüs assumed the seeming of a bull. Whereupon Hercules, seizing him by the horns, dragged his head to the ground, overthrew him, and rent one horn away. This trophy the Naiads consecrated, and filled with flowers for the goddess of Plenty, who, adopting it as her symbol, named it Cornucopia.

No writer in modern times has made more graceful poetic use of the divinities of the streams than has Milton. The following song, chanted by a Spirit in invocation of “the gentle nymph… that with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream,” is but one refrain of many caught by the poet from the far-echoing chorus of classical verse.

Fig. 75. Sea-monsters.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

“Sabrina fair,
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave.
In twisted braids of lilies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair;
Listen for dear honor’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.

“Listen and appear to us
In name of great Oceanus.
By th’ earth-shaking Neptune’s mace,
And Tethys’ grave, majestic pace,
By hoary Nereus’ wrinkled look,
And the Carpathian wizard’s hook,
By scaly Triton’s winding shell,
And old soothsaying Glaucus’ spell,
By Leucothea’s lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis’ tinsel-slippered feet,
And the songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope’s254 dear tomb
And fair Ligea’s 255 golden comb,
Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks,
Sleeking her soft, alluring locks,
By all the nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance;
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head
From thy coral-paven bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have.
Listen and save.”256

Map 3. Greece below Thermopylæ.

Chapter XVII.
Myths of the Older Heroes.
The House of Danaüs. §

§ 132. The Older and the Younger Heroes. — We have already narrated the adventures of certain demigods and heroes, such as Prometheus, Deucalion, Cadmus, Amphion, Orpheus. Others of importance were Perseus, Hercules, Minos, Œdipus, Theseus, Jason, Meleager, Peleus, Pelops, Castor and Pollux. These and their contemporaries may be called the Older Heroes. They are renowned either for individual exploits or for the part played by them in one or more of three great expeditions, — the War against Laomedon of Troy,257 the Voyage for the Golden Fleece,258 and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar.259

The Younger Heroes were of a later generation, which was concerned in four important enterprises, — the War of the Seven against Thebes,260 the Trojan War,261 the Wanderings of Ulysses,262 and the Adventures of Æneas.263

The exploits of the Older Heroes may be arranged in respect of their probable sequence in time, and of their grouping according to families of heroes. If we observe the principle of genealogy, one race, that of Inachus of Argos, attracts our notice in the heroes descended from Pelasgus,264 Belus, and Agenor. The family of Belus gives us the famous House of Danaüs; the family of Agenor, the Houses of Minos and Labdacus. Another race that of Deucalion, gives us the heroes of the Hellenic branch, most notably those descended from Æolus. With these families most of the Older Heroes are, by blood or by adventure, to some extent connected. Bearing this fact in mind, and at the same time observing the chronological sequence of adventures, we obtain an arrangement of myths as illustrating the races, families, or houses: (1) of Danaüs of Argos, (2) of Æolus of Thessaly, (3) of Ætolus, (4) of Minos of Crete, (5) of Cecrops and of Erichthonius of Attica, (6) of Labdacus of Thebes.265

§ 133. The Genealogy of Danaüs. — As the Hellenes, in the north, traced their descent from Deucalion and Pyrrha of Thessaly, so the Pelasgic races of the south from the river-god Inachus, son of Oceanus. The son of Inachus, Phoroneus, lived in the Peloponnesus and founded the town of Argos. This Phoroneus conferred upon the Argives the benefits attributed by other Greeks to Prometheus. He was succeeded by his son Pelasgus, from whom a division of the Greek people derive their name. With the love of Jupiter for the sister of Phoroneus, the fair Io, we are already acquainted. Her son was Epaphus, king of Egypt, from whom were descended (1) Agenor of Phœnicia, father of Europa and Cadmus, and (2) Belus of Egypt, father of Ægyptus and Danaüs. To the family of Agenor we shall return in the history of Minos,266 son of Europa, and of Œdipus,267 descendant of Cadmus.

The Danaïds.268 — Ægyptus and his fifty sons drove Danaüs and his fifty daughters back to Argos, the ancestral home of the race. Finally a reconciliation was arranged by means of a fifty-fold marriage between the sons of Ægyptus and the Danaïds. But in accordance with a treacherous command of Danaüs, all his daughters, save Hypermnestra, slew their husbands on the wedding night. For this crime the forty-nine Danai’ds were condemned to spend eternity in Tartarus, trying to fill with water a vessel full of holes. From Hypermnestra and her husband, Lynceus, was sprung the royal house of Argos. Their son was Abas; their grandson, Acrisius, — of whom the following narrative is told.

Fig. 76. The Danaïds.
[Relief on an altar in the Vatican: Roscher 6: 951.]

§ 134. The Doom of King Acrisius.269— The daughter of Acrisius was Danaë, of surpassing loveliness. In consequence of an oracle which had prophesied that the son of Danaë would be the means of his grandfather’s death, the hapless girl was shut in an underground chamber, that no man might love or wed her. But Jupiter, distilling himself into a shower of gold, flooded the girl’s prison, wooed, and won her. Their son was Perseus. King Acrisius, in dismay, ordered mother and child to be boxed up in a chest and set adrift on the sea. The two unfortunates were, however, rescued at Seriphus by a fisherman, who conveyed the mother and infant to Polydectes, king of the country, by whom they were treated at first with kindness, but afterwards with cruelty.

§ 135. Perseus and Medusa.270— When Perseus was grown up, Polydectes sent him to attempt the conquest of the Gorgon Medusa,271 a terrible monster who had laid waste the country. She had once been a maiden whose hair was her chief glory; but as she dared to vie in beauty with Minerva, the goddess deprived her of her charms, and changed her ringlets into hissing serpents. She became a monster of so frightful an aspect that no living thing could behold her without being turned into stone. All around the cavern where she dwelt might be seen the stony figures of men and animals that had chanced to catch a glimpse of her and had been petrified at the sight. Perseus, favored by Minerva and Mercury, set out against the Gorgon, and approached first the cave of the three Grææ: —

There sat the crones that had the single eye,
Clad in blue sweeping cloak and snow-white gown;
While o’er their backs their straight white hair hung down
In long thin locks; dreadful their faces were,
Carved all about with wrinkles of despair;
And as they sat they crooned a dreary song,
Complaining that their lives should last so long,
In that sad place that no one came anear,
In that wan place desert of hope and fear;
And singing, still they rocked their bodies bent,
And ever each to each the eye they sent.272

Snatching the eye, Perseus compelled the Grææ, as the price of its restoration, to tell him how he might obtain the helmet of Hades that renders its wearer invisible, and the winged shoes and pouch that were necessary. With this outfit, to which Minerva added her shield and Mercury his knife, Perseus sped to the hall of the Gorgons. In silence sat two of the sisters, —

But a third woman paced about the hall,
And ever turned her head from wall to wall
And moaned aloud, and shrieked in her despair;
Because tlfe golden tresses of her hair
Were moved by writhing snakes from side to side,
That in their writhing oftentimes would glide
On to her breast, or shuddering shoulders white;
Or, falling down, the hideous things would light
Upon her feet, and crawling thence would twine
Their slimy folds about’ her ankles fine.273

Fig. 77. Medusa.
[Relief: Müller.]

This was Medusa. Her, while she was praying the gods to end her misery, or, as some say, while she was sleeping, Perseus approached, — and guided by her image reflected in the bright shield which he bore, cut off her head, and so ended her miserable existence. Thus are described the horror and the grace of her features in death: —

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

Yet it is less the horror than the grace
Which turns the gazer’s spirit into stone;
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face
Are graven, till the characters be grown
Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
’Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
Which humanize and harmonize the strain274. ..

Pl. 13. Perseus.

§ 136. Perseus and Atlas. — From the body of Medusa sprang the winged horse Pegasus, of whose rider, Bellerophon, we shall presently be informed.

After the slaughter of Medusa, Perseus, bearing with him the head of the Gorgon, flew far and wide, over land and sea. As night came on, he reached the western limit of the earth, and would gladly have rested till morning. Here was the realm of Atlas, whose bulk surpassed that of all other men. He was rich in flocks and herds; but his chief pride was his garden of the Hesperides, whose fruit was of gold, hanging from golden branches, half hid with golden leaves. Perseus said to him, “I come as a guest. If thou holdest in honor illustrious descent, I claim Jupiter for my father; if mighty deeds, I plead the conquest of the Gorgon. I seek rest and food.” But Atlas, remembering an ancient prophecy that had warned him against a son of Jove who should one day rob him of his golden apples, attempted to thrust the youth out. Whereupon Perseus, finding the giant too strong for him, held up the Gorgon’s head. Atlas, with all his bulk, was changed into stone. His beard and hair became forests, his arms and shoulders cliffs, his head a summit, and his bones rocks. Each part increased in mass till the giant became the mountain upon whose shoulders rests heaven with all its stars.

Fig. 78. Perseus with the Gorgon’s head.
[Vase picture: Gerhard, Herakles der Satyr und Dreifussrauber.]

§ 137. Perseus and Andromeda. — On his way back to Seriphus, the Gorgon-slayer arrived at the country of the Æthiopians, over whom Cepheus was king. His wife was Cassiopea —

“That starred Æthiop queen that strove
To set her beauty’s praise above
The sea-nymphs and their powers offended.”275

These nymphs had consequently sent a sea-monster to ravage the coast. To appease the deities, Cepheus was directed by the oracle to devote his daughter Andromeda to the ravening maw of the prodigy. As Perseus looked down from his aërial height, he beheld the virgin chained to a rock. Drawing nearer, he pitied, then comforted her, and sought the reason of her disgrace. At first from modesty she was silent; but when he repeated his questions, for fear she might be thought guilty of some offence which she dared not tell, she disclosed her name and that of her country, and her mother’s pride of beauty. Before she had done speaking, a sound was heard upon the water, and the monster appeared. The virgin shrieked; the father and mother, who had now arrived, poured forth lamentations and threw their arms about the victim. But the hero, himself, undertook to slay the monster, on condition that, if the maiden were rescued by his valor, she should be his reward. The parents consented. Perseus embraced his promised bride; then —

Loosing his arms from her waist he flew upward, awaiting the sea-beast.
Onward it came from the southward, as bulky and black as a galley,
Lazily coasting along, as the fish fled leaping before it;
Lazily breasting the ripple, and watching by sandbar and headland,
Listening for laughter of maidens at bleaching, or song of the fisher,
Children at play on the pebbles, or cattle that passed on the sand-hills.
Rolling and dripping it came, where bedded in glistening purple
Cold on the cold sea-weeds lay the long white sides of the maiden,
Trembling, her face in her hands, and her tresses afloat on the water.276

The youth darted down upon the back of the monster, and plunged his sword into its shoulder, then eluded its furious attack by means of his wings. Wherever he could find a passage for his sword, he plunged it between the scales of flank and side. The wings of the hero were finally drenched and unmanageable with the blood and water that the brute spouted. Then alighting on a rock and holding by a projection, he gave the monster his deathblow.

The joyful parents, with Perseus and Andromeda, repaired to the palace; where a banquet was opened for them. But in the midst of the festivities, a noise was heard of warlike clamor; and Phineus, who had formerly been betrothed to the bride, burst in demanding her for his own. In vain, Cepheus remonstrated that all such engagements had been dissolved by the sentence of death passed upon Andromeda, and that if Phineus had actually loved the girl, he would have tried to rescue her. Phineus and his adherents, persisting in their intent, attacked the wedding party, and would have broken it up with most admired disorder, but

Mid the fabled Libyan bridal stood
Perseus in stern tranquillity of wrath,
Half stood, half floated on his ankle-plumes
Out-swelling, while the bright face on his shield
Looked into stone the raging fray.277

Fig. 79. Perseus and Andromeda.
[Relief in Capitoline Museum: Roscher 2: 346.]

Leaving Phineus and his fellows in merited petrifaction, and conveying Andromeda to Seriphus, the hero, there, turned into stone Polydectes and his court, because the tyrant had rendered Danaë’s life intolerable with his attentions. Perseus then restored to their owners the charmed helmet, the winged shoes, and the pouch in which he had conveyed the Gorgon’s head. The head itself he bestowed upon Minerva, who bore it afterward upon her ægis or shield. Of that Gorgon-shield no more poetic interpretation can be framed than the following: —

“What was that snaky-headed Gorgon-shield
That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble grace that dashed brute violence
With sudden adoration and blank awe! ”278

With his mother and his wife Perseus returned to Argos to seek his grandfather. But Acrisius, still fearing his doom, had retired to Larissa in Thessaly. Thither Perseus followed him, and found him presiding over certain funeral games. As luck would have it, the hero took part in the quoit-throwing, and hurled a quoit far beyond the mark. The disc, falling upon his grandfather’s foot, brought about the old man’s death; and in that way the prophecy was fulfilled. Of Perseus and Andromeda three sons were born, through one of whom, Electryon, they became grandparents of the famous Alcmene, sweetheart of Jove, and mother of Hercules.

§ 138. Bellerophon and the Chimæra279. — The horse Pegasus, which sprang from the Gorgon’s blood, found a master in Bellerophon of Corinth. This youth was of the Hellenic branch of the Greek nation, being descended from Sisyphus, and through him from Æolus, the son of Hellen.280 His adventures might therefore be recited with those of Jason and other descendants of Æolus in the next chapter, but that they follow so closely on those of Perseus. His father, Glaucus, king of Corinth, is frequently identified with Glaucus the fisherman. This Glaucus of Corinth was noted for his love of horse-racing, his fashion of feeding his mares on human flesh, and his destruction by the fury of his horses; for having upset his chariot, they tore their master to pieces. As to his son, Bellerophon, the following is related: —

In Lycia a monster, breathing fire, made great havoc. The fore part of its body was a compound of the lion and the goat; the hind part was a dragon’s. The king, Iobates, sought a hero to destroy this Chimæra, as it was called. At that time Bellerophon arrived at his court. The gallant youth brought letters from Proetus, the son-in-law of Iobates, recommending Bellerophon in the warmest terms as an unconquerable hero, but adding a request to his father-in-law to put him to death. For Proetus, suspecting that his wife Antea looked with too great favor on the young warrior, schemed thus to destroy him.

Fig. 80. Bellerophon and Pegasus.
[Relief: Roscher 5: 762.]

Iobates accordingly determined to send Bellerophon against the Chimæra. Bellerophon accepted the proposal, but before proceeding to the combat, consulted the soothsayer Polyidus, who counselled him to procure, if possible, the horse Pegasus for the conflict. Now this horse had been caught and tamed by Minerva, and by her presented to the Muses. Polyidus, therefore, directed Bellerophon to pass the night in the temple of Minerva. While he slept, Minerva brought him a golden bridle. When he awoke, she showed him Pegasus drinking at the well of Pirene. At sight of the bridle, the winged steed came willingly and suffered himself to be taken. Bellerophon mounted him, sped through the air, found the Chimæra, and gained an easy victory.

After the conquest of this monster, Bellerophon was subjected to further trials and labors by his unfriendly host, but by the aid of Pegasus he triumphed over all. At length Iobates, seeing that the hero was beloved of the gods, gave him his daughter in marriage and made him his successor on the throne. It is said that Bellerophon, by his pride and presumption, drew upon himself the anger of the Olympians; that he even attempted to fly to heaven on his winged steed; but the king of gods and men sent a gadfly, which, stinging Pegasus, caused him to throw his rider, who wandered ever after lame, blind, and lonely through the Aleian field, and perished miserably.

§ 139. Hercules (Heracles).281 — Alcmene, daughter of Electryon and granddaughter of Perseus and Andromeda, was beloved of Jupiter. Their son, the mighty Hercules, born in Thebes, became the national hero of Greece. Juno, always hostile to the offspring of her husband by mortal mothers, declared war against Hercules from his birth. She sent two serpents to destroy him as he lay in his cradle, but the precocious infant strangled them with his hands. In his youth he passed for the son of his step-father Amphitryon, king of Thebes, — a grandson of Perseus and Andromeda. The lad had the best of teachers. Rhadamanthus trained him in wisdom and virtue, Linus in music. Unfortunately the latter attempted, one day, to chastise Hercules; whereupon the pupil killed the master with a lute. After this melancholy breach of discipline, the youth was rusticated, — sent off to the mountains, where among the herdsmen and the cattle he grew to mighty stature, slew the Thespian lion, and performed various deeds of valor. To him, while still a youth, appeared, according to one story, two women at a meeting of the ways, — Pleasure and Duty. The gifts offered by Duty were the “Choice of Hercules.” Soon afterward he contended with none other than Apollo for the tripod of Delphi; but reconciliation was effected between the combatants by the gods of Olympus; and from that day forth Apollo and Hercules remained true friends, each respecting the prowess of the other. Returning to Thebes, the hero aided his half-brother Iphicles and his reputed father Amphitryon in throwing off the yoke of the city of Orchomenus. Then, while in the very pride of his manhood, he was driven insane by the implacable Juno. In his madness he slew his children, and would have slain Amphitryon, also, had not Minerva knocked him over with a stone, and plunged him into a deep sleep, from which he awoke in his right mind. Next, for expiation of the bloodshed, he was rendered subject to his cousin Eurystheus and compelled to perform his commands. This humiliation, Juno, of course, had decreed.

Eurystheus enjoined upon the hero a succession of desperate undertakings, which are called the twelve “Labors of Hercules.” The first was the combat with the lion that infested the valley of Nemea, — the skin of which Hercules was ordered to bring to Mycenæ. After using in vain his club and arrows against the lion, Hercules strangled the animal with his hands, and returned, carrying its carcass on his shoulders; but Eurystheus, frightened at the sight, and at this proof of the prodigious strength of the hero, ordered him to deliver the account of his exploits, in future, outside the town.

His second labor was the slaughter of the Hydra, — a water-serpent that ravaged the country of Argos, and dwelt in a swamp near the well of Amymone. It had nine heads, of which the middle one was immortal. Hercules struck off the heads with his club; but in the place of each despatched, two new ones appeared. At last, with the assistance of his faithful nephew Iolaüs, he burned away the heads of the Hydra, and buried the ninth, which was immortal, under a rock.

His third labor was the capture of a boar that haunted Mount Erymanthus, in Arcadia. The adventure was, in itself, successful. But on the same journey Hercules made the friendship of the centaur Pholus, who receiving him hospitably, poured out for him without stint the choicest wine that the centaurs possessed. As a consequence, Hercules became involved in a broil with the other centaurs of the mountain. Unfortunately, his friend Pholus, drawing one of the arrows of Hercules from a brother centaur, wounded himself therewith, and died of the poison.

The fourth labor of Hercules was the capture of a wonderful stag of golden antlers and brazen hoofs that ranged the hills of Cerynea, between Arcadia and Achaia.

His fifth labor was the destruction of the Stymphalian birds, which with cruel beaks and sharp talons harassed the inhabitants of the valley of Stymphalus, devouring many of them.

His sixth labor was the cleaning of the Augean stables. Augeas, king of Elis, had a herd of three thousand oxen, whose stalls had not been cleansed for thirty years. Hercules bringing the rivers Alpheüs and Peneüs through them purified them thoroughly in one day.

His seventh labor was the overthrow of the Cretan bull, — an awful but beautiful brute, at once a gift and a curse bestowed by Neptune upon Minos of Crete.282 This monster Hercules brought to Mycenæ.

His eighth labor was the removal of the horses of Diomedes, king of Thrace. These horses subsisted on human flesh, were swift and fearful. Diomedes, attempting to retain them, was killed by Hercules and given to the horses to devour. They were, then, delivered to Eurystheus; but, escaping, they roamed the hills of Arcadia, till the wild beasts of Apollo tore them to pieces.

His ninth labor was of a more delicate character. Admeta, the daughter of Eurystheus, desired the girdle of the queen of the Amazons, and Eurystheus ordered Hercules to get it. The Amazons were a nation dominated by warlike women; and in their hands were many cities. It was their custom to bring up only the female children, whom they hardened by martial discipline; the boys were either despatched to the neighboring nations or put to death. Hippolyta, the queen, received Hercules kindly, and consented to yield him the girdle; but Juno, taking the form of an Amazon, persuaded the people that the strangers were carrying off their queen. They instantly armed, and beset the ship. Whereupon Hercules, thinking that Hippolyta had acted treacherously, slew her, and taking her girdle, made sail homeward.

Fig. 81. Battle with the Amazons before Troy.
[Relief on sarcophagus: Roscher 2: 279.]

The tenth task enjoined upon him was to capture for Eurystheus the oxen of Geryon, a monster with three bodies, who dwelt in the island Erythea (the red), — so called because it lay in the west, under the rays of the setting sun. This description is thought to apply to Spain, of which Geryon was king. After traversing various countries, Hercules reached at length the frontiers of Libya and Europe, where he raised the two mountains of Abyla and Calpe as monuments of his progress, — the Pillars of Hercules; — or, according to another account, rent one mountain into two, and left half on each side, forming the "Straits of Gibraltar. The oxen were guarded by the giant Eurytion and his two-headed dog; but Hercules killed the warders, and conveyed the oxen in safety to Eurystheus.

Fig. 82. Atlas bearing the world.
[Statue: Müller.]

One of the most difficult labors was the eleventh, — the robbery of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Hercules did not know where to find them; but after various adventures, arrived at Mount Atlas, in Africa. Since Atlas was the father of the Hesperides, Hercules thought he might through him obtain the apples. The hero, accordingly, taking the burden of the heavens on his own shoulders,283 sent Atlas to seek the apples. The giant returned with them, and proposed to take them himself to Eurystheus. “Even so,” said Hercules; “but, pray, hold this load for me a moment, while I procure a pad to ease my shoulders.” Unsuspectingly the giant resumed the burden of the heavens. Hercules took the apples.

His twelfth exploit was to fetch Cerberus from the lower world. To this end, he descended into Hades, accompanied by Mercury and Minerva. There he obtained permission from Pluto to carry Cerberus to the upper air, provided he could do it without the use of weapons. In spite of the monster’s struggling, he seized him, held him fast, carried him to Eurystheus, and afterward restored him to the lower regions. While in Hades, Hercules, also, obtained the liberty of Theseus, his admirer and imitator, who had been detained there for an attempt at abducting Proserpine.284

Fig. 83. Hercules and Cerberus.
[Vase picture: Müller.]

Two other exploits not recorded among the twelve labors are the victories over Antæus and Cacus. Antæus, the son of Posidon and Gæa, was a giant and wrestler, whose strength was invincible so long as he remained in contact with his mother Earth. He compelled all strangers who came to his country to wrestle with him, on condition that if conquered, they should suffer death. Hercules encountered him, and finding that it was of no avail to throw him, — for he always rose with renewed strength from every fall, — lifted him up from the earth, and strangled him in the air. Later writers tell of an army of Pygmies which, finding Hercules asleep after his defeat of Antæus, made preparations to attack him, as if they were about to attack a city. But the hero, awakening, laughed at the little warriors, wrapped some of them up in his lion’s skin, and carried them to Eurystheus.

Fig. 84. Pygmies fighting with Cranes.
[Gem: O. Jahn’s Archäol. Beiträge.]

Cacus was a giant who inhabited a cave on Mount Aventine, and plundered the surrounding country. When Hercules was driving home the oxen of Geryon, Cacus stole part of the cattle, while the hero slept. That their footprints might not indicate where they had been driven, he dragged them backward by their tails to his cave. Hercules was deceived by the stratagem, and would have failed to find his oxen, had it not happened that while he was driving the remainder of the herd past the cave where the stolen ones were concealed, those within beginning to low, discovered themselves to him. Hercules promptly despatched the thief.

Through most of these expeditions Hercules was attended by Iolaüs, his devoted friend, the son of his half-brother Iphicles.

§ 140. On the later exploits of the hero, we can dwell but briefly. Having, in a fit of madness, killed his friend Iphitus, he was condemned for the offence to spend three years as the slave of Queen Omphale. He lived effeminately, wearing at times the dress of a woman, and spinning wool with the handmaidens of Omphale, while the queen wore his lion’s skin. But during this period he contrived to engage in about as many adventures as would fill the life of an ordinary hero. He threw the bloodthirsty Lityerses285 into the river Mæander; he discovered the body of Icarus286 and buried it; he joined the company of Argonauts,287 who were on their way to Colchis to secure the golden fleece, and he captured the thievish gnomes, called Cercopes.288 In the Argonautic adventure he was attended by a lad, Hylas, whom he tenderly loved, and on whose account he deserted the expedition in Mysia.

§ 141. The Loss of Hylas.289

“… Never was Heracles apart from Hylas, not when midnoon was high in heaven, not when Dawn with her white horses speeds upwards to the dwelling of Zeus, not when the twittering nestlings look towards the perch, while their mother flaps her wings above the smoke-browned beam; and all this that the lad might be fashioned to his mind, and might drive a straight furrow, and come to the true measure of man….

“And Hylas of the yellow hair, with a vessel of bronze in his hand, went to draw water against supper-time, for Heracles himself and the steadfast Telamon, for these comrades twain supped ever at one table. Soon was he ware of a spring, in a hollow land, and the rushes grew thickly round it, and dark swallow-wort, and green maiden-hair, and blooming parsley, and deer-grass spreading through the marshy land. In the midst of the water the nymphs were arranging their dances, the sleepless nymphs, dread goddesses of the country people, Eunice, and Malis, and Nycheia, with her April eyes. And now the boy was holding out the wide-mouthed pitcher to the water, intent on dipping it; but the nymphs all clung to his hand, for love of the Argive lad had fluttered the soft hearts of all of them. Then down he sank into the black water, headlong all, as when a star shoots flaming from the sky, plumb in the deep it falls; and a mate shouts out to the seamen, ‘Up with the gear, my lads, the wind is fair for sailing.’

“Then the nymphs held the weeping boy on their laps, and with gentle words were striving to comfort him. But the son of Amphitryon was troubled about the lad, and went forth, carrying his bended bow in Scythian fashion and the club that is ever grasped in his right hand. Thrice he shouted ‘Hylas!’ as loud as his deep throat could call, and thrice again the boy heard him, and thrice came his voice from the water, and, hard by though he was, he seemed very far away. And as when a bearded lion, a ravening lion on the hills, hears the bleating of a fawn afar off, and rushes forth from his lair to seize it, his readiest meal, even so the mighty Heracles, in longing for the lad, sped through the trackless briars, and ranged over much country.

“Reckless are lovers: great toils did Heracles bear, in hills and thickets wandering; and Jason’s quest was all postponed to this…

“Thus loveliest Hylas is numbered with the Blessed; but for a runaway they girded at Heracles — the heroes — because he roamed from Argo of the sixty oarsmen. But on foot he came to Colchis and inhospitable Phasis.”

§ 142. The Expedition against Laomedon. — After his servitude under Omphale was ended, Hercules sailed with eighteen ships against Troy. For Laomedon, king of that realm, had refused to give Hercules the horses of Neptune, which he had promised in gratitude for the rescue of his daughter Hesione from the sea-monster.290 The hero, overcoming Troy, placed a son of Laomedon, Priam, upon the throne, and gave Hesione to Telamon, who, with Peleus, Oïcles, and other Greek heroes, had accompanied him. Also worthy of mention among the exploits of Hercules were his successful expeditions against Pylos and Sparta, his victory over the giants, his struggle with Death for the body and life of Alcestis,291 and his delivery, according to prophecy, of Prometheus, who, until that time, had remained in chains upon the Caucasian Mountains.292

§ 143. The Death of Hercules. — Finally the hero married Dejanira, daughter of Œneus of Calydon, and sister of Meleager of the Calydonian hunt. With her he lived happily three years. But on one occasion, as they journeyed together, they came to a river, across which the centaur Nessus carried travellers for a stated fee. Hercules proceeded to ford the river, and gave Dejanira to Nessus to be carried across. Nessus, however, attempted to make off with her; whereupon Hercules, hearing her cries, shot an arrow into his heart. The centaur as he died, bade Dejanira take a portion of his blood and keep it, saying that it might be used as a charm to preserve the love of her husband. Dejanira did so. Before long, jealous of Hercules’ fondness for Iole of Œchalia, a captive maiden, she steeped a sacrificial robe of her husband’s in the blood of Nessus. As soon as the garment became warm on the body of Hercules, the poison penetrated his limbs. In his frenzy he seized Lichas, who had brought him the fatal robe, and hurled him into the sea; then tried to wrench off the garment, but it stuck to his flesh, and tore away whole pieces of his body.

“Alcides, from Œchalia crowned
With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore,
Through pain, up by the roots Thessalian pines,
And Lichas from the top of Œta threw
Into the Euboic Sea.”293

In this state he embarked on board a ship, and was conveyed home. Dejanira, on seeing what she had unwittingly done, hanged herself. Hercules, prepared to die, ascended Mount Œta, where he built a funeral pile of trees, gave his bow and arrows to Philoctetes,294 and laid himself upon the pile, his head resting on his club, and his lion’s skin spread over him. With a countenance as serene as if he were taking his place at a festal board, he commanded Philoctetes to apply the torch. The flames spread apace, and soon invested the whole mass.295

The gods themselves grieved to see the champion of the earth so brought to his end. But Jupiter took care that only his mother’s part in him should perish by the flames. The immortal element, derived from Jupiter himself, was translated to heaven; and by the consent of the gods — even of reluctant Juno — Hercules was admitted as a deity to the ranks of the immortals. The whitearmed queen of heaven was finally reconciled to the offspring of Alcmena. She adopted him for her son, and gave him in marriage her daughter Hebe.

“Deep degraded to a coward’s slave,
Endless contests bore Alcides brave,
Through the thorny path of suffering led;
Slew the Hydra, crushed the lion’s might,
Threw himself, to bring his friend to light,
Living, in the skiff that bears the dead.
All the torments, every toil of earth,
Juno’s hatred on him could impose,
Well he bore them, from his fated birth
To life’s grandly mournful close.

“Till the god, the earthly part forsaken,
From the man in flames asunder taken,
Drank the heavenly ether’s purer breath.
Joyous in the new unwonted lightness,
Soared he upwards to celestial brightness,
Earth’s dark heavy burden lost in death.
High Olympus gives harmonious greeting
To the hall where reigns his sire adored;
Youth’s bright goddess, with a blush at meeting,
Gives the nectar to her lord.296

Here we take leave for a time of the descendants of Inachus. We shall revert to them in the stories of Minos of Crete (§ 149) and of the house of Labdacus (§ 158).

Fig. 85. The Apotheosis of Hercules.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

Chapter XVIII.
The Family of Æolus. §

§ 144. The Descendants of Deucalion. — Athamas, brother of Sisyphus, was descended from Æolus, whose father, Hellen, was the son of Deucalion of Thessaly. Athamas had, by his wife Nephele, two children, Phryxus and Helle. After a time, growing indifferent to his wife, Athamas put her away, and took Ino, the daughter of Cadmus. The unfortunate sequel of this second marriage we have already seen.297

Nephele, apprehending danger to her children from the influence of their step-mother, took measures to put them out of her reach. Mercury gave her a ram with a golden fleece, on which she set the two children. Vaulting into the air, the animal took his course to the East; but when he was crossing the strait that divides Europe and Asia, the girl Helle fell from his back into the sea, which from her was afterward called the Hellespont — now the Dardanelles. The ram safely landed the boy Phryxus in Colchis, where he was hospitably received by Æetes, the king of that country. Phryxus sacrificed the ram to Jupiter, but the fleece he gave to Æetes, who placed it in a consecrated grove, under the care of a sleepless dragon.298

§ 145. The Quest of the Golden Fleece.299 — Another realm in Thessaly, near to that of Athamas, was ruled over by his nephew Æson. Æson, although he had a son Jason, surrendered the crown to a half-brother, Pelias,300 on condition that he should hold it only during the minority of the lad. This young Jason was, by the way, a second cousin of Bellerophon and of the Atalanta who ran against Hippomenes, and a first cousin of Admetus, the husband of Alcestis.301 When, however, Jason, being grown up, came to demand the crown, his uncle Pelias with wily intent, suggested to him the glorious quest of the golden fleece. Jason, pleased with the thought, forthwith made preparations for the expedition. At that time the only species of navigation known to the Greeks consisted of small boats or canoes hollowed out from trunks of trees; when, accordingly, Jason employed Argus to build a vessel capable of containing fifty men, it was considered a gigantic undertaking. The vessel was named Argo, probably after its builder. Jason soon found himself at the head of a bold band of comrades, many of whom afterward were renowned among the heroes and demigods of Greece.

From every region of Ægea’s shore
The brave assembled; those illustrious twins
Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard;
Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed;
Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned.
On deep Iolcos’ sandy shore they thronged,
Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits, —
And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone
Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark;
Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand
Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt;
And in the extended keel a lofty mast
Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs
Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned
Their bolder steerage over ocean wave,
Led by the golden stars, as Chiron’s art
Had marked the sphere celestial.302

Theseus, Meleager, Peleus, and Nestor were also among these Argonauts, or sailors of the Argo. The ship with her crew of heroes left the shores of Thessaly, and touching at the island of Lemnos, thence crossed to Mysia and thence to Thrace. Here they found the sage Phineus, who instructed the Argonauts how they might pass the Symplegades, or Clashing Islands, at the entrance of the Euxine Sea. When they reached these islands, they, accordingly, let go a dove, which took her way between the rocks, and passed in safety, only losing some feathers of her tail. Jason and his men, seizing the favorable moment of the rebound, plied their oars with vigor, and passed safe through, though the islands closed behind them, and actually grazed the stern of the vessel. They then rowed along the shore till they arrived at the eastern end of the sea, and so landed in the kingdom of Colchis.

Fig. 86. Jason conquering the Bulls and seizing the Golden Fleece.
[Relief on sarcophagus: Roscher 18: 80.]

Jason made known his message to the Colchian king, Æetes, who consented to give up the golden fleece on certain conditions: namely, that Jason should yoke to the plough two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet; and that he, then, should sow the teeth of the dragon that Cadmus had slain. Jason, although it was well known that a crop of armed men would spring up from the teeth, destined to turn their weapons against their producer, accepted the conditions; and a time was set for the undertaking. The hero, however, wisely spent the interval in wooing Medea, the daughter of Æetes; and with such success that they plighted troth before the altar of Hecate. The princess then furnished her hero with a charm which should aid him in the contest to come.

Accordingly, when the momentous day was arrived, Jason, with calmness, encountered the fire-breathing monsters, and speedily yoked them to the plough. The Colchians stood in amazement; the Greeks shouted for joy. Next, the hero proceeded to sow the dragon’s teeth and plough them in. Up sprang, according to prediction, the crop of armed men, brandished aloft their weapons, and rushed upon Jason. The Greeks trembled for their hero. Medea herself grew pale with fear. The hero, himself, for a time, with sword and shield, kept his assailants at bay; but he surely would have been overwhelmed by the numbers had he not resorted to a charm which Medea had taught him: seizing a stone, he threw it in the midst of his foes. Immediately they turned their arms against one another, and soon there was not one of the dragon’s brood alive.

It remained only to lull to sleep the dragon that guarded the fleece. This was done by scattering over him a few drops of a preparation, which, again, Medea had supplied. Jason then seized the fleece, and with his friends and his sweetheart accompanying, hastened to the vessel. It is said that, in order to delay the pursuit of her father Æetes, Medea tore to pieces her young brother Absyrtus, and strewed fragments of him along the line of their flight. The ruse succeeded. The Argonauts arrived safe in Thessaly. Jason delivered the fleece to Pelias, and dedicated the Argo to Neptune.

§ 146. Medea and Æson.303— Medea’s career as a sorceress was, by no means, completed. At Jason’s request, she undertook next to restore his aged father Æson to the vigor of youth. To the full moon she addressed her incantations, to the stars, to Hecate, to Tellus, the goddess of the earth. In a chariot borne aloft by dragons, she traversed the fields of air to regions where flourished potent plants, which only she knew how to select. Nine nights she employed in her search, and during that period shunned all intercourse with mortals.

