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´╗┐Title: Bulfinch's Mythology
Author: Bulfinch, Thomas
Language: English
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[Editor's Note: The etext contains all three sections.]


No new edition of Bulfinch's classic work can be considered
complete without some notice of the American scholar to whose wide
erudition and painstaking care it stands as a perpetual monument.
"The Age of Fable" has come to be ranked with older books like
"Pilgrim's Progress," "Gulliver's Travels," "The Arabian Nights,"
"Robinson Crusoe," and five or six other productions of world-wide
renown as a work with which every one must claim some acquaintance
before his education can be called really complete. Many readers
of the present edition will probably recall coming in contact with
the work as children, and, it may be added, will no doubt discover
from a fresh perusal the source of numerous bits of knowledge that
have remained stored in their minds since those early years. Yet
to the majority of this great circle of readers and students the
name Bulfinch in itself has no significance.

Thomas Bulfinch was a native of Boston, Mass., where he was born
in 1796. His boyhood was spent in that city, and he prepared for
college in the Boston schools. He finished his scholastic training
at Harvard College, and after taking his degree was for a period a
teacher in his home city. For a long time later in life he was
employed as an accountant in the Boston Merchants' Bank. His
leisure time he used for further pursuit of the classical studies
which he had begun at Harvard, and his chief pleasure in life lay
in writing out the results of his reading, in simple, condensed
form for young or busy readers. The plan he followed in this work,
to give it the greatest possible usefulness, is set forth in the
Author's Preface.

"Age of Fable," First Edition, 1855; "The Age of Chivalry," 1858;
"The Boy Inventor," 1860; "Legends of Charlemagne, or Romance of
the Middle Ages," 1863; "Poetry of the Age of Fable," 1863;
"Oregon and Eldorado, or Romance of the Rivers,"1860.

In this complete edition of his mythological and legendary lore
"The Age of Fable," "The Age of Chivalry," and "Legends of
Charlemagne" are included. Scrupulous care has been taken to
follow the original text of Bulfinch, but attention should be
called to some additional sections which have been inserted to add
to the rounded completeness of the work, and which the publishers
believe would meet with the sanction of the author himself, as in
no way intruding upon his original plan but simply carrying it out
in more complete detail. The section on Northern Mythology has
been enlarged by a retelling of the epic of the "Nibelungen Lied,"
together with a summary of Wagner's version of the legend in his
series of music-dramas. Under the head of "Hero Myths of the
British Race" have been included outlines of the stories of
Beowulf, Cuchulain, Hereward the Wake, and Robin Hood. Of the
verse extracts which occur throughout the text, thirty or more
have been added from literature which has appeared since
Bulfinch's time, extracts that he would have been likely to quote
had he personally supervised the new edition.

Finally, the index has been thoroughly overhauled and, indeed,
remade. All the proper names in the work have been entered, with
references to the pages where they occur, and a concise
explanation or definition of each has been given. Thus what was a
mere list of names in the original has been enlarged into a small
classical and mythological dictionary, which it is hoped will
prove valuable for reference purposes not necessarily connected
with "The Age of Fable."

Acknowledgments are due the writings of Dr. Oliver Huckel for
information on the point of Wagner's rendering of the Nibelungen
legend, and M. I. Ebbutt's authoritative volume on "Hero Myths and
Legends of the British Race," from which much of the information
concerning the British heroes has been obtained


If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which
helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in
society, then Mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if
that which tends to make us happier and better can be called
useful, then we claim that epithet for our subject. For Mythology
is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best
allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.

Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of
our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. When Byron
calls Rome "the Niobe of nations," or says of Venice, "She looks a
Sea-Cybele fresh from ocean," he calls up to the mind of one
familiar with our subject, illustrations more vivid and striking
than the pencil could furnish, but which are lost to the reader
ignorant of mythology. Milton abounds in similar allusions. The
short poem "Comus" contains more than thirty such, and the ode "On
the Morning of the Nativity" half as many. Through "Paradise Lost"
they are scattered profusely. This is one reason why we often hear
persons by no means illiterate say that they cannot enjoy Milton.
But were these persons to add to their more solid acquirements the
easy learning of this little volume, much of the poetry of Milton
which has appeared to them "harsh and crabbed" would be found
"musical as is Apollo's lute." Our citations, taken from more than
twenty-five poets, from Spenser to Longfellow, will show how
general has been the practice of borrowing illustrations from

The prose writers also avail themselves of the same source of
elegant and suggestive illustration. One can hardly take up a
number of the "Edinburgh" or "Quarterly Review" without meeting
with instances. In Macaulay's article on Milton there are twenty

But how is mythology to be taught to one who does not learn it
through the medium of the languages of Greece and Rome? To devote
study to a species of learning which relates wholly to false
marvels and obsolete faiths is not to be expected of the general
reader in a practical age like this. The time even of the young is
claimed by so many sciences of facts and things that little can be
spared for set treatises on a science of mere fancy.

But may not the requisite knowledge of the subject be acquired by
reading the ancient poets in translations? We reply, the field is
too extensive for a preparatory course; and these very
translations require some previous knowledge of the subject to
make them intelligible. Let any one who doubts it read the first
page of the "Aeneid," and see what he can make of "the hatred of
Juno," the "decree of the Parcae," the "judgment of Paris," and
the "honors of Ganymede," without this knowledge.

Shall we be told that answers to such queries may be found in
notes, or by a reference to the Classical Dictionary? We reply,
the interruption of one's reading by either process is so annoying
that most readers prefer to let an allusion pass unapprehended
rather than submit to it. Moreover, such sources give us only the
dry facts without any of the charm of the original narrative; and
what is a poetical myth when stripped of its poetry? The story of
Ceyx and Halcyone, which fills a chapter in our book, occupies but
eight lines in the best (Smith's) Classical Dictionary; and so of

Our work is an attempt to solve this problem, by telling the
stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of
amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to
the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them
referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference.
Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a
relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book,
yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of
education. The index at the end will adapt it to the purposes of
reference, and make it a Classical Dictionary for the parlor.

Most of the classical legends in "Stories of Gods and Heroes" are
derived from Ovid and Virgil. They are not literally translated,
for, in the author's opinion, poetry translated into literal prose
is very unattractive reading. Neither are they in verse, as well
for other reasons as from a conviction that to translate
faithfully under all the embarrassments of rhyme and measure is
impossible. The attempt has been made to tell the stories in
prose, preserving so much of the poetry as resides in the thoughts
and is separable from the language itself, and omitting those
amplifications which are not suited to the altered form.

The Northern mythological stories are copied with some abridgment
from Mallet's "Northern Antiquities." These chapters, with those
on Oriental and Egyptian mythology, seemed necessary to complete
the subject, though it is believed these topics have not usually
been presented in the same volume with the classical fables.

The poetical citations so freely introduced are expected to answer
several valuable purposes. They will tend to fix in memory the
leading fact of each story, they will help to the attainment of a
correct pronunciation of the proper names, and they will enrich
the memory with many gems of poetry, some of them such as are most
frequently quoted or alluded to in reading and conversation.

Having chosen mythology as connected with literature for our
province, we have endeavored to omit nothing which the reader of
elegant literature is likely to find occasion for. Such stories
and parts of stories as are offensive to pure taste and good
morals are not given. But such stories are not often referred to,
and if they occasionally should be, the English reader need feel
no mortification in confessing his ignorance of them.

Our work is not for the learned, nor for the theologian, nor for
the philosopher, but for the reader of English literature, of
either sex, who wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently
made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and
those which occur in polite conversation.

In the "Stories of Gods and Heroes" the compiler has endeavored to
impart the pleasures of classical learning to the English reader,
by presenting the stories of Pagan mythology in a form adapted to
modern taste. In "King Arthur and His Knights" and "The
Mabinogeon" the attempt has been made to treat in the same way the
stories of the second "age of fable," the age which witnessed the
dawn of the several states of Modern Europe.

It is believed that this presentation of a literature which held
unrivalled sway over the imaginations of our ancestors, for many
centuries, will not be without benefit to the reader, in addition
to the amusement it may afford. The tales, though not to be
trusted for their facts, are worthy of all credit as pictures of
manners; and it is beginning to be held that the manners and modes
of thinking of an age are a more important part of its history
than the conflicts of its peoples, generally leading to no result.
Besides this, the literature of romance is a treasure-house of
poetical material, to which modern poets frequently resort. The
Italian poets, Dante and Ariosto, the English, Spenser, Scott, and
Tennyson, and our own Longfellow and Lowell, are examples of this.

These legends are so connected with each other, so consistently
adapted to a group of characters strongly individualized in
Arthur, Launcelot, and their compeers, and so lighted up by the
fires of imagination and invention, that they seem as well adapted
to the poet's purpose as the legends of the Greek and Roman
mythology. And if every well-educated young person is expected to
know the story of the Golden Fleece, why is the quest of the
Sangreal less worthy of his acquaintance? Or if an allusion to the
shield of Achilles ought not to pass unapprehended, why should one
to Excalibar, the famous sword of Arthur?--

    "Of Arthur, who, to upper light restored,
     With that terrific sword,
     Which yet he brandishes for future war,
     Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star."

[Footnote: Wordsworth]

It is an additional recommendation of our subject, that it tends
to cherish in our minds the idea of the source from which we
sprung. We are entitled to our full share in the glories and
recollections of the land of our forefathers, down to the time of
colonization thence. The associations which spring from this
source must be fruitful of good influences; among which not the
least valuable is the increased enjoyment which such associations
afford to the American traveller when he visits England, and sets
his foot upon any of her renowned localities.

The legends of Charlemagne and his peers are necessary to complete
the subject.

In an age when intellectual darkness enveloped Western Europe, a
constellation of brilliant writers arose in Italy. Of these, Pulci
(born in 1432), Boiardo (1434), and Ariosto (1474) took for their
subjects the romantic fables which had for many ages been
transmitted in the lays of bards and the legends of monkish
chroniclers. These fables they arranged in order, adorned with the
embellishments of fancy, amplified from their own invention, and
stamped with immortality. It may safely be asserted that as long
as civilization shall endure these productions will retain their
place among the most cherished creations of human genius.

In "Stories of Gods and Heroes," "King Arthur and His Knights" and
"The Mabinogeon" the aim has been to supply to the modern reader
such knowledge of the fables of classical and mediaeval literature
as is needed to render intelligible the allusions which occur in
reading and conversation. The "Legends of Charlemagne" is intended
to carry out the same design. Like the earlier portions of the
work, it aspires to a higher character than that of a piece of
mere amusement. It claims to be useful, in acquainting its readers
with the subjects of the productions of the great poets of Italy.
Some knowledge of these is expected of every well-educated young

In reading these romances, we cannot fail to observe how the
primitive inventions have been used, again and again, by
successive generations of fabulists. The Siren of Ulysses is the
prototype of the Siren of Orlando, and the character of Circe
reappears in Alcina. The fountains of Love and Hatred may be
traced to the story of Cupid and Psyche; and similar effects
produced by a magic draught appear in the tale of Tristram and
Isoude, and, substituting a flower for the draught, in
Shakspeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream." There are many other
instances of the same kind which the reader will recognize without
our assistance.

The sources whence we derive these stories are, first, the Italian
poets named above; next, the "Romans de Chevalerie" of the Comte
de Tressan; lastly, certain German collections of popular tales.
Some chapters have been borrowed from Leigh Hunt's Translations
from the Italian Poets. It seemed unnecessary to do over again
what he had already done so well; yet, on the other hand, those
stories could not be omitted from the series without leaving it




      I. Introduction
     II. Prometheus and Pandora
    III. Apollo and Daphne--Pyramus and Thisbe--Cephalus and Procris
     IV. Juno and her Rivals, Io and Callisto--Diana and Actaeon
         --Latona and the Rustics
      V. Phaeton
     VI. Midas--Baucis and Philemon
    VII. Proserpine--Glaucus and Scylla
   VIII. Pygmalion--Dryope--Venus and Adonis--Apollo and Hyacinthus
     IX. Ceyx and Halcyone
      X. Vertumnus and Pomona--Iphis and Anaxarete
     XI. Cupid and Psyche
    XII. Cadmus--The Myrmidons
   XIII. Nisus and Scylla--Echo and Narcissus--Clytie--Hero and Leander
    XIV. Minerva and Arachne--Niobe
     XV. The Graeae and Gorgons--Perseus and Medusa--Atlas--Andromeda
    XVI. Monsters: Giants--Sphinx--Pegasus and Chimaera--Centaurs
   XVII. The Golden Fleece--Medea
  XVIII. Meleager and Atalanta
    XIX. Hercules--Hebe and Ganymede
     XX.  Theseus and Daedalus--Castor and Pollux--Festivals and Games
    XXI. Bacchus and Ariadne
   XXII. The Rural Deities--The Dryads and Erisichthon
         --Rhoecus--Water Deities--Camenae--Winds
  XXIII. Achelous and Hercules--Admetus and Alcestis--Antigone--Penelope
   XXIV. Orpheus and Eurydice--Aristaeus--Amphion--Linus
    XXV. Arion--Ibycus--Simonides--Sappho
   XXVI. Endymion--Orion--Aurora and Tithonus--Acis and Galatea
  XXVII. The Trojan War
 XXVIII. The Fall of Troy--Return of the Greeks--Orestes and Electra
   XXIX. Adventures of Ulysses--The Lotus-eaters--The Cyclopes
         --Circe--Sirens--Scylla and Charybdis--Calypso
    XXX. The Phaeacians--Fate of the Suitors
   XXXI. Adventures of Aeneas--The Harpies--Dido--Palinurus
  XXXII. The Infernal Regions--The Sibyl
 XXXIII. Aeneas in Italy--Camilla--Evander--Nisus and Euryalus
  XXXIV. Pythagoras--Egyptian Deities--Oracles
   XXXV. Origin of Mythology--Statues of Gods and Goddesses
         --Poets of Mythology
  XXXVI. Monsters (modern)--The Phoenix--Basilisk--Unicorn--Salamander
 XXXVII. Eastern Mythology--Zoroaster--Hindu Mythology--Castes--Buddha
         --The Grand Lama--Prester John
XXXVIII. Northern Mythology--Valhalla--The Valkyrior
  XXXIX. Thor's Visit to Jotunheim
     XL. The Death of Baldur--The Elves--Runic Letters--Skalds--Iceland
         --Teutonic Mythology--The Nibelungen Lied
         --Wagner's Nibelungen Ring
    XLI. The Druids--Iona


    I. Introduction
   II. The Mythical History of England
  III. Merlin
   IV. Arthur
    V. Arthur (Continued)
   VI. Sir Gawain
  VII. Caradoc Briefbras; or, Caradoc with the Shrunken Arm
 VIII. Launcelot of the Lake
   IX. The Adventure of the Cart
    X. The Lady of Shalott
   XI. Queen Guenever's Peril
  XII. Tristram and Isoude
 XIII. Tristram and Isoude (Continued)
  XIV. Sir Tristram's Battle with Sir Launcelot
   XV. The Round Table
  XVI. Sir Palamedes
 XVII. Sir Tristram
XVIII. Perceval
  XIX. The Sangreal, or Holy Graal
   XX. The Sangreal (Continued)
  XXI. The Sangreal (Continued)
 XXII. Sir Agrivain's Treason
XXIII. Morte d'Arthur


      Introductory Note
   I. The Britons
  II. The Lady of the Fountain
 III. The Lady of the Fountain (Continued)
  IV. The Lady of the Fountain (Continued)
   V. Geraint, the Son of Erbin
  VI. Geraint, the Son of Erbin (Continued)
 VII. Geraint, the Son of Erbin (Continued)
VIII. Pwyll, Prince of Dyved
  IX. Branwen, the Daughter of Llyr
   X. Manawyddan
  XI. Kilwich and Olwen
 XII. Kilwich and Olwen (Continued)
XIII. Taliesin


Cuchulain, Champion of Ireland
Hereward the Wake
Robin Hood


The Peers, or Paladins
The Tournament
The Siege of Albracca
Adventures of Rinaldo and Orlando
The Invasion of France
The Invasion of France (Continued)

Bradamante and Rogero
Astolpho and the Enchantress
The Orc
Astolpho's Adventures continued, and Isabella's begun.
Orlando Mad
Zerbino and Isabella
Astolpho in Abyssinia
The War in Africa
Rogero and Bradamante
The Battle of Roncesvalles
Rinaldo and Bayard
Death of Rinaldo
Huon of Bordeaux
Huon of Bordeaux (Continued)
Huon of Bordeaux (Continued)
Ogier, the Dane
Ogier, the Dane (Continued)
Ogier, the Dane (Continued)





The religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct. The so-
called divinities of Olympus have not a single worshipper among
living men. They belong now not to the department of theology, but
to those of literature and taste. There they still hold their
place, and will continue to hold it, for they are too closely
connected with the finest productions of poetry and art, both
ancient and modern, to pass into oblivion.

We propose to tell the stories relating to them which have come
down to us from the ancients, and which are alluded to by modern
poets, essayists, and orators. Our readers may thus at the same
time be entertained by the most charming fictions which fancy has
ever created, and put in possession of information indispensable
to every one who would read with intelligence the elegant
literature of his own day.

In order to understand these stories, it will be necessary to
acquaint ourselves with the ideas of the structure of the universe
which prevailed among the Greeks--the people from whom the
Romans, and other nations through them, received their science and

The Greeks believed the earth to be flat and circular, their own
country occupying the middle of it, the central point being either
Mount Olympus, the abode of the gods, or Delphi, so famous for its

The circular disk of the earth was crossed from west to east and
divided into two equal parts by the Sea, as they called the
Mediterranean, and its continuation the Euxine, the only seas with
which they were acquainted.

Around the earth flowed the River Ocean, its course being from
south to north on the western side of the earth, and in a contrary
direction on the eastern side. It flowed in a steady, equable
current, unvexed by storm or tempest. The sea, and all the rivers
on earth, received their waters from it.

The northern portion of the earth was supposed to be inhabited by
a happy race named the Hyperboreans, dwelling in everlasting bliss
and spring beyond the lofty mountains whose caverns were supposed
to send forth the piercing blasts of the north wind, which chilled
the people of Hellas (Greece). Their country was inaccessible by
land or sea. They lived exempt from disease or old age, from toils
and warfare. Moore has given us the "Song of a Hyperborean,"

    "I come from a land in the sun-bright deep,
        Where golden gardens glow,
     Where the winds of the north, becalmed in sleep,
        Their conch shells never blow."

On the south side of the earth, close to the stream of Ocean,
dwelt a people happy and virtuous as the Hyperboreans. They were
named the Aethiopians. The gods favored them so highly that they
were wont to leave at times their Olympian abodes and go to share
their sacrifices and banquets.

On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of Ocean, lay a
happy place named the Elysian Plain, whither mortals favored by
the gods were transported without tasting of death, to enjoy an
immortality of bliss. This happy region was also called the
"Fortunate Fields," and the "Isles of the Blessed."

We thus see that the Greeks of the early ages knew little of any
real people except those to the east and south of their own
country, or near the coast of the Mediterranean. Their imagination
meantime peopled the western portion of this sea with giants,
monsters, and enchantresses; while they placed around the disk of
the earth, which they probably regarded as of no great width,
nations enjoying the peculiar favor of the gods, and blessed with
happiness and longevity.

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

    "Now the gilded car of day
     His golden axle doth allay
     In the steep Atlantic stream,
     And the slope Sun his upward beam
     Shoots against the dusky pole,
     Pacing towards the other goal
     Of his chamber in the east"

The abode of the gods was on the summit of Mount Olympus, in
Thessaly. A gate of clouds, kept by the goddesses named the
Seasons, opened to permit the passage of the Celestials to earth,
and to receive them on their return. The gods had their separate
dwellings; but all, when summoned, repaired to the palace of
Jupiter, as did also those deities whose usual abode was the
earth, the waters, or the underworld. It was also in the great
hall of the palace of the Olympian king that the gods feasted each
day on ambrosia and nectar, their food and drink, the latter being
handed round by the lovely goddess Hebe. Here they conversed of
the affairs of heaven and earth; and as they quaffed their nectar,
Apollo, the god of music, delighted them with the tones of his
lyre, to which the Muses sang in responsive strains. When the sun
was set, the gods retired to sleep in their respective dwellings.

The following lines from the "Odyssey" will show how Homer
conceived of Olympus:

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

The robes and other parts of the dress of the goddesses were woven
by Minerva and the Graces and everything of a more solid nature
was formed of the various metals. Vulcan was architect, smith,
armorer, chariot builder, and artist of all work in Olympus. He
built of brass the houses of the gods; he made for them the golden
shoes with which they trod the air or the water, and moved from
place to place with the speed of the wind, or even of thought. He
also shod with brass the celestial steeds, which whirled the
chariots of the gods through the air, or along the surface of the
sea. He was able to bestow on his workmanship self-motion, so
that the tripods (chairs and tables) could move of themselves in
and out of the celestial hall. He even endowed with intelligence
the golden handmaidens whom he made to wait on himself.

Jupiter, or Jove (Zeus [Footnote: The names included in
parentheses are the Greek, the others being the Roman or Latin
names] ), though called the father of gods and men, had himself a
beginning. Saturn (Cronos) was his father, and Rhea (Ops) his
mother. Saturn and Rhea were of the race of Titans, who were the
children of Earth and Heaven, which sprang from Chaos, of which we
shall give a further account in our next chapter.

There is another cosmogony, or account of the creation, according
to which Earth, Erebus, and Love were the first of beings. Love
(Eros) issued from the egg of Night, which floated on Chaos. By
his arrows and torch he pierced and vivified all things, producing
life and joy.

Saturn and Rhea were not the only Titans. There were others, whose
names were Oceanus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Ophion, males; and
Themis, Mnemosyne, Eurynome, females. They are spoken of as the
elder gods, whose dominion was afterwards transferred to others.
Saturn yielded to Jupiter, Oceanus to Neptune, Hyperion to Apollo.
Hyperion was the father of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn. He is
therefore the original sun-god, and is painted with the splendor
and beauty which were afterwards bestowed on Apollo.

    "Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself"


Ophion and Eurynome ruled over Olympus till they were dethroned by
Saturn and Rhea. Milton alludes to them in "Paradise Lost." He
says the heathens seem to have had some knowledge of the
temptation and fall of man.

    "And fabled how the serpent, whom they called
     Ophion, with Eurynome, (the wide-
     Encroaching Eve perhaps,) had first the rule
     Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven."

The representations given of Saturn are not very consistent; for
on the one hand his reign is said to have been the golden age of
innocence and purity, and on the other he is described as a
monster who devoured his children. [Footnote: This inconsistency
arises from considering the Saturn of the Romans the same with the
Grecian deity Cronos (Time), which, as it brings an end to all
things which have had a beginning, may be said to devour its own
offspring] Jupiter, however, escaped this fate, and when grown up
espoused Metis (Prudence), who administered a draught to Saturn
which caused him to disgorge his children. Jupiter, with his
brothers and sisters, now rebelled against their father Saturn and
his brothers the Titans; vanquished them, and imprisoned some of
them in Tartarus, inflicting other penalties on others. Atlas was
condemned to bear up the heavens on his shoulders.

On the dethronement of Saturn, Jupiter with his brothers Neptune
(Poseidon) and Pluto (Dis) divided his dominions. Jupiter's
portion was the heavens, Neptune's the ocean, and Pluto's the
realms of the dead. Earth and Olympus were common property.
Jupiter was king of gods and men. The thunder was his weapon, and
he bore a shield called Aegis, made for him by Vulcan. The eagle
was his favorite bird, and bore his thunderbolts.

Juno (Hera) was the wife of Jupiter, and queen of the gods. Iris,
the goddess of the rainbow, was her attendant and messenger. The
peacock was her favorite bird.

Vulcan (Hephaestos), the celestial artist, was the son of Jupiter
and Juno. He was born lame, and his mother was so displeased at
the sight of him that she flung him out of heaven. Other accounts
say that Jupiter kicked him out for taking part with his mother in
a quarrel which occurred between them. Vulcan's lameness,
according to this account, was the consequence of his fall. He was
a whole day falling, and at last alighted in the island of Lemnos,
which was thenceforth sacred to him. Milton alludes to this story
in "Paradise Lost," Book I.:

    "... From morn
    To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
    A summer's day; and with the setting sun
    Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star,
    On Lemnos, the Aegean isle."

Mars (Ares), the god of war, was the son of Jupiter and Juno.

Phoebus Apollo, the god of archery, prophecy, and music, was the
son of Jupiter and Latona, and brother of Diana (Artemis). He was
god of the sun, as Diana, his sister, was the goddess of the moon.

Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty, was the
daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Others say that Venus sprang from
the foam of the sea. The zephyr wafted her along the waves to the
Isle of Cyprus, where she was received and attired by the Seasons,
and then led to the assembly of the gods. All were charmed with
her beauty, and each one demanded her for his wife. Jupiter gave
her to Vulcan, in gratitude for the service he had rendered in
forging thunderbolts. So the most beautiful of the goddesses
became the wife of the most ill-favored of gods. Venus possessed
an embroidered girdle called Cestus, which had the power of
inspiring love. Her favorite birds were swans and doves, and the
plants sacred to her were the rose and the myrtle.

Cupid (Eros), the god of love, was the son of Venus. He was her
constant companion; and, armed with bow and arrows, he shot the
darts of desire into the bosoms of both gods and men. There was a
deity named Anteros, who was sometimes represented as the avenger
of slighted love, and sometimes as the symbol of reciprocal
affection. The following legend is told of him:

Venus, complaining to Themis that her son Eros continued always a
child, was told by her that it was because he was solitary, and
that if he had a brother he would grow apace. Anteros was soon
afterwards born, and Eros immediately was seen to increase rapidly
in size and strength.

Minerva (Pallas, Athene), the goddess of wisdom, was the offspring
of Jupiter, without a mother. She sprang forth from his head
completely armed. Her favorite bird was the owl, and the plant
sacred to her the olive.

Byron, in "Childe Harold," alludes to the birth of Minerva thus:

    "Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
     And Freedom find no champion and no child,
     Such as Columbia saw arise, when she
     Sprang forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled?
     Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
     Deep in the unpruned forest,'midst the roar
     Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
     On infant Washington? Has earth no more
     Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?"

Mercury (Hermes) was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He presided over
commerce, wrestling, and other gymnastic exercises, even over
thieving, and everything, in short, which required skill and
dexterity. He was the messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged cap
and winged shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two
serpents, called the caduceus.

Mercury is said to have invented the lyre. He found, one day, a
tortoise, of which he took the shell, made holes in the opposite
edges of it, and drew cords of linen through them, and the
instrument was complete. The cords were nine, in honor of the nine
Muses. Mercury gave the lyre to Apollo, and received from him in
exchange the caduceus.

[Footnote: From this origin of the instrument, the word "shell" is
often used as synonymous with "lyre," and figuratively for music
and poetry. Thus Gray, in his ode on the "Progress of Poesy,"

    "O Sovereign of the willing Soul,
     Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,
     Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares
     And frantic Passions hear thy soft control."]

Ceres (Demeter) was the daughter of Saturn and Rhea. She had a
daughter named Proserpine (Persephone), who became the wife of
Pluto, and queen of the realms of the dead. Ceres presided over

Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, was the son of Jupiter and
Semele. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but
its social and beneficent influences likewise, so that he is
viewed as the promoter of civilization, and a lawgiver and lover
of peace.

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

The Graces were goddesses presiding over the banquet, the dance,
and all social enjoyments and elegant arts. They were three in
number. Their names were Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia.

Spenser describes the office of the Graces thus:

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

The Fates were also three--Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Their
office was to spin the thread of human destiny, and they were
armed with shears, with which they cut it off when they pleased.
They were the daughters of Themis (Law), who sits by Jove on his
throne to give him counsel.

The Erinnyes, or Furies, were three goddesses who punished by
their secret stings the crimes of those who escaped or defied
public justice. The heads of the Furies were wreathed with
serpents, and their whole appearance was terrific and appalling.
Their names were Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera. They were also
called Eumenides.

Nemesis was also an avenging goddess. She represents the righteous
anger of the gods, particularly towards the proud and insolent.

Pan was the god of flocks and shepherds. His favorite residence
was in Arcadia.

The Satyrs were deities of the woods and fields. They were
conceived to be covered with bristly hair, their heads decorated
with short, sprouting horns, and their feet like goats' feet.

Momus was the god of laughter, and Plutus the god of wealth.


The preceding are Grecian divinities, though received also by the
Romans. Those which follow are peculiar to Roman mythology:

Saturn was an ancient Italian deity. It was attempted to identify
him with the Grecian god Cronos, and fabled that after his
dethronement by Jupiter he fled to Italy, where he reigned during
what was called the Golden Age. In memory of his beneficent
dominion, the feast of Saturnalia was held every year in the
winter season. Then all public business was suspended,
declarations of war and criminal executions were postponed,
friends made presents to one another and the slaves were indulged
with great liberties. A feast was given them at which they sat at
table, while their masters served them, to show the natural
equality of men, and that all things belonged equally to all, in
the reign of Saturn.

Faunus, [Footnote: There was also a goddess called Fauna, or Bona
Dea.] the grandson of Saturn, was worshipped as the god of fields
and shepherds, and also as a prophetic god. His name in the
plural, Fauns, expressed a class of gamesome deities, like the
Satyrs of the Greeks.

Quirinus was a war god, said to be no other than Romulus, the
founder of Rome, exalted after his death to a place among the

Bellona, a war goddess.

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

Pales, the goddess presiding over cattle and pastures.

Pomona presided over fruit trees.

Flora, the goddess of flowers.

Lucina, the goddess of childbirth.

Vesta (the Hestia of the Greeks) was a deity presiding over the
public and private hearth. A sacred fire, tended by six virgin
priestesses called Vestals, flamed in her temple. As the safety of
the city was held to be connected with its conservation, the
neglect of the virgins, if they let it go out, was severely
punished, and the fire was rekindled from the rays of the sun.

Liber is the Latin name of Bacchus; and Mulciber of Vulcan.

Janus was the porter of heaven. He opens the year, the first month
being named after him. He is the guardian deity of gates, on which
account he is commonly represented with two heads, because every
door looks two ways. His temples at Rome were numerous. In war
time the gates of the principal one were always open. In peace
they were closed; but they were shut only once between the reign
of Numa and that of Augustus.

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

The Lares, or Lars, were also household gods, but differed from
the Penates in being regarded as the deified spirits of mortals.
The family Lars were held to be the souls of the ancestors, who
watched over and protected their descendants. The words Lemur and
Larva more nearly correspond to our word Ghost.

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

A modern poet thus alludes to some of the Roman gods:

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

    --Macaulay, "Prophecy of Capys."

N.B.--It is to be observed that in proper names the final e and es
are to be sounded. Thus Cybele and Penates are words of three
syllables. But Proserpine and Thebes are exceptions, and to be
pronounced as English words. In the Index at the close of the
volume we shall mark the accented syllable in all words which
appear to require it.



The creation of the world is a problem naturally fitted to excite
the liveliest interest of man, its inhabitant. The ancient pagans,
not having the information on the subject which we derive from the
pages of Scripture, had their own way of telling the story, which
is as follows:

Before earth and sea and heaven were created, all things wore one
aspect, to which we give the name of Chaos--a confused and
shapeless mass, nothing but dead weight, in which, however,
slumbered the seeds of things. Earth, sea, and air were all mixed
up together; so the earth was not solid, the sea was not fluid,
and the air was not transparent. God and Nature at last
interposed, and put an end to this discord, separating earth from
sea, and heaven from both. The fiery part, being the lightest,
sprang up, and formed the skies; the air was next in weight and
place. The earth, being heavier, sank below; and the water took
the lowest place, and buoyed up the earth.

Here some god--it is not known which--gave his good offices in
arranging and disposing the earth. He appointed rivers and bays
their places, raised mountains, scooped out valleys, distributed
woods, fountains, fertile fields, and stony plains. The air being
cleared, the stars began to appear, fishes took possession of the
sea, birds of the air, and four-footed beasts of the land.

But a nobler animal was wanted, and Man was made. It is not known
whether the creator made him of divine materials, or whether in
the earth, so lately separated from heaven, there lurked still
some heavenly seeds. Prometheus took some of this earth, and
kneading it up with water, made man in the image of the gods. He
gave him an upright stature, so that while all other animals turn
their faces downward, and look to the earth, he raises his to
heaven, and gazes on the stars.

Prometheus was one of the Titans, a gigantic race, who inhabited
the earth before the creation of man. To him and his brother
Epimetheus was committed the office of making man, and providing
him and all other animals with the faculties necessary for their
preservation. Epimetheus undertook to do this, and Prometheus was
to overlook his work, when it was done. Epimetheus accordingly
proceeded to bestow upon the different animals the various gifts
of courage, strength, swiftness, sagacity; wings to one, claws to
another, a shelly covering to a third, etc. But when man came to
be provided for, who was to be superior to all other animals,
Epimetheus had been so prodigal of his resources that he had
nothing left to bestow upon him. In his perplexity he resorted to
his brother Prometheus, who, with the aid of Minerva, went up to
heaven, and lighted his torch at the chariot of the sun, and
brought down fire to man. With this gift man was more than a match
for all other animals. It enabled him to make weapons wherewith to
subdue them; tools with which to cultivate the earth; to warm his
dwelling, so as to be comparatively independent of climate; and
finally to introduce the arts and to coin money, the means of
trade and commerce. Woman was not yet made. The story (absurd
enough!) is that Jupiter made her, and sent her to Prometheus and
his brother, to punish them for their presumption in stealing fire
from heaven; and man, for accepting the gift. The first woman was
named Pandora. She was made in heaven, every god contributing
something to perfect her. Venus gave her beauty, Mercury
persuasion, Apollo music, etc. Thus equipped, she was conveyed to
earth, and presented to Epimetheus, who gladly accepted her,
though cautioned by his brother to beware of Jupiter and his
gifts. Epimetheus had in his house a jar, in which were kept
certain noxious articles, for which, in fitting man for his new
abode, he had had no occasion. Pandora was seized with an eager
curiosity to know what this jar contained; and one day she slipped
off the cover and looked in. Forthwith there escaped a multitude
of plagues for hapless man,--such as gout, rheumatism, and colic
for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind,--and
scattered themselves far and wide. Pandora hastened to replace the
lid! but, alas! the whole contents of the jar had escaped, one
thing only excepted, which lay at the bottom, and that was HOPE.
So we see at this day, whatever evils are abroad, hope never
entirely leaves us; and while we have THAT, no amount of other
ills can make us completely wretched.

Another story is that Pandora was sent in good faith, by Jupiter,
to bless man; that she was furnished with a box, containing her
marriage presents, into which every god had put some blessing. She
opened the box incautiously, and the blessings all escaped, HOPE
only excepted. This story seems more probable than the former; for
how could HOPE, so precious a jewel as it is, have been kept in a
jar full of all manner of evils, as in the former statement?

The world being thus furnished with inhabitants, the first age was
an age of innocence and happiness, called the Golden Age. Truth
and right prevailed, though not enforced by law, nor was there any
magistrate to threaten or punish. The forest had not yet been
robbed of its trees to furnish timbers for vessels, nor had men
built fortifications round their towns. There were no such things
as swords, spears, or helmets. The earth brought forth all things
necessary for man, without his labor in ploughing or sowing.
Perpetual spring reigned, flowers sprang up without seed, the
rivers flowed with milk and wine, and yellow honey distilled from
the oaks.

Then succeeded the Silver Age, inferior to the golden, but better
than that of brass. Jupiter shortened the spring, and divided the
year into seasons. Then, first, men had to endure the extremes of
heat and cold, and houses became necessary. Caves were the first
dwellings, and leafy coverts of the woods, and huts woven of
twigs. Crops would no longer grow without planting. The farmer was
obliged to sow the seed and the toiling ox to draw the plough.

Next came the Brazen Age, more savage of temper, and readier to
the strife of arms, yet not altogether wicked. The hardest and
worst was the Iron Age. Crime burst in like a flood; modesty,
truth, and honor fled. In their places came fraud and cunning,
violence, and the wicked love of gain. Then seamen spread sails to
the wind, and the trees were torn from the mountains to serve for
keels to ships, and vex the face of ocean. The earth, which till
now had been cultivated in common, began to be divided off into
possessions. Men were not satisfied with what the surface
produced, but must dig into its bowels, and draw forth from thence
the ores of metals. Mischievous IRON, and more mischievous GOLD,
were produced. War sprang up, using both as weapons; the guest was
not safe in his friend's house; and sons-in-law and fathers-in-
law, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, could not trust one
another. Sons wished their fathers dead, that they might come to
the inheritance; family love lay prostrate. The earth was wet with
slaughter, and the gods abandoned it, one by one, till Astraea
alone was left, and finally she also took her departure.

[Footnote: The goddess of innocence and purity. After leaving
earth, she was placed among the stars, where she became the
constellation Virgo--the Virgin. Themis (Justice) was the mother
of Astraea. She is represented as holding aloft a pair of scales,
in which she weighs the claims of opposing parties.

It was a favorite idea of the old poets that these goddesses would
one day return, and bring back the Golden Age. Even in a Christian
hymn, the "Messiah" of Pope, this idea occurs:

    "All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
     Returning Justice lift aloft her scale,
     Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
     And white-robed Innocence from heaven descend."

See, also, Milton's "Hymn on the Nativity," stanzas xiv. and xv.]

Jupiter, seeing this state of things, burned with anger. He
summoned the gods to council. They obeyed the call, and took the
road to the palace of heaven. The road, which any one may see in a
clear night, stretches across the face of the sky, and is called
the Milky Way. Along the road stand the palaces of the illustrious
gods; the common people of the skies live apart, on either side.
Jupiter addressed the assembly. He set forth the frightful
condition of things on the earth, and closed by announcing his
intention to destroy the whole of its inhabitants, and provide a
new race, unlike the first, who would be more worthy of life, and
much better worshippers of the gods. So saying he took a
thunderbolt, and was about to launch it at the world, and destroy
it by burning; but recollecting the danger that such a
conflagration might set heaven itself on fire, he changed his
plan, and resolved to drown it. The north wind, which scatters the
clouds, was chained up; the south was sent out, and soon covered
all the face of heaven with a cloak of pitchy darkness. The
clouds, driven together, resound with a crash; torrents of rain
fall; the crops are laid low; the year's labor of the husbandman
perishes in an hour. Jupiter, not satisfied with his own waters,
calls on his brother Neptune to aid him with his. He lets loose
the rivers, and pours them over the land. At the same time, he
heaves the land with an earthquake, and brings in the reflux of
the ocean over the shores. Flocks, herds, men, and houses are
swept away, and temples, with their sacred enclosures, profaned.
If any edifice remained standing, it was overwhelmed, and its
turrets lay hid beneath the waves. Now all was sea, sea without
shore. Here and there an individual remained on a projecting
hilltop, and a few, in boats, pulled the oar where they had lately
driven the plough. The fishes swim among the tree-tops; the anchor
is let down into a garden. Where the graceful lambs played but
now, unwieldy sea calves gambol. The wolf swims among the sheep,
the yellow lions and tigers struggle in the water. The strength of
the wild boar serves him not, nor his swiftness the stag. The
birds fall with weary wing into the water, having found no land
for a resting-place. Those living beings whom the water spared
fell a prey to hunger.

Parnassus alone, of all the mountains, overtopped the waves; and
there Deucalion, and his wife Pyrrha, of the race of Prometheus,
found refuge--he a just man, and she a faithful worshipper of the
gods. Jupiter, when he saw none left alive but this pair, and
remembered their harmless lives and pious demeanor, ordered the
north winds to drive away the clouds, and disclose the skies to
earth, and earth to the skies. Neptune also directed Triton to
blow on his shell, and sound a retreat to the waters. The waters
obeyed, and the sea returned to its shores, and the rivers to
their channels. Then Deucalion thus addressed Pyrrha: "O wife,
only surviving woman, joined to me first by the ties of kindred
and marriage, and now by a common danger, would that we possessed
the power of our ancestor Prometheus, and could renew the race as
he at first made it! But as we cannot, let us seek yonder temple,
and inquire of the gods what remains for us to do." They entered
the temple, deformed as it was with slime, and approached the
altar, where no fire burned. There they fell prostrate on the
earth, and prayed the goddess to inform them how they might
retrieve their miserable affairs. The oracle answered, "Depart
from the temple with head veiled and garments unbound, and cast
behind you the bones of your mother." They heard the words with
astonishment. Pyrrha first broke silence: "We cannot obey; we dare
not profane the remains of our parents." They sought the thickest
shades of the wood, and revolved the oracle in their minds. At
length Deucalion spoke: "Either my sagacity deceives me, or the
command is one we may obey without impiety. The earth is the great
parent of all; the stones are her bones; these we may cast behind
us; and I think this is what the oracle means. At least, it will
do no harm to try." They veiled their faces, unbound their
garments, and picked up stones, and cast them behind them. The
stones (wonderful to relate) began to grow soft, and assume shape.
By degrees, they put on a rude resemblance to the human form, like
a block half-finished in the hands of the sculptor. The moisture
and slime that were about them became flesh; the stony part became
bones; the veins remained veins, retaining their name, only
changing their use. Those thrown by the hand of the man became
men, and those by the woman became women. It was a hard race, and
well adapted to labor, as we find ourselves to be at this day,
giving plain indications of our origin.

The comparison of Eve to Pandora is too obvious to have escaped
Milton, who introduces it in Book IV. of "Paradise Lost":

    "More lovely than Pandora, whom the gods
     Endowed with all their gifts; and O, too like
     In sad event, when to the unwiser son
     Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she insnared
     Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged
     On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire."

Prometheus and Epimetheus were sons of Iapetus, which Milton
changes to Japhet.

Prometheus has been a favorite subject with the poets. He is
represented as the friend of mankind, who interposed in their
behalf when Jove was incensed against them, and who taught them
civilization and the arts. But as, in so doing, he transgressed
the will of Jupiter, he drew down on himself the anger of the
ruler of gods and men. Jupiter had him chained to a rock on Mount
Caucasus, where a vulture preyed on his liver, which was renewed
as fast as devoured. This state of torment might have been brought
to an end at any time by Prometheus, if he had been willing to
submit to his oppressor; for he possessed a secret which involved
the stability of Jove's throne, and if he would have revealed it,
he might have been at once taken into favor. But that he disdained
to do. He has therefore become the symbol of magnanimous endurance
of unmerited suffering, and strength of will resisting oppression.

Byron and Shelley have both treated this theme. 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.

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

Byron also employs the same allusion, in his
"Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte":

    "Or, like the thief of fire from heaven,
       Wilt thou withstand the shock?
     And share with him--the unforgiven--
       His vulture and his rock?"



The slime with which the earth was covered by the waters of the
flood produced an excessive fertility, which called forth every
variety of production, both bad and good. Among the rest, Python,
an enormous serpent, crept forth, the terror of the people, and
lurked in the caves of Mount Parnassus. Apollo slew him with his
arrows--weapons which he had not before used against any but
feeble animals, hares, wild goats, and such game. In commemoration
of this illustrious conquest he instituted the Pythian games, in
which the victor in feats of strength, swiftness of foot, or in
the chariot race was crowned with a wreath of beech leaves; for
the laurel was not yet adopted by Apollo as his own tree.

The famous statue of Apollo called the Belvedere represents the
god after this victory over the serpent Python. To this Byron
alludes in his "Childe Harold," iv., 161:

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


Daphne was Apollo's first love. It was not brought about by
accident, but by the malice of Cupid. Apollo saw the boy playing
with his bow and arrows; and being himself elated with his recent
victory over Python, he said to him, "What have you to do with
warlike weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy of them.
Behold the conquest I have won by means of them over the vast
serpent who stretched his poisonous body over acres of the plain!
Be content with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as
you call them, where you will, but presume not to meddle with my
weapons." Venus's boy heard these words, and rejoined, "Your
arrows may strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike
you." So saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and
drew from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, one to
excite love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and
sharp pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the
leaden shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river
god Peneus, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart.
Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, and she
abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland sports
and in the spoils of the chase. Many lovers sought her, but she
spurned them all, ranging the woods, and taking no thought of
Cupid nor of Hymen. Her father often said to her, "Daughter, you
owe me a son-in-law; you owe me grandchildren." She, hating the
thought of marriage as a crime, with her beautiful face tinged all
over with blushes, threw arms around her father's neck, and said,
"Dearest father, grant me this favor, that I may always remain
unmarried, like Diana." He consented, but at the same time said,
"Your own face will forbid it."

Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her; and he who gives
oracles to all the world was not wise enough to look into his own
fortunes. He saw her hair flung loose over her shoulders, and
said, "If so charming in disorder, what would it be if arranged?"
He saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and was not
satisfied with only seeing them. He admired her hands and arms,
naked to the shoulder, and whatever was hidden from view he
imagined more beautiful still. He followed her; she fled, swifter
than the wind, and delayed not a moment at his entreaties. "Stay,"
said he, "daughter of Peneus; I am not a foe. Do not fly me as a
lamb flies the wolf, or a dove the hawk. It is for love I pursue
you. You make me miserable, for fear you should fall and hurt
yourself on these stones, and I should be the cause. Pray run
slower, and I will follow slower. I am no clown, no rude peasant.
Jupiter is my father, and I am lord of Delphos and Tenedos, and
know all things, present and future. I am the god of song and the
lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark; but, alas! an arrow more
fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine,
and know the virtues of all healing plants. Alas! I suffer a
malady that no balm can cure!"

The nymph continued her flight, and left his plea half uttered.
And even as she fled she charmed him. The wind blew her garments,
and her unbound hair streamed loose behind her. The god grew
impatient to find his wooings thrown away, and, sped by Cupid,
gained upon her in the race. It was like a hound pursuing a hare,
with open jaws ready to seize, while the feebler animal darts
forward, slipping from the very grasp. So flew the god and the
virgin--he on the wings of love, and she on those of fear. The
pursuer is the more rapid, however, and gains upon her, and his
panting breath blows upon her hair. Her strength begins to fail,
and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river god:
"Help me, Peneus! open the earth to enclose me, or change my form,
which has brought me into this danger!" Scarcely had she spoken,
when a stiffness seized all her limbs; her bosom began to be
enclosed in a tender bark; her hair became leaves; her arms became
branches; her foot stuck fast in the ground, as a root; her face,
became a tree-top, retaining nothing of its former self but its
beauty. Apollo stood amazed. He touched the stem, and felt the
flesh tremble under the new bark. He embraced the branches, and
lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank from his lips.
"Since you cannot be my wife," said he, "you shall assuredly be my
tree. I will wear you for my crown; I will decorate with you my
harp and my quiver; and when the great Roman conquerors lead up
the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, you shall be woven into wreaths
for their brows. And, as eternal youth is mine, you also shall be
always green, and your leaf know no decay." The nymph, now changed
into a Laurel tree, bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.

That Apollo should be the god both of music and poetry will not
appear strange, but that medicine should also be assigned to his
province, may. The poet Armstrong, himself a physician, thus
accounts for it:

    "Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
     Expels diseases, softens every pain;
     And hence the wise of ancient days adored
     One power of physic, melody, and song."

The story of Apollo and Daphne is often alluded to by the poets.
Waller applies it to the case of one whose amatory verses, though
they did not soften the heart of his mistress, yet won for the
poet wide-spread fame:

    "Yet what he sung in his immortal strain,
     Though unsuccessful, was not sung in vain.
     All but the nymph that should redress his wrong,
     Attend his passion and approve his song.
     Like Phoebus thus, acquiring unsought praise,
     He caught at love and filled his arms with bays."

The following stanza from Shelley's "Adonais" alludes to Byron's
early quarrel with the reviewers:

    "The herded wolves, bold only to pursue;
    The obscene ravens, clamorous o'er the dead;
    The vultures, to the conqueror's banner true,
    Who feed where Desolation first has fed,
    And whose wings rain contagion: how they fled,
    When like Apollo, from his golden bow,
    The Pythian of the age one arrow sped
    And smiled! The spoilers tempt no second blow;
    They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them as they go."


Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the fairest maiden,
in all Babylonia, where Semiramis reigned. Their parents occupied
adjoining houses; and neighborhood brought the young people
together, and acquaintance ripened into love. They would gladly
have married, but their parents forbade. One thing, however, they
could not forbid--that love should glow with equal ardor in the
bosoms of both. They conversed by signs and glances, and the fire
burned more intensely for being covered up. In the wall that
parted the two houses there was a crack, caused by some fault in
the structure. No one had remarked it before, but the lovers
discovered it. What will not love discover! It afforded a passage
to the voice; and tender messages used to pass backward and
forward through the gap. As they stood, Pyramus on this side,
Thisbe on that, their breaths would mingle. "Cruel wall," they
said, "why do you keep two lovers apart? But we will not be
ungrateful. We owe you, we confess, the privilege of transmitting
loving words to willing ears." Such words they uttered on
different sides of the wall; and when night came and they must say
farewell, they pressed their lips upon the wall, she on her side,
he on his, as they could come no nearer.

Next morning, when Aurora had put out the stars, and the sun had
melted the frost from the grass, they met at the accustomed spot.
Then, after lamenting their hard fate, they agreed, that next
night, when all was still, they would slip away from watchful
eyes, leave their dwellings and walk out into the fields; and to
insure a meeting, repair to a well-known edifice standing without
the city's bounds, called the Tomb of Ninus, and that the one who
came first should await the other at the foot of a certain tree.
It was a white mulberry tree, and stood near a cool spring. All
was agreed on, and they waited impatiently for the sun to go down
beneath the waters and night to rise up from them. Then cautiously
Thisbe stole forth, unobserved by the family, her head covered
with a veil, made her way to the monument and sat down under the
tree. As she sat alone in the dim light of the evening she
descried a lioness, her jaws reeking with recent slaughter,
approaching the fountain to slake her thirst. Thisbe fled at the
sight, and sought refuge in the hollow of a rock. As she fled she
dropped her veil. The lioness after drinking at the spring turned
to retreat to the woods, and seeing the veil on the ground, tossed
and rent it with her bloody mouth.

Pyramus, having been delayed, now approached the place of meeting.
He saw in the sand the footsteps of the lion, and the color fled
from his cheeks at the sight. Presently he found the veil all rent
and bloody. "O hapless girl," said he, "I have been the cause of
thy death! Thou, more worthy of life than I, hast fallen the first
victim. I will follow. I am the guilty cause, in tempting thee
forth to a place of such peril, and not being myself on the spot
to guard thee. Come forth, ye lions, from the rocks, and tear this
guilty body with your teeth." He took up the veil, carried it with
him to the appointed tree, and covered it with kisses and with
tears. "MY blood also shall stain your texture," said he, and
drawing his sword plunged it into his heart. The blood spurted
from the wound, and tinged the white mulberries of the tree all
red; and sinking into the earth reached the roots, so that the red
color mounted through the trunk to the fruit.

By this time Thisbe, still trembling with fear, yet wishing not to
disappoint her lover, stepped cautiously forth, looking anxiously
for the youth, eager to tell him the danger she had escaped. When
she came to the spot and saw the changed color of the mulberries
she doubted whether it was the same place. While she hesitated she
saw the form of one struggling in the agonies of death. She
started back, a shudder ran through her frame as a ripple on the
face of the still water when a sudden breeze sweeps over it. But
as soon as she recognized her lover, she screamed and beat her
breast, embracing the lifeless body, pouring tears into its
wounds, and imprinting kisses on the cold lips. "O Pyramus," she
cried, "what has done this? Answer me, Pyramus; it is your own
Thisbe that speaks. Hear me, dearest, and lift that drooping
head!" At the name of Thisbe Pyramus opened his eyes, then closed
them again. She saw her veil stained with blood and the scabbard
empty of its sword. "Thy own hand has slain thee, and for my
sake," she said. "I too can be brave for once, and my love is as
strong as thine. I will follow thee in death, for I have been the
cause; and death which alone could part us shall not prevent my
joining thee. And ye, unhappy parents of us both, deny us not our
united request. As love and death have joined us, let one tomb
contain us. And thou, tree, retain the marks of slaughter. Let thy
berries still serve for memorials of our blood." So saying she
plunged the sword into her breast. Her parents ratified her wish,
the gods also ratified it. The two bodies were buried in one
sepulchre, and the tree ever after brought forth purple berries,
as it does to this day.

Moore, in the "Sylph's Ball," speaking of Davy's Safety Lamp, is
reminded of the wall that separated Thisbe and her lover:

    "O for that Lamp's metallic gauze,
       That curtain of protecting wire,
     Which Davy delicately draws
       Around illicit, dangerous fire!

     The wall he sets 'twixt Flame and Air,
       (Like that which barred young Thisbe's bliss,)
     Through whose small holes this dangerous pair
       May see each other, but not kiss."

In Mickle's translation of the "Lusiad" occurs the following
allusion to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, and the metamorphosis
of the mulberries. The poet is describing the Island of Love:

    "... here each gift Pomona's hand bestows
     In cultured garden, free uncultured flows,
     The flavor sweeter and the hue more fair
     Than e'er was fostered by the hand of care.
     The cherry here in shining crimson glows,
     And stained with lovers' blood, in pendent rows,
     The mulberries o'erload the bending boughs."

If any of our young readers can be so hard-hearted as to enjoy a
laugh at the expense of poor Pyramus and Thisbe, they may find an
opportunity by turning to Shakspeare's play of the "Midsummer
Night's Dream," where it is most amusingly burlesqued.


Cephalus was a beautiful youth and fond of manly sports. He would
rise before the dawn to pursue the chase. Aurora saw him when she
first looked forth, fell in love with him, and stole him away. But
Cephalus was just married to a charming wife whom he devotedly
loved. Her name was Procris. She was a favorite of Diana, the
goddess of hunting, who had given her a dog which could outrun
every rival, and a javelin which would never fail of its mark; and
Procris gave these presents to her husband. Cephalus was so happy
in his wife that he resisted all the entreaties of Aurora, and she
finally dismissed him in displeasure, saying, "Go, ungrateful
mortal, keep your wife, whom, if I am not much mistaken, you will
one day be very sorry you ever saw again."

Cephalus returned, and was as happy as ever in his wife and his
woodland sports. Now it happened some angry deity had sent a
ravenous fox to annoy the country; and the hunters turned out in
great strength to capture it. Their efforts were all in vain; no
dog could run it down; and at last they came to Cephalus to borrow
his famous dog, whose name was Lelaps. No sooner was the dog let
loose than he darted off, quicker than their eye could follow him.
If they had not seen his footprints in the sand they would have
thought he flew. Cephalus and others stood on a hill and saw the
race. The fox tried every art; he ran in a circle and turned on
his track, the dog close upon him, with open jaws, snapping at his
heels, but biting only the air. Cephalus was about to use his
javelin, when suddenly he saw both dog and game stop instantly.
The heavenly powers who had given both were not willing that
either should conquer. In the very attitude of life and action
they were turned into stone. So lifelike and natural did they
look, you would have thought, as you looked at them, that one was
going to bark, the other to leap forward.

Cephalus, though he had lost his dog, still continued to take
delight in the chase. He would go out at early morning, ranging
the woods and hills unaccompanied by any one, needing no help, for
his javelin was a sure weapon in all cases. Fatigued with hunting,
when the sun got high he would seek a shady nook where a cool
stream flowed, and, stretched on the grass, with his garments
thrown aside, would enjoy the breeze. Sometimes he would say
aloud, "Come, sweet breeze, come and fan my breast, come and allay
the heat that burns me." Some one passing by one day heard him
talking in this way to the air, and, foolishly believing that he
was talking to some maiden, went and told the secret to Procris,
Cephalus's wife. Love is credulous. Procris, at the sudden shock,
fainted away. Presently recovering, she said, "It cannot be true;
I will not believe it unless I myself am a witness to it." So she
waited, with anxious heart, till the next morning, when Cephalus
went to hunt as usual. Then she stole out after him, and concealed
herself in the place where the informer directed her. Cephalus
came as he was wont when tired with sport, and stretched himself
on the green bank, saying, "Come, sweet breeze, come and fan me;
you know how I love you! you make the groves and my solitary
rambles delightful." He was running on in this way when he heard,
or thought he heard, a sound as of a sob in the bushes. Supposing
it some wild animal, he threw his javelin at the spot. A cry from
his beloved Procris told him that the weapon had too surely met
its mark. He rushed to the place, and found her bleeding, and with
sinking strength endeavoring to draw forth from the wound the
javelin, her own gift. Cephalus raised her from the earth, strove
to stanch the blood, and called her to revive and not to leave him
miserable, to reproach himself with her death. She opened her
feeble eyes, and forced herself to utter these few words: "I
implore you, if you have ever loved me, if I have ever deserved
kindness at your hands, my husband, grant me this last request; do
not marry that odious Breeze!" This disclosed the whole mystery:
but alas! what advantage to disclose it now! She died; but her
face wore a calm expression, and she looked pityingly and
forgivingly on her husband when he made her understand the truth.

Moore, in his "Legendary Ballads," has one on Cephalus and
Procris, beginning thus:

    "A hunter once in a grove reclined,
       To shun the noon's bright eye,
     And oft he wooed the wandering wind
       To cool his brow with its sigh
     While mute lay even the wild bee's hum,
       Nor breath could stir the aspen's hair,
     His song was still, 'Sweet Air, O come!'
       While Echo answered, 'Come, sweet Air!'"



Juno one day perceived it suddenly grow dark, and immediately
suspected that her husband had raised a cloud to hide some of his
doings that would not bear the light. She brushed away the cloud,
and saw her husband on the banks of a glassy river, with a
beautiful heifer standing near him. Juno suspected the heifer's
form concealed some fair nymph of mortal mould--as was, indeed the
case; for it was Io, the daughter of the river god Inachus, whom
Jupiter had been flirting with, and, when he became aware of the
approach of his wife, had changed into that form.

Juno joined her husband, and noticing the heifer praised its
beauty, and asked whose it was, and of what herd. Jupiter, to stop
questions, replied that it was a fresh creation from the earth.
Juno asked to have it as a gift. What could Jupiter do? He was
loath to give his mistress to his wife; yet how refuse so trifling
a present as a simple heifer? He could not, without exciting
suspicion; so he consented. The goddess was not yet relieved of
her suspicions; so she delivered the heifer to Argus, to be
strictly watched.

Now Argus had a hundred eyes in his head, and never went to sleep
with more than two at a time, so that he kept watch of Io
constantly. He suffered her to feed through the day, and at night
tied her up with a vile rope round her neck. She would have
stretched out her arms to implore freedom of Argus, but she had no
arms to stretch out, and her voice was a bellow that frightened
even herself. She saw her father and her sisters, went near them,
and suffered them to pat her back, and heard them admire her
beauty. Her father reached her a tuft of grass, and she licked the
outstretched hand. She longed to make herself known to him, and
would have uttered her wish; but, alas! words were wanting. At
length she bethought herself of writing, and inscribed her name--
it was a short one--with her hoof on the sand. Inachus recognized
it, and discovering that his daughter, whom he had long sought in
vain, was hidden under this disguise, mourned over her, and,
embracing her white neck, exclaimed, "Alas! my daughter, it would
have been a less grief to have lost you altogether!" While he thus
lamented, Argus, observing, came and drove her away, and took his
seat on a high bank, from whence he could see all around in every

Jupiter was troubled at beholding the sufferings of his mistress,
and calling Mercury told him to go and despatch Argus. Mercury
made haste, put his winged slippers on his feet, and cap on his
head, took his sleep-producing wand, and leaped down from the
heavenly towers to the earth. There he laid aside his wings, and
kept only his wand, with which he presented himself as a shepherd
driving his flock. As he strolled on he blew upon his pipes. These
were what are called the Syrinx or Pandean pipes. Argus listened
with delight, for he had never seen the instrument before. "Young
man," said he, "come and take a seat by me on this stone. There is
no better place for your flocks to graze in than hereabouts, and
here is a pleasant shade such as shepherds love." Mercury sat
down, talked, and told stories till it grew late, and played upon
his pipes his most soothing strains, hoping to lull the watchful
eyes to sleep, but all in vain; for Argus still contrived to keep
some of his eyes open though he shut the rest.

Among other stories, Mercury told him how the instrument on which
he played was invented. "There was a certain nymph, whose name was
Syrinx, who was much beloved by the satyrs and spirits of the
wood; but she would have none of them, but was a faithful
worshipper of Diana, and followed the chase. You would have
thought it was Diana herself, had you seen her in her hunting
dress, only that her bow was of horn and Diana's of silver. One
day, as she was returning from the chase, Pan met her, told her
just this, and added more of the same sort. She ran away, without
stopping to hear his compliments, and he pursued till she came to
the bank of the river, where he overtook her, and she had only
time to call for help on her friends the water nymphs. They heard
and consented. Pan threw his arms around what he supposed to be
the form of the nymph, and found he embraced only a tuft of reeds!
As he breathed a sigh, the air sounded through the reeds, and
produced a plaintive melody. The god, charmed with the novelty and
with the sweetness of the music, said, 'Thus, then, at least, you
shall be mine.' And he took some of the reeds, and placing them
together, of unequal lengths, side by side, made an instrument
which he called Syrinx, in honor of the nymph." Before Mercury had
finished his story he saw Argus's eyes all asleep. As his head
nodded forward on his breast, Mercury with one stroke cut his neck
through, and tumbled his head down the rocks. O hapless Argus! the
light of your hundred eyes is quenched at once! Juno took them and
put them as ornaments on the tail of her peacock, where they
remain to this day.

But the vengeance of Juno was not yet satiated. She sent a gadfly
to torment Io, who fled over the whole world from its pursuit. She
swam through the Ionian sea, which derived its name from her, then
roamed over the plains of Illyria, ascended Mount Haemus, and
crossed the Thracian strait, thence named the Bosphorus (cow-
ford), rambled on through Scythia, and the country of the
Cimmerians, and arrived at last on the banks of the Nile. At
length Jupiter interceded for her, and upon his promising not to
pay her any more attentions Juno consented to restore her to her
form. It was curious to see her gradually recover her former self.
The coarse hairs fell from her body, her horns shrank up, her eyes
grew narrower, her mouth shorter; hands and fingers came instead
of hoofs to her forefeet; in fine there was nothing left of the
heifer, except her beauty. At first she was afraid to speak, for
fear she should low, but gradually she recovered her confidence
and was restored to her father and sisters.

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

    "So did he feel who pulled the bough aside,
     That we might look into a forest wide,

     Telling us how fair trembling Syrinx fled
     Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
     Poor nymph--poor Pan--how he did weep to find
     Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
     Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain.
     Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain."


Callisto was another maiden who excited the jealousy of Juno, and
the goddess changed her into a bear. "I will take away," said she,
"that beauty with which you have captivated my husband." Down fell
Callisto on her hands and knees; she tried to stretch out her arms
in supplication--they were already beginning to be covered with
black hair. Her hands grew rounded, became armed with crooked
claws, and served for feet; her mouth, which Jove used to praise
for its beauty, became a horrid pair of jaws; her voice, which if
unchanged would have moved the heart to pity, became a growl, more
fit to inspire terror. Yet her former disposition remained, and
with continual groaning, she bemoaned her fate, and stood upright
as well as she could, lifting up her paws to beg for mercy, and
felt that Jove was unkind, though she could not tell him so. Ah,
how often, afraid to stay in the woods all night alone, she
wandered about the neighborhood of her former haunts; how often,
frightened by the dogs, did she, so lately a huntress, fly in
terror from the hunters! Often she fled from the wild beasts,
forgetting that she was now a wild beast herself; and, bear as she
was, was afraid of the bears.

