Thomas Keightley


The Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy (2e éd.)

Thomas Keightley, The Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy. By Thomas Keightley, author of “The History of Greece”, “The History of Rome”, etc., Second edition, considerably enlarged and improved [1831], London, Witthaker and Co., 1838, in-8, XVI-564 p. PDF : Internet Archive.
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This new edition of the Mythology of Greece and Italy is properly speaking a new work. Few pages or even paragraphs remain unaltered, and nearly two-thirds of it are new matter, or have been rewritten. The causes of this change (of which I think an explanation is due) are as follows. The work was originally intended to be a mere school-book, and it was commenced on that plan ; circumstances caused it to be continued on another, and to be completed on a third ; hence the inequality in it which every one must have observed. Further, it was written at such hours as I could withdraw from other literary avocations, and with but a moderate apparatus of books ; hence the errors in facts, as I did not always recollect to verify what I had written from perhaps a bad edition of a classic author. Finally, I was only a learner when I aspired to become a teacher ; and though I had attained to correct principles, I had not acquired the habit of applying them with readiness and accuracy.

Considering these real defects, and that the work was by an author who was little known, and on a subject against which there was rather a prejudice, and that it appeared during the very height of the Reform fever, when few could think of the calm pursuit of literature, it may be said to have had more success than could have been reasonably anticipated. The praises which it has received from Mr. Thirlwall and other competent judges have naturally given me much gratification ; for as they must have been well aware of its defects, it is plain that they thought them to be more than compensated by its merits.

Of the present Edition I think I may venture to speak with [p. iv]more confidence. It is the result of my reading for the last six years, during which I have gone through the whole of the Greek and Latin classics with a view to it ; and I can assert with truth that there are very few of the references in the following pages which I have not made myself directly from the originals. It will also be found to contain the results of the inquiries of those eminent scholars whose works are so frequently referred to, my obligations to whom I at all times most cheerfully acknowledge. Should it chance to come under the eye of any of them, and should he happen to find his ideas anywhere adopted without a reference to his work, I trust he will have the candour to impute the omission to inadvertence rather than to design.

The soldier in Cervantes’ comic romance sings,

To the wars my necessities take me away,
But if I had money at home I would stay ;

so I may say of myself, it was necessity, not any idle visions of fame that led me to make literature my profession ; for had I been free to choose, I had certainly trodden the fallentis semita vitœ. Engaged however in the literary career, my first thought was how I might at the same time promote my own interest, and render some service, however trifling, to my country, that it might be said of me, Haud inutiliter vixit. It appeared to me that histories of a better kind than the compilations of Goldsmith were wanting in our schools, and I felt that I could supply the deficiency. The event has more than justified my anticipation ; and the adoption of my books at Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, and most of the other great public schools, besides a number of private ones, immediately on their appearance, proved, I may say, their merit ; for to nothing else can it be justly ascribed. I have thus the satisfaction of thinking that I shall be instrumental in impressing correct ideas in history and politics on the minds of those who will be future legislators, or occupy other important stations in society.

The present work is of a different character ; its object is to keep up and extend the taste for classic literature, which [p. v]in my opinion tends so strongly to refine, and at the same time to invigorate the intellect, but which I sometimes fear is rather on the wane in this country. Its size and necessary price (the present containing more by a fifth than the former edition) are perhaps insuperable impediments to its general adoption in schools ; but I should hope that it will continue to be used in the Universities, and that in schools the reading of it will be recommended to, though not enjoined on, the higher classes. I think I may speak with some confidence of the correctness of the narratives : it must be of advantage to know the opinions of the leading scholars of the continent ; and as to my own, as I advance them without dogmatism, I can see them rejected without displeasure. I confess I wish to entice as many as possible into the pleasing regions of mythology, for I know from experience how delightful it is to escape at times from the dull realities of the actual world, and lose one's self in the enchanted mazes of primeval fiction.

In selecting Mythology I took possession of a field which lay totally unoccupied. This can hardly be said of any other part of classic literature, but many may be better cultivated than they have been hitherto. Thus the private life of the ancient Greeks and Romans may be more fully elucidated. That of the latter people I intend to make the subject of a future work ; the former has for many years engaged the attention of my friend Mr. St. John, whose enthusiasm for Greece far exceeds mine ; and his work, when it appears, will, I am confident, be found to contain a vast store of curious knowledge, and will prove a valuable aid to the classic student.

The reader will observe that I employ the Greek terminations us and on in mythic names instead of the Latin us and um. There is no good reason for this last usage, and I think Greek names should be so written as that they might be at once transferred to the original Greek characters. For this purpose the long e and o should be marked as they are in the Index, and if we were to use k instead of c before e and i, writing for instance Kimôn and Kephalos instead of Cimon and Cephalus, it would be all the better.

[p. vi]

The subjects of the plates are all genuine antiques, chiefly taken from the Galérie Mythologique. The errata, which I have carefully marked, are I think very few considering the bulk and nature of the work. In this praise however I claim no share ; it all belongs to the printers, to whom also belongs the praise or blame of the peculiarities in orthography or grammar.

The following digression will I hope be excused. It is on a subject — that of literary property — in which, from the nature of my works, I feel myself interested. As our silence is made an argument against us, it becomes every author to take an opportunity of expressing his sentiments on it. The following are mine.

No fallacy can be greater than that of supposing that the public have any rights in this matter unless it be the right of the stronger, according to

the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.

A literary work, whether the creation of genius, like Waverley, or the product of toil and patient industry, like the present, is I conceive property in the fullest sense of the word, as much so as lands or houses. To these last the public have a right, but it is only on giving the full value of them, and on the principle that private feelings and interests are not to stand in the way of the public good. But this principle does not apply in any way to literature. What, we may ask, is to be derived from Waverley and such books ? Simply amusement ; and it surely seems very absurd to say that the public has a right to be amused, to which right those of individuals must give way. It is very much as if the public were to insist on admission to theatres and exhibitions on its own terms, the principle of the O. P. riots of our younger days. No man, be it observed, will be the worse statesman, lawyer, or physician for not having read Waverley, so that the plea of public utility cannot be urged. Even in books of instruction I deny any right in the public. Supposing (a most improbable event) [p. vii]that the study of mythology should ever become general, the public would have no right to my book except on my own terms. The legitimate course, if these were exorbitant, would be to get some one to write a cheaper and better work on the subject, and thus punish cupidity while respecting the rights of property.

I am far however from expecting that full justice will be done us by the legislature. We are a small and a disunited party. It cannot be said of us

Hic multum in Fabia valet, ille Velina ;
Cui libet is fasces dabit eripietque curule
Importunus ebur.

Our enemies are numerous ; the booksellers have caused printers, book-binders, etc. to petition against us ; the newspaper press is, with a few honourable exceptions, arrayed against us ; the political œconomists, who will sacrifice anything, how sacred soever, on the altar of their idol, misnamed Utility, are opposed to us ; and the diffusion of knowledge, the march of intellect, the public good, and similar specious phrases, enable legislators to perpetrate injustice under the show of patriotism and public spirit.

I do not think that the great publishing houses can be properly classed among our opponents. They have no objection to the extension of the period of copyright provided the author be empowered to transfer all his rights to them, and that any extension of the term of those copyrights which they have purchased should go to them also, and not to the author. Theirs indeed is but too often the lion’s share, as I know by my own experience. For the Outlines of History in Lardner's Cyclopædia I received only 130l., and if I am not greatly misinformed, that sum bears little proportion to what the proprietors have already made by it, and the copyright has yet twenty years to run. I applied in vain for some small share in the gain ; it was contrary I was told to the rules of trade. Nay, when they wanted me to write another work, likely to be as popular, they said they could not afford to give more than 150l. ! I mention these facts not out of ill-will to the [p. viii]proprietors, some of whom are the publishers of most of my other works, but simply to let the world see how inadequate is the remuneration sometimes received by the authors of even the most successful works.

I would say then, as the publishers say they would not give more for a long than for a short term of copyright, let the public be the gainer ; and if an author has parted, or will part, with his copyright, let it become common property at the end of his life, or of the twenty-eight years. Otherwise the great publishers will be almost the only gainers by a change in the law ; for most authors will transfer to them all their rights if they have the power to do it.

For my own part, I view the question with tolerable indifference, as even under the present law I know how to extend my copyright. My books, thank Heaven and the liberality of the gentlemen at whose office they are printed, are my own. When the booksellers had refused the present work, they enabled me to give it to the world, and thus lay the foundation of a moderate independence ; and in that our first transaction originated a friendship which nothing I am confident will dissolve but that event which terminates all human relations. Another friend, Mr. Brooke, was equally liberal with respect to the plates ; and should mythology ever become popular by means of this work, they surely are entitled to share in the praise.



The following remarks and suggestions have occurred to me, in the course of study, since the publication of the present Edition of this work : I have printed them separately, with the intention of inserting them in the remaining copies.

T. K.

Page 136. — Neither of the derivations given of the name Artemis appears to be satisfactory. The following may seem perhaps to come nearer to the truth. Artemis is quasi Althemis or Aldemis or Ardemis, from ἄλθω῎ ΑΛ∆Ω (λδαίνω), to nourish or cause to grow, or ἄρδω, to water and thence to nourish. This perfectly unforced etymology accurately accords with the moon, whose influence on vegetation and growth in general the ancients held to be so very considerable (see p. 194, note b), and which they regarded as the mother of dews (p. 61). Another name of the goddess may have been ἡ ἀλθέоυσυ, ἀλδέоυσα or ἀρδέоυσα, and θ and ϕ being commutable (as θὴρ, ϕὴρ), the name may have become ἀλϕείоνσα, etc., to which Αλϕειὸѕ (ἀλθειὸѕ the nourisher) would correspond as a masculine power, and therefore an appropriate name for a river. Altheusa it is plain might easily become Arethusa. Possibly too Εἰλείθνια (p. 194), which has the form of a perf. part., may have come from λθηνîα, or some word of similar form and signification.

Page 284. — The names of the water-deities seem to be all expressive of the qualities and powers of the sea. Nereus is the Flower (from νάω) ; Tritôn the Wearer-away (from τρύω, tero) ; Amphitrite is nearly the same ; Proteus is quasi Ploteus (from πλώω), the sailor or swimmer ; Glaucos plainly denotes the colour of the sea ; Palæmôn was probably in its origin Halæmôn, and the change was made after the institution of the Isthmian games.

Page 339. — The notion of regarding the sun and the earth under a conjugal relation, by which we have explained the mythe of Niobe, [p. x*]was, we find, a favourite one with our elder poets. See Phin. Fletcher, Purple Island, c. ix. st. 1 ; Idem, Pisc. Eclogues, v. 2 ; G. Fletcher, Christ’s Victory, i. 37 ; Cowley, The Gazers ; Idem, Parting, last stanza. The original seems to have been Sidney's Arcadia, which commences thus : — «It was in the time that the earth begins to put on her new appareil against the approach of her lover, and that the sunne runing a most even course becomes an indifferent arbiter between the night and the day.» Perhaps the idea was suggested to Sidney by Psalm xix. 5. Tasso in his Rime Amorose (canz. viii. 25), has

«Rose dico e viole,
A cui madre è la Terra e padre il Sole ;»

and in his note on it he says, «È detto ad imitazione del Pontano.» In a work named ‘Tales of an Indian Camp,’ which seems to be not a work of mere fiction, the chief Tecumseh says (vol. iii. 234), «The Sun is my father and the Earth is my mother, and I repose on her bosom.» It would therefore seem that the view of nature on which we have explained the mythes of Attis and Cybele, and of Amphiôn and Niobe, is one pretty generally diffused.

Page 359. — Though we could not perhaps satisfactorily prove it, we have a strong notion that Geryoneus (from γηρύω) is only another form of Hades. They both, we may observe, had herds of oxen, and the two-headed dog of the former answers to the three-headed dog of the latter. Admetos, apparently another form of Hades (p. 122), was also famous for his herds. We find the herds of Hades (p. 360) pasturing under the care of Menœtius, near those of Geryoneus in the isle of Erithyia, and (p. 363) we meet them in the under-world under the care of the same herdsman. This looks very like two different forms of the same legend ; the hero in the one seeking the abode of Hades in the west, in the other in the under-world. The name Geryoneus might correspond in signification with κλυτὸѕ and κλύμενοѕ, epithets of Hades.

Page 394. — Butes (Βούτηѕ, i. e. βότηѕ, from BOΩ βόσκω, to feed) is the Herdsman, and is the same as Hermes. The name of his wife, we may observe (see p. 381), is Chthonia. He was probably to the Athenians what Hermes was to the Arcadians, and the two deities were united in the usual manner.

Page 511. — The following inscriptions to the Junones of women may be seen in the Capitoline and Vatican collections : — 

«Junoni Juliæ Aufidenæ Capitolinæ sacrum d.m.»
«Phœbadi et Junoni heius
«Junoni Dorcadis Juliæ Augustæ L. vernæ caprensis ornatricis Lycastus conlibertus rogator conjugi carissimæ sibi.»
[p. xi*]«Junoni Juniæ C. Silani F. Torquatæ sacerdoti Vestali annis lxiiii. cœlesti patronæ Actius L.»

The practice of swearing by the Juno is alluded to by Javenal ; when, lashing the unnatural effeminacy of some of the Roman nobles, he says (ii. 98), «Et per Junonem domini jurante ministro.»

The name Juno is contracted from Jovino, as prudens is from pro videns.

Page 517. — It appears to us to be quite erroneous to suppose that the Ceres, Liber and Libera of the Romans were the Demeter, Dionysos and Kora of the Greeks, by whom Dionysos does not seem to have been united with the two goddesses, as Liber was at Rome. We would propose the following hypothesis on the subject.

The temple usually called that of Ceres at Rome was in reality one of the three conjoined deities (Liv. iii. 55. Dionys. vi. 17. 44. Tac. Ann. ii. 49). It stood at the foot of the Aventine and belonged to the plebeians, to whom it seems to have been what the Capitoline temple was to the patricians. In this latter was worshiped a Triad, — Minerva, Jovis, Jovino (Juno), i. e. Wisdom, and the God and Goddess κατ՚ἐξοχὴν ; in the latter there was also adored a Triad, — Ceres, Liber, Libera. May we not then suppose, that as the priestly nobles, the patricians, adored a triad of celestial or mental deities, so the agricultural plebeians worshiped a triad of deities presiding over the fruits and products of the earth ? From the employment of the plural (ναών, ναοὺѕ) by Dionysius we may further infer that the temple at the Aventine contained three cellœ like that on the Capitoline.

Page 522. — The critics seem to be unanimous in regarding the Pater Matutinus of Horace (Serm. ii. 6, 20) as Janus ; for which they are certainly not to be blamed, the poet himself having set them the example. To us however this appears to be an error, though as we see a very ancient one. The Latin language abounds above all others in adjectival terminations (see Hist. of Rome, p. 4), many of which are perfectly equivalent. Such were those in us and inus. Libertus and Libertinus were, there is no doubt, originally the same. Valerius was Corvus or Corvinus ; Postumius was Albus or Albinus ; the cognomina Luscinus, Græcinus, Calvinus, Longinus, Lævinus, etc., were probably equivalent to Luscus, Græcus, Calvus, etc. In the latter centuries of the republic the preference seems to have been given to the termination in inus, and hence we meet with Censorinus and Marcellinus. If these observations be correct, Matutinus is the same as Matutus, and is not Janus, i. e. the Sun, but a male deity answering to Matuta, the goddess of the dawn.

[p. x]

Contents. §


Pallas-Athene and Hermes. §

Pallas-Athene, 153. Hermes, 159.


Demeter and Persephone, 170.


Sister-goddesses. §

Muses, 185. Seasons or Hours, 190. Graces, 192. Eileithyiæ, 193. Fates, 194. Keres, 195. Furies, 196.


Themis, Iris, etc. §

Themis, 198. Iris, 198. Pæeôn, 200. Sleep and Death, 200. Momos, 201. Nemesis, 202. Fortune, 202. Personifications, 203.


dionysos, 205. §


foreign deities. §

Cybele, 223. Cotys and Bendis, 225. Artemis of Ephesus, 226. Isis, 226.


rural deities. §

Pan, 229. Satyrs, 233. Silenos, 234. Priapos, 235. Nymphs, 237.


water deities. §

Oceanides, 244. Nereus, 244. Nereïdes, 245. Phorcys, 245. Tritôn, 245. Proteus, 246. Glaucos, 248. Leucothea and Palæmôn, 249. River-gods, 250.


deities of the isles and coast of ocean. §

Hesperides, 251. Grææ, 252. Gorgons, 252. Harpies, 254. Winds, 255.


inhabitants of the isles and coasts of the west-sea. §

Lotus-eaters, 259. Cyclopes, 259. Giants, 262. Æolos, 263. Læstrygonians, 264. Circe, 266. Sirens, 269. Scylla and Charybdis, 271. Phaëthusa and Lampetia, 273. Calypso, 274. Phæacians, 275. Ortygia and Syria, 278.

[p. xi]

Part II. — THE HEROES. §


Introduction. §

Origin and First State of Man, 281. Ages of the World, 282. Iapetos, Atlas, Menœtios, Prometheus and Epimetheus, 286. Pandora, 292. Deucaliôn and Pyrrha, 297. Early Inhabitants of Greece, 300.


mythes of thessaly. §

Admetos and Alcestis, 306. Iasôn and Medeia, 307. Peleus and Achilleus, 312. Ixiôn, 314. Centaurs and Lapiths, 316. Ceÿx and Halcyone, 319.


mythes of ætolia. §

Œneus, 320. Meleagros, 321.


mythes of bœotia. §

Cadmos, 325. Semele, 329. Autonoe, Aristæos, and Actæôn, 329. Ino and Athamas, 332. Agaue and Pentheus, 335. Zethos and Amphiôn, 335. Laïos, 340. Œdipûs and Iocasta, 341. Teiresias, 343. Minyans and Phlegyans, 345. Trophonios and Agamedes, 347. Otos and Ephialtes, 349. Heracles, 350.


mythes of attica. §

Cecrops, 375. Cranaos, 378. Erichthonios, 378. Pandiôn, 379. Procne, Philomela, and Tereus, 379. Erechtheus, 381. Procris and Cephalos, 381. Oreithyia, 383. Creüsa, Zuthos and Iôn, 384. Pandiôn II., 385. Nisos and Scylla, 385. Ægeus, 385. Theseus, 387. Dædalos and Icaros, 398.


mythes of corinth. §

Sisyphos, 399. Bellerophontes, 401.


mythes of argolis. §

Inachos and Phoroneus, 405. Argos, 406. Io, 406. Danaos and Ægyptos, 409. Prœtos and the Prœtides, 412. Acrisios, Danae, and Perseus, 414. Amphitryôn and Alcmena, 420. Asclepios, 422.


mythes of arcadia. §

Lycaôn, 424. Callisto and Arcas, 425. Atalanta, 427.


mythes of laconia. §

Tyndareos and Leda, 429. Helena, 429. Polydeukes and Castôr, 430.

[p. xii]


mythes of elis. §

Salmoneus, 434. Tyro, 434. Neleus and Periclymenos, 435. Melampûs and Bias, 436. Iamos, 438. Endymiôn, 439. Cteatos and Eurytos, 441. Tantalos, 442. Pelops, 443. Atreus and Thyestes, 447.


mythes of achaia. §

Melanippos and Comætho, 451. Coresos and Callirrhoe, 452. Selemnos and Argyra, 453.


mythes of the isles. §

Europa, 454. Minôs, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedôn, 455. Ariadne and Phædra, 457. Glaucos, 458. Æacos and Telamôn, 460. Oriôn, 461. Pleiades and Hyades, 464.


mythic wars and expeditions. §

The Argonautic Expedition, 468. The Theban Wars, 477. The Trojan War, 483. The Returns, 491.



introduction. §

Early State of Italy and Rome, 501. The Etruscan Religion, 503. The Latin Religion, 505. The Sabellian Religion, 506.


the select gods. §

Jovis, Juppiter, Jupiter, 509. Juno, 511. Minerva, 512. Vesta, 513. Ceres, 514. Venus, 515. Liber, 517. Neptunus, 518. Mercurius, 518. Vulcanus or Mulciber, 518. Apollo, 519. Mamers, Mavors, Mars, 519. Diana, 520. Janus, 521. Saturnus, 523. Ops, Tellus, 524. Genius, 525. Orcus, Ditis or Dis, 527. Sol and Luna, 527.


the remaining italian deities. §

Quirinus, 528. Bellona, 528. Libitina, 528. Consus, 529. Laverna, Sancus, 530. Summanus, Vejovis, Soranus, 530. Camenæ, Egeria, Carmenta, 532. Matuta, Aurora, 533. Fortuna, 533. Bonus Eventus, 533. Vertumnus, 534. Anna Perenna, 534. Terminus, 535. Silvanus, 536. Faunus, Lupercus, Inuus, 537. Picus, 538. Pales, 538. Pomona, 539. Flora, 539. Feronia, 540. Falacer, Furina, 540. Vacuna, Marica, 541. Portunus or Portumnus, 542. Salacia and Venilia, 542. Juturna, 542. Penates, 543. Lars, 543.

Appendix, 547.

Index, 557.



Plate I. §

1. Zeus conquering the Giants. Cameo, engraved by Atheniôn. G. M. 33. Bracci, Intagliator, i. 30. — 2. Dodonean Zeus. Gold Medal of Alexander I. king of Epirus. G. M. 35. Seguin, Select. Num. 68. — 3. The Olympian Zeus. G. M. 34. Mus. Florent. I. lxvi. 1. — 4. Zeus Ægiochos ; the œgis on’his shoulder, and crowned with oak. Cameo in the Bibliothèque Impériale. G. M. 36. — 5. Jupiter Capitolinus holding a sceptre and a patera, a crown lying in his lap. G. M. 44. Passeri, Lucern. i. 28.

Plate II. §

1. Helios, as it would seem (Millin says Saturnus), in a four-horse chariot. L. Saturn. (L. Saturninus) is the name of the monetary triumvir. Coin of the Sentian family. G. M. 4. — 2. Kronos with the harpe in his hand. G. M. 1. Winkelman, Pierres Gravées de Stosch, p. 24. No. 5. — 3. Hestia (Vesta). Round Altar in the Mus. Capitol. and Bas-relief in the Villa Albani. G. M. 31. — 4. Eôs in a chariot, preceded by Eosphoros. Painting on a Vase. G. M. 93.

Plate III. §

1. Hera of Samos, her head veiled and bearing the modius, between two peacocks. Coin of the Samians. G. M. 49. Decamps, Select. Num. 83. — 2. The triple Hecate ; one with the crescent on her head, and holding two torches ; the second wearing a Phrygian cap, and holding a knife and a serpent ; the third crowned with laurel, and holding cords and keys. G. M. 123. Lachausse, Mus. Rom. ii. 22. — 3. Poseidôn holding a dolphin and a trident. Sculpture on the foot of a Candelabrum. G. M. 297. Mus. Pio Clementino, iv. 32. — 4. Ares. Round Altar. G. M. 28. (See Plate ii. 3.) — 5. Hermes, accompanied by Spring, demanding Persephone from Hades. Bas-relief in the Palace Rospigliosi. G. M. 341. Hirt. Bilderb. ix. 6.

Plate IV. §

1. Artemis. Statue. G. M. 115. — 2. Apollo Nomios. Statue in the Villa Ludovisi. G. M. 67. Hirt. Bilderb. iv. 6. — 3. Apollo Pythios. G. M. 53. Mus. Pio Clem. i. 14. — 4. Apollo Citharœdos. G. M. Statue. 61. Mus. Pio Clem. i. 16.


Plate V. §

1. Aphrodite at the bath ; beside her, the Alabastrites or perfume-vessel : she holds a cloth in her hand. Coin of the Cnidians of the time of Caracalla, taken from the Aphrodite of Praxiteles. G. M. 179. Lachau, Sur les Attributs de Vénus, p. 71. — 2. Psyche in terror of Venus. Statue in the Villa Pinciana. G. M. 196. — 3. Erôs. Intaglio. G. M. 191. Millin, Monum. Antiq. ined. ii. 1. — 4. Ares and Aphrodite. Groupe. G. M. 169. Mus. Cap. iii. 20. — 5. Adonis dying in the Arms of Aphrodite. Ancient Painting copied by Mengs. G. M. 170.

Plate VI. §

1. Demeter and Triptolemos in a chariot drawn by dragons ; he has in his chlamys the seed which he is to scatter abroad ; the goddess holds the roll of the laws of agriculture. Cameo. G. M. 220. Acad. de Belles Lettres, i. 276. — 2. Athena Polias feeding the serpent which reared Erichthonios. On a Candelabrum. G. M. 134. Mus. Pio Clem. iv. 6. — 3. Hermes. Intaglio by Dioscorrhides. G. M. 206. Bracci, Memor. ii. 65. — 4. Peace-bringing Athena extinguishing the torch of war. G. M. 137. Paciaudi, Mon. Petopon, i. 35. — 5. Demeter Thesmophoros showing Dionysos the roll with the rites of the mysteries ; a priestess at the window. G. M. 276. Tïschbein, Vases Grecs, iv. 361.

Plate VII. §

Persephone and Spring come to Zeus : Hermes explains to him why the goddess is to spend but a part of the year in the upper-world. Below, Triptolemos is in the winged chariot, holding a sceptre and ears of corn : Demeter is handing him some more : a person, supposed to be Hecate, is behind the goddess, and another is feeding the serpents. Painting on a Vase belonging to Prince Stanislaus Poniatowski. G. M. 219.

Plate VIII. §

1. Birth of Dionysos : Earth rising, confides the babe to two nymphs of Nysa. Bas-relief in the Villa Albani, Musée des Antiques, iii. 34. — 2. Dionysos, Ariadne, and Heracles on a couch beneath a vine. Dionysos in the centre, holding a drinking-horn (ῤυτὸν) in one hand, a cup in the other : Ariadne with a thyrse in one hand, a cantharus in the other ; a Genius hovers over her ; a female stands behind [p. xv]her. Heracles has his lion-skin and club ; a female with a thyrse stands beside him. Painting on a Vase. G. M. 246. — 3. Dionysos and Demeter in a chariot drawn by Centaurs and Centauresses : he holds a dioton and a thyrse ; she, poppies : the Centaurs carry rhyta and thyrses : one Centauress plays on the double flute, the other on the tambourin. Cameo, G. M. 275. Buonarroti, Med. Ant. 427.

Plate IX. §

1. Cybele. Medal of Hadrian. G. M. 9. — 2. Cybele and Attis. Medallion of Faustina. G. M. 13. — 3. Artemis of Ephesus. Statue. G. M. 108. Mus. Pio Clem. i. 32. — 4. Artemis of Ephesus and Serapis in a galley. Medallion of Gordian. G. M. 111. — 5. Artemis of Ephesus in her temple. Coin of the Ephesians. G. M. 109. — 6. Isis suckling Horus. Sculpture at Philæ. Descrip. de l’Egypte Antiq. i. pl. 22.

Plate X. §

1. Iasôn putting on his sandal. Statue, G. M. 416. Mus. Pio Clem. iii. 48. — 2. Antiope and her children. Bas-relief in the Villa Borghesi, G. M. 94. Musée des Antiques, ii. — 3. The labours of Heracles : Omphale and the hero in the centre. Bas-relief belonging to Cardinal Borgia. G. M. 453.

Plate XI. §

1. Perseus and Andromeda. Bas-relief. G. M. 388. Mus. Cap. iv. 52. — 2. Ganymedes. G. M. 534. Mus. Pio Clem. ii. 35. — 3. Bellerophontes slaying the Chimæra : Iobates and Athena viewing the combat. G. M. 343. Tischbein, i. 1. — 4. Battle of the Amazons. Sarcophagus, Musée des Antiques, ii. 95.

Plate XII. §

1. Juno Matrona. Statue. — 2. Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Gem. — 3. Mars Gradivus. Gem. — 4. Janus. Medal of Antoninus Pius. — 5. Lares. Sepulchral Lamp. — 6. Vertumnus. Gem. — 7. Jupiter Pluvius. Medal. — 8. Silvanus. Sepulchral Lamp. — 9. Flora. Statue. — 10. Faunus. Statue. — 11. Pomona. Gem. All from Spence's Polymetis.

[p. xvi]

References. §


The references to Pindar and the dramatists are to the following editions : —

Heyne's Pindar, Schütz's Æschylus, Brunck's Sophocles, the Glasgow edition of Euripides, in nine volumes, 8vo, and Bekker's Aristophanes.


Völcker, Myth. der Jap. ; V. Mythologie des Japetischen Geschlechts. — Völcker, Hom. Geog. ; V. Homerische Geographie. — Völcker, Myth. Geog. ; V. Mythische Geographie.

Müller, Proleg. ; M. Prolegomena zu einer wissenschaftliche Mythologie. — Müller, Min. Pol. ; M. Minerva Polias.

Welcker, Tril. ; W. Die Æschylische Trilogie. — Welcker, Nach. zur Tril. ; W. Nachtrag zu der Schrift über die Æschylische Trilogie. — Welcker, Kret. Kol. ; W. Ueber eine Kretische Kolonie in Theben.

Voss, Myth. Br. ; V. Mythologische Briefe.

Buttmann, Mythol. ; B. Mythologos.

Böttiger, Kunst-Myth. ; B. Ideen zur Kunst-Mythologie.

Schwenk ; S. Etymologisch-mythologische Andeutungen.


Page 28, line 2, for Agios read Agias.

36, — 20, for bark read back.

42, — 26, transpose former and latter.

188, noteª, for xxi. read x. xi.

197, notef, for 67 read 49.

263, line 19, for Echidna read Hydra.

290, notec, for See read Sch.

338, notee, for a read a.

{p. 1}


Part I. — THE GODS. §

Chapter I.

Introduction. §

Of Mythology in general. §

Mythology is the science which treats of the mythes2, or various popular traditions and legendary tales, current among a people and objects of general belief.

These mythes are usually the fabulous adventures of the imaginary beings whom the people worship ; the exploits of the ancient heroes of the nation ; the traditions of its early migrations, wars, and revolutions ; the marvellous tales of distant lands brought home by mariners and travellers ; and the moral or physical allegories of its sages and instructors.

The legends which compose a nation’s mythology may be divided into two classes. The first will contain the true or fabulous Events which are believed to have occurred either among the people itself, as its own adventures, and those of {p. 2}its princes and heroes, and which may therefore be called domestic ; or those of ancient or distant nations, handed down by tradition or brought home by voyagers, and these we may entitle foreign. The second class will consist of Doctrines or articles of popular belief, and will comprise the earliest attempts of man to account for the various phænomena of the heavens and the earth, and the changes which appear to have taken place among them. These last are however, in the popular mode of viewing them, as much events as the former, as they were propounded by their inventors in the historic or narrative form.

The wonderful is usually a component part of mythology. The deities of popular belief are very frequent actors in its legends, which differ from ordinary tales and fables in this circumstance, and in that of their having been at one time matters of actual belief.

Mythology may therefore be regarded as the depository of the early religion of the people. It also stands at the head of their history, for the early history of every people, with whom it is of domestic origin, is mythic, its first personages and actions are chiefly imaginary3. It is only gradually that the mist clears away, and real men and deeds similar to those of later times begin to appear ; and the mythic period is frequently of long duration, the stream of history having to run a considerable way, before it can completely work off the marvellous and the incredible.

Origin of Mythology. §

It is an interesting but by no means an easy task to trace out and explain the various causes and occasions that have given origin to the different legends which form the mythology of a people, such as the Greeks for example, with whom it is rich and complicated. We regard the following as the most probable mode of accounting for their existence.

Polytheism, or the belief in a number of beings of a nature superior to man, and who can be of benefit or injury to him, seems congenial to the human mind. It is always the {p. 3}religion of unenlightened tribes, and even in lettered and polished nations it still retains its hold upon the minds of the weak and the ignorant4. An appearance so general can only be the result of some law of the mind ; and those who have directed their attention to the language and ideas of man, in different stages of culture, will probably concede that there is a law which impels the human mind to ascribe the attribute of intelligence to the efficient cause of natural phænomena, particularly those which are of rare occurrence. The less the mind is expanded by culture, the more powerful is the operation of this law ; and while the philosopher ascribes all effects to one great intelligent cause, and usually views not so much Him as the secondary unintelligent causes which He employs, — the simpler children of nature, who cannot rise to so just and elevated a conception, see multitude where he contemplates unity, and numerous intelligent causes actively engaged in producing the effects which he refers to one single mind. Either then the true idea of One God has been resolved by the vulgar into that of a plurality ; or the numerous deities of the people have been by the philosopher reduced to one, possessed of the combined powers of all ; or, which is more probable, rather we may say is the truth, both hypotheses are true : man commencing with the knowledge of one God, gradually became a polytheist ; and philosophy, slowly retracing the steps of error, returned to the truth which had been lost.

It is utterly impossible to fix historically the date of the rise of polytheism among any people. Supposing, for the sake of hypothesis, a race to have been from some unassignable cause in a state of total or partial ignorance of the Deity, their belief in many gods may have thus commenced. They saw around them various changes brought about by human agency, and hence they knew the power of intelligence to produce effects. When they beheld other and greater effects, independent of and beyond human power, they felt themselves, from the principle we have already stated, invincibly impelled to ascribe their production to some unseen being, similar but superior to man. Thus when the thunder rolled {p. 4}and the lightning flamed along the sky, the terrified mortal regarded them as sent forth by a god who ruled the heavens ; when the sea rose in mountains and lashed the shore or tossed the bark, the commotion was referred to a god of the sea ; the regular courses, the rising and the setting of the sun and moon, appeared to him plainly to indicate the presiding care of peculiar deities ; the rivers which flowed continuously, which swelled and sank, must be under the control of intelligences ; and trees at regular seasons put forth and shed their foliage beneath the care of unseen deities5. In this manner all the parts of external nature would have become animated ; and the thoughts of courage, wisdom, and love, which involuntarily rise in the soul of man, and the ready eloquence which at times flows from his lips, being referable to no known cause, would be attributed to the unseen working of superior beings6.

Man is incapable of conceiving pure spirit, and he knows no form so perfect or so beautiful as his own, and none so well adapted to be the vehicle of mind7. He naturally, therefore, fell into the habit of assigning a human form to his gods ; but a human form divested of weakness and imperfection, and raised to his highest ideal of beauty, strength and power, yet still varying according to the character and occupation of the deity on whom it was bestowed. Thus the Grecian votary viewed manly strength and vigour as the leading attributes of the god who presided over war and inspired daring thoughts ; while in the god of archery and music beauty and strength appeared united, and dignity and majesty of mien and countenance distinguished the father of gods and men and ruler of heaven.

These deities, so like to man in form, were held to exceed him far in power and knowledge, but to be, like him, under the influence of passion and appetite. They had their favourites and enemies among mankind, were gratified by prayers and offerings, and severely punished slight, neglect or insult. They dwelt in celestial houses, but similar in form {p. 5}to those of man ; and, like man, they stood in daily need of food and repose. Chariots drawn by horses or other animals of celestial breed conveyed them over earth, sea, and air ; their clothing and arms were usually of the form of those of mortals, but of superior workmanship and materials8. The gods were not, strictly speaking, eternal : they were born, according to most systems of mythology ; and some, at least, assigned a period to their duration.

In the eyes of their worshipers these gods had each his distinct personal existence and sphere of action. The Greek, for example, fully believed that Helios, the Hindoo that Surya, guided the course of the sun each day. When, therefore, we shall in future speak of gods of the sea, the sun, the moon, we would not be understood to mean personifications of these objects. In truth, a personification of the sea or sun is not a very intelligible expression. We mean by these gods, deities presiding over and directing them, but totally distinct from them ; regents of them, in the sense in which the archangel Uriel is by Milton called the regent of the sun. Personification properly accords only with qualities and attributes ; and we shall in our progress meet with a class of deities, such as Mischief, Strife, Prayers, which are strictly speaking such.

When a people had thus formed for themselves a System of gods so like to man, and yet ruling over the world, it was natural that a body of mythes, or legends of their adventures, and of their dealings with mankind, should gradually arise ; and as they passed from hand to hand, receive various embellishments and additions, till what was at first but a mere dry assertion or conjecture became a marvellous or an agreeable tale. It is the opinion of one of the ablest mythologists of the present day, that there is a certain stage in the culture of a people in which the mythic is the natural mode of representation, to which men are led by a kind of necessity, and in which they act almost unconsciously. He gives as an instance the pestilence in the commencement of the Ilias. Allowing, he says, the carrying away captive of the daughter of Chryses and the {p. 6}pestilence itself to be actual and real facts, all those who heard of them, and who had at the same time a firm belief in the avenging power of Apollo, whose priest Chryses was, would pronounce, with as full conviction as if it had been something which they had seen and experienced themselves, that it was the god who had sent the pestilence on the prayer of his priest9. How far this theory is well founded, and whether it will apply with equal force to other mythologies as to that of Greece, is a question which we will not now discuss.

The sources, or the occasions of the production, of mythes may, we think, be arranged under the following heads, which fall into two classes, namely, of things and of names.

1. The sages of remote antiquity appear to have had a peculiar fondness for enveloping moral and physical truths in the garb of symbol, mythe, and allegory ; and the legends which they thus devised form no inconsiderable portion of the various bodies of mythology.

2. As a second source may perhaps be added the pride of family and the flattery of poets, which would seek to cast lustre on the origin of some noble house by placing a deity at the head of its pedigree, or to veil the transgression of one of its daughters by feigning that a god had penetrated the recesses of her chamber, or met her in the wood or at the fountain. Legends of this kind are to be placed among the latest. Indeed we very much doubt if this be a real original source of mythes10, and we place it here only because it has been generally so regarded.

3. A great number of legends in all countries are indebted for their origin to the extreme desire which men have to assign a cause for the various phænomena of the natural world. The Scandinavian mythology is full of instances, and the subsequent pages will present them in abundance. We cannot however refrain from giving in this place the following instance, as it combines the ancient and modern legendary explanations of the same natural appearance.

It is well known that most of the rivers of the Peloponnese have their sources in lakes situated in the high valley-plains {p. 7}of Arcadia, which are so completely shut in by mountains that the streams leave them by subterranean passages, called by the ancient Arcadians Zerethra (ζέρεθρα, i. e. βέθρα), and by the moderns Katavóthra. The plain of the district of Pheneos had two of these passages piercing the surrounding mountains, one of which gives origin to the river Ladôn. On the rocky faces of two of the hills, which advance into the plain, at a height of about fifty feet, runs a line, below which the colour of the rocks is lighter than it is above. The natural, though probably incorrect inference is, that the waters stood one time at that height. The ancient Arcadians said that Apollo, incensed at Hercules’ having carried off the tripod from Delphi and brought it to Pheneos, inundated the valley, and that Hercules formed the chasms by which the waters ran off11. Others said that Hades carried off the daughter of Demeter through one of these chasms under Mount Cyllene12. The moderns account for the origin of the chasm by the following legend. Two devils once possessed the lake : they dwelt on opposite sides of it, and were continually quarrelling ; a furious contest at length took place between them on the top of Mount Sactá, whose base was washed by the lake. The devil who lived on the west side adopted the ingenious expedient of pelting his adversary with balls of ox-fat, which sticking to his body and there taking fire, annoyed him beyond measure. To free himself from this inconvenience, the worsted fiend plunged into the lake and dashed through the side of the mountain Sactá, thus forming the passage through which the waters flowed off and left the plain dry13.

To this head may be referred the practice of the Greeks to assign the origin of animals and plants to transformations effected by the power of the gods, a practice of which we shall have to record numerous instances14. Even in the Mohammedan East examples of this procedure (which was probably learned from the Greeks) are to be found ; the origin of the {p. 8}rose is ascribed to the Prophet15, and the tulip is said to have sprung from the blood of the unhappy painter Ferhad, the lover of the fair Shîrîn16. Many changes in the natural world have also been effected by the Saints, according to the popular creed in most parts of Europe.

4. The desire to account for the phænomena of the moral world has also led to the invention of legends. Thus the laws of Mena explain the difference of castes in India, by saying that the Bramins, that is the priests, were produced from the mouth of Bramah ; the warriors from his arms ; the traders from his thighs ; the Parias, or lowest class, from his feet. The poor Laplanders account for the difference between themselves and their more fortunate southern neighbours by the following legend. The Swede and the Laplander, they say, were brothers in the beginning, but when there came on a storm the former was terrified, and sought shelter under a board, which God caused to become a house, but the latter remained without ; whence ever since the Swede dwells in a house, while the Laplander lives in the open air17.

5. Many legends have arisen from the necessity of giving some account of the invention of arts and implements, and of assigning a cause for traditionary ceremonies and observances, the memory of whose true origin had been lost. The festival of the Hyacinthia at Sparta, for example, originally it would seem celebrated in honour of Demeter18, was probably indebted for its name to the flower Hyacinthos ; and the legend of the boy beloved by Apollo was a later fiction. The Fasti of Ovid will present instances of the application of this principle, and in the following pages we shall have occasion to notice it.

The second class of legends will come under the three following heads.

6. The epithets of gods, when their true origin was unknown or had been lost, were usually explained by some legend. Of this practice also we shall meet with instances as we proceed ; for the present we will content ourselves with a single example.

{p. 9}

In the island of Samos stood a temple dedicated to the Gaping Dionysos, of whose origin the following legend was related. A Samian named Elpis, having made a voyage to Africa, saw as he was one day on the seashore a huge lion approaching him with his mouth wide open. In his terror he uttered a prayer to Dionysos and fled to a tree, up which he climbed. The lion came and laid himself at the foot of the tree with his mouth still open, as if he required compassion, and Elpis saw that a bone was stuck fast in his teeth which prevented him from eating ; he took pity on him, and came down and relieved him. As long as the ship stayed on the coast the grateful lion brought each day a portion of the produce of his hunting, and Elpis on his return to Samos built a temple to the Gaping Dionysos19.

7. Casual resemblance of sound in words, and foreign, obsolete or ambiguous terms, were another abundant source of legends. In Greek λáaς is a stone, and λαòς a people ; hence the legend of Deucaliôn and Pyrrha restoring the human race by flinging stones behind them20. There was a place at Rome called Argiletum : this word, which evidently signifies a place abounding in potter's earth (argilla)21, may be divided into two words (Argi letum), signifying death of Argus ; and hence arose a legend noticed by Virgil22. A part of the province of Seistân in Persia is named Neem-rôz, i. e. half-day ; and the popular tradition is, that it was once covered by a lake, which was drained by the Jinns (i. e. Genii) in half a day23. But, as the writer from whom we have taken this legend justly observes, Neem-rôz is also mid-day ; a term which, in several languages, denotes the south ; and Neem-rôz lies due south of Balkh, the first seat of Persian dominion. To return home, there is a point of land between Hastings and Pevensey, on the coast of Sussex, called Bulverhithe ; that is, plainly, Bulver-landing-place, such being the meaning of the old word hithe. But as this term has gone out of use, the {p. 10}honest fishermen there will gravely tell you, that when William the Conqueror, after landing in Pevensey-bay, was advancing to Hastings, on coming to this place he took a bull’s hide and cut it into thongs, which he tied together, resolving to halt and give battle at the spot where the line he made of them should terminate. These instances may suffice to show the generality of this principle.

8. Finally, metaphorical language understood literally may have given occasion to many legends. Thus cause and effect, and other relations, are in various languages, particularly the Oriental, expressed by terms of kindred. The Hebrews termed sparks, sons of the burning coal ; one who is to die, a son of death. The Arabs call a traveller, a son of the way ; a warrior, a son of battle ; springs, daughters of the earth ; mist, daughter of the sea ; tears, daughters of the eye ; and dreams, daughters of night : an ass is with them the father of hanging ears24. A similar mode of expression prevailed among the Greeks. Pindar25 calls the showers of rain children of the cloud. Æschylus terms smoke the brother of fire26, and dust the brother of mud27 ; and Hipponax28 said that the fig-tree was the sister of the vine. A person born on the bank of a lake or river may have been called its son29 ; one coming by sea have been styled a son of the sea ; and when the metaphor came to be understood literally, persons thus spoken of may have been looked upon as children of the riveror sea-god, and legends have been devised accordingly30. A branch or shoot of Ares (ὄζοςρηος) is the Homeric appellation of a warrior, and in Latin a lucky fellow was styled a son of Fortune.31.Our English king Richard I. was called Lion-heart (Cœur de Lion), on account of his valour and intrepidity ; and this title gave occasion to a legend, alluded to by {p. 11}Shakspeare32, of his combat with a lion, and pulling out his heart. The rich melodious language of poets and orators has been often compared by the Greeks and others to the delicious food of the bees ; hence it was fabled that bees settled on the infant lips of Pindar and Plato, of Lucan and St. Ambrose.

Theories of the Origin of Mythology. §

The theory already given appears to us to be the one which most simply and satisfactorily explains the origin of by far the greater portion of the legends of mythology : but, both in ancient and modern times, theories of a different kind have been advanced, and supported with much ingenuity and learning. The ancient systems we shall notice when treating of the progress of Grecian mythology ; in this place we will enumerate those which have been most prevalent in modern times. These may, we think, be divided into three classes : the Historic, the Philosophic, and the Theological.

1. The Historic : according to which all the mythic persons were once real human beings, and the legends are merely the actions of these persons poetically embellished. The chief maintainers of this hypothesis are Bochart33 and Bryant34, who see in the Grecian mythes the true history of the personages of Sacred Scripture ; Rudbeck35, who regards them as being drawn from the history of the North of Europe ; the Abbé Banier36, who maintains that Grecian mythology is Egyptian and Grecian history in a poetic dress. Banier's countrymen, Larcher, Clavier, Raoul-Rochette, and others have of late years supported this theory, and it has been maintained by Böttiger37 in Germany.

II. The Philosophic : which supposes mythology to be merely the poetical envelope of some branch of human science. The illustrious Bacon38 exercised his ingenuity in deriving ethical and political doctrines from some of the Hellenic mythes. Their concealed wisdom is Ethics according to {p. 12}Natalis Comes39; Chemistry according to Tollius40. Finally, Dupuis41 and some other ingenious writers, chiefly French, look to Astronomy for the solution of the enigmatic legends of antiquity.

III. The Theological : which assigns mythologya higher rank ; regarding it as the theology of polytheistic religions, and seeking to reduce it to harmony with the original monotheism of mankind. Vossius endeavours to show that the fables of heathenism were only a distortion of the revelations made to man by the true God ; and, at the present day, Görres, Creuzer and others42, assigning a common source to the systems of India, Egypt, Greece, and other countries, and regarding the East as the original birthplace of mythology, employ themselves in tracing the imagined channels of communication ; and as they esteem every legend, ceremony, usage, vessel, and implement to have been symbolical, they seek to discover what truth, moral, religious, or philosophical lies hid beneath its cover. These men are justly denominated Mystics43. Their whole science is founded on accidental resemblances of names and practices, their ideas are conveyed in a highly coloured figurative style, and a certain vague magnificence appears to envelope their conceptions, — all calculated to impose on the ignorant and the unwary44. It is against this system that we are most anxious to warn and guard our readers. In our eyes it is disgusting from its indelicacy as well as its absurdity ; it approaches the confines of impiety, and at times seems even to pass them. The study and adoption of it can hardly fail to injure the intellectual powers, and to produce an indifference toward true religion. {p. 13}In fact, if the theory of these men be true, the necessity for Christianity becomes a question45.

Of these three classes the last alone is peculiar to modern times : the two former theories were, as we shall presently see, familiar to the ancients. We must also observe, that all are true to a certain extent. Some mythes are historical, some physical, some moral, some theological ; but no single one of these theories will suffice to account for the whole body of the mythology of any people. Some of them, too, apply more to one system than another : the Scandinavian mythology, for example, is of a more physical character than the Grecian : the Indian is more metaphysical than either the Grecian or the Scandinavian.

The mythologies which offer the widest fields for inquiry are those of ancient Greece, of India, and of Scandinavia. To these may be added that of ancient Egypt. Italy has left no mythology, properly speaking, though for the sake of uniformity we so denominate the account of its deities and religion given in the present work. The Persian cycle, which is preserved in the Shâh-nâmeh of Ferdoust, is purely heroic ; and the Celtic tribes of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands had also a small heroic cycle, of which Cuchullin, Fingal, Gaul, Oscar, and other personages whose names are familiar to the readers of the pseudo-Ossian are the heroes46.

It is chiefly to the explanation of the rich and elegant mythology of Greece that modern inquirers hâve applied themselves ; and by the labours of Voss47, Buttmann, Müller, Völcker, Welcker and other writers, whose names will appear in the following pages, it has in our opinion been reduced {p. 14}to its true principles, and brought within the sphere of useful and necessary knowledge. The scholars of the North, especially the learned Finn Magnusen, have exerted themselves, and not without success, in developing the true nature and character of the venerable mythology of their forefathers, especially on the physical theory. For the mythology of India philosophy has as yet done but little ; it has been the sport of the wildest mysticism, and has led to the degradation of those of other countries. The Asiatic Researches, and the works of Polier, Ward and some others, with the various translations that have been made from the Sanscrit, present a large mass of materials to the inquirer. Jablonski and Zoega have laboured diligently in the field of Egyptian mythology.

Rules for the Interpretation of Mythes. §

The following rules should be attended to in mythological inquiries.

1. To consider the mythology of each people separately and independently, and not to suppose any connexion between it and any other till both have been examined minutely and carefully, and so many points of resemblance have presented themselves as to leave no doubt of the original identity of the systems48. It is to the neglect of this rule that we owe so much of the absurdity to be found in the works of many mythologists, and nothing has tended more to the bringing of the science of mythology into neglect and contempt. The ancient Greeks were led from ignorance to give credit to the cunning priesthood of Egypt, and to believe that they had received their religion from that country ; and it is but too well known how, in our own days, Sir William Jones and his followers have been deceived by their own imaginations, and the impostures of artful pundits, in their efforts to connect the religions of Greece and India.

2. In like manner the mythes themselves should be considered separately, and detached from the system in which they are placed ; for the single mythes existed long before the {p. 15}system, and were the product of other minds than those which afterwards set them in connexion, not unfrequently without fully understanding them49.

3. We should pay particular attention to the genealogies which we meet with in mythology, as they frequently form the key to the meaning of a mythe, or even of a whole cycle50. Great caution however should be used in the application of this rule, or it may lead us into error and absurdity if carried beyond its legitimate bounds.

4. The same or even greater caution is required in the application of etymology to this subject51. If applied judiciously it will at times give most valuable results ; if under no guidance but that of caprice and fancy, it will become the parent of all sorts of monsters and lusus naturæ.

5. Finally, though we should never pronounce a mythe which we have not examined to be devoid of signification, we should not too confidently assert that every mythe must have an important meaning, for certainly some have been but the creation of capricious fancy52. On these occasions it would be well to bear in mind the following words of Johnson : «The original of ancient customs,» says he, «is commonly unknown, for the practice often continues after the cause has ceased ; and concerning superstitious ceremonies, it is vain to conjecture, for what reason did not dictate reason cannot ex-plain53 » We use the words bear in mind, for if adopted as a principle it will only serve to damp ardour and check inquiry. The rule should be, — this mythe most probably has a meaning, but it is possible it may not have one.

{p. 16}



Its Origin. §

The remote antiquities of Greece are involved in such total obscurity, that nothing certain can be adduced respecting the origin of the people or their mythology. Reasoning from analogy and existing monuments, some men of learning venture to maintain, that the first inhabitants of that country were under the direction of a sacerdotal caste, resembling those of India and Egypt ; but that various circumstances concurred to prevent their attaining to the same power as in those countries. In the Homeric poems, however, by far the earliest portion of Grecian literature, we find no traces of sacerdotal dominion ; and in the subsequent part of our work we shall bring forward some objections against this hypothesis54.

It is certainly not improbable that these ancient priests, if such there were, may have had their religion arranged systematically, and have represented the various appearances and revolutions of nature under the guise of the loves, the wars, and other actions of these deities, to whom they ascribed a human form and human passions. But the Grecian mythology, as we find it in the works of the ancients, offers no appearance of a regular concerted system. It is rather a loose collection of various images and fables, many of which are significant of the same objects.

The ancient inhabitants of Greece were divided into a great variety of little communities, dwelling separately, parted in general by mountains and other natural barriers. As they were naturally endowed with a lively imagination, there gradually grew up in each of these little states a body of tales and legends. These tales of gods and heroes were {p. 17}communicated by wandering minstrels and travellers from one part of the country to another. Phœnician mariners probably introduced stories of the wonders of the East and of the West, which in those remote ages they alone visited ; and these stories, it is likely, were detailed with the usual allowance of travellers’ licence. Poets, a race indigenous in the favoured clime of Hellas, caught up the tales, and narrated them with all the embellishments a lively fancy could bestow ; and thus at a period long anterior to that at which her history commences, Greece actually abounded in a rich and luxuriant system of legendary lore. This is proved by the poems of Homer and Hesiod, which, exclusive of the ancient legends they contain, make frequent allusion to others ; some of which are related by subsequent writers, and many are altogether fallen into oblivion.

These poems also bear evident testimony to the long preceding existence of a race of poets, — a fact indeed sufficiently evinced by the high degree of perfection in the poetic art which they themselves exhibit. Modern mythologists have therefore been naturally led to the supposition of there having been in ancient Greece aœdic schools, in which the verses of preceding bards were taught, and the art of making similar verses was acquired55. One of the ablest of our late inquirers56 is of opinion that the original seat of these schools was Pieria, at the northern foot of Mount Olympos. He has been led to this supposition by Heyne's remark, that Homer always calls the Muses Olympian, which remark he extends by observing that the Homeric gods are the Olympian, and no others. In this however we can only see that, as we shall presently show, Olympos was in the time of Homer held to be the seat of the gods. It does not appear to us that any one spot can be regarded as the birth-place of the Grecian religion and mythology ; they were, like the language and manners of the people, a portion of their being ; and the {p. 18}knowledge of the origin of the one is as far beyond our attainment as that of the other.

The Greeks, like most of the ancient nations, were little inclined to regard as mere capricious fiction any of the legends of the different portions of their own race or those of foreign countries. Whatever tales they learned, they interwove into their own system ; taking care, however, to avoid contradiction as far as was possible. When, therefore, they found any foreign deities possessing the same attributes as some of their own, they at once inferred them to be the same under different names ; but where the legends would not accord, the deities themselves were regarded as being different, even when they were in reality perhaps the same.

«This,» says Buttmann57, «was the case when they found traditions of other kings of the gods whom they could not reconcile with their own Zeus, and of queens who could not be brought to agree with their Hera. But a new difficulty here presented itself ; for they could not assume several kings and queens reigning at one time. The ancients appear to me to have gotten over this difficulty by saying, that those gods had indeed reigned, but that they had been overcome by their Zeus ; and that the goddesses had indeed cohabited with Zeus, but they had not been his lawful wives. And this, if I mistake not, is the true origin of the tale of the Titans being driven out of heaven, and of the concubines of Zeus, who were reckoned among the Titanesses, the daughters of Heaven, and among the daughters of the Titans, such as Metis, Themis, Leto, Demeter, Dione, who were all, according to different legends, spouses of Zeus.»

With these views of this most ingenious writer we agree, as far as relates to the consorts of the Olympian king, each of whom we look upon as having been his sole and lawful wife in the creed of some one or other of the tribes of Greece. Of the Titans we shall presently have occasion to speak somewhat differently.

{p. 19}

Historic View of Grecian Mythology58. §

The poets having taken possession of the popular legends, adorned, amplified, added to them, and sought to reduce the whole to a somewhat harmonious system59. They however either studiously abstained from departing from the popular faith, or were themselves too much affected by all that environed them to dream of anything which might shock the opinions of their auditors. Accordingly we may be certain that the mythes contained in Homer and Hesiod accord with the current creed of their day, and are a faithful picture of the mode of thinking prevalent in those distant ages.

As knowledge of the earth, of nature, her laws and powers, advanced, the false views of them contained in the venerable mythes of antiquity became apparent. The educated sometimes sought to reconcile tradition and truth ; but the vulgar still held fast to the legends hallowed by antiquity and sanctioned by governments60. A prudent silence therefore became the safest course for those who exceeded their contemporaries in knowledge.

The philosophers of Greece early arrived at the knowledge of one only God, the original cause and support of all. Anaxagoras is said to have been the first who openly taught this truth ; and he was in consequence charged with atheism, and narrowly escaped the punishment of death. Philosophers took warning, and truth was no longer brought into public view. But such is the nature and connection of things, so profuse the resemblances which the world presents to view, such is the analogy which runs between the operations of mind and those of matter, that several of the mythes afforded the philosophers an opportunity of holding them forth as the husks in which important moral or physical truths were enveloped ; in which in reality many such truths had been studiously enveloped by ancient priests and sages61.

After an intercourse had been opened with Asia and Egypt, {p. 20}mysteries came greatly into vogue in Greece. In these it is thought62, but perhaps not with sufficient evidence, the priests who directed them used, for the credit of the popular religion whose reputation they were solicitous to maintain, to endeavour to show its accordance with the truths established by the philosophers, by representing them as being involved in the ancient mythes, which they modified by the aid of fiction and forgery so as to suit their purposes.

About this time, also, the system of theocrasy (θεοκραία), or mixing up, as we may call it, of the gods together, began to be employed63. It was thus that the wine-god Dionysos was made one with the sun-god Helios, and this last again, as some think, with the archer-god Phœbos Apollo. As we proceed we shall have frequent occasion to notice this principle.

While in the schools of the philosophers, and the temples devoted to the mysteries, the ancient legends were acquiring a new and recondite sense, another class of men, the artists, had laid hold of them. The gods of their forefathers were now presented under a new guise to the Greeks, who, as they gazed on the picture or the statue, saw the metaphors of the poets turned to sense, and wings, for example, adorning those deities and mythic personages to whom the poet had in figurative style applied the expression winged to denote extraordinary swiftness64.

The poets soon began to regard the ancient legends as mere materials.The belief in their truth having in a great measure vanished, the poets, especially the later dramatists, thought themselves at liberty to treat them in whatever manner they deemed best calculated to produce the meditated effect on the feelings of their audience65. They added, abstracted, united, separated, at their pleasure ; ideas imported from Egypt were {p. 21}mixed up with the old tales of gods and heroes ; and the fable to be represented on the stage often varied so much from that handed down by tradition, that, as is more especially the case with Euripides, the poet appears at times to have found it necessary to inform his audience in a long prologue of what they were about to witness.

Such was the state of the ancient mythology of Greece in her days of greatest intellectual culture. Few of the mythes remained unaltered. Priests, philosophers, and poets combined to vary, change, and modify them. The imagination of these various classes produced new mythes, and the local tales of foreign lands were incorporated into the Grecian mythic cycle.

When the Ptolemies, those munificent patrons of learning, had assembled around them at Alexandria the scholars and the men of genius of Greece, the science of antiquity was, by the aid of the extensive royal library, assiduously cultivated ; and the ancient mythology soon became a favourite subject of learned investigation. Some worked up the mythes into poems ; others arranged them in prose narratives ; several occupied themselves in the explication of them.

At this time what is named Pragmatism, or the effort to reduce the mythes to history, began greatly to prevail66. It is probable that this took its rise from the Egyptian priests, who, as we may see in Herodotus, represented their gods as having dwelt and reigned on earth67. Hecatæus of Miletus, one of the earliest Grecian historians, would seem to have laboured to give a rational form to the old legends68; and we may observe in the explanation given by Herodotus, after the Egyptian priests, of the legend of the soothsaying pigeon of Dodona, and in other places of that historian, a similar desire69. This mode of rationalising was carried to a much greater extent by Ephorus : but the work which may be regarded as having contributed by far the most to give it vogue, {p. 22}was the Sacred History (Ἱϵρὴναγραфή) of Euhemerus, which was so celebrated in antiquity that we shall here stop to give a brief account of it70.

Euhemerus said, in this work, that having had occasion to make a voyage in the Eastern ocean, after several days’ sail he came to three islands, one of which was named Panchaia. The inhabitants of this happy isle were distinguished for their piety, and the isle itself for its fertility and beauty, in the description of which the writer exerted all the powers of his imagination. At a distance of several miles from the chief town, he says, lay a sacred grove, composed of trees of every kind, tall cypresses, laurels, myrtles, palms, and every species of fruit-tree, amidst which ran rivulets of the purest water. A spring within the sacred district poured forth water in such abundance as to form a navigable river, named the Water of the Sun71, which meandered along, fructifying the whole region, and shaded over by luxuriant groves, in which during the days of summer dwelt numbers of men, while birds of the richest plumage and most melodious throats built their nests in the branches, and delighted the hearer with their song. Verdant meads, adorned with various flowers, climbing vines, and trees hanging with delicious fruits, everywhere met the view in this paradise. The inhabitants of the island were divided into priests, warriors, and cultivators. All things were in common except the house and garden of each. The duty of the priests was to sing the praises of the gods, and to act as judges and magistrates : a double share of everything fell to them. The task of the military class was to defend the island against the incursions of pirates, to which it was exposed. The garments of all were of the finest and whitest wool, and they wore rich ornaments of gold. The priests were distinguished by their raiment of pure white linen, and their bonnets of gold tissue.

{p. 23}

The priests derived their lineage from Crete, whence they had been brought by Zeus after he had succeeded his predecessors Uranos and Kronos in the empire of the world. In the midst of the grove already described, and at a distance of sixty stadia from the chief town, stood an ancient and magnificent temple sacred to Triphylian Zeus, erected by the god himself while he was yet among men ; and on a golden pillar in the temple the deeds of Uranos, Zeus, Artemis, and Apollo had been inscribed by Hermes in Panchæic letters, which the voyager says were the same with the sacred characters of the Egyptian priests. Zeus had, according to this monument, been the most potent of monarchs : the chief seat of his dominion had been Crete, where he died and was buried, after having made five progresses through the world, all whose kings feared and obeyed him.

The object of Euhemerus in inventing this Utopia, which by the way many navigators sought after but no one ever found, was evidently to give a blow to the popular religion, and even to make it ridiculous ; for though he seems to have treated some of the higher gods, as Zeus for example, with a degree of respect, he was less particular with the inferior ones and with the heroes. Thus of Aphrodite he says, that she was the first who reduced gallantry to an art, and made a trade of it, that she might not appear more wanton than other women72. Cadmos was cook to a king of Sidôn, and he ran away with Harmonia, a female flute-player73

The work of Euhemerus was vehemently attacked by all who retained a veneration for the old religion, and the writer himself was stigmatised as an atheist74 : but it exerted a great influence over the subsequent historians, as we may perceive in the case of Diodorus of Sicily. It was translated into Latin by Ennius, of whose work some fragments remain75; and the Æneïs of Virgil alone will suffice to show the degree in which it affected the old Italian mythology76. Finally, the Fathers {p. 24}of the Church employed it to advantage in their conflicts withe the supporters of the ancient religion.

While Euhemerus thus fixed on an imaginary island in the Eastern ocean as the original abode of the deities adored in Greece, others, among whom Dionysius of Samos or Mytilene was the most celebrated, chose the Western coast of Africa for the same purpose77. For this they seemed to have Homeric authority ; as the poet calls Oceanos, whose abode was placed in the West, the origin of the gods78. According to these writers the coast of Ocean on this side, fertile as Panchaia itself, was inhabited by a people named Atlanteians, distinguished for their piety and their hospitality to strangers. The first king who ruled over them was named Uranos. He collected the people, who had previously dwelt dispersedly, into towns, and taught them agriculture, and thus reformed their manners. He gradually reduced under his sway the greater part of the world. By study of the heavens, and thus learning to foretell the celestial phænomena, he obtained the reputation of being of a nature superior to man ; and when he died, his people gave him divine honours and named the heavens after him.

By several wives Uranos was the father of forty-five children, eighteen of whom, the offspring of Titaia or Earth, were named Titans. The most distinguished of their daughters were Basileia and Rhea, also named Pandora. The former, who was the eldest, aided her mother to rear her brothers and sisters, whence she was called the Great Mother. She succeeded her father in his dominion ; and after some time she married Hyperiôn, one of her brothers, to whom she bore two children, endowed with marvellous sense and beauty, named Helios and Selena. But the other Titans now grew jealous, and they murdered Hyperiôn, and flung Helios into the river Eridanos, where he was drowned. At the tidings Selena, who loved her brother beyond measure, cast herself from the roof of the palace and perished. Basileia lost her senses through grief, and went roaming in madness through the country with dishevelled locks, beating drums and {p. 25}cymbals. She disappeared at length in a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning. The people raised altars to her as a goddess, and they named the sun and moon after her hapless children.

The Titans then divided the realm of their father among themselves. The coast of Ocean fell to Atlas, who named the people and the highest mountain of the country after himself. Like his father he was addicted to astronomy ; he first taught the doctrine of the sphere, whence he was said to support the heavens. Kronos, the most impious and ambitious of the Titans, ruled over Libya, Sicily, and Italy. He espoused his sister Rhea, who bore a son named Zeus, in all things the opposite of his grim sire ; whence the people, delighted with his virtues, named him Father, and finally placed him on the throne. Kronos, aided by the other Titans, sought to recover his dominion ; but the new monarch defeated him, and then ruled, the lord of the whole world and the benefactor of mankind. After his death he was deified by his grateful subjects.

We will not pursue any further these dreams of the mythographer, for the tasteless system never seems to have gained general credit. We therefore proceed to relate the further course of the Grecian mythology.

As we have already observed, the allegorical system of interpretation prevailed at the same time with the historical. This mode of exposition was introduced by the sophists ; Socrates and Plato occasionally employed it ironically ; but its greatest cultivators were the philosophers of the Stoic sect. It was chiefly physical and ethical truths that they deduced from the ancient mythes, and they generally regarded the gods in the light of personifications of the powers of nature.

When the Romans became acquainted with Grecian literature, they identified the gods of Greece with such of their own deities as had a resemblance to them. Thus Hermes became Mercurius, Aphrodite Venus, and the mythes of the former were by the poets, and perhaps in the popular creed, applied to the latter. As in Greece, some believed, some disbelieved in the popular deities, and the former sought the solution of the mythes in the schools of philosophy or the temples of the mysteries. The valuable work of Cicero ‘On {p. 26}the Nature of the Gods’ shows in an agreeable manner the ideas entertained on this subject by the most accomplished Romans of his time.

After the conflict had commenced between Heathenism and Christianity, the allegorising principle was applied to the former with still greater assiduity than heretofore. The New Platonists endeavoured by its aid, in union with Oriental mysticism, to show, that the ancient religion contained all that was required to satisfy the utmost needs of the human soul. The Fathers of the Church laid hold on the weapons thus presented to them, to defend the new and attack the old religion. By the aid of the principles of Euhemerus they robbed the gods of Greece of their divinity ; by that of the allegorising principle of the Stoics they extracted truth from the legends of Greek theology, and discovered mystery in the simplest narratives and precepts of the Hebrew Scriptures. Unfortunately in this process many of the mythes and practices of Heathenism became incorporated with the pure religion of the Gospel, and Christianity also had soon a mythology of its own to display. On the final overthrow of Heathenism its mythology slept along with its history and literature the sleep of the dark ages ; but at the revival of learning it was eagerly laid hold on by poets and artists79, and it attracted the attention of antiquarians and philosophers. The various theories by which it was sought to reduce it to system, which we have already enumerated, were then revived or devised ; and mythology forms at present an important branch of learning and philosophy.

Of late years the mythology of Greece has in the hands of men of genius and learning, especially in Germany, resumed the simple and elegant attire which it wore in the days of Homer and Hesiod, and in which the following pages will attempt to present it to the reader.

Literature of the Grecian Mythology. §

A brief view of the literature of the Grecian mythology, or of the works whence our knowledge of it has been derived, {p. 27}seems a necessary supplement to the preceding sketch of its history.

The Ilias and the Odyssey, as the two great heroic poems which are regarded as the works of Homer are named, are (with the exception of some parts of the Hebrew Scriptures) the earliest literary compositions now extant. Their origin is enveloped in the deepest obscurity, and the questions whether they are the production of one or of many minds, whether they were originally written, or were orally transmitted for centuries, have for some years engaged the pens of critics. It seems to be now generally agreed that the two poems are the productions of different minds, and that in both there are interpolations, some of which are of no small magnitude, but that notwithstanding they may be regarded as faithful pictures of the manners and opinions of the Achæans or Greeks of the early ages80. Beside the Ilias and the Odyssey, the ancients possessed some other narrative poems, which were ascribed, but falsely, to the same author. All these poems, however, have long since perished.

The age of Hesiod is equally uncertain with that of Homer. Three only of the poems ascribed to him have come down to us, viz. the didactic poem named Works and Days, the Theogony, and the Shield of Hercules. Hesiod was also said to be the author of a poem in four books named the Catalogues, or Eoiæ81, which related the histories of the heroines or distinguished women of the mythic ages ; but of this also only a few fragments have been preserved. The same is the case with the poems named the Melampodia and Ægimios, likewise ascribed to this ancient bard.

Homer and Hesiod were succeeded by a crowd of poets, who sang all the events of the mythic ages. The chief of {p. 28}these were Stasinos of Cyprus, Arctinos of Miletus, Lesches of Lesbos, Cynæthos of Chios, Eumelos of Corinth, Agios of Trœzen, and Eugammôn of Cyrene. Their poems were the Cypria, the Æthiopis, the Little Ilias, the Iliupersis or Taking of Ilion, the Nostoi or Returns of the Chiefs, the Telegonia, or Death of Odysseus, etc. There were also Heracleiæ, or poems on the subject of Hercules, by Peisander, Panyasis, and other poets, a Theseïs on the adventures of Theseus, poems on the wars of Thebes82, a Titanomachia, an Amazonia, a Danaïs, a Phoronis, etc.

In the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, the critic Zenodotus of Ephesus united several of these poems with the Ilias and Odyssey into one whole, commencing with the marriage of Heaven and Earth, and ending with the death of Odysseus. This was named the Epic Cycle, and it continued to be read during some centuries of the Christian æra83. Of this, however, the Homeric portion alone has come down to us : for our knowledge of the events contained in the remainder of the Cycle we are indebted to the works of the later poets Quintus Smyrnæus, Coluthus, and Tryphiodorus, and the various scholiasts or commentators and compilers.

