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Title: Stories of Old Greece and Rome
Author: Baker, Emilie Kip
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories of Old Greece and Rome" ***

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[Illustration: Reading from Homer]




  New York

  _All rights reserved_

  COPYRIGHT, 1913,


  Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1913.

  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



  CHAPTER                                                PAGE
       I.  IN THE BEGINNING                                 1

      II.  THE STORY OF PANDORA                             7

     III.  THE DELUGE                                      16

      IV.  MINERVA                                         22

       V.  APOLLO AND KING ADMETUS                         30

      VI.  APOLLO THE MUSICIAN                             36

     VII.  THE LOVE OF APOLLO                              44

    VIII.  DIANA                                           53

      IX.  THE STORY OF ENDYMION                           60

       X.  MERCURY                                         64

      XI.  VENUS                                           73

     XII.  THE STORY OF CUPID AND PSYCHE                   81

           1. Echo and Narcissus                           93
           2. Pyramus and Thisbe                           97
           3. Hero and Leander                            100
           4. Pygmalion and Galatea                       104


      XV.  MARS AND VULCAN                                115

     XVI.  THE STORY OF PROSERPINA                        127

    XVII.  PLUTO AND THE UNDERWORLD                       137

   XVIII.  NEPTUNE AND THE SEA-GODS                       152

     XIX.  BACCHUS                                        167

      XX.  PAN AND THE NYMPHS                             183

     XXI.  THE VESTALS                                    193

           1. Æolus                                       200
           2. Janus                                       204
           3. Iris and Aurora                             206
           4. Vertumnus and Pomona                        209

   XXIII.  HERCULES. Part I                               212

    XXIV.  HERCULES. Part II                              223

     XXV.  PERSEUS                                        235

    XXVI.  BELLEROPHON                                    251

   XXVII.  THE STORY OF JASON. Part I                     262

  XXVIII.  THE STORY OF JASON. Part II                    270

    XXIX.  THE CALYDONIAN HUNT                            278

     XXX.  THESEUS. Part I                                287

    XXXI.  THESEUS. Part II                               295

   XXXII.  ŒDIPUS                                         306

  XXXIII.  THE APPLE OF DISCORD                           317


  Reading from Homer                           _Frontispiece_

                                                  FACING PAGE
  Jupiter                                                   6
  Apollo Belvedere                                         30
  Apollo and Daphne                                        46
  Niobe                                                    53
  Diana of Versailles                                      56
  Flying Mercury                                           64
  Juno                                                     73
  Venus de Milo                                            78
  Psyche                                                   85
  Charon and Psyche                                        91
  Cupid and Psyche                                         92
  Hero and Leander                                        104
  Orpheus and Eurydice                                    112
  The Abduction of Proserpina                             127
  The Three Fates                                         142
  Fountain of Neptune                                     152
  Faun                                                    172
  Vestals                                                 193
  Tuccia                                                  196
  Aurora                                                  206
  The Infant Hercules                                     212
  Hercules and the Centaur                                223
  Hercules serving Omphale                                230
  Fortuna                                                 232
  Perseus                                                 242
  Medea                                                   276
  Cybele                                                  286
  Theseus                                                 302
  Œdipus and Antigone                                     312
  Antigone and Ismene                                     315
  Paris                                                   320


  SATURN            (CRONOS).
  RHEA              (CYBELE, OPS).
  JUPITER           (JOVE, ZEUS).
  JUNO              (HERA, HERE).
  CUPID             (EROS).
  HEBE              (JUVENTAS).
  MARS              (ARES).
  VULCAN            (HEPHÆSTUS).
  NEPTUNE           (POSEIDON).
  CERES             (DEMETER).
  VESTA             (HESTIA).
  SOMNUS            (HUPNOS).
  MORS              (THANATOS).
  AURORA            (EOS).
  PAN               (CONSENTES).


Chapter I

In the Beginning

In the days of long, long ago when men built altars, and burned
sacrifices, and worshiped their gods in temples of pure white marble,
Jupiter, the greatest of the gods, sat upon his throne on high Olympus
and looked down upon the doings of men. The topmost peak of Mount
Olympus was covered with clouds,--so high it was above all the hills of
Greece,--and its slopes were thickly wooded. Just how high the mountain
really was could only be guessed, for no man had dared to climb even
as high as the first cloud line; though the story goes that once upon
a time a wandering shepherd, looking for a strayed lamb, had ventured
far up the mountain side and had soon lost his way. He groped about
blindly, as the mists began to thicken all around him, and the sound
of his own footsteps terrified him in the dreadful silence that seemed
to be suddenly creeping over him. Then a mighty tempest broke over
his head, and the mountain shook to its very base. From the hand of
wrathful Jupiter fierce thunderbolts were hurled, while the lightning
flashed and gleamed through the darkness of the forest, searching out
the guilty mortal who had dared to climb too high.

No human eye had ever seen the glories of Olympus, no human foot had
ever stepped within its sacred halls, where the ceiling was of gold and
the pavement of pearl and the thrones of the gods shone with a thousand
glittering jewels. Here

                      "the gods have made,
      So saith tradition, their eternal seat;
      The tempest shakes it not, nor is it drenched
      By showers, and there the snow does never fall.
      And in the golden light that lies on all
      Day after day the blessed gods rejoice."

                  --_Odyssey_, Book VI, line 53.

Of the life that was lived among the dwellers on Olympus, not even the
poets could claim to know; but sometimes a tired soldier dozing by his
camp fire dreamed dreams of this wonderful country where the immortal
gods walked by night and day; and sometimes a lonely fisherman, looking
across the blue waters of the Mediterranean to the crimsoning sunset,
saw visions of youth and beauty and life that lasted for ever and ever
and ever.

It was long before the memory of man that the gods first came to live
on Mount Olympus, and it was still longer ago that all the great
powers of the universe fought with each other for the right to rule
the world. In this mighty war, which rent the very heavens with the
crash of battle, Jupiter at last conquered all his jealous enemies,
and made himself ruler of the gods and of the world.[1] On that day
he established his dwelling place on Mount Olympus, and set the earth
below him for a footstool. From his throne in the high heavens he
looked down upon the kingdoms that he had portioned out to each of his
brothers; and he saw Neptune, the god of the sea, driving through the
waves his chariot drawn by huge, misshapen sea-beasts that beat up
the thick white foam until it glistened on the sea-king's beard and
on his crown of shells and seaweed. The other kingdom was so far away
that even the all-seeing eyes of Jupiter were strained to catch any
glimpse of the shapes that moved noiselessly there, for this was the
realm of Pluto, god of the underworld, that dread country of darkness
and unending gloom, where no ray of sunlight ever came, and where the
sad spirits of the dead wept for the lost world of love and light and

Sometimes the great billows of clouds that rolled at the foot of the
red-gold throne shut out for a moment all sight of the earth at his
feet; but however thickly the mists gathered, Jupiter could always see
old Atlas standing on the shore of Africa with the heavens resting on
his bent shoulders. This giant had stood so long that forests of huge
trees had sprung up around his feet, and they had grown so tall during
the ages and ages that had passed, that their topmost branches reached
to the giant's waist and almost hid him from the sight of men. No
one offered to relieve him of his burden, not even his two brothers,
Prometheus and Epimetheus, to whom had been given the less difficult
task of creating man and placing him in the rich gardens of the earth.
There was every kind of plant and animal life in the gardens, and all
things were very beautiful in this morning of the world--so beautiful
that the gods, who must forever dwell in Olympus, felt sad that no eyes
like their own could look upon the green meadows and flower-covered
hillsides. So they bade Prometheus and Epimetheus fashion a being
which should be like and yet unlike themselves. There was nothing
but clay out of which to make this new creature called man, but the
brothers spent much time over their task, and, when it was finished,
Jupiter saw that the work was good, for they had given to man all the
qualities that the gods themselves possessed--youth, beauty, health,
strength,--everything but immortality.

Then Prometheus grew ambitious to add even more to the list of man's
blessings; and one day, as he sat brooding by the seashore, he
remembered that there was as yet no fire on the earth; for the only
flame that burned in all the world was glowing in the sacred halls of
Jupiter. For a long time he sat on the seashore, and before night fell
he had formed the daring plan of stealing some of the divine fire that
burned for always and always on Mount Olympus, and carrying it to the
earth that men might revel in its warmth and light.

It was a bold thing to dream of doing, but Prometheus forgot the fear
of Jupiter's wrath, so determined was he to carry out his plan; and one
night, when the gods were in council, seated around the great red-gold
throne, he crept softly into the hall, unseen and unheard. The sacred
fire was burning brightly on a hearth of polished silver. Some of it
Prometheus secreted in a hollow reed and hurried with it back to the
earth. Then he waited, with terror at his heart, for he knew that
sooner or later the vengeance of Jupiter would search him out, even
though he fled to the uttermost parts of the earth.

When the council of the gods was over, Jupiter looked down through the
clouds and saw a strange light on the earth. For a while he did not
realize that it was man, building himself a fire; but when he learned
the truth, his wrath became so terrible that even the gods trembled and
turned away in fear. In a moment Prometheus was seized and carried off
to the Caucasus Mountains, where he was securely chained to a rock,
and a hungry vulture was sent to tear out his liver and devour it. At
night the vulture, having gorged itself, slept on the rocks above its
victim's head; and at night the liver of the wretched Prometheus grew
again, only to be torn out and eaten by the vulture as soon as the sun
rose. This terrible punishment kept on for years and years; for though
Jupiter heard the cries of Prometheus, and many tales were told of his
sufferings, the ruler of the gods never forgave the theft of the sacred
fire, nor would he set Prometheus free. But the story tells us that at
last there came an end to this cruel vengeance, for Hercules, son of
Jupiter, went wandering one day among the mountains, found the tortured
Prometheus, and broke his chains, after killing the vulture that had
been enjoying this hateful feast.

Though the gods were rejoiced at his freedom, the name of Prometheus
was never spoken on Mount Olympus for fear of Jupiter's all-hearing
ears; but on the earth men uttered his name in their prayers and taught
their children to honor the Fire-giver as one of the greatest among

[Illustration: Jupiter]

Chapter II

The Story of Pandora

In the early days of man's life on the earth, when everything was
beautiful and new, there was no sickness anywhere, nor any pain, nor
sorrow. Men lived to be very old and very wise, and everywhere was
happiness such as has never been since in all the world. Now Jupiter
had not forgotten about the stealing of the sacred fire, and it angered
him that man should light his own fires and kindle the cheerful blaze
which should by right be glowing only in the halls of Olympus. The
suffering of Prometheus had not softened his wrath. He would not be
satisfied until punishment was visited upon those who had received the
stolen fire. Accordingly he called a council of the gods and spoke to
them of his desire. Though none of the deities wished to see misfortune
brought upon the race of man, they did not dare to dispute the will of
Jupiter. So they agreed to carry out the plan that he unfolded, and
before many days had passed they had fashioned, out of the same clay
from which man was made, a creature that they called woman. To her
each of the gods gave a gift such as softness, or grace, or wonderful
fairness; but Jupiter added one other quality, curiosity, and he
gave the woman the name of Pandora, which means "the gift of all the
gods."[3] Then he bade Mercury, who is the messenger of the gods, take
this new soft thing down to the earth and give her to Epimetheus for
his wife. Now Epimetheus had mourned apart from his fellows ever since
he learned of his brother's dreadful fate; and he sat day and night
in the cool silence of the forest, brooding over his sorrow. But one
day he saw some one coming toward him, led by the hand of Mercury, and
all at once he forgot to be sad; for the sunlight was shining on the
woman's golden hair, and her white arm was stretched out to him in

For some time Epimetheus and Pandora lived happily in the gardens of
the earth, and every day Epimetheus thanked the gods for their last
and best gift to man. He never tired of watching Pandora chasing
butterflies through the tall meadow grass, or making cups out of
broad leaves, that she and Epimetheus might drink from the clear,
cool spring. One day as they were resting under the trees and eating
their simple meal of dates and wild honey, they saw a traveler coming
toward them. He was walking very slowly and seemed heavily burdened
with what appeared to be a large box. While he was yet some distance
off, Pandora ran to meet him and asked him to come into the shade and
rest. The stranger was old, and the chest that he carried bent his
shoulders almost to the ground. He looked hungry and thirsty and tired,
so Epimetheus urged him to stop and rest, and offered him some freshly
gathered dates. But the traveler--who was none other than Mercury in
disguise--replied that he could not tarry with them, for he had a long
distance yet to go. He asked them, however, to take care of his great
oak chest, for with that burden off his shoulders he could hurry on and
reach his journey's end before nightfall. He promised to come back for
the chest a few days later. Epimetheus and Pandora were delighted to be
of service to a stranger, and promised to guard the chest with great
care. The traveler thanked them and turned away; but just as they were
saying good-by, he mysteriously disappeared, and whichever way they
looked there was no trace of him to be seen.

Epimetheus was not at all eager to know what was in the mysterious
chest; but as soon as they sat down again under the trees, Pandora
began to ask a thousand questions as to who the traveler might be and
what the chest contained. Epimetheus begged her not to think any more
about it, as nothing could be learned of the old man or his burden;
but Pandora refused to be silent, and talked still more of the
probable treasure that they were guarding for the stranger. At last
Epimetheus got up angrily and walked away, wearied with her insistence.
Pandora then went over to the chest, and kneeling down beside it, she
examined the exquisitely carved figures that were on all its four
sides. Then she studied the fine golden cord that bound the chest. It
looked soft enough, and yet it was very strong; for it was made of
strands of twisted gold and was tied at the end with a curious knot.
There was no lock to be seen, and apparently nothing hindered eager
fingers from opening the lid when once the knot was unfastened and
the golden cord unwound. Pandora's fingers itched to try her skill on
the knot, and she felt sure that if she worked at it long enough, she
could finally loosen it. The figures carved on the lid were groups of
dancing children, and in the very center was one figure whose face was
so strange that Pandora sat for a long time staring at it. Now and
then she turned away, and when she looked at the face again, it had a
different expression from the one she had seen on it before. She knew
that this carved thing was not alive, and yet each time she gazed into
the strange eyes of the wooden face they were quite unlike the eyes
that had smiled or frowned or mocked at her before.

She went to see whether Epimetheus had come back, and finding that he
was still away, she returned to the chest again, but would not let
herself be tempted into so much as touching the golden cord. As she
stood wondering what to do, she thought that she heard some little
voices coming from inside the chest, and they seemed to say:--

"Open, Pandora, please, please open and let us out."

Pandora looked quickly around to see whether Epimetheus were in sight,
then she came a bit nearer to the chest and put one hand on the golden
cord. Again she heard the small voices, this time very distinctly, and
they said:--

"Open, Pandora, please, please open and let us out."

Pandora's heart was now beating fast. What _could_ be in the chest?
What poor imprisoned creatures were calling to her, begging her to
set them free? She put both hands on the golden cord, then she looked
guiltily around; but no one was in sight, no one was watching her
except some inquisitive squirrels who were peering down at her from the
branches just above her head.

Swiftly and deftly she untied the knot, which yielded easily to her
eager fingers; but even then she hesitated, fearing the anger of

The little voices cried again:--

"Open, Pandora, please, please open and let us out;" but still she
hesitated, not daring to raise the lid. Just then she heard her
husband calling to her, and she knew that there would be no chance now
to explore the contents of the mysterious chest. She must wait for that
pleasure until another time; meanwhile she would take just one peep
inside to be sure that the voices were not mocking her. So she raised
the lid very gently, but no sooner had she made the smallest opening
than out poured a host of tiny creatures like brown-winged moths; and
they swarmed all around her, biting and pinching and blistering her
soft skin until she cried out in fear and pain.

She tried to fight them off, and rushed away to find Epimetheus; but
the tormenting little sprites followed her, buzzing about her ears and
stinging her again and again. In vain she strove to brush them away,
for they clung to her dress, her hair, and her poor swollen skin. When
she reached Epimetheus she was crying bitterly, and it did not need any
questioning to find out the trouble, for the malicious little creatures
were so numerous that hundreds of them encircled Epimetheus, and bit
and stung him, just as they had done to Pandora. In the unhappy hour
that followed, while husband and wife bound soothing herbs on their
bruised skin, Pandora told Epimetheus how her fatal curiosity had led
her to open the chest and set free the host of evil things.

It was not, however, until later that they realized the extent of
Pandora's folly, for the little brown-winged creatures were all the
spirits of evil that had never before entered the world. Their names
were Sickness and Pain and Sorrow; Envy and Pride and Jealousy; Hunger,
Poverty, and Death. All these ills had envious Jupiter put into the oak
chest, and bound it with only a golden cord. He knew that sooner or
later Pandora would open the chest, and then man's life of untroubled
happiness would be forever at an end. Never again could the gardens of
the earth be places where man might hope to find peace. Evil things
had taken up their dwelling there, and they would stay for always and
always and always, as long as the world should last.

When Epimetheus and Pandora saw the hateful winged creatures settling
down on the leaves and flowers so as to be near at hand to torment
them, they wept bitter tears and wished that the gods had never created
them. In the midst of her sobbing Pandora had not, however, forgotten
about the chest, and she was still wondering what else might be inside
it, for she was sure that those mothlike things could never have wholly
filled it. Suddenly she heard a wee soft whisper coming from within
the chest, and it said: "Open, Pandora, please, please open and let me

Pandora stared in surprise, for she had thought that all the evil
sprites had rushed out in that moment when she raised the lid. Was
there, then, another host of tormenting things still there; and if so,
should she let them out to add to her misery and pain?

Again the little soft voice cried: "Open, Pandora, please, please open
and let me out."

Pandora now called to Epimetheus, and together they listened to the
pleading voice which was so very soft and sweet that they were sure
it could not belong to any evil thing. Still Epimetheus was unwilling
to risk bringing any more trouble into the world; but in spite of her
remorse, Pandora was curious to see what it was that was begging so
plaintively for freedom. So with Epimetheus's consent she opened the
lid once more, and out fluttered a tiny little creature with beautiful
gauzy wings. She flew straight to Pandora, then to Epimetheus, and at
her touch all their hurts were healed and all their pain forgotten.

The name of this gentle messenger was Hope; and she had been hidden in
the chest secretly by one of the pitying gods, who grieved that Jupiter
was sending so many ills to fret mankind. The host of evil beings, once
set free, could never again be shut up in their narrow prison; but
wherever they flew--even to the remotest corner of the earth--Hope
followed them and brought healing in her wings; and when the world grew
wicked, as it did in the days that came after, so that men neglected
the altars of the gods, Hope was still remembered with votive offerings
and her shrines kept garlanded with flowers.

Chapter III

The Deluge

The children of Epimetheus and Pandora wandered in the gardens of the
earth just as their parents had done; and the generations that followed
them lived peacefully and were happy, in spite of the brown-winged
sprites that went about doing mischief. Men helped each other to
cultivate the fruitful soil, and offered sacrifices to the gods in
return for a bountiful harvest.

This golden age of the world's history might have lasted forever if men
had continued to reverence the gods; but after a time they ceased to
offer prayers for health and safety, and boasted proudly of their own
strength. They looked no more to high Olympus for help, but each man
trusted to his own right arm. Then strife and discord arose, and fierce
wars were fought among all the peoples of the earth. Brother killed
brother, and fathers strove with their own sons. Every man's hand was
against his fellow, and he knew no law but that of his own will. Seldom
now were the fires kindled on the neglected altars, and the smell of
burnt offerings dear to the gods no longer mingled with the smoke that
rose up to the white clouds around Olympus. The sacred vessels moldered
in forsaken temples; around the shrines of the gods the snakes crawled
lazily; and the bat and owl dwelt undisturbed among the pillars of the

For a time the gods sat patient, believing that this state of things
could not last; but seeing that mankind was growing worse instead of
better, year by year, they determined to put an end to godlessness and
to destroy the whole race of man. Then Jupiter called a council of the
gods to decide on the most effective way of wiping out every vestige of
human life so completely that not one soul would be left to tell to his
children the story of those evil days, when men neglected to worship
the immortal gods and allowed their temples to decay.

The most terrible punishment to visit upon man would be to set the
whole world on fire, to make of it one great sacrificial altar on which
human victims, and not the garlanded ox, would burn night and day, and
from which the smoke would rise up into the heavens so thickly that
it would shut out the sight of a blackened and smouldering earth. The
one objection to carrying out this plan was the fear lest the flames
would leap so high that they would reach even to lofty Olympus, and
so endanger the sacred throne of Jupiter. Though the fire might not
utterly destroy it, the gods could not bear to think of its burnished
red-gold base being touched by any flame from earth's unholy fires.

The only other effective method of destruction was water, and this the
gods decided to employ. So on a certain day when men were everywhere
feasting, and singing songs, and boasting of their victories in battle,
Jupiter rent the heavens with a mighty thunderbolt, whose crashing
drowned all sounds of merriment, and made men turn pale with fear. The
skies opened, and the rain poured down in torrents; the rivers became
swollen and flooded their banks; the waves of the sea, rising higher
and higher, swept in great fury over the land, washing everything
before them like so much chaff. Æolus, god of the storm, opened the
cave where he kept the winds securely bound, and let them loose to work
havoc on the earth. Soon all the lowland was covered with water; not a
dry spot remained anywhere but on the hills, and thither the terrified
people rushed in the vain hope that the flood would subside before
the mountains were submerged. But the waves rose higher and higher;
and the winds, rejoicing in their freedom, beat up the water until it
almost touched the clouds. The frail boats to which men had at first
desperately clung were shattered to pieces in the fury of the storm,
and on the crest of the waves the bodies of the dead were tossed like
playthings. Higher and higher rose the water, until at length the
mountain tops were covered, and all dry land had disappeared. So were
the gods avenged.

There was one spot, however, that was not yet hidden under the waters,
and this was the top of Mount Parnassus, the highest hill of Greece.
To this place of refuge had fled Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, two
virtuous souls who alone, of all the people on the earth, had lived
uprightly and worshiped the gods. When Jupiter saw them standing on the
top of Mount Parnassus and weeping over the universal destruction, he
remembered their piety and decreed that their lives should be spared.
So he gave commands that the rains and the floods and the winds should
cease, and the dry land appear. Then Æolus brought the winds back from
their mad wanderings and bound them again in the cave. Neptune blew
upon his conch-shell, and the angry waves returned again to the sea.
Little by little the tree-tops showed above the water, and the green
earth smiled again under the warm rays of the sun.[4]

But it was upon a desolate and unpeopled world that the eyes of
Deucalion and Pyrrha rested, and in their utter loneliness they almost
wished that they had perished with their friends. They went slowly down
the mountain-side, not knowing where to go, being led blindly by the
will of the gods to the temple at Delphi[5]--the only building that was
not destroyed. To this sacred spot men had been wont to come in the
old, god-fearing days to consult the wishes of the gods and to learn
their own destinies. Here was the divine oracle that not even the most
daring mortal would refuse to obey.

When Deucalion and Pyrrha found themselves at the temple of Delphi,
they made haste to consult the oracle, for they wished to repeople
the land before another morning's sun could look down upon a lifeless
earth. To their surprise the oracle returned them this answer:--

"Depart from here with veiled heads and throw your mother's bones
behind you."

This command seemed impossible to obey; for they could never hope to
find any grave, when all landmarks had been washed away; and, even
could they do so, it was an unheard-of sacrilege to disturb the bones
of the dead. Deucalion sought, therefore, to explain the strange words
of the oracle in some other way; and at length he guessed the meaning
of the god's answer. It was no human remains that he was commanded to
desecrate; the bones referred to were those of Mother Earth. So husband
and wife left the temple with veiled heads; and as they went they
gathered up the stones at their feet and threw these behind them. All
the stones that fell from the hands of Deucalion turned into men, and
those that Pyrrha dropped became women.

Thus it was that through the kindness and wisdom of the immortals
the earth was repeopled with a new race of men that feared evil, and
reverenced piety, and walked humbly before the gods. Never again was
Jupiter forced to send a deluge on the earth, for men no longer let the
altar-fires burn low, nor did they neglect to offer sacrifices because
of forgotten prayers.

Chapter IV



Although the brown-winged spirits of evil were kept busy flying up and
down the earth, their mischief-making never reached those immortal ones
who dwelt above the cloud-wrapped summit of Olympus. It was, therefore,
a most unheard-of happening when the Father of the gods complained one
day of a terrible pain in his head. Some of the gods were skilled in
the art of healing; but no one could relieve Jupiter's suffering, nor
tell what might be the cause of his pain. The trouble grew worse and
worse until it was too severe for even a god to endure; so Jupiter
bade his son Vulcan take an ax and split open his head. Not daring to
thwart the divine will, Vulcan tremblingly obeyed; and at the first
blow a marvelous thing occurred, for out of Jupiter's head sprang a
maiden clad in armor and bearing a spear in her hand. This was Minerva,
goddess of wisdom, so called because she came full-grown from the
mighty brain of Jupiter. So wise did the Ruler of the gods find this
child of his to be, that he kept her constantly near him, and sought
her counsel in dealing with the affairs of men, while Juno, his stately
wife, stood jealously by, envying the warrior-maiden her place at
Jupiter's side.[6]

Being born equipped for battle, Minerva delighted in war, and had no
feminine shrinking from the noise of clashing steel or the cries of
struggling men. No Trojan hero gloried in the war more exultingly
than she, as she carried aloft the terrible shield of Jupiter--"the
Ægis"--and bore in her hand the mighty spear, "heavy and huge and
strong." When armies met in battle, the goddess was never far away from
the fighting hosts; and ofttimes a dying soldier, turning his eyes for
a last look at his comrades, saw the glint of her spear or the flash of
her shield as she led the favored ones on to victory.

But the azure-eyed Minerva was not always on the battle-field, for in
spite of her warlike appearance she had many very feminine tastes, and
among them was a love of weaving. Often would white-armed Juno taunt
Minerva with her unwomanly fondness for warfare; but when the goddess
took up her weaving, even jealous Juno could not withhold her praise,
for the hand that could wield a spear like a man had also the delicate
touch of a woman.

Now there lived on the earth a maiden named Arachne, who was very proud
of her skill in weaving, and boasted that in the whole length and
breadth of the land there was no one to equal her in this art. Whenever
people spoke with her, she could talk of nothing else but her work;
and if a stranger stopped to rest at her door, she would be sure to
show him her weaving and to ask him whether in all his wanderings he
had seen anything to surpass it. Soon she grew so conceited that she
dared to compare herself with the goddess Minerva, and boasted that
her own work was as beautiful as anything that hung in the halls of
Olympus. Her friends grew frightened at her rash speech, and begged
her not to let her foolish pride go too far, lest some whisper of her
boasting should reach Minerva's ears. But Arachne only grew bolder, and
said openly that she would not be afraid to challenge the goddess to a
contest. These words were overheard by Apollo's raven, who flew quickly
back to Olympus to tell what he had seen and heard.

Minerva had known for some time of Arachne's boasting, but she had not
deigned to notice it. Now, however, when she learned that a mortal
maiden had dared to claim superiority to a goddess, she grew very
angry and determined to punish such presumption. So she cast off her
glittering armor and laid aside her long spear, and went down to
earth in the disguise of an old woman. She found Arachne seated on the
doorstep, weaving; and as she stopped to admire the girl's work, even
Minerva was forced to admit that the weaving was beautifully done. Soon
Arachne began to boast proudly of her skill and told the pretended old
woman that she hoped some day to challenge the goddess Minerva to a
contest. The listener seemed shocked at these daring words, and begged
the maiden to be more humble and not to presume too far; but Arachne
only tossed her head and laughed, saying that she wished the goddess
would hear her and accept the challenge.

At these bold words Minerva's anger broke out, and throwing off her
disguise she commanded the astonished girl to fetch two looms and set
them up in the doorway. Then she bade Arachne make good her boast.
For hours they worked in silence, each weaving with practiced fingers
an exquisite design in the tapestry; and neither one turning her head
to watch her rival's progress. When the last thread was tied and the
work finished, Arachne looked anxiously at the goddess's loom, and one
glance was sufficient to assure her of her own failure. Never in all
her life had she seen work so faultlessly done, and the beauty of it
was like that of visions in a dream.

Humiliated at her defeat, and too proud to endure the taunts that she
felt awaited her from those who had heard her boast, the unhappy
maiden tried to hang herself. But Minerva would not let the world so
easily forget how a mortal had dared to challenge a goddess; so when
she saw Arachne's body hanging by a rope, she quickly changed her into
a spider, and bade her spin and spin as long as she lived. Thus when
strangers came from all the country round to see the maiden whose skill
in weaving had been noised far and wide, there she hung--an ugly black
spider in the midst of her dusty web--a warning to all mortals who


Many, many years had passed since Epimetheus and Pandora wandered in
the gardens of the earth; and many, many generations of men had come
and gone since the day when Deucalion and Pyrrha looked down from Mount
Parnassus upon an unpeopled land. Cities had been built, with marble
palaces and costly temples. Towns had sprung up on river-banks and by
the sea. Everywhere man was making for himself a home, and journeying
into strange and distant lands. The gods, seated in the council-hall of
Jupiter, watched the changes taking place upon the earth; and as each
new city was built and the flames of its altar-fires rose up toward the
white clouds around Olympus, they smiled upon the work of man's hand
and made it prosper. Nowhere was the worship of the gods forgotten,
but in each undertaking the protection of some deity was sought and a
sacrifice offered that success might be assured. Scattered throughout
the land, in town or by the wayside, were shrines where the farmer laid
his offering of doves in return for a rich harvest, or a soldier hung
some trophy of victory upon his safe return from the war or a sailor,
starting on some uncertain voyage, burned spices and incense that the
gods might grant favoring winds to all those who go down to the sea in

But in every city there was one temple more beautiful than the rest,
and this was dedicated to that particular deity who had named the
city and was its especial protector; and as city after city was built
throughout the fair land of Greece, each of the gods wished to have
the naming of it that he might thereby receive added worship and
honor. There was much jealousy among them on this score, and they
watched eagerly each thriving inland town or seaport, knowing that in
a few years it would become a great city, building costly temples and
erecting statues to the god whom it delighted to honor.

So once, when a certain town on the coast of Greece began to grow into
a large and prosperous city, there was much dispute in the council
hall of Jupiter as to who should have the privilege of naming it.
Perhaps the gods were looking far into the future and saw what this
city was destined to become; but however that may be, the gods and
goddesses argued so fiercely over the matter that Jupiter was obliged
to interfere, lest some murmur of this unusual discord should reach
the earth. Then one by one the various contestants withdrew until only
Neptune and Minerva were left to dispute over their respective rights
to the naming of the city. There being no ground for either's claim,
Jupiter at length decided to give the much-coveted honor to whichever
of these two should present the most useful gift to the people of the

Neptune then struck the ground with his trident, and where the earth
opened there sprang out a horse with snow-white mane and arching neck
and a splendid body on which a king might be proud to ride. The gods
and goddesses who had assembled to witness the contest were delighted
with Neptune's gift, and waited impatiently to see what better thing
Minerva would be able to offer. Surprise, amusement, and contempt
were written on the faces of the spectators when the goddess stepped
forward, holding in her hand an olive branch. But Jupiter, wisest of
them all, did not smile, for he was listening while Minerva told of
the great value her gift would have for the people of the new city.
She described all the uses to which its leaves, its fruit, and even
its bark could be put, adding that the olive branch was to be a sign
of peace among all nations, and was therefore of more true service
to man than a war-horse, which would bring upon him only bloodshed
and disaster. To these wise words the gods were forced to agree, so
to Minerva was granted the privilege of naming the city; and as she
was called Athena, by the Greeks, she named the place Athens, which
it is called to this very day. Before many years passed a splendid
marble temple was built on the hill just above the city, and this
was dedicated to Athena, whose colossal statue, carved by the famous
sculptor Phidias, adorned the interior. They called this temple the
Parthenon,[7] and from the ruins that still remain we know that the
hand of man has never built anything to equal it in beauty.

Chapter V

Apollo and King Admetus

There would have been but little trouble between Jupiter and his
stately wife if no one but Minerva ever gave the watchful Juno[8] cause
for jealousy; but other goddesses, and even mortal maidens, found
favor in the eyes of Jupiter, and for their sake he often left her
side. From his throne in the high heavens the ruler of the world saw
not only the goddesses, with their glory of immortal youth, but also
the daughters of men endowed with that same beauty and grace which
the gods themselves had bestowed upon the first woman. Though Juno
"of the snow-white arms" alone enjoyed the title of queen of heaven,
she knew that she had many rivals for the love of Jupiter; and it was
this jealousy of all loveliness in woman that made her ever watchful
and revengeful. Perhaps it was the cause, too, of the very changeable
temper that her husband accused her of possessing.

[Illustration: Apollo Belvedere]

Whoever won the affections of Jupiter was sure to be persecuted by
"cruel Juno's unrelenting hate," as the poet Virgil says; but this
did not hinder the ruler of the gods from leaving very often the marble
halls of Olympus to wander, in some disguise, about the earth. It was
after such an absence that the watchful Juno learned of Jupiter's love
for fair-haired Latona, goddess of dark nights. As this new rival was
not a mortal maiden who could be punished with death, the wrathful
queen was forced to be content with banishing the goddess forever from
Olympus, and compelling her to live upon the earth. Not satisfied with
this, she decreed that any one who took pity on the unhappy goddess, or
gave her any help, would incur the lasting displeasure of Juno.

For days and nights Latona wandered, not daring to ask for food or
shelter, since all men knew of Juno's decree. She slept at night in
some spot where the trees offered protection from wind and rain,
and her only food was the scanty store that she could gather by the
way--berries, nuts, wild honey, and sometimes bits of bread dropped
by children in their play. One day, being very thirsty, she stopped
beside a clear pool to drink; but some reapers who were passing by saw
her, and hoping to gain favor with Juno they stepped into the pool and
stirred up the water into such muddiness that poor Latona could not
drink. Angered by such uncalled-for cruelty, the goddess prayed to
Jupiter that these wicked men might never leave the spot where they
were standing. Jupiter from his throne in the high heavens heard her
prayer, and in answer he turned the reapers into ugly green frogs and
bade them stay forever in the muddy pool. And ever afterward when men
came upon slimy ponds, where rank weeds grew and the water oozed from
muddy banks, there they found the blinking frogs--even as Jupiter had

After wandering some miles further Latona came at last to the seashore
and here she begged Neptune, "the god who shakes the shores," to come
to her aid, for she knew that Juno's power did not extend to the ruler
of the sea. Seeing her distress, and pitying the poor persecuted
goddess, Neptune sent her a dolphin, who took her on his back and swam
with her to the floating island of Delos, which the kindly sea-god had
caused to appear out of the depth of the ocean. Here Latona landed,
and was for a time content; but the rocking of the island soon grew
unbearable, and she begged the aid of Neptune a second time. He
obligingly chained the island to the bottom of the Ægean Sea, and
Latona had no further cause for complaint. On this island were born her
two children: Apollo, god of the sun, and Diana, goddess of the moon.

When the children were grown, Jupiter took them to Olympus, though not
without much protest from the ever-jealous Juno. The young Apollo's
beauty and his skill in music gained him great favor among the gods,
and found him worshipers in every town and city throughout the land of
Greece. So conscious of his power did Apollo become, that he sometimes
dared to assert his authority, unmindful of the will of Jupiter; and on
one occasion he so angered his divine parent that he was banished to
the earth, and made to serve Admetus, king of Thessaly.

In spite of his disgrace, Apollo managed to cheer his lonely hours of
labor with his music; and as his work was no more difficult than to
care for the king's sheep, he had abundant leisure to play upon his
lyre while his flocks grazed on the sunny hillsides. As soon as he
touched the strings, all the wild things in the forest crept out to
hear. The fox came slinking from his hole among the rocks, and the
timid deer drew close to the player and stayed beside him, listening.
The strains of the wonderful music were carried across the meadows,
and the mowers stopped their work, wondering where the player might
be. One day they brought word to the king that some god must be among
them, for no mortal could produce such music as they had heard. So
Admetus sent for the shepherd, and when the youth stood before him, he
marveled at his great beauty, and still more at the golden lyre that
Apollo held in his hand. Then when the young musician, in obedience to
the king's command, began to play, all those who heard him were filled
with wonder, and felt sure that a god had come to dwell among them. But
Admetus asked no questions, only made the youth his head shepherd and
treated him with all kindness.

Though a god, and no true shepherd, Apollo served the king faithfully,
and when, at last, his time of service was over and Jupiter called
him back to Olympus, Apollo, wishing to show some favor in return for
the king's kindness, begged for Admetus the gift of immortality. This
request the wise Jupiter granted, but only on the condition that when
the time came for the king to die, some one could be found to take
his place. Apollo agreed to these terms, and Admetus, knowing the
conditions on which the gift was made, accepted his immortality gladly.
For a time all went well; but the inevitable hour came when the Fates
decreed that Admetus's life was ended, and that he must go the way of
all mortals unless some one would die in his stead. The king was much
beloved by his people; but no one's devotion to his sovereign was great
enough to inspire him to make the needed sacrifice.

Then Alcestis, the beautiful wife of Admetus, learned of the price that
must be paid for her husband's immortality and gladly offered her life
in exchange for the king's. So, in all her young grace and beauty,
she went down into the dark region of Hades, where no sunlight ever
came and where her joyous laughter was forever hushed in the silence
that reigns among the dead. Thus Admetus gained immortality; but his
happiness was too dearly bought, for as the days went by he mourned
more and more for his beautiful young wife, and in his dreams he saw
her walking like a shadow among the grim shapes that move noiselessly
in the silent halls of death. Bitterly he repented of his selfishness
in accepting the sacrifice of her life, and his immortality grew
hateful to him since each day only added to his sorrow. So he prayed to
Apollo to recall his gift, and to give him back his wife Alcestis. It
was not in the power of that god to change a decree of Jupiter's; but
the Ruler of all things looked down from heaven, and, seeing the great
grief and remorse of Admetus, he withdrew the gift that had cost the
king so dear, and sent Hercules to the kingdom of Pluto with commands
to let Alcestis go. Very gladly the god carried this message to the
gloomy realm of Hades, where amid the myriad shadow-shapes he sought
and found Alcestis; and out of the dreadful darkness in which she
walked alone, Hercules led her back to earth again.[9]

Chapter VI

Apollo the Musician


When Apollo left King Admetus and returned to the halls of Olympus,
he had not rested there long before he found that there was further
service for him to render on the earth. Among the many noted deeds that
he performed, the most famous was his slaying of a monstrous serpent
called the Python, which was born of the slime that remained on the
surface of the earth after the Deluge.[10] Apollo killed the creature
with his golden arrows, and then went to the help of Neptune, who,
though a powerful deity in his own realm, was often obliged to ask
help of the other gods when he wished to accomplish anything on land.
Hearing that Neptune wished to build a great wall around the city of
Troy, and remembering the aid that the sea-god had given his mother
Latona in her great need, Apollo went down to the sea and offered his
services to Neptune. Of course no son of Jupiter could be expected
to do the work of a slave, but this was not necessary, even in the
building of a wall; for Apollo sat down on a grassy bank near by, and,
with his lyre in his hand, began to play such exquisite music that the
very stones were bewitched, and rising from the ground of their own
accord took their places in the wall. Still under the spell of Apollo's
music, others followed in quick succession, and the wall rose higher
and higher, until before nightfall the whole work was finished. When
the last stone had dropped into place, Apollo stopped his playing and
returned to the bright halls of Olympus; while Neptune, shaking the
salt spray from his shaggy eyebrows, stared hard at the walls that had
risen by magic before his wondering eyes.


The story of Arachne's sad fate should have been warning enough to all
mortals not to compare themselves with the gods; but such was the pride
of a certain youth named Marsyas that he boasted openly of his skill
in flute-playing, and dared to proclaim himself the equal of Apollo.
Now Marsyas had not always been a musician, for he was by birth a
shepherd--some even say a satyr--and had never seen a flute or heard
it played until one day, as he sat tending his flock on the bank of a
stream, he heard sounds of music coming from some spot near by. He was
very curious to see who the musician might be, but he dared not move
lest he startle the player and make the beautiful melody cease. So he
sat still and waited; and presently there came floating down the stream
a flute--something that Marsyas had never seen before. He hurriedly
snatched it out of the water, and, no longer hearing the wonderful
music, he guessed that it had come from the strange thing he held in
his hand. He put the flute to his lips, and lo, the same sweet melody
greeted his ears, for the flute was not a common thing such as any man
might use--it was a beautiful instrument that belonged to no less a
person than Minerva. The goddess had hidden herself on the bank of the
stream and had been trying her skill as a flute-player; but chancing to
look down into the water, she saw her puffed-out cheeks and distorted
features and angrily threw the flute into the stream. Thus it had
come into Marsyas's possession; and the shepherd, having found such a
treasure, never let it leave his hands. He neglected his work and left
his flocks unguarded while he spent all his days in the delight of

It was not long before he believed himself to be the greatest musician
in all Greece; and then it was only a step further to declare that even
Apollo could not equal him in the sweetness of his playing. The god of
music allowed this boasting to go for some time unpunished; but at
last he grew angry at the presumption of the shepherd boy, and summoned
Marsyas to a contest in which the nine Muses were to be judges. Nothing
daunted, Marsyas accepted the challenge; and on the morning when the
contest took place, a great silence fell over all the earth, as if
every living thing had stopped to listen. The playing of Marsyas was
wonderfully sweet, and as the soft tones of his flute greeted the
listeners' ears they sat as if under a spell until the last sounds died
away. Then Apollo took up his golden lyre, and when he struck the first
chords, the air was filled with music far sweeter than any melody that
had fallen from the lips of Marsyas. The judges, however, found it
hard to give a verdict in favor of either musician; so a second time
Marsyas began to play, and his music was so strangely wild and sweet
that even Apollo listened in delight. But, charmed as he was by the
youth's playing, the god of music had no intention of being outdone by
a shepherd; so when he took up his golden lyre again, he began to sing,
and added the wonder of his voice to the sweetness of his playing. When
the singing ended there was no longer any doubt to whom the victory
belonged; and Marsyas was forced to admit his defeat. As the price
of failure was to be the terrible penalty of being flayed alive, the
wretched Marsyas had to submit to this cruel death. Apollo bound him
to a tree and slew him with his own hands.


When the news of Marsyas's dreadful fate spread abroad, people were
careful for many years not to anger any of the deities by presuming to
rival them; but in time the memory of that tragic event faded away, and
the horror of it was forgotten.

In the halls of King Midas was the noise of great mirth and feasting,
and the sound of music filled the spacious room where the king and
his court sat at the banquet-table. Beside the king stood Pan, his
favorite flute-player, who was no other than the famous sylvan god of
shepherds; and as the wine went round and the king grew boastful of his
possessions, he exclaimed loudly that not even Apollo himself could
produce such exquisite music as fell from the flute of Pan. The guests,
remembering the fate of Marsyas, grew pale and begged the king not to
let his boast be heard; but Midas laughed scornfully and, raising his
drinking cup above his head, called upon Apollo to appear.

To the surprise and dismay of all, the god of music suddenly stood
before them, beautiful as the dawn and glowing with divine wrath.
Though Pan was himself a deity, he had no desire to challenge Apollo,
and looked fearfully at the sun-god's angry frown; but the king, drunk
with pride, commanded him to play, and bade the god of music surpass
the playing if he could. There was, of course, no question as to which
was the better musician, and the guests loudly proclaimed Apollo the
victor. One story tells that to prove further the superiority of
Apollo's playing the company went to the old mountain-god Tmolus, and
let him make the final decision. Tmolus had to clear the trees from
his ears to listen; and having done this he bent his head, and all his
trees leaned with him. He heard with delight both musicians play; and
when the last soft notes fell from Apollo's lyre, the mountain-god
awarded him the victory. But Midas at the beginning of the contest
had demanded the right to decide on the merits of the players, and he
would not accept this verdict. In his mad perversity and fondness for
his favorite, he cried out that Pan was the better player, and would
therefore be awarded the prize. Angered at this unfair decision, Apollo
left the banquet-hall, but not before he had assured Midas that the
injustice would be punished.

These words came true in a most unexpected way, for when the king
looked into his mirror the next morning, he found a pair of large fuzzy
ass's ears growing in the place of his own natural ones. Horrified at
his absurd appearance, Midas did not dare show himself to his people;
but sent in haste for a barber, and bade him make a wig large enough
to cover the monstrous ears. For many hours the barber was closeted
with the king, and when the wig was finished, he was allowed to leave
the palace, after having sworn never to reveal the king's misfortune
under pain of death. For some time the secret was safely kept; but the
poor barber found life unbearable, since he lived in constant fear of
letting out the truth about the king's ears in spite of his frantic
efforts to be silent. Whenever Midas appeared in the city streets, the
barber had to rush home and shut himself up lest he should scream out
the story of the wig.

One day he thought of a happy solution of his difficulty and one that
broke his long seal of silence without endangering his life. He went
out into the fields, dug a deep hole, and putting his head down as far
as he could he shouted:--

"King Midas has ass's ears, King Midas has ass's ears."

Then he went home again, much happier for having told some one of his
secret, even though it was only Mother Earth. But the truth once told
did not stay hidden even in the earth; for in time the hole was filled
again and reeds grew over the spot, and as the wind swayed them back
and forth they murmured: "King Midas has ass's ears. King Midas has
ass's ears."

It was not long before all the people in the countryside had gathered
to hear the strange whispering of the reeds, and then the secret could
be kept no longer. But though every one knew the truth King Midas
continued to wear his wig, and no one ever saw the real size of his

Chapter VII

The Love of Apollo


Like his father, Jupiter, the young Apollo was not content to stay
always in the shining halls of Olympus, but spent many days wandering
over the broad lands of Greece in search of adventure, or for the sake
of some maiden's love. There were many fair ones among the daughters
of men, and they were wont to look with favor upon the beautiful young
god who came down from the high heavens to woo them. Each morning as
he drove across the sky the fiery horses that were harnessed to the
chariot of the sun, some maiden gazed with longing at the splendor
above her, and prayed that the radiant Apollo might look kindly upon
her. Seldom did these prayers go unanswered; but sometimes the heart of
the god was untouched by the devotion so freely offered, and the maiden
pined away over her hopeless love.

Such a one was Clytie,[11] who worshiped the glorious sun-god, and
longed in secret for his love; but in spite of her tears and sighing
she met with only coldness in return. Each day she rose before the dawn
to greet Apollo as soon as his chariot appeared in the heavens, and all
day long she watched him until the last rays of light were lost behind
the hills. But the young god felt no sympathy for her sorrow, and the
unhappy Clytie grew so pale and sick with longing that Jupiter in pity
changed her into a sunflower, that she might always stand watching the
course of the sun, and turn her face forever toward him, no matter
where his beams might shine.


The great beauty of Apollo[12] usually assured his success whenever
he stooped from his high estate to love the maidens of the earth; but
once he was repaid for his hard-heartedness to poor Clytie, and failed
in his wooing when he sought the love of the beautiful wood-nymph
Daphne. He was wandering one day in the forest when he came suddenly
upon Daphne as she was gathering flowers, and her beauty and grace
so charmed him that he desired her love above everything else in the
world. Not wishing to frighten her, he stood still and softly spoke her
name. When the nymph heard his voice, she turned quickly and looked at
him with the startled eyes of some wild forest-creature. Surprise and
fear held her for a moment while Apollo spoke again gently and begged
her not to be afraid, for he was no hunter nor even a rude shepherd.
But Daphne only shrank away, fearful of his eagerness; and when Apollo
grew bolder and ventured to draw near, she turned and fled through the
forest. Angered at this rebuff, the god followed her, and though the
nymph ran swiftly she could not escape from her pursuer, who was now
more than ever determined to win her.

[Illustration: Apollo and Daphne]

In and out among the trees she darted, hoping to bewilder him into
giving up the chase; but Apollo kept close behind, and little by little
gained on her flying feet. Wearied but unyielding, Daphne now hurried
her steps toward the stream at the edge of the forest, where she knew
that she would find her father, the river-god Peneus. As she neared the
stream she cried aloud to him for help; and just as Apollo had reached
her side and his outstretched hand was on her shoulder, a rough bark
began to enclose her soft body in its protecting sheath; green branches
sprouted from the ends of her uplifted arms; and her floating hair
became only waving leaves under the grasp of the god's eager fingers.
Apollo stood dismayed at this transformation, and when he saw a laurel
tree rooted in the spot where, but a moment ago, had stood a beautiful
living maiden, he repented of his folly in having pursued her and
sat for many days beside the river, mourning her loss.

Thus it was that the laurel became the favorite tree of Apollo; and
when the god returned sadly to Olympus, he decreed that whenever poet
or musician or any victor in the games was to be crowned with a garland
of leaves, those leaves were to be taken from the laurel tree in memory
of Daphne.


In one of the flower-filled meadows of sunny Greece, there played
all day a golden-haired boy named Phaëton,[13] who was the pride and
delight of his mother Clymene, a stately maiden whom Apollo had once
wooed and won. The boy was willful and headstrong, but beautiful as
a young god; and his mother, in her foolish pride, often reminded
him how favored he was above all other children in being the son of
Apollo. Each morning she led him to a place where he could see the sun
rise, and told him that his father was just then harnessing the fiery
steeds to his golden-wheeled car, and would soon be leaving his palace
of burnished gold to drive across the heavens, bringing daylight to
the darkened earth. She told him of Apollo's great beauty, and of his
wonderful music, and of his high position among the gods, because his
chariot was nothing less than the glorious sun. Phaëton never tired of
hearing these stories, and it was no wonder that he became very proud
of his divine parentage, and boasted of it among his playmates. The
children only laughed at his wonderful tales, and to convince them he
grew more arrogant in his bearing, until they, angered by his continued
boasts, bade him give some proof of his claims or else be silent. This
Phaëton could not do; so they taunted him with his godlike appearance,
and sneered at his pretensions until the boy, roused to action by their
repeated insults, ran to his mother, and begged her to tell him whether
he might not speak to his wonderful, but unknown father, and obtain
from him some proof to silence the children's tongues.

Clymene hesitated to send the child on the long necessary journey,
but yielding at last to his entreaties, she showed him the way to his
father's palace. It was night when Phaëton set out, and he was obliged
to travel quickly if he wished to reach his journey's end before the
sun-car left the golden portals of the east. The palace of the sun
was marvelously wrought, and the light from its golden columns and
glittering jeweled towers so dazzled the eyes of Phaëton that he was
afraid to draw near. But remembering the taunts of his playmates, he
grew bolder, and sought out his father to beg the boon for which he had
traveled so far and wearily. When Apollo, from his ivory throne, saw
the boy approaching, he welcomed him kindly and called him by the name
of son. Hearing this, Phaëton lost all fear, and told his father how
the children had refused to believe Clymene's stories, and had taunted
him because he could not prove the truth of his mother's claim.

The lofty brow of Apollo grew cloudy as he listened to Phaëton's words,
and he promised to give the boy the proof he desired by granting him
any favor he might ask. Instantly Phaëton demanded that he be allowed
that very day to drive the sun-chariot; for when those on the earth saw
him in that exalted place, they could no longer refuse to believe that
he was indeed the favored child of Apollo. Dismayed at this unexpected
request, the sun-god sought to persuade Phaëton to ask some other boon,
for he knew that no hand but his own could guide the four winged horses
that were harnessed to the golden sun-car. But the boy was determined
to carry out his plan; and with all the willfulness of a conceited
child, he refused to heed his father's warnings. As Apollo had sworn
by the river Styx--the most terrible of all oaths--to grant Phaëton's
request whatever it might be, he was obliged to fulfill his promise;
and very reluctantly he led the boy to the portals of the palace, where
the impatient horses already stood pawing the ground.