One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She saw him and
recognized him as her own son, now grown a young man. She stopped
and felt inclined to embrace him. As she was about to approach,
he, alarmed, raised his hunting spear, and was on the point of
transfixing her, when Jupiter, beholding, arrested the crime, and
snatching away both of them, placed them in the heavens as the
Great and Little Bear.

Juno was in a rage to see her rival so set in honor, and hastened
to ancient Tethys and Oceanus, the powers of ocean, and in answer
to their inquiries thus told the cause of her coming: "Do you ask
why I, the queen of the gods, have left the heavenly plains and
sought your depths? Learn that I am supplanted in heaven--my place
is given to another. You will hardly believe me; but look when
night darkens the world, and you shall see the two of whom I have
so much reason to complain exalted to the heavens, in that part
where the circle is the smallest, in the neighborhood of the pole.
Why should any one hereafter tremble at the thought of offending
Juno, when such rewards are the consequence of my displeasure? See
what I have been able to effect! I forbade her to wear the human
form--she is placed among the stars! So do my punishments result--
such is the extent of my power! Better that she should have
resumed her former shape, as I permitted Io to do. Perhaps he
means to marry her, and put me away! But you, my foster-parents,
if you feel for me, and see with displeasure this unworthy
treatment of me, show it, I beseech you, by forbidding this guilty
couple from coming into your waters." The powers of the ocean
assented, and consequently the two constellations of the Great and
Little Bear move round and round in heaven, but never sink, as the
other stars do, beneath the ocean.

Milton alludes to the fact that the constellation of the Bear
never sets, when he says:

    "Let my lamp at midnight hour
     Be seen in some high lonely tower,
     Where I may oft outwatch the Bear," etc.

And Prometheus, in J. R. Lowell's poem, says:

    "One after one the stars have risen and set,
     Sparkling upon the hoar frost of my chain;
     The Bear that prowled all night about the fold
     Of the North-star, hath shrunk into his den,
     Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn."

The last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Pole-star,
called also the Cynosure. Milton says:

    "Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
     While the landscape round it measures.

     Towers and battlements it sees
     Bosomed high in tufted trees,
     Where perhaps some beauty lies
     The Cynosure of neighboring eyes"

The reference here is both to the Pole-star as the guide of
mariners, and to the magnetic attraction of the North He calls it
also the "Star of Arcady," because Callisto's boy was named Arcas,
and they lived in Arcadia. In "Comus," the brother, benighted in
the woods, says:

    "... Some gentle taper!
     Though a rush candle, from the wicker hole
     Of some clay habitation, visit us
     With thy long levelled rule of streaming light,
     And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
     Or Tyrian Cynosure."


Thus in two instances we have seen Juno's severity to her rivals;
now let us learn how a virgin goddess punished an invader of her

It was midday, and the sun stood equally distant from either goal,
when young Actaeon, son of King Cadmus, thus addressed the youths
who with him were hunting the stag in the mountains:

"Friends, our nets and our weapons are wet with the blood of our
victims; we have had sport enough for one day, and to-morrow we
can renew our labors. Now, while Phoebus parches the earth, let us
put by our implements and indulge ourselves with rest."

There was a valley thick enclosed with cypresses and pines, sacred
to the huntress queen, Diana. In the extremity of the valley was a
cave, not adorned with art, but nature had counterfeited art in
its construction, for she had turned the arch of its roof with
stones as delicately fitted as if by the hand of man. A fountain
burst out from one side, whose open basin was bounded by a grassy
rim. Here the goddess of the woods used to come when weary with
hunting and lave her virgin limbs in the sparkling water.

One day, having repaired thither with her nymphs, she handed her
javelin, her quiver, and her bow to one, her robe to another,
while a third unbound the sandals from her feet. Then Crocale, the
most skilful of them, arranged her hair, and Nephele, Hyale, and
the rest drew water in capacious urns. While the goddess was thus
employed in the labors of the toilet, behold Actaeon, having
quitted his companions, and rambling without any especial object,
came to the place, led thither by his destiny. As he presented
himself at the entrance of the cave, the nymphs, seeing a man,
screamed and rushed towards the goddess to hide her with their
bodies. But she was taller than the rest and overtopped them all
by a head. Such a color as tinges the clouds at sunset or at dawn
came over the countenance of Diana thus taken by surprise.
Surrounded as she was by her nymphs, she yet turned half away, and
sought with a sudden impulse for her arrows. As they were not at
hand, she dashed the water into the face of the intruder, adding
these words: "Now go and tell, if you can, that you have seen
Diana unapparelled." Immediately a pair of branching stag's horns
grew out of his head, his neck gained in length, his ears grew
sharp-pointed, his hands became feet, his arms long legs, his body
was covered with a hairy spotted hide. Fear took the place of his
former boldness, and the hero fled. He could not but admire his
own speed; but when he saw his horns in the water, "Ah, wretched
me!" he would have said, but no sound followed the effort. He
groaned, and tears flowed down the face which had taken the place
of his own. Yet his consciousness remained. What shall he do?--go
home to seek the palace, or lie hid in the woods? The latter he
was afraid, the former he was ashamed, to do. While he hesitated
the dogs saw him. First Melampus, a Spartan dog, gave the signal
with his bark, then Pamphagus, Dorceus, Lelaps, Theron, Nape,
Tigris, and all the rest, rushed after him swifter than the wind.
Over rocks and cliffs, through mountain gorges that seemed
impracticable, he fled and they followed. Where he had often
chased the stag and cheered on his pack, his pack now chased him,
cheered on by his huntsmen. He longed to cry out, "I am Actaeon;
recognize your master!" but the words came not at his will. The
air resounded with the bark of the dogs. Presently one fastened on
his back, another seized his shoulder. While they held their
master, the rest of the pack came up and buried their teeth in his
flesh. He groaned,--not in a human voice, yet certainly not in a
stag's,--and falling on his knees, raised his eyes, and would have
raised his arms in supplication, if he had had them. His friends
and fellow-huntsmen cheered on the dogs, and looked everywhere for
Actaeon, calling on him to join the sport. At the sound of his
name he turned his head, and heard them regret that he should be
away. He earnestly wished he was. He would have been well pleased
to see the exploits of his dogs, but to feel them was too much.
They were all around him, rending and tearing; and it was not till
they had torn his life out that the anger of Diana was satisfied.

In Shelley's poem "Adonais" is the following allusion to the story
of Actaeon:

    "'Midst others of less note came one frail form,
    A phantom among men: companionless
    As the last cloud of an expiring storm,
    Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,
    Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness,
    Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray
    With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness;
    And his own Thoughts, along that rugged way,
    Pursued like raging hounds their father and their prey."

    Stanza 31.

The allusion is probably to Shelley himself.


Some thought the goddess in this instance more severe than was
just, while others praised her conduct as strictly consistent with
her virgin dignity. As, usual, the recent event brought older ones
to mind, and one of the bystanders told this story: "Some
countrymen of Lycia once insulted the goddess Latona, but not with
impunity. When I was young, my father, who had grown too old for
active labors, sent me to Lycia to drive thence some choice oxen,
and there I saw the very pond and marsh where the wonder happened.
Near by stood an ancient altar, black with the smoke of sacrifice
and almost buried among the reeds. I inquired whose altar it might
be, whether of Faunus or the Naiads, or some god of the
neighboring mountain, and one of the country people replied, 'No
mountain or river god possesses this altar, but she whom royal
Juno in her jealousy drove from land to land, denying her any spot
of earth whereon to rear her twins. Bearing in her arms the infant
deities, Latona reached this land, weary with her burden and
parched with thirst. By chance she espied on the bottom of the
valley this pond of clear water, where the country people were at
work gathering willows and osiers. The goddess approached, and
kneeling on the bank would have slaked her thirst in the cool
stream, but the rustics forbade her. 'Why do you refuse me water?'
said she; 'water is free to all. Nature allows no one to claim as
property the sunshine, the air, or the water. I come to take my
share of the common blessing. Yet I ask it of you as a favor. I
have no intention of washing my limbs in it, weary though they be,
but only to quench my thirst. My mouth is so dry that I can hardly
speak. A draught Of water would be nectar to me; it would revive
me, and I would own myself indebted to you for life itself. Let
these infants move your pity, who stretch out their little arms as
if to plead for me;' and the children, as it happened, were
stretching out their arms.

"Who would not have been moved with these gentle words of the
goddess? But these clowns persisted in their rudeness; they even
added jeers and threats of violence if she did not leave the
place. Nor was this all. They waded into the pond and stirred up
the mud with their feet, so as to make the water unfit to drink.
Latona was so angry that she ceased to mind her thirst. She no
longer supplicated the clowns, but lifting her hands to heaven
exclaimed, 'May they never quit that pool, but pass their lives
there!' And it came to pass accordingly. They now live in the
water, sometimes totally submerged, then raising their heads above
the surface or swimming upon it. Sometimes they come out upon the
bank, but soon leap back again into the water. They still use
their base voices in railing, and though they have the water all
to themselves, are not ashamed to croak in the midst of it. Their
voices are harsh, their throats bloated, their mouths have become
stretched by constant railing, their necks have shrunk up and
disappeared, and their heads are joined to their bodies. Their
backs are green, their disproportioned bellies white, and in short
they are now frogs, and dwell in the slimy pool."

This story explains the allusion in one of Milton's sonnets, "On
the detraction which followed upon his writing certain treatises."

    "I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
       By the known laws of ancient liberty,
       When straight a barbarous noise environs me
     Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs.
     As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs
       Railed at Latona's twin-born progeny,
       Which after held the sun and moon in fee."

The persecution which Latona experienced from Juno is alluded to
in the story. The tradition was that the future mother of Apollo
and Diana, flying from the wrath of Juno, besought all the islands
of the Aegean to afford her a place of rest, but all feared too
much the potent queen of heaven to assist her rival. Delos alone
consented to become the birthplace of the future deities. Delos
was then a floating island; but when Latona arrived there, Jupiter
fastened it with adamantine chains to the bottom of the sea, that
it might be a secure resting-place for his beloved. Byron alludes
to Delos in his "Don Juan":

    "The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!
       Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
     Where grew the arts of war and peace,
       Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!"



Phaeton was the son of Apollo and the nymph Clymene. One day a
schoolfellow laughed at the idea of his being the son of the god,
and Phaeton went in rage and shame and reported it to his mother.
"If," said he, "I am indeed of heavenly birth, give me, mother,
some proof of it, and establish my claim to the honor." Clymene
stretched forth her hands towards the skies, and said, "I call to
witness the Sun which looks down upon us, that I have told you the
truth. If I speak falsely, let this be the last time I behold his
light. But it needs not much labor to go and inquire for yourself;
the land whence the Sun rises lies next to ours. Go and demand of
him whether he will own you as a son." Phaeton heard with delight.
He travelled to India, which lies directly in the regions of
sunrise; and, full of hope and pride, approached the goal whence
his parent begins his course.

The palace of the Sun stood reared aloft on columns, glittering
with gold and precious stones, while polished ivory formed the
ceilings, and silver the doors. The workmanship surpassed the
material; [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] for upon the
walls Vulcan had represented earth, sea, and skies, with their
inhabitants. In the sea were the nymphs, some sporting in the
waves, some riding on the backs of fishes, while others sat upon
the rocks and dried their sea-green hair. Their faces were not all
alike, nor yet unlike,--but such as sisters' ought to be.
[Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] The earth had its towns
and forests and rivers and rustic divinities. Over all was carved
the likeness of the glorious heaven; and on the silver doors the
twelve signs of the zodiac, six on each side.

Clymene's son advanced up the steep ascent, and entered the halls
of his disputed father. He approached the paternal presence, but
stopped at a distance, for the light was more than he could bear.
Phoebus, arrayed in a purple vesture, sat on a throne, which
glittered as with diamonds. On his right hand and his left stood
the Day, the Month, and the Year, and, at regular intervals, the
Hours. Spring stood with her head crowned with flowers, and
Summer, with garment cast aside, and a garland formed of spears of
ripened grain, and Autumn, with his feet stained with grape-juice,
and icy Winter, with his hair stiffened with hoar frost.
Surrounded by these attendants, the Sun, with the eye that sees
everything, beheld the youth dazzled with the novelty and splendor
of the scene, and inquired the purpose of his errand. The youth
replied, "O light of the boundless world, Phoebus, my father,--if
you permit me to use that name,--give me some proof, I beseech
you, by which I may be known as yours." He ceased; and his father,
laying aside the beams that shone all around his head, bade him
approach, and embracing him, said, "My son, you deserve not to be
disowned, and I confirm what your mother has told you. To put an
end to your doubts, ask what you will, the gift shall be yours. I
call to witness that dreadful lake, which I never saw, but which
we gods swear by in our most solemn engagements." Phaeton
immediately asked to be permitted for one day to drive the chariot
of the sun. The father repented of his promise; thrice and four
times he shook his radiant head in warning. "I have spoken
rashly," said he; "this only request I would fain deny. I beg you
to withdraw it. It is not a safe boon, nor one, my Phaeton, suited
to your youth and strength. Your lot is mortal, and you ask what
is beyond a mortal's power. In your ignorance you aspire to do
that which not even the gods themselves may do. None but myself
may drive the flaming car of day. Not even Jupiter, whose terrible
right arm hurls the thunderbolts. The first part of the way is
steep, and such as the horses when fresh in the morning can hardly
climb; the middle is high up in the heavens, whence I myself can
scarcely, without alarm, look down and behold the earth and sea
stretched beneath me. The last part of the road descends rapidly,
and requires most careful driving. Tethys, who is waiting to
receive me, often trembles for me lest I should fall headlong. Add
to all this, the heaven is all the time turning round and carrying
the stars with it. I have to be perpetually on my guard lest that
movement, which sweeps everything else along, should hurry me also
away. Suppose I should lend you the chariot, what would you do?
Could you keep your course while the sphere was revolving under
you? Perhaps you think that there are forests and cities, the
abodes of gods, and palaces and temples on the way. On the
contrary, the road is through the midst of frightful monsters. You
pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of the Archer, and near
the Lion's jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches its arms in one
direction and the Crab in another. Nor will you find it easy to
guide those horses, with their breasts full of fire that they
breathe forth from their mouths and nostrils. I can scarcely
govern them myself, when they are unruly and resist the reins.
Beware, my son, lest I be the donor of a fatal gift; recall your
request while yet you may. Do you ask me for a proof that you are
sprung from my blood? I give you a proof in my fears for you. Look
at my face--I would that you could look into my breast, you would
there see all a father's anxiety. Finally," he continued, "look
round the world and choose whatever you will of what earth or sea
contains most precious--ask it and fear no refusal. This only I
pray you not to urge. It is not honor, but destruction you seek.
Why do you hang round my neck and still entreat me? You shall have
it if you persist,--the oath is sworn and must be kept,--but I beg
you to choose more wisely."

He ended; but the youth rejected all admonition and held to his
demand. So, having resisted as long as he could, Phoebus at last
led the way to where stood the lofty chariot.

It was of gold, the gift of Vulcan; the axle was of gold, the pole
and wheels of gold, the spokes of silver. Along the seat were rows
of chrysolites and diamonds which reflected all around the
brightness of the sun. While the daring youth, gazed in
admiration, the early Dawn threw open the purple doors of the
east, and showed the pathway strewn with roses. The stars
withdrew, marshalled by the Day-star, which last of all retired
also. The father, when he saw the earth beginning to glow, and the
Moon preparing to retire, ordered the Hours to harness up the
horses. They obeyed, and led forth from the lofty stalls the
steeds full fed with ambrosia, and attached the reins. Then the
father bathed the face of his son with a powerful unguent, and
made him capable of enduring the brightness of the flame. He set
the rays on his head, and, with a foreboding sigh, said, "If, my
son, you will in this at least heed my advice, spare the whip and
hold tight the reins. They go fast enough of their own accord; the
labor is to hold them in. You are not to take the straight road
directly between the five circles, but turn off to the left. Keep
within the limit of the middle zone, and avoid the northern and
the southern alike. You will see the marks of the wheels, and they
will serve to guide you. And, that the skies and the earth may
each receive their due share of heat, go not too high, or you will
burn the heavenly dwellings, nor too low, or you will set the
earth on fire; the middle course is safest and best. [Footnote:
See Proverbial Expressions] And now I leave you to your chance,
which I hope will plan better for you than you have done for
yourself. Night is passing out of the western gates and we can
delay no longer. Take the reins; but if at last your heart fails
you, and you will benefit by my advice, stay where you are in
safety, and suffer me to light and warm the earth." The agile
youth sprang into the chariot, stood erect, and grasped the reins
with delight, pouring out thanks to his reluctant parent.

Meanwhile the horses fill the air with their snortings and fiery
breath, and stamp the ground impatient. Now the bars are let down,
and the boundless plain of the universe lies open before them.
They dart forward and cleave the opposing clouds, and outrun the
morning breezes which started from the same eastern goal. The
steeds soon perceived that the load they drew was lighter than
usual; and as a ship without ballast is tossed hither and thither
on the sea, so the chariot, without its accustomed weight, was
dashed about as if empty. They rush headlong and leave the
travelled road. He is alarmed, and knows not how to guide them;
nor, if he knew, has he the power. Then, for the first time, the
Great and Little Bear were scorched with heat, and would fain, if
it were possible, have plunged into the water; and the Serpent
which lies coiled up round the north pole, torpid and harmless,
grew warm, and with warmth felt its rage revive. Bootes, they say,
fled away, though encumbered with his plough, and all unused to
rapid motion.

When hapless Phaeton looked down upon the earth, now spreading in
vast extent beneath him, he grew pale and his knees shook with
terror. In spite of the glare all around him, the sight of his
eyes grew dim. He wished he had never touched his father's horses,
never learned his parentage, never prevailed in his request. He is
borne along like a vessel that flies before a tempest, when the
pilot can do no more and betakes himself to his prayers. What
shall he do? Much of the heavenly road is left behind, but more
remains before. He turns his eyes from one direction to the other;
now to the goal whence he began his course, now to the realms of
sunset which he is not destined to reach. He loses his self-
command, and knows not what to do,--whether to draw tight the
reins or throw them loose; he forgets the names of the horses. He
sees with terror the monstrous forms scattered over the surface of
heaven. Here the Scorpion extended his two great arms, with his
tail and crooked claws stretching over two signs of the zodiac.
When the boy beheld him, reeking with poison and menacing with his
fangs, his courage failed, and the reins fell from his hands. The
horses, when they felt them loose on their backs, dashed headlong,
and unrestrained went off into unknown regions of the sky, in
among the stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places, now up
in high heaven, now down almost to the earth. The moon saw with
astonishment her brother's chariot running beneath her own. The
clouds begin to smoke, and the mountain tops take fire; the fields
are parched with heat, the plants wither, the trees with their
leafy branches burn, the harvest is ablaze! But these are small
things. Great cities perished, with their walls and towers; whole
nations with their people were consumed to ashes! The forest-clad
mountains burned, Athos and Taurus and Tmolus and OEte; Ida, once
celebrated for fountains, but now all dry; the Muses' mountain
Helicon, and Haemus; Aetna, with fires within and without, and
Parnassus, with his two peaks, and Rhodope, forced at last to part
with his snowy crown. Her cold climate was no protection to
Scythia, Caucasus burned, and Ossa and Pindus, and, greater than
both, Olympus; the Alps high in air, and the Apennines crowned
with clouds.

Then Phaeton beheld the world on fire, and felt the heat
intolerable. The air he breathed was like the air of a furnace and
full of burning ashes, and the smoke was of a pitchy darkness. He
dashed forward he knew not whither. Then, it is believed, the
people of Aethiopia became black by the blood being forced so
suddenly to the surface, and the Libyan desert was dried up to the
condition in which it remains to this day. The Nymphs of the
fountains, with dishevelled hair, mourned their waters, nor were
the rivers safe beneath their banks: Tanais smoked, and Caicus,
Xanthus, and Meander; Babylonian Euphrates and Ganges, Tagus with
golden sands, and Cayster where the swans resort. Nile fled away
and hid his head in the desert, and there it still remains
concealed. Where he used to discharge his waters through seven
mouths into the sea, there seven dry channels alone remained. The
earth cracked open, and through the chinks light broke into
Tartarus, and frightened the king of shadows and his queen. The
sea shrank up. Where before was water, it became a dry plain; and
the mountains that lie beneath the waves lifted up their heads and
became islands. The fishes sought the lowest depths, and the
dolphins no longer ventured as usual to sport on the surface. Even
Nereus, and his wife Doris, with the Nereids, their daughters,
sought the deepest caves for refuge. Thrice Neptune essayed to
raise his head above the surface, and thrice was driven back by
the heat. Earth, surrounded as she was by waters, yet with head
and shoulders bare, screening her face with her hand, looked up to
heaven, and with a husky voice called on Jupiter:

"O ruler of the gods, if I have deserved this treatment, and it is
your will that I perish with fire, why withhold your thunderbolts?
Let me at least fall by your hand. Is this the reward of my
fertility, of my obedient service? Is it for this that I have
supplied herbage for cattle, and fruits for men, and frankincense
for your altars? But if I am unworthy of regard, what has my
brother Ocean done to deserve such a fate? If neither of us can
excite your pity, think, I pray you, of your own heaven, and
behold how both the poles are smoking which sustain your palace,
which must fall if they be destroyed. Atlas faints, and scarce
holds up his burden. If sea, earth, and heaven perish, we fall
into ancient Chaos. Save what yet remains to us from the devouring
flame. O, take thought for our deliverance in this awful moment!"

Thus spoke Earth, and overcome with heat and thirst, could say no
more. Then Jupiter omnipotent, calling to witness all the gods,
including him who had lent the chariot, and showing them that all
was lost unless speedy remedy were applied, mounted the lofty
tower from whence he diffuses clouds over the earth, and hurls the
forked lightnings. But at that time not a cloud was to be found to
interpose for a screen to earth, nor was a shower remaining
unexhausted. He thundered, and brandishing a lightning bolt in his
right hand launched it against the charioteer, and struck him at
the same moment from his seat and from existence! Phaeton, with
his hair on fire, fell headlong, like a shooting star which marks
the heavens with its brightness as it falls, and Eridanus, the
great river, received him and cooled his burning frame. The
Italian Naiads reared a tomb for him, and inscribed these words
upon the stone:

    "Driver of Phoebus' chariot Phaeton,
     Struck by Jove's thunder, rests beneath this stone.
     He could not rule his father's car of fire,
     Yet was it much so nobly to aspire"

[Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions]

His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, were turned
into poplar trees, on the banks of the river, and their tears,
which continued to flow, became amber as they dropped into the

Milman, in his poem of "Samor," makes the following allusion to
Phaeton's story:

    "As when the palsied universe aghast
     Lay mute and still,
     When drove, so poets sing, the Sun-born youth
     Devious through Heaven's affrighted signs his sire's
     Ill-granted chariot. Him the Thunderer hurled
     From th' empyrean headlong to the gulf
     Of the half-parched Eridanus, where weep
     Even now the sister trees their amber tears
     O'er Phaeton untimely dead"

In the beautiful lines of Walter Savage Landor, descriptive of the
Sea-shell, there is an allusion to the Sun's palace and chariot.
The water-nymph says:

    "I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
     Within, and things that lustre have imbibed
     In the sun's palace porch, where when unyoked
     His chariot wheel stands midway on the wave.
     Shake one and it awakens; then apply
     Its polished lip to your attentive ear,
     And it remembers its august abodes,
     And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there."

    --Gebir, Book I.



Bacchus, on a certain occasion, found his old schoolmaster and
foster-father, Silenus, missing. The old man had been drinking,
and in that state wandered away, and was found by some peasants,
who carried him to their king, Midas. Midas recognized him, and
treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights
with an unceasing round of jollity. On the eleventh day he brought
Silenus back, and restored him in safety to his pupil. Whereupon
Bacchus offered Midas his choice of a reward, whatever he might
wish. He asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into
GOLD. Bacchus consented, though sorry that he had not made a
better choice. Midas went his way, rejoicing in his new-acquired
power, which he hastened to put to the test. He could scarce
believe his eyes when he found a twig of an oak, which he plucked
from the branch, become gold in his hand. He took up a stone; it
changed to gold. He touched a sod; it did the same. He took an
apple from the tree; you would have thought he had robbed the
garden of the Hesperides. His joy knew no bounds, and as soon as
he got home, he ordered the servants to set a splendid repast on
the table. Then he found to his dismay that whether he touched
bread, it hardened in his hand; or put a morsel to his lips, it
defied his teeth. He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his
throat like melted gold.

In consternation at the unprecedented affliction, he strove to
divest himself of his power; he hated the gift he had lately
coveted. But all in vain; starvation seemed to await him. He
raised his arms, all shining with gold, in prayer to Bacchus,
begging to be delivered from his glittering destruction. Bacchus,
merciful deity, heard and consented. "Go," said he, "to the River
Pactolus, trace the stream to its fountain-head, there plunge your
head and body in, and wash away your fault and its punishment." He
did so, and scarce had he touched the waters before the gold-
creating power passed into them, and the river-sands became
changed into GOLD, as they remain to this day.

Thenceforth Midas, hating wealth and splendor, dwelt in the
country, and became a worshipper of Pan, the god of the fields. On
a certain occasion Pan had the temerity to compare his music with
that of Apollo, and to challenge the god of the lyre to a trial of
skill. The challenge was accepted, and Tmolus, the mountain god,
was chosen umpire. The senior took his seat, and cleared away the
trees from his ears to listen. At a given signal Pan blew on his
pipes, and with his rustic melody gave great satisfaction to
himself and his faithful follower Midas, who happened to be
present. Then Tmolus turned his head toward the Sun-god, and all
his trees turned with him. Apollo rose, his brow wreathed with
Parnassian laurel, while his robe of Tyrian purple swept the
ground. In his left hand he held the lyre, and with his right hand
struck the strings. Ravished with the harmony, Tmolus at once
awarded the victory to the god of the lyre, and all but Midas
acquiesced in the judgment. He dissented, and questioned the
justice of the award. Apollo would not suffer such a depraved pair
of ears any longer to wear the human form, but caused them to
increase in length, grow hairy, within and without, and movable on
their roots; in short, to be on the perfect pattern of those of an

Mortified enough was King Midas at this mishap; but he consoled
himself with the thought that it was possible to hide his
misfortune, which he attempted to do by means of an ample turban
or head-dress. But his hair-dresser of course knew the secret. He
was charged not to mention it, and threatened with dire punishment
if he presumed to disobey. But he found it too much for his
discretion to keep such a secret; so he went out into the meadow,
dug a hole in the ground, and stooping down, whispered the story,
and covered it up. Before long a thick bed of reeds sprang up in
the meadow, and as soon as it had gained its growth, began
whispering the story, and has continued to do so, from that day to
this, every time a breeze passes over the place.

The story of King Midas has been told by others with some
variations. Dryden, in the "Wife of Bath's Tale," makes Midas's
queen the betrayer of the secret:

    "This Midas knew, and durst communicate
     To none but to his wife his ears of state."

Midas was king of Phrygia. He was the son of Gordius, a poor
countryman, who was taken by the people and made king, in
obedience to the command of the oracle, which had said that their
future king should come in a wagon. While the people were
deliberating, Gordius with his wife and son came driving his wagon
into the public square.

Gordius, being made king, dedicated his wagon to the deity of the
oracle, and tied it up in its place with a fast knot. This was the
celebrated Gordian knot, which, in after times it was said,
whoever should untie should become lord of all Asia. Many tried to
untie it, but none succeeded, till Alexander the Great, in his
career of conquest, came to Phrygia. He tried his skill with as
ill success as others, till growing impatient he drew his sword
and cut the knot. When he afterwards succeeded in subjecting all
Asia to his sway, people began to think that he had complied with
the terms of the oracle according to its true meaning.


On a certain hill in Phrygia stands a linden tree and an oak,
enclosed by a low wall. Not far from the spot is a marsh, formerly
good habitable land, but now indented with pools, the resort of
fen-birds and cormorants. Once on a time Jupiter, in, human shape,
visited this country, and with him his son Mercury (he of the
caduceus), without his wings. They presented themselves, as weary
travellers, at many a door, seeking rest and shelter, but found
all closed, for it was late, and the inhospitable inhabitants
would not rouse themselves to open for their reception. At last a
humble mansion received them, a small thatched cottage, where
Baucis, a pious old dame, and her husband Philemon, united when
young, had grown old together. Not ashamed of their poverty, they
made it endurable by moderate desires and kind dispositions. One
need not look there for master or for servant; they two were the
whole household, master and servant alike. When the two heavenly
guests crossed the humble threshold, and bowed their heads to pass
under the low door, the old man placed a seat, on which Baucis,
bustling and attentive, spread a cloth, and begged them to sit
down. Then she raked out the coals from the ashes, and kindled up
a fire, fed it with leaves and dry bark, and with her scanty
breath blew it into a flame. She brought out of a corner split
sticks and dry branches, broke them up, and placed them under the
small kettle. Her husband collected some pot-herbs in the garden,
and she shred them from the stalks, and prepared them for the pot.
He reached down with a forked stick a flitch of bacon hanging in
the chimney, cut a small piece, and put it in the pot to boil with
the herbs, setting away the rest for another time. A beechen bowl
was filled with warm water, that their guests might wash. While
all was doing, they beguiled the time with conversation.

On the bench designed for the guests was laid a cushion stuffed
with sea-weed; and a cloth, only produced on great occasions, but
ancient and coarse enough, was spread over that. The old lady,
with her apron on, with trembling hand set the table. One leg was
shorter than the rest, but a piece of slate put under restored the
level. When fixed, she rubbed the table down with some sweet-
smelling herbs. Upon it she set some of chaste Minerva's olives,
some cornel berries preserved in vinegar, and added radishes and
cheese, with eggs lightly cooked in the ashes. All were served in
earthen dishes, and an earthenware pitcher, with wooden cups,
stood beside them. When all was ready, the stew, smoking hot, was
set on the table. Some wine, not of the oldest, was added; and for
dessert, apples and wild honey; and over and above all, friendly
faces, and simple but hearty welcome.

Now while the repast proceeded, the old folks were astonished to
see that the wine, as fast as it was poured out, renewed itself in
the pitcher, of its own accord. Struck with terror, Baucis and
Philemon recognized their heavenly guests, fell on their knees,
and with clasped hands implored forgiveness for their poor
entertainment. There was an old goose, which they kept as the
guardian of their humble cottage; and they bethought them to make
this a sacrifice in honor of their guests. But the goose, too
nimble, with the aid of feet and wings, for the old folks, eluded
their pursuit, and at last took shelter between the gods
themselves. They forbade it to be slain; and spoke in these words:
"We are gods. This inhospitable village shall pay the penalty of
its impiety; you alone shall go free from the chastisement. Quit
your house, and come with us to the top of yonder hill." They
hastened to obey, and, staff in hand, labored up the steep ascent.
They had reached to within an arrow's flight of the top, when
turning their eyes below, they beheld all the country sunk in a
lake, only their own house left standing. While they gazed with
wonder at the sight, and lamented the fate of their neighbors,
that old house of theirs was changed into a temple. Columns took
the place of the corner posts, the thatch grew yellow and appeared
a gilded roof, the floors became marble, the doors were enriched
with carving and ornaments of gold. Then spoke Jupiter in
benignant accents: "Excellent old man, and woman worthy of such a
husband, speak, tell us your wishes; what favor have you to ask of
us?" Philemon took counsel with Baucis a few moments; then
declared to the gods their united wish. "We ask to be priests and
guardians of this your temple; and since here we have passed our
lives in love and concord, we wish that one and the same hour may
take us both from life, that I may not live to see her grave, nor
be laid in my own by her." Their prayer was granted. They were the
keepers of the temple as long as they lived. When grown very old,
as they stood one day before the steps of the sacred edifice, and
were telling the story of the place, Baucis saw Philemon begin to
put forth leaves, and old Philemon saw Baucis changing in like
manner. And now a leafy crown had grown over their heads, while
exchanging parting words, as long as they could speak. "Farewell,
dear spouse," they said, together, and at the same moment the bark
closed over their mouths. The Tyanean shepherd still shows the two
trees, standing side by side, made out of the two good old people.

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

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



When Jupiter and his brothers had defeated the Titans and banished
them to Tartarus, a new enemy rose up against the gods. They were
the giants Typhon, Briareus, Enceladus, and others. Some of them
had a hundred arms, others breathed out fire. They were finally
subdued and buried alive under Mount Aetna, where they still
sometimes struggle to get loose, and shake the whole island with
earthquakes. Their breath comes up through the mountain, and is
what men call the eruption of the volcano.

The fall of these monsters shook the earth, so that Pluto was
alarmed, and feared that his kingdom would be laid open to the
light of day. Under this apprehension, he mounted his chariot,
drawn by black horses, and took a circuit of inspection to satisfy
himself of the extent of the damage. While he was thus engaged,
Venus, who was sitting on Mount Eryx playing with her boy Cupid,
espied him, and said, "My son, take your darts with which you
conquer all, even Jove himself, and send one into the breast of
yonder dark monarch, who rules the realm of Tartarus. Why should
he alone escape? Seize the opportunity to extend your empire and
mine. Do you not see that even in heaven some despise our power?
Minerva the wise, and Diana the huntress, defy us; and there is
that daughter of Ceres, who threatens to follow their example. Now
do you, if you have any regard for your own interest or mine, join
these two in one." The boy unbound his quiver, and selected his
sharpest and truest arrow; then straining the bow against his
knee, he attached the string, and, having made ready, shot the
arrow with its barbed point right into the heart of Pluto.

In the vale of Enna there is a lake embowered in woods, which
screen it from the fervid rays of the sun, while the moist ground
is covered with flowers, and Spring reigns perpetual. Here
Proserpine was playing with her companions, gathering lilies and
violets, and filling her basket and her apron with them, when
Pluto saw her, loved her, and carried her off. She screamed for
help to her mother and companions; and when in her fright she
dropped the corners of her apron and let the flowers fall,
childlike she felt the loss of them as an addition to her grief.
The ravisher urged on his steeds, calling them each by name, and
throwing loose over their heads and necks his iron-colored reins.
When he reached the River Cyane, and it opposed his passage, he
struck the river-bank with his trident, and the earth opened and
gave him a passage to Tartarus.

Ceres sought her daughter all the world over. Bright-haired
Aurora, when she came forth in the morning, and Hesperus when he
led out the stars in the evening, found her still busy in the
search. But it was all unavailing. At length, weary and sad, she
sat down upon a stone, and continued sitting nine days and nights,
in the open air, under the sunlight and moonlight and falling
showers. It was where now stands the city of Eleusis, then the
home of an old man named Celeus. He was out in the field,
gathering acorns and blackberries, and sticks for his fire. His
little girl was driving home their two goats, and as she passed
the goddess, who appeared in the guise of an old woman, she said
to her, "Mother,"--and the name was sweet to the ears of Ceres,--
"why do you sit here alone upon the rocks?" The old man also
stopped, though his load was heavy, and begged her to come into
his cottage, such as it was. She declined, and he urged her. "Go
in peace," she replied, "and be happy in your daughter; I have
lost mine." As she spoke, tears--or something like tears, for the
gods never weep--fell down her cheeks upon her bosom. The
compassionate old man and his child wept with her. Then said he,
"Come with us, and despise not our humble roof; so may your
daughter be restored to you in safety." "Lead on," said she, "I
cannot resist that appeal!" So she rose from the stone and went
with them. As they walked he told her that his only son, a little
boy, lay very sick, feverish, and sleepless. She stooped and
gathered some poppies. As they entered the cottage, they found all
in great distress, for the boy seemed past hope of recovery.
Metanira, his mother, received her kindly, and the goddess stooped
and kissed the lips of the sick child. Instantly the paleness left
his face, and healthy vigor returned to his body. The whole family
were delighted--that is, the father, mother, and little girl, for
they were all; they had no servants. They spread the table, and
put upon it curds and cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While
they ate, Ceres mingled poppy juice in the milk of the boy. When
night came and all was still, she arose, and taking the sleeping
boy, moulded his limbs with her hands, and uttered over him three
times a solemn charm, then went and laid him in the ashes. His
mother, who had been watching what her guest was doing, sprang
forward with a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then
Ceres assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all
around. While they were overcome with astonishment, she said,
"Mother, you have been cruel in your fondness to your son. I would
have made him immortal, but you have frustrated my attempt.
Nevertheless, he shall be great and useful. He shall teach men the
use of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the
cultivated soil." So saying, she wrapped a cloud about her, and
mounting her chariot rode away.

Ceres continued her search for her daughter, passing from land to
land, and across seas and rivers, till at length she returned to
Sicily, whence she at first set out, and stood by the banks of the
River Cyane, where Pluto made himself a passage with his prize to
his own dominions. The river nymph would have told the goddess all
she had witnessed, but dared not, for fear of Pluto; so she only
ventured to take up the girdle which Proserpine had dropped in her
flight, and waft it to the feet of the mother. Ceres, seeing this,
was no longer in doubt of her loss, but she did not yet know the
cause, and laid the blame on the innocent land. "Ungrateful soil,"
said she, "which I have endowed with fertility and clothed with
herbage and nourishing grain, no more shall you enjoy my favors."
Then the cattle died, the plough broke in the furrow, the seed
failed to come up; there was too much sun, there was too much
rain; the birds stole the seeds--thistles and brambles were the
only growth. Seeing this, the fountain Arethusa interceded for the
land. "Goddess," said she, "blame not the land; it opened
unwillingly to yield a passage to your daughter. I can tell you of
her fate, for I have seen her. This is not my native country; I
came hither from Elis. I was a woodland nymph, and delighted in
the chase. They praised my beauty, but I cared nothing for it, and
rather boasted of my hunting exploits. One day I was returning
from the wood, heated with exercise, when I came to a stream
silently flowing, so clear that you might count the pebbles on the
bottom. The willows shaded it, and the grassy bank sloped down to
the water's edge. I approached, I touched the water with my foot.
I stepped in knee-deep, and not content with that, I laid my
garments on the willows and went in. While I sported in the water,
I heard an indistinct murmur coming up as out of the depths of the
stream: and made haste to escape to the nearest bank. The voice
said, 'Why do you fly, Arethusa? I am Alpheus, the god of this
stream.' I ran, he pursued; he was not more swift than I, but he
was stronger, and gained upon me, as my strength failed. At last,
exhausted, I cried for help to Diana. 'Help me, goddess! help your
votary!' The goddess heard, and wrapped me suddenly in a thick
cloud. The river god looked now this way and now that, and twice
came close to me, but could not find me. 'Arethusa! Arethusa!' he
cried. Oh, how I trembled,--like a lamb that hears the wolf
growling outside the fold. A cold sweat came over me, my hair
flowed down in streams; where my foot stood there was a pool. In
short, in less time than it takes to tell it I became a fountain.
But in this form Alpheus knew me and attempted to mingle his
stream with mine. Diana cleft the ground, and I, endeavoring to
escape him, plunged into the cavern, and through the bowels of the
earth came out here in Sicily. While I passed through the lower
parts of the earth, I saw your Proserpine. She was sad, but no
longer showing alarm in her countenance. Her look was such as
became a queen--the queen of Erebus; the powerful bride of the
monarch of the realms of the dead."

When Ceres heard this, she stood for a while like one stupefied;
then turned her chariot towards heaven, and hastened to present
herself before the throne of Jove. She told the story of her
bereavement, and implored Jupiter to interfere to procure the
restitution of her daughter. Jupiter consented on one condition,
namely, that Proserpine should not during her stay in the lower
world have taken any food; otherwise, the Fates forbade her
release. Accordingly, Mercury was sent, accompanied by Spring, to
demand Proserpine of Pluto. The wily monarch consented; but, alas!
the maiden had taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her, and
had sucked the sweet pulp from a few of the seeds. This was enough
to prevent her complete release; but a compromise was made, by
which she was to pass half the time with her mother, and the rest
with her husband Pluto.

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

There can be little doubt of this story of Ceres and Proserpine
being an allegory. Proserpine signifies the seed-corn which when
cast into the ground lies there concealed--that is, she is carried
off by the god of the underworld. It reappears--that is,
Proserpine is restored to her mother. Spring leads her back to the
light of day.

Milton alludes to the story of Proserpine in "Paradise Lost," Book

    ". . . Not that fair field
     Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers,
     Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis
     Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
     To seek her through the world,--
     ... might with this Paradise
     Of Eden strive."

Hood, in his "Ode to Melancholy," uses the same allusion very

    "Forgive, if somewhile I forget,
       In woe to come the present bliss;
     As frighted Proserpine let fall
       Her flowers at the sight of Dis."

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

In one of Moore's juvenile poems he thus alludes to the same
story, and to the practice of throwing garlands or other light
objects on his stream to be carried downward by it, and afterwards
reproduced at its emerging:

    "O my beloved, how divinely sweet
     Is the pure joy when kindred spirits meet!
     Like him the river god, whose waters flow,
     With love their only light, through caves below,
     Wafting in triumph all the flowery braids
     And festal rings, with which Olympic maids
     Have decked his current, as an offering meet
     To lay at Arethusa's shining feet.
     Think, when he meets at last his fountain bride,
     What perfect love must thrill the blended tide!
     Each lost in each, till mingling into one,
     Their lot the same for shadow or for sun,
     A type of true love, to the deep they run."

The following extract from Moore's "Rhymes on the Road" gives an
account of a celebrated picture by Albano, at Milan, called a
Dance of Loves:

    "'Tis for the theft ef Enna's flower from earth
     These urchins celebrate their dance of mirth,
       Round the green tree, like fays upon a heath;--
         Those that are nearest linked in order bright,
       Cheek after cheek, like rosebuds in a wreath;
       And those more distant showing from beneath
         The others' wings their little eyes of light.
       While see! among the clouds, their eldest brother,
         But just flown up, tells with a smile of bliss,
       This prank of Pluto to his charmed mother,
         Who turns to greet the tidings with a kiss."


Glaucus was a fisherman. One day he had drawn his nets to land,
and had taken a great many fishes of various kinds. So he emptied
his net, and proceeded to sort the fishes on the grass. The place
where he stood was a beautiful island in the river, a solitary
spot, uninhabited, and not used for pasturage of cattle, nor ever
visited by any but himself. On a sudden, the fishes, which had
been laid on the grass, began to revive and move their fins as if
they were in the water; and while he looked on astonished, they
one and all moved off to the water, plunged in, and swam away. He
did not know what to make of this, whether some god had done it or
some secret power in the herbage. "What herb has such a power?" he
exclaimed; and gathering some of it, he tasted it. Scarce had the
juices of the plant reached his palate when he found himself
agitated with a longing desire for the water. He could no longer
restrain himself, but bidding farewell to earth, he plunged into
the stream. The gods of the water received him graciously, and
admitted him to the honor of their society. They obtained the
consent of Oceanus and Tethys, the sovereigns of the sea, that all
that was mortal in him should be washed away. A hundred rivers
poured their waters over him. Then he lost all sense of his former
nature and all consciousness. When he recovered, he found himself
changed in form and mind. His hair was sea-green, and trailed
behind him on the water; his shoulders grew broad, and what had
been thighs and legs assumed the form of a fish's tail. The sea-
gods complimented him on the change of his appearance, and he
fancied himself rather a good-looking personage.

One day Glaucus saw the beautiful maiden Scylla, the favorite of
the water-nymphs, rambling on the shore, and when she had found a
sheltered nook, laving her limbs in the clear water. He fell in
love with her, and showing himself on the surface, spoke to her,
saying such things as he thought most likely to win her to stay;
for she turned to run immediately on the sight of him, and ran
till she had gained a cliff overlooking the sea. Here she stopped
and turned round to see whether it was a god or a sea animal, and
observed with wonder his shape and color. Glaucus partly emerging
from the water, and supporting himself against a rock, said,
"Maiden, I am no monster, nor a sea animal, but a god; and neither
Proteus nor Triton ranks higher than I. Once I was a mortal, and
followed the sea for a living; but now I belong wholly to it."
Then he told the story of his metamorphosis, and how he had been
promoted to his present dignity, and added, "But what avails all
this if it fails to move your heart?" He was going on in this
strain, but Scylla turned and hastened away.

Glaucus was in despair, but it occurred to him to consult the
enchantress Circe. Accordingly he repaired to her island--the same
where afterwards Ulysses landed, as we shall see in one of our
later stories. After mutual salutations, he said, "Goddess, I
entreat your pity; you alone can relieve the pain I suffer. The
power of herbs I know as well as any one, for it is to them I owe
my change of form. I love Scylla. I am ashamed to tell you how I
have sued and promised to her, and how scornfully she has treated
me. I beseech you to use your incantations, or potent herbs, if
they are more prevailing, not to cure me of my love,--for that I
do not wish,--but to make her share it and yield me a like
return." To which Circe replied, for she was not insensible to the
attractions of the sea-green deity, "You had better pursue a
willing object; you are worthy to be sought, instead of having to
seek in vain. Be not diffident, know your own worth. I protest to
you that even I, goddess though I be, and learned in the virtues
of plants and spells, should not know how to refuse you. If she
scorns you scorn her; meet one who is ready to meet you half way,
and thus make a due return to both at once." To these words
Glaucus replied, "Sooner shall trees grow at the bottom of the
ocean, and sea-weed on the top of the mountains, than I will cease
to love Scylla, and her alone."

The goddess was indignant, but she could not punish him, neither
did she wish to do so, for she liked him too well; so she turned
all her wrath against her rival, poor Scylla. She took plants of
poisonous powers and mixed them together, with incantations and
charms. Then she passed through the crowd of gambolling beasts,
the victims of her art, and proceeded to the coast of Sicily,
where Scylla lived. There was a little bay on the shore to which
Scylla used to resort, in the heat of the day, to breathe the air
of the sea, and to bathe in its waters. Here the goddess poured
her poisonous mixture, and muttered over it incantations of mighty
power. Scylla came as usual and plunged into the water up to her
waist. What was her horror to perceive a brood of serpents and
barking monsters surrounding her! At first she could not imagine
they were a part of herself, and tried to run from them, and to
drive them away; but as she ran she carried them with her, and
when she tried to touch her limbs, she found her hands touch only
the yawning jaws of monsters. Scylla remained rooted to the spot.
Her temper grew as ugly as her form, and she took pleasure in
devouring hapless mariners who came within her grasp. Thus she
destroyed six of the companions of Ulysses, and tried to wreck the
ships of Aeneas, till at last she was turned into a rock, and as
such still continues to be a terror to mariners.

Keats, in his "Endymion," has given a new version of the ending of
"Glaucus and Scylla." Glaucus consents to Circe's blandishments,
till he by chance is witness to her transactions with her beasts.
Disgusted with her treachery and cruelty, he tries to escape from
her, but is taken and brought back, when with reproaches she
banishes him, sentencing him to pass a thousand years in
decrepitude and pain. He returns to the sea, and there finds the
body of Scylla, whom the goddess has not transformed but drowned.
Glaucus learns that his destiny is that, if he passes his thousand
years in collecting all the bodies of drowned lovers, a youth
beloved of the gods will appear and help him. Endymion fulfils
this prophecy, and aids in restoring Glaucus to youth, and Scylla
and all the drowned lovers to life.

The following is Glaucus's account of his feelings after his "sea-

    "I plunged for life or death. To interknit
     One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff
     Might seem a work of pain; so not enough
     Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt,
     And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt
     Whole days and days in sheer astonishment;
     Forgetful utterly of self-intent,
     Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow.
     Then like a new-fledged bird that first doth show
     His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill,
     I tried in fear the pinions of my will.
     'Twas freedom! and at once I visited
     The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed," etc.




Pygmalion saw so much to blame in women that he came at last to
abhor the sex, and resolved to live unmarried. He was a sculptor,
and had made with wonderful skill a statue of ivory, so beautiful
that no living woman came anywhere near it. It was indeed the
perfect semblance of a maiden that seemed to be alive, and only
prevented from moving by modesty. His art was so perfect that it
concealed itself and its product looked like the workmanship of
nature. Pygmalion admired his own work, and at last fell in love
with the counterfeit creation. Oftentimes he laid his hand upon it
as if to assure himself whether it were living or not, and could
not even then believe that it was only ivory. He caressed it, and
gave it presents such as young girls love,--bright shells and
polished stones, little birds and flowers of various hues, beads
and amber. He put raiment on its limbs, and jewels on its fingers,
and a necklace about its neck. To the ears he hung earrings and
strings of pearls upon the breast. Her dress became her, and she
looked not less charming than when unattired. He laid her on a
couch spread with cloths of Tyrian dye, and called her his wife,
and put her head upon a pillow of the softest feathers, as if she
could enjoy their softness.

The festival of Venus was at hand--a festival celebrated with
great pomp at Cyprus. Victims were offered, the altars smoked, and
the odor of incense filled the air. When Pygmalion had performed
his part in the solemnities, he stood before the altar and timidly
said, "Ye gods, who can do all things, give me, I pray you, for my
wife"--he dared not say "my ivory virgin," but said instead--"one
like my ivory virgin." Venus, who was present at the festival,
heard him and knew the thought he would have uttered; and as an
omen of her favor, caused the flame on the altar to shoot up
thrice in a fiery point into the air. When he returned home, he
went to see his statue, and leaning over the couch, gave a kiss to
the mouth. It seemed to be warm. He pressed its lips again, he
laid his hand upon the limbs; the ivory felt soft to his touch and
yielded to his fingers like the wax of Hymettus. While he stands
astonished and glad, though doubting, and fears he may be
mistaken, again and again with a lover's ardor he touches the
object of his hopes. It was indeed alive! The veins when pressed
yielded to the finger and again resumed their roundness. Then at
last the votary of Venus found words to thank the goddess, and
pressed his lips upon lips as real as his own. The virgin felt the
kisses and blushed, and opening her timid eyes to the light, fixed
them at the same moment on her lover. Venus blessed the nuptials
she had formed, and from this union Paphos was born, from whom the
city, sacred to Venus, received its name.

Schiller, in his poem the "Ideals," applies this tale of Pygmalion
to the love of nature in a youthful heart. The following
translation is furnished by a friend:

    "As once with prayers in passion flowing,
       Pygmalion embraced the stone,
     Till from the frozen marble glowing,
       The light of feeling o'er him shone,
     So did I clasp with young devotion
       Bright nature to a poet's heart;
     Till breath and warmth and vital motion
       Seemed through the statue form to dart.

    "And then, in all my ardor sharing,
       The silent form expression found;
     Returned my kiss of youthful daring,
       And understood my heart's quick sound.
     Then lived for me the bright creation,
       The silver rill with song was rife;
     The trees, the roses shared sensation,
       An echo of my boundless life."

    --S. G. B.


Dryope and Iole were sisters. The former was the wife of
Andraemon, beloved by her husband, and happy in the birth of her
first child. One day the sisters strolled to the bank of a stream
that sloped gradually down to the water's edge, while the upland
was overgrown with myrtles. They were intending to gather flowers
for forming garlands for the altars of the nymphs, and Dryope
carried her child at her bosom, precious burden, and nursed him as
she walked. Near the water grew a lotus plant, full of purple
flowers. Dryope gathered some and offered them to the baby, and
Iole was about to do the same, when she perceived blood dropping
from the places where her sister had broken them off the stem. The
plant was no other than the nymph Lotis, who, running from a base
pursuer, had been changed into this form. This they learned from
the country people when it was too late.

Dryope, horror-struck when she perceived what she had done, would
gladly have hastened from the spot, but found her feet rooted to
the ground. She tried to pull them away, but moved nothing but her
upper limbs. The woodiness crept upward, and by degrees invested
her body. In anguish she attempted to tear her hair, but found her
hands filled with leaves. The infant felt his mother's bosom begin
to harden, and the milk cease to flow. Iole looked on at the sad
fate of her sister, and could render no assistance. She embraced
the growing trunk, as if she would hold back the advancing wood,
and would gladly have been enveloped in the same bark. At this
moment Andraemon, the husband of Dryope, with her father,
approached; and when they asked for Dryope, Iole pointed them to
the new-formed lotus. They embraced the trunk of the yet warm
tree, and showered their kisses on its leaves.

Now there was nothing left of Dryope but her face. Her tears still
flowed and fell on her leaves, and while she could she spoke. "I
am not guilty. I deserve not this fate. I have injured no one. If
I speak falsely, may my foliage perish with drought and my trunk
be cut down and burned. Take this infant and give it to a nurse.
Let it often be brought and nursed under my branches, and play in
my shade; and when he is old enough to talk, let him be taught to
call me mother, and to say with sadness, 'My mother lies hid under
this bark.' But bid him be careful of river banks, and beware how
he plucks flowers, remembering that every bush he sees may be a
goddess in disguise. Farewell, dear husband, and sister, and
father. If you retain any love for me, let not the axe wound me,
nor the flocks bite and tear my branches. Since I cannot stoop to
you, climb up hither and kiss me; and while my lips continue to
feel, lift up my child that I may kiss him. I can speak no more,
for already the bark advances up my neck, and will soon shoot over
me. You need not close my eyes, the bark will close them without
your aid." Then the lips ceased to move, and life was extinct; but
the branches retained for some time longer the vital heat.

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. 'T was a lay
     More subtle-cadenced, more forest-wild
     Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child;" etc.


Venus, playing one day with her boy Cupid, wounded her bosom with
one of his arrows. She pushed him away, but the wound was deeper
than she thought. Before it healed she beheld Adonis, and was
captivated with him. She no longer took any interest in her
favorite resorts--Paphos, and Cnidos, and Amathos, rich in metals.
She absented herself even from heaven, for Adonis was dearer to
her than heaven. Him she followed and bore him company. She who
used to love to recline in the shade, with no care but to
cultivate her charms, now rambles through the woods and over the
hills, dressed like the huntress Diana; and calls her dogs, and
chases hares and stags, or other game that it is safe to hunt, but
keeps clear of the wolves and bears, reeking with the slaughter of
the herd. She charged Adonis, too, to beware of such dangerous
animals. "Be brave towards the timid," said she; "courage against
the courageous is not safe. Beware how you expose yourself to
danger and put my happiness to risk. Attack not the beasts that
Nature has armed with weapons. I do not value your glory so high
as to consent to purchase it by such exposure. Your youth, and the
beauty that charms Venus, will not touch the hearts of lions and
bristly boars. Think of their terrible claws and prodigious
strength! I hate the whole race of them. Do you ask me why?" Then
she told him the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes, who were
changed into lions for their ingratitude to her.

Having given him this warning, she mounted her chariot drawn by
swans, and drove away through the air. But Adonis was too noble to
heed such counsels. The dogs had roused a wild boar from his lair,
and the youth threw his spear and wounded the animal with a
sidelong stroke. The beast drew out the weapon with his jaws, and
rushed after Adonis, who turned and ran; but the boar overtook
him, and buried his tusks in his side, and stretched him dying
upon the plain.

Venus, in her swan-drawn chariot, had not yet reached Cyprus, when
she heard coming up through mid-air the groans of her beloved,
and turned her white-winged coursers back to earth. As she drew
near and saw from on high his lifeless body bathed in blood, she
alighted and, bending over it, beat her breast and tore her hair.
Reproaching the Fates, she said, "Yet theirs shall be but a
partial triumph; memorials of my grief shall endure, and the
spectacle of your death, my Adonis, and of my lamentations shall
be annually renewed. Your blood shall be changed into a flower;
that consolation none can envy me." Thus speaking, she sprinkled
nectar on the blood; and as they mingled, bubbles rose as in a
pool on which raindrops fall, and in an hour's time there sprang
up a flower of bloody hue like that of the pomegranate. But it is
short-lived. It is said the wind blows the blossoms open, and
afterwards blows the petals away; so it is called Anemone, or Wind
Flower, from the cause which assists equally in its production and
its decay.

Milton alludes to the story of Venus and Adonis in his "Comus":

    "Beds of hyacinth and roses
     Where young Adonis oft reposes,
     Waxing well of his deep wound
     In slumber soft, and on the ground
     Sadly sits th' Assyrian queen;" etc.


Apollo was passionately fond of a youth named Hyacinthus. He
accompanied him in his sports, carried the nets when he went
fishing, led the dogs when he went to hunt, followed him in his
excursions in the mountains, and neglected for him his lyre and
his arrows. One day they played a game of quoits together, and
Apollo, heaving aloft the discus, with strength mingled with
skill, sent it high and far. Hyacinthus watched it as it flew, and
excited with the sport ran forward to seize it, eager to make his
throw, when the quoit bounded from the earth and struck him in the
forehead. He fainted and fell. The god, as pale as himself, raised
him and tried all his art to stanch the wound and retain the
flitting life, but all in vain; the hurt was past the power of
medicine. As when one has broken the stem of a lily in the garden
it hangs its head and turns its flowers to the earth, so the head
of the dying boy, as if too heavy for his neck, fell over on his
shoulder. "Thou diest, Hyacinth," so spoke Phoebus, "robbed of thy
youth by me. Thine is the suffering, mine the crime. Would that I
could die for thee! But since that may not be, thou shalt live
with me in memory and in song. My lyre shall celebrate thee, my
song shall tell thy fate, and thou shalt become a flower inscribed
with my regrets." While Apollo spoke, behold the blood which 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, if it were not that this is purple and that
silvery white. [Footnote: It is evidently not our modern hyacinth
that is here described. It is perhaps some species of iris, or
perhaps of larkspur or of pansy.] And this was not enough for
Phoebus; but to confer still greater honor, he marked the petals
with his sorrow, and inscribed "Ah! ah!" upon them, as we see to
this day. The flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and with every
returning spring revives the memory of his fate.

It was said that Zephyrus (the West wind), who was also fond of
Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference of Apollo, blew the quoit
out of its course to make it strike Hyacinthus. Keats alludes to
this in his "Endymion," where he describes the lookers-on at the
game of quoits:

    "Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
       On either side, pitying the sad death
       Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
     Of Zephyr slew him; Zephyr penitent,
     Who now ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
       Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain."

An allusion to Hyacinthus will also be recognized in Milton's

    "Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe."



Ceyx was king of Thessaly, where he reigned in peace, without
violence or wrong. He was son of Hesperus, the Day-star, and the
glow of his beauty reminded one of his father. Halcyone, the
daughter of Aeolus, was his wife, and devotedly attached to him.
Now Ceyx was in deep affliction for the loss of his brother, and
direful prodigies following his brother's death made him feel as
if the gods were hostile to him. He thought best, therefore, to
make a voyage to Carlos in Ionia, to consult the oracle of Apollo.
But as soon as he disclosed his intention to his wife Halcyone, a
shudder ran through her frame, and her face grew deadly pale.
"What fault of mine, dearest husband, has turned your affection
from me? Where is that love of me that used to be uppermost in
your thoughts? Have you learned to feel easy in the absence of
Halcyone? Would you rather have me away?" She also endeavored to
discourage him, by describing the violence of the winds, which she
had known familiarly when she lived at home in her father's
house,--Aeolus being the god of the winds, and having as much as
he could do to restrain them. "They rush together," said she,
"with such fury that fire flashes from the conflict. But if you
must go," she added, "dear husband, let me go with you, otherwise
I shall suffer not only the real evils which you must encounter,
but those also which my fears suggest."

These words weighed heavily on the mind of King Ceyx, and it was
no less his own wish than hers to take her with him, but he could
not bear to expose her to the dangers of the sea. He answered,
therefore, consoling her as well as he could, and finished with
these words: "I promise, by the rays of my father the Day-star,
that if fate permits I will return before the moon shall have
twice rounded her orb." When he had thus spoken, he ordered the
vessel to be drawn out of the shiphouse, and the oars and sails to
be put aboard. When Halcyone saw these preparations she shuddered,
as if with a presentiment of evil. With tears and sobs she said
farewell, and then fell senseless to the ground.

Ceyx would still have lingered, but now the young men grasped
their oars and pulled vigorously through the waves, with long and
measured strokes. Halcyone raised her streaming eyes, and saw her
husband standing on the deck, waving his hand to her. She answered
his signal till the vessel had receded so far that she could no
longer distinguish his form from the rest. When the vessel itself
could no more be seen, she strained her eyes to catch the last
glimmer of the sail, till that too disappeared. Then, retiring to
her chamber, she threw herself on her solitary couch.

Meanwhile they glide out of the harbor, and the breeze plays among
the ropes. The seamen draw in their oars, and hoist their sails.
When half or less of their course was passed, as night drew on,
the sea began to whiten with swelling waves, and the east wind to
blow a gale. The master gave the word to take in sail, but the
storm forbade obedience, for such is the roar of the winds and
waves his orders are unheard. The men, of their own accord, busy
themselves to secure the oars, to strengthen the ship, to reef the
sail. While they thus do what to each one seems best, the storm
increases. The shouting of the men, the rattling of the shrouds,
and the dashing of the waves, mingle with the roar of the thunder.
The swelling sea seems lifted up to the heavens, to scatter its
foam among the clouds; then sinking away to the bottom assumes the
color of the shoal--a Stygian blackness.

The vessel shares all these changes. It seems like a wild beast
that rushes on the spears of the hunters. Rain falls in torrents,
as if the skies were coming down to unite with the sea. When the
lightning ceases for a moment, the night seems to add its own
darkness to that of the storm; then comes the flash, rending the
darkness asunder, and lighting up all with a glare. Skill fails,
courage sinks, and death seems to come on every wave. The men are
stupefied with terror. The thought of parents, and kindred, and
pledges left at home, comes over their minds. Ceyx thinks of
Halcyone. No name but hers is on his lips, and while he yearns for
her, he yet rejoices in her absence. Presently the mast is
shattered by a stroke of lightning, the rudder broken, and the
triumphant surge curling over looks down upon, the wreck, then
falls, and crushes it to fragments. Some of the seamen, stunned by
the stroke, sink, and rise no more; others cling to fragments of
the wreck. Ceyx, with the hand that used to grasp the sceptre,
holds fast to a plank, calling for help,--alas, in vain,--upon his
father and his father-in-law. But oftenest on his lips was the
name of Halcyone. To her his thoughts cling. He prays that the
waves may bear his body to her sight, and that it may receive
burial at her hands. At length the waters overwhelm him, and he
sinks. The Day-star looked dim that night. Since it could not
leave the heavens, it shrouded its face with clouds.

In the meanwhile Halcyone, ignorant of all these horrors, counted
the days till her husband's promised return. Now she gets ready
the garments which he shall put on, and now what she shall wear
when he arrives. To all the gods she offers frequent incense, but
more than all to Juno. For her husband, who was no more, she
prayed incessantly: that he might be safe; that he might come
home; that he might not, in his absence, see any one that he would
love better than her. But of all these prayers, the last was the
only one destined to be granted. The goddess, at length, could not
bear any longer to be pleaded with for one already dead, and to
have hands raised to her altars that ought rather to be offering
funeral rites. So, calling Iris, she said, "Iris, my faithful
messenger, go to the drowsy dwelling of Somnus, and tell him to
send a vision to Halcyone in the form of Ceyx, to make known to
her the event."