The lyric succeeded the epic poets. Mythic legends were necessarily their principal materials, as their verses were mostly dedicated to the worship of the gods, or the praise of victors in the public games, or were sung at banquets or in funeral processions. These too have disappeared, excepting a portion of those of Pindar. It is much to be lamented, in a mythologic view, that so little remains of Stesichorus of Himera.

The tragedians followed : they took their subjects from the epic poems, and their remaining works preserve much mythic lore.

After the epic poetry had ceased, and writing, by means of the Egyptian papyrus, was become more common in Greece, {p. 29}a set of writers arose who related in succinct prose narratives, arranged in historic order, the various mythic legends which formed the Epic Cycle, the Eoiæ, and other poems of the same nature. The principal of these writers were Pherecydes, Acusilaüs, and Hellanicus ; of their works also only fragments remain.

The historians, Herodotus, Thucydides, and their followers, occasionally took notice of the mythic legends. Ephorus and Theopompus were those who devoted most attention to them, as their fragments still remaining show.

The sophists and philosophers employed the mythic form as the vehicle of their peculiar systems and ideas. Such was Prodicus’ beautiful fiction of the Choice of Hercules, and Protagoras’ story of Prometheus and his brother84.

We are now arrived at the Alexandrian period. In this the mythes were treated in two different ways. Lycophrôn, Euphoriôn, Apollonius, Callimachus, and the remainder of the Pleias, as they were named, formed poems from them ; while Apollodorus, following Pherecydes, and adding the fictions of the tragedians, framed a continuous narrative, of which an epitome alone has come down to us ; and Crates, Aristarchus, and the other editors of the ancient poets gave the legends a place in their commentaries.

The Latin poets of the Augustan age drew largely on the Alexandrian writers, after whom chiefly they related in their verses the mythic tales of Greece, in general pure and unaltered, as appears from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, of whose legends the Greek originals can,with few exceptions, be pointed out85. It was also in this period that Hyginus wrote the mythological work which we now possess.

The summaries of Parthenius, Antoninus Liberalis and others contain numerous mythic legends, as also do the Scholia, or notes on the classic writers of Greece, especially those on Homer, Pindar, Apollonius, and Theocritus ; those of Tzetzes on Hesiod and Lycophrôn, and the tedious commentary of Eustathius on Homer. The notes of Servius on Virgil are also very valuable in this respect, as likewise is the {p. 30}Violet-bed86 of the empress Eudocia. It would be tedious to particularise all the other sources of information, for in fact there is hardly a classic writer in either language who does not relate or refer to some of the mythic legends of Greece ; even the Fathers of the Church contribute to augment our knowledge of the mythic tales of the religion against which their literary artillery was directed.

There is one author of a peculiar character, and whose work is of the most interesting nature, we mean Pausanias, who travelled in Greece in the second century of the Christian æra, and gathered on the spot the legends of the temples and the traditions of the people. He has thus preserved a number of mythic narratives unnoticed by preceding writers, which had probably been transmitted from father to son from the most remote times.

If to the sources already enumerated we add the long poem of Nonnus on the adventures of Dionysos, we shall have given the principal authorities for the contents of the following pages. We have been thus succinct on the present occasion, as it is our intention to give a view of the literature of each of the mythic cycles in its proper place87.

{p. 31}

Chapter III.


Mythic Cosmology. §

For the due understanding of the mythology of a people, a knowledge of their cosmology, or views of the world, its nature, extent, and divisions, is absolutely requisite. Without it we shall be for ever falling into error ; and by applying to the productions of the remote and infantile periods of society the just conceptions of the present day in geography and astronomy, give to them a degree of folly and inconsistency with which they cannot justly be charged88.

The earliest view of Grecian cosmology that we possess, is that contained in the poems of Homer. Next in antiquity is that of the poems of Hesiod, who flourished somewhat later, for he displays a much more extended knowledge of the earth than Homer appears to have possessed.

As navigation and the intercourse with foreign countries increased, just ideas respecting the more distant regions became more common among the Greeks, and districts were continually reclaimed from fable, and brought into the circuit of truth and knowledge. Not to speak of the philosophers and historians, we may discern in the poets of each succeeding age the progressively extending knowledge of the real character of distant lands. Yet still we must not always expect to find in poets all the knowledge of the age they live in ; they love to imitate their predecessors, they often are unacquainted with the advance of knowledge, they write for the people, who still retain old prejudices. It is thus that in the poets of the Augustan age we shall find the Homeric ideas of the universe, just as in some modern poets we may meet the Ptolemaïc astronomy and judicial astrology, after both had been exploded.

{p. 32}

The Greeks of the days of which Homer sings, or rather of the poet’s own time, though well acquainted with navigation, do not appear to have been in the habit of making distant voyages. The Cretans and the Taphians (a people who inhabited some small islands in the Ionian sea) perhaps form an exception. We read in the Odyssey of their piracies committed on Egypt and Sidôn89, and of their bartering voyages to Temesa90, (perhaps the place of that name in Italy,) where they exchanged iron for copper. But the great authorities of the Greeks respecting foreign lands were probably the Phœnicians, who in the most distant ages visited Africa, Spain, and possibly the shores of the Atlantic ; and it is likely that, after the fashion of travellers and sailors, mingling truth and fiction, they narrated the most surprising tales of the marvels of the remote regions to which they had penetrated.

According to the ideas of the Homeric and Hesiodic ages, it would seem that the World was a hollow globe, divided into two equal portions by the flat disk of the Earth91. The external shell of this globe is called by the poets brazen92 and iron,93, probably only to express its solidity. The superior hemisphere was named Heaven, the inferior one Tartaros. The length of the diameter of the hollow sphere is given thus by Hesiod94. It would take, he says, nine days for an anvil to fall from Heaven to Earth ; and an equal space of time would be occupied by its fall from Earth to the bottom of Tartaros. The luminaries which gave light to gods and men shed their radiance through all the interior of the upper hemisphere ; while that of the inferior one was filled with eternal gloom and darkness, and its still air unmoved by any wind.

The Earth occupied the centre of the World in the form of of a round flat disk, or rather cylinder, around which the river Ocean flowed. Hellas was probably regarded as the centre of the Earth, but the poets are silent on this point. They are equally so as to the exact central point, but {p. 33}probably viewed as such Olympos, the abode of the gods. In after times Delphi became the navel of the earth95. The Sea divided the terrestrial disk into two portions, which we may suppose were regarded as equal. These divisions do not seem to have had any peculiar names in the time of Homer. The northern one was afterwards named Europe96; the southern, at first called Asia alone97, was in process of time divided into Asia and Libya98. The former comprised all the country between the Phasis and the Nile, the latter all between this river and the western ocean99.

In the Sea the Greeks appear to have known to the west of their own country southern Italy and Sicily, though their ideas respecting them were probably vague and uncertain ; and the imagination of the poets, or the tales of voyagers, had placed in the more remote parts of it several islands, such as Ogygia the isle of Calypso, Ææa that of Circe, Æolia that of Æolos, Scheria the abode of the Phæacians, — islands in all probability as ideal and as fabulous as the isles of Panchaia, Lilliput, or Brobdingnag, though both ancients and moderns have endeavoured to assign their exact positions. Along its southern coast lay, it would appear, the countries of the Lotus-eaters, the Cyclopes, the Giants, and the Læstrigonians. These isles and coasts of the western part of the Sea were {p. 34}the scenes of most of the wonders of early Grecian fable. There, and on the isles of the Ocean, the passage to which was supposed to be close to the island of Circe, dwelt the Sirens, the Hesperides, the Grææ, the Gorgons, and the other beings of fable.

The only inhabitants of the northern portion of the earth mentioned by Homer are the Hellenes and some of the tribes of Thrace. But Hesiod100 sang of a happy race, named the Hyperboreans, dwelling in everlasting bliss and spring beyond the lofty mountains, whose caverns were supposed to send forth the piercing blasts of the north wind101, which chilled the people of Hellas. According to Pindar102 the country of the Hyperboreans, from which the river Ister flowed, was inaccessible either by sea or land. Apollo was their tutelar deity, to whom they offered asses in sacrifice, while choirs of maidens danced to the sound of lyres and pipes, and the worshipers feasted having their heads wreathed with garlands of the god’s favourite plant, the bay. They lived exempt from disease or old age, from toils and warfare, and, conscious of no evil thoughts or acts, they had not to fear the awful goddess Nemesis103.

On the south coast of the Sea, eastwards of the fabulous tribes above enumerated, lay Libya and Egypt. The Sidonians, and a people named the Erembians104, are also mentioned by Homer, and the Greeks appear to have been well acquainted with the people of the west coast of Lesser Asia. They do not seem to have navigated the Euxine at this time, though they were doubtless not ignorant of it, as Homer names some of the peoples on its southern coast. They must of course have regarded it as a portion of the Sea. We have no means of ascertaining whether they supposed it to communicate with the Ocean, like the western part of the Sea. Of Colchis and Caucasus they seem to have had no knowledge {p. 35}whatever in these early ages. They were equally ignorant of the interior of Asia.

On the eastern side of the earth, close to the stream of Ocean, dwelt a people happy and virtuous as the Hyperboreans. They were named the Æthiopians105 : the gods favoured them so highly that they were wont to leave at times their Olympian abodes and go to share their sacrifices and banquets106. A passage of the Odyssey107 divides the Æthiopians into two tribes, the one on the eastern, the other on the western margin of the earth108. In later ages, when knowledge of the earth had increased, the Æthiopians or sun-burnt men were placed in the south ; but this is contrary to the views of Homer, who109 assigns the southern portion of the terrestrial disk to a nation of dwarfs named, from their diminutive stature110, Pygmies, to whose country the cranes used to migrate every winter, and their appearance was the signal of bloody warfare to the puny inhabitants, who had to take up arms to defend their corn-fields against the rapacious strangers.

On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of Ocean, lay a happy place named the Elysian Plain, whither the mortal relatives of the king of the gods were transported without tasting of death, to enjoy an immortality of bliss. Thus Proteus says to Menelaos111,

But thee the ever-living gods will send
Unto the Elysian Plain, and distant bounds
Of earth, where dwelleth fair-haired Rhadamanthys :
There life is easiest unto men ; no snow,
Or wintry storm, or rain, at any time
Is there ; but Ocean evermore sends up
Shrill-blowing western breezes to refresh
The habitants ; because thou hast espoused
Helena, and art son-in-law of Zeus.

{p. 36}In the time of Hesiod112 the Elysian Plain was become the Isles of the Blest. Pindar113 appears to reduce the number of these happy isles to one.

We thus see that the Greeks of the early ages knew little of any real people except those to the east and south of their own country, or near the coast of the Mediterranean. Their imagination meantime peopled the western portion of this seawith giants, monsters, and enchantresses ; while theyplaced around the edge of the disk of the earth, which they probably regarded as of no great width, nations enjoying the peculiar favour of the gods, and blessed with happiness and longevity, — a notion which continued to prevail even in the historic times114.

We have already observed that the Ocean of Homer and Hesiod was a river or stream. It is always so called by these poets115, and they describe the sun and the other heavenly bodies as rising out of and sinking into its placid current116. Its course was from south to north up the western side of the earth. It flowed calmly and equably, unvexed by tempests and unnavigated by man. It was termed bark-flowing, deepflowing, soft-flowing, from its nature117. Its waters were sweet, and it was the parent of all fountains and rivers on the earth. As it was a stream, it must have been conceived to have a further bank to confine its course, but the poet of the Odyssey {p. 37}alone notices the transoceanic land, and that only in the western part. He describes it as a region unvisited by the sun, and therefore shrouded in perpetual darkness, the abode of a people whom he names Kimmerians. He also places there Erebos, the realm of Aïdes and Persephoneia, the final dwelling of all the race of men, a place which the poet of the Ilias describes as lying within the bosom of the earth118.

As Homer119 represents the heaven as resting on pillars kept by Atlas, and which were on the earth, and Hesiod120 describes the extremities of heaven, earth, sea (πόυτος), and Tartaros as meeting, it would seem to follow that the Ocean lay outside of the hollow sphere of the world, and encompassed the middle of it like a rim. The armillary sphere would thus give us an idea of the Homeric world.

The portion of the hollow sphere above the earth contained Olympos, the abode of the gods ; but there is great difficulty in ascertaining its exact nature and situation. As it is always represented as a mountain, it must have rested on the earth, and yet one passage of the Ilias121 would seem plainly to speak of it as distinct from the earth ; and the language of the Odyssey respecting it is still more dubious.

Were we to follow analogy, and argue from the cosmology of other races of men, we would say that the upper surface of the superior hemisphere was the abode of the Grecian gods. The Hebrews seem, for example, to have regarded the concave heaven as being solid (hence Moses says, that Jehovah would make their heaven brass and their earth iron)122, and its upper surface as the abode of Jehovah and his holy angels, the place where he had formed his magazines of hail, rain, snow, and frost123. According to the notions of the ancient Scandinavians the heaven was solid, and its upper surface, which they named Asgardr (God-abode), was the dwelling of their gods, and the {p. 38}place to which the souls of the virtuous and the valiant dead ascended along the celestial bridge Bifröst, i. e. the Rainbow. The ideas of the ancient Italians and other nations seem to have been similar. Hence we might be led to infer that Olympos, the abode of the Grecian gods, was synonymous with Heaven, and that the Thessalian mountain, and those others which bore the same name, were called after the original heavenly hill124. A careful survey, however, of those passages in Homer and Hesiod in which Olympos occurs, will lead us to believe that the Achæans held the Thessalian Olympos, the highest mountain with which they were acquainted, to be the abode of their gods125.

The entrance to the city of the gods on Olympos was closed by a gate of clouds kept by the goddesses named the Seasons ; but the cloudy valves rolled open spontaneously to permit the greater gods to pass to and fro on their visits to the earth.126

It is an utterly unfounded supposition of the learned Voss127, that there were doors at the eastern and western extremities of the heaven, through which the sun-god and other deities ascended from and went down into the stream of Ocean. The celestial luminaries seem rather, according to Homer and Hesiod, to have careered through void air, ‘bringing light to men and gods.’ When in after times the solid heaven was {p. 39}established as the abode of the gods, the necessity for these doors was perhaps felt ; and they were accordingly invented by those who were resolved to leave nothing unexplained.

The stars appear to have been regarded as moving under the solid heaven, for they rose out of and sank into the Ocean stream. The only ones mentioned by name by Homer and Hesiod are the constellations Oriôn, the Bear, the Pleiads, and the Hyads, the single stars Boötes or Arcturus, and Sirius, and the planet Venus, which they seem to have viewed as two distinct stars, in its characters of Morning-star (Eosphoros) and Evening-star (Hesperos.) There is no reason to suppose the Greeks to have had any knowledge of the signs of the Zodiac until after their intercourse with Asia and Egypt had commenced.

Tartaros was, as we have already remarked, unvisited by the light of day. It was regarded as the prison of the gods, and not as the place of torment for wicked men, being to the gods what Erebos was to men, — the abode of those who were driven from the supernal world128. The Titans when conquered were shut up in it, and in the Ilias129 Zeus menaces the gods with banishment to its murky regions.

Such were the opinions respecting the world and its parts held by the Greeks of the heroic times, and even some ages later. With the advance of knowledge, however, their ideas altered, and they began to conceive more justly on these subjects. The voyages of the Samians and the Phocæans to the West, and the establishment of the Milesian colonies on the shores of the Euxine, and the intercourse thus opened with the interior of Asia, led to the supposition that the earth was oval rather than round, its greater diameter running east and west130. In like manner in the time of Pindar131 and Æschylus132 the Ocean had increased to the dimensions of a sea, and Herodotus133 derides those who still regarded it as a river. Finally, the change of religious ideas gradually affected Erebos, the abode of the dead. Elysion was moved down to it as the {p. 40}place of reward for the good, and Tartaros was raised up to it to form the prison in which the wicked suffered the punishment due to their crimes134.

It may not be uninteresting ere we quit the subject of the cosmology of the ancient Greeks, to compare with it that invented by our own great poet in his Paradise Lost, more especially as it is a subject which does not seem to have attracted much of the attention of his commentators.

According to Milton the universe previous to the fall of the angels consisted of only two parts, the Heaven of Heavens, or Empyreal Heaven, and Chaos. The former was the abode of God himself and his angels ; it was of immense magnitude, being

…………………………extended wide
In circuit undetermined, square or round,
With opal towers and battlements adorned
Of living saphir.

It stretched into plains and rose into hills, was watered by lucid streams, produced plants and flowers, and contained minerals in its bowels like earth ; like which also it had the vicissitudes of night and day135. Chaos was

………………………………… a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimension, where length, breadth and height,
And time and place are lost.

It contained the ‘embryon atoms’ which the Almighty employed in his creations, being

The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave.
{p. 41}

When the rebel angels were cast out of Heaven they fell for the space of nine days ‘through the frighted deep.’ At length Hell, which had meantime been created,

Yawning received them whole and on them closed.

The bottom of this place of torment was of both liquid and solid fire ; it was over-canopied by a ‘fiery concave,’ and its only entrance was closed with lofty portals.

And thrice threefold the gates : three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire
Yet unconsumed.

These gates were kept by Sin and Death.

After the expulsion of the rebel angels the Son of God,

…………on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted in paternal glory, rode
Far into Chaos and the world unborn ;

and placing his golden compasses set off the space for the world he was about to create. It formed a hollow globe, and hung from Heaven by a golden chain,

…………in bigness as a star
Of smallest magnitude close by the moon136.

The globous earth ‘self-balanced on her centre hung’ in the midst of the round world ; and the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies were set in the firmament to illuminate the earth. The firmament itself was not solid ; it was an

…………expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air.

Creation being thus completed, the Universe consisted of Heaven, Hell, Chaos, and the World with its contents.

It is thus that the most imaginative of modern poets, as we may perhaps venture to style him, created a universe for the scene of the poem, whose object (the noblest that can be conceived) was to

………assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.

Its agreement in some parts with the cosmology of Homer {p. 42}and Hesiod is worthy of attention, as it is probable that in Milton’s days the latter was not generally understood.

Cosmogony and Theogony. §

The origin of the world and the origin of the gods, i. e. cosmogony and theogony, are in the Grecian system, as in those of some other nations, closely united. The sages of antiquity seem to have had a strong persuasion that, to bring creation and similar acts down to the comprehension of tribes led by the senses, it was necessary to represent natural agents as living and active persons ; or they felt a pleasure in exciting admiration, by the narration of the strange and wonderful adventures of beings older and more powerful than mankind137.

The lively and creative genius of the Greeks seems particularly to have delighted in this species of fiction. They loved to represent the origin, the union, and the changes of the various parts of nature, under the guise of matrimony and birth (their more cheerful system, unlike those of Asia and Scandinavia, excluding the idea of the death of a god) ; causes with them becoming parents, effects children, the production of an effect being the birth of a divine child.

Every cosmogonic system commences with a Chaos, or state of darkness and confusion. The chief difference among these systems lies in the circumstance that some viewed the earth, others the water, as the immediate origin of organised bodies. In Grecian cosmogony Homer would appear to have followed the former, for he terms Oceanos the origin of all138; the latter is the theory adopted in the Theogony of Hesiod. Thales and the Ionian school of philosophy followed the Homeric cosmogony. In the Timæus of Plato it is said that the offspring of Heaven and Earth were Oceanos and Tethys, and that from these sprang Kronos, Rhea, and the other deities. This is apparently, however, an attempt at bringing Homer and Hesiod into harmony.

The venerable Theogony of Hesiod is evidently the parent of all the succeeding ones, and it is itself but the echo of those of bards of far higher antiquity than the Ascræan to whom it {p. 43}is ascribed, and who often was ignorant of the meaning of what he delivered. We will here relate the portion of it which extends from Chaos to the establishment of the empire of Zeus and origin of the gods worshiped in Greece.

Chaos139 (Void Space) was first ; then came into being ‘broad-breasted’ Earth, the gloomy Tartaros, and Love. Chaos produced Erebos and Night, and this last bore to Erebos Day and Æther.

Earth now produced Uranos (Heaven), of equal extent with herself, to envelope her, and the Mountains and Pontos (Sea). She then bore to Uranos a mighty progeny : the Titans ; six males, Oceanos, Coios, Crios, Hyperiôn, Iapetos, and the youngest of them Kronos ; and six females, Theia, Rheia (or Rhea), Themis, Mnemosyne, Phœbe, and Tethys. She also bore the three Cyclopes, Brontes, Steropes, and Arges140 , and the three Hundred-handed (έκαтόγχϵιρς), Cottos, Briareôs, and Gyes. These children were hated by their father, who, as soon as they were born, thrust them out of sight into a cavern of Earth141 , who, grieved at his unnatural conduct, produced the ‘substance of hoary steel,’ and forming from it a sickle, roused her children, the Titans, to rebellion against him : but fear seized on them all except Kronos, who lying in wait with the sickle with which his mother had armed him, mutilated his unsuspecting sire. The drops which fell on the earth from the wound gave birth to the Erinnyes, the Giants, and the Melian nymphs : from what fell into the sea sprang Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

Earth bore to her other son Pontos the ‘truth-speaking’ Nereus,Thaumas (Wonder), Phorcys, and ‘fair-cheeked’ Keto. {p. 44}Nereus had by Doris, a daughter of the Titan Oceanos, the fifty Nereïdes or sea-nymphs. Thaumas was by Electra (Brightness), another daughter of Oceanos, father of the swift Iris (Rainbow), and of the ‘well-haired’ Harpies. Keto bore to her brother Phorcys the Grææ, the Gorgons, the Echidna, and the serpent that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides.

Earth finally bore by Tartaros her last offspring, the hundred-headed Typhoeus, the father of storms and whirlwinds.

The progeny of the Titans was numerous. Oceanos had by his sister Tethys all the rivers that flow on the earth, and the Ocean-nymphs, three thousand in number. Theia bore to Hyperiôn, Helios (Sun), Selena (Moon), and Eôs (Dawn) ; and Phœbe to Coios, Asteria (Starry) and Leto. Crios had by Eurybia (Wide-strength), the daughter of Pontos142, Astræos (Starry), Pallas, and Perses. To Astræos Eôs bore the winds Zephyros, Boreas, and Notos, and Eosphoros (Dawn-bearer), or Morning-star, and the stars of heaven. Styx, a daughter of Oceanos, was by Pallas the mother of Envy and Victory, Strength and Force ; and Asteria, the daughter of Coios, bore to Perses Hecate.

The fifth Titan, Iapetos, was by Clymene, a daughter of Oceanos, the father of four sons, Atlas, Menœtios, Prometheus and Epimetheus.

Rhea was united to Kronos, and their offspring were Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Aïdes, Poseidôn, and Zeus. Kronos, having learned from his parents, Heaven and Earth, that he was fated to be deprived by one of his sons of the kingdom which he had taken from his father, devoured his children as fast as they were born. Rhea, when about to be delivered of Zeus, besought her parents to teach her how she might save him. Instructed by Earth, she concealed him in a cavern of Crete, and gave a stone in his stead to Kronos. This stone he afterwards threw up143, and with it the children whom he had {p. 45}devoured. When Zeus was grown up, he and the other children of Kronos made war on their father and the Titans. The scene of the conflict was Thessaly ; the former fought from Olympos, the latter from Othrys. During ten entire years the contest was undecided ; at length by the counsel of Earth the Kronids released the Hundred-handed, and called them to their aid. The war was then resumed with renewed vigour, and the Titans were finally vanquished and imprisoned in Tartaros under the guard of the Hundred-handed. The Kronids then, by the advice of Earth, gave the supreme power to Zeus, who in return distributed honours and dominion among the associates of his victory.

In this theogony order and philosophical consequence are plainly discernible. We find it faithfully adhering to the cosmological ideas above developed144. Void Space must naturally have been first : Earth, which was to occupy the centre of the World ; Tartaros, the lowest and deepest gloom ; and Love, the generating principle of life and motion, follow in their due order. As in all cosmogonies darkness precedes light, so Erebos and Night, the one the darkness beneath, the other that above the earth, succeed, and from them spring Day the lower, and Æther the higher light above the earth. Without the intervention of Love, Earth now produces the Heaven, which arches over her ; the Mountains, which rise on her surface and support the heaven ; and the barren salt Sea. United then by Love with Uranos, she gives birth to the Titans, the origins of gods and men, of the celestial luminaries, and the fructifying streams.

The making thunder, lightning, and other celestial phænomena to be children of Heaven and Earth might seem to imply a deeper knowledge of physics than can be justly assigned to these early ages. The cause, however, was a simple one. Uranos being masculine could not produce of himself, and Earth was the only female being that could be united with {p. 46}him. The Cyclopes, that is the Whirlers,145, whose individual names signify Thunder, Lightning, and Brightness, or Swiftness, represent one kind of celestial phænomena, and the Hundred-handed must therefore be the personifications of another, but what kind is more difficult to ascertain. It is, however, probable that they refer to winter, as the Cyclopes seem more especially related to summer, and that they are the hail, rain and snow of that season : Kottos, that is Smiter, being the hail ; Gyes, the Furrower, the rain ; and Briareôs, the Presser, the snow, which lies deep and heavy on the ground146; and they were naturally named Hundred-handed, from their acting so extensively at the same moment of time147.

Of the Titans we shall presently treat at length, and the progeny of Earth and Pontos shall be noticed in another place148. There remain therefore only to be considered the beings which sprang from the blood of the mutilated Uranos. These are the Erinnyes, the Giants, and the Melian nymphs. Productiveness is the consequence of that act, for which analogy would incline us to look ; and when we divest our mind of the idea of the Giants given by Homer, and which became the prevalent one, we may without difficulty find that they simply signify Producers149. By the Melian nymphs may perhaps be signified the producers of fruits or cattle150. The {p. 47}Erinnyes offer most difficulty ; they may be, as some think, telluric powers151, and have undergone a change of character like the Giants, Hermes, and other similar beings ; or their late character — that of punishers of the violators of the order of nature — may have been their original one, and their origin have been ascribed to the first violation of filial duty.

We now proceed to the important mythe of the Titans, and as the view of it given by Völcker seems to us to be more correct than any preceding one, we will lay it before our readers152.

The six sons and six daughters of Heaven and Earth above enumerated alone are Titans, and the most probable derivation of the name is that which makes it equivalent to Earth-born153. The germs of all beings afterwards to be formed lie in them, but they are inclosed within the earth, and cannot act till Uranos is deprived of his procreative power, and Aphrodite is produced. Then the Titans Oceanos and Tethys give origin to the rivers and streams of the earth ; from Coios, Crios, Hyperiôn, Theia, and Phœbe spring the sun, moon, and other luminaries and light-beings ; and the material world being thus completed, Kronos and Rhea give birth to the gods, and Iapetos becomes the father of men154. Their task being thus completed, and the earth replenished with its fitting inhabitants, the Titans are dismissed, to remain inactive in Tartaros.

The Titan-war therefore could have formed no part of the original mythe. It had its origin in the figurative terms bind and loose, used to signify the checking and permitting of the {p. 48}productive powers of the Titans. Homer knows nothing of this war ; he merely says that Zeus placed Kronos beneath ‘the earth and barren sea155,’ and in him the opposition between the Olympian gods and the Titans is merely a local one ; the one being the dwellers of the brilliant Olympos, the other the inmates of the gloomy Tartaros156. Hesiod, who evidently misunderstood the sense of the mythe, first gave it the form of a war, and narrated its details in the most splendid poetry ; but the contradictions and variations in his narrative give convincing proof of its being alien from the ancient cosmogonic mythe. In the hands of the logographers and poets, such as Æschylus, the cosmogony becomes the history of a series of dynasties, and, contrary to Hesiod, the children of all the Titans, except Kronos and Rhea, are counted among the Titans, and set in hostility with the Kronids. Thus Pherecydes157 commences with saying that Uranos reigned first, and had by Earth the Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed. He casts all these into Tartaros, and then the Titans are born ; who all, except Oceanos158, at the instigation of their mother, fall on their sire, whom Kronos mutilates. They liberate their imprisoned brethren ; but Kronos, to whom the kingdom is given, binds them again in Tartaros. Then follows the account of the birth of the Kronids, who by freeing the Cyclopes and their brethren win the victory, and the three brothers divide the dominions of their father among them by lot159.

The Titan-war, as this critic thinks, had its origin and example in those of Typhôn, the Aloeids, and the Giants against the gods. The circumstance of Zeus being termed King (though for another reason), the change of the three celestial sovereigns, and the mutilation of Uranos, aided in making the mythe take this form. The question how Zeus came to the throne was naturally answered by the tale of a revolution and hostility between the two classes of gods. Imitation is also everywhere to be traced. Zeus is made to mutilate Kronos {p. 49}as Kronos did Uranos160. The latter hides his children under the earth, the former swallows his. Kronos is the youngest child, so is Zeus ; the Titans divide the dominion of the world, so do the Kronids. As Kronos devours his children for fear of their dethroning him, so something similar is recorded of Zeus161. Earth always gives the counsel162; and in the Ilias an attempt of the Olympians to bind Zeus is mentioned, in which Briareôs again comes to his aid163.

There would also appear to have been some other ancient system of the celestial dynasties, which assigned the place of Uranos and Gæa to Ophiôn and Eurynome. As this last is said to be an Oceanis, and the former name is manifestly derived from the symbol for the earth164, it would seem to have been one of the systems in which earth and water were regarded as the origin of all beings. It reverses however the usual order, the earth being generally looked on as the female principle. We find no traces of it anterior to the Alexandrian period, when it is noticed by Lycophrôn165 and Apollonius166. At a much later age it is alluded to by Nonnus167. Milton, who, like the Alexandrians, loved to bring forward recondite mythes and traditions, nearly translates the Rhodian poet in the following lines :

And fabled how the serpent whom they called
Ophiôn with Eurynome (the wide-
Encroaching Eve perhaps) had first the rule
Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven
And Ops, ere yet Dictæan Jove was born. — Par. Lost, x. 580.
{p. 50}

Chapter IV.


We are now to consider the Titans and their offspring in particular, omitting Iapetos, whom we shall set in his proper place at the head of mankind. Though Night, ‘eldest of things,’ does not belong to the Titans, we will commence with an account of her.

Νύξ. Nox. Night. §

In the Theogony Night is the daughter of Chaos, and sister of Erebos, to whom she bore Day and Æther168. She is then said to have produced without a sire Fate (Мόρος) and Kêr, Death, Sleep and Dreams, Momos (Mockery), Woe, the Hesperides, Nemesis, Deceit, Love (Φιλότης), Old-age, and Strife169.

It is not difficult to discern the reasons for giving this progeny to Night. It is a principle of all cosmogony that darkness preceded light, which sprang from it ; a truth here expressed by making Night the parent of Day and Æther. Night is also naturally regarded as the parent of Death, Sleep, Dreams, and their kindred ideas. Philotes, or the union of love, is also for a similar reason the child of Night170. Deceit, Age, Strife, and Woe are figuratively her offspring ; the Hesperides are so because their abode was near hers in the West. Nemesis is probably a daughter of Night to indicate the secret concealed path which the divine justice often treads to inflict the punishment due to vice. The reason is not so apparent why Night should be the parent of Mockery.

Hesiod places the abode of Night in the West, behind where Atlas supports the heavens171. Night and Day, he says, are there by turns ; when one goes in the other goes out. Day {p. 51}bears light to mortals ; Night, ‘wrapt in a sable cloud, carries Sleep in her arms.’ It is not quite clear whether the poet places the dwelling of Night on this side of or beyond Ocean172.

In Homer Sleep says to Hera that, when once at her desire he had cast Zeus into a slumber, the god on waking sought him, and would have flung him from the sky down into the sea, but that he took refuge with Night, ‘the subduer of gods and men,’ whom Zeus revering remitted his anger173. The poet gives here no intimation of any kindred between Night and Sleep. The dwelling of both would seem to be on Olympos.

Alcman174 and Sophocles175 speak of the abode or springs of Night in the North, whilst Apollonius176 appears to place them within the earth.

It was, as we shall see, the custom of the poets (or perhaps such had been previously the popular creed) to bestow chariots and horses on those deities who had a long course to perform. We do not however find a vehicle assigned to Night by Homer or Hesiod ; but succeeding poets furnished her with one. Æschylus177 speaks of her ‘dark chariot’ ; Euripides178 describes her as driving through Olympos, — the sky according to the views of his time ; Theocritus179 calls the stars ‘the attendants on the car of quiet Night’ ; Apollonius180 represents Night as yoking her horses at sunset ; and Statius181 makes Sleep her charioteer.

As the name of this deity is common to most of the languages which are akin to the Greek182, its derivation is not perhaps to be found in any of them.

Ὠκϵανὸς καὶ Тηθύς. Oceanus et Tethys. §

Oceanos, the first-born of the Titans, espoused his sister Tethys. Their offspring were the rivers of the earth, and three thousand daughters, named Oceanides, or Ocean-nymphs183. {p. 52}This is all the account of Oceanos given in the Theogony. Homer speaks of him and Tethys as the origin of the gods184. When Zeus, he says, placed his sire in Tartaros, Rhea committed her daughter Hera to the charge of Oceanos and Tethys, by whom she was carefully nurtured185.

The abode of Oceanos was in the West186. He dwelt, according to Æschylus, in a grotto-palace ; beneath his stream, as it would appear187. In the ‘Prometheus Bound’ of this poet Oceanos comes borne through the air on a griffon, to console and advise the lofty-minded sufferer ; and from the account he gives of his journey it is manifest he came from the West. When Hercules was crossing his stream in the cup of the sungod to fetch the oxen of Geryôn, Oceanos rose, and by agitating his waters tried to terrify him, but on the hero's bending his bow at him he retired188. In the Ilias189 Oceanos is said to dread the thunder of Zeus. As in similar cases, it is not always easy to distinguish the god from the stream over which he rules.

The name Oceanos is apparently connected with a family of words signifying water190; that of Tethys is probably the Rearer, the Nurse, or Grandmother191; some understand by it Mother Earth192.

ϓπϵρίων καὶ Θϵίη. Hyperion et Thia. §

Hyperiôn and Theia are in the Theogony193 the parents of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn. In Homer Hyperiôn is equivalent to Helios194. Pindar extols Theia as the bestower of wealth on mortals195.

{p. 53}

The interpretation given by the ancients of Hyperiôn as Overgoer, seems liable to little objection196. Some interpret Theia Swift197; Müller renders it Bright198.

Ἠέλιος, Ἣλιος. Sol. Sun. §

Helios was the son of Hyperiôn by Theia, or according to a Homeridian hymn by Euryphaëssa (Wide-shining). His office was to give light to men and gods during the day.

In the Odyssey, when Helios ends his diurnal career, he is said to go under the earth199 : it is not easy to determine whether the poet meant that he then passed through Tartaros back to the East during the night. At all events neither Homer nor Hesiod evinces any knowledge of the beautiful fiction of the solar cup or basin. The origin of this seems to lie in the simple fact that men, seeing the sun rise in the east and set in the west each day, were naturally led to inquire how his return to the east was effected. If then, as there is reason to suppose, it was the popular belief that a lofty mountainous ring ran round the edge of the earth, it was easy for the poets to feign that on reaching the western stream of Ocean Helios himself, his chariot and his horses, were received into a magic cup or boat made by Hephæstos, which, aided by the current, conveyed him during the night round the northern part of the earth, where his light was only enjoyed by the happy Hyperboreans, the lofty Rhipæans concealing it from the rest of mankind200.

The cupέβης or δέπας) of the Sun-god appeared first, we {p. 54}are told, in the Titanomachia of Arctinos or Eumelos201. Peisander, in his Heracleia, represented Oceanos giving the hero the Sun-god’s cup to pass over to Erytheia ; and Stesichorus said in his Geryoneïs,

Helios Hyperionides
Into the golden cup went down ;
That, having through the Ocean passed,
He to the depths of sacred gloomy Night might come,
Unto his mother and his wedded wife,
And his dear children ; but the grove with laurel shaded
The son of Zeus went into202.

Mimnermus had the following lines in his poem named Nanno.

Helios is doomed to labour every day ;
And rest there never is for him
Or for his horses, when rose-fingered Eôs
Leaves Ocean and to heaven ascends.
For through the waves his loved bed beareth him,
Hollow and formed of precious gold
By Hephæstos’ hand, and winged ; the water's top
Along, it bears the sleeping god,
From the Hesperides’ to the Æthiops’ land,
Where stand his horses and swift car
Until the air-born Eôs goeth forth :
Then Helios mounts another car.

In these lines of Mimnermus the god, as described above, is carried round the earth during the night ; and in the following passage of the same poet his palace is evidently situated in the East.

Æetes’ city, where swift Helios’ beams
Within his golden chamber lie,
By Ocean’s marge, whither bold Iasôn went203.

It is also in the East that ‘the stables’ of Helios are placed by Euripides in his Phaëthôn204; while in another passage205 he speaks of the ‘dark stable’ of the Sun-god, doubtless meaning the West. In Stesichorus, as we may observe, the abode of Helios would seem to be in the realm of Night, beyond Ocean. {p. 55}Alexander the Ætolian206, when speaking of the plant by means of which Glaucos became a sea-god, says that it grew for Helios in the Isles of the Blest, and that he gave his horses their evening meal (δόρπον) of it to recruit their vigour. Ovid also, the faithful follower of the Greeks, places the pastures of the solar steeds in the West, where they have ambrosia for grass207; and Statius208, in a beautiful passage, describes the Sun as loosing his steeds on the margin of the western sea, where the Nereïdes and Seasons take off their harness. In Nonnus209, when the god arrives in the West, Phosphoros unyokes the sweating steeds, washes them in the waves of ocean, and then leads them to their stall ; and when they are rested the god drives them round the Ocean to the East. In two other passages of his wild poem210 Nonnus places the abode of the Sun in the East. It is remarkable that neither he nor the Latin poets ever allude to the cup. The park and gardens of Helios are thus richly described by Claudian211 :

Thus having said, his gardens all bedewed
With yellow fires he (Sol) enters, and his vale,
Which a strong-flaming stream surrounding pours
Abundant beams upon the watered grass,
On which the Sun’s steeds pasture. There he binds
With fragrant wreaths his locks, and the bright manes
And yellow reins of his wing-footed steeds.

He does not, however, tell the site of this brilliant spot ; but as the Sun sets out from it on his diurnal course, when his steeds’ manes have been adorned by Lucifer and Aurora, we may presume that it was in the East. It is also in the East that Ovid places the splendid palace of the Sun, where the lucid god sat enthroned, surrounded by the Days, Months, Years, Seasons, Ages, and Hours212.

From a consideration of all these passages it may seem to follow, that the ideas of the poets on this subject were very vague and fleeting. Perhaps the prevalent opinion was that the Sun rested himself and his weary steeds in the West, and then returned to the East. We are to recollect that the cup was winged, that is endowed with magic velocity.

{p. 56}

Neither Homer nor Hesiod speaks of the chariot of the Sun ; but as the former poet names the horses of Eôs, he must naturally have supposed Helios to have driven similar steeds along the sky. In the Hymns213 Helios appears in a chariot ; Pindar214 calls him ‘the ruler of fire-breathing steeds’. It is probable that, like the other Homeric gods, Helios had originally only two horses ; but Euripides and the succeeding poets215 give him four, which, according to the Latin poets, are of a dazzling white colour216. Their names are Eôs or Eoös (Eastern,) Æthôn or Æthiops (Burning), Bronte (Thunder), Astrape or Sterope (Lightning)217.

On the island of Thrinakia, says Homer218, fed the flocks and herds of Helios, under the charge of his daughters, the nymphs Phaëthusa and Lampetia (Shining and Gleaming). These were seven herds of oxen, and as many flocks of sheep, fifty in each flock and herd : they neither bred nor died. At Tænaron also this god had a flock of ‘long-wooled’ sheep219. He had also herds of oxen at Gortyna in Crete220, and sacred sheep at Apollonia in Epeiros221.

The Sun was not singular in this circumstance of possessing sacred cattle, but they were dedicated to him more frequently than to other deities for obvious reasons, such as his being, as it were, the celestial shepherd or overseer of the stars, and the god who gave increase to the earth222.

By Perseïs or Perse (Brightness ?), a daughter of Oceanos, Helios was father of Æetes, and his sister Circe the great enchantress223, and of Pasiphae, who espoused Minôs the son of Zeus224. The nymphs just mentioned, who kept his cattle, were his children by Neæra (Newness ?)225. Augeas, king of Elis, so rich in flocks and herds, was said to be the offspring of the {p. 57}Sun-god by Iphiboe226. By the nymph Rhodos, the daughter of Aphrodite, Helios had the seven Heliades, who were the first inhabitants of the isle of Rhodes227. The Graces are also said to have been daughters of Helios by Ægle (Splendour)228.

The Ocean-nymph Clymene (Bright ?) bore to Helios a son named Phaëthôn (Gleaming). The claims of this youth to a celestial origin being disputed by Epaphos the son of Zeus, he journeyed to the palace of his sire, from whom he extracted an unwary oath that he would grant him whatever he asked. The ambitious youth instantly demanded permission to guide the solar chariot for one day, to prove himself there by the undoubted progeny of the Sun-god. Helios, aware of the consequences, remonstrated, but to no purpose. The youth persisted, and the god, bound by his oath, reluctantly committed the reins to his hands, warning him of the dangers of the road, and instructing him how to avoid them. Phaëthôn grasps the reins, the flame-breathing steeds spring forward, but soon aware that they are not directed by the well-known hand, they run out of the course ; the world is set on fire, and a total conflagration would have ensued, had not Zeus, at the prayer of Earth, launched his thunder, and hurled the terrified driver from his seat. He fell into the river Eridanos. His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate were turned into poplar trees229 on its banks, and their tears, which still continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the stream. Cycnos, the friend of the ill-fated Phaëthôn, also abandoned himself to mourning, and at length was changed into a swan (κύκνος)230.

The age of this story is uncertain231, but it has all the {p. 58}appearance of being a physical mythe devised to account for the origin of the electron or amber232, which seems to have been brought from the Baltic to Greece in the very earliest times. In the opinion of Welcker233 it is only the Greek version of a German legend on that subject ; for the tradition of the people of the country was said to be234, that the amber was produced from the tears of the Sun-god, that is Phœbos Apollo according to the Greeks, who added that he shed these tears when he came to the land of the Hyperboreans, an exile from heaven on account of the fate of his son Asclepios. But as this did not accord with the Hellenic conception of either Helios or Apollo, the Heliades were devised to remove the incongruity. The foundation of the fable lay in the circumstance of amber being regarded as a species of resin which drops from the trees that yield it. The tale of Cycnos is only one of the numerous legends devised by the Greeks to account for the origin of remarkable animals. The Eridanos is said to have been a mere poetic name, there being no stream actually so called ; though it was afterwards given by the poets to the Rhine, the Rhodanus or Rhone, and the Padus or Po, on the banks of which last stream the fable of Phaëthôn was localised.

According to another legend Clytia, a daughter of Oceanos, was beloved by the Sun-god ; but he transferred his affections to Leucothea, daughter of Orchamos (Ruler), king of the eastern regions. The god visited her during the night, in the form of her mother. The virgin was obliged to comply with his wishes, and Clytia filled with jealous rage discovered the secret to Orchamos, who buried his hapless daughter alive. The god, unable to save her, turned her into the frankincense plant, and the neglected Clytia pining away became a sunflower235.

Here also we have one of the legendary origins of natural productions. The date of the tale is unknown, but it is probably not very ancient ; it is only to be found at present in {p. 59}the Latin poet Ovid236; but beyond question he took it from a Greek original.

Helios, as the god whose eye surveyed all things237, was invoked as a witness to solemn oaths238. As he was not one of the Olympian gods he was not honoured with temples in Greece, but he had altars at Corinth, Argos, and some other places. The chief seat of his worship was the isle of Rhodes, where stood the celebrated Colossus, or statue of brass seventy cubits high, in his honour239. The legend said240 that, when Zeus and the other Immortals were dividing the earth among them by lot, the Sun happening to be absent got no share. On his reminding Zeus of this, the god was about to make a new allotment, but Helios would not suffer him, saying that he had seen a fertile land lying beneath the ‘hoary sea’, with which he would be content. The gods then swore that it should be the undisturbed possession of the Sun-god, and the isle of Rhodes emerged from the deep.

Helios is represented by artists driving his four-horse chariot, his head surrounded with rays, a whip in his hand, and preceded by Eosphoros. Sometimes he is standing with a flambeau in his hand, and two of his horses near him.

This god was styled241, 1. Mortal-delighting ; 2. Mortal-illuminating ; 3. Unwearied ; etc.

The name Helios (Ἣλιος) is perhaps derived from λα,ἕλη, brightness. It seems, however, akin to the names of the Sun in the languages which are of the same family with the Greek242.

{p. 60}

Σϵλήνη. Luna. Moon. §

Selene, the sister of Helios, drove her chariot through the sky while he was reposing after the toils of the day. There is, however, no allusion in Homer or Hesiod to the chariot of Selene. One of the Hymns243 describes her as bathing in Ocean, putting on gleaming raiment, and ascending a chariot drawn by glittering steeds. Theocritus244 also gives Selene horses ; but we do not meet any other mention of her chariot and horses in the Greek poets. In Ovid245 her steeds are snow-white. Statius246 places her in a car drawn by two horses. Pausanias247 says that one of the figures on the base of the throne of Zeus at Olympia was Selene driving a single horse, as it appeared to him ; but others said it was a mule, and they had a silly legend respecting it. The Latin Festus248 is the only writer who speaks of the car of the Moon being drawn by mules249.

The later poets make steers or heifers the draught-cattle of Selene250. This notion had its very natural origin in the contemplation of the horned moon251.

In the general and natural mode of representation Selene {p. 61}is the sister of Helios, but another view of the subject made her his daughter, he being the source of her light252; while a third view made her the mother by him of the four Seasons253. In one of the Homeridian Hymns254 Selene is called the daughter of Pallas, son of Megamedes.

It was said that Selene was enamoured of Endymiôn, on whom Zeus had bestowed the boon of perpetual youth, but united with perpetual sleep ; and that she used to descend to him every night on the summit of Mount Latmos, the place of his repose255. The god Pan was also said to have gained her love under the form of a snow-white ram256. She bore to Zeus a daughter named Pandia257; and Ersa (Dew) was also the offspring of the king of heaven and the goddess of the moon258.

This last is a pleasing fiction of the lyric poet Alcman. The moon was naturally, though incorrectly, regarded as the cause of dew259 and nothing therefore was more obvious than to say that the dew was the progeny of the moon and sky personified after the usual manner of the Greeks.

{p. 62}

In the Homeridian Hymn to Selene she is styled260 : 1. White-armed ; 2. Well-tressed, — two of the usual epithets of the goddesses.

Empedocles261 and Euripides262 give the Moon an epithet (γλαυκῶπις) usually appropriated to Pallas Athene, and of which we shall treat in its due place.

The name Selene (Σϵλήνη) is plainly derived from σέλας, brightness, and is one of the large family of words of which ἕλα or ἕλη (Helle, Germ.) may be regarded as the root.

Ήώς. Aurora. Dawn. §

The third of the children of Hyperiôn and Theia was Eôs, or the Dawn. Like Selene she was named by later poets263 from Pallas, and their reason for so doing is not easy to be discerned. Æschylus would seem to term her the child of Night264, — a very obvious and natural genealogy.

In Homer and Hesiod Eôs is simply the goddess of the dawn, but in the works of succeeding poets she is identified with Hemera, or the Day265.

Homer, who is silent respecting the chariots of Helios and Selene, names the steeds which drew that of Eôs. He calls them Lampos (Shining) and Phaëthôn (Gleaming)266. Æschylus267 {p. 63}and Theocritus268 name the goddess ‘white-horsed’, and Euripides269 describes the ‘white-winged’ Hemera carrying off Tithonos in her golden four-horsed chariot. In another passage of this poet270 we meet the ‘one-horsed’ Eôs, whether riding or driving is not said. Lycophrôn271 gives her the winged horse Pegasos for her steed, and the scholiasts inform us that, when this horse had thrown Bellerophôn down to earth, Eôs asked and obtained him from Zeus272.

Eôs was, by Astræos, the mother of the winds Boreas, Zephyros and Notos, and of the stars of heaven273.

The lovely goddess of the dawn was more than once smitten with the love of mortal man. She carried off Oriôn, and kept him in the isle of Ortygia, till he was slain there by the darts of Artemis274. Cleitos (Bright ?), the son of Mantios, was for his exceeding beauty snatched away by her, ‘that he might be among the gods275.’ She also carried off Cephalos, and had by him a son named Phaëthôn276. But her strongest affection was for Tithonos, son of Laomedôn, king of Troy. When she had carried him off, she besought Zeus to bestow on him immortality. The sovereign of Olympos assented, and Tithonos became exempt from death ; but the love-sick goddess, having forgotten to have youth joined in the gift, began with time to discern old-age creeping over the visage and limbs of her beautiful lover. When she saw his hairs blanching, she abstained from his bed, but still kept him and treated him with due attention in her palace on the eastern margin of the Oceanstream, ‘giving him ambrosial food and fair garments’. But when he was no longer able to move his limbs, she deemed it the wisest course to shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice was incessantly heard277. Later poets say that out of compassion she turned him into a tree-hopper (τϵττιξ, cicada)278. In Homer the goddess is less fastidious, and she is {p. 64}escribed as rising from the bed of the ‘illustrious Tithonos, to bear light to mortals and immortals279.’ Memnôn and Æmathiôn were the children whom Eôs bore to Tithonos280.

In the works of the artists Eôs drives a four-horsed car. Night, the moon, and the stars retire before her. Sometimes she is winged, at other times not.

Eôs was styled by the poets281, 1. Rose-fingered ; 2. Rose-armed ; 3. Yellow-robed ; 4. Gold-seated ; 5. Well-seated ; 6. Well-tressed ; 7. Snow-footed ; 8. Fair-lighting ; 9. Mortal-illuming ; 10. Much-seeing ; 11. Air-born282, etc.

The most probable derivation of the name Eôs (Ήὼς, Dor.Ἀὼς) seems to be that from ἂω, to blow, regarding it as the cool morning air, whose gentle breathing precedes the rising of the sun283.

Ϗοȋος καὶ Фοίβη . Cœus et Phœbe. §

The offspring of this pair of Titans were ‘sable-vested’ Leto (Darkness ?), and ‘well-named’ Asteria (Starry)284, which last espoused Perses, the son of Crios. Leto was destined to be the mother of Apollo and Artemis under the new order of things, which succeeded the time of the Titans.

The name Phœbe plainly signifies Lucid285, and a very obvious etymon will give a similar signification for that of Coios286.

{p. 65}

κρKpȋος. Crius. §

This Titan is in the Theogony287 said to be the sire of Astræos, Pallas and Perses, by Eurybia (Wide-force), probably the daughter of Pontos and Earth288. Astræos, as we have just seen, was by Eôs the father of the Winds. Pallas had by Styx the Ocean-nymph, Envy and Victory, Strength and Force ; and Perses married Asteria the daughter of Coios and Phœbe, by whom he had Hecate.

There is some difficulty about these personages, who are hardly ever mentioned by the poets. The origin of the name Krios is not apparent289. Pallas (Shaker ?) would seem from the names of his offspring to be of a moral, not of a physical nature, unlike the progeny of the three preceding Titans. With Astræos (Starry) and Perses (Bright ?), and their children, the difficulty is much less, for they are all physical beings.

We cannot avoid here intimating our suspicion that the two moral beings Themis and Mnemosyne290 were not originally among the Titans. According to all analogy the sage or poet who devised the mythe of the six male and six female Titans must have intended to employ them in pairs in the task of production ; and yet we find Crios united with a daughter of Pontos and Earth, one of a class of beings quite alien from the Titans, and Iapetos with an Ocean-nymph ; while Themis and Mnemosyne are reserved to be the parents of moral beings by Zeus in the new order of things. This is surely not the order one might have anticipated. It is now, however, hardly possible to rectify the error, if it should be such.

Έκάτη. Hecate. §

In the Theogony291 this goddess is the daughter of Perses and Asteria. Bacchylides made her a daughter of Night, and Musæus gave her Zeus for a sire in place of Perses292, while {p. 66}others said that she was the offspring of the Olympian king by Pheræa, the daughter of Æolos293, or by Demeter294. According to Pherecydes her sire was Aristæos295.

It is said in the Theogony296 that Hecate was highly honoured by Zeus, who allowed her to exercise extensive power over land and sea, and to share in all the honours enjoyed by the children of Heaven and Earth. She rewards sacrifice and prayer to her with prosperity. She presides over the deliberations of the popular assembly, over war, and the administration of justice. She gives success in wrestling and horseracing. The fisherman prays to her and Poseidôn ; the herdsman, to her and Hermes, — for she can increase and diminish at her will. Though an only child (in contrast to Apollo and Artemis, who have similar power) she is honoured with all power among the immortals, and is by the appointment of Zeus the rearer of children, whom she has brought to see the light of day.

This passage is, however, plainly an interpolation in the Theogony, with which it is not in harmony. It has all the appearance of being an Orphic composition, and is perhaps the work of the notorious forger Onomacritus297.

The name Hecate is the feminine of Hecatos, one of the epithets of Apollo298, and is itself an epithet of his sister Artemis299. It was a common practice with the Greeks (of which we shall find many instances as we proceed) to form from the epithets of a deity other similar deities, or even hostile and rival beings, sometimes nymphs, or other companions of the original deity. In this manner, supposing Artemis to have been an original moon-goddess, her epithet of Far-shooter (ἑκάτη) may have separated from her, and have become another moon-goddess, for such is the real character of Hecate ; or Hecate may have been the primitive name of the moon-goddess of one of the tribes of Greece.

The system of Theocrasy which we have already mentioned {p. 67}frequently confounded deities who were originally distinct, but it sometimes only re-united those which were really the same, but which had been separated in the progress of time. In Hecate we seem to have instances of both processes ; she was identified with Selene, Artemis, and Eileithyia, all probably moon-goddesses, and with Persephone, of whom the original conception was totally different.

In consequence of this confusion Hecate became the patroness of magic and mistress of the under-world300. She was invoked as the triple goddess301, and believed to wander by night along the earth, seen only by the dogs, whose baying announced her approach. She was regarded as beneficent, and the averter of evil302. Her statues, which were dog-headed303, were set up at Athens and elsewhere in the market-places and at cross-roads ; and at the time of new moon the wealthy persons used to send suppers to be placed before her, which the poor would then come and eat, saying Hecate had eaten them304. The reason of this offering is said to have been that she might prevent the souls of the dead from appearing305.

A name of this goddess was Brimo306. This seems to have been chiefly employed to denote her terrific appearance, especially when she came summoned by magic arts. Apollonius307 describes her as having her head surrounded by serpents twining through branches of oak, while torches flamed in her hands, and the infernal dogs howled around her. Lucian’s ‘liar of the first magnitude,’ Eucrates308, gives a most terrific description of her appearance. In this character she was also sometimes called Empusa309. These were evidently all comparatively late ideas and fictions.

{p. 68}

Kρόνος καὶ Ῥєίη ἢ Ῥέα. Saturnus et Ops. §

We are now arrived at the immediate origin of the Olympians, the gods worshiped throughout all Greece.

The mutilation of Uranos by his youngest son Kronos, and the overthrow of the latter by Zeus and his other children, the Kronids, have been already narrated. According to the Theogony310 all the Titans (Oceanos, it would appear, excepted) were on this occasion shut up in Tartaros. Homer only names Kronos and Iapetos311, but he evidently included the others in his view of the subject312. At a later period it was said that Zeus had released the Titans313. Hesiod in his didactic poem314 says that Kronos ruled over the Isles of the Blest at the end of the earth by the ‘deep-eddying’ ocean ; and Pindar315 gives a luxuriant description of this blissful abode, where the departed heroes of Greece dwelt beneath the mild rule of Kronos and his assessor Rhadamanthys. In the ‘Prometheus Loosed’ of Æschylus316 the chorus consisted of the twelve Titans, and they came as it would appear from the eastern part of the Ocean-stream.

It was fabled at a late period that Kronos lay asleep, guarded by Briareôs, in a desert island near Britannia in the Western Ocean317.

{p. 69}

The golden age, so celebrated by poets, is said to have been in the reign of Kronos, when, according to Hesiod318,

Men lived like gods, with minds devoid of care,
Away from toils and misery : then was not
Timid old-age, but aye in feet and hands
Equally strong the banquet they enjoyed,
From every ill remote. They died as if
O'ercome with sleep, and all good things were theirs.
The bounteous earth did of herself bring forth
Fruit much and plenteous, and in quietness
Their works midst numerous blessings they pursued.

According to a fragment of the poetic philosopher Empedocles, Kronos married the ‘blooming’ Euonyme, who bore to him ‘beautiful-haired golden’ Aphrodite, the ‘deathless’ Fates, and the ‘variety-bestowing’ Erinnyes319.

The only adventure recorded of this god is his amour with the Ocean-nymph Philyra : dreading the jealousy of his wife Rhea, he changed her into a mare, and himself into a horse. The produce of their love was the Centaur Cheirôn, half-man half-horse. Virgil320, in describing a horse of perfect strength and beauty, says,

Such, at the coming of his wife, the swift
Saturnus’ self upon his equine crest
Poured out a mane, and lofty Pelion filled
With his shrill neighings as away he fled.

This legend, it is said, first appeared in the poem of the Gigantomachia321. It is also noticed by Pindar322. Probably the praise of Cheirôn by Homer323 for his love of justice, led to the making him the offspring of the god who ruled over the golden race of men ; and if, as it would appear, he taught his heroic pupils music as well as other accomplishments, a more suitable {p. 70}mother could not be assigned him than the nymph Lyreloving324.

It is highly probable that the whole history of this god was originally merely a philosophical mythe. Kronos evidently signifies time325 : he is the son of Heaven, by the motion of whose luminaries time is measured ; he is married to Rhea (ῥέα, flowingly), and time flows ; he devours his own children, and time destroys what it has brought into existence.

Perhaps, as has been ingeniously conjectured326, Zeus, the god of the heaven, was poetically named Kroniôn, that is the Son of Time, and this led to the giving a separate and distinct existence to this deity.

Kronos was in after times confounded with the grim deity Moloch, to whom the Tyrians and Carthaginians offered their children in sacrifice. The slight analogy of this practice with the legend of Kronos devouring his children, may have sufficed for the Greeks to infer an identity of their ancient deity with the object of Phœnician worship. It was not improbably the circumstance of both gods being armed with a sickle, which led to the inference of Kronos being the same with the Saturnus of the Latins327. The fabled flight of this last from Olympos to Hesperia, and his there establishing the golden age, may have been indebted for its origin to the legend of the reign of Kronos over the Islands of the Blest in the western stream of Ocean.

There were no temples of Kronos in Greece328; but the Athenians had a festival in his honour named the Kronia, which was celebrated on the twelfth day of the month Hecatombæôn, i. e. in the end of July329, and which, as described to us, strongly resembles the Italian Saturnalia330.

{p. 71}

The only epithet given to Kronos by the elder poets is Crooked-counselled331. This probably refers to his art in mutilating his sire.

{p. 72}

Chapter V.


Familiarity is productive of indifference, and the greatest charms of nature and art lose most of their attractions in the eyes of those who are long and intimately acquainted with them. This is particularly the case with the beautiful mythology of Greece : we are in general familiar with its legends from an early age, but we view them detached and unconnected, ignorant of their place and importance in the system (though a loose one) to which they belong ; they therefore rarely produce their full effect on our minds. But did the Grecian mythology not enter into our literature, and were we to remain unacquainted with it till we should open the volumes of Homer, what a new world would burst on our sight, — how splendid would Olympos and its dwellers then arise to view ! To present the gods in their Olympian abode, and exhibit a sketch of their life and occupations, are the objects of the present chapter.

As has been already stated, the Greeks of the early ages regarded the lofty Thessalian mountain named Olympos as the dwelling of their gods. In the Odyssey, where the deities are of a character far more dignified and elevated than in the Ilias, the place of their abode shares in their exaltation ; and it may almost be doubted if the poet who drew the following picture of Olympos could have conceived it to be no more than the summit of a terrestrial mountain.

Olympos, where they say the ever firm
Seat of the gods is, by the winds unshaken,
Nor ever wet with rain, nor ever showered
With snow, but cloudless æther o'er it spreads,
And glittering light encircles it around,
On which the happy gods aye dwell in bliss332.

We have observed above, that man loves to bestow his own {p. 73}form upon his gods, as being the noblest that he can conceive. Those of Homer are therefore all of the human form, but of far larger dimensions than men333; great size being an object of admiration both in men and women in those early and martial ages. Thus when the goddess Athena334 ascends as. driver the chariot of Diomedes,

Loud groan’d the beechen axle with the weight,
For a great god and valiant chief it bore.

When in the battle of the gods335 Ares is struck to the earth by Athena, he is described as covering seven plethra of ground, and the helmet of the goddess herself would, we are told336, cover the footmen of a hundred towns. The voices of Poseidôn and Ares are as loud as the shout of nine or ten thousand men337.

The gods can however increase or diminish their size, assume the form of particular men338, or of any animals339 and make themselves visible and invisible at their pleasure340. Their bodies are also of a finer nature than those of men. It is not blood, but a blood-like fluid named ichôr, which flows in their veins341. They are susceptible of injury by mortal weapons : the arrows of Hercules violate the divine bodies of Hera and Hades342; Diomedes wounds both Aphrodite and Ares343. They require nourishment as men do ; their food is called Ambrosia, their drink Nectar344. Their mode of life exactly resembles that of the princes and nobles of the heroic ages. In the palace of Zeus on Olympos they feast at the approach of evening, and converse of the affairs of heaven and earth ; the nectar is handed round by Hebe (Youth), Apollo delights them with the tones of his lyre, and the Muses in responsive strains {p. 74}pour forth their melodious voices in song. When the sun descends, each god retires to repose in his own dwelling345. They frequently partake of the hospitality of men346, travel with them347, and share in their wars and battles348.

With the form, the Homeric gods also partake of the passions of men. They are capricious, jealous, revengeful, will support their favourites through right and wrong, and are implacable toward their enemies, or even those who have slighted them349. Their power was held to extend very far ; men regarded them as the authors of both good and evil ; all human ability and success was ascribed to them. They were believed to have power over the thoughts of men, and could imperceptibly suggest such as they pleased350. They required of men to honour them with prayer, and the sacrifice of oxen, sheep, goats, lambs and kids, and oblations of wine and corn, and fragrant herbs351. When offended, they usually remitted their wrath if thus appeased352.

The Homeric gods have all different ranks and offices ; Olympos being in fact regulated on the model of a Grecian city of the heroic ages. Zeus was king of the region of the air and clouds, which had fallen to him by lot on the dethronement of his father Kronos ; the sea was the realm of his brother Poseidôn ; the under-world fell to Aïdes, in the division of their conquests ; Earth and Olympos were common property353. Zeus however, as eldest brother354, exercised a supremacy, and his power was the greatest. The other inhabitants of Olympos were Hera the sister and spouse of Zeus, Apollo the god of music and archery, his sister Artemis the goddess of the chace, and their mother Leto, Aphrodite goddess of love, and her mother Dione, Ares god of war, Pallas Athene goddess of prudence and skill, Themis goddess of justice, Hermeias god of gain, Hebe the attendant of the Olympian king and queen, and Iris their messenger, Hephæstos the celestial artist and Pæeôn the physician, and the Muses, the {p. 75}Graces, and the Seasons. Poseidôn was frequently there ; but Demeter the goddess of agriculture, and Dionysos the god of wine, do not appear among the residents of Olympos. The Nymphs and the River-gods occasionally visited or were summoned to it355. Eôs, Helios, and Selene rose every day out of the Ocean-stream, and drove in their chariots through the air, shedding their cheering beams abroad.

Of the residents of Olympos, its king and his son Hephæstos356 alone knew the pleasures or the pains of the wedded state. Ares and Hermeias intrigued occasionally with mortal women, but the character of Phœbos Apollo was of unstained purity357. Of the goddesses, Aphrodite alone could be charged with breach of chastity358; Artemis, Pallas Athene, Hebe, and Iris were all spotless virgins.

All the dwellings of the gods upon Olympos were of brass (χάλκος), the metal which was in the greatest abundance in Greece. Hephæstos was architect and smith ; he formed all the arms, household furniture, chariots, and other articles in use among the Celestials ; but their dress, especially that of the goddesses, appears to have been the workmanship of Athena or the Graces359. The gold which proceeded from the workshop of Hephæstos was filled with automatic power ; his statues were endowed with intelligence360 ; his tripods could move of themselves ; he made the golden shoes, or rather soles (πέιλα)361 with which the gods trod the air and the waters, or strode from mountain to mountain upon the earth, which trembled beneath their weight362, with the speed of winds or even of thought363. The chariots of the gods and their {p. 76}appurtenances were formed of various metals. That of Hera, for example, is thus described364 :

Then Hebe quickly to the chariot put
The round wheels, eight-spoked, brazen, on the strong
Axle of iron. Gold their fellies were,
And undecaying, but thereon of brass
The tires365 well fitting, wondrous to behold.
Of silver was the rounded nave of each ;
The seat was hung by gold and silver cords,
And two curved sides encompass’d it about.
The pole was silver, and upon its end
She tied the beauteous golden yoke, and bound
On it the golden traces fair : the steeds
Swift-footed then beneath the yoke were led
By Hera, eager for the war and strife.

These chariots were drawn by horses of celestial breed366, which could whirl them to and fro between heaven and earth through the yielding air, or skim with them along the surface of the sea without wetting the axle. They were only used on occasions of taking a long journey, as when Hera367 professes that she is going to the end of the earth to make up the quarrel between Oceanos and Tethys ; or on occasions in which the gods wish to appear with state and magnificence368. On ordinary occasions the gods moved by the aid of their golden shoes : when at home in their houses, they, like the men of those ages, went barefoot.

The Titans, as we have seen, were twelve in number, six of {p. 77}each sex. In like manner we find twelve Olympians, similarly divided. The gods were Zeus, Poseidôn, Hephæstos, Hermes, Apollo, Ares ; the goddesses were Hera, Demeter, Hestia, Athena, Aphrodite, and Artemis369. This arrangement could hardly have been known to Homer, who never mentions Hestia, and but incidentally Demeter. The earliest writer by whom we find the twelve gods noticed is Hellanicus, who says370 that Deucaliôn built altars to them after the flood. It was perhaps the number of the months of the year that caused twelve to be fixed on as that of the Titans and the Olympians371 ; or it may have been because twelve was the political number of the Ionian race, for it seems probable that it was only among them, particularly at Athens372, that altars were erected to these twelve gods. At Olympia there were six altars to six pairs of deities, but they were not exactly the same with those above enumerated373. In later times it became a common practise to raise altars to the twelve gods374.

{p. 78}

Chapter VI.


The Kronids, or children of Kronos and Rhea, were Zeus, Poseidôn, Hades, Hestia, Hera, and Demeter. The four first we shall place here : the two last, as wives of Zeus, will find their more appropriate situation along with their children.

Ζєύς. Jovis, Jupiter. §

Zeus is in the Ilias the eldest son of Kronos and Rhea. He and his brothers, Poseidôn and Hades, divided the world by lot among them, and the portion which fell to him was the ‘extensive heaven in air and clouds375.’ All the aerial phænomena, such as thunder and lightning, wind, clouds, snow, and rainbows, are therefore ascribed to him376; and he sends them either as signs377 and warnings, or to punish the transgressions of man, especially the perversions of law and justice, of which he is the fountain378. Zeus is called the ‘father of men and gods’379 ; his power over both is represented as supreme380, and his will is fate. Earthly monarchs obtain their authority from him381; they are but his vicegerents, and are distinguished by epithets derived from his name382. In his palace on Olympos Zeus lives after the fashion of a Grecian prince in the midst of his family ; altercations and quarrels occur between him and his queen, Hera383; and, though in general kind and affectionate to his children, he occasionally menaces or treats them with rigour384.

{p. 79}

In the Odyssey the character of this god is, agreeably to the more moral tone of that poem, of a higher and more dignified order. No indecent altercations occur ; both gods and men submit to his power without a murmur, yet he is anxious to show the equity of his decrees and to ‘justify his ways385.’

The Theogony, as we have seen, represents Zeus as the lastborn child of Kronos and Rhea, and according to it the supreme power was freely conferred on him by his brothers, and he thus became the acknowledged head of the Olympian gods, the objects of Grecian worship.

Though Homer names the parents of nearly all the gods who appear in his poems, and it follows thence that they must have been born in some definite places, he never indicates any spot of earth as the natal place of any of his gods386. A very ancient tradition, however, (for it occurs in Hesiod) made the isle of Crete the scene of the birth of the monarch of Olympos. According to this tradition Rhea, when about to be delivered of Zeus, retired to a cavern near Lyctos or Cnossos in Crete. She there brought forth her babe, whom the Melian nymphs received in their arms ; Adrasteia rocked him in a golden cradle, he was fed with honey and the milk of the goat Amaltheia, while the Curetes387 danced about him clashing their arms to prevent his cries from reaching the ears of Kronos388. According to another account the infant deity was fed on ambrosia brought by pigeons from the streams of Ocean, and on nectar which an eagle drew each day with his beak from a rock389. This legend was gradually {p. 80}pragmatised ; Zeus became a mortal king of Crete, and not merely the cave in which he was reared, but the tomb which contained his remains, was shown by the ‘lying Cretans390

The Arcadians, on the other hand, asserted that Zeus first saw the light among their mountains. Rhea, they said, came to Mount Parrhasion, amidst whose thickets she brought forth her divine son. She sought for water to wash the new-born babe, but in vain, for Arcadia was then a land unwatered by streams ; the Ladôn, the Alpheios, and their kindred floods had not yet appeared. “Dear Earth ! do thou too bring forth,” said the goddess, and smiting the mountain with her staff she caused to gush from it a copious flow of water, which she named the Neda, from one of the nymphs who assisted at her labour, and who then conveyed the babe to Cnossos in Crete391. The more general tradition, however, was that the nymph Neda and her sisters, Theisoa and Hagno, reared the infant deity in a cavern of Mount Lycæon, where there was a place named Cretes, as other spots in Arcadia were designated by names belonging to places in Crete392.