Phaëton gazed at the sun-car in delight, for it was all of gold--except
the spokes of the wheel, which were of silver--and the body of the
chariot was studded with chrysolites and diamonds that reflected the
sun's dazzling brightness. The impatient boy sprang into the chariot
and seized the reins in his hands, while his father bound on his head
the blazing sun rays; but before the journey was begun, Apollo poured
over him a cooling essence, that his skin might not be shriveled by
the burning heat of the sun, and gave him careful instructions how to
handle the restless steeds. Phaëton but half listened to these words,
and fretted to be off on his triumphant course; so Apollo ordered the
gates to be thrown open, and the sun-car dashed out into the heavens.

For a while all went well, for the boy remembered his father's caution
about using a whip on the fiery horses; but as the day wore on he
became reckless, and forgot everything but his own proud triumph.
Faster and faster he drove, flourishing his whip, and never heeding
in what direction the maddened horses sped. Soon he lost his way and
the chariot came so close to the earth that its fierce heat dried up
the rivers and scorched the ground and shriveled up all vegetation,
even turning the natives in that part of the country brown,--which
color they are still to this very day. Smoke rose up from the charred
and blackened earth, and it so clouded the eyes of the now terrified
Phaëton that he could not find his way back to the path of the sun and
drove wildly far away from the earth. This caused terrible disaster,
for under the sudden cold all growing things withered, and the blight
of frost settled over all the land.

Then a great cry arose from the people of the earth when they saw their
country laid waste; and though Jupiter was fast asleep on his golden
couch he heard the cry, and started up in surprise. What _could_ be
happening on the earth that the sound of human wailing should break in
upon the silence of his dreams! One glance was sufficient for him to
see the smoke rising from the burnt-up land and to realize the cause
of all that useless destruction; for far across the heavens--like a
vanishing comet--Phaëton was madly driving the flaming chariot of the
sun. Angered at the sight of a mere boy presuming to take upon himself
so great a task, Jupiter seized one of his deadliest thunderbolts and
hurled it at the unhappy youth, whose scorched body was immediately
dashed from its lofty seat and sank into the calm waters of the
Eridanus River.

Clymene mourned her son's untimely death, and gathered his remains from
the river that they might have honorable burial. Phaëton's dearest
friend, Cycnus, continued to haunt the river's edge, looking for any
relic of his favorite that might chance to rise to the surface of the
water. In recognition of this devotion the gods changed him into a swan
that might stay forever on the river and plunge his head fearlessly
into the clear waters to search for some scattered fragments of his
unfortunate friend.

[Illustration: Niobe]

Chapter VIII



During the childhood of Apollo and Diana the goddess Latona lived
happily on the island of Delos, and forgot all her early misfortunes in
the joy of her children. As they grew up she boasted of their strength
and beauty to all who came to the shores of Delos, and no village or
hamlet--however small--but had heard of Latona's children. When Grecian
mothers put their little ones to bed at night, they told wonderful
tales of an island far out at sea where a brother and sister lived who
were fairer than all the flowers in the meadows; and maidens, sighing
for a loveliness greater than their own, wove garlands to adorn the
shrines of those two who walked the earth in all their immortal grace.

Latona was proud of her children's fame, and boasted of it far and
wide. Few mothers cared to dispute her claim, and these spoke only in
whispers; but there was one, bolder than the rest, who openly laughed
at the goddess's boast and taunted her with having but _two_ such
children whom she could praise. This was Niobe, a Grecian princess and
the mother of fourteen children,--seven sons and seven daughters,--all
of them fair and strong and godlike in spite of their mortal birth.
When Niobe learned that the people in her kingdom were loud in their
praises of Latona's children, and were neglecting to honor her own
splendid sons and daughters, she was very angry and ordered all the
statues of Apollo and Diana to be destroyed; for the people, in their
devotion to beauty, had set up many in the temples and the market
place. Then she bade a messenger go tell the goddess what had been
done, and show her in what contempt the mother of fourteen children
held her who had but two.

When Latona received the message she was so enraged at the insult that
her desire for revenge knew no bounds. She called Apollo and Diana to
her side and commanded them to go forth and slay the children of Niobe.
It was easy for Apollo to accomplish his part of the cruel task, for he
met the seven sons of Niobe hunting, and slew them so quickly that not
one of the brothers had time to ask what he had done to merit the god's
wrath. The daughters of Niobe were in the palace with their mother; but
this did not daunt the young Diana, who put seven sharp arrows in her
quiver, and, bow in hand, went forth to complete Latona's revenge.
She found the maidens seated at Niobe's side, weaving, and one by one
the remorseless goddess shot them down in spite of their mother's
heart-broken cries for mercy. Finding that her entreaties were in vain,
and seeing six of her daughters lying dead beside her, the distracted
Niobe sought to shield the remaining one with her own body while she
prayed wildly to the gods to spare her this one child. But the gods
were deaf to her cries, and Diana, fitting the last arrow to her bow,
shot the maiden as she cowered in her mother's arms.

Over her fallen body the wretched Niobe wept so long that the gods at
last felt pity for her grief, and changed her into stone. This statue
was placed by a running stream, and ever afterward the waters were fed
by the tears that continued to course down the cheeks of the stone
image; and travelers came from foreign lands to gaze on this marvel of
a devoted mother who could not cease from mourning for her children
even when turned into stone.


Though the goddess Diana[14] spent most of her daylight hours in
hunting, it was not often that she exercised her skill to such cruel
purpose as was shown in the case of poor Niobe. Wherever the wild deer
roamed, and the pathless forest knew no touch of woodman's ax, there
Diana, fleet-footed and tireless, followed the chase. As soon as the
flaming chariot of the sun threw its first streak of light across the
hills, the goddess donned her short tunic, and, armed with her golden
bow and quiver, set out with her band of nymphs for the day's hunt. At
noontide, wearied with the chase, she sought out some secluded spot
where the mountain stream ran clear, and where the foliage hung round
her like a curtain.

[Illustration: Diana of Versailles]

On a certain day, when she and her maidens were enjoying the refreshing
coolness of the water, they heard a slight rustle among the trees,
and looking around, perceived a young hunter watching them. This was
Actæon, who had himself been following the deer since daybreak, and had
been drawn to this spot by the noise of running water. As he neared
the stream he heard sounds of girlish laughter, and this so roused
his curiosity that he hastily put aside the branches to see who the
merrymakers might be. Great was his dismay when he recognized Diana and
her nymphs; but before he could disappear among the bushes the goddess
saw him, and catching up some water in her hand, she threw it into his
face, crying: "Go now, if you can, and say that you have seen Diana at
her bath."

The moment these words were spoken Actæon felt a queer change coming
over him, and he stared in horror at his hands and feet, which were
becoming hoofs, and at his skin, which was rapidly changing into a
deer's hide. Antlers grew out of his head, he dropped on all fours,
and found himself turned into a stag. Before he quite realized what
had befallen him he heard the baying of hounds, and knew that his only
safety was in flight. He dashed off through the bushes, but the dogs
were on his track. Before he had gone far the pack had overtaken him,
since he knew no lore of the wild things by which they elude their
enemies, and were snapping and snarling at his throat. Deprived of his
human voice he could not cry for help, and in a moment the hounds had
torn him into pieces. So was Diana avenged.


There was another young hunter who encountered Diana and her maidens
in the woods, but he met with a kinder fate at the hands of the
goddess than did poor Actæon, whose only fault had been a most natural

The fleet-footed Diana was no more ardent in the chase than was the
hunter Orion, who roamed the forest all day with his faithful dog,
Sirius. One morning, as he rushed eagerly through the woods in
pursuit of a deer, he came suddenly upon the seven Pleiades,--nymphs
of Diana,--who were resting after a long and arduous hunt begun at
daybreak. Charmed with their beauty, Orion drew nearer, but the
maidens, terrified at his outstretched arms, fled away through the
forest. Undaunted by the remembrance of Actæon's fate, the hunter
pursued the flying nymphs, determined that so much beauty should not
escape him. Seeing that he was gaining on them in spite of their swift
feet, the maidens called upon Diana for help, and were at once changed
into seven white pigeons which flew up into the heavens before Orion's
astonished eyes. Sometime later these same Pleiades became seven bright
stars, and were set as a constellation in the sky, where they have
remained ever since.

Orion continued to hunt from early dawn until nightfall without any
misfortune overtaking him on account of his impetuous love-making.
On the contrary his ardor evidently found favor with the goddess
Diana, for one day, when he unexpectedly met her alone in the forest,
she smiled graciously upon him and offered to share the day's sport
with him. Perhaps it was the beauty of the young hunter as well as
his boldness that charmed the goddess; but however that may be, she
continued to meet him in the forest, and they hunted together hour
after hour until the twilight began to fall. Then Diana knew that she
must leave her lover and mount her silver moon-car.

When Apollo learned of his sister's affection for the young hunter,
he was very angry, for Diana had refused the love of the gods, and
had begged of Jupiter the right to live unwed. The sun-god determined
therefore to put an end to Orion's wooing. So he waited at the shadowy
portals of the west until Diana, her nightly journey over, descended
from her silver car and threw the reins on the necks of her wearied
steeds. Then Apollo spoke to his sister of her hunting, and praised
her skill with the bow. Presently he pointed to a tiny speck that was
rising and falling on the crest of the waves a long distance away, and
bidding her use this as a target, he challenged her to prove her skill.
Diana, suspecting no treachery, fitted an arrow into her bow and let
it fly with unerring aim. Great was her distress when she learned what
her brother's trickery had led her to do; for it was no floating log
or bit of seaweed that her arrow had pierced, but the body of Orion.
Apollo had seen the hunter go each morning to the ocean to bathe, and
he thought this an easy way to dispose of the unworthy lover.

Diana mourned Orion[15] many days; and to keep his memory honored she
placed him and his faithful dog, Sirius, in the sky as constellations.

Chapter IX

The Story of Endymion

The chaste Diana was not only a famous huntress, but she was goddess of
the moon as well. By day she roamed the forest with her band of nymphs,
and by night she sailed in her bright moon-car across the star-strewn
sky, and looked down at the sleeping earth lying in the shadow except
where her soft light fell. As soon as Apollo had driven his tired,
foam-flecked horses within the western gates, and twilight had begun to
creep over the hills, Diana mounted her silver car drawn by milk-white
steeds, and started on her nightly journey. During the first hours of
her ride, the friendly twilight kept a faint glow in the heavens, and
the road lay plain before her; but as night came on and the blackness
deepened, her horses might have wandered from their accustomed path had
not the stars wakened from their day-dreaming and come out in great
luminous clusters to light the goddess on her way. Though the journey
was always the same, night after night, Diana never wearied of her
course or found the sleeping earth less lovely, as it unfolded hour by
hour before her eyes.

One evening as she looked down upon the quiet scene, she saw the form
of a shepherd-boy lying upon a grassy hilltop, where the moonlight
shone full upon his upturned face. Diana was not susceptible to love;
but when she saw Endymion sleeping, she marveled at his beauty, and
felt a strange longing to be near him. So she stepped softly from
her silver car and floated down to the earth--to the spot where the
unconscious shepherd lay dreaming. There was perfect stillness all
around, and no whisper came but the soft murmur from the pine-trees,
which sounded like some great creature sighing in its sleep. For some
time the goddess watched the youth in silence, then, stooping, she
gently kissed him. Endymion half wakened at her touch, and looked
sleepily around, bewildered by the radiance that seemed to be enfolding
him in its unearthly light. But in a moment the glory had faded away,
and there was only the deep blueness of the night all about him; for
Diana, frightened at her own boldness, had hurried back to her silver
car and had sped away into the darkness. Endymion thought then that he
had dreamed a dream of some beautiful form that had lingered by his
side, and although he waited patiently and hopefully all through the
night, he saw no other vision, and only the dawn came to greet his
weary eyes.

The next night Diana drove her milk-white horses impatiently and often
at random, until the quiet stars, as they watched her restless course,
wondered and felt half afraid. When the clouds wrapped her closely in
their white embrace, the goddess drove them angrily aside, lest they
shut out from her eyes the sight of the sleeping earth. At last she
drew near the hillside where Endymion lay, and, on seeing him there,
Diana glided again from her silver car and stood beside his unconscious
form. At her light touch he stirred, and tried to rouse himself from
his heavy slumber; but some spell seemed to bind his eyelids, and
through sleep-dimmed eyes he saw the radiance fade away. Night after
night he felt the presence of that bright being whom his eyes so longed
to behold; but only in his dreams could he see her face or touch her
floating garments that passed by him like the rustle of the night wind.

Each night Diana left her restless horses to stand unwatched among
the shifting clouds, while she lingered on the earth to gaze upon the
sleeping shepherd-boy; and as she stood beside him she wished that he
might always be as now--ever beautiful, ever young. So to keep him
untouched by sickness or sorrow or death she took him to Mount Latmus,
where there was a cave dedicated in her honor which no mortal foot had
ever profaned. Here she placed Endymion, and caused an eternal sleep
to fall upon him, so that his body in all its youth and beauty might
never know decay. And every night when her long journey was ended,
and the watchful stars had withdrawn their shining, Diana hastened to
the lonely cave on Mount Latmus, there to linger beside Endymion[16]
sleeping, and touch him with a kiss that could not waken.

Chapter X



Mercury was the son of Jupiter and Maia, goddess of the plains, and
from the day of his birth he was a most remarkable infant, even for a
god. When scarcely a day old, he sprang from his mother's arms, and ran
some distance off to where a tortoise shell was lying on the ground.
Picking this up, he bored holes in its side, stretched strings across
it, and began to play. Thus it was that the first lyre was made.

[Illustration: Flying Mercury]

Proud of this beginning to his day's adventures, Mercury ran away
again toward evening, when his mother was asleep, and roamed about the
fragrant meadows where Apollo kept his herd of cattle. The pasturage
was rich and the oxen were fat, and the mischievous young god--only a
day old--decided to have some of them for his dinner. He took fifty of
the herd and tied branches of leaves to their feet--so that their hoofs
might leave no print on the smooth turf--and drove them to a quiet spot
far away from the meadow. Here he killed and ate two of the oxen,
and kept the rest in hiding for another day's feast. Then he hurried
back to his mother who had not yet wakened.

When Apollo found late that evening that fifty of his cattle were gone,
he searched but could not find them. As he was about to give them up as
lost, he remembered that a son had been lately born to Jupiter, whom
that divine ruler had appointed to be the god of thieves. Suspecting
that his stolen oxen were in the hands of this master-thief, Apollo
hastened to where Maia and the babe were sleeping. Rousing the child
angrily, the irate god accused him of the theft; but Mercury protested
his innocence, and asked, "How could an infant but a day old ever do
such an unheard-of thing?" Apollo was unconvinced, however, by this
appearance of candor, and feeling sure of the boy's guilt, dragged
him off to Olympus, where Mercury found it impossible to pretend any
longer that he knew nothing of the missing oxen. He acknowledged his
thieving, showed Apollo the hiding place of the stolen cattle, and
in return for those that he had eaten gave the sun-god his wonderful
new lyre. This gift so delighted Apollo that he presented the day-old
prince of thieves with a magic wand, which, when held between any who
were quarreling, would cause all anger and strife to cease. To test
the value of the wand Mercury thrust it between two snakes which were
struggling over the possession of a wounded bird; and immediately they
twined themselves around the staff, and remained coiled together in
perfect friendliness. This pleased Mercury so much that he bade them
stay there forever as long as the wand should last.[17]

There were two other valuable gifts that the gods gave the young
Mercury,--a winged cap and a pair of winged sandals,--so that, as the
messenger of the gods, he might be fleet of foot on his many errands to
and from Olympus.

      "Hastily beneath his feet he bound
      The fair ambrosial golden sandals, worn
      To bear him over ocean like the wind
      And o'er the boundless land."

                  --BRYANT'S Homer's _Odyssey_, Book V, line 56.

Among the varied duties assigned to Mercury was that of conducting
the souls of the dead to Hades; but this did not occupy all the god's
time, and he still had many hours in which to go on other missions. In
spite of his rather doubtful reputation for honesty, the gods often
sought his assistance in their difficulties; and in one very delicate
commission he proved himself a competent ally. This was when Jupiter
went wooing the maiden Io.

The jealous and vengeful Juno was always on the watch whenever her
lord took a fancy to go wandering about the earth; so to woo the
gentle Io unseen by his wife required some diplomacy on Jupiter's part.
Accordingly he spread a thick cloud over the meadow where he was wont
to meet the maiden, and trusted that its appearance would not arouse
Juno's suspicions. He also took the precaution to visit Io at the time
when the watchful queen of heaven was accustomed to sleep; but one
day Juno awoke sooner than usual, and finding Jupiter absent, she at
once surmised that he was adventuring again in some love-affair. When
she looked down at the earth, she saw the thick cloud that hung over
the meadow and noticed that it never altered its position, no matter
how the winds blew. Feeling sure that this was some trick intended to
deceive her, the wrathful goddess glided down to the earth and appeared
at the astonished Jupiter's side--but not before he had had time to
change Io into a heifer.

"Golden-sandaled" Juno walked about the meadow gathering flowers, then
she asked her husband why he was lingering there, so far from bright
Olympus. Jupiter answered that he was amusing himself by creating a
heifer. This explanation did not deceive Juno; but she pretended to be
satisfied, and praised the beautiful creature's glossy skin and large
soft eyes. Then she demanded it of Jupiter as a gift, and the ruler of
the gods, not knowing how to refuse, consented. The triumphant goddess
led away the heifer and put her in charge of Argus. Now Argus had a
hundred eyes, and though he often went to sleep, some of his eyes
always kept awake; so Juno felt sure that no device of Jupiter's could
enable Io to escape from the watchful guardian who never wholly slept.

Meanwhile Jupiter was in despair over this unhappy ending to his
wooing, and sought the help of Mercury, who often lent his ready wits
to gods and mortals in distress. Laying aside his cap and sandals and
snake-entwined wand, by which he might easily be recognized, Mercury
went down to the earth in the disguise of a shepherd. With his pipes
in his hand he strolled through the country until he came to the
mountain-side, where Argus sat watching the heifer; and when he began
to play, the music was so sweet that Argus begged him to stop awhile
that he might listen longer to the wonderful playing. The wily god
consented, and as he piped on, some of the hundred eyes grew drowsy
with sleep, but some of them stayed open and watchful.

The droning of the pipes kept on, and to add to the drowsiness of the
music, Mercury began to tell stories in a low sing-song tone that cast
a kind of spell over the eyes that were still watching. He told of
Apollo's affection for the youth Hyacinthus,[18] whom Zephyrus, god
of the west wind, also loved; and how, when the sun-god was playing
quoits with his friend, Zephyrus in a fit of jealous anger blew aside
the missile hurled by Apollo so that it struck Hyacinthus and killed
him. But the sun-god would not let the fair youth be forgotten, and
changed each drop of his blood into delicate white flowers which were
forever to bear his name.[19] Then Mercury told of Æsculapius, son of
Apollo and Coronis, who was entrusted to the care of Chiron,--most
famous of the Centaurs,--and was also taught by his divine parent the
art of healing. In this he became so skillful that he even restored
the dead to life, and so incurred the wrath of Jupiter, who, fearing
that Æsculapius[20] would receive undue honor, killed him with a
thunderbolt. To these stories Mercury added many more that told of
the loves of the gods, and at last all the hundred eyes of Argus were
closed. Then Mercury, drawing a sharp sword, cut off the great head as
it drooped forward, and rolled it down the rocks.

When Juno heard of the death of her faithful servant she was terribly
angry, and vowed that she would bring punishment on those who had
been the cause of his slaying; but before doing this she commemorated
the fidelity of Argus by taking his hundred eyes and putting them in
the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock. Then she carried out her
revenge by sending an enormous gadfly to torment poor Io, who was
still in the form of a heifer. From one country to another the unhappy
creature wandered; and once, in a desperate effort to escape her
tormentor, she plunged into the sea, which was afterwards called Ionian
in her honor. Across this she swam and reached the shore of Africa;
but even here the gadfly followed her, and the vengeance of Juno never
allowed her a moment's rest. Jupiter could do nothing to ease her
sufferings by interceding for her to the remorseless queen of heaven;
but at last Juno consented to send away the gadfly and to restore Io
to her own form if Jupiter would promise never to visit her again.
Reluctantly the ruler of the gods agreed to this demand, and Io became
once more a beautiful maiden.


When Jupiter went wandering on the earth in search of adventures other
than the wooing of some maiden, he often made Mercury his companion,
for this slender young god was his favorite among all the dwellers of
Olympus. One day both the gods, disguised as travelers, stopped at
the hut of an aged couple named Philemon and Baucis; and pretending
weariness, they asked to be allowed to rest. The old couple were
delighted that strangers had honored their humble roof, and in order
to extend the hospitality still further, Philemon decided to kill the
one thing he had that could furnish meat for the guests. This was a
large fat goose, who had no mind to be killed and eaten, even to supply
a meal for gods; so when the old man tried to catch him, he sought
refuge between Jupiter's knees. When the ruler of the gods learned
that the couple intended to sacrifice their one possession, he was
greatly touched by their kindness, but would not allow them to kill the
trusting bird that had fled to him for protection.

Then the good wife Baucis set before her guests olives, and cornel
berries preserved in vinegar, and cheese, with eggs cooked in the
ashes. She laid earthen cups and dishes on the table, which she had
already rubbed with sweet-smelling herbs, and placed beside them an
earthen pitcher full of their best wine. While the simple meal was
going on, and the guests were partaking of a dessert of apples and wild
honey, Baucis was so fluttered over her duties as hostess that she did
not observe the pitcher; but old Philemon looked on in astonishment at
the wine which renewed itself in the pitcher as fast as it was poured
out. He whispered to his wife to watch this miracle; and when she, too,
saw the never-empty pitcher, she was filled with a vague terror, and
looked fearfully at the smiling strangers. So Jupiter told the old
man and his wife who their guests really were, and bade them ask of
him some boon, swearing by the terrible river Styx to grant whatever
they might desire. Then Philemon and Baucis begged that they might be
allowed to serve the gods as long as they lived; and that when their
time of service was over, they might die together. Pleased with the
simplicity of this request, Jupiter gladly promised that all should
be as they wished; and he transformed their humble cottage into a
beautiful temple, where they might worship the gods all their days. And
when after years of faithful service Philemon and Baucis died, Jupiter
changed them into lordly oaks, which stood before the pillars of the
temple as a monument to their fidelity.

[Illustration: Juno]

Chapter XI



Once the stately Juno looked down from high-peaked Olympus and saw
Jupiter walking in a meadow with a maiden so exquisitely fair that
the flowers at her feet looked dull and faded beside her dazzling
whiteness. This was Callisto, so famous for her beauty that suitors
came from distant lands to woo her; but she cared nothing for their
rich gifts, nor would she listen to any vows of love. Then Jupiter
sought her as she wandered alone in the meadow; and the maiden gladly
yielded to the great ruler of the gods the love that no mortal man
had been able to win. When white-armed Juno learned how many hours
Jupiter spent by the side of Callisto, she determined to punish the
helpless maiden, and accordingly turned her into a bear. For a long
time Jupiter sought her in the familiar meadow, but she never came
again to meet him. Then one day he found her in the forest with her
little son Arcas--both turned into bears by the jealous hate of Juno.
Grieved as he was at this misfortune, the ruler of Olympus could not
restore them to their human form; but he took them to the heavens, that
they might suffer no further harm, and placed them in the sky as the
constellations of the Great and Little Bear.

Jupiter often assumed the form of a bird or animal so as to escape
Juno's watchful eyes. As a swan he won the love of Leda, and their
child was the fair-haired Helen whose beauty cost the men of Troy
so dear. As a white bull he wooed the gentle maid Europa, who was
frightened at his sudden appearance in the meadow where she was
playing; but as soon as she saw how tame the beautiful animal was and
how anxious to be petted, she lost all her fear. She made a wreath
of flowers to hang about his neck, and grew so accustomed to her new
playmate that she got upon his back as he bent his lordly head to
receive her garlands. The bull then galloped away toward the sea, and
before the terrified girl could realize what had happened he plunged
with her into the waves. As soon as they were far from the land, the
white bull spoke gently to Europa and told her who he really was and
how, for love of her, he had assumed this strange disguise. So the
maiden was no longer afraid, but allowed herself to be carried to an
unknown land that was afterward called Europe in her honor.

It was no wonder that Juno kept watch over the earth as no other
goddess needed to do, for she knew that the loveliness that belonged to
the daughters of men could easily lure great Jupiter from his golden
throne. She was therefore very reasonably angry when she looked one
day through the white clouds around Olympus and saw--not on the earth,
but in the lap of the ever-tossing sea--the most beautiful being that
could exist outside of a dream. So wonderfully fair was this maiden
upon whom Juno fixed her resentful gaze, that she seemed too perfect
to be made of flesh and blood, and the jealous watcher was almost
persuaded that it was no real living thing which rested softly on the
crest of the waves, but some creature made from the rainbow colors and
white mist of the sea. The ocean rocked her lightly on its breast, and
Zephyrus, the west wind, bore her gently toward the shore. The sunlight
shone on her rosy flesh, and her long hair lay out upon the waves,
glistening like spun gold. The sky above her was not more soft or deep
than the blueness of her eyes, and the smile upon her perfect lips was
of a subtle sweetness more alluring than the breath of spring. As she
lay pillowed in the arms of the slow-swinging sea, the west wind bore
her to the island of Cyprus; and when her foot touched the warm sand,
the goddess rose from the waves, which were so loth to yield her to
the waiting earth, and stepped lightly upon the shore. She flung the
wet ringlets from her forehead, shook the foam from her breast and
shoulders--white as the purest marble--and stood upright in the warm
sunshine--the most perfect thing that the wondering old earth had ever
looked upon. This was Venus,[21] goddess of love and beauty, born of
the foam of the sea, and destined to be the most far-famed of all the
dwellers in Olympus.

It was not long before others than the watchful Juno had seen this
vision of loveliness, and she was eagerly welcomed by the gods as soon
as she appeared among them. The beauty and grace of the new goddess
so charmed them that all were eager to yield her homage, and she was
immediately sought in marriage--even Jupiter himself becoming an
enamored suitor. But "laughter-loving" Venus refused to be wed, and
would not listen to any wooing. Then the ruler of the gods, finding his
proffered love scorned by the proud goddess, determined to punish her
by compelling her to marry Vulcan, the ugliest and most ill-favored of
deities; and as Jupiter's word was law in all the universe, Venus was
obliged to obey. But though married, she was by no means a devoted or
faithful wife, and she caused poor Vulcan many unhappy moments; for he
saw how his misshapen form repelled her, and he knew that she would
soon seek for happiness elsewhere.

The first to win the love of "golden" Venus was Mars, the handsome god
of war, who, though delighted at being honored as the chosen one of
beauty, was careful that the goddess's preference should not be known.
When he and Venus met in some lover's bower, they placed Alectryon--the
attendant of Mars--on guard, so that no one, not even prying Juno,
would come upon them unawares. Things went on happily for some time;
but one day Alectryon fell asleep at his post, and slept so soundly
that he did not see Apollo, in his golden chariot, driving close to
the trysting place of the lovers. When the sun-god realized what was
happening, he went straightway to Vulcan and told him how much his wife
was enjoying the society of Mars.

Vulcan, angry and ashamed, set to work to forge a net of linked steel;
and when it was finished, he hurried with it to the spot where Venus
and the god of war were still conversing together. Stepping up softly
behind them, Vulcan drew the net over their heads, and thus held them
fast. Then he hastened back to Olympus, where he told his story and
bade all the gods go look upon the ridiculous and humiliating plight of
the imprisoned lovers. When the captured pair were at last set free,
Mars rushed off to find Alectryon and to learn why they had not been
warned of Apollo's approach. Finding his sentinel peacefully sleeping,
unmindful of the disaster that had occurred through his neglect of
duty, Mars was so enraged that he changed Alectryon into a cock, and
commanded him to rise early every morning and crow to announce the
coming of the sun.


The next fancy of Venus was for Adonis,[22] a handsome young hunter,
who was so fearless in his pursuit of game that the goddess often felt
anxious for his safety. She urged him to give up the chase and spend
all his day with her; but however much Adonis enjoyed the society of
Venus, he also loved to roam the forests, and no entreaties could
induce him to give up his favorite sport. One day Adonis was following
a wild boar, and believing that the creature was wounded, he boldly
drew near, when the boar turned suddenly upon him and drove his long
tusks into the youth's side. As he lay dying in the forest, Venus heard
of the tragic ending of the day's hunt and hurried to save him. So
careless was she of her own hurt that she rushed heedlessly through the
rough briers, which tore her soft skin and scattered drops of blood on
the white wood flowers. When she reached Adonis, he was already past
her help and could not respond to her caresses. Holding his lifeless
body in her arms, Venus wept and mourned for her beloved; and her
tears, as they fell upon the sympathizing earth, were changed into
anemones. Then to hide from her eyes the painful sight of the young
hunter's mangled body, the kindly earth again took pity on her grief
and turned the drops of blood that came from Adonis's side into red
roses. Still the goddess would not be comforted, but sat mourning alone
with her dead.

Then Mercury came to lead the soul of Adonis to gloomy Hades; and
when the messenger of the gods had departed with his slight burden,
Venus went back to Olympus, and throwing herself on the ground before
Jupiter's throne, she besought him to give Adonis back to her, or else
to allow her to stay with him in Hades. Since the world could not well
spare the goddess of beauty, Jupiter refused to let her go to the
sunless realm of Pluto; but neither would that dread ruler consent
to give up Adonis to her longing arms. Then the gods, touched by the
depth of Venus's grief, interceded in her behalf, and reluctantly Pluto
agreed to allow Adonis to spend six months with the goddess in the
warmth and joy of the sunlight if for the rest of the year he would be
content to dwell in Hades.


Another of the fortunate ones who gained the love of Venus was
Anchises, prince of Troy; but though the goddess lavished much
affection upon him, she was rather ashamed of her attachment, for
Anchises was of only mortal birth. She therefore bade him to keep the
matter secret, and for a time Anchises obeyed; but being proud of his
relation to the goddess he forgot her instructions, and boasted of his
good fortune. This so angered the willful Venus that she never bestowed
her favors on him again; but transferred all her affection to her son
Æneas, who fared better at her hands than his father Anchises. In
the many adventures that befell this famous hero, Venus was always a
ready protectress, and whenever Æneas was involved in some apparently
hopeless situation, his goddess mother would immediately hide him in a
thick mist which was sure to baffle his enemies. Sometimes, as in the
Trojan war, she wrapped him in her shining robe and bore him from the
battle-field; and if the hero _was_ constantly in tears, as the poet
Virgil says, it was certainly not the fault of Venus.

As to the ultimate fate of Anchises, some authorities say that the
offended goddess borrowed one of Jupiter's thunderbolts and disposed
of her talkative lover in this fashion; but the most probable story
is that he lived to see Æneas become a famous prince of Troy, and was
himself carried from the ruins of that burning city on the shoulders of
his devoted son.

Chapter XII

The Story of Cupid and Psyche

Cupid,[23] god of love, was the son of Mars and Venus; and though he
was always the happiest of children, his mother was distressed because
he never grew up, but remained year after year a chubby, dimpled child.
When she consulted Themis, the goddess of Justice, to find out why
Cupid was never any older, she was told that "Love cannot grow without
Passion." This explanation was at first very mystifying; but later,
when Anteros was born, Venus understood the meaning of the strange
words. Cupid then developed into a tall slender youth who did not
revert to his childish form except in his brother's absence, when he
again became a rosy, mischievous child. Though grown larger in stature,
the god of love still kept his gauzy wings, and always carried a bow
and a quiver full of arrows. No mortal ever saw him, though many knew
when he had come and gone; but should any one be touched by a shaft
sent carelessly from Cupid's golden bow, he was henceforth a slave to
the slender winged god who bore lightly in his hand so much of human
happiness and misery.

There was once a king who had three daughters whose beauty was
famed far and wide; but the loveliness of the youngest was so great
that people called her the goddess of Beauty and worshiped her with
offerings of flowers. The maiden, Psyche, was troubled over all this
adoration, and begged her followers to cease from their mad worship;
for she knew that Venus would be sure to punish the one who usurped
her title and received the homage due only to an immortal. The people
continued, however, to call Psyche the goddess of beauty; and when
Venus saw her own temple forsaken and her shrines ungarlanded, she was
so incensed at the insult that she vowed to punish poor Psyche, who had
been a most unwilling object of all this mistaken devotion. The goddess
summoned her son Cupid to her presence and bade him go slay the maiden
who had presumed to be her rival in beauty.

Believing that his mother's anger was justified, Cupid was quite
willing to kill the offending mortal with one of his poisoned arrows;
and accordingly he went in search of Psyche, whom he found asleep
in one of the rooms of her father's palace. It was night, and the
moonlight shone through the open window, falling softly upon the couch
where the maiden, unconscious of her doom, lay sleeping. One bright
beam had lightly touched her forehead just as Cupid entered, and he saw
with delight the loveliness that his mother had been eager to destroy.
As he leaned nearer to the sleeping maiden one of his own arrows grazed
his side, and all unknowingly he was wounded. Not wishing to harm the
beauty that he was now beginning to love, Cupid softly left the room
and went back to Olympus.

When Venus found that her rival was not dead, and that Cupid refused
to hurt a thing so fair, she began to persecute poor Psyche until
life grew unbearable for the helpless maiden, and she determined to
kill herself. So she stole secretly from the palace and climbed up a
high mountain, where there was a ledge of rock overhanging a steep
cliff. It was rather fearful to look down into the valley from the
rocky ledge, and for a moment Psyche's heart failed her; but then she
remembered the daily annoyances that Venus inflicted upon her, and she
remembered also the words of the oracle which said that her future
husband was to be "no mortal, but a monster whom neither gods nor men
can resist." So, summoning all her courage, she threw herself over the
cliff, expecting to be dashed to pieces upon the rocks below. But Cupid
had been watching over her, ever since she began her weary journey up
the mountain; and when he realized what she meant to do, he commanded
Zephyrus to keep very near and to catch her lightly when she fell. So
it was not upon the cruel rocks that Psyche's soft body lay, but in the
friendly arms of the west wind who bore her to a distant island, where
Cupid had already made preparations for her coming.

[Illustration: Psyche]

On the thick grass in the midst of a beautiful garden, Zephyrus laid
his slight burden; and when Psyche opened her eyes, she found herself
unhurt, though bewildered by her strange journey through the air and
by its unexpected ending. She rose from the grass and began to wander
about the garden, wondering where she might be and what land lay beyond
the blue water whose waves rolled lazily upon the beach that stretched
away for miles at the foot of the garden. Then she strolled further
inland among the flowers, and soon came to a beautiful palace whose
doors were opened wide as if to welcome her. Timidly she entered the
stately hall, and saw before her a richly-laden table and a chair
placed in readiness for the coming guest. Soon she heard voices
speaking to her gently, and they bade her eat and drink, for the feast
was spread in her honor. Seeing no one, but reassured by the kindly
voices, she ate of the food so generously provided. Then she went again
into the garden, but left it soon and hurried down to the sea; for when
evening came on, she began to be lonely, and the silence of the garden
grew oppressive. On the beach she heard the sound of lapping water
and felt herself a part of the life that beats forever in the restless
changing sea.

At night she sought the palace where the unseen servitors again
ministered to her wants; and in the darkness, Cupid came to woo her.
He did not reveal his name, but he told how he had rescued her from
death and brought her to this island, that she might never again be
persecuted by jealous Venus. Everything that she wished for would be
hers for the mere asking, and the invisible attendants would always be
on hand to do her bidding. He himself would ever be her loyal lover;
and would come each night to cheer her solitude. The only thing that
he asked in return was that she should never seek to know his name or
try to see his face. Psyche listened to the words of Cupid, and was
won by the soft pleading of his voice. She was content to stay on the
unknown island, and to be with her unseen lover, whose name and face
must remain forever a mystery. Many happy weeks passed, and Psyche
never wished to leave her new home, for though she was often lonely as
she walked each day in the rose-garden, she forgot the long hours of
solitude when Cupid came at night to gladden her with his love and to
tell her of his wanderings.

As time went on Psyche began to wonder how things were faring at her
father's palace; and she wished very much to see her sisters who must
have long since believed her dead. Cupid had told her she might ask for
anything that she wished save the two forbidden things, so she summoned
the west wind and bade him bring her sisters to her. Zephyrus gladly
obeyed, and soon Psyche saw her two sisters standing beside her, more
astonished than she to find themselves there. For hours they talked
together, and Psyche told them of her adventure on the mountain and how
she had been rescued by the friendly west wind. She told them of her
mysterious lover, of his riches and his great kindness, and regretted
that she could not describe his appearance; but, she explained, this
was impossible since she herself had never seen him. As the sisters
listened to Psyche's story, their hearts were filled with bitter envy
that she should be thus favored above all other maidens; and they
planned to rob her of her happiness. They reminded her of the words of
the oracle that she should marry a monster; and under the pretense of
a loving interest in her welfare, they urged her to break her promise
to her lover and to find out whether he was in truth a monster that
was only waiting his time to devour her. Psyche at first scorned these
malicious suggestions, but by and by they began to make an impression
on her troubled mind, and she found herself ready to listen and to
believe. Finally she agreed to carry out the plan that her sisters
arranged, which was to secrete a sharp knife in her room and use it to
kill the monster as he slept.

When Zephyrus had taken the sisters back to their own home, and Psyche
was once more alone, she felt ashamed of the promise that she had made
them; but at the same time she could not forget the words of the oracle
nor cast off the suspicions that now filled her mind. She was anxious,
too, to see her lover's face and to be able to confront her sisters
with the truth when they should taunt her again. So that night when
Cupid was fast asleep, she rose softly, and by the light of a tiny
lamp which she noiselessly lit, she groped for the knife with which
she intended to slay the creature who--her sisters assured her--was so
frightful that he dared not show his face. Cautiously she stepped to
Cupid's side, and held over him the flickering lamp; but how astonished
she was to behold--not an ugly monster as she had expected--but a
slender youth whose beauty was so great that she felt her heart beat
fast with joy. Breathless she gazed at the unconscious form, and dared
not move for fear of waking him; but as she bent adoringly over him a
drop of oil fell from her lamp on Cupid's shoulder, and he awoke.

For a moment he stared with startled eyes at the knife and the lamp
held in her trembling hands; then he understood the meaning of it
all, and his beautiful face grew sad. In a voice full of pity he spoke
to the now remorseful Psyche, and told her that, as she had broken
her promise, he must go away from her and never come again. In vain
Psyche wept and begged him to forgive her rash deed, confessing that
it was her sisters who had tempted her to betray her trust. But Cupid
gently freed himself from her clinging arms, and spreading his gauzy
wings flew out into the night. Psyche, still weeping, went down into
the garden, hoping that Love might relent and return in spite of his
parting words; but as the hours passed she was still waiting alone, and
when the morning came it found her fast asleep, lying wet-eyed among
the dew-laden flowers.

When at last Psyche awoke, it was midday; and looking around she found
to her surprise that she was in a deep valley with mountains on all
sides, and that the palace with its rose-garden had vanished. All day
she wandered in the valley, meeting no one who might direct her to
her home; and when at length she came to a stately marble temple, she
was glad to enter it and rest. Though she did not know to whom the
temple was dedicated, Psyche prayed to the gods for help; and Ceres,
at whose altar she was kneeling, heard her, and in pity answered her
prayers. She told the disheartened maiden that her lover was no other
than Cupid, the god of Love, "whom neither gods nor man can resist,"
and that if she wished to gain favor in the eyes of his mother,--and
thereby win her lover back,--she would do well to seek the temple of
Venus and offer her services to the offended goddess.

Psyche listened to these friendly words, and thanked Ceres for taking
pity on her suffering. When she left the temple she walked many miles
through the valley, until she came to a shrine on which were hung
flowers, fruit, and jewels, which the suppliants of Venus had brought
as votive offerings. Before this shrine Psyche knelt very humbly, and
implored the goddess of Beauty to accept her service and set her some
task by which she could prove her fidelity. Venus was still angry at
the memory of Psyche's former honors, and she was not to be placated by
any prayers, however sincere. She accepted the maiden's service, but
determined to torment her by setting impossible tasks.

She brought Psyche into a granary, where there were thousands of
different kinds of seeds all thrown in bewildering and unsorted heaps.
Pointing to these, the goddess bade her separate them all, and pile
them together so that by nightfall each seed should be in its proper
place. Poor Psyche was in despair at ever being able to tell one kind
of seed from another; but Cupid, hearing her sighs, sent an army of
ants who worked silently and swiftly at the enormous heap of seeds,
and before twilight came the work was done.

[Illustration: Charon and Psyche]

When Venus saw this almost impossible task accomplished, she knew that
Psyche had never done the work unaided; so reproving her angrily for
her incompetence, she gave the maiden another commission, which was
to gather some golden fleece from the sheep that were browsing in a
meadow not far from Venus's shrine. Next morning Psyche set about her
task, but as she neared the river that must be crossed before she could
reach the meadow, the kindly reeds on the water's edge spoke to her,
and warned her of the danger of her undertaking. They told her that the
rams in the flock were so fierce that they would surely destroy her
if she ventured at this hour among them; but that if she waited until
noontide, when they grew drowsy and lay down on the grass beside the
river, then she could cross in safety, and gather the bits of golden
fleece which she would find caught on the bushes. Psyche listened
gratefully to this advice; and when the sun was high overhead, and the
panting sheep were gathered by the river, lulled to sleep by the drowsy
murmur of the reeds, she crossed the water fearlessly, and gathered
an armful of golden fleece from the bushes among which the flock had
wandered. That night she delivered her precious burden to Venus, who
again reproved her angrily, knowing well that it was through Cupid's
intervention that she had escaped the dangerous rams.

Then the goddess gave her a third errand, and bade her go down to
gruesome Hades to beg of Proserpina, Pluto's queen, a box of her
magic ointment, which could restore all fading beauty to its former
perfection. In the early morning Psyche set out on her journey,
fearful of the dangers that lurked by the way, but eager to gain the
favor of her hard-hearted mistress, so that she might thereby win her
lover back. When she had walked many hours, not knowing where to find
the entrance to remote and unsought Hades, a voice whispered softly
in her ear, telling her of a certain cave through which she might
enter the dreaded region of the dead. Then the voice directed her
how to go unharmed past Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and how to
persuade Charon, the silent ferryman, to row her across the black and
swiftly-flowing river. Encouraged by this timely help, Psyche was able
to secure the desired box, and to come safely out of that dark country
from which only the gods are privileged to return.

As she trod wearily up the valley back to the shrine of Venus, it
occurred to her to take a little of the magic ointment for herself, for
she knew that these days of waiting and working had dimmed the beauty
that once charmed Cupid's eyes. So she opened the box and out sprang
the invincible Spirit of Sleep, who seized upon poor unresisting
Psyche and laid her, apparently lifeless, by the roadside. But Cupid
was watching over his beloved through all the stages of her journey;
and when he saw her unconscious on the ground, he flew quickly to her
assistance, and fought with the masterful Spirit of Sleep until he
conquered it, and compelled it to return to the box from which it had
been set free. Then he roused Psyche from her sudden sleep and told her
that her troubles were at an end, for henceforth he would always stay
beside her. Together they went up to bright Olympus and stood before
Jupiter's throne, where Cupid besought the gods to look with favor upon
their love and to grant to Psyche the gift of immortal life. To this
great Jupiter gladly consented; and Venus, who was now ready to forgive
her one-time rival, welcomed her as the fitting wife of Cupid,--for
Psyche is but another name for Soul, and the Soul, to find its true
happiness, must dwell forever with Love.[24]

[Illustration: Cupid and Psyche]

Chapter XIII

Famous Lovers

I. Echo and Narcissus

Echo was a wood-nymph and a follower of Diana; and she had the one
fault of wanting to talk all the time, especially if she found some
one who was willing to listen. One day Juno went down in great haste
to the earth, suspecting that Jupiter was spending too much time in
the society of the nymphs; but before she had gone very far into the
forest she met Echo and stopped to speak to her. Now Echo knew that
the ruler of the gods was happily engaged with the nymphs, and would
not be pleased at his wife's sudden appearance; so she began to talk
rapidly to Juno, and to tell her such entertaining stories that the
unsuspicious goddess waited to listen. While Echo was thus keeping the
jealous queen from seeking for her husband, Jupiter--warned of her
coming--left the nymphs and returned in haste to Olympus. When, later
on, Juno learned that Echo had intentionally kept her listening so
that Jupiter could make his retreat unseen, she was so angry with the
officious nymph that she forbade her ever to speak again, except to
repeat the last word of any conversation she might hear. Thus she could
never more tell beguiling stories, or interfere in behalf of Jupiter.

At first Echo was very miserable over this misfortune; but in spite
of it she managed to spend her time happily in the forest, and to
hunt with the other nymphs of Diana. One evening as she stopped at a
brookside to drink, she met a handsome youth named Narcissus, and at
once fell in love with him; but unfortunately she could not tell him
of her affection except by languishing looks and sighs. Narcissus was
not at all pleased by her evident interest in him, for many maidens had
loved him, and he had turned coldly from their advances, preferring
to roam the forest alone. Sometime later Narcissus was hunting with
a companion, and, having rushed away in pursuit of a stag, he found
that his friend was no longer in sight. He called to him, but no one
answered except the devoted Echo who was always dogging his footsteps.
When Narcissus called "Are you here?" Echo replied, "Here." "Come!"
cried the youth, and Echo answered, "Come." Then she appeared before
the young hunter and mutely begged for his love; but Narcissus
scornfully turned from her, exclaiming, "You shall never have me."
"Have me," cried the unhappy maiden; but her frank offer was repulsed,
and the hard-hearted youth turned away. Echo made no further attempt
to win his love, but went into the mountains to live out her sad life
alone. No one ever saw her again, and in time she pined away and died;
but her voice remained to whisper among the hills, and to give back the
last word to any one who sought to call her.

As for Narcissus, his scorn of love brought its just punishment, for
Venus decreed that he should suffer even as poor Echo had done. One
day when he was hunting in a remote part of the forest, he came upon a
beautiful deep pool in which all objects were reflected as clearly as
in a mirror. No wild things had ever come to drink of the cool stream;
no feet of beasts had ever trampled the grass on its margin or muddied
its pure waters; not even a floating leaf had ruffled its calm surface.

When Narcissus knelt on the lush grass at the pool's edge and looked
down into the clear water, he was surprised to see a beautiful face
gazing up at him from the depth of the pool. He leaned nearer, and
the face did not withdraw, but seemed to approach his own. Then he
put out his arms to the water-nymph who, he believed, was returning
his advances, and he was delighted to see two white arms stretched
out as if to clasp him in their embrace. But as soon as he attempted
to grasp them, there was only the cool water in his hands, and the
nymph had vanished. When the surface of the pool had grown clear again,
and Narcissus leaned anxiously over it to see what had become of this
baffling maiden, there she was still, gazing at him with her beautiful
eyes. Again and again Narcissus strove to embrace her, but she eluded
his eager arms, and each time he clasped only the unsubstantial water.
Maddened by these repeated defeats, he spoke reproachfully to the
water-nymph, and asked her why she thus tormented him; but though the
lovely mouth so near his own seemed to move as if framing words, no
answer came to his appeal.

Each day Narcissus sought the forest pool, and each day he found the
nymph ready to return his smiles and fond looks, but always escaping
from his touch. By and by he spent all his time beside her, and cared
for nothing else than to gaze beseechingly into the lovely eyes that
looked into his own with the same fever of longing. Absorbed in the
adoration of this strange being who seemed so responsive to his passion
and yet so unwilling to allow him near, he forgot to eat or sleep,
and became only a wan shadow of his former self. The nymph, too, was
pining away with hopeless love, for her face grew pale and thin, and
the deep-shadowed eyes were full of sadness. Sometimes Narcissus slept
from sheer exhaustion; but when the moonlight fell on the calm water,
he would wake with a start and look anxiously to see whether the nymph
was sharing his weary vigil. And always he found her waiting there
in the cool depths of the pool. Finally he grew so sick with longing
that he died of his hopeless love without ever knowing that it was no
water-nymph whom he adored, but only his own reflection. The gods,
believing that such devotion should not go unrecognized, changed him
into a white flower which bears his name; and this is usually found
blooming beside some clear lake or tiny crystal pool.

II. Pyramus and Thisbe

In far-off Babylon there dwelt a youth and maiden whose families lived
in adjoining houses with a party-wall between the two estates. As
the heads of these households were sworn enemies, in spite of their
proximity, the wall was made so high that no one could climb over it,
much less see what was on the other side. The maiden Thisbe, as she
walked in her garden, often wondered who it was whose feet she could
hear pacing up and down along the wall; and one day she was delighted
to find a small crack in the masonry which enabled her to peep into
the adjoining garden. About this time young Pyramus was planning some
way to scale the wall, when he, too, discovered the same chink; and
when he peered cautiously through it, he found to his great joy that
there was a sweet-faced maiden standing near, who hastened to assure
him that she did not share in the family feud. This acquaintance soon
ripened into friendship, and Pyramus and Thisbe spent many hours
standing patiently by the chink in the wall, which was the only way in
which they could exchange confidences. Soon they grew dissatisfied with
this meager allowance of space in which to see each other, for by this
time they had become so much in love that the tender whispers breathed
through the broken wall only made them long to be together without this
cruel barrier between them.

So they planned to steal away from their watchful parents on a certain
night, and meet just outside the city walls at Ninus's tomb, where a
great white mulberry tree would hide them in its protecting shadow.
Accordingly, at the appointed hour, the trembling Thisbe wrapped
herself closely in her veil and crept out of the house. Finding that
she had come first to the trysting-place, she waited under the mulberry
tree, and idly watched the moonlight shining on a broad pool that lay
close to Ninus's tomb. Suddenly a lioness stole out of the bushes,
her mouth bloody with the recent gorging of oxen, and slunk down to
the pool to drink. Thisbe, terrified at the sight of the creature's
dripping jaws, fled into a near-by cave for refuge; but in her fright
she let fall her silken veil, and it dropped on the ground near the

The lioness having drunk her fill walked over to the tree and sniffed
curiously at the bit of silk, then worried at it with her bloody teeth,
as a dog plays with a rag. Just as the lioness departed, Pyramus
came hurrying to the trysting-place, and seeing Thisbe's torn and
blood-stained veil and the print of the lioness's feet on the ground,
he was beside himself with remorse and horror. Being certain that his
beloved had been torn to pieces by some wild beast, he cursed his own
carelessness in letting her come first to a spot so full of dangers.
Then he drew his sword, exclaiming that he no longer wished to live now
that Thisbe was dead. He called upon the mulberry tree to bear witness
to his oath of undying devotion, and then fell heroically upon his
sword, uttering the name of Thisbe with his last breath. As his blood
gushed out upon the ground at the foot of the tree, the earth absorbed
it so quickly that the white fruit of the tree turned a deep purple,
and its juice became like drops of crimson blood.