Next she erected two altars, the one to Hecate, the other to Hebe, and sacrificed a black sheep, — pouring libations of milk and wine. She implored Pluto and his stolen bride to spare the old man’s life. Then she directed that Æson be led forth; and throwing him into a deep sleep, she laid him on a bed of herbs, like one dead. No eye profane looked upon her mysteries. With streaming hair, thrice she moved round the altars, dipped flaming twigs in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn. Meanwhile the caldron with its contents was preparing. In it she put magic herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid juice, stones from the distant East, and sand from the shore of all-surrounding ocean, hoar frost — gathered by moonlight, a screech owl’s head and wings, and the entrails of a wolf. She added fragments of the shells of tortoises and the liver of stags — animals tenacious of life — and the head and beak of a crow, which outlives nine generations of men. These, with many other things “without a name,” she boiled together for her purposed work, stirring them with a dry olive branch. The branch when taken out instantly was green, and erelong was covered with leaves and a plentiful growth of young olives; and as the liquor boiled and bubbled, and sometimes bubbled over, the grass wherever the sprinklings fell leaped into verdure like that of spring.

Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of the old man, let out his blood, and poured into his mouth and his wound the juices of her caldron. As soon as he had completely imbibed them, his hair and beard lost their whiteness, and assumed the color of youth; his paleness and emaciation were gone; his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and robustness; and Æson, on awakening, found himself forty years younger.

§ 147. Pelias.304 — In another instance, Medea made her arts the instrument of revenge. Pelias, the usurping uncle of Jason, still kept him out of his heritage. But the daughters of Pelias wished Medea to restore their father also to youth. Medea simulated consent, but prepared her caldron for him in a new and singular way. She put in only water and a few simple herbs. In the night she persuaded the daughters of Pelias to kill him. They, at first, hesitated to strike, but, Medea chiding their irresolution, they turned away their faces and, giving random blows, smote him with their weapons. Starting from his sleep, the old man cried out, “My daughters, would you kill your father?” Whereat their hearts failed them and the weapons fell from their hands. Medea, however, struck the fatal blow.

They placed him in the caldron, but, as might be expected, with no success. Medea herself had taken care to escape before they discovered the treachery. She had, however, little profit of the fruits of her crime. Jason, for whom she had sacrificed so much, put her away, for he wished to marry Creüsa, princess of Corinth. Whereupon Medea, enraged at his ingratitude, called on the gods for vengeance: then, sending a poisoned robe as a gift to the bride, killing her own children, and setting fire to the palace, she mounted her serpent-drawn chariot and fled to Athens. There she married King Ægeus, the father of Theseus; and we shall meet her again when we come to the adventures of’ that hero.305

The incantation of Medea readily suggests that of the witches in Macbeth: —

“Round about the caldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw. —
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
… Fillet of a fenny snake
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing, —
For a charm of powerful trouble
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
… Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digged i’ the dark.”306

Chapter XIX.
The Family of Ætolus. §

§ 148. The Calydonian Hunt.307 — One of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition had been Meleager, a son of Œneus and Althæa, rulers of Calydon in Ætolia. His parents were cousins, descended from a son of Endymion named Ætolus, who had colonized that realm. By ties of kinship and marriage they were allied with many historic figures. Their daughter Dejanira had become, as we have already noted, the wife of Hercules;308 while Leda, the sister of Althæa, was mother of Castor and Pollux,309 and of Clytemnestra and Helen, intimately concerned in the Trojan War.

When her son Meleager was born, Althæa had beheld the three Destinies, who, as they spun their fatal thread, foretold that the life of the child should last no longer than a certain brand then burning upon the hearth. Althæa seized and quenched the brand, and carefully preserved it, while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth, and man’s estate. It chanced, then, that Œneus, offering sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to Diana; wherefore she, indignant at the neglect, sent a boar of enormous size to lay waste the fields of Calydon. Meleager called on the heroes of Greece to join in a hunt for the ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend Pirithoüs,310 Jason,311 Peleus,312 the father of Achilles, Telamon,313 the father of Ajax, Nestor,314 then a youth, but who in his age bore arms with Achilles and Ajax in the Trojan War,315 — these and many more joined in the enterprise. With them came, also, Atalanta, the daughter of Iasius, —

Arcadian Atalanta, snowy-souled,
Fair as the snow and footed as the wind.316

A buckle of polished gold confined her vest, an ivory quiver hung on her left shoulder, and her left hand bore the bow. Her face blended feminine beauty with the graces of martial youth. Meleager saw, and with chivalric reverence, somewhat thus addressed her: —

“For thy name’s sake and awe toward thy chaste head,
O holiest Atalanta! no man dares
Praise thee, though fairer than whom all men praise,
And godlike for thy grace of hallowed hair
And holy habit of thine eyes, and feet
That make the blown foam neither swift nor white,
Though the wind winnow and whirl it; yet we praise
Gods, found because of thee adorable
And for thy sake praiseworthiest from all men:
Thee therefore we praise also, thee as these,
Pure and a light lit at the hands of gods.”317

Fig. 87. The Calydonian Hunt.
[Relief: Baumeister.]

But there was no time then for love: on to the hunt they pushed. To the hunt went, also, Plexippus and Toxeus, brothers of Queen Althæa, braggarts, envious of Meleager. Speedily the hunters drew near the monster’s lair. They stretched strong nets from tree to tree; they uncoupled their dogs; they sought the footprints of their quarry in the grass. From the wood was a descent to marshy ground. Here the boar, as he lay among the reeds, heard the shouts of his pursuers, and rushed forth against them. One and another is thrown down and slain. Jason, Nestor, Telamon open the attack, but in vain.

… Then all abode save one,
The Arcadian Atalanta: from her side
Sprang her hounds, laboring at the leash, and slipped.
And plashed ear-deep with plunging feet; but she
Saying, “Speed it as I send it for thy sake,
Goddess,” drew bow and loosed; the sudden string
Rang, and sprang inward, and the waterish air
Hissed, and the moist plumes of the songless reeds
Moved as a wave which the wind moves no more.
But the boar heaved half out of ooze and slime,
His tense flank trembling round the barbed wound,
Hateful; and fiery with invasive eyes,
And bristling with intolerable hair,
Plunged, and the hounds clung, and green flowers and white
Reddened and broke all round them where they came.318

It was a slight wound, but Meleager saw and joyfully proclaimed it. The attack was renewed. Peleus, Amphiaraüs, Theseus, Jason, hurled their lances. Ancæus was laid low by a mortal wound. But Meleager, —

Rock-rooted, fair with fierce and fastened lips,
Clear eyes and springing muscle and shortening limb—
With chin aslant indrawn to a tightening throat,
Grave, and with gathered sinews, like a god, —
Aimed on the left side his well handled spear,
Grasped where the ash was knottiest hewn, and smote,
And with no missile wound, the monstrous boar
Right in the hairiest hollow of his hide,
Under the last rib, sheer through bulk and bone,
Deep in; and deeply smitten, and to death,
The heavy horror with his hanging shafts
Leapt, and fell furiously, and from raging lips
Foamed out the latest wrath of all his life.319

Then rose a shout from those around; they glorified the conqueror, — crowded to touch his hand. But he, placing his foot upon the head of the slain boar, turned to Atalanta, and bestowed on her the head and the rough hide — trophies of his success. Thereat she laughed —

Lit with a low blush to the braided hair,
And rose-colored and cold like very dawn,
Golden and godlike, chastely with chaste lips,
A faint grave laugh; and all they held their peace,
And she passed by them. Then one cried, “Lo now,
Shall not the Arcadian shoot out lips at us,
Saying all we were despoiled by this one girl?”
And all they rode against her violently
And cast the fresh crown from her hair, and now
They had rent her spoil away, dishonoring her,
Save that Meleager, as a tame lion chafed,
Bore on them, broke them, and as fire cleaves wood,
So clove and drove them, smitten in twain; but. she
Smote not nor heaved up hand; and this man first,
Plexippus, crying out, “This for love’s sake, Sweet,”
Drove at Meleager, who with spear straightening
Pierced his cheek through; then Toxeus made for him,
Dumb, but his spear shake; vain and violent words,
Fruitless; for him, too, stricken through both sides
The earth felt falling, …
… And these being slain,
None moved, nor spake.320

Of this fearful sequel to the hunt, Althæa has heard nothing. As she bears thank-offering to the temples for the victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered brothers meet her sight. She shrieks, and beats her breast, and hastens to change the garments of joy for those of mourning. But when the author of the deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire of vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which the Destinies have linked with Meleager’s life, she brings forth. She commands a fire to be prepared. Four times she essays to place the brand upon the pile; four times draws back, shuddering before the destruction of her son. The feelings of the mother and the sister contend within her. Now she is pale at the thought of the purposed deed, now flushed again with anger at the violence of her offspring. Finally the sister prevails over the mother: — turning away her face, she throws the fatal wood upon the burning pile. Meleager, absent and unconscious of the cause, feels a sudden pang. He burns; he calls upon those whom he loves, Atalanta and his mother. But speedily the brand is ashes, and the life of Meleager is breathed forth to the wandering winds.

When, at last, the deed was done, the mother laid violent hands upon herself.

Chapter XX.
The House of Minos. §

§ 149. Minos of Crete was a descendant of Inachus, in the sixth generation. A son of Jupiter and Europa, he was, after death, transferred, with his brother Rhadamanthus and with King Æacus, to Hades, where the three became judges of the Shades. This is the Minos mentioned by Homer and Hesiod, — the eminent law-giver. Of his grandson, Minos II., it is related that when aiming at the crown of Crete, he boasted of his power to obtain by prayer whatever he desired; and as a test, he implored Neptune to send him a bull for sacrifice. The bull appeared; but Minos, astonished at its great beauty, declined to sacrifice the brute. Neptune, therefore incensed, drove the bull wild, — worse still, drove Pasiphaë, the wife of Minos, wild with love of it. The wonderful brute was finally caught and overcome by Hercules, who rode it through the waves to Greece. But its offspring, the Minotaur, a monster, bull-headed and man-bodied, remained, for many a day, a terror to Crete, — till finally a famous artificer, Dædalus, constructed for him a labyrinth, with passages and turnings winding in and about like the river Mæander, so that whoever was enclosed in it might by no means find his way out. The Minotaur, roaming therein, lived upon human victims. For, it is said that, after Minos had subdued Megara,321 a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens was sent every year from Athens to Crete to feed this monster; and it was not until the days of Theseus of Athens that an end was put to both tribute and Minotaur.322

§ 150. Dædalus and Icarus.323 — Dædalus, who abetted the love of Pasiphaë for the Cretan bull, afterwards lost the favor of Minos, and was imprisoned by him. Seeing no other way of escape, the artificer made, out of feathers, wings for his son Icarus and himself, which he fastened on with wax. Then poising themselves in the air, they flew away. Icarus had been warned not to approach too near to the sun, and all went well till they had passed Samos and Delos on the left and Lebynthos on the right. But then the boy, exulting in his career, soared upward. The blaze of the torrid sun softened the waxen fastenings of his wings. Off they came; and down the lad dropped into the sea, which after him is named Icarian.

Fig. 88. Dædalus and Icarus.
[Relief in Villa Albani, Rome: Roscher 6: 934]

“… with melting wax and loosened strings
Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings;
Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air,
With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair;
His scattered plumage danced upon the wave,
And sorrowing Nereïds decked his watery grave;
O’er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the passing bell,
And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell.”324

Dædalus, mourning his son, arrived finally in Sicily, where, being kindly received by King Cocalus, he built a temple to Apollo, and hung up his wings, an offering to the god. But Minos, having learned of the hiding-place of the artificer, followed him to Sicily with a great fleet; and Dædalus would surely have perished had not one of the daughters of Cocalus disposed of Minos by scalding him to death while he was bathing.

It is said that Dædalus could not bear the idea of a rival. His sister had placed her son Perdix under his charge to be taught the mechanical arts. He was an apt scholar, and gave striking evidences of ingenuity. Walking on the seashore, he picked up the spine of a fish, and imitating it in iron, invented the saw. He invented, also, a pair of compasses. But Dædalus, envious of his nephew, pushed him off a tower, and killed him. Minerva, however, in pity of the boy, changed him into a bird, the partridge, which bears his name.

To the descendants of Inachus we shall again return in the account of the house of Labdacus.

Chapter XXI.
The Descendants of Cecrops and Erichthonius. §

§ 151. Cecrops325 and Erichthonius.326— Cecrops, half-snake, halfman, came from Crete or Egypt into Attica, founded Athens, and chose Minerva rather than Neptune as its guardian. His successor was Erichthonius, or Erechtheus, a snake-formed genius of the fertile soil of Attica. This Erichthonius327 was a special ward of the goddess Minerva, who brought him up in her temple. His son Pandion had two daughters, Procne and Philomela, of whom he gave the former in marriage to Tereus, king of Thrace (or of Daulis in Phocis). This ruler, after his wife had borne him a son Itys (or Itylus), wearied of her, plucked out her tongue by the roots to ensure her silence, and, pretending that she was dead, took in marriage the other sister, Philomela. Procne by means of a web, into which she wove her story, informed Philomela of the horrible truth. In revenge upon Tereus, the sisters killed Itylus, and served up the child as food to the father; but the gods, in indignation, transformed Procne into a swallow, Philomela into a nightingale, forever bemoaning the murdered Itylus, and Tereus into a hawk, forever pursuing the sisters.328

“Hark! ah, the nightingale —
The tawny-throated!
Hark, from that moonlit cedar what a burst!
What triumph! hark! — what pain!
O wanderer from a Grecian shore,
Still, after many years in distant lands,
Still nourishing in thy bewilder’d brain
That wild, unquench’d, deep-sunken, old-world pain —
Say, will it never heal?
And can this fragrant lawn
With its cool trees, and night,
And the sweet, tranquil Thames,
And moonshine, and the dew,
To thy rack’d heart and brain
Afford no calm?

“Dost thou to-night behold,
Here, through the moonlight on this English grass,
The unfriendly palace in the Thracian wild?
Dost thou again peruse,
With hot cheeks and sear’d eyes,
The too clear web and thy dumb sister’s shame?
Dost thou once more assay
Thy flight, and feel come over thee,
Poor fugitive, the feathery change
Once more, and once more seem to make resound
With love and hate, triumph and agony,
Lone Daulis, and the high Cephissian vale?
Listen, Eugenia —
How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves!
Again — thou hearest?
Eternal passion!
Eternal pain! ”329

§ 152. Theseus.330 — A descendant of Erechtheus and Pandion was Ægeus, king of Athens. By Æthra, granddaughter of Pelops, he became the father of the Attic hero, Theseus. Ægeus, on parting from Æthra, before the birth of the child, had placed his sword and shoes under a large stone, and had directed her to send the child to him if it should prove strong enough to roll away the stone and take what was under. The lad Theseus was brought up at Troezen, of which Pittheus, Æthra’s father, was king. When Æthra thought the time had come, she led Theseus to the stone. He removed it with ease, and took the sword and shoes. Since, at that time, the roads were infested with robbers, his grandfather Pittheus pressed him earnestly to take the shorter and safer way to his father’s country, by sea; but the youth, feeling in himself the spirit and the soul of a hero, and eager to signalize himself like Hercules, determined on the more perilous and adventurous journey by land.

His first day’s journey brought him to Epidaurus, where dwelt Periphetes, a son of Vulcan. This ferocious savage always went armed with a club of iron, and all travellers stood in terror of his violence; but beneath the blows of the young hero he speedily fell.

Several similar contests with the petty tyrants and marauders of the country followed, in all of which Theseus was victorious. Most important was his slaughter of Procrustes, or the Stretcher. This giant had an iron bedstead, on which he used to tie all travellers who fell into his hands. If they were shorter than the bed, he stretched them till they fitted it; if they were longer than the bed, he lopped off their limbs.

In the course of time, Theseus reached Athens; but here new dangers awaited him. For Medea, the sorceress, who had fled from Corinth after her separation from Jason,331 had become the wife of Ægeus. Knowing by her arts who the stranger was, and fearing the loss of her influence with her husband, if Theseus should be acknowledged as his son, she tried to poison the youth; but the sword which he wore discovered him to his father, and prevented the fatal draught. Medea fled to Asia, where the country afterwards called Media is said to have received its name from her. Theseus was acknowledged by his sire, and declared successor to the throne.

§ 153. Theseus and Ariadne.332— Now the Athenians were at that time in deep affliction, on account of the tribute of youths and maidens which they were forced to send to the Minotaur, dwelling in the labyrinth of Crete, — a penalty said to have been imposed by Minos upon the Athenians because Ægeus had sent Androgeüs, the son of Minos, against the Marathonian bull, and so had brought about the young man’s death.

Fig. 89. Theseus and the Minotaur.
[Wall painting: H. and P.]

From this calamity Theseus resolved to deliver his countrymen, or to die in the attempt. He, therefore, in spite of the entreaties of his father, presented himself as champion of Athens and of her fair sons and daughters, to do battle against the Minotaur; and departed with the victims in a vessel bearing black sails, which he promised his father to change for white in the event of his returning victorious. So, —

Rather than cargo on cargo of corpses undead should be wafted333
Over the ravening sea to the pitiless monster of Creta, —
Leaving the curved strand Piræan, and wooing the breezes,
Theseus furrowed the deep to the dome .superb of the tyrant.
Then as the maid Ariadne beheld him with glances of longing, —
Princess royal of Creta Minoan, tender, sequestered, —
Locked in a mother’s embrace, in seclusion virginal, fragrant,
Like some myrtle set by streaming ways of Eurotas,
Like to the varied tints that Spring invites with her breezes, —
Then, as with eager gaze she looked her first upon Theseus,
Never a whit she lowered her eyes nor ceased to consume him,
Ere to the core profound her breast with love was enkindled.
— God-born boy, thou pitiless heart, provoker of madness,
Mischievous, mingling care with the fleeting pleasure of mortals, —
Goddess of Golgi, thou, frequenter of coverts Idalian,
In what wildering seas ye tossed the impassionate maiden
Ever a-sighing, — aye for the fair-haired stranger a-sighing!
Ah, what ponderous fears oppressed her languishing bosom,
How, more pallid than gold her countenance flashed into whiteness,
What time Theseus marched unto death or to glory undying,
Manful, minded to quell the imbruted might of the monster!

Not unaided, however, did he undertake the task; for Ariadne, apprehensive lest he might lose his way in the dædalian labyrinth, furnished him with a thread, the gift of Vulcan, — which, unrolled by Theseus as he entered the maze, should enable him on his return to retrace his former path. Meanwhile, —

Fig. 90. The Sleeping Ariadne.
[Vatican: Roscher 4: 545.]

Offering artless bribes, Ariadne invoked the Immortals,
Kindled voiceless lip with unvoiced tribute of incense,
Suppliant, not in vain: for, like to an oak upon Taurus,
Gnarled, swinging his arms, — like some cone-burthened pine-tree
Oozing the life from his bark, that, riven to heart by the whirlwind,
Wholly uprooted from earth, falls prone with extravagant ruin,
Perishes, dealing doom with precipitate rush of its branches, —
So was the Cretan brute by Theseus done to destruction,
E’en so, tossing in vain his horns to the vacuous breezes,

Then with abundant laud he turned, unscathed from the combat,
Theseus, — guiding his feet unsure by the filament slender,
Lest as he threaded paths circuitous, ways labyrinthine,
Some perverse, perplexing, erratic alley might foil him.

Why should I tarry to tell how, quitting her sire, Ariadne
Quitting the sister’s arms, the infatuate gaze of the mother, —
She whose sole delight, whose life, was her desperate daughter, —
How Ariadne made less of the love of them all than of Theseus?
Why should I sing how sailing they came to the beaches of Dia, —
White with the foam, — how thence, false-hearted, the lover departing
Left her benighted with sleep, the Minoïd, princess of Creta?

Gazing amain from the marge of the flood-reverberant Dia,
Chafing with ire, indignant, exasperate, — Io, Ariadne,
Lorn Ariadne, beholds swift craft, swift lover retreating.
Nor can be sure she sees what things she sees of a surety,
When upspringing from sleep, she shakes off treacherous slumber,
Lone beholds herself on a shore forlorn of the ocean.
Carelessly hastens the youth, meantime, who, driving his oar-blades

Hard in the waves, consigns void vows to the blustering breezes.
But as, afar from the sedge, with sad eyes still the Minoid
Mute as a Mænad in stone unmoving stonily gazes —
Heart o’erwhelmed with woe— ah, thus, while thus she is gazing, —
Down from her yellow hair slips, sudden, the weed of the fine-spun
Snood, and the vesture light of her mantle down from the shoulders

Slips and the twisted scarf encircling her womanly bosom;
Stealthily gliding, slip they downward into the billow,
Fall, and are tossed by the buoyant flood to the feet of the fair one.
Nothing she recks of the coif, of the floating garment as little,
Cares not a moment then, whose care hangs only on Theseus, —
Wretched of heart, soul-wrecked, dependent only on Theseus, —
Desperate, woe-unselfed with a cureless sorrow incessant,
Frantic, bosoming torture of thorns Erycina had planted….

Then, they say, that at last, infuriate out of all measure,
Once and again she poured shrill-voiced shrieks from her bosom;
Helpless, clambered steeps, sheer beetling over the surges,
Whence to enrange with her eyes vast futile regions of ocean; —
Lifting the folds, soft folds of her garments^ baring her ankles,
Dashed into edges of upward waves that trembled before her;
Uttered, anguished then, one wail, her maddest and saddest, —
Catching with tear-wet lips poor sobs that shivering choked her: —
“Thus is it far from my home, O traitor, and far from its altars —
Thus on a desert strand, — dost leave me, treacherous Theseus?
Thus is it thou dost flout our vow, dost flout the Immortals, —

Carelessly homeward bearest, with baleful ballast of curses?
Never, could never a plea forefend thy cruelly minded
Counsel? Never a pity entreat thy bosom for shelter?…
Hence, let never a maid confide in the oath of a lover,
Never presume man’s vows hold aught trustworthy within them!
Verily, while in anguish of heart his spirit is longing,
Nothing he spares to assever, nor aught makes scruple to promise:
But, an his dearest desire, his nearest of heart be accorded —
Nothing he recks of affiance, and reckons perjury, — nothing.

“Oh! what lioness whelped thee? Oh! what desolate cavern?
What was the sea that spawned, that spat from its churning abysses,
Thee, — what wolfish Scylla, or Syrtis, or vasty Charybdis,
Thee, — thus thankful for life, dear gift of living, I gave thee?…
Had it not liked thee still to acknowledge vows that we plighted,
•Mightest thou homeward, yet, have borne me a damsel beholden,
Fain to obey thy will, and to lave thy feet like a servant,
Fain to bedeck thy couch with purple coverlet for thee.

“But to the hollow winds why stand repeating my quarrel, —
I, for sorrow unselfed, — they, but breezes insensate, —
Potent neither voices to hear nor words to re-echo?…
Yea, but where shall I turn? Forlorn, what succor rely on?
‘Haste to the Gnossian hills?’ Ah, see how distantly surging
Deeps forbid, distending their gulfs abhorrent before me!
‘Comfort my heart, mayhap, with the loyal love of my husband?’
Lo, the reluctant oar, e’en now, he plies to forsake me! —
Nought but the homeless strand of an isle remote of the ocean!
No, no way of escape, where the circling sea without shore is, —
No, no counsel of flight, no hope, no sound of a mortal;
All things desolate, dumb, yea, all things summoning deathward!
Yet mine eyes shall not fade in death that sealeth the eyelids,
Nor from the frame outworn shall fare my lingering senses,
Ere, undone, from powers divine I claim retribution —
Ere I call — in the hour supreme, on the faith of Immortals!

“Come, then, Righters of Wrong, O vengeful dealers of justice,
Braided with coil of the serpents, O Eumenides, ye of
Brows that blazon ire exhaling aye from the bosom,
Haste, oh, haste ye, hither and hear me, vehement plaining,
Destitute, fired with rage, stark-blind, demented for fury! —
As with careless heart yon Theseus sailed and forgot me,
So with folly of heart, may he slay himself and his household! ”
… Then with a nod supreme Olympian Jupiter nodded:
Quaked thereat old Earth, — quaked, shuddered the terrified waters,
Ay and the constellations in Heaven that glitter were jangled.
Straightway like some cloud on the inward vision of Theseus.
Dropped oblivion down, enshrouding vows he had cherished,
Hiding away all trace of the solemn behest of his father.

For, as was said before, Ægeus, on the departure of his son for Creta, had given him this command: “If Minerva, goddess of our city, grant thee victory over the Minotaur, hoist on thy return, when first the dear hills of Attica greet thy vision, white canvas to herald thy joy and mine, that mine eyes may see the propitious sign and know the glad day that restores thee safe to me.”

Fig. 91. Head of Bacchus.
[In Leyden: Roscher 7: 1128.]

… Even as clouds compelled by urgent push of the breezes
Float from the brow uplift of a snow-enveloped mountain,
So from Theseus passed all prayer and behest of his father.
Waited the sire meanwhile, looked out from his tower over ocean,
Wasted his anxious eyes in futile labor of weeping,
Waited expectant, — saw to the southward sails black-bellied —
Hurled him headlong down from the horrid steep to destruction, —
Weening hateful Fate had severed the fortune of Theseus.
Theseus, then, as he paced that gloom of the home of his father,
Insolent Theseus knew himself what manner of evil
He with a careless heart had aforetime dealt Ariadne, —
Fixed Ariadne that still, still stared where the ship had receded, —
Wounded, revolving in heart her countless muster of sorrows.

§ 154. Bacchus and Ariadne. — But for the deserted daughter of Minos a happier fate was yet reserved. This island, on which she had been abandoned, was Naxos, loved and especially haunted by Bacchus, where with his train of reeling devotees he was wont to hold high carnival.

Fig. 92. Bacchus finding Ariadne.
[Wall painting: Müller.]

… Sweeping over the shore, lo, beautiful, blooming Iacchus334
Chorused of Satyrs in dance and of Nysian-born Sileni, —
Seeking fair Ariadne, — afire with flame of a lover!
Lightly around him leaped Bacchantes, strenuous, frenzied,
Nodding their heads, “Euhoe!” to the cry, “Euhoe, O Bacchus!”
Some — enwreathèd spears of Iacchus madly were waving;
Some — ensanguined limbs of the builock, quivering, brandished;
Some— were twining themselves with sinuous snakes that twisted;
Some — with vessels of signs mysterious, passed in procession—

Symbols profound that in vain the profane may seek to decipher;
Certain struck with the palms — with tapered fingers on timbrels,
Others the tenuous clash of the rounded cymbals awakened; —
Brayed with a raucous roar through the turmoil many a trumpet,
Many a stridulous fife went, shrill, barbarian, shrieking.

So the grieving, much-wronged Ariadne was consoled for the loss of her mortal spouse by an immortal lover. The blooming god of the vine wooed and won her. After her death, the golden crown that he had given her was transferred by him to the heavens. As it mounted the ethereal spaces, its gems, growing in brightness, became stars; and still it remains fixed, as a constellation, between the kneeling Hercules and the man that holds the serpent.

§ 155. The Amazons. — As king of Athens, it is said that Theseus undertook an expedition against the Amazons. Assailing them before they had recovered from the attack of Hercules, he carried off their queen Antiope; but they in turn, invading the country of Athens, penetrated into the city itself; and there was fought the final battle in which Theseus overcame them.

§ 156. Theseus and Pirithoüs. — A famous friendship between Theseus and Pirithoüs of Thessaly, son of Jupiter, originated in the midst of arms. Pirithoüs had made an irruption into the plain of Marathon, and had carried off the herds of the king of Athens, Theseus went to repel the plunderers. The moment the Thessalian beheld him, he was seized with admiration; and stretching out his hand as a token of peace, he cried, “Be judge thyself, — what satisfaction dost thou require?” — “Thy friendship,” replied the Athenian; and they swore inviolable fidelity. Their deeds corresponding to their professions, they continued true brothers in arms. When, accordingly, Pirithoüs was to marry Hippodamia, daughter of Atrax, Theseus took his friend’s part in the battle that ensued between the Lapithæ (of whom Pirithoüs was king) and the Centaurs. For it happened that at the marriage feast, the Centaurs were among the guests; and one of them, Eurytion, becoming intoxicated, attempted to offer violence to the bride. Other Centaurs followed his example; combat was joined; Theseus leaped into the fray, and not a few of the guests bit the dust.

Later, each of these friends aspired to espouse a daughter of Jupiter. Theseus fixed his choice on Leda’s daughter Helen, then a child, but afterwards famous as the cause of the Trojan war; and with the aid of his friend he carried her off, only, however, to restore her at very short notice. As for Pirithoüs, he aspired to the wife of the monarch of Erebus; and Theseus, though aware of the danger, accompanied the ambitious lover to the underworld. But Pluto seized and set them on an enchanted rock at his palace gate, where, fixed, they remained till Hercules, arriving, liberated Theseus, but left Pirithoüs to his fate.

§ 157. Phædra and Hippolytus. — After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phædra, sister of the deserted Ariadne, daughter of Minos. But Phædra, seeing in Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, a youth endowed with all the graces and virtues of his father, and of an age corresponding to her own, loved him. When, however, he repulsed her advances, her love was changed to despair and hate. Hanging herself, she left for her husband a scroll containing false charges against Hippolytus. The infatuated husband, filled, therefore, with jealousy of his son, imprecated the vengeance of Neptune upon him. As Hippolytus, one day, drove his chariot along the shore, a sea-monster raised himself above the waters, and frightened the horses so that they ran away and dashed the chariot to pieces. Hippolytus was killed, but by Æsculapius was restored to life; and then removed by Diana from the power of his deluded father, was placed in Italy under the protection of the nymph Egeria.

In his old age, Theseus, losing the favor of his people, retired to the court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, who at first received him kindly, but afterwards treacherously put him to death.

Chapter XXII.
The House of Labdacus. §

§ 158. The Misfortunes of Thebes. — Returning to the descendants of Inachus, we find that the curse which fell upon Cadmus when he slew the dragon of Mars followed inexorably every scion of his house. His daughters, Semele, Ino, Autonoë, Agave, — his grandsons, Melicertes, Actæon, Pentheus, — lived sorrowful lives, or suffered violent deaths. The misfortunes of one branch of his family, sprung from his son Polydorus, remain to be told. The curse seemed to have spared Polydorus himself. His son Labdacus, also, lived a quiet life as king of Thebes, and left a son, Lams upon the throne. But ere long Laïus was warned by an oracle that there was danger to his throne and life if his son, new-born, should reach man’s estate. He, therefore, committed the child to a herdsman, with orders for its destruction; but the herdsman, moved with pity, yet not daring entirely to disobey, pierced the child’s feet, purposing to expose him to the elements on Mount Cithæron.

§ 159. Œdipus.335 — In this plight the infant was given to a tender-hearted fellow-shepherd, who carried him to King Polybus of Corinth and his queen, by whom he was adopted and called Œdipus, or Swollen-foot.

Many years afterward, Œdipus, learning from an oracle that he was destined to be the death of his father, left the realm of his reputed sire, Polybus. It happened, however, that Laïus was then driving to Delphi, accompanied only by one attendant. In a narrow road he met Œdipus, also in a chariot. On the refusal of the youthful stranger to leave the way at their command, the attendant killed one of his horses. Œdipus, consumed with rage, slew both Laïus and the attendant; and thus unknowingly fulfilled both oracles.

Shortly after this event, the city of Thebes, to which Œdipus had repaired, was afflicted with a monster that infested the highroad. It was called the Sphinx. It had the body of a lion, and the upper part of a woman. It lay crouched, on the top of a rock, and arresting all travellers who came that way, propounded to them a riddle, with the condition that those who could solve it should pass safe, but those who failed should be killed. Not one had yet succeeded in guessing it. Œdipus, not daunted by these alarming accounts, boldly advanced to the trial. The Sphinx asked him, “What animal is it that in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?” Œdipus replied, “Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age goes with the aid of a staff.” The Sphinx, mortified at the collapse of her riddle, cast herself down from the rock and perished.

§ 160. Œdipus, the King. — In gratitude for their deliverance, the Thebans’ made Œdipus their king, giving him in marriage their queen, Jocasta. He, ignorant of his parentage, had already become, the slayer of his father; in marrying the queen he became the husband of his mother. These horrors remained undiscovered, till, after many years, Thebes, being afflicted with famine and pestilence, the oracle was consulted, and, by a series of coincidences, the double crime of Œdipus came to light. At once, Jocasta put an end to her life by hanging herself. As for Œdipus, horror-struck, —

When her form
He saw, poor wretch! with one wild fearful cry,
The twisted rope he loosens, and she fell,
Ill-starred one, on the ground. Then came a sight
Most fearful. Tearing from her robe the clasps,
All chased with gold, with which she decked herself,
He with them struck the pupils of his eyes,
With words like these: “Because they had not seen
What ills he suffered, and what ills he did,
They in the dark should look, in time to come,
On those whom they ought never to have seen,
Nor know the dear ones whom he fain had known.”
With such like wails, not once or twice alone,
Raising his eyes he smote them, and the balls,
All bleeding, stained his cheek.336

§ 161. Œdipus at Colonus. — After these sad events, Œdipus would have left Thebes, but the oracle forbade the people to let him go. Jocasta’s brother, Creon, was made regent of the realm for the two sons of Œdipus. But, after Œdipus had grown content to stay, these sons of his, with Creon, thrust him into exile. Accompanied by his daughter Antigone, he went begging through the land. His other daughter, Ismene, at first, stayed at home. Cursing the sons who had abandoned him, but bowing his own will in submission to the ways of God, Œdipus approached the hour of his death in Colonus, a village near Athens. His friend Theseus, king of Athens, comforted and sustained him to the last. Both his daughters were, also, with him: —

And then he called his girls, and bade them fetch
Clear water from the stream, and bring to him
For cleansing and libation. And they went,
Both of them, to yon hill we look upon,
Owned by Demeter of the fair green corn,
And quickly did his bidding, bathed his limbs,
And clothed them in the garment that is meet.
And when he had his will in all they did,
And not one wish continued unfulfilled,
Zeus from the dark depths thundered, and the girls
Heard it, and shuddering, at their father’s knees,
Falling they wept; nor did they then forbear
Smiting their breasts, nor groanings lengthened out;
And when he heard their bitter cry, forthwith
Folding his arms around them, thus he spake:
“My children, on this day ye cease to have
A father. All my days are spent and gone;
And ye no more shall lead your wretched life,
Caring for me. Hard was it, that I know,
My children! Yet one word is strong to loose,
Although alone, the burden of these toils,
For love in larger store ye could not have
From any than from him who standeth here,
Of who bereaved ye now shall live your life.337

Pl. 14. Œdipus and Antigone.

There was sobbing, then silence. Then a voice called him, — and he followed. God took him from his troubles. Antigone returned to Thebes; — where, as we shall see, her sisterly fidelity showed itself as true as, aforetime, her filial affection.

Her brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, had meanwhile agreed to share the kingdom between them, and to reign alternately year by year. The first year fell to the lot of Eteocles, who, when his time expired, refused to surrender the kingdom to his brother. Polynices, accordingly, fled to Adrastus, king of Argos, who gave him his daughter in marriage, and aided him with an army to enforce his claim to the kingdom. These causes led to the celebrated expedition of the “Seven against Thebes,” which furnished ample materials for the epic and tragic poets of Greece. And here the younger heroes of Greece make their appearance.

Chapter XXIII.
The Younger Heroes. §

§ 162. Their Exploits. — The exploits of the sons and grandsons of the chieftains engaged in the Calydonian Hunt and the Quest of the Golden Fleece are narrated in four stories,— the Seven against Thebes, the Siege of Troy, the Wanderings of Ulysses, and the Adventures of Æneas.