All, therefore, that we can collect with safety from these accounts is that the worship of the Dictæan Zeus in Crete, and of the Lycæan Zeus in Arcadia, was of the most remote antiquity, and that thence, when the Euhemeristic principle began to creep in among the Greeks, each people supposed the deity to have been born among themselves. The Cretan legend must however be regarded as the more ancient, for the Arcadians evidently attempted to transfer the names of places in it to their own country, a practise of which as we proceed we shall meet with other instances.

In the Theogony the celestial progeny of Zeus are enumerated in the following order393.

Zeus first espoused Metis (Prudence), who exceeded gods and men in knowledge. But Heaven and Earth having told him that her first child, a maid, would equal himself in strength and counsel, and her second, a son, would be king of gods and men, he cajoled her when she was pregnant, and swallowed her ; and after a time the goddess Pallas Athene sprang {p. 81}from his head. He then married Themis, who bore him the Seasons and Fates. The Oceanis Eurynome next produced him the Graces ; Demeter was then by him the mother of Persephone, Mnemosyne of the Muses, and Leto of Apollo and Artemis. His last spouse was Hera, who bore him Hebe, Ares, and Eileithyia.

According to Homer394 Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus by Dione. The Theogony further says that Maia, the daughter of Atlas, bore him Hermes395 A later fable said that Asteria, the sister of Leto, flying the love of Zeus, flung herself from heaven down to the sea and became the isle afterwards named Delos396.

Mortal women also bore a numerous progeny to this amorous monarch of the gods, and every species of transmutation and disguise was employed by him to accomplish his object. He assumed the form of her husband Amphitryôn to deceive the modesty of Alcmena, who became the mother of Heracles. Leda was beguiled by him in the shape of a beautiful white swan. Under the form of a shower of gold he penetrated the brazen prison in which Danae was inclosed, and became the father of Perseus. Antiope, the mother of Amphiôn and Zethos, was forced by him in the guise of a satyr. To seduce the Arcadian nymph Callisto he presumed to take the form of Artemis, the goddess of chastity. A bull was the form in which he carried off Europa, the sister of Cadmos ; and a flame of fire or the plumage of an eagle disguised the god from Ægina, the mother of Æacos. By Semele he was the father of Dionysos, who became a god. By Io he had a son named Epaphos. Many other heroes could also boast of being the sons of Zeus by different mothers. Of all these mortal loves {p. 82}we shall give a detailed account when we come to speak of the heroes who sprang from them.

The love of Zeus (and in this there lies a moral) was not always a source of happiness to those whom he honoured with it. Io, for example, underwent a dreadful persecution from Hera, as also did Leto. Semele perished in the flames which invested the lord of the thunder and lightning. Danae and her babe were abandoned to the waves of the sea.

We shall presently show that the name Zeus signifies God. When, therefore, we recollect how usual it was in the oriental and early Greek style to represent magnitude or excellence by associating it with the name of the deity397, it will not surprise us to meet so many Zeus-sprung heroes in the mythology of Greece398. A mere epithet was probably the germ of the mythe ; Zeus was then placed at the head of a genealogy ; and last came the poets, who detailed the amorous history.

It seems to have been an ancient opinion that the gods used to assume the human form and go among mankind to mark their conduct399. To this notion — which carries our minds back to those happy ages commemorated in the Book of Genesis, ‘when angels dwelt and God himself with man’ — we are indebted for some interesting legends told by poets, of Zeus taking the human form, and coming down to view more closely the conduct of mankind over whom he ruled. Such was his visit to Lycaôn king of Arcadia, whom he punished for his impiety ; and that on occasion of which the piety of Hyrieus was rewarded by the birth of Oriôn. The most pleasing tale is that of Philemôn and Baucis, narrated by Ovid in his most agreeable manner, to the following effect400.

Zeus and Hermes came one time in the form of men to a town in Phrygia. It was evening ; they sought for hospitality, but every door was closed against them. At length they approached a humble cottage where dwelt an aged man, named Philemôn, with Baucis his wife, of equal years : by them the wayfarers were gladly received. The poet pleases his imagination amidst the luxury of Rome in describing the furniture of their simple abode, and the homely fare, though their best, which they set before their celestial guests, whose quality was at length revealed by the miracle of the wine-bowl being spontaneously replenished as fast as it was drained. They told their hosts that it was their intention to destroy the godless town, and desired them to leave their house and ascend the adjacent hill. The aged pair obeyed : ere they reached the summit they turned round to look, and beheld a lake where the town had stood. Their own house remained, and, as they gazed and deplored the fate of their neighbours it became a temple. On being desired by Zeus to express their wishes, they prayed that they might be appointed to officiate in that temple, and that they might be united in death as in life. Their prayer was granted, and as they were one day standing before the temple, they were suddenly changed into an oak and a lime-tree401.

It was the habit of the Greeks to appropriate particular plants and animals to the service of their deities. There was generally some reason for this, founded on physical or moral grounds, or on both. Nothing could be more natural than to assign the oak402, the monarch of trees, to the celestial king, whose ancient oracle moreover was in the oak-woods of Dodona403. In like manner the eagle was evidently the bird best suited to his service404.

The celebrated Ægis405, the shield which sent forth thunder, {p. 84}lightning, and darkness, and struck terror into mortal hearts, was formed for Zeus by Hephæstos406. In Homer we see it sometimes borne by Apollo407 and by Athena408.

The most famous temple of this god was at Olympia in Elis, where every fourth year the Olympian games were celebrated in his honour : he had also a splendid fane in the isle of Ægina. But, though there were few deities less honoured with temples and statues, all the inhabitants of Hellas conspired in the duty of doing homage to the sovereign of the gods. His great oracle was at Dodona, where, even in the Pelasgian period, his priests, the Selli, announced his will and futurity409.

Zeus was represented by the artists as the model of dignity and majesty of mien ; his countenance grave but mild. He is seated on a throne, and grasping his sceptre and the thunder. The eagle is standing beside the throne.

The epithets of this god in Homer are410, 1. Ægis-holding ; 2. Cloud-collecting ; 3. Black-clouding ; 4. Thunder-loving ; 5. High-seated ; 6. Lightening ; 7. Counselling ; 8. Wide-seeing or Wide-thundering ; and others of similar signification.

The epithets of Zeus derived from his offices, such as Xenios, as protector of strangers, Horkios, the guardian of oaths, were numerous. He was also named like the other gods from the places where he was worshiped, ex. gr. Clarios, Cithæronios. Toward the end of the month Anthesteriôn (beginning of March), a festival named the Diasia was held at Athens, in which offerings were made to Zeus, the Mild or Appeased, (μειλίχιος)411, answering to the sin-offerings of the Mosaic law. At Argos there was an ancient wooden statue (ξόανον) of Zeus, which had a third eye in its forehead. The tradition was that it had been the domestic image of Priamos, and had been brought from Troy by Sthenelos. The three eyes are rightly explained by Pausanias as indicative of the dominion {p. 85}of Zeus (the God) over heaven, earth, (land and water,) and the under-world412.

A very simple process will lead us to the true signification of the name of this deity. Its Æolic form is Δεὑς, which is almost the same as the deus of the Latin, the affinity of which language to the Æolic Greek is well known413. Zeus (Ζεùς) therefore is God, the same as θεòς, deus, and akin to the Persian Deev or Dew, and the Sanscrit Deva and Deveta414. The oblique cases of Zeus come from Δὶς and Ζὴν, or Zàv, the former of which is manifestly equivalent to Ζεὑς, and the latter is probably a contraction of the participle ζάων, living.

Ποσειδάων, Ποσειδῶν. Neptunus. §

This son of Kronos and Rhea became the ruler of the sea. His queen was Amphitrite, one of the daughters of Nereus and Doris415. Their children were Tritôn416 and Rhode, or Rhodos, which last became the bride of Helios417. A late legend said that Amphitrite fled the love of the god, but that he came riding on a dolphin, and thus won her affection ; and for his service he placed the dolphin among the stars418.

Poseidôn, like his brother Zeus, had a numerous progeny both by goddesses and mortals. The fleet steed Areiôn was the offspring of the sea-god and Demeter, both having assumed the equine form419. According to one account the nymph Rhodos was his daughter by Aphrodite420.

Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus, and wife of Cretheus, loved the river Enipeus, and frequented his stream ; Poseidôn, under the form of the river-god, ‘mingled in love’ with her, and she became the mother of Pelias and Neleus421. Iphimedeia bore him Otos and Ephialtes, those gigantic babes, who {p. 86}in their ninth year attempted to scale heaven422. As a ram, he was by Theophane, daughter of Bisaltos, the sire of the goldfleeced ram which carried Phryxos to Colchis423. The seanymph Thoösa bore him the huge Cyclops Polyphemos424. The invulnerable Cycnos, who was slain by Achilles, was also the offspring of this deity425: so also were Theseus, Eumolpos, and other heroes.

Poseidôn was worshiped in Arcadia under the title of Hippios426. One legend of that country made him the sire of the steed Areiôn427; and another said that when Rhea brought him forth, she pretended to Kronos that she had been delivered of a foal, which she gave him to devour428. The origin of the horse was also ascribed to this god. According to a Thessalian legend, he smote a rock in that country with his trident, and forth sprang the first horse, which was named Scyphios429. The vain people of Attica affected to believe that it was on their soil that the sea-god first presented the horse to mankind430. The winged steed Pegasos is also the offspring of Poseidôn431. In the Ilias, when Zeus returns from Ida to Olympos, it is Poseidôn that unyokes his horses432; the same god is said to have given the Harpy-born steeds of Achilles to Peleus433 ; he is joined with Zeus as the teacher of the art of driving the chariot434; and when Menelaos charges Antilochos with foul play in the chariot-race, he requires him to clear himself by an oath to Poseidôn435.

All this indicates a close connexion between the sea-god and the horse. The usual solution given is, that as, according to Herodotus, the worship of Poseidôn came from Libya to Greece, and (the Libyans being an agricultural, not a {p. 87}seafaring people) the agents must have been the Phœnicians, who also, we are assured, brought the first horses into Greece (as the Spaniards did into America, and as much to the astonishment of the rude natives), the knowledge of the horse and of Poseidôn thus came together, and they were therefore associated in the popular mind436.

This, we may observe, is all merely gratuitous hypothesis. The absurd passion of Herodotus for deducing the religion of Greece from abroad is so notorious, that few, we should suppose, would lay any stress on his testimony in these matters. Had a god of the sea been worshiped in Egypt, beyond question the historian would have derived Poseidôn from that country. Again, what can be more absurd than to suppose that Greece, a portion of the continent of Europe, to the north of which dwelt the Thracians and Scythians, renowned in all ages for their horses437, should have first received these animals from the coast of Africa ? We may therefore, we think, safely dismiss this hypothesis, and look for an explanation of the phænomenon elsewhere.

The horse is the principal means of transport by land, as the ship is by sea ; the one name might therefore be metaphorically employed for the other. Thus in Homer438 Penelope says,

Why, herald, is my son gone ? for no need
Had he to mount the swift-coursed ships, which are
For men the horses of the sea, and pass
O'er the great deep ;

in Plautus439 one of the characters says, “That is to say, you have been carried on a wooden horse along the azure roads ;” and the Arabs call their camel the ship of the desert. This seems to offer a natural solution of the difficulty, the sea-god being regarded as the author of ships, the horses of the sea, and thence by an easy transition of the real animals440. But still when we reflect how widely spread was the habit of regarding the horse as in some mysterious manner connected {p. 88}with the water441, we may hesitate to give our full assent to this theory.

It is rather curious to observe the manner in which Poseidôn and Pallas Athene are associated. They were worshiped together, — he as Hippios, she as Hippia, — at Colonos near Athens442 ; we find them united in the legend of Bellerophontes443 ; they contended for the possession of Attica444 and Trœzên445 ; in the former case the sea-god was forced to yield, in the latter Zeus decided that they should hold the dominion in common. In like manner Poseidôn is said to have contended with Hera for Argos446, and with Helios for Corinth447; with Zeus for Ægina448, and with Dionysos for Naxos449; and to have exchanged Delos and Delphi with Apollo for Calauria and Tænaron450. Mythes of this kind merely indicate a change or a combination of the worship of the deities who are the subjects of them, in the places where the scenes of the supposed contests are laid451.

Beside his residence on Olympos, Poseidôn had a splendid palace beneath the sea at Ægæ452. Homer gives a noble description of his passage from it on his way to Troy, his chariot-wheels but touching the watery plain, and the monsters of the deep gamboling around their king. His most celebrated temples were at the Corinthian isthmus, Onchestos453, Helice454, Trœzên, and the promontories of Sunion, Tænaron, Geræstos, and other headlands455.

Poseidôn is represented, like Zeus, of a serene and majestic aspect ; his form is strong and muscular. He usually bears in his hand the trident, the three-pronged symbol of his power : the dolphin and other marine objects accompany his images.

{p. 89}

The poetic epithets of Poseidôn are456, 1. Earth-keeping ; 2. Earth-shaking ; 3. Dark-haired ; 4. Wide-ruling ; 5. Loud-sounding ; etc.

In Poseidôn we may discern the original god of water in general, of springs and rivers as well as of the sea. The legends respecting him (his amour with Demeter, the earth, for instance,) are on this supposition easy of explanation. The simple Doric form of his name, Ποτίδας, shows its true origin to be from the root ΠΟΩ, and that it is of the same family with πότος, πόντος, ποταμòς, all relating to water and fluidity457.

Ἀΐς, Ἀΐδης, Ἀϊδωνεὑς, Ἅιδης‚ Πλοὐτων. Orcus, Dis. §

Hades, the brother of Zeus and Poseidôn, was lord of the subterrane region, the abode of the dead. He is described as being inexorable and deaf to supplication, — for from his realms there is no return, — and an object of aversion and hatred both to gods and men458. All the latter were sure to be sooner or later collected into his kingdom. His name appears to denote invisibility459, significatory of the nature of the realm over which he ruled. At a later period he received the appellation of Plutôn460, as mines within the earth are the producers of the precious metals. This notion, Voss461 thinks, began to prevail when the Greeks first visited Spain, the country most abundant in gold.

The adventures of this god were few, for the gloomy nature of himself and his realm did not offer much field for such legends of the gods as Grecian fancy delighted in ; yet he too had his love-adventures. The tale of his carrying off Persephone (which we shall relate at length in the sequel) is one {p. 90}of the most celebrated in antiquity. He loved, we are told462, and carried off to Erebos the Oceanis Leuce ; and when she died, he caused a tree, named from her, λεύκη, white poplar,) to spring up in the Elysian Fields. Another of his loves was the nymph Mentha, whom Persephone out of jealousy turned into the plant which bears her name463.

Hades, Homer tells us464, was once wounded in the shoulder by the arrows of Heracles ; but from the ambiguity of the phrase used by the poet (έν πύλῳ) it is difficult to determine the scene of the conflict. Some say it was at the gate of the nether world, when the hero was sent to drag the dog of Hades to the realms of day465 ; others that it was in Pylos, where the god was aiding his worshipers against the son of Zeus466.

The region over which Hades presides is represented in the Ilias and in the Theogony467 as being within the earth : in the Odyssey468 it is placed in the dark region beyond the stream of Ocean. Its name is Erebos469 ; the poets everywhere describe it as dreary, dark, and cheerless. The dead, without distinction of good or evil, age or rank, wander about there, conversing of their former state on earth : they are unhappy, and they feel their wretched state acutely. Achilles, the son of a goddess, declares to Odysseus that he would rather be a day-labourer to the poorest cultivator on earth than a king in those regions. They have no strength or power of mind {p. 91}or body470. Some few, enemies of the gods, such as Sisyphos, Tityos, Tantalos, are punished for their crimes, but not apart from the rest of the dead471. Nothing can be more gloomy and comfortless than the whole aspect of the realm of Hades as pictured in the Odyssey. It is in fact surprising, that men who had such a dreary prospect before them should not have been more attached to life, and more averse from war and everything that might abridge its period, than the ancient Greeks were472.

In process of time, when communication with Egypt and Asia had enlarged the sphere of the ideas of the Greeks, the nether-world underwent a total change. It was now divided into two separate regions : Tartaros, which in the time of Homer and Hesiod was thought to lie far beneath it, and to be the prison of the Titans, became one of these regions, and the place of punishment for wicked men ; and Elysion, which lay on the shore of the stream of Ocean, the retreat of the children and relatives of the king of the gods, was moved down thither to form the place of reward for good men. A stream encompassed the domains of Hades473, over which the dead, on paying their passage-money (ναῦλον), were ferried by Charôn474 ; the three-headed dog Cerberos guarded the entrance475; and the three judges, Minôs, Æacos, and Rhadamanthys, allotted his place of bliss or of pain to each of the {p. 92}dead who was brought before their tribunal476. The river of Oblivion (ὁ τῆς λήθης ποταμὸς)477 was added to those of Homer's trans-Oceanic region478, of whose waters the dead were led to drink previous to their returning to animate other bodies on earth479. In the sixth book of Virgil’s Æneïs will be found the richest and fullest description of the new-modified under-world, and for those who love to trace the progress and change of ideas, it will not be an uninteresting employment to compare it with that in the eleventh book of Homer's Odyssey. The poet Claudian480 too has, with his usual elegance, drawn a luxuriant description of the blissful scenes which the under-world would present, to console and reconcile its future mistress.

In reading the ‘portentous lies’ (as they have well been termed481 ) of the Egyptian priests on this subject, one is at a loss which most to admire at, their audacity, or the credulity of the Greeks. For the former asserted, and the latter believed, that Orpheus and Homer had both learned wisdom on the banks of the Nile ; and that the Erebos of Greece, and all its parts, personages and usages, were but transcripts of the mode of burial in Egypt. Here the corpse was, on payment of an obelos, conveyed by a ferryman (named Charôn in the language of Egypt) over the Acherusian lake, after it had received its sentence from the judges appointed for that purpose. Oceanos was but the Egyptian name of the Nile ; the Gates of the Sun were merely those of Heliopolis ; and Hermes, the conductor of souls482, was familiar to the {p. 93}Egyptians ; and thus they appropriated all the mythic ideas of Greece. It may give some idea of their hardihood, to observe that they affirmed, on the authority of their sacred books and temple-archives, that Orpheus, Musæos, Melampûs and Dædalos — not one of whom probably ever existed — had all visited Egypt483. But enough of such mendacity : we should not have noticed it, were it not that the fashion of tracing the religion and institutions of Greece to Egypt is not yet extinct.

Before we quit Aïdoneus and his realms, we must call attention to the circumstance of mankind agreeing to place the abode of departed souls either beneath the earth, or in the remote regions of the West. The former notion, it is probable, owes its origin to the simple circumstance of the mortal remains of man being deposited by most nations in the bosom of the earth ; and the habits of thinking and speaking which thence arose, led to the notion of the soul also being placed in a region within the earth. The calmness and stillness of evening succeeding the toils of the day, the majesty of the sun sinking as it were to rest amid the glories of the western sky, exert a powerful influence over the human mind, and lead us almost insensibly to picture the West as a region of bliss and tranquillity. The idea of its being the abode of the departed good, where in calm islands they dwelt ‘from every ill remote,’ was therefore an obvious one484. Finally, the analogy of the conclusion of the day and the setting of the sun with the close of life, may have led the Greeks485, or it may be the Phœnicians, to place the dwelling of the dead in general in the dark land on the western shore of Ocean.

Hades, we are told by Homer, possessed a helmet which rendered its wearer invisible : it was forged for him by Hephæstos, the later writers say, in the time of the war against the Titans. Pallas Athene, when aiding Diomedes, wore it {p. 94}to conceal her from Ares486. When Perseus went on his expedition against the Gorgons, the helm of invisibility covered his brows487. This helmet of Hades will find its parallel in tales both of the East and the West, now consigned to the nursery.

By artists, the god of the nether-world was represented similar to his brothers, but he was distinguished from them by his gloomy and rigid mien. He usually bears a two-pronged fork in his hand.

The poets called Hades488, 1. Subterranean Zeus489 ; 2. People-collecting ; 3. Much-receiving ; 4. Gate-keeping ; 5. Laughter-less ; 6. Horse-renowned ; 7. Untamed, or invincible ; 8. Strong ; 9. Hateful ; 10. Cold ; etc.

At Hermione in Argolis Hades was worshiped under the name of Illustrious (κλύμενος)490, and Persephone under that of Subterrane (χθονία). The former would seem to have been placatory, like Eumenides that of the Erinnyes.

The epithet People-collecting, or driving, seems to refer to an office of Hades, which was afterwards transferred to Hermes. In the original conception of the god of the under-world, he was probably supposed to be himself the agent in removing from the realms of day those who were to be his subjects. Pindar speaks of the staff of Hades, with which he drives down (κατάγει) the dead along the hollow way to Erebos491. It is also not unworthy of notice, that Macrobius492, when speaking of Euripides’ drama of Alcestis, calls Death (Θάνατος), who comes to fetch away the heroine, Orcus, the Latin {p. 95}name of Pluto. In this drama we meet the first mention of a very remarkable notion of the Greeks. The dead seem to have been regarded in the light of victims offered to Hades493 ; and as it was the custom in commencing a sacrifice to pluck some hairs from the forehead of the victim and burn them on the altar, so Death is here represented as coming to cut off a lock of the hair of Alcestis494. Of this rite, however, no other mention is, we believe, to be found in Grecian literature. If we may trust to the Latin poets495, the duty of performing it belonged to Persephone, a view which seems to contradict all analogy.

Ἱστία, Ἑστία. Vesta. §

An idea of the sanctity of the domestic hearth (ἑστία), the point of assembly of the family, and the symbol of the social union, gave the Greeks occasion to fancy it to be under the guardianship of a peculiar deity, whom they named from it, Hestia. This goddess does not appear in the poem of Homer, though he had abundant opportunities of noticing her. By Hesiod496 she is said to have been the daughter of Kronos and Rhea.

The hymn to Aphrodite relates that Hestia, Artemis, and Athena were the only goddesses who escaped the power of the queen of love. When wooed by Poseidôn and Apollo, Hestia, placing her hand on the head of Zeus, vowed perpetual virginity. Zeus, in place of marriage, gave her to sit in the middle of the house ‘receiving fat,’ and to be honoured in all the temples of the gods.

In the Prytaneion of every Grecian city stood the hearth, on which the sacred fire flamed, and where the offerings were made to Hestia497. In that of Athens there was a statue of the goddess498.

{p. 96}

Chapter VII.


Ἥρη, Ἥρα. Juno. §

In Homer this goddess is one of the children of Kronos and Rhea, and wife and sister to Zeus499. When the latter placed his sire in Tartaros, Rhea committed Hera to the care of Oceanos and Tethys, by whom she was carefully nurtured in their grotto-palace500. She and Zeus had however previously ‘mingled in love’ unknown to their parents501. Hesiod, who gives her the same parents, says that she was the last spouse of Zeus502. According to the Argive legend, Zeus, who had long secretly loved his sister, watched one day when she was out walking alone near Mount Thronax, and raising a great storm of wind and rain fled shivering and trembling, under the form of a cuckoo, to seek shelter on the knees of the unsuspecting maiden. She covered the poor bird, as she thought him, with her mantle, and Zeus then resuming his proper form accomplished his wishes. But when she had implored him in the name of her mother to spare her, he gave her a solemn promise to make her his wife503, — a promise which he faithfully performed. Henceforth the hill Thronax was named Coccygion (Cuckoo-hill)504.

In the Ilias (for she does not appear in the Odyssey) Hera, as the queen of Zeus, shares in his honours. The god is represented as a little in awe of her tongue, yet daunting her by his menaces. On one occasion he reminds her how once, when she had raised a storm, which drove his son Heracles out of his course at sea, he tied her hands together and suspended her with anvils at her feet between heaven and earth505 ; and when her son Hephæstos would aid her, he flung him down from Olympos506. In this poem the goddess appears dwelling in {p. 97}peace and harmony with Leto, Dione, Themis and their children : later poets speak much of the persecution which Leto underwent from the enmity of Hera, who also, as shall hereafter be related, made Io, Semele, Alcmena and other women, pay dear for their intrigues with the Olympian king.


The children of Zeus and Hera were Ares, Hebe, the Eileithyiæ, to which some added the Graces507. Hephæstos was the progeny of Hera without a sire ; she was also said to have given origin to the monster Typhaôn508.

In the mythic cycles of Dionysos and Heracles Hera acts a prominent part as the persecutor of the heroes of them, who were the offspring of Zeus by mortal mothers. In like manner, as the goddess of Argos, she is active in the cause of the Achæans in the war of ‘Troy divine’. In the Argonautic cycle she was the protecting deity of the adventurous Iasôn. There is, in fact, none of the Olympian deities more decidedly Grecian in feeling and character than this goddess.

The chief seats of the worship of Hera were Argos, Samos, and Platæa. She was also honoured at Sparta, Corinth, Corcyra, and other places. The victims offered to her were kine, ewe-lambs and sows. The willow, the pomegranate, the dittany, the lily, were her sacred plants. Among birds, the cuckoo, and afterwards the gaudy stately peacock, were appropriated to the Olympian queen.

According to the legend the goddess herself formed this last bird from the many-eyed Argos, whom she had set as keeper over the transformed Io. Moschus509 (in whom we first meet this legend), when describing the basket which Europa had in her hand when, as she was gathering flowers, she was carried off by Zeus, says,

Around beneath the curved basket’s rim
Was Hermes form’d, and near to him lay stretch’d
Argos, with ever-sleepless eyes supplied ;
Out of whose purple blood was rising up
A bird, whose wings with many coulours glow’d :
Spreading his tail, like a swift-sailing ship,
The golden basket’s edge he cover’d o’er.
{p. 98}

Ovid510 says that Hera planted the eyes of Argos in the tail of her favourite bird ; and Nonnus511 asserts that Argos himself was turned into this bird.

The peacock (ταὼς), we must observe, was unknown in the days of Homer, when, as we have already shown, the gods had not as yet any favourite animals. It is an Indian bird, and was according to Theophrastus introduced into Greece from the East512. Peafowl were first brought to Samos, where they were kept at the temple of Hera ; and gradually the legend was spread that Samos was their native place, and that they were the favourite birds of its goddess. The comic poet Antiphanes, a contemporary of Socrates, says513,

’Tis said the phœnixes are all born in
The City of the Sun ; at Athens, owls ;
Excellent pigeons Cyprus hath ; and Hera
Of Samos owns, they say, the golden breed
Of birds, the fair-form’d much-admired peafowl.

Whole flocks of them were fed in the sacred grove of the goddess. They were gradually but slowly spread through Greece. The later poets yoked them to the chariot of Hera : thus514,

The sea-gods granted : in her easy car,
By painted peafowl drawn, Saturnia moves
Through the clear air.

Few passages in the Ilias are more celebrated than the following picture of the love-union of Zeus and Hera on the summit of Ida515 :

He said ; and in his arms Kroniôn seized
His spouse. Beneath them bounteous earth sent up
Fresh-growing grass : there dewy lotus rose,
Crocus and hyacinth, both thick and soft,
Which raised them from the ground. On this they lay,
And o’cr them spread a golden cloud and fair,
And glittering drops of dew fell all around.

This is, we think justly, regarded as a sportive adaptation by the epic poet of an ancient physical mythe of the union of Zeus and Hera (heaven and earth, as we shall presently show) {p. 99}in spring-time producing vegetation. It is in effect the Sacred Marriage (ἱϵρὸς γάμος) of these deities, which, as we will now proceed to explain, was represented in those places where Hera was principally worshiped.

We have above related the Argive legend in which the cuckoo, the herald of the spring, appears as the agent in the loves of the two deities. There was a fount at Nauplia near Argos named Canachos, by bathing in which Hera, the legend said, renewed each year her virginity516. In the temple of this goddess near Mycenæ (in which stood her statue, the far-famed labour of Polycleitos) was shown her bed517 ; a stream called Asteriôn ran by the temple, and on its banks grew the plant of the same name, which was used for weaving the (bridal ?) coronals of the goddess518. The garland of Hera was termed πυλϵὼν by the Spartans, and was formed of the plant named Kyperos, and of the Helichrysos, which is of the same genus with the Asteriôn519. At Argos there was a temple of Hera, Antheia (Flowery)520. In all these usages and circumstances the idea of the marriage of Hera, and its being the cause of the spring of plants, may, we think, be discerned.

The tradition of Stymphalos in Arcadia was521, that Hera had been brought up there by Temenos, who raised three temples to her, under the names of Virgin, Married (τϵλϵία), and Widow ; the first while she was a maid, the second when she married Zeus, the third when she separated from him. The real cause of these names will however appear from a comparison of this legend with the one just given, and with those which are to follow.

At Samos the temple of Hera stood on the banks of the Imbrasos, and within its precincts was shown a willow (λύγος), beneath whose shade, according to the temple-legend, the goddess was born522. Another name of the Imbrasos was said to be Parthenios523. Every year an ancient wooden image (βρέτας) of Hera disappeared from the temple ; it was then diligently sought for, and was always found on the sea-shore {p. 100}bound to a willow, whose longest branches were drawn down so as to envelope it. The priestess then loosed it ; it was washed ; a kind of cakes were set before it, and it was brought back to the temple524. In this ceremony also may be discerned a reference to the marriage of Hera. The disappearance of the image looks like the carrying away of the betrothed maiden ; the willow bed, for such it apparently is, refers perhaps to the chastity of the goddess, the willow being regarded as a great promoter of this virtue525; she is bound to it probably to prevent her flight from Zeus. The cakes may have had some analogy with the confarreatio of the Romans526, or our own usage of bride-cakes. In the temple there was a statue of the goddess in the bridal-dress527, and a new bridal-robe was woven for it every year528.

Like most of the usages and ceremonies of Greece, this Samian custom was pragmatised529. The temple, it was said, had been built by the Lelegians and the Nymphs ; Admeta, daughter of Eurystheus, fled thither from Argos ; the goddess appeared in a vision to her, and she became priestess of the temple. Some Tyrrhenian pirates, at the instigation of the Argives, stole the image, in order to draw down the vengeance of the people on Admeta. But lo ! their ship became motionless when the sacred image was brought on board. Interror the pirates carried it back to the shore, and made an offering of cakes to appease it. They then departed, and next day the rude ignorant people of the isle, in their search after it, finding it on the sea-shore, thought it had run away of itself, and bound it to a willow to prevent its doing so again. Admeta then loosed it and restored it to its place in the temple, and hence it was said arose the annual ceremony.

In the name Admeta, it will be observed, we have here again a reference to the chastity of the goddess. The making her an Argive, and daughter of Eurystheus, appears also to intimate that the worship of Hera came to Samos from Argos, and that it belonged to the ante-Dorian period.

{p. 101}

In Bœotia the popular mythe had taken a somewhat different view of the character of Hera, and she appears as the jealous wife, such as she is represented in the Ilias.

Hera, the legend said, offended for some cause or another with Zeus, renounced his bed and society. The god in perplexity sought advice from the autochthon Alalcomenos, and by his counsel gave out that he was going to marry another ; and cutting down a handsome tree, they shaped it into the form of a woman, naming it Dædala, and arrayed it in the bridal habit. The bridal hymn was sung, the nymphs of the Tritôn furnished the bath, Bœotia gave pipes and dances, and the pretended bride was placed on a car drawn by kine. When this reached the ears of Hera she could not contain herself, but coming down in a rage from Cithærôn, followed by the women of Platæa, she rushed to the car, seized the supposed bride, and tore off her dress. Then discovering the cheat, she became reconciled to her lord, and with joy and laughter took herself the place of the bride, and committed the image to the flames530.

This legend was invented to explain the origin of a national festival of Bœotia named the Dædala. Of this there were two kinds, the Small, celebrated every seven, the Great, every sixty years. According to Pausanias, there was a wood near Alalcomenæ where grew the finest oaks in Bœotia, to which the Platæans repaired, and setting some dressed meat before it, and watching the ravens, marked which of them took the meat, and on what tree he sat. They then cut down that tree, and made an image from it. It is probable that the other cities of Bœotia did the same ; and this was called the Little Dædala. When the time of the Great Dædala came, there were fourteen images ready (one for each of the cities of Bœotia), with which they repaired to the banks of the Asopos. Each image was placed on a car, and a bridemaid (νυμϕϵύτρια) set beside it. The procession then moved on, each car taking its place by lot, and ascended to the summit of Cithærôn, where an altar of wood stood ready prepared ; a bull was there sacrificed to Zeus, and a cow to Hera ; wine and perfumes, and other victims, were cast on the altar, {p. 102}as also were the images, and the whole was set on fire, and a flame thus raised which was visible to a great distance531.

From the very confused account of this festival which has been transmitted to us, it is a matter of much difficulty to ascertain its real character. It seems most probable, however, that it was designed to form an astronomical cycle, and to serve as a calendar of time, and also to operate as a bond of union among the Bœotian states. For our present purpose it is sufficient to remark the union expressed in it of Zeus and Hera, and the sacrifice of the bull and cow to these deities.

There was another legend of Zeus and Hera, of which Cithærôn was also the scene. The maiden Hera, it said, was reared in Eubœa ; but Zeus stole her away, and Cithærôn gave him a shady cavern to conceal her in. When her nurse Macris came in quest of her charge and wanted to search the cavern, Cithærôn would not permit her, saying that Zeus was abiding there with Leto. The nurse then went away, and Hera in consequence of this associated Leto with herself in her temple and altar under the title Of-the-Recessυχία)532.

Here again we meet the Sacred Marriage performed in secret, as at Argos. In Eubœa Hera was called Virginάρθϵνος)533 ; and a place there sacred to her was named Parthenion. Macris (which we find personified in the legend) was a name of that island.

The marriage of Zeus and Hera was viewed as the pattern of those of mankind, and the goddess was held to preside over the nuptial league. Hence she was named the Yokerυγία), the Consecratorϵλϵία), the Marriage-goddessαμήλιος).

As we have already hinted, we are inclined to assent to the opinion of those who view in Zeus the heaven, and in Hera the earth, and regard this holy marriage so continually renewed, and of which the memory was kept up in so many places, as that of heaven and earth in the spring of each returning year, when the showers descend, and foliage, herbage, and flowers cover the face of nature534. As the earth {p. 103}exhibits no symptoms of becoming effete, but brings forth her progeny with undiminished vigour in each succeeding year, the early sages of Greece devised the mythe of the perpetually renewed virginity of the goddess. The physical union of earth and heaven is, we think, plainly discernible in the beautiful passage of Homer above noticed. It is given without any disguise by Euripides535, in whose time the deities of the popular creed were generally regarded as personifications of physical objects and powers ; and he has been imitated by the Latin Epicurean poets Lucretius536 and Virgile537.

The consecration of the cow to Hera is also to be considered as a proof of her being regarded as the earth ; for in the religion of the ancient Germans (which was akin to that of the Greeks) the cow was assigned to the service of the goddess Hertha, or Earth. At Argos the chariot in which the priestess of Hera rode was drawn by oxen538, so too were the cars in the procession of the Dædala, where a cow also was the victim. It has likewise been supposed, not without reason, that the ancient epithet of the goddess, Ox-eyed or Cow-eyedοῶπις), refers to this connection between her and that animal539.

Hera was represented by Polycleitos seated on a throne, holding in one hand a pomegranate, the emblem of fecundity ; in the other a sceptre, with a cuckoo on its summit540. Her air is dignified and matronly, her forehead broad, her eyes large, and her arms finely formed ; she is dressed in a tunic and mantle.

{p. 104}

By Homer and Hesiod Hera is styled541, 1. Ox-eyed ;2. White-armed ; 3. Gold-seated ; 4. Gold-shod

The origin of the name Hera is somewhat difficult to determine. We may venture to reject the derivations from ἀὴρ, air, and from ἐράω, to love542, of which the former refers to a physical theory, according to which Hera was the air and Zeus the æther ; and the latter to that part of her character by which she was the goddess presiding over the nuptial union. As the goddess of the earth in the religion of Argos, her name would seem to come very simply from ἔρα, earth ; yet there is great plausibility in the theory of Ἥρα being the feminine of Ἥρως, anciently Ἥρος543, and that they answered to each other as the Latin herus, hera, and the German Herr, Herrin, and therefore signified Master and Mistress544. It is possible, however, that the two derivations may in a certain sense be correct. The goddess may have been originally merely Earth, and then, as she separated from the object over which she presided and became the Olympian queen, she may have been regarded as the great Mistress545.

Ἄρης. Mars. §

Ares, the god of war, was the son of Zeus and Hera546. His delight was in tumult and strife ; yet his wild fury was always forced to yield to the skill and prudence of Pallas-Athene, guided by whom Diomedes wounds and drives him from the battle547 ; and in the conflict of the gods548, this goddess herself strikes him to the earth with a stone. To give an idea of his huge size and strength, the poet says in the former case that he roared as loud as nine or ten thousand men ; and in the latter, that he covered seven plethra of ground.

{p. 105}

Terror and Fear (Δϵιμὸς and Φόβος), the sons of Ares, and Strife (Ἔρις) his sister, accompany him to the field when he seeks the battle549. Another of his companions is Enyo550 (Ἐνυὼ), the daughter of Phorcys and Keto551 according to Hesiod, a war-goddess answering to the Bellona of the Romans. The name Enyalios, which is frequently given to him in the Ilias552, corresponds with hers.

The figurative language, which expresses origin and resemblance by terms of paternity, gave a mortal progeny to Ares. As a person who came by sea was figuratively called a son of Poseidôn, so a valiant warrior was termed a son, or, as it is sometimes expressed by Homer, a branch or shoot of Ares (ὄζοςρηος). But the only tale of his amours related at any length by the poets is that of his intrigue with Aphrodite.

Ares — so sang Demodocos to the Phæacians553 — loved Aphrodite, and often visited her in the absence of her unsightly husband. These visits were not unobserved by Helios (for what can escape the piercing eye of the Sun-god ?), and he gave information to the injured artist. Hephæstos dissembled his rage, and going to his workshop forged a net so subtile as to be invisible, so strong as to be infrangible by even the god of war. He disposed it in such a manner as to catch the lovers : then feigning a journey, set out as it were for Lemnos. Ares, who was on the watch, flew to his expecting mistress : the heedless lovers were caught in the net : the Sun-god gave notice ; the husband returned, and standing at his door called all the gods to come and behold the captives. The dwellers of Olympos laughed heartily, and some jokes were passed on the occasion. Poseidôn however took no part in the mirth, but drawing Hephæstos aside pressed him to accommodate the affair. The artist, doubtful of the honour of the soldier, was loath to assent, till Poseidôn pledged himself to see him paid. He then yielded, and released his prisoners. Ares hastened away to his favourite region of Thrace : Aphrodite fled to hide her shame in her beloved isle of Cyprus.

This tale is an evident interpolation in the part of the {p. 106}Odyssey where it occurs. Its date is uncertain ; but the language, the ideas, and the state of society which it supposes, might almost lead us to assign its origin to a comparatively late period. It may be, as is generally supposed, an ancient physical mythe, or rather a combination of two such mythes ; for beauty might naturally have been made the spouse of the god from whose workshop proceeded so many elegant productions of art, and, as we are about to show, another physical view led to the union of Ares and Aphrodite. Still we cannot avoid regarding the present tale rather as a sportive effusion of Grecian wit and satire. In Greece, as everywhere else, wealth and beauty were occasionally united in wedlock ; and there too, as elsewhere, martial renown and showy exterior were passports to the hearts of the fair. If the tale was framed on the coast of Asia, we know that warfare was frequent enough among the Grecian cities there to allow of reputation being gained by deeds of valour554.

To the above tale has also been appended by later writers a legendary origin of the cock (λϵκτρυών). It is said that Alectryôn was a youth whom Ares placed to watch while he was with Aphrodite ; and, for neglect of his task, he was changed by the angry god into the bird of his name555.

Hesiod says556 that Harmonia (Order) was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. This has evidently all the appearance of a physical mythe, for from Love and Strife (i. e. attraction and repulsion) it is clear, arises the order or harmony of the universe557. Terror and Fear are also said by Hesiod558 to have been the offspring of Ares and Aphrodite, of whose union with Hephæstos (to whom he gives a different spouse) he seems to have known nothing. In the Ilias we may observe that Ares and Aphrodite are spoken of as brother and sister, much in the same manner as Apollo and Artemis559.

The best known of the children of this god by mortal women are Ascalaphos and Ialmenos560, Œnomaos king of Pisa, Diomedes of Thrace, Cycnos, Phlegyas, Dryas, Parthenopæos, {p. 107}and Tereus. He was also said to be the sire of Meleagros and other hero-princes of Ætolia561.

The Hill of Ares (Ἄρϵιος πάγος), at Athens, is said to have derived its appellation from the following circumstance. Halirrhothios, a son of Poseidôn, had offered violence to Alcippe, the daughter of Ares. Her father killed the offender, and he was summoned by Poseidôn before a court of justice for the murder. The trial was held on this hill, the twelve gods sat as judges, and Ares was acquitted562. Another tradition derived the name of the hill from the Amazons having there offered sacrifices to Ares, their sire563. It is quite manifest therefore that the real origin of the name was unknown.

The temples and images of Ares were not numerous. He is represented as a warrior, of a severe menacing air, dressed in the heroic style, with a cuirass on, and a round Argive shield on his arm. His arms are sometimes borne by his attendants.

The epithets of Ares were all significative of war. He was styled by Homer and Hesiod564, 1. Blood-stained ; 2. Shield-borer ; 3. Man-slaying ; 4. Town-destroyer ;5. Gold-helmed ; 6. Brazen ; 7. People-rouser ; 8. Impetuous, etc.

The name Ares (Ἄρης) would seem to be connected with ἀνὴρ, ἄῤῥην and ἀρϵτὴ (valour), and therefore to be significant of the character of the god. But some late critics seem rather to look to ἔρα, earth, for its origin, and to regard him as having been one of the telluric powers in the Pelasgian creed, and to think that, like those of Hermes and Pallas-Athene, his character changed with the change of manners in Greece565.

Ἥϕαιστος Vulcanus. §

Hephæstos, the Olympian artist, is in Homer the son of Zeus and Hera566. According to Hesiod567 he was the son of {p. 108}Hera alone, who was unwilling to be outdone by Zeus when he had given birth to Pallas-Athene. He was born lame, and his mother was so displeased at the sight of him that she flung him from Olympos. The Ocean-nymph Eurynome and the Nereïs Thetis saved and concealed him in a cavern beneath the Ocean, where during nine years he employed himself in manufacturing for them various ornaments and trinkets568. We are not informed how his return to Olympos was effected, but we find him in the Ilias firmly fixed there ; and all the houses, furniture, ornaments, and arms of the Olympians were the work of his hands.

It would be an almost endless task to enumerate all the articles formed by Hephæstos ; we shall however notice some of the chief of them. One thing is remarkable concerning them, that they were all made of the various metals ; no wood, or stone, or any other substance, entering into their composition : they were moreover frequently endowed with automatism.

All the habitations of the gods on Olympos were made by Hephæstos, and were all composed of metal ; as also were their chariots and arms. He made armour for Achilleus and other mortal heroes569. The fatal collar of Harmonia was the work of his hands570. The brass-footed, brass-throated, fire-breathing bulls of Æetes king of Colchis were the gift of Hephæstos to Æetes’ father Helios571 ; and he made for Alcinoös, king of the Phæacians, the gold and silver dogs which guarded his house572. For himself he formed the golden maidens, who waited on him, and whom he endowed with reason and speech573. He gave to Minôs, king of Crete, the brazen man Talôs, who each day compassed his island three times, to guard it from the invasion of strangers574. The brazen cup in which the Sun-god and his horses and chariot are carried round the earth every night was also the work of this god575.

The only instances we meet of Hephæstos’ working in any {p. 109}other substance than metal are in Hesiod, where at the command of Zeus he forms Pandora of earth and water576, and where he uses gypsum and ivory in the formation of the shield which he makes for Heracles577. That framed by him for Achilleus in the Ilias is all of metal.

In the Ilias578 the wife of Hephæstos is named Charis ; in Hesiod579, Aglaia, the youngest of the Charites ; in the interpolated tale in the Odyssey, Aphrodite the goddess of beauty580. He is said to have asked Pallas-Athene in marriage of Zeus, who gave him permission to win her if he could. Hephæstos was a rough wooer, and attempted to offer violence to the goddess. An Athenian legend refers the birth of Erichthonios, one of the mythic kings of Attica, to this circumstance581.

The favourite haunt of Hephæstos on earth was the isle of Lemnos. It was here he fell when flung from heaven by Zeus for attempting to aid his mother Hera, whom Zeus had suspended in the air with anvils fastened to her feet. As knowledge of the earth advanced, Ætna582, Hiera (one of the Liparæan isles)583, and all other places where there was subterranean fire, were regarded as the forges of Hephæstos ; and the Cyclopes were associated with him as his assistants. In Homer, when Thetis wants Hephæstian armour for her son, she seeks Olympos, and the armour is fashioned by the artist-god with his own hand. In the Augustan age, Venus prevails on her husband, the master-smith, to furnish her son Æneas with arms ; and he goes down from Heaven to Hiera, and directs his men the Cyclopes to execute the order584. It is thus that mythology changes with modes of life.

Hephæstos and Pallas-Athene are frequently joined together as the communicators to men of the arts which embellish life and promote civilization585. The philosophy of this view of the two deities is correct and elegant.

{p. 110}

The artist-god is usually represented as of ripe age, with a serious countenance and muscular form : his hair hangs in curls on his shoulders. He generally appears with hammer and tongs at his anvil, in a short tunic, and his right arm bare, sometimes with a pointed cap on his head. The Cyclopes are occasionally placed with him.

The poetic epithets of Hephæstos were derived either from his lameness or from his skill. He was called586, 1. Both-feet-lame ;2. Lame-foot, or Bow-legged ; 3. Feeble ; 4. Renowned Artist ; 5. Very-renowned ;6. Wise, etc.

Hephæstos must have been regarded originally as simply the fire-god, a view of his character which we find even in the Ilias587. Fire being the great agent in reducing and working the metals, the fire-god naturally became an artist. The former was probably Hephæstos’ Pelasgian, the latter his Achæan character. The simplest derivation of his name therefore seems to be that which, regarding the first letter as euphonie, and Hephæstos as Phæstos (Φαȋτος), deduces it from ϕάω, to give light.588.

Ἤβη. Juventas. Youth. §

Hebe was one of the children of Zeus and Hera589. In Olympos she appears as a kind of maid-servant ; she hands round the nectar at the meals of the gods590 ; she makes ready the chariot of Hera591, and she bathes and dresses Ares when his wound has been cured592. When Heracles was assumed to the abode of the gods, Youth was given to him in marriage593.

{p. 111}

It was apparently to bring the life of the gods more into harmony with that of men, that the office of cup-bearer was afterwards transferred to Ganymedes594. Alcæus and Sappho give it to Hermes, the celestial herald595, it being the office of the heralds in Homer. A poet named Capito bestowed it (we know not for what reason) on Harmonia596.

At Phliûs in the Peloponnese a goddess was worshiped, whom the ancient Phliasians, Pausanias says597, called Ganymede, but in his time she was named Hebe. Strabo says598 that Hebe was worshiped at Phliûs and Sicyôn under the name of Dia. It is not improbable that from the name of Ganymedes (Joy-promoter), so well suited to a cup-bearer, a feminine title had been formed for Hebe.

Hebe was called by the poets599, 1. Fair-ankled ; 2. Gold-wreathed ; 3. Bright-limbed.

{p. 112}

Chapter VIII.


Λητώ Latona. §

Leto was daughter of the Titans Coios and Phœbe600. In Homer601 she appears as one of the wives of Zeus, and there occur no traces of enmity between her and Hera. Posterior poets, however, fable much of the persecution she underwent from that goddess602. Her children by Zeus were Phœbos-Apollo, and Artemis.

While wandering from place to place with her children, Leto, says a legend most prettily told by Ovid603, arrived in Lycia. The sun was shining fiercely, and the goddess was parched with thirst. She saw a pool, and knelt down at it to drink. Some clowns, who were there cutting sedge and rushes, refused to allow her to slake her thirst. In vain the goddess entreated, representing that water was common to all, and appealing to their compassion for her babes. The brutes were insensible : they not only mocked at her distress, but jumped into and muddied the water. The goddess, though the most gentle of her race, was roused to indignation : she raised her hand to heaven and cried, “May you live for ever in that pool !” Her wish was instantly accomplished, and the churls were turned into frogs.

Niobe, the daughter of Tantalos and wife of Amphiôn, proud of her numerous offspring, ventured to set herself before Leto : the offended goddess called upon her children Apollo and Artemis, and soon Niobe was by the arrows of {p. 113}these deities made a childless mother, and stiffened into stone with grief604.

Tityos, the son of Earth or of Zeus and Elara, happened to see Leto one time as she was going to Pytho. Inflamed with love he attempted to offer her violence : the goddess called to her children for aid, and he soon lay slain by their arrows. His punishment did not cease with life : vultures preyed on his liver in Erebos605.

Leto was called606, 1. Fair-ankled ;2. Sable-vested ;3. Gold-tressed ;4. Much-honoured.

With respect to the origin of this goddess and her name, the most simple hypothesis, in our opinion, is that which regards herself as Night, and esteems her name to be of the same family of words with λήθω, λήθη, and with the Latin lateo and Laverna, and, therefore, to signify concealment or darkness. The parents assigned to her correspond with this hypothesis ; for light, which is made to spring from darkness, may, in a reversed order, be regarded as its origin. The epithet ‘sable-vested607‘ and the mildness of character usually ascribed to this goddess608, also accord with Night ; and if it should appear that the children of Leto were Sun and Moon, there can hardly remain a doubt of this being her true nature.

Φοȋβος Ἀπόλλων. Apollo. §

Phœbos-Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. In Homer he is the god of archery, music, and prophecy609. His arrows were not merely directed against the enemies of the gods, such as Otos and Ephialtes610: all sudden deaths of men were {p. 114}ascribed to his darts ; sometimes as a reward, at other times as a punishment. He was also by his shafts the sender of pestilence, and he removed it when duly propitiated. At the banquets of the gods on Olympos, Apollo played on his phorminx or lyre, while the Muses sang611.

Thus they the whole day long till set of sun
Feasted ; nor wanted any one his part
Of the equal feast, or of the phorminx fair
Which Phœbos held, or of the Muses’ lay,
Who sang responding with melodious voice.

Eminent bards, such as Demodocos612, were held to have derived their skill from the teaching of Apollo or of the Muses. Prophets in like manner were taught by him ; at Pytho he himself revealed the future613.

As in Homer and Hesiod no birth-place of any of the gods is noticed, we must regard the tale of the birth of Phœbos-Apollo in the isle of Delos as being posterior to the time of these poets. According to the Homeridian hymn in his honour, it took place in the following manner. Leto, persecuted by Hera, besought all the islands of the Ægæan to afford her a place of rest ; but all feared too much the potent queen of heaven to assist her rival. Delos alone consented to become the birth-place of the future god, provided Leto would pledge herself that he would not contemn her humble isle, and would erect there the temple vowed by his mother. Leto assented with an oath, and the friendly isle received her. For nine days and nights the pains of labour continued. All the goddesses, save Hera and Eileithyia, (whom the art of Hera kept in ignorance of this great event,) were assembled in the isle. Moved with compassion for the sufferings of Leto, they dispatched Iris to Olympos, who brought Eileithyia secretly to Delos. Leto then grasped a palm-tree in the soft mead, on the banks of the Inopos, Earth smiled around, Apollo sprang to light, and the goddesses shouted aloud to celebrate his birth. They washed and swathed the infant deity, and Themis gave him nectar and ambrosia. As soon as he had tasted the divine food, his bands and swaddling-clothes no longer retained him : he sprang up, and called to the goddesses to give him a {p. 115}lyre and a bow, adding that he would thenceforth declare to men the will of Zeus. He then, to the amazement of the assembled goddesses, walked firmly on the ground ; and Delos, exulting with joy, became covered with golden flowers614.

Callimachus615 relates the birth of Apollo somewhat differently. According to him, Hera, knowing that the son of Leto would be dearer to Zeus than her own son Ares, was resolved if possible to prevent his birth. Determined therefore that no place should receive the travailing goddess, she took her own station in the sky : she placed her son Ares upon the Thracian mountain Hæmos, and her messenger Iris on Mount Mimas, to watch the islands. All the lands, hills, and rivers of Hellas refused to hearken to the prayers of the goddess. Moved with wrath, the unborn Apollo menaced Thebes for her discourteous refusal, and foretold the future fate of the children of Niobe. The river-god Peneios alone valued justice and humanity more than the wrath of Hera : he checked his stream to give a shelter to the goddess ; but instantly Ares arose, clashed his arms, that the mountains and all Thessaly trembled at the sound, and was about to fling the peaks of Pangæos on the generous stream, who undauntedly awaited the issue ; when Leto passed further on, entreating him not to expose himself to danger on her account. She now turned to the islands, but none would receive her ; and the god called out to her that a floating island was to be his birth-place. At length she met Delos, then called Asteria, which floated among the Cyclades616. Delos generously invited the wearied goddess to enter her, expressing her willingness to encounter the anger of Hera. This last goddess, when informed by her messenger, remits her anger ; Apollo is born ; a choir of swans comes from the Mæonian Pactolos, and flies seven times round the isle to celebrate his birth ; the Delian nymphs receive and sing the sacred verses of Eileithyia ; the sky gives back the joyful cry ; and Delos, as before, becomes invested in gold.

{p. 116}

In the Homeridian hymn to the Pythian Apollo, the manner of his first getting possession of Pytho is thus related. When Apollo resolved to choose the site of his first temple, he came down from Olympos into Pieria : he sought throughout all Thessaly ; thence went to Eubœa, Attica, and Bœotia, but could find no place to his mind. The situation of Tilphussa, near Lake Copaïs, in Bœotia, pleased him ; and he was about to lay the foundations of his temple there, when the nymph of the place, afraid of having her own fame eclipsed by the vicinity of the oracle of Apollo, dissuaded him, by representing how much his oracle would be disturbed by the noise of the horses and mules coming to water at her stream. She recommends to him Crissa beneath Mount Parnassos as a quiet sequestered spot, where no unseemly sounds would disturb the holy silence demanded by an oracle. Arrived at Crissa, the god is charmed by the solitude and sublimity of the scene. He forthwith sets about erecting a temple, which the hands of numerous workmen speedily raise, under the direction of the brothers Trophonios and Agamedes. Meanwhile Apollo slays with his arrows the monstrous serpent which abode there and destroyed the people and cattle of the vicinity. As she lay expiring, the exulting victor cried, “Now rot (πύθευ) there on the man-feeding earth ;” and hence the place and oracle received the appellation of Pytho. The fane was now erected, but priests were wanting. The god, as he stood on the lofty area of the temple, cast his eyes over the sea, and beheld far south of the Peloponnese a Cretan ship sailing for Pylos. He plunged into the sea, and in the form of a porpoise sprang on board the ship. The crew sat in terror and amazement : a south-wind carried the vessel rapidly along : in vain they sought to land at Tænaron ; she would not obey the helm. When they came to the bay of Crissa a west-wind sprang up, and speedily brought the ship into port ; and the god in the form of a blazing star left the vessel, and descended into his temple. Then quick as thought he came as a handsome youth with long locks waving on his shoulders, and accosted the strangers, inquiring who they were and whence they came. To their question in return, of what that place was to which they were come, he replies by informing them {p. 117}who he is, and what his purpose was in bringing them thither. He invites them to land, and says, that as he had met them in the form of a porpoise (δελὶν) they should worship him as Apollo Delphinios, whence the place should also derive its name617. They now disembark : the god playing on his lyre precedes them, and leads them to his temple, where they become his priests and ministers618.

As might be expected, the legends of so celebrated an event as the establishment of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, the sacred counsellor of all Greece, are various. The names Pytho and Delphi alone sufficed to give a foundation for some of them. The former, which evidently signifies the Place of Enquiry, a title well suited to an oracle, gave occasion to the legend above related, and also to one of a huge serpent named Pythôn, which, it is said, came out of his den and attacked Leto when she was going by with her children in her arms ; she stood then on a rock, holding the infant Artemis, and urged on her son by calling to him, ἵε, παî, and he dispatched the monster with his arrows619. This serpent, another version of the legend says, was named Delphine620, for the formation of which name, as we may perceive, Delphi probably gave its aid, as it did also for that of the change of the god into the porpoise, and for his title Delphinios.

The Homeric Apollo is a being of remarkable purity, and the poet seems to have had a strong feeling of the dignity of his character, for he never ventures to use the same familiarity with him as with the other gods, Zeus himself not excepted. Apollo is the friend of man, he protects his worshipers, and he punishes the unjust and impious. At all periods of the {p. 118}Grecian literature we find the character of the ‘pure (ἁγνὸς) god,’ as he was emphatically called, still the same. There is a serene cheerfulness always ascribed to him, he is averse from gloom and the promoter of joy and innocent pleasure621; but at the same time dignified in his sentiments and actions. The purity of his character appears also in this, that no amours with either goddesses or mortals are ascribed to him in the Homeric poems622. When however, in subsequent times, heroes and heroic families were made to derive their lineage from the residents of Olympos, Phœbos-Apollo was also provided with his love-adventures by the poets ; yet it is observable that he was not remarkably happy in his love, either meeting with a repulse, or having his amour attended with a fatal termination, and that none of these heroic families could claim him as the head of their genealogy.

«The first love of Phœbos,» says Ovid, «was Daphne, the daughter of Peneios.» Apollo, proud of his victory over the Pythôn, beholding Erôs bending his bow, mocked at the efforts of the puny archer. Erôs incensed flew, and taking his stand on Parnassos shot his golden arrow of love into the heart of the son of Leto, and discharged his leaden one of aversion into the bosom of the nymph of Peneios. Daphne loved the chase, and it alone, indifferent to all other love. Phœbos beheld her, and burned with passion. She flies, he pursues ; in vain he exhausts his eloquence, magnifying his rank, his power, his possessions ; the nymph but urges her speed the more. Fear gave wings to the nymph, love to the god. Exhausted and nearly overtaken, Daphne on the banks of her father’s stream stretched forth her hands, calling on Pencios for protection and change of form. The river-god heard ; bark and leaves covered his daughter, and Daphne became a bay-tree (δάϕνη, laurus). The god embraced its trunk, and declared that it should be ever afterwards his favourite tree623.

{p. 119}

Of this legend we need only observe, that it is one of the many tales devised to give marvel to the origin of natural productions, and that its object is to account for the bay-tree being sacred to Apollo.

Apollo, it is also said by the same poet, thought himself happy in the love and fidelity of Coronis, a maiden of Larissa. His ignorance was his bliss, for the nymph was faithless. The raven, the favourite bird of the god, and then white as his swans, saw the maiden in the arms of a Hæmonian youth, and bore the tidings to his master, who immediately discharged one of his inevitable arrows into the bosom of the frail fair one. Dying she deplores the fate, not of herself, but of her unborn babe. The god repents when too late ; he tries in vain his healing art, and, dropping celestial tears, places her on the funereal pyre : extracting the babe, he gave him to be reared by Cheirôn, the centaur. To punish the raven, he changed his hue from white to black624.

This is probably a legend of some antiquity, for in a fragment of one of the poems ascribed to Hesiod625, it is said that the raven brought tidings to Phœbos of the marriage of Ischys, the son of Eilatos, with Coronis, the daughter of Phlegyas. The tale is also told by Pindar626, but he says nothing of the raven, making the god himself, though at Pytho, discover what was done through his divine power. At his desire Artemis shot the fair offender with her arrows.

Marpessa, the daughter of Evenos, was beloved by Apollo, whose suit was favoured by her father. Idas, another lover, having obtained a winged chariot from Poseidôn, carried off the apparently not reluctant maid. Her father pursued the fugitives, but coming to the river Lycormas, and finding his progress stopped by it, he slew his horses and cast himself into the stream, which from him derived its name Evenos. Meantime Apollo met and took the fair prize from Idas. The matter being referred to Zeus, he allowed the maiden to choose {p. 120}for herself ; and fearing that when she grew old Apollo would desert her, she wisely chose to match with her equal, and gave her hand to her mortal lover627.

Cassandra, daughter of Priamos king of Troy, also attracted the love of this god : the price she set on her favours was the gift of prophecy. The gift was freely given, but the royal maid refused the promised return ; and the indignant deity, unable to recall what he had bestowed, made it useless by depriving her predictions of credit628.

Cyrene, a daughter of the river Peneios, was another of the loves of Phœbos ; he carried her in his golden chariot over the sea to Libya, where she bore him a son named Aristæos629.

The only celestial amour recorded of Apollo is that with the muse Calliope, of which the fruit was Orpheus630. No parents more suitable could be assigned to the poet, whose strains could move the woods and rocks, than the god of poetry and the muse Fair-voice.

Cyparissos and Hyacinthos were two beautiful youths, favourites of Apollo ; but that favour availed not to avert misfortune. The former, having by accident killed a favourite stag, pined away with grief, and was changed into the tree which bears his name631. The latter, a youth of Amyclæ, was playing one day at discus-throwing with the god. Apollo made a great cast, and Hyacinthos running too eagerly to take up the discus, it rebounded and struck him in the face. The god, unable to save his life, changed him into the flower which was named from him, and on whose petals Grecian fancy saw traced aἲ, aἲ, the notes of grief632. Other versions of the legend say that Zephyros (West-wind), enraged at Hyacinthos’ having preferred Apollo to himself, blew the discus, {p. 121}when flung by Apollo, against the head of the youth, and so killed him633. A festival called the Hyacinthia was celebrated for three days in the summer of each year at Amyclæ, in honour of the god and his unhappy favourite634.

The babe saved from the pyre of Coronis was Asclepios, who became so famous for his healing powers. Extending them so far as to restore the dead to life, he drew on himself the enmity of Hades, on whose complaint Zeus with his thunder deprived him of life. Apollo incensed slew the Cyclopes who had forged the thunderbolts, for which bold deed Zeus was about to hurl him down to Tartaros, but, on the entreaty of Leto, he was so far mollified as to be content with the offender’s becoming a servant to a mortal man for the space of a year. Admetos, king of Pheræ, in Thessaly, was the person selected to be honoured by the service of the god, who, according to the more dignified and probable view of the mythe, pastured this prince’s flocks and herds on the verdant banks of the river Amphrysos, making the kine under his charge all bear twins635 ; while according to another he discharged for him even the most servile offices636. When the term of his servitude was expired he was permitted to return to Olympos637.

In this mythic tale of Apollo serving Admetos, Müller sees matter of deeper import than might at first sight be supposed. According to the Delphian tradition, it was for slaying the Pythôn that the god was condemned to servitude. Every {p. 122}eighth year the combat with the Pythôn was the subject of mimic representation at Delphi. A boy who personated Apollo, having in mimic show slain the Pythôn, fled and took his way along the Sacred Road to the vale of Tempe in the north of Thessaly, to be purified as it were from the guilt of the bloodshed ; and having there plucked a branch of bay, in imitation of the act of the god, he returned to Delphi at the head of a theoria638. This mimic flight also represented the servitude of the god, which the legend placed at Pheræ in Thessaly639. Müller therefore, who views in the whole transaction a deep moral sense, and a design to impress upon the minds of men a vivid idea of the guilt of bloodshed, by representing even the pure god Apollo as being punished for slaying the Pythôn, a being of demon-origin, deems the original legend to have been a still bolder stretch of fancy, and that it was to the god of the under-world, to Hades himself, that Apollo was obliged to become a servant640. This hypothesis he thinks is confirmed by the names which occur in the legend : for Admetos, he says, must have been an epithet of Hades ; Clymene, the name of Admetos’ mother, is one of Persephone ; and Pheræ was a town sacred to the goddess Hecate, who was connected with the lower-world641.

It cannot be said positively whether this mythe (which is apparently a temple-legend of Delphi,) was known to Homer. In the Catalogue642 the mares of Eumelos Pheretiades are highly praised for their beauty and swiftness, and it is added that Apollo had reared them in Pieria643. At the funeral-games, toward the close of the poem644, Eumelos, named Pheretiades and son of Admetos, is one of the competitors in the chariotrace. These notices however, we may observe, occur in the {p. 123}parts of the Hias of which the antiquity is most dubious. It may also be doubted if the temple-legend of Delphi could be as old as the age to which Homer is usually referred. In another of the latter books of the Ilias it is said that Poseidôn and Apollo, by the command of Zeus (we know not why given), served Laomedôn, king of Troy, for a year ; at the end of which time he refused to pay them their wages, and threatened to cut off the cars of both, and even to sell the latter for a slave. The task of Apollo had been to tend the herds of the Trojan king in the valleys of Ida645.

Apollo, it is said646, was taught divination by Pan, the son of Zeus and the nymph Thymbris. For his musical instrument he was indebted to the invention of his half-brother Hermes. Pan, the god of shepherds, venturing to set his reed-music in opposition to the lyre of Apollo, was pronounced overcome by Mount Tmolos, who had been chosen judge ; and all present approved the decision except king Midas, whose ears were, for their obtuseness, lengthened by the victor to those of an ass647. The Silen648 Marsyas, having found the pipe which Athena for fear of injuring her beauty had flung away, contended with Apollo before the Muses, and was by him flayed for his temerity when vanquished ; and the tears of the nymphs and rural gods for the fate of their companion gave origin to the stream which bore his name649.

This last legend admits of a very simple explanation. Marsyas was a river-god of Phrygia, the country in which the music of wind-instruments was employed in the service of the gods ; the lyre was used by the Greeks in that of Apollo650. {p. 124}Hence, to express the superiority of the latter, a contest was feigned between Apollo and Marsyas. At the cavern in the town of Celænæ in Phrygia, whence the stream Marsyas issues, was hung, for some reason which is not very clear, a leathern bag651, and hence it was fabled that Apollo flayed his vanquished rival652.

The Homeric Apollo is a personage totally distinct from Helios, though probably, as will shortly appear, originally the same. When mysteries and secret doctrines were introduced into Greece, these deities were united, or perhaps we might say re-united. Apollo at the same period also took the place of Pæeôn, and became the god of the healing art653.

This god was a favourite object of Grecian worship, and his temples were numerous. Of these the most celebrated were that of Delphi in Phocis, — his acquisition of which we have above related, and where, as the mythe of Pythôn would seem to intimate, a conflict took place between the religion of Apollo, proceeding southwards from Pieria, or westwards from Delos, and the ancient religion of the place, the worship of Gæa or Themis654, — and those of Delos, of Patara in Lycia, Claros in Ionia, Grynion in Æolis, Didyma at Miletus ; in all of which his oracles revealed the future.

A very able mythologist of the present day655 maintains that the worship of Apollo was originally peculiar to the Dorian race, who were at all times his most zealous votaries. As the Homeric poems prove the worship of this deity to have been common to the Achæan race, and well known on the coasts of Asia long before the Dorian migration, the critic is forced to have recourse to the not very probable supposition of a Dorian colony having left the mountains of Thessaly many years before the Trojan war, and carried the Apollo-religion to Crete, whence it was spread to the coast of Asia, and also conveyed to Delos and Delphi. We cannot assent to this theory. Apollo seems to have been one of the original gods {p. 125}of the Grecian race ; and he was worshiped by one people more than another, on the same principle as in India Vishnoo is in some places more worshiped than Seeva ; Thor was most honoured by the ancient Norwegians, and Odin by the Swedes ; St. Jago is more frequently invoked in Spain, and St. Anthony in Italy, — without the existence and the rights of the others being denied656.

Apollo was supposed to visit his various favourite abodes at different seasons of the year :

Such as, when wintry Lycia and the streams
Of Xanthos fair Apollo leaves, and comes
To his maternal Delos, and renews
The dances ; while around his altars shout
Cretans, Dryopians, and the painted race
Of Agathyrsians ; he, along the tops
Of Cynthos walking, with soft foliage binds
His flowing hair, and fastens it in gold ;
His arrows on his shoulders sound657.

One of the most beautiful descriptions of these progresses of Apollo was that given by the lyric poet Alcæus. The poem has unfortunately perished, but we find the following analysis of it in the works of the sophist Himerius658.

«When Apollo was born, Zeus adorned him with a golden headband and lyre, and gave him moreover a team to drive (the team were swans)659. He then sent him to Delphi and the streams of Castalia, thence to declare prophetically right and justice to the Hellenes. He ascended the car, and desired the swans to fly also to the Hyperboreans660. The Delphians, when they perceived this, arranged a Pæan and song, and setting choirs of youths around the tripod, called on the god to come from the Hyperboreans. Having given laws for a whole year among those men, when the time was come which he had appointed for the Delphic tripods also to resound, he directed his swans to fly back from the Hyperboreans. It was then summer, and the very middle of it, when Alcæus leads Apollo back from the Hyperboreans ; for when summer {p. 126}shines and Apollo journeys, the lyre itself whispers in a summer-tone of the god. The nightingales sing to him, as the birds should sing in Aleæus ; the swallows and cicadas also sing, not narrating their own fate when among men, but tuning all their melodies to the god. Castalia too flows with poetic silver streams, and Cephissos swells high and bright with his waves, emulating the Enipeus of Homer. For, like Homer. Alcæus ventures to make the very water capable of perceiving the access of the god.»

It was probably on account of their pure white hue that the swans were assigned to the pure god Phœbos-Apollo ; and this connection with the god of music gave origin to the fable, as it is esteemed, of the melody of these birds661. The wolf was also assigned to this god, on account of his bright colour, as some think, but it is far more likely that it was the similitude of his name to an epithet of the god which gave occasion to it. The noisy chirping tettix (cicada), or tree-hopper, was naturally associated with the god of music ; and as the god of augury Apollo was the patron of the hawk and raven. The bay-tree was the plant dedicated to this deity.