All this time Thisbe was hiding safely in the cave, and when she at
length ventured out, she gazed fearfully around to be sure that no
lioness was lying in wait to devour her. When she reached the spot
where she hoped to meet her lover, what was her terror and dismay to
find him stretched dead upon the ground with her veil held close to his
parted lips. Realizing what had happened, and that it was too late now
to convince him of his terrible mistake, Thisbe knelt down beside him
and vainly strove to bring him back to life. Finding this useless, she
seized Pyramus's sword and plunged it into her heart determined to die
with him. As she sank forward on her lover's lifeless body, she prayed
the gods to have pity on her great love and to allow her to be buried
in the same tomb with her beloved Pyramus. The gods heard her dying
prayer and answered it by making the hard hearts of the parents relent
so far that they consented to bury the lovers together. A costly tomb
was erected over them as a fitting monument to these two unfortunates
whom life so cruelly divided.[25]

III. Hero and Leander

In the town of Sestus on the Hellespont lived a beautiful maiden
named Hero, who was a priestess in the temple of Venus. Most of her
time was spent in the service of the goddess; but when these hours of
attendance were over, and she was free to leave the temple, Hero was
glad to seek her own dwelling-place, which was a lonely tower on the
cliffs overlooking the sea. Here the maiden loved to sit, watching the
white-winged gulls as they skimmed over the waves, or listening to the
breakers as they dashed angrily against the rocks at the foot of her
tower. The beauty of Hero was famed throughout the country-side; and
many a youth sought the temple of Venus at festival time under the
pretext of honoring the goddess, but really to gaze upon the lovely
young priestess. Among those most eager to see the maiden was Leander,
a youth who lived in a town just across the Hellespont and within
sight of Hero's tower. When he joined the solemn procession that came
to do homage to Venus, he saw the beautiful priestess and determined
to win her in spite of the many restrictions that forbade even an
acquaintance with one dedicated to the temple. Ignoring the thought of
the inevitable punishment that would be meted out to him if his rash
presumption were known, Leander managed to find an opportunity to speak
with Hero and to tell her of his love.

At first she would not listen to his pleading; but at last she was won
by the sincerity of his words, and consented to disregard her sacred
vows by receiving him in her tower. Leander did not dare to visit her
until nightfall; and as he would have to swim across the Hellespont in
the darkness, Hero promised to put a light in her tower so that he
might have some beacon to guide him as he breasted the uncertain sea.
When night came and Leander stood impatiently on the shore, waiting
for the promised signal, suddenly a torch blazed in the distance, and
he knew that Hero was awaiting him in her lonely tower. He plunged
fearlessly into the waves; and though the current was swift, he struck
out boldly and was carried out of its dangerous grip. Now and then he
looked up to where the light was still burning, and his heart beat fast
with hope when he saw it grow larger and brighter as he neared the
land. At last he reached the rocks at the foot of the tower and was
soon standing beside the trembling Hero, who had feared each moment to
see him sink beneath the waves.

The lovers were so happy in being together that each night Leander swam
across the treacherous sea, and Hero placed her torch in the tower
to light him on his perilous journey. All summer they lived in this
idyllic happiness, but when winter came with its storms and its icy
hand, Hero feared for her lover's safety and begged him not to venture
into the sea. Leander laughed however at her fears and continued to
brave the narrow stretch of water that lay between his home and Hero's
tower. The wind often beat him out of his path, and the icy water
numbed his limbs; but he kept bravely on, with his eyes fixed on the
welcoming light. One morning a fierce storm broke over the sea, and
increased in fury through the day, so that by night the waves were
lashing themselves madly against the rocks, and the wind beat the
sea-gulls back to land. Hero dreaded the approach of that hour when
Leander would start on his nightly journey, for she knew that he would
not hesitate to risk his life in the maddened sea for the sake of being
beside her.

When the time came for her to light the torch, she did so reluctantly,
hoping that Leander would not come. On the opposite shore stood the
impatient lover, waiting for the accustomed signal, and when it blazed
out into the night, he plunged boldly into the waves. But now the
sea was too strong even for his experienced arms, and the huge waves
tossed him about as though he were so much foam. The wind and rain
beat upon his defenseless body, and the cold sea gripped him in its
deadly embrace. He struggled bravely to make some headway, and called
upon the gods for help; but his cries were drowned in the howling of
the storm. His strength began to fail as he fought desperately with
the current,--grown terrible in its swiftness,--but now and then he
lifted his head weakly above the waves to see whether Hero's torch was
still burning. Just as he was making a last heroic effort to reach
the land, a sudden gust of wind blew out the light; and seeing this,
Leander with a despairing cry, gave up his unequal battle and sank down
into the sea. The next morning when Hero, anxious and fearful, stood
on the rocks at the foot of the tower, she saw Leander's body, which
had been tossed there in wanton cruelty by the waves. Unable to endure
this sight, and not wishing to live any longer now that her lover had
perished, Hero threw herself into the sea; and when the tardy fishermen
came to launch their boats on the furious waves, they found the
white-robed body of the young priestess lying dead beside her faithful

[Illustration: Hero and Leander]

IV. Pygmalion and Galatea

Pygmalion, king of Cyprus, was a sworn bachelor, and had shunned the
society of women for many years. He was also a famous sculptor, and
spent all his leisure hours carving wonderful things out of marble
and ivory. Though he would not deign to admire any living woman, he
had lofty ideals of feminine beauty, and loved to carve statues whose
perfection of form and exquisite grace surpassed any charms that
could be claimed for a flesh-and-blood maiden. Once Pygmalion made a
beautiful ivory statue that was such a marvel of loveliness that even
the sculptor himself became enamored of it, and lavished upon it a
devotion that was hardly consistent with his supposed indifference to
love. This perfect creation he called Galatea, and he treated her with
all the extravagant fondness that a lover bestows upon his mistress.
He brought her presents of quaint seashells and delicately perfumed
flowers, beads, pearls, and the rarest of jewels, and even gayly
colored birds. Sometimes he hung a string of precious stones about her
neck, and draped her white body in softest silks, treating her in every
way as a maiden reluctant to be wooed.

When the festival of Venus was being celebrated, Pygmalion joined in
the procession and placed a rich offering on the goddess's shrine. As
he did so he looked up toward high Olympus and prayed Venus to grant
him a wife like his peerless Galatea. The goddess heard his prayer,
and as the patroness of all true lovers, she inclined with favor to
his wish; so when Pygmalion returned to his home and hastened into the
presence of his adored statue, he was bewildered at the change that
seemed to be coming over it. A beam of sunset light that was streaming
in through the open window had touched the ivory coldness of the statue
and warmed it with a rosy glow that made it look wonderfully soft and
yielding. But this was not all, for as the astonished sculptor stood
wondering at this unexpected answer to his prayer, the beautiful face
of Galatea turned toward him, and the perfect lips parted as if to
speak. Breathlessly Pygmalion watched the statue gradually warming
into life, and when he was at last assured that it was no longer a
piece of unresponsive ivory, but a breathing, blushing maiden, he knelt
adoringly at her feet and besought her to be his queen.[27]

Chapter XIV

The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice

The deeds of the immortal gods were told and sung at every fireside in
Greece; and among these hero-tales there was none more popular than the
story of how Apollo built for Neptune the famous wall of Troy. Many
musicians would have been glad to perform a similar service for the
mere fame that it would bring them, but they feared that the attempt to
imitate Apollo would only result in failure and ridicule. So no mortal
ever presumed to say that he could make rocks and stones obedient to
the spell of his music. There was, however, one musician, Amphion,
king of Thebes, who was anxious to prove that his playing was equal
to Apollo's, but knowing how unwise it was to vie with an immortal,
he determined not to test his skill publicly, but to carry out his
cherished plan at night, when men were dreaming in their beds. He was
eager to build a high wall around Thebes, and to build it as Apollo
did the wall of Troy; so when the sun set, and darkness crept over the
earth, Amphion stood just outside the city gates and began to play
on his lyre. Immediately the stones rose from the ground and moved
rhythmically into their places in the wall, which soon rose strong and
high--a firmer defense than any that could be built by men's hands.[28]

Another famous musician was Arion, who won not only praise for his
great skill in playing, but also much wealth. Whenever a contest
was held in which a prize of money was given, Arion was usually a
competitor; and, as his music was really finer than that of most
players, he easily won the reward. Once he was returning from a
festival in Sicily whither many musicians had gone on account of the
rich prize; and as he had come off victor, he was leaving the foreign
shores well-laden with gold. Unfortunately he happened to embark on
a ship owned by pirates who had heard of his great wealth, and were
plotting to seize whatever part of it he had on board. As the easiest
way to do this was to kill him, the pirates began to bind him with
ropes that he might not be able to struggle when thrown over-board.
Arion calmly accepted his fate, but begged the brutal crew to allow
him to play once upon his lyre before going to his death. To this
the pirates consented, and when the wonderful music filled the air,
a school of dolphins swam toward the ship and kept close beside it,
charmed by Arion's playing. Feeling sure that there was some magic in
the music, the pirates hastened to throw the player and his lyre into
the sea without waiting to bind him; but Arion did not drown as they
had expected, for a friendly dolphin caught him on its back and swam
with him to the shore, where he landed in safety. When in the course of
time Arion died, the gods placed him, together with his lyre and the
kindly dolphin, in the sky as constellations.

The most famous of all musicians, except the one who played in the
shining halls of Olympus, was Orpheus, son of Apollo and of the muse
Calliope.[29] When he was a mere child, his father gave him a lyre and
taught him to play upon it; but Orpheus needed very little instruction,
for as soon as he laid his hand upon the strings the wild beasts crept
out of their lairs to crouch beside him; the trees on the mountain-side
moved nearer so that they might listen; and the flowers sprang up in
clusters all around him, unwilling to remain any longer asleep in the

When Orpheus sought in marriage the golden-haired Eurydice, there
were other suitors for her hand, but though they brought rich gifts,
gathered out of many lands, they could not win the maiden's love, and
she turned from them to bestow her hand upon Orpheus who had no way to
woo her but with his music. On the wedding day there was the usual
mirth and feasting, but one event occurred that cast a gloom over the
happiness of the newly-married pair. When Hymen, god of marriage, came
with his torch to bless the nuptial feast, the light that should have
burned clear and pure began to smoke ominously, as if predicting future

This evil omen was fulfilled all too soon, for one day when Eurydice
was walking in the meadow, she met the youth Aristæus, who was so
charmed with her beauty that he insisted upon staying beside her to
pour his ardent speeches into her unwilling ears. To escape from these
troublesome attentions, Eurydice started to run away, and as she ran
she stepped on a poisonous snake, which quickly turned and bit her. She
had barely time to reach her home before the poison had done its work,
and Orpheus heard the sad story from her dying lips. As soon as Mercury
had led away the soul of Eurydice, the bereaved husband hastened to the
shining halls of Olympus, and throwing himself down before Jupiter's
golden throne, he implored that great ruler of gods and men to give
him back his wife. There was always pity in the hearts of the gods for
those who die in flowering time, so Jupiter gave permission to Orpheus
to go down into Hades, and beg of Pluto the boon he craved.

It was a steep and perilous journey to the kingdom of the dead, and
the road was one that no mortal foot had ever trod; but through his
love for Eurydice Orpheus forgot the dangers of the way, and when he
spoke her name, the terrors of the darkness vanished. In his hand he
held his lyre, and when he arrived at the gate of Hades, where the
fierce three-headed dog Cerberus refused to let him pass, Orpheus stood
still in the uncertain darkness and began to play. And as he played the
snarling of the dog ceased and the noise of its harsh breathing grew
faint. Then Orpheus went on his way undisturbed, but still he played
softly on his lyre, and the sounds floated far into the dismal interior
of Hades, where the souls of the condemned labor forever at their
tasks. Tantalus heard the music, and ceased to strive for a drop of the
forbidden water; Ixion rested a moment beside his ever-revolving wheel;
and Sisyphus stood listening, while the rock which he must roll through
all eternity fell from his wearied arms. The daughters of Danaüs laid
down their urns beside the sieve into which they were forever pouring
water, and as the mournful wailing of Orpheus's lyre told the story of
his lost love, they wept then for a sorrow not their own. So plaintive,
indeed, was the music, that all the shadowy forms that flitted
endlessly by shed tears of sympathy for the player's grief, and even
the cheeks of the Furies were wet.

When Orpheus came before the throne of Pluto, that relentless monarch
repulsed him angrily as he attempted to plead his cause, and commanded
him to depart. Then the son of Apollo began to play upon his lyre,
and through his music he told the story of his loss, and besought the
ruler of these myriad souls to give him the single one he craved. So
wonderfully did Orpheus play that the hard heart of Pluto was touched
with pity, and he consented to restore Eurydice to her husband on
condition that as they went out together from the loathed country of
the dead he should not once turn his head to look upon her. To this
strange decree Orpheus gladly promised obedience; so Eurydice was
summoned from among the million shadow-shapes that throng the silent
halls of death. Pluto told her the condition on which her freedom was
to be won, and then bade her follow her husband.

[Illustration: Orpheus and Eurydice]

During all the wearisome journey back to earth, Orpheus never forgot
the promise he had made, though he often longed to give just a hurried
glance at the face of Eurydice to see whether it had lost its sadness.
As they neared the spot where the first faint glimmerings of light
filtered down into the impenetrable darkness, Orpheus thought he heard
his wife calling, and he looked quickly around to find whether she
was still following him. At that moment the slight form close behind
him began to fade away, and a mournful voice--seemingly far in the
distance--called to him a sad farewell.

He knew that no second chance would be given him to win his wife from
Pluto's hold, even if he could again charm the three-headed Cerberus
or persuade Charon, the grim ferryman, to take him across the river.
So he went forlornly back to earth and lived in a forest cave far
from the companionship of men. At first there was only his lyre to
share his solitude, but soon the forest creatures came to live beside
him, and often sat listening to his music, looking exceedingly wise
and sorrowful. Even in his sleepless hours, when he fancied he heard
Eurydice calling, he was never quite alone, for the bat and owl and
the things that love the darkness flitted about him, and he saw the
glow-worms creep toward him out of the night-cold grass.

One day a party of Bacchantes found him seated outside the cave,
playing the mournful music that told of his lost love, and they bade
him change the sad notes to something gay so that they might dance.
But Orpheus was too wrapped up in his sorrow to play any strain of
cheerful music, and he refused to do as they asked. The Bacchantes were
half maddened by their festival days of drinking, and this refusal so
enraged them that they fell upon the luckless musician and tore him to
pieces. Then they threw his mangled body into the river, and as the
head of Orpheus drifted down the stream, his lips murmured again and
again "Eurydice," until the hills echoed the beloved name, and the
rocks and trees and rivers repeated it in mournful chorus. Later on,
the Muses gathered up his remains to give them honorable burial; and it
is said that over Orpheus's grave the nightingale sings more sweetly
than in any other spot in Greece.[30]

Chapter XV

Mars and Vulcan


The three children of Jupiter and Juno were Hebe, Mars, and Vulcan.
Hebe, goddess of youth, was cupbearer at the feasts of Olympus and
poured from golden flagons the sparkling, ruby-tinted nectar. Many
times were the brimming cups emptied and filled again, for the gods
loved long draughts of the life-giving nectar that kept off all
sickness and decay. No wine of earth's yielding ever appeared at these
royal banquets, nor were there seen here the heaped-up platters of food
such as mortals crave; for the gods ate only of the divine ambrosia
which insured to them eternal youth and beauty.

For so long a time had fair-haired Hebe served at the feasts of Olympus
that the gods never thought that she could be deprived of her office;
but once, as she was handing Jupiter a well-filled cup, she stumbled
and fell, and the ruler of gods and men was so angry that he vowed that
she should never again be cupbearer. Since no one among the gods was
willing to fill this humble position, Jupiter was obliged to seek over
the earth for some mortal to take the place of poor disgraced Hebe.
To make the journey as speedily as possible he assumed the form of an
eagle, and spent many days soaring over the land before he found the
youth whose slender grace made him feel assured that its possessor
would be able to serve the gods less awkwardly than Hebe. On the sunny
slopes of Mount Ida he saw a group of youths playing games, and among
them was one whom Jupiter determined to bear away at once to Olympus.
This was Ganymede, a prince of Troy; and the fact that he was no common
mortal, but a king's son, did not deter Jupiter from swooping down upon
the astonished youth, and carrying him aloft on his wings. Whether
Ganymede was happy in Olympus we do not know; but the story goes that
he remained forever at Jupiter's side, and the city of Troy never saw
him again, nor did the king his father ever know the reason for his
strange disappearance.


Mars[31] was the god of war; and though he was the least loved of
all the deities in Olympus, he was the one most feared by the people
of every land. As he was always a hater of peace, and would stir
up strife among men for the mere delight of fighting and bloodshed,
the poet Homer calls him "the slayer of men, one steeped in blood,
the destroyer of walled towns." His shrines were never wreathed with
flowers, nor were children often found among the people grouped
about his altars. Instead of the yearling ox with gilded horns, men
sacrificed a savage bull to the god who took no pleasure in the tame
shedding of blood. Sometimes Bellona, goddess of war, accompanied Mars
in his chariot to watch over his safety; and since she was equally
eager to urge men on to bloody fighting, their appearance together
on the battle-field brought terror to the bravest heart. Seldom were
prayers addressed to these two deities, except those of vengeance upon
enemies; and there was little hope of peace for the nation when men
thronged the temples where Mars and Bellona were jointly worshiped. The
fiercest passions were kindled at their shrines, and their altars were
the only ones that were ever defiled by human sacrifices.

Though so fierce in warfare, Mars was as susceptible to love as were
all the immortals; for he was not only the chosen one of golden-haired
Venus, but was also the devoted lover of the vestal Rhea Silvia.[32]
This maiden, being dedicated to the goddess Vesta, did not dare to
listen to any words of love until her time of service in the temple
was over; for the penalty of breaking her solemn vows would be the
terrible one of being buried alive. But Mars was not to be denied; so
at last the vestal yielded, but kept her marriage secret and continued
to live in the temple until the birth of her twin sons Romulus and
Remus. When her parents learned that she had failed to keep the sacred
promise made at the altar fire of Vesta, they demanded that she should
suffer the prescribed punishment. She was therefore taken at night into
an underground room of the temple and inclosed in the wall which had
been built to allow for just such a tragic event. As her children were
declared outcasts, they were taken into the forest and left to perish
by the teeth of wild beasts. Romulus and Remus did not die, however;
for a she-wolf carried them to her lair and reared them with her own
cubs. Later on they were found by a kindly shepherd who took care of
them until they grew to manhood. Then they left him, and went out into
the world to seek adventures, which soon ended in Romulus killing his
brother Remus and himself becoming the founder of Rome.

When this new city was well established, Mars was made its patron deity
and protector; and before an army set out on any military campaign the
leader would first go into the temple where the sacred shield--the
Ancile--hung; and touching it fearfully would pray, "Oh, Mars, watch
over us." This shield was carefully guarded in Rome, for upon it
depended the safety of the city. It was a special token sent by the god
of war to show that the people of Rome were under his protection; for
once when a plague was raging among them and the dead were numbered
by thousands, the Romans fled to the temple of Mars and begged him to
help them. As they were praying, a shield fell from the skies into
their midst, and a voice told them that as long as this--the sacred
Ancile--was with them, no harm could come to Rome. That day the plague
ceased, and ever afterward the shield was jealously guarded. To insure
its safety, eleven other shields were made so like the Ancile that no
one but the Salii, the priests of the temple, knew which it was. These
were carried in the streets during the festivals in honor of Mars which
were held in March--the month that bears his name; and as the priests
bore aloft the shields they sang war-songs and performed rude war
dances. Sometimes the shields were displayed on the broad grounds where
the soldiers and youths of the city held their exercises. This place
was dedicated to the god of war, and was called the Campus Martius, or
Field of Mars.

During the war between the gods and giants, Mars was so eager to prove
his skill in warfare that he engaged in a fierce battle with Otus and
Ephialtes. These two giants were only nine years old; but they were
already of immense size, as they increased in height at the rate of
nine inches every month. The young giants were very proud of having
conquered the god of war, and carried him off the battle-field in
triumph. They bound Mars with iron chains, and kept a careful guard
over him so that none of the gods could set him free. Whenever Mars
attempted to escape at night, believing that the giants were asleep,
the rattle of the chains woke his guardians, and all hope of rescuing
him was over. In this disgraceful bondage the unhappy Mars lingered for
fifteen months until Mercury, the prince of thieves, unfastened the
chains and restored the god to freedom.

When Cadmus went on his search for his sister Europa, whom Jupiter, in
the form of a white bull, had carried off to a distant land,[33] the
devoted brother was at last bidden to give up his hopeless quest, to
settle in the country, later called Bœotia, and to found a city there.
Cadmus was glad to rest after his long march, and he sent some of his
men in search of a spring. When they did not come back, he sent others
to look for them, and when these did not return, he went himself to see
what had caused all this delay. He carried his sword in his hand, and
also a long spear, for he guessed that some disaster had overtaken his
men. He wandered some time before he discovered any trace of them, and
then at the edge of a forest he came upon the lifeless body of one of
those who had first set out to find the spring. As he went farther into
the forest he found others of his men, all of them lifeless, and soon
he came to a large cave, at the entrance of which bubbled a fountain of
purest water.

Not knowing that this was a grove sacred to Mars, and a fountain that
had never been polluted by mortal touch, Cadmus stooped to drink, when
suddenly, out of the deep shadows of the cave, rushed a huge dragon
with crested head and glittering scales and a triple tongue vibrating
between triple rows of teeth. This monster, twisting his body into a
huge coil, darted toward Cadmus with gleaming fangs; but the young
prince dealt his assailant a terrific blow that pierced the dragon in
a vital spot, and it rolled over dead upon the floor of the cave. Then
Cadmus heard a voice telling him to take out the dragon's teeth and
to sow them in the ground where he wished to build his future city of
Thebes. As soon as the teeth were sown, a crop of giants in glittering
armor sprang up out of the ground, and when they were about to turn
their spears upon Cadmus, he again heard the voice--this time bidding
him throw a stone into the midst of the armed men. This caused a
terrific battle to begin among the giants themselves, and soon they
were all killed except five who laid down their weapons and offered
their services to Cadmus.

As a punishment for the desecration of his grove and the slaying of
its sacred guardian, Mars compelled Cadmus to serve him for eight
years. At the end of this time the prince was made ruler of the new
city of Thebes, and Mars so far forgave the sacrilege of his grove
as to give Cadmus his daughter Harmonia in marriage. The career of
the new king was very prosperous at first, and Cadmus was supposed to
have contributed a great boon to his people by the invention of the
alphabet. Later on he incurred the wrath of the gods by forgetting to
offer them suitable sacrifices, and both he and his wife Harmonia were
changed into serpents.

Just above the city of Athens was a hill called the Areopagus (from the
Greek word meaning Mars Hill), which received its name from a famous
trial that took place there. Neptune's son had carried off the daughter
of Mars; and when the god of war learned of the abduction, he hurried
after the daring youth and killed him. Then Neptune demanded that Mars
should be punished for his deed of blood; and to decide the matter,
both were summoned to appear before a court of justice, which was held
on the hill above Athens. As it was the custom for all important cases
to be tried at night, so that the judges might not be prejudiced by
the favorable appearance of either party, the court assembled in the
darkness, and Mars told the story of his daughter's capture and his
own subsequent revenge. In spite of Neptune's objections to what he
considered an unfair verdict, the judges decided in favor of Mars, and
he was therefore acquitted. The hill was afterwards called by his name,
and the judges of the principal court of justice were always termed


Vulcan,[34] god of fire and the forge, was not often seen in the halls
of Olympus, for he knew that the gods despised him for his ungainly
appearance, and he preferred to stay in his own sooty workshop. He had
also no desire for the society of his divine parents, since his mother
had never shown anything but indifference toward him, and his father
had been the cause of his deformity. Jupiter was once so angry with
Juno for interfering in his love affairs that he fastened her to the
end of a strong chain, and hung her out of heaven. Vulcan, seeing his
mother in this sad plight, dragged at the chain and finally succeeded
in drawing Juno into safety. Full of wrath at this defiance of his
wishes, Jupiter kicked his son out of heaven; and as the distance of
the fall was so great, it was a whole day and night before Vulcan
reached the earth. Had he been a mortal, there would have been nothing
left to tell the story of his meteorlike descent; but being a god, he
still lived and had only a slight deformity and lameness as the result
of his fall. When he learned that Juno was so unconcerned over his fate
that she had never even inquired whether he was badly hurt, he would
not go back to Olympus, but shut himself up in the heart of Mount Etna,
where he established a mighty forge that poured out fire and smoke for
many years after.

Vulcan did not forget about his mother's heartless indifference; but
none of the gods suspected him of harboring any revenge, until one
day a beautiful golden throne arrived in Olympus as a present to Juno
from her son. The goddess admired the exquisite designs carved on
its polished surface, and seated herself in it proudly. Now Vulcan
had contrived to hide some springs in the interior of the throne,
and these were so skillfully arranged that the moment a person was
seated, the entire structure quickly contracted and held the occupant
prisoner. So in a moment proud Juno found herself securely caught, and
no assistance that the gods could render her was of the least avail.
Then Jupiter sent Mercury to the grimy abode of Vulcan to beg politely
that the god of fire would honor, with his presence, the feast that
was that day to be held in Olympus; but Vulcan was not to be moved
by any flattery, for he well knew why he was so much desired at this
particular time. So Mercury returned alone to Olympus, and Jupiter was
obliged to think of some other device for luring Vulcan from his forge.
This time he sent Bacchus, god of wine; and when the scowling deity
of Etna saw Bacchus's jolly red face and heard his hearty laugh, he
welcomed the jovial visitor and drank freely of the wine that Bacchus
poured. The roisterous god of revels, who dearly loved to see good
wine flowing, beguiled Vulcan into taking draught after draught of the
choice vintage that he had purposely brought, until the sullen master
of the forge was unable to tell what was happening, and allowed himself
to be led unresistingly to Olympus. Once there the gods persuaded him
to release the repentant Juno, and to allow himself to be reinstated in
Jupiter's favor.

Though Vulcan grudgingly complied with these requests, he would not
consent to live in Olympus, but returned to his workshop in Mount
Etna. There he made many things out of gold and precious stones and
gave them to the gods as an evidence that he no longer bore them any
ill will. Their golden thrones were made by Vulcan's crafty hands, and
the wonderful palaces, with all their costly furnishings, were the
best result of his skill. He also forged Jupiter's thunderbolts and
fashioned the weapons that the gods used in battle. He made Apollo's
marvelous sun-chariot, and even deigned to use his skill in shaping the
arrows that Cupid used in his golden bow.

When Jupiter decreed[35] that laughter-loving Venus should wed his
misshapen son, Vulcan took his reluctant wife to the smoky workshop in
Mount Etna, and for a while Venus was amused at the unusual sights and
sounds that greeted her in her new home; but she soon wearied of the
dirt and darkness, and left the society of her surly husband to return
to Olympus, where there was plenty to delight her pleasure-loving

[Illustration: The Abduction of Proserpina]

Chapter XVI

The Story of Proserpina

When Jupiter made himself ruler of the world, he imprisoned some of
the warring giants under Mount Etna in Sicily, much to the disgust
of Pluto, who was always fearing that when the giants got restless
and turned over and over underground (thus causing earthquakes), they
would some day make such a large crack in the earth that daylight would
be let into Hades. So Pluto often went up out of his sunless land to
look carefully over the island, and to be sure that no new fissure
was being made in the earth's surface. One day, as he was driving his
four coal-black horses through the vale of Enna, he saw a group of
maidens gathering violets on the hillside; and among them was one so
exquisitely fair that Pluto determined to take her for his wife. This
was Proserpina,[36] daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, a
maiden who had ever shunned the thought of marriage and preferred to
spend her life playing games, and dancing in the beautiful plain of
Enna, where there is never any frost or snow, but springtime lasts
through all the year.

Pluto had often tried to gain a wife by gentle means, but no one would
consent to share his grewsome home; so, knowing that this maiden he
desired would never listen to soft words of love, he determined to take
her by force. Driving his fiery horses at full speed, he rushed toward
the group of laughing girls, who scattered and fled at his approach.
Proserpina alone stood still, and stared, frightened and wondering, at
the grim figure confronting her, while the flowers she had gathered
dropped from her trembling hands. In a moment Pluto had seized her in
his strong arms; and, trampling all her violets under his ruthless
feet, he sprang into the chariot and urged his horses to their full
speed, hoping to reach Hades before the maiden's cries brought Ceres to
the rescue.

As he neared the Cyane River the waters, wishing to befriend
Proserpina, began to rise higher and higher, and with tossing waves
opposed the madly-rushing steeds. Fearing to risk the chariot in the
angry waters, Pluto struck the ground with his terrible two-pronged
fork, and a great chasm opened before him, into which the ruler of
Hades hurriedly plunged. Then the earth closed again over him and the
captured maiden. During the dreadful moments when Proserpina felt
herself held a prisoner in the arms of this bold wooer, she called
wildly to her mother for help; but soon she realized that her cries
would never reach Ceres's ears, and that she must find some other way
to let the goddess know of her unhappy fate. So she summoned enough
strength to struggle in her captor's embrace until she freed one arm
from his hold, and with it loosened her girdle, which she flung into
the Cyane River just before the yawning earth hid her so completely
that no traces were left to tell where she had gone.

When Ceres[37] came that evening into the vale of Enna and found that
her daughter was not playing as usual with the other maidens, she
questioned them, and learned their tearful story of the chariot with
its four black horses and terrible driver. Just what had become of
Proserpina no one could tell her; so the distracted mother began her
search, not knowing whether she might at any moment come upon her
daughter's body mangled by the chariot wheels. For days and days she
wandered, never stopping to rest except for a few hours at night when
it was too dark for her to see her way. Rosy-fingered Aurora, when she
left her soft couch to open the gates of the morning, and Hesperus,
when he led out the stars at evening, saw her still searching for the
lost Proserpina. Sometimes she was so weary that she sank down by the
roadside and let the night-dew drench her aching limbs. Sometimes she
rested under the trees when a storm broke over her head; but even here
the rain beat down upon her, and the wind blew its cold breath in her
face. Kindly people gave her food whenever she stopped to ask for it,
and though none knew that she was a goddess, they sympathized with her
grief when she told them that she was seeking her lost child. Only once
did she meet with unkindness. She was sitting at a cottage door eating
gruel from a bowl, and a lad--Stellio by name--laughed insolently at
her enjoyment of the meal. To punish him for his rudeness the goddess
threw some of the gruel in his face, and immediately he was changed
into a lizard.

One day Ceres found herself near the city of Eleusis, and to avoid
being recognized as a goddess, she disguised herself as an old beggar
woman. She sat for a long time on a stone by the roadside, mourning
her lost Proserpina, until a little girl came by, driving some goats.
Seeing the old woman's tearful face, the child stopped to ask her her
trouble, but before Ceres could answer, the girl's father joined her
and together they begged the stranger to come to their cottage and
rest. The goddess yielded at last to their kindly insistence, and as
she walked beside the old man, whose name was Celeus, he told her that
at home he had a sick boy who had lately grown so ill that to-day they
believed he would surely die. Ceres listened to his pathetic story, and
for a moment forgot her own grief. Seeing a chance to return the old
man's kindness, she followed him into the cottage; but first stopped by
the meadow to gather a handful of poppies. When the parents led her to
the sick child's bedside, she stooped and kissed the pale little face
and immediately it became rosy with health. The boy sprang up well and
strong again, to the great astonishment of his delighted family.

As they sat at the simple evening meal, the goddess put some
poppy-juice in the glass of milk set out for the boy; and that night,
when he was in a heavy sleep, she rubbed his body with oil, murmured
over him a solemn charm, and was about to lay him on the red-hot ashes
in the fire--that his mortal parts might be consumed and he himself
be made immortal--when his mother chanced to enter the room, and
springing forward with a cry of horror, snatched the boy from the fire.
Before the excited mother could vent her wrath on the old woman, Ceres
assumed her goddess form and quietly reproved the intruder; for her
interference had not averted a harm, but had prevented a great gift
from being conferred upon the unconscious child.

When Ceres left the cottage of Celeus, she continued her wanderings
over the earth, and finally returned, discouraged and heartbroken,
to Sicily. Chancing to be near the river Cyane, she went down to
the water's edge to drink, and happily discovered the girdle that
Proserpina had dropped there in her flight. This made her hopeful of
finding further traces of her lost daughter, so she lingered by the
river bank, eagerly scanning the overflowing stream. As she stood there
holding the recovered girdle in her hand, she heard a low murmuring
sound as if some one were speaking in whispers. The goddess listened,
wondering from what place the voice came; and soon she found that the
soft tones proceeded from a fountain which was so close to her that its
lightly-tossed spray fell on her hand. The murmur was often indistinct,
but Ceres understood enough to realize that the words were addressed to
her, and that the fountain was trying to tell her how Pluto had come up
from Hades and carried off Proserpina to be his wife.

While the goddess was musing over this painful revelation, the fountain
went on to say that it had not always been a stream in sunny Sicily,
but was once a maiden named Arethusa[38] and a native of the country
of Elis. As a follower of Diana she had roamed the wooded hills; and
one day, being wearied from the chase, she sought refreshment in the
forest stream. The drooping willows hung protectingly over the water,
and here the nymph bathed fearlessly, believing herself alone. But
Alpheus, the river-god, heard the splashing of the water, and rose
from his grassy bed to see who was disturbing his noon-day rest. At
the sight of Arethusa he was so delighted that he ventured to approach
her; but she fled terrified through the forest, calling on Diana for
help. The goddess, hearing her cries, changed her into a fountain; and
to further baffle the pursuing Alpheus, she wrapped it in a thick mist.
As the river-god could no longer see the nymph, he was about to give up
the chase, when Zephyrus maliciously blew away the cloud, and Alpheus
saw the bubbling fountain. Suspecting that this was Arethusa, the god
changed himself into a rushing torrent, and was preparing to mingle
his impetuous waves with the waters of the fountain, when the nymph
again called on Diana to protect her. The goddess came to her rescue by
opening a crevice in the earth, and here the shivering waters of the
fountain found a speedy refuge. To keep far out of the reach of Alpheus
it continued to flow underground for many miles, and even crept beneath
the sea until it reached Sicily, where Diana again cleft the earth and
allowed the fountain to come up into the sunlight. During her journey
through the dark underworld, Arethusa said that she had seen Proserpina
sitting, tearful and sad, on a throne beside the grim ruler of the

When she heard this story, Ceres was no longer in doubt where her lost
daughter could be found; but the knowledge gave her little comfort,
for she was aware how useless it would be to ask Pluto to give up the
wife he had so daringly won. Seeing no hope of regaining her child,
Ceres retired to a cave in the hills, and paid no heed to the waiting
earth that had suffered so long from her neglect. There was drought
in the land, and the crops were failing for want of water. The fruit
trees were drying up, and the flowers were withering on the parched
hillsides. Everything cried out for the protecting care of Ceres; but
the goddess stayed her hand, and in the solitude of the cave mourned
unceasingly for Proserpina. Famine spread over the land, but the
people, in spite of their dire need of food, burned sacrifices of sheep
and oxen on the altars of Ceres, while they importuned her with their
prayers. Jupiter heard their cries and besought the goddess to take the
earth again under her wise care; but Ceres refused to listen, for she
was indifferent now to the welfare of men, and no longer delighted in
the ripening harvest.

When sickness and death followed hard upon the famine, Jupiter saw
that he must save the sorely-stricken land, so he promised the goddess
that her daughter should be restored to her if she had eaten nothing
during all her sojourn in Pluto's realm. Mercury was sent to lead
Proserpina out of Hades; but when he reached there, he found that Pluto
had already given his wife some pomegranate seeds, hoping that she
would thereby stay forever in his keeping. Dismayed at this unexpected
downfall of her hopes, Ceres was about to shut herself up again in the
cave, when Jupiter, in behalf of the suffering earth, made a compromise
with Pluto whereby Proserpina was to spend half her time with her
mother in the land of sunshine and flowers, and the rest with her
husband in cold and cheerless Hades. Each spring Mercury was sent to
lead Proserpina up from the underworld lest her eyes, grown accustomed
only to shadows, should be dazzled by the blinding sunlight, and she
herself should lose the way. All things awaited her coming; and as soon
as her foot touched the winter-saddened earth the flowers bloomed to
delight her eyes, the grass sprang up to carpet her way with greenness,
the birds sang to cheer her long-depressed spirit, and above her the
sun shone brilliantly in the blue Sicilian sky.

Ceres no longer mourned, nor did she again suffer a great famine to
afflict the land. The patient old earth smiled again on Proserpina's
return, for then her mother gave the blighted vegetation a redoubled
care. But her happiness did not make the goddess forget the kindly old
man who had given her food and shelter at Eleusis, for she returned
there and taught the boy Triptolemus all the secrets of agriculture.
She also gave him her chariot, and bade him journey everywhere,
teaching the people how to plow and sow and reap, and care for their
harvests. Triptolemus carried out all her instructions; and as he
traveled over the country he was eagerly welcomed alike by prince and
peasant until he came to Scythia, where the cruel King Lyncus would
have killed him, in a fit of jealous wrath, had not Ceres interfered
with timely aid and changed the treacherous monarch into a lynx.

Chapter XVII

Pluto and the Underworld

In the beginning of the world, before the gods came to dwell in
Olympus, all the universe was in the hands of the Titans; and among
these the greatest was Saturn,--or Cronos,[39]--who wedded his sister
Rhea (also called Cybele) and became the father of three sons and
three daughters, Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, Ceres, Vesta, and Juno. For
many ages Saturn and Rhea, having subdued all the opposing Titans,
ruled over heaven and earth; but when the cruelty of Saturn drove his
children into rebellion, there arose a mighty war in the universe, in
which the sons and daughters of Saturn leagued against their father,
who had called upon the other Titans for aid. After years of combat
the six brothers and sisters, helped by the Cyclops,[40] defeated the
allied Titans and imprisoned them in the black abyss of Tartarus--all
except a few who had not joined in the war against the children of
Saturn. Among those who were wise enough to accept the new sovereignty
were Mnemosyne (Memory) and Themis, goddess of justice. Those
descendants of the Titans who refused to acknowledge the supremacy of
Jupiter were consigned to the center of Mount Etna, and were the giants
who constantly turned over and over, making Pluto fear for the safety
of his realm. A few of the giants were spared: Atlas, whose punishment
was to hold the heavens on his shoulders, and Prometheus and Epimetheus
who had espoused the cause of Jupiter and so escaped the fate of
the conquered Titans. When the children of Saturn found themselves
masters of the world, they agreed to accept Jupiter as their ruler, on
condition that the two other brothers be given a share in the universe.
So a division was made whereby Pluto became king of the underworld--or
Hades; Neptune took the dominion of the sea; and Jupiter, having
married his sister, Juno, established his dwelling in Olympus as lord
of heaven and earth.

The kingdom of Pluto[41] was dreaded by all mortals, and its ruler
inspired men with great fear. Though Pluto was known to visit the earth
from time to time, no one wished to see his face, and each man dreaded
the moment when he should be obliged to appear before the grim monarch
of Hades, and be assigned a place among the innumerable dead. No
temples were dedicated to Pluto, though altars were sometimes erected
on which men burned sacrifices to this inexorable god while petitioning
him to be merciful to the souls of the departed. The festivals held in
his honor were celebrated only once in a hundred years, and on these
occasions none but black animals were killed for the sacrifice.

The underworld, over which Pluto reigned, was deep in the heart of the
earth; but there were several entrances to it, one being near Lake
Avernus, where the mist rising from the waters was so foul that no
bird could fly over it. The lake itself was in an extinct volcano near
Vesuvius. It was very deep, and was surrounded by high banks covered
with a thick forest. The first descent into Hades could be easily
accomplished (_facilis descensus Averno_, says the poet Virgil); but no
mortal was daring enough to venture far into the black depths, lest he
should never again see the light of day.

At the portals of Hades sits the fierce three-headed dog Cerberus, who
keeps all living things from entering the gate, and allows no spirit
that has once been admitted to pass out again. From here a long dark
pathway leads deeper into Hades, and is finally lost in the rivers that
flow around Pluto's throne. The waters of the river Cocytus are salt,
as they are made of the tears that stream forever from the eyes of
those unhappy souls who are condemned to labor in Tartarus--that part
of Hades that is the exclusive abode of the wicked. The Phlegethon
River, which is always on fire, separates Tartarus from the rest of
Hades, and wretched indeed is the soul that is forced to cross its
seething waters. On the banks of the Acheron, a black and turbid river,
stand the souls who come fresh from the sunlit earth; for all must pass
this river and be brought before the judgment-throne of Pluto. There is
no bridge over the murky stream, and the current is so swift that the
boldest swimmer would not trust himself to its treacherous waters. The
only way to cross is by the leaky, worm-eaten boat rowed by Charon, an
aged ferryman who has plied his oar ever since the day that the curse
of death first came upon the earth.

No spirit is allowed to enter the leaky craft until he has first paid
Charon the fee of a small coin called the obolus. (During the funeral
services, before the body is committed for burial, this coin is laid on
the tongue of the dead, that the soul may have no trouble in passing
to the throne of Pluto.) If any spirits cannot furnish the necessary
money, they are ruthlessly pushed aside by the mercenary boatman and
are required to wait a hundred years. At the end of this time Charon
grudgingly ferries them over the river free of charge. As the unstable
boat can hold but few, there is always an eager group of spirits on
the further bank, clamoring to be taken across the river; but Charon
is never in a hurry, and repulses, sometimes with his oar, the pitiful
crowd that waits his grim pleasure.

There is also in Hades the river Styx, by whose sacred waters the gods
swear the most terrible of all oaths, and on the other side of Pluto's
throne is the softly flowing Lethe, of which only those souls can drink
who are to spend endless days of happiness in the Elysian Fields. As
soon as those blessed spirits have tasted of the waters of Lethe, all
regrets for friends that mourn completely vanish, and the joy and
grief, and pleasure and pain of the soul's life on earth are forgotten.
In the Elysian Fields there is no darkness such as fills the rest of
Hades with its thick gloom; but a soft light spreads over the meadows
where the spirits of the thrice-blessed wander. There are willows here,
and stately silver poplars, and the "meads of Asphodel" breathe out a
faint perfume from their pale flowers.

      "There do men lead easiest lives.
      No snow, no bitter cold, no beating rains are there."

                  --BRYANT'S _Odyssey_, Book IV, line 722.

The sighs and groans that rise by night and day from the black abyss
of Tartarus do not reach the ears of those who dwell at peace in the
Elysian Fields, and the sight of its painful torments is hid forever
from their eyes.

Beside Pluto's throne sit the three Fates (also called Parcæ), those
deathless sisters who hold the threads of life and death in their
hands. Clotho, the youngest, spins the thread; Lachesis, the second,
twines into it the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears that make up human
experience; and Atropos, the eldest sister, sits by with huge shears in
her hand, waiting for the time when she may cut the slender thread.

[Illustration: The Three Fates]

Pluto and his queen Proserpina are seated side by side on a sable
throne, ruling over the myriad souls that compose the vast kingdom
of the dead. Perched on the back of the throne is the blinking owl,
who loves this eternal darkness, and the black-winged raven that was
once a bird of snowy plumage and the favorite messenger of Apollo. The
raven fell from his high estate on account of some unwelcome tidings
that he once brought to Apollo when that god was an ardent lover of
the fair-haired Coronis. Believing that no one could supplant him in
the maiden's affections, Apollo was happy in the thought of being
beloved by so beautiful a mortal; but one day his snow-white raven
flew in haste to Olympus to tell him that the maiden was listening to
the wooing of another lover. Enraged at this duplicity, Apollo seized
his bow and shot the faithless Coronis; but the moment that he saw
her lying dead, he repented of his rash deed and vainly sought to
restore her to life. Though skilled in the art of healing, Apollo
could not save the maiden; and in his frenzied grief he cursed the
unfortunate raven that had brought the evil tidings, and banished it
forever from his sight.

      "Then he turned upon the Raven,
      'Wanton babbler! see thy fate!
      Messenger of mine no longer,
      Go to Hades with thy prate!

      'Weary Pluto with thy tattle!
      Hither, monster, come not back;
      And--to match thy disposition--
      Henceforth be thy plumage black.'"


Near Pluto's throne are seated the three judges of Hades (Minos,
Rhadamanthus, and Æacus) who question all souls that are brought across
the river. When they have learned every detail of the newcomer's past
life, they deliver the cowering spirit into the hands of Themis, the
blindfolded goddess of justice, who weighs impartially the good and bad
deeds in her unerring scales. If the good outweighs the evil, the soul
is led gently to the Elysian Fields; but if the bad overbalances the
good, then the wretched spirit is driven to Tartarus, there to suffer
for all its wrongdoings in the fires that burn forever and ever behind
the brazen gates. To these gates the guilty one is urged by the three
Furies,[42] whose snaky hair shakes hideously as they ply their lashes
to goad the shrinking soul to its place of torment. Sometimes they are
joined by Nemesis, goddess of revenge, who hurries the doomed spirit
over the fiery waters of the Phlegethon with her merciless whip, and
sees that it follows no path but the one leading to the brazen gates of

As soon as the gates close on the newly-admitted soul, there is a
renewed clamor of voices, while heart-breaking sighs and groans mingle
with the curses of those who in their misery dare to defy the gods.
And beneath all the awful sounds that greet the listener's ears,
there is an undertone of pitiful wailing like the sea's "melancholy,
long-withdrawing roar" that seems to come from millions of throats
too feeble to utter a loud cry. The deepest sighs proceed from the
Danaïdes,--the beautiful daughters of Danaüs, king of Argos,--who
must forever strive to fill a bottomless cask with water. They form a
sad procession as, with their urns on their arms, they go down to the
stream to begin their hopeless task, and then climb wearily up the
steep bank to pour the water into the ever-empty cask. If they pause a
moment, exhausted with fatigue, the whips of some avenging attendants
of Pluto lash them again into action. Their punishment is severe,
but the crime for which they are suffering was a dreadful one. The
fifty daughters of Danaüs were once pledged in marriage to the fifty
sons of Ægyptus, brother of Danaüs; but when the wedding was being
celebrated, their father remembered the words of an ancient prophecy
that said that he would die by the hand of his son-in-law. Fearing for
his life, he confided to his daughters what the oracle had foretold,
and gave them each a dagger, bidding them slay their husbands. On
the evening of the wedding, when the sons of Ægyptus were heavy with
wine, the new-made wives stole in upon them and killed them as they
slept. Danaüs then believed himself safe, until he learned that one
of his daughters had spared her husband out of love for him. This
son-in-law was eager to avenge his brothers' murder, and having sought
out the wicked Danaüs, fulfilled the prophecy by killing the king with
the very dagger intended for his own death. The gods punished the
cruel daughters--except Hypermnestra, who had saved her husband--by
condemning them to labor in Tartarus at their impossible task.

Near the Danaïdes stands Tantalus, the father of Niobe, who on earth
was a most inhuman and brutal king. He ill-treated his subjects, defied
the gods, and dared to make his own will the religion of his kingdom.
He boasted that the gods were not so omniscient as people were led to
believe; and insulted the immortals by offering them at a banquet the
flesh of his own son Pelops, believing that they would never learn the
truth of this loathsome feast. But the gods were not deceived, and left
the meal untouched,--all except poor Ceres, who, still mourning over
her daughter's detention in Hades, did not realize what was happening
and bit off some of the lad's shoulder. When the gods restored Pelops
to life, Ceres was very sorry for her carelessness and gave him a
shoulder of ivory. The inhuman Tantalus was condemned to the torments
of Tartarus, where he stands up to his chin in a clear stream. Though
frenzied with thirst he can never drink of the water, for whenever he
bends his head the stream recedes from his parched lips. Above him
hangs a branch of delicious fruit; but when, tormented with hunger,
he strives to grasp it, the branch eludes his eager fingers. Thus he
stays, always "tantalized" by the sight of food and drink he never can

Not far from Tantalus is Salmoneus, also a king, who dared to challenge
the gods by impersonating Jupiter. He made a huge bridge of brass, and
drove heavily over it while he threw lighted torches among the people
who were waiting below, hoping thus to frighten them into believing
that he was the very ruler of the heavens who hurls the mighty
thunderbolts. This insult to his divinity so angered Jupiter that
he seized a real thunderbolt and soon dispatched the arrogant king.
When Salmoneus came before the throne of Pluto, his fate was quickly
decided, and he was driven to terrible Tartarus, where he sits under a
huge rock that threatens every moment to fall and crush him beneath its

Another unhappy king is Sisyphus, who, when ruler of Corinth, became
a famous robber, and in the pride of his great wealth dared to set
the gods at naught. Therefore he was consigned to Tartarus, and his
punishment is to roll an immense stone to the top of a steep hill. As
soon as he reaches the summit, the rock slips from his aching arms
and tumbles to the foot of the hill, and he must at once start on the
hopeless task of pushing it up the long ascent again.

      "With many a weary step, and many a groan,
      Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone."

                  --HOMER--Pope's translation.

Beyond Sisyphus lies Tityus, a giant whose huge body covers nine acres
of ground. He was condemned to the blackness of Tartarus because he
dared to affront a goddess with his addresses, and so was doomed to
suffer, like Prometheus, by being chained to a rock, while a vulture
tears at his liver. Near him is Ixion, who was promised the hand of a
certain maiden in marriage, on condition that he would give her father
a large sum of money. Ixion agreed, but when the maiden became his
wife, he refused to give the stipulated sum, in spite of her father's
clamorous demands. At length, wearied by the old man's insistence,
Ixion slew him; but the deed did not go unpunished, for the gods
summoned him to appear before them and answer for his cruelty. Ixion
pleaded his cause so well that Jupiter was about to dismiss him, when
he saw the presumptuous mortal making love to Juno. This offense could
not be overlooked, so Ixion was sent to Tartarus, where he was bound to
an ever-revolving wheel of fire.

If any one could follow the course of the gentle Lethe River, it would
lead beyond the sunless realm of Pluto to a quiet and far-distant
valley, where, in a soundless cave, live Somnus, the god of sleep, and
his twin brother Mors, god of death. "Here the sun, whether rising
or in his mid course, or setting, can never come; and fogs, mingled
with the dimness, form a strange twilight. No wakeful bird calls forth
the morn, nor do watchful dogs disturb the brooding silence. No sound
of wild beast or cattle, nor any noise of creaking bough, nor human
voice, breaks in upon the perfect stillness, where mute Rest has her
abode. Before the cave bloom abundant poppies and other sleep-producing
herbs, which Night gathers, that she may distil their juice and scatter
slumbers on the darkened earth. Within the cave is no door that could
creak on rusty hinges, and no porter stands at the entrance of that
inner room where, on a downy couch made of black ebony and draped with
sable curtains, over which black plumes wave, lies Somnus, the god of
sleep,--Sleep, the repose of all things, gentlest of the deities from
whom all care flies, the peace of mind who can sooth the hearts of men
wearied with the toils of the day, and can refit them for labor."[43]

Near Somnus sits Morpheus, one of his many sons, who watches over his
slumbers and sees that no one shall break in upon his sleep. This god
holds a vase in one hand, and with the other he shakes the nodding
poppies that bring drowsiness and sleep. Sometimes he assumes varied
forms in which he appears to men at night, and always he flies through
the darkness with wings that make no noise. Around the couch of Somnus
hover shadowy forms, the Dreams,[44] which are as numerous as the
forest leaves or the sands upon the seashore. In a distant corner of
the room lurk the horrid Nightmares, which creep out of the cave to
visit sleeping mortals, but are never led to earth by Mercury, as are
the welcomed Dreams. Two gates lead out of the valley of sleep, one of
horn and one of ivory.

      "Of dreams, O stranger, some are meaningless
      And idle, and can never be fulfilled.
      Two portals are there for their shadowy shapes,
      Of ivory one, and one of horn. The dreams
      That come through the carved ivory deceive
      With promises that never are made good;
      But those which pass the doors of polished horn,
      And are beheld of men, are ever true."

                  --BRYANT'S Homer's _Odyssey_, Book XIX, line 679.