Iris puts on her robe of many colors, and tingeing the sky with
her bow, seeks the palace of the King of Sleep. Near the Cimmerian
country, a mountain cave is the abode of the dull god Somnus. Here
Phoebus dares not come, either rising, at midday, or setting.
Clouds and shadows are exhaled from the ground, and the light
glimmers faintly. The bird of dawning, with crested head, never
there calls aloud to Aurora, nor watchful dog, nor more sagacious
goose disturbs the silence. No wild beast, nor cattle, nor branch
moved with the wind, nor sound of human conversation, breaks the
stillness. Silence reigns there; but from the bottom of the rock
the River Lethe flows, and by its murmur invites to sleep. Poppies
grow abundantly before the door of the cave, and other herbs, from
whose juices Night collects slumbers, which she scatters over the
darkened earth. There is no gate to the mansion, to creak on its
hinges, nor any watchman; but in the midst a couch of black ebony,
adorned with black plumes and black curtains. There the god
reclines, his limbs relaxed with sleep. Around him lie dreams,
resembling all various forms, as many as the harvest bears stalks,
or the forest leaves, or the seashore sand grains.

As soon as the goddess entered and brushed away the dreams that
hovered around her, her brightness lit up all the cave. The god,
scarce opening his eyes, and ever and anon dropping his beard upon
his breast, at last shook himself free from himself, and leaning
on his arm, inquired her errand,--for he knew who she was. She
answered, "Somnus, gentlest of the gods, tranquillizer of minds
and soother of care-worn hearts, Juno sends you her commands that
you despatch a dream to Halcyone, in the city of Trachine,
representing her lost husband and all the events of the wreck."

Having delivered her message, Iris hasted away, for she could not
longer endure the stagnant air, and as she felt drowsiness
creeping over her, she made her escape, and returned by her bow
the way she came. Then Somnus called one of his numerous sons,--
Morpheus,--the most expert in counterfeiting forms, and in
imitating the walk, the countenance, and mode of speaking, even
the clothes and attitudes most characteristic of each. But he only
imitates men, leaving it to another to personate birds, beasts,
and serpents. Him they call Icelos; and Phantasos is a third, who
turns himself into rocks, waters, woods, and other things without
life. These wait upon kings and great personages in their sleeping
hours, while others move among the common people. Somnus chose,
from all the brothers, Morpheus, to perform the command of Iris;
then laid his head on his pillow and yielded himself to grateful

Morpheus flew, making no noise with his wings, and soon came to
the Haemonian city, where, laying aside his wings, he assumed the
form of Ceyx. Under that form, but pale like a dead man, naked, he
stood before the couch of the wretched wife. His beard seemed
soaked with water, and water trickled from his drowned locks.
Leaning over the bed, tears streaming from his eyes, he said, "Do
you recognize your Ceyx, unhappy wife, or has death too much
changed my visage? Behold me, know me, your husband's shade,
instead of himself. Your prayers, Halcyone, availed me nothing. I
am dead. No more deceive yourself with vain hopes of my return.
The stormy winds sunk my ship in the Aegean Sea, waves filled my
mouth while it called aloud on you. No uncertain messenger tells
you this, no vague rumor brings it to your ears. I come in person,
a shipwrecked man, to tell you my fate. Arise! give me tears, give
me lamentations, let me not go down to Tartarus unwept." To these
words Morpheus added the voice, which seemed to be that of her
husband; he seemed to pour forth genuine tears; his hands had the
gestures of Ceyx.

Halcyone, weeping, groaned, and stretched out her arms in her
sleep, striving to embrace his body, but grasping only the air.
"Stay!" she cried; "whither do you fly? let us go together." Her
own voice awakened her. Starting up, she gazed eagerly around, to
see if he was still present, for the servants, alarmed by her
cries, had brought a light. When she found him not, she smote her
breast and rent her garments. She cares not to unbind her hair,
but tears it wildly. Her nurse asks what is the cause of her
grief. "Halcyone is no more," she answers, "she perished with her
Ceyx. Utter not words of comfort, he is shipwrecked and dead. I
have seen him, I have recognized him. I stretched out my hands to
seize him and detain him. His shade vanished, but it was the true
shade of my husband. Not with the accustomed features, not with
the beauty that was his, but pale, naked, and with his hair wet
with sea-water, he appeared to wretched me. Here, in this very
spot, the sad vision stood,"--and she looked to find the mark of
his footsteps. "This it was, this that my presaging mind
foreboded, when I implored him not to leave me, to trust himself
to the waves. Oh, how I wish, since thou wouldst go, thou hadst
taken me with thee! It would have been far better. Then I should
have had no remnant of life to spend without thee, nor a separate
death to die. If I could bear to live and struggle to endure, I
should be more cruel to myself than the sea has been to me. But I
will not struggle, I will not be separated from thee, unhappy
husband. This time, at least, I will keep thee company. In death,
if one tomb may not include us, one epitaph shall; if I may not
lay my ashes with thine, my name, at least, shall not be
separated." Her grief forbade more words, and these were broken
with tears and sobs.

It was now morning. She went to the seashore, and sought the spot
where she last saw him, on his departure. "While he lingered here,
and cast off his tacklings, he gave me his last kiss." While she
reviews every object, and strives to recall every incident,
looking out over the sea, she descries an indistinct object
floating in the water. At first she was in doubt what it was, but
by degrees the waves bore it nearer, and it was plainly the body
of a man. Though unknowing of whom, yet, as it was of some
shipwrecked one, she was deeply moved, and gave it her tears,
saying, "Alas! unhappy one, and unhappy, if such there be, thy
wife!" Borne by the waves, it came nearer. As she more and more
nearly views it, she trembles more and more. Now, now it
approaches the shore. Now marks that she recognizes appear. It is
her husband! Stretching out her trembling hands towards it, she
exclaims, "O dearest husband, is it thus you return to me?"

There was built out from the shore a mole, constructed to break
the assaults of the sea, and stem its violent ingress. She leaped
upon this barrier and (it was wonderful she could do so) she flew,
and striking the air with wings produced on the instant, skimmed
along the surface of the water, an unhappy bird. As she flew, her
throat poured forth sounds full of grief, and like the voice of
one lamenting. When she touched the mute and bloodless body, she
enfolded its beloved limbs with her new-formed wings, and tried to
give kisses with her horny beak. Whether Ceyx felt it, or whether
it was only the action of the waves, those who looked on doubted,
but the body seemed to raise its head. But indeed he did feel it,
and by the pitying gods both of them were changed into birds. They
mate and have their young ones. For seven placid days, in winter
time, Halcyone broods over her nest, which floats upon the sea.
Then the way is safe to seamen. Aeolus guards the winds and keeps
them from disturbing the deep. The sea is given up, for the time,
to his grandchildren.

The following lines from Byron's "Bride of Abydos" might seem
borrowed from the concluding part of this description, if it were
not stated that the author derived the suggestion from observing
the motion of a floating corpse:

    "As shaken on his restless pillow,
     His head heaves with the heaving billow,
     That hand, whose motion is not life,
     Yet feebly seems to menace strife,
     Flung by the tossing tide on high,
     Then levelled with the wave ..."

Milton in his "Hymn on the Nativity," thus alludes to the fable of
the Halcyon:

    "But peaceful was the night
     Wherein the Prince of light
       His reign of peace upon the earth began;
     The winds with wonder whist
     Smoothly the waters kist
       Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
     Who now hath quite forgot to rave
     While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave."

Keats, also, in "Endymion," says:

    "O magic sleep! O comfortable bird
     That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind
     Till it is hushed and smooth."



The Hamadryads were Wood-nymphs. Pomona was of this class, and no
one excelled her in love of the garden and the culture of fruit.
She cared not for orests and rivers, but loved the cultivated
country, and trees that bear delicious apples. Her right hand bore
for its weapon not a javelin, but a pruning-knife. Armed with
this, she busied herself at one time to repress the too luxuriant
growths, and curtail the branches that straggled out of place; at
another, to split the twig and insert therein a graft, making the
branch adopt a nursling not its own. She took care, too, that her
favorites should not suffer from drought, and led streams of water
by them, that the thirsty roots might drink. This occupation was
her pursuit, her passion; and she was free from that which Venus
inspires. She was not without fear of the country people, and kept
her orchard locked, and allowed not men to enter. The Fauns and
Satyrs would have given all they possessed to win her, and so
would old Sylvanus, who looks young for his years, and Pan, who
wears a garland of pine leaves around his head. But Vertumnus
loved her best of all; yet he sped no better than the rest. O how
often, in the disguise of a reaper, did he bring her corn in a
basket, and looked the very image of a reaper! With a hay band
tied round him, one would think he had just come from turning over
the grass. Sometimes he would have an ox-goad in his hand, and you
would have said he had just unyoked his weary oxen. Now he bore a
pruning-hook, and personated a vine-dresser; and again, with a
ladder on his shoulder, he seemed as if he was going to gather
apples. Sometimes he trudged along as a discharged soldier, and
again he bore a fishing-rod, as if going to fish. In this way he
gained admission to her again and again, and fed his passion with
the sight of her.

One day he came in the guise of an old woman, her gray hair
surmounted with a cap, and a staff in her hand. She entered the
garden and admired the fruit. "It does you credit, my dear," she
said, and kissed her, not exactly with an old woman's kiss. She
sat down on a bank, and looked up at the branches laden with fruit
which hung over her. Opposite was an elm entwined with a vine
loaded with swelling grapes. She praised the tree and its
associated vine, equally. "But," said she, "if the tree stood
alone, and had no vine clinging to it, it would have nothing to
attract or offer us but its useless leaves. And equally the vine,
if it were not twined round the elm, would lie prostrate on the
ground. Why will you not take a lesson from the tree and the vine,
and consent to unite yourself with some one? I wish you would.
Helen herself had not more numerous suitors, nor Penelope, the
wife of shrewd Ulysses. Even while you spurn them, they court
you,--rural deities and others of every kind that frequent these
mountains. But if you are prudent and want to make a good
alliance, and will let an old woman advise you,--who loves you
better than you have any idea of,--dismiss all the rest and
accept Vertumnus, on my recommendation. I know him as well as he
knows himself. He is not a wandering deity, but belongs to these
mountains. Nor is he like too many of the lovers nowadays, who
love any one they happen to see; he loves you, and you only. Add
to this, he is young and handsome, and has the art of assuming any
shape he pleases, and can make himself just what you command him.
Moreover, he loves the same things that you do, delights in
gardening, and handles your apples with admiration. But NOW he
cares nothing for fruits nor flowers, nor anything else, but only
yourself. Take pity on him, and fancy him speaking now with my
mouth. Remember that the gods punish cruelty, and that Venus hates
a hard heart, and will visit such offences sooner or later. To
prove this, let me tell you a story, which is well known in Cyprus
to be a fact; and I hope it will have the effect to make you more

"Iphis was a young man of humble parentage, who saw and loved
Anaxarete, a noble lady of the ancient family of Teucer. He
struggled long with his passion, but when he found he could not
subdue it, he came a suppliant to her mansion. First he told his
passion to her nurse, and begged her as she loved her foster-child
to favor his suit. And then he tried to win her domestics to his
side. Sometimes he committed his vows to written tablets, and
often hung at her door garlands which he had moistened with his
tears. He stretched himself on her threshold, and uttered his
complaints to the cruel bolts and bars. She was deafer than the
surges which rise in the November gale; harder than steel from the
German forges, or a rock that still clings to its native cliff.
She mocked and laughed at him, adding cruel words to her ungentle
treatment, and gave not the slightest gleam of hope.

"Iphis could not any longer endure the torments of hopeless love,
and, standing before her doors, he spake these last words:
'Anaxarete, you have conquered, and shall no longer have to bear
my importunities. Enjoy your triumph! Sing songs of joy, and bind
your forehead with laurel,--you have conquered! I die; stony
heart, rejoice! This at least I can do to gratify you and force
you to praise me; and thus shall I prove that the love of you left
me but with life. Nor will I leave it to rumor to tell you of my
death. I will come myself, and you shall see me die, and feast
your eyes on the spectacle. Yet, O ye gods, who look down on
mortal woes, observe my fate! I ask but this: let me be remembered
in coming ages, and add those years to my fame which you have reft
from my life. Thus he said, and, turning his pale face and weeping
eyes towards her mansion, he fastened a rope to the gatepost, on
which he had often hung garlands, and putting his head into the
noose, he murmured, 'This garland at least will please you, cruel
girl!' and falling hung suspended with his neck broken. As he fell
he struck against the gate, and the sound was as the sound of a
groan. The servants opened the door and found him dead, and with
exclamations of pity raised him and carried him home to his
mother, for his father was not living. She received the dead body
of her son, and folded the cold form to her bosom, while she
poured forth the sad words which bereaved mothers utter. The
mournful funeral passed through the town, and the pale corpse was
borne on a bier to the place of the funeral pile. By chance the
home of Anaxarete was on the street where the procession passed,
and the lamentations of the mourners met the ears of her whom the
avenging deity had already marked for punishment.

"'Let us see this sad procession,' said she, and mounted to a
turret, whence through an open window she looked upon the funeral.
Scarce had her eyes rested upon the form of Iphis stretched on the
bier, when they began to stiffen, and the warm blood in her body
to become cold. Endeavoring to step back, she found she could not
move her feet; trying to turn away her face, she tried in vain;
and by degrees all her limbs became stony like her heart. That you
may not doubt the fact, the statue still remains, and stands in
the temple of Venus at Salamis, in the exact form of the lady. Now
think of these things, my dear, and lay aside your scorn and your
delays, and accept a lover. So may neither the vernal frosts
blight your young fruits, nor furious winds scatter your

When Vertumnus had spoken thus, he dropped the disguise of an old
woman, and stood before her in his proper person, as a comely
youth. It appeared to her like the sun bursting through a cloud.
He would have renewed his entreaties, but there was no need; his
arguments and the sight of his true form prevailed, and the Nymph
no longer resisted, but owned a mutual flame.

Pomona was the especial patroness of the Apple-orchard, and as
such she was invoked by Phillips, the author of a poem on Cider,
in blank verse. Thomson in the "Seasons" alludes to him:

    "Phillips, Pomona's bard, the second thou
     Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfettered verse,
     With British freedom, sing the British song."

But Pomona was also regarded as presiding over other fruits, and
as such is invoked by Thomson:

    "Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves,
     To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
     With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
     Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclined
     Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes,
     Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit."



A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the
two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest
was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable to express
its due praise. The fame of her beauty was so great that strangers
from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the sight, and
looked on her with amazement, paying her that homage which is due
only to Venus herself. In fact Venus found her altars deserted,
while men turned their devotion to this young virgin. As she
passed along, the people sang her praises, and strewed her way
with chaplets and flowers.

This perversion of homage due only to the immortal powers to the
exaltation of a mortal gave great offence to the real Venus.
Shaking her ambrosial locks with indignation, she exclaimed, "Am I
then to be eclipsed in my honors by a mortal girl? In vain then
did that royal shepherd, whose judgment was approved by Jove
himself, give me the palm of beauty over my illustrious rivals,
Pallas and Juno. But she shall not so quietly usurp my honors. I
will give her cause to repent of so unlawful a beauty."

Thereupon she calls her winged son Cupid, mischievous enough in
his own nature, and rouses and provokes him yet more by her
complaints. She points out Psyche to him and says, "My dear son,
punish that contumacious beauty; give thy mother a revenge as
sweet as her injuries are great; infuse into the bosom of that
haughty girl a passion for some low, mean, unworthy being, so that
she may reap a mortification as great as her present exultation
and triumph."

Cupid prepared to obey the commands of his mother. There are two
fountains in Venus's garden, one of sweet waters, the other of
bitter. Cupid filled two amber vases, one from each fountain, and
suspending them from the top of his quiver, hastened to the
chamber of Psyche, whom he found asleep. He shed a few drops from
the bitter fountain over her lips, though the sight of her almost
moved him to pity; then touched her side with the point of his
arrow. At the touch she awoke, and opened eyes upon Cupid (himself
invisible), which so startled him that in his confusion he wounded
himself with his own arrow. Heedless of his wound, his whole
thought now was to repair the mischief he had done, and he poured
the balmy drops of joy over all her silken ringlets.

Psyche, henceforth frowned upon by Venus, derived no benefit from
all her charms. True, all eyes were cast eagerly upon her, and
every mouth spoke her praises; but neither king, royal youth, nor
plebeian presented himself to demand her in marriage. Her two
elder sisters of moderate charms had now long been married to two
royal princes; but Psyche, in her lonely apartment, deplored her
solitude, sick of that beauty which, while it procured abundance
of flattery, had failed to awaken love.

Her parents, afraid that they had unwittingly incurred the anger
of the gods, consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received this
answer: "The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover.
Her future husband awaits her on the top of the mountain. He is a
monster whom neither gods nor men can resist."

This dreadful decree of the oracle filled all the people with
dismay, and her parents abandoned themselves to grief. But Psyche
said, "Why, my dear parents, do you now lament me? You should
rather have grieved when the people showered upon me undeserved
honors, and with one voice called me a Venus. I now perceive that
I am a victim to that name. I submit. Lead me to that rock to
which my unhappy fate has destined me." Accordingly, all things
being prepared, the royal maid took her place in the procession,
which more resembled a funeral than a nuptial pomp, and with her
parents, amid the lamentations of the people, ascended the
mountain, on the summit of which they left her alone, and with
sorrowful hearts returned home.

While Psyche stood on the ridge of the mountain, panting with fear
and with eyes full of tears, the gentle Zephyr raised her from the
earth and bore her with an easy motion into a flowery dale. By
degrees her mind became composed, and she laid herself down on the
grassy bank to sleep. When she awoke refreshed with sleep, she
looked round and beheld near by a pleasant grove of tall and
stately trees. She entered it, and in the midst discovered a
fountain, sending forth clear and crystal waters, and fast by, a
magnificent palace whose august front impressed the spectator that
it was not the work of mortal hands, but the happy retreat of some
god. Drawn by admiration and wonder, she approached the building
and ventured to enter. Every object she met filled her with
pleasure and amazement. Golden pillars supported the vaulted roof,
and the walls were enriched with carvings and paintings
representing beasts of the chase and rural scenes, adapted to
delight the eye of the beholder. Proceeding onward, she perceived
that besides the apartments of state there were others filled with
all manner of treasures, and beautiful and precious productions of
nature and art.

While her eyes were thus occupied, a voice addressed her, though
she saw no one, uttering these words: "Sovereign lady, all that
you see is yours. We whose voices you hear are your servants and
shall obey all your commands with our utmost care and diligence.
Retire, therefore, to your chamber and repose on your bed of down,
and when you see fit repair to the bath. Supper awaits you in the
adjoining alcove when it pleases you to take your seat there."

Psyche gave ear to the admonitions of her vocal attendants, and
after repose and the refreshment of the bath, seated herself in
the alcove, where a table immediately presented itself, without
any visible aid from waiters or servants, and covered with the
greatest delicacies of food and the most nectareous wines. Her
ears too were feasted with music from invisible performers; of
whom one sang, another played on the lute, and all closed in the
wonderful harmony of a full chorus.

She had not yet seen her destined husband. He came only in the
hours of darkness and fled before the dawn of morning, but his
accents were full of love, and inspired a like passion in her. She
often begged him to stay and let her behold him, but he would not
consent. On the contrary he charged her to make no attempt to see
him, for it was his pleasure, for the best of reasons, to keep
concealed. "Why should you wish to behold me?" he said; "have you
any doubt of my love? have you any wish ungratified? If you saw
me, perhaps you would fear me, perhaps adore me, but all I ask of
you is to love me. I would rather you would love me as an equal
than adore me as a god."

This reasoning somewhat quieted Psyche for a time, and while the
novelty lasted she felt quite happy. But at length the thought of
her parents, left in ignorance of her fate, and of her sisters,
precluded from sharing with her the delights of her situation,
preyed on her mind and made her begin to feel her palace as but a
splendid prison. When her husband came one night, she told him her
distress, and at last drew from him an unwilling consent that her
sisters should be brought to see her.

So, calling Zephyr, she acquainted him with her husband's
commands, and he, promptly obedient, soon brought them across the
mountain down to their sister's valley. They embraced her and she
returned their caresses. "Come," said Psyche, "enter with me my
house and refresh yourselves with whatever your sister has to
offer." Then taking their hands she led them into her golden
palace, and committed them to the care of her numerous train of
attendant voices, to refresh them in her baths and at her table,
and to show them all her treasures. The view of these celestial
delights caused envy to enter their bosoms, at seeing their young
sister possessed of such state and splendor, so much exceeding
their own.

They asked her numberless questions, among others what sort of a
person her husband was. Psyche replied that he was a beautiful
youth, who generally spent the daytime in hunting upon the
mountains. The sisters, not satisfied with this reply, soon made
her confess that she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to
fill her bosom with dark suspicions. "Call to mind," they said,
"the Pythian oracle that declared you destined to marry a direful
and tremendous monster. The inhabitants of this valley say that
your husband is a terrible and monstrous serpent, who nourishes
you for a while with dainties that he may by and by devour you.
Take our advice. Provide yourself with a lamp and a sharp knife;
put them in concealment that your husband may not discover them,
and when he is sound asleep, slip out of bed, bring forth your
lamp, and see for yourself whether what they say is true or not.
If it is, hesitate not to cut off the monster's head, and thereby
recover your liberty."

Psyche resisted these persuasions as well as she could, but they
did not fail to have their effect on her mind, and when her
sisters were gone, their words and her own curiosity were too
strong for her to resist. So she prepared her lamp and a sharp
knife, and hid them out of sight of her husband. When he had
fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her
lamp beheld not a hideous monster, but the most beautiful and
charming of the gods, with his golden ringlets wandering over his
snowy neck and crimson cheek, with two dewy wings on his
shoulders, whiter than snow, and with shining feathers like the
tender blossoms of spring. As she leaned the lamp over to have a
nearer view of his face a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder
of the god, startled with which he opened his eyes and fixed them
full upon her; then, without saying one word, he spread his white
wings and flew out of the window. Psyche, in vain endeavoring to
follow him, fell from the window to the ground. Cupid, beholding
her as she lay in the dust, stopped his flight for an instant and
said, "O foolish Psyche, is it thus you repay my love? After
having disobeyed my mother's commands and made you my wife, will
you think me a monster and cut off my head? But go; return to your
sisters, whose advice you seem to think preferable to mine. I
inflict no other punishment on you than to leave you forever. Love
cannot dwell with suspicion." So saying, he fled away, leaving
poor Psyche prostrate on the ground, filling the place with
mournful lamentations.

When she had recovered some degree of composure she looked around
her, but the palace and gardens had vanished, and she found
herself in the open field not far from the city where her sisters
dwelt. She repaired thither and told them the whole story of her
misfortunes, at which, pretending to grieve, those spiteful
creatures inwardly rejoiced. "For now," said they, "he will
perhaps choose one of us." With this idea, without saying a word
of her intentions, each of them rose early the next morning and
ascended the mountains, and having reached the top, called upon
Zephyr to receive her and bear her to his lord; then leaping up,
and not being sustained by Zephyr, fell down the precipice and was
dashed to pieces.

Psyche meanwhile wandered day and night, without food or repose,
in search of her husband. Casting her eyes on a lofty mountain
having on its brow a magnificent temple, she sighed and said to
herself, "Perhaps my love, my lord, inhabits there," and directed
her steps thither.

She had no sooner entered than she saw heaps of corn, some in
loose ears and some in sheaves, with mingled ears of barley.
Scattered about, lay sickles and rakes, and all the instruments of
harvest, without order, as if thrown carelessly out of the weary
reapers' hands in the sultry hours of the day.

This unseemly confusion the pious Psyche put an end to, by
separating and sorting everything to its proper place and kind,
believing that she ought to neglect none of the gods, but endeavor
by her piety to engage them all in her behalf. The holy Ceres,
whose temple it was, finding her so religiously employed, thus
spoke to her: "O Psyche, truly worthy of our pity, though I cannot
shield you from the frowns of Venus, yet I can teach you how best
to allay her displeasure. Go, then, and voluntarily surrender
yourself to your lady and sovereign, and try by modesty and
submission to win her forgiveness, and perhaps her favor will
restore you the husband you have lost."

Psyche obeyed the commands of Ceres and took her way to the temple
of Venus, endeavoring to fortify her mind and ruminating on what
she should say and how best propitiate the angry goddess, feeling
that the issue was doubtful and perhaps fatal.

Venus received her with angry countenance. "Most undutiful and
faithless of servants," said she, "do you at last remember that
you really have a mistress? Or have you rather come to see your
sick husband, yet laid up of the wound given him by his loving
wife? You are so ill-favored and disagreeable that the only way
you can merit your lover must be by dint of industry and
diligence. I will make trial of your housewifery." Then she
ordered Psyche to be led to the storehouse of her temple, where
was laid up a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, vetches,
beans, and lentils prepared for food for her pigeons, and said,
"Take and separate all these grains, putting all of the same kind
in a parcel by themselves, and see that you get it done before
evening." Then Venus departed and left her to her task.

But Psyche, in a perfect consternation at the enormous work, sat
stupid and silent, without moving a finger to the inextricable

While she sat despairing, Cupid stirred up the little ant, a
native of the fields, to take compassion on her. The leader of the
ant hill, followed by whole hosts of his six-legged subjects,
approached the heap, and with the utmost diligence, taking grain
by grain, they separated the pile, sorting each kind to its
parcel; and when it was all done, they vanished out of sight in a

Venus at the approach of twilight returned from the banquet of the
gods, breathing odors and crowned with roses. Seeing the task
done, she exclaimed, "This is no work of yours, wicked one, but
his, whom to your own and his misfortune you have enticed." So
saying, she threw her a piece of black bread for her supper and
went away.

Next morning Venus ordered Psyche to be called and said to her,
"Behold yonder grove which stretches along the margin of the
water. There you will find sheep feeding without a shepherd, with
golden-shining fleeces on their backs. Go, fetch me a sample of
that precious wool gathered from every one of their fleeces."

Psyche obediently went to the riverside, prepared to do her best
to execute the command. But the river god inspired the reeds with
harmonious murmurs, which seemed to say, "O maiden, severely
tried, tempt not the dangerous flood, nor venture among the
formidable rams on the other side, for as long as they are under
the influence of the rising sun, they burn with a cruel rage to
destroy mortals with their sharp horns or rude teeth. But when the
noontide sun has driven the cattle to the shade, and the serene
spirit of the flood has lulled them to rest, you may then cross in
safety, and you will find the woolly gold sticking to the bushes
and the trunks of the trees."

Thus the compassionate river god gave Psyche instructions how to
accomplish her task, and by observing his directions she soon
returned to Venus with her arms full of the golden fleece; but she
received not the approbation of her implacable mistress, who said,
"I know very well it is by none of your own doings that you have
succeeded in this task, and I am not satisfied yet that you have
any capacity to make yourself useful. But I have another task for
you. Here, take this box and go your way to the infernal shades,
and give this box to Proserpine and say, 'My mistress Venus
desires you to send her a little of your beauty, for in tending
her sick son she has lost some of her own.' Be not too long on
your errand, for I must paint myself with it to appear at the
circle of the gods and goddesses this evening."

Psyche was now satisfied that her destruction was at hand, being
obliged to go with her own feet directly down to Erebus.
Wherefore, to make no delay of what was not to be avoided, she
goes to the top of a high tower to precipitate herself headlong,
thus to descend the shortest way to the shades below. But a voice
from the tower said to her, "Why, poor unlucky girl, dost thou
design to put an end to thy days in so dreadful a manner? And what
cowardice makes thee sink under this last danger who hast been so
miraculously supported in all thy former?" Then the voice told her
how by a certain cave she might reach the realms of Pluto, and how
to avoid all the dangers of the road, to pass by Cerberus, the
three-headed dog, and prevail on Charon, the ferryman, to take her
across the black river and bring her back again. But the voice
added, "When Proserpine has given you the box filled with her
beauty, of all things this is chiefly to be observed by you, that
you never once open or look into the box nor allow your curiosity
to pry into the treasure of the beauty of the goddesses."

Psyche, encouraged by this advice, obeyed it in all things, and
taking heed to her ways travelled safely to the kingdom of Pluto.
She was admitted to the palace of Proserpine, and without
accepting the delicate seat or delicious banquet that was offered
her, but contented with coarse bread for her food, she delivered
her message from Venus. Presently the box was returned to her,
shut and filled with the precious commodity. Then she returned the
way she came, and glad was she to come out once more into the
light of day.

But having got so far successfully through her dangerous task, a
longing desire seized her to examine the contents of the box.
"What," said she, "shall I, the carrier of this divine beauty, not
take the least bit to put on my cheeks to appear to more advantage
in the eyes of my beloved husband!" So she carefully opened the
box, but found nothing there of any beauty at all, but an infernal
and truly Stygian sleep, which being thus set free from its
prison, took possession of her, and she fell down in the midst of
the road, a sleepy corpse without sense or motion.

But Cupid, being now recovered from his wound, and not able longer
to bear the absence of his beloved Psyche, slipping through the
smallest crack of the window of his chamber which happened to be
left open, flew to the spot where Psyche lay, and gathering up the
sleep from her body closed it again in the box, and waked Psyche
with a light touch of one of his arrows. "Again," said he, "hast
thou almost perished by the same curiosity. But now perform
exactly the task imposed on you by my mother, and I will take care
of the rest."

Then Cupid, as swift as lightning penetrating the heights of
heaven, presented himself before Jupiter with his supplication.
Jupiter lent a favoring ear, and pleaded the cause of the lovers
so earnestly with Venus that he won her consent. On this he sent
Mercury to bring Psyche up to the heavenly assembly, and when she
arrived, handing her a cup of ambrosia, he said, "Drink this,
Psyche, and be immortal; nor shall Cupid ever break away from the
knot in which he is tied, but these nuptials shall be perpetual."

Thus Psyche became at last united to Cupid, and in due time they
had a daughter born to them whose name was Pleasure.

The fable of Cupid and Psyche is usually considered allegorical.
The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means
the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the soul
so striking and beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on brilliant
wings from the tomb in which it has lain, after a dull,
grovelling, caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day
and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions of the
spring. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by
sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment
of true and pure happiness.

In works of art Psyche is represented as a maiden with the wings
of a butterfly, along with Cupid, in the different situations
described in the allegory.

Milton alludes to the story of Cupid and Psyche in the conclusion
of his "Comus":

    "Celestial Cupid, her famed son, advanced,
     Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranced,
     After her wandering labors long,
     Till free consent the gods among
     Make her his eternal bride;
     And from her fair unspotted side
     Two blissful twins are to be born,
     Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn."

The allegory of the story of Cupid and Psyche is well presented in
the beautiful lines of T. K. Harvey:

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

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

    "But nevermore they met since doubts and fears,
       Those phantom shapes that haunt and blight the earth,
     Had come 'twixt her, a child of sin and tears,
       And that bright spirit of immortal birth;
     Until her pining soul and weeping eyes
     Had learned to seek him only in the skies;
     Till wings unto the weary heart were given,
     And she became Love's angel bride in heaven!"

The story of Cupid and Psyche first appears in the works of
Apuleius, a writer of the second century of our era. It is
therefore of much more recent date than most of the legends of the
Age of Fable. It is this that Keats alludes to in his "Ode to

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

In Moore's "Summer Fete" a fancy ball is described, in which one
of the characters personated is Psyche--

    "... not in dark disguise to-night
     Hath our young heroine veiled her light;--
     For see, she walks the earth, Love's own.
       His wedded bride, by holiest vow
     Pledged in Olympus, and made known
       To mortals by the type which now
       Hangs glittering on her snowy brow.
     That butterfly, mysterious trinket,
     Which means the soul, (though few would think it,)
     And sparkling thus on brow so white
     Tells us we've Psyche here to-night."



Jupiter, under the disguise of a bull, had carried away Europa,
the daughter of Agenor, king of Phoenicia. Agenor commanded his
son Cadmus to go in search of his sister, and not to return
without her. Cadmus went and sought long and far for his sister,
but could not find her, and not daring to return unsuccessful,
consulted the oracle of Apollo to know what country he should
settle in. The oracle informed him that he should find a cow in
the field, and should follow her wherever she might wander, and
where she stopped, should build a city and call it Thebes. Cadmus
had hardly left the Castalian cave, from which the oracle was
delivered, when he saw a young cow slowly walking before him. He
followed her close, offering at the same time his prayers to
Phoebus. The cow went on till she passed the shallow channel of
Cephisus and came out into the plain of Panope. There she stood
still, and raising her broad forehead to the sky, filled the air
with her lowings. Cadmus gave thanks, and stooping down kissed the
foreign soil, then lifting his eyes, greeted the surrounding
mountains. Wishing to offer a sacrifice to Jupiter, he sent his
servants to seek pure water for a libation. Near by there stood an
ancient grove which had never been profaned by the axe, in the
midst of which was a cave, thick covered with the growth of
bushes, its roof forming a low arch, from beneath which burst
forth a fountain of purest water. In the cave lurked a horrid
serpent with a crested head and scales glittering like gold. His
eyes shone like fire, his body was swollen with venom, he vibrated
a triple tongue, and showed a triple row of teeth. No sooner had
the Tyrians dipped their pitchers in the fountain, and the in-
gushing waters made a sound, than the glittering serpent raised
his head out of the cave and uttered a fearful hiss. The vessels
fell from their hands, the blood left their cheeks, they trembled
in every limb. The serpent, twisting his scaly body in a huge
coil, raised his head so as to overtop the tallest trees, and
while the Tyrians from terror could neither fight nor fly, slew
some with his fangs, others in his folds, and others with his
poisonous breath.

Cadmus, having waited for the return of his men till midday, went
in search of them. His covering was a lion's hide, and besides his
javelin he carried in his hand a lance, and in his breast a bold
heart, a surer reliance than either. When he entered the wood, and
saw the lifeless bodies of his men, and the monster with his
bloody jaws, he exclaimed, "O faithful friends, I will avenge you,
or share your death." So saying he lifted a huge stone and threw
it with all his force at the serpent. Such a block would have
shaken the wall of a fortress, but it made no impression on the
monster. Cadmus next threw his javelin, which met with better
success, for it penetrated the serpent's scales, and pierced
through to his entrails. Fierce with pain, the monster turned back
his head to view the wound, and attempted to draw out the weapon
with his mouth, but broke it off, leaving the iron point rankling
in his flesh. His neck swelled with rage, bloody foam covered his
jaws, and the breath of his nostrils poisoned the air around. Now
he twisted himself into a circle, then stretched himself out on
the ground like the trunk of a fallen tree. As he moved onward,
Cadmus retreated before him, holding his spear opposite to the
monster's opened jaws. The serpent snapped at the weapon and
attempted to bite its iron point. At last Cadmus, watching his
chance, thrust the spear at a moment when the animal's head thrown
back came against the trunk of a tree, and so succeeded in pinning
him to its side. His weight bent the tree as he struggled in the
agonies of death.

While Cadmus stood over his conquered foe, contemplating its vast
size, a voice was heard (from whence he knew not, but he heard it
distinctly) commanding him to take the dragon's teeth and sow them
in the earth. He obeyed. He made a furrow in the ground, and
planted the teeth, destined to produce a crop of men. Scarce had
he done so when the clods began to move, and the points of spears
to appear above the surface. Next helmets with their nodding
plumes came up, and next the shoulders and breasts and limbs of
men with weapons, and in time a harvest of armed warriors. Cadmus,
alarmed, prepared to encounter a new enemy, but one of them said
to him, "Meddle not with our civil war." With that he who had
spoken smote one of his earth-born brothers with a sword, and he
himself fell pierced with an arrow from another. The latter fell
victim to a fourth, and in like manner the whole crowd dealt with
each other till all fell, slain with mutual wounds, except five
survivors. One of these cast away his weapons and said, "Brothers,
let us live in peace!" These five joined with Cadmus in building
his city, to which they gave the name of Thebes.

Cadmus obtained in marriage Harmonia, the daughter of Venus. The
gods left Olympus to honor the occasion with their presence, and
Vulcan presented the bride with a necklace of surpassing
brilliancy, his own workmanship. But a fatality hung over the
family of Cadmus in consequence of his killing the serpent sacred
to Mars. Semele and Ino, his daughters, and Actaeon and Pentheus,
his grandchildren, all perished unhappily, and Cadmus and Harmonia
quitted Thebes, now grown odious to them, and emigrated to the
country of the Enchelians, who received them with honor and made
Cadmus their king. But the misfortunes of their children still
weighed upon their minds; and one day Cadmus exclaimed, "If a
serpent's life is so dear to the gods, I would I were myself a
serpent." No sooner had he uttered the words than he began to
change his form. Harmonia beheld it and prayed to the gods to let
her share his fate. Both became serpents. They live in the woods,
but mindful of their origin, they neither avoid the presence of
man nor do they ever injure any one.

There is a tradition that Cadmus introduced into Greece the
letters of the alphabet which were invented by the Phoenicians.
This is alluded to by Byron, where, addressing the modern Greeks,
he says:

    "You have the letters Cadmus gave,
     Think you he meant them for a slave?"

Milton, describing the serpent which tempted Eve, is reminded of
the serpents of the classical stories and says:

    ... "--pleasing was his shape,
     And lovely never since of serpent kind
     Lovelier; not those that in Illyria changed
     Hermione and Cadmus, nor the god
     In Epidaurus"

For an explanation of the last allusion, see Oracle of
Aesculapius, p. 298.


The Myrmidons were the soldiers of Achilles, in the Trojan war.
From them all zealous and unscrupulous followers of a political
chief are called by that name, down to this day. But the origin of
the Myrmidons would not give one the idea of a fierce and bloody
race, but rather of a laborious and peaceful one.

Cephalus, king of Athens, arrived in the island of Aegina to seek
assistance of his old friend and ally Aeacus, the king, in his war
with Minos, king of Crete. Cephalus was most kindly received, and
the desired assistance readily promised. "I have people enough,"
said Aeacus, "to protect myself and spare you such a force as you
need." "I rejoice to see it," replied Cephalus, "and my wonder has
been raised, I confess, to find such a host of youths as I see
around me, all apparently of about the same age. Yet there are
many individuals whom I previously knew, that I look for now in
vain. What has become of them?" Aeacus groaned, and replied with a
voice of sadness, "I have been intending to tell you, and will now
do so, without more delay, that you may see how from the saddest
beginning a happy result sometimes flows. Those whom you formerly
knew are now dust and ashes! A plague sent by angry Juno
devastated the land. She hated it because it bore the name of one
of her husband's female favorites. While the disease appeared to
spring from natural causes we resisted it, as we best might, by
natural remedies; but it soon appeared that the pestilence was too
powerful for our efforts, and we yielded. At the beginning the sky
seemed to settle down upon the earth, and thick clouds shut in the
heated air. For four months together a deadly south wind
prevailed. The disorder affected the wells and springs; thousands
of snakes crept over the land and shed their poison in the
fountains. The force of the disease was first spent on the lower
animals--dogs, cattle, sheep, and birds The luckless ploughman
wondered to see his oxen fall in the midst of their work, and lie
helpless in the unfinished furrow. The wool fell from the bleating
sheep, and their bodies pined away. The horse, once foremost in
the race, contested the palm no more, but groaned at his stall and
died an inglorious death. The wild boar forgot his rage, the stag
his swiftness, the bears no longer attacked the herds. Everything
languished; dead bodies lay in the roads, the fields, and the
woods; the air was poisoned by them, I tell you what is hardly
credible, but neither dogs nor birds would touch them, nor
starving wolves. Their decay spread the infection. Next the
disease attacked the country people, and then the dwellers in the
city. At first the cheek was flushed, and the breath drawn with
difficulty. The tongue grew rough and swelled, and the dry mouth
stood open with its veins enlarged and gasped for the air. Men
could not bear the heat of their clothes or their beds, but
preferred to lie on the bare ground; and the ground did not cool
them, but, on the contrary, they heated the spot where they lay.
Nor could the physicians help, for the disease attacked them also,
and the contact of the sick gave them infection, so that the most
faithful were the first victims. At last all hope of relief
vanished, and men learned to look upon death as the only deliverer
from disease. Then they gave way to every inclination, and cared
not to ask what was expedient, for nothing was expedient. All
restraint laid aside, they crowded around the wells and fountains
and drank till they died, without quenching thirst. Many had not
strength to get away from the water, but died in the midst of the
stream, and others would drink of it notwithstanding. Such was
their weariness of their sick beds that some would creep forth,
and if not strong enough to stand, would die on the ground. They
seemed to hate their friends, and got away from their homes, as
if, not knowing the cause of their sickness, they charged it on
the place of their abode. Some were seen tottering along the road,
as long as they could stand, while others sank on the earth, and
turned their dying eyes around to take a last look, then closed
them in death.

"What heart had I left me, during all this, or what ought I to
have had, except to hate life and wish to be with my dead
subjects? On all sides lay my people strewn like over-ripened
apples beneath the tree, or acorns under the storm-shaken oak. You
see yonder a temple on the height. It is sacred to Jupiter. O how
many offered prayers there, husbands for wives, fathers for sons,
and died in the very act of supplication! How often, while the
priest made ready for sacrifice, the victim fell, struck down by
disease without waiting for the blow! At length all reverence for
sacred things was lost. Bodies were thrown out unburied, wood was
wanting for funeral piles, men fought with one another for the
possession of them. Finally there were none left to mourn; sons
and husbands, old men and youths, perished alike unlamented.

"Standing before the altar I raised my eyes to heaven. 'O
Jupiter,' I said, 'if thou art indeed my father, and art not
ashamed of thy offspring, give me back my people, or take me also
away!' At these words a clap of thunder was heard. 'I accept the
omen,' I cried; 'O may it be a sign of a favorable disposition
towards me!' By chance there grew by the place where I stood an
oak with wide-spreading branches, sacred to Jupiter. I observed a
troop of ants busy with their labor, carrying minute grains in
their mouths and following one another in a line up the trunk of
the tree. Observing their numbers with admiration, I said, 'Give
me, O father, citizens as numerous as these, and replenish my
empty city.' The tree shook and gave a rustling sound with its
branches, though no wind agitated them. I trembled in every limb,
yet I kissed the earth and the tree. I would not confess to myself
that I hoped, yet I did hope. Night came on and sleep took
possession of my frame oppressed with cares. The tree stood before
me in my dreams, with its numerous branches all covered with
living, moving creatures. It seemed to shake its limbs and throw
down over the ground a multitude of those industrious grain-
gathering animals, which appeared to gain in size, and grow larger
and larger, and by and by to stand erect, lay aside their
superfluous legs and their black color, and finally to assume the
human form. Then I awoke, and my first impulse was to chide the
gods who had robbed me of a sweet vision and given me no reality
in its place. Being still in the temple, my attention was caught
by the sound of many voices without; a sound of late unusual to my
ears. While I began to think I was yet dreaming, Telamon, my son,
throwing open the temple gates, exclaimed: 'Father, approach, and
behold things surpassing even your hopes!' I went forth; I saw a
multitude of men, such as I had seen in my dream, and they were
passing in procession in the same manner. While I gazed with
wonder and delight they approached and kneeling hailed me as their
king. I paid my vows to Jove, and proceeded to allot the vacant
city to the new-born race, and to parcel out the fields among them
I called them Myrmidons, from the ant (myrmex) from which they
sprang. You have seen these persons; their dispositions resemble
those which they had in their former shape. They are a diligent
and industrious race, eager to gain, and tenacious of their gains.
Among them you may recruit your forces. They will follow you to
the war, young in years and bold in heart." This description of
the plague is copied by Ovid from the account which Thucydides,
the Greek historian, gives of the plague of Athens. The historian
drew from life, and all the poets and writers of fiction since his
day, when they have had occasion to describe a similar scene, have
borrowed their details from him.




Minos, king of Crete, made war upon Megara. Nisus was king of
Megara, and Scylla was his daughter. The siege had now lasted six
months and the city still held out, for it was decreed by fate
that it should not be taken so long as a certain purple lock,
which glittered among the hair of King Nisus, remained on his
head. There was a tower on the city walls, which overlooked the
plain where Minos and his army were encamped. To this tower Scylla
used to repair, and look abroad over the tents of the hostile
army. The siege had lasted so long that she had learned to
distinguish the persons of the leaders. Minos, in particular,
excited her admiration. Arrayed in his helmet, and bearing his
shield, she admired his graceful deportment; if he threw his
javelin skill seemed combined with force in the discharge; if he
drew his bow Apollo himself could not have done it more
gracefully. But when he laid aside his helmet, and in his purple
robes bestrode his white horse with its gay caparisons, and reined
in its foaming mouth, the daughter of Nisus was hardly mistress of
herself; she was almost frantic with admiration. She envied the
weapon that he grasped, the reins that he held. She felt as if she
could, if it were possible, go to him through the hostile ranks;
she felt an impulse to cast herself down from the tower into the
midst of his camp, or to open the gates to him, or to do anything
else, so only it might gratify Minos. As she sat in the tower, she
talked thus with herself: "I know not whether to rejoice or grieve
at this sad war. I grieve that Minos is our enemy; but I rejoice
at any cause that brings him to my sight. Perhaps he would be
willing to grant us peace, and receive me as a hostage. I would
fly down, if I could, and alight in his camp, and tell him that we
yield ourselves to his mercy. But then, to betray my father! No!
rather would I never see Minos again. And yet no doubt it is
sometimes the best thing for a city to be conquered, when the
conqueror is clement and generous. Minos certainly has right on
his side. I think we shall be conquered; and if that must be the
end of it, why should not love unbar the gates to him, instead of
leaving it to be done by war? Better spare delay and slaughter if
we can. And O if any one should wound or kill Minos! No one surely
would have the heart to do it; yet ignorantly, not knowing him,
one might. I will, I will surrender myself to him, with my country
as a dowry, and so put an end to the war. But how? The gates are
guarded, and my father keeps the keys; he only stands in my way. O
that it might please the gods to take him away! But why ask the
gods to do it? Another woman, loving as I do, would remove with
her own hands whatever stood in the way of her love. And can any
other woman dare more than I? I would encounter fire and sword to
gain my object; but here there is no need of fire and sword. I
only need my father's purple lock. More precious than gold to me,
that will give me all I wish."

While she thus reasoned night came on, and soon the whole palace
was buried in sleep. She entered her father's bedchamber and cut
off the fatal lock; then passed out of the city and entered the
enemy's camp. She demanded to be led to the king, and thus
addressed him: "I am Scylla, the daughter of Nisus. I surrender to
you my country and my father's house. I ask no reward but
yourself; for love of you I have done it. See here the purple
lock! With this I give you my father and his kingdom." She held
out her hand with the fatal spoil. Minos shrunk back and refused
to touch it. "The gods destroy thee, infamous woman," he
exclaimed; "disgrace of our time! May neither earth nor sea yield
thee a resting-place! Surely, my Crete, where Jove himself was
cradled, shall not be polluted with such a monster!" Thus he said,
and gave orders that equitable terms should be allowed to the
conquered city, and that the fleet should immediately sail from
the island.

Scylla was frantic. "Ungrateful man," she exclaimed, "is it thus
you leave me?--me who have given you victory,--who have sacrificed
for you parent and country! I am guilty, I confess, and deserve to
die, but not by your hand." As the ships left the shore, she
leaped into the water, and seizing the rudder of the one which
carried Minos, she was borne along an unwelcome companion of their
course. A sea-eagle ing aloft,--it was her father who had been
changed into that form,--seeing her, pounced down upon her, and
struck her with his beak and claws. In terror she let go the ship
and would have fallen into the water, but some pitying deity
changed her into a bird. The sea-eagle still cherishes the old
animosity; and whenever he espies her in his lofty flight you may
see him dart down upon her, with beak and claws, to take vengeance
for the ancient crime.


Echo was a beautiful nymph, fond of the woods and hills, where she
devoted herself to woodland sports. She was a favorite of Diana,
and attended her in the chase. But Echo had one failing; she was
fond of talking, and whether in chat or argument, would have the
last word. One day Juno was seeking her husband, who, she had
reason to fear, was amusing himself among the nymphs. Echo by her
talk contrived to detain the goddess till the nymphs made their
escape. When Juno discovered it, she passed sentence upon Echo in
these words: "You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which
you have cheated me, except for that one purpose you are so fond
of--reply. You shall still have the last word, but no power to
speak first."

This nymph saw Narcissus, a beautiful youth, as he pursued the
chase upon the mountains. She loved him, and followed his
footsteps. O how she longed to address him in the softest accents,
and win him to converse! but it was not in her power. She waited
with impatience for him to speak first, and had her answer ready.
One day the youth, being separated from his companions, shouted
aloud, "Who's here?" Echo replied, "Here." Narcissus looked
around, but seeing no one called out, "Come." Echo answered,
"Come." As no one came, Narcissus called again, "Why do you shun
me?" Echo asked the same question. "Let us join one another," said
the youth. The maid answered with all her heart in the same words,
and hastened to the spot, ready to throw her arms about his neck.
He started back, exclaiming, "Hands off! I would rather die than
you should have me!" "Have me," said she; but it was all in vain.
He left her, and she went to hide her blushes in the recesses of
the woods. From that time forth she lived in caves and among
mountain cliffs. Her form faded with grief, till at last all her
flesh shrank away. Her bones were changed into rocks and there was
nothing left of her but her voice. With that she is still ready to
reply to any one who calls her, and keeps up her old habit of
having the last word.

Narcissus's cruelty in this case was not the only instance. He
shunned all the rest of the nymphs, as he had done poor Echo. One
day a maiden who had in vain endeavored to attract him uttered a
prayer that he might some time or other feel what it was to love
and meet no return of affection. The avenging goddess heard and
granted the prayer.

There was a clear fountain, with water like silver, to which the
shepherds never drove their flocks, nor the mountain goats
resorted, nor any of the beasts of the forest; neither was it
defaced with fallen leaves or branches; but the grass grew fresh
around it, and the rocks sheltered it from the sun. Hither came
one day the youth, fatigued with hunting, heated and thirsty. He
stooped down to drink, and saw his own image in the water; he
thought it was some beautiful water-spirit living in the
fountain. He stood gazing with admiration at those bright eyes,
those locks curled like the locks of Bacchus or Apollo, the
rounded cheeks, the ivory neck, the parted lips, and the glow of
health and exercise over all. He fell in love with himself. He
brought his lips near to take a kiss; he plunged his arms in to
embrace the beloved object. It fled at the touch, but returned
again after a moment and renewed the fascination. He could not
tear himself away; he lost all thought of food or rest, while he
hovered over the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image.
He talked with the supposed spirit: "Why, beautiful being, do you
shun me? Surely my face is not one to repel you. The nymphs love
me, and you yourself look not indifferent upon me. When I stretch
forth my arms you do the same; and you smile upon me and answer my
beckonings with the like." His tears fell into the water and
disturbed the image. As he saw it depart, he exclaimed, "Stay, I
entreat you! Let me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch
you." With this, and much more of the same kind, he cherished the
flame that consumed him, so that by degrees he lost his color, his
vigor, and the beauty which formerly had so charmed the nymph
Echo. She kept near him, however, and when he exclaimed, "Alas!
alas!" she answered him with the same words. He pined away and
died; and when his shade passed the Stygian river, it leaned over
the boat to catch a look of itself in the waters. The nymphs
mourned for him, especially the water-nymphs; and when they smote
their breasts Echo smote hers also. They prepared a funeral pile
and would have burned the body, but it was nowhere to be found;
but in its place a flower, purple within, and surrounded with
white leaves, which bears the name and preserves the memory of

Milton alludes to the story of Echo and Narcissus in the Lady's
song in "Comus." She is seeking her brothers in the forest, and
sings to attract their attention:

    "Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
         Within thy aery shell
       By slow Meander's margent green,
     And in the violet-embroidered vale,
       Where the love-lorn nightingale
     Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
     Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
       That likest thy Narcissus are?
         O, if thou have
       Hid them in some flowery cave,
         Tell me but where,
     Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere,
     So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
   And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies."

Milton has imitated the story of Narcissus in the account which he
makes Eve give of the first sight of herself reflected in the

    "That day I oft remember when from sleep
     I first awaked, and found myself reposed
     Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where
     And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.
     Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
     Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
     Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
     Pure as the expanse of heaven; I thither went
     With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
     On the green bank, to look into the clear
     Smooth lake that to me seemed another sky.
     As I bent down to look, just opposite
     A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
     Bending to look on me. I started back;
     It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
     Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
     Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed
     Mine eyes till now, and pined wi vain desire,
     Had not a voice thus warned me: 'What thou seest,
     What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;'" etc.

    --Paradise Lost, Book IV.

No one of the fables of antiquity has been oftener alluded to by
the poets than that of Narcissus. Here are two epigrams which
treat it in different ways. The first is by Goldsmith:


    "Sure 'twas by Providence designed,
       Rather in pity than in hate,
     That he should be like Cupid blind,
       To save him from Narcissus' fate."

The other is by Cowper:


    "Beware, my friend, of crystal brook
     Or fountain, lest that hideous hook,
       Thy nose, thou chance to see;
     Narcissus' fate would then be thine,
     And self-detested thou would'st pine,
       As self-enamoured he."


Clytie was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no
return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold
ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders.
Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears
and the chilly dew her only food. She gazed on the sun when he
rose, and as he passed through his daily course to his setting;
she saw no other object, her face turned constantly on him. At
last, they say, her limbs rooted in the ground, her face became a
flower [Footnote: The sunflower.] which turns on its stem so as
always to face the sun throughout its daily course; for it retains
to that extent the feeling of the nymph from whom it sprang.

Hood, in his "Flowers," thus alludes to Clytie:

    "I will not have the mad Clytie,
       Whose head is turned by the sun;
     The tulip is a courtly quean,
       Whom therefore I will shun;
     The cowslip is a country wench,
       The violet is a nun;--
     But I will woo the dainty rose,
       The queen of every one."

The sunflower is a favorite emblem of constancy. Thus Moore uses

    "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."


Leander was a youth of Abydos, a town of the Asian side of the
strait which separates Asia and Europe. On the opposite shore, in
the town of Sestos, lived the maiden Hero, a priestess of Venus.
Leander loved her, and used to swim the strait nightly to enjoy
the company of his mistress, guided by a torch which she reared
upon the tower for the purpose. But one night a tempest arose and
the sea was rough; his strength failed, and he was drowned. The
waves bore his body to the European shore, where Hero became aware
of his death, and in her despair cast herself down from the tower
into the sea and perished.

The following sonnet is by Keats:


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

The story of Leander's swimming the Hellespont was looked upon as
fabulous, and the feat considered impossible, till Lord Byron
proved its possibility by performing it himself. In the "Bride of
Abydos" he says,

    "These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne."

The distance in the narrowest part is almost a mile, and there is
a constant current setting out from the Sea of Marmora into the
Archipelago. Since Byron's time the feat has been achieved by
others; but it yet remains a test of strength and skill in the art
of swimming sufficient to give a wide and lasting celebrity to any
one of our readers who may dare to make the attempt and succeed in
accomplishing it.

In the beginning of the second canto of the same poem, Byron thus
alludes to this story:

    "The winds are high on Helle's wave,
     As on that night of stormiest water,
    When Love, who sent, forgot to save
    The young, the beautiful, the brave,
    The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter.

    O, when alone along the sky
    The turret-torch was blazing high,
    Though rising gale and breaking foam,
    And shrieking sea-birds warned him home;
    And clouds aloft and tides below,
    With signs and sounds forbade to go,
    He could not see, he would not hear
    Or sound or sight foreboding fear.
    His eye but saw that light of love,
    The only star it hailed above;
    His ear but rang with Hero's song,
    'Ye waves, divide not lovers long.'
    That tale is old, but love anew
    May nerve young hearts to prove as true."




Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was the daughter of Jupiter. She
was said to have leaped forth from his brain, mature, and in
complete armor. She presided over the useful and ornamental arts,
both those of men--such as agriculture and navigation--and those
of women,--spinning, weaving, and needlework. She was also a
warlike divinity; but it was defensive war only that she
patronized, and she had no sympathy with Mars's savage love of
violence and bloodshed. Athens was her chosen seat, her own city,
awarded to her as the prize of a contest with Neptune, who also
aspired to it. The tale ran that in the reign of Cecrops, the
first king of Athens, the two deities contended for the possession
of the city. The gods decreed that it should be awarded to that
one who produced the gift most useful to mortals. Neptune gave the
horse; Minerva produced the olive. The gods gave judgment that the
olive was the more useful of the two, and awarded the city to the
goddess; and it was named after her, Athens, her name in Greek
being Athene.

There was another contest, in which a mortal dared to come in
competition with Minerva. That mortal was Arachne, a maiden who
had attained such skill in the arts of weaving and embroidery that
the nymphs themselves would leave their groves and fountains to
come and gaze upon her work. It was not only beautiful when it was
done, but beautiful also in the doing. To watch her, as she took
the wool in its rude state and formed it into rolls, or separated
it with her fingers and carded it till it looked as light and soft
as a cloud, or twirled the spindle with skilful touch, or wove the
web, or, after it was woven, adorned it with her needle, one would
have said that Minerva herself had taught her. But this she
denied, and could not bear to be thought a pupil even of a
goddess. "Let Minerva try her skill with mine," said she; "if
beaten I will pay the penalty." Minerva heard this and was
displeased. She assumed the form of an old woman and went and gave
Arachne some friendly advice "I have had much experience," said
she, "and I hope you will not despise my counsel. Challenge your
fellow-mortals as you will, but do not compete with a goddess. On
the contrary, I advise you to ask her forgiveness for what you
have said, and as she is merciful perhaps she will pardon you."
Arachne stopped her spinning and looked at the old dame with anger
in her countenance. "Keep your counsel," said she, "for your
daughters or handmaids; for my part I know what I say, and I stand
to it. I am not afraid of the goddess; let her try her skill, if
she dare venture." "She comes," said Minerva; and dropping her
disguise stood confessed. The nymphs bent low in homage, and all
the bystanders paid reverence. Arachne alone was unterrified. She
blushed, indeed; a sudden color dyed her cheek, and then she grew
pale. But she stood to her resolve, and with a foolish conceit of
her own skill rushed on her fate. Minerva forbore no longer nor
interposed any further advice. They proceed to the contest. Each
takes her station and attaches the web to the beam. Then the
slender shuttle is passed in and out among the threads. The reed
with its fine teeth strikes up the woof into its place and
compacts the web. Both work with speed; their skilful hands move
rapidly, and the excitement of the contest makes the labor light.
Wool of Tyrian dye is contrasted with that of other colors, shaded
off into one another so adroitly that the joining deceives the
eye. Like the bow, whose long arch tinges the heavens, formed by
sunbeams reflected from the shower, [Footnote: This correct
description of the rainbow is literally translated from Ovid.] in
which, where the colors meet they seem as one, but at a little
distance from the point of contact are wholly different.

Minerva wrought on her web the scene of her contest with Neptune.
Twelve of the heavenly powers are represented, Jupiter, with
august gravity, sitting in the midst. Neptune, the ruler of the
sea, holds his trident, and appears to have just smitten the
earth, from which a horse has leaped forth. Minerva depicted
herself with helmed head, her Aegis covering her breast. Such was
the central circle; and in the four corners were represented
incidents illustrating the displeasure of the gods at such
presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend with them. These were
meant as warnings to her rival to give up the contest before it
was too late.

Arachne filled her web with subjects designedly chosen to exhibit
the failings and errors of the gods. One scene represented Leda
caressing the swan, under which form Jupiter had disguised
himself; and another, Danae, in the brazen tower in which her
father had imprisoned her, but where the god effected his entrance
in the form of a golden shower. Still another depicted Europa
deceived by Jupiter under the disguise of a bull. Encouraged by
the tameness of the animal Europa ventured to mount his back,
whereupon Jupiter advanced into the sea and swam with her to
Crete. You would have thought it was a real bull, so naturally was
it wrought, and so natural the water in which it swam. She seemed
to look with longing eyes back upon the shore she was leaving, and
to call to her companions for help. She appeared to shudder with
terror at the sight of the heaving waves, and to draw back her
feet from the water.

Arachne filled her canvas with similar subjects, wonderfully well
done, but strongly marking her presumption and impiety. Minerva
could not forbear to admire, yet felt indignant at the insult. She
struck the web with her shuttle and rent it in pieces, she then
touched the forehead of Arachne and made her feel her guilt and
shame. She could not endure it and went and hanged herself.
Minerva pitied her as she saw her suspended by a rope. "Live," she
said, "guilty woman! and that you may preserve the memory of this
lesson, continue to hang, both you and your descendants, to all
future times." She sprinkled her with the juices of aconite, and
immediately her hair came off, and her nose and ears likewise. Her
form shrank up, and her head grew smaller yet; her fingers cleaved
to her side and served for legs. All the rest of her is body, out
of which she spins her thread, often hanging suspended by it, in
the same attitude as when Minerva touched her and transformed her
into a spider.

Spenser tells the story of Arachne in his "Muiopotmos," adhering
very closely to his master Ovid, but improving upon him in the
conclusion of the story. The two stanzas which follow tell what
was done after the goddess had depicted her creation of the olive

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

    "Which when Arachne saw, as overlaid
     And mastered with workmanship so rare,
     She stood astonied long, ne aught gainsaid;
     And with fast-fixed eyes on her did stare,
     And by her silence, sign of one dismayed,
     The victory did yield her as her share;
     Yet did she inly fret and felly burn,
     And all her blood to poisonous rancor turn."

[Footnote: Sir James Mackintosh says of this, "Do you think that
even a Chinese could paint the gay colors of a butterfly with more
mmute exactness than the following lines: 'The velvet nap,'
etc.?"--Life, Vol. II, 246.]

And so the metamorphosis is caused by Arachne's own mortification
and vexation, and not by any direct act of the goddess.

The following specimen of old-fashioned gallantry is by Garrick:


    "Arachne once, as poets tell,
       A goddess at her art defied,
     And soon the daring mortal fell
       The hapless victim of her pride.

    "O, then beware Arachne's fate;
       Be prudent, Chloe, and submit,
     For you'll most surely meet her hate,
       Who rival both her art and wit."

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," describing the works of art with
which the palace was adorned, thus alludes to Europa:

    "... sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasped
       From off her shoulder, backward borne,
     From one hand drooped a crocus, one hand grasped
       The mild bull's golden horn."

In his "Princess" there is this allusion to Danae:

    "Now lies the earth all Danae to the stars,
     And all thy heart lies open unto me."