Apollo was represented by the artists in the perfection of united manly strength and beauty. His long curling hair hangs loose, or bound with the strophium behind ; his brows are wreathed with bay ; in his hands he bears his bow or lyre. The wonderful Apollo Belvidere shows at the same time the conception which the ancients had of this benign deity, and the high degree of perfection to which they had attained in sculpture.

Few deities had more appellations than the son of Leto. He was called Delian, Delphian, Pataræan, Clarian, etc. from the places of his worship ; and Smynthian from a Phrygian word signifying mouse, of which animal a legend said he had {p. 127}been the destroyer in Troas. He was also styled662, 1. Crooked, probably from the position of the archer when shooting663 ; 2. Herding, as keeping the flocks and herds of the gods, or those of Admetos ; and by the poets, 3. Silver-bowed ; 4. Far-shooter ; 5. Gold-sworded ; 6. Well-haired, and Gold-haired ; 7. Unshorn-locked ; 8. People-rouser, etc.

This god had several epithets apparently connected with the Greek name of the wolf (λύκος) ; but as there was an ancient Greek word signifying light (Λϒ ΚH)664, of a similar form, the great probability, in the eyes of all who regard Apollo as the sun-god, or as a moral being of great purity, will be that this last is the real root of these names, and that, as we said above, it was merely similarity of sound that caused the wolf, or the country Lycia, to be regarded as their origin. Thus the god is called by Homer λυκγϵυὴς, which may be rendered with the utmost propriety Light-born,665 whereas the usual interpretation, Lycia-born, contradicts the fact of the Homeric gods not having birth-places on earth. Two other epithets of Apollo, λύκιος and λύκϵιος, which are usually rendered Lycian, or Wolf-destroying, or rather Wolfish, may signify Lighted, or Lighting. There are two others (λυκοκτόνος and λυκοϵργὴς) which evidently signify Wolf-killing, but they are of late origin, and formed after the derivation from λύκιος, wolf, had become the prevalent one.

Apollo was also named Agyieus (Ἀγυιϵὺς), as the guardian of the streets and roads (ἀγυιαί). Stone-pillars with pointed heads, placed before the doors of the houses, were the images of the god under this name. This practice was peculiar to the Dorians666. Apollo was called Pæan, either from his healing power (from παύω or ΠΑΩ), in which case he would {p. 128}be identical with Pæeôn ; or from his protecting and avenging character (from παίω) The hymn sung to him on the cessation of a plague, or after a victory, was thus named.

The name Phœbos-Apollo is generally regarded as of Grecian origin. The former part critics are unanimous in deriving from ϕάω, to shine ; of which the advocates for the original identity of this deity with Helios see at once the appropriateness : the maintainers of the contrary system interpret Phœbos pure, unstained, making it equivalent to the ἁγνὸς θϵὸς, as he is sometimes called667. Apollo is by some derived from ὄλω, to destroy ; by others from an old verb ἀπέλλω, akin to the Latin pello, to drive away ; by others again from ἀέλιος, the sun, with the digamma F between the two first vowels. The strangest etymon of all is that of Buttmann, who, taking the Cretan form ᾽Αβέλιος to be the original one, deduces it, according to his system of tracing the Greek religion from the East, from Jabal and Jubal, the first musician and herdsman according to Scripture668.

Ἄρτϵμις. Diana. §

Artemis was daughter of Zeus and Leto, and sister to Apollo. She was the goddess of the chase669 ; she also presided over health. The sudden deaths of women were ascribed to her darts670, as those of men were to the arrows of her brother, of whom she forms the exact counterpart. Artemis was a spotless virgin ; her chief joy was to speed like a Dorian maid over the hills, followed by a train of nymphs in pursuit of the flying game671 :

As arrow-joying Artemis along
A mountain moves, either Taÿgetos high,
Or Erymanthos, in the chase rejoiced
Of boars and nimble deer ; and with her sport
The country-haunting nymphs, the daughters fair
Of Ægis-holding Zeus, while Leto joys ;
O’er all she high her head and forehead holds,
Easy to know, though beautiful are all.

The Homerids have also sung the huntress-goddess : one of them in his hymn to her thus describes her occupations672 :

Along the shady hills and breezy peaks,
Rejoicing in the chase, her golden bow
She bends, her deadly arrows sending forth.
Then tremble of the lofty hills the tops ;
The shady wood rebelloweth aloud
Unto the bowstring’s twang ; the earth itself
And fishy sea then shudder : but she still
A brave heart bearing goeth all around,
Slaughtering the race of salvage beasts. But when
Beast-marking, arrow-loving Artemis
Would cheer her soul, relaxing her curved bow
She to her brother Phœbos -Apollo’s house
Ample repaireth, to the fertile land
Of Delphi, there to arrange the lovely dance
Of Muses and of Graces ; then hangs up
Her springy bow and arrows, and begins
To lead the dance ; her body all arrayed
In raiment fair. They, pouring forth their voice
Divine, sing Leto lovely-ankled, how
She brought forth children, ‘mid the Deathless far
The best in counsel and in numerous deeds.

Callimachus thus relates the early history of the goddess673.

Artemis while yet a child, as she sat on her father’s knee, besought him to grant her permission to lead a life of perpetual virginity, to get a bow and arrows formed by the Cyclopes, and to devote herself to the chase. She further asked for sixty Ocean-nymphs as her companions, and twenty nymphs from Amnisos in Crete as her attendants. Of towns and cities she required not more than one, satisfied with the mountains, which she never would leave but to aid women in the pains of child-birth. Her indulgent sire assented with a smile, and gave her not one but thirty towns. She speeds to Crete, and thence to Ocean, and selects all her nymphs. On her return she calls at Lipara on Hephæstos and the Cyclopes, who immediately lay aside all their work to execute her orders. She now proceeds to Arcadia, where Pan, the chief god of that country, supplies her with dogs of an excellent breed. Mount Parrhasios then witnessed the first exploit of {p. 130}the huntress-goddess. Five deer larger than bulls, with horns of gold, fed on the banks of the ‘dark-pebbled’ Anauros at the foot of that hill : of these the goddess unaided by her dogs caught four, which she reserved to draw her chariot : the fifth, destined by Hera for the last labour of Heracles, bounded across the Keladôn and escaped.

According to the same poet, the chariot of Artemis and the harness of her deer are all of gold. When she drives to the house of Zeus, the gods come forth to meet her. Hermes takes her bow and arrows, and Apollo used to carry in her game, till Heracles was received into Olympos, when for his strength that office devolved on him. He carries in the bull, or boar, or whatever else she may have brought, exhorting the goddess to let the hares and small game alone, and attach herself to the boars and oxen ; for Heracles, the poet observes, though deified, still retains his appetite. The Amnisiades then unyoke her stags, and bring to them from Hera’s mead some of the trefoil on which the horses of Zeus feed, and fill their golden troughs with water. The goddess herself meantime enters the house of her father, and sits beside her brother Apollo.

The adventures of Artemis were not numerous. She turned, as we shall relate below, Actæôn into a stag, for having unconsciously beheld her when bathing674. Callisto was changed by her into a bear, for breach of chastity675. Oriôn perished by her arrows676. With her brother she destroyed the children of Niobe, who had presumed to prefer herself to Leto677 ; and in a fable later than Homer she is said to have detained the Grecian fleet at Aulis, in consequence of Agamemnôn’s having killed a hind which was sacred to her, and to have required the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia. The Aloeids, Otos and Ephialtes, it was said, sought in marriage Hera and Artemis : the latter goddess, changing her form into that of a hind, sprang out between the two brothers, who aiming their darts at the supposed beast, by her art pierced each other and died678.

{p. 131}

We have already noticed the practice of the Greeks to unite similar deities, or to make one of them principal, and the others companions or attendants ; and also to form nymphs and other subordinate beings attached to the service of the gods out of their epithets. Of these practices Artemis furnishes more examples perhaps than any other deity.

The Cretans worshiped a goddess the same as or very similar to Artemis, whom they named Britomartis, which in their dialect signified Sweet Maid. She was also called Dictynna, a goddess of that name, and of a similar nature, having been perhaps united with her. There was a similar deity named Aphæa worshiped at Ægina, and they were all joined in a legend in the following manner.

The Cretan nymph Britomartis, the daughter of Zeus and Charme, was a favourite companion of Artemis. Minôs falling in love with her, pursued her for the space of nine months, the nymph at times concealing herself from him amidst the trees, at times among the reeds and sedge of the marshes. At length, being nearly overtaken by him, she sprang from a cliff into the sea, where she was saved in the nets (δίκτυα) of some fishermen. The Cretans afterwards worshiped her as a goddess under the name of Dictynna from the above circumstance, which also was assigned as the reason of the cliff from which she threw herself being called Dictæon. At the rites sacred to her, wreaths of pine or lentisk were used instead of myrtle, as a branch of the latter had caught her garments and impeded her flight. Leaving Crete, Britomartis then sailed for Ægina in a boat : the boatman attempted to offer her violence, but she got to shore and took refuge in a grove on that island, where she became invisible (ἀϕανὴς) : hence she was worshiped in Ægina under the name of Aphæa679.

The well-known legend of Alpheios and Arethusa offers another remarkable instance of this procedure.

Arethusa, it is said, was an Arcadian nymph, and a companion of the huntress-goddess. As she was one day returning from the chase she came to the clear stream of the Alpheios, and enticed by its beauty stripped herself and entered it, {p. 132}to drive away the heat and the fatigue. She heard a murmur in the stream, and terrified sprang to land. The river-god rose : she fled away naked as she was ; Alpheios pursued her. She sped all through Arcadia, till with the approach of evening she felt her strength to fail, and saw that her pursuer was close upon her. She then prayed to Artemis for relief, and was immediately dissolved into a fountain. Alpheios resumed his aqueous form, and sought to mingle his waters with hers. She fled on under the earth and through the sea, till she rose in the isle of Ortygia at Syracuse, still followed by the amorous stream680.

The explanation of this mythe is as follows681. Artemis was worshiped in Elis under the titles of Alpheiæa, Alpheioa, Alpheionia, and Alpheiusa682 ; and there was a common altar to her and Alpheios within the precincts of the Altis at Olympia683. When in the fifth Olympiad Archias the Corinthian founded the colony of Syracuse in Sicily, there were among the colonists some members of the sacerdotal family of the Iamids of Olympia684. These naturally exercised much influence in the religious affairs of the colony, whose first seat was the islet of Ortygia. A temple was built there to Artemis Of-the-Streamοταμία), to which perhaps the proximate inducement was the presence of the fount Arethusa, which contained large fishes, and sent forth a copious stream of water into the sea685. From the original connexion between Alpheios and Artemis, the notion gradually arose, or it was given out, that the fount contained water of the Alpheios, and thence came the legend of his course under the sea686. Eventually, when the poetic notion of Artemis as a love-shunning maiden became the prevalent one687, the goddess was made to fly the pursuit of Alpheios688. The legend at Letrini was689 that he fell in love with {p. 133}her, but seeing no chance of success in a lawful way he resolved to force her. For this purpose he came to Letrini, where she and her nymphs were celebrating a pannychis or wake, and mingled with them. But the goddess, suspecting his design, had daubed her own face and those of her nymphs with mud, so that he was unable to distinguish her, and thus was foiled. Finally she was converted into the coy nymph Arethusa690. A late pragmatising form of the pleasing mythe was, that Alpheios was a hunter who was in love with the huntress Arethusa. To escape from his importunities she passed over to Ortygia, where she was changed into a fountain, and Alpheios became a river691.

In proof of the truth of this fable, it was asserted that a cup (ϕιάλη) which fell into the Alpheios rose in Arethusa, whose pellucid waters also became turbid with the blood of the victims slain at the Olympic games692.

We may here observe, that in the Peloponnese the relation between Artemis and the water was very intimate. She was worshiped in several places as Limnatis and Heleia, and there were frequently fountains in her temples. She was therefore probably regarded as a goddess of nature, that gave vigour and growth to plants and animals by the means of water693.

Among the various titles of Artemis were Loxo, Hecaerge, Arge, and Opis, or Upis. She bore the two first as the sister of Apollo Loxias and Hecaergos. She was styled Arge as the swift or the bright goddess, and Upis or Opis as her whose eye was over all. In the isle of Delos however were shown the tombs of Opis and Arge behind the temple of Artemis, and the tradition of the place was, that they, who were two Hyperborean maidens, had been the companions of Apollo and Artemis when they first came to Delos694. According to another account, these Hyperborean maidens were three in {p. 134}number, and named Upis, Loxo, and Hecaerge695, while a third named only Opis and Hecaerge696. There was also a legend of a nymph Arge, who when pursuing a buck cried out to him, «Though you should follow the course of the Sun I will overtake you,» at which the Sun being offended, turned her into a doe697. Another legend said that Zeus carried away the nymph Arge from Lyctos in Crete to a hill named Argillos on the banks of the Nile, where she became the mother of Dionysos698.

If Artemis was merely one of the names under which the moon was worshiped, it need not surprise us to find her identified with Selene, with Hecate, and even with Persephone, the goddess of the under-world, and to be thence called the three-formed goddess699 ruling as Selene in the sky, as Artemis on earth, as Persephone in Erebos. This will also give a very simple reason for her being like Eileithyia, the aider of women in labour. If Artemis was not originally a moon-goddess, these identifications become somewhat difficult of solution700.

Artemis was also confounded with the goddess worshiped on the Tauric Chersonese, whose altars were stained with the blood of such unhappy strangers as were cast on that inhospitable shore701. She was identified too with the goddess of nature adored at Ephesus, whose symbolical figure, by its multitude of breasts and heads of animals hung round it, denoted the fecundity of nature. In Magnesia on the Mæander there was a most stately temple of Artemis-Leucophryne (White-browed)702, in which was shown the tomb of a maiden named Leucophryne703, who was probably regarded as bearing a relation to the goddess similar to that borne by Upis and Arge at Delos. Leucophryne was therefore no more than an epithet of Artemis, who had also a temple at Leucophrys on {p. 135}the coast704 ; and it becomes a question whether (like Artemis of Ephesus, with whom she must have been identical) she derived her appellation from that town, whose name probably corresponded with its situation on a chalk cliff ; or whether it was expressive of her beauty. As however beauty was not an attribute of the Asiatic goddess, the former is more likely to be the true supposition705.

No spot on earth is assigned as the birth-place of Artemis by Homer, in whose time, as we have more than once observed, that practice had not yet commenced ; but as he mentions the island Ortygia as that in which she shot Oriôn706, succeeding poets fabled that she was born there707. This island was described by Homer as lying in the western sea, the scene of all wonders, and was probably as imaginary as Ogygia, that of Calypso ; but when at a later period the Greeks grew more familiar with those distant regions, zeal for the honour of the poet who had sung so well the wanderings of Odysseus, and the love of definiteness, led them to affix the names which he employs to various places really to be found, and the islet at the mouth of the port of Syracuse was determined to be the Ortygia of the Odyssey708.

Artemis is generally represented as a healthy, strong, active maiden, — handsome, but with no gentleness of expression. She wears the Cretan hunting-shoes (ἐνδρομίδϵς), and has her garment tucked up for speed. On her back she bears a quiver, and in her hand a bow or a hunting-spear. She is usually attended by a dog.

At Trœzên there was a temple of Artemis-Lycæa, the erection of which was ascribed to Hippolytos, but the guides could give Pausanias no account of the unusual title Lycæa709. Another ambiguous name of this goddess was that of Tauropolos710.

{p. 136}

The chief titles given to Artemis by the poets were711, 1. Arrow-joying ; 2. Gold-bridled ; 3. Gold-shafted ; 4. Deer-slayer ; 5. Beast-marking ; 6. Rushing ; 7. Holy ; 8. Horse-urger, etc.

The name Artemis seems identical with ἀρτεμὴς, integer, whole, uninjured, and therefore sound and pure, probably with reference to the virginity of the goddess. Welcker regards it as an epithet of the same nature with Opis and Nemesis, and says that it is ἄρι-Θέμις712.

Mythologists are divided into two parties respecting the original nature of Leto and her children, the one regarding them as physical, the other as moral beings. Both however are agreed that the latter is their character in the Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, where, as we have seen, Apollo appears only as the god of prophecy, music and archery, and Artemis as his counterpart in this last office. Voss713 therefore (with whom agree Wolf714, Lobeck715, Hermann716, Völcker717, Nitzsch718 and Müller719,) maintains such to have been the original conception of these deities, while Heyne720, Buttmann721 and Welcker722, together with Creuzer and the whole body of the mystics, think that in the theocrasy of the ancients, by which Apollo and Artemis were identified with Helios and Selene, they were only restored to their original nature and character. We have more than once hinted our inclination to regard this last as the more correct hypothesis. We will now briefly state the principal arguments on both sides.

In favour of the theory of Apollo and Artemis being sun {p. 137}and moon, it is alleged that they were early so considered. Thus we find the Persian general of Darius sparing the isle of Delos on their account, and making offerings to them evidently as gods of the two great luminaries (Mithras and Mitra in the Persian system)723. We also meet this view in Plato724 and Euripides725 ; and in the Alexandrine period it was so prevalent, that Callimachus726 blames those who separate these deities from the sun and moon. This however might have been nothing more than the arbitrary procedure of priests and philosophers, and more sure grounds must be sought in the attributes and epithets of these deities anterior to the time of theocrasy.

Apollo and Artemis then are brother and sister, the children of Zeus (that is the deity) and Leto, whose name, by a perfectly unstrained etymology, may be rendered Night ; and the origin of the sun and moon, and their affinity, could not be more appropriately described. Apollo is represented as full of manly vigour, with long unshorn locks, armed with a golden sword and a bow and quiver, from which he sends forth deadly arrows. These waving locks are a simple representation of the beams of the sun, who in the Psalms is described as ‘a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing to run his race ;’ a golden sword is the weapon of Freyr, the sun-god of Scandinavian mythology ; and the arrows may well express the penetrating beams of the sun, or the coups de soleil and diseases caused by his action. For a similar reason arrows were given to the goddess of the moon727. The names Phœbos and Artemis, as above explained, agree perfectly with the sun and moon. Apollo being conceived armed with bow and arrows, was naturally held to be the god of archery ; and the sun, whose eye surveys everything, might {p. 138}be looked on as the most suitable revealer of the will of Zeus to men, and thence Apollo be the god of prophecy. The cheerfulness which the appearance of the sun induces over all nature, vivified and refreshed by the repose of the night, and the songs of birds which precede or accompany his rising728, might easily cause the sun-god to be regarded as the god of music, though it is more likely that Apollo owes this character to the employment of the lyre in his worship. Artemis may in like manner have been regarded as the goddess of the chase from her being armed with arrows, or as the beasts of venery feed by night and sleep by day729, or as the moon-goddess was held to preside over the birth and growth of animated beings. Finally, the offering of ripe ears of corn, the ‘golden summer’, to Apollo, and his being prayed to as the averter of mildew and the destroyer of mice and grasshoppers, are reasons for viewing him as a god of nature730.

Against all this it is alleged that these identifications were merely the work of the philosophers of the Ionic school, who sought to assimilate all the deities of the popular creed with material powers or the attributes of the universal intellect ; that the epithets and attributes of Apollo all answer to a moral being of great purity, while the bow and arrows are a natural symbol of the god who sends death from afar ; that nothing can be concluded from his being a patron and protector of agriculture, as he is such as the averter of misfortune in general ; that in his religious character he is no god of nature, not being a deity of generation and production, but represented as ever youthful and unmarried, the tales of his amours being all of a late age, and having no connexion with his worship. Finally, great stress is laid on the fact of Apollo and Artemis being so totally distinct from the sun and moon in all the elder poetry731.

{p. 139}

Chapter IX.


Διώνη. Dione. §

In the Ilias732 Dione is a wife of Zeus, and mother of Aphrodite. The name Dione also occurs among the Ocean-nymphs733, the Nereïdes734 and the Hyades735. At Dodona Dione shared in the honours and the worship of Zeus, being regarded as his queen736. Her name is apparently the feminine of his, and probably signified simply goddess737.

ϕροδίτη. Venus. §

The Aphrodite of the Ilias738 is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, and by the Alexandrian and the Latin poets739 she is sometimes called by the same name as her mother. Hesiod740 says she sprang from the foam (ἀϕρὸς) of the sea, into which the mutilated part of Uranos had been thrown by his son Kronos. She first, he adds, approached the land at the island of Cythera, and thence proceeded to Cyprus, where grass grew beneath her feet, and Love and Desire attended her.

One of the Homerids741 sings, that the moist-blowing west-wind wafted her in soft foam along the waves of the sea, and that the gold-filleted Seasons received her on the shore of Cyprus, clothed her in immortal garments, placed a golden wreath on her head, rings of orichalcum and gold in her pierced ears, and golden chains about her neck, and then led her to the {p. 140}assembly of the Immortals, every one of whom admired, saluted, and loved her, and each god desired her for his wife.

Empedocles said that Aphrodite was the daughter of Kronos742.

The husband assigned to this charming goddess is usually the lame artist Hephæstos. Her amour with Ares we have already narrated ; and Hermes, Dionysos, and Poseidôn, it is said, could also boast of her favours. Among mortals, Anchises and Adonis are those whose amours with her are the most famous. The tale of her love-adventure with the former is noticed by Homer743, and it is most pleasingly told by a Homerid ; the following is an analysis of his hymn.

Aphrodite had long exercised uncontrolled dominion over the dwellers of Olympos, uniting in cruel sport both males and females with mortals. But Zeus resolved that she should no longer be exempt from the common lot. Accordingly he infused into her mind the desire of a union of love with mortal man. The object selected was Anchises, a beautiful youth of the royal house of Troy, who was at that time with the herdsmen feeding oxen among the hills and valleys of Ida.

The moment Aphrodite beheld him she was seized with love. She immediately hastened to her temple in Cyprus, where the Graces dressed and adorned her, and then in the full consciousness of beauty she proceeded through the air. When she came to Ida, she advanced toward the stalls, and was accompanied on her way by all the wild beasts of the mountains, whose breasts the exulting goddess filled with love and desire.

Anchises happened to be alone in the cotes at this time, and was amusing his leisure by playing on the lyre. When he beheld the goddess, who had divested herself of the usual marks of divinity, he was amazed at her beauty and the splendour of her attire. He could not avoid regarding her as something more than human ; he accosts her as one of the Immortals, vows an altar to her, and beseeches her to grant him a long and a happy life. But Aphrodite denies her {p. 141}heavenly origin, and feigns that she is a mortal maid and daughter to Otreus king of Phrygia, adding, that while she was dancing, in honour of Artemis, with the nymphs and other maidens, and a great crowd was standing around, Hermes had snatched her away, and carried her through the air over hills and dales and plains, till he had brought her to Ida, where he informed her that she was to be the wife of Anchises ; and then, having instructed her in what she was to do, had departed, leaving her alone in the mountains. She earnestly entreats the Trojan youth to conduct her unsullied to his family, and to dispatch a messenger to her father to treat of the marriage and the dower.

But while thus speaking, the artful goddess filled the heart of the youth with love. Believing her now to be mortal, all his veneration vanishes, and he declares that not even Apollo should prevent his taking advantage of the favourable moment. He seized the hand of the goddess, and ‘led her blushing like the morn’ into the rustic shed.

When evening approached, and the arrival of the herdsmen with the sheep and oxen was at hand, the goddess poured a profound sleep over Anchises. She arose from the skinstrewn couch, and prepared to depart. Resuming the marks of divinity, the brilliant eyes and rosy neck, she stood at the door and called to her slumbering lover to awake and observe the change. Filled with awe, he conceals his face in the clothes and sues for mercy ; but the goddess reassures him, and informs him that she will bear a son, whom she will commit to the mountain-nymphs to rear, and will bring to him when in his fifth year. He is then to feign that the child is the offspring of one of the nymphs ; but the secret of the goddess is to remain inviolate, under pain of his being struck with lightning by Zeus.

So saying, unto breezy Heaven she sped.
Hail, goddess, who o’er well-dwelt Cyprus rulest !
But I will pass from thee to another hymn, —

concludes the poet, according to the regular practice of his brethren.

Myrrha, the daughter of Cinyras, having offended {p. 142}Aphrodite744, was by her inspired with a passion for her own father. After a long struggle against it, she gratified it by the aid of her nurse, unknown to its object745. When Cinyras found what he had unwittingly done, he pursued his daughter with his drawn sword, to efface her crime in her blood. He had nearly overtaken her, when she prayed to the gods to make her invisible, and they in pity changed her into a myrrh-tree. In ten months afterwards the tree opened, and the young Adonis came to light. Aphrodite, delighted with his beauty, put him into a coffer, unknown to all the gods, and gave him to Persephone to keep. But as soon as she beheld him, the goddess of the under-world refused to part with him ; and the matter being referred to Zeus, he decreed that Adonis should have one third of the year to himself, be another third with Aphrodite, and the remaining third with Persephone. Adonis gave his own portion to Aphrodite, and lived happily with her ; till having offended Artemis, he was torn by a wild boar746 and died747. The ground where his blood fell was sprinkled with nectar by the mourning goddess, and the flower called the anemone or wind-flower sprang up from it, which by its caducity expresses the brief period of the life of the beautiful son of Myrrha748. The rose also derived its present hue from this fatal event ; for as the distracted goddess ran barefoot through the woods and lawns to the aid of her lover, the thorns of the rose-briars tore her delicate skin, and their flowers were thenceforth tinged with red749. Other accounts, however, say {p. 143}that the goddess changed Adonis himself into this fragrant flower750.

The tale of Adonis is evidently an Eastern mythe. His own name and those of his parents refer to that part of the world751. He appears to be the same with the Thammuz mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel,

Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate,
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded ;

and to be a Phœnician personification of the sun, who during a part of the year is absent, or as the legend expresses it, with the goddess of the under-world ; during the remainder with Astarte, the regent of heaven. A festival in honour of Adonis was annually celebrated at Byblos by the Phœnician women during two days ; the first of which was spent in grief and lamentation, the second in joy and triumph. In Greece, whither these rites were transplanted, the festival was prolonged to eight days. It is uncertain when the Adoneia were first celebrated in that country ; but we find Plato752 alluding to the Gardens of Adonis, as pots and boxes of flowers used in them were called, and the ill fortune of the Athenian expedition to Sicily was in part ascribed to the circumstance of the fleet having sailed during that festival753. The Idyll of Theocritus called the Adoniazusæ describes in admirable dramatic style the magnificence with which the feast of Adonis was celebrated in the Græco-Ægyptic city of Alexandria.

This notion of the mourning for Adonis being a testimony {p. 144}of grief for the absence of the sun during the winter, is not, however, to be too readily acquiesced in. Lobeck754 for example asks, with some appearance of reason, why those nations whose heaven was mildest, and their winter shortest, should so bitterly bewail the regular changes of the seasons, as to feign that the gods themselves were carried off or slain ; and he shrewdly observes, that in that case the mournful and the joyful parts of the festival should have been held at different times of the year, and not joined together as they were. He further inquires, whether the ancient nations, who esteemed their gods to be so little superior to men, may not have believed them to have been really and not metaphorically put to death. And in truth it is not easy to give a satisfactory answer to these questions.

According to Homer, Aphrodite had an embroidered girdle (κεστὸς ἱμὰς), which had the gift of inspiring love and desire for the person who wore it. Hera, when about to lull Zeus to sleep by filling him with these affections, borrowed the magic girdle from Aphrodite755.

The animals sacred to Aphrodite were swans, doves, and sparrows. Horace756 places her in a chariot drawn by swans, and Sappho757 in one whose team were sparrows. In one of the odes ascribed to Anacreon a dove announces herself as a present from the goddess to the bard. The bird called Iynx or Fritillus, of which so much use was made in amatory magic, was also sacred to this goddess758 ; as was likewise the swallow, the herald of spring, the season of love. Her favourite plants were the rose and the myrtle. She was chiefly worshiped at Cythera and Cyprus759 ; in which latter isle her favourite places were Paphôs, Golgoi, Idalion, and Amathûs ; and also at Cnidos, Miletos, Côs, Corinth, Athens, Sparta, etc.

In the more ancient temples of this goddess in Cyprus she was represented under the form of a rude conical stone. But the Grecian sculptors and painters, particularly Praxiteles and [n.p.]Apelles, vied with each other in forming her image the ideal of female beauty and attraction. She appears sometimes rising out of the sea and wringing her locks ; sometimes drawn in a conch by Tritons, or riding on some marine animal. She is usually naked, or but slightly clad. The Venus de’ Medici remains to us a noble specimen of ancient art and perception of the beautiful.


The most usual epithets of Aphrodite were760, 1. Smile-loving ; 2. Well-garlanded ; 3. Golden ; 4. Quick-winking ; 5. Well-tressed ; 6. Care-dissolving ; 7. Artful ; 8. Gold-bridled ; etc.

There is none of the Olympians of whom the foreign origin is so probable as this goddess. She is generally regarded as being the same with the Astarte of the Phœnicians. There can, we think, be little doubt of the identification of this last with the Grecian Aphrodite, for the tale of Adonis sufficiently proves it ; and that this took place at a very early period, the name Cypris given to Aphrodite so frequently by Homer evinces. Still we look on Aphrodite to be (as her name seems to denote761) an originally Grecian deity ; at first, probably, merely cosmogonic, but gradually adopted into the system of the Olympians, and endowed with some of the attributes of Hera, (who was also identified with Astarte), and thus becoming the patroness of marriage762. It was probably on account of her being esteemed the same with Astarte, the moon-goddess and queen of heaven, that Aphrodite was so frequently styled the Heavenly (Urania). It is very important to observe that she was so named at her temple in Cythera, which was regarded as the holiest and most ancient of her fanes in Greece. Her antique wooden statue (ξόανον) in this temple was armed, as it also was at Sparta and Corinth763. In this last city she was also styled Urania764, and her worship there was eminently Asiatic in character.

{p. 146}

Ἕρος, Ἕρως. Cupido, Amor. Love. §

This deity is unnoticed by Homer ; in the Theogony765 he is one of the first of beings, and produced without parents. In the Orphic poems he was the son of Kronos766. Sappho767 made him the offspring of Heaven and Earth, while Simonides assigned him Aphrodite and Ares for parents768. In Olên’s hymn to Eileithyia769 that goddess was termed the mother of Love, and Alcæus said that ‘well-sandaled Iris bore Love to gold-locked Zephyros770.’

The cosmogonic Erôs of Hesiod is apparently a personification of the principle of attraction, on which the coherence of the material world depends. Nothing was more natural than to term Aphrodite the mother of Love, but the reason for so calling Eileithyia, the president of child-birth, is not equally apparent. It may be perhaps that in the hymn ascribed to Olên this goddess was identified with Aphrodite Archaia, to whom Theseus was said to have dedicated an altar at Delos771 : possibly it was meant to express the increase of conjugal affection produced by the birth of children. The making Love the offspring of the West-wind and the Rainbow would seem to be only a poetic mode of expressing the wellknown fact, that the spring, the season in which they most prevail, is also that of love772. In the bucolic and some of the Latin poets the Loves are spoken of in the plural number, but no distinct offices are assigned them773.

Thespiæ in Bœotia was the place in which Erôs was most worshiped. The Thespians used to celebrate games in his honour on Mount Helicôn. The oldest image of the god in their city was of plain stone, but Praxiteles afterwards made {p. 147}for them one of Pcntelican marble of rare beauty774. Erôs also had altars at Athens and elsewhere.

The poetic epithets of this deity were775, 1. Gold-haired ; 2. Gold-winged ; 3. Sweet-minded.

The god of love was usually represented as a plump-cheeked boy, rosy and naked, with light hair floating on his shoulders. He is always winged, and armed with a bow and arrows776.

There was a being named Anterôs (ἀντὶ ἔρως), who was in some cases viewed as the avenger of slighted love777 ; in others as the symbol of reciprocal affection778. The Platonic philosopher Porphyrius tells the following pretty legend.

Aphrodite, complaining to Themis that her son Erôs continued always a child, was told by her that the cause was his being solitary, and that if he had a brother he would grow apace. Anterôs was soon afterwards born, and Erôs immediately found his wings enlarge, and his person and strength greatly increase. But this was only when Anterôs was near ; for if he was at a distance, Erôs found himself shrink to his original dimensions. The meaning of this fable is so apparent that it needs not explication.

At the time when it was become the mode to exalt the characters of philosophers by ascribing to them all kinds of wonderful works, the sophist Eunapius told the following curious legend in his life of Jamblichus, the author of as marvellous a life of Pythagoras. Jamblichus and his companions having gone to the warm baths of Gadara in Lycia, and bathed in them, a conversation arose among them on the nature of the baths. The philosopher smiled and said, “Though it is not strictly right in me to do so, yet I will show you something new.” He then desired them to inquire of the inhabitants, what were the traditional names of two of the smaller but handsomer of the warm springs. They replied that one of them was called Erôs and the other Anterôs, but that they knew not the cause of their being so styled. Jamblichus, {p. 148}who was just then standing at the brink of the fount of Erôs, touched the water, and murmured a few words over it. Immediately there rose from the bottom a little boy of a fair complexion and moderate size : his hair, of a rich golden hue, hung down his back, which was bright and clean as that of a person who had just bathed. All present were in amazement : the philosopher then leading them to the other spring did as he had done before ; and instantly another Love, similar to the first, except that his hair was of a bright dark hue, rose to light. The two embraced, and clung round the philosopher as if he had been their father ; and after caressing them for some time, he restored them to their native element. His companions, who had been previously disposed to regard him as an impostor, convinced by this wonder, henceforth received his words as those of a divinity.

The adventures of Erôs are not numerous. Some pretty little trifles respecting him will be found in the bucolic poets, and his adventure with Apollo has been already noticed. The most celebrated is that contained in the agreeable tale of his love for Psyche (ψυχὴ, the soul), preserved by Apuleius in his Metamorphoses, and which we will here give in an abridged form.

There were one time a king and a queen who had three daughters, of whom the youngest named Psyche was one of the loveliest creatures earth ever beheld. People crowded from all parts to gaze upon her charms, altars were erected to her, and she was worshiped as a second Venus. The queen of beauty was irritated on seeing her own altars neglected, and her adorers diminishing. She summoned her son ; and conducting him to the city where Psyche dwelt, showed him the lovely maid, and ordered him to inspire her with a passion for some vile and abject wretch. The goddess departed, leaving her son to execute her mandate. Meantime Psyche, though adored by all, was sought as a wife by none. Her sisters, who were far inferior to her in charms, were married, and she remained single, hating that beauty which all admired.

Her father consulted the oracle of Apollo, and was ordered {p. 149}to expose her on a rock, whence she would be carried away by a monster, the terror of heaven, earth, and hell. The oracle was obeyed, and Psyche amidst the tears of the people placed on a lofty rock. Here, while she sat weeping, a zephyr sent for the purpose gently raised and carried her to a charming valley. Overcome by grief she falls asleep, and on awaking beholds a grove with a fountain in the midst of it, and near it a stately palace of most splendid structure. She ventures to enter this palace, goes over it lost in admiration at its magnificence ; when suddenly she hears a voice, telling her that all there is hers, and all her commands will be obeyed. She bathes, sits down to a rich repast, and is regaled with music by invisible performers. At night she retires to bed ; an unseen youth addresses her in the softest accents, and she becomes his wife.

Her sisters had meanwhile come to console their parents for the loss of Psyche, whose invisible spouse informs her of this event, and warns her of the danger likely to arise from it. Moved by the tears of his bride, he however consents that her sisters should come to the palace. The obedient zephyr conveys them thither. They grow envious of Psyche’s happiness, and try to persuade her that her invisible lord is a serpent, who will finally devour her. By their advice she provides herself with a lamp and a razor to destroy the monster. When her husband was asleep she arose, took her lamp from its place of concealment, and approached the couch ; but there she beheld, instead of a dragon, Love himself. Filled with amazement at his beauty, she leaned in rapture over his charms : a drop of oil fell from the lamp on the shoulder of the god : he awoke, and flew away. Psyche caught his leg as he rose, and was raised into the air, but fell ; and as she lay, the god reproached her from a cypress for her breach of faith.

The abandoned Psyche attempted to drown herself in the neighbouring stream ; but, fearing Love, it cast her upon a bank of flowers, where she was found and consoled by the god Pan. She now goes through the world in search of Cupid : she arrives at the kingdom of her sisters ; and, by a false tale of Cupid’s love for them, causes them to cast themselves from {p. 150}the rock on which she had been exposed, and through their credulity they perish. She still roams on, persecuted and subjected to numerous trials by Venus. Pitied but unaided by the higher goddesses Ceres and Juno, the plants and the animals, the reed, the owl, and the eagle give her their advice and assistance. Venus, bent on her destruction, dispatches her to Proserpina with a box to request some of her beauty. Psyche, dismayed at the peril of the journey to the lower regions, ascends a tower, determined to cast herself from it and end her woes ; but the tower pities her, and instructs her how to proceed. She accomplishes her mission in safety. As she is returning, she thinks she may venture to open the box and take a portion for herself, that she may be the more pleasing to her husband. She opens the box, when instead of beauty there issues from it a dense black exhalation, and the imprudent Psyche falls to the ground in a deep slumber from its effects. In this state she is found by Cupid, who had escaped by the window of the chamber where he had been confined by his mother : he awakens her with the point of one of his arrows, reproaches her with her curiosity, and then proceeds to the palace of Jupiter to interest him in her favour. Jupiter takes pity on her, and endows her with immortality : Venus is reconciled, and her marriage with Cupid takes place. The Hours shed roses through the sky, the Graces sprinkle the halls of Heaven with fragrant odours, Apollo plays on his lyre, the Arcadian god on his reeds, the Muses sing in chorus, while Venus dances with grace and elegance to celebrate the nuptials of her son. Thus Cupid was at length reunited to his long-lost Psyche, and their loves were speedily crowned by the birth of a child, whom his parents named Pleasure779.

This beautiful fiction is perhaps a philosophic allegory, intended by its inventor for a representation of the mystic union between the divine love and the human soul, and of the trials and purifications which the latter must undergo, in order to be perfectly fitted for an enduring union with the {p. 151}divinity. It is thus explained by the Christian mythologist Fulgentius780. “The city in which Psyche dwells is the world ; the king and queen are God and matter ; Psyche is the soul ; her sisters are the flesh and the free-will : she is the youngest, because the body is before the mind ; and she is the fairest, because the soul is higher than free-will, more noble than the body. Venus, i. e. lust, envies her, and sends Cupido, i. e. desire, to destroy her ; but as there is desire of good as well as of evil, Cupid falls in love with her : he persuades her not to see his face, that is, not to learn the joys of desire ; just as Adam, though he could see, did not see that he was naked until he had eaten of the tree of desire. At the impulsion of her sisters she put the lamp from under the bushel, that is, revealed the flame of desire which was hidden in her bosom, and loved it when she saw how delightful it was ; and she is said to have burned it by the dripping of the lamp, because all desire burns in proportion as it is loved, and fixes its sinful mark on the flesh. She is therefore deprived of desire and her splendid fortune, is exposed to perils, and driven out of the palace.”

This fanciful exposition will probably not prove satisfactory to many readers. The following one of a modern writer781 may seem to come nearer the truth. “This fable, it is said, is a representation of the destiny of the human soul. The soul, which is of divine origin, is here below subjected to error in its prison the body. Hence trials and purifications are set before it, that it may become capable of a higher view of things, and of true desire. Two loves meet it, — the earthly, a deceiver who draws it down to earthly things ; the heavenly, who directs its view to the original, fair and divine, and who gaining the victory over his rival, leads off the soul as his bride.”

According to a third expositor782 the mythe is a moral one. It is intended to represent the dangers to which nuptial fidelity was exposed in such a country as degenerate Greece, and at the same time to present an image of a fidelity subjected to numerous temptations and victorious over them all.

{p. 152}

The interpretation of an allegory is always hazardous : for fancy presided over its birth, and fancy must always have a large share in the attempts made to develope its secret and real nature. All, therefore, we should ever hope to arrive at is a view of the general sense and meaning. In truth many a tale seems to be allegorical which was never meant to be so by its author, and many a tale is allegorical in which the vulgar discern nothing but amusing narrative. The story of Cupid and Psyche may after all have been, as some think, nothing more than a Milesian tale like that of the Matron of Ephesus783. We, however, rather incline to the opinion of its having been originally a philosophic allegory.

Ere we quit this subject we must observe, that a Greek name for the moth was Psyche (ψυχ). The fondness of this insect for approaching at night the flame of the lamp or candle, in which it so frequently finds its death, reminds a mystic philosopher of the fate of the soul destroyed by the desire of knowledge, or absorbed and losing its separate existence in the deity, who dwells in light according to the philosophy of the East. But further, the world presents no illustration so striking or so beautiful of the immortality of the soul, as that of the moth or butterfly bursting on brilliant wings from the dull groveling caterpillar-state in which it had previously existed, fluttering in the blaze of day, and feeding on the most fragrant and sweetest productions of the spring. Hence it was, in all probability, that the Greeks named the butterfly the soul.

The fable of Love and Psyche has been the original of many a pleasing fairy-tale. It has been told in French prose by the naïf and charming La Fontaine. The united powers of Corneille, Moliere, and Quinault produced a tragédie-ballet named Psyche, for the amusement of the court of Louis XIV. In English, the amiable and accomplished Mrs. H. Tighe has narrated the tale of Psyche and her celestial lover in elegant and harmonious Spenserian verse.

{p. 153}

Chapter X.


We place these deities together, dissimilar as they may appear in office and character, as they form two remarkable instances of gods altering their characters and attributes with a change of manners or institutions in the people.

Παλλὰς Ἀθηναίη, καὶ Ἀθήνη, Ἀθηνâ. Minerva. §

The Pallas-Athene of both the Homeric poems is the daughter of Zeus ; in one place784 it seems to be intimated that she had no other parent. In the Theogony Zeus swallows Metis, and the ‘blue-eyed Tritogeneia’ is born from his head785, which Pindar786 says Hephæstos opened with a brazen axe ; Athena then sprang forth with a shout which terrified Heaven and Mother Earth, while the king of the gods poured a shower of gold on Rhodes, the sacred isle of the Sun-god. Stesichorus787 had already sung how the goddess issued from the head of her sire in perfect panoply, — a circumstance however evidently to be understood in the narrative of Pindar. According to the Homerid788 Olympos shook at the divine birth, the earth resounded, the sea was moved, and Helios checked his steeds in their career till the new-born goddess took off her radiant armour. Later authorities assign the task of opening the head of Zeus to Prometheus789, or Hermes790 .

{p. 154}

Pallas-Athene is in Homer, and in the general popular system, the goddess of wisdom and skill. She is in war opposed to Ares, the wild war-god, as the patroness and teacher of just and scientific warfare. She is therefore on the side of the Greeks, and he on that of the Trojans. But on the shield of Achilleus, where the people of the besieged town are represented as going forth to lie in ambush, they are led by Ares and Athena together791, possibly to denote the union of skill and courage required for that service792. Every prudent chief was esteemed to be under the patronage of Athena, and Odysseus was therefore her especial favourite, whom she relieved from all his perils, and whose son Telemachos she also took under her protection, assuming a human form to be his guide and director. In like manner Cadmos, Heracles, Perseus, and other heroes were, as we shall see, favoured and aided by this goddess.

As the patroness of arts and industry in general, Pallas-Athene was regarded as the inspirer and teacher of able artists. Thus she taught Epeios to frame the wooden horse, by means of which Troy was taken793 ; and she also superintended the building of the ship Argo794. Athena was likewise expert in female accomplishments ; she wove her own robe and that of Hera, which last she is said to have embroidered very richly795. When the hero Iasôn was setting forth in quest of the Golden Fleece, Athena gave him a cloak wrought by herself796. She taught this art to mortal females, who had won her affection797. When Pandora was formed by Hephæstos for the ruin of man, she was attired by Pallas-Athene798.

By the Homerid799 Athena and Hephæstos are united as the benefactors and civilisers of mankind by means of the arts which they taught them, and we shall find them in intimate union in the mythic system of Attica.

Homer800 thus describes Pallas-Athene arraying herself in the arms of Zeus, when preparing to accompany Hera to the plain where the Greeks and Trojans were engaged in conflict.

{p. 155}But Athenæe, child of Zeus supreme,
The ægis-holder, on her father’s floor
Let fall her peplus various, which she
Herself had wrought, and laboured with her hands.
The tunic then of cloud-collecting Zeus
She on her put, and clad herself in arms
For tearful war ; and round her shoulders cast
The fringed ægis dire, which all about
Was compassed with fear. In it was Strife,
In it was Strength, and in it chill Pursuit ;
In it the Gorgon-head, the portent dire, —
Dire and terrific, the great prodigy
Of ægis-holding Zeus. Upon her head
She placed the four-coned helmet formed of gold,
Fitting the foot-men of a hundred towns.
The flaming car she mounted, seized the spear,
Great, heavy, solid, wherewith the strong-sired
Maiden the ranks of heroes vanquisheth,
With whom she is wroth.

A Mæonian maid named Arachne, proud of her skill in weaving and embroidery, in which arts the goddess had instructed her, ventured to deny her obligation, and challenged her patroness to a trial of skill. Athena, assuming the form of an old woman, warned her to desist from her boasting ; and when she found her admonitions were vain, she resumed her proper form and accepted the challenge. The skill of Arachne was such, and the subject she chose (the love-transformations of the gods) so offensive to Athena, that she struck her several times in the forehead with the shuttle. The high-spirited maid unable to endure this affront hung herself, and the goddess relenting changed her into a spider (ἀράχνη)801.

The invention of the flute or pipe (αὐλὸς) is also ascribed to this goddess. When Perseus ; says Pindar802, had slain Medusa, her two remaining sisters bitterly lamented her death. The snakes which formed their ringlets mourned in concert {p. 156}with them, and Athena hearing the sound was pleased with it, and resolved to imitate it : she in consequence invented the pipe, whose music was named many-headed (πολυκέϕαλος), on account of the number of the serpents whose lugubrious hissing had given origin to it. Others803 say the goddess formed the pipe from the bone of a stag, and bringing it with her to the banquet of the gods began to play on it. Being laughed at by Hera and Aphrodite, on account of her green eyes and her swollen cheeks, she went to a fountain on Mount Ida, and played before the liquid mirror. Satisfied that the goddesses had had reason for their mirth, she threw her pipe away : Marsyas unfortunately found it, and learning to play on it, ventured to become the rival of Apollo. His fate has been already related.

The favourite plant of Athena was the olive, to which she had given origin. Among animals the owl and the serpent were sacred to her. Athena was most honoured in Athens, the city to which she gave name, where the splendid festivals of the Panathenæa were celebrated in her honour. She had also temples at Thebes, Argos, Sparta, and elsewhere. At Tegea she was worshiped under the title of Alea. She contended, as we have seen, with Poseidôn for Athens and Trœzên, and, according to one account, for Argos.

This goddess is represented with a serious thoughtful countenance, her eyes are large and steady, her hair hangs in ringlets on her shoulders, a helmet covers her head ; she wears a long tunic and mantle, she bears the ægis on her breast or on her arm, and the head of the Gorgon is on its centre. She often has bracelets and ear-rings, but her general air is that of a young man in female attire.

Pallas-Athene was called by the poets804, 1. Blue- or rather Green-eyed ; 2. Town-destroying ; 3. Town-protecting ; 4. Plun-dering ; 5. Unwearied or Invincible ; 6. People-rouser, &c.

We are now to inquire into the signification of the name of this goddess and her original nature.

{p. 157}

The simplest and most natural interpretation of Pallas Athenæe appears to be ‘Athenian Maid,’ and she thus forms a parallel to the ‘Eleusinian Maid’ (Κόρα), Persephone805. As this is her constant title in Homer, it is manifest that she had long been regarded as the tutelar deity of Athens. We may therefore safely reject the legends of her being the same with the Neïth of Saïs in Egypt, or a war-goddess imported from the banks of the lake Tritonis in Libya, and view in her one of the deities worshiped by the agricultural Pelasgians, and therefore probably one of the powers engaged in causing the productiveness of the earth. Her being represented in the poetic creed as the goddess of arts and war alone, need not cause us any hesitation, as that transition from physical to moral agents, of which we shall presently give an explanation, was by no means uncommon.

The most probable theory, in our opinion, is that which views in Pallas-Athene the temperate celestial heat and its principal agent on vegetation, the moon806. This idea was not unknown to the ancients ; Athena is by Aristotle expressly called the moon807 ; on the coins of Attica, anterior to the time of Pericles, there was a moon along with the owl and olivebranch808 ; there was a torch-race (λαμπαδοϕορία) at the Panathenæa, a contest with which none but light-bearing deities were honoured809 ; at the festival of the Skirophoria the priest of the Sun and the priestess of Athena went together in procession810 ; a title of Athena was All-dew(Pandrosos)811 ; in the ancient legend of Athens there was a Sacred Marriage between Athena and Hephæstos812, in whose temple stood a statue of the goddess813 ; she was also said to have given fire to the Athenians814 ; perpetual flame was maintained in her temples at Athens and Alalcomenæ815. It could hardly have been from {p. 158}any other cause than that of her being regarded as the moon, that the nocturnal owl, whose broad full eyes shine so brightly in the dark, was consecrated to her ; the shield or corselet with the Gorgon’s head on it seems to represent the full-orbed moon ; and finally the epithet Glaucopis, which is as it were appropriated to Athena, is also given to Selene816.

To these proofs respecting the Athenian goddess we may add that at Tegea Athena was called Alea, that is probably Warmer.817. At Sparta she was named Ophthalmitis or Eyed, and at Argos Sharp-sighted.818.

If this theory be correct, the best explanation of the perplexing epithet Tritogeneia would seem to be that which derives it from the three phases of the moon. There are two other interpretations of this name which have had more general currency. The one supposes it to signify Head-sprung, as the word τριτὼ is said to have signified Head in some of the obscurer dialects of Greece819. But accounts like this are very suspicious, and the later Greeks would have made little scruple about coining a term if they wanted it to suit any purpose. The other interpretation, which makes the banks of the river or lake Tritôn the birth-place of Athena, has found a greater number of supporters ; but as so many countries sought to appropriate the Tritôn to themselves820, the choice among them might seem difficult. The contest, however, has lain between the river or lake Tritôn in Libya and a small stream of the same name in Bœotia. The ancients in general were in favour of the former ; but as there is no reason to suppose that the Greeks knew anything of the Libyan Tritôn in the days of Homer, or probably till after the colony had been settled at Cyrene, this theory seems to have little in its favour. Müller821 therefore at once rejects it, and fixes on the banks of the Bœotian brook as the natal spot of the {p. 159}godless. Here, however, again Homer presents a difficulty, for, as we have already observed, the practice of assigning birthplaces on earth to the gods does not seem to have prevailed in his age. Indeed we strongly suspect that the streamlet that flowed by Alalcomenæ got its name in the same manner as the hill Delos at Tegyra, and the grove Ortygia at Ephesus822.

The moon-goddess of the Athenians probably came by her moral and political character in the following manner. It was the practice of the different classes and orders in a state to appropriate the general tutelar deity to themselves by some suitable appellation. The Attic peasantry, therefore, named Athena the Ox-yoker (Βουδϵία), the citizens called her Worker (Ἐργάνη), while the military class styled her Front-fighterρόμαχος). As these last were the ruling order, their view of the character of the goddess became the prevalent one823 ; yet even in the epic poetry we find the idea of the goddess presiding over the arts still retained.

Some of the ancients regarded Athena as the air824, others as the earth825. There are some mythes which can be explained with so much more ease on this last hypothesis, that we think it not improbable that the Pelasgian goddess of Argos and other places, who had been identified with the Athenian Maid, may have originally been the same with Hera and Demeter826.

ρμϵίας, Ἐρμς , Ἐρμάων. Mercurius. §

Hermeias (as Homer and Hesiod always name this god827,) is in one place of the Ilias called the son of Zeus828, but his mother is unnoticed. When, in the same poem, Dione is consoling her wounded daughter829, she reminds her how others of the Celestials had suffered similar calamities inflicted by {p. 160}mortals. Thus Ares, she says, was once shut up in a brazen prison by Otos and Ephialtes, where he languished till Hermeias, being informed of his state, contrived to steal him out of his dungeon. Elsewhere the poet tells us that of all the Trojans Hermeias most loved Phorbas (Feeder), rich in sheep, and bestowed on him wealth (κτῆσιν)830 ; and that Eudoros (Wealthy or Munificent) was the son of Hermeias by Polymela (Sheep-full), the daughter of Phylas (Keeper831 ).

Hermeias is opposed in the battle of the gods to Leto, but declines the combat on the plea of the impolicy of making an enemy of one of the consorts of Zeus ; at the same time courtier-like telling her that, if she pleases, she may boast of having vanquished him by main strength832. When the corse of Hectôr was exposed by Achilleus, the gods, pitying the fate of the hero, urged Hermeias to steal it away. On king Priamos’ setting forth to ransom the body of his son, Zeus desires Hermeias to accompany him, reminding him of his fondness for associating with mankind833. The god obeys his sire, puts on his ‘immortal golden sandals, which bear him over the water and the extensive earth like the blasts of the wind,’ and takes ‘his rod, with which he lays asleep the eyes of what men he will, and wakes again the sleepers.’ He accompanies the aged monarch in the form of a Grecian youth, telling him that he is the son of a wealthy man named Polyctôr (Much-possessing).

In the Odyssey Hermeias takes the place of Iris, who does not appear at all in this poem, and becomes the messenger of Zeus. He still retains his character of a friend to man, and comes unsent to point out to Odysseus the herb Moly, which will enable him to escape the enchantments of Circe834. Eumæos the swine-herd makes an offering to Hermes and the nymphs835. At the commencement of the spurious twenty-fourth book, Hermeias appears in his character of conveyer of souls to the realms of Hades.


Hesiod says836, that the Atlantis Maia bore to Zeus the ‘illustrious Hermes, the herald of the Immortals.’ In another place837 he speaks of him very explicitly as the deity presiding over flocks and herds, saying that the herdsmen prayed to him and Hecate. This poet also ascribes to him the only act injurious to man with which he is charged, namely, a share in the formation of the fatal Pandora, to whom he gave her ‘currish mind and artful disposition838.’

One of the last of the Homerids thus sang the story of the birth and first exploits of this sly deity.

Hermes was born of the mountain-nymph Maia, in a cavern of Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. He had scarcely been laid in his cradle, when he got up and set off for Pieria to steal cows from Apollo. As he was going out he met a tortoise, which he caught up and carried back into the cave ; where quick as thought he killed the animal, took out the flesh, adapted reeds and strings to the shell, and formed from it the phorminx or lyre, on which he immediately played with perfect skill. He then laid it up in his cradle, and resumed his journey.

He arrived by sunset in Pieria, where the oxen of the gods fed under the care of Apollo. He forthwith separated fifty cows from the herd and drove them away, contriving to make them go backwards ; and throwing away his sandals, bound branches of myrtle and tamarisk under his feet, that the herdsman-god might have no clue by which to trace his cattle. As he passed by Onchestos in Bœotia, he saw an old man engaged in planting his vineyard, whom he straitly charged not to tell what he had seen. He then pursued his way by ‘shady hills, resounding vales, and flowery plains,’ and as the moon was rising arrived with his booty on the banks of the Alpheios in the Peloponnese. He there fed and stalled the kine, made a fire, killed, cut up, and dressed two of them, and even made black-puddings of their blood, and then thriftily spread their skins to dry on a rock. He burned the heads and feet, and put out the fire, effacing all signs of it, and flung his twig-sandals into the river. With day-break {p. 162}he slunk home and stole into his cradle, not unobserved by his mother, who reproached him with his deeds ; but he replied, that he was resolved by his actions to procure admission for her and himself to the assembly of the gods.

In the morning Apollo missed his kine : he set out in search of them, met the old man, who informed him of his having seen a child driving cows along. He comes to Pylos, where he sees the traces of his cattle, but is amazed at the strange footprints of their driver. He proceeds to the fragrant cave of the nymph, and Hermes on seeing him gathers himself up under the clothes, afraid of the god. Apollo takes the key, opens and searches the three closets where the nymph kept her clothes, ornaments, and food, but to no purpose. He then threatens the child that he will fling him into Tartaros unless he tells him where the cows are : but Hermes stoutly denies all knowledge of them, and even very innocently asks what cows are. Apollo pulls him out of his cradle, and they agree to go and argue the matter before Zeus. Arrived in Olympos, Apollo relates the theft, and tells what reasons he had for suspecting the baby of being the thief. All this is, to the great amusement of the Celestials, manfully denied and its absurdity shown by the little fellow, who still has his cradle-clothes about him. Zeus however gives it against him, and the two brothers are sent in quest of the missing kine. They come to Pylos, and Hermes drives the cattle out of the cave : Apollo misses two of them ; to his amazement he sees their skins upon the rock, and is still more surprised, when, on going to drive the others on, he finds that the art of Hermes had rooted their feet to the ground. Hermes then begins to play on his lyre, the tones of which so ravish Apollo that he offers him the cows for it. The young god gives him the lyre, and receives the cattle. The divine herdsman also bestows on him his whip, and instructs him in the management of the herds.

They now proceed together to Olympos, where Apollo still suspicious exacts an oath from Hermes that he will never steal his lyre or bow ; and this being complied with, he presents him with ‘a golden, three-leafed, innocuous rod’ the giver of wealth and riches.

{p. 163}

The stealing of the cattle of Apollo is somewhat differently related by other writers. According to them839, Apollo, delighted with the society of Hymenæos son of Magnês, a Thessalian youth, neglected the care of his oxen, which pastured along with those of Admetos. Hermes, who in this version of the legend is not a babe, thought the opportunity favourable for stealing a few of the heedless herdsman’s cattle. He first cast the dogs into a deep slumber, and then drove off twelve heifers, a hundred unyoked cows, and a bull. He took the precaution of tying a bundle of twigs to the tail of each to efface their footprints, and brought his prize safely on to the place called the Look-out of Battos, in the Peloponnese. Hearing the lowing of the kine, Battos ran out to look, and immediately knew them to be stolen, but agreed for a certain reward not to give information to any one respecting them. Hermes having arranged this matter drove on, and concealed his stolen kine in a cavern. He then resolved to make trial of the fidelity of Battos, and, changing his form, came and inquired if he had seen any one driving stolen cattle by, offering a cloak as a reward for intelligence. The covetous Battos took the cloak, and turned informer : the god, incensed at his duplicity, struck him with his rod and changed him into a rock, ‘which the cold or the heat never leaves.’

The following prank is also laid to the charge of this sly deity. Watching one day his mother and her sisters when they went to bathe, he stole their clothes, and did not return them till he had amused himself well with laughing at their perplexity840.

A god with so many agreeable qualities as Hermes was not very likely to fail of success with the fair sex, both among gods and mankind. Homer, as we have observed above, says that Eudoros, one of Achilleus’ captains, was the son of Hermes by Polymela the daughter of Phylas. The god having seen {p. 164}her, singing in the choir of Artemis, had fallen in love with her. She bore him privately a son, who was reared by her father, herself having married Echecles. By Chione the daughter of Dædaliôn841, or as others said by Stilbe or Telauge the daughter of Eosphoros842, Hermes was the father of Autolycos the noted cattle-stealer. The Thessalian maiden Antianeira bore him two sons, ‘rich in corn-fields,’ Echiôn and Eurytos843. Myrtilos, the charioteer of Œnomaos, was the son of Hermes by one of the daughters of Danaos844. The celebrated Sicilian shepherd Daphnis was the offspring of this god and one of the nymphs845.

One day Hermes beheld Herse, the daughter of Cecrops, among the maidens who were carrying the sacred baskets to the temple of Pallas-Athene. Smitten with her charms, he entered the royal abode, where the three sisters, Aglauros, Pandrosos and Herse, occupied three separate chambers. That of Herse was in the middle, that of Aglauros on the left. The latter first saw the god, and inquired of him who he was and why he came. Hermes immediately informed her of his rank, and his love for her sister, entreating her good offices in his suit. These she promised on the condition of receiving a large quantity of gold, and drove him out of the house till he should have given it. Pallas-Athene incensed at her unhallowed cupidity, and provoked with her also for other causes, sent Envy to fill her bosom with that baleful passion. Unable then to endure the idea of the felicity of her sister, she sat down at the door, determined not to permit the god to enter. Hermes exerted his eloquence and his blandishments on her in vain ; at length, provoked by her obstinacy, he turned her into a black stone. Herse became the mother of Cephalos846.

The only amour of Hermes with any of the dwellers of Olympos was that with Aphrodite, of which the offspring was a son named Hermaphroditos, from the names of his parents, {p. 165}and whose adventure with the Naïs Salmacis is narrated by Ovid in his Metamorphoses847. Hermes is in some legends said to be the father of the Arcadian god Pan848, and he is even charged with being the sire of the unseemly god of Lampsacus849. Both were rural deities.

At Tanagra in Bœotia Hermes was worshiped under the names of Ram-bearerριοϕόρος) and Defenderρόμαχος) : the former was given him for having delivered the citizens from a pestilence, by carrying a ram round the walls ; and on the festival of Hermes, the most beautiful of the Tanagrian youths bore a lamb on his shoulders round the walls in honour of the god. The latter title was conferred on him because, when the Eretrians attacked the Tanagrians, Hermes as a young man, and armed with a currycomb, led the latter to victory850.

Hermes was regarded as the god of commerce, of wrestling and all the exercises of the palæstra, of eloquence, even of thieving ; in short, of everything relating to gain or requiring art and ingenuity. A certain good-humoured roguery was at all times a trait in his character. In the pleasing tale of Ares and Aphrodite already noticed, the gallant reply of Hermes to the question of Phœbos-Apollo called forth the laughter of the Olympians.

This god is usually represented with a chlamys or cloak neatly arranged on his person, with his petasus or winged hat, and the talaria or wings at his heels. In his hand he bears his caduceus851 or staff, with two serpents twined about it, and which sometimes has wings at its extremity. The ancient statues of Hermes were nothing more than wooden posts with a rude head and a pointed beard carved on them. They were what is termed ithyphallic, and were set up on the roads and {p. 166}footpaths, and in the fields and gardens. The Hermæ were also pillars of stone, and the head of some other deity at times took the place of that of Hermes ; such were the Hermeracles, Hermathenæ and others. One of these compounds may have given origin to the tale of Hermaphroditos.

By Homer and Hesiod Hermes is called852, 1. Argos-slayer ; 2. Beneficent853 ; 3. Kind ; 4. Strong or Powerful854 ; 5. Performer or Messenger855 ; 6. Well-spying ; 7. Gold-rodded ; 8. Glorious.

Mythologists are pretty generally agreed in recognizing in the Hermes of the original Pelasgian system a telluric power. The simplest derivation of his name is from ἔρα, the earth ; and he is, we may observe, the son of Zeus and Maia, probably Mother Earth856. He seems to have been the deity of productiveness in general, but he came gradually to be regarded as presiding more particularly over flocks and herds857. From this last view some of his Hellenic attributes may be simply deduced. Thus the god of shepherds was naturally regarded as the inventor of music ; the lyre is ascribed to Hermes as the pipes are to his son Pan, music having been always a recreation of the shepherds in the warm regions of the south. In like manner as the shepherd-lads amuse themselves with wrestling and other feats of strength and activity, their tutelar god easily became the president of the palæstra. {p. 167}So also, trade having of old consisted chiefly in the exchange of cattle, Hermes, the herdsman’s god, was held to be the god of commerce858 ; and the skill and eloquence employed in commercial dealings made him to be the god of eloquence, artifice, and ingenuity, and even of cheating859. As herdsmen are the best guides in the country, it may be thence that Hermes was thought to protect wayfarers860, and thence to be a protector in general861. For this cause, among others, it may have been that godsends or treasure-trove were ascribed to him862.

The rural deity, when thus become active, sly, and eloquent, was well adapted for the office which was assigned him of agent and messenger of the king of the gods, to whom we also find him officiating as cup-bearer863. As a being whose operations extended into the interior of the earth, Hermes would seem to have been in some points of view identified with Hades. In Pindar864 this latter deity himself performs the office generally assigned to Hermes, that of conducting the departed to Erebos. Possibly it may have been on this account that Solôn directed the Athenians to swear by Zeus, Poseidôn, and Hermes.

On looking over the adventures of Hermes above related, it will appear that most of them refer to his character as a rural deity865. Such are his patronage of Phorbas, and his being the sire of Eudoros in Homer ; the hymn in his honour, which plainly represents him as a rural deity866 ; his being the sire of {p. 168}the cattle-stealer Autolycos (Very-wolf) by Chione (Snow) ; of the two heroes ‘rich in corn-fields’ ; and of the shepherd Daphnis, and the gods Pan and Priapos. The rural character of Herse and Aglauros will be shown in the sequel. We shall also find that it was Hermes who gave to Nephele the gold-fleeced ram to save her children from their malignant step-mother867. In the poems of the Greek Anthology Hermes is usually represented as a rural deity. In one place868 the offering to him is milk and honey ; in other parts of it869 fishermen when grown old dedicate their implements to Hermes, either as the god of arts and trade, or as the deity presiding over increase in general.

We will now consider the well-known epithet Argeiphontes, or Argos-slayer, given to this god. The general opinion derives it from the legend of Io, but it has been doubted if that adventure was known to Homer, who calls the deity by this name in passages the genuineness of which cannot well be disputed870. The sense of that legend shall be discussed in its proper place ; here we will only observe, that if it should appear to be as old as the age of Homer, there can be no further dispute about the origin of the epithet, though its meaning will still remain a subject of inquiry. Supposing however such not to be the case, it may be asked how the rural deity, the field-god, came by the appellation Argeiphontes ? The word Argos bears in Greek the following senses : 1. White or Shining ; 2. Swift(in speaking of dogs, and thence the name of a dog) ; 3. Idle ; to which we may venture to add, 4. Land, as identical with ἄγρος. The latter half of the compound was generally derived from ϕένω, to kill or destroy ; by some however from ϕαίνω, to show or shine. Hence some interpreted Argeiphontes Free-from-bloodshed, others White- or clear-showing871 ; and a modern mythologist872 renders it White-shining, equivalent to Whiteευκς), a name by which Hermes was worshiped in Bœotia873. We must confess that we are not {p. 169}satisfied with any of these explanations ; and should the derivation from the story of Io not be approved of, none appears more probable than the one we ourselves formerly suggested, that the term may signify Field-slayer874, and be applied to Hermes as the god of husbandry, under whose auspices the land was ploughed up, and the grass or corn cut down. The eyes of Argos might then have originally signified the flowers with which the meads are bespread875. It is to be observed that, in the version of the story of Io followed by Ovid876, Hermes appears as a goatherd, and kills Argos with the harpe, a rural implement.

We offer this hypothetis, however, only as a conjecture, perhaps we should say as a mere sport of imagination ; for we are inclined to regard the mythe of Io as one of the most remote antiquity.

{p. 170}

Chapter XI.


Δημήτηρ, Δηώ. Ceres. §

Пερσεφόνεια, Περσϕόνη. Proserpina, Libera. §

Demeter and her daughter Persephone are so closely connected, that it would be extremely difficult, or rather impossible, to treat of the one without the other : we therefore combine the two deities.

Demeter, a daughter of Kronos and Rhea, and by Zeus mother of Persephone877, was evidently the goddess of the earth, Mother-Earth (γῆ μήτηρ), whom some ancient system married to Zeus, the god of the heavens878. In Homer she is but slightly mentioned879, and she does not appear among the gods on Olympos. She seems to have been early distinguished from the goddess called Earth880, and to have been regarded as the protectress of the growing corn and of agriculture in general.

The most celebrated event in the history of Demeter is the carrying off of her daughter Persephone by Hades, and the search of the goddess after her through the world. It is noticed by Hesiod881 ; but the Homeridian hymn in her honour contains perhaps the earliest narrative of this event, which, though apparently unknown to Homer, became a favourite theme with succeeding poets, after whom Ovid has related it882, and Claudian has sung it in a peculiar poem, of which unfortunately a part is lost.

Persephone, sang the Homerid, was in the Nysian plain {p. 171}with the Ocean-nymphs883 gathering flowers. She plucked the rose, the violet, the crocus, the hyacinth, when she beheld a narcissus of surprising size and beauty, an object of amazement to ‘all immortal gods and mortal men,’ for one hundred flowers grew from one root884 ;

And with its fragrant smell wide heaven above
And all earth laughed, and the sea’s briny flood.

Unconscious of danger the maiden stretched forth her hand to seize the wondrous flower, when suddenly the wide earth gaped, Aïdoneus in his golden chariot rose, and catching the terrified goddess carried her off in it shrieking to her father for aid, unheard and unseen by gods or mortals, save only by Hecate the daughter of Persæos, who heard her as she sat in her cave, and by king Helios, whose eye nothing on earth escapes.

So long as the goddess beheld the earth and starry heaven, the fishy sea and beams of the sun, so long she hoped to see her mother and the tribes of the gods ; and the tops of the mountains and the depths of the sea resounded with her divine voice. At length her mother heard ; she tore her head-attire with grief, cast a dark robe around her, and like a bird hurried ‘over moist and dry.’ Of all she inquired tidings of her lost daughter, but neither gods nor men nor birds could give her intelligence. Nine days she wandered over the earth, with flaming torches in her hands, she tasted not of nectar or ambrosia, and never once entered the bath. On the tenth morning Hecate met her, but she could not tell her who it was had carried away Persephone. Together they proceed to Helios ; they stand at the head of his horses, and Demeter entreats that he will say who the ravisher is. The god of the sun gives the required information, telling her that it was Aïdoneus, who by the permission of her sire had carried her {p. 172}away to be his queen ; and he exhorts the goddess to patience, by dwelling on the rank and dignity of the ravisher.