§ 163. The Seven against Thebes.338 — The allies of Adrastus and Polynices in the enterprise against Thebes were Tydeus of Calydon, half-brother of Meleager, Parthenopœus of Arcadia, son of Atalanta and Mars, Capaneus of Argos, Hippomedon of Argos, and Amphiaraüs, the brother-in-law of Adrastus. Amphiaraüs opposed the expedition, for being a soothsayer, he knew that none of the leaders except Adrastus would live to return from Thebes; but on his marriage to Eriphyle, the king’s sister, he had agreed that whenever he and Adrastus should differ in opinion, the decision should be left to Eriphyle. Polynices, knowing this, gave Eriphyle the necklace of Harmonia, and thereby gained her to his interest. This was the self-same necklace that Vulcan had given to Harmonia on her marriage with Cadmus; Polynices had taken it with him on his flight from Thebes. It seems to have been still fraught with the curse of the house of Cadmus. But Eriphyle could not resist so tempting a bribe. By her decision the war was resolved on, and Amphiaraüs went to his fate. He bore his part bravely in the contest, but still could not avert his destiny. While, pursued by the enemy he was fleeing along the river, a thunderbolt launched by Jupiter opened the ground, and he, his chariot, and his charioteer were swallowed up.

It is unnecessary here to detail all the acts of heroism or atrocity which marked this contest. The fidelity, however, of Evadne stands out as an offset to the weakness of Eriphyle. Her husband, Capaneus, having in the ardor of the fight declared that he would force his way into the city in spite of Jove himself, placed a ladder against the wall and mounted; but Jupiter, offended at his impious language, struck him with a thunderbolt. When his obsequies were celebrated, Evadne cast herself on his funeral pile and perished.

It seems that early in the contest Eteocles consulted the soothsayer Tiresias as to the issue. Now, this Tiresias in his youth had by chance seen Minerva bathing; and had been deprived by her of his sight, but afterwards had obtained of her the knowledge of future events. When consulted by Eteocles, he declared that victory should fall to Thebes if Menoeceus, the son of Creon, gave himself a voluntary victim. The heroic youth, learning the response, threw away his life in the first encounter.

The siege continued long, with various success. At length both hosts agreed that the brothers should decide their quarrel by single combat. They fought, and fell each by the hand of the other. The armies then renewed the fight; and at last the invaders were forced to yield, and fled, leaving their dead unburied. Creon, the uncle of the fallen princes, now become king, caused Eteocles to be buried with distinguished honor, but suffered the body of Polynices to lie where it fell, forbidding every one, on pain of death, to give it burial.

§ 164. Antigone,339 the sister of Polynices, heard with indignation the revolting edict which, consigning her brother’s body to the dogs and vultures, deprived it of the rites that were considered essential to the repose of the dead. Unmoved by the dissuading counsel of her affectionate but timid sister, and unable to procure assistance, she determined to brave the hazard and to bury the body with her own hands. She was detected in the act. When Creon asked the fearless woman whether she dared disobey the laws, she answered: —

Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,
Nor justice, dwelling with the gods below,
Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;
Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,
That thou, a mortal man, should’st overpass
The unwritten laws of God that know no change.
They are not of to-day nor yesterday,
But live forever, nor can man assign
When first they sprang to being. Not through fear
Of any man’s resolve was I prepared
Before the gods to bear the penalty
Of sinning against these. That I should die
I knew (how should I not?), though thy decree
Had never spoken. And before my time
If I shall die, I reckon this a gain;
For whoso lives, as I, in many woes,
How can it be but he shall gain by death?
And so for me to bear this doom of thine
Has nothing fearful. But, if I had left
My mother’s son unburied on his death,
In that I should have suffered; but in this
I suffer not.340

Creon, unyielding and unable to conceive of a law higher than that he knew, gave orders that she should be buried alive, as having deliberately set at nought the solemn edict of the city. Her lover, Hæmon, the son of Creon, unable to avert her fate, would not survive her, and fell by his own hand. It is only after his son’s death, and as he gazes upon the corpses of the lovers, that the aged Creon recognizes the insolence of his narrow judgment. And those that stand beside him say: —

Man’s highest blessedness
In wisdom chiefly stands;
And in the things that touch upon the gods,
’Tis best in word or deed,
To shun unholy pride;
Great words of boasting bring great punishments,
And so to gray-haired age
Teach wisdom at the last.341

§ 164ª. The Epigoni.342 — Such was the fall of the house of Labdacus. The bane of Cadmus expires with the family of Œdipus. But the wedding gear of Harmonia has not yet fulfilled its baleful mission. Amphiaraüs had, with his last breath, enjoined his son Alcmæon to avenge him on the faithless Eriphyle. Alcmæon engaged his word; but before accomplishing the fell purpose, he was ordered by an oracle of Delphi to conduct against Thebes a new expedition. Thereto his mother Eriphyle, influenced by Thersander, the son of Polynices, and bribed this time by the gift of Harmonia’s wedding garment, impelled not only Alcmæon, but her other son, Amphilochus. The descendants (Epigoni) of the former Seven thus renewed the war against Thebes. They levelled the city to the ground. Its inhabitants, counselled by Tiresias, took refuge in foreign lands. Tiresias, himself, perished during the flight. Alcmæon, returning to Argos, put his mother to death, but in consequence repeated in his own experience the penalty of Orestes. The outfit of Harmonia preserved its malign influence until, at last, it was devoted to the temple at Delphi, and removed from the sphere of mortal jealousies.

Chapter XXIV.
Houses Concerned in the Trojan War. §

Map 4. Orbis Terrarum ex Sententia Homeri.

Map 5. Troas et Hellespontus

§ 165. Three Houses Concerned. — Before entering upon the causes of the war against Troy, we must notice the three Grecian families that were principally concerned, — those of Peleus, Atreus, and Tyndareus.

§ 165ª. Peleus343 was the son of Æacus and grandson of Jove. It was for his father Æacus, king of Phthia in Thessaly, that, as we have seen, an army of Myrmidons was created by Jupiter. Peleus joined the expedition of the Argonauts; and on that journey beheld and fell in love with the sea-nymph Thetis, daughter of Nereus and Doris. Such was the beauty of the nymph that Jupiter himself had sought her in marriage; but having learned from Prometheus, the Titan, that Thetis should bear a son who should be greater than his father, the Olympian desisted from his suit, and decreed that Thetis should be the wife of a mortal. By the aid of Chiron, the Centaur, Peleus succeeded in winning the goddess for his bride. In this marriage to be productive of momentous results for mortals, the immortals manifested a lively interest. They thronged with the Thessalians to the wedding in Pharsalia; they honored the wedding feast with their presence, and reclining on ivory couches, gave ear while the three Sisters of Fate, in responsive strain, chanted the fortunes or Achilles, — the future hero of the Trojan War, — the son that should spring from this union of a goddess with a mortal. The following is from a translation of the famous poem, The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis: —

… Now, on the day foreset, Aurora forsaking the ocean344
Crimsons the orient sky: all Thessaly, seeking the palace,
Fares to the royal seat, in populous muster exultant,
Heavy of hand with gifts, but blithesome of cheer for the joyance.
Scyros behind they leave, they leave Phthiotican Tempe,
Crannon’s glittering domes and the battlements Larisssæan,
Cumber Pharsalia, throng the abodes and the streets of Pharsalus.
Fields, meanwhile are untilled, grow tender the necks of the oxen,
None with the curving teeth of the harrow cleareth the vineyard,
None upturneth the glebe with bulls and the furrowing ploughshare,
None with gardener’s knife lets light through the branches umbrageous;
Squalid the rust creeps up o’er ploughs forgotten of ploughmen.

Bright is the palace, ay, through far retreating recesses
Blazing for sheen benign of the opulent gold and the silver:
Ivory gleams on the thrones, great goblets glint on the tables,
Glitters the spacious home, made glad with imperial splendor, —
Ay, but most — in the hall midmost — is the couch of the goddess,
Glorious, made of the tusks of the Indian elephant — polished—
Spread with a wonder of quilt empurpled with dye of the sea-shell.

On this coverlet of purple were embroidered various scenes illustrating the lessons of heroism and justice that the poet would inculcate: to the good falleth good; to the evil, evil speedily. Therefore, the story of Theseus and Ariadne, which has already been recounted, was here displayed in cunning handiwork. For, Theseus, the false lover, bold of hand but bad of heart, gained by retributive justice undying ruth and misery; whereas Ariadne, the injured and innocent, restored to happiness, won no less a reward than Bacchus himself. Gorgeously woven with such antique and heroic figures was the famous quilt upon the couch of Thetis. For a season the wedding guests feasted their eyes upon it: —

Then when Thessaly’s youth, long gazing, had of the wonder
Their content, they gan give place to the lords of Olympus.
As when Zephyr awakes the recumbent billows of ocean,
Roughens the placid deep with eager breath of the morning,
Urges the waves, and impels, to the threshold of journeying Phœbus, —
They, at first, blown outward unroughly when Dawn is a-rising,
Limp slow-footed, and loiter with laughter lightsomely plashing,
But, with the freshening gale, creep quicker and thicker together,
Till on horizon they float refulgent of luminous purple, —
So from the portal withdrawing the pomp Thessalian departed
Faring on world-wide ways to the far-off homes of their fathers.

Now when they were aloof, drew nigh from Pelion’s summit
Chiron bearing gifts from copses and glades of the woodland —
Gifts that the meadows yield: what flowers on Thessaly’s mountains,
Or, by waves of the stream, the prolific breath of the West Wind,
Warming, woos to the day, all such in bunches assorted
Bore he. Flattered with odors the whole house brake into laughter.
Came there next Peneus, abandoning verdurous Tempe —
Tempe embowered deep mid superimpendent forests.

And after the river-god, who bore with him nodding plane-trees and lofty beeches, straight slim laurels, the lithe poplars, and the airy cypress to plant about the palace that thick foliage might give it shade, followed Prometheus, the bold and cunning of heart, wearing still the marks of his ancient punishment on the rocks of Caucasus. Finally the father of the gods himself came, with his holy spouse and his offspring, — all, save Phœbus and his one sister, who naturally looked askance upon a union to be productive of untold misfortune to their favored town of Troy.

… When now the gods had reclined their limbs on the ivory couches,
Viands many and rare were heaped on the banqueting tables,
Whilst the decrepit Sisters of Fate, their tottering bodies
Solemnly swayed, and rehearsed their soothfast vaticination.
— Lo, each tremulous frame was wrapped in robe of a whiteness,
Down to the ankles that fell, with nethermost border of purple,
While on ambrosial brows there rested fillets like snowflakes.
They, at a task eternal their hands religiously plying,
Held in the left on high, with wool enfolded, a distaff,
Delicate fibres wherefrom, drawn down, were shaped by the right hand —
Shaped by fingers upturned, — but the down-turned thumb set a-whirling,
Poised with perfected whorl, the industrious shaft of the spindle.

Still, as they span, as they span, was the tooth kept nipping and smoothing,
And to the withered lip clung morsels of wool as they smoothed it —
Filaments erstwhile rough that stood from the twist of the surface.
Close at their feet, meantime, were woven baskets of wicker
Guarding the soft white balls of the wool resplendent within them.
Thus then, parting the strands, these Three with resonant voices
Uttered, in chant divine, predestined sooth of the future —
Prophecy neither in time, nor yet in eternity, shaken.

“Thou that exaltest renown of thy name with the name of thy valor,
Bulwark Emathian, blest above sires in the offspring of promise,
Hear with thine ears this day what oracles fall from the Sisters
Chanting the fates for thee; — but you, ye destiny-drawing
Spindles, hasten the threads of the destinies set for the future!

“Rideth the orb upon high that heralds boon unto bridegrooms —
Hesperus, — cometh anon with star propitious the virgin,
Speedeth thy soul to subdue — submerge it with love at the flood-tide.
Hasten, ye spindles, and run, yea, gallop, ye thread-running spindles!

“Erstwhile, never a home hath roofed like generous loving,
Never before hath Love conjoined lovers so dearly, —
Never with harmony such as endureth for Thetis and Peleus.
Hasten; ye spindles, and run, yea, gallop, ye thread-running spindles!

“Born unto you shall be the undaunted heart of Achilles,
Aye, by his brave breast known, unknown by his back to the foeman, —
Victor in onslaught, victor in devious reach of the race-course,
Fleeter of foot than feet of the stag that lighten and vanish, —
Hasten, ye spindles, and run, yea, gallop, ye thread-running spindles!”

So the sisters prophesied the future of the hero, Achilles. How by him the Trojans should fall, as fall the ears of corn when they are yellow before the scythe, — how because of him Scamander should run red, warm with blood, choked with blind bodies, into the whirling Hellespont; how finally he, himself, in his prime, should fall, and how on his tomb should be sacrificed the fair Polyxena, daughter of Priam, whom he had loved. “So,” says Catullus , “sang the Fates. For those were the days before piety and righteous action were spurned by mankind, the days when Jupiter and his immortals deigned to consort with zealous man, to enjoy the sweet odor of his burnt-offering, to march beside him to battle, to swell his shout in victory and his lament in defeat, to smile on his peaceful harvests, to recline at his banquets, and to bless the weddings of fair women and goodly heroes. But now, alas,” concludes Catullus , “godliness and chastity, truth, wisdom, and honor have departed from among men”: —

Wherefore the gods no more vouchsafe their presence to mortals,
Suffer themselves no more to be touched by the ray of the morning.
But there were gods in the pure, — in the golden prime of the Ages.

§ 165b. Atreus was the son of Pelops and Hippodamia and grandson of Tantalus, therefore great-grandson of Jove. Both by blood and by marriage he was connected with Theseus. He took to wife Aërope, granddaughter of Minos II., king of Crete, and by her had two sons, Agamemnon, the general of the Grecian army in the Trojan War, and Menelaüs, at whose solicitation the war was undertaken. Of Atreus it may be said that with cannibal atrocity like that of his grandsire, Tantalus, he on one occasion wreaked his vengeance on a brother, Thyestes, by causing him to eat the flesh of two of his own children. A son of this Thyestes, Ægisthus by name, revived, in due time, against Agamemnon the treacherous feud that had existed between their fathers.

§ 165c. Tyndareus was king of Lacedæmon (Sparta). His wife was Leda, daughter of Thestius of Calydon, and sister of Althæa, the mother of Meleager and Dejanira. To Tyndareus Leda bore Castor and Clytemnestra; to Jove she bore Pollux and Helen. The two former were mortal; the two latter, immortal. Clytemnestra was married to Agamemnon of Mycenæ, to whom she bore three children, — Electra, Iphigenia, and Orestes. Helen, the fair immediate cause of the Trojan War, became the wife of Menelaüs, who with her obtained the kingdom of Sparta.

§ 166. Castor and Pollux are mentioned here because of their kinship with Helen. They had, however, disappeared from earth before the Siege of Troy was undertaken. They are famous for their fraternal affection. Endowed with various manly virtues, — Castor, a horse-tamer, Pollux, a boxer, — they made all expeditions in common. Together, they joined the Calydonian hunt. Together, they accompanied the Argonauts. During the voyage to Colchis it is said that, a storm arising, Orpheus prayed to the Samothracian gods, and played on his harp, and that when the storm ceased, stars appeared on the heads of the brothers. Hence they came to be honored as patrons of voyagers.

When Theseus and his friend Pirithoüs had carried off Helen from Sparta, the youthful heroes, Castor and Pollux, with their followers, hasted to her rescue. Theseus being absent from Attica, the brothers recovered their sister. Still later, we find Castor and Pollux engaged in a combat with Idas and Lynceus of Messene, whose brides they had attempted to abduct. Castor was slain; but Pollux, inconsolable for the loss of his brother, besought Jupiter to be permitted to give his own life as a ransom for him. Jupiter so far consented as to allow the two brothers to enjoy the boon of life alternately, each spending one day under the earth and the next in the heavenly abodes. According to another version, Jupiter rewarded the attachment of the brothers by placing them among the stars as Gemini, the Twins. They received heroic honors as the Tyndaridæ (sons of Tyndareus); divine honors they received under the name of Dioscuri (sons of Jove).

So like they were, no mortal
Might one from other know;
White as snow their armor was,
Their steeds were white as snow.
Never on earthly anvil
Did such rare armor gleam,
And never did such gallant steeds
Drink of an earthly stream.

… Back comes the chief in triumph
Who in the hour of fight
Hath seen the great Twin Brethren
In harness on his right.
Safe comes the ship to haven,
Through billows and through gales
If once the great Twin Brethren
Sit shining on the sails.345

Chapter XXV.
The Trojan War. §

Fig. 93. Venus bringing together Paris and Helen.
[Relief in Naples: Roscher 12: 1938.]

… At length I saw a lady within call,
Stiller than chisell’d marble, standing there;
A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,
And most divinely fair.

Her loveliness with shame and with surprise
Froze my swift speech: she turning on my face
The star-like sorrows of immortal eyes,
Spoke slowly in her place.

“I had great beauty: ask thou not my name:
No one can be more wise than destiny.
Many drew swords and died. Where’er I came
I brought calamity.” 346

§ 167. Its Origin. — At the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis all the gods had been invited with the exception of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, the goddess threw a golden apple among the guests, with the inscription, “For the fairest.” Thereupon Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the apple. Not willing to decide so delicate a matter, Jupiter sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, was tending his flocks; and to him was committed the judgment. The goddesses appeared before him. Juno promised him power and riches, Minerva glory and renown in war, Venus the fairest of women for his wife, — each attempting to bias the judge in her own favor. Paris decided in favor of the last, thus making the two other goddesses his enemies. Under the protection of the goddess of love, he soon afterwards sailed to Greece. Here, he was hospitably received by Menelaüs, whose wife, Helen, as fairest of her sex, was unfortunately the prize destined for Paris. This fair queen had in time past been sought by numerous suitors; but before her decision was made known, they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, son of Laërtes, king of Ithaca, had taken an oath that they would sustain her choice and avenge her cause if necessary. She was living happily with Menelaüs when Paris becoming their guest made love to her; and then, aided by Venus, persuaded her to elope with him, and carried her to Troy. From this cause arose the famous Trojan War, — the theme of the greatest poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Vergil.

Menelaüs called upon the chieftains of Greece to aid him in recovering his wife. They came forward with a few exceptions. Ulysses, for instance, who had married a cousin of Helen’s, Penelope,347 daughter of Icarius, was happy in his wife and child, and loth to embark in the troublesome affair. Palamedes was sent to urge him. But when Palamedes arrived at Ithaca, Ulysses pretended madness. He yoked an ass and an ox together to the plough, and began to sow salt. The ambassador, to try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon the father turning the plough aside, showed that his insanity was a mere pretence. Being himself gained for the undertaking, Ulysses lent his aid to bring in other reluctant chiefs, especially Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis. Thetis being herself one of the immortals, and knowing that her son was fated to perish before Troy if he went on the expedition, endeavored to prevent his going. She, accordingly, sent him to the court of King Lycomedes of the island of Scyros, and induced him to conceal himself in the disguise of a maiden among the daughters of the king. Hearing that the young Achilles was there, Ulysses went disguised as a merchant to the palace, and offered for sale female ornaments, among which had been placed some arms. Forgetting the part he had assumed, Achilles handled the weapons, and thereby betrayed himself to Ulysses, who found no great difficulty in persuading him to disregard his mother’s counsels and join his countrymen in the war.

Fig. 94. Achilles taken from Scyros by Ulysses and Diomedes.
[Pompeian Wall painting: Roscher 1: 27.]

It seems that from early youth Paris had been reared in obscurity, because there were forebodings that he would be the ruin of the state. These forebodings appeared, at last, likely to be realized; for the Grecian armament now in preparation was the greatest that had ever been fitted out. Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ and brother of Menalaüs, was chosen commander-in-chief. Pre-eminent among the warriors was the swift-footed Achilles. After him ranked his cousin Ajax, the son of Telamon, gigantic in size and of great courage, but dull of intellect; Diomede, the son of Tydeus, second only to Achilles in all the qualities of a hero; Ulysses, famous for sagacity; and Nestor, the oldest of the Grecian chiefs, — to whom they all looked up for counsel.

But Troy was no feeble enemy. Priam the king, son of Laomedon and brother of Tithonus and Hesione, was now old; but he had been a wise prince, and had strengthened his state by good government at home and numerous alliances with his neighbors. By his wife Hecuba, he had a numerous family; but the principal stay and support of his throne was his son Hector, one of the noblest figures of antiquity. He had, from the first, a presentiment of the ruin of Troy, but still he persevered in heroic resistance, though he by no means justified the wrong which brought this danger upon his country. He was united in marriage with the noble Andromache, and as husband and father his character was not less admirable than as warrior. The principal leaders on the side of the Trojans, beside Hector, were his relative, Æneas, the son of Venus and Anchises, Deiphobus, Glaucus, and Sarpedon.

Iphigenia in Aulis. — After two years of preparation, the Greek fleet and army assembled in the port of Aulis in Bœotia. Here Agamemnon, while hunting, killed a stag that was sacred to Diana. The goddess in retribution visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm which prevented the ships from leaving the port. Thereupon, Calchas the soothsayer announced that the wrath of the virgin goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin, and that none other but the daughter of the offender would be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, submitted to the inevitable, and sent for his daughter Iphigenia, under the pretence that her marriage to Achilles was to be at once performed. But, in the moment of sacrifice, Diana, relenting, snatched the maiden away and left a hind in her place. Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was conveyed to Tauris, where Diana made her priestess of her temple.348

Iphigenia is represented as thus describing her feelings at the moment of sacrifice: —

“I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears;
My father held his hand upon his face;
I, blinded by my tears,

“Still strove to speak: my voice was thick with sighs,
As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes,
Waiting to see me die.

“The high masts flickered as they lay afloat;
The crowds, the temples, wavered, and the shore;
The bright death quivered at the victim’s throat;
Touched; and I knew no more.”349

Protesilaüs and Laodamia. — The wind now proving fair, the fleet made sail and brought the forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans opposed their landing; and at the first onset one of the noblest of the Greeks, Protesilaüs, fell by the hand of Hector. This Protesilaüs had left at home his wife Laodamia (a niece of Alcestis), — who was most tenderly attached to him. The story runs that when the news of his death reached her, she implored the gods for leave to converse with him if but for three hours. The request was granted. Mercury led Protesilaüs back to the upper world; and when the hero died a second time Laodamia died with him. It is said that the nymphs planted elm trees round his grave, which flourished till they were high enough to command a view of Troy, then withered away, giving place to fresh branches that sprang from the roots.

Wordsworth has taken the story of Protesilaüs and Laodamia for a poem invested with the atmosphere of the classics. The oracle, according to the tradition, had declared that victory should be the lot of that party from which should fall the first victim in the war. The poet represents the Protesilaüs, on his brief return to earth, relating to Laodamia the story of his fate: —

“The wished-for wind was given; I then revolved
The oracle upon the silent sea;
And if no worthier led the way, resolved
That of a thousand vessels mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand, —
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.

“Yet bitter, oft-times bitter was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved Wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life, —
The paths which we had trod — these fountains, flowers;
My new-planned cities and unfinished towers.

“But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
‘Behold they tremble! — haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die?’
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Old frailties then recurred: — but lofty thought
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.”…

… Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever when such stature they had gained
That Ilium’s walls were subject to their view,
The trees’ tall summits withered at the sight:
A constant interchange of growth and blight!

§ 168. Homer’s Iliad.350 — The war continued without decisive result for nine years. Then an event occurred which seemed likely to prove fatal to the cause of the Greeks, — a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. It is at this point that the great poem of Homer, the Iliad, begins.

The Wrath of Achilles. — The Greeks, though unsuccessful against Troy, had taken the neighboring and allied cities; and in the division of the spoil a female captive, by name Chryseis, daughter of Chryses, priest of Apollo, had fallen to the share of Agamemnon. Chryses came bearing the sacred emblems of his office, and begged the release of his daughter. Agamemnon refused. Thereupon Chryses implored Apollo to afflict the Greeks till they should be forced to yield their prey.351 Apollo granted the prayer of his priest, and sent such pestilence upon the Grecian camp, that a council was called to deliberate how to allay the wrath of the gods and avert the plague. Achilles boldly charged the misfortunes upon Agamemnon as caused by his withholding Chryseis. Agamemnon, in anger, consented, thereupon, to relinquish his captive, but demanded that Achilles should yield to him in her stead Briseis, a maiden who had fallen to that hero’s share in the division of the spoil. Achilles submitted, but declared that he would take no further part in the war, — withdrew his forces from the general camp, and avowed his intention of returning to Greece.

Fig. 95. The Surrender of Briseis.
[Pomp, wall painting: Roscher 5: 820.]

The Enlistment of the Gods. — The gods and goddesses interested themselves as much in this famous siege as did the parties themselves. It was well known in heaven that fate had decreed the fall of Troy, if her enemies only persevered. Yet there was room for chance sufficient to excite by turns the hopes and fears of the powers above who took part with either side. Juno and Minerva, in consequence of the slight put upon their charms by Paris, were hostile to the Trojans; Venus for the opposite cause favored them; she enlisted, also, her admirer Mars on the same side. Neptune favored the Greeks. Apollo was neutral, sometimes taking one side, sometimes the other. Jove himself, though he loved Priam, exercised a degree of impartiality, — not, however, without exceptions.

Resenting the injury done by Agamemnon to her son, Thetis repaired to Jove’s palace and besought him to grant success to the Trojan arms and so make the Greeks repent of their injustice to Achilles. Jupiter consented; and in the battle which ensued the Trojans were completely successful. The Greeks were driven from the field and took refuge in their ships.

Then Agamemnon, king of men, called a council of his wisest and bravest chiefs. In the debate that ensued, Nestor advised that an embassy should be sent to Achilles persuading him to return to the field; and that Agamemnon should yield the maiden, the cause of dispute, with ample gifts to atone for the wrong he had done. Agamemnon assented; and Ulysses, Ajax, and Phœnix were sent to carry to Achilles the penitent message. They performed that duty, but Achilles was deaf to their entreaties. He positively refused to return to the attack, and persisted in his determination to embark for Greece without delay.

Meanwhile the Greeks having constructed a rampart around their ships were now, instead of besieging Troy, in a manner themselves besieged, within their rampart. The next day after the unsuccessful embassy to Achilles, another battle was fought, after which the Trojans, favored by Jove, succeeded in forcing a passage through the Grecian rampart, and were about to set fire to the ships. But Neptune, seeing the Greeks hard pressed, came to their rescue. Appearing in the form of Calchas the prophet, he raised the ardor of the warriors to such a pitch that they forced the Trojans to give way. Here Ajax, son of Telamon, performed prodigies of valor. Bearing his massy shield, and “shaking his far shadowing spear,” he encountered Hector.352 The Greek shouted defiance, to which Hector replied, and hurled his lance at the huge warrior. It was well aimed and struck Ajax where the belts that bore his sword and shield crossed each other on the breast, but the double guard prevented its penetrating, and it fell harmless. Then Ajax seizing a huge stone, one of those that served to prop the ships, hurled it at Hector. It struck him near the neck and stretched him on the plain. His followers instantly seized him and bore him off stunned and wounded.

96. Hector fighting before the Ships.
[Gem: Roscher 12: 1921.]

While Neptune was thus aiding the Greeks and driving back the Trojans, Jupiter saw nothing of what was going on, for his attention had been drawn from the field by the wiles of Juno. That goddess had arrayed herself in all her charms, and to crown all had borrowed of Venus her girdle, the Cestus, which enhanced the wearer’s charms to such a degree that they were irresistible. So prepared, Juno had joined her husband, who sat on Olympus watching the battle. When he beheld her, the fondness of his early love revived, and forgetting the contending armies and all other affairs of state, he gave himself up to her and let the battle go as it would.

But this oblivion did not continue long. When, upon turning his eyes downward, the cloud-compeller beheld Hector stretched, almost lifeless, on the plain, he angrily dismissed Juno, commanding her to send Iris and Apollo to him. The former bore a peremptory message to Neptune, ordering him to quit the contest. Apollo was despatched to heal Hector’s bruises and to inspirit his heart. These orders were obeyed with such speed that while the battle was still raging, Hector returned to the field, and Neptune betook himself to his own dominions.

Achilles and Patroclus. — An arrow from the bow of Paris wounded Machaon, son of Æsculapius, a brave warrior, who, having inherited his father’s art, was of great value to the Greeks as their surgeon. Nestor, taking Machaon in his chariot, conveyed him from the field. As they passed the ships of Achilles, that hero, looking over the battle, saw the chariot of Nestor, and recognized the old chief, but could not discern who the wounded warrior was. Calling Patroclus, his companion and dearest friend, he sent him to Nestor’s tent to inquire. Patroclus, performing the behest, saw Machaon wounded, and having told the cause of his coming would have hastened away, but Nestor detained him, to tell him the extent of the Grecian calamities. He reminded him also how, at the time of the departure for Troy, Achilles and himself had been charged by their respective sires: the one to aspire to the highest pitch of glory; the other, as the elder, to keep watch over his friend, and to guide his inexperience. “Now,” said Nestor “is the time for such guidance. If the gods so please, thou mayest win Achilles back to the common cause; but if not, let him at least send his soldiers to the field, and come thou, Patroclus, clad in his armor. Perhaps the very sight of it may drive back the Trojans.”

Patroclus in the Armor of Achilles. — Patroclus, strongly moved by this address, hastened to his friend, revolving in his mind what he had seen and heard. He told the prince the sad condition of affairs at the camp of their late associates; Diomede, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Machaon, all wounded, the rampart broken down, the enemy among the ships preparing to burn them, and thus to cut off all means of return to Greece. While they spoke, the flames burst forth from one of the ships. Achilles, at the sight, relented so far as to entrust Patroclus with the Myrmidons for the onslaught, and to lend him his armor that he might thereby strike the more terror into the minds of the Trojans. Without delay the soldiers were marshalled, Patroclus put on the radiant armor, mounted the chariot of Achilles, and led forth the men ardent for battle. But before his friend went, Achilles strictly charged him to be content with repelling the foe. “Seek not,” said he, “to press the Trojans without me, lest thou add still more to the disgrace already mine.” Then exhorting the troops to do their best, he dismissed them full of ardor to the fight.

Patroclus and his Myrmidons at once plunged into the contest where it raged hottest; at the sight of them the joyful Grecians shouted, and the ships re-echoed the acclaim; but the Trojans, beholding the well-known armor, struck with terror, looked everywhere for refuge. First those who had got possession of the ship and set it on fire allowed the Grecians to retake it and extinguish the flames. Then the rest fled in dismay. Ajax, Menelaüs, and the two sons of Nestor performed prodigies of valor. Hector was forced to turn his horses’ heads and retire from the enclosure, leaving his men encumbered in the fosse to escape as they could. Patroclus drove all before him, slaying many; nor did one dare to make a stand against him.

The Death of Sarpedon. — At last the grandson of Bellerophon, Sarpedon, son of Jove and Laodamia, ventured to oppose the Greek warrior. The Olympian looked down upon his son, and would have snatched him from the fate impending, but Juno hinted that if he did so the other inhabitants of heaven might be induced to interpose in like manner whenever any of their offspring were endangered; an argument to which Jove yielded. Sarpedon threw his spear, but missed Patroclus; the spear of the Greek, on the other hand, pierced Sarpedon’s breast, — and he fell, calling to his friends to save his body from the foe. Then a furious contest arose for the corpse. The Greeks succeeded in stripping Sarpedon of his armor; but Jove would not suffer the body to be dishonored. By his command Apollo snatched it from the midst of the combatants and committed it to the care of the twin brothers Death and Sleep. By them it was transported to Lycia, Sarpedon’s native land, and there received due funeral rites.

Thus far Patroclus had succeeded to the utmost in repelling the foe and relieving his countrymen, but now came a change of fortune. Hector, borne in his chariot, confronted him. Patroclus threw a vast stone at the Trojan, which missed its aim, but smote Cebriones, the charioteer, and felled him from the car. Hector leaped from the chariot to rescue his friend, and Patroclus also descended to complete his victory. Thus the two heroes met face to face. At this decisive moment the poet, as if reluctant to give Hector the glory, records that Phœbus Apollo, taking part against Patroclus, struck the helmet from his head and the lance from his hand. At the same moment an obscure Trojan wounded him in the back, and Hector pressing forward pierced him with his spear. He fell mortally wounded.

Then arose a tremendous conflict for the body of Patroclus; but his armor was at once taken possession of by Hector, who, retiring a short distance, divested himself of his own mail, put on that of Achilles, then returned to the fight. Ajax and Menelaüs defended the body, and Hector and his bravest warriors struggled to capture it. The battle still raged with equal fortune, when Jove enveloped the whole face of heaven in a cloud. The lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and Ajax, looking round for some one whom he might despatch to Achilles .to tell him of the death of his friend and of the imminent danger of his remains falling into the hands of the enemy, could see no suitable messenger. In desperation, he exclaimed: —

“Father of heaven and earth! deliver thou
Achaia’s host from darkness; clear the skies;
Give day; and, since thy sovereign will is such,
Destruction with it; but, oh, give us day!”353

Jupiter heard the prayer and dispersed the clouds. Ajax sent Antilochus to Achilles with the intelligence of Patroclus’ death, and of the conflict raging for his remains; and the Greeks at last succeeded in bearing off the body to the ships, closely pursued by Hector and Æneas and the rest of the Trojans.

The Remorse of Achilles. — Achilles heard the fate of his friend with such distress that Antilochus feared for a while lest he might destroy himself. His groans reached the ears of Thetis, far down in the deeps of ocean where she abode, and she hastened to inquire the cause. She found him overwhelmed with self-reproach that he had suffered his friend to fall a victim to his resentment. His only consolation was the hope of revenge. He would fly instantly in search of Hector. But his mother reminded him that he was now without armor, and promised, if he would but wait till the morrow, to procure for him a suit of armor from Vulcan more than equal to that he had lost. He consented, and Thetis immediately repaired to Vulcan’s palace. She found him busy at his forge, making tripods for his own use, so artfully constructed that they moved forward of their own accord when wanted, and retired again when dismissed. On hearing the request of Thetis, Vulcan immediately laid aside his work and hastened to comply with her wishes. He fabricated a splendid suit of armor for Achilles; first a shield adorned with elaborate devices, then a helmet crested with gold, then a corselet and greaves of impenetrable temper, all perfectly adapted to the hero’s form, and of consummate workmanship. The suit was made in one night; and Thetis, receiving it, descended to earth and laid it at Achilles’ feet at the dawn of day.

The Reconciliation of Agamemnon and Achilles. — The first glow of pleasure that Achilles had felt since the death of Patroclus was at the sight of this splendid armor. And now arrayed in it, he went forth to the camp, calling the chiefs to council. When the leaders were assembled, Achilles addressed them. Renouncing his displeasure against Agamemnon and bitterly lamenting the miseries that had resulted from it, he called on them to proceed at once to the field. Agamemnon made a suitable reply, laying the blame on Ate, the goddess of infatuation; and thereupon complete reconcilement took place between the heroes.

Then Achilles went forth to battle, inspired with a rage and thirst for vengeance that made him irresistible. The bravest warriors fled before him, or fell by his lance. Hector, cautioned by Apollo, kept aloof; but the god, assuming the form of one of Priam’s sons, Lycaon, urged Æneas to encounter the terrible warrior. Æneas, though he felt himself unequal, did not decline the combat. He hurled his spear with all his force against the shield, the work of Vulcan. The spear pierced two plates of the shield, but was stopped in the third. Achilles threw his spear with better success. It pierced through the shield of Æneas, but glanced near his shoulder and made no wound. Then Æneas, seizing a stone, such as two men of modern times could hardly lift, was about to throw it, — and Achilles, with sword drawn, was about to rush upon him, — when Neptune, looking out upon the contest, had pity upon Æneas, who was sure to have the worst of it. The god, consequently, spread a cloud between the combatants, and lifting the Trojan from the ground, bore him over the heads of warriors and steeds to the rear of the battle. Achilles, when the mist cleared away, looked round in vain for his adversary, and acknowledging the prodigy, turned his arms against other champions. But none dared stand before him; and Priam from his city walls beheld the whole army in full flight toward the city. He gave command to open wide the gates to receive the fugitives, and to shut them as soon as the Trojans should have passed, lest the enemy should enter likewise. But Achilles was so close in pursuit that that would have been impossible if Apollo had not, in the form of Agenor, Priam’s son, first encountered the swift-footed hero, then turned in flight, and taken the way apart from the city. Achilles pursued, and had chased his supposed victim far from the walls before the god disclosed himself.