      "Sunt geminæ Somni portæ, quarumaltera fertur
      Cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus Umbris;
      Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto,
      Sed falsa ad cælum mittunt insomnia Manes."[45]

                  --VIRGIL, _Æneid_, Book VI, line 893.

Mors, god of death, occupies one of the rooms in the cave of sleep. He
is a fearful-looking deity, cadaverous as a skeleton, and wrapped in a
winding sheet. He holds an hourglass in one hand, and a sharp scythe in
the other; and stands watching the sand run out of his glass that he
may know when a human life is nearing its end. Then, as the last grains
fall, he glides from the valley of sleep and stalks silently and unseen
upon the earth, where he cuts down the unhappy mortal, who cannot even
hear the rustle of his garments as he approaches. It is nothing to him
whether the life he takes belongs to childhood or youth, for he mows
them down as relentlessly as he does tottering old age. And to the rich
he is as unsparing as to the poor.

      "Pallida Mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas regumque

                  --HORACE, _Carminum_, Book I, § IV, line 13.

The divinities who dwelt in the Cave of Sleep were distrusted by the
ancients, and Mors was held in universal dread. No homage was ever
offered to him, and no temples were dedicated in his honor; though
sacrifices were sometimes made to ward off his dreaded coming. He was
never represented in art except in a pleasing aspect, for although they
believed him to have in reality the fearful appearance that tradition
ascribed to him, yet the beauty-loving Greeks refused to have this kind
of horror embodied in marble. So when Death appears in sculpture, it is
usually with his brother Sleep, and both are represented as sleeping
youths, whose heads are crowned with poppies or amaranths, and who hold
inverted torches in their listless hands.

Chapter XVIII

Neptune and the Sea-Gods


In the days when the Titans ruled the universe, Oceanus, with his wife
Tethys, controlled all the lakes, rivers, and seas; but when the Titans
were overthrown, Neptune took possession of this great kingdom, and
old Oceanus reluctantly gave up his dominion over the waters of the
earth. Though anxious to assert his supreme authority, Neptune allowed
some of the descendants of the Titans to keep their small kingdoms,
on condition that they own allegiance to him as their ruler. Among
these was Nereus, son of Oceanus, who was celebrated for his vast
knowledge, his gift of prophecy, and his love of truth and justice. He
and his wife Doris (also a child of Oceanus) had fifty daughters called
Nereids,[47] and they were so beautiful that Neptune chose one of them,
named Amphitrite, for his wife. There were two others of the Nereids
who became famous: Galatea, beloved by the Cyclops Polyphemus,[48]
and Thetis, the mother of Achilles; but none of them equaled Amphitrite
in beauty.

[Illustration: Fountain of Neptune]

When Neptune first went wooing the Nereid, she was frightened by
his formidable appearance, for he drove in a chariot drawn by huge
sea-horses with brazen hoofs and golden manes; and the god himself
carried his terrible trident, or three-pronged spear, with which he
shatters rocks, and commands the storms, and shakes the shores of
earth. None knew better than Amphitrite the extent of Neptune's power,
for she had often watched him, when a storm was at its height, raise
his all-compelling trident, and immediately the waves would cease
raging and there would be a great calm. Sometimes she saw a ship,
doomed by the sea-god to disaster, gliding confidently in quiet waters,
when all at once a fierce storm would break over its head; and the
hapless sailors, as they breasted the angry waves, would pray vainly to
Neptune for the help that would never come. Many a good ship had nearly
gained her port when

      "He spake and round about him called the clouds
      And roused the ocean--wielding in his hand
      The trident--summoned all the hurricanes
      Of all the winds, and covered earth and sky
      At once with mists, while from above the night
      Fell suddenly."

                  _Odyssey_, Book V, line 348, Bryant's trans.

When Amphitrite saw this imposing-looking god driving toward her, she
was frightened by so much splendor, though she could not help admiring
Neptune himself with his sea-green beard, and his long flowing hair
crowned with shells and seaweed. Since the enamored god could never
come near enough to plead his suit, he sent one of his dolphins to
do the wooing; and this was so successful that the fair Nereid was
persuaded to become Neptune's wife, and share his golden throne in the
heart of the sea. To reward the dolphin for its skill in having won
for him his much-desired bride, Neptune placed it in the sky, where it
forms a well-known constellation.

Though Neptune had undisputed control over all the waters of the earth,
and over all that moves through the paths of the sea, he once aspired
to greater power, and even plotted to dethrone Jupiter. But the ruler
of gods and men discovered his wicked plans, and to punish him deprived
him of his kingdom for some years, during which time he was obliged to
submit to the humiliation of serving Laomedon, king of Troy. It was
while he was in service here that he sought Apollo's help in building
the wall of Troy, whose stones fell into place under the spell of the
sun-god's music.[49] Laomedon had promised Neptune a large reward if
the wall was built within a certain time; but when it was finished, he
refused to pay the sum agreed upon. Though angered at this treachery,
Neptune had to endure the king's injustice until his years of service
were over; but as soon as he was restored to his former power, he
created a terrible sea-monster, which spread terror and death over all
the land. Not knowing how to meet this calamity, the Trojans consulted
an oracle, and were advised to sacrifice to the monster a beautiful
maiden each year; and so prevent the wrath of Neptune from overwhelming
the whole country in disaster.

Reluctantly the sorrowing people prepared to obey the oracle; and a
victim was chosen by lot, and led by the priest to a large rock on the
seashore, where she was securely chained. Then the hideous sea-beast
glided out of its cave in the slimy rocks and devoured her. Each year
this terrible ceremony was repeated, and at last the lot fell upon
Hesione, the king's only daughter. Laomedon tried in vain to save her,
but the lot was cast, and nothing could avert the appointed sacrifice.
In despair, the wretched father saw the fatal hour approaching; and
when the day drew near when Hesione was to be led down to the sea, he
forgot his avarice and proclaimed throughout the land that a great
reward would be given to any one who could slay the monster. Hercules
appeared just in time to save the doomed maiden, and killed the monster
with his oaken club as it was dragging Hesione into its cave. The
king was overjoyed at his daughter's rescue, and told Hercules that he
might claim the reward; but even when he saw the hero come with the
beast's head as a proof that he had slain it, he refused to part with
his much-loved gold. So Hercules returned home, but he did not forget
Laomedon's perfidy; and when later on he came again to Troy, he killed
the king and took his children captive to Greece.[50]

Neptune, like all the immortals, loved more than once; and among those
who shared his affections was a maiden named Theophane, who had so
many suitors that it kept the jealous sea-god in constant fear lest
she should prefer some earthly lover. So he took her to the island of
Crumissa, and there changed her into a sheep, while he carried on his
wooing in the form of a ram. The offspring of this marriage was the
famous golden-fleeced ram, whose pelt was the object of that ill-fated
expedition made by Jason and his fellow Argonauts.

Neptune also loved the goddess Ceres, and followed her during the
long time that she spent in search of her daughter Proserpina. Ceres
was angered by the sea-god's persistent wooing, and hoping to escape
from him, she took the form of a mare; but Neptune was not so easily
discouraged, for he changed himself into a horse and contentedly
trotted after her. The child of this strange pair was Arion,[51] a
wonderful winged steed that had the power of speech, and was of such
incredible swiftness that nothing could ever equal it in speed.

The most famous children of Neptune and Amphitrite were Triton and
Proteus. Triton was his father's trumpeter, and at Neptune's command
he blew upon his conch-shell to calm the restless sea. His body was
half man and half fish, and he gave the name of Tritons to all his
male descendants, who, with the Nereids and Oceanides (daughters of
Oceanus), followed the chariot of Neptune when he went abroad to view
his kingdom. Proteus had charge of the great flock of sea-calves which
fed on the soft seaweed and basked in the warm sands near his cave. He
was celebrated for his wisdom and for the truth of the answers that
he gave to those fortunate enough to make him speak. Homer calls him
"the Ancient of the Deep whose words are ever true"; but his knowledge
was not easy to obtain, for he had the extraordinary power of assuming
any shape he pleased, and only those mortals gained his advice who
persistently clung to him through his many bewildering changes.

      "When the climbing sun has reached
      The middle heaven, the Ancient of the Deep,
      Who ne'er deceives, emerges from the waves,
      And, covered with the dark scum of the sea,
      Walks forth, and in a cavern vault lies down.
      The sea-calves from the hoary ocean throng,
      Rank with the bitter odor of the brine,
      And slumber near him. Then ye must exert
      Your utmost strength to hold him there, although
      He strive and struggle to escape your hands;
      For he will try all stratagems, and take
      The form of every reptile on the earth,
      And turn to water and to raging flame.

             *       *       *       *       *

      But hold him fast, until the aged seer
      Is wearied out in spite of all his wiles,
      Then question him."

                  --BRYANT'S Homer's _Odyssey_, Book IV, line 518.


Aristæus was the son of Apollo, and the water-nymph, Cyrene. Beside
tending his flocks and herds, he took care of the olive trees and
vineyards, and was a famous keeper of bees. He was very proud of his
hives, and the swarm of bees increased each year under the guidance of
his skillful hands; but one day he found hundreds of the bees lying
lifeless beside the hives, and on the morrow there were still more
among the dead. Not knowing how to account for this disaster, Aristæus
hurried to his mother to ask her help in saving the few bees that
remained. Cyrene lived under a mountain stream; and, hearing that
her son wished to speak to her, she commanded the river to divide and
form a wall on either side, so that Aristæus might walk in dry places.
When the youth told her of the tragedy befalling his hives, she could
not help him, but bade him go to old Proteus, for he alone could tell
what the trouble was and find a remedy. She warned Aristæus of the
difficulty in holding the Ancient of the Deep when he tried to bewilder
and terrify the stranger by rapidly assuming different forms; and she
bade him remember that he must keep the sea-god fast bound if he would
receive the wished-for answers. Then she led him to the cave of Proteus
and hid him there, exhorting him to be bold and fearless.

At noon the Wizard of the Deep came up out of the sea, followed by
his herd of sea-calves; and while they lay stretched out on the warm
sands, the god sought the retreat of his cave and soon was in a deep
slumber. When Aristæus saw Proteus fast asleep, he stepped cautiously
up to him and bound him with strong fetters. The god woke with a
start, and tried to shake himself free of his chains; but on finding
that he was a prisoner, he resorted to all the trickery that he could
command. He became a fire, a flood, a wild beast, a horrible serpent,
and many other forms calculated to terrify the beholder. But Aristæus
was not afraid, and soon the old wizard realized that he must submit;
so he assumed his own shape, and asked the youth what it was that he
wished to know. The son of Cyrene told him of the death of his bees,
and begged for some remedy. Then Proteus reminded him of how he had
been the real cause of Eurydice's death, by making her flee from him
in such haste that she did not see the snake at her feet.[52] The
wood-nymphs, who were Eurydice's companions, had therefore wished to
punish Aristæus, and had sent this destruction to his hives. It was
necessary to appease the wrath of the nymphs; and to do this Proteus
bade the youth build four altars, and sacrifice on them four bulls and
four cows of perfect form and size. This burnt-offering was to placate
the nymphs, and when it was made, he must pay funeral honors to Orpheus
and Eurydice to pacify their anger against him. At the end of nine days
he was to return to the grove where he had made the sacrifices.

Aristæus thanked the Ancient of the Deep for his wise words, and after
releasing him from the fetters, hurried away to do as Proteus had
advised. The sacrifices were made, and suitable honors paid to the
dead; and then, after waiting impatiently for nine days, Aristæus went
back to the grove. To his great joy he found that a swarm of bees had
taken possession of the carcasses, and that he was now the owner of a
much larger number than he had ever had before.


One of the many sea-gods who ruled under Neptune was Glaucus, who was
once a poor fisherman, and earned his living by selling the fish that
he caught each day. One morning he had an extra large haul; and when
he threw the fish on the ground beside him, he noticed that they were
eagerly nibbling the grass that grew very thickly in the spot where
he had flung his net. As he stood watching them, the fish suddenly
leaped up from the ground; and having flopped back into the water,
swam away. Curious to see whether it was the grass that gave them
this extraordinary power, Glaucus chewed a bit of it himself, and
immediately he felt an irresistible desire to plunge into the sea.
Fearlessly he dived beneath the waves, and soon found no difficulty in
keeping under water, for the ocean seemed now to be his native element.
He saw his beard turning a lovely sea-green; and he found that his
hair, grown suddenly long and green, was trailing out behind him. His
arms were azure-colored, and his legs became a fish's tail; but he felt
no regrets over losing his human form, and stayed contentedly in the
ocean. In time Neptune made him one of the lesser gods, and took him
into the friendly fraternity of the sea.

As Glaucus was swimming one day near the shore, he saw a beautiful
maiden named Scylla; and fell so much in love with her that he forgot
he was half fish, and begged her to be his wife. Scylla stared at
his green hair and blue skin, but this did not frighten her, nor did
she wonder at his fish's tail; for she had often played with the
sea-nymphs, and was accustomed to their strange appearance. Glaucus
felt encouraged by her behavior, and begged her to listen to the story
of his life. He told her how he had suffered a sea change, and now
occupied the lofty position of a god. The maiden was interested in
this recital, but she had no desire to marry a merman, even if he were
a god; so when Glaucus ventured to come nearer to her, she turned and
fled. Discouraged but still determined, the young god sought the aid
of the enchantress Circe, and begged her to give him some love-potion
by which he might win the unwilling Scylla. Circe was so well pleased
with the handsome sea-god that she urged him to accept her love, and
forget the maiden who scorned him; but Glaucus would not yield to the
persuasions of the enchantress, and kept pleading for the desired

Seeing that she could not gain his affections, Circe determined that
at least no one else should enjoy his love; so she refused to make the
potion, and sent Glaucus angrily away. When she saw him go sorrowfully
from her palace, she mixed a magic liquid, brewed from poisonous plants
and deadly weeds, and this she poured over the waters where Scylla was
wont to bathe. The maiden, suspecting no treachery, sought the ocean
at her accustomed hour, and as soon as the poisoned waves touched her
body she became a horrible monster with six heads--each having three
rows of sharp teeth. She saw all around her serpents and barking dogs
that were part of her own body, which had suddenly become rooted to the
spot where she stood. She never regained her human form, but stayed
in this place forever to terrify all mariners, and to devour the
hapless sailors that came within her reach. Opposite her was the den
of Charybdis, who three times a day swallowed the waters of the sea,
and three times threw them up again. On the rock above the den was an
immense fir-tree, and all ships that passed that way watched eagerly
for this signal of danger, and prayed that they might safely steer
between the double horrors of Scylla and Charybdis.

                            "There Scylla dwells,
      And fills the air with fearful yells; her voice
      The cry of whelps just littered, but herself
      A frightful prodigy--a sight which none
      Would care to look on, though he were a god.
      Twelve feet are hers, all shapeless, six long necks,
      A hideous head on each, and triple rows
      Of teeth, close set and many, threatening death.
      And forth from the dark gulf her heads are thrust,
      To look abroad upon the rocks for prey,--
      .... No mariner can boast
      That he has passed by Scylla with a crew

                  --BRYANT'S Homer's _Odyssey_, Book XII, line 100.


Two other minor deities of the sea were Leucothea and Palæmon. They
were not born of the ocean-nymphs or any water-god, but were once
mortals, named Ino and Melicertes. Ino was the wife of King Athamas,
whom cruel Juno goaded into madness; and through fear of him Ino fled
from the palace with her little son, Melicertes, in her arms. She hoped
to reach some place of safety; but imagining herself pursued, in her
frenzy she plunged from a cliff's edge into the sea. Neither she nor
her son perished, however, for the gods, in pity for her sufferings,
changed them both into ocean deities under the names of Leucothea
and Palæmon. They were widely worshiped by all who had business in
great waters, and their protection was invoked against the danger
of shipwreck. A famous altar to Palæmon was built on the shores of
Corinth, and in his honor were instituted the celebrated Isthmian


Neptune was not only willing to befriend a goddess in distress, as
he did when he raised the island out of the sea for Latona, but was
equally ready to assist mortals--especially in their love affairs.
Once he lent his chariot to a youth named Idas when he wished to
elope with the maiden Marpessa, whose father had refused to allow
the lovers to wed. They were overjoyed at Neptune's kindly offer of
assistance; and on the day arranged for their flight, the happy pair
mounted the chariot, and the swift steeds carried them far out of reach
of Marpessa's angry father. When he discovered that his daughter had
eloped with her lover, he started in pursuit; but finding it impossible
to overtake Neptune's splendid horses, he flew into such a rage that
he flung himself into a river and drowned. (The river was afterwards
called by his name--Evenus.)

Knowing themselves out of reach of the irate father, the lovers
continued their journey very happily, and believed that no misfortune
could overtake them, when suddenly Apollo appeared before them, and,
declaring himself in love with Marpessa, offered to fight Idas then
and there for the possession of the maiden. Poor Idas felt that his
chances for happiness were indeed ended, for how could a mortal contend
with an omnipotent god? Suddenly a thunderbolt fell from the blue sky,
and a voice declared that Marpessa herself should choose between her
two suitors. The maiden looked at the glorious sun-god, and her heart
beat fast at the thought of being loved by one so beautiful and young;
but when she turned to Idas, she remembered that he was a mortal like
herself, who would grow old as she grew old, and would, therefore,
not cast her aside when her youthful charm was gone, as Apollo would
be sure to do as soon as her beauty waned. So she held out her hand
to Idas, and refused the sun-god's love. This choice was approved by
Jupiter, and the lovers, happy once more, urged Neptune's swift horses
over the mirror-like sea, which the kindly god had made calm as a
forest pool on the softest summer day. In time they reached a pleasant
land far from their native country, and here they lived happily ever
afterward. The chariot, no longer needed, was sent back to Neptune with
many thanks for his timely aid; and each year Idas and Marpessa burned
as sacrifices to their protector a white bull, a white ram, and a white
boar, which was the kind of offering most pleasing to Neptune.

Chapter XIX


Among all the maidens whom Jupiter honored with his love, none was more
beautiful than Semele, daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia. Cadmus was the
brother of Europa, whom Jupiter, in the form of a white bull, carried
on his back across the sea. The maiden's three brothers had been with
her in the meadow, and had witnessed her strange departure, but knowing
that it would be useless to attempt to catch the fleet animal, they
hurried to their father, Agenor, and told him of the manner in which
his favorite daughter had been spirited away. The old man was frenzied
with grief, and bade his three sons to go in search of Europa and not
return until they had found her. The youths set out, accompanied by
their mother, Telephassa, and spent many weary days in a fruitless
search for the stolen maiden. At last Phœnix refused to go any farther,
and, not daring to return to his father, he remained in a land that was
afterwards called in his honor--Phœnicia. Cilix, the second brother,
grew weary of the hopeless quest and settled in a country named
from him--Cilicia; and finally Telephassa, exhausted by fatigue and
grief, died, and Cadmus was left to continue the search alone. He kept
doggedly on for many days, and when he reached the town of Delphi, he
consulted the oracle, hoping to find some clew to help him. To his
surprise the oracle gave this ambiguous answer: "Follow the cow and
settle where she rests." Cadmus left the temple, and before he had
journeyed far he saw a cow walking leisurely in front of him. Judging
this to be the animal intended to guide him, he followed her, and on
the way was joined by a curious crowd who were eager to see where the
absurd procession would finally stop. Some hoped that by accompanying
the hero on his march they might meet with new adventures. The cow at
last lay down in Bœotia, and here Cadmus founded the city of Thebes.[54]

To reward Cadmus for his loving search for Europa, Jupiter gave him in
marriage the fair Harmonia, daughter of Mars and Venus. The child of
this union was Semele, whom Jupiter wooed in the disguise of a mortal;
but such was the maiden's pride that she would not listen to his
pleading until he told her who he really was. Then her love was easily
won, for no pride could be above yielding to the ruler of Olympus.
Jupiter was very happy in the society of Semele, and went down to
earth many times to visit her, but it was inevitable that Juno should
notice his frequent absences, and should set about finding out where
the charm lay that lured him so often to the earth. When she discovered
her beautiful rival, she decided upon an ingenious method of punishing
her, and accordingly took the form of Semele's old nurse, Beroë. By
feigning a loving solicitude for her charge's welfare, she soon won the
confidence of the unsuspecting maiden, and listened with well-concealed
anger while Semele talked of her lover and showed her pride in having
won the affections of the greatest of gods.

The nurse was evidently delighted at Semele's happiness, but seemed
worried over the new suitor's identity, and now and then expressed a
doubt as to whether he really was the great Jupiter. On questioning the
maiden more closely, she assumed a virtuous indignation when Semele
admitted that her lover always visited her in the disguise of a mortal,
and that she had only his word as proof of his divinity. Hearing this,
the old woman urged Semele to make sure that it was no impostor who was
playing on her credulity, and pricked the girl's pride by asking her
why it was that Jupiter--if it were indeed he--should not honor her as
he did the stately Juno by appearing before her in all his splendid
majesty. Then the pretended nurse described the glory of Jupiter as
it was seen by the dwellers in Olympus, and finally so worked upon
Semele's pride and curiosity that the unsuspicious maiden promised to
put her lover to the test. So when Jupiter came again, she begged him
to grant her a favor, and the ruler of the gods, not knowing of Juno's
wiles, readily promised to grant any request Semele might make. To
further bind himself, he swore by the river Styx--the most terrible of
all oaths. Then the maiden bade him return to Olympus, clothe himself
in all his regal apparel--omitting no part of his terrible splendor,
not even the dreaded thunderbolts--and having done this, return to her,
that she might know he was indeed the awful Thunderer.

Jupiter was dismayed at this request, for he knew that no mortal could
endure the greatness of his glory. He begged Semele to ask another
boon; but the maiden was obstinate, and insisted upon her request being
granted. Sorrowfully Jupiter returned to Olympus, and after robing
himself in his fearful majesty, he dimmed the radiance wherever he
could, wrapped about him the mildest lightning, and took in his hand
the feeblest thunderbolt.

      "To keep his promise he ascends, and shrouds
      His awful brow in whirlwinds and in clouds;
      Whilst all around, in terrible array,
      His thunders rattle, and his lightnings play.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Thus dreadfully adorned with horror bright
      The illustrous god, descending from his height,
      Came rushing on her in a storm of light."

              --ADDISON'S Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, Book III, line 302.

But in spite of his attempt to lessen his splendor, even this mild
glory so overwhelmed poor Semele that when Jupiter appeared before
her, she dropped dead at his feet. In trying vainly to bring her back
to life, Jupiter did not notice what havoc the lightning, that played
about his head, was making in the palace. In a short time the whole
place was reduced to ashes, and in the smouldering ruins the body of
Semele was consumed. The only person who escaped uninjured was the
infant son of Jupiter and Semele, the golden-haired Bacchus.[55]

Having rescued his son from the burning palace, Jupiter first intrusted
him to his aunt Ino, who cared for him as tenderly as if he were her
own child. But the jealous hatred of Juno was not satisfied with the
death of Semele, and she tried to extend her vengeance to Bacchus by
sending the fury Tisiphone to goad Athamas, the husband of Ino, into
madness. As king of Thebes, Athamas had always been a kind ruler, but
when the frenzy, inspired by cruel Juno, took possession of him, he
imagined that his wife and children were wild beasts, and attempted to
kill them. He did succeed in slaying Learchus, but Ino and her other
son, Melicertes, escaped from his murderous fury, and afterwards became
deities of the ocean.[56]

[Illustration: Faun]

Not daring to leave the infant Bacchus in such a household, and fearing
the further persecutions of Juno, Jupiter took the boy to Mount Nysa,
where the nymphs--the Nysiades--guarded him faithfully. During his
youth, Bacchus was made god of wine and revels, and was intrusted to
the tutorship of Silenus, one of the most famous of the satyrs. This
jovial old man had a bald head, pointed ears, a fat red face, and a
body that was half man and half goat. As he carried a wine bag with him
wherever he went, he was generally tipsy, and would have broken his
neck long before reaching old age if he had tried to walk unsupported;
but some of Bacchus's chosen band of followers always held him up on
either side; or, when they themselves were unsteady, set him on an
ass's back. Thus protected, he roamed about with Bacchus, and taught
him all the craft of wine-growing and the making of choicest wine. The
young god soon became a master of revels, and had a large train of
followers composed of men and women, nymphs, fauns, and satyrs. They
were usually crowned with ivy leaves, and were always drinking wine,
eating grapes, singing, and dancing. The most unruly among them
were the Bacchantes, who, though women, were often so crazed with wine
and the excitement of their dancing that they committed such inhuman
crimes as tearing the musician Orpheus to pieces.[57] Wherever Bacchus
traveled--and it was far and wide--he taught the people the art of
cultivating grapes and making wine. He was always welcomed, and when
they knew he was approaching, men, women, and children flocked to meet
him and his merry company.

Juno tried hard to check his triumphant progress, but she did not
dare take his life for fear of Jupiter's wrath; so she afflicted him
with a kind of madness that drove him forth a wanderer alone over the
earth. He had many adventures during this unhappy period, and finally
landed in Phrygia, where the goddess Rhea cured him and taught him her
religious rites. After this he wandered in Asia and India, teaching
the people the wonderful new art of making wine. When he returned to
Greece, he was welcomed everywhere, until he reached his native city
of Thebes, where his cousin Pentheus was king. When Pentheus heard
that the people were flocking out of the gates to meet Bacchus and his
revelers, he tried to stop the excited crowds and force them to return.
In vain he pleaded, commanded, threatened. Men and women, and even
children, were eager to join in the revels, and would not turn back.
Then Pentheus sent some of his servants to seize Bacchus and bring him
a prisoner to the city. Soon the messengers returned, but they had not
succeeded in getting near the god--so great was the crowd that pressed
eagerly around him. They had, however, captured one of his followers;
and when they dragged their prisoner before the king, he stood in the
presence of the angry monarch without any sign of fear in his calm
face. Pentheus commanded the man to tell what sort of revelry and rites
were performed under the leadership of Bacchus; and threatened to put
him instantly to death if he did not tell the truth. The prisoner
smiled at the king's anger, and seemed quite undisturbed by the threats
against his life. He refused to tell anything of the ceremonies
attending the worship of Bacchus, but began calmly to relate his own

He said that his name was Acetes of Mæonia, and that he was a poor
fisherman by birth, but had himself learned the pilot's art of steering
by the stars. He had thus become master of a cruising vessel; and once,
when he was near the island of Dia,[58] he sent some of his men to
shore for fresh water. They soon returned, bringing with them a youth
whom they had found asleep in the forest, and had captured, hoping
to obtain a large ransom for him, as the lad was surely some king's
son--so haughty and regal was his bearing. When Acetes saw the youth,
he begged his men not to force him on board the ship, for the pilot
felt convinced that it was no mere mortal who stood so proudly before
them. But the sailors would not listen to his advice, and thrust the
youth roughly on board. Then Acetes refused to steer the ship; but
the men only laughed and declared that they could pilot the craft as
well as he. An angry discussion took place on the decks, and soon the
quarreling grew so loud that the captured youth, who had been gazing
listlessly over the sea, turned to the wrangling crew and asked in what
direction the ship was sailing.

"We will steer wherever you wish to go," replied one of the men with a
wink at his companions.

"Then sail back to Naxos, for that is my home," said the youth. The
sailors promised to do so, but turned the ship toward Egypt, where they
hoped to sell their prize for a large sum in gold. Acetes made several
brave attempts to get possession of the helm and steer for Naxos, but
the sailors struck him down, and threatened to throw him overboard if
he interfered in their plans.

Soon the lad seemed to notice that the familiar shores were receding,
and anxiously inquired if they were really sailing toward Naxos.
He begged them not to ill-treat a friendless boy; but to let him
return home in safety. Then the crew, weary of their pretense, told
him brutally that he was being taken to Egypt to be sold as a slave;
and that he could try his pretty speeches on his future master. The
youth did not reply to these taunts, but looked calmly at the jeering
sailors, and raised his hand above his head. Immediately the ship
stopped as if it had been suddenly rooted to the sea; and though the
men pulled frantically at the oars, not an inch could the vessel move.
Then, as in a dream, they saw ivy twining rapidly about the sails,
and wrapping the oars in its strong tendrils. A vine with its heavy
clusters of grapes clung to the mast and the sides of the ship. There
was the delicious smell of crushed fruit in the air, and the fragrance
of new-made wine.

The sailors stared at the transformed ship and at the captured youth,
who now shook off his mask of simplicity and appeared before them in
all his godlike beauty--for it was no other than the divine Bacchus
whom they had derided and had hoped to sell as a slave. The sound of
flutes was heard all around him, and the shrill notes of the pipes. At
the feet of Bacchus crouched tigers, lynxes, and panthers, and the god
himself bore in his hand a staff wreathed with ivy. Then terror seized
the trembling sailors, and they sprang madly over the side of the ship;
but as soon as they touched the water they were changed into dolphins.
Only Acetes was left standing on the deck before the smiling Bacchus,
who bade him have no fear, but take the helm and steer straight for
Naxos. The pilot gladly obeyed, and soon reached the desired port,
where he left his ship and became a follower of the god of wine.

When Acetes finished this remarkable story, King Pentheus swore that
not a word of it was true, and ordered his prisoner to be taken away
at once and executed. The soldiers threw Acetes into a dungeon; but
while the preparations for his execution were being made, his chains
suddenly dropped off and his prison doors flew open. When the jailers
came to lead him to his death, he was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile
the king had learned that the people were thronging around Bacchus on
the Cithæron mountain, just outside the city, and were eagerly joining
in all the joyous rites that attended the worship of the god of wine.
The shouts of the Bacchanals filled the air, and in spite of his anger
against them, Pentheus was curious to see what these ceremonies were
that occasioned such roisterous mirth. So he disguised himself as a
beggar, and joined the shouting crowd that surrounded Bacchus and
his followers. The noisiest of the revelers were the Bacchantes, who
danced and sang in a very frenzy of excitement as they tossed their
ivy wreaths into the air and poured the red wine recklessly upon the
ground. When this group, flushed with wine and half clad, whirled madly
toward him, the king was astonished to see among them his own mother
Agave. As he leaned nearer to the shouting dancers, wondering how his
mother came to join in such orgies, she suddenly saw him, and pointing
a finger at his shrinking figure cried:--

"There is the monster who prowls in our woods. Come on, sisters. I will
be the first to strike the wild boar." Blinded by the madness that
Bacchus had purposely inspired, she rushed upon the terrified king,
followed by the crowd of half-crazed Bacchantes. In vain did Pentheus
cry out that he was her son. Agave and her companions trampled him down
in their fierce onslaught, and in a moment tore him to pieces. Thus was
the worship of Bacchus established in Greece.

The spot that the god of wine loved best was the island of Naxos; and
here he spent much of his time when he was not wandering over the earth
to teach the art of making wine. One day Bacchus was walking on the
seashore with his ivy-crowned company, who followed him singing and
dancing to the music of their shrill pipes. As they neared a spot where
the rocks rise like a cliff above the water's edge, they discovered
a maiden sitting on the white sand. This was Ariadne, who had been
deserted by her lover, Theseus,[59] and left to pine away alone on the
island. For days Ariadne had sat looking mournfully out over the sea;
and now when Bacchus, with his joyous group of revelers, suddenly broke
in upon the silence of her solitude, she was frightened by the sight
of so many strangers. Bacchus soothed her fears, and in a short time
so won the maiden's confidence that he persuaded her to become his
wife. Ariadne was quite content to stay on the island with such a merry
company, and if she ever felt any regret over the faithless Theseus, it
was soon forgotten in the joy of the wedding celebrations, which lasted
for several days. As a marriage gift, Bacchus placed on Ariadne's white
forehead a crown adorned with seven glittering stars; but wonderful as
it was, it did not eclipse the beauty of the wearer. The happiness of
the newly-wedded pair did not last long, however, for in a few months
Ariadne sickened and died. After her death Bacchus left the island,
and did not return there for many years; but before he set sail he
took Ariadne's crown and threw it up into the sky, where it forms a
brilliant constellation known as Corona.

One day Silenus fell asleep in the forest, and his companions,
believing him safe for a while, went away and left him propped up
against a tree with his wine-bag at his side. Here he was found by
some peasants, who were subjects of Midas, king of Lydia. The rustics
watched the sleeping Silenus for a long time, wondering who he might
be. At length the old man woke up, and after rubbing his eyes, asked
the staring peasants where he was. As he received no answer to his
question, Silenus motioned to the rustics to help him up, and then
started to hunt for Bacchus and his lost companions. Seeing him unable
to walk the men led him to the court of King Midas who, as soon as he
saw the wanderer's jolly red face and his body--half goat and half
man--knew at once that it was Silenus, the tutor of Bacchus. This Midas
was the same king who had challenged Apollo to compete in the musical
contest with Pan; and, because of his unfair decision, had been cursed
with ass's ears by the offended god.[60] The fact that Silenus had ears
unlike the average mortal may have made King Midas feel a bit more
sympathy for the old man's distress; but whatever the reason might be,
he entertained Silenus royally for ten days, and then led him back to
his pupil, who had been wondering at his long absence.[61]

Delighted to have Silenus returned to him unharmed, Bacchus promised
to give the king any reward he might name; and Midas, being very
avaricious, asked the god to grant that all that he touched should turn
into gold. Bacchus had hoped that Midas would desire a better gift
than this; but having made a promise, the god was ready to fulfill it,
and he therefore assured the king that his wish was granted. Midas,
overjoyed at his good fortune, hastened back to his palace, and on
the way he hesitatingly tried his new power. He touched some leaves
that hung from the trees near by, and immediately they became golden.
He took up a stone from the roadway, and it turned into gold in his
hand. He plucked an apple, and in a moment it looked like one of the
golden fruit from the garden of the Hesperides. Midas was almost beside
himself with joy; and as soon as he reached his palace he began at once
to turn all its furnishings into gold. He was so delighted with his
wonderful gift that he felt no desire to eat or drink or rest; but at
last he grew a little weary of turning things into gold, and, being
hungry, sat down at his well-filled table.

He took great pleasure in seeing the cloth and the cups and the plates
change as everything else had done at his touch; but to his great
amazement and horror, he also found that the bread he took in his hand,
the food that touched his lips, turned into hard, unyielding gold. He
tried to drink from the shining cups, but the wine in his mouth became
melted gold. Then Midas knew the real meaning of his magic touch, and
realized sorrowfully that until it was taken away, he would slowly
starve in the midst of his great wealth. Already he hated his gift,
and longed for some way to divest himself of his ill-fated power. He
cried aloud to Bacchus for help, but no answer came to his prayers.
Again he besought the god, and this time acknowledged his avarice, and
lamented the greed that had led him to ask for the gift of the golden
touch. Bacchus heard his prayers, and, believing him truly repentant,
commanded him to go to the river Pactolus, trace the stream to its
source, and plunge his head and body into the purifying water. In this
way he could cleanse himself of his fault and its punishment. Midas did
as he was instructed, and came away from the river a wiser and happier,
though a poorer man. If at any time he was ever tempted to regret his
lost gift, he had only to look into the river at the glittering golden
sand on the bed of the stream; for where the king had stood, the sand
was changed into gold, and so it has remained to this very day.[62]

Chapter XX

Pan and the Nymphs

Pan,[63] the god of woods and fields, god of the flocks and herds, and
patron deity of all shepherds, was said to be the son of Mercury. It
is apparently not known who his mother was, but she must have had some
sylvan blood in her veins, for the youthful Pan showed every evidence
of having been born of woodland creatures, as he had the pointed ears
of the fauns, and the horns and goat's legs of the satyrs. The story
goes that his mother--whichever nymph it was of the many reputed to
have borne him--was disgusted with his absurd appearance, and refused
to own him for her child; but Mercury was delighted with his son's
grotesque figure, and took him to Olympus to amuse the gods.

Pan's favorite dwelling place was Arcadia; and here he wandered over
the hills and among the rocks, or roamed through the fertile valleys.
He delighted in hunting, and amused himself with various pastimes--his
especial pleasure being to lead in the dances with the nymphs. He
was devoted to music, and was usually seen playing on the syrinx,--or
shepherd's pipes,--which he himself invented and named from a nymph
whom he unsuccessfully wooed. The maiden Syrinx was a follower of
Diana; and one day, as she was returning from the chase, she met Pan,
who immediately fell in love with her beauty, and begged her to be
his wife. The nymph had always scorned to listen to any lover, and
Pan's appearance did not tend to soften her objections; so while he
was praising her many charms and pleading for her love, she turned and
ran away. The woodland god was not to be put off so lightly, however;
and he promptly gave chase to the fleeing maiden, who, finding that
her pursuer was gaining on her, called wildly on the river-nymphs for
help. She had by this time reached the water's edge; and just as Pan's
arms were about to enfold her, the kindly nymphs changed her into a
cluster of reeds. The god was much chagrined at the failure of his
hopes; but since he could not have the living maiden, he determined to
take whatever remained of the beautiful thing that had charmed him. So
he gathered a bunch of the reeds, and after cutting them into unequal
lengths, bound them together into a sort of shepherd's pipes. When
he put the reeds to his lips, they gave forth the softest and most
plaintive tones, and Pan called them the syrinx in honor of the nymph.

Before inventing this new instrument, Pan had played upon the flute,
and it was his skill in this direction that made King Midas dare to
affront Apollo by declaring Pan to be the better musician. The god of
woods and fields was not, however, a frequenter of palaces, but made
his home in grottoes and piped to the murmuring trees. He loved to
prowl by night in lonesome places, and lurk among the shadows where
some belated traveler, startled by the weird hoot of an owl, would
see his grotesque form and rush away, filled with that unreasoning
terror called a "panic." Pan's partners in the sylvan dance were the
wood-nymphs, who always welcomed him and his followers. When his days
were spent among the mountain solitudes, the Oreads, or mountain
nymphs, danced with him in the moonlight; and when he preferred to
live in the valleys, the Dryads, or nymphs of vegetation, joined in
the revels led by Pan and his company of fauns and satyrs.[64] The
Naides, the beautiful water-nymphs who dwelt in the clear depths of
the fountains, did not come out of their quiet haunts to take part in
the merriment; nor did the shy Hamadryads leave the safe shelter of
their trees to mingle in the joyous dance. Among these latter nymphs
each had her particular tree, and lived and died with the one intrusted
to her care. It was held, therefore, to be an act of wanton cruelty
to destroy or even mar a tree, lest the Hamadryad who inhabited it
should be hurt and possibly killed. It was unwise to break off a flower
recklessly, or to pull it rudely from the earth, for in this humble
form might be lodged the spirit of some woodland creature.

Such a sad mistake did Dryope once make, and suffered for her
carelessness by being changed from a mortal into a Hamadryad. Dryope
was a beautiful young princess, the wife of Andræmon, and the mother of
a golden-haired boy. Every day she carried her child to a small lake
near the palace, and let him gather the gayly-colored flowers that grew
on the water's edge. One day, as she wandered by the lake, Dryope saw
a lotus blossom and pointed it out to her little son, who immediately
tried to pluck it. As it was much beyond his reach, his mother leaned
over the water and broke it off the stem. To her surprise, she saw
drops of blood slowly oozing from the stem; and as the boy eagerly
grasped the lovely flower in his chubby hand, a crimson stream trickled
through his clasped fingers. He dropped the blossom with a frightened
cry, and ran screaming to the palace, while Dryope stood looking down,
bewildered, at the bleeding flower. Just then she heard a voice
telling her that she had killed the nymph Lotis, who, to escape from
the arms of the hateful god Priapus, had taken the form of a lotus.

When Dryope realized the dreadful thing that she had unknowingly done,
she turned pale with fright, and would have hurried away from the
unlucky spot; but when she tried to turn from the sight of the dying
flower, she found that she could not move. Her feet seemed rooted to
the ground; and, as she looked down, she was horrified to see that a
rough bark was beginning to inclose her limbs. With dreadful rapidity
it spread upward, and soon encircled her whole body, while her arms
changed into twisted branches and her hands into green leaves. In vain
she called to her husband and her friends for help. When they arrived,
there was nothing left of the fair Dryope but her tear-stained face,
which was covered all too soon by the cruel bark. Just before she
disappeared completely from their sight, she begged that her little
son might be taught to play beneath her branches; and when, in all
the after days, the boy sat willingly beside the tree and listened to
the soft rustling of its leaves, the passers-by would say: "Dryope is
whispering to her child."[65]

The danger of recklessly destroying any tree is shown by the story of
Erysichthon, who dared to defy the goddess Ceres, and so received a
fitting punishment. There was a certain grove of trees sacred to Ceres,
and among them was a lofty oak on which votive tablets were often hung,
and around which the nymphs and Dryads danced hand in hand. Erysichthon
ordered his servants to cut down this venerable oak; and when they
hesitated, telling him that it was a tree beloved by Ceres and should
not suffer such a sacrilege, he seized the ax himself and made a deep
gash in the trunk. To the great horror of those who stood by, blood
began to flow from the wound; and as Erysichthon was about to deal the
tree another blow, one of his servants caught at his arm, imploring
him not to touch the oak again, for the blood showed that a Hamadryad
was being wounded. Maddened at this interference, and determined to
carry out his brutal will, Erysichthon declared that he would cut
down the tree if by so doing he killed a dozen Dryads. He lifted his
ax for a mighty stroke, and as the servant again sought to stay his
arm, he turned fiercely and killed the man with one swift blow. Then
he proceeded to fell the tree, and soon it was lying, bruised and
bleeding, on the ground.

The nymphs rushed to Ceres, and begged her to punish this wicked
violation of her grove. The goddess promised that Erysichthon's deed
should not go unpunished, and sent an Oread to the remote part of
Scythia, where the ice lies thick on the dreary soil and the land is
always desolate. "Here dwell drowsy Cold and Paleness and Shuddering
and dreadful Famine." When the Oread drew near this barren country,
she saw far off the gaunt form of Famine pulling up with her teeth and
claws the scant bits of vegetation that could be found here and there
in the frozen earth. The nymph did not want to linger near the dreadful
form of Famine, lest the hag should reach out her lean finger and touch
the maiden's robes; so she hurriedly delivered the message of Ceres,
and sped quickly back to her own fair land of Thessaly.

Not daring to disobey the goddess's command, Famine left her dreary
country and sought out the home of Erysichthon. She found him asleep;
and as he slept she enfolded him with her wings, and breathed into his
nostrils her deadly breath. Then she returned to her frantic digging in
the unyielding soil. When Erysichthon awoke, he was at once consumed
with a fierce desire for food; but, however much he ate, the terrible
craving never ceased. All day long he devoured things greedily, but at
night his hunger was still unsatisfied. His servants piled up food in
enormous quantities before him, but the gnawing pangs of hunger never
left him. He spent all his wealth in a vain attempt to buy enough food
to appease the insatiable monster within him; but, though he at last
sold all that he had, even to his house and his clothing, it was not
enough to buy him the food he craved. There was nothing left him now
but his daughter; and frenzied by his hunger, he offered to sell her to
a slave-dealer.

The girl pitied her father's sufferings and would have done anything to
help him; but she resented his baseness in selling her, for she came
of a noble race. While her purchaser was disputing with her father
over the price, the maiden, who was standing on the seashore, a short
distance away from her new master, implored Neptune to save her from
the disgrace of being sold as a slave. The kindly sea-god heard her
cry, and changed her into an old fisherwoman. When the bargain between
Erysichthon and the dealer was settled, the man looked around for
his new purchase, but she was nowhere to be seen. The only person on
the seashore, beside the brutal bargainers, was an old woman who sat
mending her net. The irate owner searched in vain for his slave and
even asked the fisherwoman if she had seen a weeping maiden. Unable
to find the girl, he at last went away, concluding that Erysichthon's
daughter had tried to escape and so had been drowned in the sea. The
maiden was rejoiced at her deliverance; but her cruel father, on seeing
her regain her own form, decided that this was an easy way of making
the money he desperately needed. So he sold his daughter again and
again, and each time she sought the help of Neptune, who obligingly
turned her into many different shapes. At last even this device failed
to bring to Erysichthon enough money to meet the ever increasing
demands of his hunger. In despair over the lack of food he began to eat
his own flesh; and in a short time he had devoured so much of his body
that death came to end his torment. So was Ceres avenged.

The Hamadryads were seldom seen by men, but people knew them to be both
gentle and beautiful. That they could repay a kindness is well shown
by the story of Rhœcus, who gained the love of one of the shyest of
these nymphs. One day the youth happened to see an oak-tree bent so
far down by the wind that some of its branches were already broken. He
propped up the tree, and gently bound up the broken limbs; then as he
turned to go, he heard a soft voice calling him. It was the Hamadryad
who had expected to die with her stricken tree, and was now so grateful
to Rhœcus that she bade him ask of her any reward he wished. The
youth boldly asked for her love, and the nymph reluctantly yielded to
his wish, promising to meet him at the oak-tree each day just before
sunset. To keep him mindful of the hour set for the tryst, she told
him that she would send him a messenger--a bee--which would also guide
him to the spot where she was waiting.

Rhœcus was very happy with the Hamadryad; and never failed to follow
the flight of the bee that came each day at sunset to lead him to the
trysting-place. One morning, however, he began to play at dice with
his friends, and the game continued through the long summer afternoon.
As it drew toward sunset, Rhœcus forgot that it was his hour to meet
the Dryad, and continued his game, even though he noticed vaguely that
a bee was buzzing near him. Soon the bee came close to his face, and
buzzed so persistently that Rhœcus brushed it angrily away. Each time
he tried to shake it off it came buzzing back, and at last he struck
at it so viciously that it fell to the ground. Then in a flash Rhœcus
remembered his promise to the Dryad, and throwing away his dice, he
hurried to the trysting-place. He called to the nymph and begged her
to come to him once more; but no sweet face appeared though a voice
spoke from the heart of the oak-tree bidding him a sad farewell. Rhœcus
had already repented bitterly of his forgetfulness; but nothing could
restore him to favor. He sat all night beside the oak-tree, but the
Dryad never came to him again.[66]

[Illustration: Vestals]

Chapter XXI

The Vestals

Vesta was the oldest child of Saturn and Rhea, and was the goddess of
the family hearth. As the hearth was the basis of all domestic ties,
Vesta was considered the guardian of family happiness, and her worship
was an essential part of the family life. The hearth in ancient days
had a much greater significance than in modern times, for it was the
center of the household, around which the family gathered for their
common meal and common worship. On the hearth, as an altar-fire, the
head of the household offered prayers and sacrifices; and it made a
bond of union so generally recognized that he who partook of food
there, or who shared in the family worship, could ever afterward
lay claim to the master's hospitality. If a suppliant was seeking
protection from any danger, it was to a man's hearth that he came as
a sure place of refuge. The flames that burned on this family altar
were sacred to the goddess Vesta, and prayers for domestic happiness
and the household's welfare were usually offered to her. Thus the fire
burning on the hearth of each dwelling was a perpetual worship of
the beneficent Vesta, and even the sacrifices made to other gods were
partly in her honor; for whenever the flames were rekindled, a prayer
was offered to the goddess of the family fireside.

Every dwelling was, therefore, in some sense, a temple of Vesta; but
there was also in each city a stately edifice where all the citizens
worshiped at her sacred fire, and were thus bound together in one
great family. In Rome, where the worship of Vesta was most celebrated,
a beautiful circular temple, dedicated to the goddess, stood in the
Forum. It was not necessary to place a statue of Vesta here, for the
eternal fire that glowed on her altar was her living symbol, and
through this she was worshiped. This fire was supposed to have been
brought to Italy by Æneas when he fled from burning Troy and carried
with him out of the city two valuable possessions, _i.e._ the fire of
Vesta and his own household gods--or Penates. When a colony was sent
out from any city, the emigrants took some of the fire from the temple
of Vesta in the mother town, and guarded it during their voyages, that
they might use its flames to light the fires that were to burn on the
hearths of the new homes. Each city cherished carefully the fire that
was sacred to Vesta, and never allowed it to burn out, for that was an
evil omen sure to presage disaster. If by any chance it was allowed
to become extinct, it was never relit from any ordinary fire, but was
kindled with a spark produced by friction, or by drawing fire from the
sun's rays through a glass.

The temple at Rome was the most famous of those dedicated to Vesta, for
here was the school of the Vestal Virgins whose duty it was to tend her
ever-living fire. As any neglect on their part might bring some public
calamity upon Rome, this altar was jealously guarded; and when, as it
sometimes happened, enemies threatened the city, the Vestals carried
the fire of Vesta down the Tiber and kept it in concealment until
the danger was over. Since so much depended on the watchfulness and
fidelity of the Vestals, the office of priestess to the temple was held
in high honor, and the maidens were chosen from the noblest families
of Rome. They entered the service at the very youthful age of six, and
spent thirty years in the temple. The first ten years were devoted to
learning their important duties; the next decade was the period for
filling the office of priestess, and performing all the solemn rites
that belonged to the worship of Vesta; the last ten years were given to
instructing the novices. When the thirty years of service were over,
the Vestals could continue in the temple, or leave it and marry if they
desired; but so holy were the Virgins thought to become through their
long residence in the temple, that it was held a sort of sacrilege for
any man to marry them. Therefore the priestesses usually died, as they
had lived, in the service of the goddess.

The chief duty of the Vestals was to watch in turns, by night and day,
the sacred fire of Vesta, and to see that the flames never grew dim.
During their entire period of service, they were obliged to keep the
strictest vows of chastity, under penalty of being buried alive in
a vaulted room, built especially for this purpose by the king, Numa
Pompilius. The Vestals, were, however, so true to all the vows made at
the great altar-fire, that in a thousand years only eighteen failed in
their promises and thus suffered punishment. The story is told that the
Vestal Tuccia was accused of having broken her vow, but was able to
prove her purity, by being given the miraculous power to carry water in
a sieve from the Tiber to the temple.

[Illustration: Tuccia]

Though the restrictions placed upon the Vestals were severe, and the
rules of their order were pitilessly enforced, yet the privileges
that they enjoyed were such as to raise them in dignity above the
other women of Rome. They were entirely released from all parental
authority; they had conspicuous places at the theaters and gladiatorial
shows, and occupied seats of honor at all public festivals. Treaties
and important state documents were intrusted to their care as in a
place inviolable; and their persons were held so holy that, when they
died, they were buried within the city limits--a privilege granted to
but few. When they went abroad, each was preceded by a lictor; and
consuls, prætors, and even tribunes made way for them, while if any one
passed under their litter, he was put to death. If they chanced to meet
a criminal on his way to punishment, they could demand his release,
provided that it could be proved that the meeting was accidental. The
Vestals wore a robe of pure white linen with a wide purple border,
and over their shoulders was a purple mantle. When the festivals of
Vesta, the Vestalia, were held, the priestesses marched in a procession
through the streets, carrying their sacred fire, while the Roman
matrons followed them barefooted, chanting hymns in praise of Vesta.
During these ceremonies all work was suspended in the city, the houses
were decked with flowers, and the beasts used in the procession were
wreathed in garlands; banquets were set out before the houses, and the
people gave themselves up to a gala-day.


When Æneas fled from burning Troy, and took with him some of the
fire from the temple of Vesta, as the thing most necessary in the
founding of a new city, he also brought to the shores of Italy his
own household gods--or Penates--who presided over the daily affairs of
the household, and were the guardians of each member of the family on
whose hearth they held the place of honor. The statues of the Penates
were of clay, wax, ivory, silver, or gold according to the master's
wealth, and were always carried to the new home when the family changed
its dwelling place. When the common meal was served, a small portion
of it was set aside for the Penates, and a libation of wine was poured
to them on the hearth. In return for this daily deference, the Penates
blessed the household with happiness and prosperity.