The fate of Arachne was noised abroad through all the country, and
served as a warning to all presumptuous mortals not to compare
themselves with the divinities. But one, and she a matron too,
failed to learn the lesson of humility. It was Niobe, the queen of
Thebes. She had indeed much to be proud of; but it was not her
husband's fame, nor her own beauty, nor their great descent, nor
the power of their kingdom that elated her. It was her children;
and truly the happiest of mothers would Niobe have been if only
she had not claimed to be so. It was on occasion of the annual
celebration in honor of Latona and her offspring, Apollo and
Diana,--when the people of Thebes were assembled, their brows
crowned with laurel, bearing frankincense to the altars and paying
their vows,--that Niobe appeared among the crowd. Her attire was
splendid with gold and gems, and her aspect beautiful as the face
of an angry woman can be. She stood and surveyed the people with
haughty looks. "What folly," said she, "is this!--to prefer beings
whom you never saw to those who stand before your eyes! Why should
Latona be honored with worship, and none be paid to me? My father
was Tantalus, who was received as a guest at the table of the
gods; my mother was a goddess. My husband built and rules this
city, Thebes, and Phrygia is my paternal inheritance. Wherever I
turn my eyes I survey the elements of my power; nor is my form and
presence unworthy of a goddess. To all this let me add I have
seven sons and seven daughters, and look for sons-in-law and
daughters-in-law of pretensions worthy of my alliance. Have I not
cause for pride? Will you prefer to me this Latona, the Titan's
daughter, with her two children? I have seven times as many.
Fortunate indeed am I, and fortunate I shall remain! Will any one
deny this? My abundance is my security. I feel myself too strong
for Fortune to subdue. She may take from me much; I shall still
have much left. Were I to lose some of my children, I should
hardly be left as poor as Latona with her two only. Away with you
from these solemnities,--put off the laurel from your brows,--have
done with this worship!" The people obeyed, and left the sacred
services uncompleted.

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

The terror of the people and grief of the attendants soon made
Niobe acquainted with what had taken place. She could hardly think
it possible; she was indignant that the gods had dared and amazed
that they had been able to do it. Her husband, Amphion,
overwhelmed with the blow, destroyed himself. Alas! how different
was this Niobe from her who had so lately driven away the people
from the sacred rites, and held her stately course through the
city, the envy of her friends, now the pity even of her foes! She
knelt over the lifeless bodies, and kissed now one, now another of
her dead sons. Raising her pallid arms to heaven, "Cruel Latona,"
said she, "feed full your rage with my anguish! Satiate your hard
heart, while I follow to the grave my seven sons. Yet where is
your triumph? Bereaved as I am, I am still richer than you, my
conqueror." Scarce had she spoken, when the bow sounded and struck
terror into all hearts except Niobe's alone. She was brave from
excess of grief. The sisters stood in garments of mourning over
the biers of their dead brothers. One fell, struck by an arrow,
and died on the corpse she was bewailing. Another, attempting to
console her mother, suddenly ceased to speak, and sank lifeless to
the earth. A third tried to escape by flight, a fourth by
concealment, another stood trembling, uncertain what course to
take. Six were now dead, and only one remained, whom the mother
held clasped in her arms, and covered as it were with her whole
body. "Spare me one, and that the youngest! O spare me one of so
many!" she cried; and while she spoke, that one fell dead.
Desolate she sat, among sons, daughters, husband, all dead, and
seemed torpid with grief. The breeze moved not her hair, no color
was on her cheek, her eyes glared fixed and immovable, there was
no sign of life about her. Her very tongue cleaved to the roof of
her mouth, and her veins ceased to convey the tide of life. Her
neck bent not, her arms made no gesture, her foot no step. She was
changed to stone, within and without. Yet tears continued to flow;
and borne on a whirlwind to her native mountain, she still
remains, a mass of rock, from which a trickling stream flows, the
tribute of her never-ending grief.

The story of Niobe has furnished Byron with a fine illustration of
the fallen condition of modern Rome:

    "The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
     Childless and crownless in her voiceless woe;
     An empty urn within her withered hands,
     Whose holy dust was scattered long ago;
     The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now:
     The very sepulchres lie tenantless
     Of their heroic dwellers; dost thou flow,
     Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness?
     Rise with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress."

Childe Harold, IV. 79.

This affecting story has been made the subject of a celebrated
statue in the imperial gallery of Florence. It is the principal
figure of a group supposed to have been originally arranged in the
pediment of a temple. The figure of the mother clasped by the arm
of her terrified child is one of the most admired of the ancient
statues. It ranks with the Laocoon and the Apollo among the
masterpieces of art. The following is a translation of a Greek
epigram supposed to relate to this statue:

    "To stone the gods have changed her, but in vain;
     The sculptor's art has made her breathe again."

Tragic as is the story of Niobe, we cannot forbear to smile at the
use Moore has made of it in "Rhymes on the Road":

    "'Twas in his carriage the sublime
     Sir Richard Blackmore used to rhyme,
       And, if the wits don't do him wrong,
     'Twixt death and epics passed his time,
       Scribbling and killing all day long;
         Like Phoebus in his car at ease,
       Now warbling forth a lofty song,
         Now murdering the young Niobes."

Sir Richard Blackmore was a physician, and at the same time a very
prolific and very tasteless poet, whose works are now forgotten,
unless when recalled to mind by some wit like Moore for the sake
of a joke.




The Graeae were three sisters who were gray-haired from their
birth, whence their name. The Gorgons were monstrous females with
huge teeth like those of swine, brazen claws, and snaky hair. None
of these beings make much figure in mythology except Medusa, the
Gorgon, whose story we shall next advert to. We mention them
chiefly to introduce an ingenious theory of some modern writers,
namely, that the Gorgons and Graeae were only personifications of
the terrors of the sea, the former denoting the STRONG billows of
the wide open main, and the latter the WHITE-crested waves that
dash against the rocks of the coast. Their names in Greek signify
the above epithets.


Perseus was the son of Jupiter and Danae. His grandfather
Acrisius, alarmed by an oracle which had told him that his
daughter's child would be the instrument of his death, caused the
mother and child to be shut up in a chest and set adrift on the
sea. The chest floated towards Seriphus, where it was found by a
fisherman who conveyed the mother and infant to Polydectes, the
king of the country, by whom they were treated with kindness. When
Perseus was grown up Polydectes sent him to attempt the conquest
of Medusa, a terrible monster who had laid waste the country. She
was once a beautiful maiden whose hair was her chief glory, but as
she dared to vie in beauty with Minerva, the goddess deprived her
of her charms and changed her beautiful ringlets into hissing
serpents. She became a cruel monster of so frightful an aspect
that no living thing could behold her without being turned into
stone. All around the cavern where she dwelt might be seen the
stony figures of men and animals which had chanced to catch a
glimpse of her and had been petrified with the sight. Perseus,
favored by Minerva and Mercury, the former of whom lent him her
shield and the latter his winged shoes, approached Medusa while
she slept, and taking care not to look directly at her, but guided
by her image reflected in the bright shield which he bore, he cut
off her head and gave it to Minerva, who fixed it in the middle of
her Aegis.

Milton, in his "Comus," thus alludes to the Aegis:

    "What was that snaky-headed Gorgon-shield
     That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
     Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
     But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
     And noble grace that dashed brute violence
     With sudden adoration and blank awe!"

Armstrong, the poet of the "Art of Preserving Health," thus
describes the effect of frost upon the waters:

    "Now blows the surly North and chills throughout
    The stiffening regions, while by stronger charms
    Than Circe e'er or fell Medea brewed,
    Each brook that wont to prattle to its banks
    Lies all bestilled and wedged betwixt its banks,
    Nor moves the withered reeds ...
    The surges baited by the fierce North-east,
    Tossing with fretful spleen their angry heads,
    E'en in the foam of all their madness struck
    To monumental ice.

    Such execution,
    So stern, so sudden, wrought the grisly aspect
    Of terrible Medusa,
    When wandering through the woods she turned to Stone
    Their savage tenants; just as the foaming Lion
    Sprang furious on his prey, her speedier power
    Outran his haste,
    And fixed in that fierce attitude he stands
    Like Rage in marble!"

    --Imitations of Shakspeare.


After the slaughter of Medusa, Perseus, bearing with him the head
of the Gorgon, flew far and wide, over land and sea. As night came
on, he reached the western limit of the earth, where the sun goes
down. Here he would gladly have rested till morning. It was the
realm of King Atlas, whose bulk surpassed that of all other men.
He was rich in flocks and herds and had no neighbor or rival to
dispute his state. But his chief pride was in his gardens, whose
fruit was of gold, hanging from golden branches, half hid with
golden leaves. Perseus said to him, "I come as a guest. If you
honor illustrious descent, I claim Jupiter for my father; if
mighty deeds, I plead the conquest of the Gorgon. I seek rest and
food." But Atlas remembered that an ancient prophecy had warned
him that a son of Jove should one day rob him of his golden
apples. So he answered, "Begone! or neither your false claims of
glory nor parentage shall protect you;" and he attempted to thrust
him out. Perseus, finding the giant too strong for him, said,
"Since you value my friendship so little, deign to accept a
present;" and turning his face away, he held up the Gorgon's head.
Atlas, with all his bulk, was changed into stone. His beard and
hair became forests, his arms and shoulders cliffs, his head a
summit, and his bones rocks. Each part increased in bulk till he
became a mountain, and (such was the pleasure of the gods) heaven
with all its stars rests upon his shoulders.


Perseus, continuing his flight, arrived at the country of the
Aethiopians, of which Cepheus was king. Cassiopeia his queen,
proud of her beauty, had dared to compare herself to the Sea-
Nymphs, which roused their indignation to such a degree that they
sent a prodigious sea-monster to ravage the coast. To appease the
deities, Cepheus was directed by the oracle to expose his daughter
Andromeda to be devoured by the monster. As Perseus looked down
from his aerial height he beheld the virgin chained to a rock, and
waiting the approach of the serpent. She was so pale and
motionless that if it had not been for her flowing tears and her
hair that moved in the breeze, he would have taken her for a
marble statue. He was so startled at the sight that he almost
forgot to wave his wings. As he hovered over her he said, "O
virgin, undeserving of those chains, but rather of such as bind
fond lovers together, tell me, I beseech you, your name, and the
name of your country, and why you are thus bound." At first she
was silent from modesty, and, if she could, would have hid her
face with her hands; but when he repeated his questions, for fear
she might be thought guilty of some fault which she dared not
tell, she disclosed her name and that of her country, and her
mother's pride of beauty. Before she had done speaking, a sound
was heard off upon the water, and the sea-monster appeared, with
his head raised above the surface, cleaving the waves with his
broad breast. The virgin shrieked, the father and mother who had
now arrived at the scene, wretched both, but the mother more
justly so, stood by, not able to afford protection, but only to
pour forth lamentations and to embrace the victim. Then spoke
Perseus: "There will be time enough for tears; this hour is all we
have for rescue. My rank as the son of Jove and my renown as the
slayer of the Gorgon might make me acceptable as a suitor; but I
will try to win her by services rendered, if the gods will only be
propitious. If she be rescued by my valor, I demand that she be my
reward." The parents consent (how could they hesitate?) and
promise a royal dowry with her.

And now the monster was within the range of a stone thrown by a
skilful slinger, when with a sudden bound the youth soared into
the air. As an eagle, when from his lofty flight he sees a serpent
basking in the sun, pounces upon him and seizes him by the neck to
prevent him from turning his head round and using his fangs, so
the youth darted down upon the back of the monster and plunged his
sword into its shoulder. Irritated by the wound, the monster
raised himself in the air, then plunged into the depth; then, like
a wild boar surrounded, by a pack of barking dogs, turned swiftly
from side to side, while the youth eluded its attacks by means of
his wings. Wherever he can find a passage for his sword between
the scales he makes a wound, piercing now the side, now the flank,
as it slopes towards the tail. The brute spouts from his nostrils
water mixed with blood. The wings of the hero are wet with it, and
he dares no longer trust to them. Alighting on a rock which rose
above the waves, and holding on by a projecting fragment, as the
monster floated near he gave him a death stroke. The people who
had gathered on the shore shouted so that the hills reechoed the
sound. The parents, transported with joy, embraced their future
son-in-law, calling him their deliverer and the savior of their
house, and the virgin both cause and reward of the contest,
descended from the rock.

Cassiopeia was an Aethiopian, and consequently, in spite of her
boasted beauty, black; at least so Milton seems to have thought,
who alludes to this story in his "Penseroso," where he addresses
Melancholy as the

    ".... goddess, sage and holy,
     Whose saintly visage is too bright
     To hit the sense of human sight,
     And, therefore, to our weaker view
     O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue.
     Black, but such as in esteem
     Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
     Or that starred Aethiop queen that strove
     To set her beauty's praise above
     The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended."

Cassiopeia is called "the starred Aethiop queen" because after her
death she was placed among the stars, forming the constellation of
that name. Though she attained this honor, yet the Sea-Nymphs, her
old enemies, prevailed so far as to cause her to be placed in that
part of the heaven near the pole, where every night she is half
the time held with her head downward, to give her a lesson of

Memnon was an Aethiopian prince, of whom we shall tell in a future


The joyful parents, with Perseus and Andromeda, repaired to the
palace, where a banquet was spread for them, and all was joy and
festivity. But suddenly a noise was heard of warlike clamor, and
Phineus, the betrothed of the virgin, with a party of his
adherents, burst in, demanding the maiden as his own. It was in
vain that Cepheus remonstrated--"You should have claimed her when
she lay bound to the rock, the monster's victim. The sentence of
the gods dooming her to such a fate dissolved all engagements, as
death itself would have done." Phineus made no reply, but hurled
his javelin at Perseus, but it missed its mark and fell harmless.
Perseus would have thrown his in turn, but the cowardly assailant
ran and took shelter behind the altar. But his act was a signal
for an onset by his band upon the guests of Cepheus. They defended
themselves and a general conflict ensued, the old king retreating
from the scene after fruitless expostulations, calling the gods to
witness that he was guiltless of this outrage on the rights of

Perseus and his friends maintained for some time the unequal
contest; but the numbers of the assailants were too great for
them, and destruction seemed inevitable, when a sudden thought
struck Perseus,--"I will make my enemy defend me." Then with a
loud voice he exclaimed, "If I have any friend here let him turn
away his eyes!" and held aloft the Gorgon's head. "Seek not to
frighten us with your jugglery," said Thescelus, and raised his
javelin in act to throw, and became stone in the very attitude.
Ampyx was about to plunge his sword into the body of a prostrate
foe, but his arm stiffened and he could neither thrust forward nor
withdraw it. Another, in the midst of a vociferous challenge,
stopped, his mouth open, but no sound issuing. One of Perseus's
friends, Aconteus, caught sight of the Gorgon and stiffened like
the rest. Astyages struck him with his sword, but instead of
wounding, it recoiled with a ringing noise.

Phineus beheld this dreadful result of his unjust aggression, and
felt confounded. He called aloud to his friends, but got no
answer; he touched them and found them stone. Falling on his knees
and stretching out his hands to Perseus, but turning his head away
he begged for mercy. "Take all," said he, "give me but my life."
"Base coward," said Perseus, "thus much I will grant you; no
weapon shall touch you; moreover, you shall be preserved in my
house as a memorial of these events." So saying, he held the
Gorgon's head to the side where Phineus was looking, and in the
very form in which he knelt, with his hands outstretched and face
averted, he became fixed immovably, a mass of stone!

The following allusion to Perseus is from Milman's "Samor":

    "As'mid the fabled Libyan bridal stood
     Perseus in stern tranquillity of wrath,
     Half stood, half floated on his ankle-plumes
     Out-swelling, while the bright face on his shield
     Looked into stone the raging fray; so rose,
     But with no magic arms, wearing alone
     Th' appalling and control of his firm look,
     The Briton Samor; at his rising awe
     Went abroad, and the riotous hall was mute."




Monsters, in the language of mythology, were beings of unnatural
proportions or parts, usually regarded with terror, as possessing
immense strength and ferocity, which they employed for the injury
and annoyance of men. Some of them were supposed to combine the
members of different animals; such were the Sphinx and Chimaera;
and to these all the terrible qualities of wild beasts were
attributed, together with human sagacity and faculties. Others, as
the giants, differed from men chiefly in their size; and in this
particular we must recognize a wide distinction among them. The
human giants, if so they may be called, such as the Cyclopes,
Antaeus, Orion, and others, must be supposed not to be altogether
disproportioned to human beings, for they mingled in love and
strife with them. But the superhuman giants, who warred with the
gods, were of vastly larger dimensions. Tityus, we are told, when
stretched on the plain, covered nine acres, and Enceladus required
the whole of Mount Aetna to be laid upon him to keep him down.

We have already spoken of the war which the giants waged against
the gods, and of its result. While this war lasted the giants
proved a formidable enemy. Some of them, like Briareus, had a
hundred arms; others, like Typhon, breathed out fire. At one time
they put the gods to such fear that they fled into Egypt and hid
themselves under various forms. Jupiter took the form of a ram,
whence he was afterwards worshipped in Egypt as the god Ammon,
with curved horns. Apollo became a crow, Bacchus a goat, Diana a
cat, Juno a cow, Venus a fish, Mercury a bird. At another time the
giants attempted to climb up into heaven, and for that purpose
took up the mountain Ossa and piled it on Pelion. [Footnote: See
Proverbial Expressions.] They were at last subdued by
thunderbolts, which Minerva invented, and taught Vulcan and his
Cyclopes to make for Jupiter.


Laius, king of Thebes, was warned by an oracle that there was
danger to his throne and life if his new-born son should be
suffered to grow up. He therefore committed the child to the care
of a herdsman with orders to destroy him; but the herdsman, moved
with pity, yet not daring entirely to disobey, tied up the child
by the feet and left him hanging to the branch of a tree. In this
condition the infant was found by a peasant, who carried him to
his master and mistress, by whom he was adopted and called
OEdipus, or Swollen-foot.

Many years afterwards Laius being on his way to Delphi,
accompanied only by one attendant, met in a narrow road a young
man also driving in a chariot. On his refusal to leave the way at
their command the attendant killed one of his horses, and the
stranger, filled with rage, slew both Laius and his attendant. The
young man was OEdipus, who thus unknowingly became the slayer of
his own father.

Shortly after this event the city of Thebes was afflicted with a
monster which infested the highroad. It was called the Sphinx. It
had the body of a lion and the upper part of a woman. It lay
crouched on the top of a rock, and arrested all travellers who
came that way proposing to them a riddle, with the condition that
those who could solve it should pass safe, but those who failed
should be killed. Not one had yet succeeded in solving it, and all
had been slain. OEdipus was not daunted by these alarming
accounts, but boldly advanced to the trial. The Sphinx asked him,
"What animal is that which in the morning gees on four feet, at
noon on two, and in the evening upon three?" OEdipus replied,
"Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks
erect, and in old age with the aid of a staff." The Sphinx was so
mortified at the solving of her riddle that she cast herself down
from the rock and perished.

The gratitude of the people for their deliverance was so great
that they made OEdipus their king, giving him in marriage their
queen Jocasta. OEdipus, ignorant of his parentage, had already
become the slayer of his father; in marrying the queen he became
the husband of his mother. These horrors remained undiscovered,
till at length Thebes was afflicted with famine and pestilence,
and the oracle being consulted, the double crime of OEdipus came
to light. Jocasta put an end to her own life, and OEdipus, seized
with madness, tore out his eyes and wandered away from Thebes,
dreaded and abandoned by all except his daughters, who faithfully
adhered to him, till after a tedious period of miserable wandering
he found the termination of his wretched life.


When Perseus cut off Medusa's head, the blood sinking into the
earth produced the winged horse Pegasus. Minerva caught him and
tamed him and presented him to the Muses. The fountain Hippocrene,
on the Muses' mountain Helicon, was opened by a kick from his

The Chimaera was a fearful monster, breathing fire. The fore part
of its body was a compound of the lion and the goat, and the hind
part a dragon's. It made great havoc in Lycia, so that the king,
Iobates, sought for some hero to destroy it. At that time there
arrived at his court a gallant young warrior, whose name was
Bellerophon. He brought letters from Proetus, the son-in-law of
Iobates, recommending Bellerophon in the warmest terms as an
unconquerable hero, but added at the close a request to his
father-in-law to put him to death. The reason was that Proetus was
jealous of him, suspecting that his wife Antea looked with too
much admiration on the young warrior. From this instance of
Bellerophon being unconsciously the bearer of his own death
warrant, the expression "Bellerophontic letters" arose, to
describe any species of communication which a person is made the
bearer of, containing matter prejudicial to himself.

Iobates, on perusing the letters, was puzzled what to do, not
willing to violate the claims of hospitality, yet wishing to
oblige his son-in-law. A lucky thought occurred to him, to send
Bellerophon to combat with the Chimaera. Bellerophon accepted the
proposal, but before proceeding to the combat consulted the
soothsayer Polyidus, who advised him to procure if possible the
horse Pegasus for the conflict. For this purpose he directed him
to pass the night in the temple of Minerva. He did so, and as he
slept Minerva came to him and gave him a golden bridle. When he
awoke the bridle remained in his hand. Minerva also showed him
Pegasus drinking at the well of Pirene, and at sight of the bridle
the winged steed came willingly and suffered himself to be taken.
Bellerophon mounted him, rose with him into the air, soon found
the Chimaera, and gained an easy victory over the monster.

After the conquest of the Chimaera Bellerophon was exposed to
further trials and labors by his unfriendly host, but by the aid
of Pegasus he triumphed in them all, till at length Iobates,
seeing that the hero was a special favorite of the gods, gave him
his daughter in marriage and made him his successor on the throne.
At last Bellerophon by his pride and presumption drew upon himself
the anger of the gods; it is said he even attempted to fly up into
heaven on his winged steed, but Jupiter sent a gadfly which stung
Pegasus and made him throw his rider, who became lame and blind in
consequence. After this Bellerophon wandered lonely through the
Aleian field, avoiding the paths of men, and died miserably.

Milton alludes to Bellerophon in the beginning of the seventh book
of "Paradise Lost":

    "Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name
     If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
     Following above the Olympian hill I soar,
     Above the flight of Pegasean wing
                           Upled by thee,
     Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed,
     An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air
     (Thy tempering); with like safety guided down
     Return me to my native element;
     Lest from this flying steed unreined (as once
     Bellerophon, though from a lower sphere),
     Dismounted on the Aleian field I fall,
     Erroneous there to wander and forlorn."

Young, in his "Night Thoughts," speaking of the sceptic, says:

    "He whose blind thought futurity denies,
     Unconscious bears, Bellerophon, like thee
     His own indictment, he condemns himself.
     Who reads his bosom reads immortal life,
     Or nature there, imposing on her sons,
     Has written fables; man was made a lie."

Vol II, p 12

Pegasus, being the horse of the Muses, has always been at the
service of the poets. Schiller tells a pretty story of his having
been sold by a needy poet and put to the cart and the plough. He
was not fit for such service, and his clownish master could make
nothing of him But a youth stepped forth and asked leave to try
him As soon as he was seated on his back the horse, which had
appeared at first vicious, and afterwards spirit-broken, rose
kingly, a spirit, a god, unfolded the splendor of his wings, and
soared towards heaven. Our own poet Longfellow also records an
adventure of this famous steed in his "Pegasus in Pound."

Shakspeare alludes to Pegasus in "Henry IV.," where Vernon
describes Prince Henry:

    "I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
     His cuishes on his thighs, gallantly armed,
     Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury,
     And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
     As if an angel dropped down from the clouds,
     To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
     And witch the world with noble horsemanship"


These monsters were represented as men from the head to the loins,
while the remainder of the body was that of a horse. The ancients
were too fond of a horse to consider the union of his nature with
man's as forming a very degraded compound, and accordingly the
Centaur is the only one of the fancied monsters of antiquity to
which any good traits are assigned. The Centaurs were admitted to
the companionship of man, and at the marriage of Pirithous with
Hippodamia they were among the guests. At the feast Eurytion, one
of the Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with the wine, attempted to
offer violence to the bride; the other Centaurs followed his
example, and a dreadful conflict arose in which several of them
were slain. This is the celebrated battle of the Lapithae and
Centaurs, a favorite subject with the sculptors and poets of

But not all the Centaurs were like the rude guests of Pirithous.
Chiron was instructed by Apollo and Diana, and was renowned for
his skill in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy.
The most distinguished heroes of Grecian story were his pupils.
Among the rest the infant--Aesculapius was intrusted to his charge
by Apollo, his father. When the sage returned to his home bearing
the infant, his daughter Ocyroe came forth to meet him, and at
sight of the child burst forth into a prophetic strain (for she
was a prophetess), foretelling the glory that he was to achieve
Aesculapius when grown up became a renowned physician, and even in
one instance succeeded in restoring the dead to life. Pluto
resented this, and Jupiter, at his request, struck the bold
physician with lightning, and killed him, but after his death
received him into the number of the gods.

Chiron was the wisest and justest of all the Centaurs, and at his
death Jupiter placed him among the stars as the constellation


The Pygmies were a nation of dwarfs, so called from a Greek word
which means 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, and their appearance was the signal of bloody warfare to
the puny inhabitants, who had to take up arms to defend their
cornfields against the rapacious strangers. The Pygmies and their
enemies the Cranes form the subject of several works of art.

Later writers tell of an army of Pygmies which finding Hercules
asleep made preparations to attack him, as if they were about to
attack a city. But the hero, awaking, laughed at the little
warriors, wrapped some of them up in his lion's skin, and carried
them to Eurystheus.

Milton uses the Pygmies for a simile, "Paradise Lost," Book I.:

     "... like that Pygmaean race
    Beyond the Indian mount, or fairy elves
    Whose midnight revels by a forest side,
    Or fountain, some belated peasant sees
    (Or dreams he sees), while overhead the moon
    Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
    Wheels her pale course; they on their mirth and dance
    Intent, with jocund music charm his ear.
    At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds."


The Griffin is a monster with the body of a lion, the head and
wings of an eagle, and back covered with feathers. Like birds it
builds its nest, and instead of an egg lays an agate therein. It
has long claws and talons of such a size that the people of that
country make them into drinking-cups. India was assigned as the
native country of the Griffins. They found gold in the mountains
and built their nests of it, for which reason their nests were
very tempting to the hunters, and they were forced to keep
vigilant guard over them. Their instinct led them to know where
buried treasures lay, and they did their best to keep plunderers
at a distance. The Arimaspians, among whom the Griffins
flourished, were a one-eyed people of Scythia.

Milton borrows a simile from the Griffins, "Paradise Lost," Book

    "As when a Gryphon through the wilderness,
     With winged course, o'er hill and moory dale,
     Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth
     Hath from his wakeful custody purloined
     His guarded gold," etc.




In very ancient times there lived in Thessaly a king and queen
named Athamas and Nephele. They had two children, a boy and a
girl. After a time Athamas grew indifferent to his wife, put her
away, and took another. Nephele suspected danger to her children
from the influence of the step-mother, and took measures to send
them out of her reach. Mercury assisted her, and gave her a ram
with a GOLDEN FLEECE, on which she set the two children, trusting
that the ram would convey them to a place of safety. The ram
vaulted into the air with the children on his back, taking his
course to the East, till when crossing the strait that divides
Europe and Asia, the girl, whose name was Helle, fell from his
back into the sea, which from her was called the Hellespont,--now
the Dardanelles. The ram continued his career till he reached the
kingdom of Colchis, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, where
he safely landed the boy Phryxus, who was hospitably received by
Aeetes, king of the country. Phryxus sacrificed the ram to
Jupiter, and gave the Golden Fleece to Aeetes, who placed it in a
consecrated grove, under the care of a sleepless dragon.

There was another kingdom in Thessaly near to that of Athamas, and
ruled over by a relative of his. The king Aeson, being tired of
the cares of government, surrendered his crown to his brother
Pelias on condition that he should hold it only during the
minority of Jason, the son of Aeson. When Jason was grown up and
came to demand the crown from his uncle, Pelias pretended to be
willing to yield it, but at the same time suggested to the young
man the glorious adventure of going in quest of the Golden Fleece,
which it was well known was in the kingdom of Colchis, and was, as
Pelias pretended, the rightful property of their family. Jason was
pleased with the thought, and forthwith made preparations for the
expedition. At that time the only species of navigation known to
the Greeks consisted of small boats or canoes hollowed out from
trunks of trees, so that when Jason employed Argus to build him a
vessel capable of containing fifty men, it was considered a
gigantic undertaking. It was accomplished, however, and the vessel
named "Argo," from the name of the builder. Jason sent his
invitation to all the adventurous young men of Greece, and soon
found himself at the head of a band of bold youths, many of whom
afterwards were renowned among the heroes and demigods of Greece.
Hercules, Theseus, Orpheus, and Nestor were among them. They are
called the Argonauts, from the name of their vessel.

The "Argo" with her crew of heroes left the shores of Thessaly and
having touched at the Island of Lemnos, thence crossed to Mysia
and thence to Thrace. Here they found the sage Phineus, and from
him received instruction as to their future course. It seems the
entrance of the Euxine Sea was impeded by two small rocky islands,
which floated on the surface, and in their tossings and heavings
occasionally came together, crushing and grinding to atoms any
object that might be caught between them. They were called the
Symplegades, or Clashing Islands. Phineus instructed the Argonauts
how to pass this dangerous strait. When they reached the islands
they let go a dove, which took her way between the rocks, and
passed in safety, only losing some feathers of her tail. Jason and
his men seized the favorable moment of the rebound, plied their
oars with vigor, and passed safe through, though the islands
closed behind them, and actually grazed their stern. They now
rowed along the shore till they arrived at the eastern end of the
sea, and landed at the kingdom of Colchis.

Jason made known his message to the Colchian king, Aeetes, who
consented to give up the golden fleece if Jason would yoke to the
plough two fire-breathing bulls with brazen feet, and sow the
teeth of the dragon which Cadmus had slain, and from which it was
well known that a crop of armed men would spring up, who would
turn their weapons against their producer. Jason accepted the
conditions, and a time was set for making the experiment.
Previously, however, he found means to plead his cause to Medea,
daughter of the king. He promised her marriage, and as they stood
before the altar of Hecate, called the goddess to witness his
oath. Medea yielded, and by her aid, for she was a potent
sorceress, he was furnished with a charm, by which he could
encounter safely the breath of the fire-breathing bulls and the
weapons of the armed men.

At the time appointed, the people assembled at the grove of Mars,
and the king assumed his royal seat, while the multitude covered
the hill-sides. The brazen-footed bulls rushed in, breathing fire
from their nostrils that burned up the herbage as they passed. The
sound was like the roar of a furnace, and the smoke like that of
water upon quick-lime. Jason advanced boldly to meet them. His
friends, the chosen heroes of Greece, trembled to behold him.
Regardless of the burning breath, he soothed their rage with his
voice, patted their necks with fearless hand, and adroitly slipped
over them the yoke, and compelled them to drag the plough. The
Colchians were amazed; the Greeks shouted for joy. Jason next
proceeded to sow the dragon's teeth and plough them in. And soon
the crop of armed men sprang up, and, wonderful to relate! no
sooner had they reached the surface than they began to brandish
their weapons and rush upon Jason. The Greeks trembled for their
hero, and even she who had provided him a way of safety and taught
him how to use it, Medea herself, grew pale with fear. Jason for a
time kept his assailants at bay with his sword and shield, till,
finding their numbers overwhelming, he resorted to the charm which
Medea had taught him, seized a stone and threw it in the midst of
his foes. They immediately turned their arms against one another,
and soon there was not one of the dragon's brood left alive. The
Greeks embraced their hero, and Medea, if she dared, would have
embraced him too.

It remained to lull to sleep the dragon that guarded the fleece,
and this was done by scattering over him a few drops of a
preparation which Medea had supplied. At the smell he relaxed his
rage, stood for a moment motionless, then shut those great round
eyes, that had never been known to shut before, and turned over on
his side, fast asleep. Jason seized the fleece and with his
friends and Medea accompanying, hastened to their vessel before
Aeetes the king could arrest their departure, and made the best of
their way back to Thessaly, where they arrived safe, and Jason
delivered the fleece to Pelias, and dedicated the "Argo" to
Neptune. What became of the fleece afterwards we do not know, but
perhaps it was found after all, like many other golden prizes, not
worth the trouble it had cost to procure it.

This is one of those mythological tales, says a late writer, in
which there is reason to believe that a substratum of truth
exists, though overlaid by a mass of fiction. It probably was the
first important maritime expedition, and like the first attempts
of the kind of all nations, as we know from history, was probably
of a half-piratical character. If rich spoils were the result it
was enough to give rise to the idea of the golden fleece.

Another suggestion of a learned mythologist, Bryant, is that it is
a corrupt tradition of the story of Noah and the ark. The name
"Argo" seems to countenance this, and the incident of the dove is
another confirmation.

Pope, in his "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day," thus celebrates the
launching of the ship "Argo," and the power of the music of
Orpheus, whom he calls the Thracian:

    "So when the first bold vessel dared the seas,
       High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain,
    While Argo saw her kindred trees
       Descend from Pelion to the main.
    Transported demigods stood round,
       And men grew heroes at the sound."

In Dyer's poem of "The Fleece" there is an account of the ship
"Argo" and her crew, which gives a good picture of this primitive
maritime adventure:

    "From every region of Aegea's shore
     The brave assembled; those illustrious twins
     Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard;
     Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed;
     Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned.
     On deep Iolcos' sandy shore they thronged,
     Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits;
     And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone
     Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark;
     Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand
     Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt;
     And in the extended keel a lofty mast
     Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs
     Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned
     Their bolder steerage over ocean wave,
     Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art
     Had marked the sphere celestial," etc.

Hercules left the expedition at Mysia, for Hylas, a youth beloved
by him, having gone for water, was laid hold of and kept by the
nymphs of the spring, who were fascinated by his beauty. Hercules
went in quest of the lad, and while he was absent the "Argo" put
to sea and left him. Moore, in one of his songs, makes a beautiful
allusion to this incident:

    "When Hylas was sent with his urn to the fount,
       Through fields full of light and with heart full of play,
     Light rambled the boy over meadow and mount,
       And neglected his task for the flowers in the way.

    "Thus many like me, who in youth should have tasted
       The fountain that runs by Philosophy's shrme,
     Their time with the flowers on the margin have wasted,
       And left their light urns all as empty as mine."


Amid the rejoicings for the recovery of the Golden Fleece, Jason
felt that one thing was wanting, the presence of Aeson, his
father, who was prevented by his age and infirmities from taking
part in them. Jason said to Medea, "My spouse, would that your
arts, whose power I have seen so mighty for my aid, could do me
one further service, take some years from my life and add them to
my father's." Medea replied, "Not at such a cost shall it be done,
but if my art avails me, his life shall be lengthened without
abridging yours." The next full moon she issued forth alone, while
all creatures slept; not a breath stirred the foliage, and all was
still. To the stars she addressed her incantations, and to the
moon; to Hecate, [Footnote: Hecate was a mysterious divinity
sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with Proserpine. As
Diana represents the moonlight splendor of night, so Hecate
represents its darkness and terrors. She was the goddess of
sorcery and witchcraft, and was believed to wander by night along
the earth, seen only by the dogs, whose barking told her
approach.] the goddess of the underworld, and to Tellus the
goddess of the earth, by whose power plants potent for enchantment
are produced. She invoked the gods of the woods and caverns, of
mountains and valleys, of lakes and rivers, of winds and vapors.
While she spoke the stars shone brighter, and presently a chariot
descended through the air, drawn by flying serpents. She ascended
it, and borne aloft made her way to distant regions, where potent
plants grew which she knew how to select for her purpose. Nine
nights she employed in her search, and during that time came not
within the doors of her palace nor under any roof, and shunned all
intercourse with mortals.

She next erected two altars, the one to Hecate, the other to Hebe,
the goddess of youth, and sacrificed a black sheep, pouring
libations of milk and wine. She implored Pluto and his stolen
bride that they would not hasten to take the old man's life. Then
she directed that Aeson should be led forth, and having thrown him
into a deep sleep by a charm, had him laid on a bed of herbs, like
one dead. Jason and all others were kept away from the place, that
no profane eyes might look upon her mysteries. Then, with
streaming hair, she thrice moved round the altars, dipped flaming
twigs in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn. Meanwhile the
caldron with its contents was got ready. In it she put magic
herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid juice, stones from the
distant east, and sand from the shore of all-surrounding ocean;
hoar frost, gathered by moonlight, a screech owl's head and wings,
and the entrails of a wolf. She added fragments of the shells of
tortoises, and the liver of stags,--animals tenacious of life,--
and the head and beak of a crow, that outlives nine generations of
men. These with many other things "without a name" she boiled
together for her purposed work, stirring them up with a dry olive
branch; and behold! the branch when taken out instantly became
green, and before long was covered with leaves and a plentiful
growth of young olives; and as the liquor boiled and bubbled, and
sometimes ran over, the grass wherever the sprinklings fell shot
forth with a verdure like that of spring.

Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of the old man and
let out all his blood, and poured into his mouth and into his
wound the juices of her caldron. As soon as he had completely
imbibed them, his hair and beard laid by their whiteness and
assumed the blackness of youth; his paleness and emaciation were
gone; his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and
robustness. Aeson is amazed at himself, and remembers that such as
he now is, he was in his youthful days, forty years before.

Medea used her arts here for a good purpose, but not so in another
instance, where she made them the instruments of revenge. Pelias,
our readers will recollect, was the usurping uncle of Jason, and
had kept him out of his kingdom. Yet he must have had some good
qualities, for his daughters loved him, and when they saw what
Medea had done for Aeson, they wished her to do the same for their
father. Medea pretended to consent, and prepared her caldron as
before. At her request an old sheep was brought and plunged into
the caldron. Very soon a bleating was heard in the kettle, and
when the cover was removed, a lamb jumped forth and ran frisking
away into the meadow. The daughters of Pelias saw the experiment
with delight, and appointed a time for their father to undergo the
same operation. But Medea prepared her caldron for him in a very
different way. She put in only water and a few simple herbs. In
the night she with the sisters entered the bed chamber of the old
king, while he and his guards slept soundly under the influence of
a spell cast upon them by Medea. The daughters stood by the
bedside with their weapons drawn, but hesitated to strike, till
Medea chid their irresolution. Then turning away their faces, and
giving random blows, they smote him with their weapons. He,
starting from his sleep, cried out, "My daughters, what are you
doing? Will you kill your father?" Their hearts failed them and
their weapons fell from their hands, but Medea struck him a fatal
blow, and prevented his saying more.

Then they placed him in the caldron, and Medea hastened to depart
in her serpent-drawn chariot before they discovered her treachery,
or their vengeance would have been terrible. She escaped, however,
but had little enjoyment of the fruits of her crime. Jason, for
whom she had done so much, wishing to marry Creusa, princess of
Corinth, put away Medea. She, enraged at his ingratitude, called
on the gods for vengeance, sent a poisoned robe as a gift to the
bride, and then killing her own children, and setting fire to the
palace, mounted her serpent-drawn chariot and fled to Athens,
where she married King Aegeus, the father of Theseus, and we shall
meet her again when we come to the adventures of that hero.

The incantations of Medea will remind the reader of those of the
witches in "Macbeth." The following lines are those which seem
most strikingly to recall the ancient model:

    "Round about the caldron go;
     In the poisoned 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:

     Maw of ravening salt-sea shark,
     Root of hemlock digged in the dark," etc

    --Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

And again:

    Macbeth.--What is't you do?
    Witches,--A deed without a name.

There is another story of Medea almost too revolting for record
even of a sorceress, a class of persons to whom both ancient and
modern poets have been accustomed to attribute every degree of
atrocity. In her flight from Colchis she had taken her young
brother Absyrtus with her. Finding the pursuing vessels of Aeetes
gaining upon the Argonauts, she caused the lad to be killed and
his limbs to be strewn over the sea. Aeetes on reaching the place
found these sorrowful traces of his murdered son; but while he
tarried to collect the scattered fragments and bestow upon them an
honorable interment, the Argonauts escaped.

In the poems of Campbell will be found a translation of one of the
choruses of the tragedy of "Medea," where the poet Euripides has
taken advantage of the occasion to pay a glowing tribute to
Athens, his native city. It begins thus:

    "O haggard queen! to Athens dost thou guide
       Thy glowing chariot, steeped in kindred gore;
     Or seek to hide thy damned parricide
       Where peace and justice dwell for evermore?"



One of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition was Meleager, son
of OEneus and Althea, king and queen of Calydon. Althea, when her
son was born, beheld the three destinies, who, as they spun their
fatal thread, foretold that the life of the child should last no
longer than a brand then burning upon the hearth. Althea seized
and quenched the brand, and carefully preserved it for years,
while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth, and manhood. It chanced,
then, that OEneus, as he offered sacrifices to the gods, omitted
to pay due honors to Diana; and she, indignant at the neglect,
sent a wild boar of enormous size to lay waste the fields of
Calydon. Its eyes shone with blood and fire, its bristles stood
like threatening spears, its tusks were like those of Indian
elephants. The growing corn was trampled, the vines and olive
trees laid waste, the flocks and herds were driven in wild
confusion by the slaughtering foe. All common aid seemed vain; but
Meleager called on the heroes of Greece to join in a bold hunt for
the ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend Pirithous, Jason,
Peleus, afterwards the father of Achilles, Telamon the father of
Ajax, Nestor, then a youth, but who in his age bore arms with
Achilles and Ajax in the Trojan war,--these and many more joined
in the enterprise. With them came Atalanta, the daughter of
Iasius, king of Arcadia. A buckle of polished gold confined her
vest, an ivory quiver hung on her left shoulder, and her left hand
bore the bow. Her face blent feminine beauty with the best graces
of martial youth. Meleager saw and loved.

But now already they were near the monster's lair. They stretched
strong nets from tree to tree; they uncoupled their dogs, they
tried to find the footprints of their quarry in the grass. From
the wood was a descent to marshy ground. Here the boar, as he lay
among the reeds, heard the shouts of his pursuers, and rushed
forth against them. One and another is thrown down and slain.
Jason throws his spear, with a prayer to Diana for success; and
the favoring goddess allows the weapon to touch, but not to wound,
removing the steel point of the spear in its flight. Nestor,
assailed, seeks and finds safety in the branches of a tree.
Telamon rushes on, but stumbling at a projecting root, falls
prone. But an arrow from Atalanta at length for the first time
tastes the monster's blood. It is a slight wound, but Meleager
sees and joyfully proclaims it. Anceus, excited to envy by the
praise given to a female, loudly proclaims his own valor, and
defies alike the boar and the goddess who had sent it; but as he
rushes on, the infuriated beast lays him low with a mortal wound.
Theseus throws his lance, but it is turned aside by a projecting
bough. The dart of Jason misses its object, and kills instead one
of their own dogs. But Meleager, after one unsuccessful stroke,
drives his spear into the monster's side, then rushes on and
despatches him with repeated blows.

Then rose a shout from those around; they congratulated the
conqueror, crowding to touch his hand. He, placing his foot upon
the head of the slain boar, turned to Atalanta and bestowed on her
the head and the rough hide which were the trophies of his
success. But at this, envy excited the rest to strife. Plexippus
and Toxeus, the brothers of Meleager's mother, beyond the rest
opposed the gift, and snatched from the maiden the trophy she had
received. Meleager, kindling with rage at the wrong done to
himself, and still more at the insult offered to her whom he
loved, forgot the claims of kindred, and plunged his sword into
the offenders' hearts.

As Althea bore gifts of thankfulness to the temples for the
victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered brothers met her
sight. She shrieks, and beats her breast, and hastens to change
the garments of rejoicing for those of mourning. But when the
author of the deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire
of vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which once she rescued
from the flames, the brand which the destinies had linked with
Meleager's life, she brings forth, and commands a fire to be
prepared. Then four times she essays to place the brand upon the
pile; four times draws back, shuddering at the thought of bringing
destruction on her son. The feelings of the mother and the sister
contend within her. Now she is pale at the thought of the proposed
deed, now flushed again with anger at the act of her son. As a
vessel, driven in one direction by the wind, and in the opposite
by the tide, the mind of Althea hangs suspended in uncertainty.
But now the sister prevails above the mother, and she begins as
she holds the fatal wood: "Turn, ye Furies, goddesses of
punishment! turn to behold the sacrifice I bring! Crime must atone
for crime. Shall OEneus rejoice in his victor son, while the house
of Thestius is desolate? But, alas! to what deed am I borne along?
Brothers forgive a mother's weakness! my hand fails me. He
deserves death, but not that I should destroy him. But shall he
then live, and triumph, and reign over Calydon, while you, my
brothers, wander unavenged among the shades? No! thou hast lived
by my gift; die, now, for thine own crime. Return the life which
twice I gave thee, first at thy birth, again when I snatched this
brand from the flames. O that thou hadst then died! Alas! evil is
the conquest; but, brothers, ye have conquered." And, turning away
her face, she threw the fatal wood upon the burning pile.

It gave, or seemed to give, a deadly groan. Meleager, absent and
unknowing of the cause, felt a sudden pang. He burns, and only by
courageous pride conquers the pain which destroys him. He mourns
only that he perishes by a bloodless and unhonored death. With his
last breath he calls upon his aged father, his brother, and his
fond sisters, upon his beloved Atalanta, and upon his mother, the
unknown cause of his fate. The flames increase, and with them the
pain of the hero. Now both subside; now both are quenched. The
brand is ashes, and the life of Meleager is breathed forth to the
wandering winds.

Althea, when the deed was done, laid violent hands upon herself.
The sisters of Meleager mourned their brother with uncontrollable
grief; till Diana, pitying the sorrows of the house that once had
aroused her anger, turned them into birds.


The innocent cause of so much sorrow was a maiden whose face you
might truly say was boyish for a girl, yet too girlish for a boy.
Her fortune had been told, and it was to this effect: "Atalanta,
do not marry; marriage will be your ruin." Terrified by this
oracle, she fled the society of men, and devoted herself to the
sports of the chase. To all suitors (for she had many) she imposed
a condition which was generally effectual in relieving her of
their persecutions,--"I will be the prize of him who shall conquer
me in the race; but death must be the penalty of all who try and
fail." In spite of this hard condition some would try. Hippomenes
was to be judge of the race. "Can it be possible that any will be
so rash as to risk so much for a wife?" said he. But when he saw
her lay aside her robe for the race, he changed his mind, and
said, "Pardon me, youths, I knew not the prize you were competing
for." As he surveyed them he wished them all to be beaten, and
swelled with envy of any one that seemed at all likely to win.
While such were his thoughts, the virgin darted forward. As she
ran she looked more beautiful than ever. The breezes seemed to
give wings to her feet; her hair flew over her shoulders, and the
gay fringe of her garment fluttered behind her. A ruddy hue tinged
the whiteness of her skin, such as a crimson curtain casts on a
marble wall. All her competitors were distanced, and were put to
death without mercy. Hippomenes, not daunted by this result,
fixing his eyes on the virgin, said, "Why boast of beating those
laggards? I offer myself for the contest." Atalanta looked at him
with a pitying countenance, and hardly knew whether she would
rather conquer him or not. "What god can tempt one so young and
handsome to throw himself away? I pity him, not for his beauty
(yet he is beautiful), but for his youth. I wish he would give up
the race, or if he will be so mad, I hope he may outrun me." While
she hesitates, revolving these thoughts, the spectators grow
impatient for the race, and her father prompts her to prepare.
Then Hippomenes addressed a prayer to Venus: "Help me, Venus, for
you have led me on." Venus heard and was propitious.

In the garden of her temple, in her own island of Cyprus, is a
tree with yellow leaves and yellow branches and golden fruit.
Hence she gathered three golden apples, and, unseen by any one
else, gave them to Hippomenes, and told him how to use them. The
signal is given; each starts from the goal and skims over the
sand. So light their tread, you would almost have thought they
might run over the river surface or over the waving grain without
sinking. The cries of the spectators cheered Hippomenes,--"Now,
now, do your best! haste, haste! you gain on her! relax not! one
more effort!" It was doubtful whether the youth or the maiden
heard these cries with the greater pleasure. But his breath began
to fail him, his throat was dry, the goal yet far off. At that
moment he threw down one of the golden apples. The virgin was all
amazement. She stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes shot ahead.
Shouts burst forth from all sides. She redoubled her efforts, and
soon overtook him. Again he threw an apple. She stopped again, but
again came up with him. The goal was near; one chance only
remained. "Now, goddess," said he, "prosper your gift!" and threw
the last apple off at one side. She looked at it, and hesitated;
Venus impelled her to turn aside for it. She did so, and was
vanquished. The youth carried off his prize.

But the lovers were so full of their own happiness that they
forgot to pay due honor to Venus; and the goddess was provoked at
their ingratitude. She caused them to give offence to Cybele. That
powerful goddess was not to be insulted with impunity. She took
from them their human form and turned them into animals of
characters resembling their own: of the huntress-heroine,
triumphing in the blood of her lovers, she made a lioness, and of
her lord and master a lion, and yoked them to her car, where they
are still to be seen in all representations, in statuary or
painting, of the goddess Cybele.

Cybele is the Latin name of the goddess called by the Greeks Rhea
and Ops. She was the wife of Cronos and mother of Zeus. In works
of art she exhibits the matronly air which distinguishes Juno and
Ceres. Sometimes she is veiled, and seated on a throne with lions
at her side, at other times riding in a chariot drawn by lions.
She wears a mural crown, that is, a crown whose rim is carved in
the form of towers and battlements. Her priests were called

Byron, in describing the city of Venice, which is built on a low
island in the Adriatic Sea, borrows an illustration from Cybele:

    "She looks a sea-Cybele fresh from ocean,
     Rising with her tiara of proud towers
     At airy distance, with majestic motion,
     A ruler of the waters and their powers."

    --Childe Harold, IV.

In Moore's "Rhymes on the Road," the poet, speaking of Alpine
scenery, alludes to the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes thus:

    "Even here, in this region of wonders, I find
     That light-footed Fancy leaves Truth far behind,
     Or at least, like Hippomenes, turns her astray
     By the golden illusions he flings in her way."




Hercules was the son of Jupiter and Alcmena. As Juno was always
hostile to the offspring of her husband by mortal mothers, she
declared war against Hercules from his birth. She sent two
serpents to destroy him as he lay in his cradle, but the
precocious infant strangled them with his own hands. He was,
however, by the arts of Juno rendered subject to Eurystheus and
compelled to perform all his commands. Eurystheus enjoined upon
him a succession of desperate adventures, which are called the
"Twelve Labors of Hercules." The first was the fight with the
Nemean lion. The valley of Nemea was infested by a terrible lion.
Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the skin of this monster.
After using in vain his club and arrows against the lion, Hercules
strangled the animal with his hands. He returned carrying the dead
lion on his shoulders; but Eurystheus was so frightened at the
sight of it and at this proof of the prodigious strength of the
hero, that he ordered him to deliver the account of his exploits
in future outside the town.

His next labor was the slaughter of the Hydra. This monster
ravaged the country of Argos, and dwelt in a swamp near the well
of Amymone. This well had been discovered by Amymone when the
country was suffering from drought, and the story was that
Neptune, who loved her, had permitted her to touch the rock with
his trident, and a spring of three outlets burst forth. Here the
Hydra took up his position, and Hercules was sent to destroy him.
The Hydra had nine heads, of which the middle one was immortal.
Hercules struck off its heads with his club, but in the place of
the head knocked off, two new ones grew forth each time. At length
with the assistance of his faithful servant Iolaus, he burned away
the heads of the Hydra, and buried the ninth or immortal one under
a huge rock.

Another labor was the cleaning of the Augean stables. Augeas, king
of Elis, had a herd of three thousand oxen, whose stalls had not
been cleansed for thirty years. Hercules brought the rivers
Alpheus and Peneus through them, and cleansed them thoroughly in
one day.

His next labor was of a more delicate kind. Admeta, the daughter
of Eurystheus, longed to obtain the girdle of the queen of the
Amazons, and Eurystheus ordered Hercules to go and get it. The
Amazons were a nation of women. They were very warlike and held
several flourishing cities. It was their custom to bring up only
the female children; the boys were either sent away to the
neighboring nations or put to death. Hercules was accompanied by a
number of volunteers, and after various adventures at last reached
the country of the Amazons. Hippolyta, the queen, received him
kindly, and consented to yield him her girdle, but Juno, taking
the form of an Amazon, went and persuaded the rest that the
strangers were carrying off their queen. They instantly armed and
came in great numbers down to the ship. Hercules, thinking that
Hippolyta had acted treacherously, slew her, and taking her girdle
made sail homewards.

Another task enjoined him was to bring to Eurystheus the oxen of
Geryon, a monster with three bodies, who dwelt in the island
Erytheia (the red), so called because it lay at the west, under
the rays of the setting sun. This description is thought to apply
to Spain, of which Geryon was king. After traversing various
countries, Hercules reached at length the frontiers of Libya and
Europe, where he raised the two mountains of Calpe and Abyla, as
monuments of his progress, or, according to another account, rent
one mountain into two and left half on each side, forming the
straits of Gibraltar, the two mountains being called the Pillars
of Hercules. The oxen were guarded by the giant Eurytion and his
two-headed dog, but Hercules killed the giant and his dog and
brought away the oxen in safety to Eurystheus.

The most difficult labor of all was getting the golden apples of
the Hesperides, for Hercules did not know where to find them.
These were the apples which Juno had received at her wedding from
the goddess of the Earth, and which she had intrusted to the
keeping of the daughters of Hesperus, assisted by a watchful
dragon. After various adventures Hercules arrived at Mount Atlas
in Africa. Atlas was one of the Titans who had warred against the
gods, and after they were subdued, Atlas was condemned to bear on
his shoulders the weight of the heavens. He was the father of the
Hesperides, and Hercules thought might, if any one could, find the
apples and bring them to him. But how to send Atlas away from his
post, or bear up the heavens while he was gone? Hercules took the
burden on his own shoulders, and sent Atlas to seek the apples. He
returned with them, and though somewhat reluctantly, took his
burden upon his shoulders again, and let Hercules return with the
apples to Eurystheus.

Milton, in his "Comus," makes the Hesperides the daughters of
Hesperus and nieces of Atlas:

   "... amidst the gardens fair
    Of Hesperus and his daughters three,
    That sing about the golden tree."

The poets, led by the analogy of the lovely appearance of the
western sky at sunset, viewed the west as a region of brightness
and glory. Hence they placed in it the Isles of the Blest, the
ruddy Isle Erythea, on which the bright oxen of Geryon were
pastured, and the Isle of the Hesperides. The apples are supposed
by some to be the oranges of Spain, of which the Greeks had heard
some obscure accounts.

A celebrated exploit of Hercules was his victory over Antaeus.
Antaeus, the son of Terra, the Earth, was a mighty giant and
wrestler, whose strength was invincible so long as he remained in
contact with his mother Earth. He compelled all strangers who came
to his country to wrestle with him, on condition that if conquered
(as they all were) they should be put to death. Hercules
encountered him, and finding that it was of no avail to throw him,
for he always rose with renewed strength from every fall, he
lifted him up from the earth and strangled him in the air.

Cacus was a huge giant, who inhabited a cave on Mount Aventine,
and plundered the surrounding country. When Hercules was driving
home the oxen of Geryon, Cacus stole part of the cattle, while the
hero slept. That their footprints might not serve to show where
they had been driven, he dragged them backward by their tails to
his cave; so their tracks all seemed to show that they had gone in
the opposite direction. Hercules was deceived by this stratagem,
and would have failed to find his oxen, if it had not happened
that in driving the remainder of the herd past the cave where the
stolen ones were concealed, those within began to low, and were
thus discovered. Cacus was slain by Hercules.

The last exploit we shall record was bringing Cerberus from the
lower world. Hercules descended into Hades, accompanied by Mercury
and Minerva. He obtained permission from Pluto to carry Cerberus
to the upper air, provided he could do it without the use of
weapons; and in spite of the monster's struggling, he seized him,
held him fast, and carried him to Eurystheus, and afterwards
brought him back again. When he was in Hades he obtained the
liberty of Theseus, his admirer and imitator, who had been
detained a prisoner there for an unsuccessful attempt to carry off

Hercules in a fit of madness killed his friend Iphitus, and was
condemned for this offence to become the slave of Queen Omphale
for three years. While in this service the hero's nature seemed
changed. He lived effeminately, wearing at times the dress of a
woman, and spinning wool with the hand-maidens of Omphale, while
the queen wore his lion's skin. When this service was ended he
married Dejanira and lived in peace with her three years. On one
occasion as he was travelling with his wife, they came to a river,
across which the Centaur Nessus carried travellers for a stated
fee. Hercules himself forded the river, but gave Dejanira to
Nessus to be carried across. Nessus attempted to run away with
her, but Hercules heard her cries and shot an arrow into the heart
of Nessus. The dying Centaur told Dejanira to take a portion of
his blood and keep it, as it might be used as a charm to preserve
the love of her husband.

Dejanira did so and before long fancied she had occasion to use
it. Hercules in one of his conquests had taken prisoner a fair
maiden, named Iole, of whom he seemed more fond than Dejanira
approved. When Hercules was about to offer sacrifices to the gods
in honor of his victory, he sent to his wife for a white robe to
use on the occasion. Dejanira, thinking it a good opportunity to
try her love-spell, steeped the garment in the blood of Nessus. We
are to suppose she took care to wash out all traces of it, but the
magic power remained, and as soon as the garment became warm on
the body of Hercules the poison penetrated into all his limbs and
caused him the most intense agony. In his frenzy he seized Lichas,
who had brought him the fatal robe, and hurled him into the sea.
He wrenched off the garment, but it stuck to his flesh, and with
it he tore away whole pieces of his body. In this state he
embarked on board a ship and was conveyed home. Dejanira, on
seeing what she had unwittingly done, hung herself. Hercules,
prepared to die, ascended Mount Oeta, where he built a funeral
pile of trees, gave his bow and arrows to Philoctetes, and laid
himself down on the pile, his head resting on his club, and his
lion's skin spread over him. With a countenance as serene as if he
were taking his place at a festal board he commanded Philoctetes
to apply the torch. The flames spread apace and soon invested the
whole mass.

Milton thus alludes to the frenzy of Hercules:

   "As when Alcides, from Oechalia crowned
    With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore,
    Through pain, up by the roots Thessalian pines
    And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw
    Into the Euboic Sea."

[Footnote: Alcides, a name of Hercules.]

The gods themselves felt troubled at seeing the champion of the
earth so brought to his end. But Jupiter with cheerful countenance
thus addressed them: "I am pleased to see your concern, my
princes, and am gratified to perceive that I am the ruler of a
loyal people, and that my son enjoys your favor. For although your
interest in him arises from his noble deeds, yet it is not the
less gratifying to me. But now I say to you, Fear not. He who
conquered all else is not to be conquered by those flames which
you see blazing on Mount Oeta. Only his mother's share in him can
perish; what he derived from me is immortal. I shall take him,
dead to earth, to the heavenly shores, and I require of you all to
receive him kindly. If any of you feel grieved at his attaining
this honor, yet no one can deny that he has deserved it." The gods
all gave their assent; Juno only heard the closing words with some
displeasure that she should be so particularly pointed at, yet not
enough to make her regret the determination of her husband. So
when the flames had consumed the mother's share of Hercules, the
diviner part, instead of being injured thereby, seemed to start
forth with new vigor, to assume a more lofty port and a more awful
dignity. Jupiter enveloped him in a cloud, and took him up in a
four-horse chariot to dwell among the stars. As he took his place
in heaven, Atlas felt the added weight.

Juno, now reconciled to him, gave him her daughter Hebe in

The poet Schiller, in one of his pieces called the "Ideal and
Life," illustrates the contrast between the practical and the
imaginative in some beautiful stanzas, of which the last two may
be thus translated:

   "Deep degraded to a coward's slave,
    Endless contests bore Alcides brave,
    Through the thorny path of suffering led;
    Slew the Hydra, crushed the lion's might,
    Threw himself, to bring his friend to light,
    Living, in the skiff that bears the dead.
    All the torments, every toil of earth
    Juno's hatred on him could impose,
    Well he bore them, from his fated birth
    To life's grandly mournful close.

   "Till the god, the earthly part forsaken,
    From the man in flames asunder taken,
    Drank the heavenly ether's purer breath.
    Joyous in the new unwonted lightness,
    Soared he upwards to celestial brightness,
    Earth's dark heavy burden lost in death.
    High Olympus gives harmonious greeting
    To the hall where reigns his sire adored;
    Youth's bright goddess, with a blush at meeting,
    Gives the nectar to her lord."

    --S. G. B.


Hebe, the daughter of Juno, and goddess of youth, was cup-bearer
to the gods. The usual story is that she resigned her office on
becoming the wife of Hercules. But there is another statement
which our countryman Crawford, the sculptor, has adopted in his
group of Hebe and Ganymede, now in the Athenaeum gallery.
According to this, Hebe was dismissed from her office in
consequence of a fall which she met with one day when in
attendance on the gods. Her successor was Ganymede, a Trojan boy,
whom Jupiter, in the disguise of an eagle, seized and carried off
from the midst of his playfellows on Mount Ida, bore up to heaven,
and installed in the vacant place.

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," describes among the decorations
on the walls a picture representing this legend:

   "There, too, flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
      Half buried in the eagle's down,
    Sole as a flying star shot through the sky
      Above the pillared town."

And in Shelley's "Prometheus" Jupiter calls to his cup-bearer

   "Pour forth heaven's wine, Idaean Ganymede,
      And let it fill the Daedal cups like fire."

The beautiful legend of the "Choice of Hercules" may be found in
the "Tatler," No. 97.




Theseus was the son of Aegeus, king of Athens, and of Aethra,
daughter of the king of Troezen. He was brought up at Troezen, and
when arrived at manhood was to proceed to Athens and present
himself to his father. Aegeus on parting from Aethra, before the
birth of his son, placed his sword and shoes under a large stone
and directed her to send his son to him when he became strong
enough to roll away the stone and take them from under it. When
she thought the time had come, his mother led Theseus to the
stone, and he removed it with ease and took the sword and shoes.
As the roads were infested with robbers, his grandfather pressed
him earnestly to take the shorter and safer way to his father's
country--by sea; but the youth, feeling in himself the spirit and
the soul of a hero, and eager to signalize himself like Hercules,
with whose fame all Greece then rang, by destroying the evil-doers
and monsters that oppressed the country, determined on the more
perilous and adventurous journey by land.

His first day's journey brought him to Epidaurus, where dwelt a
man named Periphetes, a son of Vulcan. This ferocious savage
always went armed with a club of iron, and all travellers stood in
terror of his violence. When he saw Theseus approach he assailed
him, but speedily fell beneath the blows of the young hero, who
took possession of his club and bore it ever afterwards as a
memorial of his first victory.

Several similar contests with the petty tyrants and marauders of
the country followed, in all of which Theseus was victorious. One
of these evil-doers was called Procrustes, or the Stretcher. He
had an iron bedstead, on which he used to tie all travellers who
fell into his hands. If they were shorter than the bed, he
stretched their limbs to make them fit it; if they were longer
than the bed, he lopped off a portion. Theseus served him as he
had served others.

Having overcome all the perils of the road, Theseus at length
reached Athens, where new dangers awaited him. Medea, the
sorceress, who had fled from Corinth after her separation from
Jason, had become the wife of Aegeus, the father of Theseus.
Knowing by her arts who he was, and fearing the loss of her
influence with her husband if Theseus should be acknowledged as
his son, she filled the mind of Aegeus with suspicions of the
young stranger, and induced him to present him a cup of poison;
but at the moment when Theseus stepped forward to take it, the
sight of the sword which he wore discovered to his father who he
was, and prevented the fatal draught. Medea, detected in her arts,
fled once more from deserved punishment, and arrived in Asia,
where the country afterwards called Media received its name from
her, Theseus was acknowledged by his father, and declared his

The Athenians were at that time in deep affliction, on account of
the tribute which they were forced to pay to Minos, king of Crete.
This tribute consisted of seven youths and seven maidens, who were
sent every year to be devoured by the Minotaur, a monster with a
bull's body and a human head. It was exceedingly strong and
fierce, and was kept in a labyrinth constructed by Daedalus, so
artfully contrived that whoever was enclosed in it could by no
means, find his way out unassisted. Here the Minotaur roamed, and
was fed with human victims.