The Fall of Hector. — But when the rest had escaped into the town Hector stood without determined to await the combat. His father called to him from the walls, begging him to retire nor tempt the encounter. His mother, Hecuba, also besought him, but all in vain. “How can I,” said he to himself, “by whose command the people went to this day’s contest where so many have fallen, seek refuge for myself from a single foe? Or shall I offer to yield up Helen and all her treasures and ample of our own beside? Ah no! even that is too late. He would not hear me through, but slay me while I spoke.” While he thus ruminated, Achilles approached, terrible as Mars, his armor flashing lightning as he moved. At that sight Hector’s heart failed him and he fled. Achilles swiftly pursued. They ran, still keeping near the walls, till they had thrice encircled the city. As often as Hector approached the walls Achilles intercepted him and forced him to keep out in a wider circle. But Apollo sustained Hector’s strength and would not let him sink in weariness. Then Pallas assuming the form of Deiphobus, Hector’s bravest brother, appeared suddenly at his side. Hector saw him with delight, and thus strengthened, stopped his flight and, turning to meet Achilles, threw his spear. It struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. He turned to receive another from the hand of Deiphobus, but Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood his doom and said, “Alas! it is plain this is my hour to die ! I thought Deiphobus at hand, but Pallas deceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will not fall inglorious.” So saying he drew his falchion from his side and rushed at once to combat. Achilles secure behind his shield waited the approach of Hector. When he came within reach of his spear, Achilles choosing with his eye a vulnerable part where the armor leaves the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part, and Hector fell, death-wounded. Feebly he said, “Spare my body! Let my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the sons and daughters of Troy.” To which Achilles replied, “Dog, name not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire distress. No! trust me; nought shall save thy carcass from the dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I should refuse it all.”

Pl. 15. Hector’s Farewell to Andromache and Astyanax.

Achilles drags the Body of Hector. — So saying the son of Peleus stripped the body of its armor, and, fastening cords to the feet, tied them behind his chariot, leaving the body to trail along the ground. Then mounting the chariot he lashed the steeds and so dragged the body to and fro before the city. No words can tell the grief of Priam and Hecuba at this sight. His people could scarce restrain the aged king from rushing forth. He threw himself in the dust and besought them each by name to let him pass. Hecuba’s distress was not less violent. The citizens stood round them weeping. The sound of the mourning reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, as she sat among her maidens at work; and anticipating evil she went forth to the wall. When she saw the horror there presented, she would have thrown herself headlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into the arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her fate, picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a captive, and her son, the youthful Astyanax, dependent for his bread on the charity of strangers.

After Achilles and the Greeks had thus taken their revenge on the slayer of Patroclus they busied themselves in paying due funeral rites to their friend. A pile was erected, and the body burned with due solemnity. Then ensued games of strength and skill, chariot races, wrestling, boxing, and archery. Later, the chiefs sat down to the funeral banquet, and finally retired to rest. But Achilles partook neither of the feast nor of sleep. The recollection of his lost friend kept him awake, — the memory of their companionship in toil and dangers, in battle or on the perilous deep. Before the earliest dawn he left his tent, and joining to his chariot his swift steeds, he fastened Hector’s body to be dragged behind. Twice he dragged him round the tomb of Patroclus, leaving him at length stretched in the dust. But Apollo would not permit the body to be torn or disfigured with all this abuse; he preserved it free from taint or defilement.

While Achilles indulged his wrath in thus disgracing Hector, Jupiter in pity summoned Thetis to his presence. Bidding her prevail on Achilles to restore the body of Hector to the Trojans, he sent Iris to encourage Priam to beg of Achilles the body of his son. Iris delivered her message, and Priam prepared to obey. He opened his treasuries and took out rich garments and cloths, with ten talents in gold and two splendid tripods and a golden cup of matchless workmanship. Then he called to his sons and bade them draw forth his litter and place in it the various articles designed for a ransom to Achilles. When all was ready, the old king with a single companion as aged as himself, the herald Idseus, drove forth from the gates, parting there with Hecuba his queen, and all his friends, who lamented him as going to certain death.

Priam in the Tent of Achilles. — But Jupiter, beholding with compassion the venerable king, sent Mercury to be his guide and protector. Assuming the form of a young warrior, Mercury presented himself to the aged couple; and, when at the sight of him they hesitated whether to fly or yield, approaching he grasped Priam’s hand, and offered to be their guide to Achilles’ tent. Priam gladly accepted his service, and Mercury, mounting the carriage, assumed the reins and conveyed them to the camp. Then having cast the guards into a heavy sleep, he introduced Priam into the tent where Achilles sat, attended by two of his warriors. The aged king threw himself at the feet of Achilles and kissed those terrible hands which had destroyed so many of his sons. “Think, O Achilles,” he said, “of thine own father, full of days like me, and trembling on the gloomy verge of life. Even now, mayhap, some neighbor chief oppresses him and there is none at hand to succor him in his distress. Yet, knowing that Achilles lives, he doubtless still rejoices, hoping that one day he shall see thy face again. But me no comfort cheers, whose bravest sons, so late the flower of Ilium, all have fallen. Yet one I had, one more than all the rest the strength of my age, whom fighting for his country thou hast slain. His body I come to redeem, bringing inestimable ransom with me. Achilles! reverence the gods! recollect thy father ! for his sake show compassion to me!” These words moved Achilles, and he wept; remembering by turns his absent father and his lost friend. Moved with pity of Priam’s silver locks and beard, he raised him from the earth and spake: “Priam, I know that thou hast reached this place conducted by some god, for without aid divine no mortal even in his prime of youth had dared the attempt. I grant thy request, for I am moved thereto by the manifest will of Jove.” So saying he arose, went forth with his two friends, and unloaded of its charge the litter, leaving two mantles and a robe for the covering of the body. This they placed on the litter, and spread the garments over it, that not unveiled it should be borne back to Troy. Then Achilles dismissed the old king, having first pledged himself to a truce of twelve days for the funeral solemnities.

Fig. 97. Ransom of Hector’s body. [Relief: De Clarac.]

As the litter approached the city and was descried from the walls, the people poured forth to gaze once more on the face of their hero. Foremost of all, the mother and the wife of Hector came, and at the sight of the lifeless body renewed their lamentations. The people wept with them, and to the going down of the sun there was no pause or abatement of their grief.

The next day, preparations were made for the funeral solemnities. For nine days the people brought wood and built the pile; and on the tenth they placed the body on the summit, and applied the torch, while all Troy thronging forth encompassed the pyre. When it had completely burned, they quenched the cinders with wine, and, collecting the bones, placed them in a golden urn, which they buried in the earth. Over the spot they reared a pile of stones.

“Such honors Ilium to her hero paid,
And peaceful slept the mighty Hector’s shade.”354

Chapter XXVI.
The Fall of Troy. §

§ 169. The Fall of Troy. — The story of the Iliad ends with the death of Hector, and it is from the Odyssey and later poems that we learn the fate of the other heroes. After the death of Hector, Troy did not immediately fall, but receiving aid from new allies still continued its resistance. One of these allies was Memnon, the Æthiopian prince, whose story has been already told.355 Another was Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, who came with a band of female warriors. All the authorities attest the valor of these women and the fearful effect of their war cry. Penthesilea, having slain many of the bravest Greeks, was at last slain by Achilles. But when the hero bent over his fallen foe, and contemplated her beauty, youth, and valor, he bitterly regretted his victory. Thersites, an insolent brawler and demagogue, attempting to ridicule his grief, was in consequence slain by the hero.356

Fig. 98. Ajax with Achilles’body. [ Roscher 1: 126.]

The Death of Achilles. — But Achilles, himself, was not destined to a long life. Having by chance seen Polyxena, daughter of King Priam — perhaps on occasion of the truce which was allowed the Trojans for the burial of Hector — he was captivated with her charms; and to win her in marriage, it is said (but not by Homer), that he agreed to influence the Greeks to make peace with Troy. While the hero was in the temple of Apollo, negotiating the marriage, Paris discharged at him a poisoned arrow,357 which, guided by Apollo, fatally wounded him in the heel. This was his only vulnerable spot; for Thetis having dipped him when an infant in the river Styx, had rendered every part of him invulnerable except that by which she held him.358

Contest for the Arms of Achilles. — The body of Achilles so treacherously slain was rescued by Ajax and Ulysses. Thetis directed the Greeks to bestow her son’s armor on that hero who of all the survivors should be judged most deserving of it. Ajax and Ulysses were the only claimants. A select number of the other chiefs were appointed to award the prize. It was awarded to Ulysses. Wisdom thus was rated above valor; wherefore Ajax slew himself.359 On the spot where his blood sank into the earth a hyacinth sprang up, bearing on its leaves the first two letters of his name, Ai, the Greek interjection of woe.360

It was now discovered that Troy could not be taken but by the aid of the arrows of Hercules. They were in possession of Philoctetes, the friend who had been with Hercules at the last, and had lighted his funeral pyre. Philoctetes361 had joined the Grecian expedition against Troy; but having accidentally wounded his foot with one of the poisoned arrows, the smell from the wound proved so offensive that his companions carried him to the isle of Lemnos, and left him there. Diomede and Ulysses, or Ulysses and Neoptolemus (son of Achilles) were now sent to induce him to rejoin the army. They succeeded. Philoctetes was cured of his wound by Machaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows.

Paris and Œnone. — In his distress Paris bethought him of one whom in his prosperity he had forgotten. This was the nymph Œnone, whom he had married when a youth, and had abandoned for the fatal beauty of Helen. Œnone, remembering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the wound; and Paris went back to Troy and died. Œnone quickly repented, and hastened after him with remedies, but came too late, and in her grief hanged herself.

Fig. 99. Head of Paris.
[Bust: Münchener Antiken von C. F. A. Von Lützow.]

The Palladium. — There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva called the Palladium. It was said to have fallen from heaven, and the belief was that the city could not be taken so long as this statue remained within it. Ulysses and Diomede entered the city in disguise, and succeeded in obtaining the Palladium, which they carried off to the Grecian camp.

The Wooden Horse. — But Troy still held out. The Greeks began to despair of subduing it by force, and by advice of Ulysses they resorted to stratagem.362 They pretended to be making preparations to abandon the siege; and a number of the ships were withdrawn and concealed behind a neighboring island. They then constructed an immense wooden horse, which they gave out was intended as a propitiatory offering to Minerva; but it was, in fact, filled with armed men. The rest of the Greeks then betook themselves to their ships and sailed away, as if for a final departure. The Trojans, seeing the encampment broken up and the fleet gone, concluded that the enemy had abandoned the siege. The gates of the city were thrown open, and the whole population issued forth, rejoicing at the long-prohibited liberty of passing freely over the scene of the late encampment. The great horse was the chief object of curiosity. Some recommended that it be taken into the city as a trophy; others felt afraid of it. While they hesitated, Laocoön, the priest of Neptune, exclaimed, “What madness, citizens, is this! Have you not learned enough of Grecian fraud to be on your guard against it? For my part, I fear the Greeks even when they offer gifts.”363 So saying, he threw his lance at the horse’s side. It struck, and a hollow sound reverberated like a groan. Then perhaps the people might have taken his advice and destroyed the fatal horse with its contents, but just at that moment a group of people appeared dragging forward one who seemed a prisoner and a Greek. Stupefied with terror, the captive was brought before the chiefs, who reassured him, promising him that his life should be spared on condition of his answering truly the questions asked him. He informed them that he was a Greek, Sinon by name; and that in consequence of the malice of Ulysses, he had been left behind by his countrymen at their departure. With regard to the wooden horse, he told them that it was a propitiatory offering to Minerva, and made so huge for the express purpose of preventing its being carried within the city; for Calchas the prophet had told them that if the Trojans took possession of it, they would assuredly triumph over the Greeks.

Fig. 100. Entry of the Wooden Horse; Women supplicating Pallas; Cassandra raving.
[Wall painting: H. and. P.]

Laocoön and the Serpents. — This language turned the tide of the people’s feelings; and they began to think how they might best secure the monstrous horse and the favorable auguries connected with it, when suddenly a prodigy occurred which left no room to doubt. There appeared advancing over the sea two immense serpents. They came upon the land, and the crowd fled in all directions. The serpents advanced directly to the spot where Laocoön stood with his two sons. They first attacked the children, winding round their bodies and breathing their pestilential breath in their faces. The father, attempting to rescue them, is next seized and involved in the serpent’s coils.

… Vain
The struggle; vain, against the coiling strain
And gripe, and deepening of the dragon’s grasp,
The old man’s clinch; the long envenomed chain
Rivets the living links, — the enormous asp
Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.364

He struggles to tear them away, but they overpower all his efforts, and strangle him and the children in their poisonous folds. The event was regarded as a clear indication of the displeasure of the gods at Laocoön’s irreverent treatment of the wooden horse, which they no longer hesitated to regard as a sacred object, and prepared to introduce with due solemnity into the city. They did so with songs and triumphal acclamations, and the day closed with festivity. In the night the armed men who were enclosed in the body of the horse, being let out by the traitor Sinon, opened the gates of the city to their friends who had returned under cover of the night. The city was set on fire; the people, overcome with feasting and sleep, were put to the sword, and Troy completely subdued.

Pl. 16. Laocoön (in the Vatican)

The Death of Priam. — Priam lived to see the downfall of his kingdom, and was slain at last on the fatal night when the Greeks took the city. He had armed himself, and was about to mingle with the combatants365, but was prevailed on by Hecuba to take refuge with herself and his daughters as a suppliant at the altar of Jupiter. While there, his youngest son, Polites, pursued by Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, rushed in wounded, and expired at the feet of his father; whereupon Priam, overcome with indignation, hurled his spear with feeble hand against Pyrrhus, and was forthwith slain by him.

§ 170. The Survivors.366— Queen Hecuba and her daughter Cassandra were carried captives to Greece. Cassandra had been loved by Apollo, who gave her the gift of prophecy; but afterwards offended with her, he had rendered the gift unavailing by ordaining that her predictions should never be believed. Polyxena, another daughter, who had been loved by Achilles, was demanded by the ghost of that warrior, and was sacrificed by the Greeks upon his tomb.

Helen and Menelaüs. — On the fall of Troy, Menelaüs recovered possession of his wife, who, it seems, had not ceased to love him, though she had yielded to the might of Venus and deserted him for another.367 After the death of Paris, she aided the Greeks secretly on several occasions: in particular when Ulysses and Diomede entered the city in disguise to carry off the Palladium. She, then, saw and recognized Ulysses, but kept the secret, and even assisted them in obtaining the image. Thus she became reconciled to Menelaüs, and they were among the first to leave the shores of Troy for their native land. But having incurred the displeasure of the gods they were driven by storms from shore to shore of the Mediterranean, visiting Cyprus, Phœnicia, and Egypt. In Egypt they were kindly treated and presented with rich gifts, of which Helen’s share was a golden spindle, and a basket on wheels.

“… many yet adhere
To the ancient distaff at the bosom fixed,
Casting the whirling spindle as they walk.
… This was of old, in no inglorious days,
The mode of spinning, when the Egyptian prince
A golden distaff gave that beauteous nymph,
Too beauteous Helen; no uncourtly gift.”368

Milton also alludes to a famous recipe for an invigorating draught called Nepenthe, which the Egyptian queen gave to Helen: —

“Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone
In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena,
Is of such power to stir up joy as this,
To life so friendly or so cool to thirst.”369

At last, arriving in safety at Sparta, Menelaüs and Helen resumed their royal dignity, and lived and reigned in splendor; and when Telemachus, the son of Ulysses, in search of his father, arrived at Sparta, he found them celebrating the marriage of their daughter Hermione to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles.

Agamemnon370 was not so fortunate in the issue. During his absence, his wife Clytemnestra had been false to him; and when his return was expected, she with her paramour, Ægisthus, son of Thyestes, laid a plan for his destruction. Cassandra warned the king, but as usual her prophecy was not regarded. While Agamemnon was bathing previous to the banquet given to celebrate his return, the conspirators murdered him.

Electra and Orestes. — It was the intention of the conspirators to slay his son Orestes also, a lad not yet old enough to be an object of apprehension, but from whom, if he should be suffered to grow up, there might be danger. Electra, the sister of Orestes, saved her brother’s life by sending him secretly to his uncle Strophius, king of Phocis. In the palace of Strophius, Orestes grew up with the king’s son Pylades, and formed with him a friendship which has become proverbial. Electra frequently reminded her brother by messengers of the duty of avenging his father’s death; he, too, when he reached maturity, consulted the oracle of Delphi, which confirmed him in the design. He therefore repaired in disguise to Argos, pretending to be a messenger from Strophius, who would announce the death of Orestes. He brought with him what purported to be the ashes of the deceased in a funeral urn. After visiting his father’s tomb and sacrificing upon it, according to the rites of the ancients, he met by the way his sister Electra. Mistaking her for one of the domestics, and desirous of keeping his arrival a secret till the hour of vengeance should arrive, he produced the urn. At once, his sister, believing Orestes to be really dead, took the urn from him, and embracing it poured forth her grief in language full of tenderness and despair. Soon a recognition was effected, and the prince with the aid of his sister slew both Ægisthus and Clytemnestra.371

Orestes pursued by the Furies.372— This revolting act, the slaughter of a mother by her son, though extenuated by the guilt of the victim and the express command of the gods, did not fail to awaken in the breasts of the ancients the same abhorrence that it does in ours. The Eumenides seized upon Orestes, and drove him frantic from land to land. In these wanderings Pylades accompanied him, and watched over him. At length in answer to a second appeal to the oracle, Orestes was directed to go to Tauris in Scythia, and to bring thence a statue of Diana which was believed to have fallen from heaven. Accordingly, the friends went to Tauris. Since there the barbarous people were accustomed to sacrifice to the goddess all strangers who fell into their hands, the two friends were seized and carried bound to the temple to be made victims. But the priestess of Diana in Tauris was no other than Iphigenia, the sister of Orestes, who had been snatched away by Diana, at the moment when she was about to be sacrificed. Ascertaining from the prisoners who they were, Iphigenia disclosed herself to them; and the three made their escape with the statue of the goddess, and returned to Mycenæ.373

Fig. 101. Orestes pursued by the Furies.
[Vase picture: Roscher 8: 1331].

His Purification. — But Orestes was not yet relieved from the vengeance of the Erinyes. Finally, he took refuge with Minerva at Athens. The goddess afforded him protection, and appointed the court of Areopagus to decide his fate. The Erinyes brought their accusation, and Orestes pleaded the command of the Delphic oracle as his excuse. When the court voted and the voices were equally divided, Orestes was acquitted by the command of Minerva. He was then purified with plentiful blood of swine.

Fig. 102. Orestes taking refuge at Delphi: Fury, Apollo, Orestes, Tripod, Pallas.
[Vase picture: Millin.]

Chapter XXVI.
The Wanderings of Ulysses. §

Map 6. Gladstone’s Map of the Outer Geography of the Odyssey.

§ 171. From Troy to Phæacia. — The Odyssey of Homer narrates the wanderings of Ulysses (Odysseus) in his return from Troy to his own kingdom, Ithaca.

From Troy, the vessels first made land at Ismarus, city of the Ciconians, where, in a skirmish with the inhabitants, Ulysses lost six men from each ship.

The Lotos-eaters. — Sailing thence they were overtaken by a storm which drove them for nine days till they reached the country of the Lotos-eaters. Here, after watering, Ulysses sent three of his men to discover who the inhabitants were. These men on coming among the Lotos-eaters were kindly entertained by them, and were given some of their own food, the lotus-plant, to eat. The effect of this food was such that those who partook of it lost all thought of home and wished to remain in that country. It was by main force that Ulysses dragged these men away, and he was even obliged to tie them under the benches of his ship.

Tennyson in the Lotos-eaters has charmingly expressed the dreamy, languid feeling which the lotus-food is said to have produced.

“… How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream
With half-shut eyes, ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half-dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
To hear each others whispered speech;
Eating the Lotos, day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heaped over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!

“Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
And dear the last embraces of our wives
And their warm tears: but all hath suffered change;
For surely now our household hearths are cold:
Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange:
And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.

“… But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly,
How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly)
With half-dropt eyelid still,
Beneath a heaven dark and holy,
To watch the long bright river drawing slowly
His waters from the purple hill —
To hear the dewy echoes calling
From cave to cave thro’ the thick-twined vine —
To watch the emerald-color’d water falling
Thro’ many a wov’n acanthus-wreath divine!
Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine,
Only to hear were sweet, stretch’d out beneath the pine.

“The Lotos blooms below the barren peak:
The Lotos blows by every winding creek:
All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone:
Thro’ every hollow cave and alley lone
Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we,
Roll’d to starboard, roll’d to larboard, when the surge was seething free,
Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind…”

The Cyclopes. — They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes. The Cyclopes (§ 126) inhabited an island of which they were the only possessors. They dwelt in caves and fed on the wild productions of the island, and on what their flocks yielded, for they were shepherds. Ulysses left the main body of his ships at anchor, and with one vessel went to the Cyclopes’ island to explore for supplies. He landed with his companions, carrying with them a jar of wine for a present. Coming to a large cave they entered it, and finding no one within examined its contents. They found it stored with the riches of the flock, quantities of cheese, pails and bowls of milk, lambs and kids in their pens, all in good order. Presently arrived the master of the cave, Polyphemus, bearing an immense bundle of fire-wood, which he threw down before the cavern’s mouth. He then drove into the cave the sheep and goats to be milked, and, entering, rolled to the cave’s mouth an enormous rock, that twenty oxen could not draw. Next, he sat down and milked his ewes, preparing a part for cheese, and setting the rest aside for his customary drink. Then turning round his one huge eye he discerned the strangers, and growled out at them, demanding who they were and where from. Ulysses replied most humbly, stating that they were Greeks, from the great expedition that had lately won so much glory in the conquest of Troy; that they were now on their way home, and finished by imploring his hospitality in the name of the gods. Polyphemus deigned no answer, but reaching out his hand seized two of the men, whom he hurled against the side of the cave, and dashed out their brains. He proceeded to devour them with great relish, and having made a hearty meal, stretched himself on the floor to sleep. Ulysses was tempted to seize the opportunity and plunge his sword into him as he slept, but recollected that it would only expose them all to certain destruction, as the rock with which the giant had closed up the door was far beyond their power to remove, and they would therefore be in hopeless imprisonment. Next morning the giant seized two more of the men and despatched them in the same manner as their companions, feasting on their flesh till no fragment was left. He then moved away the rock from the door, drove out his flocks, and went out, carefully replacing the barrier after him. When he was gone Ulysses planned how he might take vengeance for his murdered friends, and effect his escape with his surviving companions. He made his men prepare a massive bar of wood cut by the Cyclops for a staff, which they found in the cave. They sharpened the end of it and seasoned it in the fire, and hid it under the straw on the cavern floor. Then four of the boldest were selected, with whom Ulysses joined himself as a fifth. The Cyclops came home at evening, rolled away the stone and drove in his flock as usual. After milking them and making his arrangements as before, he seized two more of Ulysses’ companions, dashed their brains out, and made his evening meal upon them as he had on the others. After he had supped, Ulysses approaching him handed him a bowl of wine, saying, “Cyclops, this is wine; taste and drink after thy meal of man’s flesh.” He took and drank it, and was hugely delighted with it, and called for more. Ulysses supplied him once and again, which pleased the giant so much that he promised him as a favor that he should be the last of the party devoured. He asked his name, to which Ulysses replied, “My name is Noman.”

After his supper the giant sought his repose, and was soon sound asleep. Then Ulysses with his four select friends held the end of the stake in the fire till it was one burning coal, then poising it exactly above the giant’s only eye, they plunged it deep into the socket, twirling it round as a carpenter does his auger. The howling monster with his outcry filled the cavern, and Ulysses with his aids nimbly got out of his way and concealed themselves in the cave. He, bellowing, called aloud on all the Cyclopes dwelling in the caves around him, far and near. They, on his cry, flocked round the den, and inquired what grievous hurt had caused him to sound such an alarm and break their slumbers. 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 groaning.

Next morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let his flock out to pasture, but planted himself in the door of the cave to feel of all as they went out, that Ulysses and his men should not escape with them. But Ulysses had made his men harness the rams of the flock three abreast, with osiers which they found on the floor of the cave. To the middle ram of the three one of the Greeks suspended himself, so protected by the exterior rams on either side. As they passed, the giant felt of the animals’ backs and sides, but never thought of their bellies; so the men all passed safe, Ulysses himself being on the last one that passed. When they had got a few paces from the cavern, Ulysses and his friends released themselves from their rams, and drove a good part of the flock down to the shore to their boat. They put them aboard with all haste, then pushed off from the shore, and when at a safe distance Ulysses shouted out, “Cyclops, the gods have well requited thee for thy atrocious deeds. Know it is Ulysses to whom thou owest thy shameful loss of sight.” The Cyclops, hearing this, seized a rock that projected from the side of the mountain, and rending it from its bed he lifted it high in the air, then exerting all his force, hurled it in the direction of the voice. Down came the mass, just forward of the vessel. The ocean, at the plunge of the huge rock, heaved the ship toward Polyphemus; but a second rock which he hurled, striking aft, propelled them fortunately in the direction that they desired to take. Ulysses was about to hail the giant again, but his friends besought him not to do so. He could not forbear, however, letting the giant know that they had escaped his missile, but waited till they had reached a safer distance than before. The giant answered them with curses, while Ulysses and his friends plying their oars vigorously, regained their companions.

The Bag of Winds. — Ulysses next arrived at the island of Æolus. He treated Ulysses hospitably, and at his departure gave him, tied up in a leathern bag with a silver string, such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous, commanding fair winds to blow the barks toward their country. Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that time Ulysses had stood at the helm, without sleep. At last quite exhausted he lay down to sleep. While he slept, the crew conferred together about the mysterious bag, and concluded it must contain treasures given by the hospitable King Æolus to their commander. Tempted to secure some portion for themselves they loosed the string, when immediately the winds rushed forth. The ships were driven far from their course, and back again to the island they had just left. Æolus, indignant at their folly, refused to assist them further, and they were obliged to labor over their course once more by means of their oars.

The Læstrygonians. — Their next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of Læstrygonians. The vessels all pushed into the harbor, tempted by the secure appearance of the cove, completely land-locked; only Ulysses moored his vessel without. As soon as the Læstrygonians found the ships completely in their power they attacked them, heaving huge stones which broke and overturned them, while with their spears they despatched the seamen as they struggled in the water. All the vessels with their crews were destroyed, except Ulysses’ own ship which had remained outside, and finding no safety but in flight, he exhorted his men to ply their oars vigorously, and they escaped.

The Isle of Ææa. — With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy at their own escape, they pursued their way till they arrived at the Ææan isle, where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the sun. Landing here Ulysses climbed a hill, and gazing round saw no signs of habitation except in one spot at the centre of the island, where he perceived a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one half of his crew, under the command of Eurylochus, to see what prospect of hospitality they might find. As they approached the palace, they found themselves surrounded by lions, tigers and wolves, not fierce, but tamed by Circe’s art, for she was a powerful magician. 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, and a sweet female voice singing. Eurylochus called aloud and the goddess came forth and invited them in; they all gladly entered except Eurylochus, who suspected danger. The goddess conducted her guests to a seat, and had them served with wine and other delicacies. When they had feasted heartily, she touched them one by one with her wand, and they became immediately changed into swine, in “head, body, voice, and bristles,” yet with their intellects as before. She shut them in her styes and supplied them with acorns and such other things as swine love.

Eurylochus hurried back to the ship and told the tale. Ulysses thereupon determined to go himself, and try if by any means he might deliver his companions. As he strode onward alone, he met a youth who addressed him familiarly, appearing to be acquainted with his adventures. He announced himself as Mercury, and informed Ulysses of the arts of Circe, and of the danger of approaching her. As Ulysses was not to be dissuaded from his attempt, Mercury provided him with a sprig of the plant Moly, of wonderful power to resist sorceries, and instructed him how to act.

Meanwhile the companions of Ulysses made mournful plaint to their cruel mistress: —

Huddling they came, with shag sides caked of mire, —
With hoofs fresh sullied from the troughs o’er-turned, —
With wrinkling snouts, — yet eyes in which desire
Of some strange thing unutterably burned,
Unquenchable; and still where’er She turned.
They rose about her, striving each o’er each,
With restless, fierce importuning that yearned
Through those brute masks some piteous tale to teach,
Yet lacked the words thereto, denied the power of speech…

… “If swine we be, — if we indeed be swine,
Daughter of Perse, make us swine indeed,
Well-pleased on litter-straw to lie supine, —
Well-pleased on mast and acorn-shales to feed,
Stirred by all instincts of the bestial breed;
But O Unmerciful! O Pitiless!
Leave us not thus with sick men’s hearts to bleed! —
To waste long days in yearning, dumb distress,
And memory of things gone, and utter hopelessness!

… “Make us men again, — if men but groping
That dark Hereafter which th’ Olympians keep;
Make thou us men again, — if men but hoping
Behind death’s doors security of sleep; —
For yet to laugh is somewhat, and to sleep; —
To feel delight of living, and to plough
The salt-blown acres of the shoreless deep; —
Better, — yea better far all these than bow
Foul faces to foul earth, and yearn — as we do now!”

So they in speech unsyllabled. But She,
The fair-tressed Goddess, born to be their bane,
Uplifting straight her wand of ivory,
Compelled them groaning to the styes again;
Where they in hopeless bitterness were fain
To rend the oaken woodwork as before,
And tear the troughs in impotence of pain, —
Not knowing, they, that even at the door
Divine Odysseus stood, — as Hermes told of yore.374

Ulysses, reaching the palace, was courteously received by Circe, who entertained him as she had done his companions; but, after he had eaten and drunk, touched him with her wand, saying, “Hence, seek the stye and wallow with thy friends.” But he, instead of obeying, drew his sword and rushed upon her with fury in his countenance. She fell on her knees and begged for mercy. He dictated a solemn oath that she would release his companions and practise no further harm against him or them; and she repeated it, at the same time promising to dismiss them all in safety after hospitably entertaining them. She was as good as her word. The men were restored to their shapes, the rest of the crew summoned from the shore, and the whole magnificently entertained day after day, till Ulysses seemed to have forgotten his native land, and to have reconciled himself to an inglorious life of ease and pleasure.

The Sirens. — At length his companions recalled him to nobler sentiments, and he received their admonition gratefully. Circe aided their departure, arid instructed them how to pass safely by the coast of the Sirens. These nymphs had the power, as has been already said, of charming by their song all who heard them, so that mariners were impelled to cast themselves into the sea to their destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to fill the ears of his seamen with wax, so that they should not hear the strain; to have himself bound to the mast, and to enjoin his people, whatever he might say or do, by no means to release him till they should have passed the Sirens’ island. Ulysses obeyed these directions.

Fig. 103. Sirens and Ulysses.
[Gem: Millin.]

As they approached the Sirens’ island, the sea was calm, and over the waters came the notes of music so ravishing and attractive, that Ulysses struggled to get loose, and by cries and signs to his people, begged to be released; but they, obedient to his previous orders, sprang forward and bound him still faster. They held on their course, and the music grew fainter till it ceased to be heard, when with joy Ulysses gave his companions the signal to unseal their ears, and they relieved him from his bonds. It is said that one of the Sirens, Parthenope, in grief at the escape of Ulysses, drowned herself. Her body was cast up on the Italian shore where now stands the city of Naples — in early times called by the Siren’s name.

Scylla and Charybdis. — Ulysses had been warned by Circe of the two monsters Scylla and Charybdis. We have already met with Scylla in the myth of Glaucus. She dwelt in a cave high up on the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust forth her long necks (for she had six heads), and in each of her mouths to seize one of the crew of every vessel passing within reach. The other terror, Charybdis, was a gulf, nearly on a level with the water. Thrice each day the water rushed into a frightful chasm, and thrice was disgorged. Any vessel coming near the whirlpool when the tide was rushing in must inevitably be ingulfed; not Neptune himself could save it. On approaching the haunt of the dread monsters, Ulysses kept strict watch to discover them. The roar of the waters as Charybdis ingulfed them, gave warning at a distance, but Scylla could nowhere be discerned. While Ulysses and his men watched with anxious eyes the dreadful whirlpool, they were not equally on their guard from the attack of Scylla,375 and the monster darting forth her snaky heads, caught six of his men, and bore them away shrieking to her den. Ulysses was unable to afford any assistance.

The Cattle of the Sun. — Circe had warned him of another danger. After passing Scylla and Charybdis the next land he would make was Thrinacia, an island whereon were pastured the cattle of Hyperion, the Sun, tended by his daughters Lampetia and Phaëthusa. These flocks must not be violated, whatever the wants of the voyagers might be. If this injunction were transgressed, destruction was sure to fall on the offenders. Ulysses would willingly have passed the island of the Sun without stopping, but his companions so urgently pleaded for the rest and refreshment that would be derived from anchoring and passing the night on shore, that Ulysses yielded. He made them swear, however, not to touch the sacred flocks and herds, but to content themselves with what provision they yet had left of the supply which Circe had put on board. So long as this supply lasted the people kept their oath; but contrary winds detained them at the island for a month, and after consuming all their stock of provisions, they were forced to rely upon the birds and fishes they could catch. Famine pressed them, and, at last, in the absence of Ulysses, they slew some of the cattle, vainly attempting to make amends for the deed by offering from them a portion to the offended powers. Ulysses, on his return to the shore, was horror-struck at perceiving what- they had done, and the more so 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.

The wind becoming fair they sailed from the island. They had not gone far when the weather changed, and a storm of thunder and lightning ensued. A stroke of lightning shattered their mast, which in its fall killed the pilot. At last the vessel itself went to pieces. The keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses formed of them a raft, to which he clung; and, the wind changing, the waves bore him to Calypso’s island. All the rest of the crew perished.

Calypso’s Island. — Calypso, a sea-nymph, received Ulysses hospitably, entertained him magnificently, became enamored of him, and wished to retain him forever, offering him immortality. But he persisted in his resolution to return to his country and his wife and son. Calypso at last received the command of Jove to dismiss him. Mercury brought the message to her, and found her in her grotto.

A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides,
Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung
Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph,
Their sinuous course pursuing side by side,
Strayed all around, and everywhere appeared
Meadows of softest verdure, purpled o’er
With violets; it was a scene to fill
A god from heaven with wonder and delight.376

Calypso, with much reluctance, proceeded to obey the commands of Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the means of constructing a raft, provisioned it well for him, and gave him a favoring gale. He sped on his course prosperously for many days, till at last, when in sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he was seen by a compassionate sea-nymph, Leucothea, who, in the form of a cormorant, alighted on the raft, and presented him with a girdle, directing him to bind it beneath his breast, that if he should be compelled to trust himself to the waves, it might buoy him up and enable him to reach the land.

§ 172. The Land of the Phæacians. — Ulysses clung to the raft so long as its timbers held together, and when it no longer yielded him support, binding the girdle around him, he swam. Minerva smoothed the billows before him and sent him a wind that rolled the waves towards the shore. The surf beat high on the rocks and seemed to forbid approach; but at length finding calm water at the mouth of a gentle stream, he landed, spent with toil, breathless and speechless, and almost dead. After some time reviving, he kissed the soil, rejoicing, yet at a loss what course to take. At a short distance he perceived a wood, to which he turned his steps. There finding a covert sheltered by intermingling branches alike from the sun and the rain, he collected a pile of leaves and formed a bed, on which he stretched himself, and heaping the leaves over him, fell asleep.