The Lares were also worshiped by the Roman family, though they were
quite unknown to the Greeks. They were the divinities that preserved
the family unity, and often were a sort of embodiment of the spirit of
its head and founder. The Lares also guarded the welfare of the city,
and presided over the fortunes of those great groups of families that
were the probable foundation of every Roman town. Tradition tells us
that the Lares were the two children of Mercury and a beautiful Naiad
named Lara. This nymph was so loquacious that she talked from morning
to night, and was very fond of prying into other people's affairs, that
she might thereby have some new subjects for conversation. One day
she heard Jupiter making love to a beautiful wood-nymph, and instead
of keeping the matter discreetly to herself, she hurried off to tell
the whole affair to Juno. This impertinence so angered Jupiter that he
determined to punish her severely and also to prevent her from doing
any more talebearing; so he had poor Lara's tongue cut off. Then he
summoned Mercury and bade him take the nymph to Hades, where the sight
of her sad face could never offend his eyes. On the way down to Pluto's
kingdom, Mercury fell in love with his fair companion; and instead of
leading her into Hades, he took her to a kindlier place, where he soon
won her love and persuaded her to be his wife. The two children of
Mercury and Lara were called Lares, and to them the Romans paid many
honors, reserving for them a place of honor on the family hearth.

Chapter XXII

Minor Deities

I. Æolus

Not far from sunny Sicily and the deep crater of Etna, in which Vulcan
built his glowing forge, were the Æolian Islands--now called Lipari
Islands--where Æolus, god of the winds and storms, kept his turbulent
children. He never allowed them to roam at will, but held them securely
bound in a great cave, and let them loose one at a time when they
needed exercise or when the gods demanded their release. Only once were
they allowed to give free play to their boisterous feelings, and rush
over the waters, making havoc everywhere, and this was when Jupiter
sent a deluge upon the impious earth. Since that time the winds have
never roamed at large, though they always chafe at being restrained in
their narrow prison and long to break free.

            "Hic vasto rex Æolus antro
      Luctantes ventos--tempestatesque sonoras
      Imperio premit ac vinclis et carcere frenat.
      Illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis
      Circum claustra fremunt; celsa sedet Æolus arce,
      Sceptratenens, mollitque animos et temperatiras;
      Ni faciat, maria ac terras cælumque profundum
      Quippe ferant rapidi secum verrantque per auras."[67]

                  --VIRGIL, _Æneid_, Book I, line 52.

Æolus wooed and married the dainty Aurora, goddess of the morning,
who bore him his sons, _i.e._ Boreas, the north wind; Notus, the
south wind; Eurus, the east wind; and Zephyrus, the soft and gentle
west wind. Sometimes Aurora sought the services of her children, but
they were entirely under the control of their father Æolus who ruled
them with a strict hand. Sometimes when the stately Juno sought his
assistance, he let the winds sweep over the calm sea until the waves
rose mountain high, for he was reputed to have received his royal
status as god from Juno's hands, and so was ever anxious to serve her.
Once, at her request, he let loose the fiercest winds to destroy the
ships of Æneas--that unfortunate hero who was always being pursued
by "cruel Juno's unrelenting hate." The goddess was so eager for his
destruction that she went herself to the cave of the winds, and begged
Æolus to shatter the Trojan ships. So a terrible storm broke over the
sea, and the winds drove the vessels of Æneas far out of their course,
scattering them here and there, until no two could see each other amid
the fury of the tempest. When Neptune realized what was happening, he
lifted his head above the white-capped waves and saw the Trojan ships
tossed about and beaten out of their course. As he himself had given no
commands for such a storm, he knew it was the never-ending hatred of
Juno for the Trojans that had brought about the disaster. But the sea,
and all that therein is, was Neptune's to control, and he was justly
angry with Juno's interference; so he recalled the winds from their mad
race and bade the storm cease.

Quite differently did Æolus treat another famous hero, Ulysses, whose
ships, on the long homeward journey, touched at the Lipari Islands.
Here the wanderer was hospitably entertained by Æolus, and when he
set sail again, the kindly god sent the west wind to blow the ships
gently over the sea, while he shut up the blustering winds in a leather
bag and tied it with a silver string. This bag he gave to Ulysses,
"the sagacious," and bade him keep it closed until the journey was
over. For nine days and nights the hero stood at the helm watching,
while the west wind bore the ships along without the help of oars.
At last, exhausted by his long vigil, Ulysses fell asleep; and the
sailors, believing that the bag contained treasure that King Æolus had
generously given, untied the string and freed the roistering winds.
The ships were now driven hither and thither by the madly-rushing
winds, and were tossed over the sea far away from the longed-for
Ithaca. Finally they were blown back to the Lipari Islands, where Æolus
received them but coldly, and refused to help them further. So they
turned their prows once more toward home, and worked wearily against
wind and weather by the slow pull of the oars.

The Athenians built a temple to Æolus, which is still extant, and is
generally known as the Tower of the Winds, or the Temple of Æolus.
The structure is hexagonal, and on each side there is a flying figure
of one of the winds. Notus (or Auster), the south wind, was usually
represented by an old man with dusky wings. He is clad in a black robe,
and his head is covered with clouds, for he sends the rains and sudden
showers. Eurus, the east wind, was a young man full of impetuous and
lively motion. Corus, the northwest wind, drove clouds of snow before
him, and Boreas was a figure rough and shivering. Zephyrus had a lapful
of flowers, and was the one wind sent to play among children. Boreas
was the bringer of hail and tempests, and when he wooed the nymph
Orithyia, he sought in vain to approach her gently, and to breathe his
love softly. But he could not sigh, and his lightest whisper frightened
the maiden by its harshness; so Boreas gave up attempting to win her
by gentle means and boldly carried her off to his home in the midst of
snow and ice. Their children were Zetes and Calais--winged warriors who
accompanied the Argonauts on their famous expedition, and performed a
valuable service in driving away the Harpies.[68]

II. Janus

Janus,[69]--god of the past, present, and future; of gates and
entrances; of war and peace,--was said to be the son of Apollo; but
as he is a Roman god, and entirely unknown to Greek mythology, his
ancestry is a matter of doubt. He presided over the beginning of
everything, and was therefore invoked first in every undertaking--even
before Jupiter. He opened the year and the seasons, and the first
month of the year was called after him. He was the porter of heaven,
and in this capacity he was represented as holding a key in his left
hand and a staff or scepter in his right. On earth he was the guardian
deity of gates, and as such he had always two faces turned in opposite
directions, because every door looks both ways. Another explanation of
his physical duality is that as god of the past and future he sees what
is behind and what is before. Janus was also considered an emblem of
the sun, and had therefore two faces, one to look at its rising and one
to see its setting. Sometimes these faces were alike, but more often
they were represented by a white-haired and white-bearded old man on
the one side, and a smooth-cheeked youth on the other.

At Rome Numa Pompilius is said to have dedicated to Janus the covered
passage--erroneously called a temple--that stood close by the Forum.
This was kept open in times of war and closed in times of peace; but
such was the belligerent nature of the Romans that the gates were
closed but three times in seven hundred years, and then only for a
short period.

As he was god of all beginnings, the first of every new year, month,
and day was held sacred to Janus, and special prayers and sacrifices
were then offered at his shrines. When he presides over the year, he
is represented as holding the number three hundred in one hand and
sixty-five in the other. Festivals in honor of Janus were celebrated
on the first day of the new year, and on this day people exchanged
visits, good wishes, and gifts, which usually consisted of sweetmeats
and copper coins showing on one side the double head of Janus. The
sacrifices offered to Janus on New Year's day and at other times of
beginnings were barley, incense, cakes, and wine.

III. Iris and Aurora

Iris was the special attendant of Juno, and was often employed as a
messenger by both Juno and Jupiter. In the Iliad she is the swift
servant of the gods; but in the Odyssey it is Mercury who is the
messenger to and from Olympus, and Iris is never mentioned. Sometimes
Iris is described as the rainbow itself; sometimes the rainbow is only
the road over which she travels, and which therefore vanishes when
it is no longer needed. When Juno sends Iris to the Cave of Sleep
"she assumes her garments of a thousand colors, and spans the heavens
with her curving arch." As the personification of the rainbow--that
brilliant phenomenon that vanishes as quickly as it appears--Iris might
easily be considered the swift messenger of the gods.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Aurora]

Aurora, rosy-fingered goddess of the dawn, opened the gates of the
morning for the impatient horses of the sun, who chafed at being held
behind the golden bars until Apollo was ready to start forth on his
daily course, attended by the faithful Hours. Though Aurora was the
wife of Æolus and mother of the winds, she had the usual weakness
of the deities of Olympus for falling in love with mortals who won her
favor. Thus she became enamored of the young hunter Cephalus, but was
unable to gain his love, as he himself had already wedded the fair
Procris, one of Diana's nymphs. The happiness of these lovers was a
maddening sight to the jealous Aurora, and she determined to find
some way to end it. Procris had brought to her husband as a dowry a
hunting dog named Lelaps, who could outrun the swiftest deer, and a
javelin that never missed its mark. So all day long Cephalus hunted in
the forest, and his long absences gave the malicious Aurora an excuse
for whispering to the young wife that her husband spend his time in
the society of a wood-nymph. For some time Procris resisted these
suggestions of the goddess; but at last, overcome by jealousy, she
followed Cephalus to the forest to see who the maiden was that charmed
him. At noonday the weary hunter sought his accustomed resting place;
and as he lay beneath a wide-spreading tree, he called to the breeze to
come and refresh him. Believing that he referred to some wood-nymph,
Procris sank down among the bushes in a swoon; and her husband, hearing
the leaves rustle suddenly behind him, hurled his javelin into the
thicket, supposing that some wild beast was crouching near him ready to
spring. To his horror he discovered the body of Procris; and though he
did all that he could to stanch the wound made by his unerring spear,
his wife died in his arms--but not before an explanation had been

Though Aurora had succeeded in separating the lovers forever, she
did not thereby gain the affections of Cephalus, but was obliged to
console herself with the Trojan prince, Tithonus. She begged Jupiter
to confer upon him the boon of immortal life; but forgetting that he
would sometime grow old, she neglected to ask for him the greater gift
of eternal youth. For a while she was very happy with her lover, but
as soon as he lost the attractions of youth she wearied of his company
and wished to get rid of him. She shut him up in a room of her palace,
where his feeble voice could often be heard; and then, knowing that he
would never die, she cruelly changed him into a grasshopper.[71]

The son of Aurora and Tithonus was Memnon, who became king of the
Ethiopians, and went with a band of warriors to help his kindred in
the Trojan war. He fought bravely, but at length met his death at the
hands of Achilles. When he fell on the battle-field, Aurora commanded
her sons, the winds, to carry his body to the banks of the river Æsepus
in Asia Minor, where a tomb was erected to his memory. To honor him
further, Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders from his funeral pyre to
be changed into birds, which divided into two flocks and fought until
they fell into the flames. Every year, on the anniversary of Memnon's
death, the birds returned to celebrate the funeral rites in this same
strange way. When the flames from the funeral pyre had burned out,
Aurora sat by the ashes of her son, weeping and mourning his loss; and
the many tears that she shed turned into glistening dewdrops. In Egypt
there were two colossal statues, one of which was said to be the statue
of Memnon; and tradition tells that when the first rays of morning fell
upon it, it gave forth a sound like the snapping of harp strings.

IV. Flora, Vertumnus, and Pomona

Flora, goddess of flowers and of spring, was not among the deities
worshiped in Greece, but was everywhere honored among the Romans. She
was reputed to have married Zephyrus, the balmy west wind, and with him
she wandered happily over town and country, distributing her favors
with lavish hand. Though the gentle goddess was universally beloved,
her principal devotees were young girls, who delighted in keeping her
altars decorated with fruits and garlands of flowers. Her festivals
were held during the month of May and were called the Floralia.

Vertumnus and Pomona were also Roman deities and presided over orchards
and gardens. Pomona was a Hamadryad, and was so devoted to the care of
her trees that she scorned the idea of love. Fauns and satyrs sought to
woo her, and Sylvanus--a woodland deity--tried in vain to approach her.
Even the wily Pan was never able to come near enough to her to urge
his suit, but the youthful god Vertumnus was not to be discouraged by
the nymph's coldness, and determined to win her for his wife. Hoping
to catch her eyes and so get speech with her, he assumed various
disguises. "How often did he carry the ears of corn in a basket under
the guise of a hardy reaper. How often he bore a whip in his sturdy
hand so that you would have sworn he had that instant been unyoking the
wearied oxen. Now he was carrying a ladder, and you would suppose he
was going to gather fruit. Sometimes he was a soldier with a sword, and
sometimes a fisherman, taking up the rod."[72] But no attractions in
the form of man could induce Pomona to leave her orchard, or to admit
one of the hated beings. At last the resourceful Vertumnus hit upon
the plan that brought him well-earned success. "Having bound his brows
with a colored cap, leaning on a stick and with white hair falling
around his temples, he assumed the shape of an old woman and entered
the well-cultivated gardens."[73] After praising the fruit and flowers,
the pretended old woman began to ask Pomona why she had persistently
remained unwed, and told her how foolish it was to fly from love. Much
to the surprise of Vertumnus, the maiden seemed to receive this advice
very kindly; and when he went on to speak of a certain youthful god who
had long sought her love, he was delighted at gaining the confession
from Pomona that she might be willing to listen to Vertumnus if he came
to woo. At this admission the bold lover threw off his disguise, and
claimed the fulfillment of the maiden's promise.

Chapter XXIII


Part I

Hercules was the son of Jupiter and Alcmene--a lovely princess, the
granddaughter of Perseus and Andromeda. Juno hated her as she did
all her mortal rivals, and sought to bring misery and suffering on
the unoffending maiden. When she learned that Hercules, the son of
Alcmene, was born, she sent two immense serpents with poisonous fangs
to attack the child while he slept. The baby happened to waken just as
the creatures were twining themselves about him; and grasping their
necks in each of his tiny hands, he strangled them, thus showing from
his birth the wonderful strength that was later to make him a famous
hero. The education of Hercules was intrusted to Chiron, the most
renowned of the centaurs, who had himself been instructed by Apollo
and Diana in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. The
idea of a creature half man and half horse was not repulsive to the
ancients, who were too fond of a horse to consider man's union with
him degrading. When Hercules left the kindly tutelage of Chiron, he
set out on his own adventures, and before he had traveled far he met
two beautiful women, each of whom offered to guide him on his journey.
Kakia (Vice) told him that if he followed her, he would gain love,
riches, and ease; and Arete (Virtue) promised him honor, bought at the
price of hardship, poverty, and endless toil. For a while the youthful
hero deliberated over the two very different rewards offered him, and
at last he gave his choice to Arete, who henceforth led him through
many perils, and into labors such as no man had ever yet performed.[74]

[Illustration: The Infant Hercules]

Like most heroes, Hercules was a great wanderer; and on one of his
journeys he came to the city of Thebes, where Creon, the king,
entertained him and showed him so much favor that when Hercules asked
for the hand of Creon's daughter Megara in marriage, the king gladly
gave his consent. The hero then rested from his wanderings, and spent
many happy years in the society of his wife and children; but Juno had
not forgotten her old hatred of Alcmene's offspring, and she determined
to end this happiness. So she afflicted Hercules with a sudden madness;
and in his delirium he killed his wife, and threw his children into the
fire. When at last he recovered his senses, he suffered terribly over
the thought of the crimes that he had unwittingly committed, and would
have gone off to the mountains to spend his days in sorrow and remorse,
had not Juno demanded that he should expiate his deeds of bloodshed.
Accordingly she sent Mercury to lead him from his solitude among the
hills and to take him to his cousin Eurystheus, king of Argos, whom he
was compelled to serve for a whole year. During this time he performed
the twelve great labors that have made his name famous as the doer of
mighty deeds.

The first task that Eurystheus gave the hero was to procure the skin
of a monstrous lion that inhabited the Nemean forest. This creature's
frequent attacks had brought terror to all the countryside, for it was
not content with carrying off cattle and sheep, but had killed the
children at play, and mangled shepherds who were watching with their
flocks. When the people heard that Hercules was setting out to fight
the lion, they tried to persuade him to give up the adventure; but he,
who had strangled two huge serpents in his infancy, was not afraid of
a lion, however fierce and strong it might be. So he boldly entered
the forest, and having tracked the great brute to its den, he attacked
it fearlessly and killed it with his bare hands. Then, throwing the
body of the lion over his shoulder, he started back to the palace of
Eurystheus; but when the king saw Hercules approaching, he begged him
to leave his burden outside the city gates. So the hero skinned the
lion, and took the shaggy pelt to be henceforth his favorite covering.

Hercules's second labor was to kill the Hydra, a nine-headed monster
that infested the marshes of Lerna. With the blows of his great oak
club the hero was able to strike off eight of the heads, but the
central one was immortal and could not be destroyed. Further to
complicate the difficulty, Hercules found that as soon as he struck
off one head, two others sprang up in its place. To prevent this
discouraging miracle from continuing, the hero bade his friend Iolaus,
who had accompanied him, take a lighted brand and sear the wounds as
soon as they were made. Through this wise precaution the Hydra was
finally killed, and its one immortal head was buried under a huge
rock. While this difficult struggle was going on, Juno, always eager
to thwart the hero, sent a large crab to pinch Hercules's feet as he
wrestled with the Hydra. He succeeded in crushing it with his club; but
Juno did not leave its body on the trampled and blood-stained ground.
In recognition of its services to her, she placed it in the sky as the
constellation of Cancer (the Crab). Before Hercules left the dead Hydra
he dipped some arrows in its venomous blood, knowing that any wound
received from their poisoned tips would surely be fatal. These arrows
were later of great service to Hercules, and only once did he regret
their deadly quality.

The next task that Eurystheus set was the capture of the golden-horned
and brazen-hoofed stag of Cerynea, which ran so swiftly that it did not
seem to touch the ground. Hercules pursued the stag for many miles, but
was unable to overtake it until he drove it into the cold regions of
the north, where its fleetness was hindered by the great drifts and the
ice-covered ground. Finally the stag ran into a deep snow bank, and so
Hercules captured it and took it home in triumph.

The fourth labor to which Hercules lent his great strength was the
killing of a wild boar that haunted Mount Erymanthus in Arcadia. While
on this expedition, the hero was attacked by the centaurs, and when he
shot at them with his poisoned arrows, one of the deadly missiles flew
far and struck his loved tutor Chiron, who was galloping toward the
combatants, hoping to settle the quarrel peaceably. When Hercules saw
Chiron fall, he rushed to his side and tried to stanch the fatal wound;
but the dying centaur knew that his end had come, and sorrowfully bade
the hero farewell. To reward Chiron for his long service, the gods
transferred him to the heavens as the constellation Sagittarius.

Hercules was next sent to kill the flock of fierce birds whose
cruel beaks and sharp talons made havoc in the country around Lake
Stymphalus. The foul mist that rose from the stagnant water over which
the birds hovered was so deadly to breathe that Hercules could hardly
approach the lake; but with the help of his poisoned arrows he was able
to wound the birds at a distance. After hours spent in this pestilent
atmosphere he killed the entire flock and returned to the court of
Eurystheus to report his success.

The most unpleasant of all Hercules's labors was the cleaning of the
stables where Augeas, king of Elis, kept his herd of a thousand oxen.
These stables had not been cleaned for thirty years; and when Hercules
caught one glimpse of the filth within them, he felt that this was too
degrading a task for him to undertake. But the work had to be done; and
since he could not put his hand to anything so foul, he looked about
for some other means to accomplish the labor. Not far from the stables
flowed two rivers, the Peneus and Alpheus, and these Hercules turned
out of their courses and made them rush through the filthy building
until every part of the stables of Augeas was washed perfectly clean.
Then he restored the rivers to their former beds, and returned home to
report this task fulfilled.

The next labor that was assigned to the hero was the capture of a mad
bull given by Neptune to King Minos. In the early days of his power,
Minos had boasted that he could obtain anything that he wished from the
gods; and had accordingly begged of Neptune a bull for the sacrifices.
The kindly sea-god sent a splendid offering, but when Minos saw the
bull's size and beauty, he resolved to keep it. So he substituted
another animal for the sacrifices. This angered Neptune so much that
he made the bull go mad; and it rushed here and there over the island,
causing great terror among the people. The creature was finally caught
and overcome by Hercules, who rode it through the waves to Greece. The
offspring of this bull was the famous Minotaur which the hero Theseus
pursued through its labyrinth, and slew.

The eighth labor of Hercules was to bring from Thrace the horses of
Diomedes. These splendid creatures the king fed on human flesh; and in
order to get a sufficient supply of fresh meat, he decreed that all
strangers who came into his kingdom should be imprisoned, fattened up,
and then served as food to the horses. To punish Diomedes for his years
of cruelty, Hercules fed him to his own steeds, and then led them back
to Eurystheus, who was proud to be the possessor of such a prize.

At the court of Eurystheus was the king's beautiful daughter, Admete,
who loved purple and fine linen, and decked herself with all the
jewels that her father's wealth could command. One day Admete heard
a traveler telling wonderful tales of the girdle that was worn by
Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons; and at once the spoiled princess
demanded of her father that he send Hercules to procure for her the
coveted girdle. So the hero set out again, accompanied by his friend
Iolaus; and after a hard and perilous journey came to the country of
the Amazons. These were a fierce, warlike nation of women who kept in
their tribe only the girls who were born among them and disposed of the
boys by killing them, or by giving them to the neighboring peoples. The
girls were trained in severe military discipline, and became a race of
very redoubtable warriors whom no king cared to treat with contempt.
When Hercules came before the queen Hippolyte, she received him kindly,
listened to the explanation of his visit, and even promised to give
him the girdle that the selfish Admete coveted. Before the hero and
his friend set out on their journey homeward, the queen entertained
them royally with feasting and games that lasted several days. Meantime
Juno saw an opportunity for indulging her hatred of Hercules; and
taking the form of an Amazon, she mingled freely with the women. By
pretending to have received a heaven-sent message, she persuaded them
that the stranger had used the girdle as a mere pretext for his visit,
and that his real intention was to carry off the queen. The Amazons
believed this artfully-contrived report, and rushed in a body to
protect Hippolyte. They attacked Hercules fiercely, but he beat them
off and finally escaped with his friend, but not before he had killed
several of the Amazons, including the queen who had befriended him.[75]
With the dearly-bought girdle he returned homeward, and on the way he
heard the proclamation of Laomedon that whoever would save his daughter
Hesione from the sea-monster should receive a large reward. Hercules
killed the beast and freed the maiden, but was obliged to leave Troy
without the promised gold, because of Laomedon's perfidy and greed.[76]

When the ancients looked each evening at the glowing west, they
pictured it as a far-distant country, more wonderful than any ever seen
by mortal eyes. Here in this land of heart's desire lay the Garden of
the Hesperides, where a dragon guarded the golden apples that grew
on a wonderful tree which had sprung up miraculously to grace the
wedding of Jupiter and Juno. In this far-off sunset land were also
the Isles of the Blest,[77] where mortals who had led virtuous lives
were transported without ever tasting of death. Here the blessed of
the gods enjoyed an eternity of bliss; and wandered happily over the
Isles, which had a sun and moon and stars of their own, and never felt
the touch of wintry winds. In this mysterious region of the west was
the island of Erythea, called "the red" because it glowed in the light
of the setting sun. To this spot Hercules was sent to take possession
of the oxen of Geryon--a monster with three bodies. On his journey to
the island, Hercules's way was blocked by a huge mountain; and with one
blow of his strong oak club he cleft the opposing rock, and allowed the
waters of the sea to flow through. This is now the strait of Gibraltar,
and the cliffs on either side are called the Pillars of Hercules.

When the hero reached the island of Erythea, he found the oxen guarded
by the giant Eurytion and his three-headed dog; but even this did
not daunt the slayer of the Hydra. He boldly attacked the giant; and
after a fierce battle, in which his oak club stood him in good stead,
killed both Eurytion and the monstrous dog. Then he went in search of
the oxen, and, after herding them closely, drove them toward his own
country. On the journey homeward he passed Mount Aventine, where the
giant Cacus lived in a rocky cave. One night, as Hercules was asleep
near the mountain, the giant stole part of the cattle; and, to deceive
the hero, he dragged them backwards by their tails into his cave.
Hercules might have been tricked by this stratagem if the stolen oxen
had not lowed loudly as the rest of the herd passed the cave, and so
betrayed their hiding place. Hercules rushed into the giant's dark,
ill-smelling dwelling, slew him, and recovered all the stolen cattle.

[Illustration: Hercules and the Centaur]

Chapter XXIV


Part II

One of the most difficult of Hercules's labors was to procure the
golden apples that the Hesperides, daughters of Hesperus, god of the
west, guarded very jealously. At the foot of the tree coiled a fierce
dragon whose nostrils poured out fire, and whose deadly breath would
have slain any venturesome robber, even if he had escaped the dragon's
claws. As Hercules did not know in what part of the great glowing west
the Garden of the Hesperides lay, he wandered many miles before he
met with any one who could direct him where to go. The first help he
received was from the nymphs of the Eridanus River, who were sporting
on the river bank and called to Hercules to come and join in their
games. Much as he would have liked to rest, the hero dared not tarry;
but he begged the friendly nymphs to tell him the way to the Garden of
the Hesperides. They could not help him, but they advised him to go to
old Proteus, "the Ancient of the Deep," who could tell him whatever
he wished to know better than any one else. So Hercules went down to
the seashore, and found the hoary god asleep in his cool green cave.
Knowing the old man's wiles, the hero grasped him firmly and held him
fast through all the bewildering changes by which he sought to frighten
away the stranger. At last, finding himself securely caught, the Wizard
assumed his own form, and asked Hercules what it was that he wished to
know. The hero stated his errand, and Proteus told him, "in words that
ne'er deceive," that he must find the giant Atlas who alone knew where
the Garden of the Hesperides lay.

Hercules then started again on his search, and in the course of his
journey came to the Caucasus Mountains, where he found Prometheus, the
stealer of the sacred fire, bound with adamantine chains to the rock,
while a vulture daily feasted on his liver.[78] Hercules killed the
foul bird, broke the chains, and set Prometheus free; and in return
for his deliverance the grateful Titan directed his rescuer where to
find the giant Atlas. Following Prometheus's advice, Hercules traveled
straightway to Africa; and on the way he passed through the land of
the Pygmies, a tiny race of warriors who waged continual warfare with
neighboring tribes, and especially with their deadly enemies, the
cranes. Hercules was not aware that he had reached the country of the
Pygmies;[79] but one day, when he had fallen asleep from weariness, he
was wakened by sharp prickings over his body; and looking around he saw
a host of diminutive men, attacking him with their tiny weapons. The
hero laughed at these brave efforts, caught up a few of the doughty
little warriors, and, wrapping them in his lion skin, carried them back
with him to the court of Eurystheus.

As he journeyed through Africa in search of Atlas, Hercules came to the
country of Anteus--a mighty giant and wrestler, and the son of Terra,
the Earth. All strangers who came into the land were obliged to wrestle
with him, and if they were defeated, they were immediately killed. As
no one had ever overcome Anteus, he had brought an untimely death on
many a brave hero; so Hercules was eager to defeat him and avenge the
unknown dead. As soon as they had grappled for the first struggle,
the slayer of the Hydra knew that he had met more than his equal in
strength. For a long time they wrestled, Anteus growing stronger
after each fall, and Hercules growing fainter from every additional
blow of the giant's hand. Again and again the undaunted hero threw
his adversary to the ground, but Anteus rose with redoubled vigor and
continued the unequal contest. Then, all at once, Hercules remembered
the tale he had once heard told of a giant who drew strength from his
mother Earth; and believing that this was the case with Anteus, he made
a mighty effort and lifted the giant from the ground. Anteus struggled
to get his feet again on the earth; but Hercules kept him in the air,
and held him there until he felt the powerful body beginning to weaken.
Little by little the miraculous strength oozed away, and soon Anteus
grew so weak that Hercules easily crushed the limp form with his hands.

The hero then traveled on in search of Atlas, whom he finally found
standing on the coast of Africa, with the great weight of the heavens
resting on his broad shoulders. As Hercules looked up at the enormous
figure, which reached so far into the clouds that nothing could be seen
above his waist, he noticed that the forests had grown up so thick and
tall all around that only a glimpse of the giant's huge legs could be
seen through the heavy foliage. As the hero stood watching this figure
that for centuries had stood here in obedience to the divine command
of Jupiter, he saw dark clouds beginning to gather about the giant's
head, and soon a storm broke over the sea and land. Amid the beating of
the rain and the crash of the thunder, Hercules thought he heard the
voice of Atlas speaking to him; but it might have been only a peal of
thunder. When the storm was over and the mists rolled away from the
earth, Hercules saw the head of Atlas through rifts in the scurrying
clouds. The snow-white hair gave the giant's face a benign look as it
fell thick and white over the stooping shoulders that bore so terrible
a weight. In a voice that he strove hard to make gentle, Atlas asked
the hero what he was seeking, and Hercules told him that he had come to
get some of the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides.[80]
Atlas laughed at these words, and his great shoulders shook so with
merriment that a few of the stars fell out of their places. Then he
told Hercules that such a feat was impossible even to so great a hero;
but that if some one would take the heavens from his shoulders for a
few hours, he himself would get the apples.[81]

Hercules was delighted with this offer of assistance, and agreed to
take the giant's burden while the latter went on his friendly errand.
Very carefully Atlas transferred the heavens to the shoulders of
Hercules, and then sped westward to the Garden of the Hesperides. The
hero was a bit troubled when he saw Atlas shake his huge shoulders and
stretch himself in delight at his freedom, for it would be strange,
indeed, if the giant were ready to resume his burden after having
tasted the joy of liberty. With some anxiety Hercules watched him
step into the sea that came only to his knees though he had waded out
a mile from the shore. As Atlas went deeper and deeper into the waves,
at first his huge bulk loomed like a cliff against the horizon; but
soon it dwindled into a mere speck, and was presently lost to view. How
long he stood holding the heavens Hercules never knew; but he found
himself growing very weary of his burden, and anxious over Atlas's long
absence. Suddenly he saw a dark spot on the horizon, and he knew that
it was the giant returning.

It had not been a difficult task for Atlas to reach the Garden, or to
pluck the golden apples from the carefully-guarded tree; and Hercules,
delighted with the giant's success, thanked him for his trouble and
asked him politely to take the sky again on his shoulders, for the
journey back to the court of Eurystheus was a long one. Now Atlas had
no desire to stand for another dozen centuries with his old burden;
and seeing a good opportunity of getting rid of it forever, he told
Hercules that he would carry the apples to Eurystheus himself; and
meanwhile the hero could keep the heavens supported until Atlas
returned. Pretending that he was quite satisfied with this arrangement,
Hercules bade the giant good-by; then hastily asked him to wait a
moment while he made a pad for his shoulders to ease the weight of
the unaccustomed burden. The unsuspicious giant good-naturedly agreed
to this, and took the heavens from Hercules; but instead of making a
cushion, the hero picked up the golden apples, which Atlas had dropped
on resuming his burden, and started back to his own country, leaving
the giant to stand on the seashore forever, or until the pitying gods
should release him.

The twelfth and last labor of Hercules was to bring from Hades the
three-headed dog, Cerberus. With the help of Mercury and Minerva, he
descended into the dread realm of Pluto, and begged that grim monarch
to let him take Cerberus into the upper world. Pluto was not willing
at first to lose the guardian of his gates even for a short time; but
at length he consented to let Hercules do as he desired on condition
that Cerberus should not be bound or any weapons used upon him. So the
fierce three-headed creature was carried, snarling and struggling, in
the hero's strong arms; and when the pair approached the throne of
Eurystheus, the horror-struck monarch implored Hercules to take the
monster back as quickly as possible, for the sight of its dripping
jaws, from which oozed the deadly nightshade, so terrified Eurystheus
that he sought refuge in a huge jar, and would not come out until his
courtiers assured him that Cerberus was safely out of the country.

When the twelve labors were ended, Hercules's term of service at the
court of Eurystheus was over, and he was free to wander where he
willed. He spent many years roaming through various lands and assisting
other heroes who, like himself, were in search of adventures. He took
part in the battle between the Centaurs and Lapithæ;[82] joined in
the Argonautic expedition; organized the first siege of Troy, and
braved the terrors of Hades to bring Alcestis back to her repentant
husband.[83] The expedition against Troy was one of revenge, for the
false Laomedon had never paid the gold that he had promised for the
release of his daughter Hesione from the sea-monster; and Hercules
now set out to punish the treacherous king.[84] So he sailed for Troy
with eighteen ships, and the city fell into his hands with but little
resistance. Laomedon was killed, his son Priam placed on the throne of
Troy, and Hesione given in marriage to Telamon, one of the Greeks who
accompanied Hercules.

[Illustration: Hercules serving Omphale]

The hero's splendid career received a check, however, for in a quarrel
he killed his friend Iphitus, and the gods, angry at this unnecessary
bloodshed, compelled him to go once more into bondage. So for three
years Hercules served Omphale, queen of Lydia; and during this time
he lived very effeminately, wearing sometimes the dress of a woman
and spinning wool with the handmaidens of Omphale, while the queen
wore his lion's skin and wielded his renowned club. When his years of
servitude were over, he set out again on his wanderings; and during
one of his journeys he met the beautiful Deïaneira, daughter of Œneus
of Calydon and sister of Meleager, famous in the Calydonian hunt.
Hercules immediately sought the maiden's hand in marriage; but she
had another suitor, the river god Achelous, who had already obtained
her father's consent. Deïaneira, however, much preferred her new
lover, and begged him to free her from the betrothal with Achelous. So
Hercules challenged the river-god to a wrestling match, the conditions
of the contest being that he who won should have the maiden in
marriage. Achelous readily agreed to this way of settling their rival
pretensions, for he had no doubt as to the result of the wrestling.

The opponents were well matched as to strength, but the river-god had
one great advantage, for he could assume any form he pleased, and thus
bewilder any one who tried to grapple with him. Among his many changes,
he took the form of a serpent; but when Hercules grasped it by the neck
and was about to strangle it, Achelous became a bull and rushed at the
hero with lowered horns. Skillfully eluding this unexpected attack,
Hercules seized the bull by one horn and held on so firmly that when
the creature tried to wrench himself free the horn broke. This decided
the victory in favor of Hercules, and Achelous departed sullenly to
his bed in the river. The broken horn was appropriated by Fortuna, the
goddess of plenty, who filled it with her treasures, and adopted it
thenceforth as her symbol, calling it Cornucopia.

[Illustration: Fortuna]

There was nothing now to hinder the marriage of Hercules with
Deïaneira, and the wedding took place with much mirth and feasting.
After several days of festivity Hercules departed with his wife; and in
the course of their journey homeward, they came to the river Evenus,
which had grown so swollen and turbid from the heavy rains that it
was impossible to ford it. As the travelers stood helpless on the
bank, the centaur Nessus came galloping up to them, and offered to
carry Deïaneira across the river in safety. Grateful for this timely
assistance, Hercules placed his wife on the back of the centaur, who
swam with her through the swift-flowing stream. When they reached the
opposite bank, Deïaneira expected the centaur to stop, that she might
dismount; but Nessus set off at a brisk trot, hoping to kidnap his fair
rider before her husband could overtake them. Hercules heard the cries
of his terrified bride, and as soon as he swam the river he sent a
swift arrow after the treacherous Nessus. The poisoned tip sank deep
into the centaur's side, and he knew at once that he had received
his death-wound. With a pretense at repentance, he asked Deïaneira
to forgive his rash deed; and then, as if granting her a favor, he
told her to take his robe which was stained with blood, and keep it
carefully, for it had wonderful properties. He assured her that if the
time ever came that Hercules's love grew cold, she had only to persuade
him to put on this magic robe, and his devotion to her would become
more ardent than ever before. Deïaneira took the robe, but said nothing
to her husband of the centaur's gift, hoping that she would never have
to make use of it.

For many years Hercules and his wife lived happily together; for,
although the hero went on other adventures, he was always eager
to return to Deïaneira, and she had no need to be reminded of the
centaur's gift. On one of his expeditions, however, he brought back
with him a fair maiden named Iole, of whom his wife soon grew to be
extremely jealous. Not long after the arrival of Iole, Hercules wished
to offer sacrifices to the gods in honor of his safe return; so he sent
to Deïaneira for a suitable robe. His wife, trembling for the success
of her venture, bade the messenger Lichas carry to Hercules the magic
robe of Nessus, which she had carefully guarded all these years. The
hero, not knowing the history of the fatal garment, threw it over his
shoulders, and as soon as it touched his flesh, the poisoned blood
began its deadly work. The body of Hercules burned suddenly as if on
fire, and agonizing pains convulsed his frame. He tried to unloose
the fatal robe, but it clung to his skin, and he tore off part of his
flesh in trying to set himself free. In his rage and pain he turned
upon Lichas, the unhappy bearer of the poisoned robe, and seizing him
in his still powerful arms flung him into the sea from the top of Mount
Œta, where they had assembled for the sacrifices. Then the hero tore
up huge oak trees by their roots and built a lofty funeral pyre on
which he stretched his pain-wracked limbs. Calmly he bade his servants
apply the torch, but no one was willing to do this, even to ease his
sufferings; so Hercules turned to his friend Philoctetes, and after
giving him the poisoned arrows, begged him in pity to light the funeral
pyre. The youth placed beside Hercules the hero's famous oak club, and
covered his body with the lion's skin. Then he applied a torch to the
wood, and the flames rose with a roar and cracking to the skies. But
only the mortal part of the hero perished, for Jupiter would not allow
the divinity that he had bestowed upon Hercules to suffer extinction.
Purged of his mortality, the hero took his place in high Olympus, and
even revengeful Juno was so reconciled to his presence, that she gave
him her daughter Hebe in marriage.

Chapter XXV


When the wicked King Danaüs persuaded his daughters to kill their
husbands on their wedding night, there was one, Hypermnestra, who
refused to slay her lover, and by saving him brought upon the head of
cruel Danaüs the doom that he had striven to escape.[85] The grandson
of Hypermnestra and Lynceus was Acrisius, king of Argo, a kindly
ruler who dearly loved his only daughter Danaë, and kept her always
near him to delight his eyes with her great beauty. Unfortunately the
king chanced to learn from an oracle that he would one day be killed
by his grandson; and hoping to prevent this, he shut Danaë in a high
brazen tower which no one was allowed to enter on pain of death. He
placed around the tower a strong guard, so that no one could get even
a glimpse of the imprisoned princess; but though no mortal wooer
could approach her, Danaë's loveliness was not hidden from Jupiter's
eyes, and as he looked down from high Olympus he pitied the maiden's
loneliness and loved her for her great beauty. Fearing to frighten her
if he assumed any mortal disguise, and not daring to appear before her
in his divine splendor, he took the form of a golden shower, which fell
softly on the sill of the tower window and charmed the lonely captive
with its brightness. Each day this strange visitor came to glorify her
darkened room, and Danaë looked forward eagerly to its appearance. Thus
by means of the golden shower Jupiter won the maiden's confidence and
love, and spent many hours with her in the high tower room. Danaë was
not lonely any more, but people who passed beneath her window could
hear her singing to herself all day long.

One morning the astonished attendants rushed to King Acrisius and told
him that in the brazen tower was a mother and child--his daughter
Danaë had given birth to a son who was so beautiful that they called
him Perseus. The king was enraged at this news, and threatened to put
the boy to death; but as he was unwilling to stain his hands with the
blood of his grandson--even though this grandson might cause his own
death--he put Danaë and her infant in a cask, and set them adrift on
the sea. For days the strange boat tossed about on the ever-rocking
waves, and the poor frightened mother prayed to the gods to save her
and her hapless child. Jupiter heard her cries, and no storms came to
beat the frail boat upon the rocks, nor did any rough seas imperil the
voyager's safety. At last the cask was washed gently up on the shores
of the island of Seriphus, where a friendly fisherman rescued Danaë and
her child and took them to the king, Polydectes. This ruler received
them kindly, and allowed them to live at his court; and here the young
Perseus grew up into manhood, learning all the games and sports that
belonged to the training of a Grecian youth.

Meanwhile Polydectes had become so enamored of Danaë that he wished to
marry her, and grew very angry at her continued refusals. His wrath
was increased when Perseus forbade him to distress Danaë any longer
with his unwelcome attentions. As Polydectes did not dare to kill
Perseus or banish him from the kingdom--for he knew that his suit would
then be hopeless--he began to taunt the youth with his inexperience,
and asked him why he did not set out on some adventure to prove his
mettle like other heroes. Perseus did not consider himself a hero,
but he hoped some day to do great things; and the sneers of the king
worked on his proud heart, as that wily old monarch had expected. The
youth then demanded to have his courage and endurance put to the test,
and Polydectes promptly told him to go and slay the Gorgon Medusa,
and bring her head back as the proof of his valor. Perseus needed
no urging to set out at once, though he well knew the danger of the
undertaking. His mother implored him to remain with her, but the youth
was determined not to endure Polydectes's taunts any longer, and he was
eager to prove his bravery, even at the risk of his life.

There were three of the Gorgons, all of them hideous to behold; but
Medusa was by far the most terrible,[86] for besides her frightful
appearance she had the power to turn those who looked at her into
stone. She was once a beautiful maiden, who had had the misfortune to
offend Minerva, and that goddess, to punish her, changed her into a
dragonlike creature with long tusks, a scaly hide, brazen claws, and
instead of hair a writhing mass of snakes. To this monster Polydectes
sent the young Perseus, feeling sure that he would never return home

The young hero had not journeyed far before he noticed that some one
was walking beside him, and, turning to look more closely at the
stranger, he was at once surprised and frightened at recognizing
Mercury. But the messenger of the gods bade him have no fear, for
he himself had come to help in the perilous quest for the Gorgon's
head. Then Mercury lent Perseus his own winged sandals, and told the
youth that he would have to do some swift moving in the course of his
adventures. The god also lent him a magic helmet that rendered the
wearer invisible, and bade him offer thanks to Pluto as the sender of
this invaluable gift. Not to be outdone by the other gods in kindness,
the august Minerva lent Perseus her shield--the terrible Ægis of
Jupiter--which the warrior-goddess carried with her to battle. Thus
equipped for the combat Perseus had no fear of encountering the dread
Medusa of the snaky locks, and pressed forward eagerly on his journey.
He had already inquired of Mercury the way to the Gorgon's cave, but
the god could not direct him, and told him that he must find the Grææ
and learn the way from them.

The Grææ were three hideous old women who had been gray-haired from
birth,--and so received their name,--and they lived in a far-off land,
where eternal darkness reigned. They had only one tooth and one huge
eye among them, and passed these around to each other in turn. As they
alone could tell him where Medusa dwelt, Perseus started northward on
Mercury's winged sandals, and after flying for many days in search of
the Three Sisters, he came at last to their cheerless land. He found
the Gray Old Women seated under a drooping willow-tree that fell so far
over them that it almost hid their shrunken forms.

      "There sat the crones that had the single eye,
      Clad in blue sweeping cloak and snow-white gown;
      While o'er their backs their straight white hair hung down
      In long thin locks, dreadful their faces were,
      Carved all about with wrinkles of despair;
      And as they sat they crooned a dreary song,
      Complaining that their lives should last so long,
      In that sad place that no one came anear,
      In that wan place desert of hope and fear;
      And singing, still they rocked their bodies bent,
      And ever each to each the eye they sent."

                  --WILLIAM MORRIS, _The Doom of King Acrisius_.

As Perseus approached the spot where the Gray Old Women sat crooning
to themselves, he took good care to keep on his magic helmet, and he
watched closely to see when the eye was being transferred from one old
head to the other. Just as the eldest sister was taking out the great
eye, and the one who was next in turn was holding out her shriveled
hand to receive it, Perseus stepped quickly between them and snatched
it away. The old woman began to grope for it in her pitiable blindness,
and then arose a fierce dispute among the sisters as to who really had
the eye. To end the quarreling Perseus spoke gently to them, telling
them that he had taken their treasured eye, and would return it to them
as soon as they had informed him where to find Medusa of the snaky
locks. For a while the Gray Old Women pretended that they had never
heard of Medusa, but finding that the unseen speaker was determined to
keep their precious eye until he had received the desired information,
they told him the way to the Gorgon's Cave. Perseus then returned to
them the huge eye, which seemed to stare at him with a very knowing
look, and sped off on his winged sandals to the country where Medusa

As he flew along the seacoast he saw in the distance a dark cavern
among the rocks, and in front of it, on the glaring white sand, lay
a monster which, even from his great height above the water, Perseus
could not glance at without shuddering. Remembering Minerva's caution
when she gave him her shield, he used its bright surface as a mirror
in which were reflected all the objects below; and never once was he
tempted to turn his eyes toward the dreadful figure on the beach. Its
scaly hide glistened in the sunlight, its brazen claws shone like
live coals, and the snakes that lay coiled around its head shot out
their tongues and hissed whenever the Gorgon stirred in its sleep.
As Perseus drew nearer he saw, reflected in his polished shield, the
forms of men and animals that had been turned to stone by one glance at
Medusa's face. These were very numerous around the mouth of the cave,
and Perseus silently prayed to the gods that his figure might not be
added to the number. Some distance away lay the other two Gorgons,
Medusa's sisters, but the young hero had no thought for them. His
whole attention was centered on the blow that he must deal the sleeping
Medusa before the snakes hissed so loudly that she would awaken. Even
in his shield the sight of that twisting, wriggling mass of reptiles
was so repulsive that Perseus shuddered and was tempted to turn away;
but just then he heard a whisper. "Be quick. Strike swift and sure;"
and as he recognized the voice of Mercury, all his courage returned.

Grasping his sword more firmly and holding his bright shield above the
sleeping monster, he swooped suddenly down upon it, and with one swift
stroke cut off the great head with all its coils of serpents. It was
only a moment's work to sheathe his sword and grasp the hideous trophy
in his hands; but even then the danger was not over, for the snakes on
Medusa's head began to hiss so loudly that their noise awoke the other
two sleeping Gorgons, and they looked around to find why their sister
had disturbed their rest. Seeing Medusa's headless body on the sand,
they set up such terrible cries that the noise re-echoed like thunder
through the cavern, and as far away as Perseus had already flown, he
could hear the awful sounds that made the seashore seem like some
vision in a dreadful nightmare.

[Illustration: Perseus]

As he hurried over the sea with Medusa's head held firmly in his hand,
some of the blood dripped down into the white-capped waves and was
cherished by Neptune, who had once loved Medusa when she was a
beautiful maiden. From these drops of blood the sea-king created the
wonderful winged horse, Pegasus, who was to share in the adventures of
another famous hero, Bellerophon. Some of the Gorgon's blood had also
dropped on the hot African sand, as Perseus was flying upward from the
Gorgon's cave, and from this sprang a brood of poisonous reptiles that
ever afterward infested that region and brought death to many an unwary

The journey homeward was long and wearisome, and Perseus was often
obliged to seek the seashore to rest. Once as he was flying along
the coast of Africa, borne aloft on the winged sandals, he saw
old Atlas standing where he had stood for many centuries with the
weight of the heavens on his bent shoulders. The clouds wrapped his
head so completely that Perseus could see only his immense body.
Forests had grown up so high all around him that his huge legs were
scarcely visible among the heavy foliage, and his broad shoulders
looked like mighty bowlders rising up above the tree-tops. But though
his head _was_ so far in the clouds, Atlas knew that Perseus was
approaching,--for giants have certain senses unpossessed by mortal
men,--and he shook the clouds from about his face, and blew away the
mists with his breath. Then, when the air was clear, and Perseus
could see the white hair that was previously hidden above the clouds,
he pitied poor Atlas for his heavy punishment and stopped to speak
with him. The giant looked down from his great height and begged the
hero to uncover Medusa's head,--which Perseus had kept wrapped in
his cloak,--for he was anxious to gaze upon it and become himself an
image of stone. He told how weary he was of standing for all these
ages without ever being able to rest, and he could not endure the
thought of keeping up this torture for eternity. So Perseus lifted up
the Gorgon's head, being careful to keep his own averted, and Atlas
gazed long and eagerly at the dead face, with its wreath of lifeless
serpents. Then slowly the giant's great bulk began to harden, and the
stooping shoulders became firm, unfeeling stone. As Perseus stood there
watching the strange transformation, he seemed to see no longer the
floating white hair of Atlas, but a pile of snow on a mountain top; and
he looked no more on the huge limbs surrounded by forests, but he saw
rents and clefts on a mountain side that just showed themselves through
the thick trees. Thus was the burden of Atlas forever removed from his
aching shoulders, and the heavens now rested securely on a mountain.

When Perseus resumed his journey along the coast, he soon came to a
place where the cliffs rose abruptly from the sea; and as he looked
down at the rocks below him, he saw, outlined against their dark
surface, a figure that made him pause in his swift flight, and wonder
if a sudden madness had taken hold on his fancy; for chained to the
rock was a maiden so beautiful that even her constant weeping had
not marred the perfect loveliness of her face. Keeping the Gorgon's
head carefully concealed under his cloak, so that the captive maiden
could get no glimpse of the snaky locks, Perseus flew to the girl's
side, and, taking off his magic helmet, spoke to her gently. At any
other time she would have been startled at this sudden appearance of a
stranger; but the thought of her dreadful fate, so near at hand, drove
all other fears from her mind. The spray from the sea dashed over her,
and the cold winds blew on her shivering form; but of this she seemed
to be hardly aware. Her eyes were fixed in wild terror upon a cavern in
the rocks, where Perseus could see a huge dragon lying stretched out on
the cool, slimy seaweed.

When the young hero spoke to the maiden, she did not seem to hear him,
but, at his gentle persistence, she at last turned her eyes away from
the dreaded cavern and told him her story. She said that her name
was Andromeda, and that her mother, Cassiopeia,[87] had angered the
sea-nymphs by presuming to rival them in beauty. To punish the queen
for her vanity, the nymphs sent a fierce sea-monster to devastate the
homes along the coast; and when the terrified people consulted an
oracle to know how they might save themselves from further disaster,
they were told that the monster would not depart until the Princess
Andromeda was sacrificed to its fury. So the king, her father, and her
wretched, remorseful mother, and a procession of weeping attendants had
led her, that very day, to the rocks, and had chained her fast to await
the monster's pleasure.

Just as Andromeda was speaking, there was a rustling sound in the cave,
as if the dragon were stretching its huge wings. Then came a sudden
whir and rush, as the monster glided out of the dim interior of its
cave, and came speeding through the water toward its victim. The scaly
hide glittered in the sunlight, and the great coils of its snaky body
beat up the waves as it came with incredible swiftness toward the
captive maiden, whose terrified shrieks almost unnerved the young hero
who had come to rescue her. Quickly he donned his magic helmet and
grasped the keen-edged sword that had already stood him in good stead.
As the monster's head emerged from the waves, Perseus rushed upon it
unseen, and with a quick thrust pierced the creature in its one vital
spot. The dragon sank back into the blood-stained water, and then made
a few ineffective plunges toward its victim; but Perseus's blow had
been sure, and the creature's great body finally disappeared beneath
the waves. While Andromeda was thanking her deliverer with grateful
tears, he struck off the chains that bound her to the rock, and led
her to where her parents and an astonished group of watchers had been
looking on at the strange combat. The great joy of Andromeda's father
was equaled only by the mother's happiness over her rescued child; and
they both welcomed the young hero who had saved her from so terrible a

When Perseus had been entertained royally for several days, the king
bade him demand any reward that he wished for his heroic services;
and the youth boldly asked Andromeda's hand in marriage. To this the
parents gladly consented, although she was already betrothed to her
uncle Phineus, and the preparations were begun at once for the wedding.
While the marriage celebrations were in progress, the jilted suitor,
who had been too timid to attempt any rescue of Andromeda, now came
forward to claim his wife. His pretensions were laughed at, however,
and he left the court angry and plotting revenge. The following day
he appeared with a band of followers and suddenly attacked Perseus,
who had barely time to defend himself. The friends of the young hero
rallied to his support, but they were outnumbered by the attacking
party, and a disastrous battle might have ensued, had not Perseus
bethought himself of a sure means of defense. Catching up the cloak
in which he had wrapped the Gorgon's head, he cried: "Whoever is my
friend, let him turn away his eyes." The courtiers of King Cepheus,
and the men fighting around Perseus obeyed him; but Phineus and his
followers believed this to be a mere trick to gain time, and looked
on while Perseus unveiled Medusa's snaky head. Some of the gazers had
their spears in uplifted hands; some were fitting arrows to their bows
as they turned their eyes a moment toward Perseus; but in whatever
position they stood, just so they were suddenly turned into stone. By
some chance Phineus had been watching his men instead of looking at the
Gorgon's head; and when he saw their dreadful transformation, he fell
on his knees before Perseus, and with outstretched hands implored the
hero to spare his life. But Perseus forced him to look upon the hideous
face of Medusa, and he became a stone image with averted head and
supplicating arms.