Theseus resolved to deliver his countrymen from this calamity, or
to die in the attempt. Accordingly, when the time of sending off
the tribute came, and the youths and maidens were, according to
custom, drawn by lot to be sent, he offered himself as one of the
victims, in spite of the entreaties of his father. The ship
departed under black sails, as usual, which Theseus promised his
father to change for white, in case of his returning victorious.
When they arrived in Crete, the youths and maidens were exhibited
before Minos; and Ariadne, the daughter of the king, being
present, became deeply enamored of Theseus, by whom her love was
readily returned. She furnished him with a sword, with which to
encounter the Minotaur, and with a clew of thread by which he
might find his way out of the labyrinth. He was successful, slew
the Minotaur, escaped from the labyrinth, and taking Ariadne as
the companion of his way, with his rescued companions sailed for
Athens. On their way they stopped at the island of Naxos, where
Theseus abandoned Ariadne, leaving her asleep. [Footnote: One of
the finest pieces of sculpture in Italy, the recumbent Ariadne of
the Vatican, represents this incident. A copy is owned by the
Athenaeum, Boston, and deposited, in the Museum of Fine Arts.] His
excuse for this ungrateful treatment of his benefactress was that
Minerva appeared to him in a dream and commanded him to do so.

On approaching the coast of Attica, Theseus forgot the signal
appointed by his father, and neglected to raise the white sails,
and the old king, thinking his son had perished, put an end to his
own life. Theseus thus became king of Athens.

One of the most celebrated of the adventures of Theseus is his
expedition against the Amazons. He assailed them before they had
recovered from the attack of Hercules, and carried off their queen
Antiope. The Amazons in their turn invaded the country of Athens
and penetrated into the city itself; and the final battle in which
Theseus overcame them was fought in the very midst of the city.
This battle was one of the favorite subjects of the ancient
sculptors, and is commemorated in several works of art that are
still extant.

The friendship between Theseus and Pirithous was of a most
intimate nature, yet it originated in the midst of arms. Pirithous
had made an irruption into the plain of Marathon, and carried off
the herds of the king of Athens. Theseus went to repel the
plunderers. The moment Pirithous beheld him, he was seized with
admiration; he stretched out his hand as a token of peace, and
cried, "Be judge thyself--what satisfaction dost thou require?"
"Thy friendship," replied the Athenian, and they swore inviolable
fidelity. Their deeds corresponded to their professions, and they
ever continued true brothers in arms. Each of them aspired to
espouse a daughter of Jupiter. Theseus fixed his choice on Helen,
then but a child, afterwards so celebrated as the cause of the
Trojan war, and with the aid of his friend he carried her off.
Pirithous aspired to the wife of the monarch of Erebus; and
Theseus, though aware of the danger, accompanied the ambitious
lover in his descent to the under-world. But Pluto seized and set
them on an enchanted rock at his palace gate, where they remained
till Hercules arrived and liberated Theseus, leaving Pirithous to
his fate.

After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phaedra, daughter of
Minos, king of Crete. Phaedra saw in Hippolytus, the son of
Theseus, a youth endowed with all the graces and virtues of his
father, and of an age corresponding to her own. She loved him, but
he repulsed her advances, and her love was changed to hate. She
used her influence over her infatuated husband to cause him to be
jealous of his son, and he imprecated the vengeance of Neptune
upon him. As Hippolytus was one day driving his chariot along the
shore, a sea-monster raised himself above the waters, and
frightened the horses so that they ran away and dashed the chariot
to pieces. Hippolytus was killed, but by Diana's assistance
Aesculapius restored him to life. Diana removed Hippolytus from
the power of his deluded father and false stepmother, and placed
him in Italy under the protection of the nymph Egeria.

Theseus at length lost the favor of his people, and retired to the
court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, who at first received him
kindly, but afterwards treacherously slew him. In a later age the
Athenian general Cimon discovered the place where his remains were
laid, and caused them to be removed to Athens, where they were
deposited in a temple called the Theseum, erected in honor of the

The queen of the Amazons whom Theseus espoused is by some called
Hippolyta. That is the name she bears in Shakspeare's "Midsummer
Night's Dream,"--the subject of which is the festivities attending
the nuptials of Theseus and Hippolyta.

Mrs. Hemans has a poem on the ancient Greek tradition that the
"Shade of Theseus" appeared strengthening his countrymen at the
battle of Marathon.

Theseus is a semi-historical personage. It is recorded of him that
he united the several tribes by whom the territory of Attica was
then possessed into one state, of which Athens was the capital. In
commemoration of this important event, he instituted the festival
of Panathenaea, in honor of Minerva, the patron deity of Athens.
This festival differed from the other Grecian games chiefly in two
particulars. It was peculiar to the Athenians, and its chief
feature was a solemn procession in which the Peplus, or sacred
robe of Minerva, was carried to the Parthenon, and suspended
before the statue of the goddess. The Peplus was covered with
embroidery, worked by select virgins of the noblest families in
Athens. The procession consisted of persons of all ages and both
sexes. The old men carried olive branches in their hands, and the
young men bore arms. The young women carried baskets on their
heads, containing the sacred utensils, cakes, and all things
necessary for the sacrifices. The procession formed the subject of
the bas-reliefs which embellished the outside of the temple of the
Parthenon. A considerable portion of these sculptures is now in
the British Museum among those known as the "Elgin marbles."


It seems not inappropriate to mention here the other celebrated
national games of the Greeks. The first and most distinguished
were the Olympic, founded, it was said, by Jupiter himself. They
were celebrated at Olympia in Elis. Vast numbers of spectators
flocked to them from every part of Greece, and from Asia, Africa,
and Sicily. They were repeated every fifth year in mid-summer,
and continued five days. They gave rise to the custom of reckoning
time and dating events by Olympiads. The first Olympiad is
generally considered as corresponding with the year 776 B.C. The
Pythian games were celebrated in the vicinity of Delphi, the
Isthmian on the Corinthian isthmus, the Nemean at Nemea, a city of

The exercises in these games were of five sorts: running, leaping,
wrestling, throwing the quoit, and hurling the javelin, or boxing.
Besides these exercises of bodily strength and agility, there were
contests in music, poetry, and eloquence. Thus these games
furnished poets, musicians, and authors the best opportunities to
present their productions to the public, and the fame of the
victors was diffused far and wide.


The labyrinth from which Theseus escaped by means of the clew of
Ariadne was built by Daedalus, a most skilful artificer. It was an
edifice with numberless winding passages and turnings opening into
one another, and seeming to have neither beginning nor end, like
the river Maeander, which returns on itself, and flows now onward,
now backward, in its course to the sea. Daedalus built the
labyrinth for King Minos, but afterwards lost the favor of the
king, and was shut up in a tower. He contrived to make his escape
from his prison, but could not leave the island by sea, as the
king kept strict watch on all the vessels, and permitted none to
sail without being carefully searched. "Minos may control the land
and sea," said Daedalus, "but not the regions of the air. I will
try that way." So he set to work to fabricate wings for himself
and his young son Icarus. He wrought feathers together, beginning
with the smallest and adding larger, so as to form an increasing
surface. The larger ones he secured with thread and the smaller
with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of
a bird. Icarus, the boy, stood and looked on, sometimes running to
gather up the feathers which the wind had blown away, and then
handling the wax and working it over with his fingers, by his play
impeding his father in his labors. When at last the work was done,
the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward, and
hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next
equipped his son in the same manner, and taught him how to fly, as
a bird tempts her young ones from the lofty nest into the air.
When all was prepared for flight he said, "Icarus, my son, I
charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you fly too low
the damp will clog your wings, and if too high the heat will melt
them. Keep near me and you will be safe." While he gave him these
instructions and fitted the wings to his shoulders, the face of
the father was wet with tears, and his hands trembled. He kissed
the boy, not knowing that it was for the last time. Then rising on
his wings, he flew off, encouraging him to follow, and looked back
from his own flight to see how his son managed his wings. As they
flew the ploughman stopped his work to gaze, and the shepherd
leaned on his staff and watched them, astonished at the sight, and
thinking they were gods who could thus cleave the air.

They passed Samos and Delos on the left and Lebynthos on the
right, when the boy, exulting in his career, began to leave the
guidance of his companion and soar upward as if to reach heaven.
The nearness of the blazing sun softened the wax which held the
feathers together, and they came off. He fluttered with his arms,
but no feathers remained to hold the air. While his mouth uttered
cries to his father it was submerged in the blue waters of the
sea, which thenceforth was called by his name. His father cried,
"Icarus, Icarus, where are you?" At last he saw the feathers
floating on the water, and bitterly lamenting his own arts, he
buried the body and called the land Icaria in memory of his child.
Daedalus arrived safe in Sicily, where he built a temple to
Apollo, and hung up his wings, an offering to the god.

Daedalus was so proud of his achievements that he could not bear
the idea of a rival. His sister had placed her son Perdix under
his charge to be taught the mechanical arts. He was an apt scholar
and gave striking evidences of ingenuity. Walking on the seashore
he picked up the spine of a fish. Imitating it, he took a piece of
iron and notched it on the edge, and thus invented the SAW. He put
two pieces of iron together, connecting them at one end with a
rivet, and sharpening the other ends, and made a PAIR OF
COMPASSES. Daedalus was so envious of his nepnew's performances
that he took an opportunity, when they were together one day on
the top of a high tower, to push him off. But Minerva, who favors
ingenuity, saw him falling, and arrested his fate by changing him
into a bird called after his name, the Partridge. This bird does
not build his nest in the trees, nor take lofty flights, but
nestles in the hedges, and mindful of his fall, avoids high

The death of Icarus is told in the following lines by Darwin:

    "... with melting wax and loosened strings
     Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings;
     Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air,
     With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair;
     His scattered plumage danced upon the wave,
     And sorrowing Nereids decked his watery grave;
     O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
     And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed;
     Struck in their coral towers the passing bell,
     And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell."


Castor and Pollux were the offspring of Leda and the Swan, under
which disguise Jupiter had concealed himself. Leda gave birth to
an egg from which sprang the twins. Helen, so famous afterwards as
the cause of the Trojan war, was their sister.

When Theseus and his friend Pirithous had carried off Helen from
Sparta, the youthful heroes Castor and Pollux, with their
followers, hastened to her rescue. Theseus was absent from Attica
and the brothers were successful in recovering their sister.

Castor was famous for taming and managing horses, and Pollux for
skill in boxing. They were united by the warmest affection and
inseparable in all their enterprises. They accompanied the
Argonautic expedition. During the voyage a storm arose, and
Orpheus prayed to the Samothracian gods, and played on his harp,
whereupon the storm ceased and stars appeared on the heads of the
brothers. From this incident, Castor and Pollux came afterwards to
be considered the patron deities of seamen and voyagers, and the
lambent flames, which in certain states of the atmosphere play
round the sails and masts of vessels, were called by their names.

After the Argonautic expedition, we find Castor and Pollux engaged
in a war with Idas and Lynceus. Castor was slain, and Pollux,
inconsolable for the loss of his brother, besought Jupiter to be
permitted to give his own life as a ransom for him. Jupiter so far
consented as to allow the two brothers to enjoy the boon of life
alternately, passing one day under the earth and the next in the
heavenly abodes. According to another form of the story, Jupiter
rewarded the attachment of the brothers by placing them among the
stars as Gemini the Twins.

They received divine honors under the name of Dioscuri (sons of
Jove). They were believed to have appeared occasionally in later
times, taking part with one side or the other, in hard-fought
fields, and were said on such occasions to be mounted on
magnificent white steeds. Thus in the early history of Rome they
are said to have assisted the Romans at the battle of Lake
Regillus, and after the victory a temple was erected in their
honor on the spot where they appeared.

Macaulay, in his "Lays of Ancient Rome," thus alludes to the

    "So like they were, no mortal
       Might one from other know;
     White as snow their armor was,
       Their steeds were white as snow.
     Never on earthly anvil
       Did such rare armor gleam,
     And never did such gallant steeds
       Drink of an earthly stream.

    "Back comes the chief in triumph
       Who in the hour of fight
     Hath seen the great Twin Brethren
       In harness on his right.
     Safe comes the ship to haven,
       Through billows and through gales.
     If once the great Twin Brethren
       Sit shining on the sails."




Bacchus was the son of Jupiter and Semele. Juno, to gratify her
resentment against Semele, contrived a plan for her destruction.
Assuming the form of Beroe, her aged nurse, she insinuated doubts
whether it was indeed Jove himself who came as a lover. Heaving a
sigh, she said, "I hope it will turn out so, but I can't help
being afraid. People are not always what they pretend to be. If he
is indeed Jove, make him give some proof of it. Ask him to come
arrayed in all his splendors, such as he wears in heaven. That
will put the matter beyond a doubt." Semele was persuaded to try
the experiment. She asks a favor, without naming what it is. Jove
gives his promise, and confirms it with the irrevocable oath,
attesting the river Styx, terrible to the gods themselves. Then
she made known her request. The god would have stopped her as she
spake, but she was too quick for him. The words escaped, and he
could neither unsay his promise nor her request. In deep distress
he left her and returned to the upper regions. There he clothed
himself in his splendors, not putting on all his terrors, as when
he overthrew the giants, but what is known among the gods as his
lesser panoply. Arrayed in this, he entered the chamber of Semele.
Her mortal frame could not endure the splendors of the immortal
radiance. She was consumed to ashes.

Jove took the infant Bacchus and gave him in charge to the Nysaean
nymphs, who nourished his infancy and childhood, and for their
care were rewarded by Jupiter by being placed, as the Hyades,
among the stars. When Bacchus grew up he discovered the culture of
the vine and the mode of extracting its precious juice; but Juno
struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through
various parts of the earth. In Phrygia the goddess Rhea cured him
and taught him her religious rites, and he set out on a progress
through Asia, teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. The
most famous part of his wanderings is his expedition to India,
which is said to have lasted several years. Returning in triumph,
he undertook to introduce his worship into Greece, but was opposed
by some princes, who dreaded its introduction on account of the
disorders and madness it brought with it.

As he approached his native city Thebes, Pentheus the king, who
had no respect for the new worship, forbade its rites to be
performed. But when it was known that Bacchus was advancing, men
and women, but chiefly the latter, young and old, poured forth to
meet him and to join his triumphal march.

Mr. Longfellow in his "Drinking Song" thus describes the march of

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

    "Round about him fair Bacchantes,
       Bearing cymbals, flutes and thyrses,
     Wild from Naxian groves of Zante's
       Vineyards, sing delirious verses,"

It was in vain Pentheus remonstrated, commanded, and threatened.
"Go," said he to his attendants, "seize this vagabond leader of
the rout and bring him to me. I will soon make him confess his
false claim of heavenly parentage and renounce his counterfeit
worship." It was in vain his nearest friends and wisest
counsellors remonstrated and begged him not to oppose the god.
Their remonstrances only made him more violent.

But now the attendants returned whom he had despatched to seize
Bacchus. They had been driven away by the Bacchanals, but had
succeeded in taking one of them prisoner, whom, with his hands
tied behind him, they brought before the king. Pentheus, beholding
him with wrathful countenance, said, "Fellow! you shall speedily
be put to death, that your fate may be a warning to others; but
though I grudge the delay of your punishment, speak, tell us who
you are, and what are these new rites you presume to celebrate."

The prisoner, unterrified, responded, "My name is Acetes; my
country is Maeonia; my parents were poor people, who had no fields
or flocks to leave me, but they left me their fishing rods and
nets and their fisherman's trade. This I followed for some time,
till growing weary of remaining in one place, I learned the
pilot's art and how to guide my course by the stars. It happened
as I was sailing for Delos we touched at the island of Dia and
went ashore. Next morning I sent the men for fresh water, and
myself mounted the hill to observe the wind; when my men returned
bringing with them a prize, as they thought, a boy of delicate
appearance, whom they had found asleep. They judged he was a noble
youth, perhaps a king's son, and they might get a liberal ransom
for him. I observed his dress, his walk, his face. There was
something in them which I felt sure was more than mortal. I said
to my men, 'What god there is concealed in that form I know not,
but some one there certainly is. Pardon us, gentle deity, for the
violence we have done you, and give success to our undertakings.'
Dictys, one of my best hands for climbing the mast and coming down
by the ropes, and Melanthus, my steersman, and Epopeus, the leader
of the sailor's cry, one and all exclaimed, 'Spare your prayers
for us.' So blind is the lust of gain! When they proceeded to put
him on board I resisted them. 'This ship shall not be profaned by
such impiety,' said I. 'I have a greater share in her than any of
you.' But Lycabas, a turbulent fellow, seized me by the throat and
attempted to throw me overboard, and I scarcely saved myself by
clinging to the ropes. The rest approved the deed.

"Then Bacchus (for it was indeed he), as if shaking off his
drowsiness, exclaimed, 'What are you doing with me? What is this
fighting about? Who brought me here? Where are you going to carry
me?' One of them replied, 'Fear nothing; tell us where you wish to
go and we will take you there.' 'Naxos is my home,' said Bacchus;
'take me there and you shall be well rewarded.' They promised so
to do, and told me to pilot the ship to Naxos. Naxos lay to the
right, and I was trimming the sails to carry us there, when some
by signs and others by whispers signified to me their will that I
should sail in the opposite direction, and take the boy to Egypt
to sell him for a slave. I was confounded and said, 'Let some one
else pilot the ship;' withdrawing myself from any further agency
in their wickedness. They cursed me, and one of them, exclaiming,
'Don't flatter yourself that we depend on you for our safety;'
took any place as pilot, and bore away from Naxos.

"Then the god, pretending that he had just become aware of their
treachery, looked out over the sea and said in a voice of weeping,
'Sailors, these are not the shores you promised to take me to;
yonder island is not my home. What have I done that you should
treat me so? It is small glory you will gain by cheating a poor
boy.' I wept to hear him, but the crew laughed at both of us, and
sped the vessel fast over the sea. All at once--strange as it may
seem, it is true,--the vessel stopped, in the mid sea, as fast as
if it was fixed on the ground. The men, astonished, pulled at
their oars, and spread more sail, trying to make progress by the
aid of both, but all in vain. Ivy twined round the oars and
hindered their motion, and clung to the sails, with heavy clusters
of berries. A vine, laden with grapes, ran up the mast, and along
the sides of the vessel. The sound of flutes was heard and the
odor of fragrant wine spread all around. The god himself had a
chaplet of vine leaves, and bore in his hand a spear wreathed with
ivy. Tigers crouched at his feet, and forms of lynxes and spotted
panthers played around him. The men were seized with terror or
madness; some leaped overboard; others preparing to do the same
beheld their companions in the water undergoing a change, their
bodies becoming flattened and ending in a crooked tail. One
exclaimed, 'What miracle is this!' and as he spoke his mouth
widened, his nostrils expanded, and scales covered all his body.
Another, endeavoring to pull the oar, felt his hands shrink up and
presently to be no longer hands but fins; another, trying to raise
his arms to a rope, found he had no arms, and curving his
mutilated body, jumped into the sea. What had been his legs became
the two ends of a crescent-shaped tail. The whole crew became
dolphins and swam about the ship, now upon the surface, now under
it, scattering the spray, and spouting the water from their broad
nostrils. Of twenty men I alone was left. Trembling with fear, the
god cheered me. 'Fear not,' said he; 'steer towards Naxos.' I
obeyed, and when we arrived there, I kindled the altars and
celebrated the sacred rites of Bacchus."

Pentheus here exclaimed, "We have wasted time enough on this silly
story. Take him away and have him executed without delay." Acetes
was led away by the attendants and shut up fast in prison; but
while they were getting ready the instruments of execution the
prison doors came open of their own accord and the chains fell
from his limbs, and when they looked for him he was nowhere to be

Pentheus would take no warning, but instead of sending others,
determined to go himself to the scene of the solemnities. The
mountain Citheron was all alive with worshippers, and the cries of
the Bacchanals resounded on every side. The noise roused the anger
of Pentheus as the sound of a trumpet does the fire of a war-
horse. He penetrated through the wood and reached an open space
where the chief scene of the orgies met his eyes. At the same
moment the women saw him; and first among them his own mother,
Agave, blinded by the god, cried out, "See there the wild boar,
the hugest monster that prowls in these woods! Come on, sisters! I
will be the first to strike the wild boar." The whole band rushed
upon him, and while he now talks less arrogantly, now excuses
himself, and now confesses his crime and implores pardon, they
press upon him and wound him. In vain he cries to his aunts to
protect him from his mother. Autonoe seized one arm, Ino the
other, and between them he was torn to pieces, while his mother
shouted, "Victory! Victory! we have done it; the glory is ours!"

So the worship of Bacchus was established in Greece.

There is an allusion to the story of Bacchus and the mariners in
Milton's "Comus," at line 46, The story of Circe will be found in


    "Bacchus that first from out the purple grapes
     Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine,
     After the Tuscan manners transformed,
     Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the winds listed
     On Circe's island fell (who knows not Circe,
     The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup
     Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
     And downward fell into a grovelling swine)."


We have seen in the story of Theseus how Ariadne, the daughter of
King Minos, after helping Theseus to escape from the labyrinth,
was carried by him to the island of Naxos and was left there
asleep, while the ungrateful Theseus pursued his way home without
her. Ariadne, on waking and finding herself deserted, abandoned
herself to grief. But Venus took pity on her, and consoled her
with the promise that she should have an immortal lover, instead
of the mortal one she had lost.

The island where Ariadne was left was the favorite island of
Bacchus, the same that he wished the Tyrrhenian mariners to carry
him to, when they so treacherously attempted to make prize of him.
As Ariadne sat lamenting her fate, Bacchus found her, consoled
her, and made her his wife. As a marriage present he gave her a
golden crown, enriched with gems, and when she died, he took her
crown and threw it up into the sky. As it mounted the gems grew
brighter and were turned into stars, and preserving its form
Ariadne's crown remains fixed in the heavens as a constellation,
between the kneeling Hercules and the man who holds the serpent.

Spenser alludes to Ariadne's crown, though he has made some
mistakes in his mythology. It was at the wedding of Pirithous, and
not Theseus, that the Centaurs and Lapithae quarrelled.

    "Look how the crown which Ariadne wore
    Upon her ivory forehead that same day
    That Theseus her unto his bridal bore,
    Then the bold Centaurs made that bloody fray
    With the fierce Lapiths which did them dismay;
    Being now placed in the firmament,
    Through the bright heaven doth her beams display,
    And is unto the stars an ornament,
    Which round about her move in order excellent."




Pan, the god of woods and fields, of flocks and shepherds, dwelt
in grottos, wandered on the mountains and in valleys, and amused
himself with the chase or in leading the dances of the nymphs. He
was fond of music, and as we have seen, the inventor of the
syrinx, or shepherd's pipe, which he himself played in a masterly
manner. Pan, like other gods who dwelt in forests, was dreaded by
those whose occupations caused them to pass through the woods by
night, for the gloom and loneliness of such scenes dispose the
mind to superstitious fears. Hence sudden fright without any
visible cause was ascribed to Pan, and called a Panic terror.

As the name of the god signifies ALL, Pan came to be considered a
symbol of the universe and personification of Nature; and later
still to be regarded as a representative of all the gods and of
heathenism itself.

Sylvanus and Faunus were Latin divinities, whose characteristics
are so nearly the same as those of Pan that we may safely consider
them as the same personage under different names.

The wood-nymphs, Pan's partners in the dance, were but one class
of nymphs. There were beside them the Naiads, who presided over
brooks and fountains, the Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottos,
and the Nereids, sea-nymphs. The three last named were immortal,
but the wood-nymphs, called Dryads or Hamadryads, were believed to
perish with the trees which had been their abode and with which
they had come into existence. It was therefore an impious act
wantonly to destroy a tree, and in some aggravated cases were
severely punished, as in the instance of Erisichthon, which we are
about to record.

Milton in his glowing description of the early creation, thus
alludes to Pan as the personification of Nature:

    "... Universal Pan,
     Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
     Led on the eternal spring."

And describing Eve's abode:

    "... In shadier bower,
     More sacred or sequestered, though but feigned,
     Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph
     Nor Faunus haunted."

    --Paradise Lost, B. IV.

It was a pleasing trait in the old Paganism that it loved to trace
in every operation of nature the agency of deity. The imagination
of the Greeks peopled all the regions of earth and sea with
divinities, to whose agency it attributed those phenomena which
our philosophy ascribes to the operation of the laws of nature.
Sometimes in our poetical moods we feel disposed to regret the
change, and to think that the heart has lost as much as the head
has gained by the substitution. The poet Wordsworth thus strongly
expresses this sentiment:

    "... 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,
     And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."

Schiller, in his poem "Die Gotter Griechenlands," expresses his
regret for the overthrow of the beautiful mythology of ancient
times in a way which has called forth an answer from a Christian
poet, Mrs. E. Barrett Browning, in her poem called "The Dead Pan."
The two following verses are a specimen:

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

    "Earth outgrows the mythic fancies
     Sung beside her in her youth;
     And those debonaire romances
     Sound but dull beside the truth.
     Phoebus' chariot course is run!
     Look up, poets, to the sun!
                      Pan, Pan is dead."

These lines are founded on an early Christian tradition that when
the heavenly host told the shepherds at Bethlehem of the birth of
Christ, a deep groan, heard through all the isles of Greece, told
that the great Pan was dead, and that all the royalty of Olympus
was dethroned and the several deities were sent wandering in cold
and darkness. So Milton in his "Hymn on the Nativity":

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


Erisichthon was a profane person and a despiser of the gods. On
one occasion he presumed to violate with the axe a grove sacred to
Ceres. There stood in this grove a venerable oak so large that it
seemed a wood in itself, its ancient trunk towering aloft, whereon
votive garlands were often hung and inscriptions carved expressing
the gratitude of suppliants to the nymph of the tree. Often had
the Dryads danced round it hand in hand. Its trunk measured
fifteen cubits round, and it overtopped the other trees as they
overtopped the shrubbery. But for all that, Erisichthon saw no
reason why he should spare it and he ordered his servants to cut
it down. When he saw them hesitate he snatched an axe from one,
and thus impiously exclaimed: "I care not whether it be a tree
beloved of the goddess or not; were it the goddess herself it
should come down if it stood in my way." So saying, he lifted the
axe and the oak seemed to shudder and utter a groan. When the
first blow fell upon the trunk blood flowed from the wound. All
the bystanders were horror-struck, and one of them ventured to
remonstrate and hold back the fatal axe. Erisichthon, with a
scornful look, said to him, "Receive the reward of your piety;"
and turned against him the weapon which he had held aside from the
tree, gashed his body with many wounds, and cut off his head. Then
from the midst of the oak came a voice, "I who dwell in this tree
am a nymph beloved of Ceres, and dying by your hands forewarn you
that punishment awaits you." He desisted not from his crime, and
at last the tree, sundered by repeated blows and drawn by ropes,
fell with a crash and prostrated a great part of the grove in its

The Dryads in dismay at the loss of their companion and at seeing
the pride of the forest laid low, went in a body to Ceres, all
clad in garments of mourning, and invoked punishment upon
Erisichthon. She nodded her assent, and as she bowed her head the
grain ripe for harvest in the laden fields bowed also. She planned
a punishment so dire that one would pity him, if such a culprit as
he could be pitied,--to deliver him over to Famine. As Ceres
herself could not approach Famine, for the Fates have ordained
that these two goddesses shall never come together, she called an
Oread from her mountain and spoke to her in these words: "There is
a place in the farthest part of ice-clad Scythia, a sad and
sterile region without trees and without crops. Cold dwells there,
and Fear and Shuddering, and Famine. Go and tell the last to take
possession of the bowels of Erisichthon. Let not abundance subdue
her, nor the power of my gifts drive her away. Be not alarmed at
the distance" (for Famine dwells very far from Ceres), "but take
my chariot. The dragons are fleet and obey the rein, and will take
you through the air in a short time." So she gave her the reins,
and she drove away and soon reached Scythia. On arriving at Mount
Caucasus she stopped the dragons and found Famine in a stony
field, pulling up with teeth and claws the scanty herbage. Her
hair was rough, her eyes sunk, her face pale, her lips blanched,
her jaws covered with dust, and her skin drawn tight, so as to
show all her bones. As the Oread saw her afar off (for she did not
dare to come near), she delivered the commands of Ceres; and,
though she stopped as short a time as possible, and kept her
distance as well as she could, yet she began to feel hungry, and
turned the dragons' heads and drove back to Thessaly.

Famine obeyed the commands of Ceres and sped through the air to
the dwelling of Erisichthon, entered the bedchamber of the guilty
man, and found him asleep. She enfolded him with her wings and
breathed herself into him, infusing her poison into his veins.
Having discharged her task, she hastened to leave the land of
plenty and returned to her accustomed haunts. Erisichthon still
slept, and in his dreams craved food, and moved his jaws as if
eating. When he awoke, his hunger was raging. Without a moment's
delay he would have food set before him, of whatever kind earth
sea, or air produces; and complained of hunger even while he ate.
What would have sufficed for a city or a nation, was not enough
for him. The more he ate the more he craved. His hunger was like
the sea, which receives all the rivers, yet is never filled; or
like fire, that burns all the fuel that is heaped upon it, yet is
still voracious for more.

His property rapidly diminished under the unceasing demands of his
appetite, but his hunger continued unabated. At length he had
spent all and had only his daughter left, a daughter worthy of a
better parent. Her too he sold. She scorned to be the slave of a
purchaser and as she stood by the seaside raised her hands in
prayer to Neptune. He heard her prayer, and though her new master
was not far off and had his eye upon her a moment before, Neptune
changed her form and made her assume that of a fisherman busy at
his occupation. Her master, looking for her and seeing her in her
altered form, addressed her and said, "Good fisherman, whither
went the maiden whom I saw just now, with hair dishevelled and in
humble garb, standing about where you stand? Tell me truly; so may
your luck be good and not a fish nibble at your hook and get
away." She perceived that her prayer was answered and rejoiced
inwardly at hearing herself inquired of about herself. She
replied, "Pardon me, stranger, but I have been so intent upon my
line that I have seen nothing else; but I wish I may never catch
another fish if I believe any woman or other person except myself
to have been hereabouts for some time." He was deceived and went
his way, thinking his slave had escaped. Then she resumed her own
form. Her father was well pleased to find her still with him, and
the money too that he got by the sale of her; so he sold her
again. But she was changed by the favor of Neptune as often as she
was sold, now into a horse, now a bird, now an ox, and now a
stag,--got away from her purchasers and came home. By this base
method the starving father procured food; but not enough for his
wants, and at last hunger compelled him to devour his limbs, and
he strove to nourish his body by eating his body, till death
relieved him from the vengeance of Ceres.


The Hamadryads could appreciate services as well as punish
injuries. The story of Rhoecus proves this. Rhoecus, happening to
see an oak just ready to fall, ordered his servants to prop it up.
The nymph, who had been on the point of perishing with the tree,
came and expressed her gratitude to him for having saved her life
and bade him ask what reward he would. Rhoecus boldly asked her
love and the nymph yielded to his desire. She at the same time
charged him to be constant and told him that a bee should be her
messenger and let him know when she would admit his society. One
time the bee came to Rhoecus when he was playing at draughts and
he carelessly brushed it away. This so incensed the nymph that she
deprived him of sight.

Our countryman, J. R. Lowell, has taken this story for the subject
of one of his shorter poems. He introduces it thus:

    "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."


Oceanus and Tethys were the Titans who ruled over the watery
element. When Jove and his brothers overthrew the Titans and
assumed their power, Neptune and Amphitrite succeeded to the
dominion of the waters in place of Oceanus and Tethys.


Neptune was the chief of the water deities. The symbol of his
power was the trident, or spear with three points, with which he
used to shatter rocks, to call forth or subdue storms, to shake
the shores and the like. He created the horse and was the patron
of horse races. His own horses had brazen hoofs and golden manes.
They drew his chariot over the sea, which became smooth before
him, while the monsters of the deep gambolled about his path.


Amphitrite was the wife of Neptune. She was the daughter of Nereus
and Doris, and the mother of Triton. Neptune, to pay his court to
Amphitrite, came riding on a dolphin. Having won her he rewarded
the dolphin by placing him among the stars.


Nereus and Doris were the parents of the Nereids, the most
celebrated of whom were Amphitrite, Thetis, the mother of
Achilles, and Galatea, who was loved by the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Nereus was distinguished for his knowledge and his love of truth
and justice, whence he was termed an elder; the gift of prophecy
was also assigned to him.


Triton was the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, and the poets make
him his father's trumpeter. Proteus was also a son of Neptune. He,
like Nereus, is styled a sea-elder for his wisdom and knowledge of
future events. His peculiar power was that of changing his shape
at will.


Thetis, the daughter of Nereus and Doris, was so beautiful that
Jupiter himself sought her in marriage; but having learned from
Prometheus the Titan that Thetis should bear a son who should grow
greater than his father, Jupiter desisted from his suit and
decreed that Thetis should be the wife of a mortal. By the aid of
Chiron the Centaur, Peleus succeeded in winning the goddess for
his bride and their son was the renowned Achilles. In our chapter
on the Trojan war it will appear that Thetis was a faithful mother
to him, aiding him in all difficulties, and watching over his
interests from the first to the last.


Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and wife of Athamas, flying from her
frantic husband with her little son Melicertes in her arms, sprang
from a cliff into the sea. The gods, out of compassion, made her a
goddess of the sea, under the name of Leucothea, and him a god,
under that of Palaemon. Both were held powerful to save from
shipwreck and were invoked by sailors. Palaemon was usually
represented riding on a dolphin. The Isthmian games were
celebrated in his honor. He was called Portunus by the Romans, and
believed to have jurisdiction of the ports and shores.

Milton alludes to all these deities in the song at the conclusion
of "Comus":

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

Armstrong, the poet of the "Art of preserving Health," under the
inspiration of Hygeia, the goddess of health, thus celebrates the
Naiads. Paeon is a name both of Apollo and Aesculapius.

    "Come, ye Naiads! to the fountains lead!
     Propitious maids! the task remains to sing
     Your gifts (so Paeon, so the powers of Health
     Command), to praise your crystal element.
     O comfortable streams! with eager lips
     And trembling hands the languid thirsty quaff
     New life in you; fresh vigor fills their veins.
     No warmer cups the rural ages knew,
     None warmer sought the sires of humankind;
     Happy in temperate peace their equal days
     Felt not the alternate fits of feverish mirth
     And sick dejection; still serene and pleased,
     Blessed with divine immunity from ills,
     Long centuries they lived; their only fate
     Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death."


By this name the Latins designated the Muses, but included under
it also some other deities, principally nymphs of fountains.
Egeria was one of them, whose fountain and grotto are still shown.
It was said that Numa, the second king of Rome, was favored by
this nymph with secret interviews, in which she taught him those
lessons of wisdom and of law which he imbodied in the institutions
of his rising nation. After the death of Numa the nymph pined away
and was changed into a fountain.

Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., thus alludes to Egeria and
her grotto:

    "Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
     Egeria! all thy heavenly bosom beating
     For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
     The purple midnight veiled that mystic meeting
     With her most starry canopy;" etc.

Tennyson, also, in his "Palace of Art," gives us a glimpse of the
royal lover expecting the interview:

    "Holding one hand against his ear,
        To list a footfall ere he saw
     The wood-nymph, stayed the Tuscan king to hear
        Of wisdom and of law."


When so many less active agencies were personified, it is not to
be supposed that the winds failed to be so. They were Boreas or
Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus or Favonius, the west; Notus or
Auster, the south; and Eurus, the east. The first two have been
chiefly celebrated by the poets, the former as the type of
rudeness, the latter of gentleness. Boreas loved the nymph
Orithyia, and tried to play the lover's part, but met with poor
success. It was hard for him to breathe gently, and sighing was
out of the question. Weary at last of fruitless endeavors, he
acted out his true character, seized the maiden and carried her
off. Their children were Zetes and Calais, winged warriors, who
accompanied the Argonautic expedition, and did good service in an
encounter with those monstrous birds the Harpies.

Zephyrus was the lover of Flora. Milton alludes to them in
"Paradise Lost," where he describes Adam waking and contemplating
Eve still asleep.

    "... He on his side
     Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love,
     Hung over her enamored, and beheld
     Beauty which, whether waking or asleep,
     Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice,
     Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
     Her hand soft touching, whispered thus: 'Awake!
     My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,
     Heaven's last, best gift, my ever-new delight.'"

Dr. Young, the poet of the "Night Thoughts," addressing the idle
and luxurious, says:

    "Ye delicate! who nothing can support
     (Yourselves most insupportable) for whom
     The winter rose must blow, ...
     ... and silky soft
     Favonius breathe still softer or be chid!"




The river-god Achelous told the story of Erisichthon to Theseus
and his companions, whom he was entertaining at his hospitable
board, while they were delayed on their journey by the overflow of
his waters. Having finished his story, he added, "But why should I
tell of other persons' transformations when I myself am an
instance of the possession of this power? Sometimes I become a
serpent, and sometimes a bull, with horns on my head. Or I should
say I once could do so; but now I have but one horn, having lost
one." And here he groaned and was silent.

Theseus asked him the cause of his grief, and how he lost his
horn. To which question the river-god replied as follows: "Who
likes to tell of his defeats? Yet I will not hesitate to relate
mine, comforting myself with the thought of the greatness of my
conqueror, for it was Hercules. Perhaps you have heard of the fame
of Dejanira, the fairest of maidens, whom a host of suitors strove
to win. Hercules and myself were of the number, and the rest
yielded to us two. He urged in his behalf his descent from Jove
and his labors by which he had exceeded the exactions of Juno, his
stepmother. I, on the other hand, said to the father of the
maiden, 'Behold me, the king of the waters that flow through your
land. I am no stranger from a foreign shore, but belong to the
country, a part of your realm. Let it not stand in my way that
royal Juno owes me no enmity nor punishes me with heavy tasks. As
for this man, who boasts himself the son of Jove, it is either a
false pretence, or disgraceful to him if true, for it cannot be
true except by his mother's shame.' As I said this Hercules
scowled upon me, and with difficulty restrained his rage. 'My hand
will answer better than my tongue,' said he. 'I yield to you the
victory in words, but trust my cause to the strife of deeds.' With
that he advanced towards me, and I was ashamed, after what I had
said, to yield. I threw off my green vesture and presented myself
for the struggle. He tried to throw me, now attacking my head, now
my body. My bulk was my protection, and he assailed me in vain.
For a time we stopped, then returned to the conflict. We each kept
our position, determined not to yield, foot to foot, I bending
over him, clenching his hand in mine, with my forehead almost
touching his. Thrice Hercules tried to throw me off, and the
fourth time he succeeded, brought me to the ground, and himself
upon my back. I tell you the truth, it was as if a mountain had
fallen on me. I struggled to get my arms at liberty, panting and
reeking with perspiration. He gave me no chance to recover, but
seized my throat. My knees were on the earth and my mouth in the

"Finding that I was no match for him in the warrior's art, I
resorted to others and glided away in the form of a serpent. I
curled my body in a coil and hissed at him with my forked tongue.
He smiled scornfully at this, and said, 'It was the labor of my
infancy to conquer snakes.' So saying he clasped my neck with his
hands. I was almost choked, and struggled to get my neck out of
his grasp. Vanquished in this form, I tried what alone remained to
me and assumed the form of a bull. He grasped my neck with his
arm, and dragging my head down to the ground, overthrew me on the
sand. Nor was this enough. His ruthless hand rent my horn from my
head. The Naiades took it, consecrated it, and filled it with
fragrant flowers. Plenty adopted my horn and made it her own, and
called it 'Cornucopia.'"

The ancients were fond of finding a hidden meaning in their
mythological tales. They explain this fight of Achelous with
Hercules by saying Achelous was a river that in seasons of rain
overflowed its banks. When the fable says that Achelous loved
Dejanira, and sought a union with her, the meaning is that the
river in its windings flowed through part of Dejanira's kingdom.
It was said to take the form of a snake because of its winding,
and of a bull because it made a brawling or roaring in its course.
When the river swelled, it made itself another channel. Thus its
head was horned. Hercules prevented the return of these periodical
overflows by embankments and canals; and therefore he was said to
have vanquished the river-god and cut off his horn. Finally, the
lands formerly subject to overflow, but now redeemed, became very
fertile, and this is meant by the horn of plenty.

There is another account of the origin of the Cornucopia. Jupiter
at his birth was committed by his mother Rhea to the care of the
daughters of Melisseus, a Cretan king. They fed the infant deity
with the milk of the goat Amalthea. Jupiter broke off one of the
horns of the goat and gave it to his nurses, and endowed it with
the wonderful power of becoming filled with whatever the possessor
might wish.

The name of Amalthea is also given by some writers to the mother
of Bacchus. It is thus used by Milton, "Paradise Lost," Book IV.:

    "... That Nyseian isle,
     Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,
     Whom Gentiles Ammon call, and Libyan Jove,
     Hid Amalthea and her florid son,
     Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea's eye."


Aesculapius, the son of Apollo, was endowed by his father with
such skill in the healing art that he even restored the dead to
life. At this Pluto took alarm, and prevailed on Jupiter to launch
a thunderbolt at Aesculapius. Apollo was indignant at the
destruction of his son, and wreaked his vengeance on the innocent
workmen who had made the thunderbolt. These were the Cyclopes, who
have their workshop under Mount Aetna, from which the smoke and
flames of their furnaces are constantly issuing. Apollo shot his
arrows at the Cyclopes, which so incensed Jupiter that he
condemned him as a punishment to become the servant of a mortal
for the space of one year. Accordingly Apollo went into the
service of Admetus, king of Thessaly, and pastured his flocks for
him on the verdant banks of the river Amphrysos.

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

Just at this time Hercules arrived at the palace of Admetus, and
found all the inmates in great distress for the impending loss of
the devoted wife and beloved mistress. Hercules, to whom no labor
was too arduous, resolved to attempt her rescue. He went and lay
in wait at the door of the chamber of the dying queen, and when
Death came for his prey, he seized him and forced him to resign
his victim. Alcestis recovered, and was restored to her husband.

Milton alludes to the story of Alcestis in his Sonnet "on his
deceased wife:"

    "Methought I saw my late espoused saint
       Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
       Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
     Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint."

J. R. Lowell has chosen the "Shepherd of King Admetus" for the
subject of a short poem. He makes that event the first
introduction of poetry to men.

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

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


A large proportion both of the interesting persons and of the
exalted acts of legendary Greece belongs to the female sex.
Antigone was as bright an example of filial and sisterly fidelity
as was Alcestis of connubial devotion. She was the daughter of
Oedipus and Jocasta, who with all their descendants were the
victims of an unrelenting fate, dooming them to destruction.
OEdipus in his madness had torn out his eyes, and was driven forth
from his kingdom Thebes, dreaded and abandoned by all men, as an
object of divine vengeance. Antigone, his daughter, alone shared
his wanderings and remained with him till he died, and then
returned to Thebes.

Her brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, had agreed to share the
kingdom between them, and reign alternately year by year. The
first year fell to the lot of Eteocles, who, when his time
expired, refused to surrender the kingdom to his brother.
Polynices fled to Adrastus, king of Argos, who gave him his
daughter in marriage, and aided him with an army to enforce his
claim to the kingdom. This led to the celebrated expedition of the
"Seven against Thebes," which furnished ample materials for the
epic and tragic poets of Greece.

Amphiaraus, the brother-in-law of Adrastus, opposed the
enterprise, for he was a soothsayer, and knew by his art that no
one of the leaders except Adrastus would live to return. But
Amphiaraus, on his marriage to Eriphyle, the king's sister, had
agreed that whenever he and Adrastus should differ in opinion, the
decision should be left to Eriphyle. Polynices, knowing this, gave
Eriphyle the collar of Harmonia, and thereby gained her to his
interest. This collar or necklace was a present which Vulcan had
given to Harmonia on her marriage with Cadmus, and Polynices had
taken it with him on his flight from Thebes. Eriphyle could not
resist so tempting a bribe, and by her decision the war was
resolved on, and Amphiaraus went to his certain fate. He bore his
part bravely in the contest, but could not avert his destiny.
Pursued by the enemy, he fled along the river, when a thunderbolt
launched by Jupiter opened the ground, and he, his chariot, and
his charioteer were swallowed up.

It would not be in place here to detail all the acts of heroism or
atrocity which marked the contest; but we must not omit to record
the fidelity of Evadne as an offset to the weakness of Eriphyle.
Capaneus, the husband of Evadne, in the ardor of the fight
declared that he would force his way into the city in spite of
Jove himself. Placing a ladder against the wall he mounted, but
Jupiter, offended at his impious language, struck him with a
thunderbolt. When his obsequies were celebrated, Evadne cast
herself on his funeral pile and perished.

Early in the contest Eteocles consulted the soothsayer Tiresias as
to the issue. Tiresias in his youth had by chance seen Minerva
bathing. The goddess in her wrath deprived him of his sight, but
afterwards relenting gave him in compensation the knowledge of
future events. When consulted by Eteocles, he declared that
victory should fall to Thebes if Menoeceus, the son of Creon, gave
himself a voluntary victim. The heroic youth, learning the
response, threw away his life in the first encounter.

The siege continued long, with various success. At length both
hosts agreed that the brothers should decide their quarrel by
single combat. They fought and fell by each other's hands. The
armies then renewed the fight, and at last the invaders were
forced to yield, and fled, leaving their dead unburied. Creon, the
uncle of the fallen princes, now become king, caused Eteocles to
be buried with distinguished honor, but suffered the body of
Polynices to lie where it fell, forbidding every one on pain of
death to give it burial.

Antigone, the sister of Polynices, heard with indignation the
revolting edict which consigned her brother's body to the dogs and
vultures, depriving it of those rites which were considered
essential to the repose of the dead. Unmoved by the dissuading
counsel of an affectionate but timid sister, and unable to procure
assistance, she determined to brave the hazard, and to bury the
body with her own hands. She was detected in the act, and Creon
gave orders that she should be buried alive, as having
deliberately set at naught the solemn edict of the city. Her
lover, Haemon, the son of Creon, unable to avert her fate, would
not survive her, and fell by his own hand.

Antigone forms the subject of two fine tragedies of the Grecian
poet Sophocles. Mrs. Jameson, in her "Characteristics of Women,"
has compared her character with that of Cordelia, in Shakspeare's
"King Lear." The perusal of her remarks cannot fail to gratify our

The following is the lamentation of Antigone over OEdipus, when
death has at last relieved him from his sufferings:

    "Alas! I only wished I might have died
     With my poor father; wherefore should I ask
     For longer life?
     O, I was fond of misery with him;
     E'en what was most unlovely grew beloved
     When he was with me. O my dearest father,
     Beneath the earth now in deep darkness hid,
     Worn as thou wert with age, to me thou still
     Wast dear, and shalt be ever."

    --Francklin's Sophocles.


Penelope is another of those mythic heroines whose beauties were
rather those of character and conduct than of person. She was the
daughter of Icarius, a Spartan prince. Ulysses, king of Ithaca,
sought her in marriage, and won her, over all competitors. When
the moment came for the bride to leave her father's house,
Icarius, unable to bear the thoughts of parting with his daughter,
tried to persuade her to remain with him, and not accompany her
husband to Ithaca. Ulysses gave Penelope her choice, to stay or go
with him. Penelope made no reply, but dropped her veil over her
face. Icarius urged her no further, but when she was gone erected
a statue to Modesty on the spot where they parted.

Ulysses and Penelope had not enjoyed their union more than a year
when it was interrupted by the events which called Ulysses to the
Trojan war. During his long absence, and when it was doubtful
whether he still lived, and highly improbable that he would ever
return, Penelope was importuned by numerous suitors, from whom
there seemed no refuge but in choosing one of them for her
husband. Penelope, however, employed every art to gain time, still
hoping for Ulysses' return. One of her arts of delay was engaging
in the preparation of a robe for the funeral canopy of Laertes,
her husband's father. She pledged herself to make her choice among
the suitors when the robe was finished. During the day she worked
at the robe, but in the night she undid the work of the day. This
is the famous Penelope's web, which is used as a proverbial
expression for anything which is perpetually doing but never done.
The rest of Penelope's history will be told when we give an
account of her husband's adventures.




Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He was
presented by his father with a Lyre and taught to play upon it,
which he did to such perfection that nothing could withstand the
charm of his music. Not only his fellow-mortals but wild beasts
were softened by his strains, and gathering round him laid by
their fierceness, and stood entranced with his lay. Nay, the very
trees and rocks were sensible to the charm. The former crowded
round him and the latter relaxed somewhat of their hardness,
softened by his notes.

Hymen had been called to bless with his presence the nuptials of
Orpheus with Eurydice; but though he attended, he brought no happy
omens with him. His very torch smoked and brought tears into their
eyes. In coincidence with such prognostics, Eurydice, shortly
after her marriage, while wandering with the nymphs, her
companions, was seen by the shepherd Aristaeus, who was struck
with her beauty and made advances to her. She fled, and in flying
trod upon a snake in the grass, was bitten in the foot, and died.
Orpheus sang his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both
gods and men, and finding it all unavailing resolved to seek his
wife in the regions of the dead. He descended by a cave situated
on the side of the promontory of Taenarus and arrived at the
Stygian realm. He passed through crowds of ghosts and presented
himself before the throne of Pluto and Proserpine. Accompanying
the words with the lyre, he sung, "O deities of the underworld, to
whom all we who live must come, hear my words, for they are true.
I come not to spy out the secrets of Tartarus, nor to try my
strength against the three-headed dog with snaky hair who guards
the entrance. I come to seek my wife, whose opening years the
poisonous viper's fang has brought to an untimely end. Love has
led me here, Love, a god all powerful with us who dwell on the
earth, and, if old traditions say true, not less so here. I
implore you by these abodes full of terror, these realms of
silence and uncreated things, unite again the thread of Eurydice's
life. We all are destined to you and sooner or later must pass to
your domain. She too, when she shall have filled her term of life,
will rightly be yours. But till then grant her to me, I beseech
you. If you deny me I cannot return alone; you shall triumph in
the death of us both."

As he sang these tender strains, the very ghosts shed tears.
Tantalus, in spite of his thirst, stopped for a moment his efforts
for water, Ixion's wheel stood still, the vulture ceased to tear
the giant's liver, the daughters of Danaus rested from their task
of drawing water in a sieve, and Sisyphus sat on his rock to
listen. Then for the first time, it is said, the cheeks of the
Furies were wet with tears. Proserpine could not resist, and Pluto
himself gave way. Eurydice was called. She came from among the
new-arrived ghosts, limping with her wounded foot. Orpheus was
permitted to take her away with him on one condition, that he
should not turn around to look at her till they should have
reached the upper air. Under this condition they proceeded on
their way, he leading, she following, through passages dark and
steep, in total silence, till they had nearly reached the outlet
into the cheerful upper world, when Orpheus, in a moment of
forgetfulness, to assure himself that she was still following,
cast a glance behind him, when instantly she was borne away.
Stretching out their arms to embrace each other, they grasped only
the air! Dying now a second time, she yet cannot reproach her
husband, for how can she blame his impatience to behold her?
"Farewell," she said, "a last farewell,"--and was hurried away, so
fast that the sound hardly reached his ears.

Orpheus endeavored to follow her, and besought permission to
return and try once more for her release; but the stern ferryman
repulsed him and refused passage. Seven days he lingered about the
brink, without food or sleep; then bitterly accusing of cruelty
the powers of Erebus, he sang his complaints to the rocks and
mountains, melting the hearts of tigers and moving the oaks from
their stations. He held himself aloof from womankind, dwelling
constantly on the recollection of his sad mischance. The Thracian
maidens tried their best to captivate him, but he repulsed their
advances. They bore with him as long as they could; but finding
him insensible one day, excited by the rites of Bacchus, one of
them exclaimed, "See yonder our despiser!" and threw at him her
javelin. The weapon, as soon as it came within the sound of his
lyre, fell harmless at his feet. So did also the stones that they
threw at him. But the women raised a scream and drowned the voice
of the music, and then the missiles reached him and soon were
stained with his blood. The maniacs tore him limb from limb, and
threw his head and his lyre into the river Hebrus, down which they
floated, murmuring sad music, to which the shores responded a
plaintive symphony. The Muses gathered up the fragments of his
body and buried them at Libethra, where the nightingale is said to
sing over his grave more sweetly than in any other part of Greece.
His lyre was placed by Jupiter among the stars. His shade passed a
second time to Tartarus, where he sought out his Eurydice and
embraced her with eager arms. They roam the happy fields together
now, sometimes he leading, sometimes she; and Orpheus gazes as
much as he will upon her, no longer incurring a penalty for a
thoughtless glance.

The story of Orpheus has furnished Pope with an illustration of
the power of music, for his "Ode for St. Cecilia's Day" The
following stanza relates the conclusion of the story:

    "But soon, too soon the lover turns his eyes;
     Again she falls, again she dies, she dies!
     How wilt thou now the fatal sisters move?
     No crime was thine, if't is no crime to love.
         Now under hanging mountains,
         Beside the falls of fountains,
         Or where Hebrus wanders,
         Rolling in meanders,
             All alone,
             He makes his moan,
             And calls her ghost,
           Forever, ever, ever lost!
         Now with furies surrounded,
         Despairing, confounded,
         He trembles, he glows,
         Amidst Rhodope's snows
     See, wild as the winds o'er the desert he flies;
     Hark! Haemus resounds with the Bacchanals' cries;
         Ah, see, he dies!
     Yet even in death Eurydice he sung,
     Eurydice still trembled on his tongue:
     Eurydice the woods
     Eurydice the floods
     Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung"

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

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


Man avails himself of the instincts of the inferior animals for
his own advantage. Hence sprang the art of keeping bees. Honey
must first have been known as a wild product, the bees building
their structures in hollow trees or holes in the rocks, or any
similar cavity that chance offered. Thus occasionally the carcass
of a dead animal would be occupied by the bees for that purpose.
It was no doubt from some such incident that the superstition
arose that the bees were engendered by the decaying flesh of the
animal; and Virgil, in the following story, shows how this
supposed fact may be turned to account for renewing the swarm when
it has been lost by disease or accident:

Aristaeus, who first taught the management of bees, was the son of
the water-nymph Cyrene. His bees had perished, and he resorted for
aid to his mother. He stood at the river side and thus addressed
her: "O mother, the pride of my life is taken from me! I have lost
my precious bees. My care and skill have availed me nothing, and
you my mother have not warded off from me the blow of misfortune."
His mother heard these complaints as she sat in her palace at the
bottom of the river, with her attendant nymphs around her. They
were engaged in female occupations, spinning and weaving, while
one told stories to amuse the rest. The sad voice of Aristaeus
interrupting their occupation, one of them put her head above the
water and seeing him, returned and gave information to his mother,
who ordered that he should be brought into her presence. The river
at her command opened itself and let him pass in, while it stood
curled like a mountain on either side. He descended to the region
where the fountains of the great rivers lie; he saw the enormous
receptacles of waters and was almost deafened with the roar, while
he surveyed them hurrying off in various directions to water the
face of the earth. Arriving at his mother's apartment, he was
hospitably received by Cyrene and her nymphs, who spread their
table with the richest dainties. They first poured out libations
to Neptune, then regaled themselves with the feast, and after that
Cyrene thus addressed him: "There is an old prophet named Proteus,
who dwells in the sea and is a favorite of Neptune, whose herd of
sea-calves he pastures. We nymphs hold him in great respect, for
he is a learned sage and knows all things, past, present, and to
come. He can tell you, my son, the cause of the mortality among
your bees, and how you may remedy it. But he will not do it
voluntarily, however you may entreat him. You must compel him by
force. If you seize him and chain him, he will answer your
questions in order to get released, for he cannot by all his arts
get away if you hold fast the chains. I will carry you to his
cave, where he comes at noon to take his midday repose. Then you
may easily secure him. But when he finds himself captured, his
resort is to a power he possesses of changing himself into various
forms. He will become a wild boar or a fierce tiger, a scaly
dragon or lion with yellow mane. Or he will make a noise like the
crackling of flames or the rush of water, so as to tempt you to
let go the chain, when he will make his escape. But you have only
to keep him fast bound, and at last when he finds all his arts
unavailing, he will return to his own figure and obey your
commands." So saying she sprinkled her son with fragrant nectar,
the beverage of the gods, and immediately an unusual vigor filled
his frame, and courage his heart, while perfume breathed all
around him.

The nymph led her son to the prophet's cave and concealed him
among the recesses of the rocks, while she herself took her place
behind the clouds. When noon came and the hour when men and herds
retreat from the glaring sun to indulge in quiet slumber, Proteus
issued from the water, followed by his herd of sea-calves which
spread themselves along the shore. He sat on the rock and counted
his herd; then stretched himself on the floor of the cave and went
to sleep. Aristaeus hardly allowed him to get fairly asleep before
he fixed the fetters on him and shouted aloud. Proteus, waking and
finding himself captured, immediately resorted to his arts,
becoming first a fire, then a flood, then a horrible wild beast,
in rapid succession. But finding all would not do, he at last
resumed his own form and addressed the youth in angry accents:
"Who are you, bold youth, who thus invade my abode, and what do
yot want of me?" Aristaeus replied, "Proteus, you know already,
for it is needless for any one to attempt to deceive you. And do
you also cease your efforts to elude me. I am led hither by divine
assistance, to know from you the cause of my misfortune and how to
remedy it." At these words the prophet, fixing on him his gray
eyes with a piercing look, thus spoke: "You receive the merited
reward of your deeds, by which Eurydice met her death, for in
flying from you she trod upon a serpent, of whose bite she died.
To avenge her death, the nymphs, her companions, have sent this
destruction to your bees. You have to appease their anger, and
thus it must be done: Select four bulls, of perfect form and size,
and four cows of equal beauty, build four altars to the nymphs,
and sacrifice the animals, leaving their carcasses in the leafy
grove. To Orpheus and Eurydice you shall pay such funeral honors
as may allay their resentment. Returning after nine days, you will
examine the bodies of the cattle slain and see what will befall."
Aristaeus faithfully obeyed these directions. He sacrificed the
cattle, he left their bodies in the grove, he offered funeral
honors to the shades of Orpheus and Eurydice; then returning on
the ninth day he examined the bodies of the animals, and,
wonderful to relate! a swarm of bees had taken possession of one
of the carcasses and were pursuing their labors there as in a

In "The Task," Cowper alludes to the story of Aristaeus, when
speaking of the ice-palace built by the Empress Anne of Russia. He
has been describing the fantastic forms which ice assumes in
connection with waterfalls, etc.:

    "Less worthy of applause though more admired
     Because a novelty, the work of man,
     Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ,
     Thy most magnificent and mighty freak,
     The wonder of the north. No forest fell
     When thou wouldst build, no quarry sent its stores
     T' enrich thy walls; but thou didst hew the floods
     And make thy marble of the glassy wave.
     In such a palace Aristaeus found
     Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale
     Of his lost bees to her maternal ear."

Milton also appears to have had Cyrene and her domestic scene in
his mind when he describes to us Sabrina, the nymph of the river
Severn, in the Guardian-spirit's Song in "Comus":

          "Sabrina fair!
       Listen where thou art sitting
     Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave
       In twisted braids of lilies knitting
     The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair;
       Listen for dear honor's sake,
       Goddess of the silver lake!
            Listen and save."

The following are other celebrated mythical poets and musicians,
some of whom were hardly inferior to Orpheus himself:


Amphion was the son of Jupiter and Antiope, queen of Thebes. With
his twin brother Zethus he was exposed at birth on Mount
Cithaeron, where they grew up among the shepherds, not knowing
their parentage. Mercury gave Amphion a lyre and taught him to
play upon it, and his brother occupied himself in hunting and
tending the flocks. Meanwhile Antiope, their mother, who had been
treated with great cruelty by Lycus, the usurping king of Thebes,
and by Dirce, his wife, found means to inform her children of
their rights and to summon them to her assistance. With a band of
their fellow-herdsmen they attacked and slew Lycus, and tying
Dirce by the hair of her head to a bull, let him drag her till she
was dead. Amphion, having become king of Thebes, fortified the
city with a wall. It is said that when he played on his lyre the
stones moved of their own accord and took their places in the

See Tennyson's poem of "Amphion" for an amusing use made of this


Linus was the instructor of Hercules in music, but having one day
reproved his pupil rather harshly, he roused the anger of
Hercules, who struck him with his lyre and killed him.


An ancient Thracian bard, who in his presumption challenged the
Muses to a trial of skill, and being overcome in the contest, was
deprived by them of his sight. Milton alludes to him with other
blind bards, when speaking of his own blindness, "Paradise Lost,"
Book III., 35.


Minerva invented the flute, and played upon it to the delight of
all the celestial auditors; but the mischievous urchin Cupid
having dared to laugh at the queer face which the goddess made
while playing, Minerva threw the instrument indignantly away, and
it fell down to earth, and was found by Marsyas. He blew upon it,
and drew from it such ravishing sounds that he was tempted to
challenge Apollo himself to a musical contest. The god of course
triumphed, and punished Marsyas by flaying him alive.


Melampus was the first mortal endowed with prophetic powers.
Before his house there stood an oak tree containing a serpent's
nest. The old serpents were killed by the servants, but Melampus
took care of the young ones and fed them carefully. One day when
he was asleep under the oak the serpents licked his ears with
their tongues. On awaking he was astonished to find that he now
understood the language of birds and creeping things. This
knowledge enabled him to foretell future events, and he became a
renowned soothsayer. At one time his enemies took him captive and
kept him strictly imprisoned. Melampus in the silence of the night
heard the woodworms in the timbers talking together, and found out
by what they said that the timbers were nearly eaten through and
the roof would soon fall in. He told his captors and demanded to
be let out, warning them also. They took his warning, and thus
escaped destruction, and rewarded Melampus and held him in high

MUSAEUS A semi-mythological personage who was represented by one
tradition to be the son of Orpheus. He is said to have written
sacred poems and oracles. Milton couples his name with that of
Orpheus in his "Il Penseroso":

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



The poets whose adventures compose this chapter were real persons
some of whose works yet remain, and their influence on poets who
succeeded them is yet more important than their poetical remains.
The adventures recorded of them in the following stories rest on
the same authority as other narratives of the "Age of Fable," that
is, of the poets who have told them. In their present form, the
first two are translated from the German, Arion from Schlegel, and
Ibycus from Schiller.