The land where he was thrown was Scheria, the country of the Phæacians. These people dwelt originally near the Cyclopes-; but, being oppressed by that savage race, they migrated to the isle of Scheria, under the conduct of Nausithoüs, their king. They were, the poet tells us, a people akin to the gods, who appeared manifestly and feasted among them when they offered sacrifices, and did not conceal themselves from solitary wayfarers when they met them. They had abundance of wealth, and lived in the enjoyment of it undisturbed by the alarms of war: for, as they dwelt remote from gain-seeking man, no enemy ever approached their shores, and they did not even require to make use of bows and quivers. Their chief employment was navigation. Their ships, which went with the velocity of birds, were endued with intelligence; they knew every port and needed no pilot. Alcinoüs, the son of Nausithoüs, was now their king, a wise and just sovereign, beloved by his people.

Now it happened that the very night on which Ulysses was cast ashore on the Phæacian island, and while he lay sleeping on his bed of leaves, Nausicaä, the daughter of the king, had a dream sent by Minerva, reminding her that her wedding day might not be far distant, and that it would be but a prudent preparation for that event to have a general washing of the clothes of the family. This was no slight affair, for the fountains were at some distance, and the garments must be carried thither. On awaking, the princess hastened to her parents to tell them what was on her mind; not alluding to her wedding day, but finding other reasons equally good. Her father readily assented, and ordered the grooms to furnish forth a wagon for the purpose. The clothes were put therein; and the queen mother placed in the wagon likewise an abundant supply of food and wine. The princess took her seat and plied the lash, her attendant virgins following her on foot. Arrived at the river side they turned out the mules to graze, and unlading the carriage, bore the garments down to the water, and, working with cheerfulness and alacrity, soon despatched their labor. Then having spread the garments on the shore to dry, and having themselves bathed, they sat down to enjoy their meal; after which they rose and amused themselves with a game of ball, the princess singing to them while they played. But when they had refolded the apparel, and were about to resume their way to the town, Minerva caused the ball thrown by the princess to fall into the water, whereat they all screamed and Ulysses awaked at the sound.

Utterly destitute of clothing, he discovered that only a few bushes were interposed between him and a group of young maidens, whom, by their deportment and attire, he discovered to be not mere peasant girls, but of a higher class. Breaking off a leafy branch from a tree he held it before him and stepped out from the thicket. The virgins at sight of him fled in all directions, Nausicaä alone excepted, for her Minerva aided and endowed with courage and discernment. Ulysses, standing respectfully aloof, told his sad case, and besought the fair object (whether queen or goddess he professed he knew not) for food and clothing. The princess replied courteously, promising present relief and her father’s hospitality when he should become acquainted with the facts. She called back her scattered maidens, chiding their alarm, and reminding them that the Phæacians had no enemies to fear. This man, she told them, was an unhappy wanderer, whom it was a duty to cherish, for the poor and the stranger are from Jove. She bade them bring food, and the garments of some of her brothers’ that were among the contents of the wagon. When this was done, and Ulysses retiring to a sheltered place had washed his body free from the sea-foam, and clothed himself and eaten, Pallas dilated his form and diffused grace over his ample chest and manly brows.

The princess seeing him was filled with admiration, and scrupled not to say to her damsels that she wished the gods would send her such a husband. To Ulysses she recommended that he repair to the city, following herself and her train so far as the way lay through the fields; but when they should approach the city she desired that he no longer be seen in her company, for she feared the remarks which rude and vulgar people might make on seeing her return accompanied by such a gallant stranger. To avoid this she directed him to stop at a grove adjoining the city, in which were a farm and garden belonging to the king. After allowing time for the princess and her companions to reach the city, he was then to pursue his way thither, and should be easily guided by any he might meet to the royal abode.

Fig. 104. Head of Minerva. (Copy of Pallas of the Parthenon.)
[Statue: Hirt.]

Ulysses obeyed the directions, and in due time proceeded to the city, on approaching which he met a young woman bearing a pitcher forth for water. It was Minerva who had assumed that form. Ulysses accosted her and desired to be directed to the palace of Alcinoüs, the king. The maiden replied respectfully, offering to be his guide; for the palace, she informed him stood near her father’s dwelling. Under the guidance of the goddess, and, by her power, enveloped in a cloud which shielded him from observation, Ulysses passed among the busy crowd, and with wonder observed their harbor, their ships, their forum (the resort of heroes), and their battlements, till they came to the palace, where the goddess, having first given him some information of the country, king, and people he was about to meet, left him. Ulysses, before entering the court-yard of the palace, stood and surveyed the scene. Its splendor astonished him. Brazen walls stretched from the entrance to the interior house, of which the doors were gold, the door-posts silver, the lintels silver ornamented with gold. On either side were figures of mastiffs wrought in gold and silver, standing in rows as if to guard the approach. Along the walls were seats spread through all their length with mantles of finest texture, the work of Phæacian maidens. On these seats the princes sat and feasted, while golden statues of graceful youths held in their hands lighted torches which shed radiance over the scene. Full fifty female menials served in household offices, some employed to grind the corn, others to wind off the purple wool or ply the loom. For the Phæacian women as far exceeded all other women in household arts as the mariners of that country did the rest of mankind in the management of ships. Without the court a spacious garden lay, four acres in extent. In it grew many a lofty tree, pomegranate, pear, apple, fig, and olive. Neither winter’s cold nor summer’s drought arrested their growth.

The languid sunset, mother of roses,377
Lingers, a light on the magic seas,
The wide fire flames, as a flower uncloses,
Heavy with odor, and loose to the breeze.

The red rose clouds, without law or leader,
Gather and float in the airy plain;
The nightingale sings to the dewy cedar,
The cedar scatters his scent to the main.

The strange flowers’ perfume turns to singing,
Heard afar over moonlit seas:
The Siren’s song, grown faint in winging,
Falls in scent on the cedar-trees.

As waifs blown out of the sunset, flying,
Purple, and rosy, and gray, the birds
Brighten the air with their wings; their crying
Wakens a moment the weary herds.

Butterflies flit from the fairy garden,
Living blossoms of flying flowers;
Never the nights with winter harden,
Nor moons wax keen in this land of ours.

Great fruits, fragrant, green and golden,
Gleam in the green, and droop and fall;
Blossom, and bud, and flower unfolden,
Swing and cling to the garden wall.

Deep in the woods as twilight darkens,
Glades are red with the scented fire;
Far in the dells the white maid hearkens
Song and sigh of the heart’s desire.

Ulysses stood gazing in admiration, unobserved himself, for the cloud which Minerva spread around him still shielded him. At length having sufficiently observed the scene, he advanced with rapid step into the hall where the chiefs and senators were assembled, pouring libation to Mercury, whose worship followed the evening meal. Just then Minerva dissolved the cloud and disclosed him to the assembled chiefs. Advancing to the place where the queen sat, he knelt at her feet and implored her favor and assistance to enable him to return to his native country. Then withdrawing, he seated himself in the manner of suppliants, at the hearth side.

For a time none spoke. At last an aged statesman, addressing the king, said, “It is not fit that a stranger who asks our hospitality should be kept waiting in suppliant guise, none welcoming him. Let him, therefore, be led to a seat among us and supplied with food and wine.” At these words the king, rising, gave his hand to Ulysses and led him to a seat, displacing thence his own son to make room for the stranger. Food and wine were set before him and he ate and refreshed himself.

The king then dismissed his guests, notifying them that the next day he would call them to council to consider what had best be done for the stranger.

When the guests had departed, and Ulysses was left alone with the king and queen, the queen asked him who he was and whence he came, and (recognizing the clothes which he wore as those which her maidens and herself had made) from whom he received those garments. He told them of his residence in Calypso’s isle and his departure thence; of the wreck of his raft, his escape by swimming, and of the relief afforded by the princess. The parents heard approvingly, and the king promised to furnish a ship in which his guest might return to his own land.

The next day the assembled chiefs confirmed the promise of the king. A bark was prepared and a crew of stout rowers selected, and all betook themselves to the palace, where a bounteous repast was provided. After the feast the king proposed that the young men should show their guest their proficiency in manly sports, and all went forth to the arena for games of running, wrestling, and other exercises. After all had done their best, Ulysses being challenged to show what he could do, at first declined, but being taunted by one of the youths, seized a quoit of weight far heavier than any the Phæacians had thrown, and sent it farther than the utmost throw of theirs. All were astonished, and viewed their guest with greatly increased respect.

After the games they returned to the hall, and the herald led in Demodocus, the blind bard, —

“Dear to the Muse,
Who yet appointed him both good and ill,
Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine.”

He took for his theme the Wooden Horse, by means of which the Greeks found entrance into Troy. Apollo inspired him, and he sang so feelingly the terrors and the exploits of that eventful time that all were delighted, but Ulysses was moved to tears. Observing which, Alcinoüs, when the song was done, demanded of him why at the mention of Troy his sorrows awaked. Had he lost there a father, or brother, or any dear friend? Ulysses replied by announcing himself by his true name, and, at their request, recounted the adventures which had befallen him since his departure from Troy. This narrative raised the sympathy and admiration of the Phæacians for their guest to the highest pitch. The king proposed that all the chiefs should present him with a gift, himself setting the example. They obeyed, and vied with one another in loading the illustrious stranger with costly gifts.

The next day Ulysses set sail in the Phæacian vessel, and in a short time arrived safe at Ithaca, his own island. When the vessel touched the strand he was asleep. The mariners, without waking him, carried him on shore, and landed with him the chest containing his presents, and then sailed away.

Neptune was so displeased at the conduct of the Phæacians in thus rescuing Ulysses from his hands, that, on the return of the vessel to port, he transformed it into a rock, right opposite the mouth of the harbor.

§ 173. Fate of the Suitors. — Ulysses had now been away from Ithaca for twenty years, and when he awoke he did not recognize his native land. Minerva appeared to him in the form of a young shepherd, informed him where he was, and told him the state of things at his palace. More than a hundred nobles of Ithaca, and of the neighboring islands, had been for years suing for the hand of Penelope, his wife, imagining him dead, and lording it over his palace and people as if they were owners of both.

Penelope was one of those mythic heroines whose beauties were not those of person only, but of character and conduct as well. She was the niece of Tyndareus, — being the daughter of his brother Icarius, a Spartan prince. Ulysses, seeking her in marriage, had won her over all competitors. But, when the moment came for the bride to leave her father’s house, Icarius, unable to bear the thoughts of parting with his daughter, tried to persuade her to remain with him, and not accompany her husband to Ithaca. Ulysses gave Penelope her choice, to stay or go with him. Penelope made no reply, but dropped her veil over her face. Icarius urged her no further, but when she was gone erected a statue to Modesty on the spot where they parted.

Ulysses and Penelope had not enjoyed their union more than a year when it was interrupted by the events which called Ulysses to the Trojan war. During his long absence, and when it was doubtful whether he still lived, and highly improbable that he would ever return, Penelope was importuned by numerous suitors, from whom there seemed no refuge but in choosing one of them for her husband. She, however, employed every art to gain time, still hoping for Ulysses’ return. One of her arts of delay was by engaging in the preparation of a robe for the funeral canopy of Lærtes, her husband’s father. She pledged herself to make her choice among the suitors when the web was finished. During the day she worked at it, but in the night, she undid the work of the day.

Fig. 105. Penelope at the loom.
[Vase picture: Baumeister.]

That Ulysses on returning might be able to take vengeance upon the suitors, it was important that he should not be recognized. Minerva accordingly metamorphosed him into an unsightly beggar, and as such he was kindly received by Eumæus, the swine-herd, a faithful servant of his house.

Telemachus, his son, had, for some time, been absent in quest of his father, visiting the courts of the other kings, who had returned from the Trojan expedition. While on the search, he received counsel from Minerva to return home. He arrived, at this juncture, and sought Eumæus to learn something of the state of affairs at the palace before presenting himself among the suitors. Finding a stranger with Eumæus, he treated him courteously, though in the garb of a beggar, and promised him assistance. Eumæus was sent to the palace to inform Penelope privately of her son’s arrival, for caution was necessary with regard to the suitors, who, as Telemachus had learned, were plotting to intercept and kill him. When the swine-herd was gone, Minerva presented herself to Ulysses, and directed him to make himself known to his son. At the same time she touched him, removed at once from him the appearance of age and penury, and gave him the aspect of vigorous manhood that belonged to him. Telemachus viewed him with astonishment, and at first thought he must be more than mortal. But Ulysses announced himself as his father, and accounted for the change of appearance, by explaining that it was Minerva’s doing.

Then threw Telemachus
His arms around his father’s neck and wept.
Desire intense of lamentation seized.
On both; soft murmurs uttering, each indulged
His grief.378

The father and son took counsel together how they should get the better of the suitors and punish them for their outrages. It was arranged that Telemachus should proceed to the palace and mingle with the suitors as formerly; that Ulysses should also go as a beggar, a character which in the rude old times had different privileges from what we concede to it now. As traveller and story-teller, the beggar was admitted in the halls of chieftains, and often treated like a guest; though sometimes, also, no doubt, with contumely. Ulysses charged his son not to betray, by any display of unusual interest in him, that he knew him to be other than he seemed, and even if he saw him insulted, or beaten, not to interpose otherwise than he might do for any stranger. At the palace, they found the usual scene of feasting and riot going on. The suitors pretended to receive Telemachus with joy at his return, though secretly mortified at the failure of their plots to take his life. The old beggar was permitted to enter, and provided with a portion from the table. A touching incident occurred as Ulysses entered the court-yard of the palace. An old dog lay in the yard almost dead with age, and seeing a stranger enter, raised his head, with ears erect. It was Argus, Ulysses’ own dog, that he had in other days often led to the chase.

Soon as he perceived
Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears
Clapped close, and with his tail glad sign he gave
Of gratulation, impotent to rise,
And to approach his master as of old.
Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear

… Then his destiny released
Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see
Ulysses in the twentieth year restored.379

As Ulysses sat eating his portion in the hall, the suitors soon began to exhibit their insolence to him. When he mildly remonstrated, one of them raised a stool and with it gave him a blow. Telemachus had hard work to restrain his indignation at seeing his father so treated in his own hall; but, remembering his father’s injunctions, said no more than what became him as master of the house, though young, and protector of his guests.

Once, again, was the wanderer all but betrayed; — when his aged nurse Euryclea, bathing his feet, recognized the scar of a wound dealt him by a boar, long ago. Grief and joy overwhelmed the crone, and she would have revealed him to Penelope, had not Ulysses enjoined silence upon her.

Penelope had protracted her decision in favor of any one of her suitors so long, that there seemed to be no further pretence for delay. The continued absence of her husband seemed to prove that his return was no longer to be expected. Meanwhile her son had grown up, and was able to manage his own affairs. She therefore consented to submit the question of her choice to a trial of skill among the suitors. The test selected was shooting with the bow. Twelve rings were arranged in a line, and he whose arrow was sent through the whole twelve, was to have the queen for his prize. A bow that one of his brother heroes had given to Ulysses in former times, was brought from the armory, and with its quiver full of arrows was laid in the hall. Telemachus had taken care that all other weapons should be removed, under pretence that in the heat of competition, there was danger, in some rash moment, of putting them to an improper use.

Fig. 106. Ulysses and Euryclea. [Relief: Roscher 9: 1423.]

All things being prepared for the trial, the first thing to be done was to bend the bow in order to attach the string. Telemachus endeavored to do it, but found all his efforts fruitless; and modestly confessing that he had attempted a task beyond his strength, he yielded the bow to another. He tried it with no better success, and, amidst the laughter and jeers of his companions, gave it up. Another tried it and another; they rubbed the bow with tallow, but all to no purpose; it would not bend. Then spoke Ulysses, humbly suggesting that he should be permitted to try; for, said he, “beggar as I am, I was once a soldier, and there is still some strength in these old limbs of mine.” The suitors hooted with derision, and commanded to turn him out of the hall for his insolence. But Telemachus spoke up for him, and merely to gratify the old man, bade him try. Ulysses took the bow, and handled it with the hand of a master. With ease he adjusted the cord to its notch, then fitting an arrow to the bow he drew the string and sped the arrow unerring through the rings.

Without allowing them time to express their astonishment, he said, “Now for another mark!” and aimed direct at the most insolent one of the suitors. The arrow pierced through his throat and he fell dead. Telemachus, Eumæus, and another faithful follower, well armed, now sprang to the side of Ulysses. The suitors, in amazement, looked round for arms, but found none, neither was there any way of escape, for Eumæus had secured the door. Ulysses left them not long in uncertainty; he announced himself as the long-lost chief, whose house they had invaded, whose substance they had squandered, whose wife and son they had persecuted for ten long years; and told them he meant to have ample vengeance. All were slain, and Ulysses was left master of his palace and possessor of his kingdom and his wife.

Tennyson’s poem of Ulysses represents the old hero, — his dangers past and nothing left but to stay at home and be happy, — growing tired of inaction and resolving to set forth again in quest of new adventures. „

“It little profits that an idle King,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How Hull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

“This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle —
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

“There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me —
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads — you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides: and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Chapter XXVIII.
Adventures of Æneas. §

§ 174. From Troy to Italy. — Homer tells the story of one of the Grecian heroes, Ulysses, in his wanderings, on his return home from Troy. Vergil in his Æneid narrates the mythical fortunes of the remnant of the conquered people, under their chief Æneas, in their search for a new home, after the ruin of their native city. On that fatal night when the wooden horse disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture and conflagration of the city were the result, Aeneas made his escape from the scene of destruction, with his father, and his wife, and young son. The father, Anchises, was too old to walk with the speed required, and Æneas took him upon his shoulders. Thus burdened, leading his son and followed by his wife, he made the best of his way out of the burning city; but, in the confusion, his wife, Creiisa, was swept away and lost.

Fig. 107. Veneas, Anchises, and Iulus.
[Gem: Mus. Flor.]

The Departure from Troy. — On arriving at the place of rendezvous, numerous fugitives, of both sexes, were found, who put themselves under the guidance of Æneas. Some months were spent in preparation, and at length they embarked. They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace, and were preparing to build a city; but Æneas was deterred by a prodigy. Preparing to offer sacrifice, he tore some twigs from one of the bushes. To his dismay the wounded part dropped blood. When he repeated the act, a voice from the ground cried out to him, “Spare me, Æneas; I am thy kinsman, Polydore, here murdered with many arrows, from which a bush has grown, nourished with my blood.” These words recalled to the recollection of Æneas that Polydore was a young prince of Troy, whom his father had sent with ample treasures to the neighboring land of Thrace, to be there brought up, at a distance from the horrors of war. The king to whom he was sent had murdered him, and seized his treasures. Æneas and his companions, considering the land accursed by the stain of such a crime, hastened away.

The Promised Empire. — They next landed on the island of Delos. Here Æneas consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received an answer, ambiguous as usual, — “Seek thy ancient mother; there the race of Æneas shall dwell, and reduce all other nations to their sway.” The Trojans heard with joy, and immediately began to ask one another, “Where is the spot intended by the oracle?” Anchises remembered that there was a tradition that their forefathers came from Crete, and thither they resolved to steer. They arrived at Crete, and began to build their city; but sickness broke out among them, and the fields, that they had planted, failed to yield a crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs, 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, was reported to have migrated. To Hesperia, now called Italy, they, therefore, directed their future course, and not till after many adventures, and the lapse of time sufficient to carry a modern navigator several times round the world, did they arrive there.

The Harpies. — Their first landing was at the island of the Harpies. These were disgusting birds, with the heads of maidens, with long claws and faces pale with hunger. They were sent by the gods to torment a certain Phineus, whom Jupiter had deprived of his sight, in punishment of his cruelty; and whenever a meal was placed before him, the harpies darted down from the air and carried it off. They were driven away from Phineus by the heroes of the Argonautic expedition, and took refuge in the island where Æneas now found them. When the Trojans entered the port they saw herds of cattle roaming over the plain. They slew as many as they wished, and prepared for a feast. But no sooner had they seated themselves at the table, than a horrible clamor was heard in the air, and a flock of these odious harpies came rushing down upon them, seizing in their talons the meat from the dishes, and flying away with it. Æneas and his companions drew their swords, and dealt vigorous blows among the monsters, but to no purpose, for they were so nimble it was almost impossible to hit them, and their feathers were, like armor, impenetrable to steel. One of them, perched on a neighboring cliff, screamed out, “Is it thus, Trojans, ye treat us innocent birds, first slaughter our cattle, and then make war on ourselves?” She then predicted dire sufferings to them in their future course, and having vented her wrath, flew away.

Epirus. — The Trojans made haste to leave the country, and next found themselves coasting along the shore of Epirus. Here they landed, and to their astonishment learned that certain Trojan exiles, who had been carried there as prisoners, had become rulers of the country. Andromache, the widow of Hector, had become the wife of one of the victorious Grecian chiefs, to whom she bore a son. Her husband dying, she was left regent of this country, as guardian of her son, and had married a fellow-captive, Helenus, of the royal race of Troy. Helenus and Andromache treated the exiles with the utmost hospitality, and dismissed them loaded with gifts.

The Cyclopes. — From hence Æneas coasted along the shore of Sicily, and passed the country of the Cyclopes. Here they were hailed from the shore by a miserable object, whom by his garments tattered as they were, they perceived to be a Greek. He told them he was one of Ulysses’ companions, left behind by that chief in his hurried departure. He related the story of Ulysses’ adventure with Polyphemus, and besought them to take him off with them, as he had no means of sustaining his existence where he was, but wild berries and roots, and lived in constant fear of the Cyclopes. While he spoke Polyphemus made his appearance; terrible, shapeless, vast, and, of course, blind.380 He walked with cautious steps, feeling his way with a staff, down to the sea-side, to wash his eye-socket in the waves. When he reached the water he waded out towards them, and his immense height enabled him to advance far into the sea, so that the Trojans, in terror, took to their oars to get out of his way. Hearing the oars, Polyphemus shouted after them, so that the shores resounded, and at the noise the other Cyclopes came forth from their caves and woods, and lined the shore, like a row of lofty pine-trees. The Trojans plied their oars, and soon left them out of sight.

Æneas had been cautioned by Helenus to avoid the strait guarded by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. There Ulysses, the reader will remember, had lost six of his men, seized by Scylla, while the navigators were wholly intent upon avoiding Charybdis. Æneas, following the advice of Helenus, shunned the dangerous pass and coasted along the island of Sicily.

Fig. 108. Scylla.
[Carved end of table: Chefs d’œuvres de l’Art Antique, Paris, 1867.]

The Resentment of Juno. — Now Juno, seeing the Trojans speeding their way prosperously towards their destined shore, felt her old grudge against them revive, for she could not forget the slight that Paris had put upon her, in awarding the prize of beauty to another. In heavenly minds can such resentment dwell!381 Accordingly she gave orders to Æolus, who sent forth his sons, Boreas, Typhon and the other winds, to toss the ocean. A terrible storm ensued, and the Trojan ships were driven out of their course towards the coast of Africa. They were in imminent danger of being wrecked, and were separated, so that Æneas thought that all were lost except his own vessel.

At this crisis, Neptune, hearing the storm raging, and knowing that he had given no orders for one, raised his head above the waves, and saw the fleet of ÆÆneas driving before the gale. Understanding the hostility of Juno, he was at no loss to account for it, but his anger was not the less at this interference in his province. He called the winds and dismissed them with a severe reprimand. He then soothed the waves, and brushed away the clouds from before the face of the sun. Some of the ships which had got on the rocks, he pried off with his own trident, while Triton and a sea-nymph, putting their shoulders under others, set them afloat again. The Trojans, when the sea became calm, sought the nearest shore, — the coast of Carthage, where Æneas was so happy as to find that one by one the ships all arrived safe, though badly shaken.

The Sojourn at Carthage. Dido. — Carthage where the exiles had now arrived, was a spot on the coast of Africa opposite Sicily, where at that time a Tyrian colony under Dido their queen, were laying the foundations of a state destined in later ages to be the rival of Rome itself. Dido was the daughter of Belus, king of Tyre, and sister of Pygmalion who succeeded his father on the throne. Her husband was Sichæus, a man of immense wealth, but Pygmalion, who coveted his treasures, caused him to be put to death. Dido, with a numerous body of friends and followers, both men and women, succeeded in effecting their escape from Tyre, in several vessels, carrying with them the treasures of Sichæus. On arriving at the spot which they selected as the seat of their future home, they asked of the natives only so much land as they could enclose with a bull’s hide. When this was readily granted, she caused the hide to be cut into strips, and with them enclosed a spot on which she built a citadel, and called it Byrsa (a hide). Around this fort the city of Carthage rose, and soon became a powerful and flourishing place.

Such was the state of affairs when Æneas with his Trojans arrived there. Dido received the illustrious exiles with friendliness and hospitality. “Not unacquainted with distress,” she said, “I have learned to succor the unfortunate.”382 The queen’s hospitality displayed itself in festivities at which games of strength and skill were exhibited. The strangers contended for the palm with her own subjects, on equal terms, the queen declaring that whether the victor were “Trojan or Tyrian should make no difference to her.”383 At the feast which followed the games, Æneas gave at her request a recital of the closing events of the Trojan history and his own adventures after the fall of the city. Dido was charmed with his discourse and filled with admiration of his exploits. She conceived an ardent passion for him, and he for his part seemed well content to accept the fortunate chance which appeared to offer him at once a happy termination of his wanderings, a home, a kingdom, and a bride. 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 alike forgotten. Seeing which, Jupiter despatched Mercury with a message to Æneas recalling him to a sense of his high destiny, and commanding him to resume his voyage.

Æneas parted from Dido, though she tried every allurement and persuasion to detain him. The blow to her affection and her pride was too much for her to endure, and when she found that he was gone, she mounted, a funeral pile which she had caused to be prepared, and having stabbed herself was consumed with the pile. The flames rising over the city were seen by the departing Trojans, and though the cause was unknown, gave to Æneas some intimation of the fatal event.

Map 7. Italy before the Growth of Rome.

Palinurus. Italy at Last. — After touching at the island of Sicily, where Acestes, a prince of Trojan lineage, bore sway, who gave them a hospitable reception, the Trojans reembarked, and held on their course for Italy. Venus now interceded with Neptune to allow her son at last to attain the wished-for goal, and find an end of his perils on the deep. Neptune consented, stipulating only for one life as a ransom for the rest. The victim was Palinurus, the pilot. As he sat watching the stars, with his hand on the helm, Somnus, sent by Neptune, approached in the guise of Phorbas and said, “Palinurus, the breeze is fair, the water smooth, and the ship sails steadily on her course. Lie down a while and take needful rest. I will stand at the helm in thy place.” Palinurus replied, “Tell me not of smooth seas or favoring winds, — me who have seen so much of their treachery. Shall I trust Æneas to the chances of the weather and the winds?” And he continued to grasp the helm and to keep his eyes fixed on the stars. But Somnus waved over him a branch moistened with Lethæan dew, and his eyes closed in spite of all his efforts. Then Somnus pushed him overboard and he fell; but keeping his hold upon the helm, it came away with him. Neptune was mindful of his promise and kept the ship on her track without helm or pilot, till Æneas discovered his loss, and sorrowing deeply for his faithful steersman took charge of the ship himself. Under his guidance the ships at last reached the shores of Italy, and joyfully the adventurers leaped to land.

The Sibyl of Cumæ. — While his people were employed in making their encampment Æneas sought the abode of the Sibyl. It was a cave connected with a temple and grove, sacred to Apollo and Diana. While Æneas contemplated the scene, the Sibyl accosted him. She seemed to know his errand, and under the influence of the deity of the place, burst forth in a prophetic strain, giving dark intimations of labors and perils through which he was destined to make his way to final success. She closed with the encouraging words which have become proverbial: — “Yield not to disasters, but press onward the more bravely.”384 Æneas replied that he had prepared himself for whatever might await him. He had but one request to make. Having been directed in a dream to seek the abode of the dead in order to confer with his father Anchises to receive from him a revelation of his future fortunes and those of his race, he asked her assistance to enable him to accomplish the task. The Sibyl replied, “The descent to Avernus is easy; the gate of Pluto stands open night and day; but to retrace one’s steps and return to the upper air, that is the toil, that the difficulty.385 She instructed him to seek in the forest a tree on which grew a golden branch. This branch was to be plucked off and borne as a gift to Proserpine, and if fate was propitious it would yield to the hand and quit its parent trunk, but otherwise no force could rend it away. If torn away another would succeed.

Æneas followed the directions of the Sibyl. His mother 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.

§ 175. The Infernal Regions. — The region where Vergil locates the entrance to the infernal regions is, perhaps, the most strikingly adapted to excite ideas of the terrific and preternatural of any on the face of the earth. It is the volcanic region near Vesuvius, where the whole country is cleft with chasms from which sulphurous flames arise, while the ground is shaken with pent-up vapors, and mysterious sounds issue from the bowels of the earth. The lake Avernus is supposed to fill the crater of an extinct volcano It is circular, half a mile wide, and very deep, surrounded by high banks, which in Vergil’s time were covered with a gloomy forest. Mephitic vapors rise from its waters, so that no life is found on its banks, and no birds fly over it. Here Æneas offered sacrifices to the infernal dieties, Proserpine, Hecate, and the Furies. Then a roaring was heard in the earth, the woods on the hill-tops were shaken, and the howling of dogs announced the approach of the deities. “Now,” said the Sibyl, “summon thy courage, for thou shalt need it.” She descended into the cave of Avernus, and Æneas followed. Before the threshold of hell they passed through a group of beings who are enumerated as Griefs and avenging Cares, pale Diseases, and melancholy Age, Fear and Hunger that tempt to crime, Toil, Poverty, and Death, forms horrible to view. The Furies spread their couches there, and Discord, whose hair was of vipers tied up with a bloody fillet. Here also were the monsters, Briareus, with his hundred arms, Hydras hissing, and Chimæras breathing fire. Æneas shuddered at the sight, drew his sword and would have struck, but the Sibyl restrained him. They then came to the black river Cocytus, where they found the ferryman, Charon, old and squalid, but strong and vigorous, who was receiving passengers of all kinds into his boat, stout-hearted heroes, boys and unmarried girls, as numerous as the leaves that fall at autumn, or the flocks that fly southward at the approach of winter. They stood pressing for a passage and longing to touch the opposite shore. But the stern ferryman took in only such as he chose, driving the rest back. Æneas, wondering at the sight, asked the Sibyl, “Why this discrimination?” She answered, “Those who are taken on board the bark are the souls of those who have received due burial rites; the host of others who have remained unburied are not permitted to pass the flood, but wander a hundred years, and flit to and fro about the shore, till at last they are. taken over.” Æneas grieved at recollecting some of his own companions who had perished in the storm. At that moment, he beheld Palinurus, his pilot, who fell overboard and was drowned. He addressed him and asked him the cause of his misfortune. Palinurus replied that the rudder was carried away, and he clinging to it was swept away with it. He besought Æneas most urgently to extend to him his hand and take him in company to the opposite shore. But the Sibyl rebuked him for the wish thus to transgress the laws of Pluto; but consoled him by informing him that the people of the shore where his body had been wafted by the waves should be stirred up by prodigies to give it due burial, and that the promontory should bear the name of Cape Palinurus, — and so it does to this day. Leaving Palinurus consoled by these words, they approached the boat. Charon, fixing his eyes sternly upon the advancing warrior, demanded by what right he, living and armed, approached that shore. To which the Sibyl replied that they would commit no violence, that Æneas’ only object was to see his father, and finally exhibited the golden branch, at sight of which Charon’s wrath relaxed, and he made haste to turn his bark to the shore, and receive them on board. The boat, adapted only to the light freight of bodiless spirits, groaned under the weight of the hero. They were soon conveyed to the opposite shore. There they were encountered by the three-headed dog Cerberus, with his necks bristling with snakes. He barked with all three throats till the Sibyl threw him a medicated cake, which he eagerly devoured, and then stretched himself out in his den and fell asleep. Æneas and the Sibyl sprang to land. The first sound that struck their ears was the wailing of young children, who had died on the threshold of life; and near to these were they who had perished under false charges. Minos presides over them as judge, and examines the deeds of each. The next class was of those who had died by their own hand, hating life and seeking refuge in death. O, how willingly would they now endure poverty, labor, and any other infliction, if they might but return to life! Next were situated the regions of sadness, divided off into retired paths, leading through groves of myrtle. Here roamed those who had fallen victims to unrequited love, not freed from pain even by death itself. Among these, Æneas thought he descried the form of Dido, with a wound still recent. In the dim light he was for a moment uncertain, but approaching, perceived it was indeed herself. Tears fell from his eyes, and he addressed her in the accents of love. “Unhappy Dido! was then the rumor true that thou hadst perished? and was I, alas! the cause? I call the gods to witness that my departure from thee was reluctant, and in obedience to the commands of Jove; nor could I believe that my absence would have cost thee so dear. Stop, I beseech thee, and refuse me not a last farewell.” She stood for a moment with averted countenance, and eyes fixed on the ground, and then silently passed on, as insensible to his pleadings as a rock. Æneas followed for some distance; then, with a heavy heart, rejoined his companion and resumed his route.

Fig. 109. Charon receiving a passenger and his fare.
[Relief: Sepolcri.]

They next entered the fields where roam the heroes who have fallen in battle. Here they saw many shades of Grecian and Trojan warriors. The Trojans thronged around him, and could not be satisfied with the sight. They asked the cause of his coming, and plied him with innumerable questions. But the Greeks, at the sight of his armor glittering through the murky atmosphere, recognized the hero, and filled with terror turned their backs and fled, as they used to do on the plains of Troy.

Æneas would have lingered long with his Trojan friends, but the Sibyl hurried him away. They next came to a place where the road divided, the one leading to Elysium, the other to the regions of the condemned. Æneas beheld on one side the walls of a mighty city, around which Phlegethon rolled its fiery waters. Before him was the gate of adamant that neither gods nor men can break through. An iron tower stood by the gate, on which Tisiphone, the avenging Fury, kept guard. From the city were heard groans, and the sound of the scourge, the creaking of iron, and the clanking of chains. Æneas, horror-struck, inquired of his guide what crimes were those whose punishments produced the sounds he heard? The Sibyl answered, “Here is the judgment hall of Rhadamanthus, who brings to light crimes done in life, which the perpetrator vainly thought impenetrably hid. Tisiphone applies her whip of scorpions, and delivers the offender over to her sister Furies.” At this moment, with horrid clang, the brazen gates unfolded, and, within, Æneas saw a Hydra with fifty heads, guarding the entrance. The Sibyl told him that the gulf of Tartarus descended deep, so that its recesses were as far beneath their feet as heaven was high above their heads. In the bottom of this pit, the Titan race, who warred against the gods, lie prostrate; Salmoneus, also, who presumed to vie with Jupiter, and built a bridge of brass over which he drove his chariot that the sound might resemble thunder, launching flaming brands at his people in imitation of lightning, till Jupiter struck him with a real thunderbolt, and taught him the difference between mortal weapons and divine. Here, also, is Tityus, the giant, whose form is so immense, that, as he lies, he stretches over nine acres, while a vulture preys upon his liver, which, as fast as it is devoured grows again, so that his punishment will have no end.

Æneas saw groups seated at tables, loaded with dainties, while near by stood a Fury who snatched away the viands from their lips as fast as they prepared to taste them. Others beheld suspended over their heads huge rocks, threatening to fall, keeping them in a state of constant alarm. These were they who had hated their brothers, or struck their parents, or defrauded the friends who trusted them, or who, having grown rich, kept their money to themselves, and gave no share to others; the last being the most numerous class. Here also were those who had violated the marriage vow, or fought in a bad cause, or failed in fidelity to their employers. Here was one who had sold his country for gold, another who perverted the laws, making them say one thing to-day and another tomorrow.