Having thus disposed effectively of his enemies, Perseus covered up his
death-dealing trophy, and the wedding ceremonies were resumed. Later
he departed with his bride to the country of Polydectes, where that
king had been keeping his mother a prisoner until she would consent to
marry him. He had long ago believed Perseus dead, and was therefore
much astonished to see him appear unharmed and victorious. Hearing of
the cruel treatment his mother had received from Polydectes, the young
hero determined on a swift revenge. In the presence of the king and his
court, he suddenly displayed the head of Medusa; and the whole company,
just as they stood, were turned into stone. Then Perseus set sail with
his wife and mother for his own country; but before he left he returned
to Pluto the magic helmet, to Mercury the winged sandals, and to
Minerva the wonderful Ægis. The august goddess of wisdom seemed to have
taken a strange fancy to the Gorgon's head, so Perseus gave her this
trophy of his victory, and she fixed it in the middle of her shield.

When Perseus, with Andromeda and Danaë, arrived in Argo, they found
that old Acrisius had been driven from his throne, and that a usurper
was enjoying the kingdom. It did not take long for the hero who
had slain Medusa to kill the unlawful claimant, and reinstate his
grandfather. The old man had been languishing for years in prison,
and was hardly able to endure the great joy of his release at the
hands of one whom he had long since believed to be dead. Things seemed
to be settled very happily in spite of the oracle; but the decrees
of the gods are sure to be fulfilled, and one day when Perseus was
playing quoits, he accidentally threw one wide of the mark. It struck
Acrisius, who was looking on at the game, and killed him instantly.
This unfortunate mishap so preyed upon Perseus's mind that he could
not remain in Argo, but exchanged his kingdom for that of Mycenæ,
over which he ruled for many years very wisely and well. When at
last Perseus died, the gods placed him among the stars with his wife
Andromeda, and with Cassiopeia, who had long since been cured of her

Chapter XXVI


At the court of Prœtus, king of Argos, there dwelt as guest of honor
a young prince named Bellerophon. He was a kinsman of Prœtus and a
grandson of Sisyphus, king of Corinth, so much honor was shown him.
As he was strong, brave, and fearless, he was a leader in all the
games; and his beauty won such favor at the court that Prœtus's wife,
Queen Anteia, sought his love. Since the youth could not in loyalty
return her affection, he found it difficult to remain in Argos; for
the queen was not content to receive only the courtesy due her, but
importuned Bellerophon for his love. He tried many times to find some
pretext for leaving his kinsman; so when Prœtus proposed that he
should make a journey to Lycia to deliver some important messages to
its ruler, the youth was eager to go. Meanwhile the queen, angered at
his indifference, had told her husband that Bellerophon delighted in
treating her with contempt in return for all her kindness, and that she
could not endure his presence in Argos any longer. She demanded further
that Prœtus should put the young man at once to death, but that he
should not let Bellerophon suspect that she had been the instigator
of the deed. The king readily believed his wife's artfully contrived
story, and declared that the insolent youth should be made to pay
dearly for his ingratitude. As Bellerophon was already a hero at the
court, Prœtus dared not condemn him openly to death; so when the prince
departed on his journey to Lycia, he carried with him some letters[89]
whose purport he was far from suspecting; for the sealed message that
he bore so light-heartedly was a request to King Iobates to put the
bearer at once to death.

King Iobates was the father-in-law of Prœtus; and the ruler of Lycia
had often relied on his powerful relative as an ally in time of war;
so the king of Argos was confident that his instructions would be
carried out. The expedition to Lycia might, therefore, have had a
different ending had not Bellerophon forgotten to deliver his letters
for several days. Meanwhile King Iobates, supposing him to be on a
friendly visit, received him very hospitably and made him a member
of the royal household. After much feasting and entertainment, the
young prince suddenly remembered the sealed message intrusted to his
care, and hastened to deliver it to Iobates with many apologies for
his forgetfulness. When the king read the letter, he was surprised
and horrified at its contents, for he could not, in cold blood, kill
the guest who had sat at his table; and yet he did not wish to refuse
any demand made by Prœtus. When the courtiers saw his white face and
troubled looks, they wondered what the message contained; but no one
suspected its real import.

At last a solution of the difficulty came to the king's mind, and he
began to praise Bellerophon for the bravery and courage that had made
the young prince famous throughout Greece. He lamented that no such
fearlessness dwelt among the men of Lycia, for otherwise the Chimæra
would not be living in security and laying waste the king's lands. When
Bellerophon heard what terror was inspired by the mere mention of the
Chimæra's name, he wondered whether he would be afraid to face this
fearful creature with its lion's head, goat's body, and dragon's tail.
When he expressed surprise that no hero had slain it, the wily Iobates
at once implored him to help the stricken country and to go himself
to fight the Chimæra. Bellerophon might have been eager for this
adventure, had he not learned to love the king's daughter Philonoë, who
had found the handsome stranger more to her liking than all the youths
of Lycia. He was, therefore, loath to leave the princess and depart on
so perilous a venture; but at the repeated urging of Iobates, he began
to make preparations for the journey.

Before setting out he first consulted the soothsayer Polyidus,[90] who
advised him to procure the winged horse Pegasus[91] if he hoped to
succeed in slaying the Chimæra. This advice was probably well-meant,
but it was very discouraging; for how could Bellerophon expect to
bridle the famous immortal steed that had never known the touch of any
man's hand? He knew too well that Pegasus was rarely seen by mortal
eyes, for he dwelt on the calm heights of Mount Helicon, a spot sacred
to the Muses, and seldom came to earth except to visit the fountain
of Pirene, near Corinth, whose clear waters sometimes tempted him to
leave his lofty home. Very few people had ever seen the snow-white
horse, with his wonderful silvery wings that carried him through the
air as buoyantly as an eagle in its flight. Whenever Pegasus deigned
to come to earth to taste the sweet waters of Pirene he sped over the
grassy meadows so swiftly that even the fleetest runner could not hope
to catch him. He had never been bridled in all his wild, free life,
and for beauty and strength and sheer joy of living there was nothing
like him in the whole wide world. "Sleeping at night as he did, on a
lofty mountain top, and passing the greater part of the day in the
air, Pegasus seemed hardly to be a creature of the earth. Whenever he
was seen, up very high above people's heads, with the sunshine on his
silvery wings, one would have thought that he belonged to the sky, and
that, skimming a little too low, he had got astray among our mists and
vapors, and was seeking his way back again.... In the summer time, and
in the beautifullest of weather, Pegasus often alighted on the solid
earth, and, closing his silvery wings, would gallop over hill and dale
for pastime as fleetly as the wind."[92]

When Bellerophon was advised to catch this glorious winged steed, it
was no wonder that he felt discouraged, for nowhere could he find an
old man, a maiden, or a child who had ever had so much as a glimpse of
the snow-white Pegasus. Some one told him, however, that the immortal
steed had once been tamed by Minerva, and owed obedience to her; so
he went immediately to the temple of the warrior-goddess, and begged
her to help him. For many hours he prayed before Minerva's shrine,
but there came no answer to his petition; and, at last, worn out with
fatigue and discouragement, he fell asleep on the steps of the temple.
When the first rays from Apollo's golden sun-car fell on the white
marble pillars of the temple, Bellerophon awoke, and to his great
astonishment he found in his hand a golden bridle. Believing this to be
the answer to his prayers, he set out hopefully on his search for the
winged horse; and before journeying very far, he came to the fountain
of Pirene, where the beautiful, clear stream bubbled up beside a grassy
meadow so redolent of ripening clover that it might tempt a far more
fastidious horse than the immortal Pegasus. Bellerophon spent many days
beside the fountain, but he never caught a glimpse of the white-winged
steed, nor saw any mark of his hoofs upon the sod. Once an old man
stopped to ask him why he was lingering so long beside the fountain,
and then shook his white head incredulously when Bellerophon spoke of
Pegasus and his silvery wings.

At last the young hero grew so discouraged that he decided to return to
the court of Iobates; but on the very morning that he was intending to
leave Pirene, he chanced to wake just at dawn, and, leaning over the
fountain to bathe his flushed face he saw reflected in the water an
image that made his heart beat fast with hope and joy. It seemed like a
great white bird, flying high up among the clouds, where the sunlight
shone on its silvery wings. Nearer and nearer it came, sweeping the air
in great wide circles, and at last it alighted beside the fountain.
Bellerophon meantime had hidden himself in the bushes, and now he
watched the beautiful creature as it folded its gorgeous wings and
bent its arching neck to drink the clear water. Then Pegasus daintily
cropped a few clover blossoms, shook his long white mane, and began to
run up and down over the meadows, capering madly like a colt just set
free in the pasture. After rolling luxuriously in the thick grass, and
racing like the wind across the meadow, Pegasus grew tired of his play,
and folding his snow-white wings, trotted quietly up to the fountain to
take one more drink before flying back to his home on Mount Helicon.

Then Bellerophon crept noiselessly out of his hiding place, and while
the unsuspicious Pegasus was drinking the cool water and his eyes were
no longer watchful, the youth boldly sprang upon his back and took firm
hold of the thick mane, being careful meantime not to let Minerva's
golden bridle slip from his fingers. Bellerophon had ridden many a
horse, but never one as wild and spirited as this; for the glorious
Pegasus had not known, until now, the ignominy of bearing a mortal
rider on his back, and he did not intend to submit to the disgrace.
When he felt the touch of Bellerophon's knees on his broad flanks, he
made a tremendous bound into the air, and before the youthful rider
could realize what had happened, he found himself hundreds of feet
above the earth. The winged horse snorted, and shook with anger, and
tried to unseat his rider by every trick known to equine ingenuity. He
bounded forward with a sudden jerk, reared, turned over and over in the
air, until half the time Bellerophon was riding with his head downward;
but in spite of all his efforts, he could not throw off the strange
thing that clung to his back. All at once Bellerophon saw his chance to
slip the golden bridle between the maddened horse's teeth, and suddenly
Pegasus became as gentle and tractable as if he had always obeyed the
will of a master.

Happy to find the conflict over, the young hero turned the head of his
white-winged steed toward the mountain-region where the dread Chimæra
dwelt. It was a wild and rocky part of the country that Bellerophon
looked down upon, and he saw all around him the evidence of ruin
wrought by the fire-breathing monster. The dwellings of the peasants
were in smoking ashes; carcasses of half-eaten cattle were strewn about
the barren pastures; and human bodies were also to be seen, torn and
mangled by the Chimæra's ruthless claws. On the mountain side was a
deep hole in the rocks, and from it issued clouds of black smoke that
had a horrid stifling smell as it rose up from the cavern's mouth. As
Bellerophon descended nearer to the earth, the delicate nostrils of his
horse dilated at the first contact with the foul smoke, and he found
it hard to persuade Pegasus to fly closer to the Chimæra's den. When
they did approach through the thick clouds of smoke, Bellerophon saw
the monster's great body stretched out at full length in the cave,
while all the three heads lay on half-eaten carcasses that were strewn
about the floor. The lion and the goat part of the Chimæra were asleep,
but the snake was wide awake; and when it saw Bellerophon approaching
on his winged horse, it raised its head and began to hiss so loudly
that it roused up the other creatures until they too were intent and

Then the smoke poured out of the cave more thickly than before; and
if Pegasus had not carried him quickly away from the poisonous fumes,
Bellerophon would have been suffocated long before he was able to get
near enough to deal the Chimæra a mortal blow. But the brave horse
bore him out of danger, and kept him far above the thick smoke until
the monster crawled out of its lair. Then like the swift rush of air,
Bellerophon swooped down upon the Chimæra and cut off its three horrid
heads with his sword; but even then the danger was not over, for the
headless creature sprang into the air, and clutched wildly for its
enemy with its long claws. So sure an instinct for destruction did the
Chimæra have that, mangled and dying as it was, it struck directly at
Bellerophon and would have torn him into pieces had not the faithful
Pegasus borne him swiftly out of reach of the deadly claws. After a few
vain attempts to grasp its destroyer, the Chimæra's great body gave
a convulsive shudder, and fell back stone-dead upon the blood-soaked

Then Bellerophon sped back to the court of Iobates and announced that
the Chimæra was dead. The king was glad to hear that the monster could
no longer devastate his land, but he was sorry to see Bellerophon
returning unhurt and victorious, and with such a wonderful prize as
the winged horse, Pegasus. Most people had never believed that this
immortal steed really existed, and had thought that the stories about
it were merely old wives' tales. Iobates did not dare to kill so
popular a hero as the young prince became after this adventure, but he
sent him off on other perilous journeys, hoping that on one of them he
might meet his death. Bellerophon, however, never came to any harm, for
he had always the sure help of Pegasus, and he returned safe from each
expedition with trophies to lay at the feet of his beloved princess,
Philonoë. At length the king was convinced that Bellerophon was under
the special protection of the gods, and, hoping to win their favor, he
gave the young hero his daughter in marriage, and appointed him his
successor to the throne.

For several years Bellerophon lived happily in Lycia; but his many
victories with Pegasus had made him presumptuous, and he felt that
his true place was with the immortals. So one day he mounted his
winged steed and flew far above the earth into the white clouds that
wrap the top of Mount Olympus. Angered at this insolence and daring,
Jupiter sent an enormous gadfly which stung Pegasus so cruelly that
he gave a sudden leap forward, and this unexpected movement threw his
too-confident rider from his back. The luckless Bellerophon felt the
reins slip through his fingers, and he plunged downward through mist
and clouds many, many miles to the earth. This terrible fall would have
killed any one but a mythological hero, but Bellerophon, though bruised
and shaken, only lost his eyesight. Ever afterwards he wandered through
the fair places of the earth, lame and blind and lonely, lamenting the
foolish pride that had led him to risk the anger of the gods. What his
end was no one ever knew, but he probably died in some distant land,
alone and forgotten, while Pegasus went back to the sunny slopes of
Mount Helicon and never visited the earth again, even to drink the
sweet waters of Pirene.

Chapter XXVII

The Story of Jason

Part I

In Thessaly there once ruled a wise and good king named Æson, who
dwelt happily with his wife Alcimede, and his little son Jason. The
king's reign did not last long, however, for his wicked brother Pelias
collected a band of armed warriors and made war upon Æson, who, after
a feeble resistance, surrendered his throne to the invader and escaped
secretly from the kingdom with his wife and child. The dethroned
monarch took refuge in a distant country, and lived in concealment
until Jason was old enough to be sent to some place of greater safety,
for they knew that the cruel Pelias would try to seek him out and kill
him. So they intrusted the boy to the care of the centaur Chiron, after
telling that wise teacher who the lad really was, and begging him to
bring Jason up with the desire some day to avenge their wrongs.

Chiron instructed the youth in all the arts of which he himself was
master, and when the young prince reached manhood, he was one of the
bravest and most skillful of the centaur's pupils. Jason had been
told many times of his uncle's tyranny, and he burned to avenge the
wrongs of his parents; but his wise teacher cautioned him to wait until
he had strength and power enough to face the wicked usurper. When
he deemed the youth sufficiently trained to leave his care, Chiron
sent Jason forth, bidding him satisfy now his desire for revenge. He
advised his pupil, however, to be careful and to do no harm to any one
except the man who had wronged him. Jason promised to obey his tutor's
instructions, and, girding on his sword, set out on the journey to his
native city.

It was springtime when Jason turned his steps toward his father's
kingdom, and the rains had swollen all the streams, making them
difficult to ford. One day as he stood on the bank of a river,
wondering where he had best attempt to swim across, he saw an old woman
looking despairingly at the rushing, foaming water. Jason spoke gently
to her, and offered to carry her across the river. This unexpected
assistance was gratefully accepted, and Jason bravely waded into the
shallowest part of the stream. The swift current and his unwieldy
burden made the crossing very difficult, so that when Jason at last
reached the opposite bank, he was glad to rest. He did not mind the
wetting, but he was sorry to find that he had lost one of his sandals
in the river. As it was useless to try to find it, he set off with
only the remaining one, but first he stopped to say good-by to the old
woman. To his surprise he no longer saw a bent and trembling figure
beside him, but he stood in the presence of a beautiful, imperious
woman, whose royal bearing would have proclaimed her a goddess even
if the startled youth had not seen beside her the peacock that ever
attends the stately Juno. Jason trembled at this transformation of his
aged passenger, but Juno smiled graciously upon him and bade him have
no fear, for she had come to promise him her aid and protection.

Before he could render suitable thanks, the goddess had disappeared,
and Jason continued his journey, full of courage and confident of
success. Soon he came to his native city, where he found a great
crowd of people assembled at the temple, for Pelias, the king, was
offering on that day special sacrifices, and a public festival had been
proclaimed throughout the city. Jason joined in the crowds that were
hurrying to the temple, and stood quite near his uncle, while the king,
unconscious of his presence, was performing the sacrifices. When the
ceremony was over, Pelias glanced around at the assembled company, and
started back pale with terror when he saw Jason; for although he did
not recognize his nephew, he had been warned by an oracle to beware of
a youth who would appear before him wearing only one sandal. Trembling,
but striving to hide his fear, Pelias spoke to the stranger and asked
him his name. Then Jason confronted his uncle boldly, declared his own
parentage, and demanded that the usurper should at once resign his
throne and restore old Æson to his rightful place in the kingdom.

Pelias did not dare openly to defy this fearless youth, but neither did
he intend to give up his power and wealth; so being a crafty man he
sought to beguile Jason with soft words, and promised to send at once
for the absent king and queen. He urged his nephew to remain meanwhile
at the court, and invited him to join the royal household that evening
in a splendid banquet. Jason needed no persuasion to eat, drink, and
be merry; and as the wily Pelias plied him with rich viands and the
choicest wine, his heart warmed toward his uncle, and he felt less
eager to carry out his long-cherished vengeance. During the feast the
bards sang of brave deeds done by heroes, and one old musician told of
the famous golden fleece that many had sought to take by stealth; but
of those who went on the quest, no one ever came back to tell why he
had failed.

Jason listened eagerly while the old singer told how the famous fleece
once belonged to a ram that the friendly Neptune sent to Phryxus
and Helle to enable them to escape from the persecutions of their
stepmother Ino. This was the same Ino who cared so tenderly for the
infant Bacchus; but to her stepchildren she was very cruel. Their
own mother Nephele had been sent away by King Athamas because he had
wearied of her, and wished to marry Ino; and when the banished mother
learned how neglected and ill-treated her children were, she begged
Neptune to help them. So the sea-god sent a golden-fleeced ram, which
Phryxus and Helle mounted and thus escaped from their cruel stepmother.
Only Phryxus reached the land of Colchis, however; for when the ram
flew over the sea, Helle grew frightened at the sight of the waves
tossing so far beneath her, and suddenly lost her hold on the golden
fleece. Her brother reached out to clutch her as she slid from the
ram's back, but it was too late, and the unfortunate maiden fell into
that part of the sea that is since known as the Hellespont. Phryxus
reached Colchis safely, and here he sacrificed the ram to Neptune, and
hung its golden fleece on a tree under which he placed a dragon to
guard it night and day.

As Jason listened to this story he felt as though here was a task worth
his mettle; and it needed no urging from Pelias to make him declare
himself ready to set forth on the adventure without further delay.
The wily king praised Jason's courage, and prophesied that he would be
called the greatest among heroes, while in his heart he felt assured
that the troublesome nephew would never return alive. He promised to
render Jason every assistance in his power, and offered to fit him out
with a well-manned ship; but the young adventurer had been thinking
over the matter more calmly, and had begun to distrust his uncle's
apparent kindness. So he went for counsel to the shrine of Jupiter at
Dodona, where there was an oracle called the Speaking Oak; and, on
consulting this, he learned, to his great satisfaction, that Juno was
still watching over his welfare, and would aid him in the quest of the
golden fleece. The Speaking Oak then bade him cut off one of its great
limbs, and carve from it a figurehead for his ship. It told him also
that the ship in which he was to sail should not be made of timber cut
from any ordinary trees, but should be built of the wood taken from
pine-trees that grew on Mount Pelion.

When Jason had carved his figurehead, he found that it had the gift of
speech and could counsel him wisely in all his affairs, so as soon as
the ship was ready, the figurehead was fastened to its prow, and Jason
set out on his memorable voyage. He called his ship the Argo,[93] and
himself and his fellow adventurers the Argonauts. Among his companions
were many men famous for their brave deeds: Hercules, Admetus, Castor
and Pollux, Meleager, Orpheus, and Theseus. All these were eager for
new adventures, and no one doubted that with so many heroes to aid
him, Jason would succeed in winning the golden fleece. Even Pelias, as
he watched the voyagers sail away, wished that he had sent the daring
youth on a still more perilous journey.

The voyage to Colchis was full of strange happenings, both on land
and sea. The first disaster that overtook the Argonauts occurred when
Hercules went ashore to get some fresh water, with a youth of the party
named Hylas. There had been several occasions on which it was necessary
for some of the heroes to land in order to get food or water, but the
delay had been brief and the voyage quickly resumed. This time they
were in need of new oars, so Hercules offered to procure them, and took
with him his favorite companion Hylas. While he himself was felling
trees, he sent Hylas in search of fresh water; and the youth, after
wandering about for some time, came at last to a fountain whose waters
were so pure and cool that he lingered long beside it. The nymphs
who lived in the fountain were charmed with the beauty of Hylas, and
determined to keep him with them; so when he bent over the water, they
drew him gently down into its clear depths. Hercules, after waiting
long for the lad's return, went in search of him; but no trace of
Hylas could be found anywhere in the lonely forest. Though he called
again and again, no voice answered him; for Hylas lay in the green bed
of the fountain, and his ears were deaf to the cries of his friend.
Hercules's grief was so great over the loss of Hylas that he refused to
accompany the expedition any further, and made his way home alone and
on foot.[94]

On another occasion Jason landed in Thrace; and here he learned that
the blind King Phineus was tormented by some Harpies--creatures half
women and half bird--that ate or befouled all the food placed before
the wretched king. The only meals Phineus could take were by stealth,
and the poor king's life was rendered miserable by the constant
presence of these foul monsters. When the two sons of Boreas, who were
happily gifted with wings, heard Jason relate the story of the Harpies
to his companions, they promptly offered to help the blind Phineus;
and, flying at the loathsome birds with drawn swords, the brothers
drove them out of Thrace into an island so far away that they never
came back to trouble the king.

Chapter XXVIII

The Story of Jason

Part II

Once, in the course of the voyage, Jason was attacked by a flock of
brazen-feathered birds that showered their sharp metal plumage down
on the Argonauts, and wounded some of them sorely. Jason soon found
that weapons were of no avail against these formidable enemies, so
he consulted the figurehead that had always counseled him wisely. In
obedience to its advice the heroes clashed their swords and spears
furiously against their shields until the birds, terrified by the
noise, flew away and never returned.

When the Argo approached the Symplegades,--or Clashing Islands,--Jason
remembered the words of Phineus, who had advised him to let free a
dove, whose speed was less than that of his swift vessel, before he
attempted a passage. If it flew easily between the rocks, then the
ship could safely follow it with no chance of being ground to pieces
as the islands clashed together. When the Argonauts reached this
dangerous spot, Jason sent a dove out before him. He watched its flight
anxiously, and when it glided between the rocks with only a tail
feather caught, he guided the ship so close behind it that, as he slid
through the opening made by the rebound of the islands, the deadly
rocks merely grazed his rudder. Since their destructive power depended
on allowing no vessel to pass them unharmed, the evil force that the
islands possessed was now broken, and they were henceforth chained fast
to the bottom of the sea.

At last the Argo reached the shores of Colchis, and Jason made known
to King Æetes his desire to possess the golden fleece. The owner of
that wonderful pelt was very naturally not ready to give it to even
the boldest stranger; but he treated the Argonauts kindly, and even
promised to bestow upon Jason the coveted fleece if he could catch and
harness to a plow two brazen-hoofed, fire-breathing bulls. Then, having
done this, he must plow up a certain piece of ground sacred to Mars,
and sow the field with dragon's teeth just as Cadmus had done.[95]
Last of all he must conquer the armed giants that would spring up in
the field after the sowing, and then slay the dragon that guarded the
golden fleece. This was certainly enough to daunt any hero, but Jason,
relying on the help of Juno, agreed to the king's terms and went down
to the seashore, where his ship lay, to consult the figurehead who had
never yet failed him. On the way he met Medea, the king's daughter, who
was much taken with the young stranger's beauty, and hoped to induce
him to marry her. Medea herself was very beautiful, and being also a
sorceress she was an invaluable ally in the adventure that had brought
Jason and his friends from a far-distant land. So before many days
had passed Medea plighted her troth to the young hero who needed help
sorely and the king's daughter promised to give him the aid of her
magic arts.

On the day appointed for the great task, Jason boldly approached
the fire-breathing bulls, for Medea had given him a charm by which
the fierce brutes were rendered harmless, and were easily yoked
and harnessed to the plow. Then, in the presence of the astonished
spectators, who expected to see him crushed beneath the brazen hoofs,
Jason plowed the field; and having sown it with dragon's teeth, stood
ready, sword in hand, to meet the attack of the giants who sprang
up out of the ground clad in full armor. When he saw the glittering
spears turned toward him, Jason's heart began to quail lest, after
all, Medea's help should prove ineffective; and even the sorceress
herself felt a momentary doubt of her own power to save her lover from
his foes. As the armed men were about to rush upon him, Jason threw a
stone in their midst, according to Medea's instructions, and the giants
turned against each other and began a furious battle that ended in the
destruction of the whole armed host.

Then the hero, accompanied by Medea, hastened to the tree where the
golden fleece hung, and here a charm was needed to lull to sleep the
dragon that guarded the treasure. As soon as the great eyes that had
never been known to close began to shut one by one, Jason stepped
softly up behind the monster and cut off its head. It was but a
moment's work to tear the fleece from the tree where it had hung for
so many years, and to bear it in triumph to the Argo, where Jason's
friends stood anxiously awaiting his coming. The men were already at
the oars, for he had told them to be ready to sail at a moment's notice
when he should appear bearing the golden fleece. In spite of Æetes's
promise the hero did not trust him, and so made his preparations for
departure very secretly. When he and Medea boarded the Argo with their
prize, the rowers bent with all their strength to the oars, and the
ship slid silently and swiftly out of the harbor.

Æetes soon learned that the Grecian vessel had left his shores,
carrying on board the golden fleece, his daughter, and--worst of
all--his only son and heir Absyrtus; so he hurriedly manned his royal
barge with rowers, and set out after the Argonauts. Although the
fugitive vessel made good speed, the king's ship began to gain on it;
and as Jason watched the distance between the vessels growing less and
less, he was filled with despair and begged the sorceress to aid them
with her magic. Medea did not care what fate befell the Argonauts, but
she had no desire to leave Jason and return to her father's court; so
she did not hesitate to resort to any means of preventing the king
from overtaking her. She therefore killed her brother Absyrtus, and,
cutting his body into pieces, dropped them one by one over the side of
the vessel. Æetes, seeing the remains of his only son floating on the
water, stopped to collect them so that the body might have suitable
burial; and by this delay the Argonauts were allowed to escape. The
wretched king then returned to Colchis, where he buried Absyrtus with
prayers to the gods to bring vengeance upon his inhuman daughter.

When the Argo with its triumphant crew reached Thessaly, they found
that their arrival caused great surprise as well as joy, for King
Pelias had never supposed they would return, and felt himself secure
against any further trouble from the youth with only one sandal. He
was therefore much dismayed at seeing Jason return, especially as he
came unharmed and bearing so rich a trophy as the golden fleece. The
usurper knew that his days of power were over, and when Jason again
demanded the kingdom in his father's name, Pelias was forced to resign
his throne to the lawful king. Old Æson was then summoned from his
place of banishment, and restored to his rightful place; but he was so
weak and decrepit that power had no charm for him, and he accepted his
throne very reluctantly.

So Jason begged his wife to use her magic in behalf of the old king;
and Medea, anxious to please her lover, willingly promised to restore
Æson to all the vigor of manhood. To prepare the magic potion that was
to bring youth and health, the sorceress went out into the meadows
on nine successive nights beginning with the new moon, and gathered
herbs whose magic properties she alone could tell. Then she set a
caldron in the deepest part of the woods, and built under it a slow
fire that burned always night and day. In the caldron she threw the
magic herbs, flowers with acrid juice, stones from the far east and
sand from the all-surrounding ocean, hoar frost gathered by moonlight,
a screech-owl's head and wings, and the entrails of a wolf. Then she
added some bits of tortoise shell and the liver of a stag--for these
animals are tenacious of life--and the head and beak of a crow that
outlives nine generations of men. All these she boiled together,[96]
stirring them with an olive branch; and when she lifted out the
branch, it was full of new leaves and heavy with young olives. These
preparations being finished, and the time being full moon, Medea went
forth alone into the forest with old Æson, just at midnight when all
creatures slept, and no breath of wind stirred the trees. She laid the
old man on a bed of herbs, and after putting him into a deep sleep, cut
his throat and let out the sluggish blood of age. Then she poured into
the wound the juices from her caldron; and when these began to flow
through the king's weak frame, he underwent a wonderful change, for
his hair and beard lost their whiteness and took on the glossy hue of
youth. His paleness changed to the ruddiness of manhood; and his feeble
limbs felt all the vigor of a hero in his prime.

[Illustration: Medea]

When the daughters of Pelias saw this miracle of old Æson transformed
into a stalwart man, they begged Medea to use her magic in restoring
their father to his former youthfulness; and the sorceress promised
to help Pelias just as she had the father of Jason. So she prepared
a caldron full of boiling water, and pretended to put into it the
necessary ingredients for the magic potion; but when the devoted,
though too-credulous daughters of Pelias killed their father, and put
his body into the caldron, as Medea had directed, they did not restore
him to youth, but merely ended very effectively the life that they so
ardently wished to prolong.

Though Medea's great beauty and her power as a sorceress kept Jason
faithful to her for many years, he at last grew weary of her and
prepared to wed a maiden named Creusa.[97] Pretending to approve of
his choice, and concealing her rage at Jason's heartlessness, Medea
sent the bride a beautiful, though poisoned, robe. The unsuspicious
Creusa was delighted with this rich gift; but as soon as it rested on
her shoulders the hapless maiden was seized with terrible convulsions,
from which she shortly died. Then Medea killed with her own hands
the children that she had borne to Jason--so that she might have no
reminder of his falseness--and fled in her dragon-car to Athens, where
she sought the protection of King Ægeus, the father of Theseus. Here
she lived many years, for the king, not knowing her history, and being
enamored of her beauty, married her and made her his queen.

Jason, filled with remorse and despair, now led a most unhappy life,
and spent most of his time on the seashore beside the great hulk of the
Argo, which was slowly rotting away on the beach. One day a sudden gale
detached a loose beam from the vessel, and it fell on Jason's head,
killing him instantly. Thus ended forever the voyages of the Argonauts.

Chapter XXIX

The Calydonian Hunt

One of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition was Meleager, son of
Œneus and Althæa, king and queen of Calydon. When Meleager was born,
his mother saw in a vision the three Fates spinning the thread of her
child's life; and she heard them foretell that he would live until the
brand then burning on the hearth should be consumed. Althæa, terrified
by the vision, awoke; and snatching the brand from the fire she plunged
it into an earthen jar full of water. When she saw that the last spark
was extinguished, she carefully hid the brand on whose existence
depended the life of her son. Meleager, thus saved from death, grew
up into splendid and vigorous manhood, and was welcomed by Jason as a
fitting companion for the famous voyage to Colchis.

While his son was absent on this expedition, Œneus offended Diana by
omitting to offer to her the customary yearly sacrifice; so the angry
goddess sent a fierce boar to devastate the country. This creature was
of such enormous size and strength that no hunters dared attack it,
and it laid waste the fields of Calydon by trampling on the young
corn, rooting up vines and olive trees, and devouring flocks and herds,
thus creating wild confusion among the panic-stricken people. When
Meleager returned from his voyage, and learned of the disaster that
had overtaken the land, he summoned a band of heroes and set out to
slaughter the wild boar. Jason, Nestor, Telamon the father of Ajax,
Theseus and his friend Pirithous, Peleus (afterwards the father of
Achilles), the twin brothers Castor and Pollux on their snow-white
horses--all these and many others came at Meleager's call to join in
the hunt.

With the youths came also Atalanta, daughter of Jasius, king of
Arcadia. This princess had been left when an infant on Mount
Parthenium, and exposed to the hunger of wild beasts, for her father
was angry at finding that the gods had sent him a daughter instead of
the longed-for son. Atalanta was not devoured, however, nor did she
perish from cold, for a kindly she-bear nursed the deserted infant,
and she grew up strong and fearless. Later on some shepherds found the
sturdy little maiden in the woods; and taking her to their rude home,
they cared for her, and taught her to follow the chase. Thus she had
grown up like a boy, fearless, bold, and skilled beyond most youths in
the use of the bow and spear.

When the company of heroes saw Atalanta ready to join them in the
chase for the wild boar, they were disposed to scoff at the idea of a
maiden taking part in an adventure whose dangers might make a brave man
fearful; but Meleager, won by Atalanta's beauty, welcomed her eagerly,
and begged her to share in the hunt. Then the company set forth into
the forest, and they did not have to wait long for their quarry, for,
as soon as the wild boar heard the barking of the dogs and the sound
of snorting steeds, he rushed out of his lair and savagely attacked
the hunters. One after another of the heroes was gored by the boar's
long tusks, or thrown down and trampled on by the cruel hoofs, or put
to flight. Jason threw his spear, but it only grazed the boar's side.
Telamon rushed forward, but stumbled over a projecting root and fell
to the ground. Nestor, thrown headlong by a furious attack from the
boar, sought safety in the branches of a tree. Theseus hurled his
lance, but it was caught by a bough and turned aside. Then an arrow
from Atalanta's bow pierced the brute's side, and blood flowed from the
wound. The infuriated boar turned savagely upon her, but Meleager, who
was ever near the maiden, hurled his spear with so true an aim that the
boar fell dead upon the bloody and trampled ground.

Then the heroes crowded around Meleager, congratulating him on his
victory; but he refused to accept the honor of having slain the boar,
and gave to Atalanta its head and rough hide as trophies belonging
to the victor. His companions were angered that such honor should be
given a mere girl, and they feared the scorn and ridicule that would be
heaped upon them when they returned to report the success of the hunt.
Meleager, however, did not heed their murmured threats, nor did he
listen to the reproaches of his two uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, who
had accompanied him. To see themselves thus rivaled by a boyish girl
was too humiliating for the pride of these two princes; and they began
to insult Atalanta by chiding her for joining in the sports of men,
and showing such unmaidenly boldness. Then they attempted to snatch
from her the trophies of the hunt; and at this Meleager, who had been
incensed at their taunts to Atalanta, turned upon them in a blaze of
fury, and killed them both with his sword.

Meanwhile Althæa had heard that the boar was slain, and was on her way
to the temple with a thank-offering when news was brought her that her
two brothers had been killed--and by the hand of her son. Then the
sister's desire for vengeance crowded out of her heart the mother's
love for her son; and she brought out of its place of concealment the
brand on whose existence depended Meleager's life. She lit a fire,
and then hesitated for a moment whether to commit this dreadful deed
or not; but the thought of her murdered brothers hardened her heart,
and she threw the brand into the fire. As the flames wrapped around it,
Althæa fancied that she heard it give a groan and, seized with remorse,
she was about to snatch it from the fire, but the memory of her dead
brothers stayed her hand, and she sat by the fire watching the flames
consume the brand. While this was going on, Meleager suddenly felt his
body seized with deadly pangs; and, though not knowing the cause, he
was certain that his death was at hand. Then, like a brave man and a
warrior, he lamented that he must die in this mysterious way and not
meet his death fighting like the heroes of old. He called upon his
mother and father, upon his sisters, and upon his loved Atalanta, but
no one could save him from his fate. When the last bit of the brand
fell into the ashes, Meleager died; and his mother, now filled with
horror and remorse at her deed, committed suicide.

Atalanta, having won fame and the spoils of a celebrated hunt, was
now welcomed at her father's court and returned there to live. But
though she spent much time at the palace, she could not be induced to
give up the chase, and roamed the forests as before, glorying in her
freedom. Her father could not persuade her to marry, although many
noble suitors sought her hand; for an oracle had once warned her that
marriage would be her ruin. To her father's continued insistence she
at last returned this answer--that she would wed the suitor who could
beat her in a foot-race; but the conditions of the race were to be
that the runner, if defeated, should lose his life. Rather than accept
these terms, many of the suitors withdrew; but some remained to run the
race, for the maiden's beauty was worth a great venture. None of them,
however, succeeded in beating the fleet-footed Atalanta; and each man
paid the price of defeat with his life. In vain the old king implored
his daughter to alter the hard conditions, but Atalanta was determined
never to wed.

At one of the races a youth named Hippomenes[98] was made the judge;
and when he learned the terms of the contest, he turned to the
competitors and asked them why they were so foolish as to risk their
lives for the sake of a maiden's beauty. As he was speaking, Atalanta
appeared dressed for the race, and when he looked at her, Hippomenes
said: "Pardon me, youths, I knew not the prize you were contending
for." When the race was over, and the defeated runners put to death,
Hippomenes, undaunted by this result, boldly asked that he might try
his fate. Atalanta looked at him pityingly, for he was a youth of
noble bearing, and she felt a strange reluctance to see him go so
blithely to his death. She would not admit to herself that she could
fall in love so quickly with a stranger; and yet she half hoped that in
this race she would not come first to the goal. As Hippomenes prepared
himself for the running, she thought: "What unkind god wishes to bring
disaster upon this youth, and commands him, at the risk of a life so
dear, to seek this marriage. In my own opinion I am not of such great
value. It is not his beauty that moves me, though he is good to look
upon, but I pity him because he is still a boy. He himself cannot
affect my sympathies, but his youth moves me."[99] Then she tried to
persuade Hippomenes to give up the race; but the more he looked at
Atalanta, the more determined he was to win her, and he demanded the
right to compete alone with the fleet-footed maiden.

Reluctantly Atalanta prepared for the race, and as Hippomenes waited
eagerly for the sound of the trumpet he breathed an ardent prayer to
Venus to help him win the peerless maiden. Venus, the patroness of
lovers, heard his prayer, and, unseen by any watchers, slipped into
his hand three golden apples gathered from a wonderful tree on her own
island of Cyprus. When the signal was given for the start, each runner
shot forward like an arrow from the bow; but Atalanta soon outdistanced
her lover, and his fate seemed assured; but just as she passed him he
threw in front of her a golden apple, and the maiden, surprised at this
unexpected interruption, stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes pressed
eagerly forward, but Atalanta soon overtook him and as she sped by
him he tossed another golden apple in her path. Caught by its glitter
the maiden stooped again, and while she paused to recover the apple,
Hippomenes shot ahead. This advantage was soon lost, however, for again
Atalanta outran him and was speeding past him toward the goal. Then the
lover, with another prayer to Venus, threw the third golden apple; but
by this time the maiden had begun to fear that she might be beaten by
the handsome stranger, and so hesitated to stop for the tempting golden
fruit. Venus impelled her, however, to pause long enough to snatch the
apple quickly from the ground, and in that moment's delay Hippomenes
passed her and reached the goal.[100]

[Illustration: Cybele]

Thus for the first time the race was won by another than Atalanta, and
Hippomenes claimed the maiden as his rightful reward. Triumphantly he
carried off his prize, and for a long time he and Atalanta were so
happy that the words of the oracle seemed unlikely to be fulfilled;
but unfortunately the lovers forgot to do honor to Venus, and the
goddess was so angered at their ingratitude that she caused them to
give offense to Cybele (Rhea) by desecrating her sacred grove. To
punish them for this impiety, Cybele changed them into a lion and
lioness, and yoked them to her car, which they were ever afterward
compelled to draw.

Chapter XXX


Part I

Theseus was among the heroes who joined Jason in the famous Argonautic
expedition; and he also accompanied Meleager on the Calydonian hunt.
Thus it seems that he was well-known throughout Greece for a brave and
daring youth who was ready to follow his friends into any adventure, no
matter how dangerous. When Theseus was a mere child, his father Ægeus,
king of Athens, went on a journey to some distant country, taking with
him his wife Æthra and his little son. He returned alone to Athens,
leaving Theseus and his mother in the stranger's land; but before he
departed he hid his sword and sandals under a large rock, and bade
Æthra leave them there until she deemed her son strong enough to raise
the stone. If Theseus proved equal to the test, he was to take the
sword and sandals and go straightway to his father's court at Athens,
where he would be acknowledged as the king's son and heir.

Æthra carefully obeyed these instructions, and when the time came that
she considered Theseus strong enough to meet his father's test, she led
him to the rock and bade him raise it. With a mighty effort the youth
lifted the huge stone, and to his surprise he found beneath it a pair
of sandals and a fine sword--both so perfectly preserved that they
might have been placed there only the day before. Then Æthra explained
the presence of these gifts, and told her son how the king, his father,
had placed them there beneath the rock, so that he might know whether
Theseus was to be a future hero or a weakling. While his mother was
speaking, the youth eagerly girded on the bright sword and put the
sandals on his feet, and he needed no urging when Æthra bade him set
out at once for his father's kingdom. She warned him of the perils that
beset the road to Athens, for giants and robbers would bar his way, and
many other dangers lay in wait for the traveler; but Theseus was young
and fearless, and he would have faced greater dangers than these to
reach King Ægeus and the wonderful city of Athens.

He had gone but a few miles on his journey, when he was accosted by
the giant Periphetes, son of Vulcan, who stood in the road, with his
huge club in his hand and refused to let Theseus pass. When the young
hero pushed boldly forward, Periphetes raised his club to strike the
youth to the ground, as he had done many another wayfarer; but as he
lifted his arm for the blow, Theseus plunged his sword quickly into the
giant's side, and Periphetes fell dead upon the very roadway where he
had been for so long a terror to all travelers.

Elated with his victory, Theseus took the stout club of his fallen
enemy and continued his journey to the Isthmus of Corinth, where he
found that the road soon grew very narrow and led along the edge of
a rocky precipice. Here he encountered a famous robber named Sciron,
who compelled all those who passed his way to wash his feet. When
the terrified traveler, unable to refuse, was thus occupied, the
robber would suddenly raise his foot and kick the man over the side
of the cliff into the sea below, where a hungry tortoise lay waiting
with ever-open jaws. When Theseus was told the condition on which he
would be allowed to pass, he drew his sword and set upon his enemy
so fiercely that Sciron quickly withdrew his demand, and offered to
let the hero go on his way undisturbed. Then Theseus, as he held his
sword point at the robber's throat, commanded Sciron to perform the
same menial task that he had set so many others; and when the robber,
not daring to refuse, was kneeling before him, Theseus hurled him over
the precipice and gave one more meal to the hungry tortoise, who never
again was able to feast on the bodies of luckless travelers.

The next adventure that befell the hero was with a cruel giant called
Sinis, or the Pine-Bender, because he delighted in bending over some
tall pine-tree until its top reached the ground; and having done this,
he would call to some unsuspicious passer-by to help him hold it down.
The stranger usually complied with this request, and then the giant
would take his great hand from the tree, which would at once spring
back to its upright position, hurling the unfortunate helper into the
air, and often dashing him to pieces against the rocks. When Theseus
encountered the giant and was asked for his help, he remembered that
his mother had told him long ago of this brutal giant's jest, and he
determined that travelers should no more be killed or even terrorized
by this curse of the highway. So when Sinis bent down a particularly
large and strong pine-tree and begged Theseus to help him hold it,
the hero deftly fastened the giant himself to the tree which sprang
upward as soon as it was released and dashed the huge body against the
mountain side, crushing it to pieces.

After disposing of the giant, Theseus continued his journey and next
encountered Procrustes (called the Stretcher), a fearful giant who,
under the pretense of hospitality, lured travelers into his house.
Though an offer of food and entertainment was so unusual that it
might have aroused suspicion, most of those who passed Procrustes's
house accepted his invitation and entered. In the house was an iron
bedstead on which the giant forced all his guests to lie. If they
were too short, he stretched their limbs to suit the size of the bed;
and if they were too long, he cut off their legs to make them fit its
dimensions. Theseus entered Procrustes's home, and partook freely of
the food set before him. Then he suddenly fell upon the giant, who
was unprepared for such an attack, bound him to his own bedstead, and
by making his huge body fit into it, inflicted on Procrustes the same
cruel death that he had delighted to visit on others.

When Theseus finally reached Athens, he went straightway to the palace,
and on his way he learned that his father had married the sorceress
Medea. When he arrived at the royal apartments and came before Ægeus,
his cloak so completely hid his sword that the king could not possibly
recognize it as the one he had left for his son. Nevertheless he
welcomed the stranger, who seemed a brave and handsome youth, and bade
him take a place at the banquet-table. But though the king did not
know whom he was entertaining, Medea, the sorceress, was perfectly
well aware of the stranger's identity, and mixed a deadly poison in
the wine-cup that was intended for the guest. Handing this to Ægeus,
she bade him honor the youth with a cup of their choicest wine; and
the king, suspecting nothing, was about to offer the poisoned drink to
Theseus when he suddenly saw the sword beneath the stranger's cloak.
Looking down at the youth's sandals, he recognized them as the ones
that he had buried under a rock long ago, and he knew then that the
sword was also his own. With a cry of joy he started forward to embrace
his son, and as he did so the cup of wine that he held in his hand was
overturned and its contents poured on the table. Some of the drops of
poisoned wine fell on a dog that was lying at the king's feet, and
immediately it gave one convulsive shudder and died. Realizing that
the deadly draught had been meant for him, and knowing that only the
jealous Medea could have dared to commit such a crime, Theseus sprang
toward her with drawn sword, intending to put an end to her wickedness;
but the sorceress fled from the banquet-hall, mounted her dragon-car,
and escaped to a distant country, which was afterwards called by her
name Media.

King Ægeus was delighted to find that his son had grown to be such a
brave and handsome youth, and he listened with pride while Theseus
related all the adventures that had befallen him on the way to Athens.
Then the king made a great feast in honor of his son, and publicly
proclaimed him his heir. The time passed very happily to Theseus until
the day when he saw a sad procession of weeping people wending its way
through the streets, and observed in the midst of them seven youths
and seven maidens dressed in funeral garments. He inquired where this
solemn cortège was going, and was told that the casting of lots had
just been concluded and the victims had been chosen for the Minotaur.
Then the young prince learned for the first time that since Minos, king
of Crete, had conquered the Athenians in a recent war, he had exacted
of them a terrible tribute. Each year seven youths and seven maidens
were offered to the Minotaur,[101] an insatiable monster that dwelt in
an intricate labyrinth built for its special use by King Minos, and
designed by the celebrated architect Dædalus.

The labyrinth was so intricate that no one who entered it could ever
hope to find his way out; and the victims which Athens supplied each
year were probably killed by terror and suspense as they threaded their
way through the labyrinth's tortuous windings, long before the fearful
Minotaur came upon them. The architect who designed this wonderful
cave should have earned the lasting gratitude of Minos; but Dædalus
unfortunately lost the king's favor, and for some slight offense was
shut up in a tower with his son Icarus. The boy gave himself up for
lost, but the father began at once to contrive some means of escape,
and ingeniously fashioned two pairs of wings, which were to gain
freedom for himself and his son. When the last feather was adjusted,
Dædalus fastened one pair of wings securely on Icarus, and cautioned
him not to fly too high lest the heat of the sun should melt the wax
with which the feathers were held together. The youth, impatient to be
free, paid slight attention to these warnings; and as soon as his wings
were fastened, he sprang boldly from the tower window and flew straight
toward the clouds. Higher and higher he rose, exulting in this glorious
motion, and soon the heat of the sun's rays began to soften the wax on
his wings. When it was too late, Icarus realized his danger and came
nearer to the earth; but the wax was melting fast, and in a moment the
feathers separated and the adventurous boy was plunged headlong into
the sea. His body was never recovered, but that part of the sea was
afterwards called the Icarian Sea. Dædalus enjoyed a happier fate than
that of his son, for he reached Sicily in safety and built a temple
there to Apollo. In the temple he hung up his wings as an offering to
the god.[102]

Chapter XXXI


Part II

When Theseus heard the story of the Minotaur and its wonderful
labyrinth, he determined that it should no longer exact its yearly
tribute of human lives, for he would offer himself as one of the
victims and end the terrible sacrifice by slaying the monster. When he
announced this intention to his father, the king sought to persuade him
to remain at home; but Theseus joined the youths and maidens who had
been chosen by lot to go to Crete, and they set sail for the country
of the Minotaur. According to the custom, the ship hoisted only black
sails, which Theseus promised to change for white ones when he returned
unharmed, having slain the monster.

Nothing befell the voyagers until they reached the coast of Crete, but
here the ship was stopped by the giant Talus, whose body was made of
brass and was always so red hot that if he held any one in his embrace,
the victim was burnt to cinders. This giant was a very effective
guardian of the island, and kept off all strangers who had no business
along that coast. As he knew that the black-sailed ship brought to his
master, King Minos, the yearly tribute from the Athenians, he let the
vessel pass; and the voyagers, having landed, were led before the king.
The cruel mouth of Minos relaxed into a smile when he saw the youths
and maidens, for they were all young and beautiful,--the very flower of
the Athenians,--and it gave him special satisfaction to consign such a
chosen company to death. Beside Minos stood his daughter Ariadne, who
looked compassionately at those who were destined for the sacrifice,
and when she saw Theseus, she pitied him above all the rest, and wished
she might save him from his loathsome fate.

When the young hero asked that he might go first into the labyrinth,
and alone, King Minos smiled at what he considered a child's boast--for
he had heard that Theseus hoped to slay the Minotaur; but when he
learned that the bold youth was his enemy's only son, he gladly allowed
him to do as he wished, although it was contrary to all custom. Theseus
was therefore placed alone in a cell of the prison, and here he did
not feel quite so bold or so eager to face the Minotaur as he had when
he talked over the adventure at his father's court. His sword had been
taken away, and he had no other weapon with which to fight the monster,
so his confidence was somewhat shaken; and as he watched the night
deepening the gloom of his prison, he felt disheartened and almost
unnerved for his coming battle. Just then the door of the prison opened
softly, and Ariadne, the king's daughter, entered. To Theseus's great
surprise she gave him a sharp sword and a ball of thread--two things
that she assured him were necessary for him to have if he hoped to come
alive out of the labyrinth. She bade him fasten one end of the thread
to the entrance of the cave, and keep the ball tight in his hand, so
that it might lead him back through the intricate windings after he had
slain the Minotaur.