Helios urged on his steeds ; the goddess, incensed at the conduct of Zeus, abandoned the society of the gods, and came down among men. But she now was heedless of her person, and no one recognised her. Under the guise of an old woman, — ‘such,’ says the poet, ‘as are the nurses of law-dispensing kings’ children, and housekeepers in resounding houses,’ — she came to Eleusis, and sat down by a well, beneath the shade of an olive885. The three beautiful daughters of Keleos, a prince of that place, coming to the well to draw water, and seeing the goddess, inquired who she was and why she did not go into the town. Demeter told them her name was Dôs, and that she had been carried off by pirates from Crete, but that when they got on shore at Thoricos, she had contrived to make her escape, and had wandered thither. She entreats them to tell her where she is ; and wishing them young husbands and as many children as they may desire, begs that they will endeavour to procure her a service in a respectable family.

The princess Callidice tells the goddess the names of the five princes, who with her father governed Eleusis, each of whose wives would, she was sure, be most happy to receive into her family a person who looked so god-like : but she prays her not to be precipitate, but to wait till she had consulted her mother Metaneira, who had a young son in the cradle, of whom if the stranger could obtain the nursing her fortune would be made.

The goddess bowed her thanks, and the princesses took up their pitchers and went home. As soon as they had related their adventure to their mother, she agreed to hire the nurse at large wages :

And they, as fawns or heifers in spring-time
Bound on the mead when satiate with food ;
So they, the folds fast-holding of their robes
Lovely, along the hollow cart-way ran ;
Their locks upon their shoulders flying wide,
Like unto yellow flowers.

{p. 173}The goddess rose and accompanied them home. As she entered the house a divine splendour shone all around ; Metaneira filled with awe offered the goddess her own seat, which however she declined. Iambe the serving-maid then prepared one for her, where she sat in silence, thinking of her ‘deep-bosomed’ daughter, till Iambe by her tricks contrived to make her smile, and even laugh. But she declined the cup of wine which Metaneira offered her, and would only drink the kykeôn, or mixture of flour and water. She undertook the rearing of the babe, who was named Demophoôn, and beneath her care ‘he throve like a god.’ He ate no food, but Demeter breathed on him as he lay in her bosom, and anointed him with ambrosia, and every night she hid him ‘like a torch within the strength of fire,’ unknown to his parents, who marvelled at his growth886.

It was the design of Demeter to make him immortal, but the curiosity and folly of Metaneira deprived him of the intended gift. She watched one night, and, seeing what the nurse was about, shrieked with affright and horror. The goddess threw the infant on the ground, declaring what he had lost by the inconsiderateness of his mother, but announcing that he would be great and honoured, since he had ‘sat in her lap and slept in her arms.’ She tells who she is, and directs that the people of Eleusis should raise an altar and temple to her without the town on the hill Callichoros.

Thus having said, the goddess changed her size
And form, old-age off-flinging, and around
Beauty respired ; from her fragrant robes
A lovely scent was scattered, and afar
Shone light emitted from her skin divine :
And yellow locks upon her shoulders waved ;
While, as from lightning, all the house was filled
With splendour.

She left the house, and the maidens awakening at the noise found their infant-brother lying on the ground. They took him up, and kindling a fire prepared to wash him ; but he cried bitterly, finding himself in the hands of such unskilful nurses.

{p. 174}

In the morning the wonders of the night were narrated to Keleos, who laid the matter before the people, and the temple was speedily raised. The mourning goddess took up her abode in it, but a dismal year came upon mankind ; the earth yielded no produce, in vain the oxen drew the curved ploughs in the fields, in vain was the seed of barley cast into the ground ; ‘well-garlanded Demeter’ would suffer no increase. The whole race of man ran risk of perishing, the dwellers of Olympos of losing gifts and sacrifices, had not Zeus discerned the danger and thought on a remedy.

He dispatches ‘gold-winged Iris’ to Eleusis to invite Demeter back to Olympos, but the disconsolate goddess will not comply with the call. All the other gods are sent on the same errand, and to as little purpose. Gifts and honours are proffered in vain ; she will not ascend to Olympos, or suffer the earth to bring forth, till she shall have seen her daughter.

Finding that there was no other remedy, Zeus sends ‘goldrodded Argos-slayer’ to Erebos, to endeavour to prevail on Hades to suffer Persephone to return to the light. Hermes did not disobey : he quickly reached the ‘secret places of earth,’ and found the king at home seated on a couch with his wife, who was mourning for her mother. On making known to Aïdoneus the wish of Zeus, ‘the king of the Subterraneans smiled with his brows’ and yielded compliance. He kindly addressed Persephone, granting her permission to return to her mother. The goddess instantly sprang up with joy, and heedlessly swallowed a grain of pomegranate which he presented to her.

Then many-ruling Aïdoneus yoked
His steeds immortal to the golden car :
She mounts the chariot, and beside her mounts
Strong Argos-slayer, holding in his hands
The reins and whip : forth from the house he rushed,
And not unwillingly the coursers flew.
Quickly the long road they have gone ; not sea
Nor streams of water, nor the grassy dales,
Nor hills retard the immortal coursers’ speed,
But o’er them going they cut the air profound.

Hermes conducted his fair charge safe to Eleusis : Demeter on seeing her ‘rushed to her like a Mænas on the wood-shaded {p. 175}hill,’ and Persephone sprang from the car ‘like a bird,’ and kissed her mother’s hands and head.

When their joy had a little subsided, Demeter anxiously inquired if her daughter had tasted anything while below ; for if she had not, she would be free to spend her whole time with her father and mother ; whereas if but one morsel had passed her lips, nothing could save her from spending onethird of the year with her husband ; she should however pass the other two with her and the gods :

And when in spring-time, with sweet-smelling flowers
Of various kinds the earth doth bloom, thou ‘It come
From gloomy darkness back, — a mighty joy
To gods and mortal men.

Persephone ingenuously confesses the swallowing of the grain of pomegranate, and then relates to her mother the whole story of her abduction. They pass the day in delightful converse :

And joy they mutually received and gave.

‘Bright-veiled Hecate’ arrives to congratulate Persephone, and henceforward becomes her attendant. Zeus sends Rhea to invite them back to heaven. Demeter now complies,

And instant from the deep-soiled cornfields fruit
Sent up : with leaves and flowers the whole wide earth
Was laden :

and she taught ‘Triptolemos, horse-lashing Diocles, the strength of Eumolpos, and Keleos the leader of the people,’ the mode of performing her sacred rites. The goddesses then returned to Olympos. “But come,” cries the Homerid,

But come, thou goddess who dost keep the land
Of odorous Eleusis, and round-flowed
Paros, and rocky Anthrôn, Deo queen,
Mistress, bright-giver, season-bringer, come :
Thyself and child, Persephoneia fair,
Grant freely, for my song, the means of life.
But I will think of thee and other songs.

Such is in all probability the oldest account of this celebrated event. In progress of time it underwent various alterations ; the scene was as usual changed, and circumstances {p. 176}were added or modified. In the beautiful versions of it given by the above-mentioned Latin poets, the scene is transferred to the grove and lake in the neighbourhood of Henna in Sicily, the nymph Arethusa gives intelligence of the ravisher, and Ascalaphos (who for his mischief-making is turned into an owl)887 tells of Persephone having plucked a pomegranate in the garden of Hades and put seven of the seeds into her mouth. In this, as in other legends, the fancy of poets and vanity of the inhabitants of different places have taken abundance of liberties with the ancient tale.

There are, as we have already observed, no traces of this legend in Homer. Demeter is only incidentally mentioned by him ; and he does not intimate any connexion between her and Persephone, who appears merely as the daughter of Zeus888 and queen of Hades. There can be little doubt we think of its being an allegory. Persephone signifies the seed-corn, which when cast into the ground lies there concealed, — that is, she is carried off by the god of the under-world : it reappears, — that is, Persephone is restored to her mother, and she abides with her two-thirds of the year. As however the seed-corn is not a third part of the year in the ground, it is probable that by the space of time which Persephone was to spend with the god in the invisible state, was intended to be expressed the period between the sowing of the seed and the appearance of the ear, during which the corn is away ; and which space of time in some species of grain, barley for instance, is about four months.

The vanity of the people of the hungry soil of Attica made them pretend that corn was first known and agriculture first practised in their country. They fabled that the goddess gave to Triptolemos (Thrice-plough), who occupies the place of Demophoôn in the foregoing legend, her chariot drawn by dragons, in which he flew through the air, distributing corn to the different regions of the earth889. This last circumstance {p. 177}betrays the late age of the fiction ; for, as we have already observed, in the time of Homer celestial horses were the only draught-cattle of the gods.

Demeter, though of a gentle character in general, partook of the usual revengeful disposition of the gods. The origin of the Stellio, or spotted lizard, is referred to her having thrown in the face of a boy, who mocked at her as she was drinking some gruel, what was remaining of it in the vessel890. She more justly punished with ever-craving hunger Erysichthôn, who impiously cut down her sacred grove. This infliction gave occasion for the exercise of the filial piety and power of selftransformation of the daughter of Erysichthôn, who by her assuming various forms enabled her father to sell her over and over again, and thus obtain the means of living after all his property was gone891.

This last legend, we may observe, admits of a very simple explication. Erysichthôn is a name akin to ἐρυίβη, mildew ; and Hellanicus892 said that he was also called Æthôn (Αἴθων, burning), from his insatiate hunger. The destructive mildew is therefore the enemy of Demeter, to whom, under the title of Erysibia, the Rhodians prayed to avert it893.

Homer says894 that Demeter lay with Iasiôn in a ‘thriceploughed’ field, and that Zeus, offended at the deed, struck the mortal lover with his thunder. Hesiod895 makes Crete the scene of this event, and adds that Plutos (Wealth) was their offspring. Authorities differ as to the parentage of Iasiôn ; some make him a son of Zeus and Electra, and brother of Dardanos896 ; others a son of Minôs or Krates, and the nymph Phronia897. The meaning of the mythe is apparent.

At Onceion near Thelpusa, on the banks of the Ladôn in Arcadia, stood a temple of Demeter-Erinnys. The legend connected with it was as follows898. When the goddess was in search of her lost daughter, Poseidôn, filled with desire, {p. 178}continually followed her. To elude him she changed herself into a mare, and mingled with the mares of Oncos ; but the seagod assumed the form of a horse, and thus accomplished his wishes. The produce of their union was the celebrated steed Areiôn ; and from the anger of the goddess at being thus abused she was named Erinnys899. It was also a part of the tradition that beside Areiôn she bore a daughter to the god, who, the Phigalians said, was the Despœna (Persephone). They also showed a cavern on Mount Elæon, to which Demeter retired when her daughter had been carried off, clothing herself in deep black. The absence of the goddess, said the tradition, caused a general failure of the crops, and mankind were in danger of famine ; but no one knew the place of her retreat till Pan in his huntings chanced to see her. He gave information to Zeus, who sent the Fates to her, at whose persuasion she remitted her anger, and ceased from mourning. She was worshiped at this cave under the name of Black (Mé-λαινα), and her statue in it was clad in black, with the head and mane of a horse900.

This last legend has nothing perhaps very peculiar in it ; the former is regarded as one of the many forms in which the physical fact of earth and water being the causes of growth and increase in the natural world have been enveloped901. Perhaps the Demeter-Erinnys was viewed as the ‘grim’ earth902 of winter when torrents spring forth from its womb. These might very aptly be represented by the steed Flowing (ῥείων or ῥέων)903 ; and this view of nature was peculiarly appropriate in Arcadia.

The chief seats of the worship of these deities were Attica ; Arcadia, where they were called the Great Goddesses904 , and {p. 179}Persephone in particular Mistressέσποινα)905 ; and the fertile isle of Sicily, which was given by Zeus to his daughter on her day of unveiling (ἀνακαλυπρια), that is, at her marriage906 ; as also was Thebes according to the poet Euphoriôn907.

The form of Demeter is copied from that of Hera. She has the same majestic stature and matronly air, but of a milder character. Her usual symbol are poppies, which sometimes compose a garland for her head, sometimes are held in her hand. She is frequently represented with a torch in her hand, — significant of her search after Persephone. At times she appears in her chariot drawn by dragons.

Persephone is represented seated on a throne with Hades.

The only epithets given to Demeter by Homer are908, 1. Blond or Yellow-haired ; and 2. Fair-tressed, the appropriateness of which to the goddess of the corn is apparent. Beside these epithets Hesiod gives her two others ; 3. Well-garlanded ; and 4. Food-full. She was termed by other poets, 5. Youth-rearing ; 6. Bright-fruited ; 7. Bright-gifted ; 8. Season-bringer ; 9. Gold-sickled ; 10. Green ; all epithets well suited to the goddess of agriculture. Demeter was also named, 11. Law-giver, as agriculture was regarded as the source of civil regulations. Under this title she was honoured in a festival named Thes-mophoria at Athens and Ephesus. She had a temple at Megara under the title of, 12. Sheep-bringere909. In Bœotia she was worshiped as Demeter-Achaia910.

The Homeric epithets of Persephone are911, 1. Illustrious ; {p. 180}2. Terrible ; and 3. Holy. Hesiod gives her one of the usual epithets of beauty, 4. White-armed. She was also named, 5. Sable-vested ; 6. White-horsed, etc.

The name of Demeter offers, as we have seen, no difficulty whatever ; but that of her daughter is by no means so easy of explanation ; and here, as in similar cases, the question is, what was the original conception of this goddess ? Was she simply regarded as the queen of the monarch of Erebos, or as the daughter of Mother Earth, and a personification of the corn ? In the latter case critics consider her name to signify Food-shower912 ; in the former it might mean Light-destroyer, a name corresponding well with Aïdes and Erebos913.

We have ventured to offer this conjecture concerning the origin of the name Persephone, because we think critics have gone into an extreme respecting the religious opinions of the ancient Pelasgians. For as there appears reason to suppose their religion to have been of a very rural character, the view generally taken is that they were, like our modern political œconomists, a race who thought only of production and consumption, and regarded no deities but such as were promoters of increase. We however deem that, like every other people, the Pelasgians believed in a future state, and worshiped a deity presiding over that unseen world. It may be doubted whether they gave him a consort (for in the Italian system such was not the case), but the probability is that the Achæans derived that principle of their religion from their Pelasgian forefathers. In such case the spouse of the invisible god might very naturally be termed the Light-destroyer. The epithets of Persephone certainly accord far better with an original queen of Erebos than with the gentle innocent daughter of Demeter.

{p. 181}

We cannot take our leave of Demeter and the Kora914, without saying a few words on the subject of the so celebrated mysteries of Eleusis, in which they were the great objects of adoration. But instead of going into all the mysticism which has been written respecting them, both in ancient and modern times, we will content ourselves with giving some of the results of the inquiries of the learned and judicious Lobeck, referring those anxious for fuller information to his valuable work entitled Aglaophamus.

In the very early ages of Greece and Italy, and probably of most countries, the inhabitants of the various independent districts into which they were divided had very little communication with each other, and a stranger was regarded as little better than an enemy. Each state had its own favourite deities, under whose especial protection it was held to be, and these deities were propitiated by sacrifices and ceremonies, which were different in different places. It is further to be recollected, that the Greeks believed their gods to be very little superior in moral qualities to themselves, and they feared that if promises of more splendid and abundant sacrifices and offerings were made to them, their virtue might not be adequate to resisting the temptation. As the best mode of escaping the calamity of being deserted by their patrons, they adopted the expedient of concealing their names, and of excluding strangers from their worship. Private families in like manner excluded their fellow-citizens from their family-sacrifices ; and in those states where ancient statues, aërolites, and such like were preserved as national palladia, the sight of them was restricted to the magistrates and principal persons in the state915.

We are to recollect that Eleusis and Athens were long independent of each other916. The worship of Demeter and the Kora was the national and secret religion of the Eleusinians, from which the Athenians were of course excluded as well as all other Greeks. But when Eleusis was conquered, and the two states coalesced, the Athenians became participators in {p. 182}the worship of these deities ; which however remained so long confined to them as to have given origin to a proverb (Ἀττικοὶ τὰ Ἐλευίνια) applied to those who met together in secret for the performance of any matter917. Gradually, with the advance of knowledge and the decline of superstition and national illiberality, admission to witness the solemn rites celebrated each year at Eleusis was extended to all Greeks of either sex and of every rank, provided they came at the proper time, had committed no inexpiable offence, had performed the requisite previous ceremonies, and were introduced by an Athenian citizen918.

These mysteries, as they were termed, were performed with a considerable degree of splendour, at the charge of the state and under the superintendence of the magistrates ; whence it follows as a necessary consequence, that the rites could have contained nothing that was grossly immoral or indecent919. There does not appear to be any valid reason for supposing, as many do, that a public discourse on the origin of things and that of the gods, and other high and important matters, was delivered by the Hierophant, or person who bore the highest office in the mysteries ; whose name would rather seem to be derived from his exhibiting the sacred things, — ancient statues, probably of the goddesses, — which were kept carefully covered up, and only shown on these solemn occasions. The delivering of a public discourse would in fact have been quite repugnant to the usages of the Greeks in their worship of the gods, and the evidence offered in support of this supposition is extremely feeble. But the singing of sacred hymns in honour of the goddess always formed a part of the service920.

The ancient writers are full of the praises of the Eleusinian mysteries, of the advantage of being initiated, i. e. admitted to participate in them, and of the favour of the gods in life, and the cheerful hopes in death, which were the consequence of it. Hence occasion has been taken to assert, that a system of religion little inferior to pure Christianity was taught in them. But these hopes, and this tranquillity of mind and {p. 183}favour of Heaven, are easy to be accounted for without having recourse to so absurd a supposition. Every act performed in obedience to the will of Heaven is believed to draw down its favour on the performer. The Mussulman makes his pilgrimage to the Kaaba at Mecca, the Catholic to Loretto, Compostella, or elsewhere ; and each is persuaded that by having done so he has secured the divine favour921. So the Greek who was initiated at Eleusis, — whose mysteries, owing to the fame in which Athens stood, the able writers who so loudly extolled her and everything belonging to her, the splendour and magnificence with which they were performed, eclipsed all others, — retained ever after a lively sense of the happiness which he had enjoyed when admitted to view the interior of the illuminated temple, and the sacred things which it contained, when to his excited imagination the very gods themselves had seemed visibly to descend from their Olympian abodes, amidst the solemn hymns of the officiating priests922. Hence there naturally arose a persuasion, that the benign regards of the gods were bent upon him through after-life ; and, as man can never divest himself of the belief of his continued existence after death, a vivid hope of enjoying bliss in the next life.

It was evidently the principle already stated, of seeking to discover the causes of remarkable appearances, which gave origin to most of the ideas respecting the recondite sense of the actions and ceremonies which took place in the Eleusinian mysteries. The stranger, dazzled and awed by his own conception of the sacredness and importance of all that he beheld, conceived that nothing there could be without some mysterious meaning. What this might be, he inquired of the officiating ministers, who, as various passages in Herodotus and Pausanias show, were seldom without a legend or Sacred Account (ἱεργος λόγος), as it was called, to explain the dress or ceremony, which owed perhaps its true origin to the caprice or sportive humour of a ruder period. Or if the initiated {p. 184}person was himself endowed with inventive power, he explained the appearances according in general to the system of philosophy which he had embraced923. It was thus that Porphyrius conceived the Hierophant to represent the Platonic Demiurgos or creator of the world ; the Torch-bearer (Daduchos), the sun ; the Altar-man (Epibomios), the moon ; the Herald (Hierokeryx), Hermes ; and the other ministers, the lesser stars. These fancies of priests and philosophers have been by modern writers formed into a complete system, and Ste Croix in particular describes the Eleusinian mysteries with as much minuteness as if he had been actually himself initiated924.

It is to be observed, in conclusion, with respect to the charges of impiety and immorality brought against the Eleusinian mysteries by some Fathers of the Church, that this arose entirely from their confounding them with the Bacchic, Isiac, Mithraic, and other private mysteries, mostly imported from Asia, which were undoubtedly liable to that imputation. It must always be remembered, that those of Eleusis were public, and celebrated by the state925.

{p. 185}

Chapter XII.


Mούσαι926. Camenæ. Muses. §

In the early ages of the world, when the principle of assigning a celestial cause to every extraordinary effect was in full operation, the powers of song and memory were supposed to be excited by certain goddesses who were denominated Muses. In Homer they are called the daughters of Zeus927, and described as exhilarating the banquets of the gods by their lovely voices, attuned to the lyre of Apollo928. When about to give the catalogue of the ships of the Achæans, the poet invokes the Muses, the daughters of Zeus, to prompt his memory929.

No definite number of the Muses is given by Homer, for we cannot regard as his the verse930 in which they are said to be nine. Perhaps originally, as in the case of the Erinnyes and so many other deities, there was no precise number. Pausanias931 gives an old tradition, according to which they were three, — Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory), and Aœde (Song). Aratus said they were four, the daughters of Zeus and the nymph Plusia (Wealthy), and that their names were, Thelxinoe (Mind-soother), Aœde, Melete, and Arche (Beginning)932. Alcman and some other poets made the Muses the daughters of Heaven and Earth933. The more received opinion makes them, as in the proœmium to the Theogony934, nine, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory).

The names of the Muses were935, Calliope, Cleio, Melpomene, Euterpe, Erato, Terpsichore, Urania, Thaleia, and Polymnia.

{p. 186}

Later ages assigned a particular department to each of the Muses, and represented them in various postures and with various attributes936.

Calliope presided over Epic Poetry ; she was represented holding a close-rolled parchment, and sometimes a trumpet.

Cleio presided over History ; and appeared holding a halfopened roll. The invention of the lute or guitar (κιθάρα) was ascribed to her.

Melpomene, over Tragedy ; she was veiled, and was leaning on a club, and holding a tragic mask in her left hand. Her instrument was the lyre named Barbiton.

Euterpe, over Music ; she held two flutes, and the invention of the tragic chorus was ascribed to her.

Erato, the muse of Marriage-feasts and pantomimic dancing (ὄρχησις), played on the stringed instrument named phorminx. She is said to have invented hymns to the gods.

Terpsichore, the muse of the choric Dance (χορεία), appeared in a dancing posture. She was said to have invented the pipe (αὔλος).

Urania, the muse of Astronomy, held in one hand a globe, in the other a rod with which she was employed in tracing out some figure.

Thaleia, the patroness of Comedy, held a comic mask in one hand, and in the other a crooked staff. She was also regarded as the patroness of husbandry and planting.

Polymnia, the muse of Eloquence and the Mimic art, had the fore-finger of her right hand on her mouth, or carried a roll.

Pieria in Macedonia is said by Hesiod937 to have been the birth-place of the Muses ; and everything relating to them proves the antiquity of the tradition of the knowledge and worship of these goddesses having come from the North into Hellas938. Almost all the mountains, grots, and springs from which they have derived their appellations, or which were sacred to them, are, we may observe, in Macedonia, Thessaly, or Bœotia (Aonia). Such are the mountains Pimpla, Pindos, {p. 187}Parnassos, Helicôn, the founts Hippocrene, Aganippe, Leibethron, Castalia, and the Corycian cave.

The Muses, says Homer939, met the Thracian Thamyras in Dorion (in the Peloponnese), as he was returning from Œchalia. He had boasted that he could excel them in singing ; and enraged at his presumption they struck him blind, and deprived him of his knowledge of music.

Shortly after the birth of the Muses, the nine daughters, it is said, of Pierios king of Æmathia challenged them to a contest of singing. The place of trial was Mount Helicôn. At the song of the latter the sky became dark and all nature was put out of harmony, but at that of the Muses the heaven itself, the stars, the sea, and rivers stood motionless, and Helicôn swelled up with delight, so that his summit would have reached the sky had not Poseidôn directed Pegasos to strike it with his hoof. The Muses then turned the presumptuous maids into nine different kinds of birds940.

The Muses did not escape the darts of Love. Calliope bore to Œagros a son named Linos941, who was killed by his pupil Heracles. She also had by the same sire Orpheus, whose skill on the lyre was such as to move the very trees and rocks, and the beasts of the forest assembled round him as he struck its chords. He was married to Eurydice942, whom he tenderly loved ; but a snake having bitten her as she ran through the grass, she died. Her disconsolate husband determined to descend to the under-world, to endeavour to mollify its rulers, and obtain permission for her to return to the realms of light. Hades and Persephone listened to his prayer ; she was allowed to return, on condition of his not looking on her till they were arrived in the upper-world. Fearing that she might not be following him, the anxious husband looked {p. 188}back, and thereby lost her. He now avoided human society ; and despising the rites of Dionysos, was torn to pieces by the Mænades. The Muses collected the fragments of his body, and buried them, and at their prayer Zeus placed his lyre in the skies943.

Cleio, having drawn on herself the anger of Aphrodite by taunting her with her passion for Adonis, was inspired by her with love for Pieros the son of Magnes. She bore him a son named Hyacinthos944. Euterpe, or according to some Calliope, or Terpsichore, bore Rhesos to the god of the river Strymôn945 ; Melpomene was by Acheloös the mother of the Sirens. Hymenæos, the god of marriage, was said to be the offspring of the divine Urania, but the name of his sire is unknown946. Those who took a less sublime view of the sanctity of marriage gave him Dionysos and Aphrodite for parents947. He was invoked at marriage festivals948. By the Latin poets he is presented to us arrayed in a yellow robe, his temples wreathed with the fragrant plant amaracus, his locks dropping odour, and the nuptial torch in his hand949.

Beside the usual epithets common to all goddesses, and derived from beauty and dress, the Muses were styled950, 1. Sweet-speaking ; 2. Perfect-speaking ; 3. Loud-voiced ; 4. Honey-breathing.

{p. 189}

The most probable derivation of the name Muse (Mοȗσα), seems to be that which deduces it from the obsolete verb MAΩ to inquire or invent. The Lydians, who spoke a language akin to the Greek, called, we are told, the Muses Nymphs, or the Nymphs Muses, apparently using the terms as synonymous951. We everywhere find the Muses connected with founts ; Eumelos of Corinth said they were three in number, the daughters of Apollo, and he called them Cephiso, Apollonis, and Borysthenis952, two of which names are evidently derived from those of rivers ; and the comic poet Epicharmus in his drama named ‘Hebe's Wedding,’ where the gods appeared as thorough bon-vivans, made the seven Muses the daughters of Pieros and Pimpleia (Fattener and Filler), and named them after seven rivers953. They probably figured in this comedy as the presidents of the fish-market. If, however, the Muses were not generally regarded as connected in some way with the water the poet would hardly have thus represented them, as the humour would not have been fully appreciated by the audience. We may further observe that the musical Sirens were placed by the poets at the edge of the water, possibly from a feeling of a connexion between that element and music.

The Latins, it would also appear, connected their Camenæ with the fountains ; for Egeria was one of them, and her fount long continued to be an object of veneration. The Gotho-German race (whose language and religion bear so great an affinity to those of Greece) seem also to have connected music with the water in their ancient religious system ; and this notion still remains part of the popular creed in northern Europe, as is proved by the many legends of the songs of Mermaids, Nixes, Necks, and similar beings of the waters current among the people in Germany and Scandinavia954. In fact, this, like {p. 190}almost every other article of popular belief, has its origin in nature. There is music in the sound of water as it purls or murmurs along in the rivulet, (the very terms prattling, babbling, tinkling, and such like, applied to brooks by our poets prove it,) and even the waterfall, especially when heard in the distance, makes melody to the attentive ear. The rivulet is also the favourite haunt of the poet ; its quiet murmur induces calmness over the spirit, and puts the mind into a frame for the reception of poetic images955. Hence it has been said, by him who like the early bards of Greece was one of Nature’s own poets, that

The Muse nae poet ever fand her
Till by himsel he learned to wander
Adoun some trotting burn’s meander
And think na lang.

We are therefore inclined to regard as correct the theory which sees in the Muses original nymphs of the springs, to whom the poets ascribed their inspiration956.

ραι. Horœ. Seasons or Hours. §

When in the Ilias957 Hera and Athena drive out of Olympos in the chariot of the former goddess, to share in the conflict of the Achæans and the Trojans, the gates of heaven, which the Seasons keep, whose charge is to open and close the dense cloud, creak spontaneously to let them pass. On the return of these goddesses, at the mandate of Zeus, the Seasons unyoke their steeds, fasten them in their stalls, and lay up the chariot. They are also mentioned by Poseidôn958 as bringing round the period at which he and Apollo were to be paid their wages by Laomedôn.

Hesiod says959 that the Seasons were the daughters of Zeus and Themis, and he names them Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and Eirene (Peace), who, he adds, watch over (ὠρεύουσι) {p. 191}the works of mortal men. In another place960 he says, that Dike is a virgin revered by the gods of Olympos ; and that when any one acts unjustly, she sits by her father Zeus, and complains of the iniquity of man’s mind, ‘that the people may suffer for the transgressions of their kings.’

By an unknown poet961 the Horæ are called the daughters of Kronos (Time ?), and by late poets they were named the children of the year, and their number was increased to twelve962. Some made them seven or ten in number963.

The Horæ seem to have been originally regarded as the presidents of the three seasons into which the ancient Greeks divided the year964. As the day was similarly divided965, they came to be regarded as presiding over its parts also ; and when it was further subdivided into hours, these minor parts were placed under their charge and named from them966.

Order and regularity being their prevailing attributes, the transition was easy from the natural to the moral world ; and the guardian goddesses of the seasons were regarded as presiding over law, justice, and peace, the great producers of order and harmony among men.

It is possible however, but not agreeable to analogy, that the reverse was the case, and that the transition was from moral to physical ideas.

By Pindar967 the Horæ are named, in their moral capacity, the bestowers of wealth, a poetic clothing of the homely maxim ‘honesty is the best policy.’ The Athenians worshiped two Horæ, named Thallo Bloom-giver, and Carpo (Fructifier), viewing them as physical beings968. By the poets they were frequently confounded with the Graces, and regarded as the bestowers of beauty969.

Homer calls the Horæ970, 1. Gold-filleted. The epithets in the Orphic hymns are chiefly derived from the flowers which they produce ; such as, 2. Flower-full ; 3. Odour-full971 ; etc.

{p. 192}

άριτϵς Gratiœ. Graces. §

The Graces, like the Muses and other sister-goddesses, are spoken of by Homer in the plural, and their number is indefinite. They are graceful and beautiful themselves, and the bestowers of all grace and beauty both on persons and things. They wove the robe of Aphrodite972 ; the beauty of the two attendants of Nausicaa973 was given them by the Charites ; and the ringlets of the beautiful Euphorbos are compared974 to those of these lovely goddesses. Aphrodite975 joins in their dance ; and in the song of Demodocos, they wash and anoint her, when filled with shame she flies to Paphôs976. Yet though they seem to have been particularly attached to the goddess of love, the queen of heaven had authority over them977 ; and she promises Pasithea, one of the youngest of the Graces, for a wife to Sleep, in return for his aid in deceiving Zeus. By later writers she is even said to be their mother978.

The Homeridian hymn to Artemis describes that goddess as going to the ‘great house’ of her brother at Delphi, and regulating the dance of the Muses and the Graces.

Zeus, says Hesiod979, was by Eurynome, the daughter of Ocean, the father of the ‘three fair-cheeked Graces’ Aglaïa (Splendour), Euphrosyne (Joy), and lovely Thalia (Pleasure). ‘From their eyes,’ continues the poet, ‘as they gazed, distilled care-dispelling love ; and they looked lovely from beneath their brows.’ According to Antimachus980, the Graces were the daughters of Helios and Ægle (Splendour) ; and Hermesianax981 made Peitho (Persuasion) one of their number. In Nonnus their names are Pasithea, Peitho and Aglaïa982.

Orchomenos in Bœotia was the chief seat of the worship of these goddesses. Its introduction was ascribed to {p. 193}Eteocles, the son of the river Cephissos. They were three in number, but it was not known what names he had given them983. The Lacedæmonians worshiped but two, whom they named Cleta (Renowned) and Phaënna (Bright)984. The Athenians originally adored the same number, under the names of Hegemone (Leader) and Auxo (Increaser)985.

The Graces were at all times in the creed of Greece the goddesses presiding over social enjoyments, the banquet, the dance, and all that tended to inspire gaiety and cheerfulness986 They are represented as three beautiful sisters, dancing together : sometimes they are naked, sometimes clad.

The Charites had the epithets common to goddesses.

Εἰλείθυιαι. Ilithyiæ. §

The Eileithyiæ, whose office it was to preside over the births of mankind, are in the Ilias987 called the daughters of Hera. In the Odyssey988 and in Hesiod989 their number is reduced to one. We also meet with but one Eileithyia in Pindar990, and the subsequent poets in general.

There was a cave at the river Amnisos, near Gortyna in Crete, sacred to Eileithyia, who according to the tradition of the country was born there991. Eileithyia was worshiped at Delos, where a hymn was sung in her honour ascribed to the ancient Lycian poet Olên. In this she was said to be the mother of Love992.

Eileithyia was called993, 1. Labour-aiding ; 2. Gentle-minded994, etc.

It is not by any means an improbable supposition, that {p. 194}Eileithyia was originally a moon-goddess, and that the name signifies Light-wanderer995. Hence, if Artemis was originally a moon-goddess, the identification of them was easy. The moon was believed by the ancients to have great influence over growth in general996 ; and as moreover a woman’s time was reckoned by moons, it was natural to conceive that the moon-goddess presided over the birth of children.

Μοιραι. Parcæ, Fata. Fates. §

In the Ilias, with the exception of one passage997, the Moira is spoken of in the singular number and as a person, almost exactly as we use the word Fate. But in the Odyssey this word is used as a common substantive, followed by a genitive of the person, and signifying Decree.

The Theogony of Hesiod limits the Fates, like so many other goddesses, to three, and gives them Zeus and Themis for their parents998. In an interpolated passage of the Theogony999 they are classed among the children of Night1000, and Plato makes them the daughters of Necessity1001. Their names in Hesiod are Clotho (Spinster), Lachesis (Allotter), and Atropos (Unchangeable) ; but he does not speak of their spinning the destinies of men. This office of theirs is however noticed both in the Ilias and the Odyssey. In the former it is said1002 by Hera of Achilleus, that the gods will protect him that day, but that hereafter he will suffer ‘what Aisa [a name synonymous with Moira] span with her thread for him when his mother brought him forth ; ’ and in the latter1003, Alcinoös says of Odysseus, that he will hereafter suffer ‘what Aisa and the heavy Cataclothes span with the thread for him when his mother brought him forth.’

{p. 195}

It is probable that Homer, in accordance with the sublime fiction in the Theogony, regarded the Fates as the offspring of Zeus and Order, for in him they are but the ministers of Zeus, in whose hands are the issues of all things1004. Æschylus1005 makes even Zeus himself subject to the Fates, whose decrees none could escape.

The poets styled the Fates1006, 1. Unerring ; 2. Severe-minded, etc.

Moira probably comes from μϵίρω, and Aisa from δαίω, both signifying to divide. It is a very extraordinary coincidence, that the Noms, the Destinies of Scandinavian theology, should also be spinsters, and three in number1007.

Κῆρες. Mortes. §

The Keres are personifications of violent deaths1008. The word Ker is used by Homer in the singular and in the plural number, and both as a proper and as a common noun, but much more frequently as the former. When a common noun, it seems to be equivalent to fate. Achilleus says, that his mother gave him the choice of two keres ; — one, to die early at Troy ; the other, to die after a long life at home1009.

On the shield of Achilleus1010 Ker appears in a blood-stained robe, with Strife and Tumult, engaged in the field of battle ; and on that of Heracles1011 the Keres are described as raging in the fight, and glutting themselves with the blood of the wounded. By Apollonius1012 they are named ‘the swift dogs of Hades,’ a character under which they are also represented by Sophocles1013.

In the Theogony these goddesses are the daughters of {p. 196}Night and sisters of the Moiræ1014, who also appear on the shield of Heracles, and with whom they are sometimes confounded1015, as they also are with the Erinnyes1016. They bear a strong resemblance to the Valkyries (Choosers of the Slain) of Northern mythology.

The Keres were styled1017, 1. Implacable ; 2. Stern-looking, etc.

ριννύες. Furiæ. Diræ. Furies. §

These goddesses are frequently named by Homer, but he says nothing of their origin. In the Theogony they spring from the blood of Uranos when mutilated by his son Kronos, whose own children they are according to Empedocles1018, while Æschylus and Sophocles call them the children of Night1019, and the Orphie Hymns assign them the rulers of Erebos for parents1020. In the time of the Alexandrians, the Erinnyes, like the Fates and others, were three in number, named Alecto (Unceasing), Megæra (Envier or Denier), and Tisiphone (Blood-avenger).

The Erinnyes were worshiped at Athens as the Venerable (σεμναὶ) Goddesses, and at Sicyôn as the Graciousὐμενίδες)1021, both of which were apparently placatory appellations. They had a temple in Achaia, which if any one polluted with crime dared to enter he lost his reason1022.

In the poets we find the Erinnyes styled1023, 1. Hateful ; 2. Gloom-roaming ; 3. Dark-skinned ; 4. Swift-footed.

The Greek term ἐρινὺς has, we think, been justly defined1024 as a “feeling of deep offence, of bitter displeasure, at the impious violation of our sacred rights by those most bound to {p. 197}respect them.” This perfectly accords with the origin of the Erinnyes in the Theogony, and with those passages of the Homeric poems in which they are mentioned ; for they are there invoked to avenge the breach of filial duty1025, and are named as the punishers of perjury1026 : even beggars have their Erinnyes, that they may not be insulted with impunity1027 ; and when a horse has spoken in violation of the order of nature, the Erinnyes deprive him of the power of repeating the act1028. The Erinnyes, these personified feelings, may therefore be regarded as the maintainers of order both in the moral and the natural world. There is however another view taken of these goddesses, in which they are only a form of Demeter and Kora, the great goddesses of the earth. For everything in nature having injurious as well as beneficial effects, the bounteous earth itself becomes at times grim, as it were, and displeased with mankind, and this is Demeter-Erinnys. In the Arcadian legends of this goddess, and in the concluding choruses of the Eumenides of Æschylus, may be discerned ideas of this nature1029. The epithet given to them by Empedocles would seem to confirm a view of them already noticed1030.

{p. 198}

Chapter XIII.


Θέμις. Themis. Law. §

This goddess appears in the Ilias1031 among the inhabitants of Olympos, and in the Odyssey1032 she is named as presiding over the assemblies of men, but nothing is said respecting her rank or her origin. By Hesiod1033 she is said to be a Titaness, one of the daughters of Heaven and Earth, and to have borne to Zeus, the Fates, and the Seasons, Peace, Order, Justice, — the natural progeny of Law (Θέμις), and all deities beneficial to mankind. In Pindar and the Homeridian Hymns Themis sits by Zeus on his throne to give him counsel1034.

Themis is said1035 to have succeeded her mother Earth in the possession of the Pythian oracle1036, and to have voluntarily resigned it to her sister Phœbe, who gave it as a christeninggift1037 to Phœbos-Apollo.

ρις. Iris. §

The office of Iris, in the Ilias, is to act as the messenger of the king and queen of Olympos, a duty which is performed by Hermes in the Odyssey, in which poem there is not any mention made of Iris. Homer gives not the slightest hint of who her parents were ; but analogy might lead to the {p. 199}supposition of Zeus being her sire, by some mother who is unknown. Hesiod1038 says that swift Iris and the Harpies, who fly ‘like the blasts of the winds or the birds,’ were the children of Thaumas (Wonder) by Electra (Brightness) the daughter of Oceanos. It is evidently the Rainbow (ἴρις) that is meant, which is thus personified in the usual theogonic manner. There is little mention of Iris in the subsequent Greek poets ; but, whenever she is spoken of, she appears quite distinct from the celestial phænomenon of the same name. In Callimachus1039 and the Latin poets1040 Iris is appropriated to the service of Hera ; and by these last she is invariably, and even we may say clumsily, confounded with the rainbow. According to the lyric poet Alcæus, who is followed by Nonnus, Iris was by Zephyros the mother of Love1041.

Homer styles Iris Gold-winged1042, and, according to Aristophanes, he likens her to a trembling dove. In the Birds1043 of that poet Epops says

But how shall men esteem us gods, and not
Jackdaws, since we have wings and fly about ?

To which Peisthetæros replies,

Nonsense ! Egad, Hermes, who is a god,
Wears wings and flies, and many other gods
Do just the same. Thus Victory, mark ye, flies
With golden wings ; and so, egad, does Love :
And like a trembling dove, old Homer saith,
Was Iris.

Iris is called1044, 1. Storm-footed ; 2. Wind-footed ; 3. Swift-footed ; 4. Swift ; 5. Gold-winged, etc.

The name Iris is usually derived from ἐρῶ, ἐἴρω, to say, {p. 200}which suits the office of the goddess, and will accord with the rainbow in a view of it similar to that given in the Book of Genesis. Hermann renders Iris Sertia, from εἴρω to knit or unite, as the rainbow seems to unite heaven and earth.

Παιήων, Παιὼν, Παιάν. Pœeon, Pœon. §

Pæeon is in Homer the family surgeon of Olympos. Nothing is said about his origin. All we are told is, that he cured Ares when wounded by Diomedes1045, and Hades of the wound in his shoulder given him by Heracles1046, and that the Egyptian physicians were of his race1047. His attributes were afterwards transferred to Apollo, with whom he was perhaps originally identical1048.

ϒπνος. καὶ Θάνατος Somnus et Mors. Sleep and Death. §

These two deities are called by Hesiod1049 the children of Night. By Homer they are, for a very natural and obvious reason, said to be twins. When, in the Ilias1050, Sarpedôn the heroic and noble-minded son of Zeus falls by the hands of Patroclos, Apollo at the command of his father washes his body in the waters of the stream, anoints it with ambrosia, and, clothing it in ambrosial garments, commits it to the twin brothers Sleep and Death to convey to Lycia, there to be interred by his relatives and friends.

In the same poem, when Hera1051 resolves by her arts and beauty to melt the soul of Zeus in love, and lay him asleep on Mount Gargaros, that Poseidôn may meanwhile give victory to the Achæans, she takes her way thither from Olympos over Lemnos, where she meets Sleep. She accosts him as the king of all gods and men, and prays him to aid in her project, promising as his reward a seat and footstool, the workmanship {p. 201}of Hephæstos. Sleep reminds the goddess of the imminent danger which he formerly ran, for having at her desire sealed the eyes of Zeus in slumber when Heracles was on his return from Troy, during which she raised a storm that drove the hero to Côs ; and Zeus, awaking in a rage, knocked the gods about the house, searching for Sleep, who only escaped by seeking the protection of Night, whom Zeus revered too much to offend. Hera, by urging that the affection of Zeus for the Trojans could not be supposed equal to that for his own son, and finally by offering and swearing to give him one of the younger Graces for his spouse, overcomes the fears of Sleep, who accompanies her to Ida, where taking the shape of a bird he sits in a tree till she has beguiled her lord. Sleep, having accomplished his task, speeds to the battle-field to inform Poseidôn of what he has done.

The Latin poet Ovid1052, probably after some Grecian predecessor, as was usually the case, gives a beautiful description of the cave of Sleep near the land of the Kimmerians, and of the cortége which there attended on him, as Morpheus, Icelos or Phobetêr, and Phantasos ; the first of whom takes the form of man to appear in dreams, the second of animals, the third of inanimate objects.

Death was brought on the stage by Euripides in his beautiful drama of Alcestis. He is deaf to the entreaties of Apollo to spare the Thessalian queen, but, vanquished by Heracles, is forced to resign his victim.

Μωμος. Momus. §

This god of raillery and ridicule does not appear to have been known to Homer. By Hesiod1053 he is classed among the children of Night. He is alluded to by Plato and Aristotle ; and Lucian1054, as might be expected, makes some use of him.

{p. 202}

Νέμεσις. Nemesis. §

This goddess is in the Theogony a daughter of Night1055. The tradition at Rhamnûs in Attica, where she had a temple (whence she was named Rhamnusia), was that Oceanos was her father1056. Helena, the cause of the war of Troy, was figuratively styled the offspring of Zeus and Nemesis1057.

The name of this goddess comes most simply from νέμω, to distribute ; and she was originally regarded as a personification of the power which regulates and orders the natural and the moral worlds. As the castigation of infractions of order was a part of her office, she was chiefly viewed as the punisher of pride, insolence, and arrogance. This is her usual character in the dramatists.

At Smyrna two Nemeses were worshiped1058. The goddess adored at Cyzicos under the name of Adresteia, said by the poet of the Phoronis to be the same with Cybele1059, is named Nemesis by Antimachus1060. This Asiatic Nemesis is probably the goddess of nature1061.

Τύχη. Fortuna. Fortune. §

Fortune, that unseen power which exercises such arbitrary dominion over human affairs, was also deified, and had her temples and altars in Greece. By Hesiod and by one of the Homerids1062 she is classed among the Ocean-nymphs. Pindar in one place1063 calls her ‘the child of Zeus Eleutherios ;’ elsewhere1064 he says that she is one of the Destinies. Alcman called her the sister of Law and Persuasion, and daughter of Forethought (Προμηθία)1065. In her temple at Thebes1066 {p. 203}Fortune held Wealth (Πλοȗτος) in her arms, whether as mother or nurse was uncertain. The image of this goddess made by Bupalos for the Smyrnæans had a hemisphere (πόλος) on its head, and a horn of Amaltheia in its hand1067.

Personifications. §

The practice of personifying natural and moral qualities (of which the preceding articles are instances), seems to have been coeval with Grecian poetry and religion. It was not however by any means peculiar to Greece ; it will probably be found wherever poetry exists1068. But it was only in ancient Greece and Italy that these personifications were objects of worship, and seemed to be regarded as having a real personal existence.

In Homer, to whom as the original fountain we continually revert, we meet a number of these moral qualities appearing as persons. Terror and Fear, the children of Ares and Strife his sister, rouse with him the Trojans to battle1069. Strife is said to be small at first, but at last to raise her head to the heaven. She is sent forth1070 amidst the Achæans by Zeus, bearing the signal of war ; and, standing on the ship of Odysseus in the centre of the fleet, shouts so as to be heard at either extremity. When Ares1071 hears of the death of his son Ascalaphos, Terror and Fear are commanded to yoke the steeds to his car for the war.

Prayers (Λιταὶ), says the poet1072, are the daughters of great Zeus, lame and wrinkled, with squinting eyes. They follow Mischief (Ἂτη), and tend those whom she has injured : but Ate is strong and firm-footed, and gets far before them, afflicting men whom they afterwards heal. Elsewhere1073 he relates that Ate is the daughter of Zeus, who injures (ἀâται) all ; that her feet are tender, and that she therefore does not walk on the ground, but on the heads of men. Having conspired with Hera to deceive her father, he took her by the hair {p. 204}and flung her to earth, with an oath that she should never return to Olympos.

The Theogony of Hesiod contains a number of these personified qualities ; they also occur in the subsequent poets. Thus Æschylus introduced on the stage Strength (Κράτος) and Force (Βία)1074. Sophocles, by a very beautiful and correct figure, terms Fame ‘the child of golden Hope’1075 ; and the Athenians erected an altar to this personification1076, as they also did to Shame and Impetuosity, and above all to Mercy1077 ; for with all their faults, and though from the defects of their political constitution they were occasionally stimulated to deeds of cruelty by their unprincipled demagogues, the Athenians were by nature one of the most humane people in Greece.

The more stern Spartans, we may observe, erected temples to Fear, to Death, and to Laughter1078.

Wealth (Πλοȗτος) was also deified. The Theogony makes him very appropriately the offspring of Demeter by Iasios1079. He appears as an actor in the comedy of Aristophanes named from him, and in the Timôn of Lucian.

{p. 205}

Chapter XIV.


Διώνυσος, Διόνυσος, Βάκχος. Liber. §

No deity of Grecian mythology has given occasion to greater mysticism than Dionysos, the god of wine. Creuzer1080, for example, the prince of mystics, deduces his worship from India, and makes him identical with the Seeva of that country. According to him, the Vishnoo-religion had, at a period far beyond that of history, spread itself over the West, and in Greece was known as that of Apollo, the god of the sun and light. The wild religion of Seeva, which had overcome the milder one of Vishnoo on their natal soil, followed it in its progress to the West, proceeded as the religion of Dionysos through Egypt and anterior Asia, mingling itself with the systems of these countries, and entered Greece, where, after a long struggle with the Apollo-system, the two religions finally coalesced, the Dionysiac casting away some of its wildest and most extravagant practices.

This hypothesis rests on no stable evidence ; and it has been, as appears to us, fully refuted and exposed by the sober and sagacious Voss1081, who, rejecting all air-built theory, bases his system on fact and testimony alone. We shall here attempt, chiefly under his guidance, to illustrate the changes which it is probable the mythology of this god gradually underwent after the time of Homer.

It has been very justly observed by Lobeck1082, that almost all the passages in Homer in which there is any mention of or allusion to this god have been suspected by the ancient critics, either on account of some circumstances in themselves, or because they occur in places justly liable to suspicion. The first of these passages is that in the sixth book of the Ilias1083, {p. 206}where Diomedes and Glaucos encounter in the field of battle. Here the former hero, who had just wounded no less than two deities, asks the latter if he is a god, adding, “ I would not fight with the celestial gods ; for the stout Lycurgos, son of Dryas, who contended with the celestial gods, was pot longlived, who once chased the nurses of raging Dionysos through the holy Nyseïon, but they all flung their sacred utensils (θύσλα) to the ground, when beaten by the ox-goad of the man-slaying Lycurgos ; and Dionysos in affright plunged into the waves of the sea, and Thetis received him in her bosom terrified, — for great fear possessed him from the shouting of the man. The gods, who live at ease, then hated him, and the son of Kronos made him blind ; nor was he long-lived, since he was odious to all the immortal gods.” Language more unsuitable surely could not be put into the mouth of Diomedes ; and we may observe that there is a kind of instinct of propriety, as we may term it, which always guides those poets who sing from inspiration and not from art, leading them to ascribe to the personages whom they introduce no ideas and no language but what accurately correspond to their situation and character. This consideration alone, when well weighed, may suffice to render the above passage extremely suspicious.

The passage in the fourteenth book1084, in which Zeus so indecorously recounts his various amours to Hera, is liable to the same objection, and was rejected by Aristarchus and several of the best critics of antiquity. In this the god says that ‘Semele bore him Dionysos, a joy to mortals.’ The place in which Andromache is compared to a Mænas1085, besides that it occurs in one of the latter books, is regarded as an interpolation.

These are the only passages in the Ilias in which there is any allusion to Dionysos. In the Odyssey1086 it is said that Artemis slew Ariadne in the isle of Dia, ‘on the testimony (μαρτuρίῃσιν) of Dionysos’ ; but the circumstance of the o in the second syllable of his name being short in this place satisfied the grammarian Herodian, and ought to satisfy any {p. 207}one, that the line in question is spurious. In the last book of this poem1087 Thetis is said to have brought an urn (ἀμϕιϕορῆα), the gift of Dionysos, to receive the ashes of Achilleus ; but the spuriousness of that part of the poem is well known. It was further observed by the ancient critics, that Marôn, who gave the wine to Odysseus, was the priest of Apollo, not of Dionysos.

Hesiod1088 says, that Cadmeian Semele bore to Zeus ‘the joyfull Dionysos, a mortal an immortal, but now they both are gods.’ Again1089, ‘gold-tressed Dionysos made blond Ariadne the daughter of Minôs his blooming spouse, and Kroniôn made her ageless and immortal.’

Far perhaps inferior in point of antiquity to Hesiod is the Homeridian hymn to Dionysos, which contains the following adventure of the god, — a tale which Ovid1090 has narrated somewhat differently.

Dionysos once let himself be seen as a handsome youth on the shore of a desert island. Some Tyrsenian pirates were sailing by, who when they espied him jumped on shore and made him captive, thinking him to be of royal birth. They bound him with cords ; but these instantly fell off him, and the god sat smiling in silence. The pilot perceiving these apparent signs of divinity, called to the crew that he was a god, and exhorted them to set him on shore, lest he should cause a tempest to come on. But the captain rebuked him sharply, desired him to mind his own business, and declared that they would take their captive to Egypt or elsewhere and sell him for a slave. They then set sail, the wind blew fresh, and they were proceeding merrily along ; when, behold ! streams of fragrant wine began to flow along the ship ; vines with clustering grapes spread over the sail ; and ivy, laden with berries, ran up the mast and sides of the vessel. His shipmates in affright now called aloud to the pilot to make for the land ; but the god assuming the form of a grim lion seized the captain, and the terrified crew to escape him leaped into the sea and became dolphins. The pilot alone remained {p. 208}on board ; the god then declared to him who he was, and took him under his protection.

Another of these hymns relates, that the Nymphs received Dionysos from his father, and reared him in a fragrant cavern of the valleys of Nysa. He was counted among the Immortals ; and when he grew up, he went through the woody vales crowned with bay and ivy : the Nymphs followed him, and the wood was filled with their joyous clamour.

In these poems the mention of the ivy, and the epithet noisy (ἐρίβρομς), testify, as we shall see, their late age. Pindar also calls Dionysos Ivy-bearing (κισσοϕόρος) and noisy (βρόμιος). Herodotus and the tragedians describe what we consider to be the mixed religion of Dionysos.

The idea of mere mortals, or the offspring of gods and mortals, being raised to divine rank and power, does not occur in the Ilias. Ganymedes and Tithonos, who were mortal by both father and mother, were carried off, the former by the gods to be the cup-bearer of Zeus1091, the latter by Eôs ; and it is to be presumed, though Homer does not expressly say so, that they were endowed with immortality. But all the halfcaste, as we may call them, Heracles, Achilleus, Sarpedôn, Æneias, have no advantage over their fellow-mortals, except greater strength and more frequent aid from the gods.

But in the Odyssey we find the system of deification commenced. The sea-goddess Ino-Leucothea, who gives Odysseus her veil to save him from being drowned, was, we are told, a daughter of Cadmos (a name which does not occur in the Ilias), ‘who had before been a speaking mortal, but was now allotted the honour of the gods in the depths of the sea.’ And again ; Odysseus beholds in the realms of Hades the image (εἴδωλογ) of Heracles, pursuing his usual occupations when on earth ; but himself we are told ‘enjoys banquets among the immortal gods, and possesses fair-ankled Hebe.’ It is not however said that he had obtained the power of a god1092.


Supposing therefore Dionysos to have been, as his name might appear to indicate, one of the original Grecian deities, (and it is difficult to think that the vine and its produce, with which the ‘sons of the Achæans’ were so familiar, could have been without a presiding god,) he may have been regarded as a son of Zeus by a goddess named Semele, who in after-times, in pursuance of a practice hereafter to be explained, may have been degraded to the rank of a heroine, and Dionysos have consequently become the son of Zeus by a mortal mother. The vintage is in wine-countries at the present day, like haymaking and harvest-home in England, a time of merry-making and festivity ; and the festival of the deity presiding over it may have been a very joyous one, and celebrated with abundance of noise and mirth. Such, we say, may have been (for we venture not to assert it) the original Dionysiac religion of Greece ; and when we recollect the very incidental manner in which Demeter, undoubtedly one of the most ancient deities, is noticed in the Ilias, it should not excite any great surprise to find the poet totally omitting all mention of the wine-god1093.

To pass from conjecture to certainty, it appears quite clear that the part of Thrace lying along the northern coast of the Ægæan was in the earliest times a chief seat of the Dionysiac religion, where the worship of the god of wine was celebrated with great noise and tumult by the people of that country ; and, supposing the passage in the sixth book of the Ilias to be genuine, some account of it had possibly reached the ears of Homer. The Thracian worship of Dionysos, it is not improbable, was not introduced into Greece till after the time when the Æolians colonised the coast of Asia about the Hellespont1094. Here they became acquainted with the enthusiastic orgies of the Great Mother, and of the god Sabazios ; who, as it would appear, was similar to Dionysos1095, and an object of veneration both to Phrygians and Thracians, and who was worshiped under the form of an ox, as being the patron of agriculture. As polytheism is not jealous, and readily permits {p. 210}the introduction of new deities into the system, particularly if their attributes or festivals have a resemblance to any of the old ones1096, the worship of this new god was adopted by the Grecian colonists, and diffused over the isles and continent of Greece : not, however, without considerable opposition from the sober common-sense of several individuals of eminence, as appears by the mythic tales of Labdacos, Pentheus and Perseus, which are apparently real occurrences thrown back into the mythic age1097. The original Grecian festivals, though of a joyous cheerful character, were so widely different from the raving orgies and wild licentiousness of this Dionysiac religion, that it is quite evident the latter could not have been known in Greece during the Achæan period1098.

There can be no doubt of the Dionysiac religion, with its nocturnal orgies and indecent extravagance, having been very prevalent among the Greeks at the time when the Ionians were permitted to settle in Egypt. It is in no small degree surprising with what facility the Grecian and Egyptian systems coalesced, with what open-mouthed credulity the Grecian settlers and travellers swallowed all the fictions of the cunning priesthood of that country, and with what barefaced assurance the latter palmed on their unsuspecting auditors the most incredible lies. In reading the Euterpe of Herodotus, one might fancy one’s self beholding Captain Wilford listening with devout belief to his artful Pundit1099 ; so little suspicion does the Father of History betray of his having been played upon by the grave linen-clad personages who did him the honour to initiate him in their mysteries.

The theory boldly advanced by the Egyptian priesthood was, that all the religion of Greece had been imported into {p. 211}that country by colonies of Egyptians — a people, by the way, without ships, or materials for building them, who had no ports, and who held the sea in abhorrence1100 — who civilised the mast-eating savages that roamed its uncultivated wilds, and instructed them in the nature and worship of the gods. The deities of Greece were therefore to find their prototypes in Egypt ; and Dionysos was honoured by being identified with Osiris, the great god of the land of Nile1101. Herodotus informs us how Melampûs, who introduced his worship into Greece, had learned it from Cadmos the Phœnician, who had derived his knowledge of course from Egypt1102. As the realm of Osiris did not abound in vines1103, the ivy with its clustering berries which grew there was appropriated to the god1104 ; and it now became one of the favourite plants of Dionysos, as appears by the Homeridian hymn above-cited.

The Egyptians had fabled that their god Osiris had made a progress through the world, to instruct mankind in agriculture and planting1105. The Greeks caught up the idea, and represented the son of Semele — for the popular faith did not give up the old legend of his Theban birth — as roaming through the greater part of the earth. In the Bacchæ of Euripides the god describes himself as having gone through Lydia, Phrygia, Persia, Bactria, Media, Arabia, and the coast of Asia, inhabited by mingled Greeks and barbarians, throughout all which he had established his dances and his religious rites.

When Alexander and his army had penetrated to the modern Caubul, they found ivy and wild vines on the sides of Mount Meros and on the banks of the Hydaspes ; they also met processions, accompanied by the sound of drums and party-coloured dresses, like those worn in the Bacchic orgies of Greece and Lesser Asia. The flatterers of the conqueror {p. 212}thence took occasion to fable that Dionysos had, like Heracles and their own great king, marched as a conqueror throughout the East ; had planted there the ivy and the vine ; had built the city Nysa ; and named the mountain Meros, from the circumstance of his birth from the thigh (μηρòς) of Zeus1106. At length, during the time of the Græco-Bactric kingdom, some Greek writers, on whom it is not impossible the Bramins imposed, as they have since done on the English, gave out that Dionysos was a native Indian, who, having taught the art of wine-making in that country, made a conquering expedition through the world, to instruct mankind in the culture of the vine and other useful arts. And thus the knowledge of the vine came to Greece, from a land which does not produce that plant1107.

This last is the absurd hypothesis which we have seen renewed in our own days, and supported by all the efforts of ingenious etymology.

The story of the Grecian Dionysos is as follows1108. Zeus, enamoured of the beauty of Semele the daughter of Cadmos, visited her in secret. Hera’s jealousy took alarm, and under the form of an old woman she came to Semele, and, by exciting doubts of the real character of her lover, induced her when next he came to exact a promise that he would visit her as he was wont to visit Hera. An unwary promise was thus drawn from the god before he knew what he was required to perform ; and he therefore entered the bower of Semele in his chariot, the lightning and thunder flaming, flashing and roaring around him. Overcome with terror, Semele, who was now six months gone with child, expired in the flames, and Zeus took the babe, which was prematurely expelled from her womb, and sewed it up in his thigh. In due time it came to the birth, and Zeus then naming it Dionysos gave it to {p. 213}Hermes to convey to Ino, the sister of Semele, with directions to rear it as a girl.

Hera, whose revenge was not yet satiated, caused Athamas, the husband of Ino, to go mad ; and Zeus, to save Dionysos from the machinations of Hera, changed him into a kid, under which form Hermes conveyed him to the nymphs of Nysa, who were afterwards made the Hyades, and by whom he was reared. When he grew up he discovered the culture of the vine, and the mode of extracting its precious liquor ; but Hera struck him with madness, and he roamed through great part of Asia. In Phrygia Rhea cured him, and taught him her religious rites, which he now resolved to introduce into Hellas. When passing through Thrace he was so furiously assailed by Lycurgos, a prince of the country, that he was obliged to take refuge with Thetis in the sea ; but he avenged himself by driving Lycurgos mad, who killed his own son Dryas with a blow of an axe, taking him for a vine-branch ; and his subjects afterwards bound him and left him on Mount Pangæon, where he was destroyed by wild horses, for such was the will of Dionysos.

When Dionysos reached his native city, the women readily received the new rites, and ran wildly through the woods of Cithærôn. Pentheus, the ruler of Thebes, however, set himself against them ; but Dionysos caused him to be torn to pieces by his mother and his aunts. The daughters of Minyas, Leucippe, Aristippe and Alcathoe, also despised his rites, and continued plying their looms, while the other women ran through the mountains. He came as a maiden, and remonstrated, but in vain ; he then assumed the form of various wild beasts ; serpents filled their baskets ; vines and ivy twined round their looms, while wine and milk distilled from the roof ; but their obstinacy was unsubdued. He finally drove them mad ; they tore to pieces the son of Leucippe, and then went roaming through the mountains, till Hermes touched them with his wand, and turned them into a bat, an owl, and a crow1109.

{p. 214}

Dionysos next proceeded to Attica, where he taught a man named Icarios the culture of the vine. Icarios having made wine, gave of it to some shepherds, who thinking themselves poisoned killed him. When they came to their senses they buried him ; and his daughter Erigone, being shown the spot by his faithful dog Mæra, hung herself through grief1110. At Argos the rites of Dionysos were received, as at Thebes, by the women, and opposed by Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae ; Zeus however reduced his two sons to amity1111, and Dionysos thence passed over to Naxos, where he met Ariadne. It was on his way thither that his adventure with the Tyrrhenians occurred. Dionysos afterwards descended to Erebos, whence he fetched his mother, whom he now named Thyone, and ascended with her to the abode of the gods1112.

Like every other portion of the Grecian mythology, the history of the vine-god was pragmatised when infidelity became prevalent. That most tasteless of historians Diodorus gives us, probably from the cyclograph Dionysius, the following narrative1113.

Ammôn, a monarch of Libya, was married to Rhea, a daughter of Uranos ; but meeting near the Ceraunian mountains a beautiful maiden named Amaltheia, he became enamoured of her. He made her mistress of the adjacent fruitful country, which from its resembling a bull’s horn in form was named the Western Horn, and then Amaltheia’s Horn, which last name was afterwards given to places similar to it in fertility. Amaltheia here bore him a son, whom, fearing the jealousy of Rhea, he conveyed to a town named Nysa, situated not far from the Horn, in an island formed by the river Tritôn. He committed the care of him to Nysa, one of the daughters of Aristæos ; while Athena, who had lately sprung from the earth on the banks of the Tritôn, was appointed to keep guard against the assaults of Rhea. This delicious isle, which was precipitous on all sides, with a single entrance through a narrow glen thickly shaded by trees, is described in a similar manner with Panchaia, and other happy retreats of the same {p. 215}nature. It therefore had verdant meads, abundant springs, trees of every kind, flowers of all hues, and evermore resounded with the melody of birds1114. After he grew up, Dionysos became a mighty conqueror and a benefactor of mankind, by whom he was finally deified.

Though the adventures of Dionysos were occasionally the theme of poets, especially of the dramatists, they do not appear to have been narrated in continuity, like those of Heracles, until long after the decline of Grecian poetry. It was in the fifth century of the Christian æra, that Nonnus, a native of Panopolis in Egypt, made the history of Dionysos the subject of a poem, containing forty-eight books, the wildest and strangest that can well be conceived, more resembling the Ramayuna of India than anything to be found in ancient or modern occidental literature. Its chief subject is the war of Dionysos against Deriades king of the Indians, the details of which are probably the inventions of the poet1115 ; in other parts he seems to have adhered with tolerable fidelity to his authorities, and the ‘Dionysiacs’ may be regarded as a vast repertory of Bacchic fable, perhaps deserving of more attention than has hitherto been bestowed on it1116.

The worship of this god prevailed in almost all parts of Greece. Men and women joined in his festivals, dressed in Asiatic robes and bonnets ; their heads wreathed with vine-and ivy-leaves, with fawn-skins (νεβρίδες) flung over their shoulders, and thyrses or blunt spears twined with vine-leaves in their hands, they ran bellowing through the country Io {p. 216}Bacche ! Euoi ! Iacche ! etc., swinging their thyrses, beating on drums, and sounding various instruments. Indecent emblems were carried in processions, at which modest virgins assisted ; and altogether few ceremonies more immoral or indecent are celebrated in India at the present day, than polished Athens performed in the Phrygio-Grecian Dionysia1117, though ancient and modern mystics endeavour to extract profound and solemn mysteries from them.

The women, who bore a chief part in these frantic revels, were called Mænades, Bacchæ, Thyiades, Euades, names of which the origin is apparent.

Dionysos was represented in a variety of modes and characters by the ancient artists. The Theban Dionysos appears with the delicate lineaments of a maiden, rather than those of a young man ; his whole air and gait are effeminate ; his long flowing hair is, like that of Apollo1118, collected behind his head, wreathed with ivy or a fillet ; he is either naked, or wrapped in a large cloak, and the nebris is sometimes flung over his shoulders ; he carries a crook or a thyrse, and a panther generally lies at his feet. In some monuments Dionysos appears bearded, in others horned (the Bacchos-Sabazios), whence in the mysteries he was identified with Osiris, and regarded as the Sun. He is sometimes alone, at other times in company with Ariadne or the youth Ampelos.

His triumph over the Indians is represented in great pomp. The captives are chained and placed on wagons or elephants, and among them is carried a large cratêr full of wine ; Dionysos is in a chariot drawn by elephants or panthers, leaning on Ampelos, preceded by Pan, and followed by Silenos, the Satyrs, and the Mænades, on foot or on horseback, who make the air resound with their cries and the clash of their instruments. The Indian Bacchos is always bearded.

It is with reason that Sophocles1119 styles Dionysos manynamed (πολυνυμος), for in the Orphic hymns alone we meet {p. 217}upwards of forty of his appellations. Some of the principal of them are, Bacchos1120 and Bromios, from the noise with which his festivals were celebrated ; Bassareus, from the fox-skin dresses named bassaræ worn by the Thracians ; Dithyrambos, from the odes of that name, or from his double birth (δὶς ϴύρɑ) ; Eleleus and Euios, from the shouting ; Lyæos, as loosing from care ; Lenœos, from the wine-press.


[n.p.]Dionysos was also called1121, 1. Muse-leader ; 2. Bull-headed ; 3. Fire-born ; 4. Dance-rouser ; 5. Mountain-rover ; 6. Sleep-giver, etc.

It seems probable that in the original conception of Dionysos he was not merely the wine-god, for such restricted notions are contrary to the genius of the ancient Grecian religion, in which each people assigned its peculiar deities a very extensive sphere of action, as gods of the sun, the moon, the heaven, the earth, and other parts of nature. Dionysos was therefore, it is likely, regarded as a deity presiding over growth and increase in general ; and as Hermes, who seems to have been originally of coextensive power with him, was gradually restricted and made a god of cattle alone, so Dionysos may have been limited to the care of plants, particularly the vine1122.

Water and heat being the great causes of growth, we find this deity closely connected with both these elements. Thus the infant Dionysos is committed to the water-goddess Ino, and to the Hyades and to Silenos. His temples at Athens1123 and Sparta1124 were in places named marshes (ἐν λίμνɑις), and he was styled Of-the-Marsh (Λιμνɑȋος), and Marsh-sprung (Λιμνηγενὴς). In some places he was called the Rainer (Ὕης)1125 ; {p. 218}his festival, the Anthesteria, was celebrated in the spring, the season of showers, and it was so named from the flowers and blossoms, of which he was the author ; whence he was named the Flowery 1126.

The relation of Dionysos to the celestial heat is expressed in the story of his birth, and also in the dog Mæra (Μɑȋρɑ), another name for Sirius the dog-star1127 ; the name of his companion Marôn1128 also seems to refer to heat ; and perhaps the true origin of the god’s own epithet, Μηρογϵνὴς, usually rendered Thigh-born, lies in this word. It is not impossible that the real root of his mother’s name may be ϭέλɑς. 1129.

In favour of this god’s presiding over cattle is alleged the well-known circumstance of the goat being the victim offered to him ; his being in his infancy conveyed to Nysa in the form of a kid, and his being worshiped under that name. He also wore the goatskin dress of the goatherds ; and in Attica and Hermione he was named Μϵλάνɑιγις, a name which in the former place was connected with the fabulous origin of the festival of the Apaturia. Welcker is of opinion that Dionysos was originally the object of worship to the lower classes, the goatherds, and such like (in Attica the tribe of the Ægicoreis) ; and that as they gradually rose in consideration, their god was associated with those of the nobles ; and that thence he always appeared of an inferior rank to those with whom he was joined. This critic accounts on the same principle for the very slight mention of Dionysos in the Homeric poems, namely, that he was of too low a rank to be an actor of importance in those aristocratie verses, which only told of kings and nobles, and the gods whom they adored1130.

The name Dionysos is one of the most difficult to explain {p. 219}in Grecian mythology. After Voss’s able exposure we may venture to reject the notion of its being the same with Devanishi, a title of the Hindoo god Seeva, and view in Dionysos a Grecian god with a Grecian name. The most probable (though by no means quite satisfactory) interpretation of it is God-of-Nysa, which last place occurs frequently in his legend. Like Tritôn, however, it has been multiplied, for we find a Nysa on Helicôn in Bœotia1131, in Thrace, in Naxos, at the foot of Mount Tmolos in Lydia, in Arabia, in India, in Africa, and elsewhere1132 ; besides that indefinite one whence Persephone was carried away by Hades. It therefore is a matter of uncertainty which was the original Nysa.