Ixion was there, fastened to the circumference of a wheel ceaselessly revolving; and Sisyphus, whose task was to roll a huge stone up to a hill top, but when the steep was well-nigh gained, the rock, repulsed by some sudden force, rushed again headlong down to the plain. Again, he toiled at it, while the sweat bathed all his weary limbs, but all to no effect. There was Tantalus, who stood in a pool, his chin level with the water, yet he was parched with thirst, and found nothing to assauge it; for when he bowed his hoary head, eager to quaff, the water fled away, leaving the ground at his feet all dry. Tall trees, laden with fruit, stooped their heads to him, pears, pomegranates, apples, and luscious figs; but when, with a sudden grasp, he tried to seize them, winds whirled them high above his reach.

The Elysian Fields. — The Sibyl now warned Æneas that it was time to turn from these melancholy regions and seek the city of the blessed. They passed through a middle tract of darkness, and came upon the Elysian fields, the groves where the happy reside. They breathed a freer air, and saw all objects clothed in a purple light. The region had a sun and stars of its own. The inhabitants were enjoying themselves in various ways, some in sports on the grassy turf, in games of strength or skill, others dancing or singing. Orpheus struck the chords of his lyre, and called forth ravishing sounds. Here Æneas saw the founders of the Trojan state, great-hearted heroes who lived in happier times. He gazed with admiration on the war chariots and glittering arms now reposing in disuse. Spears stood fixed in the ground, and the horses, unharnessed, roamed over the plain. The same pride in splendid armor and generous steeds which the old heroes felt in life, accompanied them here. He saw another group feasting, and listening to the strains of music. They were in a laurel grove, whence the great river Po has its origin, and flows out among men. Here dwelt those who fell by wounds received in their country’s cause, holy priests also, and poets who have uttered thoughts worthy of Apollo, and others who have contributed to cheer and adorn life by their discoveries in the useful arts, and have made their memory blessed by rendering service to mankind. They wore snow-white fillets about their brows. The Sibyl addressed a group of these, and inquired where Anchises was to be found. They were directed where to seek him, and soon found him in a verdant valley, where he was contemplating the ranks of his posterity, their destinies and worthy deeds to be achieved in coming times. When he recognized Æneas approaching, he stretched out both hands to him, while tears flowed freely. “Dost thou come at last,” said he, “long expected, and do I behold thee after such perils past? O my son, how have I trembled for thee, as I have watched thy ‘ course!” To which Æneas replied, “O father! thy image was always before me to guide and guard me.” Then he endeavored to enfold his father in his embrace, but his arms enclosed only an unsubstantial shade.

The Valley of Oblivion. — Æneas perceived before him a spacious valley, with trees gently waving to the wind, a tranquil landscape, through which the river Lethe flowed. Along the banks of the stream wandered a countless multitude, numerous as insects in the summer air. Æneas, with surprise, inquired who were these. Anchises answered, “They are souls to which bodies are to be given in due time. Meanwhile they dwell on Lethe’s bank, and drink oblivion of their former lives.”“O, father!” said Æneas, “is it possible that any can be so in love with life, as to wish to leave these tranquil seats for the upper world?” Anchises replied by explaining the plan of creation. The Creator, he told him, originally made the material of which souls are composed, of the four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, all which when united took the form of the most excellent part, fire, and became flame. This material was scattered like seed among the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. Of this seed the inferior gods created man and all other animals, mingling it with various proportions of earth, by which its purity was alloyed and reduced. Thus the more earth predominates in the composition, the less pure is the individual; and we see that men and women with their full-grown bodies have not the purity of childhood. So in proportion to the time which the union of body and soul has lasted, is the impurity contracted by the spiritual part. This impurity must be purged away after death, which is done by ventilating the souls in the current of winds, or merging them in water, or burning out their impurities by fire. Some few, of whom Anchises intimates that he is one, are admitted at once to Elysium, there to remain. But the rest, after the impurities of earth are purged away, are sent back to life endowed with new bodies, having had the remembrance of their former lives effectually washed away by the waters of Lethe. Some souls, however, there still are, so thoroughly corrupted, that they are not fit to be intrusted with human bodies,.and these pass by metempsychosis into the bodies of brute animals.

Anchises, having explained so much, proceeded to point out to Æneas individuals of his race, who were hereafter to be born, and to relate to him the exploits they should perform in the world. After this he reverted to the present, and told his son of the events that remained to him to be accomplished before the complete establishment of himself and his followers in Italy. Wars were to be waged, battles fought, a bride to be won, and, in the result, a Trojan state founded, from which should rise the Roman power, to be in time the sovereign of the world.

As Æneas and the Sibyl pursued their way back to earth, he said to her, “Whether thou be a goddess or a mortal beloved by the gods, by me thou shalt always be held in reverence. When I reach the upper air, I will cause a temple to be built to thy honor, and will myself bring offerings.”“I am no goddess,” said the Sibyl; “I have no claims to sacrifice or offering. I am mortal, yet, could I but have accepted the love of Apollo, I might have been immortal. He promised me the fulfilment of my wish, if I would consent to be his. I took a handful of sand, and holding it forth, said, ‘Grant me to see as many birthdays as there are sand-grains in my hand.’ Unluckily I forgot to ask for enduring youth. This also he would have granted, could I have accepted his love, but offended at my refusal, he allowed me to grow old. My youth and youthful strength fled long ago. I have lived seven hundred years, and to equal the number of the sand-grains, I have still to see three hundred springs and three hundred harvests. My body shrinks up as years increase, and in time, I shall be lost to sight, but my voice will remain, and future ages will respect my sayings.”

These concluding words of the Sibyl alluded to her prophetic power. In her cave she was accustomed to inscribe on leaves gathered from the trees the names and fates of individuals. The leaves thus inscribed were arranged in order within the cave, and might be consulted by her votaries. But if, perchance, at the opening of the door the wind rushed in and dispersed the leaves, the Sibyl gave no aid to restoring them again, and the oracle was irreparably lost.

Chapter XXIX.
The War between Trojans And Latins. §

§ 176. Æneas, having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined his fleet, coasted along the shores of Italy and cast anchor in the mouth of the Tiber. The poet, having brought his hero to this spot, the destined termination of his wanderings, invokes his Muse to tell him the situation of things at that eventful moment. Latinus, third in descent from Saturn, ruled the country. He was now old and had no male descendant, but had one charming daughter, Lavinia, who was sought in marriage by many neighboring chiefs, one of whom, Turnus, king of the Rutulians, was favored by the wishes of her parents. But Latinus had been warned in a dream by his father Faunus, that the destined husband of Lavinia should come from a foreign land. From that union should spring a race destined to subdue the world.

Our readers will remember that in the conflict with the Harpies, one of those half-human birds had threatened the Trojans with dire sufferings. in particular, she predicted that before their wanderings ceased they should be pressed by hunger to devour their tables. This portent now came true; for as they took their scanty meal, seated on the grass, the men placed their hard biscuit on their laps, and put thereon whatever their gleanings in the woods supplied. Having despatched the latter they finished by eating the crusts. Seeing which, the boy Iulus said playfully, “See, we are eating our tables.” Æneas caught the words and accepted the omen. “All hail, promised land!” he exclaimed, “this is our home, this our country!” He then took measures to find out who were the present inhabitants of the land, and who their rulers. A hundred chosen men were sent to the village of Latinus, bearing presents and a request for friendship and alliance. They went and were favorably received. Latinus immediately concluded that the Trojan hero was no other than the promised son-in-law announced by the oracle. He cheerfully granted his alliance and sent back the messengers mounted on steeds from his stables, and loaded with gifts and friendly messages.

Juno, seeing things go thus prosperously for the Trojans, felt her old animosity revive, summoned Alecto from Erebus, and sent her to stir up discord. The Fury first took possession of the queen, Amata, and roused her to oppose in every way the new alliance. Alecto then sped to the city of Turnus, and assuming the form of an old priestess, informed him of the arrival of the foreigners, and of the attempts of their prince to rob him of his bride. Next, she turned her attention to the camp of the Trojans. There she saw the boy Iulus and his companions amusing themselves with hunting. She sharpened the scent of the dogs, and led them to rouse up from the thicket a tame stag, the favorite of Silvia, the daughter of Tyrrheus, the king’s herdsman. A javelin from the hand of Iulus wounded the animal, which had only strength left to run homeward, — and died at its mistress’s feet. Her cries and tears roused her brothers and the herdsmen, and they, seizing whatever weapons came to hand, furiously 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.

These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, and the queen, Turnus, and the peasants all urged the old king to drive the strangers from the country. He resisted as long as he could, but finding his opposition unavailing, finally gave way and retreated to his retirement.

The Gates of Janus opened. — It was the custom of the country, when war was to be undertaken, for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes of office, with solemn pomp to open the gates of the temple of Janus, which were kept shut as long as peace endured. His people now urged the old king to perform that solemn office, but he refused to do so. While they contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies, smote the doors with irresistible force, and burst them open. Immediately the whole country was in a flame. The people rushed from every side breathing nothing but war.

Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined as allies, chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able soldier, but of detestable cruelty. He had been the chief of one of the neighboring cities, but his people drove him out. With him was joined his son Lausus, a generous youth worthy of a better sire.

Camilla. — Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, after the fashion of the Amazons, came with her band of mounted followers, including a select number of her own sex, and ranged herself on the side of Turnus. This maiden had never accustomed her fingers to the distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils of war, and in speed to outstrip the wind. It seemed as if she might run over the standing corn without crushing it, or over the surface of the water without dipping her feet. Camilla’s history had been singular from the beginning. Her father, Metabus, driven from his city by civil discord, carried with him in his flight his infant daughter. As he fled through the woods, his enemies in hot pursuit, he reached the bank of the river Amasenus, which, swelled by rains, seemed to debar a passage. He paused for a moment, then decided what to do. He tied the infant to his lance with wrappers of bark, and poising the weapon in his upraised hand, thus addressed Diana: “Goddess of the woods! I consecrate this maid to thee;” then hurled the weapon with its burden to the opposite bank. The spear flew across the roaring water. His pursuers were already upon him, but he plunged into the river and swam across, and found the spear, with the infant safe on the other side. Thenceforth he lived among the shepherds and brought up his daughter in woodland arts. While a child she was taught to use the bow and throw the javelin. With her sling she could bring down the crane or the wild swan. Her dress was a tiger’s skin. Many mothers sought her for a daughter-in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana and repelled the thought of marriage.

Fig. 110. Amazon.
[ Guhl & Koner.]

Alliance with Evander. — Such were the formidable allies that ranged themselves against Æneas. It was night and he lay stretched in sleep on the bank of the river, under the open heavens. The god of the stream, Father Tiber, seemed to raise his head above the willows and to say, “O goddess-born, destined possessor of the Latin realms, this is the promised land, here is to be thy home, here shall terminate the hostility of the heavenly powers, if Only thou faithfully persevere. There are friends not far distant. Prepare thy boats and row up my stream; I will lead thee to Evander the Arcadian chief. He has long been at strife with Turnus and the Rutulians, and is prepared to become an ally of thine. Rise! offer thy vows to Juno, and deprecate her anger. When thou hast achieved thy victory then think of me.” Æneas woke and paid immediate obedience to the friendly vision. He sacrificed to Juno, and invoked the god of the river and all his tributary fountains to lend their aid. Then for the first time a vessel filled with armed warriors floated on the stream of the Tiber. The river smoothed its waves, and bade its current flow gently, while, impelled by the vigorous strokes of the rowers, the vessel shot rapidly up the stream.

About the middle of the day they came in sight of the scattered buildings of the infant town where in after times the proud city of Rome grew, whose glory reached the skies. By chance the old king, Evander, was that day celebrating annual solemnities in honor of Hercules and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the chiefs of the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the tall ship gliding onward through the wood, they were alarmed at the sight, and rose from the tables. But Pallas forbade the solemnities to be interrupted, and seizing a weapon, stepped forward to the river’s bank. He called aloud, demanding who they were, and what their object. Æneas, holding forth an olive-branch, replied, “We are Trojans, friends to you and enemies to the Rutulians. We seek Evander and offer to join our arms with yours.” Pallas, in amaze at the sound of so great a name, invited them to land, and when Æneas touched the shore he seized his hand, and held it long in friendly grasp. Proceeding through the wood they joined the king and his party, and were most favorably received. Seats were provided for them at the tables, and the repast proceeded.

Infant Rome. — When the solemnities were ended all moved towards the city. The king, bending with age, walked between his son and Æneas, taking the arm of one or the other of them, and with much variety of pleasing talk shortening the way. Æneas with delight looked and listened, observing all the beauties of the scene, and learning much of heroes renowned in ancient times. Evander said, “These extensive groves were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs, and a rude race of men who sprang from the trees themselves, and had neither laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke the cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present abundance for future want; but browsed like beasts upon the leafy boughs, or fed voraciously on their hunted prey. Such were they when Saturn, expelled from Olympus by his sons, came among them and drew together the fierce savages, formed them into society, and gave them laws. Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever since have called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far other times succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of blood prevailed. The land was a prey to successive tyrants, till fortune and resistless destiny brought me hither, an exile from my native land, Arcadia.”

Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, and the rude spot then overgrown with bushes where in after times the Capitol was to rise in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled walls, and said, “Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there Saturnia, the town of Saturn.” Such discourse brought them to the cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds roaming over the plain where soon should stand the proud and stately Forum. They entered, and a couch, well stuffed with leaves and covered with the skin of a Libyan bear, was spread for Æneas.

Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill song of birds beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old Evander rose. Clad in a tunic, and a panther’s skin thrown over his shoulders, with sandals on his feet, and his good sword girded to his side, he went forth to seek his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his whole retinue and body-guard. He found the hero attended by his faithful Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old king spoke thus: —

“Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so great a cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one side by the river, on the other by the Rutulians. But I propose to ally thee with a people numerous and rich, to whom fate has brought thee at the propitious moment. The Etruscans hold the country beyond the river. Mezentius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who invented unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He would fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and face to face, and leave the wretched victims to die in that dreadful embrace. At length people cast him out, him and his house. They burned his palace and slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans demand that he shall be given up to deserved punishment, and would ere now have attempted to enforce their demand; but their priests restrain them, telling them that it is the will of heaven that no native of the land shall guide them to victory, and that their destined leader must come from across the sea. They have offered the crown to me, but I am too old to undertake such great affairs, and my son is native-born, which precludes him from the choice. Thou, equally by birth and time of life, and fame in arms, pointed out by the gods, hast but to appear to be hailed at once as their leader. With thee I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope and comfort. Under thee he shall learn the art of war, and strive to emulate thy great exploits.”

Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan chiefs, and Eneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city,386 having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. Eneas and his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp, and were received with open arms by Tarchon and his countrymen.

Turnus attacks the Trojan Camp. — In the meanwhile, Turnus had collected his bands, and made all necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of Eneas and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly, the attempt was made; but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received strict orders from Eneas not to fight in his absence, they lay still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night coming on, the army of Turnus, in high spirits at their fancied superiority, feasted and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves on the field and slept secure.

Nisus and Euryalus. — In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all was watchfulness and anxiety, and impatience for Eneas’ return. Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person and fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and brothers in arms. Nisus said to his friend, “Dost thou perceive what confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights are few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or sleep. Thou knowest how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to Eneas, and to get intelligence from him. Now I am strongly moved to make my way through the enemy’s camp and to go in search of our chief. If I succeed, the glory of the deed will be reward enough for me, and if they judge the service deserves anything more, let them pay it thee.”

Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, “Wouldst thou then, Nisus, refuse to share thy enterprise with me? And shall I let thee go into such danger alone? Not so my brave father brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I joined the standard of Æneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap in comparison with honor.” Nisus replied, “I doubt it not, my friend; but thou knowest the uncertain event of such an undertaking, and whatever may happen to me, I wish thee to be safe. Thou art younger than I and hast more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause of such grief to thy mother, who has chosen to be here in the camp with thee rather than stay and live in peace with the other matrons in Acestes’ city.” Euryalus replied, “Say no more. In vain dost thou seek arguments to dissuade me. I am fixed in the resolution to go with thee. Let us lose no time.” They called the guard, and committing the watch to them, sought the general’s tent. They found the chief officers in consultation, deliberating how they should send notice to Æneas of their situation. The offer of the two friends was gladly accepted, themselves loaded with praises and promised the most liberal rewards in case of success. Iulus especially addressed Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting friendship. Euryalus replied, “I have but one boon to ask. My aged mother is with me in the camp. For me she left the Trojan soil, and would not stay behind with the other matrons at the city of Acestes. I go now without taking leave of her. I could not bear her tears nor set at nought her entreaties. But do thou, I beseech thee, comfort her in her distress. Promise me that and I shall go more boldly into whatever dangers may present themselves.” Iulus and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and promised to do all his request. “Thy mother shall be mine,” said Iulus, “and all that I have promised thee shall be made good to her, if thou dost not return to receive it.”

The two friends left the camp and plunged at once into the midst of the enemy. They found no watch, no sentinels posted, but, all about, the sleeping soldiers strewn on the grass and among the wagons. The laws of war at that early day did not forbid a brave man to slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting alarm. In one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet brilliant with gold and plumes. They had passed through the enemy’s ranks without being discovered, but now suddenly appeared a troop directly in front of them, which, under Volscens, their leader, were approaching the camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught their attention, and Volscens hailed the two, and demanded who and whence they were. They made no answer, but plunged into the wood. The horsemen scattered in all directions to intercept their flight. Nisus had eluded pursuit and was out of danger, but Euryalus being missing he turned back to seek him. He again entered the wood and soon came within sound of voices. Looking through the thicket he saw the whole band surrounding Euryalus with noisy questions. What should he do! how extricate the youth! or would it be better to die with him?

Raising his eyes to the moon which now shone clear, he said, “Goddess, favor my effort!” and aiming his javelin at one of the leaders of the troop, struck him in the back and stretched him on the plain with a death-blow. In the midst of their amazement another weapon flew and another of the party fell dead. Volscens, the leader, ignorant whence the darts came, rushed sword in hand upon Euryalus. “Thou shalt pay the penalty of both,” he said, and would have plunged the sword into his bosom, when Nisus, who from his concealment saw the peril of his friend, rushed forward exclaiming, “’Twas I, ’twas I; turn your swords against me, Rutulians; I did it; he only followed me as a friend.” While he spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely bosom of Euryalus. His head fell over on his shoulder, like a flower cut down by the plough. Nisus rushed upon Volscens and plunged his sword into his body, and was himself slain on the instant by numberless blows.

The Death of Mezentius. — Æneas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene of action in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and now the two armies being nearly equal in strength, the war began in good earnest. We cannot find space for all the details, but must simply record the fate of the principal characters. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged against his revolted subjects, raged like a wild beast. He slew all who dared withstand him, and put the multitude to flight wherever he appeared. At last he encountered. Eneas, and the armies stood still to see the issue. Mezentius threw his spear, which striking Æneas’ shield glanced off and hit Antores, — a Grecian by birth who had left Argos, his native city, and followed Evander into Italy. The poet says of him with simple pathos which has made the words proverbial, “He fell, unhappy, by a wound intended for another, looked up to the skies, and, dying, remembered sweet Argos.”387 Æneas now in turn hurled his lance. It pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded him in the thigh. Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but rushed forward and interposed himself, while the followers pressed round Mezentius and bore him away. Æneas held his sword suspended over Lausus and delayed to strike, but the furious youth pressed on and he was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and Æneas bent over him in pity. “Hapless youth,” he said, “what can I do for thee worthy of thy praise? Keep those arms in which thou gloriest, and fear not but that thy body shall be restored to thy friends, and have due funeral honors.” So saying he called the timid followers and delivered the body into their hands.

Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the river-side, and had washed his wound. Soon the news reached him of Lausus’ death, and rage and despair supplied the place of strength. He mounted his horse and dashed into the thickest of the fight, seeking. Eneas. Having found him, he rode round him in a circle, throwing one javelin after another, while Æneas stood fenced with his shield, turning every way to meet them. At last after Mezentius had three times made the circuit, Æneas threw his lance directly at the horse’s head. The animal fell with pierced temples, while a shout from both armies rent the skies. Mezentius asked no mercy, but only that his body might be spared the insults of his revolted subjects, and be buried in the same grave with his son. He received the fatal stroke not unprepared, and poured out his life and his blood together.

Of Pallas. — While these things were doing in one part of the field, in another Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The contest between champions so unequally matched could not be doubtful. Pallas bore himself bravely, but fell by the lance of Turnus. The victor almost relented when he saw the brave youth lying dead at his feet, and spared to use the privilege of a conqueror in despoiling him of his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs and carvings of gold, he took and clasped round his own body. The rest he remitted to the friends of the slain.

Of Camilla. — After the battle, there was a cessation of arms for some days to allow both armies to bury their dead. In this interval Æneas challenged Turnus to decide the contest by single combat, but Turnus evaded the challenge. Another battle ensued, in which Camilla, the virgin warrior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her deeds of valor surpassed those of the bravest warriors, and many Trojans and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down by her battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, who had watched her long, seeking for some advantage, observed her pursuing a flying enemy whose splendid armor offered a tempting prize. Intent on the chase she observed not her danger, and the javelin of Aruns struck her and inflicted a fatal wound. She fell and breathed her last in the arms of her attendant maidens. But Diana, who beheld her fate, suffered not her slaughter to be unavenged. Aruns, as he stole away, glad but frightened, was struck by a secret arrow, launched by one of the nymphs of Diana’s train, and he died ignobly and unknown.

The Final Conflict. — At length the final conflict took place between Æneas and Turnus. Turnus had avoided the contest as long as he could; but at last impelled by the ill success of his arms, and by the murmurs of his followers, he braced himself to the conflict. The outcome could not be doubtful. On the side of Æneas were the expressed decree of destiny, the aid of his goddess-mother in every emergency, and impenetrable armor fabricated by Vulcan, at her request, for her son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted by his celestial allies, Juno having been expressly forbidden by Jupiter to assist him any longer. Turnus threw his lance, but it recoiled harmless from the shield of Æneas. The Trojan hero then threw his, which penetrating the shield of Turnus pierced his thigh. Then Turnus’ fortitude forsook him, and he begged for mercy; Æneas, indeed, would have spared his opponent’s life, but at the instant his eye fell on the belt of Pallas, which Turnus had taken from the slaughtered youth. Instantly his rage revived, and exclaiming, “Pallas immolates thee with this blow,” he thrust him through with his sword.

Here the poem of the Æneid closes, and we are left to infer that Æneas, having triumphed over his foes, obtained Lavinia for his bride. Tradition adds that he founded a city and called it Lavinium, after her name. His son Iulus founded Alba Longa, which became the birthplace of Romulus and Remus and the cradle of Rome.

Chapter XXX.
Myths of the Norse Gods.388 §

§ 177. The Creation. — According to the Eddas there was once no heaven above nor earth beneath, but only a bottomless deep, Ginungagap, and a world of mist, Niflheim, in which sprang a fountain. Twelve rivers issued from this fountain, Vergelmer, 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, Muspelheim. From this proceeded a warm wind upon the ice and melted it. The vapors rose in the air and formed clouds, from which sprang Ymir, the Frost giant and his progeny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded nourishment and food to the giant. The cow got nourishment by licking the hoar frost and salt from the ice. While she was one day licking the salt stones there appeared at first the hair of some being, on the second day his whole head, and on the third the entire form endowed with beauty, agility, and power. This new being was a god, Bori, from whom and his wife, a daughter of the giant race, sprang Bor, the father of Odin, Vili, and Ve. They slew the giant Ymir, and out of his body formed the earth, of his blood the seas, of his bones the mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the heavens, and of his brain clouds, charged with hail and snow. Of Ymir’s eyebrows the gods built a fence around this Midgard or mid-earth between Nilfleim and Muspelheim, destined to become the abode of man.

Odin then regulated the periods of day and night and the seasons by placing in the heavens the sun and moon, and appointing to them their respective courses. As soon as the sun began to shed its rays upon the earth, it caused the vegetable world to bud and sprout. Shortly after the gods (the Anse-race, Anses, Aesir, or Asa-folk) had created the world, they walked by the side of the sea, pleased with their new work, but found that it was still incomplete, for it was without human beings. They therefore took an ashen spar and made a man out of it; woman they made out of a piece of alder; and they called the man Ash and the woman Embla. Odin then gave them life and soul, Vili reason and motion, and Ve bestowed upon them the senses, expressive features, and speech. Midgard was then given them as their residence, and they became the progenitors of the human race.

Yggdrasil. — The mighty ash tree Yggdrasil was supposed to support the whole universe. It sprang from the body of Ymir, — this earth, — and had three immense roots, extending one into Asgard (the dwelling of the gods), the other into Jötunheim (the abode of the giants), and the third to Niflheim (the region of darkness and cold). By the side of each of these roots is a spring, from which it is watered. The root that extends into Asgard is carefully tended by the three Norns, — goddesses who are regarded as the dispensers of fate. They are Urdur (the past), Verdandi (the present), Skuld (the future). The spring at the Jotunheim side is Mimir’s well, in which wisdom and wit lie hidden, but that of Niflheim feeds the adder, Nidhogge (darkness), which perpetually gnaws at the root. Four harts run across the branches of the tree and bite the buds; they represent the four winds. Under the tree lies Ymir, and when he tries to shake off its weight the earth quakes.

§ 178. Odin and his Valhalla. — To Asgard, the abode of the gods, access is gained only by crossing the bridge, Bifrost (the rainbow). Asgard — Gladsheim for the gods, Vingolf for the goddesses — consists of golden and silver palaces: but the most beautiful of these is Valhalla, the great hall of Odin. When seated on his throne he overlooks heaven and earth. Beside him sits Frigga, his wife, who knows all things. Upon his shoulders are the ravens Hugin and Munin, — Thought and Memory, — who fly every day over the whole world, and on their return report to him what they have seen and heard. At his feet lie his two wolves, Geri and Freki, to whom Odin gives the meat that is set before him, for he himself stands in no need of food. Mead is for him both food and drink. He invented the Runic characters; the decrees of fate, inscribed therein, it is the business of the Norns to engrave upon a metal shield. From Odin’s name, spelt Woden, as it sometimes is, comes Wednesday.

Odin is frequently called Alfadur (All-father), but this name is sometimes used in a way that shows that the Scandinavians had an idea of a deity superior to Odin, uncreated and eternal. In Valhalla Odin feasts with his chosen heroes, all those who have fallen bravely in battle, for all who die a peaceful death are excluded. The flesh of the boar Serimnir is served up to them, and is abundant for all. For although this boar is cooked every morning, he becomes whole again every night. For drink the heroes are supplied abundantly with mead from the she-goat Heidrun. When the heroes are not feasting they amuse themselves with fighting. Every day they ride out into the court or field and fight until they cut each other in pieces. This is their pastime; but when meal time comes, they recover from their wounds and return to feast in Valhalla.

The Valkyries. — The Valkyries are warlike virgins, mounted upon horses and armed with helmets, shields, and spears. Odin is desirous of gathering many heroes in Valhalla that he may gloriously meet the giants in the day of the final contest; he therefore sends to every battle-field for the bravest of those who shall be slain. The Valkyries, Choosers of the Slain, are his messengers. When they ride forth on their errand, their armor sheds a weird flickering light over the northern skies, making what men call the Aurora Borealis.389

§ 179. The Other Gods. — Thor, the thunderer, Odin’s eldest son, is the strongest of gods and men, and possesses three precious things. The first is a hammer, which both the Frost and the Mountain giants (Hrim-thursar and Berg-risar) know to their cost, when they see it hurled against them in the air, for it has split many a skull of their fathers and kindred. When thrown, it returns to his hand of its own accord. The second rare thing he possesses is the belt of strength. When he girds it about him his divine might is doubled. The third is his iron gloves, which he puts on whenever he would use his mallet efficiently. From Thor’s name is derived our word Thursday. Vithar comes next in strength to Thor.

Freyr presides over rain and sunshine and all the fruits of the earth. His sister Freya is the most propitious of the goddesses. She loves music, spring, and flowers, and the fairies of Elfheim. She is the goddess of love. Her day is Friday.

Bragi is the god of poetry, and his song records the deeds of warriors. His wife, Iduna, keeps in a box the apples which the gods, when they feel old age approaching, have only to taste of to become young again.

Tyr, or Ziu, from whose name is derived our Tuesday, is the wrestler among the gods; and preëminently the “god of battles.”

Balder, dearest of the Anses, is the god of sunlight, spring, and gladness. Höder, his opposite, is the blind god of winter.

Heimdall is the watchman of the gods, and is therefore placed on the borders of heaven to prevent the giants from forcing their way over the bridge Bifrost. He requires less sleep than a bird, and sees by night as well as by day a hundred miles around him. So, acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for he can even hear the grass grow, — and the wool on a sheep’s back.

Loki and his Progeny. — Loki is described as the calumniator of the gods and the contriver of all fraud and mischief. He is the son of Farbanti, the Charon of Norse mythology. He is handsome and well made, but of fickle mood and evil disposition. Although of the giant race, he forced himself into the company of the gods; and seemed to take pleasure in bringing them into difficulties, and in extricating them out of the danger by his cunning, wit, and skill. Loki has three children. The first is the wolf Fenris, the second the Midgard Serpent, the third Hela (Death). The gods were not ignorant that these monsters were maturing, and that they would one day bring much evil upon gods and men. So Odin deemed it advisable to send one to bring them to him. When they came he threw the serpent in that deep ocean by which the earth is surrounded. But the monster has grown to such an enormous size that holding his tail in his mouth he encircles the whole earth. Hela he cast into Niflheim, and gave her power over nine worlds or regions, in which she distributes those who are sent to her; that is, all who die of sickness or old age. Her hall is called Elvidnir. Hunger is her table, Starvation her knife, Delay her man, Slowness her maid, Precipice her threshold, Care her bed, and Burning-anguish forms the hangings of her apartments. She may easily be recognized, for her body is half flesh color and half blue, and she presents a stern and forbidding countenance.

The wolf Fenris gave the gods a great deal of trouble before they succeeded in chaining him. He broke the strongest fetters as if they were made of cobwebs. Finally the gods sent a messenger to the mountain spirits, who made for them the chain called Gleipnir. It is fashioned of six things: the noise made by the footfall of a cat, the beards of women, the roots of stones, the breath of fishes, the nerves (sensibilities) of bears, and the spittle of birds. When finished it was as smooth and soft as a silken string. But when the gods asked the wolf to suffer himself to be bound with this apparently slight ribbon, he suspected their design, fearing that it was made by enchantment. He therefore only consented to be bound with it upon condition that one of the gods put his hand in his (Fenris’) mouth as a pledge that the band was to be removed again. Tyr alone had courage enough to do this. But when the wolf found that he could not break his fetters, and that the gods would not release him, he bit off Tyr’s hand. Tyr, consequently, has ever since remained onehanded.

§ 180. The Deeds of Thor. — When the gods were constructing their abodes, and had already finished Midgard and Valhalla, a certain artificer came and offered to build them a residence so well fortified that they should be perfectly safe from the incursions of the Frost giants and the giants of the mountains. But he demanded for his reward the goddess Freya, together with the sun and moon. The gods yielded to the terms, provided that the artificer would finish the whole work without any one’s assistance, and all within the space of one winter. But if anything remained unfinished on the first day of summer, he should forfeit the recompense agreed on. On being told these terms, the artificer stipulated that he be allowed the use of his horse Svadilfari, and this request by the advice of Loki was conceded. He accordingly set to work on the first day of winter, and during the night let his horse draw stone for the building. The enormous size of the stones struck the gods with astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse did one half more of the toilsome work than his master. Their bargain, however, had been concluded and confirmed by solemn oaths, for without these precautions a giant would not have thought himself safe among the gods, — still less, indeed, if Thor should return from the expedition he had then undertaken against the evil demons.

As the winter drew to a close, the building was far advanced; and the bulwarks were sufficiently high and massive to render the place impregnable. In short, when it wanted but three days to summer, the only part that remained to be finished was the gateway. Then sat the gods on their seats of justice, and entered into consultation, inquiring of one another who among them could have advised the rest to surrender Freya, or to plunge the heavens in darkness by permitting the giant to carry away the sun and the moon.

They all agreed that no one but Loki, the author of so many evil deeds, could have given such counsel, and that he should be put to a cruel death unless he contrived some way to prevent the artificer from completing his task and obtaining the stipulated recompense. They proceeded to lay hands on Loki, who in his fright promised upon oath that, let it cost him what it might, he would so manage matters that the man should lose his reward. That night when the man went with Svadilfari for building-stone, a mare suddenly ran out of a forest and began to neigh. The horse thereat broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest, obliging the man also to run after his horse, thus, therefore, between one and another the whole night was lost, so that at dawn the work had not made the usual progress. The man, seeing that he must fail of completing his task, resumed his own gigantic stature; and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in reality a mountain giant who had come amongst them. Feeling no longer bound by their oaths, they called on Thor, who immediately ran to their assistance, and lifting up his mallet, paid the workman his wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by sending him back to Jötunheim, for with the first blow he shattered the giant’s skull to pieces, and hurled him headlong into Niflheim.

The Recovery of the Hammer. — Once upon a time it happened that Thor’s hammer fell into the possession of the giant Thrym, who buried it eight fathoms deep under the rocks of Jötunheim. Thor sent Loki to negotiate with Thrym, but he could only prevail so far as to get the giant’s promise to restore the weapon if Freya would consent to be his bride. Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, but the goddess of love was horrified at the idea of bestowing her charms on the king of the Frost giants. In this emergency, Loki persuaded Thor to dress himself in Freya’s clothes and accompany him to Jötunheim. Thrym received his veiled bride with due courtesy, but was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her supper eight salmons and a full-grown ox besides other delicacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of mead. Loki, however, assured him that she had not tasted anything for eight long nights, so great was her desire to see her lover, the renowned ruler of Jötunheim. Thrym had at last the curiosity to peep under his bride’s veil, but started back in affright, and demanded why Freya’s eyeballs glistened with fire. Loki repeated the same excuse, and the giant was satisfied. He ordered the hammer to be brought in and laid on the maiden’s lap. Thereupon Thor threw off his disguise, grasped his redoubted weapon, and slaughtered Thrym and all his followers.

Thor’s visit to Jötunheim. — One day Thor, with his servant Thialfi, and accompanied by Loki, set out for the giants’ country. Thialfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. He bore Thor’s wallet, containing their provisions. When night came on they found themselves in an immense forest, and searched on all sides for a place where they might pass the night. At last they came to a large hall, with an entrance that took the whole breadth of one end of the building. Here they lay down to sleep, but towards midnight were alarmed by an earthquake which shook the whole edifice. Thor rising up called on his companions to seek with him a place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber, into which the others entered, but Thor remained at the doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself, whatever might happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the night, and at dawn of day Thor went out and found lying near him a huge giant, still snoring in the way that had alarmed them. For once Thor was afraid to use his mallet, and as the giant soon waked up, Thor contented himself with simply asking his name.

“My name is Skrymir,” said the giant, “but I need not ask thy name, for I know that thou art the god Thor. But what has become of my glove?” Thor then perceived that what they had taken overnight for a hall was the giant’s glove, and the chamber where his two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. Skrymir then proposed that they should travel in company, and Thor consenting, they sat down to eat their breakfast. When they had done, Skrymir packed all the provisions into one wallet, threw it over his shoulder, and strode on before them, taking such tremendous strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with him. So they travelled the whole day, and at dusk, Skrymir chose a place for them to pass the night in under a large oak tree. Skrymir then told them he would lie down to sleep. “But take ye the wallet,” he added, “and prepare your supper.”