Theseus was very grateful to Ariadne for her assistance, without which
he would never have been able to encounter the monster or to escape
from its wonderful labyrinth. He assured the maiden that his father
would send her a generous reward of gold and jewels; but she refused to
accept any return for her kindness until Theseus ventured to suggest
that if she would become his wife, he would be proud to take her back
with him to Athens. To this Ariadne gladly agreed, and they plighted
their troth in the murky darkness of the prison. When at dawn of the
following day the hero, now full of courage and sure of success,
was led to the labyrinth, he fastened one end of the thread to the
entrance. Then, with his hand on his sword, which was hidden under his
long cloak, he stepped boldly into the cave from which no human being
had ever come out alive. The passage was narrow and dark, and strewn
everywhere with whitening bones, so Theseus stepped very cautiously,
with his ball of thread held fast and his hand ever ready on his sword.
Suddenly the Minotaur rushed upon him at an unlooked-for turn in the
road, and though the hero had no warning of its presence he met it
boldly. A terrible battle ensued, in which Theseus struck fiercely at
the Minotaur, wounding it mortally, while the pain-maddened brute tore
gashes in his flesh and almost suffocated him with its deadly breath.
At last the hero gave a swift thrust with his sword that cut through
the monster's great head, and in a moment the Minotaur lay dead among
the bones of its former victims.

With the help of the thread, which he had never lost, even in the thick
of the fight, Theseus was able to retrace his steps and to reach the
entrance to the labyrinth, where he found Ariadne anxiously awaiting
him. At the sight of the blood-stained sword she knew that her lover
had slain the Minotaur, and together they hurried to the black-sailed
ship, to which Ariadne had already conveyed the youths and maidens who
had been Theseus's companions on the voyage. As quickly as possible
the ship sped out of the harbor; but before they could quite clear
the Cretan shores, the giant Talus came upon them, and, seeing that
some of his master's prisoners were escaping, he tried to catch hold
of the vessel by its rigging. As he leaned forward to do this, Theseus
dealt him such a mighty blow that he toppled over into the sea and was
drowned. At this spot there were later discovered some thermal springs,
which gave evidence of the terrible heat in the giant's brazen body.

Only once did the vessel stop on its swift voyage homeward, and this
was at the island of Naxos. Here the whole company landed to explore
the beauties of the island, and to find some spring from which to get
a supply of fresh water. Ariadne wandered apart from the gay company,
and being weary, threw herself down on the bank of a stream to rest.
Here she fell fast asleep, and when Theseus later found her there, he
at once conceived the treacherous idea of deserting her. So he summoned
all his companions, and went stealthily down to the ship, where he
embarked, leaving Ariadne alone on the island. For some days the
deserted maiden sat on the seashore watching in vain for the Athenian
ship to return; but she did not mourn her faithless lover long, for the
gods sent her a greater happiness than she could ever have had with the
fickle Theseus. The island of Naxos was the favorite spot of Bacchus,
god of wine, who landed one day with a merry company of followers,
and found the weeping Ariadne. In a short time he won her love and
confidence, and persuaded her to be his wife. The wedding celebrations
so occupied Ariadne's mind that the treacherous Theseus was soon

The Athenians had been so eager to return to their native city that
they had no thought but to reach home as quickly as the vessel could
bear them; and Theseus forgot his promise to his father that, in case
of success, white sails should replace the black ones that were hoisted
on the outgoing voyage. Old Ægeus went each day to the seashore, and
stood on a high rock, watching the sea for some sign of the returning
ship. When, at last, he saw it loom up on the horizon, with its black
sails showing ominously against the sky, he at once concluded that his
son was dead; and in his grief over this great loss he threw himself
into the water, which has since been known as the Ægean Sea.

When Theseus entered Athens in triumph, the first news he heard was
the tidings of his father's death; and realizing that it had occurred
through his forgetfulness, he was filled with remorse. Though this
misfortune made him king of Athens, he allowed the city no rejoicings
on his accession to the throne; and the power and wealth at his command
gave him no happiness, for his conscience still accused him of causing
his father's death. He tried to divert his mind by absorbing himself
in state duties, but soon found that nothing would bring forgetfulness
as long as he stayed in Athens; so he set out again in search of
adventures, and led an expedition against the Amazons, who had been
harassing his land. After a long and fierce battle he defeated them and
took their queen, Antiope, prisoner. The Amazons then attacked Athens,
and penetrated into the heart of the city, but were finally driven
out. Shortly after this Theseus married the queen, Antiope,[104] and a
son was born to them whom the delighted father named Hippolytus. When,
later on, the Amazons again made an invasion into the country under the
pretext of rescuing their queen, Antiope was killed by an arrow sent at
random into the court of the palace.

The next adventure in which Theseus engaged was to lead the Athenian
army against Pirithous, king of the Lapithæ, who had been secretly
carrying off some of his herds. Full of anger at these continued
plunderings, Theseus came suddenly upon the marauders as they were
boldly making off with their booty; but as soon as he and Pirithous
were brought face to face, they were seized with such an admiration
for each other that they had no longer any feelings of enmity. They
threw down their weapons, clasped each other's hands, and swore eternal
friendship. To prove his devotion to his new friend, Theseus agreed
to accompany him to the court of Adrastus, king of Argos, and to be
present at the marriage of Pirithous to Hippodamia, the daughter of the
king. Many guests came to the wedding, and among them were Hercules
and a number of the centaurs. The beauty of the bride so won the
admiration of the centaurs that they determined to kidnap her, and a
terrible battle ensued between them and the Lapithæ, who were aided by
Theseus and Hercules. Finally the centaurs were driven away, but not
before many of them had been killed or wounded. The bride who had been
the cause of this strenuous fighting did not live long, however, and
Pirithous soon found himself like Theseus, a disconsolate widower.

[Illustration: Theseus]

Having been so unfortunate in their wives, the two heroes determined
not to seek again any king's daughters in marriage, but to choose some
one of divine parentage. So Theseus decided upon Helen, the child of
Jupiter and Leda[105] whom the ruler of the gods wooed in the form of
a snow-white swan. Pirithous's choice fell upon Proserpina, the wife
of Pluto. Theseus succeeded in carrying off Helen; but as she was
at that time a mere child, he left her in the care of his mother Æthra
until she should be old enough for marriage. Meanwhile Helen's twin
brothers, Castor and Pollux, having discovered who her abductor was,
waited until he was absent on the venture with his friend Pirithous,
and then went to the rescue of their sister, whom they took forcibly
from Æthra, and carried triumphantly home to Sparta.

Of these twin brothers, Castor was mortal, and some time later was
slain in battle. Pollux, who was immortal, then begged Jupiter to let
him die also, that he might not be separated from his brother. The
ruler of Olympus, touched by this evidence of devotion, allowed Castor
to return to life on condition that Pollux would spend half of his time
in Hades. Later on both brothers were translated to the heavens, where
they form a bright constellation, one of the signs of the Zodiac.[106]

Although Theseus's attempt to win an immortal bride was unsuccessful,
the two friends were not discouraged; and the hero accompanied
Pirithous to Hades when he made the bold attempt to carry off
Proserpina. Pluto, having discovered their intention, was so enraged
at the insult that he fastened Theseus to an enchanted rock, and bound
Pirithous to the ever-revolving wheel of his father Ixion. When
Hercules went down to Hades to ask Pluto's permission to carry the
three-headed dog Cerberus to the court of Eurystheus,[107] he freed
Theseus from the enchanted rock and thus enabled him to return to

Though somewhat advanced in years Theseus decided to marry again, and
chose as his bride the beautiful Phædra,[108] a younger sister of
Ariadne. An embassy was accordingly sent to ask for the maiden's hand
in marriage, and later she was brought to Athens; but she was not at
all pleased with her elderly husband, and much preferred his handsome
young son Hippolytus, whose years were better suited to her own. She
tried to persuade Hippolytus to elope with her, and when he indignantly
refused to be so disloyal to his father, Phædra's affection for him
turned to hate, and she determined to make him pay dearly for thus
scorning her love. So she went to the king and told him that Hippolytus
was trying to persuade her to desert the husband she adored; and the
infatuated Theseus, believing her story, vowed to punish the youth
for his treachery. Learning that his son was then driving his chariot
along the seashore, the king implored Neptune to avenge his wrongs;
and the obliging sea-god sent a huge wave over the chariot, which
dashed it against the rocks and threw the lifeless body of Hippolytus
on the beach. When Phædra saw what had happened as the result of her
false accusations, she was filled with remorse and despair; and after
confessing her wickedness to the king, she hung herself. One story
relates that Diana, pitying the innocent Hippolytus, restored him to
life with the aid of Æsculapius; and, to remove him from the power of
his irresponsible father, placed him in the care of the nymph Egeria.

Theseus, having grown bitter from his many misfortunes, now became so
stern and tyrannical that his people began to hate him and to wish for
another ruler. At last, driven to desperation by his harsh measures,
they banished him to the island of Scyros, where the king Lycomedes
treated him at first with great kindness; but he soon grew tired of
the old man's presence and decided to get rid of him. So one day when
Theseus was walking along the cliff's edge, a servant stole up behind
him and threw him into the sea. When the Athenians heard of the fate
that had befallen their king, they repented of having sent him into
banishment; and now, in a sudden revulsion of feeling, they made him
a national hero. Later on he was deified as a sort of demigod; his
bones were brought piously back to Athens; and a magnificent temple was
erected in his honor on the Acropolis.

Chapter XXXII


Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, were very happy when the
gods gave them a little son, and they sent to the oracle at Delphi
to learn what auspicious omens attended the child's birth. To their
horror they were informed that the boy would kill his father, marry his
mother, and bring great misfortune upon his native city.

Hoping to avert this dreadful calamity, Laius commanded a servant to
take the child away and kill him; but the man, not wishing to commit
so heartless a crime, hung the infant by his ankles to a tree, and
left him there to perish of hunger or from the teeth of wild beasts.
The king, believing that his command had been carried out and that the
boy no longer lived, was happy in the conviction that the oracle would
never be fulfilled. Meanwhile the helpless child was left hanging to
the tree until a shepherd, chancing to pass by, heard his pitiful cries
and went to his rescue. The kindly peasant then carried the infant to
his master Polybus, king of Corinth, who befriended the little stranger
and later adopted him as his son and heir, for he had no children of
his own. He called the boy Œdipus, which means swollen-foot.

The young prince grew up in entire ignorance of his real parentage, and
never suspected that he was not king Polybus's son until one day, at
the royal banquet, a guest, drunk with wine, was heartless enough to
tell him that he was only an adopted child. At first Œdipus believed
this statement to be just a malicious invention; but as he saw the
glances that the other guests exchanged, he was filled with dread lest
the words might be really true. So he went in haste to the woman he had
always called his mother, and demanded the truth about his birth. The
queen, fearing that Œdipus might kill himself if he knew that he had
been deceived about his parentage, assured him that he was indeed her
son. The youth believed her repeated assertions, and yet he was not
wholly satisfied; so he went to consult the oracle at Delphi. From this
he could learn nothing but the terrible prophecy that he would kill his
father, marry his mother, and bring misfortune upon his native city.

Determined not to be forced into committing any of these crimes, Œdipus
fled from Corinth and became a wanderer. Once, while he was walking on
the high-road, bewailing the cruel fat that drove him away from the
people he loved, he was met by a chariot in which sat an old man and
his servant. This was Laius, king of Thebes, who was journeying thus
far from his native city to consult the oracle of Delphi. The servant
who drove the king's chariot commanded Œdipus to move out of the road,
and flourished his whip to enforce his demand. The young prince was
not accustomed to be thus ordered about, and refused to move so that
the king's chariot might pass. The driver then struck Œdipus with his
whip, at which the youth grew so enraged that he avenged the insult
by killing the servant with his sword. The king hurled his spear at
Œdipus and called loudly to his other servants, who were some distance
behind; but before they could come to their master's rescue, Laius was
stretched dead in the road. Thus the first part of the prophecy was

When the attendants came hurrying to the king's assistance, they were
horrified at finding both him and his charioteer dead; but although
they searched everywhere, no trace of the murderer could be found.
Œdipus meanwhile had escaped and was on his way to Thebes, whither
the servants were now preparing to carry their dead master. Though
strangers were usually noticed as they came through the city gates,
Œdipus was scarcely observed during the many days that Thebes was in
mourning for the dead king. When the funeral ceremonies were over, the
young stranger heard one day a herald proclaiming in the streets that
the throne of Thebes should belong to him who could kill the Sphinx and
thus free the country from its baneful presence. The hand of the queen
Jocasta was also promised as a further reward.

When Œdipus asked one of the natives what this creature called the
Sphinx might be, the old man to whom he spoke turned on him a look of
surprise, and remarked that he must indeed be a stranger to Thebes
if he did not know that the city was suffering from the presence of
the Sphinx. This monster, he said, was half woman and half lion, with
the claws and wings of a huge bird; and it had stationed itself just
outside the city gates, where it crouched upon a rock so close to the
high-road that no traveler could pass it unseen, especially as it kept
watch both night and day. To each passer-by the Sphinx propounded a
riddle, and those who solved it could pass undisturbed, but those who
failed were at once torn to pieces by the monster's claws. Thus far no
one had been able to solve the riddle, and many travelers had already
been destroyed.

When Œdipus heard this story, he determined to seek the Sphinx and try
his fate. Even if he himself were slain, he would not regret having
given his life to the nation that had befriended him, especially since
the oracle had prophesied for him such a series of crimes that he had
no love for life. So, sword in hand, he went out of the city gates, and
walked boldly along the road to the rock where the crouching Sphinx lay
in wait for its prey. As soon as it saw Œdipus, it stopped him, and
demanded that he should answer the riddle or else lose his life.

"Tell me your riddle then," cried the hero, boldly; and the Sphinx

"What is it that in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two feet,
and in the evening upon three?"

For some minutes Œdipus did not answer, but he crept nearer to the
Sphinx, with his sword gripped firmly in his hand. The monster began to
lick its cruel lips, and stretch out one long claw toward its victim,
when Œdipus answered:--

"It is man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood
walks erect, and in old age moves with the help of a staff." The
Sphinx, with a cry of rage and disappointment, spread its wings,
preparing to fly away to some other place where it could find new
victims; but Œdipus suddenly rushed upon it with his drawn sword, and
drove it over the edge of a precipice which was so steep that the
monster was instantly killed by its fall.

When Œdipus returned to the city and announced that he had slain the
Sphinx, the people greeted him as their deliverer. They placed him
in the royal chariot, proclaimed him their king, and carried him in
triumph to the palace, where the queen Jocasta welcomed him. Shortly
after this she married Œdipus, thus fulfilling the second part of the

In spite of the crimes that he had unknowingly committed, Œdipus
reigned many years in Thebes, and proved himself so wise and just a
ruler that the people never regretted having chosen him for their king.
Two sons were born to him and Jocasta, and two beautiful daughters.
The former were named Eteocles and Polynices, and the latter Ismene
and Antigone. Œdipus himself was so content that he almost disbelieved
the fatal prophecy at Delphi; but his happiness was destined to be
short lived, for the city was suddenly afflicted with a pestilence and
famine which caused such distress throughout the land that the stricken
people came flocking to Œdipus, praying him to deliver them from the
scourge. The king sent at once to consult the oracle at Delphi, and his
messengers returned with this answer from Apollo:--

      "The plague, he said, should cease,
      When those who murdered Laius were discovered,
      And paid the forfeit of their crime by death
      Or banishment."[109]

Every effort was then made to discover who had slain the former king
Laius, and it was not long before the crime of Œdipus was revealed. At
the same time the old servant who had been commanded to kill the infant
son of Laius and Jocasta was found, and made to confess his part in the
tragedy. Œdipus was now convinced of his real parentage, and discovered
to his horror that he had already been guilty of the three crimes that
the oracle had foretold. In vain he had fled from Corinth to escape
being near his supposed parents; and in vain, too, had he sought refuge
in another city, believing that the one he had left was his birthplace.
When the queen Jocasta realized the full horror of her relationship to
Œdipus, she committed suicide; and the king, rushing into her apartment
at the sound of her cries, saw her lifeless body on the ground. In
despair at this sight Œdipus, the unwilling cause of the tragedy, was
seized with a sudden madness and put out both his own eyes, declaring
that the sunlight would be forever hateful to him.

[Illustration: Œdipus and Antigone]

Blind, penniless, and on foot, he left the palace and the city on which
he had brought such disaster, and wandered over the land accompanied
by his devoted daughter Antigone, who clung to the fallen king the
more lovingly because of his misery and disgrace. After many days of
wandering in the rain and cold, begging their scanty food and resting
in any wayside spot that offered them shelter, Œdipus and his daughter
came to Colonus, a village near Athens. Here was a deep and almost
impenetrable forest, which the Greeks believed to be sacred to the
Furies. In this grewsome spot Œdipus declared that he would stay the
rest of his days; and bidding his daughter farewell, he entered the
dark forest alone. Antigone, weeping and clinging to her father's arm,
besought him to let her stay beside him, for what could he--old and
blind and helpless--do in that fearful spot but perish? Œdipus gently
released her clinging hands, and refused to allow her to go any farther
with him, assuring her that to him who lived ever in the eternal night
of blindness, there were no terrors in the darkness of the forest.

So Antigone sadly returned to Athens, and the blind king groped his way
among the thick underbrush and fallen trees. At nightfall a terrible
storm came up, and its forerunner, the wind, shook the forest as if it
were some child's toy; but still the old king felt his way among the
trees, and the lightning, as it flashed into the dark places of the
forest, illumined a figure bent and shaking, but grim, determined, and
unafraid. The next day when the storm was over, a party of men sent
by Theseus, king of Athens, went in search of Œdipus, but no trace of
him was ever found; and the ancients believed that the Furies dragged
him down into Hades, where he received a fitting punishment for his

The plague having been removed from Thebes by the death of
Œdipus--according to the words of Apollo--the city returned to its
former prosperity; and then began a fierce dispute between the king's
two sons as to which of them should succeed to the throne. A compromise
was finally agreed upon whereby the eldest son, Eteocles, was to reign
for one year, and at the end of the year the second son, Polynices,
was to accede to the throne and rule for the same length of time. The
dispute being settled amicably, Polynices set out for adventures in
foreign lands during his brother's reign; and at the end of the year
he returned to claim his right to wield the scepter of power. Eteocles
refused, however, to relinquish the throne; and with the help of the
soldiers, drove Polynices out of the city.

[Illustration: Antigone and Ismene]

Furious at this treachery, but unable to retaliate single-handed,
Polynices fled to the court of Adrastus, king of Argos, where he was
hospitably received. On relating the story of his wrongs, he so won
the sympathy of the king that the kindly monarch promised to help him
regain his kingdom. Later on the banished prince married Adrastus's
daughter, and the king equipped a large army to go with Polynices to
Thebes. At the head of the troops he placed seven valiant chiefs who
were determined to win the city from the usurper, or perish in the
attempt. These leaders gave this celebrated expedition the name of
"The Seven against Thebes."

If courage and boldness were enough to overthrow a city, the besiegers
would have won an easy victory; but their bravery was of no avail
against a place so well fortified and defended as Thebes. After a
seven years' siege the leaders of the attacking forces grew weary of
espousing a hopeless cause, and decided that the quarrel between the
two brothers must be settled by a duel. Accordingly Polynices and
Eteocles met face to face, and fought so fiercely that both of them
were killed. The only one left in the city who could rightfully assume
the reins of authority was Creon, the father of Jocasta, who was now
proclaimed king of Thebes.[111] By Creon's order the body of Eteocles
was given all the honors of a royal burial; but the corpse of Polynices
was left on the battle-field a prey to dogs and vultures. Then the
king issued a proclamation that if any one dared to touch the body of
the dead prince, he would be buried alive. The friends of Polynices
did not venture to defy this edict; but his sister Antigone, horrified
at the thought of leaving her brother's body to suffer such disgrace,
determined to ignore the king's barbarous decree. As she was unable to
procure any assistance, she dug a grave with her own hands and buried
Polynices, performing such funeral rites for the repose of the dead as
she could accomplish alone.

While she was engaged in this act of devotion she was seen by the
soldiers of Creon, who dragged her at once into the presence of the
king. Although Antigone was one of his own family, and was also the
promised wife of his son Hæmon, the relentless monarch condemned her
to death. Hæmon pleaded with his father to spare the life of his
betrothed, since her deed, though in defiance of the king's order,
had been one of praiseworthy devotion; but Creon would not revoke his
decision, and condemned Antigone to the most horrible of deaths--that
of being buried alive. While this inhuman sentence was being carried
out, Hæmon leaped into the grave where Antigone was kneeling, and
declared that he would die by her side. As the terrible process of
walling-in the lovers was slowly completed, Antigone died in Hæmon's
arms; and when he felt her lifeless body lying limp in his embrace, he
ended his own life with his dagger.

Chapter XXXIII

The Apple of Discord

Jupiter, father of the gods, once fell in love with the beautiful
sea-nymph "Thetis of the silver feet," the daughter of Nereus and
Doris. Before he arranged for the marriage, the ruler of Olympus first
consulted the Fates to see whether any misfortune was likely to attend
his nuptials; and the three sisters who spin the thread of life night
and day declared that Thetis was destined to be the mother of a son who
would be far greater than his father.

Although Jupiter could not imagine how any god could supplant him in
Olympus, he was nevertheless unwilling to act in defiance of what
the Fates decreed; so he gave Thetis in marriage to Peleus, king of
Phthia, who had long loved her and had sought her hand in vain. The
sea-nymph was not very well pleased at having to accept a mere mortal
as a husband, even though he was a king, after having been wooed by the
greatest of the gods. To induce her to consent to the marriage, Jupiter
promised that he and the other gods would come down from high Olympus
to attend the wedding; and the prospect of this great honor soothed the
pride of Thetis so that she consented to marry Peleus.

The preparations for the wedding were begun in the coral caves of
her father Nereus, and all the ocean-deities and sea-nymphs helped
to beautify the palace under the sea. When the wedding day arrived,
Jupiter, with all the attending gods, came to grace the marriage feast.
The guests took their seats at the well-filled table, and pledged
the bride in brimming cups of wine. There was nothing to mar the joy
of the occasion until suddenly an uninvited guest appeared in the
banquet-hall, and the laughter died away into an ominous silence. This
unexpected visitor was Eris (or Discordia), the goddess of discord, who
had not been asked to the wedding because her hideous face, snaky hair,
and vicious temper made Thetis fear that her presence would anger the
other guests. The strife-breeding goddess regarded this omission as an
insult, so she went unbidden to the marriage feast, determined to vent
her wrath and spite on those who had received the coveted honor. For a
moment she stood looking at the assembled company with glances full of
hatred, and she laughed mockingly when she saw them shrink away as she
breathed over them her poisonous breath. Then she threw on the table a
golden apple, and immediately vanished.

The guests were eager to see the beautiful fruit, and as they passed
it about among themselves they were surprised to find engraved on its
smooth surface the words "For the Fairest." Immediately there arose a
lively discussion as to whom the apple should rightfully belong; and
each of the goddesses present was inclined to believe that the fruit
was intended for her. At last all the contestants for the golden apple
withdrew their claims except Juno, Minerva, and Venus,--each of whom
disputed hotly for its possession. Juno contended that her power and
majesty gave her the best right to the prize; Minerva claimed that the
beauty of wisdom surpassed all other charms; while laughter-loving
Venus asked who could rightfully be called "the fairest" if not the
goddess of beauty.

As the dispute grew more and more bitter, the goddesses called upon the
other guests to decide their respective claims; but no one was willing
to assume this responsibility. Since the apple could be given to but
one of the three, the other two would be sure to vent their anger and
disappointment on those who made the decision, each believing that
the judges willfully refused to admit her superior charms. So, at the
suggestion of one of the company, the entire wedding party adjourned to
Mount Ida, where the beautiful shepherd Paris was tending his flocks.
Jupiter appointed him to be the judge of the contest. The bewildered
shepherd took some moments to recover from the surprise of having this
brilliant company break in upon his solitude; and he stood watching
them in awe and reverence, not daring to speak in the presence of the

Paris was not, however, an uncouth peasant lad, for although occupying
the lowly position of shepherd, he was really the son of Priam and
Hecuba, king and queen of Troy. When he was a mere infant, he was left
on the mountain to perish, because an oracle had foretold that he would
cause the death of his family and the destruction of his native city.
But though so inhumanly exposed to cold and the hunger of wild beasts,
the child did not die, for he was found by a shepherd, who adopted him
and brought him up to follow his own calling.

When Paris grew to manhood he was so handsome that the wood-nymphs, who
were his companions, all sighed for love of him. Among them was the
fair and gentle Œnone, whom Paris secretly married, and with whom he
lived happily on Mount Ida. Though his foster-father had told him the
story of his birth, Paris had no longing for the glitter and grandeur
of palaces, for he felt sure that king Priam would wish to kill him if
he learned that the son he feared and hated was alive.

[Illustration: Paris]

Paris had grown so accustomed to the solitude of the mountain that
when the wedding party suddenly came upon him, he stood fearful
and silent while Jupiter, showing him the golden apple with its
inscription, bade him judge which of the three goddesses should receive
it. Before he could make any answer, Juno told him if he gave the
apple to her he would thereby win great wealth and honor. Minerva
promised him the gift of wisdom far exceeding that of mortal men; but
laughter-loving Venus whispered in his ear that if he awarded her
the apple, he should have the most beautiful woman in the world for
his wife. Whether it was the alluring beauty of Venus that blinded
his judgment, or the reward which she offered that tempted him, it
is impossible to tell. Perhaps it was for both of these reasons that
Paris turned quickly and placed the coveted apple in Venus's hand. This
decision brought upon him the wrath of both the discredited goddesses,
who began from that moment to cherish a hatred for the house of Troy,
and to plot its destruction.

Venus told Paris that in order for her to fulfill her promise, he
must now go down to the city of Troy and make himself known to his
parents. She assured him that he need have no fear of his father, for
she herself would so order his affairs that the king would welcome
him and acknowledge him as his son. Later on she would arrange that
he should be furnished with ships in which to sail to Greece, for to
this country he must inevitably go, since Helen, wife of Menelaus,
king of Sparta, was the most beautiful woman in the world. Obeying
carefully all the instructions of the goddess, who had now become his
protectress, Paris left his shepherding and went down to the court of
his father, King Priam. He was so blinded by the vision of his glorious
future that he did not think how heartless he was to desert the loving
and faithful Œnone, who mourned for him until the hills echoed with the
sound of her cries.

To tell the story of Paris's return to his native city, of his voyage
to Sparta, and of his abduction of Helen, would be to tell the story
of the Trojan war and of how dearly Paris and his household paid for
the most beautiful woman in the world. When the sons of Priam were
falling, one by one, beneath the fierce blows of the Greeks, Paris was
wounded by a poisoned arrow shot by Philoctetes, who had received these
famous weapons from Hercules when he lit that hero's funeral pyre.[112]
As the poison entered Paris's veins, and he knew that he had received
a mortal wound, he sent at once for Œnone, who had always loved him
so dearly that he believed she must have forgiven his treachery and
desertion. He knew how skilled the nymph was in the use of healing
herbs, and she had once told him, in the happy days of their love on
Mount Ida, that if he ever were wounded, he should send for her and she
would heal him. Paris therefore dispatched a messenger in all haste
to bring his wife from her home among the hills; but Œnone refused to
accompany the messenger, for she knew that it was not for love of her
that her husband desired her presence. So Paris died of his poisoned
wound, and when Œnone heard of his death, she went down to the city and
saw the funeral pyre with its flames leaping toward the sky. Filled
with remorse at her refusal to come to his aid, Œnone could not look on
at the sight of Paris's burning body and live; so she sprang upon the
blazing pyre and perished beside her lover.



The only powers that dared oppose the will of Jupiter were the Fates
and Destiny, who issued their irrevocable decrees without regard to the
wishes of the ruler of Olympus. Jupiter's sovereignty is thus described
by Homer:--

      "He whose all-conscious eyes the world behold,
      The eternal Thunderer sat, enthroned in gold,
      High heaven the footstool of his feet he makes,
      And wide beneath him all Olympus shakes.

             *       *       *       *       *

      He spoke, and awful bends his sable brows,
      Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod,
      The stamp of fate and sanction of the god;
      High heaven with trembling the dread signal took,
      And all Olympus to the center shook."

                  --POPE'S TRANSLATION.

The principal temples of Jupiter were the Capitol at Rome, and the
Temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya. At Dodona was the oracle of Jupiter,
called the "Speaking Oak," where the responses were given by the trees
whose rustling branches made sounds that were interpreted by the
priests. The oracle was said to have been established at Dodona in
the following manner: two black doves took their flight from Thebes in
Egypt. One flew to Dodona in Epirus; and alighting in a grove of oaks,
it proclaimed, in human language, to the people of that region, that
they must establish there an oracle of Jupiter. The other dove flew to
the temple of Jupiter Ammon, and delivered a similar command there.
Another account says that two priestesses were carried off from Thebes
in Egypt by the Phœnicians, and set up oracles at Dodona and the Libyan

A magnificent temple at Olympia was dedicated to Jupiter, and here,
every fifth year, the Greeks assembled to celebrate games. These
festivals lasted five days, and were known as the Olympic Games.
Vast numbers of spectators flocked to them from every part of Greece
and from Asia, Africa, and Sicily. The Greeks usually reckoned time
by Olympiads or five-year periods,--the space of time between the
celebrations. The first Olympiad was about 776 B.C.

Inside the temple at Olympia stood a wonderful statue of Jupiter made
of ivory and gold. The parts representing flesh were of ivory laid on
a framework of wood, while the drapery and ornaments were of gold. It
was the work of Phidias, and was considered the highest achievement
of Grecian sculpture. The height of the figure was forty feet, and
the pedestal was twelve feet. The god was represented as seated on his
throne, with his brows crowned with a wreath of olive and in his hand
a scepter. The statue was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the
world, but our knowledge of it is confined to literary descriptions and
to copies on coins.



  Prometheus Bound        ÆSCHYLUS
  Prometheus Unbound      PERCY B. SHELLEY
  Prometheus              HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
  Prometheus              JAMES R LOWELL

The following are Byron's lines:--

      "Titan! to whose immortal eyes
      The sufferings of mortality,
      Seen in their sad reality,
      Were not as things that gods despise;
      What was thy pity's recompense?
      A silent suffering, and intense;
      The rock, the vulture, and the chain;
      All that the proud can feel of pain;
      The agony they do not show;
      The suffocating sense of woe."


There is a full account of the story of Pandora in Hawthorne's "Wonder


  Pandora                DANTE G. ROSSETTI
  Masque of Pandora      HENRY W. LONGFELLOW


Other mythologists than Ovid, in treating the story of the flood, state
that Deucalion and Pyrrha took refuge in an ark, which, after sailing
about for many days, was stranded on the top of Mount Parnassus. This
version was far less popular with the Greeks, though it shows more
plainly the common source from which all these myths are derived.

      "Who does not see in drowned Deucalion's name,
      When Earth her men, and Sea had lost her shore,
                      Old Noah!"



The city of Delphi, containing the famous oracle of Apollo, was built
on the slopes of Mount Parnassus in Phocis. It had been observed at
a very early period that the goats feeding on Parnassus were thrown
into convulsions when they approached a certain deep cleft in the side
of the mountain. When a goatherd ventured near the spot, he found a
peculiar vapor arising from the cavern, and as he inhaled it, he was
affected in the same way as the animals had been. The inhabitants of
the country, unable to explain the goatherd's convulsive ravings,
imputed his utterings to divine inspiration. A temple was therefore
erected on the spot, and the prophetic influence was attributed to
various gods, but was finally assigned only to Apollo. A priestess was
appointed who was named the Pythia, and her office was to sit upon a
tripod placed over the chasm from which the divine afflatus proceeded.
The priestess and the tripod were both adorned with laurel; and as
she inhaled the hallowed air, her words--believed to be inspired by
Apollo--were interpreted by the priests.

The Pythian Games were celebrated at Delphi every three years, and were
instituted by Apollo in commemoration of his conquest of the Python. At
these games were chariot racing, running, leaping, wrestling, throwing
quoits, hurling javelins, and boxing. Besides the exercises in bodily
strength, there were contests in music, poetry, and oratory. These
occasions gave the poets and musicians an opportunity to show their
productions to the public.


There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva called the Palladium.
It was said to have fallen from heaven, and the Trojans believed that
the city could not be taken so long as this statue remained within
it. Ulysses and Diomede entered the city in disguise, and succeeded in
obtaining the Palladium, which they carried off to the Grecian camp.

The finest and most celebrated of the statues of Minerva was the one by
Phidias in the Parthenon at Athens. This was forty feet in height, and
was covered with ivory and gold. It represented the goddess as standing
with a spear in one hand, and in the other a statue of victory. Her
helmet, highly decorated, was surmounted by a sphinx. The Parthenon
itself was constructed under the supervision of the famous sculptor;
and many of the reliefs which enriched the exterior were by the hand of
Phidias himself. The statue of Minerva is not in existence, but parts
of the frieze of the Parthenon are in the British Museum and are known
as the Elgin Marbles.

The hero Theseus instituted at Athens the festival of Panathenæa in
honor of Minerva. The chief feature of the festival was a solemn
procession in which the Peplus, or sacred robe of Minerva, was carried
to the Parthenon, and left on or before the statue of the goddess. The
Peplus was covered with embroidery worked by virgins of the noblest
families in Athens. The festival was peculiar to the Athenians,
but among them persons of all ages and both sexes took part in the
celebrations. In the procession the old men carried olive branches
and the young men bore arms. The women carried baskets on their heads
containing the sacred utensils and cakes necessary for the sacrifices.


The most famous representations of Juno are the torso in Vienna from
Ephesus, the Barberini in the Vatican at Rome, the bronze statuette in
the Cabinet of Coins and Antiquities in Vienna, and the Farnese bust in
the National Museum at Naples.

Juno's festivals, the Matronalia, in Rome, were always celebrated with
great pomp. Less important feasts were held in each city where a temple
was dedicated to her. On one of these occasions, an old priestess was
very anxious to go to Juno's temple at Argos, in which she had served
the goddess many years in her maiden days, and which she had left only
to be married. The way was long and difficult, and the old priestess
could not attempt to walk such a distance; so she bade her sons Cleobis
and Biton harness her white heifers to her car. The youths were anxious
to do her bidding; but they could not find the heifers, however
diligently they searched. As they did not wish to disappoint their
mother who had set her heart on attending the services, they harnessed
themselves to the car, and thus conveyed her to the temple. The mother,
touched by their filial devotion, then prayed to Juno to bestow on her
sons the greatest gift in her power; and when the old priestess went in
search of the youths, after the services were over, she found them dead
in the portico of the temple where they had lain down to rest. Juno
had taken them, while they slept, to the Elysian Fields to enjoy an
eternity of bliss as a reward for their devotion.


There is another version of the story of how Hercules brought Alcestis
back from Hades. This is in the Alcestis of Euripides, and Browning has
related it in his "Balaustion's Adventure." In this account the wife
of Admetus is not surrendered willingly by Pluto, but the great hero
Hercules wrestles with Death for the body and life of Alcestis, and by
winning the victory over this dread adversary, restores Admetus's wife
to his arms.

Other poems:--

  The Love of Alcestis          WILLIAM MORRIS
  Alcestis                      FRANCIS T. PALGRAVE
  Shepherd of King Admetus      JAMES R. LOWELL


The combat between a hero and a dragon is a favorite theme in mythology
and folklore. Besides the myth of Apollo's slaying of the Python are
the well-known stories of Siegfried's killing of Fafnir, St. George
and the Dragon, Perseus and the Sea Serpent, Cadmus and the Serpent,
and Hercules and the Hydra.

The principal temples dedicated to the worship of Apollo were at Delos,
his birthplace, and at Delphi.

One of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the famous Colossus of
Rhodes, was a statue of Apollo. His head was encircled with a halo of
bright sunbeams, and his legs were set wide apart to allow vessels to
pass in and out of the harbor with all their sails spread.

Among the many remains of ancient sculpture, none is better
known--unless it be the Venus of Milo--than the statue of Apollo called
the Belvedere, from the name of the apartment of the pope's palace at
Rome in which it is placed. The artist is unknown, but the work is
supposed to be of the first century of our era, and is modeled on the
type of Greek sculpture of the Hellenistic period. It is restored to
represent the god at the moment when he has shot the arrow that slays
the Python.


  Apollo in "The Epic of Hades"      LEWIS MORRIS
  Hymn to Apollo                     JOHN KEATS
  Hymn to Apollo                     PERCY B. SHELLEY


The story of Clytie is frequently alluded to in poetry, and the
sunflower is often used as an emblem of constancy. Moore's lines are
well known:--

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


The sisters of Phaëton, the Heliades, spent their days by the Eridanus
River shedding tears, wringing their white hands, and wailing over the
loss of their brother, until the gods, in pity for their grief, turned
them into poplar trees. Their tears, which continued to flow, became
amber as they dropped into the stream.


The Diana of the Ephesians, referred to by St. Paul in Acts xix: 28,
was not the chaste moon-goddess of the Greeks, though a world-renowned
sanctuary was dedicated to Diana at Ephesus.


  Praise of Artemis               EDMUND GOSSE
  Hymn to Diana                   BEN JONSON
  Artemis in "Epic of Hades"      LEWIS MORRIS
  Niobe                           WALTER S. LANDOR

The most beautiful statue of Diana is the Diana of Versailles, in the
Louvre, Paris (also called the Diana of the Hind).


Before Orion was slain by an arrow from Diana's bow he loved Merope,
daughter of Œnopion, king of Chios, who consented to the union on
condition that the lover should win his bride by some heroic deed. But
instead of meeting this requirement, Orion attempted to elope with
Merope. The plan was frustrated, however, by the king; and the bold
youth was punished by the loss of his bride and also of his eyesight.
Then Orion wandered about, blind and helpless, and finally reached the
Cyclops' cave, where one of them took pity on him and led him to the
sun, from whose radiance his sight was restored.


The story of Endymion is a favorite theme in poetry. The best-known
poem on this subject is the Endymion of Keats. Other poems are by James
R. Lowell, Henry W. Longfellow, Arthur H. Clough, Elizabeth L. Landon,
and Lewis Morris.


In the story of Hyacinthus, as told by the poet Ovid in the
"Metamorphoses" (Book 10, line 16, etc.) the account says: "Behold the
blood that had flowed on the ground and stained the herbage ceased to
be blood; but a flower of hue more beautiful than the Tyrian sprang
up resembling the lily, except that this is purple and that silvery
white." It is evident that the flower here described is not our modern
hyacinth, but some species of iris or larkspur.


Another unfortunate ending to one of the friendships of Apollo was the
death of Cyparissus, a clever young hunter, whose companionship the
sun-god often sought. Cyparissus accidentally killed Apollo's pet stag,
and he grieved so sorely over this mischance that he pined away and
died. Apollo then changed his body into a Cyprus tree, which the god
declared should henceforth be used to shade the graves of those who,
when living, were greatly beloved.


There were many oracles of Æsculapius, but the most celebrated one
was at Epidaurus. Here the sick consulted the oracle and sought the
recovery of their health by sleeping in the temple. The treatment of
the sick was probably nothing like that of modern therapeutics, but
resembled what is now called animal magnetism or mesmerism.

Serpents were sacred to Æsculapius, probably because of the
superstition that those animals have a faculty of renewing their youth
by a change of skin. The worship of Æsculapius was introduced into Rome
in a time of great sickness, and an embassy was sent to the temple at
Epidaurus to implore the help of the god. Æsculapius was so favorably
inclined to the petitioners that he accompanied the returning ship in
the form of a serpent. When they reached the river Tiber, the serpent
glided from the vessel, and took possession of an island in the river.
Here a temple was later erected in honor of Æsculapius.


According to the more ancient Greek conception, Venus was the daughter
of Jupiter and Dione, goddess of moisture; but Hesiod says that she
came from the foam of the sea, and was therefore called by the Greeks
Aphrodite--the foam-born. She was generally represented as a beautiful
nude figure, or wearing her wonderful girdle, the Cestus--in which
lay "love and desire and loving converse that steals the wits even of
the wise." The most famous statue of Venus is the one that was found
on the island of Melos (Milo), and is now in the Louvre, in Paris. It
is probably the work of some sculptor of about the third century B.C.
He followed an original of the age of Praxiteles, probably in bronze,
which represented the goddess, partly draped, gazing at her reflection
in an uplifted shield. A masterpiece of Praxiteles was the Venus of
Cnidos, based upon which are the Venus of the Capitoline in Rome, the
Venus de Medici in Florence, and the Venus of the Vatican, which is
much superior to the other two.


  Chorus to Aphrodite in "Atalanta
    in Calydon"                    ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE

  Aphrodite in "Epic of Hades"     LEWIS MORRIS

  Venus of Milo                    EDWARD R. SILL

  Venus and Adonis                 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

  Adonis in "Epic of Hades"        LEWIS MORRIS

  Death of Adonis                  THEOCRITUS,
                        trans. by  ANDREW LANG

  Laus Veneris                     ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE

The "Lament for Adonis" by Bion has been translated by Andrew Lang,
Edwin Arnold, and Mrs. Browning.

The following stanza is from Tennyson:--

      "Idalian Aphrodite beautiful,
      Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells,
      With rosy slender fingers backward drew
      From her warm brows and bosom her deep hair
      Ambrosial, golden round her lucid throat
      And shoulder; from the violets her light foot
      Shone rosy-white, and o'er her rounded form
      Between the shadows of the vine bunches
      Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved."


The worship of Aphrodite was probably of Semitic origin, but was early
introduced into Greece. The Aphrodite of Homer and Hesiod displays both
Oriental and Grecian characteristics. Among the Phœnicians Venus is
known as Astarte, among the Assyrians as Istar. There were temples and
groves dedicated to Venus in many places, and in some of them--Paphos
for instance--gorgeous annual festivals were held. The festival of
Venus that was celebrated in Rome in April was called the Veneralia.

Sapho calls Aphrodite the "star-throned, incorruptible, wile-weaving
child of Zeus."


One of the many myths connected with Venus was that of Berenice who,
fearing for her husband's life, prayed to the goddess to protect him
as he set out to battle. She vowed to give her beautiful hair as a
sacrifice to Venus if he returned home in safety. The prayer was
granted, and Berenice's luxuriant tresses were laid on the goddess's
shrine, whence they soon mysteriously disappeared. When an astrologer
was consulted in regard to the supposed theft, he pointed to a comet in
the sky, and declared that the gods had placed Berenice's hair among
the stars to shine forever in memory of her wifely sacrifice.


References and allusions to Cupid abound in poetry. A few of the
best-known poems are:--

  Eros                           EDMUND GOSSE
  Ode to Psyche                  JOHN KEATS
  The Lost Eros                  THOMAS ASHE
  The Unknown Eros               COVENTRY PATMORE
  Story of Cupid and Psyche      WILLIAM MORRIS
  Hue and Cry After Cupid        BEN JONSON

The following is a charming little poem by John Lyly:--

      "Cupid and my Campaspe play'd
      At cards for kisses, Cupid pay'd.
      He stakes his quiver, bow and arrows,
      His mother's doves, and teeme of sparrows,
      Looses them too; then downe he throwes
      The coerall of his lippe, the rose
      Growing on's cheek (but none knows how),
      With these, the crystal of his brow,
      And then the dimple of his chin;
      All these did my Campaspe winne;
      At last hee set her both his eyes;
        She won, and Cupid blind did rise.
      O love! has she done this to thee?
      What shall (alas) become of mee?"


There is a very old story of a woman's love for her husband and her
efforts to win him back from Death which is known in every part of
India. On a certain night in the year millions of Hindu women celebrate
a rite in honor of Savitri. The story is told in the Mahabharata, an
ancient epic of India.

Walter Pater, in "Marius the Epicurean," gives the story of Cupid and
Psyche as contained in Apuleius. Many of the incidents of the story
will be found in modern fairy tales and romances such as "Beauty and
the Beast"; Grimm's "Twelve Brothers"; the Gaelic stories: "The Three
Daughters of King O'Hara," "Fair, Brown and Trembling," "The Daughter
of the Skies"; and the Norse tale, "East of the Sun and West of the


The most amusing use made of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is in
Shakespeare's "Midsummer-Night's Dream," Act III, Sc. 2, and Act V, Sc.
1, which is a burlesque of what was, in the original story in Ovid, a


Poems on "Hero and Leander" have been written by Chistopher Marlowe,
Leigh Hunt, Thomas Hood, and Thomas Moore. Keats wrote a sonnet, "On a
Picture of Leander."

Byron attempted Leander's feat of swimming across the Hellespont, a
thing that was considered impossible until the English poet proved its
feasibility by performing it himself. The distance in the narrowest
part is almost a mile, and there is a constant current setting out from
the Sea of Marmora. Since Byron's time the swimming of the Hellespont
has been achieved by others; but it still remains a test of strength
and skill.


Various modern stories have been based upon the myth of Pygmalion. One
of the best known is "The Venus of Ille," by Prosper Mérimée.


  The New Pygmalion            ANDREW LANG
  Pygmalion and the Image      WILLIAM MORRIS
  Pygmalion the Sculptor       ROBERT BUCHANAN


Amphion had a twin brother named Zethus who, however, had none of the
musician's artistic ability. The brothers heard that their mother
Antiope had been put aside by her second husband Lycus, in order that
he might marry another wife; so Amphion and Zethus hastened to Thebes,
where they found things worse than they had imagined, for Antiope was
thrust into prison and subjected to very cruel treatment. The brothers
besieged the city; and, after taking possession of it, put Lycus to
death. Then they tied Dirce, who had been the cause of their mother's
suffering, to the tail of a wild bull, and let it drag her over the
stones until she was dead. This punishment of Dirce is the subject
of a famous piece of sculpture called the "Farnese Bull" (as it once
belonged to the Farnese family), now in the National Museum at Naples.


  Amphion      ALFRED TENNYSON


Orpheus's lute was placed in the heavens as the bright constellation

The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is often alluded to in poetry. Pope
has used it to illustrate the power of music in his "Ode for St.
Cecilia's Day," and the wonderful beauty of the nightingale's song over
the grave of Orpheus is alluded to by Southey in his "Thalaba."

The song of the nightingale seemed to the ancients so plaintive
that, wishing to account for its sadness, they invented the story
of Philomela. King Tereus, having wearied of his wife Procne, tore
out her tongue by the roots and then married her sister Philomela,
pretending that his wife was dead. Procne informed her sister of the
horrible truth by means of a web into which she wove her story. To
revenge themselves upon the king, the sisters killed the boy Itylus
(son of Tereus and Procne) and served him up as food to his father. To
punish them for this wickedness the gods changed Procne into a swallow,
and Philomela into a nightingale, which forever bemoans the murdered
Itylus. The king, Tereus, they transformed into a hawk.


  The Power of Music        WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
  Eurydice and Orpheus      ROBERT BROWNING
  Orpheus and Eurydice      LEWIS MORRIS
  Eurydice                  JAMES R. LOWELL
  Eurydice                  EDWARD DOWDEN
  Waking of Eurydice        EDMUND GOSSE


The Muses were the daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne, goddess of
memory. Although they sometimes united in one grand song, they had
separate duties and powers. Apollo as leader of the choir of Muses was
called Musagetes.

Clio, the Muse of history, recorded the great deeds of heroes, and was
usually represented with a laurel wreath, and a book and stylus.

Euterpe, the Muse of lyric poetry, was represented with a flute and
garlands of flowers.

Thalia, the Muse of comedy, was also the patroness of pastoral poetry,
and so was often represented with a shepherd's crook as well as a mask.

Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy, wore a crown of gold, and wielded a
dagger and a scepter.

Terpsichore, the Muse of choral dance and song, was usually portrayed
in the act of dancing.

Erato, the Muse of love poetry, held a lyre.

Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred poetry, also presided over rhetoric.

Calliope, the Muse of epic and heroic poetry, wore a laurel crown.

Urania, the Muse of astronomy, held mathematical instruments.


Mars's attendants, or some say his children, were Eris (Discord),
Phobos (Alarm), Metus (Fear), Demios (Dread), and Pallor (Terror).

As founder of Rome, Romulus was its first king, and ruled over the
people so tyrannically that the senators determined to get rid of him.
So one day when an eclipse plunged the city into sudden darkness, the
senators killed Romulus, cut his body into pieces, and hid them under
their wide togas. When daylight returned, and the people looked about
for their king,--for all the citizens had assembled on the Forum,--the
senators informed them that Romulus had been carried off by the
immortal gods and would never return. After this Romulus was worshiped
as a god under the name of Quirinus, and a temple was built on one of
the seven hills of Rome, which has since been known as Mount Quirinal.
Yearly festivals in honor of Romulus were held in Rome under the name
of Quirinalia.


Homer gives two versions of the story of Vulcan's lameness,--one,
that Jupiter threw him out of heaven for helping his mother against
Jupiter's will; and the other, that he was born deformed, and that
Juno, ashamed of his ugliness, cast him out of heaven.

    (1) "Yea once ere this, when I was fain to save thee (Juno), he
    caught me by my foot and hurled me from the heavenly threshold.
    All day I flew, and at the set of sun I fell in Lemnos, and
    little life was in me."

    (2) "She (Thetis) delivered me when pain came upon me from my
    great fall through the ill-will of my shameless mother who
    would fain have hid me away for that I was lame."

    He spake and from the anvil rose limping, a huge bulk, but
    under him his slender legs moved nimbly. The bellows he set
    away from the fire, and gathered all his gear wherewith
    he worked into a silver chest; and with a sponge he wiped
    his face and hands and sturdy neck and shaggy breast, and
    did on his doublet and took a stout staff and went forth
    limping.--_Iliad_, Book I and Book XVIII.

Vulcan's children were mostly monsters; but he is also the reputed
father of Servius Tullius, sixth king of Rome, by a slave Ocrisia whom
he visited in the form of a bright flame, which played harmlessly about

Vulcan was worshiped by all blacksmiths and artisans; and great
festivals, called the Vulcanalia and the Hephæstia, were celebrated in
his honor.


There were many versions of the creation of the world among the Greeks
and Romans, but the most popular was the following: At first there
was nothing but a confused mass in which land, sea, and air were all
merged in one substance. Over this shapeless mass reigned a careless
deity named Chaos who shared his throne with his wife Nyx (or Nox) the
goddess of Night. They were dethroned by their son Erebus (Darkness)
who ruled over the universe with his children Æther (Light) and Hemera
(Day). These two then succeeded to the throne, and by their combined
efforts, together with the help of their own child Eros (Amor or
Love) created Pontus (the Sea) and Gæa (the Earth), also called Ge,
Tellus, Terra. The earth was divided into two equal parts by Pontus,
and around it flowed the great river Oceanus. Soon Gæa created Uranus
(Heaven), and these two powerful deities took possession of all the
universe, and became the parents of twelve gigantic children, the
Titans, whose strength was so great that their father Uranus grew much
afraid of them. To prevent their ever uniting against him he hurled
them, soon after their birth, into the dark abyss called Tartarus,
which was situated far under the earth. Here he chained his six sons,
Oceanus, Cœus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Saturn (Cronos or Time)
and his six daughters (also called the Titanides), Ilia, Rhea, Themis,
Thetis, Mnemosyne, and Phœbe. Later on, Uranus thrust into Tartarus his
other children, the Cyclops, who made the darkness hideous with their
incessant clamor.