Arion was a famous musician, and dwelt in the court of Periander,
king of Corinth, with whom he was a great favorite. There was to
be a musical contest in Sicily, and Arion longed to compete for
the prize. He told his wish to Periander, who besought him like a
brother to give up the thought. "Pray stay with me," he said, "and
be contented. He who strives to win may lose." Arion answered, "A
wandering life best suits the free heart of a poet. The talent
which a god bestowed on me, I would fain make a source of pleasure
to others. And if I win the prize, how will the enjoyment of it be
increased by the consciousness of my widespread fame!" He went,
won the prize, and embarked with his wealth in a Corinthian ship
for home. On the second morning after setting sail, the wind
breathed mild and fair. "O Periander," he exclaimed, "dismiss your
fears! Soon shall you forget them in my embrace. With what lavish
offerings will we display our gratitude to the gods, and how merry
will we be at the festal board!" The wind and sea continued
propitious. Not a cloud dimmed the firmament. He had not trusted
too much to the ocean--but he had to man. He overheard the seamen
exchanging hints with one another, and found they were plotting to
possess themselves of his treasure. Presently they surrounded him
loud and mutinous, and said, "Arion, you must die! If you would
have a grave on shore, yield yourself to die on this spot; but if
otherwise, cast yourself into the sea." "Will nothing satisfy you
but my life?" said he. "Take my gold, and welcome. I willingly buy
my life at that price." "No, no; we cannot spare you. Your life
would be too dangerous to us. Where could we go to escape from
Periander, if he should know that you had been robbed by us? Your
gold would be of little use to us, if on returning home, we could
never more be free from fear." "Grant me, then," said he, "a last
request, since nought will avail to save my life, that I may die,
as I have lived, as becomes a bard. When I shall have sung my
death song, and my harp-strings shall have ceased to vibrate, then
I will bid farewell to life, and yield uncomplaining to my fate."
This prayer, like the others, would have been unheeded,--they
thought only of their booty,--but to hear so famous a musician,
that moved their rude hearts. "Suffer me," he added, "to arrange
my dress. Apollo will not favor me unless I be clad in my minstrel

He clothed his well-proportioned limbs in gold and purple fair to
see, his tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned
his arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, and over his
neck and shoulders flowed his hair perfumed with odors. His left
hand held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he struck
its chords. Like one inspired, he seemed to drink the morning air
and glitter in the morning ray. The seamen gazed with admiration.
He strode forward to the vessel's side and looked down into the
deep blue sea. Addressing his lyre, he sang, "Companion of my
voice, come with me to the realm of shades. Though Cerberus may
growl, we know the power of song can tame his rage. Ye heroes of
Elysium, who have passed the darkling flood,--ye happy souls, soon
shall I join your band. Yet can ye relieve my grief? Alas, I leave
my friend behind me. Thou, who didst find thy Eurydice, and lose
her again as soon as found; when she had vanished like a dream,
how didst thou hate the cheerful light! I must away, but I will
not fear. The gods look down upon us. Ye who slay me unoffending,
when I am no more, your time of trembling shall come. Ye Nereids,
receive your guest, who throws himself upon your mercy!" So
saying, he sprang into the deep sea. The waves covered him, and
the seamen held on their way, fancying themselves safe from all
danger of detection.

But the strains of his music had drawn round him the inhabitants
of the deep to listen, and Dolphins followed the ship as if
chained by a spell. While he struggled in the waves, a Dolphin
offered him his back, and carried him mounted thereon safe to
shore. At the spot where he landed, a monument of brass was
afterwards erected upon the rocky shore, to preserve the memory of
the event.

When Arion and the dolphin parted, each to his own element, Arion
thus poured forth his thanks: "Farewell, thou faithful, friendly
fish! Would that I could reward thee; but thou canst not wend with
me, nor I with thee. Companionship we may not have. May Galatea,
queen of the deep, accord thee her favor, and thou, proud of the
burden, draw her chariot over the smooth mirror of the deep."

Arion hastened from the shore, and soon saw before him the towers
of Corinth. He journeyed on, harp in hand, singing as he went,
full of love and happiness, forgetting his losses, and mindful
only of what remained, his friend and his lyre. He entered the
hospitable halls, and was soon clasped in the embrace of
Periander. "I come back to thee, my friend," he said. "The talent
which a god bestowed has been the delight of thousands, but false
knaves have stripped me of my well-earned treasure; yet I retain
the consciousness of wide spread fame." Then he told Periander all
the wonderful events that had befallen him, who heard him with
amazement. "Shall such wickedness triumph?" said he. "Then in vain
is power lodged in my hands. That we may discover the criminals,
you must remain here in concealment, and so they will approach
without suspicion." When the ship arrived in the harbor, he
summoned the mariners before him. "Have you heard anything of
Arion?" he inquired. "I anxiously look for his return." They
replied, "We left him well and prosperous in Tarentum." As they
said these words, Arion stepped forth and faced them. His well-
proportioned limbs were arrayed in gold and purple fair to see,
his tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned his
arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, and over his neck
and shoulders flowed his hair perfumed with odors; his left hand
held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he struck its
chords. They fell prostrate at his feet, as if a lightning bolt
had struck them. "We meant to murder him, and he has become a god.
O Earth, open and receive us!" Then Periander spoke. "He lives,
the master of the lay! Kind Heaven protects the poet's life. As
for you, I invoke not the spirit of vengeance; Arion wishes not
your blood. Ye slaves of avarice, begone! Seek some barbarous
land, and never may aught beautiful delight your souls!"

Spenser represents Arion, mounted on his dolphin, accompanying the
train of Neptune and Amphitrite:

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

Byron, in his "Childe Harold," Canto II., alludes to the story of
Arion, when, describing his voyage, he represents one of the
seamen making music to entertain the rest:

    "The moon is up; by Heaven a lovely eve!
     Long streams of light o'er dancing waves expand;
     Now lads on shore may sigh and maids believe;
     Such be our fate when we return to land!
     Meantime some rude Arion's restless hand
     Wakes the brisk harmony that sailors love;
     A circle there of merry listeners stand,
     Or to some well-known measure featly move
   Thoughtless as if on shore they still were free to rove."


In order to understand the story of Ibycus which follows it is
necessary to remember, first, that the theatres of the ancients
were immense fabrics capable of containing from ten to thirty
thousand spectators, and as they were used only on festival
occasions, and admission was free to all, they were usually
filled. They were without roofs and open to the sky, and the
performances were in the daytime. Secondly, the appalling
representation of the Furies is not exaggerated in the story. It
is recorded that Aeschylus, 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.

Ibycus, the pious poet, was on his way to the chariot races and
musical competitions held at the Isthmus of Corinth, which
attracted all of Grecian lineage. Apollo had bestowed on him the
gift of song, the honeyed lips of the poet, and he pursued his way
with lightsome step, full of the god. Already the towers of
Corinth crowning the height appeared in view, and he had entered
with pious awe the sacred grove of Neptune. No living object was
in sight, only a flock of cranes flew overhead taking the same
course as himself in their migration to a southern clime. "Good
luck to you, ye friendly squadrons," he exclaimed, "my companions
from across the sea. I take your company for a good omen. We come
from far and fly in search of hospitality. May both of us meet
that kind reception which shields the stranger guest from harm!"

He paced briskly on, and soon was in the middle of the wood. There
suddenly, at a narrow pass, two robbers stepped forth and barred
his way. He must yield or fight. But his hand, accustomed to the
lyre, and not to the strife of arms, sank powerless. He called for
help on men and gods, but his cry reached no defender's ear. "Then
here must I die," said he, "in a strange land, unlamented, cut off
by the hand of outlaws, and see none to avenge my cause." Sore
wounded, he sank to the earth, when hoarse screamed the cranes
overhead. "Take up my cause, ye cranes," he said, "since no voice
but yours answers to my cry." So saying he closed his eyes in

The body, despoiled and mangled, was found, and though disfigured
with wounds, was recognized by the friend in Corinth who had
expected him as a guest. "Is it thus I find you restored to me?"
he exclaimed. "I who hoped to entwine your temples with the wreath
of triumph in the strife of song!"

The guests assembled at the festival heard the tidings with
dismay. All Greece felt the wound, every heart owned its loss.
They crowded round the tribunal of the magistrates, and demanded
vengeance on the murderers and expiation with their blood.

But what trace or mark shall point out the perpetrator from amidst
the vast multitude attracted by the splendor of the feast? Did he
fall by the hands of robbers or did some private enemy slay him?
The all-discerning sun alone can tell, for no other eye beheld
it. Yet not improbably the murderer even now walks in the midst of
the throng, and enjoys the fruits of his crime, while vengeance
seeks for him in vain. Perhaps in their own temple's enclosure he
defies the gods mingling freely in this throng of men that now
presses into the amphitheatre.

For now crowded together, row on row, the multitude fill the seats
till it seems as if the very fabric would give way. The murmur of
voices sounds like the roar of the sea, while the circles widening
in their ascent rise tier on tier, as if they would reach the sky.

And now the vast assemblage listens to the awful voice of the
chorus personating the Furies, which in solemn guise advances with
measured step, and moves around the circuit of the theatre. Can
they be mortal women who compose that awful group, and can that
vast concourse of silent forms be living beings?

The choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless hands
torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Their cheeks were bloodless,
and in place of hair writhing and swelling serpents curled around
their brows. Forming a circle, these awful beings sang their
hymns, rending the hearts of the guilty, and enchaining all their
faculties. It rose and swelled, overpowering the sound of the
instruments, stealing the judgment, palsying the heart, curdling
the blood.

"Happy the man who keeps his heart pure from guilt and crime! Him
we avengers touch not; he treads the path of life secure from us.
But woe! woe! to him who has done the deed of secret murder. We
the fearful family of Night fasten ourselves upon his whole being.
Thinks he by flight to escape us? We fly still faster in pursuit,
twine our snakes around his feet, and bring him to the ground.
Unwearied we pursue; no pity checks our course; still on and on,
to the end of life, we give him no peace nor rest." Thus the
Eumenides sang, and moved in solemn cadence, while stillness like
the stillness of death sat over the whole assembly as if in the
presence of superhuman beings; and then in solemn march completing
the circuit of the theatre, they passed out at the back of the

Every heart fluttered between illusion and reality, and every
breast panted with undefined terror, quailing before the awful
power that watches secret crimes and winds unseen the skein of
destiny. At that moment a cry burst forth from one of the
uppermost benches--"Look! look! comrade, yonder are the cranes of
Ibycus!" And suddenly there appeared sailing across the sky a dark
object which a moment's inspection showed to be a flock of cranes
flying directly over the theatre. "Of Ibycus! did he say?" The
beloved name revived the sorrow in every breast. As wave follows
wave over the face of the sea, so ran from mouth to mouth the
words, "Of Ibycus! him whom we all lament, whom some murderer's
hand laid low! What have the cranes to do with him?" And louder
grew the swell of voices, while like a lightning's flash the
thought sped through every heart, "Observe the power of the
Eumenides! The pious poet shall be avenged! the murderer has
informed against himself. Seize the man who uttered that cry and
the other to whom he spoke!"

The culprit would gladly have recalled his words, but it was too
late. The faces of the murderers, pale with terror, betrayed their
guilt. The people took them before the judge, they confessed their
crime, and suffered the punishment they deserved.


Simonides was one of the most prolific of the early poets of
Greece, but only a few fragments of his compositions have
descended to us. He wrote hymns, triumphal odes, and elegies. In
the last species of composition he particularly excelled. His
genius was inclined to the pathetic, and none could touch with
truer effect the chords of human sympathy. The "Lamentation of
Danae," the most important of the fragments which remain of his
poetry, is based upon the tradition that Danae and her infant son
were confined by order of her father, Acrisius, in a chest and set
adrift on the sea. The chest floated towards the island of
Seriphus, where both were rescued by Dictys, a fisherman, and
carried to Polydectes, king of the country, who received and
protected them. The child, Perseus, when grown up became a famous
hero, whose adventures have been recorded in a previous chapter.

Simonides passed much of his life at the courts of princes, and
often employed his talents in panegyric and festal odes, receiving
his reward from the munificence of those whose exploits he
celebrated. This employment was not derogatory, but closely
resembles that of the earliest bards, such as Demodocus, described
by Homer, or of Homer himself, as recorded by tradition.

On one occasion, when residing at the court of Scopas, king of
Thessaly, the prince desired him to prepare a poem in celebration
of his exploits, to be recited at a banquet. In order to diversify
his theme, Simonides, who was celebrated for his piety, introduced
into his poem the exploits of Castor and Pollux. Such digressions
were not unusual with the poets on similar occasions, and one
might suppose an ordinary mortal might have been content to share
the praises of the sons of Leda. But vanity is exacting; and as
Scopas sat at his festal board among his courtiers and sycophants,
he grudged every verse that did not rehearse his own praises. When
Simonides approached to receive the promised reward Scopas
bestowed but half the expected sum, saying, "Here is payment for
my portion of thy performance; Castor and Pollux will doubtless
compensate thee for so much as relates to them." The disconcerted
poet returned to his seat amidst the laughter which followed the
great man's jest. In a little time he received a message that two
young men on horseback were waiting without and anxious to see
him. Simonides hastened to the door, but looked in vain for the
visitors. Scarcely, however, had he left the banqueting hall when
the roof fell in with a loud crash, burying Scopas and all his
guests beneath the ruins. On inquiring as to the appearance of the
young men who had sent for him, Simonides was satisfied that they
were no other than Castor and Pollux themselves.


Sappho was a poetess who flourished in a very early age of Greek
literature. Of her works few fragments remain, but they are enough
to establish her claim to eminent poetical genius. The story of
Sappho commonly alluded to is that she was passionately in love
with a beautiful youth named Phaon, and failing to obtain a return
of affection she threw herself from the promontory of Leucadia
into the sea, under a superstition that those who should take that
"Lover's-leap" would, if not destroyed, be cured of their love.

Byron alludes to the story of Sappho in "Childe Harold," Canto

   "Childe Harold sailed and passed the barren spot
    Where sad Penelope o'erlooked the wave,
    And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot,
    The lover's refuge and the Lesbian's grave.
    Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save
    That breast imbued with such immortal fire?

   "'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve
    Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's cape afar;" etc.

Those who wish to know more of Sappho and her "leap" are referred
to the "Spectator," Nos. 223 and 229. See also Moore's "Evenings
in Greece."




Endymion was a beautiful youth who fed his flock on Mount Latmos.
One calm, clear night Diana, the moon, looked down and saw him
sleeping. The cold heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his
surpassing beauty, and she came down to him, kissed him, and
watched over him while he slept.

Another story was that Jupiter bestowed on him the gift of
perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Of one so gifted we
can have but few adventures to record. Diana, it was said, took
care that his fortunes should not suffer by his inactive life, for
she made his flock increase, and guarded his sheep and lambs from
the wild beasts.

The story of Endymion has a peculiar charm from the human meaning
which it so thinly veils. We see in Endymion the young poet, his
fancy and his heart seeking in vain for that which can satisfy
them, finding his favorite hour in the quiet moonlight, and
nursing there beneath the beams of the bright and silent witness
the melancholy and the ardor which consumes him. The story
suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent more in dreams
than in reality, and an early and welcome death.--S. G. B.

The "Endymion" of Keats is a wild and fanciful poem, containing
some exquisite poetry, as this, to the moon:

   "... The sleeping kine
    Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine.
    Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
    Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes,
    And yet thy benediction passeth not
    One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
    Where pleasure may be sent; the nested wren
    Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken;" etc., etc.

Dr. Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to Endymion thus:

   "... These thoughts, O night, are thine;
    From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs,
    While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
    In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,
    Her shepherd cheered, of her enamoured less
    Than I of thee."

Fletcher, in the "Faithful Shepherdess," tells:

   "How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
    First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
    She took eternal fire that never dies;
    How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,
    His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
    Head of old Latmos, where she stoops each night,
    Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
    To kiss her sweetest."


Orion was the son of Neptune. He was a handsome giant and a mighty
hunter. His father gave him the power of wading through the depths
of the sea, or, as others say, of walking on its surface.

Orion loved Merope, the daughter of Oenopion, king of Chios, and
sought her in marriage. He cleared the island of wild beasts, and
brought the spoils of the chase as presents to his beloved; but as
Oenopion constantly deferred his consent, Orion attempted to gain
possession of the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at this
conduct, having made Orion drunk, deprived him of his sight and
cast him out on the seashore. The blinded hero followed the sound
of a Cyclops' hammer till he reached Lemnos, and came to the forge
of Vulcan, who, taking pity on him, gave him Kedalion, one of his
men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Kedalion on
his shoulders, Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the
sun-god, was restored to sight by his beam.

After this he dwelt as a hunter with Diana, with whom he was a
favorite, and it is even said she was about to marry him. Her
brother was highly displeased and often chid her, but to no
purpose. One day, observing Orion wading through the sea with his
head just above the water, Apollo pointed it out to his sister and
maintained that she could not hit that black thing on the sea. The
archer-goddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim. The waves rolled
the dead body of Orion to the land, and bewailing her fatal error
with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he
appears as a giant, with a girdle, sword, lion's skin, and club.
Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the Pleiads fly before him.

The Pleiads were daughters of Atlas, and nymphs of Diana's train.
One day Orion saw them and became enamoured and pursued them. In
their distress they prayed to the gods to change their form, and
Jupiter in pity turned them into pigeons, and then made them a
constellation in the sky. Though their number was seven, only six
stars are visible, for Electra, one of them, it is said left her
place that she might not behold the ruin of Troy, for that city
was founded by her son Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on
her sisters that they have looked pale ever since.

Mr. Longfellow has a poem on the "Occultation of Orion." The
following lines are those in which he alludes to the mythic story.
We must premise that on the celestial globe Orion is represented
as robed in a lion's skin and wielding a club. At the moment the
stars of the constellation, one by one, were quenched in the light
of the moon, the poet tells us

   "Down fell the red skin of the lion
    Into the river at his feet.
    His mighty club no longer beat
    The forehead of the bull; but he
    Reeled as of yore beside the sea,
    When blinded by Oenopion
      He sought the blacksmith at his forge,
      And climbing up the narrow gorge,
    Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun."

Tennyson has a different theory of the Pleiads:

   "Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising through the mellow
    Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid."

    --Locksley Hall.

Byron alludes to the lost Pleiad:

"Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below."

See also Mrs. Hemans's verses on the same subject.


The goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon, was at times
inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite was
Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away, and
prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but, forgetting to
have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to
discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old. When
his hair was quite white she left his society; but he still had
the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in
celestial raiment. At length he lost the power of using his limbs,
and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice
might at times be heard. Finally she turned him into a

Memnon was the son of Aurora and Tithonus. He was king of the
Aethiopians, and dwelt in the extreme east, on the shore of Ocean.
He came with his warriors to assist the kindred of his father in
the war of Troy. King Priam received him with great honors, and
listened with admiration to his narrative of the wonders of the
ocean shore.

The very day after his arrival, Memnon, impatient of repose, led
his troops to the field. Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor, fell
by his hand, and the Greeks were put to flight, when Achilles
appeared and restored the battle. A long and doubtful contest
ensued between him and the son of Aurora; at length victory
declared for Achilles, Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled in

Aurora, who from her station in the sky had viewed with
apprehension the danger of her son, when she saw him fall,
directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks
of the river Esepus in Paphlagonia. In the evening Aurora came,
accompanied by the Hours and the Pleiads, and wept and lamented
over her son. Night, in sympathy with her grief, spread the heaven
with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the Dawn. The
Aethiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream in the
grove of the Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of
his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing into two
flocks, fought over the pile till they fell into the flame. Every
year at the anniversary of his death they return and celebrate his
obsequies in like manner. Aurora remains inconsolable for the loss
of her son. Her tears still flow, and may be seen at early morning
in the form of dew-drops on the grass.

Unlike most of the marvels of ancient mythology, there still exist
some memorials of this. On the banks of the river Nile, in Egypt,
are two colossal statues, one of which is said to be the statue of
Memnon. Ancient writers record that when the first rays of the
rising sun fall upon this statue a sound is heard to issue from
it, which they compare to the snapping of a harp-string. There is
some doubt about the identification of the existing statue with
the one described by the ancients, and the mysterious sounds are
still more doubtful. Yet there are not wanting some modern
testimonies to their being still audible. It has been suggested
that sounds produced by confined air making its escape from
crevices or caverns in the rocks may have given some ground for
the story. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, a late traveller, of the highest
authority, examined the statue itself, and discovered that it was
hollow, and that "in the lap of the statue is a stone, which on
being struck emits a metallic sound, that might still be made use
of to deceive a visitor who was predisposed to believe its

The vocal statue of Memnon is a favorite subject of allusion with
the poets. Darwin, in his "Botanic Garden," says:

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

Book I., 1., 182.


Scylla was a fair virgin of Sicily, a favorite of the Sea-Nymphs.
She had many suitors, but repelled them all, and would go to the
grotto of Galatea, and tell her how she was persecuted. One day
the goddess, while Scylla dressed her hair, listened to the story,
and then replied, "Yet, maiden, your persecutors are of the not
ungentle race of men, whom, if you will, you can repel; but I, the
daughter of Nereus, and protected by such a band of sisters, found
no escape from the passion of the Cyclops but in the depths of the
sea;" and tears stopped her utterance, which when the pitying
maiden had wiped away with her delicate finger, and soothed the
goddess, "Tell me, dearest," said she, "the cause of your grief."
Galatea then said, "Acis was the son of Faunus and a Naiad. His
father and mother loved him dearly, but their love was not equal
to mine. For the beautiful youth attached himself to me alone, and
he was just sixteen years old, the down just beginning to darken
his cheeks. As much as I sought his society, so much did the
Cyclops seek mine; and if you ask me whether my love for Acis or
my hatred of Polyphemus was the stronger, I cannot tell you; they
were in equal measure. O Venus, how great is thy power! this
fierce giant, the terror of the woods, whom no hapless stranger
escaped unharmed, who defied even Jove himself, learned to feel
what love was, and, touched with a passion for me, forgot his
flocks and his well-stored caverns. Then for the first time he
began to take some care of his appearance, and to try to make
himself agreeable; he harrowed those coarse locks of his with a
comb, and mowed his beard with a sickle, looked at his harsh
features in the water, and composed his countenance. His love of
slaughter, his fierceness and thirst of blood prevailed no more,
and ships that touched at his island went away in safety. He paced
up and down the sea-shore, imprinting huge tracks with his heavy
tread, and, when weary, lay tranquilly in his cave.

"There is a cliff which projects into the sea, which washes it on
either side. Thither one day the huge Cyclops ascended, and sat
down while his flocks spread themselves around. Laying down his
staff, which would have served for a mast to hold a vessel's sail,
and taking his instrument compacted of numerous pipes, he made the
hills and the waters echo the music of his song. I lay hid under a
rock by the side of my beloved Acis, and listened to the distant
strain. It was full of extravagant praises of my beauty, mingled
with passionate reproaches of my coldness and cruelty.

"When he had finished he rose up, and, like a raging bull that
cannot stand still, wandered off into the woods. Acis and I
thought no more of him, till on a sudden he came to a spot which
gave him a view of us as we sat. 'I see you,' he exclaimed, 'and I
will make this the last of your love-meetings.' His voice was a
roar such as an angry Cyclops alone could utter. Aetna trembled at
the sound. I, overcome with terror, plunged into the water. Acis
turned and fled, crying, 'Save me, Galatea, save me, my parents!'
The Cyclops pursued him, and tearing a rock from the side of the
mountain hurled it at him. Though only a corner of it touched him,
it overwhelmed him.

"All that fate left in my power I did for Acis. I endowed him with
the honors of his grandfather, the river-god. The purple blood
flowed out from under the rock, but by degrees grew paler and
looked like the stream of a river rendered turbid by rains, and in
time it became clear. The rock cleaved open, and the water, as it
gushed from the chasm, uttered a pleasing murmur."

Thus Acis was changed into a river, and the river retains the name
of Acis.

Dryden, in his "Cymon and Iphigenia," has told the story of a
clown converted into a gentleman by the power of love, in a way
that shows traces of kindred to the old story of Galatea and the

   "What not his father's care nor tutor's art
    Could plant with pains in his unpolished heart,
    The best instructor, Love, at once inspired,
    As barren grounds to fruitfulness are fired.
    Love taught him shame, and shame with love at strife
    Soon taught the sweet civilities of life."



Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, but on one occasion she did a
very foolish thing; she entered into competition with Juno and
Venus for the prize of beauty. It happened thus: At the nuptials
of Peleus and Thetis all the gods were invited with the exception
of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, the goddess threw a
golden apple among the guests, with the inscription, "For the
fairest." Thereupon Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the
apple. Jupiter, not willing to decide in so delicate a matter,
sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where the beautiful shepherd
Paris was tending his flocks, and to him was committed the
decision. The goddesses accordingly appeared before him. Juno
promised him power and riches, Minerva glory and renown in war,
and Venus the fairest of women for his wife, each attempting to
bias his decision in her own favor. Paris decided in favor of
Venus and gave her the golden apple, thus making the two other
goddesses his enemies. Under the protection of Venus, Paris sailed
to Greece, and was hospitably received by Menelaus, king of
Sparta. Now Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was the very woman whom
Venus had destined for Paris, the fairest of her sex. She had been
sought as a bride by numerous suitors, and before her decision was
made known, they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, one of their
number, took an oath that they would defend her from all injury
and avenge her cause if necessary. She chose Menelaus, and was
living with him happily when Paris became their guest. Paris,
aided by Venus, persuaded her to elope with him, and carried her
to Troy, whence arose the famous Trojan war, the theme of the
greatest poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Virgil.

Menelaus called upon his brother chieftains of Greece to fulfil
their pledge, and join him in his efforts to recover his wife.
They generally came forward, but Ulysses, who had married
Penelope, and was very happy in his wife and child, had no
disposition to embark in such a troublesome affair. He therefore
hung back and Palamedes was sent to urge him. When Palamedes
arrived at Ithaca Ulysses pretended to be mad. He yoked an ass and
an ox together to the plough and began to sow salt. Palamedes, to
try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon
the father turned the plough aside, showing plainly that he was no
madman, and after that could no longer refuse to fulfil his
promise. Being now himself gained for the undertaking, he lent his
aid to bring in other reluctant chiefs, especially Achilles. This
hero was the son of that Thetis at whose marriage the apple of
Discord had been thrown among the goddesses. Thetis was herself
one of the immortals, a sea-nymph, and knowing that her son was
fated to perish before Troy if he went on the expedition, she
endeavored to prevent his going. She sent him away to the court of
King Lycomedes, and induced him to conceal himself in the disguise
of a maiden among the daughters of the king. Ulysses, hearing he
was there, went disguised as a merchant to the palace and offered
for sale female ornaments, among which he had placed some arms.
While the king's daughters were engrossed with the other contents
of the merchant's pack, Achilles handled the weapons and thereby
betrayed himself to the keen eye of Ulysses, who found no great
difficulty in persuading him to disregard his mother's prudent
counsels and join his countrymen in the war.

Priam was king of Troy, and Paris, the shepherd and seducer of
Helen, was his son. Paris had been brought up in obscurity,
because there were certain ominous forebodings connected with him
from his infancy that he would be the ruin of the state. These
forebodings seemed at length likely to be realized, for the
Grecian armament now in preparation was the greatest that had ever
been fitted out. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and brother of the
injured Menelaus, was chosen commander-in-chief. Achilles was
their most illustrious warrior. After him ranked Ajax, gigantic in
size and of great courage, but dull of intellect; Diomede, second
only to Achilles in all the qualities of a hero; Ulysses, famous
for his sagacity; and Nestor, the oldest of the Grecian chiefs,
and one to whom they all looked up for counsel. But Troy was no
feeble enemy. Priam, the king, was now old, but he had been a wise
prince and had strengthened his state by good government at home
and numerous alliances with his neighbors. But the principal stay
and support of his throne was his son Hector, one of the noblest
characters painted by heathen antiquity. He felt, from the first,
a presentiment of the fall of his country, but still persevered in
his heroic resistance, yet by no means justified the wrong which
brought this danger upon her. He was united in marriage with
Andromache, and as a husband and father his character was not less
admirable than as a warrior. The principal leaders on the side of
the Trojans, besides Hector, were Aeneas and Deiphobus, Glaucus
and Sarpedon.

After two years of preparation the Greek fleet and army assembled
in the port of Aulis in Boeotia. Here Agamemnon in hunting killed
a stag which was sacred to Diana, and the goddess in return
visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm which
prevented the ships from leaving the port. Calchas, the
soothsayer, thereupon announced that the wrath of the virgin
goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin on her
altar, and that none other but the daughter of the offender would
be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, yielded his consent,
and the maiden Iphigenia was sent for under the pretence that she
was to be married to Achilles. When she was about to be sacrificed
the goddess relented and snatched her away, leaving a hind in her
place, and Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was carried to Tauris,
where Diana made her priestess of her temple.

Tennyson, in his "Dream of Fair Women," makes Iphigenia thus
describe her feelings at the moment of sacrifice:

   "I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
      Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears;
    My father held his hand upon his face;
      I, blinded by my tears,

   "Still strove to speak; my voice was thick with sighs,
      As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
    The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes,
      Waiting to see me die.

   "The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat,
      The temples and the people and the shore;
    One drew a sharp knife through my tender throat
      Slowly,--and--nothing more."

The wind now proving fair the fleet made sail and brought the
forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans came to oppose their
landing, and at the first onset Protesilaus fell by the hand of
Hector. Protesilaus had left at home his wife, Laodamia, who was
most tenderly attached to him. When the news of his death reached
her she implored the gods to be allowed to converse with him only
three hours. The request was granted. Mercury led Protesilaus back
to the upper world, and when he died a second time Laodamia died
with him. There was a story that the nymphs planted elm trees
round his grave which grew very well till they were high enough to
command a view of Troy, and then withered away, while fresh
branches sprang from the roots.

Wordsworth has taken the story of Protesilaus and Laodamia for the
subject of a poem. It seems the oracle had declared that victory
should be the lot of that party from which should fall the first
victim to the war. The poet represents Protesilaus, on his brief
return to earth, as relating to Laodamia the story of his fate:

   "'The wished-for wind was given; I then revolved
      The oracle, upon the silent sea;
    And if no worthier led the way, resolved
      That of a thousand vessels mine should be
    The foremost prow impressing to the strand,--
    Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.

   "'Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter was the pang
      When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife!
    On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
      And on the joys we shared in mortal life,
    The paths which we had trod,--these fountains, flowers;
    My new planned cities and unfinished towers.

   "'But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
      "Behold they tremble! haughty their array,
    Yet of their number no one dares to die?"
      In soul I swept the indignity away:
    Old frailties then recurred: but lofty thought
    In act embodied my deliverance wrought.'

   "... upon the side
      Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
    A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
      From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
      And ever when such stature they had gained
    That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
    The trees' tall summits withered at the sight,
    A constant interchange of growth and blight!"


The war continued without decisive results for nine years. Then an
event occurred which seemed likely to be fatal to the cause of the
Greeks, and that was a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. It
is at this point that the great poem of Homer, "The Iliad,"
begins. The Greeks, though unsuccessful against Troy, had taken
the neighboring and allied cities, and in the division of the
spoil a female captive, by name Chryseis, daughter of Chryses,
priest of Apollo, had fallen to the share of Agamemnon. Chryses
came bearing the sacred emblems of his office, and begged the
release of his daughter. Agamemnon refused. Thereupon Chryses
implored Apollo to afflict the Greeks till they should be forced
to yield their prey. Apollo granted the prayer of his priest, and
sent pestilence into the Grecian camp. Then a council was called
to deliberate how to allay the wrath of the gods and avert the
plague. Achilles boldly charged their misfortunes upon Agamemnon
as caused by his withholding Chryseis. Agamemnon, enraged,
consented to relinquish his captive, but demanded that Achilles
should yield to him in her stead Briseis, a maiden who had fallen
to Achilles' share in the division of the spoil. Achilles
submitted, but forthwith declared that he would take no further
part in the war. He withdrew his forces from the general camp and
openly avowed his intention of returning home to Greece.

The gods and goddesses interested themselves as much in this
famous war as the parties themselves. It was well known to them
that fate had decreed that Troy should fall, at last, if her
enemies should persevere and not voluntarily abandon the
enterprise. Yet there was room enough left for chance to excite by
turns the hopes and fears of the powers above who took part with
either side. Juno and Minerva, in consequence of the slight put
upon their charms by Paris, were hostile to the Trojans; Venus for
the opposite cause favored them. Venus enlisted her admirer Mars
on the same side, but Neptune favored the Greeks. Apollo was
neutral, sometimes taking one side, sometimes the other, and Jove
himself, though he loved the good King Priam, yet exercised a
degree of impartiality; not, however, without exceptions.

Thetis, the mother of Achilles, warmly resented the injury done to
her son. She repaired immediately to Jove's palace and besought
him to make the Greeks repent of their injustice to Achilles by
granting success to the Trojan arms. Jupiter consented, and in the
battle which ensued the Trojans were completely successful. The
Greeks were driven from the field and took refuge in their ships.

Then Agamemnon called a council of his wisest and bravest chiefs.
Nestor advised that an embassy should be sent to Achilles to
persuade him to return to the field; that Agamemnon should yield
the maiden, the cause of the dispute, with ample gifts to atone
for the wrong he had done. Agamemnon consented, and Ulysses, Ajax,
and Phoenix were sent to carry to Achilles the penitent message.
They performed that duty, but Achilles was deaf to their
entreaties. He positively refused to return to the field, and
persisted in his resolution to embark for Greece without delay.

The Greeks had constructed a rampart around their ships, and now
instead of besieging Troy they were in a manner besieged
themselves, within their rampart. The next day after the
unsuccessful embassy to Achilles, a battle was fought, and the
Trojans, favored by Jove, were successful, and succeeded in
forcing a passage through the Grecian rampart, and were about to
set fire to the ships. Neptune, seeing the Greeks so pressed, came
to their rescue. He appeared in the form of Calchas the prophet,
encouraged the warriors with his shouts, and appealed to each
individually till he raised their ardor to such a pitch that they
forced the Trojans to give way. Ajax performed prodigies of valor,
and at length encountered Hector. Ajax shouted defiance, to which
Hector replied, and hurled his lance at the huge warrior. It was
well aimed and struck Ajax, where the belts that bore his sword
and shield crossed each other on the breast. The double guard
prevented its penetrating and it fell harmless. Then Ajax, seizing
a huge stone, one of those that served to prop the ships, hurled
it at Hector. It struck him in the neck and stretched him on the
plain. His followers instantly seized him and bore him off,
stunned and wounded.

While Neptune was thus aiding the Greeks and driving back the
Trojans, Jupiter saw nothing of what was going on, for his
attention had been drawn from the field by the wiles of Juno. That
goddess had arrayed herself in all her charms, and to crown all
had borrowed of Venus her girdle, called "Cestus," which had the
effect to heighten the wearer's charms to such a degree that they
were quite irresistible. So prepared, Juno went to join her
husband, who sat on Olympus watching the battle. When he beheld
her she looked so charming that the fondness of his early love
revived, and, forgetting the contending armies and all other
affairs of state, he thought only of her and let the battle go as
it would.

But this absorption did not continue long, and when, upon turning
his eyes downward, he beheld Hector stretched on the plain almost
lifeless from pain and bruises, he dismissed Juno in a rage,
commanding her to send Iris and Apollo to him. When Iris came he
sent her with a stern message to Neptune, ordering him instantly
to quit the field. Apollo was despatched to heal Hector's bruises
and to inspirit his heart. These orders were obeyed with such
speed that, while the battle still raged, Hector returned to the
field and Neptune betook himself to his own dominions.

An arrow from Paris's bow wounded Machaon, son of Aesculapius, who
inherited his father's art of healing, and was therefore of great
value to the Greeks as their surgeon, besides being one of their
bravest warriors. Nestor took Machaon in his chariot and conveyed
him from the field. As they passed the ships of Achilles, that
hero, looking out over the field, saw the chariot of Nestor and
recognized the old chief, but could not discern who the wounded
chief was. So calling Patroclus, his companion and dearest friend,
he sent him to Nestor's tent to inquire.

Patroclus, arriving at Nestor's tent, saw Machaon wounded, and
having told the cause of his coming would have hastened away, but
Nestor detained him, to tell him the extent of the Grecian
calamities. He reminded him also how, at the time of departing for
Troy, Achilles and himself had been charged by their respective
fathers with different advice: Achilles to aspire to the highest
pitch of glory, Patroclus, as the elder, to keep watch over his
friend, and to guide his inexperience. "Now," said Nestor, "is the
time for such influence. If the gods so please, thou mayest win
him back to the common cause; but if not let him at least send his
soldiers to the field, and come thou, Patroclus, clad in his
armor, and perhaps the very sight of it may drive back the

Patroclus was strongly moved with this address, and hastened back
to Achilles, revolving in his mind all he had seen and heard. He
told the prince the sad condition of affairs at the camp of their
late associates: Diomede, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Machaon, all
wounded, the rampart broken down, the enemy among the ships
preparing to burn them, and thus to cut off all means of return to
Greece. While they spoke the flames burst forth from one of the
ships. Achilles, at the sight, relented so far as to grant
Patroclus his request to lead the Myrmidons (for so were Achilles'
soldiers called) to the field, and to lend him his armor, that he
might thereby strike more terror into the minds of the Trojans.
Without delay the soldiers were marshalled, Patroclus put on the
radiant armor and mounted the chariot of Achilles, and led forth
the men ardent for battle. But before he went, Achilles strictly
charged him that he should be content with repelling the foe "Seek
not," said he, "to press the Trojans without me, lest thou add
still more to the disgrace already mine." Then exhorting the
troops to do their best he dismissed them full of ardor to the

Patroclus and his Myrmidons at once plunged into the contest where
it raged hottest; at the sight of which the joyful Grecians
shouted and the ships reechoed the acclaim. The Trojans, at the
sight of the well-known armor, struck with terror, looked
everywhere for refuge. First those who had got possession of the
ship and set it on fire left and allowed the Grecians to retake it
and extinguish the flames. Then the rest of the Trojans fled in
dismay. Ajax, Menelaus, and the two sons of Nestor performed
prodigies of valor. Hector was forced to turn his horses' heads
and retire from the enclosure, leaving his men entangled in the
fosse to escape as they could. Patroclus drove them before him,
slaying many, none daring to make a stand against him.

At last Sarpedon, son of Jove, ventured to oppose himself in fight
to Patroclus. Jupiter looked down upon him and would have snatched
him from the fate which awaited him, but Juno hinted that if he
did so it would induce all others of the inhabitants of heaven to
interpose in like manner whenever any of their offspring were
endangered; to which reason Jove yielded. Sarpedon threw his
spear, but missed Patroclus, but Patroclus threw his with better
success. It pierced Sarpedon's breast and he fell, and, calling to
his friends to save his body from the foe, expired. Then a furious
contest arose for the possession of the corpse. The Greeks
succeeded and stripped Sarpedon of his armor; but Jove would not
allow the remains of his son to be dishonored, and by his command
Apollo snatched from the midst of the combatants the body of
Sarpedon and committed it to the care of the twin brothers Death
and Sleep, by whom it was transported to Lycia, the native land of
Sarpedon, where it received due funeral rites.

Thus far Patroclus had succeeded to his utmost wish in repelling
the Trojans and relieving his countrymen, but now came a change of
fortune. Hector, borne in his chariot, confronted him. Patroclus
threw a vast stone at Hector, which missed its aim, but smote
Cebriones, the charioteer, and knocked him from the car. Hector
leaped from the chariot to rescue his friend, and Patroclus also
descended to complete his victory. Thus the two heroes met face to
face. At this decisive moment the poet, as if reluctant to give
Hector the glory, records that Phoebus took part against
Patroclus. He struck the helmet from his head and the lance from
his hand. At the same moment an obscure Trojan wounded him in the
back, and Hector, pressing forward, pierced him with his spear. He
fell mortally wounded.

Then arose a tremendous conflict for the body of Patroclus, but
his armor was at once taken possession of by Hector, who retiring
a short distance divested himself of his own armor and put on that
of Achilles, then returned to the fight. Ajax and Menelaus
defended the body, and Hector and his bravest warriors struggled
to capture it. The battle raged with equal fortunes, when Jove
enveloped the whole face of heaven with a dark cloud. The
lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and Ajax, looking round for
some one whom he might despatch to Achilles to tell him of the
death of his friend, and of the imminent danger that his remains
would fall into the hands of the enemy, could see no suitable
messenger. It was then that he exclaimed in those famous lines so
often quoted,

    "Father of heaven and earth! deliver thou
    Achaia's host from darkness; clear the skies;
    Give day; and, since thy sovereign will is such,
    Destruction with it; but, O, give us day."


Or, as rendered by Pope,

    "... Lord of earth and air!
    O king! O father! hear my humble prayer!
    Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore;
    Give me to see and Ajax asks no more;
    If Greece must perish we thy will obey,
    But let us perish in the face of day."

Jupiter heard the prayer and dispersed the clouds. Then Ajax sent
Antilochus to Achilles with the intelligence of Patroclus's death,
and of the conflict raging for his remains. The Greeks at last
succeeded in bearing off the body to the ships, closely pursued by
Hector and Aeneas and the rest of the Trojans.

Achilles heard the fate of his friend with such distress that
Antilochus feared for a while that he would destroy himself. His
groans reached the ears of his mother, Thetis, far down in the
deeps of ocean where she abode, and she hastened to him to inquire
the cause. She found him overwhelmed with self-reproach that he
had indulged his resentment so far, and suffered his friend to
fall a victim to it. But his only consolation was the hope of
revenge. He would fly instantly in search of Hector. But his
mother reminded him that he was now without armor, and promised
him, if he would but wait till the morrow, she would procure for
him a suit of armor from Vulcan more than equal to that he had
lost. He consented, and Thetis immediately repaired to Vulcan's
palace. She found him busy at his forge making tripods for his own
use, so artfully constructed that they moved forward of their own
accord when wanted, and retired again when dismissed. On hearing
the request of Thetis, Vulcan immediately laid aside his work and
hastened to comply with her wishes. He fabricated a splendid suit
of armor for Achilles, first a shield adorned with elaborate
devices, then a helmet crested with gold, then a corselet and
greaves of impenetrable temper, all perfectly adapted to his form,
and of consummate workmanship. It was all done in one night, and
Thetis, receiving it, descended with it to earth, and laid it down
at Achilles' feet at the dawn of day.

The first glow of pleasure that Achilles had felt since the death
of Patroclus was at the sight of this splendid armor. And now,
arrayed in it, he went forth into the camp, calling all the chiefs
to council. When they were all assembled he addressed them.
Renouncing his displeasure against Agamemnon and bitterly
lamenting the miseries that had resulted from it, he called on
them to proceed at once to the field. Agamemnon made a suitable
reply, laying all the blame on Ate, the goddess of discord; and
thereupon complete reconcilement took place between the heroes.

Then Achilles went forth to battle inspired with a rage and thirst
for vengeance that made him irresistible. The bravest warriors
fled before him or fell by his lance. Hector, cautioned by Apollo,
kept aloof; but the god, assuming the form of one of Priam's sons,
Lycaon, urged Aeneas to encounter the terrible warrior. Aeneas,
though he felt himself unequal, did not decline the combat. He
hurled his spear with all his force against the shield the work of
Vulcan. It was formed of five metal plates; two were of brass, two
of tin, and one of gold. The spear pierced two thicknesses, but
was stopped in the third. Achilles threw his with better success.
It pierced through the shield of Aeneas, but glanced near his
shoulder and made no wound. Then Aeneas seized a stone, such as
two men of modern times could hardly lift, and was about to throw
it, and Achilles, with sword drawn, was about to rush upon him,
when Neptune, who looked out upon the contest, moved with pity for
Aeneas, who he saw would surely fall a victim if not speedily
rescued, spread a cloud between the combatants, and lifting Aeneas
from the ground, bore him over the heads of warriors and steeds to
the rear of the battle. Achilles, when the mist cleared away,
looked round in vain for his adversary, and acknowledging the
prodigy, turned his arms against other champions. But none dared
stand before him, and Priam looking down from the city walls
beheld his whole army in full flight towards the city. He gave
command to open wide the gates to receive the fugitives, and to
shut them as soon as the Trojans should have passed, lest the
enemy should enter likewise. But Achilles was so close in pursuit
that that would have been impossible if Apollo had not, in the
form of Agenor, Priam's son, encountered Achilles for a while,
then turned to fly, and taken the way apart from the city.
Achilles pursued and had chased his supposed victim far from the
walls, when Apollo disclosed himself, and Achilles, perceiving how
he had been deluded, gave up the chase.

But when the rest had escaped into the town Hector stood without
determined to await the combat. His old father called to him from
the walls and begged him to retire nor tempt the encounter. His
mother, Hecuba, also besought him to the same effect, but all in
vain. "How can I," said he to himself, "by whose command the
people went to this day's contest, where so many have fallen, seek
safety for myself against a single foe? But what if I offer him to
yield up Helen and all her treasures and ample of our own beside?
Ah, no! it is too late. He would not even hear me through, but
slay me while I spoke." While he thus ruminated. Achilles
approached, terrible as Mars, his armor flashing lightning as he
moved. At that sight Hector's heart failed him and he fled.
Achilles swiftly pursued. They ran, still keeping near the walls,
till they had thrice encircled the city. As often as Hector
approached the walls Achilles intercepted him and forced him to
keep out in a wider circle. But Apollo sustained Hector's strength
and would not let him sink in weariness. Then Pallas, assuming the
form of Deiphobus, Hector's bravest brother, appeared suddenly at
his side. Hector saw him with delight, and thus strengthened
stopped his flight and turned to meet Achilles. Hector threw his
spear, which struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. He
turned to receive another from the hand of Deiphobus, but
Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood his doom and said,
"Alas! it is plain this is my hour to die! I thought Deiphobus at
hand, but Pallas deceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will
not fall inglorious," So saying he drew his falchion from his side
and rushed at once to combat. Achilles, secured behind his shield,
waited the approach of Hector. When he came within reach of his
spear, Achilles choosing with his eye a vulnerable part where the
armor leaves the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part and
Hector fell, death-wounded, and feebly said, "Spare my body! Let
my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the
sons and daughters of Troy." To which Achilles replied, "Dog, name
not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire
distress. No! trust me, naught shall save thy carcass from the
dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I
would refuse it all."

So saying he stripped the body of its armor, and fastening cords
to the feet tied them behind his chariot, leaving the body to
trail along the ground. Then mounting the chariot he lashed the
steeds and so dragged the body to and fro before the city. What
words can tell the grief of King Priam and Queen Hecuba at this
sight! His people could scarce restrain the old king from rushing
forth. He threw himself in the dust and besought them each by name
to give him way. Hecuba's distress was not less violent. The
citizens stood round them weeping. The sound of the mourning
reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, as she sat
among her maidens at work, and anticipating evil she went forth to
the wall. When she saw the sight there presented, she would have
thrown herself headlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into
the arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her fate,
picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a captive, and
her son dependent for his bread on the charity of strangers.

When Achilles and the Greeks had taken their revenge on the killer
of Patroclus they busied themselves in paying due funeral rites to
their friend. A pile was erected, and the body burned with due
solemnity; and then ensued games of strength and skill, chariot
races, wrestling, boxing, and archery. Then the chiefs sat down to
the funeral banquet and after that retired to rest. But Achilles
neither partook of the feast nor of sleep. The recollection of his
lost friend kept him awake, remembering their companionship in
toil and dangers, in battle or on the perilous deep. Before the
earliest dawn he left his tent, and joining to his chariot his
swift steeds, he fastened Hector's body to be dragged behind.
Twice he dragged him around the tomb of Patroclus, leaving him at
length stretched in the dust. But Apollo would not permit the body
to be torn or disfigured with all this abuse, but preserved it
free from all taint or defilement.

While Achilles indulged his wrath in thus disgracing brave Hector,
Jupiter in pity summoned Thetis to his presence. He told her to go
to her son and prevail on him to restore the body of Hector to his
friends. Then Jupiter sent Iris to King Priam to encourage him to
go to Achilles and beg the body of his son. Iris delivered her
message, and Priam immediately prepared to obey. He opened his
treasuries and took out rich garments and cloths, with ten talents
in gold and two splendid tripods and a golden cup of matchless
workmanship. Then he called to his sons and bade them draw forth
his litter and place in it the various articles designed for a
ransom to Achilles. When all was ready, the old king with a single
companion as aged as himself, the herald Idaeus, drove forth from
the gates, parting there with Hecuba, his queen, and all his
friends, who lamented him as going to certain death.

But Jupiter, beholding with compassion the venerable king, sent
Mercury to be his guide and protector. Mercury, assuming the form
of a young warrior, presented himself to the aged couple, and
while at the sight of him they hesitated whether to fly or yield,
the god approached, and grasping Priam's hand offered to be their
guide to Achilles' tent. Priam gladly accepted his offered
service, and he, mounting the carriage, assumed the reins and soon
conveyed them to the tent of Achilles. Mercury's wand put to sleep
all the guards, and without hinderance he introduced Priam into
the tent where Achilles sat, attended by two of his warriors. The
old king threw himself at the feet of Achilles, and kissed those
terrible hands which had destroyed so many of his sons. "Think, O
Achilles," he said, "of thy own father, full of days like me, and
trembling on the gloomy verge of life. Perhaps even now some
neighbor chief oppresses him and there is none at hand to succor
him in his distress. Yet doubtless knowing that Achilles lives he
still rejoices, hoping that one day he shall see thy face again.
But no comfort cheers me, whose bravest sons, so late the flower
of Ilium, all have fallen. Yet one I had, one more than all the
rest the strength of my age, whom, fighting for his country, thou
hast slain. I come to redeem his body, bringing inestimable ransom
with me. Achilles! reverence the gods! recollect thy father! for
his sake show compassion to me!" These words moved Achilles, and
he wept; remembering by turns his absent father and his lost
friend. Moved with pity of Priam's silver locks and beard, he
raised him from the earth, and thus spake: "Priam, I know that
thou hast reached this place conducted by some god, for without
aid divine no mortal even in his prime of youth had dared the
attempt. I grant thy request, moved thereto by the evident will of
Jove." So saying he arose, and went forth with his two friends,
and unloaded of its charge the litter, leaving two mantles and a
robe for the covering of the body, which they placed on the
litter, and spread the garments over it, that not unveiled it
should be borne back to Troy. Then Achilles dismissed the old king
with his attendants, having first pledged himself to allow a truce
of twelve days for the funeral solemnities.

As the litter approached the city and was descried from the walls,
the people poured forth to gaze once more on the face of their
hero. Foremost of all, the mother and the wife of Hector came, and
at the sight of the lifeless body renewed their lamentations. The
people all wept with them, and to the going down of the sun there
was no pause or abatement of their grief.

The next day preparations were made for the funeral solemnities.
For nine days the people brought wood and built the pile, and on
the tenth they placed the body on the summit and applied the
torch; while all Troy thronging forth encompassed the pile. When
it had completely burned, they quenched the cinders with wine,
collected the bones and placed them in a golden urn, which they
buried in the earth, and reared a pile of stones over the spot.

    "Such honors Ilium to her hero paid,
    And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade."





The story of the Iliad ends with the death of Hector, and it is
from the Odyssey and later poems that we learn the fate of the
other heroes. After the death of Hector, Troy did not immediately
fall, but receiving aid from new allies still continued its
resistance. One of these allies was Memnon, the Aethiopian prince,
whose story we have already told. Another was Penthesilea, queen
of the Amazons, who came with a band of female warriors. All the
authorities attest their valor and the fearful effect of their war
cry. Penthesilea slew many of the bravest warriors, but was at
last slain by Achilles. But when the hero bent over his fallen
foe, and contemplated her beauty, youth, and valor, he bitterly
regretted his victory. Thersites, an insolent brawler and
demagogue, ridiculed his grief, and was in consequence slain by
the hero.

Achilles by chance had seen Polyxena, daughter of King Priam,
perhaps on the occasion of the truce which was allowed the Trojans
for the burial of Hector. He was captivated with her charms, and
to win her in marriage agreed to use his influence with the Greeks
to grant peace to Troy. While in the temple of Apollo, negotiating
the marriage, Paris discharged at him a poisoned arrow, which,
guided by Apollo, wounded Achilles in the heel, the only
vulnerable part about him. For Thetis his mother had dipped him
when an infant in the river Styx, which made every part of him
invulnerable except the heel by which she held him. [Footnote 1:
The story of the invulnerability of Achilles is not found in
Homer, and is inconsistent with his account. For how could
Achilles require the aid of celestial armor if be were

The body of Achilles so treacherously slain was rescued by Ajax
and Ulysses. Thetis directed the Greeks to bestow her son's armor
on the hero who of all the survivors should be judged most
deserving of it. Ajax and Ulysses were the only claimants; a
select number of the other chiefs were appointed to award the
prize. It was awarded to Ulysses, thus placing wisdom before
valor; whereupon Ajax slew himself. On the spot where his blood
sank into the earth a flower sprang up, called the hyacinth,
bearing on its leaves the first two letters of the name of Ajax,
Ai, the Greek for "woe." Thus Ajax is a claimant with the boy
Hyacinthus for the honor of giving birth to this flower. There is
a species of Larkspur which represents the hyacinth of the poets
in preserving the memory of this event, the Delphinium Ajacis--
Ajax's Larkspur.

It was now discovered that Troy could not be taken but by the aid
of the arrows of Hercules. They were in possession of Philoctetes,
the friend who had been with Hercules at the last and lighted his
funeral pyre. Philoctetes had joined the Grecian expedition
against Troy, but had accidentally wounded his foot with one of
the poisoned arrows, and the smell from his wound proved so
offensive that his companions carried him to the isle of Lemnos
and left him there. Diomed was now sent to induce him to rejoin
the army. He sukcceeded. Philoctetes was cured of his wound by
Machaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows. In
his distress Paris bethought him of one whom in his prosperity he
had forgotten. This was the nymph OEnone, whom he had married when
a youth, and had abandoned for the fatal beauty Helen. OEnone,
remembering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the
wound, and Paris went back to Troy and died. OEnone quickly
repented, and hastened after him with remedies, but came too late,
and in her grief hung herself. [Footnote 1: Tennyson has chosen
OEnone as the subject of a short poem; but he has omitted the most
poetical part of the story, the return of Paris wounded, her
cruelty and subsequent repentance.]

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

But Troy still held out, and the Greeks began to despair of ever
subduing it by force, and by advice of Ulysses resolved to resort
to stratagem. They pretended to be making preparations to abandon
the siege, and a portion of the ships were withdrawn and lay hid
behind a neighboring island. The Greeks then constructed an
immense WOODEN HORSE, which they gave out was intended as a
propitiatory offering to Minerva, but in fact was filled with
armed men. The remaining Greeks then betook themselves to their
ships and sailed away, as if for a final departure. The Trojans,
seeing the encampment broken up and the fleet gone, concluded the
enemy to have abandoned the siege. The gates were thrown open, and
the whole population issued forth rejoicing at the long-prohibited
liberty of passing freely over the scene of the late encampment.
The great HORSE was the chief object of curiosity. All wondered
what it could be for. Some recommended to take it into the city as
a trophy; others felt afraid of it.

While they hesitate, Laocoon, the priest of Neptune exclaims,
"What madness, citizens, is this? Have you not learned enough of
Grecian fraud to be on your guard against it? For my part, I fear
the Greeks even when they offer gifts." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] So saying he threw his lance at the horse's side. It
struck, and a hollow sound reverberated like a groan. Then perhaps
the people might have taken his advice and destroyed the fatal
horse and all its contents; but just at that moment a group of
people appeared, dragging forward one who seemed a prisoner and a
Greek. Stupefied with terror, he was brought before the chiefs,
who reassured him, promising that his life should be spared on
condition of his returning true answers to the questions asked
him. He informed them that he was a Greek, Sinon by name, and that
in consequence of the malice of Ulysses he had been left behind by
his countrymen at their departure. With regard to the wooden
horse, he told them that it was a propitiatory offering to
Minerva, and made so huge for the express purpose of preventing
its being carried within the city; for Calchas the prophet had
told them that if the Trojans took possession of it they would
assuredly triumph over the Greeks. This language turned the tide
of the people's feelings and they began to think how they might
best secure the monstrous horse and the favorable auguries
connected with it, when suddenly a prodigy occurred which left no
room to doubt. There appeared, advancing over the sea, two immense
serpents. They came upon the land, and the crowd fled in all
directions. The serpents advanced directly to the spot where
Laocoon stood with his two sons. They first attacked the children,
winding round their bodies and breathing their pestilential breath
in their faces. The father, attempting to rescue them, is next
seized and involved in the serpents' coils. He struggles to tear
them away, but they overpower all his efforts and strangle him and
the children in their poisonous folds. This event was regarded as
a clear indication of the displeasure of the gods at Laocoon's
irreverent treatment of the wooden horse, which they no longer
hesitated to regard as a sacred object, and prepared to introduce
with due solemnity into the city. This was done with songs and
triumphal acclamations, and the day closed with festivity. In the
night the armed men who were enclosed in the body of the horse,
being let out by the traitor Sinon, opened the gates of the city
to their friends, who had returned under cover of the night. The
city was set on fire; the people, overcome with feasting and
sleep, put to the sword, and Troy completely subdued.

One of the most celebrated groups of statuary in existence is that
of Laocoon and his children in the embrace of the serpents. A cast
of it is owned by the Boston Athenaeum; the original is in the
Vatican at Rome. The following lines are from the "Childe Harold"
of Byron:

    "Now turning to the Vatican go see
    Laocoon's torture dignifying pain;
    A father's love and mortal's agony
    With an immortal's patience blending;--vain
    The struggle! vain against the coiling strain
    And gripe and deepening of the dragon's grasp
    The old man's clinch; the long envenomed chain
    Rivets the living links; the enormous asp
    Enforces pang on pang and stifles gasp on gasp."

The comic poets will also occasionally borrow a classical
allusion. The following is from Swift's "Description of a City

    "Boxed in a chair the beau impatient sits,
    While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits,
    And ever and anon with frightful din
    The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
    So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed
    Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed,
    (Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
    Instead of paying chairmen, run them through);
    Laocoon struck the outside with a spear,
    And each imprisoned champion quaked with fear."

King Priam lived to see the downfall of his kingdom and was slain
at last on the fatal night when the Greeks took the city. He had
armed himself and was about to mingle with the combatants, but was
prevailed on by Hecuba, his aged queen, to take refuge with
herself and his daughters as a suppliant at the altar of Jupiter.
While there, his youngest son Polites, pursued by Pyrrhus, the son
of Achilles, rushed in wounded, and expired at the feet of his
father; whereupon Priam, overcome with indignation, hurled his
spear with feeble hand against Pyrrhus, [Footnote 1: Pyrrhus's
exclamation, "Not such aid nor such defenders does the time
require," has become proverbial. See Proverbial Expressions.] and
was forthwith slain by him.

Queen Hecuba and her daughter Cassandra were carried captives to
Greece. Cassandra had been loved by Apollo, and he gave her the
gift of prophecy; but afterwards offended with her, he rendered
the gift unavailing by ordaining that her predictions should never
be believed. Polyxena, another daughter, who had been loved by
Achilles, was demanded by the ghost of that warrior, and was
sacrificed by the Greeks upon his tomb.


Our readers will be anxious to know the fate of Helen, the fair
but guilty occasion of so much slaughter. On the fall of Troy
Menelaus recovered possession of his wife, who had not ceased to
love him, though she had yielded to the might of Venus and
deserted him for another. After the death of Paris she aided the
Greeks secretly on several occasions, and in particular when
Ulysses and Diomed entered the city in disguise to carry off the
Palladium. She saw and recognized Ulysses, but kept the secret and
even assisted them in obtaining the image. Thus she became
reconciled to her husband, and they were among the first to leave
the shores of Troy for their native land. But having incurred the
displeasure of the gods they were driven by storms from shore to
shore of the Mediterranean, visiting Cyprus, Phoenicia, and Egypt.
In Egypt they were kindly treated and presented with rich gifts,
of which Helen's share was a golden spindle and a basket on
wheels. The basket was to hold the wool and spools for the queen's

Dyer, in his poem of the "Fleece," thus alludes to this incident:

    "... many yet adhere
    To the ancient distaff, at the bosom fixed,
    Casting the whirling spindle as they walk.

    This was of old, in no inglorious days,
    The mode of spinning, when the Egyptian prince
    A golden distaff gave that beauteous nymph,
    Too beauteous Helen; no uncourtly gift."

Milton also alludes to a famous recipe for an invigorating
draught, called Nepenthe, which the Egyptian queen gave to Helen:

    "Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone
    In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena,
    Is of such power to stir up joy as this,
    To life so friendly or so cool to thirst."


Menelaus and Helen at length arrived in safety at Sparta, resumed
their royal dignity, and lived and reigned in splendor; and when
Telemachus, the son of Ulysses, in search of his father, arrived
at Sparta, he found Menelaus and Helen celebrating the marriage of
their daughter Hermione to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles.


Agamemnon, the general-in-chief of the Greeks, the brother of
Menelaus, and who had been drawn into the quarrel to avenge his
brother's wrongs, not his own, was not so fortunate in the issue.
During his absence his wife Clytemnestra had been false to him,
and when his return was expected, she with her paramour,
Aegisthus, laid a plan for his destruction, and at the banquet
given to celebrate his return, murdered him.

It was intended by the conspirators to slay his son Orestes also,
a lad not yet old enough to be an object of apprehension, but from
whom, if he should be suffered to grow up, there might be danger.
Electra, the sister of Orestes, saved her brother's life by
sending him secretly away to his uncle Strophius, King of Phocis.
In the palace of Strophius Orestes grew up with the king's son
Pylades, and formed with him that ardent friendship which has
become proverbial. Electra frequently reminded her brother by
messengers of the duty of avenging his father's death, and when
grown up he consulted the oracle of Delphi, which confirmed him in
his design. He therefore repaired in disguise to Argos, pretending
to be a messenger from Strophius, who had come to announce the
death of Orestes, and brought the ashes of the deceased in a
funeral urn. After visiting his father's tomb and sacrificing upon
it, according to the rites of the ancients, he made himself known
to his sister Electra, and soon after slew both Aegisthus and

This revolting act, the slaughter of a mother by her son, though
alleviated by the guilt of the victim and the express command of
the gods, did not fail to awaken in the breasts of the ancients
the same abhorrence that it does in ours. The Eumenides, avenging
deities, seized upon Orestes, and drove him frantic from land to
land. Pylades accompanied him in his wanderings and watched over
him. At length, in answer to a second appeal to the oracle, he was
directed to go to Tauris in Scythia, and to bring thence a statue
of Diana which was believed to have fallen from heaven.
Accordingly Orestes and Pylades went to Tauris, where the
barbarous people were accustomed to sacrifice to the goddess all
strangers who fell into their hands. The two friends were seized
and carried bound to the temple to be made victims. But the
priestess of Diana was no other than Iphigenia, the sister of
Orestes, who, our readers will remember, was snatched away by
Diana at the moment when she was about to be sacrificed.
Ascertaining from the prisoners who they were, Iphigenia disclosed
herself to them, and the three made their escape with the statue
of the goddess, and returned to Mycenae.

But Orestes was not yet relieved from the vengeance of the
Erinyes. At length he took refuge with Minerva at Athens. The
goddess afforded him protection, and appointed the court of
Areopagus to decide his fate. The Erinyes brought forward their
accusation, and Orestes made the command of the Delphic oracle his
excuse. When the court voted and the voices were equally divided,
Orestes was acquitted by the command of Minerva.

Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., alludes to the story of

    "O thou who never yet of human wrong
    Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis!
    Thou who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
    And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss,
    For that unnatural retribution,--just,
    Had it but been from hands less near,--in this,
    Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust!"

One of the most pathetic scenes in the ancient drama is that in
which Sophocles represents the meeting of Orestes and Electra, on
his return from Phocis. Orestes, mistaking Electra for one of the
domestics, and desirous of keeping his arrival a secret till the
hour of vengeance should arrive, produces the urn in which his
ashes are supposed to rest. Electra, believing him to be really
dead, takes the urn and, embracing it, pours forth her grief in
language full of tenderness and despair.

Milton, in one of his sonnets, says:

    "... The repeated air
    Of sad Electra's poet had the power
    To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare."

This alludes to the story that when, on one occasion, the city of
Athens was at the mercy of her Spartan foes, and it was proposed
to destroy it, the thought was rejected upon the accidental
quotation, by some one, of a chorus of Euripides.


The facts relating to the city of Troy are still unknown to
history. Antiquarians have long sought for the actual city and
some record of its rulers. The most interesting explorations were
those conducted about 1890 by the German scholar, Henry
Schliemann, who believed that at the mound of Hissarlik, the
traditional site of Troy, he had uncovered the ancient capital.
Schliemann excavated down below the ruins of three or four
settlements, each revealing an earlier civilization, and finally
came upon some royal jewels and other relics said to be "Priam's
Treasure." Scholars are by no means agreed as to the historic
value of these discoveries.




The romantic poem of the Odyssey is now to engage our attention.
It narrates the wanderings of Ulysses (Odysseus in the Greek
language) in his return from Troy to his own kingdom Ithaca.

From Troy the vessels first made land at Ismarus, city of the
Ciconians, where, in a skirmish with the inhabitants, Ulysses lost
six men from each ship. Sailing thence, they were overtaken by a
storm which drove them for nine days along the sea till they
reached the country of the Lotus-eaters. Here, after watering,
Ulysses sent three of his men to discover who the inhabitants
were. These men on coming among the Lotus-eaters were kindly
entertained by them, and were given some of their own food, the
lotus-plant, to eat. The effect of this food was such that those
who partook of it lost all thoughts of home and wished to remain
in that country. It was by main force that Ulysses dragged these
men away, and he was even obliged to tie them under the benches of
the ships.

[Footnote: Tennyson in the "Lotus-eaters" has charmingly expressed
the dreamy, languid feeling which the lotus food is said to have

   "How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream
    With half-shut eyes ever to seem
    Falling asleep in a half dream!
    To dream and dream, like yonder amber light
    Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
    To hear each others' whispered speech;
    Eating the Lotos, day by day,
    To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
    And tender curving lines of creamy spray:
    To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
    To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
    To muse and brood and live again in memory,
    With those old faces of our infancy
    Heaped over with a mound of grass,
    Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass."]

They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes. The Cyclopes
were giants, who inhabited an island of which they were the only
possessors. The name means "round eye," and these giants were so
called because they had but one eye, and that placed in the middle
of the forehead. They dwelt in caves and fed on the wild
productions of the island and on what their flocks yielded, for
they were shepherds. Ulysses left the main body of his ships at
anchor, and with one vessel went to the Cyclopes' island to
explore for supplies. He landed with his companions, carrying with
them a jar of wine for a present, and coming to a large cave they
entered it, and finding no one within examined its contents. They
found it stored with the richest of the flock, quantities of
cheese, pails and bowls of milk, lambs and kids in their pens, all
in nice order. Presently arrived the master of the cave,
Polyphemus, bearing an immense bundle of firewood, which he threw
down before the cavern's mouth. He then drove into the cave the
sheep and goats to be milked, and, entering, rolled to the cave's
mouth an enormous rock, that twenty oxen could not draw. Next he
sat down and milked his ewes, preparing a part for cheese, and
setting the rest aside for his customary drink. Then, turning
round his great eye, he discerned the strangers, and growled out
to them, demanding who they were, and where from. Ulysses replied
most humbly, stating that they were Greeks, from the great
expedition that had lately won so much glory in the conquest of
Troy; that they were now on their way home, and finished by
imploring his hospitality in the name of the gods. Polyphemus
deigned no answer, but reaching out his hand seized two of the
Greeks, whom he hurled against the side of the cave, and dashed
out their brains. He proceeded to devour them with great relish,
and having made a hearty meal, stretched himself out on the floor
to sleep. Ulysses was tempted to seize the opportunity and plunge
his sword into him as he slept, but recollected that it would only
expose them all to certain destruction, as the rock with which the
giant had closed up the door was far beyond their power to remove,
and they would therefore be in hopeless imprisonment. Next morning
the giant seized two more of the Greeks, and despatched them in
the same manner as their companions, feasting on their flesh till
no fragment was left. He then moved away the rock from the door,
drove out his flocks, and went out, carefully replacing the
barrier after him. When he was gone Ulysses planned how he might
take vengeance for his murdered friends, and effect his escape
with his surviving companions. He made his men prepare a massive
bar of wood cut by the Cyclops for a staff, which they found in
the cave. They sharpened the end of it, and seasoned it in the
fire, and hid it under the straw on the cavern floor. Then four of
the boldest were selected, with whom Ulysses joined himself as a
fifth. The Cyclops came home at evening, rolled away the stone and
drove in his flock as usual. After milking them and making his
arrangements as before, he seized two more of Ulysses' companions
and dashed their brains out, and made his evening meal upon them
as he had on the others. After he had supped, Ulysses approaching
him handed him a bowl of wine, saying, "Cyclops, this is wine;
taste and drink after thy meal of men's flesh." He took and drank
it, and was hugely delighted with it, and called for more. Ulysses
supplied him once again, which pleased the giant so much that he
promised him as a favor that he should be the last of the party
devoured. He asked his name, to which Ulysses replied, "My name is

After his supper the giant lay down to repose, and was soon sound
asleep. Then Ulysses with his four select friends thrust the end
of the stake into the fire till it was all one burning coal, then
poising it exactly above the giant's only eye, they buried it
deeply into the socket, twirling it round as a carpenter does his
auger. The howling monster with his outcry filled the cavern, and
Ulysses with his aids nimbly got out of his way and concealed
themselves in the cave. He, bellowing, called aloud on all the
Cyclopes dwelling in the caves around him, far and near. They on
his cry flocked round the den, and inquired what grievous hurt had
caused him to sound such an alarm and break their slumbers. He
replied, "O friends, I die, and Noman gives the blow." They
answered, "If no man hurts thee it is the stroke of Jove, and thou
must bear it." So saying, they left him groaning.

Next morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let his flock
out to pasture, but planted himself in the door of the cave to
feel of all as they went out, that Ulysses and his men should not
escape with them. But Ulysses had made his men harness the rams of
the flock three abreast, with osiers which they found on the floor
of the cave. To the middle ram of the three one of the Greeks
suspended himself, so protected by the exterior rams on either
side. As they passed, the giant felt of the animals' backs and
sides, but never thought of their bellies; so the men all passed
safe, Ulysses himself being on the last one that passed. When they
had got a few paces from the cavern, Ulysses and his friends
released themselves from their rams, and drove a good part of the
flock down to the shore to their boat. They put them aboard with
all haste, then pushed off from the shore, and when at a safe
distance Ulysses shouted out, "Cyclops, the gods have well
requited thee for thy atrocious deeds. Know it is Ulysses to whom
thou owest thy shameful loss of sight." The Cyclops, hearing this,
seized a rock that projected from the side of the mountain, and
rending it from its bed, he lifted it high in the air, then
exerting all his force, hurled it in the direction of the voice.
Down came the mass, just clearing the vessel's stern. The ocean,
at the plunge of the huge rock, heaved the ship towards the land,
so that it barely escaped being swamped by the waves. When they
had with the utmost difficulty pulled off shore, Ulysses was about
to hail the giant again, but his friends besought him not to do
so. He could not forbear, however, letting the giant know that
they had escaped his missile, but waited till they had reached a
safer distance than before. The giant answered them with curses,
but Ulysses and his friends plied their oars vigorously, and soon
regained their companions.

Ulysses next arrived at the island of Aeolus. To this monarch
Jupiter had intrusted the government of the winds, to send them
forth or retain them at his will. He treated Ulysses hospitably,
and at his departure gave him, tied up in a leathern bag, with a
silver string, such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous,
commanding fair winds to blow the barks towards their country.
Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that time Ulysses had
stood at the helm, without sleep. At last quite exhausted he lay
down to sleep. While he slept, the crew conferred together about
the mysterious bag, and concluded it must contain treasures given
by the hospitable king Aeolus to their commander. Tempted to
secure some portion for themselves, they loosed the string, when
immediately the winds rushed forth. The ships were driven far from
their course, and back again to the island they had just left.
Aeolus was so indignant at their folly that he refused to assist
them further, and they were obliged to labor over their course
once more by means of their oars.


Their next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of
Laestrygonians. The vessels all pushed into the harbor, tempted by
the secure appearance of the cove, completely land-locked; only
Ulysses moored his vessel without. As soon as the Laestrygonians
found the ships completely in their power they attacked them,
heaving huge stones which broke and overturned them, and with
their spears despatched the seamen as they struggled in the water.
All the vessels with their crews were destroyed, except Ulysses'
own ship, which had remained outside, and finding no safety but in
flight, he exhorted his men to ply their oars vigorously, and they

With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy at their own
escape, they pursued their way till they arrived at the Aeaean
isle, where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the sun. Landing here,
Ulysses climbed a hill, and gazing round saw no signs of
habitation except in one spot at the centre of the island, where
he perceived a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one-
half of his crew, under the command of Eurylochus, to see what
prospect of hospitality they might find. As they approached the
palace, they found themselves surrounded by lions, tigers, and
wolves, not fierce, but tamed by Circe's art, for she was a
powerful magician. All these animals had once been men, but had
been changed by Circe's enchantments into the forms of beasts. The
sounds of soft music were heard from within, and a sweet female
voice singing. Eurylochus called aloud and the goddess came forth
and invited them in; they all gladly entered except Eurylochus,
who suspected danger. The goddess conducted her guests to a seat,
and had them served with wine and other delicacies. When they had
feasted heartily, she touched them one by one with her wand, and
they became immediately changed into SWINE, in "head, body, voice,
and bristles," yet with their intellects as before. She shut them
in her sties and supplied them with acorns and such other things
as swine love.

Eurylochus hurried back to the ship and told the tale. Ulysses
thereupon determined to go himself, and try if by any means he
might deliver his companions. As he strode onward alone, he met a
youth who addressed him familiarly, appearing to be acquainted
with his adventures. He announced himself as Mercury, and informed
Ulysses of the arts of Circe, and of the danger of approaching
her. As Ulysses was not to be dissuaded from his attempt, Mercury
provided him with a sprig of the plant Moly, of wonderful power to
resist sorceries, and instructed him how to act. Ulysses
proceeded, and reaching the palace was courteously received by
Circe, who entertained him as she had done his companions, and
after he had eaten and drank, touched him with her wand, saying,
"Hence, seek the sty and wallow with thy friends." But he, instead
of obeying, drew his sword and rushed upon her with fury in his
countenance. She fell on her knees and begged for mercy. He
dictated a solemn oath that she would release his companions and
practise no further harm against him or them; and she repeated it,
at the same time promising to dismiss them all in safety after
hospitably entertaining them. She was as good as her word. The men
were restored to their shapes, the rest of the crew summoned from
the shore, and the whole magnificently entertained day after day,
till Ulysses seemed to have forgotten his native land, and to have
reconciled himself to an inglorious life of ease and pleasure.

At length his companions recalled him to nobler sentiments, and he
received their admonition gratefully. Circe aided their departure,
and instructed them how to pass safely by the coast of the Sirens.
The Sirens were sea-nymphs who had the power of charming by their
song all who heard them, so that the unhappy mariners were
irresistibly impelled to cast themselves into the sea to their
destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to fill the ears of his seamen
with wax, so that they should not hear the strain; and to cause
himself to be bound to the mast, and his people to be strictly
enjoined, whatever he might say or do, by no means to release him
till they should have passed the Sirens' island. Ulysses obeyed
these directions. He filled the ears of his people with wax, and
suffered them to bind him with cords firmly to the mast. As they
approached the Sirens' island, the sea was calm, and over the
waters came the notes of music so ravishing and attractive that
Ulysses struggled to get loose, and by cries and signs to his
people begged to be released; but they, obedient to his previous
orders, sprang forward and bound him still faster. They held on
their course, and the music grew fainter till it ceased to be
heard, when with joy Ulysses gave his companions the signal to
unseal their ears, and they relieved him from his bonds.

The imagination of a modern poet, Keats, has discovered for us the
thoughts that passed through the brains of the victims of Circe,
after their transformation. In his "Endymion" he represents one of
them, a monarch in the guise of an elephant, addressing the
sorceress in human language, thus:

    "I sue not for my happy crown again;
    I sue not for my phalanx on the plain;
    I sue not for my lone, my widowed wife;
    I sue not for my ruddy drops of life,
    My children fair, my lovely girls and boys;
    I will forget them; I will pass these joys,
    Ask nought so heavenward; so too--too high;
    Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die;
    To be delivered from this cumbrous flesh,
    From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh,
    And merely given to the cold, bleak air.
    Have mercy, goddess! Circe, feel my prayer!"


Ulysses had been warned by Circe of the two monsters Scylla and
Charybdis. We have already met with Scylla in the story of
Glaucus, and remember that she was once a beautiful maiden and was
changed into a snaky monster by Circe. She dwelt in a cave high up
on the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust forth her
long necks (for she had six heads), and in each of her mouths to
seize one of the crew of every vessel passing within reach. The
other terror, Charybdis, was a gulf, nearly on a level with the
water. Thrice each day the water rushed into a frightful chasm,
and thrice was disgorged. Any vessel coming near the whirlpool
when the tide was rushing in must inevitably be ingulfed; not
Neptune himself could save it.

On approaching the haunt of the dread monsters, Ulysses kept
strict watch to discover them. The roar of the waters as Charybdis
ingulfed them, gave warning at a distance, but Scylla could
nowhere be discerned. While Ulysses and his men watched with
anxious eyes the dreadful whirlpool, they were not equally on
their guard from the attack of Scylla, and the monster, darting
forth her snaky heads, caught six of his men, and bore them away,
shrieking, to her den. It was the saddest sight Ulysses had yet
seen; to behold his friends thus sacrificed and hear their cries,
unable to afford them any assistance.

Circe had warned him of another danger. After passing Scylla and
Charybdis the next land he would make was Thrinakia, an island
whereon were pastured the cattle of Hyperion, the Sun, tended by
his daughters Lampetia and Phaethusa. These flocks must not be
violated, whatever the wants of the voyagers might be. If this
injunction were transgressed destruction was sure to fall on the

Ulysses would willingly have passed the island of the Sun without
stopping, but his companions so urgently pleaded for the rest and
refreshment that would be derived from anchoring and passing the
night on shore, that Ulysses yielded. He bound them, however, with
an oath that they would not touch one of the animals of the sacred
flocks and herds, but content themselves with what provision they
yet had left of the supply which Circe had put on board. So long
as this supply lasted the people kept their oath, but contrary
winds detained them at the island for a month, and after consuming
all their stock of provisions, they were forced to rely upon the
birds and fishes they could catch. Famine pressed them, and at
length one day, in the absence of Ulysses, they slew some of the
cattle, vainly attempting to make amends for the deed by offering
from them a portion to the offended powers. Ulysses, on his return
to the shore, was horror-struck at perceiving what they had done,
and the more so on account of the portentous signs which followed.
The skins crept on the ground, and the joints of meat lowed on the
spits while roasting.

The wind becoming fair they sailed from the island. They had not
gone far when the weather changed, and a storm of thunder and
lightning ensued. A stroke of lightning shattered their mast,
which in its fall killed the pilot. At last the vessel itself came
to pieces. The keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses formed
of them a raft, to which he clung, and, the wind changing, the
waves bore him to Calypso's island. All the rest of the crew

The following allusion to the topics we have just been considering
is from Milton's "Comus," line 252:

    "... I have often heard
    My mother Circe and the Sirens three,
    Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
    Culling their potent herbs and baneful drugs,
    Who as they sung would take the prisoned soul
    And lap it in Elysium. Scylla wept,
    And chid her barking waves into attention,
    And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause."

Scylla and Charybdis have become proverbial, to denote opposite
dangers which beset one's course. See Proverbial Expressions.


Calypso was a sea-nymph, which name denotes a numerous class of
female divinities of lower rank, yet sharing many of the
attributes of the gods. Calypso received Ulysses hospitably,
entertained him magnificently, became enamoured of him, and wished
to retain him forever, conferring on him immortality. But he
persisted in his resolution to return to his country and his wife
and son. Calypso at last received the command of Jove to dismiss
him. Mercury brought the message to her, and found her in her
grotto, which is thus described by Homer:

    "A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides,
    Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung
    Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph,
    Their sinuous course pursuing side by side,
    Strayed all around, and everywhere appeared
    Meadows of softest verdure, purpled o'er
    With violets; it was a scene to fill
    A god from heaven with wonder and delight."

Calypso with much reluctance proceeded to obey the commands of
Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the means of constructing a
raft, provisioned it well for him, and gave him a favoring gale.
He sped on his course prosperously for many days, till at length,
when in sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and
threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he was seen by
a compassionate sea-nymph, who in the form of a cormorant alighted
on the raft, and presented him a girdle, directing him to bind it
beneath his breast, and if he should be compelled to trust himself
to the waves, it would buoy him up and enable him by swimming to
reach the land.

Fenelon, in his romance of "Telemachus," has given us the
adventures of the son of Ulysses in search of his father. Among
other places at which he arrived, following on his father's
footsteps, was Calypso's isle, and, as in the former case, the
goddess tried every art to keep him with her, and offered to share
her immortality with him. But Minerva, who in the shape of Mentor
accompanied him and governed all his movements, made him repel her
allurements, and when no other means of escape could be found, the
two friends leaped from a cliff into the sea, and swam to a vessel
which lay becalmed off shore. Byron alludes to this leap of
Telemachus and Mentor in the following stanza:

    "But not in silence pass Calypso's isles,
    The sister tenants of the middle deep;
    There for the weary still a haven smiles,
    Though the fair goddess long has ceased to weep,
    And o'er her cliffs a fruitless watch to keep
    For him who dared prefer a mortal bride.
    Here too his boy essayed the dreadful leap,
    Stern Mentor urged from high to yonder tide;
    While thus of both bereft the nymph-queen doubly sighed."




Ulysses clung to the raft while any of its timbers kept together,
and when it no longer yielded him support, binding the girdle
around him, he swam. Minerva smoothed the billows before him and
sent him a wind that rolled the waves towards the shore. The surf
beat high on the rocks and seemed to forbid approach; but at
length finding calm water at the mouth of a gentle stream, he
landed, spent with toil, breathless and speechless and almost
dead. After some time, reviving, he kissed the soil, rejoicing,
yet at a loss what course to take. At a short distance he
perceived a wood, to which he turned his steps. There, finding a
covert sheltered by intermingling branches alike from the sun and
the rain, he collected a pile of leaves and formed a bed, on which
he stretched himself, and heaping the leaves over him, fell

The land where he was thrown was Scheria, the country of the
Phaeacians. These people dwelt originally near the Cyclopes; but
being oppressed by that savage race, they migrated to the isle of
Scheria, under the conduct of Nausithous, their king. They were,
the poet tells us, a people akin to the gods, who appeared
manifestly and feasted among them when they offered sacrifices,
and did not conceal themselves from solitary wayfarers when they
met them. They had abundance of wealth and lived in the enjoyment
of it undisturbed by the alarms of war, for as they dwelt remote
from gain-seeking man, no enemy ever approached their shores, and
they did not even require to make use of bows and quivers. Their
chief employment was navigation. Their ships, which went with the
velocity of birds, were endued with intelligence; they knew every
port and needed no pilot. Alcinous, the son of Nausithous, was now
their king, a wise and just sovereign, beloved by his people.

Now it happened that the very night on which Ulysses was cast
ashore on the Phaeacian island, and while he lay sleeping on his
bed of leaves, Nausicaa, the daughter of the king, had a dream
sent by Minerva, reminding her that her wedding-day was not far
distant, and that it would be but a prudent preparation for that
event to have a general washing of the clothes of the family. This
was no slight affair, for the fountains were at some distance, and
the garments must be carried thither. On awaking, the princess
hastened to her parents to tell them what was on her mind; not
alluding to her wedding-day, but finding other reasons equally
good. Her father readily assented and ordered the grooms to
furnish forth a wagon for the purpose. The clothes were put
therein, and the queen mother placed in the wagon, likewise, an
abundant supply of food and wine. The princess took her seat and
plied the lash, her attendant virgins following her on foot.
Arrived at the river side, they turned out the mules to graze, and
unlading the carriage, bore the garments down to the water, and
working with cheerfulness and alacrity soon despatched their
labor. Then having spread the garments on the shore to dry, and
having themselves bathed, they sat down to enjoy their meal; after
which they rose and amused themselves with a game of ball, the
princess singing to them while they played. But when they had
refolded the apparel and were about to resume their way to the
town, Minerva caused the ball thrown by the princess to fall into
the water, whereat they all screamed and Ulysses awaked at the

Now we must picture to ourselves Ulysses, a ship-wrecked mariner,
but a few hours escaped from the waves, and utterly destitute of
clothing, awaking and discovering that only a few bushes were
interposed tween him and a group of young maidens whom, by their
deportment and attire, he discovered to be not mere peasant girls,
but of a higher class. Sadly needing help, how could he yet
venture, naked as he was, to discover himself and make his wants
known? It certainly was a case worthy of the interposition of his
patron goddess Minerva, who never failed him at a crisis. Breaking
off a leafy branch from a tree, he held it before him and stepped
out from the thicket. The virgins at sight of him fled in all
directions, Nausicaa alone excepted, for HER Minerva aided and
endowed with courage and discernment. Ulysses, standing
respectfully aloof, told his sad case, and besought the fair
object (whether queen or goddess he professed he knew not) for
food and clothing. The princess replied courteously, promising
present relief and her father's hospitality when he should become
acquainted with the facts. She called back her scattered maidens,
chiding their alarm, and reminding them that the Phaeacians had no
enemies to fear. This man, she told them, was an unhappy wanderer,
whom it was a duty to cherish, for the poor and stranger are from
Jove. She bade them bring food and clothing, for some of her
brother's garments were among the contents of the wagon. When this
was done, and Ulysses, retiring to a sheltered place, had washed
his body free from the sea-foam, clothed and refreshed himself
with food, Pallas dilated his form and diffused grace over his
ample chest and manly brows.

The princess, seeing him, was filled with admiration, and scrupled
not to say to her damsels that she wished the gods would send her
such a husband. To Ulysses she recommended that he should repair
to the city, following herself and train so far as the way lay
through the fields; but when they should approach the city she
desired that he would no longer be seen in her company, for she
feared the remarks which rude and vulgar people might make on
seeing her return accompanied by such a gallant stranger. To avoid
which she directed him to stop at a grove adjoining the city, in
which were a farm and garden belonging to the king. After allowing
time for the princess and her companions to reach the city, he was
then to pursue his way thither, and would be easily guided by any
he might meet to the royal abode.

Ulysses obeyed the directions and in due time proceeded to the
city, on approaching which he met a young woman bearing a pitcher
forth for water. It was Minerva, who had assumed that form.
Ulysses accosted her and desired to be directed to the palace of
Alcinous the king. The maiden replied respectfully, offering to be
his guide; for the palace, she informed him, stood near her
father's dwelling. Under the guidance of the goddess, and by her
power enveloped in a cloud which shielded him from observation,
Ulysses passed among the busy crowd, and with wonder observed
their harbor, their ships, their forum (the resort of heroes), and
their battlements, till they came to the palace, where the
goddess, having first given him some information of the country,
king, and people he was about to meet, left him. Ulysses, before
entering the courtyard of the palace, stood and surveyed the
scene. Its splendor astonished him. Brazen walls stretched from
the entrance to the interior house, of which the doors were gold,
the doorposts silver, the lintels silver ornamented with gold. On
either side were figures of mastiffs wrought in gold and silver,
standing in rows as if to guard the approach. Along the walls were
seats spread through all their length with mantles of finest
texture, the work of Phaeacian maidens. On these seats the princes
sat and feasted, while golden statues of graceful youths held in
their hands lighted torches which shed radiance over the scene.
Full fifty female menials served in household offices, some
employed to grind the corn, others to wind off the purple wool or
ply the loom. For the Phaeacian women as far exceeded all other
women in household arts as the mariners of that country did the
rest of mankind in the management of ships. Without the court a
spacious garden lay, four acres in extent. In it grew many a lofty
tree, pomegranate, pear, apple, fig, and olive. Neither winter's
cold nor summer's drought arrested their growth, but they
flourished in constant succession, some budding while others were
maturing. The vineyard was equally prolific. In one quarter you
might see the vines, some in blossom, some loaded with ripe
grapes, and in another observe the vintagers treading the wine
press. On the garden's borders flowers of all hues bloomed all the
year round, arranged with neatest art. In the midst two fountains
poured forth their waters, one flowing by artificial channels over
all the garden, the other conducted through the courtyard of the
palace, whence every citizen might draw his supplies.

Ulysses stood gazing in admiration, unobserved himself, for the
cloud which Minerva spread around him still shielded him. At
length, having sufficiently observed the scene, he advanced with
rapid step into the hall where the chiefs and senators were
assembled, pouring libation to Mercury, whose worship followed the
evening meal. Just then Minerva dissolved the cloud and disclosed
him to the assembled chiefs. Advancing to the place where the
queen sat, he knelt at her feet and implored her favor and
assistance to enable him to return to his native country. Then
withdrawing, he seated himself in the manner of suppliants, at the
hearth side.

For a time none spoke. At last an aged statesman, addressing the
king, said, "It is not fit that a stranger who asks our
hospitality should be kept waiting in suppliant guise, none
welcoming him. Let him therefore be led to a seat among us and
supplied with food and wine." At these words the king rising gave
his hand to Ulysses and led him to a seat, displacing thence his
own son to make room for the stranger. Food and wine were set
before him and he ate and refreshed himself.

The king then dismissed his guests, notifying them that the next
day he would call them to council to consider what had best be
done for the stranger.

When the guests had departed and Ulysses was left alone with the
king and queen, the queen asked him who he was and whence he came,
and (recognizing the clothes which he wore as those which her
maidens and herself had made) from whom he received those
garments. He told them of his residence in Calypso's isle and his
departure thence; of the wreck of his raft, his escape by
swimming, and of the relief afforded by the princess. The parents
heard approvingly, and the king promised to furnish a ship in
which his guest might return to his own land.

The next day the assembled chiefs confirmed the promise of the
king. A bark was prepared and a crew of stout rowers selected, and
all betook themselves to the palace, where a bounteous repast was
provided. After the feast the king proposed that the young men
should show their guest their proficiency in manly sports, and all
went forth to the arena for games of running, wrestling, and other
exercises. After all had done their best, Ulysses being challenged
to show what he could do, at first declined, but being taunted by
one of the youths, seized a quoit of weight far heavier than any
of the Phaeacians had thrown, and sent it farther than the utmost
throw of theirs. All were astonished, and viewed their guest with
greatly increased respect.

After the games they returned to the hall, and the herald led in
Demodocus, the blind bard,--

    "... Dear to the Muse,
    Who yet appointed him both good and ill,
    Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine."

He took for his theme the "Wooden Horse," by means of which the
Greeks found entrance into Troy. Apollo inspired him, and he sang
so feelingly the terrors and the exploits of that eventful time
that all were delighted, but Ulysses was moved to tears. Observing
which, Alcinous, when the song was done, demanded of him why at
the mention of Troy his sorrows awaked. Had he lost there a
father, or brother, or any dear friend? Ulysses replied by
announcing himself by his true name, and at their request,
recounted the adventures which had befallen him since his
departure from Troy. This narrative raised the sympathy and
admiration of the Phaeacians for their guest to the highest pitch.
The king proposed that all the chiefs should present him with a
gift, himself setting the example. They obeyed, and vied with one
another in loading the illustrious stranger with costly gifts.

The next day Ulysses set sail in the Phaeacian vessel, and in a
short time arrived safe at Ithaca, his own island. When the vessel
touched the strand he was asleep. The mariners, without waking
him, carried him on shore, and landed with him the chest
containing his presents, and then sailed away.

Neptune was so displeased at the conduct of the Phaeacians in thus
rescuing Ulysses from his hands that on the return of the vessel
to port he transformed it into a rock, right opposite the mouth of
the harbor.

Homer's description of the ships of the Phaeacians has been
thought to look like an anticipation of the wonders of modern
steam navigation. Alcinous says to Ulysses:

    "Say from what city, from what regions tossed,
    And what inhabitants those regions boast?
    So shalt thou quickly reach the realm assigned,
    In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind;
    No helm secures their course, no pilot guides;
    Like man intelligent they plough the tides,
    Conscious of every coast and every bay
    That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray."

    --Odyssey, Book VIII.

Lord Carlisle, in his "Diary in the Turkish and Greek Waters,"
thus speaks of Corfu, which he considers to be the ancient
Phaeacian island:

"The sites explain the 'Odyssey.' The temple of the sea-god could
not have been more fitly placed, upon a grassy platform of the
most elastic turf, on the brow of a crag commanding harbor, and
channel, and ocean. Just at the entrance of the inner harbor there
is a picturesque rock with a small convent perched upon it, which
by one legend is the transformed pinnace of Ulysses.

"Almost the only river in the island is just at the proper
distance from the probable site of the city and palace of the
king, to justify the princess Nausicaa having had resort to her
chariot and to luncheon when she went with the maidens of the
court to wash their garments."


Ulysses had now been away from Ithaca for twenty years, and when
he awoke he did not recognize his native land. Minerva appeared to
him in the form of a young shepherd, informed him where he was,
and told him the state of things at his palace. More than a
hundred nobles of Ithaca and of the neighboring islands had been
for years suing for the hand of Penelope, his wife, imagining him
dead, and lording it over his palace and people, as if they were
owners of both. That he might be able to take vengeance upon them,
it was important that he should not be recognized. Minerva
accordingly metamorphosed him into an unsightly beggar, and as
such he was kindly received by Eumaeus, the swine-herd, a faithful
servant of his house.

Telemachus, his son, was absent in quest of his father. He had
gone to the courts of the other kings, who had returned from the
Trojan expedition. While on the search, he received counsel from
Minerva to return home. He arrived and sought Eumaeus to learn
something of the state of affairs at the palace before presenting
himself among the suitors. Finding a stranger with Eumaeus, he
treated him courteously, though in the garb of a beggar, and
promised him assistance. Eumaeus was sent to the palace to inform
Penelope privately of her son's arrival, for caution was necessary
with regard to the suitors, who, as Telemachus had learned, were
plotting to intercept and kill him. When Eumaeus was gone, Minerva
presented herself to Ulysses, and directed him to make himself
known to his son. At the same time she touched him, removed at
once from him the appearance of age and penury, and gave him the
aspect of vigorous manhood that belonged to him. Telemachus viewed
him with astonishment, and at first thought he must be more than
mortal. But Ulysses announced himself as his father, and accounted
for the change of appearance by explaining that it was Minerva's

    "... Then threw Telemachus
    His arms around his father's neck and wept.
    Desire intense of lamentation seized
    On both; soft murmurs uttering, each indulged
    His grief."

The father and son took counsel together how they should get the
better of the suitors and punish them for their outrages. It was
arranged that Telemachus should proceed to the palace and mingle
with the suitors as formerly; that Ulysses should also go as a
beggar, a character which in the rude old times had different
privileges from what we concede to it now. As traveller and
storyteller, the beggar was admitted in the halls of chieftains,
and often treated like a guest; though sometimes, also, no doubt,
with contumely. Ulysses charged his son not to betray, by any
display of unusual interest in him, that he knew him to be other
than he seemed, and even if he saw him insulted, or beaten, not to
interpose otherwise than he might do for any stranger. At the
palace they found the usual scene of feasting and riot going on.
The suitors pretended to receive Telemachus with joy at his
return, though secretly mortified at the failure of their plots to
take his life. The old beggar was permitted to enter, and provided
with a portion from the table. A touching incident occurred as
Ulysses entered the courtyard of the palace. An old dog lay in the
yard almost dead with age, and seeing a stranger enter, raised his
head, with ears erect. It was Argus, Ulysses' own dog, that he had
in other days often led to the chase.

    "... Soon as he perceived
    Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears
    Clapped close, and with his tail glad sign he gave
    Of gratulation, impotent to rise,
    And to approach his master as of old.
    Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear
    ... Then his destiny released
    Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see
    Ulysses in the twentieth year restored."

As Ulysses sat eating his portion in the hall, the suitors began
to exhibit their insolence to him. When he mildly remonstrated,
one of them, raised a stool and with it gave him a blow.
Telemachus had hard work to restrain his indignation at seeing his
father so treated in his own hall, but remembering his father's
injunctions, said no more than what became him as master of the
house, though young, and protector of his guests.

Penelope had protracted her decision in favor of either of her
suitors so long that there seemed to be no further pretence for
delay. The continued absence of her husband seemed to prove that
his return was no longer to be expected. Meanwhile, her son had
grown up, and was able to manage his own affairs. She therefore
consented to submit the question of her choice to a trial of skill
among the suitors. The test selected was shooting with the bow.
Twelve rings were arranged in a line, and he whose arrow was sent
through the whole twelve was to have the queen for his prize. A
bow that one of his brother heroes had given to Ulysses in former
times was brought from the armory, and with its quiver full of
arrows was laid in the hall. Telemachus had taken care that all
other weapons should be removed, under pretence that in the heat
of competition there was danger, in some rash moment, of putting
them to an improper use.

All things being prepared for the trial, the first thing to be
done was to bend the bow in order to attach the string. Telemachus
endeavored to do it, but found all his efforts fruitless; and
modestly confessing that he had attempted a task beyond his
strength, he yielded the bow to another. He tried it with no
better success, and, amidst the laughter and jeers of his
companions, gave it up. Another tried it and another; they rubbed
the bow with tallow, but all to no purpose; it would not bend.
Then spoke Ulysses, humbly suggesting that he should be permitted
to try; for, said he, "beggar as I am, I was once a soldier, and
there is still some strength in these old limbs of mine." The
suitors hooted with derision, and commanded to turn him out of the
hall for his insolence. But Telemachus spoke up for him, and,
merely to gratify the old man, bade him try. Ulysses took the bow,
and handled it with the hand of a master. With ease he adjusted
the cord to its notch, then fitting an arrow to the bow he drew
the string and sped the arrow unerring through the rings.

Without allowing them time to express their astonishment, he said,
"Now for another mark!" and aimed direct at the most insolent one
of the suitors. The arrow pierced through his throat and he fell
dead. Telemachus, Eumaeus, and another faithful follower, well
armed, now sprang to the side of Ulysses. The suitors, in
amazement, looked round for arms, but found none, neither was
there any way of escape, for Eumaeus had secured the door. Ulysses
left them not long in uncertainty; he announced himself as the
long-lost chief, whose house they had invaded, whose substance
they had squandered, whose wife and son they had persecuted for
ten long years; and told them he meant to have ample vengeance.
All were slain, and Ulysses was left master of his palace and
possessor of his kingdom and his wife.

Tennyson's poem of "Ulysses" represents the old hero, after his
dangers past and nothing left but to stay at home and be happy,
growing tired of inaction and resolving to set forth again in
quest of new adventures.

    "... Come, my friends,
    'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles whom we knew;" etc.




We have followed one of the Grecian heroes, Ulysses, in his
wanderings on his return home from Troy, and now we propose to
share the fortunes of the remnant of the conquered people, under
their chief Aeneas, in their search for a new home, after the ruin
of their native city. On that fatal night when the wooden horse
disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture and
conflagration of the city were the result, Aeneas made his escape
from the scene of destruction, with his father, and his wife, and
young son. The father, Anchises, was too old to walk with the
speed required, and Aeneas took him upon his shoulders. Thus
burdened, leading his son and followed by his wife, he made the
best of his way out of the burning city; but, in the confusion,
his wife was swept away and lost.

On arriving at the place of rendezvous, numerous fugitives, of
both sexes, were found, who put themselves under the guidance of
Aeneas. Some months were spent in preparation, and at length they
embarked. They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace,
and were preparing to build a city, but Aeneas was deterred by a
prodigy. Preparing to offer sacrifice, he tore some twigs from one
of the bushes. To his dismay the wounded part dropped blood. When
he repeated the act a voice from the ground cried out to him,
"Spare me, Aeneas; I am your kinsman, Polydore, here murdered with
many arrows, from which a bush has grown, nourished with my
blood." These words recalled to the recollection of Aeneas that
Polydore was a young prince of Troy, whom his father had sent with
ample treasures to the neighboring land of Thrace, to be there
brought up, at a distance from the horrors of war. The king to
whom he was sent had murdered him and seized his treasures. Aeneas
and his companions, considering the land accursed by the stain of
such a crime, hastened away.

They next landed on the island of Delos, which was once a floating
island, till Jupiter fastened it by adamantine chains to the
bottom of the sea. Apollo and Diana were born there, and the
island was sacred to Apollo. Here Aeneas consulted the oracle of
Apollo, and received an answer, ambiguous as usual,--"Seek your
ancient mother; there the race of Aeneas shall dwell, and reduce
all other nations to their sway." The Trojans heard with joy and
immediately began to ask one another, "Where is the spot intended
by the oracle?" Anchises remembered that there was a tradition
that their forefathers came from Crete and thither they resolved
to steer. They arrived at Crete and began to build their city, but
sickness broke out among them, and the fields that they had
planted failed to yield a crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs
Aeneas was warned in a dream to leave the country and seek a
western land, called Hesperia, whence Dardanus, the true founder
of the Trojan race, had originally migrated. To Hesperia, now
called Italy, therefore, they directed their future course, and
not till after many adventures and the lapse of time sufficient to
carry a modern navigator several times round the world, did they
arrive there.

Their first landing was at the island of the Harpies. These were
disgusting birds with the heads of maidens, with long claws and
faces pale with hunger. They were sent by the gods to torment a
certain Phineus, whom Jupiter had deprived of his sight, in
punishment of his cruelty; and whenever a meal was placed before
him the Harpies darted down from the air and carried it off. They
were driven away from Phineus by the heroes of the Argonautic
expedition, and took refuge in the island where Aeneas now found

When they entered the port the Trojans saw herds of cattle roaming
over the plain. They slew as many as they wished and prepared for
a feast. But no sooner had they seated themselves at the table
than a horrible clamor was heard in the air, and a flock of these
odious harpies came rushing down upon them, seizing in their
talons the meat from the dishes and flying away with it. Aeneas
and his companions drew their swords and dealt vigorous blows
among the monsters, but to no purpose, for they were so nimble it
was almost impossible to hit them, and their feathers were like
armor impenetrable to steel. One of them, perched on a neighboring
cliff, screamed out, "Is it thus, Trojans, you treat us innocent
birds, first slaughter our cattle and then make war on ourselves?"
She then predicted dire sufferings to them in their future course,
and having vented her wrath flew away. The Trojans made haste to
leave the country, and next found themselves coasting along the
shore of Epirus. Here they landed, and to their astonishment
learned that certain Trojan exiles, who had been carried there as
prisoners, had become rulers of the country. Andromache, the widow
of Hector, became the wife of one of the victorious Grecian
chiefs, to whom she bore a son. Her husband dying, she was left
regent of the country, as guardian of her son, and had married a
fellow-captive, Helenus, of the royal race of Troy. Helenus and
Andromache treated the exiles with the utmost hospitality, and
dismissed them loaded with gifts.

From hence Aeneas coasted along the shore of Sicily and passed the
country of the Cyclopes. Here they were hailed from the shore by a
miserable object, whom by his garments, tattered as they were,
they perceived to be a Greek. He told them he was one of Ulysses's
companions, left behind by that chief in his hurried departure. He
related the story of Ulysses's adventure with Polyphemus, and
besought them to take him off with them as he had no means of
sustaining his existence where he was but wild berries and roots,
and lived in constant fear of the Cyclopes. While he spoke
Polyphemus made his appearance; a terrible monster, shapeless,
vast, whose only eye had been put out. [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] He walked with cautious steps, feeling his way with
a staff, down to the sea-side, to wash his eye-socket in the
waves. When he reached the water, he waded out towards them, and
his immense height enabled him to advance far into the sea, so
that the Trojans, in terror, took to their oars to get out of his
way. Hearing the oars, Polyphemus shouted after them, so that the
shores resounded, and at the noise the other Cyclopes came forth
from their caves and woods and lined the shore, like a row of
lofty pine trees. The Trojans plied their oars and soon left them
out of sight.

Aeneas had been cautioned by Helenus to avoid the strait guarded
by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. There Ulysses, the reader
will remember, had lost six of his men, seized by Scylla while the
navigators were wholly intent upon avoiding Charybdis. Aeneas,
following the advice of Helenus, shunned the dangerous pass and
coasted along the island of Sicily.

Juno, seeing the Trojans speeding their way prosperously towards
their destined shore, felt her old grudge against them revive, for
she could not forget the slight that Paris had put upon her, in
awarding the prize of beauty to another. In heavenly minds can
such resentments dwell. [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.]
Accordingly she hastened to Aeolus, the ruler of the winds,--the
same who supplied Ulysses with favoring gales, giving him the
contrary ones tied up in a bag. Aeolus obeyed the goddess and sent
forth his sons, Boreas, Typhon, and the other winds, to toss the
ocean. A terrible storm ensued and the Trojan ships were driven
out of their course towards the coast of Africa. They were in
imminent danger of being wrecked, and were separated, so that
Aeneas thought that all were lost except his own.

At this crisis, Neptune, hearing the storm raging, and knowing
that he had given no orders for one, raised his head above the
waves, and saw the fleet of Aeneas driving before the gale.
Knowing the hostility of Juno, he was at no loss to account for
it, but his anger was not the less at this interference in his
province. He called the winds and dismissed them with a severe
reprimand. He then soothed the waves, and brushed away the clouds
from before the face of the sun. Some of the ships which had got
on the rocks he pried off with his own trident, while Triton and a
sea-nymph, putting their shoulders under others, set them afloat
again. The Trojans, when the sea became calm, sought the nearest
shore, which was the coast of Carthage, where Aeneas was so happy
as to find that one by one the ships all arrived safe, though
badly shaken.

Waller, in his "Panegyric to the Lord Protector" (Cromwell),
alludes to this stilling of the storm by Neptune:

    "Above the waves, as Neptune showed his face,
    To chide the winds and save the Trojan race,
    So has your Highness, raised above the rest,
    Storms of ambition tossing us repressed."


Carthage, where the exiles had now arrived, was a spot on the
coast of Africa opposite Sicily, where at that time a Tyrian
colony under Dido, their queen, were laying the foundations of a
state destined in later ages to be the rival of Rome itself. Dido
was the daughter of Belus, king of Tyre, and sister of Pygmalion,
who succeeded his father on the throne. Her husband was Sichaeus,
a man of immense wealth, but Pygmalion, who coveted his treasures,
caused him to be put to death. Dido, with a numerous body of
friends and followers, both men and women, succeeded in effecting
their escape from Tyre, in several vessels, carrying with them the
treasures of Sichaeus. On arriving at the spot which they selected
as the seat of their future home, they asked of the natives only
so much land as they could enclose with a bull's hide. When this
was readily granted, she caused the hide to be cut into strips,
and with them enclosed a spot on which she built a citadel, and
called it Byrsa (a hide). Around this fort the city of Carthage
rose, and soon became a powerful and flourishing place.

Such was the state of affairs when Aeneas with his Trojans arrived
there. Dido received the illustrious exiles with friendliness and
hospitality. "Not unacquainted with distress," she said, "I have
learned to succor the unfortunate." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] The queen's hospitality displayed itself in
festivities at which games of strength and skill were exhibited.
The strangers contended for the palm with her own subjects, on
equal terms, the queen declaring that whether the victor were
"Trojan or Tyrian should make no difference to her." [Footnote 1:
See Proverbial Expressions.] At the feast which followed the
games, Aeneas gave at her request a recital of the closing events
of the Trojan history and his own adventures after the fall of the
city. Dido was charmed with his discourse and filled with
admiration of his exploits. She conceived an ardent passion for
him, and he for his part seemed well content to accept the
fortunate chance which appeared to offer him at once a happy
termination of his wanderings, a home, a kingdom, and a bride.
Months rolled away in the enjoyment of pleasant intercourse, and
it seemed as if Italy and the empire destined to be founded on its
shores were alike forgotten. Seeing which, Jupiter despatched
Mercury with a message to Aeneas recalling him to a sense of his
high destiny, and commanding him to resume his voyage.

Aeneas parted from Dido, though she tried every allurement and
persuasion to detain him. The blow to her affection and her pride
was too much for her to endure, and when she found that he was
gone, she mounted a funeral pile which she had caused to be
erected, and having stabbed herself was consumed with the pile.
The flames rising over the city were seen by the departing
Trojans, and, though the cause was unknown, gave to Aeneas some
intimation of the fatal event.

The following epigram we find in "Elegant Extracts":


   "Unhappy, Dido, was thy fate
    In first and second married state!
    One husband caused thy flight by dying,
    Thy death the other caused by flying"


After touching at the island of Sicily, where Acestes, a prince of
Trojan lineage, bore sway, who gave them a hospitable reception,
the Trojans re-embarked, and held on their course for Italy. Venus
now interceded with Neptune to allow her son at last to attain the
wished-for goal and find an end of his perils on the deep. Neptune
consented, stipulating only for one life as a ransom for the rest.
The victim was Palinurus, the pilot. As he sat watching the stars,
with his hand on the helm, Somnus sent by Neptune approached in
the guise of Phorbas and said: "Palinurus, the breeze is fair, the
water smooth, and the ship sails steadily on her course. Lie down
awhile and take needful rest. I will stand at the helm in your
place." Palinurus replied, "Tell me not of smooth seas or favoring
winds,--me who have seen so much of their treachery. Shall I
trust Aeneas to the chances of the weather and the winds?" And he
continued to grasp the helm and to keep his eyes fixed on the
stars. But Somnus waved over him a branch moistened with Lethaean
dew, and his eyes closed in spite of all his efforts. Then Somnus
pushed him overboard and he fell; but keeping his hold upon the
helm, it came away with him. Neptune was mindful of his promise
and kept the ship on her track without helm or pilot, till Aeneas
discovered his loss, and, sorrowing deeply for his faithful
steersman, took charge of the ship himself.

There is a beautiful allusion to the story of Palinurus in Scott's
"Marmion," Introduction to Canto I., where the poet, speaking of
the recent death of William Pitt, says:

    "O, think how, to his latest day,
    When death just hovering claimed his prey,
    With Palinure's unaltered mood,
    Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
    Each call for needful rest repelled,
    With dying hand the rudder held,
    Till in his fall, with fateful sway,
    The steerage of the realm gave way."

The ships at last reached the shores of Italy, and joyfully did
the adventurers leap to land. While his people were employed in
making their encampment Aeneas sought the abode of the Sibyl. It
was a cave connected with a temple and grove, sacred to Apollo and
Diana. While Aeneas contemplated the scene, the Sibyl accosted
him. She seemed to know his errand, and under the influence of the
deity of the place, burst forth in a prophetic strain, giving dark
intimations of labors and perils through which he was destined to
make his way to final success. She closed with the encouraging
words which have become proverbial: "Yield not to disasters, but
press onward the more bravely." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] Aeneas replied that he had prepared himself for
whatever might await him. He had but one request to make. Having
been directed in a dream to seek the abode of the dead in order to
confer with his father, Anchises, to receive from him a revelation
of his future fortunes and those of his race, he asked her
assistance to enable him to accomplish the task. The Sibyl
replied, "The descent to Avernus is easy: the gate of Pluto stands
open night and day; but to retrace one's steps and return to the
upper air, that is the toil, that the difficulty."[Footnote: See
Proverbial Expressions.] She instructed him to seek in the forest
a tree on which grew a golden branch. This branch was to be
plucked off and borne as a gift to Proserpine, and if fate was
propitious it would yield to the hand and quit its parent trunk,
but otherwise no force could rend it away. If torn away, another
would succeed.[Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.]

Aeneas followed the directions of the Sibyl. His mother, Venus,
sent two of her doves to fly before him and show him the way, and
by their assistance he found the tree, plucked the branch, and
hastened back with it to the Sibyl.




As at the commencement of our series we have given the pagan
account of the creation of the world, so as we approach its
conclusion we present a view of the regions of the dead, depicted
by one of their most enlightened poets, who drew his doctrines
from their most esteemed philosophers. The region where Virgil
locates the entrance to this abode is perhaps the most strikingly
adapted to excite ideas of the terrific and preternatural of any
on the face of the earth. It is the volcanic region near Vesuvius,
where the whole country is cleft with chasms, from which
sulphurous flames arise, while the ground is shaken with pent-up
vapors, and mysterious sounds issue from the bowels of the earth.
The lake Avernus is supposed to fill the crater of an extinct
volcano. It is circular, half a mile wide, and very deep,
surrounded by high banks, which in Virgil's time were covered with
a gloomy forest. Mephitic vapors rise from its waters, so that no
life is found on its banks, and no birds fly over it. Here,
according to the poet, was the cave which afforded access to the
infernal regions, and here Aeneas offered sacrifices to the
infernal deities, Proserpine, Hecate, and the Furies. Then a
roaring was heard in the earth, the woods on the hill-tops were
shaken, and the howling of dogs announced the approach of the
deities. "Now," said the Sibyl, "summon up your courage, for you
will need it." She descended into the cave, and Aeneas followed.
Before the threshold of hell they passed through a group of beings
who are enumerated as Griefs and avenging Cares, pale Diseases and
melancholy Age, Fear and Hunger that tempt to crime, Toil,
Poverty, and Death,--forms horrible to view. The Furies spread
their couches there, and Discord, whose hair was of vipers tied up
with a bloody fillet. Here also were the monsters, Briareus, with
his hundred arms, Hydras hissing, and Chimaeras breathing fire.
Aeneas shuddered at the sight, drew his sword and would have
struck, but the Sibyl restrained him. They then came to the black
river Cocytus, where they found the ferryman, Charon, old and
squalid, but strong and vigorous, who was receiving passengers of
all kinds into his boat, magnanimous heroes, boys and unmarried
girls, as numerous as the leaves that fall at autumn, or the
flocks that fly southward at the approach of winter. They stood
pressing for a passage and longing to touch the opposite shore.
But the stern ferryman took in only such as he chose, driving the
rest back. Aeneas, wondering at the sight, asked the Sibyl, "Why
this discrimination?" She answered, "Those who are taken on board
the bark are the souls of those who have received due burial
rites; the host of others who have remained unburied are not
permitted to pass the flood, but wander a hundred years, and flit
to and fro about the shore, till at last they are taken over."
Aeneas grieved at recollecting some of his own companions who had
perished in the storm. At that moment he beheld Palinurus, his
pilot, who fell overboard and was drowned. He addressed him and
asked him the cause of his misfortune. Palinurus replied that the
rudder was carried away, and he, clinging to it, was swept away
with it. He besought Aeneas most urgently to extend to him his
hand and take him in company to the opposite shore. But the Sibyl
rebuked him for the wish thus to transgress the laws of Pluto; but
consoled him by informing him that the people of the shore where
his body had been wafted by the waves should be stirred up by
prodigies to give it due burial, and that the promontory should
bear the name of Cape Palinurus, which it does to this day.
Leaving Palinurus consoled by these words, they approached the
boat. Charon, fixing his eyes sternly upon the advancing warrior,
demanded by what right he, living and armed, approached that
shore. To which the Sibyl replied that they would commit no
violence, that Aeneas's only object was to see his father, and
finally exhibited the golden branch, at sight of which Charon's
wrath relaxed, and he made haste to turn his bark to the shore,
and receive them on board. The boat, adapted only to the light
freight of bodiless spirits, groaned under the weight of the hero.
They were soon conveyed to the opposite shore. There they were
encountered by the three-headed dog, Cerberus, with his necks
bristling with snakes. He barked with all his three throats till
the Sibyl threw him a medicated cake which he eagerly devoured,
and then stretched himself out in his den and fell asleep. Aeneas
and the Sibyl sprang to land. The first sound that struck their
ears was the wailing of young children, who had died on the
threshold of life, and near to these were they who had perished
under false charges. Minos presides over them as judge, and
examines the deeds of each. The next class was of those who had
died by their own hand, hating life and seeking refuge in death. O
how willingly would they now endure poverty, labor, and any other
infliction, if they might but return to life! Next were situated
the regions of sadness, divided off into retired paths, leading
through groves of myrtle. Here roamed those who had fallen victims
to unrequited love, not freed from pain even by death itself.
Among these, Aeneas thought he descried the form of Dido, with a
wound still recent. In the dim light he was for a moment
uncertain, but approaching, perceived it was indeed herself. Tears
fell from his eyes, and he addressed her in the accents of love.
"Unhappy Dido! was then the rumor true that you had perished? and
was I, alas! the cause? I call the gods to witness that my
departure from you was reluctant, and in obedience to the commands
of Jove; nor could I believe that my absence would cost you so
dear. Stop, I beseech you, and refuse me not a last farewell." She
stood for a moment with averted countenance, and eyes fixed on the
ground, and then silently passed on, as insensible to his
pleadings as a rock. Aeneas followed for some distance; then, with
a heavy heart, rejoined his companion and resumed his route.

They next entered the fields where roam the heroes who have fallen
in battle. Here they saw many shades of Grecian and Trojan
warriors. The Trojans thronged around him, and could not be
satisfied with the sight. They asked the cause of his coming, and
plied him with innumerable questions. But the Greeks, at the sight
of his armor glittering through the murky atmosphere, recognized
the hero, and filled with terror turned their backs and fled, as
they used to do on the plains of Troy.

Aeneas would have lingered long with his Trojan friends, but the
Sibyl hurried him away. They next came to a place where the road
divided, the one leading to Elysium, the other to the regions of
the condemned. Aeneas beheld on one side the walls of a mighty
city, around which Phlegethon rolled its fiery waters. Before him
was the gate of adamant that neither gods nor men can break
through. An iron tower stood by the gate, on which Tisiphone, the
avenging Fury, kept guard. From the city were heard groans, and
the sound of the scourge, the creaking of iron, and the clanking
of chains. Aeneas, horror-struck, inquired of his guide what
crimes were those whose punishments produced the sounds he heard?
The Sibyl answered, "Here is the judgment hall of Rhadamanthus,
who brings to light crimes done in life, which the perpetrator
vainly thought impenetrably hid. Tisiphone applies her whip of
scorpions, and delivers the offender over to her sister Furies."
At this moment with horrid clang the brazen gates unfolded, and
Aeneas saw within a Hydra with fifty heads guarding the entrance.
The Sibyl told him that the gulf of Tartarus descended deep, so
that its recesses were as far beneath their feet as heaven was
high above their heads. In the bottom of this pit, the Titan race,
who warred against the gods, lie prostrate; Salmoneus, also, who
presumed to vie with Jupiter, and built a bridge of brass over
which he drove his chariot that the sound might resemble thunder,
launching flaming brands at his people in imitation of lightning,
till Jupiter struck him with a real thunderbolt, and taught him
the difference between mortal weapons and divine. Here, also, is
Tityus, the giant, whose form is so immense that as he lies he
stretches over nine acres, while a vulture preys upon his liver,
which as fast as it is devoured grows again, so that his
punishment will have no end.

Aeneas saw groups seated at tables loaded with dainties, while
near by stood a Fury who snatched away the viands from their lips
as fast as they prepared to taste them. Others beheld suspended
over their heads huge rocks, threatening to fall, keeping them in
a state of constant alarm. These were they who had hated their
brothers, or struck their parents, or defrauded the friends who
trusted them, or who, having grown rich, kept their money to
themselves, and gave no share to others; the last being the most
numerous class. Here also were those who had violated the marriage
vow, or fought in a bad cause, or failed in fidelity to their
employers. Here was one who had sold his country for gold, another
who perverted the laws, making them say one thing to-day and
another to-morrow.

Ixion was there, fastened to the circumference of a wheel
ceaselessly revolving; and Sisyphus, whose task was to roll a huge
stone up to a hill-top, but when the steep was well-nigh gained,
the rock, repulsed by some sudden force, rushed again headlong
down to the plain. Again he toiled at it, while the sweat bathed
all his weary limbs, but all to no effect. There was Tantalus, who
stood in a pool, his chin level with the water, yet he was parched
with thirst, and found nothing to assuage it; for when he bowed
his hoary head, eager to quaff, the water fled away, leaving the
ground at his feet all dry. Tall trees laden with fruit stooped
their heads to him, pears, pomegranates, apples, and luscious
figs; but when with a sudden grasp he tried to seize them winds
whirled them high above his reach.

The Sibyl now warned Aeneas that it was time to turn from these
melancholy regions and seek the city of the blessed. They passed
through a middle tract of darkness, and came upon the Elysian
fields, the groves where the happy reside. They breathed a freer
air, and saw all objects clothed in a purple light. The region has
a sun and stars of its own. The inhabitants were enjoying
themselves in various ways, some in sports on the grassy turf, in
games of strength or skill. others dancing or singing. Orpheus
struck the chords of his lyre, and called forth ravishing sounds.
Here Aeneas saw the founders of the Trojan state, magnanimous
heroes who lived in happier times. He gazed with admiration on the
war chariots and glittering arms now reposing in disuse. Spears
stood fixed in the ground, and the horses, unharnessed, roamed
over the plain. The same pride in splendid armor and generous
steeds which the old heroes felt in life, accompanied them here.
He saw another group feasting and listening to the strains of
music. They were in a laurel grove, whence the great river Po has
its origin, and flows out among men. Here dwelt those who fell by
wounds received in their country's cause, holy priests also, and
poets who have uttered thoughts worthy of Apollo, and others who
have contributed to cheer and adorn life by their discoveries in
the useful arts, and have made their memory blessed by rendering
service to mankind. They wore snow-white fillets about their
brows. The Sibyl addressed a group of these, and inquired where
Anchises was to be found. They were directed where to seek him,
and soon found him in a verdant valley, where he was contemplating
the ranks of his posterity, their destinies and worthy deeds to be
achieved in coming times. When he recognized Aeneas approaching,
he stretched out both hands to him, while tears flowed freely.
"Have you come at last," said he, "long expected, and do I behold
you after such perils past? O my son, how have I trembled for you
as I have watched your career!" To which Aeneas replied, "O
father! your image was always before me to guide and guard me."
Then he endeavored to enfold his father in his embrace, but his
arms enclosed only an unsubstantial image.

Aeneas perceived before him a spacious valley, with trees gently
waving to the wind, a tranquil landscape, through which the river
Lethe flowed. Along the banks of the stream wandered a countless
multitude, numerous as insects in the summer air. Aeneas, with
surprise, inquired who were these. Anchises answered, "They are
souls to which bodies are to be given in due time. Meanwhile they
dwell on Lethe's bank, and drink oblivion of their former lives."
"O father!" said Aeneas, "is it possible that any can be so in
love with life as to wish to leave these tranquil seats for the
upper world?" Anchises replied by explaining the plan of creation.
The Creator, he told him, originally made the material of which
souls are composed of the four elements, fire, air, earth, and
water, all which when united took the form of the most excellent
part, fire, and became FLAME. This material was scattered like
seed among the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. Of this
seed the inferior gods created man and all other animals, mingling
it with various proportions of earth, by which its purity was
alloyed and reduced. Thus, the more earth predominates in the
composition the less pure is the individual; and we see men and
women with their full-grown bodies have not the purity of
childhood. So in proportion to the time which the union of body
and soul has lasted is the impurity contracted by the spiritual
part. This impurity must be purged away after death, which is done
by ventilating the souls in the current of winds, or merging them
in water, or burning out their impurities by fire. Some few, of
whom Anchises intimates that he is one, are admitted at once to
Elysium, there to remain. But the rest, after the impurities of
earth are purged away, are sent back to life endowed with new
bodies, having had the remembrance of their former lives
effectually washed away by the waters of Lethe. Some, however,
there still are, so thoroughly corrupted, that they are not fit to
be intrusted with human bodies, and these are made into brute
animals, lions, tigers, cats, dogs, monkeys, etc. This is what the
ancients called Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls; a
doctrine which is still held by the natives of India, who scruple
to destroy the life even of the most insignificant animal, not
knowing but it may be one of their relations in an altered form.

Anchises, having explained so much, proceeded to point out to
Aeneas individuals of his race, who were hereafter to be born, and
to relate to him the exploits they should perform in the world.
After this he reverted to the present, and told his son of the
events that remained to him to be accomplished before the complete
establishment of himself and his followers in Italy. Wars were to
be waged, battles fought, a bride to be won, and in the result a
Trojan state founded, from which should rise the Roman power, to
be in time the sovereign of the world.

Aeneas and the Sibyl then took leave of Anchises, and returned by
some short cut, which the poet does not explain, to the upper


Virgil, we have seen, places his Elysium under the earth, and
assigns it for a residence to the spirits of the blessed. But in
Homer Elysium forms no part of the realms of the dead. He places
it on the west of the earth, near Ocean, and describes it as a
happy land, where there is neither snow, nor cold, nor rain, and
always fanned by the delightful breezes of Zephyrus. Hither
favored heroes pass without dying and live happy under the rule of
Rhadamanthus. The Elysium of Hesiod and Pindar is in the Isles of
the Blessed, or Fortunate Islands, in the Western Ocean. From
these sprang the legend of the happy island Atlantis. This
blissful region may have been wholly imaginary, but possibly may
have sprung from the reports of some storm-driven mariners who had
caught a glimpse of the coast of America.

J. R. Lowell, in one of his shorter poems, claims for the present
age some of the privileges of that happy realm. Addressing the
Past, he says:

     "Whatever of true life there was in thee,
        Leaps in our age's veins.

     Here, 'mid the bleak waves of our strife and care,
       Float the green 'Fortunate Isles,'
     Where all thy hero-spirits dwell and share
       Our martyrdoms and toils.
         The present moves attended
     With all of brave and excellent and fair
         That made the old time splendid."

Milton also alludes to the same fable in "Paradise Lost," Book
III, 1. 568:

    "Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
    Fortunate fields and groves and flowery vales,
    Thrice happy isles."

And in Book II. he characterizes the rivers of Erebus according to
the meaning of their names in the Greek language:

    "Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate,
    Sad Acheron of sorrow black and deep;
    Cocytus named of lamentation loud
    Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
    Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
    Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
    Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
    Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
    Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
    Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain."