Skrymir soon fell asleep and began to snore strongly, but when Thor tried to open the wallet, he found the giant had tied it up so tight he could not untie a single knot. At last Thor became wroth, and grasping his mallet with both hands he struck a furious blow on the giant’s head. Skrymir awakening merely asked whether a leaf had not fallen on his head, and whether they had supped and were ready to go to sleep. Thor answered that they were just going to sleep, and so saying went and laid himself down under another tree. But sleep came not that night to Thor, and when Skrymir snored again so loud that the forest reechoed with the noise, he arose, and grasping his mallet launched it with such force at the giant’s skull that it made a deep dint in it. Skrymir, awakening, cried out, “What’s the matter? are there any birds perched on this tree? I felt some moss from the branches fall on my head. How fares it with thee, Thor?” But Thor went away hastily, saying that he had just then awoke, and that as it was only midnight, there was still time for sleep. He however resolved that if he had an opportunity of striking a third blow, it should settle all matters between them. A little before daybreak he perceived that Skrymir was again fast asleep, and again grasping his mallet, he dashed it with such violence that it forced its way into the giant’s skull up to the handle. But Skrymir sat up, and stroking his cheek said, “An acorn fell on my head. What! Art, thou awake, Thor? Methinks it is time for us to get up and dress ourselves; but you have not now a long way before you to the city called Utgard. I have heard you whispering to one another that I am not a man of small dimensions; but if you come to Utgard you will see there many men much taller than I. Wherefore I advise you, when you come there, not to make too much of yourselves, for the followers of Utgard-Loki will not brook the boasting of such little fellows as you are. You must take the road that leads eastward, mine lies northward, so we must part here.”

Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulders, and turned away from them into the forest, and Thor had no wish to stop him or to ask for any more of his company.

Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and towards noon descried a city standing in the middle of a plain. It was so lofty that they were obliged to bend their necks quite back on their shoulders in order to see to the top of it. On arriving they entered the city, and seeing a large palace before them with the door wide open, they went in, and found a number of men of prodigious stature, sitting on benches in the hall. Going further, they came before the king Utgard-Loki, whom they saluted with great respect. The king, regarding them with a scornful smile, said, “If I do not mistake me, that stripling yonder must be the god Thor.” Then addressing himself to Thor, he said, “Perhaps thou mayst be more than thou appearest to be. What are the feats that thou and thy fellows deem yourselves skilled in, for no one is permitted to remain here who does not, in some feat or other, excel all other men?”

“The feat that I know,” said Loki, “is to eat quicker than any one else, and in this I am ready to give a proof against any one here who may choose to compete with me.”

“That will indeed be a feat,” said Utgard-Loki, “if thou performest what thou promisest, and it shall be tried forthwith.”

He then ordered one of his men who was sitting at the farther end of the bench, and whose name was Logi, to come forward and try his skill with Loki. A trough filled with meat having been set on the, hall floor, Loki placed himself at one end and Logi at the other, and each of them began to eat as fast as he could, until they met in the middle of the trough. But it was found that Loki had only eaten the flesh, while his adversary had devoured both flesh and bone, and the trough to boot. All the company therefore adjudged that Loki was vanquished.

Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man who accompanied Thor could perform. Thialfi answered that he would run a race with any one who might be matched against him. The king observed that skill in running was something to boast of, but if the youth would win the match he must display great agility. He then arose and went with all who were present to a plain where there was good ground for running on, and calling a young man named Hugi, bade him run a match with Thialfi. In the first course Hugi so much outstripped his competitor that he turned back and met him not far from the starting-place. Then they ran a second and a third time, but Thialfi met with no better success.

Utgard-Loki then asked Thor in what feats he would choose to give proofs of that prowess for which he was so famous. Thor answered that he would try a drinking-match with any one. Utgard-Loki bade his cupbearer bring the large horn which his followers were obliged to empty when they had trespassed in any way against the law of the feast. The cupbearer having presented it to Thor, Utgard-Loki said, “Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn at a single draught, though most men make two of it, but the most puny drinker can do it in three.”

Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no extraordinary size, though somewhat long; however, as he was very thirsty, he set it to his lips, and without drawing breath, pulled as long and as deeply as he could, that he might not be obliged to make a second draught of it; but when he set the horn down and looked in, he could scarcely perceive that the liquor was diminished.

After taking breath, Thor went to it again with all his might, but when he took the horn from his mouth, it seemed to him that he had drank rather less than before, although the horn could now be carried without spilling.

“How now, Thor,” said Utgard-Loki, “thou must not spare thyself; if thou meanest to drain the horn at the third draught thou must pull deeply; and I must needs say that thou wilt not be called so mighty a man here as thou art at home if thou showest no greater prowess in other feats than methinks will be shown in this.”

Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, and did his best to empty it; but on looking in found the liquor was only a little lower, so he resolved to make no further attempt, but gave back the horn to the cupbearer.

“I now see plainly,” said Utgard-Loki, “that thou art not quite so stout as we thought thee; but wilt thou try any other feat? — though methinks thou art not likely to bear any prize away with thee hence.”

“What new trial hast thou to propose?” said Thor.

“We have a very trifling game here,” answered Utgard-Loki, “in which we exercise none but children. It consists in merely lifting my cat from the ground; nor should I have dared to mention such a feat to the great Thor if I had not already observed that thou art by no means what we took thee for.”

As he finished speaking a large gray cat sprang on the hall floor. Thor put his hand under the cat’s belly and did his utmost to raise him from the floor, but the cat, bending his back, had, notwithstanding all Thor’s efforts, only one of his feet lifted up, seeing which Thor made no further attempt.

“This trial has turned out,” said Utgard-Loki, “just as I imagined it would. The cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison to our men.”

“Little as ye call me,” answered Thor, “let me see who among you will come hither now I am in wrath and wrestle with me.”

“I see no one here,” said Utgard-Loki, looking at the men sitting on the benches, “who would not think it beneath him to wrestle with thee; let somebody, however, call hither that old crone, my nurse Elli, and let Thor wrestle with her if h6 will. She has thrown to the ground many a man not less strong than this Thor is.”

A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and was told by Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The tale is shortly told. The more Thor tightened his hold on the crone the firmer she stood. At length, after a very violent struggle, Thor began to lose his footing, and was finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard-Loki then told them’ to desist, adding that Thor had now no occasion to ask any one else in the hall to wrestle with him, and it was also getting late; so he showed Thor and his companions to their seats, and they passed the night there in good cheer.

The next morning at break of day, Thor and his companions dressed themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loki ordered a table to be set for them, on which there was no lack of victuals or drink. After the repast Utgard-Loki led them to the gate of the city, and on parting asked Thor how he thought his journey had turned out, and whether he had met with any men stronger than himself. Thor told him that he could not deny but that he had brought great shame on himself. “And what grieves me most,” he added, “is that ye will call me a person of little worth.”

“Nay,” said Utgard-Loki, “it behooves me to tell thee the truth, now thou art out of the city, which so long as I live and have my way thou shalt never enter again. And, by my troth, had I known beforehand, that thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst have brought me so near to a great mishap I would not have suffered thee to enter this time. Know then that I have all along deceived thee by my illusions; first in the forest, where I tied up the wallet with iron wire so that thou couldst not untie it. After this thou gavest me three blows with thy mallet; the first, though the least, would have ended my days had it fallen on me, but I slipped aside, and thy blows fell on the mountain, where thou wilt find three glens, one of them remarkably deep. These are the dints made by thy mallet. I have made use of similar illusions in the contests ye have had with my followers. In the first, Loki, like hunger itself, devoured all that was set before him, but Logi was in reality nothing else than Fire, and therefore consumed not only the meat, but the trough which held it. Hugi, with whom Thialfi contended in running, was Thought, and it was impossible for Thialfi to keep pace with that. When thou in thy turn didst attempt to empty the horn, thou didst perform, by my troth, a deed so marvellous, that had I not seen it myself, I should never have believed it. For one end of that horn reached the sea, which thou wast not aware of, but when thou comest to the shore thou wilt perceive how much the sea has sunk by thy draughts. Thou didst perform a feat no less wonderful by lifting up the cat, and to tell thee the truth, when we saw that one of his paws was off the floor, we were all of us terror-stricken, for what thou tookest for a cat was in reality the Midgard serpent that encompasseth the earth, and he was so stretched by thee, that he was barely long enough to enclose it between his head and tail. Thy wrestling with Elli was also a most astonishing feat, for there was never yet a man, nor ever will be, whom Old Age, for such in fact was Elli, will not sooner or later lay low. But now, as we are going to part, let me tell thee that it will be better for both of us if thou never come near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I shall again defend myself by other illusions, so that thou wilt only lose thy labor and get no fame from the contest with me.”

On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of his mallet and would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared, and when Thor would have returned to the city to destroy it, he found nothing around him but a verdant plain.

§ 181. The Sword of Freyr. — Freyr also possessed a wonderful weapon, a sword which would of itself spread a field with carnage whenever the owner desired it. Freyr parted with this sword, but was less fortunate than Thor and never recovered it. It happened in this way: Freyr once mounted Odin’s throne, from whence one can see over the whole universe, and looking round saw far off in the giant’s kingdom a beautiful maid, at the sight of whom he was struck with sudden sadness, insomuch that from that moment he could neither sleep, nor drink, nor speak. At last Skirnir, his messenger, drew his secret from him, and undertook to get him the maiden for his bride, if he would give him his sword as a reward. Freyr consented and gave him the sword, and Skirnir set off on his journey and obtained the maiden’s promise that within nine nights she would come to a certain place and there wed Freyr. Skirnir having reported the success of his errand, Freyr exclaimed, —

“Long is one night,
Long are two nights,
But how shall I hold out three?
Shorter hath seemed
A month to me oft
Than of this longing time the half.”

So Freyr obtained Gerda, the most beautiful of all women, for his wife, but he lost his sword.

§ 182. The Death of Balder. — Balder the Good, having been tormented with terrible dreams indicating that his life was in peril, told them to the assembled gods, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the threatened danger. Then Frigga, the wife of Odin, exacted an oath from fire and water, from iron and all other metals, from stones, trees, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of them would do any harm to Balder. Odin, not satisfied with all this, and feeling alarmed for the fate of his son, determined to consult the prophetess Angerbode, a giantess, mother of Fenris, Hela, and the Midgard Serpent. She was dead, and Odin was forced to seek her in Hela’s dominions.

But the other gods, feeling that what Frigga had done was quite sufficient, amused themselves with using Balder as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some stones, while others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes; for do what they would none of them could harm him. And this became a favorite pastime with them and was regarded as an honor shown to Balder. But when Loki beheld the scene he was sorely vexed that Balder was not hurt. Assuming, therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir, the mansion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pretended woman, inquired of her if she knew what the gods were doing at their meetings. She replied that they were throwing darts and stones at Balder, without being able to hurt him. “Ay,” said Frigga, “neither stones, nor sticks, nor anything else can hurt Balder, for I have exacted an oath from all of them.”“What,” exclaimed the woman, “have all things sworn to spare Balder?”“All things,” replied Frigga, “except one little shrub that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I thought too young and feeble to crave an oath from.”

As soon as Loki heard this he went away, and resuming his natural shape, cut off the mistletoe, and repaired to the place where the gods were assembled. There he found Höder standing apart, without partaking of the sports, on account of his blindness, and going up to him, said, “Why dost thou not also throw something at Balder?”

“Because I am blind,” answered Höder, “and see not where Balder is, and have moreover nothing to throw.”

“Come, then,” said Loki, “do like the rest, and show honor to Balder by throwing this twig at him, and I will direct thy arm toward the place where he stands.”

Höder then took the mistletoe, and under the guidance of Loki, darted it at Balder, who, pierced through and through, fell down lifeless. Never was there witnessed, either among gods or men, a more atrocious deed.

So on the floor lay Balder dead; and round390
Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts, and spears,
Which all the gods in sport had idly thrown
At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
But in his breast stood fixt the fatal bough
Of mistletoe, which Lok the accuser gave
To Höder, and unwitting Höder threw —
‘Gainst that alone had Balder’s life no charm.
And all the gods and all the heroes came,
And stood round Balder on the bloody floor,
Weeping and wailing; and Valhalla rang
Up to its golden roof with sobs and cries;
And on the tables stood the untasted meats,
And in the horns and gold-rimmed skulls the wine.
And now would night have fall’n and found them yet
Wailing; but otherwise was Odin’s will.

He bade them not to spend themselves in unavailing grief, for Balder, though the brightest god of heaven, and best beloved, had but met the doom ordained at his birth by the Norns. Rather let the funeral pile be prepared, and let vengeance on Loki be left to Odin himself. So speaking Odin mounted his horse Sleipnir and rode away to Lidskialf; and the gods in Valhalla returned to the feast: —

And before each the cooks, who served them, placed
New messes of the boar Serimnir’s flesh,
And the Valkyries crowned their horns with mead.
So they, with pent-up hearts and tearless eyes,
Wailing no more, in silence ate and drank,
While twilight fell, and sacred night came on.

But the blind Höder, leaving the gods, went by the sea to Fensalir, the house of Frigga, mother of the gods, to ask her what way there might be of restoring Balder to life and heaven. Might Hela perchance surrender Balder, if Höder himself should take his place among the shades? “Nay,” replied Frigga, “no way is there but one, that the first god thou meetest on the return to Asgard, take Sleipnir, Odin’s horse, and ride o’er the bridge Bifrost where is Heimdall’s watch, past Midgard fortress, down the dark unknown road to Hel, and there entreat the goddess Hela that she yield Balder back to heaven.” Höder returning cityward met Hermod, swiftest of the gods, —

Nor yet could Hermod see his brother’s face,
For it grew dark; but Höder touched his arm.
And as a spray honeysuckle flower
Brushes across a tired traveller’s face
Who shuffles through the deep dew-moisten’d dust
On a May evening, in the darkened lanes,
And starts him, that he thinks a ghost went by,
So Hoder brush’d by Hermod’s side, and said:

“Take Sleipnir, Hermod, and set forth with dawn
To Hela’s kingdom, to ask Balder back;
And they shall be thy guides who have the power.”
He spake, and brushed soft by and disappeared.
And Hermod gazed into the night, and said:

“Who is it utters through the dark his hest
So quickly, and will wait for no reply?
The voice was like the unhappy Höder’s voice.
Howbeit I will see, and do his hest;
For there rang note divine in that command.”
So speaking, the fleet-footed Hermod came
Home, and lay down to sleep in his own house;
And all the gods lay down in their own homes.
And Hoder, too, came home distraught with grief,
Loathing to meet, at dawn, the other gods;
And he went in, and shut the door, and fixt
His sword upright, and fell on it, and died.
But from the hill of Lidskialf Odin rose,
The throne, from which his eye surveys the world;
And mounted Sleipnir, and in darkness rode
To Asgard. And the stars came out in heaven,
High over Asgard, to light home the king.
But fiercely Odin gallop’d, moved in heart:
And swift to Asgard, to the gate he came,
And terribly the hoofs of Sleipnir rang
Along the flinty floor of Asgard streets,
And the gods trembled on their golden beds
Hearing the wrathful father* coming home —
For dread, for like a whirlwind Odin came.
And to Valhalla’s gate he rode, and left
Sleipnir; and Sleipnir went to his own stall;
And in Valhalla Odin laid him down.

That night in a vision appeared Balder to Nanna his wife, comforting her; —

“Yes, and I fain would altogether ward
Death from thy head, and with the gods in heaven
Prolong thy life, though not by thee desired —
But right bars ties, not only thy desire.
Yet dreary, Nanna, is the life they lead
In that dim world, in Hela’s mouldering realm;
And doleful are the ghosts, the troops of dead,
Whom Hela with austere control presides.
For of the race of gods is no one there
Save me alone, and Hela, solemn queen;
For all the nobler souls of mortal men
On battle field have met their death, and now
Feast in Valhalla, in my father’s hall;
Only the inglorious sort are there below —
The old, the cowards, and the weak are there,
Men spent by sickness, or obscure decay.
But even there, O Nanna, we might find
Some solace in each other’s look and speech,
Wandering together through that gloomy world,
And talking of the life we led in heaven,
While we yet lived, among the other gods.”
He spake, and straight his lineaments began
To fade; and Nanna in her sleep stretched out
Her arms towards him with a cry, but he
Mournfully shook his head and disappeared.
And as the woodman sees a little smoke
Hang in the air, afield, and disappear,
So Balder faded in the night away.
And Nanna on her bed sank back; but then
Frea, the mother of the gods, with stroke
Painless and swift, set free her airy soul,
Which took, on Balder’s track, the way below;
And instantly the sacred morn appeared.

With the morn Hermod, mounting Sleipnir, set out on his mission. For the space of nine days and as many nights he rode through deep glens so dark that he could not discern anything, until he arrived at the river Gyoll, which he passed over on a bridge covered with glittering gold. The maiden who kept the bridge asked him his name and lineage, telling him that the day before five bands of dead persons had ridden over the bridge, and did not shake it as much as he alone. “But,” she added, “thou hast not death’s hue on thee; why then ridest thou here on the way to Hel?”

“I ride to Hel,” answered Hermod, “to seek Balder. Hast thou perchance seen him pass this way?”

She replied, “Balder hath ridden over Gyoll’s bridge, and yonder lieth the way he took to the abodes of death.”

Hermod pursued his journey until he came to the barred gates of Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his saddle tighter, and remounting clapped both spurs to his horse, which cleared the gate by a tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod then rode on to the palace, where he found his brother Balder occupying the most distinguished seat in the hall, and passed the night in his company. The next morning he besought Hela to let Balder ride home with him, assuring her that nothing but lamentations were to be heard among the gods. Hela answered that it should now be tried whether Balder was so beloved as he was said to be. “If, therefore,” she added, “all things in the world, both living and lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to life; but if any one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in Hel.”

Hermod then rode back to Asgard and gave an account of all he had heard and witnessed.

The gods upon this despatched messengers throughout the world to beg everything to weep in order that Balder might be delivered from Hel. All things very willingly complied with this request, both men and every other living being, as well as earths, and stones, and trees, and metals, just as we have all seen these things weep when they are brought from a cold place into a hot one.

Then the messengers returned, —

… And they rode home together, through the wood
Of Jarnvid, which to east of Midgard lies
Bordering the giants, where the trees are iron;
There in the wood before a cave they came,
Where sate in the cave’s mouth a skinny hag,
Toothless and old; she gibes the passers-by.
Thok is she called, but now Lok wore her shape;
She greeted them the first, and laughed and said:
“Ye gods, good lack, is it so dull in heaven
That ye come pleasuring to Thok’s iron wood?
Lovers of change, ye are, fastidious sprites.
Look, as in some boor’s yard, a sweet-breath’d cow,
Whose manger is stuffed full of good fresh hay,
Snuffs at it daintily, and stoops her head
To chew the straw, her litter at her feet —
So ye grow squeamish, gods, and sniff at heaven!”

She spake, but Hermod answered her and said,
“Thok, not for gibes we come; we come for tears.
Balder is dead, and Hela holds her prey,
But will restore, if all things give him tears.
Begrudge not thine! to all was Balder dear.”
Then, with a louder laugh, the hag replied:
Is Balder dead? and do ye come for tears?
Thok with dry eyes will weep o’er Balder’s pyre.
Weep him all other things, if weep they will —
I weep him not! let Hela keep her prey.”

She spake, and to the cavern’s depth she fled,
Mocking; and Hermod knew their toil was vain.391

So was Balder prevented from returning to Asgard.

The Funeral of Balder. — The gods took up the dead body and bore it to the sea-shore where stood Balder’s ship Hringham, which passed for the largest in the world. Balder’s dead body was put on the funeral pile, on board the ship; and the body of Nanna was burned on the same pile with her husband’s. There was a vast concourse of various kinds of people at Balder’s obsequies. First came Odin accompanied by Frigga, the Valkyries, and his ravens; then Freyr in his car drawn by Gullinbursti, the boar; Heimdall rode his horse Gulltopp, and Freya drove in her chariot drawn by cats. There were also a great many Frost giants and giants of the mountain present. Balder’s horse was led to the pile fully caparisoned and consumed in the same flames with his master.

But Loki did not escape his merited punishment. When he saw how wroth the gods were, he fled to the mountain, and there built himself a hut with four doors, so that he could see every approaching danger. He invented a net to catch the fishes, such as fishermen have used since his time. But Odin found out his hiding-place and the gods assembled to take him. He, seeing this, changed himself into a salmon, and lay hid among the stones of the brook. But the gods took his net and dragged the brook, and Loki finding he must be caught, tried to leap over the net; but Thor caught him by the tail and compressed it so, that salmons ever since have had that part remarkably fine and thin. They bound him with chains and suspended a serpent over his head, whose venom falls upon his face drop by drop. His wife Siguna sits by his side and catches the drops as they fall, in a cup; but when she carries it away to empty it, the venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with horror, and writhe so that the whole earth shakes.

§ 183. The Elves. — The Edda mentions another class of beings, inferior to the gods, but still possessed of great power; these were the Elves. The white spirits, or Elves of Light, were exceedingly fair, more brilliant than the sun, and clad in garments of a delicate and transparent texture. They loved the light, were kindly disposed to mankind, and generally appeared as fair and lovely children. Their country was called Elfheim, and was the domain of Freyr, in whose sunlight they always sported.

The black or night elves, ugly, long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown color, appeared only at night. They avoided the sun as their most deadly enemy, because his beams changed them immediately into stones. Their language was the echo of solitudes, and their dwelling-places subterranean caves and clefts. They were supposed to have come into existence as maggots produced by the decaying flesh of Ymir’s body. They were afterwards endowed by the gods with a human form and great understanding. They were particularly distinguished for a knowledge of the mysterious powers of nature, and for the runes which they carved and explained. They were the most skilful artificers of all created beings, and worked in metals and in wood. Among their most noted works were Thor’s hammer, and the ship Skidbladnir, which they gave to Freyr, and which was so large that it could contain all the deities with their war and household implements, but so skilfully was it wrought that when folded together it could be put into a side pocket.

§ 184. Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods. — It was a firm belief of the Northern nations that a time would come when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla and Niflheim, the inhabitants of Jötunheim, Elfheim, and Midgard, together with their habitations, would be destroyed. The fearful day of destruction will not, however, be without warning. First will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall from the four corners of the heavens, the frost be severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness. Three such winters will pass without being tempered by a single summer. Three other like winters will follow, during which war and discord will spread over the universe. The earth itself will be afraid and begin to tremble, the sea leave its basin, the heavens tear asunder; men will perish in great numbers, and the eagles of the air feast upon their still quivering bodies. The wolf Fenris will now break his bands, the Midgard serpent rise out of his bed in the sea, and Loki, released from his bonds, will join the enemies of the gods. Amidst the general devastation the sons of Muspelheim will rush forth under their leader Surter, before and behind whom are flames and burning fire. Onward they ride over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, which breaks under the horses’ hoofs. But they, disregarding its fall, direct their course to the battle-field called Vigrid Thither also repair the wolf Fenris, the Midgard serpent, Lok with all the followers of Hela, and the Frost giants.

Heimdall now stands up and sounds the Giallar horn to assemble the gods and heroes for the contest. The gods advance, led on by Odin, who engaging the wolf Fenris, falls a victim to the monster. Fenris is, in turn, slain by Vithar, Odin’s son. Thor wins great renown by killing the Midgard serpent, but, recoiling, falls dead, suffocated with the venom which the dying monster vomits over him. Loki and Heimdall meet and fight till they both are slain. The gods and their enemies having fallen in battle, Surter, who has killed Freyr, darts fire and flames over the world, and the universe is consumed. The sun grows dim, the earth sinks into the ocean, the stars fall from heaven, and time is no more.

After this Alfadur (the Almighty) will cause a new heaven and a new earth to arise out of the sea. The new earth, filled with abundant supplies, will produce its fruits without labor or care. Wickedness and misery will no more be known, but the gods and men will live happily together.

This twilight of the gods is aptly described in a conversation held between Balder and Hermod, after Hermod has a second time ridden to Hel: —

And the fleet-footed Hermod made reply: — 392
“Thou hast then all the solace death allows,
Esteem and function; and so far is well.
Yet here thou liest, Balder, underground,
Rusting for ever; and the years roll on,
The generations pass, the ages grow,
And bring us nearer to the final day
When from the south shall march the fiery band
And cross the bridge of heaven, with Lok for guide,
And Fenris at his heel with broken chain;
While from the east the giant Rymer steers
His ship, and the great serpent makes to land;
And all are marshall’d in one flaming square
Against the gods, upon the plains of heaven.
I mourn thee, that thou canst not help us then.”

He spake; but Balder answered him, and said: —
“Mourn not for me! Mourn, Hermod, for the gods;
Mourn for the men on earth, the gods in heaven,
Who live, and with their eyes shall see that day!
The day will come, when fall shall Asgard’s towers,
And Odin, and his sons, the seed of Heaven;
But what were I, to save them in that hour?
If strength might save them, could not Odin save,
My father, and his pride, the warrior Thor,
Vidar the silent, the impetuous Tyr?
I, what were I, when these can nought avail?
Yet, doubtless, when the day of battle comes,
And the two hosts are marshall’d, and in heaven
The golden-crested cock shall sound alarm,
And his black brother-bird from hence reply,
And bucklers clash, and spears begin to pour —
Longing will stir within my breast, though vain,
But not to me so grievous as, I know,
To other gods it were, is my enforced
Absence from fields where I could nothing aid;
For I am long since weary of your storm
Of carnage, and find, Hermod, in your life
Something too much of war and broils, which make
Life one perpetual fight, a bath of blood.
Mine eyes are dizzy with the arrowy hail;
Mine ears are stunned with blows, and sick for calm.
Inactive, therefore, let me lie in gloom,
Unarmed, inglorious; I attend the course
Of ages, and my late return to light,
In times less alien to a spirit mild,
In new re-covered seats, the happier day.”

He spake; and the fleet Hermod thus replied: —
“Brother, what seats are these, what happier day?
Tell me, that I may ponder it when gone.”

And the ray-crownèd Balder answered him: —
“Far to the south, beyond the blue, there spreads
Another heaven, the boundless — no one yet
Hath reached it; there hereafter shall arise
The second Asgard, with another name.
Thither, when o’er this present earth and heavens
The tempest of the latter days hath swept,
And they from sight have disappeared and sunk,
Shall a small remnant of the gods repair;
Höder and I shall join them from the grave.
There re-assembling we shall see emerge
From the bright ocean at our feet an earth
More fresh, more verdant than the last, with fruits
Self-springing, and a seed of man preserved,
Who then shall live in peace, as now in war.
But we in heaven shall find again with joy
The ruin’d palaces of Odin, seats
Familiar, halls where we have supp’d of old,
Re-enter them with wonder, never fill
Our eyes with gazing, and rebuild with tears.
And we shall tread once more the well-known plain
Of Ida, and among the grass shall find
The golden dice wherewith we played of-yore;
And that shall bring to mind the former life
And pastime of the gods — the wise discourse
Of Odin, the delights of other days.
O Hermod, pray that thou may’st join us then!
Such for the future is my hope; meanwhile,
I rest the thrall of Hela, and endure
Death, and the gloom which round me even now
Thickens, and to inner gulph recalls.
Farewell, for longer speech is not allowed.”

Chapter XXXI.
Myths of Norse and Old German Heroes. §

§ 185. The Saga of the Volsungs.393 — Sigi, the son of Odin, was a mighty king of the Huns whom Odin loved and prospered exceedingly. Rerir, also, the son of Sigi, was a man of valor and one who got lordship and land unto himself; but neither Sigi nor Rerir were to compare with Volsung, who ruled over Hunland after his father Rerir went home to Odin.

To Volsung were born ten sons, — and one daughter, Signy by name; and of the sons Sigmund was the eldest and the most valiant. And the Volsungs abode in peace till Siggeir, king of Gothland, came wooing Signy, who, though loth to accept him, was, by her father’s desire, betrothed to him.

Now on the night of the wedding great fires were made in the hall of the Volsungs, and in the midst stood Branstock, a great oak tree, about which the hall had been built, and the limbs of the tree spread over the roof of the hall; and round about Branstock they sat and feasted, and sang of ancient heroes and heard the music of the harp that went from hand to hand.

But e’en as men’s hearts were hearkening some heard the thunder pass394
O’er the cloudless noontide heaven; and some men turned about
And deemed that in the doorway they heard a man laugh out.
Then into the Volsung dwelling a mighty man there strode,
One-eyed and seeming ancient, yet bright his visage glowed;
Cloud-blue was the hood upon him, and his kirtle gleaming-gray
As the latter morning sun-dog when the storm is on the way;
A bill he bore on his shoulder, whose mighty ashen beam
Burnt bright with the flame of the sea, and the blended silver’s gleam.
And such was the guise of his raiment as the Volsung elders had told
Was borne by their fathers’ fathers, and the first that warred in the wold,

So strode he to the Branstock, nor greeted any lord,
But forth from his cloudy raiment he drew a gleaming sword,
And smote it deep in the tree-bole, and the wild hawks overhead
Laughed ‘neath the naked heaven as at last he spake and said:
“Earls of the Goths, and Volsungs, abiders on the earth,
Lo there amid the Branstock a blade of plenteous worth!
The folk of the war-wand’s forgers wrought never better steel
Since first the burg of heaven uprose for man-folks weal.
Now let the man among you whose heart and hand may shift
To pluck it from the oak-wood e’en take it for my gift.
Then ne’er, but his own heart falter, its point and edge shall fail
Until the night’s beginning and the ending of the tale.
Be merry, Earls of the Goth-folk, O Volsung Sons be wise,
And reap the battle-acre that ripening for you lies:
For they told me in the wild wood, I heard on the mountain-side
That the shining house of heaven is wrought exceeding wide,
And that there the Early-comers shall have abundant rest
While Earth grows scant of great ones, and fadeth from its best,
And fadeth from its midward, and groweth poor and vile: —
All hail to thee, King Volsung! farewell for a little while! ”

So sweet his speaking sounded, so wise his words did seem
That moveless all men sat there, as in a happy dream
We stir not lest we waken; but there his speech had end
And slowly down the hall-floor, and outward did he wend;
And none would cast him a question or follow on his ways,
For they knew that the gift was Odin’s, a sword for the world to praise.

Then all made trial, Siggeir and his earls, and Volsung and hiss people, to draw forth the sword from Branstock, but with no success, till Sigmund, laying his hand carelessly on the precious hilt, drew forth the naked blade as though it were loose in the oak. Whereupon Siggeir offered money for the sword, but Sigmund scorned the offer.

But in time Siggeir had his vengeance. Inviting King Volsung and his sons to Gothland, he fell upon them, slew the king, and suffered the sons, fastened under a log, to be devoured in succession by a she wolf, — all but Sigmund, who through the wile of his sister Signy was rescued. He, driven to the life of an outlaw, sought means to avenge his father, and Signy, on her part, strove to aid him, — without avail, however, till Sinfiotli, the son of herself and Sigmund, was grown to manhood. This youth bore Sigmund company. For a season, as wolves, they scoured the woods; finally resuming the form of men, they slew the children of Siggeir, and burned him in his hall. Signy, having helped to avenge her father, died with her husband.

Sigmund, thereupon, became king, and took to himself a wife. But she, suffering injury at the hands of Sinfiotli, poisoned him with a horn of ale. Then Sigmund sorrowed nigh to death over his son, and drove away that queen, and soon after she died. He then married Hiordis the fair; but before long, doing battle against Lyngi, the son of Hunding, — a chieftain who also had loved the fair Hiordis, — he got his death-wound: —

For lo, through the hedge of the warshafts a mighty man there came,
One-eyed and seeming ancient, but his visage shone like flame;
Gleaming-gray was his kirtle, and his hood was cloudy-blue;
And he bore a mighty twi-bill, as he waded the fight-sheaves through,
And stood face to face with Sigmund, and upheaved the bill to smite.
Once more round the head of the Volsung fierce glittered the Branstock’s light,
The sword that came from Odin; and Sigmund’s cry once more
Rang out to the very heavens above the din of war.
Then clashed the meeting edges with Sigmund’s latest stroke,
And in shivering shards fell earthward that fear of worldly folk.
But changed were the eyes of Sigmund, and the war-wrath left his face;
For that gray-clad mighty helper was gone, and in his place
Drave on the unbroken spear-wood ’gainst the Volsung’s empty hands:
And there they smote down Sigmund, the wonder of all lands,
On the foemen, on the death-heap his deeds had piled that day.

To Hiordis, after Sigmund’s death, was born Sigurd, like whom was never man for comeliness and valor and great-heartedness and might. He was the greatest of the Volsungs. His foster-father was Regin, the son of Rodmar, a blacksmith, who taught him the lore of runes and many tongues; and, by means of a story of ancient wrongs, incited him to the destruction of the dragon Fafnir. For Regin told that the gods, Odin, Loki, and Hœnir, wandering near his father Rod mar’s house, Loki slew one of Rodmar’s sons, Otter. Whereupon Rodmar demanded that the gods should fill the Otter-skin with gold, and cover it with gold. Now, Loki, being sent to procure the gold, caught Andvari the dwarf, and from him procured by force a hoard of the precious metal, and with it a magic ring, whose touch bred gold. But Andvari cursed the ring and the gold and all that might possess either. The gods, forthwith, filled Otter with the dwarfs gold, and surrendered both gold and ring to Rodmar. Immediately the curse began to work. Fafnir, brother of Regin and Otter, slew Rodmar and seized the treasure, and assuming a dragon’s form, brooded upon the hoard. With this tale Regin egged on Sigurd to the undoing of Fafnir. He welded him, too, a resistless sword out of the shards of Sigmund’s sword, Gram (the wrath). Then Sigurd swore that he would slay the dragon. But first, riding on his horse, Greyfell, of the blood of Odin’s Sleipnir, he avenged upon the sons of Hunding the death of his father. This done, Sigurd rode to Glistenheath and slew Fafnir, the dragon, and eating of his heart, learned the language of the birds; and at their advice he slew Regin also, who plotted against him.

So, setting the ring of Andvari on his finger, and bearing the gold before him on his horse, Greyfell, Sigurd comes to the Hill of Hindfell.

And sitteth awhile on Greyfell on the marvellous thing to gaze:
For lo, the side of Hindfell enwrapped by the fervent blaze,
And naught ‘twixt earth and heaven save a world of flickering flame,
And a hurrying, shifting tangle, where the dark rents went and came…
… Now Sigurd turns in his saddle, and the hilt of the Wrath he shifts,
And draws a girth the tighter; then the gathered reins he lifts,
And crieth aloud to Greyfell, and rides at the wildfire’s heart;
But the white wall wavers before him and the flame-flood rusheth apart,
And high o’er his head it riseth, and wide and wild is its roar
As it beareth the mighty tidings to the very heavenly floor;
But he rideth through its roaring as the warrior rides the rye,
When it bows with the wind of the summer and the hid spears draw anigh;
The white flame licks his raiment and sweeps through Greyfell’s mane,
And bathes both hands of Sigurd and the hilts of Fafnir’s bane,
And winds about his war-helm and mingles with his hair,
But nought his raiment dusketh or dims his glittering gear; —
Then it falls and fades and darkens till all seems left behind,
And dawn and the blaze is swallowed in mid-mirk stark and blind. …

Then before him Sigurd sees a shield-hung castle, surmounted by a golden buckler, instead of a banner, which rings against the flag-staff. And he enters and finds the form of one asleep — in armor cap-a-pie.

So he draweth the helm from the head, and, lo, the brow snow-white,
And the smooth unfurrowed cheeks, and the wise lips breathing light;
And the face of a woman it is, and the fairest that ever was born,
Shown forth to the empty heavens and the desert world forlorn:
But he looketh, and loveth her sore, and he longeth her spirit to move,
And awaken her heart to the world, that she may behold him and love.
And he toucheth her breast and her hands, and he loveth her passing sore;
And he saith, “Awake! I am Sigurd,” but she moveth never the more….