Gæa was not pleased at this treatment of her children, so she descended
into Tartarus to urge the Titans to conspire against their father. But
they were all too fearful of the great Uranus and none dared defy him
except Saturn, who, having been released from his chains by his mother,
went out of Tartarus armed with a scythe that Gæa had given him. He
came upon Uranus unawares, bound him fast, and took possession of the
throne. Then he released his sisters and brothers, and the Titans, glad
to escape from their dreadful bondage, agreed to accept Saturn as their
ruler. He chose his sister Rhea (Cybele) for his wife, and gave his
brothers and sisters different parts of the universe to govern.

Meanwhile old Uranus had told Saturn, when the latter wrested from him
his throne, that he himself would one day be dethroned by his children.
So when Rhea bore her first son, Saturn determined to defy the prophecy
and promptly swallowed him. One child after another was thus disposed
of; and at last Rhea resolved to save her youngest son by stratagem.
As soon as Jupiter was born, his mother concealed him, and was able to
persuade Saturn into swallowing a large stone which she had wrapped in
swaddling clothes. Then Rhea intrusted her child to the care of the
Melian nymphs, who bore him off to a cave on Mount Ida. Here a goat
(Amalthea) was procured as nurse, and it fulfilled its duties so well
that it was later placed in the heavens as a constellation.

When Rhea considered her son strong enough to cope with his powerful
father, she urged him to attack Saturn, who, surprised at the sudden
appearance of a son of whose existence he was unaware, was defeated
and forced to resign his power to Jupiter. Then by means of a nauseous
drink prepared by Metis, a daughter of Oceanus, Saturn was made to
disgorge the unfortunate children he had swallowed: Neptune, Pluto,
Vesta, Ceres, and Juno.



  Demeter and Persephone             ALFRED TENNYSON
  Hymns to Proserpine                ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE
  Demeter                            HELEN H. JACKSON
  The Search after Proserpine        AUBREY DE VERE
  Proserpine                         DANTE G. ROSSETTI
  Persephone in "Epic of Hades"      LEWIS MORRIS
  Persephone                         JEAN INGELOW
  Song of Proserpina                 PERCY B. SHELLEY
  The Search for Persephone          RICHARD H. STODDARD

The following stanza is from Shelley's "Arethusa:"--

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

The river Alpheus does, in fact, disappear underground in part of
its course, finding its way through subterranean channels until it
again appears on the surface. It was said that the Sicilian fountain
Arethusa was the same stream that, after passing under the sea, came
up again in Sicily. Hence the story arose that a cup thrown into the
Alpheus appeared again in Arethusa.

It is this fable of the underground course of the Alpheus that
Coleridge alludes to in his poem of Kubla Khan:--

      "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
      A stately pleasure dome decree,
      Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
      Through caverns measureless to man,
      Down to a sunless sea."


Many beautiful temples were dedicated to Ceres and Proserpina, both
in Greece and Italy; and their yearly festivals, the Cerealia and
Thesmophoria, were celebrated with great pomp.

To commemorate her long search for her daughter, Ceres instituted at
Eleusis the Eleusinian Festivals and Mysteries. The Festivals were
held in February and September. The lesser festival, in February,
represented the restoration of Proserpina to her mother; the greater,
held in September, lasted nine days and represented the abduction
of Proserpina. All classes might participate in these festivals.
The Mysteries of Eleusis were witnessed only by the initiated, and
were surrounded with a veil of secrecy that has never been fully
withdrawn. The initiates passed through certain symbolic ceremonies
from one degree of mystic enlightenment to another till the highest
was attained. The Mysteries apparently resembled the ceremonies of the
modern masonic orders.


The following stanzas are from Swinburne's "Garden of Proserpine":--

      "We are not sure of sorrow,
        And joy was never sure;
      To-day will die to-morrow;
        Time stoops to no man's lure;
      And love, grown faint and fretful,
      With lips but half regretful,
      Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
        Weeps that no loves endure.

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


Besides Pluto, god of the Infernal Regions, the Greeks also worshiped
Plutus, a son of Ceres and Jason, who was known exclusively as a god
of wealth. Abandoned in infancy, he was reared by Pax, goddess of
peace, who is often represented as holding him in her lap. Because
Plutus would bestow his favors only upon good and worthy mortals,
Jupiter deprived him of his sight; and he then distributed his wealth

Virgil thus describes the crowd of spirits that wait to be ferried by
Charon across the river:--

              "The shivering army stands,
      And press for passage with extended hands,
      Now these, now those, the surly boatman bore;
      The rest he drove to distance from the shore."


The Furies visited the earth to punish filial disobedience, irreverence
to old age, perjury, murder, treachery to guests, and even unkindness
toward beggars. They avenged the ghosts of those who died by a violent
death and had no one to avenge them. Therefore they persecuted Orestes,
who killed his mother, and brought to punishment the murderers of
Ibycus. This poet, beloved by Apollo, was journeying to the musical
contest at Corinth, and was attacked by two robbers. As he lay dying
he called upon a flock of cranes, that were passing overhead, to take
up his cause and avenge his death. When his body was found, there
was great lamentation among the Greeks, and every effort was made
to discover the murderers, but without success. Later on, when a
vast assemblage was witnessing a play in which the Chorus personated
the Furies, the people sat terrified and still as death when the
Choristers, clad in black, appeared bearing in their fleshless hands
torches blazing with a pitchy flame. As they advanced with measured
step, the company could see their bloodless cheeks and the writhing
serpents that curled--in place of hair--around their brows. Then they
began to sing: "Woe, woe to him who has done the deed of secret murder.
We, the fearful brood of night, fasten ourselves upon him, flesh and
soul. Unwearied we pursue him; no pity checks our course; still on to
the end of life, we give no peace, no rest." As the Furies finished
their weird chant a number of dark objects came sailing across the
sky, and in the solemn stillness that had fallen over the assembly a
terrified cry arose from one of the benches, "Look, comrade, the cranes
of Ibycus!" Having informed thus far against themselves, it was not
long before the murderers were seized, and, having confessed their
crime, were put to death.

The effect upon the audience of this appearance of the Furies (as
related in the story of Ibycus) is not exaggerated, for it is recorded
that Æschylus, the tragic poet, having on one occasion represented the
Furies in a chorus of fifty performers, the terror of the spectators
was such that many fainted and were thrown into convulsions, and the
magistrates forbade a like representation for the future.


  Cranes of Ibycus          SCHILLER


The story of the true and false Dreams and the horn and ivory gates
rests on a double play of words: ἐλέφας (elephas), ivory, and
ἐλεφαιρομαι (elephairomai), to cheat with false hope; κερας (keras),
horn, and κραίνειν (krainein), to fulfill.


  The Ivory Gate      MORTIMER COLLINS

Dreams were sometimes sent through the gates of horn to prepare mortals
for misfortunes, as was the case of Halcyone. Ceÿx, king of Thessaly,
once left his beloved wife, Halcyone, to go on a journey to the
oracle of Delphi. On the outgoing voyage, a tempest struck the ship
on which the king was sailing, and he with all his crew perished in
the waves. Every day the queen went down to the seashore to watch for
the returning vessel, and every night she prayed to the gods to bring
her husband safely back to her. Juno, knowing that these prayers were
in vain, pitied the faithful Halcyone, and wished to prepare her for
the great sorrow that must soon come with the news of Ceÿx's death.
So she sent Iris to the cave of sleep, and the rainbow goddess bade
one of the Dreams go forth from the gate of horn to visit the sleeping
queen. The Dream glided to Halcyone's bedside, and, assuming the form
of Ceÿx, appeared before her pale, like a dead man, and dripping with
the salt sea. He told his wife that the storm had sunk his ship, and
that he himself was dead. Terrified at this vision, Halcyone sprang
from her couch and hastened to the beach, where she found the body of
her husband washed up by the waves. In pity for her grief, the gods
changed both Halcyone and Ceÿx into birds that ever afterward lived on
the waters, and were known as the Halcyon birds. These birds uttered
shrill cries of warning to all seamen whenever a storm threatened, but
were themselves so fearless of the sea that they built their nests and
hatched their young on the ever-tossing waves.


The Nereides trained Arion, the wonderful winged steed that had
the power of speech, to draw his father's chariot over the waves.
He was said to be the first and the fleetest of horses, and passed
successively into the hands of Cepreus (Pelops' son), Hercules, and
Adrastus--the last of whom won all the chariot races, thanks to the
fleetness of Arion.

Neptune was a patron of horse trainers, and was himself especially
devoted to horses.

The Cyclops are described differently by different authors. Homer
speaks of them as a gigantic and lawless race of shepherds who dwelt in
Sicily. Each of them had a single eye in the center of his forehead.
The chief of the Cyclops was Polyphemus who fell in love with the
Nereid Galatea. He took great care of his appearance, harrowed his
coarse hair with a currycomb and mowed his beard with a sickle. When he
looked into the sea, he smiled complacently and said: "Beautiful seems
my beard, beautiful also my one eye--as I count beauty--and the sea
reflects the gleam of my teeth whiter than Parian Stone" (Theocritus,
Idyll VI.) Galatea did not return the Cyclops's affection, however, for
she loved the river god Acis. Polyphemus came upon the lovers one day
in the woods, and was so enraged at the sight of them that he killed
his rival with a rock. As the blood of Acis crept in a stream from
under the rock it grew paler and paler until it turned into water. Soon
it became a river which still bears the name of the unfortunate Acis.


Milton alludes to the ocean deities in the song at the conclusion of

      "Sabrina fair ...
      Listen and appear to us,
      In name of great Oceanus,
      By the earth-shaking Neptune's mace,
      And Tethy's grave majestic pace;
      By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look,
      And the Carpathian wizard's hook,
      By scaly Triton's winding shell,
      And old soothsaying Glaucus' spell,
      By Leucothea's lovely hands,
      And her son that rules the strands;
      By Thetis' tinsel-slippered feet,
      And the song of Sirens sweet;" etc.

Proteus is called the Carpathian wizard because his cave was on the
island of Pharos, or Carpathos.


Wordsworth's sympathy with the classical conception of nature is shown
in the following sonnet:--

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


Palæmon was usually represented riding on a dolphin. He was called
Portumnus by the Romans, and was believed to have jurisdiction over the
ports and shores. Some authorities state that the Isthmian Games held
on the isthmus of Corinth were in honor of Neptune instead of Palæmon.

The divinities of the lakes, rivers, fountains, etc., were hoary river
gods, slender youths, beautiful maidens, and sometimes children. The
famous statue called "Father Nile" is in the Vatican at Rome.


Bacchus was worshiped very widely throughout the ancient world, and
many festivals were held in his honor. The most noted were the Greater
and Lesser Dionysia, the Liberalia, and the Bacchanalia. Bacchus is
generally represented as crowned with ivy or grape leaves and bearing
an ivy-circled wand (the thyrsus). He rides in a chariot drawn by
panthers or leopards.


  Semele                               EDWARD R. SILL
  Alexander's Feast                    JOHN DRYDEN
  The Praise of Dionysus               EDMUND GOSSE
  Triumph of Bacchus                   RODEN NOËL
  Sophron's Hymn to Bacchus            WALTER S. LANDOR
  Prelude to Songs before Sunrise      ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE


As the ass was reverenced in Phrygia, the acquisition of ass's ears may
not have been such a disgrace as we imagine.

Ovid thus describes Midas' golden touch:--

      "Whose powerful hands the bread no sooner hold,
      Than all its substance is transformed to gold;
      Up to his mouth he lifts the savory meat,
      Which turns to gold as he attempts to eat:
      His patron's noble juice of purple hue,
      Touch'd by his lips, a gilded cordial grew,
      Unfit for drink; and, wonderous to behold,
      It trickles from his jaws a fluid gold.
      The rich poor fool, confounded with surprise,
      Starving in all his various plenty lies."

                  (Croxall's trans.)


Fauns and satyrs have been favorite subjects in art and especially in
sculpture. The most famous are the Faun of Praxiteles (Vatican, copy);
the Dancing Faun (Lateran, Rome); Dancing Faun, Sleeping Faun, Drunken
Faun, and Faun and Bacchus (National Museum, Naples); Sleeping Satyr,
or the Barberini Faun (Glyptotek, Munich).

The use of the Faun in literature is best known in Hawthorne's "The
Marble Faun."

Reference is made to fauns and naiads in Milton's "Lycidas." Robert
Buchanan has two poems entitled "The Satyr" and "The Naiad."



  Hymn to Pan                    JOHN KEATS
  The Dead Pan                   ELIZABETH B. BROWNING
  Hymn of Pan                    PERCY B. SHELLEY
  Cupid and Pan                  WALTER S. LANDOR
  Pan                            ROBERT BUCHANAN
  Pan and Luna                   ROBERT BROWNING
  Song of the Priest of Pan
    and Song of Pan in "The
    Faithful Shepherdess"        FLETCHER


Keats in "Endymion" alludes to Dryope thus:--

      "She took a lute from which there pulsing came
      A lively prelude, fashioning the way
      In which her voice should wander. 'Twas a lay
      More subtle-cadenced, more forest-wild
      Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child."


  Dryope          WALTER S. LANDOR


James R. Lowell has taken the story of Rhœcus as the subject of one of
his finest poems.

      "Hear now this fairy legend of old Greece,
      As full of freedom, youth and beauty still,
      As the immortal freshness of that grace
      Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze."


  The Hamadryad          WALTER S. LANDOR


Janus is not the only one among the Greek and Latin deities whose name
has been given to a part of the week or year. In Latin, the names of
the days are--dies Solis (Sunday); dies Lunæ (Moon day); dies Martis
(Mars' day); dies Mercurii (Mercury's day); dies Jovis (Jove's day);
dies Veneris (Venus's day); dies Saturni (Saturn's day).


Austin Dobson has a poem "The Death of Procris."

Moore, in his Legendary Ballads, devotes one ballad to "Cephalus and


The finest poetic treatment of the sadness of Tithonus over his
immortal old age is in Tennyson's "Tithonus." The following are a few
lines from this poem, which should be read in its entirety:--

              "Let me go; take back thy gift;
      Why should a man desire in any way
      To vary from the kindly race of men,
      Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
      Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?

             *       *       *       *       *

      "Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
      Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
      Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
      Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
      Of happy men that have the power to die."


The story of Hercules's accepting Arete (Virtue) as his guide--the
"Choice of Hercules"--may be found in The Tatler, No. 97.

The Nemean games instituted by Hercules in honor of Jupiter were
celebrated at Nemea, a city of Argolis.

The most famous statue of Hercules is the Farnese Hercules in the
National Museum at Naples. Another well-known piece of sculpture is The
Infant Hercules Strangling a Serpent, in the Uffizi at Florence.

Quite worth the student's consideration are the poems "Deïaneira" and
"Herakles" in the classical but too-little-read "Epic of Hades" by
Lewis Morris. The following is an extract from the description of the
Centaur Nessus:--

      This white robe. It is costly. See, my blood
      Has stained it but a little. I did wrong;
      I know it, and repent me. If there come
      A time when he grows cold--for all the race
      Of heroes wander, nor can any love
      Fix theirs for long--take it and wrap him in it,
      And he shall love again."



  The Fortunate Isles          ANDREW LANG

The following is from Pindar:--

      "The Isles of the Blest, they say,
        The Isles of the Blest,
      Are peaceful and happy, by night and by day,
        Far away in the glorious west.

      They need not the moon in that land of delight
        They need not the pale, pale star;
      The sun is bright, by day and night,
        Where the souls of the blessed are.

      They till not the ground, they plow not the wave,
        They labor not, never! oh, never!
      Not a tear do they shed, not a sigh do they heave,
        They are happy forever and ever!"


The chosen device of Charles V. of Germany represented the Pillars of
Hercules entwined by a scroll that bore his motto "Plus Ultra." This
device, represented on the German dollar, has been adopted as the sign
of the American dollar ($).


The Pygmies were a nation of dwarfs, so called from a Greek word
meaning the cubit or measure of about thirteen inches, which was said
to be the height of these people. They lived near the sources of the
Nile, or, according to others, in India. Homer tells us that the
cranes used to migrate every winter to the Pygmies' country, where
they occasioned a fierce warfare. H. M. Stanley, in his last African
expedition, discovered a race of diminutive men that correspond very
well in appearance to those mentioned by Homer.

Terra is the same goddess as Gæa (the Earth).


  Battle of Pygmies and Cranes      JAMES BEATTIE


The Apples of the Hesperides may have been suggested by the oranges of

See the poem "The Golden Apples," in William Morris's "Earthly


Two poems on the Medusa which are well worth reading are "The Doom of
King Acrisius" in William Morris's "Earthly Paradise," and Shelley's
lines "On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery."


There are translations of Simonides's "Lament of Danaë" by William C.
Bryant and John H. Frere.

Tennyson has a singular use of the proper noun in the "Princess" when
he says:--

      "Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
      And all thy heart lies open unto me."


Cassiopeia was said to have been an Ethiopian; and was, therefore,
in spite of her boasted beauty black. Milton alludes to her in "Il
Penseroso" as:

            "that starred Ethiop queen that strove
      To set her beauty's praise above
      The Sea-Nymphs, and their powers offended."

Though Cassiopeia attained the honor of being set among the stars, she
was placed--through the efforts of the sea-nymphs--in a part of the
heavens near the pole, where she is half the time held with her head
downward, to teach her humility.


For a Gaelic Andromeda and Perseus, see "The Thirteenth Son of the King
of Erin" in Curtin's "Myths of Ireland."


  Andromeda      CHARLES KINGSLEY


From the incident of Bellerophon's bearing to Iobates the letters that
contained his own death-warrant, came the expression "Bellerophontic
letters." This is used to describe any written message that a person
may deliver, unknowingly, and that is prejudicial to himself.

On Mount Helicon, the home of the Muses and Pegasus, was the fountain
Hippocrene, which was opened by a kick from the hoof of Pegasus.


  Pegasus in Pound             HENRY W. LONGFELLOW

  Bellerophon in Argos and in
    Lycia                      WILLIAM MORRIS

  Pegasus in Harness           SCHILLER


The most famous soothsayer was Melampus, who was also the first mortal
endowed with prophetic powers. The story is told that before his house
stood an oak tree containing a nest of serpents. The old serpents were
killed by some servants, but Melampus took care of the young ones, and
fed them carefully. One day when he was sleeping under the oak tree,
the serpents licked his ears with their tongues; and when he awoke he
was surprised to find that he now understood the languages of birds and
creeping things. In this way he was able to foretell future events, and
he became a celebrated soothsayer. Once Melampus was taken captive and
put into prison; but he overheard the woodworms saying that the timbers
of the prison were so nearly eaten through that the roof would soon
fall in. He told this to his captors, who immediately took advantage
of the warning and left the building; but not before they rewarded
Melampus by setting him free.


The best description of Hercules's lament for Hylas is in Lang's
translation of the thirteenth Idyl of Theocritus.


  Hylas          BAYARD TAYLOR

The naming of Jason's ship may have been after its builder, or from the
city of Argos, or from the word "Argo," meaning swift or white.

The story of the Symplegades may be a reference to the rolling and
clashing of icebergs. The dove incident occurs in many ancient stories,
from that of Noah down.


  Talking Oak                  ALFRED TENNYSON
  Life and Death of Jason      WILLIAM MORRIS
  Æson and King Athamas        FREDERICK TENNYSON


Medea's preparations for her magic potion are like the incantations of
the witches in Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. I.

      "Round about the caldron go;
      In the poison'd entrails throw.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Fillet of a fenny snake,
      In the caldron boil and bake;
      Eye of newt and toe of frog,
      Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
      Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
      Lizard's leg and howlet's wing:

             *       *       *       *       *

      Witches' mummy; maw and gulf
      Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
      Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark," etc.


Medea's sorceries were assisted by the prayers that she addressed
to Hecate, a mysterious divinity who embodied the terrors of the
darkness. She haunted cross roads and graveyards; and, being goddess
of sorcery and witchcraft, wandered only by night and was seen only by
dogs, whose barking told of her approach.

Translations of the Medea of Euripides are by Augusta Webster, William
C. Lawton, and Wodhull.


Poems on Atalanta:--

  Atalanta's Race in "The
    Earthly Paradise"         WILLIAM MORRIS

  Atalanta in Calydon         ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE

  Hippomenes and Atalanta     WALTER S. LANDOR


Dædalus shared with Æolus the honor of inventing sails for the ships
hitherto propelled by oars.

Dædalus could never bear the idea of a rival; and when his nephew
Perdix was apprenticed to him, the lad gave such promise of excelling
his teacher in mechanical arts that Dædalus grew to hate him. One day
when Perdix was walking on the seashore he picked up the spine of a
fish, and later on he imitated it in iron, thus inventing the saw.
He also invented a pair of compasses. Then Dædalus, envious of his
nephew's skill, pushed him off a tower and killed him; but Minerva,
pitying the boy, changed him into a partridge, which bears his name.


Castor and Pollux were deities of boxing, wrestling, and all equestrian
exercises. They were generally seen mounted on snow-white horses, and
their appearance on the battle-field was a good omen for the army among
whom they came. The Romans believed that they fought at the head of
their legions at the famous battle of Lake Regillus.



  Theseus and Hippolyta        WALTER S. LANDOR
  Ariadne                      FREDERICK TENNYSON
  Hippolytus of Euripides
  Phædra                       ALGERNON C. SWINBURNE
  Phædra in "The Epic
      of Hades"                LEWIS MORRIS


The story of Œdipus is taken from the "Œdipus Rex," "Œdipus Coloneus,"
and "Antigone" of Sophocles (trans. of Plumptre or of Lewis Campbell).

Other poems:--

  Swell-foot the Tyrant        PERCY B. SHELLEY
  The Downfall and Death
    of King Œdipus             EDWARD FITZGERALD
  Antigone                     AUBREY DE VERE
  The Sphinx                   RALPH W. EMERSON
  Fragment of an Antigone      MATTHEW ARNOLD


In her "Characteristics of Women," Mrs. Jameson has compared the
character of Antigone with that of Cordelia in Shakespeare's "King
Lear." The scene of Œdipus going alone into the forest at Colonus
is similar in pathos and tragedy to Lear's defiance of the midnight
tempest on the lonely heath.


For references in poetry to the judgment of Paris:

  Judgment of Paris         JAMES BEATTIE
  Judgment of Paris         JOHN STUART BLACKIE
  Œnone                     ALFRED TENNYSON


Other minor deities not mentioned in the text are:

Victoria (Nike), goddess of victory.

Phosphor, the morning star.

Hesperus, the evening star, god of the west.

Hygeia, a daughter of Æsculapius, watched over the health of man.

The Graces, daughters of Jove, presided over banquets, dances, and
also social pleasures and polite accomplishments. They were three in
number--Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia. They are also called Gratiæ.

Momus was the god of laughter.

The Seasons were the four daughters of Jupiter and Themis. Their
collective name was Horæ (the Hours). As the Hours they attended the
sun-car of Apollo.

Fama, goddess of Fame.

Faunus, god of fields and shepherds. He was also gifted with prophetic

Fauna, the sister wife or daughter of Faunus. She was also called the
Bona Dea.

Pales, a deity who presided over cattle and pastures.

Manes, the souls of the departed who had become deified.


  Absyrtus, 273-274.

  Acetes, 174-177.

  Achelous, 231.

  Acheron River, 140.

  Achilles, 152, 208, 279.

  Acis, 359.

  Acrisius, 234-236, 249-250.

  Acropolis, 305.

  Actæon, 56.

  Admete, 219.

  Admetus, 33-35, 268.

  Adonis, 78-79.

  Adrastus, 302, 314, 356.

  Æacus, 143.

  Æetes, 271, 273-274.

  Ægean Sea, 32, 300.

  Ægeus, 277, 287-288, 291-292, 300.

  Ægis, 23, 239, 249.

  Ægyptus, 145.

  Æneas, 80, 194, 197, 201.

  Æolian Is., 200, 202.

  Æolus, 18, 200-204.

  Æolus, Temple of, 203.

  Æsculapius, 69, 305, 336-337.

  Æsepus, 208.

  Æson, 262, 265, 275-276.

  Æther, 347.

  Æthra, 287-288, 303.

  Agave, 178.

  Agenor, 167.

  Aglaia, 373.

  Aidoneus; see Pluto.

  Ajax, 279.

  Alcestis, 34-35, 332.

  Alcides; see Hercules.

  Alcimede, 262.

  Alcmene, 212.

  Alecto, 144.

  Alectryon, 77.

  Alpheus, 133, 217, 350-351.

  Althæa, 278-282.

  Amalthea, 349.

  Amazons, 219, 301.

  Ammon, Jupiter, 325.

  Amor; see Eros.

  Amphion, 107, 342.

  Amphitrite, 152-154.

  Anchises, 79-80.

  Ancient of the Deep; see Proteus.

  Ancile, 118.

  Andræmon, 186.

  Andromeda, 245-247, 249, 367.

  Anteia, 251.

  Anteros, 81.

  Anteus, 225-226.

  Antigone, 311-312, 315-316, 372.

  Antiope (1) (Amazon), 301.

  Antiope (2), 342.

  Aphrodite; see Venus, 337-339.

  Apollo, 30-52, 59, 65, 77, 126, 142, 165, 332-333, 336, 344.

  Apollo Belvedere, 333.

  Aquilo; see Boreas.

  Arachne, 24-26.

  Arcadia, 183, 279.

  Arcas, 73.

  Areopagitæ, 123.

  Areopagus, 122.

  Ares; see Mars.

  Arete, 213, 363.

  Arethusa, 132-133, 350-351.

  Argo, 235, 250, 267, 274, 368.

  Argonauts, 156, 267, 274, 277.

  Argos, 144, 251, 273, 277, 331, 368.

  Argus, 68.

  Ariadne, 178-179, 296-300.

  Arion (1) (musician), 108.

  Arion (2) (horse), 157, 356.

  Aristæus, 110, 158.

  Artemis; see Diana.

  Asphodel, the meads of, 141.

  Astarte, 339.

  Atalanta, 279-286, 370.

  Athamas, 164, 171, 266.

  Athena; see Minerva.

  Athene; see Minerva.

  Athens, 29, 122, 287-288, 291, 300-301, 313, 330.

  Atlas, 4, 138, 224, 226-229, 243-244.

  Atropos, 142.

  Augeas (Augean Stables), 217.

  Aurora, 129, 201, 206-209.

  Auster; see Notus.

  Aventine, Mt., 221.

  Avernus, Lake, 139.

  Babylon, 97.

  Bacchanalia, 359.

  Bacchanals, 177.

  Bacchantes, 113, 173, 177.

  Bacchus, 125, 167-182, 299, 359.

  Baucis, 70-72.

  Bear, Myth of Great and Little, 73.

  Bellerophon, 243, 251-261.

  Bellerophontic Letters, 367.

  Bellona, 117.

  Berenice, 339.

  Beroë, 169.

  Biton, 331.

  Bœotia, 120, 168.

  Bona Dea, 373.

  Boreas, 201, 204, 269.

  Cacus, 221.

  Cadmus, 120-122, 271.

  Caduceus, the, 66.

  Calais, 204.

  Calliope, 109, 345.

  Callisto, 73.

  Calydon, 278-279.

  Calydonian Hunt, 278-282.

  Campus Martius, 119.

  Cancer, 215.

  Capitol, 325.

  Carpathian Wizard, 358.

  Cassiopeia, 245, 366.

  Castor, 268, 279, 303, 371.

  Caucasus, Mt., 6, 224.

  Celeus, 130.

  Centaur, 69, 212, 216, 232-233, 302.

  Cephalus, 207-208, 362.

  Cepheus, 248.

  Cepreus, 356.

  Cerberus, 91, 111, 139, 229.

  Cerealia, 351.

  Ceres, 88, 129-136, 137, 146, 156, 188, 349, 351.

  Cerynea, Stag of, 216.

  Cestus, the, 337.

  Ceÿx, 355-356.

  Chaos, 347.

  Charon, 91, 140, 353.

  Charybdis, 163.

  Chimæra, 253, 258-260.

  Chios, 335.

  Chiron, 69, 212, 216, 262.

  Cilicia, 168.

  Cilix, 167.

  Circe, 162.

  Cithæron, Mt., 177.

  Clashing Is., 270-271.

  Cleobis, 331.

  Clio, 344.

  Clotho, 142.

  Clymene, 47.

  Clytie, 45, 334.

  Cnidos, Venus of, 338.

  Cocytus, 139.

  Cœus, 348.

  Colchis, 266, 271-273, 278.

  Colonus, 312.

  Colossus of Rhodes, 333.

  Consentes; see Pan.

  Cora; see Proserpina.

  Corinth, 164, 251, 254, 289, 306-307, 359.

  Cornucopia, 232.

  Corona, 179.

  Coronis, 69, 142.

  Corus, 203.

  Crab, 215.

  Creon, 213, 315-316.

  Crete, 293, 295.

  Creusa, 277.

  Crius, 348.

  Cronos (Cronus); see Saturn.

  Crumissa, 156.

  Cupid, 81-92, 126, 340.

  Cyane River, 128-129, 132.

  Cybele; see Rhea.

  Cyclops, 137, 335, 348, 357.

  Cycnus, 51.

  Cynthia; see Diana.

  Cynthius; see Apollo.

  Cyparissus, 336.

  Cyprus, 75, 104, 284.

  Cyrene, 158.

  Cytherea; see Venus.

  Dædalus, 293-294, 370.

  Danaë, 235-237, 249, 366.

  Danaïdes, 111, 144-145.

  Danaüs, 144-145, 235.

  Daphne, 45-47.

  Death; see Mors.

  Deïaneira, 231-234.

  Delos, 32, 53, 333.

  Delphi, oracle of, 20, 168, 306-308, 311, 328, 355.

  Deluge, The Story of the, 16, 21, 328.

  Demeter; see Ceres.

  Demios, 345.

  Destiny, 325.

  Deucalion, 19, 328.

  Dia, 174.

  Diana, 53-63, 133, 278, 305.

  Diana of the Ephesians, 334.

  Diana of Versailles, 335.

  Diana of the Hind, 335.

  Diomede, 330.

  Diomedes, 218.

  Dione (1) (goddess), 337.

  Dione (2); see Venus.

  Dionysia, 359.

  Dionysus; see Bacchus.

  Dirce, 343.

  Dis; see Pluto.

  Discordia, 318, 345.

  Dodona, 267, 325-326.

  Doris, 152.

  Dreams, 149, 355-356.

  Dryads, 185, 188.

  Dryope, 186-187, 361.

  Echo, 93-95.

  Egeria, 305.

  Egypt, 175.

  Eleusinian Festivals, 351.

  Eleusinian Mysteries, 351-352.

  Eleusis, 130, 136, 351.

  Elgin Marbles, 330.

  Elis, 132, 217.

  Elysian Fields, 141, 332.

  Endymion, 61-63, 335.

  Enna, Vale of, 127.

  Eos; see Aurora.

  Ephesus, 334.

  Ephialtes, 119.

  Epidaurus, 336.

  Epimetheus, 4, 8-15, 138.

  Epirus, 326.

  Erato, 345.

  Erebus, 347.

  Eridanus River, 51, 223, 334.

  Erinnys; see Furies.

  Eris; see Discordia.

  Eros; see Cupid. Also page 347.

  Erymanthus, Mt., 216.

  Erysichthon, 188-191.

  Erythea, 221.

  Eteocles, 311, 314-315.

  Etna, Mt., 124-125, 127, 200.

  Eumenides; see Furies.

  Euphrosyne, 373.

  Europa, 74, 167.

  Eurus, 201, 203.

  Eurydice, 107-114, 160.

  Eurystheus, 214, etc.

  Eurytion, 221.

  Euterpe, 344.

  Evenus, 165.

  Fama, 373.

  Famine, Goddess of, 189.

  Farnese Bull, 343.

  Farnese Hercules, 363.

  Fates, 142, 317.

  Father Nile, 359.

  Fauna, 373.

  Fauns, 183, 185, 360.

  Faunus, 373.

  Flora, 209.

  Floralia, 210.

  Fortuna, 232.

  Forum, 194, 205.

  Furies, 111, 144, 313, 353-354.

  Gæa, 347.

  Galatea (1), (and Pygmalion), 104-106.

  Galatea (2), (Nereid), 152, 357.

  Ganymede, 116.

  Ge; see Gæa.

  Geryon, 221.

  Gibraltar, 221.

  Glauce, 277.

  Glaucus, 161-162.

  Gorgons, 237-238, 241-242.

  Gorgon's Cave, 241.

  Graces, 372.

  Grææ; see Gray Old Women.

  Gratiæ; see Graces.

  Gray Old Women, 239-240.

  Hades (1), 35, 79, 91, 110, 127, 138-151, 199, 303-304, 313.

  Hades (2); see Pluto.

  Hæmon, 316.

  Halcyon birds, 356.

  Halcyone, 355-356.

  Hamadryads, 185-186, 188, 191, 210.

  Harmonia, 122, 168.

  Harpies, 204, 269.

  Hebe, 115, 234.

  Hecate, 370.

  Hecuba, 320.

  Helen, 74, 302-303, 322.

  Heliades, 334.

  Helicon, Mt., 254, 257, 367.

  Helios; see Apollo.

  Helle, 266.

  Hellespont, 100, 266, 341.

  Hemera, 347.

  Hephæstia, 347.

  Hephæstus; see Vulcan.

  Hera; see Juno.

  Heracles; see Hercules.

  Hercules, 6, 155, 212-234, 268-269, 322, 332, 356, 363, 368.

  Here; see Juno.

  Hermes; see Mercury.

  Hero, 100-104.

  Hesione, 155-156, 220.

  Hesperides, 223.

  Hesperides, Garden of, 181, 220, 223, 227, 365.

  Hesperus (Hesper), 129, 223, 372.

  Hestia; see Vesta.

  Hippocrene, 367.

  Hippodamia, 302.

  Hippolyte (Hippolyta), 219-220, 301.

  Hippolytus, 301, 304-305.

  Hippomenes, 283-286.

  Horæ, 373.

  Hours, 206.

  Hupnos; see Somnus.

  Hyacinthus, 68, 335-336.

  Hydra, 215.

  Hygeia (Hygea), 372.

  Hylas, 268, 368.

  Hymen, 110.

  Hyperion, 348.

  Hypermnestra, 145, 235.

  Iapetus, 348.

  Ibycus, 353.

  Icarian Sea, 294.

  Icarus, 293-294.

  Ida, Mt., 116, 319-320, 323, 349.

  Idas, 165-166.

  Ilia (1), (one of Titanides), 348.

  Ilia (2), (Rhea Silvia), 117.

  Ino, 164, 171-172, 266.

  Io, 66-68.

  Iobates, 252-253, 260.

  Iolaus, 215, 219.

  Iole, 233.

  Ionian Sea, 70.

  Iphitus, 230.

  Iris, 206, 356.

  Isles of the Blest, 220-221, 364.

  Ismene, 311.

  Istar, 339.

  Isthmian Games, 164, 359.

  Itylus (Itys), 344.

  Ixion, 111, 147, 303.

  Janus, 204-206, 362.

  Jasius, 279.

  Jason, 156, 262-277, 279.

  Jocasta, 306, 309, 311-312, 315.

  Jove; see Jupiter.

  Juno, 23, 30, 31, 66-67, 73-74, 93, 123-124, 137, 169-170, 201-202,
      212-213, 215, 219, 264, 319-320, 331, 346, 349.

  Jupiter, 1-3, 33, 67, 70-72, 73-74, 76, 93, 123, 134, 137, 168-171,
      199, 235, 261, 267, 317-318, 325-327, 344, 349.

  Jupiter Ammon, temple of, 325-326.

  Juventas; see Hebe.

  Kakia, 213.

  Lachesis, 142.

  Laius, 306, 308, 311.

  Laomedon, 154-156, 220, 230.

  Lapithæ, 301-302.

  Lara, 198-199.

  Lares, 198-199.

  Latmus, Mt., 62.

  Latona, 31-32, 53.

  Leander, 100-104, 340.

  Learchus, 172.

  Leda, 74, 302.

  Lelaps, 207.

  Lerna, 215.

  Lethe, 141, 148.

  Leto; see Latona.

  Leucothea, 164.

  Liber; see Bacchus.

  Liberalia, 359.

  Libia, 326.

  Lichas, 234.

  Lipari Is.; see Æolian Is.

  Lotis, 187.

  Lycia, 251-253.

  Lycomedes, 305.

  Lycus, 342.

  Lydia, 180, 230.

  Lynceus, 235.

  Lyncus, 136.

  Lyra, 343.

  Mæonia, 174.

  Maia, 64.

  Manes, 373.

  Marpessa, 165-166.

  Mars, 77, 116-123, 271, 345.

  Mars, Field of, 119.

  Marsyas, 37-40.

  Matronalia, 331.

  Medea, 272-277, 291-292, 369-370.

  Media, 292.

  Medici (Venus de), 338.

  Medusa, 237, 241-242, 244, 248, 366.

  Megæra, 144.

  Megara, 213.

  Melampus, 367-368.

  Meleager, 231, 268, 278-282.

  Melian Nymphs, 349.

  Melicertes, 164, 172.

  Melpomene, 345.

  Memnon, 208-209.

  Menelaus, 322.

  Mercury, 9, 64-72, 79, 120, 125, 135, 183, 198-199, 206, 214, 238.

  Merope, 335.

  Metis, 349.

  Metus, 345.

  Midas, 40-43, 180-182, 360.

  Milanion, 283.

  Milo (Melos) (Venus of), 337.

  Minerva, 22-29, 38, 238, 255, 319-321, 329-330, 370.

  Minos (1), (Judge in Hades), 143.

  Minos (2), (King), 218, 293, 296.

  Minotaur, 218, 293, 295-298.

  Mnemosyne, 137, 344, 348.

  Momus, 373.

  Morpheus, 149.

  Mors, 148, 150.

  Musagetes, 344.

  Muses, 39, 254, 344.

  Mycenæ, 250.

  Naiads, 185, 198, 361.

  Narcissus, 94-97.

  Naxos, 175, 178, 299.

  Nemea, 363.

  Nemean Games, 363.

  Nemean Lion, 214.

  Nemesis, 144.

  Nephele, 266.

  Neptune, 3, 28, 32, 36, 122, 137, 152-157, 165-166, 190, 202, 218,
      243, 266, 304, 349, 357, 359.

  Nereids, 152, 157, 356.

  Nereus, 152, 318.

  Nessus, 232-234, 364.

  Nestor, 279-280.

  Nightmares, 149.

  Nike (Nice); see Victoria.

  Ninus, 98.

  Niobe, 54, 145.

  Notus, 201, 203.

  Nox; see Nyx.

  Numa Pompilius, 196, 205.

  Nysa, Mt., 172.

  Nysiades, 172.

  Nyx, 347.

  Oceanides, 157.

  Oceanus, 152, 347.

  Ocrisia, 346.

  Odysseus; see Ulysses.

  Œdipus, 306-316, 371.

  Œneus, 231, 278.

  Œnone, 320, 322-323, 372.

  Œnopion, 335.

  Œta, Mt. (Œte), 234.

  Olympia, 326.

  Olympiads, 326.

  Olympic Games, 326.

  Olympus, 1, 2, 3, 138, 261, 317.

  Omphale, 230.

  Oneicopompus; see Mercury.

  Ops; see Rhea.

  Orcus; see Pluto.

  Oreads, 185, 189.

  Orestes, 353.

  Orion, 57-59, 335.

  Orithyia, 204.

  Orpheus, 107-114, 160, 173, 268, 343.

  Otus, 119.

  Pactolus, 182.

  Palæmon, 164, 358.

  Pales, 373.

  Palladium, 329-330.

  Pallas; see Minerva.

  Pallor, 345.

  Pan, 40-41, 183-185, 210, 361.

  Panathenæa, 330.

  Pandora, 8-15.

  Parcæ; see Fates.

  Paris, 319-323, 372.

  Parnassus, 19, 328.

  Parthenium, Mt., 279.

  Parthenon, 29, 330.

  Pax, 353.

  Pegasus, 243, 254-261, 367.

  Peleus, 279, 317.

  Pelias, 262, 264-265, 274-276.

  Pelion, Mt., 267.

  Pelops, 146.

  Penates, 194, 198.

  Peneus, 46, 217.

  Pentheus, 173-174, 177-178.

  Peplus, the, 330.

  Perdix, 370.

  Periphetes, 288-289.

  Persephone; see Proserpina.

  Perseus, 236-250, 367.

  Phædra, 304-305.

  Phaëton, 47-52, 334.

  Pherephatta; see Proserpina.

  Phidias, 29, 326, 330.

  Philemon, 70-72.

  Philoctetes, 234, 322.

  Philomela, 343, 344.

  Philonoë, 253, 260.

  Phineus (1), 247-248.

  Phineus (2) (soothsayer), 269-270.

  Phlegethon River, 140, 144.

  Phocis, 328.

  Phœbe (1), (one of Titanides), 348.

  Phœbe (2); see Diana.

  Phœbus; see Apollo.

  Phœnicia, 167.

  Phœnix, 167.

  Phosphor, 372.

  Phrygia, 173, 360.

  Phryxus, 266.

  Phthia, 317.

  Pillars of Hercules, 221, 365.

  Pine-Bender; see Sinis.

  Pirene, 254, 256.

  Pirithous, 279, 301-303.

  Pleiades, 58.

  Plenty, Goddess of; see Fortuna.

  Plexippus, 281.

  Pluto, 3, 112, 127, 129, 135, 137-147, 229, 302, 349.

  Plutus, 352-353.

  Pollux, 268, 279, 303, 371.

  Polybus, 306.

  Polydectes, 237-238.

  Polyhymnia, 345.

  Polyidus, 254.

  Polynices, 311, 314-316.

  Polyphemus, 153.

  Pomona, 210-211.

  Pontus, 347.

  Portumnus; see Palæmon, 359.

  Poseidon; see Neptune.

  Praxiteles, 337.

  Priam, 230, 320, 322.

  Priapus, 187.

  Procne, 343-344.

  Procris, 207-208, 362.

  Procrustes, 290-291.

  Prœtus, 251.

  Prometheus, 4-6, 138, 224.

  Proserpina, 91, 127-135, 142, 302, 352.

  Proserpine; see Proserpina.

  Proteus, 157, 159, 223-224, 358.

  Psyche, 81-92.

  Psychopompus; see Mercury.

  Pygmalion, 104-106, 342.

  Pygmies, 224-225, 365.

  Pyramus, 97-100, 341.

  Pyrrha, 19, 328.

  Pytheus; see Apollo.

  Pythia, 329.

  Pythian Games, 329.

  Python, 36, 329, 332.

  Quirinal, Mt., 346.

  Quirinalia, 246.

  Quirinus, 345.

  Remus, 118.

  Rhadamanthus, 142.

  Rhea, 137, 173, 286, 348-349.

  Rhea Silvia, 117.

  Rhœcus, 191-192, 362.

  Romulus, 118, 345.

  Sagittarius, 216.

  Salii, 119.

  Salmoneus, 146.

  Saturn, 137, 348-349.

  Satyrs, 172, 183, 360.

  Sciron, 289.

  Scylla, 162-164.

  Scyros, 305.

  Scythia, 136.

  Seasons, 373.

  Selene; see Diana.

  Semele, 167-171.

  Seriphus, 237.

  Servius Tullius, 346.

  Sestus, 100.

  Seven against Thebes, 315.

  Seven Wonders, 327.

  Sicily, 127, 131.

  Silenus, 172, 179-180.

  Silvia; see Rhea Silvia.

  Sinis, 290.

  Sirius, 57.

  Sisyphus, 111, 147, 251.

  Sleep, Cave of, 148-151, 206.

  Sleep, God of, 148.

  Sleep, Spirit of, 92.

  Sol; see Apollo.

  Somnus, 148.

  Sparta, 303, 322.

  Speaking Oak, 267.

  Sphinx, 309-310.

  Stellio, 130.

  Stretcher, The; see Procrustes.

  Stymphalus, Lake, 217.

  Styx, 49, 72, 141, 170.

  Sylvanus, 210.

  Symplegades, 270-271, 368.

  Syrinx, 184.

  Talus, 295-296, 299.

  Tantalus, 111, 145.

  Tartarus, 137, 139, 143-148, 348.

  Telamon, 230, 279-280.

  Telephassa, 167.

  Tellus; see Gæa.

  Tereus, 343.

  Terpsichore, 345.

  Terra; see Gæa.

  Tethys, 152.

  Thalia, 344, 373.

  Thanatos; see Mors.

  Thebes, 107, 121, 168, 171, 173, 306, 308-309, 311-314, 326.

  Themis, 81, 138, 143, 348.

  Theophane, 156.

  Theseus, 218, 268, 277, 279-280, 286-305, 330.

  Thesmophoria, 351.

  Thessaly, 33, 189, 355.

  Thetis, 153, 316-318, 348.

  Thisbe, 97-100, 341.

  Thrace, 218, 269.

  Thunderer, The; see Jupiter.

  Thyrsus, the, 359.

  Tiber, 195-196, 337.

  Tisiphone, 144, 171.

  Titanides, 348.

  Titans, 137-138, 152, 347-348.

  Tithonus, 208, 362-363.

  Tityus, 147.

  Tmolus, 41.

  Toxeus, 281.

  Triptolemus, 136.

  Triton, 157.

  Troy, 79, 116, 154, 194, 220, 320.

  Tuccia, 196.

  Ulysses, 202-203, 330.

  Urania, 345.

  Uranus, 347-348.

  Veneralia, 339.

  Venus, 78-80, 82-83, 89-92, 105, 126, 284-285, 319-321, 337-339.

  Venus of Milo, 327.

  Vertumnus, 210-211.

  Vesta, 117, 136, 193-197, 349.

  Vestalia, 197.

  Vestals, 195-196.

  Vesuvius, 139.

  Victoria, 372.

  Vulcan, 76-78, 123-126, 285, 346.

  Vulcanalia, 347.

  Winds, 200-201, 203.

  Winds, Tower of the, 203.

  Wizard of the Deep; see Proteus.

  Zephyrus, 68, 83, 86, 133, 201, 203, 209.

  Zetes, 204.

  Zethus, 342.

  Zeus; see Jupiter.

  Zodiac, 303.


[1] See Appendix, page 325.

[2] See Appendix, page 327.

[3] See Appendix, page 327.

[4] See Appendix, page 328.

[5] See Appendix, page 328.

[6] See Appendix, page 329.

[7] From the Greek word "parthenos," which means "maiden."

[8] See Appendix, page 331.

[9] See Appendix, page 332.

[10] See Appendix, page 332.

[11] See Appendix, page 334.

[12] See Appendix, page 333.

[13] See Appendix, page 334.

[14] See Appendix, page 334.

[15] See Appendix, page 335.

[16] See Appendix, page 335.

[17] Mercury's wand was called the Caduceus.

[18] See Appendix, page 335.

[19] Cf. "Story of Cyparissus," Appendix, page 336.

[20] See Appendix, page 336.

[21] See Appendix, page 337.

[22] See Appendix, page 338.

[23] See Appendix, page 340.

[24] See Appendix, page 341.

[25] See Appendix, page 341.

[26] See Appendix, page 341.

[27] See Appendix, page 342.

[28] See the "Story of Dirce," Appendix, page 342.

[29] See Appendix, page 345.

[30] See Appendix, page 343.

[31] See Appendix, page 345.

[32] She was also known as Ilia.

[33] See page 74.

[34] See Appendix, page 346.

[35] See page 76.

[36] See Appendix, page 349.

[37] See Appendix, page 351.

[38] See Appendix page 350.

[39] See Appendix, page 347.

[40] Appendix, page 357.

[41] See Appendix, page 352.

[42] Also called Erinnys or Eumenides. Their names were Alecto,
Tisiphone, and Megæra. See Appendix, page 353.

[43] See Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, Book XI, line 590, etc.

[44] See "Story of Ceÿx and Halcyone," Appendix, page 355.

[45] Two gates of sleep there are: one of horn, through which pass
the true dreams; the other of shining white ivory, through which the
spirits send false dreams up to the world.

[46] Pale Death steps with the same foot to the huts of the poor and
the palaces of kings.

[47] See Appendix, page 356.

[48] See Appendix, page 357.

[49] See page 36.

[50] See page 230.

[51] See Appendix, page 356.

[52] See page 110.

[53] See Appendix, page 359.

[54] See "Story of the Dragon's Teeth," page 121.

[55] See Appendix, page 359.

[56] See page 164.

[57] See page 113.

[58] Old name for Naxos.

[59] See page 299.

[60] See page 40.

[61] See Appendix, page 360.

[62] "Pactolus singeth over golden sands."--GRAY.

[63] See Appendix, page 361.

[64] See Appendix, page 360.

[65] See Appendix, page 361.

[66] See Appendix, page 362.

[67] Here in a vast cave, King Æolus keeps under his control the
struggling winds and roaring tempests, and holds them chained in
prison. They, chafing at restraint, surge against their barriers with
the great rumbling of a mountain. Æolus sits in a lofty stronghold,
holding a scepter, and soothes their feeling and softens their wrath.
If he did not do this, they would surely carry with them in rapid
course the seas and lands and the deep sky and sweep these with them to
the high heavens.

[68] See page 269.

[69] See Appendix, page 362.

[70] See Appendix, page 362.

[71] See Appendix, page 362.

[72] See Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, Book XIV, line 645.

[73] See Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, Book XIV, line 655.

[74] See Appendix, page 363.

[75] Some authorities state that Hippolyte was not killed, but lived to
marry the hero Theseus. See page 301.

[76] See page 155.

[77] See Appendix, page 364.

[78] See page 6.

[79] See Appendix, page 365.

[80] See Appendix, page 365.

[81] According to some stories, Atlas was the father of the Hesperides
and owner of the Garden.

[82] See page 302.

[83] See page 35.

[84] See page 155.

[85] See page 145.

[86] See Appendix, page 366.

[87] See Appendix, page 366.

[88] See Appendix, page 367.

[89] See Appendix, page 367.

[90] See Appendix, page 367.

[91] See page 243.

[92] Hawthorne's _Wonder Book_, "The Chimæra."

[93] See Appendix, page 368.

[94] See Appendix, page 368.

[95] See page 121.

[96] See Appendix, page 369.

[97] Sometimes given as Glauce.

[98] Sometimes given as Milanion.

[99] Ovid, _Metam._, Book X, line 610.

[100] See Appendix, page 370.

[101] See page 218.

[102] See Appendix, page 370.

[103] See page 179.

[104] Some authorities say that it was Hippolyte whom Theseus married,
and that she was therefore not slain by Hercules. This is the story
that Shakespeare adopted in "Midsummer-Night's Dream."

[105] See page 74.

[106] See Appendix, page 371.

[107] See page 229.

[108] See Appendix, page 371.

[109] Sophocles, _Œdipus the King_.

[110] See Appendix, pages 371, 372.

[111] This was the same Creon whose daughter Megara had married

[112] See page 234.

Transcriber's Notes:

In versions of this eBook that cannot display Greek (page 355), only
the author's transliterations are included.

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

When accent marks or spelling of some Index entries differed from the
referenced text, the Index entries were changed. However, the Index was
not systematically checked for such errors.

Illustrations: the "Venus de Milo" listed as facing page 78 was missing
from the copy of the book used to prepare this etext.

Page 95: "cool stream" was misprinted as "cool steam".

Page 150: "quarumaltera" is a misprint for "quarum altera".

Page 201: "Sceptratenens" is a misprint for "Sceptra tenens";
"temperatiras" is a misprint for "temperat iras".

Page 307: "bewailing the cruel fat" must be a misprint for "fate".

Page 356: "Pelops'" was misprinted as "Pelop's"; changed here.

Page 370: "Euripides" was printed as "Eurypides", but was changed to
match the spelling on two other pages.

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