{p. 220}

Chapter XV.


Our object in introducing the present chapter is to give a slight view of the manner in which the intercourse with Asia and Egypt, which had such an injurious effect on the religion of Greece, commenced. We know not how we can better open the subject, than by quoting the following just and philosophical observations of a writer1133 for whom we entertain the highest respect and esteem.

“After that most happy age whose image we behold expressed in the poems of Homer had passed away, a great change took place in civil affairs, but a still greater in religions, in pursuits, and inclinations ; and the whole of Greece was so much altered, that if any one passes from the perusal of Homer to that of those writers who lived in the time of the Persian war, he will feel as if removed to another region, and seem hardly to recognise those old Achæans, who, happy with the present, careless of the future, prompt to act, mindless of what they had done, were aloof from all the causes of anxiety and superstition. But when, as reason gradually ripened, the Greeks began to examine the involved conceptions of the mind, and to know themselves, there succeeded that more mature and solicitous age, at which when men arrive they feel more strongly and acutely the incentives of pleasure and of virtue, fluctuating alternately, with great commotion of mind, and often with extreme ennui, between what they condemn and what they desire. Hence that anxiety about hidden matters, and those presages of the future, and the various superstitions which consciousness of guilt and despair of salvation are wont to produce. The entrance and traces of this new age of Greece we are prevented from clearly discerning by the obscurity of those times, which, being illumined by hardly {p. 221}any literary monuments, may be said to resemble a region covered with dark clouds, through which the tops of the towers and castles elevate themselves, while the ground and foundation lie concealed. But that there was a great agitation of the human mind, and some new efforts, is proved by the perfection of lyric poetry, which commenced a little after the time of Hesiod, and by the origin of philosophy and the advance of the elegant arts. We presently see magnificent temples raised to the gods and heroes, solemn games instituted throughout the towns, the number and the insignia of the priests, especially when the regal power had been abolished, increased. But that at the same time the mystic ceremonies, whose first traces appear in the Hesiodic and Cyclic poems, were diffused far and wide, and occupied the whole of life with new superstitions, is manifest from the number of jugglers who then roved through Greece, expiating by certain secret rites not only blood and man-slaughter, but also prodigies, sacrileges, and whatever piacular offences either individuals or states had committed.”

Having enumerated the principal of these men, such as Abaris, Aristeas, Onomacritus of Locris, and Epimenides, our author thus proceeds :

“Meantime Egypt, the parent of superstition and sacerdotal falsehood, was laid open ; and who that reflects on the long and frequent intercourse of the two nations, and the vaniloquence of the one and the credulity of the other1134, will hesitate to concede that the contagion had secretly insinuated itself into Greece before the time of Pythagoras ? But it is not without reason believed, that during the same period the mystic poems of Musæos, Eumolpos, Orpheus, and that which was called the Minyas, were made public ; in all of which were scattered new fables about the lower-world, and hopes of a more happy life and Elysian abodes promised to those who received the sacred decrees of the gods, and equal punishments threatened to the despisers of them. What ! is not the religion of the subterrane deities sanctioned by those Athenian laws, which direct that those who have committed manslaughter should be brought before the King of the Sacred {p. 222}Affairs, and being absolved by the judgement should be solemnly purified, — of which laws Dracôn is said to have been the author ? This religion was also confirmed by Solôn ; who, in cases of manslaughter, directed to swear by three deities, Ikesios, Catharsios, and Exakesterios. Nor were the psychomanty and evocations of the dead, which we read of in the stories of Archilochus, Periander, and Pausanias, built on any other foundation : and these were posterior to Homer ; for if his contemporaries had known anything of that art, he needed not to have sent Odysseus to the nether-world. After a little interval succeeded Pythagoras, the author of a portentous wisdom, and that twilight-season in which poets began to philosophise and philosophers to poetise.

“In these four centuries, therefore, which elapsed between Homer and the Persian wars, the greatest change was made in all matters pertaining to the worship of the gods. They contain the origin and growth of solemn lustrations, mysteries, hieratic medicine, and fanatic poetry : in these too the most ancient poems of Bacis, Pamphôs, Olên, and the Sibyls, appear to have been patched up, and all the avenues of pious frauds thrown open. Whence the conclusion is easy, that the web of the Orphic fable, which is all composed of the same kind of threads with those, was not woven by Proselenian philosophers, but was commenced perhaps a century or two after Homer, and completed a little before the time of Onomacritus1135.”

It is needless to remind our readers, that we have no account on which we can place reliance of any intercourse between the Greeks and foreign nations previous to the Trojan war, save the commercial one with the Phœnician merchants who visited their harbours. The revolution named the Return of the Heracleids, which is said to have occurred somewhat less than a century after that event, caused portions of the Achæan race to abandon their country and seek new settlements. They seem to have turned their eyes to the former realms of the Trojan monarchs, whose power had been broken ; and the first colonies were planted by the Æolians along the coast, from the island of Cyzicos in the Propontis to the mouth {p. 223}of the Hermos. The Ionians and the Dorians afterwards came and settled to the south of that river ; and thus the coast of Asia was occupied to a considerable extent by the Grecian colonies.

We cannot trace in Homer any difference between the religion of the Achæans and that of the Asiatics. In the case of the Trojans, who are regarded (and we think justly) as a portion of the Pelasgic race, this need not surprise us ; but the poet is equally silent with respect to anything of thé kind between them and the Phrygians, whose religion we know to have been different1136. It does not however seem to have been the practice of the Aœdi to attend to distinctions of this kind ; for Odysseus, we may observe, in all his wanderings never found any want of an interpreter, as good Greek was spoken wherever he came, and he everywhere met with Grecian manners and customs. The silence therefore of the poet throws no impediment in the way of our assuming that, when the Grecian colonies settled on the Hellespont, they found there a religion very different from their own ; the one being calm and cheerful, the other wild and orgiastic. This religion was that of

Κυβέλη. Κυβήβη. Rhea. Ops. §

Cybele, called also the Great Mother, was regarded by the Phrygians and Lydians1137 as the goddess of nature or of the earth. Her temples stood on the summits of hills ; such as that of Dindymos in the isle of Cyzicos, of Berecynthos, Sipylos, Cybelos ; from which last she is said to have derived her name, though the reverse is more likely to be the truth. At Pessinos was preserved the aërolite1138 which was held to be her heaven-sent image.

The following pragmatised account of Cybele is given by Diodorus.

Cybele was daughter to king Mæôn and his queen Dindyme. She was exposed by her father on Mount Cybelos, where she was suckled by panthers and lionesses, and was afterwards reared by shepherdesses, who named her Cybele. {p. 224}When she grew up she displayed great skill in the healing art, and cured all the diseases of the children and cattle. They thence called her the Mountain-Mother. While dwelling in the woods she formed a strict friendship with Marsyas, and had a love-affair with a youth named Attis. She was afterwards acknowledged by her parents ; but her father, on discovering her intimacy with Attis, seized that unhappy youth and put him to death. Grief deprived Cybele of her reason : with dishevelled locks she roamed, to the sound of the drums and pipes which she had invented, over various regions of the earth, even as far as the country of the Hyperboreans, teaching mankind agriculture : her companion was still the faithful Marsyas. Meantime a dreadful famine ravaged Phrygia : the oracle, on being consulted, directed that the body of Attis should be buried, and divine honours be paid to Cybele. A stately temple was accordingly erected to her at Pessinos by king Midas1139.

It is apparent from this account that Cybele, Marsyas, and Attis were all ancient Phrygian deities. Marsyas, as we have seen, was a river-god ; and Attis, whose name occurs frequently in the dynasties of the Lydian kings, (who according to the usual practice were named after their god,) was probably, like Adonis, a personification of the Sun, of whose union with Earth we have apparently another instance in Amphiôn and Niobe. The Lydian legend of the birth of Attis is curious and significant1140.

Like Asiatic worship in general, that of Cybele was enthusiastic. Her priests, named Galli and Corybantes, ran about with dreadful cries and howlings, beating on timbrels, clashing cymbals, sounding pipes, and cutting their flesh with knives. The box-tree and the cypress were considered sacred to her ; as from the former she made the pipes, and Attis was said to have been changed into the latter.

We find from Pindar and the dramatists1141 that the worship {p. 225}and the mysteries of the Great Mother were common in Greece, particularly at Athens, in their time.

The worship of Cybele was introduced into Rome a. u. c. 547, when a solemn embassy was sent to Attalus king of Pergamus, to request the image at Pessinos which had fallen from heaven. The monarch readily yielded compliance, and the goddess was conveyed to Rome ; where a stately temple was built to receive her, and a solemn festival named the Megalesia was celebrated every year in her honour1142. As the Greeks had confounded her with Rhea, so the Latins made her one with their Ops, the goddess of the earth1143.

In works of art Cybele exhibits the matronly air and composed dignity which distinguish Hera and Demeter. Sometimes she is veiled, and seated on a throne with lions at her side ; at other times riding in a chariot drawn by lions. Her head is always crowned with towers. She frequently beats on a drum, and bears a sceptre in her hand.

The name Cybele is probably derived from the cymbals (Κύμβος, Κύμβɑλɑ) used in her worship.

Κότυς ἢ Κοτυττὼ Κɑὶ Βϵνδȋς. Cotytto et Bendis. §

Cotys or Cotytto was a goddess worshiped by the Thracians, whose kings were frequently named from her. She was apparently identical with the Phrygian Cybele1144. Her worship was introduced at Athens and at Corinth, where it was celebrated in private with great indecency and licentiousness1145.

Bendis, another Thracian goddess, had some analogy with Artemis and Hecate1146, and she was probably the same with Cybele. Her worship also was adopted at Athens ; her temple named the Bendideion was in the Peiræeus1147, and a festival named the Bendideia was celebrated in her honour1148.

{p. 226}

Αρτϵμις ἐν Εϕέσῳ. Diana Ephesia. §

The Ephesian Artemis was another Asiatic goddess whose worship was adopted by the Greeks. From their confounding her with their own Artemis, it would seem that they regarded her as the Moon-goddess ; though her attributes might lead to an identification of her with Cybele1149.

The most ancient statue of the Artemis of Ephesus was a black stone which had fallen from heaven, — an aërolite of course. Her subsequent ones were a sort of Pantheôn, a compound of various attributes. She is covered with breasts and with the heads of animals, and stands an image either of the natural fecundity of the earth, or of that supposed to be induced by the influence of the moon.

Nothing can be clearer than that this goddess was originally distinct from the Artemis of the Greeks. Yet in after times we find them so completely identified, that the Ephesians in the reign of Tiberius maintained1150 , “that Apollo and Diana were not born in Delos, as was commonly supposed ; but that the river Cenchrius and the grove Ortygia, where the travailing Latona, resting against an olive-tree which still existed, brought forth these deities, were with them.” In like manner the people of Tegyra in Bœotia appropriated to themselves the birth of Apollo, calling a hill near his temple Delos, and two springs Palm and Olive ; they also took to themselves the Delphian legends of Tityos and Pythôn1151. We even find the whole mythic cycle of Leto, Apollo, and Artemis, transferred to Egypt, — Leto becoming Buto, Apollo Oros, and Artemis Bubastes, and an island in the Nile, said (for Herodotus could not perceive it to move) to be a floating one, Delos1152.

Ισις. Isis. §

Isis was one of the chief deities of Egypt and spouse of Osiris. Her worship was introduced during the Alexandrian period into Greece, and afterwards into Rome. The Isiac {p. 227}mysteries were among the secret ones, and abounded in gross superstition, vile juggling, and scandalous indecency. As the goddess herself is by Herodotus1153 identified with the Grecian Demeter, we are to suppose that she was one of those personifications of nature, or of the productive power of the earth, which we find among most ancient nations.

Egypt is once mentioned in the Ilias1154. In the Odyssey1155 Egypt, the Egyptians, and the river Ægyptos are spoken of ; and from these passages we may perhaps collect, that the Greeks, particularly the Cretans, used in those times to make piratical incursions on Egypt. Hesiod1156 names the Nile.

“Homer’s Egypt,” says Zoega1157, “seems to me altogether fabulous ; it presents nothing local, nothing characteristic. His Egyptians are Greeks, the presents which they give to Menelaos are such as a Greek would have given. Egyptian antiquity knows nothing of tripods. The poet had merely picked up some obscure reports of a rich city, Thebes, an island, Pharos, and that the Egyptians were good physicians, and used a kind of opium. The historic circumstances of the voyage of Menelaos, his adventures there, etc. are fictions. From this point of view many difficulties are removed, and many fine systems fall to pieces. The land of Egypt no longer increases in extent a whole day’s journey toward the north, Memphis is no longer founded after the destruction of Troy. The more ancient Greeks named the Delta Egypt, the rest Thebes, for which reason Memphis might very well be the Thebes of Homer. This poet had no knowledge of the true site of Thebes.”

From Herodotus1158 we learn, that when (Ol. 27.) the Egyptian prince Psammitichos was driven by his competitors for the throne to seek shelter in the marshes of the Delta, he was told by the oracle of Buto that brazen men from the sea would {p. 228}be his avengers. Shortly afterwards some Carians and Ionians, who were out a-pirating, were driven by stress of weather to Egypt, where they landed and began to plunder the country. As, after the Grecian fashion, they wore brass armour (a sight unusual to the Egyptians1159 ), word was brought to Psammitichos that brazen men had landed and were plundering. Calling to mind the oracle, he sent to invite them to enter his service : they consented, and with their aid he made himself master of Egypt. He assigned them a settlement near the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile, whence their descendants were about eighty years afterwards removed to Memphis by Amasis to serve as his guards1160. This monarch appointed the town named Naucratis, which he allowed the Greeks to build on the Canobic arm of the Nile, to be the emporium of the trade of Greece and Egypt, just as Canton is that of the trade between China and Europe. Vessels were allowed to enter that port alone ; and if driven into any other by stress of weather, they were obliged to sail for it, or their cargoes, if the wind was still rough, were conveyed thither in barges round the Delta. Amasis, who was a great favourer of the Greeks, permitted them to erect altars and consecrate pieces of land (τϵμένα) to their national deities. These religious colonies extended far up the country, and we even find the Samians in one of the Oases1161.

When the Ionians and Carians settled in Egypt, Psammitichos put some Egyptian children under their care, to be instructed in the Greek language ; and, as everything in that country was regulated on the principle of castes, these and their descendants formed the caste of Interpreters, whom Herodotus found there two centuries afterwards1162. We may thus see at once how in a space of two hundred years, by means of these interpreters, and of the introduction of the worship of the Grecian deities, the artful priesthood of Egypt may have contrived to frame the system above noticed, of the derivation of the religion and civilization of Greece from the land of Nile.

From this digression we return to the gods of Greece.

{p. 229}

Chapter XVI.


Πάν. Pan. §

This god is unnoticed by Homer and Hesiod, but according to one of the Homerids he was the son of Hermes by an Arcadian nymph1163. Hermes, he says, smitten with love for the daughter of Dryops (Woody), abandoned Olympos and took service as a shepherd in Arcadia. He succeeded in gaining the heart of the ‘well-tressed nymph,’ and a child was the result of their secret interviews. But so monstrous was his appearance, that the nurse on beholding him fled away in affright. Hermes immediately caught him up, wrapped him carefully in a hare-skin, and carried him away to Olympos : then taking his seat with Zeus and the other gods, he produced his babe. All the gods, especially Dionysos, were delighted with the little stranger ; and they named him Pan (i. e. All), because he had charmed them all.

Others fabled that Pan was the son of Hermes by Penelope, whose love he gained under the form of a goat, as she was tending in her youth the flocks of her father on Mount Taÿgeton1164. Some even went so far as to say that he was the offspring of the amours of Penelope with all her suitors1165. According to Epimenides1166, Pan and Arcas were the children of Zeus and Callisto. Aristippus made Pan the offspring of Zeus and the nymph Œneïs1167, others again said he was a child of Heaven and Earth1168. There was also a Pan said to be the son of Zeus and the nymph Thymbris or Hybris, the instructor of Apollo in divination1169.

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The worship of Pan seems to have been confined to Arcadia till the time of the battle of Marathôn, when Pheidippides, the courier who was sent from Athens to Sparta to call on the Spartans for aid against the Persians, declared that, as he was passing by Mount Parthenion near Tegea in Arcadia, he heard the voice of Pan calling to him, and desiring him to ask the Athenians why they paid no regard to him, who was always, and still would be, friendly and assisting to them. After the battle the Athenians consecrated a cave to Pan under the Acropolis, and offered him annual sacrifices1170.

Long before this time the Grecian and Egyptian systems of religion had begun to mingle and combine. The goatformed Mendes of Egypt was now regarded as identical with the horned and goat-footed god of the Arcadian herdsmen1171 ; and Pan was elevated to great dignity by priests and philosophers, becoming a symbol of the universe, for his name signified all. Further, as he dwelt in the woods, he was called Lord of the Hyle (ό τῆς ὓλης κύρις)1172 ; and as the word hyle (λη) by a lucky ambiguity signified either wood or primitive matter, this was another ground for exalting him. It is amusing to read how all the attributes of the Arcadian god were made to accord with this notion. “Pan,” says Servius1173, “is a rustic god, formed in similitude of nature ; whence he is called Pan, i. e. All : for he has horns in similitude of the rays of the sun and the horns of the moon : his face is ruddy, in imitation of the æther : he has a spotted fawn-skin on his breast, in likeness of the stars : his lower parts are shaggy, on account of the trees, shrubs, and wild-beasts : he has goat’s feet, to denote the stability of the earth : he has a pipe of seven reeds, on account of the harmony of the heaven, in which there are seven sounds : he has a crook, that is a curved staff, on account of the year, which runs back on itself, because he is the god of all nature. It is feigned by the poets, that he struggled with Love and was conquered by him, because, as we read, Love conquers all, omnia vincit amor.

In Arcadia, his native country, Pan appears never to have

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attained to such distinction. So late as the days of the Ptolemies, Theocritus1174 could thus allude to the treatment which he sometimes there experienced from his worshipers :

And if thou do so, Pan beloved, may ne’er
The Arcadian boys thy shoulders and thy sides
Pelt with their squills when little meat is had ;
But if thou otherwise incline, may pain
Seize thee when all thy skin is torn with nails,
And in hot nettles may thou lie to rest :

which the scholiast tells us was the Arcadians’ mode of treating the god when they were unsuccessful in hunting1175.

The Homerid already quoted, who is older than Pindar1176, describes in a very pleasing manner the occupations of Pan. He is lord of all the hills and dales : sometimes he ranges along the tops of the mountains, sometimes pursues the game in the valleys, roams through the woods, floats along the streams, or drives his sheep into a cave, and there plays on his reeds music not to be excelled by that of the bird “who among the leaves of flower-full spring laments, pouring forth her moan, a sweet-sounding lay.”

And with him the clear-singing mountain-nymphs
Move quick their feet, by the dark-watered spring
In the soft mead, where crocus, hyacinths,
Fragrant and blooming, mingle with the grass
Confused, and sing, while echo peals around
The mountain’s top.

The god meanwhile moves his feet rapidly as he joins in the dance, with the skin of a lynx on his back, and delighted with the sweet song.

In after times the care of Pan was held to extend beyond the herds. We find him regarded as the guardian of the bees1177, and as the giver of success in fishing and fowling1178.

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The god of herdsmen was not without his amours ; he is said to have captivated the goddess of the night, Selene, under the form of a white ram1179. He was fortunate in an amour with the nymph Echo, by whom he had a daughter named Iambe1180 ; but he could not gain the love of Syrinx, another of the nymphs. Syrinx was a Naïs of Nonacris in Arcadia, and devoted to the service of Artemis : as she was returning one day from the chase, and passed by Mount Lycæon, Pan beheld her and loved ; but when he would address her, she fled. The god pursued : she reached the river Ladôn, and unable to cross it implored the aid of her sister-nymphs ; and when Pan thought to grasp the object of his pursuit, he found his arms filled with reeds. While he stood sighing at his disappointment, the wind began to agitate the reeds, and produced a low musical sound. The god took the hint, cut seven of the reeds, and formed from them his syrinx (σύριγξ) or pastoral pipe1181. Another of his loves was the nymph Pitys, who was also loved by Boreas. The nymph favoured more the god of Arcadia, and the wind-god in a fit of jealousy blew her down from the summit of a lofty rock. A tree of her own name (πίτυς, pine) sprang up where she died, and it became the favourite plant of Pan1182.

What are called Panic terrors were ascribed to Pan ; for loud noises, whose cause could not easily be traced, were not unfrequently heard in mountainous regions ; and the gloom and loneliness of forests and mountains fill the mind with a secret horror, and dispose it to superstitious apprehensions : hence perhaps it is, that madness was believed to be the consequence of encountering the rural deities.

The ancients had two modes of representing Pan. The first, according to the description already given, as horned and goat-footed, with a wrinkled face and a flat nose1183. But the artists sought to soften the idea of the god of shepherds, {p. 233}and they portrayed him as a young man hardened by the toils of a country life. Short horns sprout on his forehead, to characterize him ; he bears his crook and his syrinx ; and he is either naked, or clad in the light cloak called chlamys1184.


Like many other gods who were originally single, Pan was multiplied in course of time, and we meet Pans in the plural1185.

Pan was called1186, 1. Goat-footed ; 2. Noise-loving ; 3. Dance-loving ; 4. Bright-locked ; 5. Cave-dwelling ; 6. Sea-roaming.

The name Pan (Πὰν) is probably nothing more than the contraction of πάων, feeder or owner1187, and was probably in its origin an epithet of Hermes. Buttmann connects Pan with Apollo Nomios, regarding his name as the contraction of Pæan1188. Welcker says it was the Arcadian form of Φάων, Φὰν, apparently regarding him as the sun1189.

Σάτυροι. Satyri. Satyrs. §

Hesiod1190 is the first who mentions the Satyrs ; he says that they, the Curetes and the mountain-nymphs, were the offspring of the five daughters of Hecatæos by the daughter of Phoroneus.

The Laconian term for a Satyr was Tityros1191, which also signified the buck-goat or the ram1192 that led the flock. Æschylus calls a Satyr Buck-goat (τράγος)1193. In all views of the Satyrs they appear to be a rough, shaggy kind of beings.

The Satyrs were associated with Dionysos, and they formed the chorus of the species of drama named from them. It is not unlikely that they are indebted for their deification to {p. 234}the festivals of that god, and that they were originally merely the rustics who formed the chorus, and danced at them in their goat-skin dresses1194. Their name may be merely the reduplication of ϴήρ1195.

Σϵιληνὸς, Σιληνός. Silenus. §

Hermes and the Silens ‘mingle in love’ with the nymphs in pleasing caverns, according to a Homerid1196, and Pindar1197 calls Silenos the Naïs’ husband. Socrates used to compare himself, on account of his wisdom, his baldness, and his flat nose, to the Silens born of the divine Naïdes1198. Others said that Silenos was a son of Earth, and sprung from the blood-drops of Uranos1199. Marsyas is called a Silen1200. Like the seagods, Silenos was noted for wisdom.

It would therefore appear that a Silen was simply a rivergod1201 ; and the name probably comes from λλω, ϵἰλέω, to roll, expressive of the motion of the streams1202. The connexion between Silenos and Dionysos and the Naïdes thus becomes easy of explanation, all being deities relating to moisture.

Midas, king of the Brygians in Macedonia, had at the foot of Mount Bermion a garden, in which grew spontaneously roses with sixty petals, and of extraordinary fragrance1203. To this garden Silenos was in the habit of repairing ; and Midas1204, or his people, by pouring wine into the fount from which he was wont to drink, intoxicated him, and he was thus captured1205. Midas put various questions to him respecting the {p. 235}origin of things, and the events of past times1206. One was, What is best for men ? Silenos was long silent ; at length, when he was constrained to answer, he said, “Ephemeral seed of a toilsome fate and hard fortune, why do ye oblige me to tell what it were better for you not to know ? Life is most free from pain when one is ignorant of future evils. It is best of all for man not to be born…… the second is, for those who are born to die as soon as possible1207.” He also, it is said1208, gave the king a long account of an immense country which lay without the Ocean-stream, the people of which once invaded the land of the Hyperboreans.

According to another version of this legend1209, as Dionysos was in Lydia on his return from the conquest of the East, some of the country people met Silenos staggering about, and binding him with his own garlands, led him to their king. Midas entertained him for ten days, and then conducted him to his foster-son, who, in his gratitude, desired the king to ask what gift he would. Midas craved that all he touched might turn to gold. His wish was granted ; but when he found his very food converted to precious metal, and himself on the point of starving in the midst of wealth, he prayed the god to resume his fatal gift. Dionysos directed him to bathe in the Pactolos, and hence that river became auriferous1210.

Silenos was represented as old, bald, and flat-nosed, riding on a broad-backed ass, usually intoxicated, and carrying his can (cantharus), or tottering along supported by his staff of fennel (ferula)1211.

Πρίαπος. Priapus. §

Priapos was introduced late into Grecian mythology1212. He was a rural deity, worshiped by the people of Lampsacus, a city on the Hellespont famous for its vineyards. Priapos was {p. 236}not — as is supposed, from the employment usually assigned him by the Romans after they had adopted his worship – merely the god of gardens, but of fruitfulness in general. “This god,” says Pausanias1213, “is honoured elsewhere by those who keep sheep and goats, or stocks of bees ; but the Lampsacenes regard him more than any of the gods, calling him the son of Dionysos and Aphrodite.” In Theocritus1214, the shepherds set his statue with those of the Nymphs at a shady fountain, and a shepherd prays to him, promising sacrifices if he will free him from love ; and by Virgil1215 bees are placed under his care. Fishermen also made offerings to him as the deity presiding over the fisheries1216 ; and in the Anthology1217 Priapos Of-the-Havenιμϵνίτας) is introduced, giving a pleasing description of the spring, and inviting the mariners to put to sea. The Priaps are enumerated by Moschus1218 among the rural gods :

And Satyrs wailed and sable-cloaked Priaps ;
And Pans sighed after thy sweet melody.

It was fabled1219 that Priapos was the son of Aphrodite by Dionysos1220, whom she met on his return from his Indian expedition at the Lampsacene town Aparnis. Owing to the malignity of Hera, he was born so deformed that his mother was horrified and renounced (ἀπαρνϵῖτο) him, whence the place derived its name. Others said1221 that he was the son of Dionysos by Chione, or a Naïs ; others1222, that he had a long-eared father, — Pan or a Satyr perhaps, or it may be his own sacred beast the ass1223 ; others gave him Hermes1224 or Adonis1225, or even Zeus himself for a sire1226.

Priapos, like the other rural gods, is of a ruddy complexion. His cloak is filled with all kinds of fruits : he has a sithe in his hand, and usually a horn of plenty. He is rarely without his indecent symbol of productiveness.

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Νύμϕαι. Nymphæ. Nymphs. §

The imagination of the Greeks peopled all the regions of earth and water with beautiful female forms called Nymphs, divided into various orders, according to the place of their abode. Thus1227 1. the Mountain-nymphs (Oreiades) haunted the mountains ; 2. the Dale-nymphs (Napœœ), the valleys ; 3. the Mead-nymphs (Leimoniades), the meadows ; 4. the Water-nymphs (Naïdes, Naïades), the rivers, brooks, and springs ; 5. the Lake-nymphs (Limniades), the lakes and pools. There were also, 6. the Tree-nymphs (Hamadryades), who were born and died with the trees ; 7. the Wood-nymphs in general (Dryades)1228 ; and 8. the Fruit-tree-nymphs or Flocknymphs (Meliades)1229, who watched over gardens or flocks of sheep.

The Nymphs occur in various relations to gods and men. Their amours, of which we have seen some instances, were numerous. The charge of rearing various gods and heroes was committed to them : they were, for instance, the nurses of Dionysos, Pan, and even Zeus himself ; and they also brought up Aristæos and Æneias. They were moreover the attendants of the goddesses ; they waited on Hera and Aphrodite, and in huntress-attire pursued the deer over the mountains in the company of Artemis.

In the Fairy Mythology1230, a work, for which, as our first effort in this department of literature, and which recalls the memory of many agreeable hours, we certainly feel a partiality, we thus expressed ourselves on the subject of the Nymphs.

“In the Homeric poems, the most ancient portion of Grecian literature, we meet the various classes of Nymphs. In the Odyssey, they are the attendants of Calypso, herself a goddess and a nymph. Of the female attendants of Circe,

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the potent daughter of Helios, also designated as a goddess and a nymph, it is said,

They spring from fountains and from sacred groves,
And holy streams that flow into the sea1231.

Yet these Nymphs are of divine nature ; and when Zeus, the father of the gods, calls together his council,

None of the streams, save Ocean, stayed away,
Nor of the Nymphs, who dwell in beauteous groves,
And springs of streams, and verdant grassy slades1232.

The good Eumæos prays to the Nymphs to speed the return of his master, reminding them of the numerous sacrifices which Odysseus had offered to them. In another part of the poem1233 their sacred cave is thus described :

But at the harbour’s head a long-leafed olive
Grows, and near to it lies a lovely cave,
Dusky and sacred to the Nymphs, whom men
Call Naiades. In it large craters lie,
And two-eared pitchers, all of stone ; and there
Bees build their combs. In it, too, are long looms
Of stone, and there the Nymphs do weave their robes,
Sea-purple, wondrous to behold. Aye-flowing
Waters are there. Two entrances it hath ;
That to the north is pervious unto men ;
That to the south more sacred is, and there
Men enter not, but ‘tis the Immortals’ path.

Yet though thus exalted in rank, the Homeric Nymphs frequently ‘blessed the bed’ of heroes ; and many a warrior who fought before Troy could boast descent from a Nais or a Nereïs.

“One of the most interesting species of Nymphs are the Hamadryades, those personifications of the vegetable life of {p. 239}plants1234. In the Homeridian hymn to Aphrodite, we find the following full and accurate description of them. Aphrodite, when she informs Anchises that she is pregnant, and of her shame to have it known among the gods, says of the child1235, —

But him, when first he sees the sun’s clear light,
The Nymphs shall rear, the mountain-haunting Nymphs,
Deep-bosomed, who on this mountain great
And holy dwell, who neither goddesses
Nor women are1236. Their life is long ; they eat
Ambrosial food, and with the Deathless frame
The beauteous dance. With them, in the recess
Of lovely caves, well-spying Argos-slayer
And the Sileni mix in love. Straight pines
Or oaks high-headed spring with them upon
The earth man-feeding, soon as they are born ;
Trees fair and flourishing ; on the high hills
Lofty they stand ; the Deathless’ sacred grove
Men call them, and with iron never cut.
But when the Fate of death is drawing near,
First wither on the earth the beauteous trees,
The bark around them wastes, the branches fall,
And the Nymph’s soul at the same moment leaves
The sun’s fair light.

“They possessed power to reward and punish those who prolonged or abridged the existence of their associate-tree. In the Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius, Phineus thus explains to the heroes the cause of the poverty of Peræbios1237 :

But he was paying the penalty laid on
His father’s crime ; for one time, cutting trees
Alone among the hills, he spurned the prayer
Of the Hamadryas Nymph, who, weeping sore,
With earnest words besought him not to cut
The trunk of an oak tree, which, with herself
Coeval, had endured for many a year.
But, in the pride of youth, he foolishly
Cut it ; and to him and his race the Nymph
Gave ever after a lot profitless.
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“The scholiast gives on this passage the following tale from Charôn of Lampsacus :

A man, named Rhœcos, happening to see an oak just ready to fall to the ground, ordered his slaves to prop it up. The Nymph, who had been on the point of perishing with the tree, came to him and expressed her gratitude to him for having saved her life, and at the same time desired him to ask what reward he would. Rhœcos then requested her to permit him to be her lover, and the Nymph acceded to his desire. She at the same time charged him strictly to avoid the society of every other woman, and told him that a bee should be her messenger. One time the bee happened to come to Rhœcos as he was playing at draughts, and he made a rough reply. This so incensed the Nymph that she deprived him of sight.

Similar was the fate of the Sicilian Daphnis. A Naïs loved him, and forbade him to hold intercourse with any other woman under pain of loss of sight. Long he abstained, though tempted by the fairest maids of Sicily. At length a princess contrived to intoxicate him : he broke his vow, and the threatened penalty was inflicted1238.”

The nymph Echo had been, as we have seen, beloved by the god Pan. She was also, we are assured, of a most accommodating disposition to Zeus ; and while he was engaged in his pranks with the other nymphs, Echo, being of a very loquacious character, used to keep Hera in chat till the nymphs had time to make their escape. When Hera discovered the artifice, she declared by way of punishment, that in future she should have but little use of her tongue ; and immediately she lost all power of doing any more than repeat the sounds which she heard. Echo happening to see the beautiful youth Narcissos, the son of the river-god Cephissos by the nymph Leiriope (Lily-voice), as he was hunting, became deeply enamoured of him. She followed his steps everywhere, but was long unable to accost him. At length

It happed the youth was from his faithful band
Of comrades parted, and he called aloud,
{p. 241}Is any here ? and Echo answered, Here.
Amazed, on every side he turns his view,
And in loud tones cries, Come ; and Echo calls
The caller. Back he looks, and, no one yet
Approaching, cries, Why fliest thou ? and receives
As many words in answer. By the sound
Of the alternate voice deceived, he still
Persists, and says, Let us meet here ; and, ne’er
To sound more grateful answering, Echo cried,
Let us meet here, and issued from the wood.

But at the sight of her the youth fled. Vexed at the ill success of her advances, and ashamed to appear, she henceforth lurked in solitary caverns, and her love wore her away till nothing remained but her voice and bones. The former still remains, and may be heard among the hills ; the latter were turned to stone. Narcissos, however, suffered the penalty of his hard-heartedness to her and other nymphs and maidens ; for seeing his own figure in a clear spring, he became enamoured of it, and pined away till he was converted into the flower which bears his name1239.

These are fables invented, in the usual manner, to account for the origin of the echo and the narcissus. The Scandinavians say that the echo is the voice of the Trolls ; the original natives of the West Indies regarded the echoes as the voices of the departed, who still dwelt in the woods and mountains1240. The narcissus grows abundantly about Mount Helicôn, the scene of Narcissos’ transformation. Its name in Persian is Nirgis, which proves the derivation from ναρкέω to be wrong. It was sacred to Demeter and the Kora1241.

It was fabled, that in the early ages of Southern Italy, when the people there were in the pastoral state, the Epimelian- or Flock-nymphs were once seen dancing at a place called the Sacred Rocks in Messapia. The young shepherds quitted their flocks to gaze on them ; and, ignorant of their quality, declared that they could dance better themselves. The nymphs were offended, and after a long dispute the shepherds began to contend with them. The motions of the rustics were of {p. 242}course awkward and ungraceful, those of the nymphs light and elegant, as became goddesses. The former were vanquished ; and the nymphs cried out to them, “O youths, you have been contending with the Epimelian nymphs ! you shall therefore be punished.” The shepherds instantly became trees where they stood, at the temple of the nymphs ; and to this day, says Nicander, a voice as of lamentation is heard at night to issue from the grove. The place is called that of the Nymphs and the Youths1242.

Dryops, the son of the river Spercheios, who dwelt at Mount Œta, had a daughter named Dryope. She fed the flocks of her father, and the Hamadryades conceived a strong affection for her. They made her their playfellow, and taught her to dance and sing hymns to the gods. Apollo beheld her dancing with them, and fell in love with her. He changed himself into a tortoise, with which they began to play and amuse themselves. Dryope placing it in her bosom, the god changed himself into a serpent : the nymphs fled in affright, and he gained his object. Dryope returned home, and shortly afterwards married Andræmôn the son of Mylos. Her son by Apollo was named Amphissos, who founded at the foot of Œta a town of the same name, and ruled over the whole of that part of the country. He built a temple to Apollo ; at which when Dryope appeared one day, the Hamadryades carried her away and concealed her in the wood. In her stead they caused a poplar to grow up, and a spring of water to gush out beside it. The nymphs communicated their own nature to Dryope ; and her son Amphissos out of gratitude raised them a temple, and instituted games, at which no woman was permitted to be present ; because when Dryope was taken away, two maidens who were present informed the people of it, and the nymphs incensed turned them both into fir-trees1243.

Terambos, who dwelt at the foot of Mount Othrys, abounded in flocks, which he himself fed on the mountains. The nymphs assisted him, for they were charmed with his singing and his music, in which he excelled all the men of his time, {p. 243}being the inventor of the lyre and the shepherd’s pipe, and they often danced to his melody. Pan also loved him, and one time warned him to drive his flocks down into the plain, as a most terrific winter was coming on : but Terambos, elate with youth and confidence, despised the admonition of the friendly deity, and even mocked at and ridiculed the gentle amiable nymphs, saying that they were not the children of Zeus at all, but of Deino daughter of the Spercheios, and that Poseidôn had once when in love with one of them turned the rest into poplars, and kept them in that form as long as he thought proper. Soon however the presage of Pan proved true : the winter came on ; all the streams and torrents were frozen, the snow fell in great quantities, and the flocks of Terambos vanished along with the paths and the trees. The nymphs then changed Terambos himself into the animal called by the Thessalians kerambyx (кϵράμβυξ), or cockchafer, ‘of which the boys make a plaything, and cutting off the head carry it about ; and the head with the horns is like the lyre made from the tortoise1244

The word Nymph (νύμϕη) seems to have originally signified bride, and was probably derived from a verb ΝϒΒΩ, to cover or veil1245. It was gradually applied to married1246 or marriageable young women, for the idea of youth was always included. It is in this last sense that the goddesses of whom we treat were called Nymphs.

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Chapter XVII.


̕Ωкϵανίδϵς, ̕Ωкϵαȋναι. Ocean-nymphs. §

The Ocean-nymphs, three thousand in number, were daughters of Oceanos and Tethys, and sisters of the rivers. Their office was to rear the children of men. From their names they appear to be personifications of the various qualities and appearances of water1247.

Νηρϵύς. Nereus. §

Nereus, though not mentioned by name in Homer, is frequently alluded to under the title of the Sea-elder (ἅλιος γέρων), and his daughters are called Nereïdes. According to Hesiod1248 he was the son of Pontos and Earth, and was distinguished for his knowledge and his love of truth and justice, whence he was termed an elder : the gift of prophecy was also assigned him. When Heracles was in quest of the apples of the Hesperides, he was directed by the nymphs to Nereus : he found the god asleep, and seized him. Nereus on awaking changed himself into a variety of forms, but in vain : he was obliged to instruct him how to proceed before the hero would release him1249. He also foretold to Paris, when he was carrying away Helena, the evils he would bring on his country and family1250.

Nereus was married to Doris, one of the Ocean-nymphs, and by her he had the nymphs named Nereïdes1251.

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Νηρηΐδϵς. Nereïdes. §

The Nereïdes, or nymphs of the sea, were fifty in number ; but the mythologists do not agree exactly in the names which they put into the catalogue. The best known of them are, Amphitrite the wife of Poseidôn, Thetis the mother of Achilleus, and Galateia, who was loved by the Cyclôps Polyphemos.

The Nereïdes, like all the other female deities, were originally conceived to be of a beautiful form, with skin of a delicate whiteness and long flowing hair. A constant epithet of Thetis is silver-footed (ἀργυροπέξα) ; and it was for venturing to compare herself in beauty with the Nereïdes, that Cassiope brought such misfortune on her daughter Andromeda. But the painters and sculptors, who contributed so much to degrade the other gods, robbed the sea-nymphs also of their charms, by bestowing on them green hair, and turning their lower parts into those of a fish ; thus giving them a form exactly corresponding with the modern idea of a mermaid.

The individual names of the Nereïdes are significatory of the qualities and phænomena of the sea.

Φόρкυς, Φόρкος. Phorcus. §

Phorcys is called by Homer a Ruler (μέδων) of the Sea and a Sea-elder. A harbour in Ithaca1252 is said to belong to him.

Hesiod1253 makes him a son of Pontos and Earth, and father by Keto of the Grææ, the Gorgons, the Echidna, and the serpent which watched the golden apples1254.

Τρίτων. Triton. §

According to Hesiod1255, Tritôn was a son of Poseidôn and Amphitrite, who, ‘keeping to the bottom of the sea, dwelt with his mother and royal father in a golden house.’ Later {p. 246}poets made him his father’s trumpeter. He was also multiplied, and we read of Tritons in the plural number.

Like the Nereïdes, the Tritons were degraded to the fishform. Pausanias1256 tells us that the women of Tanagra in Bœotia, going into the sea to purify themselves for the orgies of Bacchos, were, while there, assailed by Tritôn ; but on praying to their god, he vanquished their persecutor. Others, he adds, said that Tritôn used to carry off the cattle which were driven down to the sea, and to seize all small vessels ; till the Tanagrians placing bowls of wine on the shore, he drank of them, and becoming intoxicated threw himself down on the shore to sleep ; where as he lay, a Tanagrian cut off his head with an axe. He relates these legends to account for the statue of Tritôn at Tanagra being headless. He then subjoins, — 

“I have seen another Tritôn among the curiosities of the Romans, but it is not so large as this of the Tanagrians. The form of the Tritons is this : — the hair of their head resembles the parsley that grows in marshes, both in colour and in the perfect likeness of one hair to another, so that no difference can be perceived among them : the rest of their body is rough with small scales, and is of about the same hardness as the skin of a fish : they have fish-gills under their ears : their nostrils are those of a man, but their teeth are broader, and like those of a wild beast : their eyes seem to me azure ; and their hands, fingers and nails are of the form of the shells of shell-fish : they have, instead of feet, fins under their breast and belly, like those of the porpoise.”

Πρωτεύς. Proteus. §

In the fourth book of the Odyssey Homer introduces this sea-god. He styles him, like Nereus and Phorcys, a Seaelder1257, and gives him the power of foretelling the future1258. He calls him Egyptian, and the servant of Poseidôn1259, and says that his task was keeping the seals or sea-calves1260. When Menelaos was wind-bound at the island of Pharos, opposite {p. 247}Egypt, and he and his crew were suffering from want of food, Eidothea the daughter of Proteus accosted him, and bringing seal-skins directed him to disguise himself and three of his companions in them ; and when Proteus at noon should come up out of the sea and go to sleep amidst his herds, to seize and hold him till he disclosed some means of relief from his present distress.

Menelaos obeys the nymph ; and Proteus drives up and counts his herds, and then lies down to rest. The hero immediately seizes him, and the god turns himself into a lion, a serpent, a pard, a boar, water, and a tree. At length, finding he cannot escape, he resumes his own form, and reveals to Menelaos the remedy for his distress. He at the same time informs him of the situation of his friends, and particularly notices his having seen Odysseus in the island of Calypso, — a clear proof that his own abode was not confined to the coast of Egypt.

This part of the Odyssey has been beautifully imitated by Virgil in the fourth book of his Georgics, where Aristæos on the loss of his bees seeks in a similar way a remedy from Proteus. The scene is here transferred to the peninsula of Pallene, and the god is described as of a blue colour, the hue which painters had been pleased to bestow on the marine deities : he has also a chariot drawn by the biped sea-horses.

Homer does not name the parents of this marine deity, and there is no mention of him in the Theogony. Apollodorus makes him a son of Poseidôn1261, and Euripides would seem to make Nereus his sire1262.

Those who embraced the theory of representing the gods as having been originally mere men, said that Proteus was a king of Egypt ; and the Egyptian priests told how he detained Helena when Paris was driven to Egypt, and gave him an image or phantom in her stead, and then restored her to Menelaos1263.

The name of this deity, signifying First (πρὸ, πρῶτος), was too inviting to escape the mystics. They regarded him as a {p. 248}symbol of the original matter which developed itself into the four elements whose form he took : the lion was æther, the serpent earth, the tree air, and the water itself1264.

Γλαῦκος. Glaucus. §

Glaucos, as is evident from his name, was an original god of the sea, probably only another form of Poseidôn, whose son he is in some accounts1265. Like the marine gods in general, he had the gift of prophecy ; we find him appearing to the Argonauts1266 and to Menelaos1267, and telling them what had happened, or what was to happen. In later times sailors were continually making reports of his soothsaying1268. Some said he dwelt with the Nereïdes at Delos, where he gave responses to all who sought them1269 ; according to others, he visited each year all the isles and coasts with a train of monsters of the deep (κήτεα), and unseen foretold in the Æolic dialect all kinds of evil. The fishermen watched for his approach, and endeavoured by fastings, prayer and fumigations to avert the ruin with which his prophecy menaced the fruits and cattle. At times he was seen among the waves, and his body appeared covered with muscles, sea weed and stones. He was heard evermore to lament his fate in not being able to die1270.

This last circumstance refers to the common pragmatic history of Glaucos. He was a fisherman, it was said1271, of Anthedôn in Bœotia, and observing one day the fish which he had caught and thrown on the grass to bite it, and then to jump into the sea, his curiosity excited him to taste it also ; immediately on his doing so he followed their example, and thus became a sea-god. It was also said1272 that he obtained his immortality by tasting the grass which had revived a hare he had run down in Ætolia ; also1273 that he built and steered {p. 249}the Argo, and that during the voyage Zeus made him a god of the sea.

Glaucos, we are told1274, seeing Ariadne in Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus, became enamoured of her ; but Dionysos seized him, bound him with a vine-band, and drove him from the island. His love for Scylla we shall presently relate.

Λυκοθέα και Παλαίμων. Matuta et Portunus. §

Ino, the daughter of Cadmos and wife of Athamas, flying from her husband, with her little son Melicertes in her arms, sprang from a cliff into the sea. The gods out of compassion made her a goddess of the sea under the name of Leucothea, and him a god under that of Palæmôn. Both were held powerful to save from shipwreck, and were invoked by sailors. The fable appears to be ancient ; as Leucothea, who gives her veil to Odysseus when tossed in a storm, is called ‘fair-ankled Ino, daughter of Cadmos,’ and her transformation is mentioned1275.

Palæmôn was usually represented riding on a dolphin. The Isthmian games were celebrated in his honour1276.

We should suppose it hardly necessary to remind the reader, that, according to all analogy of Grecian mythology, Palæmôn and Ino-Leucothea (a form like Phœbos-Apollo, Pallas-Athene) were original water-deities. Leucothea is supposed to be derived from the white waves, and Ino may be merely Ilo, and be connected with λος, ἰλύς1277. Palæmôn (Champion) seems to refer to the Isthmian games1278. Melicertes is said to be a name of Poseidôn ; it may however be the Phœnician Melcart, introduced into the Cadmeian cycle when Cadmos became a Sidonian.

{p. 250}

Πόταμι. Fluvii. River-gods. §

Each river was held to have its presiding deity, who deity in it and directed its waters. These gods had their houses and children ; and the love-adventures of some of them, such as Alpheios and Acheloös, are recorded by the poets. The rivers were all the sons of Oceanos and Tethys1279.

The River-gods were represented of a handsome human form, crowned with reeds, and wearing dark-blue mantles of fine texture. They were often given the head or horns of a bull, indicative of their roaring or winding, of their strength or of their influence on agriculture1280. A bull was the sacrifice to them, as to Poseidôn1281.

{p. 251}

Chapter XVIII.


Ἑσπρίδες. Hesperides. Western-Maids. §

According to Hesiod the ‘clear-voiced’ Hesperides dwelt1282 ‘beyond (πέρην) the bright Ocean’ opposite where Atlas stood supporting the heaven, and they had charge of the trees that bore the golden fruit. In this task they were aided by a serpent named Ladôn1283. These apples were said to have been the gift of Earth to Hera on her weddingday1284. One of the tasks imposed on Heracles was that of procuring some of them for Eurystheus.

Hesiod says that the Hesperides were the daughters of Night without a father. Others, however, to assimilate them to their neighbours, the Grææ and Gorgons, gave them Phor-cys and Keto for parents1285. Their names are said to have been Ægle, Erytheia, Hestia, and Arethusa1286, or rather Ægle, Hespere, and Erytheïs1287.

The abode of these Western-Maids was evidently an island in the Ocean, and not the gloomy land beyond it 1288 ; for the {p. 252}poets, led by the analogy of the lovely appearance of the western sky at sunset, viewed the West as a region of brightness and glory. Hence they placed in it the Isles of the Blest, the ruddy isle Erytheia, on which the bright oxen of Hades and Geryoneus pastured, the isle of the Hesperides, in which grew the golden fruit, and other places of light and bliss.

When Atlas had been fixed as a mountain in the extremity of Libya, the dwelling of the Hesperides was usually placed in his vicinity ; others set it in the country of the Hyperboreans1289. Their apples are supposed, and not entirely without reason, to have been a fiction, indebted for its origin to the accounts of the oranges of Africa and Spain.

Гραίαι. Grææ. Grey-Maids. §

The ‘fair-cheeked’ Grææ were daughters of Phorcys and Keto ; they were hoary-haired from their birth, whence their name. They were two in number, ‘well-robed’ Pephredo (Horrifier), and ‘yellow-robed’ Enyo (Shaker) 1290. We find them always united with the Gorgons, whose guards they were according to Æschylus1291. This poet1292 describes them as ‘three long-lived maids, swan-formed, having one eye and one tooth in common, on whom neither the sun with his beams nor the nightly moon ever looks’1293. Perseus, he says, intercepted the eye as they were handing it from the one to the other, and having thus blinded the guards was enabled to come on the Gorgons unperceived. The name of the third sister given by the later writers is Deino (Terrifier)1294.

Гοργόνες.Gorgones. Gorgons. §

Homer speaks of an object of terror which he calls Gorgo, and the Gorgeian Head. He places the former on the shield {p. 253}of Agamemnôn1295 ; and when describing Hectôr eager for slaughter, he says that he had ‘the eyes of Gorgo and of man-destroying Ares’1296. The Gorgeian Head was on the ægis of Zeus1297, and the hero of the Odyssey fears to remain in Erebos lest ‘Persephoneia should send out the Gorgeian head of the dire monster’1298 against him1299. Along with the Grææ, according to the Theogony1300, Keto bore to Phorcys the Gorgons, ‘who dwelt beyond the bright Ocean in the extremity toward night, where the clear-voiced Hesperides abide.’ It names them Stheino, Euryale and Medusa, which last alone was mortal. Poseidôn, it is added, lay with her in a ‘soft mead amid the spring-flowers,’ and when her head was cut off by Perseus, the ‘great’ Chrysaôr (Gold-sword) and the steed Pegasos (Fount-horse) sprang forth. Æschylus calls the Gor-gons the ‘three sisters of the Grææ, winged, serpent-fleeced, hateful to man, whom no one can look on and retain his breath1301.’ They were also represented as winged on the ancient coffer of Kypselos at Olympia1302. On the shield of Heracles the Gorgons are girt with serpents1303. Others describe them as having their heads environed with scaly snakes, and with huge teeth like those of swine, brazen hands and golden wings. Their looks, it is added, turned all who beheld them to stone1304.

The Gorgons and the Grææ are always mentioned together, and they seem to have been appropriated to the mythe of Perseus. We might therefore suppose them to have been a pure poetic fiction, were it not that, as we shall show, the Gorgon in that mythe, Medusa, is merely another form of Pallas-Athene. It is therefore not improbable that the theory of some mythologists of the present day may be the true one ; namely, that the two Gorgons and two Grææ are {p. 254}only personifications of the terrors of the sea, the former denoting the large strong billows of the wide open main, the latter the white-crested waves that dash against the rocks of the coast1305. They must have originally belonged to the Sea (Pontos), whose grandchildren they are, and not to the calm soft-flowing Ocean, whither they were transported when they had ceased to be regarded as personifications, and had been introduced into the mythe of Perseus. As in this mythe Medusa (Mistress) — whose name is of a nature totally different from theirs — was added to the Gorgons, the principle of uniformity probably led to a similar increase of the Grææ.

All these beings are, we think, placed by the Theogony in Oceanic isles ; they may however have dwelt on the opposite coast, though we believe few who are well versed in the cosmology of those times will assign them that gloomy region ; most certainly they are not on this side of Ocean. Hither, however, they were all removed in the course of time, and even to the Syrtes and Cyrene1306. In short, with the exception of Hesiod, every writer of antiquity places them somewhere in Libya. This however is not to be wondered at, for it is only a part of the system of localisation, which assigned a definite abode in well-known countries to all the beings of fable, which brought for example the transoceanic Kimme-rians over to the fertile plains of Campania in Italy1307.

ρπυιαι. Harpyiœ. Harpies. §

The Harpies or Snatchers1308 of Homer1309 and Hesiod are personifications of storm-winds (θύελλαι). The former says nothing of their form or parentage ; the latter terms them well-haired, (a usual mark of beauty,) and says that they were sisters of Iris, daughters of Thaumas and Electra, swift {p. 255}as birds or as the blasts of wind1310. Their names, he says, are Aello (Storm) and Ocypete (Swift-flyer). Homer says that Xanthos and Balios, the steeds of Achilleus, were the offspring of Zephyros by the Harpy Podarge (Swift-foot), whom he met grazing in a mead by the stream of Ocean1311. Virgil names one of the Harpies Celæno1312.

In the Argonautic cycle the Harpies appear as the tormentors of Phineus. They are there represented as odious offensive monsters with female faces, and the bodies, wings, and claws, of birds1313.

νεμοι. Venti. Winds. §

The winds are represented in the Ilias as gods1314 : Iris goes to them as they are feasting in the dwelling of Zephyros, to inform them of the prayer of Achilleus that they would inflame the pyre of Patroclos. In the Odyssey1315, the winds are not directed by separate deities, but are all under the charge of Æolos. We may, as a matter of course, observe that the Wind-gods of Homer are not winged.

The Winds were divided into wholesome and noxious. The former, which were Boreas (North), Zephyros (West), and Notos (South), were according to Hesiod1316 the children of Astræos (Starry) and Eôs (Dawn). The other winds, he says1317, (probably meaning only those which blow from the East,) are the race of Typhoeus, whom he describes as the last and most terrible child of Earth. In Greece, as over the rest of Europe, we may observe the east-wind is pernicious.

Boreas (Βορέας) was called Clear weather- or Frost-producer (αἰθρηγενής) 1318. He loved Oreithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus king of Athens, and carried her off1319. The Athenians ascribed {p. 256}the destruction of the fleet of Xerxes by a storm to the partiality of Boreas for the country of Oreithyia, and built a temple to him after that event1320. Boreas is also said by Homer1321 to have turned himself into a horse out of love to the mares of Erichthonios, and to have begotten on them twelve foals.

Zephyros (Ζέϕυρς) is described by Homer as a strong-blowing wind, but he was afterwards regarded as gentle and soft-breathing. Love was the offspring of Zephyros and Iris1322, and one of the Seasons bore to this wind-god a son named Carpos (Fruit) 1323.

The South- (Νότος) and East-wind (Εὔρος) have been left without adventures. The Winds have all wings or horses and chariots in the works of the later poets and the artists.

The names Euros and Zephyros probably come from ἠὼς and ζόϕος, which denoted the East and West1324. Boreas is thought to be Oreas (from ὄρος), as rushing from the mountains. Notos perhaps signified wet, and is akin to the German nass.

{p. 257}

Chapter XIX.


The romantic geography of the most romantic poem of Greece, the Homeric Odyssey, is now to occupy our attention. Its poet is in our eyes a Grecian Ariosto, and we should as soon hope to discover the true position of the isle of Alcina as of those of Circe and Calypso. The moment he conducts his hero away from Greece, he engages him in magic regions amidst ogres, fairies, and monsters of various kinds, as numerous as ever were encountered by the knights of Gothic romance. To form these he took possession of the cosmogonie Cyclopes and Giants and transformed them ; he adopted the tales of Phœnician mariners, and he transferred the wonders of other mythic cycles to the West-sea, which he made the scene of his hero's adventures.

It is a question among critics whether the Odyssey is or is not the work of one mind, whether the domestic scenes in Ithaca, and the wondrous adventures related to Alcinoös, are parts of one continuous preconceived narrative. Into this interesting subject we are not required at present to enter, for the geography of these parts is distinct, the one lying in the domains of romance, the other confining itself to the sober realms of the actual earth. We shall first direct our attention to the latter1325.

In the Ilias the only places noticed out of Greece to the {p. 258}west are the isles over which Odysseus ruled. The Odyssey would seem to intimate a knowledge of Italy and Sicily ; for a place named Temesa, whither the Taphians used to sail to barter iron for copper, is mentioned1326 ; and in Italy, in ancient times a most cypriferous region, there was a place named Temesa, or rather Tempsa1327. The people of this place are said to speak a language different from Greek1328, and this circumstance also would accord well with Italy. But on the other hand the Greeks, when they began to plant colonies in Italy and Sicily, got the habit of localising all the names of peoples and places in the romantic fictions of their aœdi ; and further, Tempsa lies on the west side of Italy, and there was also a place named Taminos in the isle, which bestowed its appellation on the metal it yielded — Cyprus1329, and the Taphians, we are told, used to sail even as far as Sidôn1330. Nothing therefore can be collected with certainty from Temesa. But it may be said that the Sikelans, who dwelt in Italy and Sicily, are spoken of in the Odyssey1331 ; this people however are also said to have inhabited Epeiros1332, in which case nothing definite results from the mention of them. Sicania is also spoken of1333, but it is in the part of the poem which ancient critics pronounced to be spurious. We think ourselves therefore justified in supposing that the Singer of the Odyssey may have chosen to regard all westwards of Greece as one wide sea, in which he was at liberty to place what isles he pleased, and people them as his fancy prompted. On this principle we now will trace the wanderings of Odysseus, the Sindbad of Greece1334.

{p. 259}

Λωτοϕύγοι Lotophagi. Lotus-eaters. §

Odysseus, when doubling the Cape of Malea in Laconia on his return from Troy1335, encountered a violent north-east wind (βορέης), which drove him for nine days along the sea, till he reached the country of the Lotus-eaters. Here, after watering, he sent three of his men to discover who the inhabitants were. These men on coming among the Lotus-eaters were kindly entertained by them, and given some of their own food, the Lotus-plant, to eat. The effect of this plant was such, that those who tasted of it lost all thoughts of home, and wished to remain in that country. It was by main force that Odysseus dragged these men away, and he was even obliged to tie them under the benches of his ship.

As the coast of Cyrene lies opposite the Peloponnese, and is much nearer to it than Egypt is to Crete, we must suppose the country of the Lotus-eaters to have been far more to the west. They seem in the poet’s view to have been the last tribe of ordinary men in that direction, and to have dwelt on the verge of the land of fable. The Lotus, under the name of Jujuba, is, we may observe, a part of the food of the people of the north coast of Africa at the present day.

Κύκλωπϵς. Cyclopes. §

When Odysseus left the country of the Lotus-eaters, he sailed on further, i. e. westwards1336, and came to that of the Cyclopes, which could not have been very far distant, or the poet would in that case, as he always does, have specified the number of days occupied in the voyage. The Cyclopes are described as a rude lawless race, who neither planted nor sowed, but whose land was so fertile as spontaneously to produce them wheat, barley, and vines. They had no social {p. 260}institutions, neither assemblies nor laws, but dwelt separately, each in his cave, on the tops of lofty mountains, and each without regard to others governed his own wife and children.

In front of a harbour of their land lay a well-wooded fertile isle, abundantly stocked with goats. But the Cyclopes, having no ships, could not derive any advantage from it. Odysseus, leaving the rest of his fleet at the island, went with one ship to the country of the Cyclopes. Here he entered the cave of the Cyclôps Polyphemos, who was a son of Poseidôn by the nymph Thoösa, the daughter of Phorcys. The Cyclôps on his return in the evening with his flocks, finding strangers there, inquired who they were ; and on Odysseus saying that they had been shipwrecked, and appealing to his mercy and reverence for the gods, he declared that the Cyclopes regarded not the gods, for they were much more powerful than they : he then seized two of the Greeks, and dashing them to the ground like young whelps killed and devoured them. When he fell asleep Odysseus was going to kill him, till recollecting the huge rock, — one which the teams of two-and-twenty fourwheeled waggons could not move, — with which he had closed the door, he refrained. Against the next evening Odysseus had prepared a piece of the Cyclôps’ own olive-staff, which was as large as the mast of a merchant-vessel ; and when the monster had devoured two more of his victims gave him wine to drink, and then while he was sleeping profoundly, heated the stick in the fire, and aided by four of his companions bored out his eye with it. Polyphemos roaring out with pain, the other Cyclopes came to inquire what had befallen him ; but on his informing them that Nobodyὔτις) — the name which Odysseus had given himself — was killing him, thinking it was some disease they left him, recommending him to pray to his father. Next morning, when Polyphemos turned out his sheep and goats, his prisoners fastened themselves under their bellies, and so escaped. Odysseus, when a little way out at sea called out his real name, and the Cyclôps hurled immense rocks at him, which were near sinking his ship.

Nothing is said by the poet respecting the size of the {p. 261}Cyclopes in general, but every effort is made to give an exaggerated idea of that of Polyphemos. When Odysseus first sees him, he compares him to ‘a woody peak of lofty mountains, when it appears separate from others.’ The crash of the bundle of wood which he brings home in the evening, when it is cast on the ground, terrifies the Greeks who were hiding in his cave : the teams of twenty-two waggons could not move the rock with which he closed his door : his staff was in length and thickness equal to the mast of a large ship : the first rock which he flings at the ship of Odysseus was ‘the top of a great hill,’ and falling before the vessel it drove her back to the shore ; the second was still larger.

Yet, possibly, we are not to infer that the Cyclopes were in general of such huge dimensions or cannibal habits. Polyphemos was not of the ordinary Cyclôps-race, being the son of Poseidôn and a sea-nymph : he is also said1337 to have been the strongest of the Cyclopes. It is not a little remarkable, that neither in the description of the Cyclopes in general, nor of Polyphemos in particular, is there any notice taken of their being one-eyed ; yet in the account of the blinding of the latter, it seems to be assumed as a thing well known. We may hence perhaps infer that Homer followed the usual derivation of the name1338.

Both ancients and moderns agree in regarding Sicily as the country of the Cyclopes1339 : we however cannot help thinking that it was on the coast of Libya. It lay at no great distance from that of the Lotus-eaters, which was evidently on that coast. The poet merely says, ‘We then sail on further, and come to the land of the Cyclopes ;’ and if it had been an island, he would, as usual, have noticed the circumstance : he would also have told us with what wind they sailed to it, if it had been at anything like the distance which Sicily is from Libya : and further, though the fertility of Sicily may accord with that of the Cyclopes’ land, yet it does not offer the caverns on mountain-tops in which they abode, nor can any island answering to that of the Odyssey, stretching before a harbour, {p. 262}be shown in it. If the little islet of Ortygia in front of Syracuse should be thought of, we reply, that it in no point accords with the description in the poem.

It is thus that the Thunder, Lightning, and Flame of the Theogony became one-eyed giants in the hands of our poet. When they had been localised in the neighbourhood of volcanoes it was a simple process to convert them into smiths, the assistants of Hephæstos1340. As they were now artists in one line, it gave no surprise to find them engaged in a task adapted to their huge strength, namely that of rearing the massive walls of Tiryns, thence named Cyclopian, for which purpose they were brought by Prœtos from Lycia1341.

Polyphemos’ love for the Nereïs Galateia is well known from the bucolic poets1342. The river Acis in Sicily was originally a shepherd, whom in his jealous rage the monster crushed beneath a rock for being more acceptable to the nymph of the waters than himself1343.

Γίγαντϵς. Gigantes. Giants. §

The Giants would seem to have dwelt westwards of the Cyclopes, the original country of the Phæacians lying between their respective territories1344. They are called wild tribes (ἄγρια ϕῦλα), but akin to the gods1345, by whom it would appear they were destroyed for their impiety1346. They were apparently of huge stature1347 ; yet the daughter of Eurymedôn, their last king, was by Poseidôn mother of the king of the Phæacians, a people of the ordinary size1348.

It was probably the poet’s saying that they were destroyed by the gods (though the reverse may be the truth) that gave occasion to the fiction of a Giant-war. The peninsula of Pallene is said to have been the place of conflict, and with the aid of the hero Heracles the gods subdued their formidable foes. The principal champions on the side of the Giants were Porphyriôn, Alcyoneus and Encelados, on the last of whom {p. 263}Athena flung the isle of Sicily, where his motions cause the eruptions of Ætna1349.

It is said1350 that Earth, enraged at the destruction of the Giants, brought forth the huge Typhôn to contend with the gods. The stature of this monster reached the sky, fire flashed from his eyes ; he hurled glowing rocks with loud cries and hissing against heaven, and flame and storm rushed from his mouth. The gods in dismay fled to Egypt, and concealed themselves under the forms of various animals. Zeus however, after a severe conflict, overcame him, and placed him beneath Ætna1351, or, as others said1352,

………………….. that Serbonian bog,
Betwixt Damieta and Mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk.

Typhon, or Typhaôn, is apparently the same with Typhoeus, though Hesiod makes a difference between them. Their names come from τύϕω, to smoke, and they are evident personifications of storms and of volcanic eruptions. Typhôn is made the sire of the Chimæra, Echidna, and other monsters. The Greeks gave his name to the Egyptian dæmon Baby, the opponent of Osiris.

The flight of the gods into Egypt is a bungling attempt at connecting the Greek mythology with the animal worship of that country1353.

Αἴολος ἐν Αἰολίῃ. Æolus in Æolia. §

After their escape from the Cyclôps, Odysseus and his companions sailed further on, and came to the floating-isle (πλώτη νῆσος) of Æolos Hippotades 1354, ‘dear to the immortal gods.’ This island was entirely surrounded by a wall of brass and by smooth precipitous rocks : and here Æolos dwelt in continual {p. 264}joy and festivity, with his wife and his six sons and as many daughters, whom, after the fashion set by Zeus, he had married to each other. The isle had no other tenants. The office of directing and ruling the winds had been conferred on Æolos by Zeus ; and when he was dismissing Odysseus, after having hospitably entertained him for an entire month, he gave him all the winds but Zephyros tied up in a bag of ox-hide. For nine days and nights the ships ran merrily before the wind : on the tenth they were within sight of Ithaca ; when Odysseus, who had hitherto held the helm himself, fell asleep : his comrades, who fancied that Æolos had given him treasure in the bag, opened it : the winds rushed out, and hurried them back to Æolia. Judging from what had befallen them that they were hated by the gods, the director of the winds drove them with reproaches from his isle.

As Æolia was a floating isle, it is evidently as needless to look for its exact position as for that of Laputa1355. At the time when Odysseus came to it, it must have been lying near the country of the Cyclopes ; but we are not told whether it remained immovable during the month that he spent in it, or the time that elapsed between his departure and return. The Latin poets, following the later Greeks, have placed Æolos in the Liparæan islands1356.

Λαιστρυγόνϵς. Læstrygonians. §

The country of the Læstrygonians lay very far to the west. Odysseus, when driven from his isleby Æolos, sailed on further for six days and nights, at the end of which time he reached the land of the Læstrygonians ; and the distance thence to the isle of Ææa, which we shall show to be near the extremity of the Sea, could not have been considerable, as the length of time consumed in the passage thither is not specified.

The Læstrygonians are another of those huge androphagous races, whom the invention of the poet has placed on the coast of Libya. Unlike the Cyclopes, they lived in the social state ; {p. 265}their king was named Antiphates, their town Læstrygonia or Telepylos (it is uncertain which), and the fountain near it Artakia. There was a port at a little distance from the city, which all the ships of Odysseus, but the one he was himself on board of, entered. A herald with two others were then sent to the city : they met the daughter of Antiphates at the fount Artakia, and were by her directed to her father’s house. On entering it they were terrified at the sight of his wife, who was ‘as large as the top of a mountain.’ She instantly called her husband from the market-place, who seized one of them and killed and dressed him for dinner. The other two made their escape, pursued by the Læstrygonians, who with huge rocks destroyed all the ships and their crews which were within the harbour, — that of Odysseus, which had not entered, alone escaping.

When describing the country of the Læstrygonians, the poet says1357,

Lamos’ high town,
Far-gated Læstrygonia, where aloud
The herdsman as he drives in calls, and he
Who drives out hears him. There a sleepless man
Might double wages earn ; as neatherd one,
And one as keeper of the snowy sheep ;
For near the paths are of the day and night.

The ancients explained this by the custom of pasturing the oxen at night, on account of the gad-fly (οἶστρος), whose persecution was thereby avoided : but, as Völcker justly observes, there was nothing so remarkable in this practice as to induce the poet to place it among the wonders of the West. It is much more probable that the solution of the difficulty will be found in the notion, presently to be noticed, of the abode of the Sun and Dawn being in the West, which may have engendered a belief that at the western extremity of the earth the night was of extremely short continuance1358.

Notwithstanding the great distance which lay between the country of the Cyclopes and that of the Læstrygonians, most of the localisers of the Homeric fables place both of them in {p. 266}Sicily1359. Others regarded Formiæ on the west coast of Italy1360 as the abode of the Læstrygonians ; acting in this consistently : for when the floating island of Æolos was determined to be one of the Liparæan isles, and the cape of Circæum to be that of Circe, it followed of course that the land of the Læstrygonians which lay somewhere between them must be on the coast of Italy.

Κίρκη ἐν Αἰαίῃ. Circe in Ææa. §

When Odysseus and his surviving companions had escaped from the Læstrygonians, they sailed on, that is still westwards, till they came to the isle of Ææa1361, the abode of Circe. This isle may be regarded as the most westerly of those scattered by the poet over the Mediterranean, for it appears to have lain on the very edge of the Ocean-stream ; and all the other isles and coasts mentioned in the poem, except Ogygia the isle of Calypso, lie manifestly between it and Greece.

Circe is one of those deities whom Homer calls human-speaking (αὐδήϵσσαι), and who do not seem to have possessed the power of moving through the air or along the water, but dwelt continually in one place. She is said by him1362 to be the daughter of Helios by the Oceanis Persa, and own sister of the wise (λοόϕρων)1363 Æætes.