Then with his bright blade Sigurd rends the ring-knit mail that encloses her, “till nought but the rippling linen is wrapping her about,”

Then a flush cometh over her visage and a sigh upheaveth her breast,
And her eyelids quiver and open, and she wakeneth into rest;
Wide-eyed on the dawning she gazeth, too glad to change or smile,
And but little moveth her body, nor speaketh she yet for a while;
And yet kneels Sigurd, moveless, her wakening speech to heed,
While soft the waves of the daylight o’er the starless heavens speed,
And the gleaming vines of the Shield-burg yet bright and brighter grow,
And the thin moon hangeth her horns dead-white in the golden glow.
Then she turned and gazed on Sigurd, and her eyes met the Volsung’s eyes.
And mighty and measureless now did the tide of his love arise,
For their longing had met and mingled, and he knew of her heart that she loved,
As she spake unto nothing but him and her lips with the speech-flood moved.

Brynhild, it was, — the Valkyrie, — who long time had lain in that enchanted sleep that Odin, her father, had poured over her, dooming her to mortal awakening and to mortal love, for the evil she had wrought of old when she espoused the cause in battle of those whom the Norns had predestined to death. Her might none but the fearless awaken; and her had Sigurd awakened; and she loved him, for he was without fear and godlike. And she taught him many wise sayings; and they plighted troth, one to the other, both then and again; and Sigurd gave her the ring of Andvari. But they were not destined to dwell together in wedlock; and Brynhild, foreseeing the future, knew even this.

Sigurd was to wed with another than Brynhild. And it befell in this wise. In the land of the Niblungs (Nibelungs, Nibelungen) dwelt Gudrun, daughter of Giuki, the Niblung king. And Gudrun dreamed a dream in which a fair hawk feathered with feathers of gold alighted upon her wrist. She went to Brynhild for the interpretation of the dream. “The hawk,” said Brynhild, “is Sigurd.” And so it came to pass. Sigurd visiting the court of the Niblungs, was kindly entreated by King Giuki and his three sons, Gunnar, Hogni, and Guttorm; and he performed deeds of valor such that they honored him. But after many days, Grim-hild, the mother of Gudrun, administered to Sigurd a magic potion that removed from him all memory of Brynhild. So Sigurd loved and wedded the fair Gudrun. Indeed he soon joined others in urging his wife’s brother Gunnar, a doughty warrior, to sue for the hand of Brynhild herself. But Brynhild would have no one that could not ride through the flames drawn up around her hall. After Gunnar had made two unsuccessful attempts, Sigurd, assuming the form of King Gunnar, mounted Greyfell and rode for the second time through the flames of Hindfell. Then still wearing the semblance of Gunnar he gained the consent of Brynhild to the union, and exchanged rings with her, — she giving him none other than the ancient Ring of Andvari back again. But even this did not recall to Sigurd’s memory his former ride and his former love. Returning to the land of the Niblungs, he announced the success of his undertaking; and told all things to Gudrun, giving her the fatal ring that he had regained from Brynhild.

In ten days came Brynhild by agreement to the Hall of the Niblungs, and, though she knew well the deceit that had been practised on her, she made no sign; nay, was wedded according to her promise to King Gunnar. But as they sat at the wedding-feast, the charm of Grimhild was outworn, — Sigurd looked upon Gunnar’s bride, and knew the Brynhild of old, the Valkyrie, whom he had loved; “And Byrnhild’s face drew near him with eyes grown stern and strange.”

But, apparently, all went well till the young queens, one day, bathing in the Water of the Niblungs, fell into contention on a matter of privilege. Brynhild claimed precedence in entering the river on the ground that Gunnar was the liege lord of Sigurd. Gudrun, white with wrath, flashed out the true story of the ride through the flames, and thrust in Brynhild’s face the Andvari ring. Consumed with Jealousy, Brynhild plotted revenge. She loved Sigurd still, and he, since he had regained his memory, could not overcome his love for her. But the insult from Gudrun Brynhild would not brook. By her machinations, Guttorm, the brother of Gudrun, was incited to slay Sigurd. He, accordingly, stabbed the hero while asleep, but Sigurd, throwing Gram at the assassin, cut him in twain before he could escape.

Woe me! how the house of the Niblungs by another cry was rent,
The wakening wail of Gudrun, as she shrank in the river of blood
From the breast of the mighty Sigurd: he heard it and understood,
And rose up on the sword of Guttorm, and turned from the country of death,
And spake words of loving-kindness as he strove for life and breath;
“Wail not, O child of the Niblungs! I am smitten, but thou shalt live,
In remembrance of our glory, mid the gifts the gods shall give!…
… It is Brynhild’s deed,” he murmured, “and the woman that loves me well;
Nought now is left to repent of, and the tale abides to tell.
I have done many deeds in my life-days, and all these, and my love, they lie
In the hollow hand of Odin till the day of the world go by.
I have done and I may not undo, I have given and I take not again;
Art thou other than I, Allfather, wilt thou gather my glory in vain?”

So ended the life of Sigurd. Brynhild grieved a season, then dealt herself a mortal wound, and was burned on the funeral pyre beside Sigurd the Volsung.

In time Gudrun became the queen of Atli, the Budlung. He, in order to obtain the hoard of Sigurd, which had passed into the hands of the Niblungs, — Gudrun’s brothers, — bade them visit- him in Hunland. Fully warned by Gudrun, they still accepted the invitation, and arriving at the hall of Atli, were after a fearful conflict slain. But they did not surrender the hoard — that lay concealed at the bottom of the Rhine. Gudrun with the aid of Niblung, her brother Hogni’s son, in the end slew Atli, set fire to his hall and brought ruin on the Budlung folk. Then leaping into the sea she was borne with Swanhild, her daughter by Sigurd, to the realm of King Jonakr, who became her third husband. Swanhild, “fairest of all women, eager-eyed as her father, so that few durst look under the brows of her,” — met, by stress of love and treachery, a foul end in a foreign land, trampled under foot of horses.

Finally Gudrun sent her sons by Jonakr to avenge their half-sister’s death; and so bereft of all her kin, and consumed with sorrow, she called upon her ancient lover, Sigurd, to come and look upon her, as he had promised, from his abiding-place among the dead. And thus had the words of her sorrow an end.

Her sons slew King Jormunrek, the murderer of Swanhild, but were themselves done to death, by the counsel and aid of a certain man, seeming ancient and one-eyed, — Odin the forefather of the Volsungs,— the same that had borne Sigi fellowship, and that struck the sword into Branstock of Volsung’s hall, and that faced Sigmund and shattered Gram in the hour of Sigmund’s need, and that brought Sigurd the matchless horse Greyfell, and oft again had appeared to the kin of the Volsungs; — the same god now wrought the end of the Niblungs. The hoard and the ring of Andvari had brought confusion on all into whose hands they fell.

§ 186. The Lay of the Nibelungs.395 — In the German version of this story — called the Nibelungenlied — certain variations of name, incident, and character appear. Sigurd is Siegfried, dwelling in Xanten near the Rhine, the son of Siegmund and Siegelind, king and queen of the Netherlands. Gudrun is Kriemhild, sister of Gunther (Gunnar), king of the Burgundians, and niece of Hagen (Hogni), a warrior of dark and sullen mien, cunning, but withal loyal and brave, the foe of the glorious Siegfried. Siegfried weds Kriemhild, takes her to the Netherlands and lives happily with her, enjoying the moneys of the Nibelungen hoard, which he had taken not from a dwarf, as in the Norse version, but from two princes, the sons of King Nibelung. Meanwhile Gunther dwells in peace in the Burgundian land, husband of the proud Brunhild, whom Siegfried had won for him by stratagem not altogether unlike that of the Norse story. For the Brunhild of the Ysselland had declared that she would marry no man save him who should surpass her in athletic contest. This condition Siegfried, wearing the Tarnkappe, a cloak that rendered him invisible, had fulfilled for Gunther. He had also succored poor Gunther after his marriage with Brunhild. For that heroine, in contempt of Gunther’s strength, had bound him hand and foot and suspended him from a nail on their bed-room wall. By agreement Siegfried had again assumed Gunther’s form, and after a fearful tussle with the queen had reduced her to submission, taking from her the ring and girdle which were the secret sources of her strength, and leaving her to imagine that she had been conquered by her bridegroom, Gunther. The ring and girdle Siegfried had bestowed upon Kriemhild, unwisely telling her at the same time the story of Brunhild’s defeat. Although the Nibelungenlied offers no explanation, it is evident that the injured queen of Ysselland had recognized Siegfried during this ungallant intrigue; and we are led to infer that there had been some previous acquaintance and passage of love between them.

At any rate, Siegfried and Kriemhild, retiring to the Netherlands, were ruling happily at Xanteh by the Rhine; and all might have continued in peace had not Brunhild resented the lack of homage paid by Siegfried, whom she had been led to regard as a vassal, to Gunther, his reputed overlord.

In her heart this thought she fostered, deep in its inmost core;396
That still they kept such distance, a secret grudge she bore.
How came it that their vassal to court declined to go,
Nor for his land did homage, she inly yearned to know.

She made request of Gunther, and begged it so might be,
That she the absent Kriemhild yet once again might see,
And told him, too, in secret, whereon her thoughts were bent, —
Then with the words she uttered her lord was scarce content.

But Gunther yielded, and Siegfried and Kriemhild are invited to Worms, nominally to attend a high festival.

… With what joy and gladness welcomed were they there!
It seemed when came dame Brunhild to Burgundy whilere,
Her welcome by dame Kriemhild less tender was and true;
The heart of each beholder beat higher at the view….

Received was bold Sir Siegfried, as fitted well his state,
With the highest honors; no man bore him hate.
Young Giselher and Gernot proffered all courtly care;
Never met friend or kinsman reception half so fair.

One day at the hour of vespers certain knights proved themselves at tilting in the regal court-yard. Conspicuous among them was Siegfried. Kriemhild, looking from her window, said, “He surely should rule these realms;” Brunhild answered, “So long as Gunther lives that sure can never be.”

… Thereto rejoined fair Kriemhild, “See’st thou how proud he stands,
How proud he stalks, conspicuous among those warrior bands,
As doth the moon far-beaming the glimmering stars outshine?
Sure have I cause to pride me when such a knight is mine.”

Thereto replied queen Brunhild, “How brave soe’er he be,
How stout soe’er or stately, one greater is than he.
Gunther, thy noble brother, a higher place may claim,
Of knights and kings the foremost in merit and in fame.”

So began the altercation. It attained its climax the same day, when each queen attempted to take precedence of the other in entering the cathedral for the celebration of the mass.

Both met before the minster in all the people’s sight;
There at once the hostess let out her deadly spite.
Bitterly and proud she bade fair Kriemhild stand;
“No vassaless precedeth the lady of the land.”

Then, full of wrath, Kriemhild, in terms anything but delicate, acquainted her haughty sister-in-law with the deception that had twice been practised upon her by Siegfried and Gunther; nay. worse, corroborated her statement by displaying both ring and girdle that Brunhild had lost. The altercation came to the ears of the kings. Gunther made complaint to Siegfried. Then,

… “Women must be instructed,” said Siegfried, the good knight,
“To leave off idle talking and rule their tongues aright.
Keep thy fair wife in order, I’ll do by mine the same.
Such overweening folly puts me indeed to shame.”

But it was too late to mend the matter. With devilish intent Brunhild plotted vengeance. Siegfried, the author of her mortification, must die the death. The foes of Siegfried persuaded his wife, unaware of their design, to embroider in his vesture a silken cross over the one spot where the hero was vulnerable. Then the crafty Hagen, who had been suborned by Brunhild to the baleful deed, bided his time. One day, when heated by running, Gunther, Hagen, and Siegfried stayed by a brook to drink. Hagen saw his chance.

… Then, as to drink, Sir Siegfried down kneeling there he found,
He pierced him through the croslet, that sudden from the wound
Forth the life-blood spurted, e’en o’er his murderer’s weed.
Nevermore will warrior dare so foul a deed. …

… With blood were all bedabbled the flowerets of the field.
Some time with death he struggled as though he scorned to yield
E’en to the foe whose weapon strikes down the loftiest head.
At last prone in the meadow lay mighty Siegfried dead.

Brunhild glories in the fall of Siegfried and exults over the mourning widow. Kriemhild, sitting apart, nurses schemes of vengeance. Her brothers affect to patch up the breach in order that they may obtain the hoard of the Nibelungs. But this treasure, after it has been brought to Worms, is sunk, for precaution’s sake, by Hagen, in the Rhine. Although in time Kriemhild becomes the wife of King Etzel (Atli, Attila) of Hunland, still she does not forget the injury done her by her kin. After thirteen years she inveigles her brothers and their retainers, called now Nibelungs because of their possession of the hoard, to Etzel’s Court, where, after a desperate and dastardly encounter, in which their hall is reduced to ashes, they are all destroyed save Gunther and Hagen. Gunther’s head is cut off at her orders; and she herself, with Siegfried’s sword Balmung, severs the head of the hated Hagen from his body. With these warriors the secret of the hidden hoard passes. Kriemhild, having wreaked her vengeance, falls by the hand of one of her husband’s knights, Hildebrand, who, with Dietrich of Berne, had played a prominent part among the associates of King Etzel.

“I cannot say you now what hath befallen since;
The women all were weeping, and the Ritters and the prince,
Also the noble squires, their dear friends lying dead:
Here hath the story ending; this is the Nibelungen’s Need.”397

Commentary.398 §

[It is hoped that this Commentary may be useful to general readers, and to teachers in the secondary schools, as well as to pupils. The section-numbers correspond with those of the text in the body of the book. The letter C appended to a member indicates Commentary.]

§§ 1-10. For information concerning mythical characters mentioned in these sections — such as Pandora, Prometheus, Endymion, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hermes, Bellerophon — consult Index and the references as there indicated.

§ 11. Homer is also called Melesigenes, son of Meles — the stream on which Smyrna was built. The Homeridæ, who lived on Chios, claimed to be descended from Homer. They devoted themselves to the cultivation of epic poetry.

Arion. — See George Eliot’s poem beginning

Arion, whose melodic soul

Taught the dithyramb to roll.”

Other Greek Poets of Mythology to be noted are Callimachus (260 b.c.), whose Lock of Berenice is reproduced in the elegiacs of Catullus, and from whose Origins (of sacred rites) Ovid drew much of his information. Also Nicander (150 b.c.), whose Transformations, and Parthenius, whose Metamorphoses furnished material to the Latin poet. With Theocritus should be read Bion and Moschus, both exquisite masters of the idyl and elegy. See Andrew Lang’s translation of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus; and the verses by Dobson and Gosse with which Lang prefaces the translation. Lycophron (260 b.c.) wrote a poem called Alexandra, on the consequences of the voyage of Paris to Sparta. The Loves of Hero and Leander were probably written by a grammarian, Musæus, as late as 500 a.d. This poem contains admirable verses, and has a “pretty” fancy.

Translations of Greek Poets. — The best verse translations of Homer are those of Chapman, Pope, the Earl of Derby, and Cowper.

An excellent prose translation of the Iliad is that of Lang, Leaf, and Myers (Macmillan & Co.) Lond.: 1889; of the Odyssey, that by Butcher and Lang (Macmillan & Co.) Lond.: 1883; or the translation into rhythmical prose by G. H. Palmer (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.) Boston, 1892.

The Tragic Poets. — Plumptre’s translations of Æschylus and Sophocles (Routledge) 2 v., N.Y.: 1882; Wodhull, Potter, and Milman’s translation of Euripides in Morley’s Universal Library (Routledge) Lond.: 1888; Potter’s Æschylus, Francklin’s Sophocles, Wodhull’s Euripides; 5 v., Lond.: 1809.

Other Poets. — Lang’s translation of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus. Pindar: — Odes, transl. by F. A. Paley, Lond.: 1868; by Ernest Myers, Lond.: 1874. Translations of Greek Lyric Poets: — Collections from the Greek Anthology, by Bland and Merivale, Lond.: 1833; The Greek Anthology, by Lord Neaves, Anc. Classics for Engl. Readers Series, Lond.: 1874; Bohn’s Greek Anthol., by Burges, Lond.: 1852.

On Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus, the tragic poets, Pindar, etc., see, also, Collins’ excellent series of Ancient Classics for English Readers (Lippincott, Phila.); and the series entitled “English Translations from Ancient and Modern Poems,” by Various Authors, 3 v., Lond.: 1810. Of Æschylus read the Prometheus Bound, to illustrate §§ 25, 26; the Agamemnon, Choëphori, and Eumenides, to illustrate §§ 167, 170; and the Seven against Thebes, for § 163. Of Sophocles read Œdipus Rex, Œdipus at Colonus, Antigone, with § 158, etc.; Electra, with § 170; Ajax and Philoctetes, with the Trojan War; Women of Trachis, with § 143. Of Euripides read Medea, Ion, Alcestis, Iphigenia in Aulis and in Tauris, Electra. Other translations of Æschylus, are J. S. Blackie’s: 1850; T. A. Bucklie’s (Bohn): Lond.: 1848; E. D. A. Morshead’s: 1881; of Sophocles, Thos. Dale’s, into verse, 2 v., 1824; R. Whitelaw’s, into verse, 1883; Lewis Campbell’s Seven Plays into verse: 1883; of Euripides, T. A. Bucklie’s (Bohn) 2 v., Lond.: 1854-58.

§ 12. Roman Poets. — Horace (65 b.c.) in his Odes, Epodes, and Satires makes frequent reference and allusion to the common stock of mythology, sometimes telling a whole story, as that of the daughters of Danaüs. Catullus (87 b.c.), the most original of Roman love-poets, gives us the Nuptials of Peleus and Thetis (for selections in English hexameters, see §§ 153 and 165 a), the Lock of Berenice, and the Atys. Manilius of the age of Augustus wrote a poem on Astronomy, which contains a philosophic statement of star-myths. Valerius Flaccus (d. 88 a.d.) based his Argonautics upon the poem of that name by Apollonius of Rhodes. Statius (61 a.d.) revived in the brilliant verses of his Thebaid and his Achilleid the epic myths and epic machinery, but not the vigor and naturalness of the ancient style. To a prose writer, Hyginus, who lived on terms of close intimacy with Ovid, a fragmentary work called the Book of Fables, which is sometimes a useful source of information, and four books of Poetical Astronomy, have been attributed. The works, as we have them, could not have been written by a friend of the cultivated Ovid.

Translations and Studies. — For a general treatment of the great poets of Rome, the student is referred to W. L. CollinsSeries of Anc. Classics for Engl. Readers (Lippincott, Phila.). For the Cupid and Psyche of Apuleius, read Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean, Lond: 1885. Of translations, the following are noteworthy: Ovid: — the Metamorphoses, by Dryden, Addison, and others; into English blank verse by H. King, Edin.: 1871; transl. by Riley, Lond.: 1851; Englished by Geo. Sandys, Lond.: 1660. Vergil’s Æneid, translations: — into verse by John Conington, Lond.: 1873; into dactylic hexameter by Oliver Crane, N.Y.: 1888; the Æneids into verse by Wm. Morris, Lond.: 1876; Bks. 1-4, by Stanyhurst, 1582 (Arber’s Reprint); Æneis, by Dryden. Catullus: transl. by Robinson Ellis, Lond.: 1871; by Sir Theodore Martin, Edin.: 1875. Horace: transl. by Theodore Martin, Edin.: 1881; by Smart, Lond.: 1853; Odes and Epodes in Calverley’s translations, Lond.: 1866; Odes, etc., by Conington, Lond.: 1872; Odes and Epodes, by Lord Lytton, N.Y.: 1870. See, also, under Pope, and Wilkinson, p. 540.

§ 13. For Scandinavian literature, see foot-notes to pp. 30-33 and references in § 185 C.

Runes were “the letters of the alphabets used by all the old Teutonic tribes… The letters were even considered magical, and cast into the air written separately upon chips or spills of wood, to fall, as fate determined, on a cloth, and then be read by the interpreters… The association of the runic letters with heathen mysteries and superstition caused the first Christian teachers to discourage, and, indeed, as far as possible, suppress their use. They were, therefore, superseded by the Latin alphabet, which in First English was supplemented by retention of two of the runes, named ‘thorn’ and ‘wen,’ to represent sounds of ‘th’ and ‘w,’ for which the Latin alphabet had no letters provided. Each rune was named after some object whose name began with the sound represented. The first letter was F, Feoh, money; the second U, Ur, a bull; the third Th, Thorn, a thorn; the fourth O, Os, the mouth; the fifth R, Rad, a saddle; the sixth C, Cen, a torch; and the six sounds being joined together make Futhorc, which is the name given to the runic A B C.” Morley’s English Writers, 1: 267. See also Vigfusson and Powell’s Corpus Poeticum Boreale, 2: 691, under Runes and Rune-stones; Cleasby’s Icelandic-English Dictionary; and George StephensOld Northern Runic Monuments, 2 v., Lond.: 1866-68.

§ 14. For Translations of the Nibelungenlied, see § 185 C. For other German lays of myth, the Gudrun, the Great Rose Garden, the Horned Siegfried, etc., see Vilmar’s Geschichte der deutschen National-Litteratur, 42-101, Leipz.: 1886. See also, in general, Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, Gottingen: 1855; Ludlow’s Popular Epics of the Middle Ages, 2 v., Lond.: 1865; George T. Dippold’s Great Epics of Mediæval Germany, Boston: 1891.

§ 15. Translations and Studies of Oriental Myths and Sacred Writings. — Egyptian. See Budge’s Guide to the First and Second Egyptian Rooms, British Museum; Miss A. B. EdwardsA Thousand Miles up the Nile, Lond.: 1876.

For the principal divinities, see Index to this work.

Indian. — Max Müller’s translation of the Rig-Veda-Sanhita; Sacred Books of the East, 35 vols., edited by Max Müller, — the Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Institutes of Vishnu, etc., translated by various scholars, Oxford: 1874-90; Müller’s History of Sanskrit Literature, Lond.: 1859; Weber’s History of Indian Literature, Lond.: 1878; H. H. Wilson’s Rig-Veda-Sanhita, 6 v., Lond.: 1850-70; Muir’s Sanskrit Texts, and his Principal Deities of the Rig-Veda, 5 v., Lond.: 1868-73; J. Freeman Clarke’s Ten Great Religions, Boston: 1880; the Mahâbhârata, translated by Protap Chundra Roy, Nos. 1-76, Calcutta: 1883-93. See Indian Idylls by Edwin Arnold. The Episode of Nala — Nalopákhyánain — translated by Monier Williams, Oxford: 1879. Of the Ramayana, a paraphrase (in brief) is given by F. Richardson in the Iliad of the East, Lond.: 1870. E. A. Reed’s Hindu Literature, with translations, Chicago: 1891; W. Ward’s History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos, 3 vols., Lond.: 1822. On Buddhism, read Arnold’s Light of Asia.

For the chief divinities of the Hindus, see Index to this work.

Persian. — J. Freeman Clarke’s Ten Great Religions; Johnson’s Oriental Religions; Haug’s Essays on the Sacred Language, Literature, etc., of the Parsis, by E. W. West, Boston: 1879. In illustration should be read Moore’s Fire-Worshippers in Lalla Rookh.

§ 16. Chaos: a gap. Compare the “Beginning Gap” of Norse mythology. Eros: a yearning. Erebus: black, from root meaning to cover.

§ 17. Uranus (Greek Ouranos) corresponds with the name of the Indian divinity Varunas, root var, to cover. Uranus is the starry vault that covers the earth; Varunas became the rain-giving sky. Titan: the honorable, powerful; the king; later, the signification was limited to the sun. Oceanus probably means flood. Tethys: the nourisher, nurse. Hyperion: the wanderer on high399 the sun. Thea: the beautiful, shining; the moon. She is called by Homer Euryphaëssa, the far-shining. Iapetus: the sender, hurler, wounder; compare the Hebrew Japhet. Themis: that which is established, law. Mnemosyne: memory. Other Titans were Cœus and Phœbe, figurative of the radiant lights of heaven; Creüs and Eurybië, mighty powers, probably of the sea; Ophion, the mighty serpent, and Eurynome, the far-ruling, who, according to Apollonius of Rhodes, held sway over the Titans until Cronus cast them into the Ocean, or into Tartarus.

Cronus (Greek Kronos) is, as his name shows, the god of ripening, harvest, maturity. Rhea comes from Asia Minor, and was there worshipped as the Mother Earth, dwelling creative among the mountains. Cronus (Kronos) has been naturally, but wrongly, identified with Chronos, the personification of Time, which, as it brings all things to an end, devours its own offspring; and also with the Latin Saturn, who, as a god of agriculture and harvest, was represented with pruning-knife in hand, and regarded as the lord of an ancient golden age.

The three Cyclopes were Brontes, Steropes, and Arges. Cyclops means the round-eyed. The Hecatonchires were Briareus, the strong, called also Ægæon (see 21 C); Cottus, the striker; Gyes (or Gyges), the vaulter, or crippler. Gyges is called by Horace (Carm. 2, 17: 14) Centimanus, — the hundred-handed.

Illustrative. — Milton, in Paradise Lost 10: 581, refers to the tradition of Ophion and Eurynome, who “had first the rule of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven.” Hyperion: see Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself.” Also Hen. V. 4: 1; Troil. and Cressida 2: 3; Titus Andron. 5: 3; Gray, Prog. of Poesy, “Hyperion’s march they spy, and glittering shafts of war”; Spenser, Prothalamion, “Hot Titans beames.” On Oceanus, Ben Jonson, Neptune’s Triumph. On Saturn, see Shakespeare, Much Ado 1: 3; 2 Hen. IV. 2: 4; Cymbeline 2: 5; Titus Andron. 2: 3 and 4: 3; Milton, P. L. 1: 512, 519, 583, and Il Penseroso 24. See Robert Buchanan, Cloudland, “One like a Titan cold,” etc.; Keats. Hyperion.

In Art. — Helios (Hyperion) rising from the sea: sculpture of eastern pediment of the frieze of the Parthenon (British Museum).

§ 18. Homer makes Jupiter (Zeus) the oldest of the sons of Cronus; Hesiod makes him the youngest, in accordance with a widespread savage custom which makes the youngest child heir in chief. — Lang, Myth, Ritual, etc., 1: 297. According to other legends Zeus was born in Arcadia, or even in Epirus at Dodona, where was his sacred grove. He was in either case reared by the nymphs of the locality. According to Hesiod, Theog. 730, he was born in a cave of Mount Dicte, in Crete.

§ 19. Atlas, according to other accounts, was not doomed to support the heavens until after his encounter with Perseus. See § 136.

§ 21. See Milton’s Christ’s Nativity, “Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine.” The monster is also called Typhöeus ( Hesiod, Theog. 1137). The name means to smoke, to burn. The monster personifies fiery vapors proceeding from subterranean places. Other famous Giants were Mimas, Polybotes, Ephialtes, Rhœtus, Clytius. See Preller, 1: 60. Briareus (really a Centimanus) is frequently ranked among the giants.

Illustrative. — Shakespeare, Troil. and Cressida 1: 2; Milton, P. L. 1: 199; Pope, Dunciad 4: 66. For giants, in general, see P. L. 3: 464; 11: 642, 688; Samson Agonistes, 148.

§§ 22-25. Prometheus: forethought.400 Epimetheus: afterthought. The secret preserved by Prometheus was to the effect that, in time, Jupiter and his dynasty should be overthrown. Prometheus knew also that he would be released from chains by one of his descendants in the thirteenth generation. This deliverer was Hercules, son of Alcmene and Jupiter. Sicyon (or Mecone): a city of the Peloponnesus, near Corinth.

Illustrative. — Milton, P. L., “More lovely than Pandora whom the gods endowed with all their gifts.”

Poems. — D. G. Rossetti, Pandora; Longfellow, Masque of Pandora; Thos. Parnell, Hesiod, or the Rise of Woman. Prometheus, by Byron, Lowell, H. Coleridge; Prometheus Bound, by Mrs. Browning; translations of Æschylus, Prometheus Bound, Augusta Webster, E. H. Plumptre; Shelley, Prometheus Unbound; R. H. Horne, Prometheus, the Fire-bringer. See Byron’s Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte. The Golden Age: Chaucer, The Former Age (Ætas Prima).

In Art.— Ancient: Prometheus Unbound, vase picture (Monuments Inedits: Rome and Paris). Modern: Thorwaldsen’s sculpture, Minerva and Prometheus Pandora: Sichel (oil), Rossetti (crayons, oil), F. S. Church (water-colors).

§ 26. Dante (Durante) degli Alighieri was born in Florence, 1265. Banished by his political opponents 1302, he remained in exile until his death, which took place in Ravenna, 1321. His Vita Nuova (New Life), recounting his ideal love for Beatrice Portinari, was written between 1290 and 1300; his great poem, the Divina Commedia (the Divine Comedy) consisting of three parts, — Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, — during the years of his exile. Of the Divine Comedy, says Lowell, “It is the real history of a brother man, of a tempted, purified, and at last triumphant human soul.” John Milton (b. 1608) was carried by the stress of the civil war, 1641-1649, away from poetry, music, and the art which he had sedulously cultivated, into the stormy sea of politics and war. Perhaps the severity of his later sonnets and the sublimity of his Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes are the fruit of the stern years of controversy through which he lived, not as a poet, but as a statesman and a pamphleteer. Cervantes (1547-1616), the author of the greatest of Spanish romances, Don Quixote. His life was full of adventure, privation, suffering, with but brief seasons of happiness and renown. He distinguished himself at the battle of Lepanto, 1571; but in 1575, being captured by Algerine cruisers, he remained five years in harsh captivity. After his return to Spain he was neglected by those in power. For full twenty years, he struggled for his daily bread. Don Quixote was published in and after 1605. Corybantes: the priests of Cybele, whose festivals were violent, and whose worship consisted of dances and noise suggestive of battle, § 45ª.

§ 28. Astræa was placed among the stars as the constellation Virgo, the virgin. Her mother was Themis (Justice). Astræa holds aloft a pair of scales, in which she weighs the conflicting claims of parties. The old poets prophesied a return of these goddesses and of the Golden Age. See also Pope’s Messiah, —

" All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale”;

and Milton’s Hymn to the Nativity, 14, 15. In P. L. 4: 998, et seq., is a different conception of the golden scales, “betwixt Astræa and the Scorpion sign.”

§ 29. Illustrative. — B. W. Procter, the Flood of Thessaly. See Ovid’s famous narrative of the Four Ages and the Flood, Metamorphoses 1: 89-415. Deucalion: Bayard Taylor’s Prince Deukalion; Milton, P. L. 11: 12.

Interpretative. — This myth combines two stories of the origin of the Hellenes, or indigenous Greeks, — one, in accordance with which the Hellenes, as earth-born, claimed descent from Pyrrha (the red earth); the other and older, by which Deucalion was represented as the only survivor of the flood, but still the founder of the race (in Greek laós), which he created by casting stones (in Greek lâes) behind him. The myth, therefore, proceeds from an unintended pun. Although, finally, Pyrrha was by myth-makers made the wife of Deucalion, the older myth of the origin of the race from stones was preserved. See Max Müller, Sci. Relig., Lond.: 1873, p. 64.

§ 30. For genealogy of the race of Inachus, Phoroneus, Pelasgus, and Io, see § 59 C. Pelasgus is frequently regarded as the grandson, not the son, of Phoroneus. For the descendants of Deucalion and Hellen, see § 132 (5) of this commentary.

§ 31. In the following genealogical table (A), the names of the great gods of Olympus are printed in heavy-face. Latin forms of names or Latin substitutes are used.

Illustrative. — On the Gods of Greece, see E. A. Bowring’s translation of Schiller’s Die Goiter Griechenlands and Bayard Taylor’s Masque of the Gods. On Olympus, see Lewis Morris, the Epic of Hades. Allusions abound; e.g. Shakespeare, Troil. and Cressida 3: 3; Jul. Cæs. 3: 1; 4: 3; Hamlet 5: 1; Milton, P. L. 1: 516; 7: 7; 10: 583; Pope, Rape of the Lock 5: 48; Windsor Forest, 33, 234; E. C. Stedman, News from Olympia. See also E. W. Gosse, Greece and England (On Viol and Flute).

§ 32. The Olympian Gods. — There were, according to Mr. Gladstone (No. Am. Rev. April 1892), about twenty Olympian deities:401 (1) The five really great gods, Zeus, Hera, Posidon, Apollo, and Athene; (2) Hephæstus, Ares, Hermes, Iris, Leto, Artemis, Themis, Aphrodite, Dione, Pæeon (or Pæon), and Hebe, — also usually present among the assembled immortals; (3) Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus, and Thetis, whose claims are more or less obscured. According to the same authority, the Distinctive Qualities of the Homeric Gods were as follows: (1) they were immortal; (2) they were incorporated in human form; (3) they enjoyed power far exceeding that possessed by mortals; (4) they were, however (with the possible exception of Athene, who is never ignorant, never deceived, never baffled), all liable to certain limitations of energy and knowledge; (5) they were subject also to corporeal wants and to human affections. The Olympian Religion, as a whole, was more careful of nations, states, public affairs, than of individuals and individual character; and in this respect, according to Mr. Gladstone, it differs from Christianity. He holds, however, that despite the occasional immoralities of the gods, their general government not only “makes for righteousness,” but is addressed to the end of rendering it triumphant. Says Zeus, for instance, in the Olympian assembly, “Men complain of us the gods, and say that we are the source from whence ills proceed; but they likewise themselves suffer woes outside the course of destiny, through their own perverse offending.” But, beside this general effort for the triumph of right, there is little to be said in abatement of the general proposition that, whatever be their collective conduct, the common speech of the gods is below the human level in point of morality.402

§ 33. Zeus.— In Sanskrit Dyaus, in Latin Jovis, in German Tiu. The same name for the Almighty (the Light or Sky) used probably thousands of years before Homer, or the Sanskrit Bible (the Vedas). It is not merely the blue sky, nor the sky personified, — not merely worship of a natural phenomenon, — but of the Father who is in Heaven. So in the Vedas we find Dyaus pitar, in the Greek Zeu pater, in Latin Jupiter — all meaning father of light. — Max Müller, Sci. Relig. 171, 172. Oracle: the word signifies also the answers given at the shrine.

Illustrative. — Allusions to Jove on every other page of Milton, Dryden, Prior, Gray, and any poet of the Elizabethan and Augustan periods. On the Love Affairs of Jupiter and the other gods, Milton, Paradise Regained 2: 182. Dodona: Tennyson’s Talking Oak: —

“That Thessalian growth on which the swarthy ring-dove sat
And mystic sentence spoke,” etc.

Poem: Lewis Morris, Zeus, in the Epic of Hades.

In Art. — Beside the representations of Jupiter noted in the text may be mentioned that on the eastern frieze of the Parthenon; the Jupiter Otricoli in the Vatican; also the Jupiter and Juno (painting) by Annibale Carracci; the Jupiter (sculpture) by Benvenuto Cellini.

§ 34. Juno was called by the Romans Juno Lucina, the special goddess of childbirth. In her honor wives held the festival of the Matronalia on the first of March of each year. The Latin Juno is for Diou-n-on, from the stem Diove, and is the feminine parallel of Jovis, just as the Greek Dione (one of the loves of Zeus) is the feminine of Zeus. These names (and Diana, too) come from the root div, to shine, to illumine. There are many points of resemblance between the Italian Juno and the Greek Dione (identified with Hera, as Hera-Dione). Both are goddesses of the moon (?), of women, of marriage; to both the cow (with moon-crescent horns) is sacred. (See Roscher, 21: 576-579.) But Overbeck insists that the loves of Zeus are deities of the earth: “The rains of heaven (Zeus) do not fall upon the moon.”

Illustrative. — W. S. Landor, Hymn of Terpander to Juno; Lewis Morris, Here, in the Epic of Hades.

In Art. — Of the statues of Juno, the most celebrated was that made by Polyclitus for her temple between Argos and Mycenæ. It was of gold and ivory. (See Paus. 2. 17. 4.) The goddess was seated on a throne of magnificent proportions; she wore a crown upon which were figured the Graces and the Hours; in one hand she held a pomegranate, in the other a sceptre surmounted by a cuckoo. Of the extant representations of Juno the most famous are the torso in Vienna from Ephesus, the Barberini in the Vatican at Rome, the bronze statuette i