The island of Circe was small ; her abode was in the centre of it, deeply embosomed in wood. She dwelt alone, attended by four nymphs ; and all persons who approached her dwelling were turned by her magic art into swine. When the comrades of Odysseus, whom he sent to explore her residence, had tasted of the drugged draught which she set before them, {p. 267}she struck them with her wand, and immediately they underwent the usual change. But when Odysseus himself, hearing of their misfortune, set out to release them or share their fate, he was met by Hermes, who gave him a plant named Moly, potent against her magic, and directed him how to act. Accordingly when she reached him the medicated bowl he drank of it freely, and Circe thinking it had produced its usual effect, striking him with her wand bade him go join his comrades in their sty. But Odysseus drawing his sword threatened to slay her ; and the terrified goddess bound herself by a solemn oath to do him no injury. She afterwards at his desire restored his companions to their pristine form, and they all abode in her dwelling for an entire year.

At the end of that period they were anxious to depart, but the goddess told the hero that he must previously cross the Ocean, and enter the abode of Aïdes, to consult the blind prophet Teiresias. Accordingly they left Ææa rather late in the day, as it would appear, and impelled by a favouring north wind their ship reached by sunset the opposite coast of Ocean, the land of perpetual gloom. Odysseus obeyed the directions of the goddess in digging a small pit, into which he poured mulse, wine, water, flour, and the blood of the victims. The dead came trooping out of the house of Aïdes, and Odysseus there saw the heroines of former days, and conversed with the shades of Agamemnôn and Achilleus. Terror at length came over him ; he hastened back to his ship ; the stream carried it along, and they reached Ææa while it was yet night.

We have here a proof that the course of the Ocean was northwards ; the north-wind (βορέας) is required to carry them over (the House of Aïdes lying probably south-west of Ææa), and the current and the breeze of its surface bring them back. It would also appear that, as soon as the ship left the Ocean and entered the Sea, it was at Ææa.

Circe is said to have had by Odysseus a son named Telegonos (Far-born), who, as we shall see, unwittingly slew his own father. The Theogony1364 gives them for offspring Agrios and Latinos, ‘who afar in the recess of the holy isles ruled {p. 268}over all the renowned Tyrsenians.’ Hesiod said elsewhere1365 that Helios had brought Circe in his chariot to her isle off the coast of Tyrrhenia.

It is curious to observe the liberties which the later writers allowed themselves to take with the narratives of Homer and Hesiod. These poets expressly say that Æætes and Circe were brother and sister, and children of the Sun, yet Dionysius the cyclographer makes Circe the daughter of Æætes by Hecate, the daughter of his brother Perses. This pragmatiser goes on to say that she was married to the king of the Sarmatians, whom she poisoned, and seized his kingdom ; but governing tyrannically she was expelled, and then fled to a desert isle of the Ocean, or as some said to the headland named from her in Italy1366 ; for in the localisation of the imaginary isles and regions visited by Odysseus, the promontory of Circæum on the coast of Latium was fixed on for the abode of Circe. The fact of its not being an island offered no difficulty, as it was asserted that it once had been surrounded with water to a great extent1367.

The Latin poets thence took occasion to connect Circe with their own scanty mythology. It was fabled, for example, that she had been married to king Picus, whom by her magic art she changed into a bird1368. Another legend made her the mother of Faunus by the god of the sea1369.

The Moly (μῶλν), is said by these late writers to have sprung from the blood of a giant slain by Helios, in aid of his daughter in her island. Its name, we are told, comes from the fight (μῶλος) ; its flower is white, as the warrior was the Sun1370.

In Ææa, the poet says1371, are ‘the house and dance-place of Eôs, and the rising of the Sun.’ By this he is usually understood to mean that Ææa, in opposition to the country beyond the Ocean, from which his hero had just returned, lay within the realms of day1372. This may very possibly be the truth ; {p. 269}but we cannot help fancying that our poet, in the plenitude of his authority, had seized on the Argonautic cycle, and transferred Æætes and Ææa to the West, from their proper place in the East1373 ; and he may have retained the description of Ææa, which accords perfectly with its eastern position1374, but which requires a sleight of ingenuity, like that just noticed, to make it suit the West.

On surveying the ‘beautiful wonders’ of the Odyssey, it is impossible not to be struck with the resemblance which many of them bear to those of the Thousand and One Nights. Odysseus and Circe remind us at once of king Beder and queen Labe ; and the Cyclopes and the Læstrygonians will find their parallel in the adventures of Sindbad. Are these, it may be asked, mere coincidences, or did the tales of the West find their way to the East ? On this question we have offered some remarks elsewhere, to which we must refer the curious1375.

Σϵιρῆνϵς. Sirenes. Sirens. §

Leaving Ææa on their homeward voyage, Odysseus and his companions came first to the island of the Sirens. These were two maidens1376 who sat in a mead close to the sea, and with their melodious voices so charmed those who were sailing by, that they forgot home and everything relating to it, and abode there till their bones lay whitening on the strand. By the directions of Circe, Odysseus stopped the ears of his companions with wax, and had himself tied to the mast, and thus was the only person who heard the song of the Sirens and escaped.

Hesiod1377 described the mead of the Sirens as blooming with flowers (ἀνθϵμόϵσσα), and their voice he said1378 stilled the winds. Their names were said to be Aglaiopheme (Clear-voice) and Thelxiepeia (Magic-speech) ; and it was feigned that they threw themselves into the sea with vexation at the escape of Odysseus1379. But the author of the Orphic Argonautics places them {p. 270}on a rock near the shore of Ætna, and makes the song of Orpheus end their enchantment, and cause them to fling themselves into the sea, where they were changed into rocks1380.

It was afterwards fabled that they were the daughters of the river-god Acheloös by the Muse Terpsichore or Calliope, or by Sterope, daughter of Porthaôn1381. Some said that they sprang from the blood which ran from him when his horn was torn off by Heracles1382. Sophocles calls them the daughters of Phorcys1383 ; and Euripides terms them the children of Earth1384. Their number was also increased to three, and their names are given with much variety. According to some they were called Leucosia, Ligeia and Parthenope1385, while others named them Thelxiope or Thelxinoe, Molpe, Aglaophonos1386 ; and others, again, Peisinoe, Aglaope, Thelxiepeia1387. One was said to play on the lyre, another on the pipes, and the third to sing1388.

Contrary to the usual process, the mischievous part of the character of the Sirens was in process of time left out, and they were regarded as purely musical beings with entrancing voices. Hence Plato in his Republic1389 places one of them on each of the eight celestial spheres, where their voices form what is called the music of the spheres ; and when (Ol. 94, l.) the Lacedæmonians had laid siege to Athens, Dionysos, it is said, appeared in a dream to their general, Lysander, ordering him to allow the funeral rites of the new Siren to be {p. 271}celebrated, which was at once understood to be Sophocles, then just dead1390.

Eventually, however, the artists laid hold on the Sirens, and furnished them with the feathers, feet, wings, and tails of birds.

The ordinary derivation of the word Siren is from σϵίρα, a chain, to signify their attractive power. To us the Semitic Shîr (שּﬧ), song, seems more likely to be the true root, and we regard them as one of the wonders told of by the Phœnician mariners1391.

Σκύλλη καὶ Χάρυβδις. Scylla and Charybdis. §

Having escaped the Sirens, and shunned the Wandering Rocks, which Circe had told him lay beyond the mead of these songsters, Odysseus came to the terrific Scylla and Charybdis, between which the goddess had informed him his course lay. She said1392 he would come to two lofty cliffs opposite each other, between which he must pass. One of these cliffs towers to such a height that its summit is for ever enveloped in clouds, and no man even if he had twenty hands and as many feet could ascend it. In the middle of this cliff, she says, is a cave facing the west, but so high that a man in a ship passing under it could not shoot up to it with a bow. In this den dwells Scylla (Bitch), whose voice sounds like that of a young whelp : she has twelve feet, and six long necks, with a terrific head and three rows of close-set teeth on each. Evermore she stretches out these necks and catches the porpoises, sea-dogs, and other large animals of the sea which swim by, and out of every ship that passes each mouth takes a man.

The opposite rock, the goddess informs him, is much lower, for a man could shoot over it. A wild fig-tree grows on it, stretching its branches down to the water : but beneath, {p. 272}‘divine Charybdis’ three times each day absorbs and regorges the dark water. It is much more dangerous, she adds, to pass Charybdis than Scylla.

As Odysseus sailed by, Scylla took six of his crew ; and when, after he had lost his ship and companions, he was carried by wind and wave, as he floated on a part of the wreck, between the monsters, the mast by which he supported himself was sucked in by Charybdis. He held by the fig-tree till it was thrown out again, and resumed his voyage.

Such is the earliest account we have of these monsters, in which indeed it may be doubted if Charybdis is to be regarded as an animate being. The whole fable is evidently founded on the wonderful tales of sailors respecting the distant regions of the Mediterranean. The ancients, who were so anxious to localise all the wonders of Homer, made the straits of Messina the abode of Scylla and Charybdis ; but as there is no whirlpool there at all resembling Charybdis, the most that can be said is, that that strait may have given occasion to the fable. Homer, however, would seem to place the cliffs of Scylla and Charybdis somewhere between the Wandering Rocks and Thrinakia (if this last be Sicily) ; for it is after passing those rocks that Odysseus comes to the latter island, on which the oxen of the Sun grazed.

In Homer the mother of Scylla is named Cratæis1393 ; but her sire is not spoken of. Stesichorus called her mother Lamia1394 ; Hesiod said she was the daughter of Phorbas and Hecate1395 ; Arcesilaos said, of Phorcys and Hecate1396 ; others asserted that Tritôn was her sire1397.

Later poets feigned that Scylla was once a beautiful maiden, who was fond of associating with the Nereïdes. The sea-god Glaucos beheld and fell in love with her1398 ; and being rejected, applied to Circe to exercise her magic arts in his favour. Circe {p. 273}wished him to transfer his affections to herself ; and filled with rage at his refusal, she infected with noxious juices the water in which Scylla was wont to bathe, and thus transformed her into a monster1399. According to another account the change in Scylla’s form was effected by Amphitrite, in consequence of her intimacy with Poseidôn1400. Charybdis was said to have been a woman who stole the oxen of Heracles, and was in consequence struck with thunder by Zeus, and turned into a whirlpool1401.

Φαέθοσα καὶ Λαμττϵτίη ἐν Θρινακίη. Phaëthusa and Lampetia in Thrinakia. §

Both Teiresias and Circe1402 had straitly charged Odysseus to shun the isle of Thrinakia, on which the flocks and herds of the Sun-god fed, under the care of his daughters Phaëthusa and Lampetia, and to which he would come immediately after escaping Scylla and Charybdis. Odysseus was desirous of obeying the injunctions which he had received ; but as it was evening when he came to the island, his companions forced him to consent to their landing and passing the night there. They promised to depart in the morning, and took an oath to abstain from the cattle of the Sun. During the night a violent storm came on ; and for an entire month afterwards a strong south-east wind (Euros and Notos) blew, which confined them to the island. When their provisions were exhausted, they lived on such birds and fish as they could catch. At length, while Odysseus was sleeping, Eurylochos prevailed on them to slaughter some of the sacred oxen in sacrifice to the gods, and to vow by way of amends a temple to Helios1403. Odysseus on awaking was filled with horror and despair at what they had done ; and the displeasure of the gods was manifested by {p. 274}prodigies ; for the hides crept along the ground, and the flesh lowed on the spits. They fed for six days on the sacred cattle ; on the seventh the storm fell, and they left the island ; but as soon as they had lost sight of land, a terrible west-wind, accompanied by thunder, lightning, and pitch darkness, came on. Zeus struck the ship with a thunderbolt : it went to pieces, and all the sacrilegious crew were drowned.

The resemblance between Thrinakia and Trinacria1404, a name of Sicily, has induced both ancients and moderns to acquiesce in the opinion of the two islands being identical. Against this opinion we will observe, that Thrinakia was a desert isle (νῆσος ἐρήμηη)1405, that is, an uninhabited isle ; and that during the whole month that Odysseus and his men were in it they did not meet with any one, and could procure no food but birds and fish ; that it is called the excellent isle of the god1406, whose peculiar property it therefore must have been ; that according to the analogy of the Odyssey it must have been a small island, for such were Ææa, Ogygia, and all that we meet ; — not one of which circumstances agrees with Sicily. It seems therefore the more probable supposition, that the poet regarded Thrinakia as an islet of about the same size as those of Circe and Calypso, belonging to the Sun-god, and tenanted only by his flocks and herds, and his two daughters their keepers. He must also have conceived it to lie much more to the west than Sicily, for it could not have been more than the third day after leaving Ææa that Odysseus arrived at it.

Καλυψ ἐνγυγίῃ. Calypso in Ogygia. §

Odysseus, when his ship had gone to pieces, fastened the mast and keel together, and placed himself on them. The wind changing to the south-east (νότος) carried him back to Scylla and Charybdis. As he came by the latter, she absorbed the mast and keel, but the hero caught hold of the fig-tree, and held by it till they were thrown out again. He then floated along for nine days ; and on the tenth reached Ogygia1407, the {p. 275}isle of Calypso, by whom he was most kindly received and entertained. She detained him there for eight years, designing to make him immortal, and to keep him with her for ever : but Hermes arriving with a command from Zeus, she was obliged to consent to his departure. She gave the hero tools to build a raft or light vessel, supplied him with provisions, and reluctantly took a final leave of him.

Calypso, that is The Concealer (the poet after his usual manner giving her a significant name), is called by Homer1408 the daughter of Atlas : Hesiod1409 makes her an Oceanis, and Apollodorus1410 a Nereïs. Like Circe she was a human-speaking goddess, and dwelt in solitary state with her attendant nymphs ; but her abode was a cavern, while the daughter of Helios possessed a mansion of cut stone. Her isle presented such a scene of silvan beauty as charmed even Hermes, one of the dwellers of Olympos1411.

The poet seems to have conceived Ogygia to lie in the northwestern part of the West-sea, far remote from all the other isles and coasts ; and he thus brought his hero into all parts of that sea, and informed his auditors of all its wonders. A south-east wind carried Odysseus thither on his mast in nine days and nights from Charybdis. When he left Ogygia, sailing on his raft, as directed by Calypso, with the constellation of the Bear on his left, that is in an easterly or southeasterly direction, he came on the eighteenth day within sight of Scheria, the country of the Phæacians.

Ο Φαίηκς ἐν Σχϵρίῃ. The Phæacians in Scheria. §

The Phæacians dwelt originally, we are told, in Hypereia, near the Cyclopes1412 ; but being oppressed by that savage race, they migrated to the isle of Scheria. They were led thither by their king Nausithoös, the son of Poseidôn by Peribœa the youngest daughter of Eurymedôn king of the Giants1413. They were, like the Cyclopes and Giants, a people akin to the gods1414, {p. 276}who appeared manifestly, and feasted among them when they offered sacrifices1415, and did not conceal themselves from solitary wayfarers when they met them1416. 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’1417, no enemy ever approached their shores ; and they did not even require to make use of bows and quivers1418. Their chief employment was navigation : their ships, which went with the velocity of the wing of birds or of thought1419, were, like the Argo, endued with intelligence : they knew every port, and needed no pilot when impelled by the rowers1420.

As Odysseus sailed on his raft from Ogygia, the isle of Scheria appeared to him on the eighteenth day ‘like a shield in the dark sea’1421 ; and when the storm by which Poseidôn destroyed his raft had subsided, he was carried along, as he swam, by a strong northerly wind for two days and nights, and on the third day he got on shore in that island1422. The princess Nausicaa, when reproving the false alarm of her maids at the sight of him, says1423, “Do you think he is an enemy ? There is not a living mortal, nor will there be, who will come bearing war to the land of the Phæacians ; for they are very dear to the Immortals. We dwell apart in the wavefull sea, the last ; nor does any other mortal mingle with us : but this is some unfortunate wanderer who has come hither.” In another place, when noticing the occasion for scandal which her appearance in company with Odysseus might give, she supposes some one to say1424, “Is it some stranger who has strayed from his ship that she has taken under her care, since there are no people near us ?” All this would seem to indicate some very remote position ; and a passage in which Alcinoös says, that the Phæacians had conveyed Rhadamanthys to Eubœa1425 and returned on the same day, might lead to the supposition of Scheria being to the west of Ithaca ; for the {p. 277}abode of Rhadamanthys was the Elysian Plain on the shore of Ocean1426. It was on the west side of Ithaca, we may observe, that the Phæacians landed Odysseus ; and if we are right in placing the Cyclopes on the coast of Libya, Scheria most probably lay in the sea somewhere to the north of it. The truth is, the Phæacians and their island are altogether as imaginary as any of the isles and tribes which we have already noticed, — all as ideal as those visited by Sindbad or Gulliver, — a circumstance which in reality gives additional charms to this most delightful poem1427.

The place determined by both ancients and moderns to be Scheria is the island of Corcyra1428, the modern Corfu, which lies at a very short distance from the coast of Epeiros. It would not perhaps be allowable to urge, that the circumstances of the preceding paragraph do not by any means apply to Corcyra, for we know not what the Ionian Singer’s idea of it may have been. All we will say is, that his language respecting it accords much better with some imaginary western isle than with Corcyra ; and that if the Cyclopes were on the coast of Libya, Corcyra could not have been Scheria. The firm persuasion of the identity of these two islands seems to have been produced by two passages of the poem, the one in which Eurymedusa, the attendant of Nausicaa, is said to have been brought from Apeiros, which is taken to be Epeiros1429 ; the other the fictitious narrative of Odysseus to Penelope1430, in which, speaking in an assumed character, he says that Odysseus, when shipwrecked after leaving Thrinakia, had reached Scheria, and had gone thence to Thesprotia, which was consequently supposed to be near it ; and as Corcyra was the principal island in that direction, it was at once inferred to be that of the Phæacians. Völcker lays great stress on the circumstance of Penelope seeing nothing incongruous in the narrative ; but it surely does not follow that she knew {p. 278}anything of either Thrinakia or Scheria, and Odysseus may have taken the liberty of assigning a false position to this last place. We finally think, that if Thesprotia and its oracle at Dodona were so well known to the poet as they seem to have been, he never could have described the Phæacians, supposing Corcyra to be their island, as dwelling so remote.

Two islands remain to be considered, in order to finish our view of the isles and coasts of the Homeric West-sea. These are

ρτγία καὶ Συρία. Ortygia and Syria. §

Calypso says1431 to Hermes, that ‘rose-fingered’ Eôs took Oriôn, and that ‘gold-seated’ Artemis slew him with her gentle darts in Ortygia. Eumæos1432, describing his native isle Syria, says that it lies beyond (καθύπϵρθϵν) Ortygia, where are the turnings (τρπαὶ) of the sun. Syria, he proceeds, is not large, but it is fruitful, abounding in sheep, in pasturage, in vines, and in corn : it is never visited by famine or by any disease ; but when the people grow old, ‘silver-bowed Apollo comes with Artemis and kills them with his gentle darts.’ It contained two towns ; between the inhabitants of which, who were governed by one king, all things in it were divided. The Phœnicians and Taphians visited it for the sake of trade.

It is almost impossible, we should think, not to recognise in Ortygia and Syria two happy isles of the West-sea, apparently sacred to Apollo and Artemis ; and we must marvel at those ancients and moderns who place them in the Ægæan, making the one the same as Delos1433, and the other identical with Syros, one of the Cyclades1434. The Phœnicians, be it observed, who stole away Eumæos, sailed with a favourable wind {p. 279}homewards during six days : on the seventh Eumæos’ nurse died, and wind and water carried them on to Ithaca, where they sold him to Laërtes. Their course was therefore evidently from the west or north-west toward Sidôn, as Ithaca lay in their way. When however the Greeks settled in Sicily, they named the islet before the port of Syracuse Ortygia ; and the tongue of land opposite to it was probably pronounced to be Syria.

The ‘turnings of the sun’ seems merely to denote a westerly position, and to be an expression of the same nature with that of the ‘risings of the sun’ being in Ææa. Müller1435 sees in it a reference to the sun-dial of Pherecydes of Syros, and regards the verse which mentions it as the interpolation of a rhapsodist.

The narrative of Eumæos may serve to throw some light on the trade of the Phœnicians in those early ages. Supposing Syria to have lain to the west of Greece, it follows that this people were known to make commercial voyages in that direction ; and we may also collect from it that it was chiefly ornamental articles (ἀθύρματα) which they offered for sale. The ship whose crew carried off Eumæos continued an entire year at Syria, to dispose of her cargo and lay in one in return, — a circumstance which may tend to illustrate the three years’ voyages of the fleets of king Solomon1436. It also appears that the Greeks made voyages to both the East and the West ; for the nurse of Eumæos was daughter of Arybas a wealthy Sidonian, who had been carried away from her native country by Taphian pirates, and sold to the father of Eumæos.

We have now completed our survey of the magic isles and coasts, the mild and savage tribes, the gentle or pernicious goddesses, with which poetic imagination, working probably on the ‘shipman’s tale’ of marvellous adventure and frequent peril, had filled the little-explored waters of the Mediterranean. While presenting our own hypothesis respecting them, {p. 280}we wish not to conceal those of others, or dogmatically demand assent to what we advance. Our object has been to endeavour by these elucidations to enhance the delight which every person of taste must feel when perusing one of the most charming monuments of human genius, — the Odyssey of Homer.

Farewell ye continents, and of the deep
Ye isles, and Ocean’s waters, and the Sea’s
Great streams, ye springs and rivers, and ye hills
Wood-hung ; for I have now gone o’er the whole
Flood of the sea, and all the winding track
Of continents. But may the blissful gods
Themselves the meed due to my song bestow1437
{p. 281}


Part II. — THE HEROES. §

Chapter I.


Origin and First State of Man. §

The origin of mankind, like that of the earth their abode, is a subject which will be found to have engaged the thoughts of almost every race that occupies its surface. The mind feels itself invincibly impelled to this reflection, from observing the changes and revolutions which continually take place around it. Each revolving year brings to the vegetable world the seasons of decay and of reviviscence ; mankind are born, flourish, and die ; a new generation is ever filling up the vacancies caused by death ; races migrate ; where population once flourished, there is desolation ; where once the wilderness spread, is heard the busy hum of men, and commerce and agriculture display their stores. Has it always been so ? is the question man naturally asks himself. Has the world ever gone on thus decaying and renewing ? — and he carries back his thoughts through ages and generations, till for very weariness he is obliged to stop somewhere and suppose a beginning.

A remnant of original tradition, or the natural operation of the mind itself, has led almost all races to conceive the original state of man to have been one of peace and happiness. At all periods of his life man looks back to the gay and careless days of childhood with pleasure and regret. Then, while his faculties were new and unworn, each part of nature was a source of bliss ; then suns shone more brightly, plants diffused more {p. 282}fragrance, the melody of groves was poured forth more rapturously, the day closed in joy, the morning awoke to renewed delight. It was easy and it was natural to transfer these ideas to the race of man ; to suppose them also to have commenced in blissful infancy, amid the abundant wealth and careless ease of nature, and to have progressively passed through different stages, deteriorating in each successive stage as unhappily the greater part of mankind do, and from the innocence of childhood, advancing to the selfishness and hardened vice of mature and declining age. Most mythic systems therefore have their golden age1438.

Ages of the World. §

Homer nowhere speaks of cosmogony or of the ages of the world. Hesiod, who is the first that treats of them, gives in his didactic poem the following venerable mythe1439.

The gods first made the golden race of men, who were in the time when Kronos ruled in heaven. They lived like gods, free from toils and care, and death was to them a sinking into gentle slumber ; and when earth had covered this race, they became good terrestrial dæmons, the guardians of mortal men, to mark their just and unjust deeds. They move along the earth shrouded in darkness, and are the bestowers of wealth. Such is their regal honour1440.

The gods made a second far inferior race, called the silver race, resembling the golden neither in appearance nor in disposition. A hundred years each child spent in ignorant simplicity with its mother, and when they attained to youth they lived but a short time, for they would not abstain from mutual injury, nor pay the service due to the gods. Zeus in indignation put a period to the race.

Zeus now made a third, the brazen race of men, unlike the silver race. These were formed from ash-trees : their delight was in war and deeds of violence. They ate not corn, but they had souls of steel, and prodigious strength. Their arms were brass, their houses brass, with brass they wrought, ‘for {p. 283}black iron was not yet.’ At length, slain by each other's hands, they went down to the ‘mouldy house of cold Aïdes,’ and left no fame behind them.

A fourth and better race was next placed on the earth by Zeus, namely the divine race of heroes, in former times called Semigods. These also were carried off by war and combat. They fought at Thebes, on account of the sheep of Œdipûs, and sailed to Troy for ‘well-haired Helena.’ When they died, Zeus removed them to the ends of the earth, where they dwell, away from man, in the Islands of the Blest, and live in bliss, earth producing for them ‘honey-sweet fruit’ thrice in each revolving year.

The poet draws a dismal picture of the fifth or iron race of men ; a picture often since his time redrawn by moralists and poets in every region of the earth, for this is the race who still possess it. This race, says Hesiod, will never cease day or night from toil and misery ; the gods will give them grievous cares, yet good will still be mixed with the evil. Zeus will destroy this race also, when they become ‘hoary-templed.’ Fathers will not be at unity with their children, nor brethren with each other ; friends and guests will be discordant, children will not honour their aged parents. Club-law will prevail, faith and justice will be in no repute, the evil-doer and the violent will be most esteemed, ‘evil-loving Envy’ will accompany wretched man. Shame and Aversion (Nemesis) will wrap themselves in their ‘white mantles’ and depart to the gods, leaving misery to man ; and there will be no defence against evil.

Aratus1441 is the next in order of time who mentions the ages of the world. He speaks of but three races of men, — the golden, the silver, and the brazen. Justice (Δίκη), he says, dwelt familiarly among the first, teaching them what was right and good. When the silver race succeeded she retired to the mountains, whence she occasionally came down in the evening-time, and approaching their abodes upbraided them with their evil doings. Unable to endure the third race, who first forged arms and fed on the flesh of the labouring ox, she flew {p. 284}up to heaven and became the constellation of Astræa or the Virgin.

Ovid1442 makes the races of men four in number, — golden, silver, brazen, and iron. The first enjoyed a perpetual spring, the earth producing everything spontaneously for them : in the time of the second the division of the seasons took place : the third were martial, but not yet utterly wicked : the fourth gave way to every species of vice and crime, Astræa left the earth, and Zeus destroyed them by a deluge of water.

In all these accounts it is to be observed that it is races of men, not ages of the world, which are spoken of1443. Hesiod makes these races separate creations : the two first, he says, were made by the gods, the three last by Zeus, who attained the supremacy of heaven in the time of the second or silver race. Earth covers each race before its successor is made. Aratus expressly says that the golden were the parents of the silver, and these of the brazen race of men. Ovid would appear to view the subject in the same light.

To dispel the gloomy prospect presented by the delineation of the vices and miseries of man in the last stage of the progression, it was asserted, that as the four seasons, commencing with a bright golden spring and ending with a gloomy iron winter, form the solar year, which is continually renewed ; so the four ages of the world compose a mundane year which will also be renewed, and the iron race be succeeded by a new one of gold, when Kronos will once more assume the government, and the former innocent and happy state return1444.

A mythologist, of whom even when we dissent from his opinions we must always admire the sound learning, ingenious reasoning, and high moral feeling1445, gives the following view of the mythe of the races of man.

This mythe is an oriental one, derived from the same source with the narrative in the first chapters of Genesis, and introduced into Grecian literature by Hesiod, who may {p. 285}be regarded as the Plato of his age. It contained originally, as it is given by Aratus, but the three first ages. Its object was not to give a view of the gradual deterioration of mankind, but to exhibit the relation of the deity to the wickedness of the human race, and particularly to impress the belief that when evil has attained its maximum the gods will destroy mankind. To this intent it was necessary to commence with a state of innocence ; and the original framer of the mythe probably made the silver and brazen races, instead of successively following that of gold, exist simultaneously after it, — effeminacy and violence, the two vices into which virtue is most apt to degenerate, being their respective characters, — and feigned that the former was gradually extirpated by the latter, which was then destroyed by the gods ; but this was misunderstood by Hesiod. The account of the fourth and fifth races was an application of the ancient mythe to the actual world, and from a moral it became a continuation of the narrative. As the working of iron was regarded as a later invention than that of brass or copper, and as it is a harder metal, it was naturally selected to express the last and worst race of men ; but as tradition spake distinctly of the Heroic race who fought at Thebes and Troy, it was necessary to distinguish it from the iron one : hence the cycle is, as it were, repeated ; but the latter one, being founded on reality, consists of only two parts. The heroes who correspond to the golden race are like them rewarded after death, but in an inferior degree : the iron are menaced with utter destruction like the brazen.

This critic is further of opinion that in the original narrative the three races were represented as becoming after death three different classes of spirits, the golden celestial, the silver terrestrial, and the brazen infernal ; answering to the good and evil angels of the religions of the East ; but that, as the Grecian religion acknowledged no evil spirits, the poet found it necessary to cut away this last part of the original mythe.

Völcker1446 on the other hand considers the Heroic race to have been an essential part of the original mythe, which he regards chiefly on that account as being a post-Homeric {p. 286}position, framed with a regard to the Homeric and other contemporary poems. He also thinks that the lines in which Hesiod describes the deification of the golden race are an interpolation, inserted at the time when the intercourse prevailed with Egypt, and Grecian philosophers visited that country. As we do not esteem the notion of a community of mythology between Greece and Asia and Egypt in the ante-Homeric times to rest on any solid foundation, though we freely acknowledge the sublimity of that theory, we feel disposed to acquiesce to a certain extent in this last opinion, and to reject the ingenious theory stated above.

Ἰαπϵτòς, Ἄτλας, Μϵνoίτιoς, Πρoμηθϵὺς καὶ Ἐπιμηθϵύς 1447 . Iapetus, Atlas, Menœtios, Prometheus et Epimetheu s.

According to the Theogony the Titan Iapetos espoused Clymene1448, a daughter of Oceanos, by whom he was the father of four sons, Atlas, Menœtios, Prometheus and Epimetheus. We find Iapetos frequently joined with Kronos, apart as it were from the other Titans ; and it is worthy of notice, that in the Theogony (where there is more of order and method than is usually supposed) the account of Iapetos and his progeny immediately succeeds that of Kronos and the gods sprung from him. These circumstances, combined with the plain meaning of the names of his children, lead to the conclusion of Iapetos being intended to represent the origin of the human race.

The gods are the offspring of Time, and man, say the sacred Scriptures, is ‘born unto misery’. It is not unreasonable therefore to find in the name of their progenitor a reference to this condition, and to render Iapetos the Afflicted or the Oppressed.1449. The name of his wife may refer to that faded splendour which still adheres to man, and those of his sons express the qualities of the human mind ; Atlas being the {p. 287}patient and persevering, Menœtios the hot and impetuous, Prometheus the prudent, and Epimetheus the imprudent1450. These we shall now proceed to illustrate.

Menœtios is called by Hesiod1451 the insolent and the haughty ; and Zeus, it is added, struck him with his thunder and precipitated him into Erebos on account of his ‘insolence and excessive manhood ;’ perhaps intimating that pride and haughtiness and extreme reliance on his powers hurry man to death. It is said by later writers that for his share in the Titan-war Menœtios was hurled into Tartaros, but this arose from the misunderstanding of that mythe1452.

Atlas (The Endurer) occupies a much larger space in mythology than Menœtios. Homer1453 calls him the wise or deepthinking (ὀλoόϕρων), ‘who knows all the depths of the sea, and keeps the long pillars which hold heaven and earth asunder.’ In the Theogony1454 he is said to support the heaven on his head and hands in the extreme West, a task assigned him by Zeus, in punishment, the later writers say, for his share in the Titan-war1455.

Atlas was the father of the fair nymph Calypso, who so long detained Odysseus in her umbrageous isle in the distant West1456. Pleione, an Ocean-nymph, bore him seven daughters, named Pleiades after their mother1457. He was also said to be the father of the nymphs named Hyades1458. When, therefore, we consider the signification of his name in connexion with the position assigned him by Homer and Hesiod, and the species of knowledge ascribed to him, and his being the father of two of the celestial constellations, it will be perhaps {p. 288}difficult to avoid assenting to the opinion of one of our ablest mythologists, that in Atlas we may view a personification of “navigation, the conquest of the sea by human skill, trade, and mercantile profit1459.”

It is perhaps hardly necessary now to remind the reader that the Atlas of Homer and Hesiod is not the personification of a mountain. In the days however when the true sense of the venerable mythes of the old time was lost, Atlas, the keeper of the pillars that support the heaven, or the dæmon who discharged that office himself, became a mountain of Libya. It is however remarkable that in all the legends of this kind it is the god or man Atlas who is turned into or gives name to the mountain. Thus according to one1460 Atlas was a king of the remote West, rich in flocks and herds, and master of the trees which bore the golden apples. An ancient prophecy delivered by Themis had announced to him that his precious trees would be plundered by a son of Zeus. When therefore Perseus, on his return from slaying the Gorgon, arrived in the realms of Atlas, and seeking hospitality announced himself to be a son of the king of the gods, the western monarch, calling to mind the prophecy, attempted to repel him from his doors. Perseus, inferior in strength, displayed the head of Medusa, and the inhospitable prince was turned into the mountain which still bears his name.

Another said that he was a man of Libya devoted to astronomy, and that having ascended a lofty mountain to make his observations he fell from it into the sea, and both sea and mountain were named from him1461. His supporting the heaven was usually explained by making him an astronomer and the inventor of the sphere1462.

In Prometheus and Epimetheus are personified the intellectual vigour and weakness of man. In this mythe however there is great confusion, for its original sense seems to have been lost very early, and Prometheus to have been viewed as a Titan and the creator or instructor of man.

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In Homer there is no allusion whatever to Prometheus. Hesiod says1463, that when the gods and men had a controversy at Mecone, Prometheus took an ox, and dividing it put the flesh and entrails in the hide, and wrapping the bones up in the inside fat, desired Zeus to take which he would. The god, though aware of the deceit, selected the bones and fat, and in revenge he withheld fire from man ; but Prometheus again deceived him, and stealing the fire in a hollow staff1464, brought it and gave it to man. Zeus then sent Pandora on earth to deceive man to his ruin, and he bound Prometheus with chains to a pillar, and sent an eagle to prey without ceasing on his liver, which grew every night as much as it had lost in the day. After a long interval of time, however, he consented to Heracles’ slaying the eagle and freeing the sufferer.

In this narrative there is a combination of a local mythe of Sicyôn (anciently called Mecone), with a doctrine of a much higher nature. The former legend was manifestly devised to account for the custom at Sicyôn, as at Sparta, of offering to the gods in sacrifice the bones of the victim wrapt in the caul, instead of some of the choicest parts of the flesh as elsewhere1465 ; the latter mythe may be perhaps thus explained.

The first men lived in a state of bliss on the abundant productions of the earth. The spring was perpetual1466 and cold was unfelt, and they therefore needed not fire, which Zeus in kindness withheld from them. But the inquisitive, inventive genius of man (i. e. Prometheus) introduced fire, and the arts which result from it, and man henceforth became a prey to care and anxiety, the love of gain, and other evil passions which torment him1467, and which are personified in the eagle {p. 290}that fed on the inconsumable liver of Prometheus1468. In a word we have here a Grecian mythe of the Fall of man, which we shall presently find carried out in that of Pandora1469.

The simple narrative of Hesiod was as usual expanded by later writers, and Mount Caucasus was fixed on as the place of Prometheus’ punishment. The pragmatisers also explained the mythe after their own fashion. Prometheus was, they say, a king of the Scythians, and his country was wasted by a river named Eagle (Aϵτòς), whose inundations when he was unable to prevent, his subjects laid him in chains. But Heracles coming thither opened a passage for the Eagle into the sea, and thus freed the captive monarch1470.

The name of Prometheus led to his being viewed as the bestower of all knowledge on mankind1471. A philosophical mythe in Plato1472 says that the gods formed man and the other animals of clay and fire within the earth, and then committed to Prometheus and his brother the task of distributing powers and qualities to them. Epimetheus prayed to be allowed to make the distribution. Prometheus assented ; but when he came to survey the work, he found that the silly Epimetheus had abundantly furnished the inferior animals, while man was left naked and helpless. As the day for their emerging from the earth was at hand, Prometheus was at a loss what to do ; at length as the only remedy he stole fire, and with it the artist-skill of Athena and Hephæstos, and gave it to man. He was also regarded as the creator of the human race. Another {p. 291}legend said that all mankind having perished in Deucaliôn’s flood, Zeus directed Prometheus and Athena to make images of clay, on which he caused the winds to blow, and thus gave them life1473. A third said that Prometheus had formed a man of clay, and Athena beholding it offered him her aid in procuring anything in heaven that might contribute to its perfection. Prometheus said that he could not tell what there might be in heaven to his purpose, unless he could go thither and judge for himself. The goddess then bore him to heaven in her sevenfold shield, and there seeing everything animated by the celestial heat, he secretly applied his ferula to the wheel of the Sun’s chariot and thus stole some of the fire, which he then applied to the breast of his man and thus animated him. Zeus, to punish Prometheus, bound him and appointed a vulture to prey on his liver, and the incensed gods sent fevers and other diseases among men1474.

As Care, says the fable, was crossing a river she observed the marly clay, and began to make a man out of it. Jupiter happening to come by, she asked him to animate it ; he did so, but when Care went to give it her own name, he insisted on its being named from himself. While they were disputing, Earth arose and asserted her right to it, as she had furnished the body. They took Saturn for arbitrator, and he decided that, as Jupiter had given it life, he should have the body, but that as Care had formed it she should possess it while it lived, and that it should be called Man (Homo), because it was made of earth (humus)1475.

On the story of Prometheus has been founded the following very pretty fable, which adds another instance to the many legends we have already given, invented to account for properties and relations of animals.

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When Prometheus had stolen fire from heaven for the good of mankind, they were so ungrateful as to betray him to Zeus. For their treachery they got in reward a remedy against the evils of old-age ; but not duly considering the value of the gift, instead of carrying it themselves, they put it on the back of an ass, and let him trot on before them. It was summer time, and the ass quite overcome by thirst went up to a fountain to drink ; but a snake forbade all approach. The ass, ready to faint, most earnestly implored relief : the cunning snake, who knew the value of the burden which the ass bore, demanded it as the price of access to the fount. The ass was forced to comply, and the snake obtained possession of the gift of Zeus, but with it as a punishment for his art he got the thirst of the ass. Hence it is that the snake by casting his skin annually renews his youth, while man is borne down by the weight of the evils of old-age. The malignant snakes moreover, when they have an opportunity, communicate their thirst to mankind by biting them1476.

The wife of Prometheus was Pandora1477, or Clymene1478, or Hesione1479, or Asia1480. His only child was Deucaliôn.

Πavδώpa. Pandora. §

The celebrated mythe of the introduction of evil into the world by means of a woman is related at large by Hesiod in his didactic poem, and is touched on in the Theogony1481. The following is the ingenious, and in general correct, view of it given by an able mythologist1482.

According to some very ancient mythe the first of mankind were two brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus, that is, Forethought and After-thought. These first men lived in intimate relation with the gods, who, as we may have already seen, were by no means beings of pure benevolence ; on the contrary, they and mankind were to one another somewhat like patrons and {p. 293}clients, lords and vassals. The latter recognised the power of the former, who on their part could not well dispense with the gifts and respect of men ; and men, like the tenants of griping landlords, were obliged to be very circumspect, that is, to use a good deal of forethought in their actions, to get every advantage they could in their dealings with the gods. This is intimated in the transaction respecting the fire of which Zeus is said to have deprived men, and which Prometheus stole and brought back to earth.

Zeus then, the mythe goes on to relate, was incensed at this daring deed, and resolved to punish the men for it. He therefore directed Hephæstos to knead earth and water, to give it human voice and strength, and to make the fair form of a virgin like the immortal goddesses : he desired Athena to endow her with artist-knowledge, Aphrodite to give her beauty and desire, and Hermes to inspire her with an impudent and artful disposition. When formed she was attired by the Seasons and Graces ; each of the deities gave the commanded gifts, and she was named Pandora (All-gifted). Thus furnished she was brought by Hermes to the dwelling of Epime-theus ; who, though his brother had warned him to be upon his guard and to receive no gifts from Zeus, dazzled with her charms took her to his house and made her his wife. The evil effects of this imprudent act were speedily felt. In the house of these first men stood a closed jar, which they had been forbidden to open. Forethought, as may be supposed, had rigidly obeyed this direction, and had hitherto kept his brother also from transgressing it. But the case was now altered : a woman, whose chief attribute is curiosity, was come into the house : dying to know what the jar contained she raised the lid, and all the evils hitherto unknown to man poured out and spread over the earth. In terror at the sight of these monsters, she clapped down the lid just in time to prevent the escape of Hope, who thus remained with man, his chief support and comfort.

This fable of Pandora is certainly not capable of being reconciled with other Hellenic mythes of the origin of mankind, such as the one which we have given above ; but incongruities little discomposed those ancient bards, and if a mythe contained a moral that pleased them, they were indifferent {p. 294}about its harmonising with others. Contradictions however becoming apparent, Prometheus and his brother ceased to be looked on as the first men, but Pandora still kept her place as the first woman. Prometheus and Epimetheus were soon regarded as the symbols of Prudence and Folly, and were held to be gods. From the remote period in which the legends placed them they could only be regarded as Titans, and accordingly by Hesiod and Æschylus they are placed among that ante-Kronid race. Prometheus was also speedily raised to the rank of creator of mankind, to whom he gave the fire which he had stolen from heaven. Yet even so late as the times of Augustus some vestige of the old sense of the mythe seems to have remained ; for Horace classes Prometheus with Dædalos and Heracles, and speaks of him as a man1483. It is remarkable however that Æschylus represents him only as the benefactor and instructor of mankind.

The next step in the corruption of the mythe, says the critic, was to change the jar (πίθoς)1484 in which the evils were inclosed, and which lay in the house of the men, into a box brought with her from heaven by Pandora. It is rather strange how this notion could have prevailed, when the species of vessel was so expressly stated by Hesiod, who also mentions its great lid (μέγa πῶμa), a phrase that does not at all accord with such a box as Pandora could have carried with her. Further it is said that ‘Hope alone remained in the infrangible house within the jar1485 ;’ where, though interpreters in general {p. 295}have understood the word house to signify the jar, an unprejudiced reader will rather conceive the passage to denote that a house was the scene of the event, and that Hope alone stayed in the dwelling of man.

When higher notions of the Deity prevailed, this mythe underwent a further change, and it was fabled that Zeus had inclosed all blessings in a jar, which he set in the abode of man. But, tormented with curiosity, man raised the lid, and all the blessings flew away to heaven, where they abide shunning the earth. Hope alone remained, as he let down the lid before she had escaped1486.

Such is what may be regarded as the best explanation that has been given of this ancient mythe. We will now make a few observations on the subject.

In the first place, as Buttmann and many others have observed, the resemblance between this mythe and the Scripture narrative of Eve and the forbidden fruit is so very striking, that one might be induced to regard it as a rivulet derived from the original fount of tradition. It is however more probably an ebullition of that spleen against the female sex occasionally exhibited by the old Grecian bards, and of which Simonides has left a notable instance1487. The points of resemblance between the Grecian mythe and the Hebrew narrative are these1488. Pandora and Eve ; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the jar of evils ; and the introduction of evil into the world by the first woman. But Eve was tempted, Pandora was not ; the former was actuated by a noble instinct, {p. 296}the love of knowledge ; the latter merely by vulgar female curiosity.

It seems very strange that the ancients should have taken so little notice of this mythe. There is no allusion to it in Pindar or the tragedians, excepting Sophocles, one of whose lost satyric dramas was named Pandora or the Hammerers. It was equally neglected by the Alexandrians ; Apollodorus merely calls Pandora the first woman. In fact, with the exception of a dubious passage in Theognis1489, where Hope is said to be the only good deity that remained among men, — Temperance, Faith, and the others having left the earth and gone to Olympos, — which may be founded on this mythe, we find no allusion to it in Grecian literature, except in the fable of Babrius, who is said to have been anterior to Phædrus, in Nonnus1490, who left nothing untouched, and in the epigrammatist Macedonius1491. It seems to have had as little charms for the Latin poets ; even Ovid (strange as it may appear) passing it over in perfect silence. Hyginus1492 merely says that, when Prometheus formed men of clay, Zeus directed Hephæstos to make a woman of clay also, whom Athena animated and the other gods adorned with gifts ; and that she was given in marriage to Epimetheus, and became the mother of Pyrrha, the first mortal woman.

It is also deserving of notice, that Hesiod and all the others agree in naming the vessel which Pandora opened a jar (πίθος), and never hint at her having brought it with her to the house of Epimetheus. Yet the idea has been universal among the moderns that she brought all the evils with her from heaven shut up in a box (πυξίς). We can only account for this by supposing that at the restoration of learning the narrative in Hesiod was misunderstood ; and of this we have a convincing proof in Natalis Comes, one of the earliest of the modern mythologists. He says that Zeus sent Pandora to Prometheus with all the evils inclosed in a vessel (vasculo), and that when Prometheus refused to receive her she went to Epimetheus, who took the lid off the vessel and let out all the evils, but {p. 297}that he shut up Hope, and kept the vessel with her in it1493. This then became the current idea, and we see how even so eminent a scholar as Buttmann was deceived by it, and led to suppose such to have been the prevalent opinion among the ancients.

Δευκαλίων καὶ Πύῤῥα. Deucalion et Pyrrha. §

We have seen that the ancient mythology of Greece contained accounts of the two great events of the Creation and Fall of man. In like manner the important event of the Deluge has a place among the ancient Hellenic mythes ; but unfortunately it has come down to us only in a late form, and apparently mixed up with circumstances borrowed from the narrative in the Mosaic history. It is to the following effect.

Deucaliôn, the son of Prometheus, was married to Pyrrha the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, and he reigned over the country about Phthia. When Zeus designed to destroy the brazen race of men, Deucaliôn by the advice of his father made himself an ark (λὰρνακα), and putting provisions into it entered it with his wife Pyrrha. Zeus then poured rain from heaven and inundated the greater part of Greece, so that all the people, except a few who escaped to the neighbouring lofty mountains, perished in the waves. At that time the mountains of Thessaly were burst, and all Greece without the Isthmus and the Peloponnese was overflowed. Deucaliôn was carried along this sea in his ark for nine days and nights until he reached Mount Parnassos. By this time the rain had ceased, and he got out and sacrificed to Zeus Flight-givingύξιoς), who sent Hermes desiring him to ask what he would. His request was to have the earth replenished with men. By the direction of Zeus he and his wife flung stones behind them ; and those which Deucaliôn cast became men, those thrown by Pyrrha women ; and from this circumstance came the Greek name for people1494.

This narrative, it may easily be seen, is of a very narrow {p. 298}and even unpoetic character ; it restricts the general deluge to Greece Proper, indeed perhaps originally to Thessaly1495 ; and it most incongruously represents others having escaped as well as Deucaliôn, yet at the same time intimates that he and his wife alone had been preserved in the catastrophe. What is said of the Brazen Age is quite at variance with the narrative in Hesiod, and is a very clumsy attempt at connecting two perfectly independent and irreconcilable mythes. The circumstance of the ark would seem to have been learned at Alexandria1496, for we elsewhere find the dove noticed. “The mythologists,” says Plutarch1497, “say that a pigeon let fly out of the ark was to Deucaliôn a sign of bad weather if it came in again, of good weather if it flew away.” The sacrifice and the appearance of Hermes also strongly remind us of Noah.

The Latin writers1498 take a much nobler view of the Deluge. According to them, it overspread the whole earth, and all animal life perished except Deucaliôn and Pyrrha, whom Ovid, who gives a very poetical account of this great catastrophe, conveys in a small boat to the summit of Parnassos ; while others make Ætna1499 or Athôs1500 the mountain which yielded them a refuge. According to this poet, they consulted the ancient oracle of Themis respecting the restoration of mankind, and received the following response :

From the fane depart,
And veil your heads and loose your girded clothes,
And cast behind you your great parent’s bones.

They were at first horror-struck at such an act of impiety being enjoined them, but at length Deucaliôn penetrated the sense of the oracle1501.

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Deucaliôn and Pyrrha are evidently pure beings of fiction, personifications of water and fire1502, meant, as some think1503, to indicate, that when the passage through which the Peneios carries off the waters that run into the vale of Thessaly, which is on all sides shut in by lofty mountains, had been closed by some accident, they overflowed the whole of its surface, till the action of subterranean fire opened a way for them. We are not by any means to assert that this inundation was a real event, of which the memory had been retained by tradition from times long anterior to Homer and Hesiod, who make no mention of it ; neither should we perhaps be too forward to maintain that a tradition of the great deluge was preserved by the early inhabitants of Greece. Where there are not letters to fix it, tradition is, as abundant instances prove, remarkably fleeting and unstable ; and we should perhaps come nearest to the truth if we were to say, that those tribes who appear to have retained a recollection of that great event, have inferred it from the evident tokens of inundation which are to be seen on various parts of the earth's surface ; a circumstance which, so far from invalidating, tends rather to confirm the truth of the Mosaic account of the Deluge.

Another Grecian tradition1504 made Ogyges (also a personification of water1505 ) to be the person who was saved at the time of the deluge which overflowed Greece, but the accounts remaining of him are very scanty. The historians made him a king of Attica or Bœotia.

Deucaliôn was regarded as the great patriarch of Greece, or the progenitor of those races which derived their origin from Thessaly, and were believed to have advanced southwards, conquering and displacing the tribes which previously occupied the more southern parts. This flood, we may observe, did not extend to the Peloponnese, and the traditions {p. 300}of that country spoke of different progenitors of the human race1506.

Early Inhabitants of Greece. §

The Homeric poems exhibit to us the people of Greece at the time of the Trojan war as a race very far removed from the savage state, as being well acquainted with agriculture, commerce and navigation, though probably ignorant of money and letters, and exhibiting in all their institutions a considerable degree of civilisation. They had not yet any common name, and seem to have had but little previous intercourse with foreign nations. Nothing can be collected from these poems respecting the origin of the people.

As some nations of Asia were under the system of castes and the direction of the sacerdotal caste, and as some of the early tribes of Europe seem to have been similarly situated, some modern writers assume such to have been the early state of Greece, and even fancy that they discern in certain places of the Ilias (such for example as the quarrel between Agamemnôn and Calchas,) traces of the conflict between the temporal and the sacerdotal power1507. The gigantic buildings which still exist in the Peloponnese and elsewhere, and which are alluded to in the Homeric poems, also seem to them to indicate a state of society resembling that of Egypt or India, where huge pyramids and temples were raised by serfs, beneath the direction of a caste of priests, whom they were bound to obey. But unfortunately for this hypothesis, the various huge monuments of this kind which Egypt, India, and ‘the Celtic’ present, are works of show rather than of real utility, being almost all altars, temples, tombs, or obelisks ; while those of Greece are massive walls and strong treasuries, manifestly designed to preserve the wealth of an industrious and civilised people from the rapacity of invaders by sea or by land. The {p. 301}evidence in effect of sacerdotal dominion having ever prevailed in Greece is so slight that it hardly needs an examination1508.

Language, manners, religion, and monuments indicate that Greece and Italy, and a part of Lesser Asia were at an early period the abode of one race of men, who were devoted to the arts of peace and eminently skilled in agriculture. This people are generally called the Pelasgians or Pelargians, a name which was probably given to a portion of them by more warlike tribes, from their favourite occupation of cultivating the land, but which we have no reason to suppose was ever common to the whole race1509 : they are mentioned by Homer1510. Cauconians1511, Lelegians1512, and other tribes are spoken of as dwelling in Greece in the ante-Hellenic period.

Whether the Achæans1513, the race whose exploits the Homeric poems record, were this Pelasgian race1514, or one which had conquered them, is what we have no means of determining. The poems give not a hint on the subject, and conjecture will yield but little that is satisfactory. No traces occur in them of previous invasions and conquests, and it is not at all improbable that the martial character of the race who fought at Thebes and Troy may have been developed by peculiar circumstances from the peaceful one which is usually supposed to have distinguished the Pelasgians1515.

Previous to the Dorian migration, which is an undoubted historic event, there is supposed to have been some commotion in Thessaly, produced probably by the irruption of a {p. 302}Thesprotian tribe into that country1516, which caused a portion of the former inhabitants to emigrate into Bœotia and expel some of those whom they found there1517. But it was the Dorian migration which produced the greatest changes in Greece, and sent so many colonies to the East and the West. It was probably at this time that the word Hellenes came into use ; for the Greeks, finding themselves to differ in language and manners from the tribes with which they now came in contact, adopted a common name by which to distinguish themselves1518.

It would therefore seem to be the most probable hypothesis on this subject, to suppose the Greeks to have been always one people, under different denominations, with that diversity of character and manners among the various portions of them which will be produced by local situation and other accidental circumstances1519, and which should cause no greater surprise than the diversity of dialects of the one language which prevailed in ancient Greece as in modern Italy.

Religion will always vary with modes of life, and there is therefore no improbability in the supposition of that of the Pelasgians, that is of the people of Greece before the Achæan period, having been chiefly of a rural character1520, such as it continued to be in Arcadia to a late period ; and that, as we have seen in the case of Hermes, when the Achæan and Hellenic characters prevailed, the deities like the people put off the rustic character, their attributes changed, and offices dissimilar to their original ones were assigned them. The original meaning also of many mythes may have gone out of use ; what had been symbolical and allegorical may have been understood literally and regarded as a real event ; purely imaginary beings have been esteemed actual personages, and the {p. 303}legends relating to them have been treated as genuine history ; and hence have arisen many of the mythic persons, whose names indicate them to have been personifications of natural objects, or epithets of the divinity in whose mythology they became actors. There is, further, much probability in the hypothesis that what afterwards became mysteries were ancient Pelasgian forms of worship, preserved in particular places, and jealously confined to a particular people, but which were gradually communicated to others1521. In short, it would appear, that the religion, manners, genius, and national character of the Greeks of the historie times had their roots in those of the ante-historic and even ante-mythic inhabitants of the country, whom we denominate Pelasgians. We have already pointed out the incredibility of the hypothesis of the coming of foreign colonists to Greece. The various supposed instances will be examined as they occur.

In Grecian history we are to distinguish three periods, the Pelasgian, the Achæan, and the Hellenic. The first is ante-historic and even ante-mythic, and its existence is only to be inferred from a few feeble traces : the second is the mythic, which is rich in events, though the far greater part, if not the entire, are but the creations of fancy : the third, commencing with the Dorian migration, and being for some space of time mytho-historic or history mingled with fable1522, assumes toward the time of Solôn the lineaments of truth, and becomes real history. It is this last period alone which presents materials for the historian.

The mythic history of Greece, to which the present portion of our work is devoted, will present numerous instances of the practice of embodying tribes, institutions, religious ceremonies, etc. in the person of some fabled individual, — the personification of their name ; a practice by no means confined to Grecian mythology, as it will be found to pervade that of almost every other people. The names of rivers, mountains, and other natural objects, made persons, also largely contribute to swell the amount of our mythic array ; {p. 304}to these when we add those noticed in a preceding paragraph, but few will remain to which we can venture to assign an actual and real existence1523.

These mythic personages are usually denominated Heroes (ἥρωϵς), — a word in Homer only indicative of civil rank and preeminence1524. It afterwards became significative of beings of a class superior to common men1525 ; and many of those to whom Homer and Hesiod apply the term hero, in its primary sense, were in after-times honoured as deities, with temples, sacrifices, and prayers, — becoming in fact the Saints of heathen Greece1526. In general, however, they only resumed their pristine rank ; for the hero of one period was not unfrequently the god of a preceding one, and he thus became a god once more in the eyes of posterity.

The whole mythic history of Greece is genealogical ; all the personifications which we have just noticed are woven through one another in a most marvellous manner, and the gods also bear a conspicuous part in the history as progenitors of various Heroic families. Any attempt therefore at introducing the accuracy of chronology into such a chaos is absurd in the extreme1527 ; and it is only with the glimmer of the dawn of real Grecian history, — of which the first or mytho-historic portion commences with the Dorian migration, — that the regular succession of events can be traced with any appearance of probability. The mythic portion of a nation’s annals must be always regarded as a world in itself1528, the creation of fancy, where the real assumes the garb of the imaginary, and becomes indistinguishable from it ; where no event can be pronounced absolutely true ; where fancy and ingenuity are ever at liberty to sport and lead the inquirer an eager and a {p. 305}delightful chase after the forms which float before him in the distance, but fade into mist when he attempts to grasp them. It is a region of sunshine and fragrance, in which the song of the bard evermore resounds, pleasant to view and curious to explore ; where the search after truth is rewarded by insight into the powers and operations of the human mind, and the fancy is continually nourished and inspired by gay and magnificent imagery.

Though chronology, properly so called, cannot be introduced into mythic history, it has however a chronology of its own, and may be divided into distinct periods. In the mythic history of Greece, for instance, we find an indefinite period, in which are to be placed Cadmos, Cecrops, Perseus, and other heroes ; then follow the times of Heracles and Theseus and the Argonautic Expedition ; this period is succeeded by that of the Theban Wars, after which come the War of Troy and the Returns of the Heroes, with which the mythic portion of Grecian history terminates.

Two courses present themselves to the narrator of this mythic history. He may either take the genealogical one, and relate the history of each mythic family consecutively ; or he may pursue the subject geographically, and distribute the mythes according to the regions which are assigned as the scenes of them. Without venturing to assert that it is the best, we have given the preference to the latter mode, and shall commence at Thessaly, the most northerly portion of Greece.

It must be previously stated, that the genealogists make Deucaliôn the father of Hellên, who was the father of Doros, Æolos, and Xuthos, which last had two sons, Achæos and Iôn. Of these personified races Æolos alone occupies any space in mythology. His sons were Cretheus, Athamas, Sisyphos, Salmoneus and Perieres1529 ; some of whom belong to the mythology of Thessaly, others to that of the Peloponnese, and thus seem to indicate a close connexion in the mythic period between these extremes of Hellas.

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Chapter II.


The legends of which Thessaly is the scene are few in number, and are nearly all confined to the district about Pelion and the bay of Pagasæ ; their subjects are chiefly the Æolids, or heroes of the race of Æolos, and the ancient Minyans.

Ἂδμητος καὶ Ἂλκηστις. Admetus et Alcestis. §

Cretheus the son of Æolos married Tyro the daughter of his brother Salmoneus. By her he had three sons, namely Æsôn, Amythaôn and Pheres1530. This last built the city of Pheræ, which was named from him : his son Admetos married Alcestis the daughter of Pelias, a son of Tyro by Poseidôn1531.

When Apollo was banished from Olympos, the legend says he became the servant of Admetos1532, and it was during the period of his service that Admetos souo his chariot, and this Admetos effected by the aid of his divine herdsman. Apollo also obtained from the Fates that, when the day appointed for the life of Admetos to terminate should come, he might defer it if any one would die in his place. When the fatal day arrived Admetos implored his aged father and mother to lay down their small remnant of life for his sake, but they were deaf to his prayers. With a generous self-devotion Alcestis then proffered herself as the substitute. She therefore died, and was laid in the tomb ; but Heracles happening to come just at this time to the house of Admetos, and hearing what had occurred, went and sat at the tomb, and when Death (or according to others Hades himself) came, he seized him, and forced him to resign his victim, whom he then restored to her {p. 307}husband. It was also said that Heracles fetched Alcestis back out of Erebos1533.

If, as has been hinted above, Admetos was Hades, Alcestis the Strong-one (ἀλκὴ) was Persephone. Her name would then answer to Strong (ἴφθιμος), one of his epithets, and to Awful (ἐπαινὴ), one of those of his queen.

Ἰάσων καὶ Μὴδϵια. Iason et Medea. §

Cretheus was succeeded in the dominion over Iolcos, which he had founded, by his son Æsôn. This prince married Alcimede daughter of Phylacos, or, as others said, Polymede daughter of Autolycos, by whom he had a son named Iasôn1534. By force or fraud he was deprived of his kingdom by his half-brother Pelias1535, who sought the life of the infant Iasôn ; and to save him his parents gave out that he was dead, and meantime conveyed him by night to the cave of the Centaur Cheirôn, to whose care they committed him1536.

An oracle had told Pelias to beware of the ‘one-sandaled man,’ but during many years none such appeared to disturb his repose. At length, when Iasôn had attained the age of twenty, he proceeded unknown to Cheirôn to Iolcos, to claim the rights of his family. He bore, says the Theban poet, two spears ; he wore the close-fitting Magnesian dress, and a pard-skin to throw off the rain, and his long unshorn locks waved on his back. He entered the market-place, and the people, who knew him not, marvelled if he were Apollo or the ‘brazen-carred spouse of Aphrodite’ (Ares). Just then Pelias came by in his mule-car ; and the moment he looked on him, and perceived that he had but one sandal, he shuddered. He asked him who he was, and Iasôn mildly answered his question, telling him that he was come to demand the kingdom of his fathers which Zeus had given to Æolos. He then went into the house of his father, by whom he was joyfully {p. 308}recognised. On the intelligence of the arrival of Iasôn, his uncles Pheres and Amythaôn, with their sons Admetos and Melampûs, hastened to Iolcos. Five days they feasted and enjoyed themselves : on the sixth Iasôn disclosed to them his wishes, and went accompanied by them to the dwelling of Pelias, who at once proposed to resign the kingdom, retaining the herds and pastures, at the same time stimulating Iasôn to the expedition of the Golden Fleece1537.

Another account is that Pelias, being about to offer a sacrifice on the shore of the sea to his sire Poseidôn, invited all his subjects. Iasôn, who was ploughing on the other side of the Anauros, crossed that stream to come to it, and in so doing lost one of his sandals. It is said that Hera, out of enmity to Pelias, who had neglected to sacrifice to her, took the form of an old woman, and asked Iasôn to carry her over, which caused him to leave one of his sandals in the mud ; her object was to give occasion for Medeia's coming to Iolcos and destroying Pelias1538. When Pelias perceived Iasôn with but one sandal, he saw the accomplishment of the oracle, and sending for him next day, asked him what he would do, if he had the power, had it been predicted to him that he should be slain by one of his citizens. Iasôn replied, that he would order him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece. Pelias took him at his word, and imposed this task on himself1539.

Iasôn proclaimed his enterprise throughout Greece, and the bravest heroes hastened to share in the glory. The fleece was gained by the aid of Medeia the daughter of the king of Colchis, and the Argo, as the vessel in which they sailed was named, returned to Iolcos in safety1540. But during the absence of Iasôn, Pelias had driven his father and mother to self-destruction, and put to death their remaining child. Desirous of revenge, Iasôn, after he had delivered the fleece to Pelias, entreated Medeia to exercise her art in his behalf. He sailed with his companions to the Isthmos, and there {p. 309}dedicated the Argo to Poseidôn ; and Medeia shortly afterwards ingratiated herself with the daughters of Pelias, and by vaunting her art of restoring youth, and proving it by cutting up an old ram, and putting him into a pot whence issued a bleating lamb, she persuaded them to treat their father in the same manner1541.

Pelias was buried with great splendour by his son Acastos, and the most renowned heroes of the time in Greece contended at the games celebrated on the occasion. Acastos drove Iasôn and Medeia from Iolcos, and they retired to Corinth, where they lived happily for ten years ; till Iasôn, wishing to marry Glauce or Creusa, the daughter of Creôn king of that place, put away Medeia. The Colchian princess, enraged at the ingratitude of her husband, called on the gods for vengeance, sent a poisoned robe as a gift to the bride, and then killing her own children mounted a chariot drawn by winged serpents, and fled to Athens, where she married king Ægeus, by whom she had a son named Medos ; but being detected in an attempt to destroy Theseus, she fled with her son. Medos conquered several barbarous tribes, and the country which he named after himself, and finally fell in battle against the Indians. Medeia returning unknown to Colchis, found that her father Æetes had been robbed of his throne by his brother Perses : she restored him, and deprived the usurper of life1542.

In narrating the adventures of Iasôn and Medeia we have followed Apollodorus, who seems to have adhered closely to the versions of the legend given by the Attic tragedians, in whose hands the hero and heroine have undergone the same fate with those of other places whose people were politically opposed to the sovereign democracy of Athens. We will now give the more trustworthy accounts of others.

In the Theogony Medeia is classed with the goddesses1543 who honoured mortal men with their love. Iasôn brought her from the realm of her father Æetes, where he had achieved the many grievous tasks which the haughty insolent king {p. 310}Pelias had imposed on him. He made her his spouse, and she bore to the ‘shepherd of the people’ a son named Medeios, whom Cheirôn reared in the mountains, and ‘the will of great Zeus was accomplished1544.’ It is evident therefore that this poet supposed Iasôn to have reigned at Iolcos after his return from his great adventure.

According to the poem of the Nostoi, Medeia restored Æsôn to youth1545, while Simonides and Pherecydes say that she effected this change in Iasôn himself1546, and Æschylus that she thus renewed the Hyades, the nurses of Dionysos, and their husbands1547. There is also a difference in the accounts of the manner in which she contrived to destroy Pelias ; for it is said that before the Argo came to Iolcos Medeia landed secretly on the coast, and assuming the form of an ancient priestess of Artemis, went to the house of Pelias, and deceived his daughters as above related1548. She then made the appointed signal to Iasôn, who landed and took possession of the kingdom, which however he shortly after gave up to Acastos the son of Pelias, who had accompanied him on his voyage, and retired with Medeia to Corinth1549.

Iasôn is said to have put an end to his life after the tragic fate of his children ; or, as another account has it, when the Argo was falling to pieces with time Medeia persuaded him to sleep under the prow, and it fell on him and killed him1550. Medeia herself, we are told, became the bride of Achilleus on the Elysian Plain1551.

Neither Iasôn nor Medeia can well be regarded as a real historical personage. Whether the former, whose name is nearly identical with Iasiôn, Iasios, Iasos, is merely a personification of the Ionian race (Ἰάονϵς), or, in reference to a mythe to be noticed in the sequel, signifies the healing, atoning god or hero, may be doubted. Medeia seems plainly to {p. 311}be only another form of Hera, and to have been separated from her in the manner of which we have already given instances. She is the counselling (μῆδος) goddess ; and in the history of Iasôn we find Hera always acting in this capacity toward him who, as Homer says1552, was very dear to her, — an obscure hint perhaps of the love of Iasôn and Medeia. Medeia also always acts a friendly part ; and it seems highly probable that the atrocities related in the close of her history are pure fictions of the Attic dramatists1553. The bringing of Iasôn and Medeia to Corinth seems also to indicate a connexion between the latter and Hera, who was worshiped there under the title of Acræa, and the graves of the children of Medeia were in the temple of this goddess. It was an annual custom at Corinth that seven youths, and as many maidens, children of the most distinguished citizens, clad in black, with their hair shorn, should go to this temple, and singing mournful hymns offer sacrifices to appease the deity. The cause assigned for this rite was as follows. Medeia reigned at Corinth, but the people, disdaining to be governed by an enchantress, conspired against her and resolved to put her children (seven of each sex) to death. The children fled to the temple of Hera, but they were pursued and slain at the altar. The anger of heaven was manifested by a plague, and by the advice of the oracle the expiatory rite above mentioned was instituted1554. There was also a tradition that Medeia resided at Corinth, and that she caused a famine to cease by sacrificing to Demeter and the Lemnian nymphs ; and that Zeus made love to her, but she would not hearken to his suit, fearing the anger of Hera, who therefore rewarded her by making her children immortal1555, — a thing she had vainly attempted to do herself by hiding them in the temple of the goddess1556, whose priestess, like Io, she probably was in this mythe.

It is also remarkable that the only place, besides Corinth, {p. 312}in which there were legends of Medeia, was Corcyra, an island which had been colonised by the Corinthians.

Æetes himself was, according to Eumelos1557, the son of Helios and Antiope, and born at Ephyra or Corinth, which his sire gave to him ; but he committed the charge of it to Bunos, and went to Colchis. It would thus appear that the whole mythe of Æetes and Medeia is derived from the worship of the Sun and Hera at Corinth.

Πηλϵὺς καὶ Ἀχιλλϵύς . Peleus et Achilles. §

By Ægina the daughter of the river-god Asopos Zeus was the father of Æacos, who dwelt in the island named from his mother. The children of Æacos were, Peleus, Telamôn, and Phocos. The last having been slain by his brothers out of jealousy, Æacos banished them from the island. Peleus fled to Phthia, and was there purified of the murder by Eurytiôn the son of Actôr, whose daughter Polymela he married. Being so unfortunate as to kill his father-in-law by accident at the Calydonian hunt, he fled to Iolcos, where he was purified by Acastos the son of Pelias1558. At the funeral games of Pelias he contended with the fair maid Atalanta ; and Hippolyta or Astydameia the wife of Acastos beholding fell in love with him, and solicited him by letters, but in vain, to gratify her passion. Out of revenge, she then sent to inform his wife that he was going to marry Sterope the daughter of Acastos ; and without inquiring into the truth of the tale, the credulous Polymela strangled herself. Hippolyta, with the usual artifice of a disappointed woman, next accused Peleus to her husband of an attempt on her honour1559. Acastos believed the charge, but not thinking that he could lawfully put to death one whom he had purified, invited him to join in a hunt on Mount Pelion. A dispute arising there among the hunters about their respective success, Peleus cut out the tongues of all the beasts which he killed and put them into his pouch. The companions of Acastos getting all these beasts, derided {p. 313}Peleus for having killed no game ; but pulling out the tongues, he declared that he had killed just so many. He fell asleep on Mount Pelion, and Acastos taking his famous sword, which had been made by Hephæstos, and hiding it under the cowdung, went away, leaving him there, in hopes that the Centaurs would find him and kill him1560. When Peleus awoke he sought for his sword, but in vain ; and the Centaurs coming on him would have put him to death, but for Cheirôn, who saved him, and then looked for and returned him his sword1561.

Shortly after Peleus attacked and took Iolcos single-handed according to Pindar1562 ; but aided by Iasôn and the Dioscuri, according to others, who add that he put Hippolyta to death and marched his troops into the town between her severed members1563.

To reward the virtue of Peleus the king of the gods resolved to give him a goddess in marriage. The spouse selected for him was the sea-nymph Thetis, who had been wooed by Zeus himself and his brother Poseidôn, but Themis having declared that her child would be greater than his sire, the gods withdrew1564. Others say that she was courted by Zeus alone, till he was informed by Prometheus that her son would dethrone him1565. Others again maintain that Thetis, who was reared by Hera, would not assent to the wishes of Zeus, and that the god in his anger condemned her to espouse a mortal1566, or that Hera herself selected Peleus for her spouse1567.

Cheirôn, being made aware of the will of the gods, advised Peleus to aspire to the bed of the nymph of the sea, and instructed him how to win her. He therefore lay in wait, and seized and held her fast, though she changed herself into every variety of form, becoming fire, water, a serpent, and a lion1568. The wedding was solemnized on Pelion : the gods all honoured it with their presence1569, and bestowed armour on the {p. 314}bridegroom1570 ; Cheirôn gave him an ashen spear1571, and Poseidôn the immortal Harpy-born steeds Balios and Xanthos1572. The Muses sang, the Nereïdes danced, to celebrate the wedding, and Ganymedes poured forth nectar for the guests1573.

When the celebrated son of Peleus and Thetis was born, his mother wished to make him immortal. She therefore placed him unknown to Peleus each night in the fire, to purge away what he had inherited of mortal from his father ; and by day she anointed him with ambrosia. But Peleus watched, and seeing the child panting in the fire cried out. Thetis thus frustrated in her design left her babe, and returned to her sister-Nereïdes. Peleus then conveyed the infant to Cheirôn, who reared him on the entrails of lions and on the marrow of bears and wild boars, and named him Achilleus, because he never applied his lipsϵίλη) to a breast1574.

According to the Ægimios (a poem ascribed to Hesiod), Thetis cast her children as they were born into a caldron of boiling water, to try if they were mortal. Several had perished, unable to stand the test, when Peleus lost patience and refused to let the experiment be tried on Achilleus. His goddess-wife then deserted him1575. These fictions are evidently posterior to Homer, who represents Peleus and Thetis as dwelling together all the lifetime of their son1576.

Of Peleus it is further related, that he survived his son and even grandson1577, and died in misery in the isle of Côs1578. This history of Achilleus forms an important portion of the events of the Trojan War.

Ἰξίων. Ixion. §

Ixiôn was the son of Antiôn or Peisiôn ; others gave him Phlegyas or the god Ares for a sire. He obtained the hand of Dia the daughter of Deïoneus, having, according to the {p. 315}usage of the heroic ages, promised his father-in-law large nuptial gifts (ἒδνα) ; but he did not keep his engagement, and Deïoneus seized his horses and detained them as a pledge. Ixiôn then sent to say that the gifts were ready if he would come to fetch them. Deïoneus accordingly came, but his treacherous son-in-law had prepared in his house a pit filled with fire, and covered over with bits of wood and dust, into which the unsuspecting prince fell and perished. After this deed Ixiôn’s mind became deranged, and its atrocity being such, neither gods nor men would absolve him, till at length Zeus himself took pity on him and purified him, and admitted him to his house and table on Olympos. But incapable of good, Ixiôn cast an eye of desire on the wife of his benefactor and dared to make love to her. Hera in concert with her lord formed a cloud in the likeness of herself, which Ixiôn embraced. He boasted of his fortune, and Zeus precipitated him to Erebos, where Hermes fixed him with brazen bands to an ever-revolving fiery wheel1579.

This mythe is probably of great antiquity, as the customs on which it is founded only prevailed in the heroic age. Its chief object seems to have been to inspire horror for the violation of the duties of hospitality on the part of those who, having committed homicide, were admitted to the house and table of the prince, who consented to perform the rites by which the guilt of the offender was supposed to be removed. The most extreme case is given by making Ixiôn, that is the Suppliant1580, and the first shedder of kindred blood as he is expressly called1581 (the Cain of Greece), act with such base ingratitude toward the king of the gods himself, who, according to the simple earnestness of early mythology, is represented like an earthly prince receiving his suppliant to his house and board. The punishment inflicted was suitable to the offence, and calculated to strike with awe the minds of the hearers, {p. 316}for we should always remember that these ancient mythes were articles of real and serious belief1582.

Κένταυροι καὶ Ααπίθαι. Centauri et Lapithæ. §

The Centaurs and Lapiths are two mythic tribes which are always mentioned together. The former are spoken of twice in the Ilias under the name of Wild-menῆρϵς), and once under their proper name1583. We also find the name Centaurs in the Odyssey1584. They seem to have been a rude mountaintribe, dwelling on and about Mount Pelion. There is no ground for supposing that Homer and Hesiod conceived them to be of a mingled form, as they were subsequently represented. In the fight of the Centaurs and Lapiths on the shield of Heracles, the latter appear in panoply fighting with spears, while the former wield pine-clubs1585. Pindar is the earliest poet extant who describes them as semi-ferine. According to him1586 the offspring of Ixiôn and the cloud was a son named Centauros, who when grown up wandered about the foot of Pelion, where he copulated with the Magnesian mares, who brought forth the Centaurs, a race partaking of the form of both parents, their lower parts resembling their dams, the upper their sire.

By his wife Dia, Ixiôn had a son named Peirithoös, who married Hippodameia daughter of Adrastos king of Argos. The chiefs of his own tribe, the Lapiths, were all invited to the wedding, as were also the Centaurs, who dwelt in the neighbourhood of Pelion ; Theseus, Nestôr, and other strangers, were likewise present. At the feast, Eurytiôn, one of the Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with the wine, attempted to offer violence to the bride ; the other Centaurs followed his example, and a dreadful conflict arose, in which several of them were slain. The Centaurs were finally driven from Pelion, and obliged to retire to other regions1587.

According to the earliest version of this legend, Eurytiôn {p. 317}the Centaur, being invited to the house of Peirithoös, got drunk and behaved so ill, that the heroes rose and dragging him to the door cut off his ears and nose, which was the occasion of ‘strife between the Centaurs and men’1588. In the Catalogue it is said that Hippodameia bore Polypœtes to Peirithoös, the son of Zeus, on the day that he drove the ‘shaggy Wild-men’ from Pelion to the land of the Æthicans1589 ; and Nestôr says1590 that he came from Pylos at the invitation of the Lapith chiefs to aid them against the Wild-men, whom they routed with great slaughter. From all this we may collect the tradition of a protracted conflict between the rude Centaurs and the more civilised Lapiths, which ended in the expulsion of the former. When Heracles was on his way to hunt the Erymanthian boar, he was entertained by the Centaur Pholos ; and this gave rise to a conflict between him and the other Centaurs, which terminated in the total discomfiture of the latter1591.

One of the most celebrated of the Lapiths was Cæneus, who was said to have been originally a maiden named Cænis. Poseidôn having violated her, she prayed him as a compensation to turn her into a man, and grant that she should be invulnerable1592. The god assented, and in the fight between the Centaurs and Lapiths, the former finding it impossible to wound Cæneus kept striking him with ‘green pines,’ and the earth finally opened and swallowed him1593. It is also said that Cæneus, filled with confidence in his strength and invulnerability, set up his spear in the market and ordered the people to worship it as a god ; for which act of impiety Zeus punished him by the hands of the Centaurs1594.

The most celebrated of the Centaurs was Cheirôn, the son {p. 318}of Kronos by the nymph Philyra1595. He is called by Homer1596 ‘the most upright of the Centaurs.’ He reared Iasôn and his son Medeios, Heracles, Asclepios, and Achilleus, and was famous for his skill in surgery1597, which he taught the two last heroes. But having been accidentally wounded by one of Heracles’ poisoned arrows, he suffered extreme pain, till, on his prayer to Zeus for relief, he was raised to the sky and made the constellation of the Bowman1598.

It is the opinion of Buttmann1599 that the Centaurs and the Lapiths are two purely poetic names, used to designate two opposite races of men ; — the former, the rude horse-riding tribes which tradition records to have been spread over the north of Greece ; the latter, the more civilised race, which founded towns, and gradually drove their wild neighbours back into the mountains. He therefore thinks the exposition of Centaurs as Air-piercers (from κντϵῐν τὴν αὔραν) not an improbable one, for that very idea is suggested by the figure of a Cossack leaning forward with his protruded lance as he gallops along. But he regards the idea of κένταυρος having been in its origin simply κέντωρ1600 as much more probable. Lapiths may, he thinks, have signified Stone-persuaders1601 (from λᾰας πϵίθϵιν), a poetic appellation for the builders of towns. He supposes Hippodameia, as her name seems to intimate, to have been a Centauress, married to the prince of the Lapiths1602, and thus accounts for the Centaurs having been at the wedding.

Müller1603 regards the Lapiths as being the same people with the Phlegyans, shortly to be described.

{p. 319}

Κήϋξ καὶ.Ἀλκυόνη Ceÿx et Halcyone. §

Ceÿx was the son of Morning-star (Ἐωσϕόρος), and king of Trachis. He married Halcyone a daughter of Æolos the son of Deucaliôn. Pride, it is said, caused the ruin of both. He called his wife Hera, and was by her styled Zeus in return. Zeus indignant at their impiety turned them both into birds, making him a sea-gull (κήϋξ), and her a king-fisher (ἁλκυών)1604.

Another version of this legend1605 says, that Ceÿx going to Claros to consult the oracle of Apollo perished by shipwreck, and that his wife on finding his lifeless body on the strand cast herself into the sea. The gods out of compassion changed them both into the birds called Halcyôns. During seven days of winter the Halcyôn sits on her eggs, and during seven more she feeds her young on the surface of the sea, which then is calm and free from storm, and these are called the Halcyôn-days1606.

In this last legend and in all (except the preceding one) relating to him, Ceÿx bears a gentle and amiable character.

Ceÿx is introduced into the mythe of Heracles, whose friend he is said to have been. The Marriage of Ceÿx (Τάμος Κήϋκος) was a celebrated event in that hero's history, and the subject of a poem ascribed to Hesiod1607. The splendid robe also, which when poisoned by Deïaneira caused the death of the hero, was the gift of Ceÿx.

The fable of Ceÿx and Halcyone is apparently one of those legends, of which we have seen so many examples, devised to account for the names, habits, and properties of animals. Yet as Ceÿx seems to belong to a very ancient mythic cycle, it is not unlikely that it was the resemblance of his name to that of the bird that caused his wife to be called Halcyone, and the legend above to be invented.

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Chapter III.


The hero-princes of Calydôn in Ætolia derived their origin from Zeus by Protogeneia the daughter of Deucaliôn. Her son, who was named Aëthlios1608, came at the head of a colony of the Æolids to Elis : he was the father of Endymiôn, who enjoyed the love of the goddess Selene. Ætolos, one of the sons of Endymiôn by a Naïs, having accidentally killed Apis the son of Phoroneus or Iasôn, fled to Curetis, which he named after himself Ætolia. His sons were Pleurôn and Calydôn, who built towns of their own name. Agenôr the son of Pleurôn had by Epicaste (the daughter of Calydôn) Porthaôn and Demonica ; and Porthaôn was by Euryta (grand-daughter of the river-god Acheloös) the father of Agrios, Melas, and Œneus1609. From this genealogy may be collected the tradition of Elis having in ancient times received a colony from Thessaly, and also of Eleians, or Epeians as they were named, having migrated to Ætolia. This last however may be only a late fiction, to give a colour of right to the Ætolian conquest of Elis at the time of the Dorian Migration. We may observe that the genuine mythic legends of Calydôn have been connected with the ethnographic genealogy.

Οἰνϵύς. Œneus. §

Œneus the son of Porthaôn married Althæa daughter of Thestios, a son of Demonica by the god Ares. By her he had four sons, Toxeus, Thureus, Clymenos, and Meleagros, and two daughters, Gorgo and Deïaneira.

Œneus was devoted to agriculture, and it was said that the god Dionysos gave him a vine-plant and taught him the mode of its culture1610 ; in reward it was added for his allowing the {p. 321}god’s familiarity with Althæa, by which he became the father of Deïaneira1611. Œneus, it is also said, killed with his own hand his son Toxeus for leaping over the fence of his vineyard1612.

When Œneus offered sacrifices at the conclusion of his harvest to the gods, he omitted to notice Artemis. The offended goddess immediately sent a wild boar of huge size and strength to ravage the lands of Calydôn, and destroy the cattle and people. A general hunt was proclaimed, and the boar was slain ; but the death of Meleagros the brave son of Œneus was the consequence. Althæa did not long survive her son, whose death she had caused. After her death Œneus married Peribœa the daughter of Hipponoös, by whom he had a son named Tydeus1613 ; who, having slain either his uncle, his cousins, or his brother (for writers differ), fled to Adrastos at Argos. When Œneus was grown old and helpless, and his son Tydeus was dead, the sons of his brother Agrios dispossessed him of his kingdom, and kept him in prison1614. But Diomedes the son of Tydeus coming secretly to Calydôn slew all the sons of Agrios but two, who escaped to the Peloponnese ; and as his grandfather was now too old to reign, he gave the kingdom to Andræmôn, who had married Gorgo the daughter of Œneus1615. He took the old man with him to the Peloponnese ; but the two surviving sons of Agrios, watching their opportunity, killed the aged prince at the house of Telephos in Arcadia. Diomedes brought his body to Argos, and buried it where the town called from him Œnoe was afterwards built1616.

Μϵλέαγρος. Meleager. §

The tale of the Calydonian Hunt is probably a legend of great antiquity. In the Ilias1617, when Phœnix joins his {p. 322}entreaties to those of Odysseus to prevail on Achilleus to lay aside his wrath and aid the Achæans, he quotes the case of Meleagros as an instance of the impolicy of not yielding readily and in time : “I remember this event,” says he, “long ago, not lately, how it was ; and I will tell it to you all, my friends.”

He relates the circumstance of the neglect of Artemis by Œneus at his harvest-home feast (θαλύσια), and her vengeance. Hunters and dogs were collected from all sides, and the boar was, with the loss of several lives, at length destroyed. A quarrel arose between the Curetes and the Ætolians about the head and hide, and a war was the consequence. As long as Meleagros fought, the Curetes had the worst of it, and could not keep the field ; but when, enraged at his mother Althæa, he remained with his wife the fair Cleopatra and abstained from the war, noise and clamour rose about the gates, and the towers of Calydôn were shaken by the victorious Curetes : for Althæa, grieved at the fate of her brother, who had fallen in the fight, had with tears invoked Aides and Persephoneia to send death to her son.

The elders of the Ætolians supplicated Meleagros : they sent the priests of the gods to entreat him to come forth and defend them : they offered him a piece of land (τέμϵνος), at his own selection, of fifty gyas1618, half arable, half vine-land. His aged father Œneus ascended his chamber and implored him, his sisters and his mother supplicated him, but in vain. He remained inexorable, till his very chamber was shaken, when the Curetes had mounted the towers and set fire to the town. Then his wife besought him with tears, — picturing to him the evils of a captured town, the slaughter of the men, the burning of the town, the dragging away into captivity of the women and children. Moved by these circumstances, he clad himself in arms, went forth, and repelled the enemy ; but not having done it out of regard to them, the Ætolians did not give him the proffered recompense.

Such is the more ancient form of the legend, in which it would appear that the Ætolians of Calydôn and the Curetes of Pleurôn alone took part in the hunt. In aftertimes, when the vanity of the different states of Greece made them send {p. 323}their national heroes to every war and expedition of the mythic ages, it underwent various modifications.

Meleagros, it is said1619, invited all the heroes of Greece to the hunt, proposing the hide of the boar as the prize of whoever should slay him.

Of the Ætolians there were Meleagros and Dryas son of Ares ; of the Curetes the sons of Thestios ; Idas and Lynceus sons of Aphareus came from Messene ; Castôr and Polydeukes, sons of Zeus and Leda, from Laconia ; Atalanta daughter of Iasos, and Ancæos and Cepheus sons of Lycurgos from Arcadia ; Amphiaraos son of Oïcles from Argos ; Telamôn son of Æacos from Salamis ; Theseus son of Ægeus from Athens ; Iphicles son of Amphitryôn from Thebes ; Peleus son of Æacos, and Eurytiôn son of Actôr, from Phthia ; Iasôn son of Æsôn from Iolcos ; Admetos son of Pheres from Pheræ ; and Peirithoös son of Ixiôn from Larissa1620.

These chiefs were entertained during nine days in the house of Œneus. On the tenth, Cepheus and Ancæos and some others refused to hunt in company with a maiden ; but Meleagros, who was in love with Atalanta, obliged them to give over their opposition. The hunt began : Ancæos and Cepheus speedily met their fate from the tusks of the boar : Peleus accidentally killed Eurytiôn : Atalanta with an arrow gave the monster his first wound : Amphiaraos shot him in the eye ; and Meleagros ran him through the flanks and killed him. He presented the skin and head to Atalanta ; but the sons of Thestios, offended at this preference of a woman, took the skin from her, saying that it fell to them of right, on account of their family, if Meleagros resigned his claim to it. Meleagros in a rage killed them, and restored the skin to Atalanta.

When Meleagros was seven days old, the Moiræ, it was said, came, and declared that when the billet which was burning on the hearth should be consumed the babe would die. Althæa on hearing this snatched the billet, and laid it up carefully in a chest. But now her love for her son giving way {p. 324}to resentment for the death of her brothers, she took the billet from its place of concealment, and cast it once more into the flames. As it consumed, the vigour of Meleagros wasted away ; and when it was reduced to ashes, his life terminated. Repenting when too late of what she had done, Althæa put an end to her life by a cord or a sword. Cleopatra died of grief ; and his sisters, who would not be comforted in their affliction, were by the compassion of the gods, all but Gorgo and Deïaneira, changed into the birds called Meleagrides1621.

There was another tradition, according to which Meleagros was slain by Apollo the protecting deity of the Curetes1622.

Two distinct classes of names may be recognised in these Ætolian legends, the one relating to agriculture, the other to war. The former are Œneus (Viny), Melas (Black-soil), Agrios (Wild or Rustic), Althæa (Grower), Meleagros (Land-loving) ; the latter Portheus or Porthaôn (Destroyer), Demonica (People-subduer), Toxeus (Archer), Thureus (Impetuous), Clymenos (Renowned), Deïaneira (Man’s-foe), and several others. The former would seem to belong to the peaceful rural Pelasgian times, the latter to owe their origin to the character of the Ætolians of a later period.

{p. 325}

Chapter IV.


The mythology of Bœotia consists of two cycles, answering to the natural division of the country. The former belongs to the southern part, and chiefly relates to Thebes and the Cadmeians ; the latter to the northern part, and Orchomenos and the Minyans. This last cycle is closely connected with that of the Argonautics. We shall commence with the cycle of Thebes.

Κάδμος. Cadmus. §

Poseidôn, says the legend, was by Libya the father of two sons, Belos and Agenôr ; the former of whom reigned in Egypt. The latter having gone to Europe married Telephassa, by whom he had three sons, Cadmos, Phœnix, and Cilix, and one daughter, Europa. Zeus becoming enamoured of Europa carried her away to Crete ; and Agenôr, grieving for the loss of his only daughter, ordered his sons to go in quest of her, and not to return till they had found her. They were accompanied by their mother and by Thasos a son of Poseidôn. Their long search was to no purpose : they could get no intelligence of their sister ; and fearing the indignation of their father, they resolved to settle in various countries. Phœnix therefore established himself in Phœnicia, Cilix in Cilicia ; Cadmos and his mother went to Thrace, where Thasos founded a town also named from himself1623.

After the death of his mother Cadmos went to Delphi, to inquire of the oracle respecting Europa. The god desired him to cease from troubling himself about her, but to follow a cow as his guide, and to build a city where she should lie down. On leaving the temple he went through Phocis, and meeting a cow belonging to the herds of Pelagôn he followed her.

{p. 326}

She went through Bœotia till she came to where Thebes now stands, and there lay down. Wishing to sacrifice her to Athena1624, Cadmos sent his companions to fetch water from the fount of Ares ; but the fount was guarded by a serpent, who killed the greater part of them. Cadmos then engaged with and destroyed the serpent : by the direction of Athena he sowed its teeth, and immediately a crop of armed men sprang up, who slew each other, either quarrelling or through ignorance : for it is said that when Cadmos saw them rising he flung stones at them ; and thinking it was done by some of themselves, they fell upon and slew each other. Five only survived ; Echiôn (Viper), Udæos (Groundly), Chthonios (Earthly), Hyperenôr (Mighty), and Pelôr (Huge). These were called the Sown (σπάρτοι) ; and they joined with Cadmos to build the city1625.

For killing the sacred serpent Cadmos was obliged to spend a year1626 in servitude to Ares. At the expiration of that period Athena herself prepared for him a palace, and Zeus gave him Harmonia the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite in marriage. All the gods, quitting Olympos, celebrated the marriage in the Cadmeia, the palace of Cadmos. The bridegroom presented his bride with a magnificent robe, and with a collar, the work of Hephæstos, given to him, it is said, by the divine artist himself. Harmonia became the mother of four daughters, Semele, Autonoe, Ino, and Agaue ; and of one son, Polydoros.

After the various misfortunes which befel their children, Cadmos and his wife quitted Thebes, now grown odious to them, and migrated to the country of the Enchelians ; who, being harassed by the incursions of the Illyrians, were told by the oracle that if they made Cadmos and Harmonia their leaders they should be successful. They obeyed the god, and his prediction was verified. Cadmos became king of the {p. 327}Illyrians, and had a son named Illyrios. Shortly afterwards he and Harmonia were changed into serpents, and sent by Zeus to the Elysian Plain, or, as others said, were conveyed thither in a chariot drawn by serpents1627.

The mythe of Cadmos is, by its relation to history, one of considerable importance. It is usually regarded as offering a convincing proof of the fact of colonies from the East having come to Greece and introduced civilisation and the arts. We will therefore here briefly examine it.

In the Ilias, though the Cadmeians are spoken of more than once1628, the slightest allusion is not made to Cadmos ; in the Odyssey1629 the sea-goddess Ino-Leucothea is said to have been a mortal, and daughter to Cadmos. Hesiod1630 says that the goddess Harmonia was married to Cadmos in Thebes. Pindar frequently speaks of Cadmos ; he places him with the Grecian heroes Peleus and Achilleus in the Island of the Blest1631 ; but it is very remarkable that this Theban poet never even hints at his Phœnician origin. It was however an article of general belief in Pindar's time1632.

There is a curious coincidence between the name Cadmos and the Semitic term for the East, Kedem,1633, and this may in reality be the sole foundation for the notion of a Phœnician colony at Thebes ; for none of the usual evidences of colonisation are to be found. We do not, for example, meet with the slightest trace of Phœnician influence in the language, manners, or institutions of Bœotia. It is further a thing most incredible, that a seafaring commercial people like the Phœnicians should have selected as the site of their very earliest foreign settlement a place situated in a rich fertile valley away from the sea, and only adapted for agriculture, without mines, or any of those objects of trade which might tempt a people {p. 328}of that character. It is also strange that the descendents of these colonists should have so entirely put off the Phœnician character as to become noted in after-ages for their dislike of trade of every kind. We may therefore, we think, now venture to dismiss this theory and seek a Grecian origin for Cadmos1634.

Homer and Hesiod call the people of Thebes Cadmeians or Cadmeionians, and the country the Cadmeian land1635 ; the citadel was at all times named the Cadmeia. Cadmos is therefore apparently (like Pelasgos, Doros, Iôn, Thessalos, and so many others,) merely a personification of the name of the people. Here then we might stop, and leave the Cadmeians to rank with the Ionians, Thessalians and others, of whose name it is difficult to assign a probable origin. It is however said that Cadmos signifies Prince or General, that Cadmeia is therefore Palace, and that the people thence derived their name1636, — a case we believe contrary to all analogy. Again, we are reminded that Cadmilos or Cadmos was a name of Hermes in the mysteries of Samothrace, which were instituted by the Tyrrhenian Pelasgians, who, at the time of the Dorian migration being driven from Bœotia, settled on the islands in the north of the Ægæan. We are further reminded that the name Cadmos occurs only at Thebes and Samothrace ; that Harmonia was an object of worship in this last place, and that the Cabeiræan deities were also worshiped at Thebes. Hence it is inferred that Cadmos-Hermes, i. e. Hermes Regulator or Disposer, a cosmogonie power, gave name to a portion of the Pelasgian race, and that in the usual manner the god was made a mortal king1637.

We must confess that this ingenious theory fails to convince us, and we are inclined to think that it was the circumstance of Cadmos (the personified Cadmeians) happening also to signify the Regulator, that gave rise to all this mystery {p. 329}in which he is enveloped. It was certainly his name that led to the idea of giving him Harmonia for his bride. The influence of names is also we think perceptible in the oracle given to the Enchelians, namely to take Cadmos and Harmonia for their leaders, that is, to adopt regular discipline, and they would be victorious in war. The name of this people (Ἐγχέλεις, eels) may have had its effect on the legend of the change of Cadmos and Harmonia into serpents.

By the Spartans (Sown) in this legend are probably meant the Eupatrids, or ancient nobility of Thebes, of which there may have been only five Houses (γένεα). As such were fond of representing themselves as Autochthons, and the serpent was the symbol of constant residence1638, and the teeth might represent military prowess, the legend of the serpent slain by Cadmos may be interpreted in a political sense, of the conquest of the country and the origin of the Theban patricians1639.

It is rather remarkable that the names of the children of Cadmos seem all to refer to the element of water. Ino is a goddess of the sea, Agaue and Autonoe occur in the list of the Nereïdes, and Polydora is the name of an Ocean-nymph1640. Semele herself may refer to the brightness (σέλας) of water, and her name be like Electra, Galateia, Galene, Glauce, Ianthe, and other names of water-nymphs.

Σεμέλη. Semele. §

Semele, the daughter of Cadmos, enjoyed the fatal honour of the love of Zeus. The jealousy of Hera suggested to the unfortunate fair-one the imprudent request which cost her her life. Her offspring was Dionysos, who became the god presiding over the vintage1641.

Αὐτονόη, Ἀρισταȋος, καὶ Ἀκταίων. Autonoe, Aristæus, et Actœon. §

Autonoe was married to Aristæos, the son of Apollo by the nymph Cyrene, the daughter of Hypseus son of the river-god {p. 330}Peneios, and king of the Lapiths of Thessaly. Cyrene was averse from all feminine occupations, and passed her days in hunting the wild beasts, and thus protecting the cattle of her father. One day as she was engaged in combat with a lion, Apollo beheld her, and filled with admiration of her beauty and her courage, he called out to Cheirôn to quit his cave and come to look at her. To the questions of the god respecting her the Centaur replied, by informing him that he was to be her spouse, and to carry her in his golden car over the sea to the rich garden of Zeus, where Libya would joyfully receive her in a golden abode ; that there she would bear a son, whom Hermes would take to the ‘well-seated Seasons and Earth,’ who would feed him with nectar and ambrosia, and render him immortal ; and that he should be called Zeus, and holy Apollo, Agreus (Hunter), and Nomios (Herdsman), and Aristæos. The god forthwith seized the nymph and in his car drawn by swans1642 conveyed her to the part of Libya afterwards named from her, and ‘silver-footed Aphrodite’ received them on their arrival, and spread the bridal couch1643.

The invention of the culture of the olive and of the art of managing bees was ascribed to Aristæos1644. Tradition also said that one time when the isle of Ceos was afflicted by a drought, caused by the excessive heat of the dog-days, the inhabitants invited Aristæos thither ; and on his erecting an altar to Zeus Icmæos (Moistener), the Etesian breezes breathed over the isle, and the evil departed. After his death he was deified by the people of Ceos1645. Virgil1646 has elegantly related the story of the love of Aristæos for Eurydice the wife of Orpheus ; his pursuit of her, and her unfortunate death ; on which the Napæan nymphs, her companions, destroyed all his bees ; and the mode adopted by him on the advice of his mother to stock once more his hives.

Actæôn was the offspring of the marriage of Aristæos with Autonoe. He was reared by Cheirôn, and becoming {p. 331}passionately devoted to the chase, passed his days chiefly in pursuit of the wild beasts that haunted Mount Cithærôn. One sultry day, as he rambled alone, he chanced to surprise Artemis and her nymphs as they were bathing. The goddess, incensed at his intrusion, flung some water upon him and turned him into a stag. She also inspired with madness the fifty dogs that were with him, and they ran down and devoured their unhappy master. They then went about whining in quest of him, till they came at last to the cave of Cheirôn, who appeased their grief by making an image of Actæôn1647. Another cause assigned for the anger of the goddess was Actæôn’s boasting that he was superior to her at the chase1648 ; while others ascribed his transformation and death to the jealousy of Zeus, who feared he would marry Semele1649.

Aristæos, it is quite evident from the names given him by Pindar, was an original deity, Zeus-Aristæos, or Aristos, or Apollo-Agreus, or Nomios. He was a rural god, presiding over cattle and game, the culture of the vine and olive, and especially the management of bees. The chief seats of his worship were Arcadia1650 (whence it was carried over to Ceos), Thessaly1651, and as this was inhabited by the Minyans, some of whom were among the colonists to Cyrene, it was taken thither ; and finally Bœotia, whence we find him united to one of the daughters of Cadmos1652. Apollo was also an object of especial veneration to the settlers at Cyrene ; and in the oldest part of the city there was a fount named Cyre, sacred to him, whence perhaps came the name of the town itself1653. It was moreover a habit of the early Greek colonies to fancy or feign that in the mythic ages their patron-gods or heroes had already taken possession of the place in which they were now settled under their auspices and protection1654. In no place were there more of these traditions than in {p. 332}Cyrene, and hence arose the mythe of Apollo's carrying the nymph Cyrene from the foot of Pelion, and having by her a son named Aristæos.

The mythe of Actæôn may be thus explained. On the summit of Pelion stood a temple of Zeus-Actæos1655, to which, when the dog-days began, a party of noble youths selected by the priest ascended clad in fresh-stript sheep-skins to protect them from the cold, and there sacrificed to the god to avert the evil influence of the dog-star1656. Now Actæôn’s father Aristæos had done just the same at Ceos, and this shows a connexion between their mythes, that in fact they were two epithets of the same god. The fifty hounds of Actæôn answer to the fifty dog-days. One account1657 said that Artemis threw a stag's-hide over him, and thus caused the error of his dogs, and this might refer to the sheep-skins ; the cave of Cheirôn was on Mount Pelion. The tale of the image may perhaps be connected with the following legend. There was an image in a rock that caused injury to the land of Orchomenos ; the oracle of Delphi, on being consulted, directed that whatever was remaining of Actæôn should be hidden in the earth, and a brazen figure of that image be made, and bound with iron to the rock, and that then the evil would cease1658.

Ἰνὼ καὶ Ἀθάμας . Ino et Athamas. §

Ino was married to Athamas, son of Æolos, and king of Orchomenos.

Athamas, it is said, had been already married to Nephele (Cloud), by whom he had two children, Phrixos and Helle. He then espoused Ino the daughter of Cadmos, who bore him two sons, Learchos and Melicertes. Ino feeling the usual jealousy of a step-mother, resolved to destroy the children of Nephele. For this purpose she persuaded the women to parch the seed-corn unknown to their husbands. They did as she desired, and the lands consequently yielded no crop. Athamas sent to Delphi to consult the oracle how the threatening {p. 333}famine might be averted. Ino persuaded the messengers to say that Apollo directed Phrixos to be sacrificed to Zeus. Compelled by his people Athamas reluctantly placed his son before the altar ; but Nephele snatched away both her son and her daughter, and gave them a gold-fleeced ram she had obtained from Hermes, which carried them through the air over sea and land. They proceeded safely till they came to the sea between Sigeion and the Chersonese, into which Helle fell, and it was named from her Hellespontos (Helle's Sea). Phrixos went on to Colchis, to Æetes the son of Helios, who received him kindly, and gave him in marriage Chalciope his daughter. He there sacrificed his ram to Zeus Phyxios, and gave the golden fleece to Æetes, who nailed it to an oak in the grove of Ares.

Athamas, through the enmity of Hera to Ino, who had suckled the infant Dionysos, was afterwards seized with madness. In his phrensy he shot his son Learchos with an arrow, or, as others say, dashed him to pieces against a rock. Ino fled with her other son ; and being closely pursued by her furious husband, sprang with her child from the cliff of Moluris near Corinth into the sea. The gods took pity on her and made her a sea-goddess under the name of Leucothea, and Melicertes a sea-god under that of Palæmôn1659.

Athamas, being obliged to leave Bœotia, inquired of the god where he should settle. He was told to establish himself in the place where he should be entertained by the wild beasts. Having wandered over many lands, he came one day to where some wolves were devouring the thighs of sheep. At the sight of him they fled, abandoning their prey. Judging this to be the fulfilment of the oracle, he settled in this place, built a town which he named from himself Athamantia ; and marrying Themisto the daughter of Hypseus, had by her four children, Leucôn, Erythroe, Schœneus, and Ptoös1660.

It is thus that we find this important mythe related by Apollodorus. There are however many variations in the tale. Thus it is said that Ino was Athamas’ first wife, and that he put her away by the direction of Hera and married Nephele, who left him after she had borne two children, on finding that he still {p. 334}kept up an intercourse with Ino. When the response of the oracle came to Athamas he sent for Phrixos out of the country, desiring him to come and to bring the finest sheep in the flock for a sacrifice. The ram then spoke with a human voice to Phrixos warning him of his danger, and offering to carry him and his sister to a place of safety. The ram, it was added, died at Colchis1661. It was also said that the flight of Phrixos was caused by his rejection of the amorous advances of his step-mother or his aunt1662, and again that in the time of dearth he offered himself as a voluntary victim.

It has been already observed that the tragic poets allowed themselves great liberties in their treatment of the ancient mythes. There is none which has suffered more at their hands than the present one, for it was a favourite subject with them. Thus Euripides in his Ino said that Athamas thinking that Ino had perished in the woods married Themisto ; but Ino, who was alive, came and lived as a maid-servant unknown in the house of Athamas. Here Themisto made her the confidant of her design to destroy Ino's children, and directed her for that purpose to dress them in black and her own in white, that she might be able to distinguish them. Ino however reversed the orders, and Themisto unwittingly killed her own children, and then seeing what she had done slew herself1663.

We will now endeavour to point out the meaning of this very obscure legend. Athamas it is plain belonged to the Minyans, who dwelt in Bœotia and about the bay of Pagasæ in Thessaly. At Alos in this last region stood a temple of Laphystian1664 Zeus, about which there was the following tradition1665. To punish the crime of Athamas the oracle directed that the eldest person of his posterity should abstain from entering the Prytaneion or senate-house, or if found there should be offered as a sacrifice. Many of those in this situation fled the country, and such as returned and were caught {p. 335}in the Prytaneion were led forth to sacrifice bound with woollen fillets. These persons were said to be the descendents of Kytissoros the son of Phrixos, who had come from Colchis and saved his grandfather Athamas, when the people were about to sacrifice him as a sin-offering by command of the oracle. By this act Kytissoros had drawn the anger of the gods on his posterity.

It is not unlikely then that this mythe of Athamas took its rise from the sin-offering (κάθαρμα), a real or symbolic human sacrifice which prevailed in various parts of Greece ; and of which this was the most sublime form, as it represented not criminals, as elsewhere, but the noblest members of society, the descendents of Zeus himself, expiating by their lives for the sin not of themselves but of the people1666. We shall find this mythe connected with the Argonautic Expedition.

Ἀγαυῆ καὶ Πενθεύς. Agave et Pentheus. §

Agaue, the remaining daughter of Cadmos, was married to Echiôn, one of the Spartans. Her son Pentheus succeeded his grandfather in the government over Thebes. During his reign, Dionysos came from the East and sought to introduce his orgies into his native city. The women all gave enthusiastically into the new religion, and Mount Cithærôn rang to the frantic yells of the Bacchantes. Pentheus sought to check the phrensy ; but, deceived by the god, he went secretly and ascended a tree on Cithærôn to be an ocular witness of the revels. While there he was descried by his mother and aunts, to whom Dionysos made him appear to be a wild beast, and he was torn to pieces by them1667.

The name of Pentheus, it is plain, is derived from the grief (πένθος) occasioned by his fate. Agaue (Illustrious) is an epithet of Persephone, who may have been made a heroine, as Thebes was a principal seat of the worship of Demeter and Kora.

Ζῆθος καὶ Ἀμϕίων. Zethus et Amphion. §

After the death of Pentheus Thebes was governed by {p. 336}Polydoros the son of Cadmos, who married Nycteïs the daughter of Nycteus. Their son was Labdacos, who on succeeding his father opposed himself like Pentheus to the religion of Dionysos, and underwent a similar fate. As his son Laïos was but a year old, the throne was occupied by Lycos the brother of Nycteus.

Both Lycos and his brother, it is said, had fled from Eubœa for killing Phlegyas the son of Ares ; and as they were related to Pentheus, he enrolled them among the citizens of Thebes. Lycos on the death of Labdacos was chosen polemarch by the Thebans ; and he seized the regal power, which he occupied for twenty years, till he was killed by Zethos and Amphiôn.

These were the sons of Zeus by Antiope the daughter of Nycteus. Terrified at the threats of her father when the consequences of her frailty became apparent, Antiope fled to Sicyôn, where she married Epopeus. Nycteus out of grief put an end to himself, having previously charged his brother Lycos to punish Epopeus and Antiope. Lycos accordingly marched an army against Sicyôn, took it, slew Epopeus, and led Antiope away captive. On the way to Thebes she brought forth twins at Eleutheræ. The unhappy babes were exposed on the mountain ; but a neatherd having found them, reared them, calling the one Zethos, the other Amphiôn. The former devoted himself to the care of cattle ; the latter passed his time in the practice of music, having been presented with a lyre and taught to play on it by Hermes.

Meantime Lycos had put Antiope in bonds, and she was treated with the utmost cruelty by him and his wife Dirce. But her chains loosed of themselves, and she fled to the dwelling of her sons in search of shelter and protection. Having recognised her, they resolved to avenge her wrongs : they attacked and slew Lycos, and tying Dirce by the hair to a bull let him drag her till she was dead : they then cast her body into the fount which was named from her. They expelled Laïos, seized on the government, and walled-in the town ; for which purpose the stones are said to have moved in obedience to the lyre of Amphiôn.

Zethos married Thebe, from whom he named the town. Amphiôn espoused Niobe the daughter of Tantalos, who bore {p. 337}him an equal number of sons and daughters. Elated with her numerous progeny she set herself above Leto, who was the mother of but two children ; the latter complained to Apollo and Artemis, and the sons of Niobe soon fell by the arrows of the former, while her daughters perished by those of his sister.


Nine days they lay in blood, and there was none

To bury them, for Kronides had made
The people stones ; but on the tenth the gods
Celestial buried them : she then of food
Thought, being tired out with shedding tears.
Now mid the rocks among the lonely hills
In Sipylos, where are they say the beds
Of the goddess-nymphs who by the Acheloös dance,
Although a stone, she yet broods o'er the woes
Sent by the gods1668.

It was said that one son and a daughter named Chloris escaped, and that Amphiôn in attempting, out of vengeance, to destroy the temple of Apollo, perished by the shafts of that deity1669.

According to another tradition1670 Zethos was married to Aëdôn the daughter of Pandareos, by whom he had only a son named Itylos, and a daughter Neïs. Aëdôn, jealous of the superior fecundity of her sister-in-law Niobe, resolved to kill her eldest son Amaleus in the night. As the two cousins slept together, she directed her own son Itylos to lie inside ; but he mistook or neglected her directions, and in the dark she killed him instead of Amaleus1671. When she discovered what she had done she prayed to the gods to take her out of the world, and she was changed into a nightingale (ύηδών). Zethos is also said to have fallen by the arrows of Apollo.

This legend is thus noticed in the Odyssey1672 :

As when Pandareos’ daughter, green Aëdôn,
Sings lovely in the opening of the spring,
Seated amidst the dense leaves of the trees,
She, frequent changing, poureth forth her voice
{p. 338}Tone-full, lamenting her son ltylos,
King Zethos’ child, whom erst with ruthless brass
She in her folly slew.

We shall find another form of it among the mythes of Attica.

In this history also there are great variations, caused chiefly, it is probable, by the tragedians. By Homer1673 Antiope is called the daughter of Asopos, and Asios made her the wife of Epopeus at the time of her conception1674. It is indeed not improbable that this poet represented these twins, like those of Leda, as being the one immortal the other mortal, corresponding to the nature of their sires. The mythe in every view of it has, we think, a physical aspect. Lycos and Nycteus are plainly Light and Night. Antiope the daughter of the latter is the Beholder (ἀντὶ ὄψ), and may remind us of the moon, which at the full sits so calmly looking down on the earth ; her husband’s name Epopeus is of similar import ; her mother is Polyxo (Polylyxo), Light-full. Amphiôn is the Circler (hence he walls-in Thebes), and Zethos is perhaps the Searcher. The Twins, the offspring of the Deity and the Moon, may then be the Sun who goes each day his round, and whose eye searches out all things1675.

The mythe of Niobe also is capable of a physical sense. This goddess1676, whose name denotes Youth or Newness1677, is the daughter of the Flourishing-one (Tantalos), and the mother of the Green-one (Chloris). In her then we may view the young, {p. 339}verdant, fruitful earth, ‘the bride of the sun1678’ (Amphiôn), beneath the influence of whose fecundating beams she pours forth vegetation with lavish profusion. The revolution of the year, denoted by Apollo and Artemis (other forms of the sun and moon), withers up and destroys her progeny ; she weeps and stiffens to stone (the torrents and frost of winter) ; Chloris the Green-one remains, and spring clothes the earth anew with verdure1679.

Some however think that in this story of the Antiopids glimpses are given of the ancient political state of Thebes. It is observed that there is no connexion between them and the Cadmic line ; that given above being plainly the work of late times to account for their appearance at Thebes. Müller1680 views in the former a race of priest-kings devoted to the service of Demeter and Hermes-Cadmos, while the two ‘white-horsed gods’1681 were gallant warriors who walled and fortified the city for the defence, it is said1682, of Cadmos the priest-king, against the warlike Phlegyans. In fine this writer would seem to view in ancient Thebes a political state of things somewhat similar to that in France under the last Merovingians, or still more resembling that of Japan at the present day. Welcker's1683 views are not very dissimilar. He sees in the story of the Twins a Diarchy, as at Sparta and at Rome in its origin, and he conceives it to have been established by one of the ancient houses, as Nycteus is called the son of Chthonios. He also discovers that the Antiopids favoured the religion of Dionysos, to which the Cadmeians were so hostile ; in Amphiôn’s love of music and union with Niobe he finds evidence of the early introduction of the Lydian melody into Thebes.

{p. 340}

Λάϊος. Laïus. §

Laïos, when driven from Thebes by the Antiopids, retired to the Peloponnese, where he was entertained by Pelops, whose son Chrysippos he instructed in the art of driving a chariot. On the death of Amphiôn he succeeded to the throne of Thebes ; and he married the daughter of Menœceus, called by Homer Epicasta, by others Iocasta. The oracle however warned him against having children, declaring that he would meet his death by means of his offspring. He long abstained from his wife : at length, having one time drunk too much wine on a solemn occasion, his love overcame his prudence, and Iocasta gave birth to a son, whom his father delivered to his herdsman to expose on Mount Cithærôn. The herdsman, moved to compassion, according to one account1684, gave the babe to a neatherd belonging to Polybos king of Corinth ; or, as others say, the neatherds of Polybos found the infant after it had been exposed, and brought it to Peribœa the wife of Polybos, who being childless reared it as her own, and named it Œdipûs on account of its swollen feet1685 ; for Laïos, previous to its exposure, had pierced its heels. Many years afterwards Laïos, being on his way to Delphi accompanied only by his herald Polyphontes, met in a narrow road in Phocis a young man also driving in a chariot. On his refusal to leave the way at their command, the herald killed one of his horses ; and the stranger, filled with rage, slew both Laïos and his herald, and then pursued his journey. The body of Laïos was found and honourably buried by Damasistratos king of Platæa ; and Creôn the son of Menœceus occupied the throne of Thebes1686.

Οἰδιπόδης ἢ Οἰδίπους καὶ Ἰοκάστη. Œdipus et Iocasta. §

The foundling Œdipûs was brought up by Polybos as his heir. Happening to be reproached by some one at a banquet with being a supposititious child, he besought Peribœa to inform him of the truth ; but unable to get any satisfaction from her, he went to Delphi and consulted the oracle. The {p. 341}god directed him to shun his native country, or he should be the slayer of his father and the sharer of his mother's bed. He therefore resolved never to return to Corinth, where so much crime as he thought awaited him, and he took his road through Phocis. He it was who encountered Laïos, and unwittingly accomplished the former part of the oracle.

Immediately after the death of Laïos, Hera, always hostile to the city of Dionysos, sent to afflict Thebes a monster named the Sphinx1687, sprung from Typhôn and Echidna. She had the face of a woman ; the breast, feet, and tail of a lion ; and the wings of a bird. She had been taught riddles by the Muses, and she sat on the Phicean Hill and propounded one to the Thebans. It was this : “What is that which has one voice, is four-footed, two-footed, and at last three-footed ?” The oracle told the Thebans that they would not be delivered from her until they had solved her riddle. They often met to try their skill ; and when they failed, the Sphinx carried off and devoured one of their number. At length his son Hæmôn having become her victim, Creôn offered by public proclamation the throne and the hand of his sister Iocasta to whoever should solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Œdipûs, who was then at Thebes, hearing this, came forward and answered the Sphinx, that it was a Man ; who when an infant creeps on all fours, when a man goes on two feet, and when old uses a staff, a third foot. The Sphinx flung herself down to the earth and perished ; and Œdipûs now unknowingly accomplished the remainder of the oracle. He had by his mother two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene.

After some years Thebes was afflicted with famine and pestilence ; and the oracle being consulted, desired the land to be purified of the blood which defiled it. Inquiry was set on {p. 342}foot after the murderer of Laïos, and a variety of concurring circumstances brought the guilt home to Œdipûs. Iocasta, on the discovery being made, ended her days by a cord, and her unhappy son and husband in his grief and despair put out his eyes. He was banished from Thebes ; and accompanied by his daughters, who faithfully adhered to him, after a tedious period of miserable wandering he arrived at the grove of the Erinnyes, at Colonos, a village not far from Athens, and there found the termination of his wretched life1688.

Such is the form in which the story of Œdipûs has been transmitted to us by the Attic dramatists. We will now consider its more ancient forms.

The hero of the Odyssey says, “I saw (in Erebos) the mother of Œdipodes, the fair Epicaste, who in her ignorance did an awful deed, marrying her own son ; and he married having slain his own father, and immediately the gods made this known to men. But he ruled over the Cadmeians in desirable Thebes, suffering woes through the pernicious counsels of the gods ; but she oppressed with grief went to the abode of Aïdes, the strong gate-keeper, having fastened a long halter to the lofty roof, and left to him many woes, such as the Erinnyes of a mother produce.” In the Ilias1689 the funeral games are mentioned which were celebrated at Thebes in honour of the ‘fallen Œdipodes’. Hesiod1690 speaks of the heroes who fell fighting at the seven-gated Thebes on account of the sheep of Œdipodes. It would also seem that, according to the above passage of the Odyssey, and to the epic poem the Œdipodeia1691, Epicasta had not any children by her son, Eurygeneia the daughter of Hyperphas being the mother of his wellknown children. According to the cyclic Thebaïs1692, the fatal {p. 343}curse of Œdipûs on his sons had the following origin. Polyneices placed before his father a silver table which had belonged to Cadmos, and filled a golden cup with wine for him ; but when he perceived the heir-looms of his family thus set before him, he raised his hands and prayed that his sons might never divide their inheritance peaceably, but ever be at strife. Elsewhere the Thebaïs1693 said that his sons having sent him the loin instead of the shoulder of the victim, he flung it to the ground, and prayed that they might fall by each other's hands. The motives assigned by the tragedians are certainly of a more dignified nature than these, which seem trifling and insignificant. This story affords convincing proof of the great liberties which the Attic tragedians allowed themselves to take with the ancient mythes. It was purely to gratify Athenian vanity that Sophocles, contrary to the current tradition, made Œdipûs die at Colonos ; his blindness seems also a tragic fiction. Euripides makes Iocasta survive her sons, and terminate her life by the sword1694.

Τϵιρϵσίας. Tiresias. §

In all the unhappy history of the Labdacids at Thebes this celebrated soothsayer occupies a distinguished place ; and his fame was apparently widely extended in the most remote times. Circe tells the hero of the Odyssey, when anxious to return to Ithaca, that he must previously ‘seek the dwelling of Aides and awful Persephoneia, to consult the soul of the Theban Teiresias, the blind prophet, whose mental powers are perfect ; to whom, though dead, Persephoneia has granted reason, that he alone should have sense while others flit about mere shades1695.’ When Odysseus afterwards goes to the abode of Aides, Teiresias approaches him bearing his golden staff ; and he alone of the dead recognises the mortal hero before he has tasted the blood ; of which, however, he drinks previous to revealing to him the future1696.

Teiresias is said to have been the son of Eueres and the {p. 344}nymph Chariclo, of the race of Udæos, one of the Spartans (Sown). Various accounts are given as to the cause of his blindness : one ascribes it to his having seen Athena bathing1697 ; another, to his having divulged to mankind the secrets of the gods1698. The Melampodia related1699, that Teiresias, happening to see two serpents copulating on Mount Cithærôn, killed the female, and was suddenly changed into a woman. In this state he continued seven years ; at the end of which period, observing two serpents similarly engaged, he killed the male, and thus returned to his pristine state. On some occasion Zeus and Hera fell into a dispute, whether the greater portion of the pleasures of love fall to man or woman. Unable to settle it to their satisfaction, they agreed to refer the matter to Teiresias, who had known either state. His answer was that of ten parts but one falls to man1700. Hera incensed deprived the guiltless arbitrator of the power of vision. Zeus, as one god cannot undo the acts of another, gave him in compensation an extent of life for seven generations, and the power of foreseeing coming events.

Teiresias lived at Thebes, where he was contemporary with all the events of the times of Laïos and Œdipûs, and the two Theban wars. At the conclusion of the last he recommended the Thebans to abandon their city, and he was the companion of their flight. It was still night when they arrived at the fountain of Tilphussa. Teiresias, whose period of life was fated to be coextensive with that of the city of the Cadmeians, drank of its waters, and immediately died. The victorious Argives sent his daughter Manto along with a portion of the spoil to Delphi, according to the vow which they had made. In obedience to the command of the oracle, Manto afterwards went thence, and marrying Rhakios of Mycenæ or Crete, founded the town and oracle of Claros. She bore to Rhakios, {p. 345}(or, as others said, to Apollo) a son named Mopsos, a celebrated prophet1701.

The name Teiresias1702 is apparently derived from τέρας, prodigy, and that of his daughter from μάντις.

Ϻινύαι кαὶ Φλεγύαι. Minyæ et Phlegyæ. §

No names are more completely buried in the depths of mythology than those of the Minyans and Phlegyans. Even to Homer but a slight breath of their fame seems to have come1703.

Pausanias1704 relates, that the country about Orchomenos in Bœotia was first possessed by Andreus, the son of the river Peneios, who named it from himself Andreïs. He was succeeded by his son Eteocles, who is said to have been the first who sacrificed to the Graces. Eteocles gave a portion of his territory to Halmos the son of Sisyphos of Corinth, to whose posterity, on Eteocles’ dying childless, the kingdom came : for Halmos had two daughters, Chrysogeneia and Chryse ; the former of whom was by Ares mother of Phlegyas ; the latter bore to Poseidôn a son named Minyas1705. Phlegyas {p. 346}obtained the dominion after Eteocles, and named the country Phlegyantis. He also built a city called Phlegya, into which he collected the bravest warriors of Greece. These separated themselves from the other people of the country, and took to robbing and plundering. They even ventured to assail and burn the temple of Delphi ; and Zeus, on account of their impiety, finally destroyed them with lightning and pestilence. A few only escaped to Phocis.

Minyas reigned next, and was wealthier than any of his predecessors. He built the first treasury, similar to that of Atreus at Mycenæ. Pausanias saw the ruins of it, and describes it as being of great size and strength. The son of Minyas was Orchomenos, who gave name to the town ; and with him the race of Halmos ended, and the territory fell to the descendents of Athamas and Phrixos. Clymenos, one of these, having been slain in a quarrel with the Thebans at the feast of Poseidôn at Onchestos, his son Erginos made war on them, and reduced them to an annual tribute, which they paid till relieved from it by Heracles. Erginos was father of the celebrated architects Agamedes and Trophonios. Two of this family, Ascalaphos and Ialmenos, were at the siege of Troy, and with them ends the mythic history of Orchomenos.

The Argonauts were called Minyans, according to the mythologists, because the greater part of them were descended from Minyas on the female side1706 ; and the daughters of Minyas are celebrated in the mythe of Dionysos, on account of their contempt for his rites, and their consequent punishment1707.

The subject of the Minyans has been treated at great length by Müller1708 and Buttmann1709. The result of their inquiries is as follows.

The Minyans was the mythic name of one of the early races of Greece, probably a portion of the Æolian. They inhabited the northern part of Bœotia and the southern of Thessaly, and practised and acquired considerable wealth by commerce and navigation ; this is denoted by the names derived from gold {p. 347}which occur in their genealogy, by Poseidôn’s forming a part of it, and by the tradition of the great wealth of Orchomenos. Their port was Iolcos, and their dock-yard Pagasæ. The Argonautic expedition was one undertaken by them ; and the assemblage of the heroes from all parts of Greece was the addition of later times, which also assigned the wrong origin of the name Minyans given to the heroes, which we have just mentioned. It is a remarkable fact, that Orchomenos was one of the seven cities which had a share in the Amphictyonic assembly on the Argolic island Calauria. The remaining six were states in the neighbourhood ; and nothing but superior wealth and naval power could have induced them to admit the distant Orchomenos into their association. Everything conspires, they think, to prove, that the whole of the Ægæan coast of Greece, especially that possessed by the Minyans, carried on an active commerce by sea at a period long anterior to history.

The Phlegyans, whose name corresponds with their fate, are by Buttmann regarded as belonging to the universal tradition of an impious people being destroyed by fire from heaven, — the well-known history of the origin of the Dead Sea, which, as the legend of Baucis and Philemôn might seem to show, early made its way into Greece. Müller regards the Phlegyans as being the same with the Lapiths and the military class of the Minyans. It was probably their name which gave occasion to the legend of their destruction1710.

Τροϕώνιος кαὶ ̓ Αγαμήδης. Trophonius et Agamedes. §

When Erginos, king of Orchomenos, had been overcome by Heracles, his affairs fell into such a reduced state, that in order to retrieve them he abstained from matrimony. As he grew rich and old, he wished to have children ; and going to Delphi, he consulted the god, who gave him in oracular phrase the prudent advice to marry a young wife1711.

Erginos accordingly following the counsel of the Pythia, {p. 348}married, and had two sons, Trophonios and Agamedes ; though some said Apollo was the father of the former. They became distinguished architects, and built the temple of Apollo at Delphi1712, and a treasury for king Hyrieus. In the wall of this last they placed a stone in such a manner that it could be taken out, and by this means from time to time purloined the treasure. This amazed Hyrieus ; for his locks and seals were untouched, and yet his wealth continually diminished. At length he set a trap for the thief, and Agamedes was caught. Trophonios, unable to extricate him, and fearing that when found he would be compelled by torture to discover his accomplice, cut off his head1713. Trophonios himself is said to have been shortly afterwards swallowed up by the earth1714.

According to Pindar1715, when they had finished the temple of Delphi they asked a reward of the god. He promised to give it on the seventh day, desiring them meanwhile to live cheerful and happy. On the seventh night they died in their sleep.

There was a celebrated oracle of Trophonios at Lebadeia in Bœotia. During a great drought the Bœotians were, it was said, directed by the god at Delphi to seek aid of Trophonios in Lebadeia. They came thither, but could find no oracle : one of them however happening to see a swarm of bees, they followed them to a chasm in the earth, which proved to be the place sought1716.

{p. 349}

Trophonios was named1717 Zeus-Trophonios, that is, the Nourishing or Sustaining Zeus (from τρέϕω). He is probably a deity from the Pelasgian times, a giver of food from the bosom of the earth, and hence worshiped in a cavern. Agamedes (the Thoughtful or Provident) is perhaps only another title of the same being ; and as corn was preserved in underground treasuries or granaries, the brothers may in one sense have been the builders, in another the plunderers of these receptacles1718.

Ὢτος καὶ Ἐϕιάλτης. Otus et Ephialtes. §

Otos and Ephialtes the sons of Alœus, says the Ilias1719, kept Ares confined for thirteen months in a brazen prison (κεράμῳ), and he had perished there if their stepmother Eribœa had not informed Hermes, who stole him out of it. Odysseus sees in Erebos Iphimedeia the wife of Alœus, who said she had ‘mingled’ with Poseidôn, and she bore two sons Otos and Ephialtes, the tallest whom earth reared, and the handsomest next to Oriôn. At nine years of age they were nine ells in height and nine cubits in breadth. They menaced the Immortals, and prepared to pile Ossa on Olympos and Pelion on Ossa, in order to scale heaven, but Apollo killed them before the down had grown on their cheeks1720.

Thus far Homer. Pindar1721 says that they died in Naxos ; by their own hands, according to a later tradition1722. It was also a tradition that they dwelt at Ascra (of which they were the founders) at the foot of Helicôn, which mountain they consecrated to the Muses1723. Their tombs were shown at Anthedôn1724.

We know no mythe more difficult than this of the Aloeids. The names of their father and stepmother1725 relate to {p. 350}agriculture, and the confining of the war-god and the worship of the Muses would seem to give them a rural character ; while their descent from Poseidôn and Iphimedeia, and the attempt to scale heaven, indicate turbulence and impiety. We are disposed however to regard the former as the more ancient form of the mythe, and the original conception of them may have been similar to that of the Molionids. It was possibly their names that led to the fiction of their piling mountains1726, and Poseidôn was the appropriate sire of youths of a fierce and turbulent character.

Ἡραкλης. Hercules1727 . §

Electryôn, the son of Perseus king of Mycenæ, had given his daughter Alcmena in marriage to his nephew Amphitryôn. Having had the misfortune to kill his father-in-law, Amphitryôn was forced to fly from Mycenæ. Alcmena and her brother Licymnios accompanied his flight, and he was kindly received at Thebes by Creôn, who purified him from the guilt of bloodshed.

While Amphitryôn was absent on an expedition against the Teleboans, Zeus, who had become enamoured of Alcmena, assumed the form of her husband, and was admitted by her without suspicion to all his privileges. He related to her all the events of the war, and by his power extended the night to three times its usual duration. Amphitryôn on his return was surprised at the indifference with which he was received by his wife ; but on coming to an explanation with her, and consulting Teiresias, he learned that it was no less a personage than Zeus himself who had assumed his form1728.

Alcmena brought forth twins, Heracles the son of Zeus, the elder by one night, and Iphicles, the progeny of her mortal lord. The children were but eight months old, when Hera sent two huge serpents into the chamber to destroy them. Alcmena in terror called to her husband to save them, but {p. 351}Heracles raised himself up on his feet, caught the two mon- sters by the throat and strangled them1729.

When come to a proper age Heracles was instructed in the management of a chariot by Amphitryôn himself ; he was taught wrestling by Autolycos, archery by Eurytos, the use of arms by Castôr, to play on the lyre by Linos the brother of Orpheus, whose services were however but ill rewarded by the young hero, as he killed him with a blow of the lyre for having struck him. He was called to account for this deed, and justified himself by citing a law of Rhadamanthys, which said that “whœver defends himself against any one who makes an unjust assault on him is guiltless,” and he was acquitted1730.

Amphitryôn however, to prevent the recurrence of such an event, sent him away to where his herds were feeding, and there he grew up to great strength and size. His look was terrible, for he was the son of Zeus ; his stature was four cubits ; fire flashed from his eyes : his arrow and his dart never missed. In his eighteenth year, while he was still with his father's herds, he slew a huge lion which lay in Mount Cithærôn, whence he used to attack the herds of Amphitryôn and of Thestios king of the Thespians. Heracles when going to engage the lion was hospitably entertained by Thestios for fifty days. Each night one of the fifty daughters of his host ascended the couch of the hero, for Thestios was desirous to propagate the race of the son of Zeus. But Heracles, unaware of this design, fancied that but one of the maidens had enjoyed his embraces1731. Revolving time, however, beheld fifty of his progeny. He slew the lion, whose hide he ever after wore on his shoulders, and made the skin of his head serve him as a helmet1732.

As he was returning from this hunt, he met the heralds sent by Erginos to receive tribute from the Thebans. The {p. 352}cause of the payment of this tribute was as follows : the charioteer of Menœcios had wounded Clymenos, king of the Minyans, with a stone in Onchestos the sacred field of Poseidôn. Clymenos, being brought in a dying state to Orchomenos, charged his son Erginos to avenge his death. Erginos in consequence led an army against the Thebans, and having slain a number of them concluded peace on condition of their paying him for twenty years an annual tribute of a hundred oxen. It was for this tribute that the heralds were going to Thebes when they were met by Heracles, who cutting off their ears and noses, and tying their hands to their necks with cords, bade them take that tribute to Erginos and the Minyans. Incensed at this insult offered to his heralds, Erginos made war anew on Thebes ; but Heracles, having been furnished with arms by Athena, and being appointed by the Thebans their general, slew Erginos and routed the Minyans, on whom he imposed a tribute the double of what the Thebans used to pay. In this battle Amphitryôn fell valiantly fighting. Creôn gave his daughter Megara in marriage to Heracles, and her younger sister to Iphicles1733. Alcmena the mother of the hero also married Rhadamanthys the son of Zeus, who was then living in Ocaleia of Bœotia1734. Heracles was presented with a sword by Hermes, a bow by Apollo, a golden breastplate by Hephæstos, horses by Poseidôn, a robe by Athena. He himself cut his club in the Nemean wood1735.

Some time after his war with the Minyans he fell into madness, owing to the envy of Hera, and flung his own three children by Megara, and the two of his brother Iphicles, into the fire. As a punishment for this deed he went into voluntary exile, and was purified by Thestios. He then went to Delphi, and inquired of the god where he should settle. The {p. 353}Pythia then first named him Heracles1736, for hitherto he had been called Alceides from his grandfather, and she desired him to settle at Tiryns, and serve Eurystheus twelve years, and perform twelve tasks to be imposed by him. She added that when these tasks were all accomplished, he would be made immortal. The hero obeyed, went to Tiryns, and there served Eurystheus.

The cause of Eurystheus’ obtaining this power was as follows : The day on which Alcmena was to be delivered in Thebes, Zeus, in exultation, announced to the gods that a man of his race was that day to see the light, who would rule over all his neighbours. Hera, pretending incredulity, exacted from him an oath that what he had said should be accomplished. Zeus, unsuspicious of guile, swore, and Hera hastened down to Argos, where the wife of Sthenelos the son of Perseus was seven months gone of a son. The goddess brought on a premature labour, and Eurystheus came to light that day, while she checked the parturition of Alcmena, and kept back the Eileithyiæ. The oath of Zeus was not to be recalled, and his son was fated to serve Eurystheus1737.

The first task imposed by Eurystheus was to bring him the skin of the Nemean lion. This animal was the progeny of Typhôn1738 and Echidna, and invulnerable. On his way to engage him Heracles arrived at Cleonæ, where he was hospitably entertained by a labouring man named Molorchos. His host being desirous to offer a sacrifice, Heracles begged of him to reserve it till the thirtieth day, saying that if he should then return victorious he might offer it to Zeus the Saviour ; but if he fell in the conflict, to make it a funeral offering to himself as a hero. When he came to the Nemean wood and had discovered the lion, he began to ply him with his arrows, but finding soon that he was invulnerable, he grasped his club and pursued him to his den, which was pervious. He then built up one of the entrances, and going in at the other, and grasping the lion’s throat in his hands, held him till he {p. 354}was suffocated1739. Then taking him on his shoulders, he proceeded toward Mycenæ, and coming on the last day of the appointed period to Molorchos’ abode, he found him just on the point of offering the victim for him as being dead. Having offered the sacrifice to Zeus the Saviour, he brought the lion to Mycenæ. But when Eurystheus saw this proof of the wonderful strength of Heracles, he prohibited his entrance in future into the city, and ordered him to announce the performance of his tasks before the gates. Some even say that the terror of Eurystheus was so great, that he had a brazen jar made, in which he used to hide himself underground, and employ the herald Copreus, the son of Pelops, to set him his tasks1740. This Copreus, having slain Iphitos, had fled to Mycenæ, and abode there with Eurystheus who had purified him.

The second task was to destroy the Lernæan hydra or water-snake, another progeny of Typhôn and Echidna1741, which abode in the marsh of Lerna, whence she used to come out on the land, and kill the cattle and ravage the country. This hydra had a huge body with nine heads, eight of them mortal, and one in the middle immortal. Heracles mounted his chariot, which was driven by Iolaos, the son of Iphicles ; and on coming to Lerna, he stopped the horses and went in quest of the hydra, which he found on a rising ground near the springs of Amymone, where her hole was. He shot at her with fiery darts till he made her come out ; and he then grasped and held her, while she twined herself about his legs. The hero crushed her heads with his club, but to no purpose, for when one was crushed two sprang up in its stead. A huge crab also aided the hydra, and bit the feet of Heracles. He killed the crab, and then he called upon Iolaos to come to his assistance. Iolaos immediately set fire to the neighbouring wood, and with the flaming brands searing the necks of the hydra as the heads were cut off, effectually checked their growth1742. Having thus got rid of the mortal heads, Heracles cut off the {p. 355}immortal one and buried it ; setting a heavy stone on the top of it, in the road leading from Lerna to Eleos. He cut the body of the hydra up into pieces, and dipped his arrows in her gall. Eurystheus however denied that this was to be reckoned among the twelve tasks, since he had not destroyed the hydra alone, but with the assistance of Iolaos.

The third task was to fetch the horned hind alive to Mycenæ. This hind haunted Œnœ, had golden horns, and was sacred to Artemis. Heracles, not wishing to kill or wound her, pursued her for an entire year1743. When the animal was tired with the chase, she took refuge in Mount Artemision, then fled to the river Ladôn, and, as she was about to cross that stream, Heracles struck her with an arrow, caught her, put her on his shoulder, and was going with his burden through Arcadia, when he met Artemis and her brother Apollo. The goddess took the hind from him, and reproached him for violating her sacred animal. But the hero excusing himself on the plea of necessity, and laying the blame on Eurystheus, Artemis was mollified, and allowed him to take the hind alive to Mycenæ.

The fourth task imposed by Eurystheus was to bring him the Erymanthian boar also alive. This animal frequented Mount Erymanthos, and thence laid waste the region of Psophis. Heracles took his road through Pholoe, where he was hospitably entertained by Pholos the Centaur, the son of Silenos and the nymph Melia. The Centaur set before his guest roast meat, though he himself fared on it raw. Heracles asking for wine, his host said he feared to open the jar, which was the common property of the Centaurs ; but when pressed by the hero he consented to unclose it for him. The fragrance of the wine spread over the mountain1744, and soon brought all the Centaurs armed with stones and pine-sticks to the cave of Pholos. The first who ventured to enter were driven back by Heracles with burning brands : he hunted the remainder with his arrows to Malea. They fled there to Cheirôn, who having been expelled from Pelion by the Lapiths was {p. 356}dwelling at that place. As Heracles was here shooting at the Centaurs, one of his arrows went through the arm of Elatos and stuck in the knee of Cheirôn. Grieved at this unhappy event, Heracles ran up, drew out the arrow, and applied to the wound a remedy given by Cheirôn himself ; but in vain, the venom of the hydra was not to be overcome. Cheirôn retired into his cave, longing to die, but unable on account of his immortality, till, on his expressing his willingness to die for Prometheus, he was released by death from his misery. The other Centaurs fled to different places ; some remained at Malea ; Eurytiôn went to Pholoe, Nessos to the river Euenos ; Poseidôn took the rest and sheltered them in Mount Eleusis. When Heracles returned to Pholœ, he found Pholos lying dead along with several others ; for, having drawn the arrow out of the body of one of them, while he was wondering how so small a thing could destroy such large beings, it dropped out of his hand and stuck in his foot, and he died immediately1745. Heracles buried him, and then set out to hunt the boar, and driving him from his lair with loud cries, chased him into a snow-drift, where he caught and bound him, and then took him to Mycenæ.

To clear out in one day all the dung in the stables of Augeas king of Elis, the son of Poseidôn (or according to others of the Sun), was the fifth task imposed by the relentless Eurystheus1746. When Heracles came to Augeas, he said nothing to him of the commands of Eurystheus, but offered for a tenth of his herds to clean out his stables in one day. Augeas agreed, not thinking the thing possible ; and Heracles took Phyleus, the son of Augeas, to witness the agreement. He then broke down a part of the wall of the court, and turning in the rivers Peneios and Alpheios by a canal, let them run out at the other side. Augeas, on learning that this was one of the tasks imposed by Eurystheus, not only refused to stand to his agreement, but denied that he had promised anything, and offered to lay the matter before judges. When the cause was tried, Phyleus honestly gave testimony against his father ; {p. 357}and Augeas in a rage, even before the votes had been given, ordered both his son and Heracles to depart out of Elis. The former retired to Dulichion : the latter went to Dexamenos at Olenos, whom he found on the point of being compelled to give his daughter in marriage to the Centaur Eurytiôn. Dexamenos imploring his aid, he killed the Centaur as he was coming for his bride. Eurystheus however refused to count this also among the twelve tasks, saying that he had done it for hire.

The sixth task was to drive away the Stymphalid birds. These were water-fowl, which, afraid of the wolves, fled to lake Stymphalis, which lay embosomed in wood near the Arcadian town Stymphalos. While Heracles was deliberating how he should scare them, Athena brought him from Hephæstos brazen clappers. He stood under a neighbouring hill, and rattled them