As Aeneas and the Sibyl pursued their way back to earth, he said
to her, "Whether thou be a goddess or a mortal beloved of the
gods, by me thou shalt always be held in reverence. When I reach
the upper air I will cause a temple to be built to thy honor, and
will myself bring offerings." "I am no goddess," said the Sibyl;
"I have no claim to sacrifice or offering. I am mortal; yet if I
could have accepted the love of Apollo I might have been immortal.
He promised me the fulfilment of my wish, if I would consent to be
his. I took a handful of sand, and holding it forth, said, 'Grant
me to see as many birthdays as there are sand grains in my hand.'
Unluckily I forgot to ask for enduring youth. This also he would
have granted, could I have accepted his love, but offended at my
refusal, he allowed me to grow old. My youth and youthful strength
fled long ago. I have lived seven hundred years, and to equal the
number of the sand grains I have still to see three hundred
springs and three hundred harvests. My body shrinks up as years
increase, and in time, I shall be lost to sight, but my voice will
remain, and future ages will respect my sayings."

These concluding words of the Sibyl alluded to her prophetic
power. In her cave she was accustomed to inscribe on leaves
gathered from the trees the names and fates of individuals. The
leaves thus inscribed were arranged in order within the cave, and
might be consulted by her votaries. But if perchance at the
opening of the door the wind rushed in and dispersed the leaves
the Sibyl gave no aid to restoring them again, and the oracle was
irreparably lost.

The following legend of the Sibyl is fixed at a later date. In the
reign of one of the Tarquins there appeared before the king a
woman who offered him nine books for sale. The king refused to
purchase them, whereupon the woman went away and burned three of
the books, and returning offered the remaining books for the same
price she had asked for the nine. The king again rejected them;
but when the woman, after burning three books more, returned and
asked for the three remaining the same price which she had before
asked for the nine, his curiosity was excited, and he purchased
the books. They were found to contain the destinies of the Roman
state. They were kept in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus,
preserved in a stone chest, and allowed to be inspected only by
especial officers appointed for that duty, who, on great
occasions, consulted them and interpreted their oracles to the

There were various Sibyls; but the Cumaean Sibyl, of whom Ovid and
Virgil write, is the most celebrated of them. Ovid's story of her
life protracted to one thousand years may be intended to represent
the various Sibyls as being only reappearances of one and the same

Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to the Sibyl. Speaking of
Worldly Wisdom, he says:

   "If future fate she plans 'tis all in leaves,
    Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss;
    At the first blast it vanishes in air.

    As worldly schemes resemble Sibyl's leaves,
    The good man's days to Sibyl's books compare,
    The price still rising as in number less."



Aeneas, having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined his fleet,
coasted along the shores of Italy and cast anchor in the mouth of
the Tiber. The poet, having brought his hero to this spot, the
destined termination of his wanderings, invokes his Muse to tell
him the situation of things at that eventful moment. Latinus,
third in descent from Saturn, ruled the country. He was now old
and had no male descendant, but had one charming daughter,
Lavinia, who was sought in marriage by many neighboring chiefs,
one of whom, Turnus, king of the Rutulians, was favored by the
wishes of her parents. But Latinus had been warned in a dream by
his father Faunus, that the destined husband of Lavinia should
come from a foreign land. From that union should spring a race
destined to subdue the world.

Our readers will remember that in the conflict with the Harpies
one of those half-human birds had threatened the Trojans with dire
sufferings. In particular she predicted that before their
wanderings ceased they should be pressed by hunger to devour their
tables. This portent now came true; for as they took their scanty
meal, seated on the grass, the men placed their hard biscuit on
their laps, and put thereon whatever their gleanings in the woods
supplied. Having despatched the latter they finished by eating the
crusts. Seeing which, the boy Iulus said playfully, "See, we are
eating our tables." Aeneas caught the words and accepted the omen.
"All hail, promised land!" he exclaimed, "this is our home, this
our country." He then took measures to find out who were the
present inhabitants of the land, and who their rulers. A hundred
chosen men were sent to the village of Latinus, bearing presents
and a request for friendship and alliance. They went and were
favorably received. Latinus immediately concluded that the Trojan
hero was no other than the promised son-in-law announced by the
oracle. He cheerfully granted his alliance and sent back the
messengers mounted on steeds from his stables, and loaded with
gifts and friendly messages.

Juno, seeing things go thus prosperously for the Trojans, felt her
old animosity revive, summoned Alecto from Erebus, and sent her to
stir up discord. The Fury first took possession of the queen,
Amata, and roused her to oppose in every way the new alliance.
Alecto then speeded to the city of Turnus, and assuming the form
of an old priestess, informed him of the arrival of the foreigners
and of the attempts of their prince to rob him of his bride. Next
she turned her attention to the camp of the Trojans. There she saw
the boy Iulus and his companions amusing themselves with hunting.
She sharpened the scent of the dogs, and led them to rouse up from
the thicket a tame stag, the favorite of Silvia, the daughter of
Tyrrheus, the king's herdsman. A javelin from the hand of Iulus
wounded the animal, and he had only strength left to run
homewards, and died at his mistress's feet. Her cries and tears
roused her brothers and the herdsmen, and they, seizing whatever
weapons came to hand, furiously assaulted the hunting party. These
were protected by their friends, and the herdsmen were finally
driven back with the loss of two of their number.

These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, and the queen,
Turnus, and the peasants all urged the old king to drive the
strangers from the country. He resisted as long as he could, but,
finding his opposition unavailing, finally gave way and retreated
to his retirement.


It was the custom of the country, when war was to be undertaken,
for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes of office, with solemn
pomp to open the gates of the temple of Janus, which were kept
shut as long as peace endured. His people now urged the old king
to perform that solemn office, but he refused to do so. While they
contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies, smote the
doors with irresistible force, and burst them open. Immediately
the whole country was in a flame. The people rushed from every
side breathing nothing but war.

Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined as allies,
chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able soldier, but of
detestable cruelty. He had been the chief of one of the
neighboring cities, but his people drove him out. With him was
joined his son Lausus, a generous youth, worthy of a better sire.


Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, after the
fashion of the Amazons, came with her band of mounted followers,
including a select number of her own sex, and ranged herself on
the side of Turnus. This maiden had never accustomed her fingers
to the distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils of
war, and in speed to outstrip the wind. It seemed as if she might
run over the standing corn without crushing it, or over the
surface of the water without dipping her feet. Camilla's history
had been singular from the beginning. Her father, Metabus, driven
from his city by civil discord, carried with him in his flight his
infant daughter. As he fled through the woods, his enemies in hot
pursuit, he reached the bank of the river Amazenus, which, swelled
by rains, seemed to debar a passage. He paused for a moment, then
decided what to do. He tied the infant to his lance with wrappers
of bark, and poising the weapon in his upraised hand thus
addressed Diana: "Goddess of the woods! I consecrate this maid to
you;" then hurled the weapon with its burden to the opposite bank.
The spear flew across the roaring water. His pursuers were already
upon him, but he plunged into the river and swam across, and found
the spear, with the infant safe on the other side. Thenceforth he
lived among the shepherds and brought up his daughter in woodland
arts. While a child she was taught to use the bow and throw the
javelin. With her sling she could bring down the crane or the wild
swan. Her dress was a tiger's skin. Many mothers sought her for a
daughter-in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana and repelled
the thought of marriage.


Such were the formidable allies that ranged themselves against
Aeneas. It was night and he lay stretched in sleep on the bank of
the river under the open heavens. The god of the stream, Father
Tiber, seemed to raise his head above the willows and to say, "O
goddess-born, destined possessor of the Latin realms, this is the
promised land, here is to be your home, here shall terminate the
hostility of the heavenly powers, if only you faithfully
persevere. There are friends not far distant. Prepare your boats
and row up my stream; I will lead you to Evander, the Arcadian
chief, he has long been at strife with Turnus and the Rutulians,
and is prepared to become an ally of yours. Rise! offer your vows
to Juno, and deprecate her anger. When you have achieved your
victory then think of me." Aeneas woke and paid immediate
obedience to the friendly vision. He sacrificed to Juno, and
invoked the god of the river and all his tributary fountains to
lend their aid. Then for the first time a vessel filled with armed
warriors floated on the stream of the Tiber. The river smoothed
its waves, and bade its current flow gently, while, impelled by
the vigorous strokes of the rowers, the vessels shot rapidly up
the stream.

About the middle of the day they came in sight of the scattered
buildings of the infant town, where in after times the proud city
of Rome grew, whose glory reached the skies. By chance the old
king, Evander, was that day celebrating annual solemnities in
honor of Hercules and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the
chiefs of the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the tall
ship gliding onward near the wood, they were alarmed at the sight,
and rose from the tables. But Pallas forbade the solemnities to be
interrupted, and seizing a weapon, stepped forward to the river's
bank. He called aloud, demanding who they were, and what their
object. Aeneas, holding forth an olive-branch, replied, "We are
Trojans, friends to you, and enemies to the Rutulians. We seek
Evander, and offer to join our arms with yours." Pallas, in amaze
at the sound of so great a name, invited them to land, and when
Aeneas touched the shore he seized his hand, and held it long in
friendly grasp. Proceeding through the wood, they joined the king
and his party and were most favorably received. Seats were
provided for them at the tables, and the repast proceeded.


When the solemnities were ended all moved towards the city. The
king, bending with age, walked between his son and Aeneas, taking
the arm of one or the other of them, and with much variety of
pleasing talk shortening the way. Aeneas with delight looked and
listened, observing all the beauties of the scene, and learning
much of heroes renowned in ancient times. Evander said, "These
extensive groves were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs, and a
rude race of men who sprang from the trees themselves, and had
neither laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke the
cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present abundance for
future want; but browsed like beasts upon the leafy boughs, or fed
voraciously on their hunted prey. Such were they when Saturn,
expelled from Olympus by his sons, came among them and drew
together the fierce savages, formed them into society, and gave
them laws. Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever since have
called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far other times
succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of blood
prevailed. The land was a prey to successive tyrants, till fortune
and resistless destiny brought me hither, an exile from my native
land, Arcadia."

Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, and the rude
spot then overgrown with bushes where in after times the Capitol
rose in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled
walls, and said, "Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there
Saturnia, the town of Saturn." Such discourse brought them to the
cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds roaming
over the plain where now the proud and stately Forum stands. They
entered, and a couch was spread for Aeneas, well stuffed with
leaves, and covered with the skin of a Libyan bear.

Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill song of birds
beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old Evander rose. Clad in a
tunic, and a panther's skin thrown over his shoulders, with
sandals on his feet and his good sword girded to his side, he went
forth to seek his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his whole
retinue and body guard. He found the hero attended by his faithful
Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old king spoke thus:

"Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so great a
cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one side by the river, on
the other by the Rutulians. But I propose to ally you with a
people numerous and rich, to whom fate has brought you at the
propitious moment. The Etruscans hold the country beyond the
river. Mezentius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who
invented unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He would
fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and face to face, and
leave the wretched victims to die in that dreadful embrace. At
length the people cast him out, him and his house. They burned his
palace and slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with
Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans demand that he
shall be given up to deserved punishment, and would ere now have
attempted to enforce their demand; but their priests restrain
them, telling them that it is the will of heaven that no native of
the land shall guide them to victory, and that thsir destined
leader must come from across the sea. They have offered the crown
to me, but I am too old to undertake such great affairs, and my
son is native-born, which precludes him from the choice. You,
equally by birth and time of life, and fame in arms, pointed out
by the gods, have but to appear to be hailed at once as their
leader. With you I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope and
comfort. Under you he shall learn the art of war, and strive to
emulate your great exploits."

Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan
chiefs, and Aeneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas
accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city,
[Footnote: The poet here inserts a famous line which is thought to
imitate in its sound the galloping of horses. It may be thus
translated--"Then struck the hoofs of the steeds on the ground
with a four-footed trampling."--See Proverbial Expressions.]
having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. Aeneas and
his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp and were received
with open arms by Tarchon and his countrymen.


In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands and made all
necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a
message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of Aeneas
and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly the attempt was made,
but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received
strict orders from Aeneas not to fight in his absence, they lay
still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the
Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night coming on, the army
of Turnus, in high spirits at their fancied superiority, feasted
and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves on the
field and slept secure.

In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all
was watchfulness and anxiety and impatience for Aeneas's return.
Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a
youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person and
fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and brothers
in arms. Nisus said to his friend, "Do you perceive what
confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights are
few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or sleep.
You know how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to Aeneas, and to
get intelligence from him. Now, I am strongly moved to make my way
through the enemy's camp and to go in search of our chief. If I
succeed, the glory of the deed will be reward enough for me, and
if they judge the service deserves anything more, let them pay it
to you."

Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, "Would
you, then, Nisus, refuse to share your enterprise with me? And
shall I let you go into such danger alone? Not so my brave father
brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I joined the
standard of Aeneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap in
comparison with honor." Nisus replied, "I doubt it not, my friend;
but you know the uncertain event of such an undertaking, and
whatever may happen to me, I wish you to be safe. You are younger
than I and have more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause
of such grief to your mother, who has chosen to be here in the
camp with you rather than stay and live in peace with the other
matrons in Acestes' city." Euryalus replied, "Say no more. In vain
you seek arguments to dissuade me. I am fixed in the resolution to
go with you. Let us lose no time." They called the guard, and
committing the watch to them, sought the general's tent. They
found the chief officers in consultation, deliberating how they
should send notice to Aeneas of their situation. The offer of the
two friends was gladly accepted, themselves loaded with praises
and promised the most liberal rewards in case of success. Iulus
especially addressed Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting
friendship. Euryalus replied, "I have but one boon to ask. My aged
mother is with me in the camp. For me she left the Trojan soil,
and would not stay behind with the other matrons at the city of
Acestes. I go now without taking leave of her. I could not bear
her tears nor set at nought her entreaties. But do thou, I beseech
you, comfort her in her distress. Promise me that and I shall go
more boldly into whatever dangers may present themselves." Iulus
and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and promised to do all
his request. "Your mother shall be mine," said Iulus, "and all
that I have promised to you shall be made good to her, if you do
not return to receive it."

The two friends left the camp and plunged at once into the midst
of the enemy. They found no watch, no sentinels posted, but, all
about, the sleeping soldiers strewn on the grass and among the
wagons. The laws of war at that early day did not forbid a brave
man to slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they
passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting alarm. In
one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet brilliant with gold and
plumes. They had passed through the enemy's ranks without being
discovered, but now suddenly appeared a troop directly in front of
them, which, under Volscens, their leader, were approaching the
camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught their attention,
and Volscens hailed the two, and demanded who and whence they
were. They made no answer, but plunged into the wood. The horsemen
scattered in all directions to intercept their flight. Nisus had
eluded pursuit and was out of danger, but Euryalus being missing
he turned back to seek him. He again entered the wood and soon
came within sound of voices. Looking through the thicket he saw
the whole band surrounding Euryalus with noisy questions. What
should he do? how extricate the youth, or would it be better to
die with him.

Raising his eyes to the moon, which now shone clear, he said,
"Goddess! favor my effort!" and aiming his javelin at one of the
leaders of the troop, struck him in the back and stretched him on
the plain with a death-blow. In the midst of their amazement
another weapon flew and another of the party fell dead. Volscens,
the leader, ignorant whence the darts came, rushed sword in hand
upon Euryalus. "You shall pay the penalty of both," he said, and
would have plunged the sword into his bosom, when Nisus, who from
his concealment saw the peril of his friend, rushed forward
exclaiming, "'Twas I, 'twas I; turn your swords against me,
Rutulians, I did it; he only followed me as a friend." While he
spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely bosom of Euryalus.
His head fell over on his shoulder, like a flower cut down by the
plough. Nisus rushed upon Volscens and plunged his sword into his
body, and was himself slain on the instant by numberless blows.


Aeneas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene of action
in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and now the two armies
being nearly equal in strength, the war began in good earnest. We
cannot find space for all the details, but must simply record the
fate of the principal characters whom we have introduced to our
readers. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged against his
revolting subjects, raged like a wild beast. He slew all who dared
to withstand him, and put the multitude to flight wherever he
appeared. At last he encountered Aeneas, and the armies stood
still to see the issue. Mezentius threw his spear, which striking
Aeneas's shield glanced off and hit Anthor. He was a Grecian by
birth, who had left Argos, his native city, and followed Evander
into Italy. The poet says of him with simple pathos which has made
the words proverbial, "He fell, unhappy, by a wound intended for
another, looked up at the skies, and dying remembered sweet
Argos." [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] Aeneas now in turn
hurled his lance. It pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded
him in the thigh. Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but
rushed forward and interposed himself, while the followers pressed
round Mezentius and bore him away. Aeneas held his sword suspended
over Lausus and delayed to strike, but the furious youth pressed
on and he was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and
Aeneas bent over him in pity. "Hapless youth," he said, "what can
I do for you worthy of your praise? Keep those arms in which you
glory, and fear not but that your body shall be restored to your
friends, and have due funeral honors." So saying, he called the
timid followers and delivered the body into their hands.

Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the riverside, and washed
his wound. Soon the news reached him of Lausus's death, and rage
and despair supplied the place of strength. He mounted his horse
and dashed into the thickest of the fight, seeking Aeneas. Having
found him, [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] he rode round
him in a circle, throwing one javelin after another, while Aeneas
stood fenced with his shield, turning every way to meet them. At
last, after Mezentius had three times made the circuit, Aeneas
threw his lance directly at the horse's head. It pierced his
temples and he fell, while a shout from both armies rent the
skies. Mezentius asked no mercy, but only that his body might be
spared the insults of his revolted subjects, and be buried in the
same grave with his son. He received the fatal stroke not
unprepared, and poured out his life and his blood together.


While these things were doing in one part of the field, in another
Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The contest between
champions so unequally matched could not be doubtful. Pallas bore
himself bravely, but fell by the lance of Turnus. The victor
almost relented when he saw the brave youth lying dead at his
feet, and spared to use the privilege of a conqueror in despoiling
him of his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs and carvings of
gold, he took and clasped round his own body. The rest he remitted
to the friends of the slain.

After the battle there was a cessation of arms for some days to
allow both armies to bury their dead. In this interval Aeneas
challenged Turnus to decide the contest by single combat, but
Turnus evaded the challenge. Another battle ensued, in which
Camilla, the virgin warrior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her deeds of
valor surpassed those of the bravest warriors, and many Trojans
and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down by her
battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, who had watched her
long, seeking for some advantage, observed her pursuing a flying
enemy whose splendid armor offered a tempting prize. Intent on the
chase she observed not her danger, and the javelin of Aruns struck
her and inflicted a fatal wound. She fell and breathed her last in
the arms of her attendant maidens. But Diana, who beheld her fate,
suffered not her slaughter to be unavenged. Aruns, as he stole
away, glad, but frightened, was struck by a secret arrow, launched
by one of the nymphs of Diana's train, and died ignobly and

At length the final conflict took place between Aeneas and Turnus.
Turnus had avoided the contest as long as he could, but at last,
impelled by the ill success of his arms and by the murmurs of his
followers, he braced himself to the conflict. It could not be
doubtful. On the side of Aeneas were the expressed decree of
destiny, the aid of his goddess-mother at every emergency, and
impenetrable armor fabricated by Vulcan, at her request, for her
son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted by his celestial
allies, Juno having been expressly forbidden by Jupiter to assist
him any longer. Turnus threw his lance, but it recoiled harmless
from the shield of Aeneas. The Trojan hero then threw his, which
penetrated the shield of Turnus, and pierced his thigh. Then
Turnus's fortitude forsook him and he begged for mercy; and Aeneas
would have given him his life, but at the instant his eye fell on
the belt of Pallas, which Turnus had taken from the slaughtered
youth. Instantly his rage revived, and exclaiming, "Pallas
immolates thee with this blow," he thrust him through with his

Here the poem of the "Aeneid" closes, and we are left to infer
that Aeneas, having triumphed over his foes, obtained Lavinia for
his bride. Tradition adds that he founded his city, and called it
after her name, Lavinium. His son Iulus founded Alba Longa, which
was the birthplace of Romulus and Remus and the cradle of Rome

There is an allusion to Camilla in those well-known lines of Pope,
in which, illustrating the rule that "the sound should be an echo
to the sense," he says:

   "When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
    The line too labors and the words move slow.
    Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
    Flies o'er th' unbending corn or skims along the main."

    --Essay on Criticism.




The teachings of Anchises to Aeneas, respecting the nature of the
human soul, were in conformity with the doctrines of the
Pythagoreans. Pythagoras (born five hundred and forty years B.C.)
was a native of the island of Samos, but passed the chief portion
of his life at Crotona in Italy. He is therefore sometimes called
"the Samian," and sometimes "the philosopher of Crotona." When
young he travelled extensively, and it is said visited Egypt,
where he was instructed by the priests in all their learning, and
afterwards journeyed to the East, and visited the Persian and
Chaldean Magi, and the Brahmins of India.

At Crotona, where he finally established himself, his
extraordinary qualities collected round him a great number of
disciples. The inhabitants were notorious for luxury and
licentiousness, but the good effects of his influence were soon
visible. Sobriety and temperance succeeded. Six hundred of the
inhabitants became his disciples and enrolled themselves in a
society to aid each other in the pursuit of wisdom, uniting their
property in one common stock for the benefit of the whole. They
were required to practise the greatest purity and simplicity of
manners. The first lesson they learned was SILENCE; for a time
they were required to be only hearers. "He [Pythagoras] said so"
(Ipse dixit), was to be held by them as sufficient, without any
proof. It was only the advanced pupils, after years of patient
submission, who were allowed to ask questions and to state

Pythagoras considered NUMBERS as the essence and principle of all
things, and attributed to them a real and distinct existence; so
that, in his view, they were the elements out of which the
universe was constructed. How he conceived this process has never
been satisfactorily explained. He traced the various forms and
phenomena of the world to numbers as their basis and essence. The
"Monad" or unit he regarded as the source of all numbers. The
number Two was imperfect, and the cause of increase and division.
Three was called the number of the whole because it had a
beginning, middle, and end. Four, representing the square, is in
the highest degree perfect; and Ten, as it contains the sum of the
four prime numbers, comprehends all musical and arithmetical
proportions, and denotes the system of the world.

As the numbers proceed from the monad, so he regarded the pure and
simple essence of the Deity as the source of all the forms of
nature. Gods, demons, and heroes are emanations of the Supreme,
and there is a fourth emanation, the human soul. This is immortal,
and when freed from the fetters of the body passes to the
habitation of the dead, where it remains till it returns to the
world, to dwell in some other human or animal body, and at last,
when sufficiently purified, it returns to the source from which it
proceeded. This doctrine of the transmigration of souls
(metempsychosis), which was originally Egyptian and connected with
the doctrine of reward and punishment of human actions, was the
chief cause why the Pythagoreans killed no animals. Ovid
represents Pythagoras addressing his disciples in these words:
"Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to
another. I myself can remember that in the time of the Trojan war
I was Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, and fell by the spear of
Menelaus. Lately being in the temple of Juno, at Argos, I
recognized my shield hung up there among the trophies. All things
change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither,
occupying now this body, now that, passing from the body of a
beast into that of a man, and thence to a beast's again. As wax is
stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with
others, yet is always the same wax, so the soul, being always the
same, yet wears, at different times, different forms. Therefore,
if the love of kindred is not extinct in your bosoms, forbear, I
entreat you, to violate the life of those who may haply be your
own relatives."

Shakspeare, in the "Merchant of Venice," makes Gratiano allude to
the metempsychosis, where he says to Shylock:

   "Thou almost mak'st me waver in my faith,
    To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
    That souls of animals infuse themselves
    Into the trunks of men; thy currish spirit
    Governed a wolf; who hanged for human slaughter
    Infused his soul in thee; for thy desires
    Are wolfish, bloody, starved and ravenous."

The relation of the notes of the musical scale to numbers, whereby
harmony results from vibrations in equal times, and discord from
the reverse, led Pythagoras to apply the word "harmony" to the
visible creation, meaning by it the just adaptation of parts to
each other. This is the idea which Dryden expresses in the
beginning of his "Song for St. Cecilia's Day":

   "From harmony, from heavenly harmony
    This everlasting frame began;
    From harmony to harmony
    Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
    The Diapason closing full in Man."

In the centre of the universe (he taught) there was a central
fire, the principle of life. The central fire was surrounded by
the earth, the moon, the sun, and the five planets. The distances
of the various heavenly bodies from one another were conceived to
correspond to the proportions of the musical scale. The heavenly
bodies, with the gods who inhabited them, were supposed to perform
a choral dance round the central fire, "not without song." It is
this doctrine which Shakspeare alludes to when he makes Lorenzo
teach astronomy to Jessica in this fashion:

   "Look, Jessica, see how the floor of heaven
    Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold!
    There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st
    But in his motion like an angel sings,
    Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
    Such harmony is in immortal souls!
    But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
    Doth grossly close it in we cannot hear it."

    --Merchant of Venice.

The spheres were conceived to be crystalline or glassy fabrics
arranged over one another like a nest of bowls reversed. In the
substance of each sphere one or more of the heavenly bodies was
supposed to be fixed, so as to move with it. As the spheres are
transparent we look through them and see the heavenly bodies which
they contain and carry round with them. But as these spheres
cannot move on one another without friction, a sound is thereby
produced which is of exquisite harmony, too fine for mortal ears
to recognize. Milton, in his "Hymn on the Nativity," thus alludes
to the music of the spheres:

   "Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
    Once bless our human ears
      (If ye have power to charm our senses so);
    And let your silver chime
    Move in melodious time,
      And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow;
    And with your ninefold harmony
    Make up full concert with the angelic symphony."

Pythagoras is said to have invented the lyre. Our own poet
Longfellow, in "Verses to a Child," thus relates the story:

   "As great Pythagoras of yore,
    Standing beside the blacksmith's door,
    And hearing the hammers as they smote
    The anvils with a different note,
    Stole from the varying tones that hung
    Vibrant on every iron tongue,
    The secret of the sounding wire,
    And formed the seven-chorded lyre."

See also the same poet's "Occupation of Orion"--

   "The Samian's great Aeolian lyre."


Sybaris, a neighboring city to Crotona, was as celebrated for
luxury and effeminacy as Crotona for the reverse. The name has
become proverbial. J. R. Lowell uses it in this sense in his
charming little poem "To the Dandelion":

   "Not in mid June the golden cuirassed bee
    Feels a more summer-like, warm ravishment
      In the white lily's breezy tent
    (His conquered Sybaris) than I when first
    From the dark green thy yellow circles burst."

A war arose between the two cities, and Sybaris was conquered and
destroyed. Milo, the celebrated athlete, led the army of Crotona.
Many stories are told of Milo's vast strength, such as his
carrying a heifer of four years old upon his shoulders and
afterwards eating the whole of it in a single day. The mode of his
death is thus related: As he was passing through a forest he saw
the trunk of a tree which had been partially split open by wood-
cutters, and attempted to rend it further; but the wood closed
upon his hands and held him fast, in which state he was attacked
and devoured by wolves.

Byron, in his "Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte," alludes to the story of

   "He who of old would rend the oak
      Deemed not of the rebound;
    Chained by the trunk he vainly broke,
      Alone, how looked he round!"


The Egyptians acknowledged as the highest deity Amun, afterwards
called Zeus, or Jupiter Ammon. Amun manifested himself in his word
or will, which created Kneph and Athor, of different sexes. From
Kneph and Athor proceeded Osiris and Isis. Osiris was worshipped
as the god of the sun, the source of warmth, life, and
fruitfulness, in addition to which he was also regarded as the god
of the Nile, who annually visited his wife, Isis (the Earth), by
means of an inundation. Serapis or Hermes is sometimes represented
as identical with Osiris, and sometimes as a distinct divinity,
the ruler of Tartarus and god of medicine. Anubis is the guardian
god, represented with a dog's head, emblematic of his character of
fidelity and watchfulness. Horus or Harpocrates was the son of
Osiris. He is represented seated on a Lotus flower, with his
finger on his lips, as the god of Silence.

In one of Moore's "Irish Melodies" is an allusion to Harpocrates:

   "Thyself shall, under some rosy bower,
      Sit mute, with thy finger on thy lip;
    Like him, the boy, who born among
      The flowers that on the Nile-stream blush,
    Sits ever thus,--his only song
      To Earth and Heaven, 'Hush all, hush!'"


Osiris and Isis were at one time induced to descend to the earth
to bestow gifts and blessings on its inhabitants. Isis showed them
first the use of wheat and barley, and Osiris made the instruments
of agriculture and taught men the use of them, as well as how to
harness the ox to the plough. He then gave men laws, the
institution of marriage, a civil organization, and taught them how
to worship the gods. After he had thus made the valley of the Nile
a happy country, he assembled a host with which he went to bestow
his blessings upon the rest of the world. He conquered the nations
everywhere, but not with weapons, only with music and eloquence.
His brother Typhon saw this, and filled with envy and malice
sought during his absence to usurp his throne. But Isis, who held
the reins of government, frustrated his plans. Still more
embittered, he now resolved to kill his brother. This he did in
the following manner: Having organized a conspiracy of seventy-two
members, he went with them to the feast which was celebrated in
honor of the king's return. He then caused a box or chest to be
brought in, which had been made to fit exactly the size of Osiris,
and declared that he wouldd would give that chest of precious wood
to whosoever could get into it. The rest tried in vain, but no
sooner was Osiris in it than Typhon and his companions closed the
lid and flung the chest into the Nile. When Isis heard of the
cruel murder she wept and mourned, and then with her hair shorn,
clothed in black and beating her breast, she sought diligently for
the body of her husband. In this search she was materially
assisted by Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys. They sought in
vain for some time; for when the chest, carried by the waves to
the shores of Byblos, had become entangled in the reeds that grew
at the edge of the water, the divine power that dwelt in the body
of Osiris imparted such strength to the shrub that it grew into a
mighty tree, enclosing in its trunk the coffin of the god. This
tree with its sacred deposit was shortly after felled, and erected
as a column in the palace of the king of Phoenicia. But at length
by the aid of Anubis and the sacred birds, Isis ascertained these
facts, and then went to the royal city. There she offered herself
at the palace as a servant, and being admitted, threw off her
disguise and appeared as a goddess, surrounded with thunder and
lightning. Striking the column with her wand she caused it to
split open and give up the sacred coffin. This she seized and
returned with it, and concealed it in the depth of a forest, but
Typhon discovered it, and cutting the body into fourteen pieces
scattered them hither and thither. After a tedious search, Isis
found thirteen pieces, the fishes of the Nile having eaten the
other. This she replaced by an imitation of sycamore wood, and
buried the body at Philae, which became ever after the great
burying place of the nation, and the spot to which pilgrimages
were made from all parts of the country. A temple of surpassing
magnificence was also erected there in honor of the god, and at
every place where one of his limbs had been found minor temples
and tombs were built to commemorate the event. Osiris became after
that the tutelar deity of the Egyptians. His soul was supposed
always to inhabit the body of the bull Apis, and at his death to
transfer itself to his successor.

Apis, the Bull of Memphis, was worshipped with the greatest
reverence by the Egyptians. The individual animal who was held to
be Apis was recognized by certain signs. It was requisite that he
should be quite black, have a white square mark on the forehead,
another, in the form of an eagle, on his back, and under his
tongue a lump somewhat in the shape of a scarabaeus or beetle. As
soon as a bull thus marked was found by those sent in search of
him, he was placed in a building facing the east, and was fed with
milk for four months. At the expiration of this term the priests
repaired at new moon, with great pomp, to his habitation and
saluted him Apis. He was placed in a vessel magnificently
decorated and conveyed down the Nile to Memphis, where a temple,
with two chapels and a court for exercise, was assigned to him.
Sacrifices were made to him, and once every year, about the time
when the Nile began to rise, a golden cup was thrown into the
river, and a grand festival was held to celebrate his birthday.
The people believed that during this festival the crocodiles
forgot their natural ferocity and became harmless. There was,
however, one drawback to his happy lot: he was not permitted to
live beyond a certain period, and if, when he had attained the age
of twenty-five years, he still survived, the priests drowned him
in the sacred cistern and then buried him in the temple of
Serapis. On the death of this bull, whether it occurred in the
course of nature or by violence, the whole land was filled with
sorrow and lamentations, which lasted until his successor was

We find the following item in one of the newspapers of the day:

"The Tomb of Apis.--The excavations going on at Memphis bid fair
to make that buried city as interesting as Pompeii. The monster
tomb of Apis is now open, after having lain unknown for

Milton, in his "Hymn on the Nativity," alludes to the Egyptian
deities, not as imaginary beings, but as real demons, put to
flight by the coming of Christ.

    "The brutish god of Nile as fast,
    Isis and Horus and the dog Anubis haste.
         Nor is Osiris seen
         In Memphian grove or green
    Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud;
         Nor can he be at rest
         Within his sacred chest;
    Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud.
       In vain with timbrel'd anthems dark
    The sable-stole sorcerers bear his worshipped ark."

[Footnote: There being no rain in Egypt, the grass is
"unshowered," and the country depend for its fertility upon the
overflowings of the Nile. The ark alluded to in the last line is
shown by pictures still remaining on the walls of the Egyptian
temples to have been borne by the priests in their religious
processions. It probably represented the chest in which Osiris was

Isis was represinted in statuary with the head veiled, a symbol of
mystery. It is this which Tennyson alludes to in "Maud," IV., 8:

"For the drift of the Maker is dark, an Isis hid by the veil,"

ORACLES Oracle was the name used to denote the place where answers
were supposed to be given by any of the divinities to those who
consulted them respecting the future. The word was also used to
signify the response which was given.

The most ancient Grecian oracle was that of Jupiter at Dodona.
According to one account, it was established 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 inhabitants of the district
that they must establish there an oracle of Jupiter. The other
dove flew to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan Oasis, and
delivered a similar command there. Another account is, that they
were not doves, but priestesses, who were carried off from Thebes
in Egypt by the Phoenicians, and set up oracles at the Oasis and
Dodona. The responses of the oracle were given from the trees, by
the branches rustling in the wind, the sounds being interpreted by
the priests.

But the most celebrated of the Grecian oracles was that of Apollo
at Delphi, a city built on the slopes of 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 long deep cleft in the side of the mountain. This was
owing to a peculiar vapor arising out of the cavern, and one of
the goatherds was induced to try its effects upon himself.
Inhaling the intoxicating air, he was affected in the same manner
as the cattle had been, and the inhabitants of the surrounding
country, unable to explain the circumstance, imputed the
convulsive ravings to which he gave utterance while under the
power of the exhalations to a divine inspiration. The fact was
speedily circulated widely, and a temple was erected on the spot.
The prophetic influence was at first variously attributed to the
goddess Earth, to Neptune, Themis, and others, but it was at
length assigned to Apollo, and to him alone. A priestess was
appointed whose office it was to inhale the hallowed air, and who
was named the Pythia. She was prepared for this duty by previous
ablution at the fountain of Castalia, and being crowned with
laurel was seated upon a tripod similarly adorned, which was
placed over the chasm whence the divine afflatus proceeded. Her
inspired words while thus situated were interpreted by the


Besides the oracles of Jupiter and Apollo, at Dodona and Delphi,
that of Trophonius in Boeotia was held in high estimation.
Trophonius and Agamedes were brothers. They were distinguished
architects, and built the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and a
treasury for King Hyrieus. In the wall of the treasury they placed
a stone, in such a manner that it could be taken out; and by this
means, from time to time, purloined the treasure. This amazed
Hyrieus, for his locks and seals were untouched, and yet his
wealth continually diminished. At length he set a trap for the
thief and Agamedes was caught. Trophonias, unable to extricate
him, and fearing that when found he would be compelled by torture
to discover his accomplice, cut off his head. Trophonius himself
is said to have been shortly afterwards swallowed up by the earth.

The oracle of Trophonius was at Lebadea in Boeotia. During a great
drought the Boeotians, it is said, were directed by the god at
Delphi to seek aid of Trophonius at Lebadea. They came thither,
but could find no pracle. One of them, however, happening to see a
swarm of bees, followed them to a chasm in the earth, which proved
to be the place sought.

Peculiar ceremonies were to be performed by the person who came to
consult the oracle. After these preliminaries, he descended into
the cave by a narrow passage. This place could be entered only in
the night. The person returned from the cave by the same narrow
passage, bat walking backwards. He appeared melancholy and
defected; and hence the proverb which was applied to a person low-
spirited and gloomy, "He has been consulting the oracle of


There were numerous oracles of Aesculapius, but the most
celebrated one was at Epidaurus. Here the sick sought responses
and the recovery of their health by sleeping in the temple. It has
been inferred from the accounts that have come down to us that the
treatment of the sick resembled what is now called Animal
Magnetism or Mesmerism.

Serpents 'were sacred to Aesculapius, probably because of a
superstition that those animals have a faculty of renewing their
youth by a change of skin. The worship of Aesculapius was
introduced into Rome in a time of great sickness, and an embassy
sent to the temple of Epidaurus to entreat the aid of the god.
Aesculapius was propitious, and on the return of the ship
accompanied it in the form of a serpent. Arriving in the river
Tiber, the serpent glided from the vessel and took possession of
an island in the river, and a temple was there erected to his


At Memphis the sacred bull Apis gave answer to those who consulted
him by the manner in which he received or rejected what was
presented to him. If the bull refused food from the hand of the
inquirer it was considered an unfavorable sign, and the contrary
when he received it.

It has been a question whether oracular responses ought to be
ascribed to mere human contrivance or to the agency of evil
spirits. The latter opinion has been most general in past ages. A
third theory has been advanced since the phenomena of Mesmerism
have attracted attention, that something like the mesmeric trance
was induced in the Pythoness, and the faculty of clairvoyance
really called into action.

Another question is as to the time when the Pagan oracles ceased
to give responses. Ancient Christian writers assert that they
became silent at the birth of Christ, and were heard no more after
that date. Milton adopts, this view in his "Hymn on the Mativity,"
and in lines of solemn and elevated beauty pictures the
consternation of the heathen idols at the Advent of the Saviour:

    "The oracles are dumb;
    No voice or hideous hum
     Rings through the arched roof in words Deceiving.
    Apollo from his shrine
    Can no more divine,
      With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos heaving.
    No nightly trance or breathed spell
    Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell"

In Cowper's poem of "Yardley Oak" there are some beautiful
mythological allusions. The former of the two following is to the
fable of Castor and Pollux; the latter is more appropriate to our
present subject. Addressing the acorn he says:

   "Thou fell'st mature; and in the loamy clod,
    Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
    Didst burst thine, as theirs the fabled Twins
    Now stars; twor lobes protruding, paired exact;
    A leaf succeede and another leaf,
    And, all the elements thy puny growth
    Fostering propitious, thou becam'st a twig.
    Who lived  when thou wast such? Of couldst thou speak,
    As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
    Oracular, I would not curious ask
    The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
    Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past."

Tennyson, in his "Talking Oak," alludes to the oaks of Dodona in
these lines:

    And I will work in prose and rhyme,
     And praise thee more in both
    Than bard has honored beech or lime,
     Or that Thessalian growth
    In which the swarthy ring-dove sat
     And mystic sentence spoke; etc.

Byron alludes to the oracle of Delphi where, speaking of Rousseau,
whose writings he conceives did much to bring on the French
revolution, he says:

    "For the, he was inspired, and from him came,
       As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
    Those oracles which set the world in flame,
       Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more."




Having reached the close of our series of stories of Pagan
mythology, and inquiry suggests itself. "Whence came these
stories? Have they a foundation in truth or are they simply dreams
of the imagination?" Philosophers have suggested various theories
on the subject; and 1. The Scriptural theory; according to which
all mythological legends are derived from the narratives of
Scripture, though the real facts have been disguised and altered.
Thus Deucalion is only another name for Noah, Hercules for Samson,
Arion for Jonah, etc. Sir Walter Raleigh, in his "History of the
World," says, "Jubal, Tubal, and Tubal-Cain were Mercury, Vulcan,
and Apollo, inventors of Pasturage, Smithing, and Music. The
Dragon which kept the golden apples was the serpent that beguiled
Eve. Nimrod's tower was the attempt of the Giants against Heaven."
There are doubtless many curious coincidences like these, but the
theory cannot without extravagance be pushed so far as to account
for any great proportion of the stories.

2. The Historical theory; according to which all the persons
mentioned in mythology were once real human beings, and the
legends and fabulous traditions relating to them are merely the
additions and embellishments of later times. Thus the story of
Aeolus, the king and god of the winds, is supposed to have risen
from the fact that Aeolus was the ruler of some islands in the
Tyrrhenian Sea, where he reigned as a just and pious king, and
taught the natives the use of sails for ships, and how to tell
from the signs of the atmosphere the changes of the weather and
the winds. Cadmus, who, the legend says, sowed the earth with
dragon's teeth, from which sprang a crop of armed men, was in fact
an emigrant from Phoenicia, and brought with him into Greece the
knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, which he taught to the
natives. From these rudiments of learning sprung civilization,
which the poets have always been prone to describe as a
deterioration of man's first estate, the Golden Age of innocence
and simplicity.

3. The Allegorical theory supposes that all the myths of the
ancients were allegorical and symbolical, and contained some
moral, religious, or philosophical truth or historical fact, under
the form of an allegory, but came in process of time to be
understood literally. Thus Saturn, who devours his own children,
is the same power whom the Greeks called Cronos (Time), which may
truly be said to destroy whatever it has brought into existence.
The story of Io is interpreted in a similar manner. Io is the
moon, and Argus the starry sky, which, as it were, keeps sleepless
watch over her. The fabulous wanderings of Io represent the
continual revolutions of the moon, which also suggested to Milton
the same idea.

   "To behold the wandering moon
    Riding near her highest noon,
    Like one that had been led astray
    In the heaven's wide, pathless way."

    --Il Penseroso.

4. The Physical theory; according to which the elements of air,
fire, and water were originally the objects of religious
adoration, and the principal deities were personifications of the
powers of nature. The transition was easy from a personification
of the elements to the notion of supernatural beings presiding
over and governing the different objects of nature. The Greeks,
whose imagination was lively, peopled all nature with invisible
beings, and supposed that every object, from the sun and sea to
the smallest fountain and rivulet, was under the care of some
particular divinity. Wordsworth, in his "Excursion," has
beautifully developed this view of Grecian mythology:

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

All the theories which have been mentioned are true to a certain
extent. It would therefore be more correct to say that the
mythology of a nation has sprung from all these sources combined
than from any one in particular. We may add also that there are
many myths which have arisen from the desire of man to account for
those natural phenomena which he cannot understand; and not a few
have had their rise from a similar desire of giving a reason for
the names of places and persons.


To adequately represent to the eye the ideas intended to be
conveyed to the mind under the several names of deities was a task
which called into exercise the highest powers of genius and art.
Of the many attempts FOUR have been most celebrated, the first two
known to us only by the descriptions of the ancients, the others
still extant and the acknowledged masterpieces of the sculptor's


The statue of the Olympian Jupiter by Phidias was considered the
highest achievement of this department of Grecian art. It was of
colossal dimensions, and was what the ancients called
"chryselephantine;" that is, composed of ivory and gold; the parts
representing flesh being of ivory laid on a core of wood or stone,
while the drapery and other ornaments were of gold. The height of
the figure was forty feet, on a pedestal twelve feet high. The god
was represented seated on his throne. His brows were crowned with
a wreath of olive, and he held in his right hand a sceptre, and in
his left a statue of Victory. The throne was of cedar, adorned
with gold and precious stones.

The idea which the artist essayed to embody was that of the
supreme deity of the Hellenic (Grecian) nation, enthroned as a
conqueror, in perfect majesty and repose, and ruling with a nod
the subject world. Phidias avowed that he took his idea from the
representation which Homer gives in the first book of the "Iliad,"
in the passage thus translated by Pope:

   "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 reverence the dread signal took,
    And all Olympus to the centre shook."

[Footnote: Cowper's version is less elegant, but truer to the

   "He ceased, and under his dark brows the nod
    Vouchsafed of confirmation. All around
    The sovereign's everlasting head his curls
    Ambrosial shook, and the huge mountain reeled."

It may interest our readers to see how this passage appears in
another famous version, that which was issued under the name of
Tickell, contemporaneously with Pope's, and which, being by many
attributed to Addison, led to the quarrel which ensued between
Addison and Pope:

   "This said, his kingly brow the sire inclined;
    The large black curls fell awful from behind,
    Thick shadowing the stern forehead of the god;
    Olympus trembled at the almighty nod."]


This was also the work of Phidias. It stood in the Parthenon, or
temple of Minerva at Athens. The goddess was represented standing.
In one hand she held a spear, in the other a statue of Victory.
Her helmet, highly decorated, was surmounted by a Sphinx. The
statue was forty feet in height, and, like the Jupiter, composed
of ivory and gold. The eyes were of marble, and probably painted
to represent the iris and pupil. The Parthenon, in which this
statue stood, was also constructed under the direction and
superintendence of Phidias. Its exterior was enriched with
sculptures, many of them from the hand of Phidias. The Elgin
marbles, now in the British Museum, are a part of them.

Both the Jupiter and Minerva of Phidias are lost, but there is
good ground to believe that we have, in several extant statues and
busts, the artist's conceptions of the countenances of both. They
are characterized by grave and dignified beauty, and freedom from
any transient expression, which in the language of art is called


The Venus of the Medici is so called from its having been in the
possession of the princes of that name in Rome when it first
attracted attention, about two hundred years ago. An inscription
on the base records it to be the work of Cleomenes, an Athenian
sculptor of 200 B.C., but the authenticity of the inscription is
doubtful. There is a story that the artist was employed by public
authority to make a statue exhibiting the perfection of female
beauty, and to aid him in his task the most perfect forms the city
could supply were furnished him for models. It is this which
Thomson alludes to in his "Summer":

   "So stands the statue that enchants the world;
    So bending tries to veil the matchless boast,
    The mingled beauties of exulting Greece."

Byron also alludes to this statue. Speaking of the Florence
Museum, he says:

   "There, too, the goddess loves in stone, and fills
    The air around with beauty;" etc.

And in the next stanza,

   "Blood, pulse, and breast confirm the Dardan shepherd's prize."

See this last allusion explained in Chapter XXVII.


The most highly esteemed of all the remains of ancient sculpture
is the statue of Apollo, called the Belvedere, from the name of
the apartment of the Pope's palace at Rome in which it was placed.
The artist is unknown. It is supposed to be a work of Roman art,
of about the first century of our era. It is a standing figure, in
marble, more than seven feet high, naked except for the cloak
which is fastened around the neck and hangs over the extended left
arm. It is supposed to represent the god in the moment when he has
shot the arrow to destroy the monster Python. (See Chapter III.)
The victorious divinity is in the act of stepping forward. The
left arm, which seems to have held the bow, is outstretched, and
the head is turned in the same direction. In attitude and
proportion the graceful majesty of the figure is unsurpassed. The
effect is completed by the countenance, where on the perfection of
youthful godlike beauty there dwells the consciousness of
triumphant power.


The Diana of the Hind, in the palace of the Louvre, may be
considered the counterpart to the Apollo Belvedere. The attitude
much resembles that of the Apollo, the sizes correspond and also
the style of execution. It is a work of the highest order, though
by no means equal to the Apollo. The attitude is that of hurried
and eager motion, the face that of a huntress in the excitement of
the chase. The left hand is extended over the forehead of the
Hind, which runs by her side, the right arm reaches backward over
the shoulder to draw an arrow from the quiver.


Homer, from whose poems of the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" we have taken
the chief part of our chapters of the Trojan war and the return of
the Grecians, is almost as mythical a personage as the heroes he
celebrates. The traditionary story is that he was a wandering
minstrel, blind and old, who travelled from place to place singing
his lays to the music of his harp, in the courts of princes or the
cottages of peasants, and dependent upon the voluntary offerings
of his hearers for support. Byron calls him "The blind old man of
Scio's rocky isle," and a well-known epigram, alluding to the
uncertainty of the fact of his birthplace, says:

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

These seven were Smyrna, Scio, Rhodes, Colophon, Salamis, Argos,
and Athens.

Modern scholars have doubted whether the Homeric poems are the
work of any single mind. This arises from the difficulty of
believing that poems of such length could have been committed to
writing at so early an age as that usually assigned to these, an
age earlier than the date of any remaining inscriptions or coins,
and when no materials capable of containing such long productions
were yet introduced into use. On the other hand it is asked how
poems of such length could have been handed down from age to age
by means of the memory alone. This is answered by the statement
that there was a professional body of men, called Rhapsodists, who
recited the poems of others, and whose business it was to commit
to memory and rehearse for pay the national and patriotic legends.

The prevailing opinion of the learned, at this time, seems to be
that the framework and much of the structure of the poems belong
to Homer, but that there are numerous interpolations and additions
by other hands.

The date assigned to Homer, on the authority of Herodotus, is 850


Virgil, called also by his surname, Maro, from whose poem of the
"Aeneid" we have taken the story of Aeneas, was one of the great
poets who made the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus so
celebrated, under the name of the Augustan age. Virgil was born in
Mantua in the year 70 B.C. His great poem is ranked next to those
of Homer, in the highest class of poetical composition, the Epic.
Virgil is far inferior to Homer in originality and invention, but
superior to him in correctness and elegance. To critics of English
lineage Milton alone of modern poets seems worthy to be classed
with these illustrious ancients. His poem of "Paradise Lost," from
which we have borrowed so many illustrations, is in many respects
equal, in some superior, to either of the great works of
antiquity. The following epigram of Dryden characterizes the three
poets with as much truth as it is usual to find in such pointed


   "Three poets in three different ages born,
    Greece, Italy, and England did adorn
    The first in loftiness of soul surpassed,
    The next in majesty, in both the last.
    The force of nature could no further go;
    To make a third she joined the other two."

From Cowper's "Table Talk":

   "Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
    And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard.
    To carry nature lengths unknown before,
    To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
    Thus genius rose and set at ordered times,
    And shot a dayspring into distant climes,
    Ennobling every region that he chose;
    He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose,
    And, tedious years of Gothic darkness past,
    Emerged all splendor in our isle at last.
    Thus lovely Halcyons dive into the main,
    Then show far off their shining plumes again."


Ovid, often alluded to in poetry by his other name of Naso, was
born in the year 43 B.C. He was educated for public life and held
some offices of considerable dignity, but poetry was his delight,
and he early resolved to devote himself to it. He accordingly
sought the society of the contemporary poets, and was acquainted
with Horace and saw Virgil, though the latter died when Ovid was
yet too young and undistinguished to have formed his acquaintance.
Ovid spent an easy life at Rome in the enjoyment of a competent
income. He was intimate with the family of Augustus, the emperor,
and it is supposed that some serious offence given to some member
of that family was the cause of an event which reversed the poet's
happy circumstances and clouded all the latter portion of his
life. At the age of fifty he was banished from Rome, and ordered
to betake himself to Tomi, on the borders of the Black Sea. Here,
among the barbarous people and in a severe climate, the poet, who
had been accustomed to all the pleasures of a luxurious capital
and the society of his most distinguished contemporaries, spent
the last ten years of his life, worn out with grief and anxiety.
His only consolation in exile was to address his wife and absent
friends, and his letters were all poetical. Though these poems
(the "Trista" and "Letters from Pontus") have no other topic than
the poet's sorrows, his exquisite taste and fruitful invention
have redeemed them from the charge of being tedious, and they are
read with pleasure and even with sympathy.

The two great works of Ovid are his "Metamorphoses" and his
"Fasti." They are both mythological poems, and from the former we
have taken most of our stories of Grecian and Roman mythology. A
late writer thus characterizes these poems:

"The rich mythology of Greece furnished Ovid, as it may still
furnish the poet, the painter, and the sculptor, with materials
for his art. With exquisite taste, simplicity, and pathos he has
narrated the fabulous traditions of early ages, and given to them
that appearance of reality which only a master hand could impart.
His pictures of nature are striking and true; he selects with care
that which is appropriate; he rejects the superfluous; and when he
has completed his work, it is neither defective nor redundant. The
'Metamorphoses' are read with pleasure by youth, and are re-read
in more advanced age with still greater delight. The poet ventured
to predict that his poem would survive him, and be read wherever
the Roman name was known."

The prediction above alluded to is contained in the closing lines
of the "Metamorphoses," of which we give a literal translation

   "And now I close my work, which not the ire
    Of Jove, nor tooth of time, nor sword, nor fire
    Shall bring to nought. Come when it will that day
    Which o'er the body, not the mind, has sway,
    And snatch the remnant of my life away,
    My better part above the stars shall soar,
    And my renown endure forevermore.
    Where'er the Roman arms and arts shall spread
    There by the people shall my book be read;
    And, if aught true in poet's visions be,
    My name and fame have immortality."




There is a set of imaginary beings which seem to have been the
successors of the "Gorgons, Hydras, and Chimeras dire" of the old
superstitions, and, having no connection with the false gods of
Paganism, to have continued to enjoy an existence in the popular
belief after Paganism was superseded by Christianity. They are
mentioned perhaps by the classical writers, but their chief
popularity and currency seem to have been in more modern times. We
seek our accounts of them not so much in the poetry of the
ancients as in the old natural history books and narrations of
travellers. The accounts which we are about to give are taken
chiefly from the Penny Cyclopedia.


Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix as follows: "Most beings
spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which
reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not
live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous
gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a
nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In
this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these
materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying,
breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the
parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as
long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained
sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own
cradle and its parent's sepulchre), and carries it to the city of
Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun."

Such is the account given by a poet. Now let us see that of a
philosophic historian. Tacitus says, "In the consulship of Paulus
Fabius (A.D. 34) the miraculous bird known to the world by the
name of the Phoenix, after disappearing for a series of ages,
revisited Egypt. It was attended in its flight by a group of
various birds, all attracted by the novelty, and gazing with
wonder at so beautiful an appearance." He then gives an account of
the bird, not varying materially from the preceding, but adding
some details. "The first care of the young bird as soon as
fledged, and able to trust to his wings, is to perform the
obsequies of his father. But this duty is not undertaken rashly.
He collects a quantity of myrrh, and to try his strength makes
frequent excursions with a load on his back. When he has gained
sufficient confidence in his own vigor, he takes up the body of
his father and flies with it to the altar of the Sun, where he
leaves it to be consumed in flames of fragrance." Other writers
add a few particulars. The myrrh is compacted in the form of an
egg, in which the dead Phoenix is enclosed. From the mouldering
flesh of the dead bird a worm springs, and this worm, when grown
large, is transformed into a bird. Herodotus DESCRIBES the bird,
though he says, "I have not seen it myself, except in a picture.
Part of his plumage is gold-colored, and part crimson; and he is
for the most part very much like an eagle in outline and bulk."

The first writer who disclaimed a belief in the existence of the
Phoenix was Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Vulgar Errors," published
in 1646. He was replied to a few years later by Alexander Ross,
who says, in answer to the objection of the Phoenix so seldom
making his appearance, "His instinct teaches him to keep out of
the way of the tyrant of the creation, MAN, for if he were to be
got at, some wealthy glutton would surely devour him, though there
were no more in the world."

Dryden in one of his early poems has this allusion to the Phoenix:

   "So when the new-born Phoenix first is seen,
    Her feathered subjects all adore their queen,
    And while she makes her progress through the East,
    From every grove her numerous train's increased;
    Each poet of the air her glory sings,
    And round him the pleased audience clap their wings."

Milton, in "Paradise Lost," Book V., compares the angel Raphael
descending to earth to a Phoenix:

   "... Down thither, prone in flight
    He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
    Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing,
    Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
    Winnows the buxom air; till within soar
    Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
    A Phoenix, gazed by all; as that sole bird
    When, to enshrine his relics in the sun's
    Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies."


This animal was called the king of the serpents. In confirmation
of his royalty, he was said to be endowed with a crest, or comb
upon the head, constituting a crown. He was supposed to be
produced from the egg of a cock hatched under toads or serpents.
There were several species of this animal. One species burned up
whatever they approached; a second were a kind of wandering
Medusa's heads, and their look caused an instant horror which was
immediately followed by death. In Shakspeare's play of "Richard
the Third," Lady Anne, in answer to Richard's compliment on her
eyes, says, "Would they were basilisk's, to strike thee dead!"

The basilisks were called kings of serpents because all other
serpents and snakes, behaving like good subjects, and wisely not
wishing to be burned up or struck dead, fled the moment they heard
the distant hiss of their king, although they might be in full
feed upon the most delicious prey, leaving the sole enjoyment of
the banquet to the royal monster.

The Roman naturalist Pliny thus describes him: "He does not impel
his body, like other serpents, by a multiplied flexion, but
advances lofty and upright. He kills the shrubs, not only by
contact, but by breathing on them, and splits the rocks, such
power of evil is there in him." It was formerly believed that if
killed by a spear from on horseback the power of the poison
conducted through the weapon killed not only the rider, but the
horse also. To this Lucan alludes in these lines:

   "What though the Moor the basilisk hath slain,
    And pinned him lifeless to the sandy plain,
    Up through the spear the subtle venom flies,
    The hand imbibes it, and the victor dies."

Such a prodigy was not likely to be passed over in the legends of
the saints. Accordingly we find it recorded that a certain holy
man, going to a fountain in the desert, suddenly beheld a
basilisk. He immediately raised his eyes to heaven, and with a
pious appeal to the Deity laid the monster dead at his feet.

These wonderful powers of the basilisk are attested by a host of
learned persons, such as Galen, Avicenna, Scaliger, and others.
Occasionally one would demur to some part of the tale while he
admitted the rest. Jonston, a learned physician, sagely remarks,
"I would scarcely believe that it kills with its look, for who
could have seen it and lived to tell the story?" The worthy sage
was not aware that those who went to hunt the basilisk of this
sort took with them a mirror, which reflected back the deadly
glare upon its author, and by a kind of poetical justice slew the
basilisk with his own weapon.

But what was to attack this terrible and unapproachable monster?
There is an old saying that "everything has its enemy"--and the
cockatrice quailed before the weasel. The basilisk might look
daggers, the weasel cared not, but advanced boldly to the
conflict. When bitten, the weasel retired for a moment to eat some
rue, which was the only plant the basilisks could not wither,
returned with renewed strength and soundness to the charge, and
never left the enemy till he was stretched dead on the plain. The
monster, too, as if conscious of the irregular way in which he
came into the world, was supposed to have a great antipathy to a
cock; and well he might, for as soon as he heard the cock crow he

The basilisk was of some use after death. Thus we read that its
carcass was suspended in the temple of Apollo, and in private
houses, as a sovereign remedy against spiders, and that it was
also hung up in the temple of Diana, for which reason no swallow
ever dared enter the sacred place.

The reader will, we apprehend, by this time have had enough of
absurdities, but still we can imagine his anxiety to know what a
cockatrice was like. The following is from Aldrovandus, a
celebrated naturalist of the sixteenth century, whose work on
natural history, in thirteen folio volumes, contains with much
that is valuable a large proportion of fables and inutilities. In
particular he is so ample on the subject of the cock and the bull
that from his practice, all rambling, gossiping tales of doubtful
credibility are called COCK AND BULL STORIES. Aldrovandus,
however, deserves our respect and esteem as the founder of a
botanic garden, and as a pioneer in the now prevalent custom of
making scientific collections for purposes of investigation and

Shelley, in his "Ode to Naples," full of the enthusiasm excited by
the intelligence of the proclamation of a Constitutional
Government at Naples, in 1820, thus uses an allusion to the

   "What though Cimmerian anarchs dare blaspheme
    Freedom and thee? a new Actaeon's error
    Shall theirs have been,--devoured by their own hounds!
      Be thou like the imperial basilisk,
    Killing thy foe with unapparent wounds!
      Gaze on oppression, till at that dread risk,
      Aghast she pass from the earth's disk.
    Fear not, but gaze,--for freemen mightier grow,
    And slaves more feeble, gazing on their foe."


Pliny, the Roman naturalist, out of whose account of the unicorn
most of the modern unicorns have been described and figured,
records it as "a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its
body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant,
the tail of a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a single black
horn, two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its
forehead." He adds that "it cannot be taken alive;" and some such
excuse may have been necessary in those days for not producing the
living animal upon the arena of the amphitheatre.

The unicorn seems to have been a sad puzzle to the hunters, who
hardly knew how to come at so valuable a piece of game. Some
described the horn as movable at the will of the animal, a kind of
small sword, in short, with which no hunter who was not
exceedingly cunning in fence could have a chance. Others
maintained that all the animal's strength lay in its horn, and
that when hard pressed in pursuit, it would throw itself from the
pinnacle of the highest rocks horn foremost, so as to pitch upon
it, and then quietly march off not a whit the worse for its fall.

But it seems they found out how to circumvent the poor unicorn at
last. They discovered that it was a great lover of purity and
innocence, so they took the field with a young virgin, who was
placed in the unsuspecting admirer's way. When the unicorn spied
her, he approached with all reverence, couched beside her, and
laying his head in her lap, fell asleep. The treacherous virgin
then gave a signal, and the hunters made in and captured the
simple beast.

Modern zoologists, disgusted as they well may be with such fables
as these, disbelieve generally the existence of the unicorn. Yet
there are animals bearing on their heads a bony protuberance more
or less like a horn, which may have given rise to the story. The
rhinoceros horn, as it is called, is such a protuberance, though
it does not exceed a few inches in height, and is far from
agreeing with the descriptions of the horn of the unicorn. The
nearest approach to a horn in the middle of the forehead is
exhibited in the bony protuberance on the forehead of the giraffe;
but this also is short and blunt, and is not the only horn of the
animal, but a third horn, standing in front of the two others. In
fine, though it would be presumptuous to deny the existence of a
one-horned quadruped other than the rhinoceros, it may be safely
stated that the insertion of a long and solid horn in the living
forehead of a horse-like or deer-like animal is as near an
impossibility as anything can be.


The following is from the "Life of Benvenuto Cellini," an Italian
artist of the sixteenth century, written by himself: "When I was
about five years of age, my father, happening to be in a little
room in which they had been washing, and where there was a good
fire of oak burning, looked into the flames and saw a little
animal resembling a lizard, which could live in the hottest part
of that element. Instantly perceiving what it was, he called for
my sister and me, and after he had shown us the creature, he gave
me a box on the ear. I fell a-crying, while he, soothing me with
caresses, spoke these words: 'My dear child, I do not give you
that blow for any fault you have committed, but that you may
recollect that the little creature you see in the fire is a
salamander; such a one as never was beheld before to my
knowledge.' So saying he embraced me, and gave me some money."

It seems unreasonable to doubt a story of which Signor Cellini was
both an eye and ear witness. Add to which the authority of
numerous sage philosophers, at the head of whom are Aristotle and
Pliny, affirms this power of the salamander. According to them,
the animal not only resists fire, but extinguishes it, and when he
sees the flame charges it as an enemy which he well knows how to

That the skin of an animal which could resist the action of fire
should be considered proof against that element is not to be
wondered at. We accordingly find that a cloth made of the skin of
salamanders (for there really is such an animal, a kind of lizard)
was incombustible, and very valuable for wrapping up such articles
as were too precious to be intrusted to any other envelopes. These
fire-proof cloths were actually produced, said to be made of
salamander's wool, though the knowing ones detected that the
substance of which they were composed was asbestos, a mineral,
which is in fine filaments capable of being woven into a flexible

The foundation of the above fables is supposed to be the fact that
the salamander really does secrete from the pores of his body a
milky juice, which when he is irritated is produced in
considerable quantity, and would doubtless, for a few moments,
defend the body from fire. Then it is a hibernating animal, and in
winter retires to some hollow tree or other cavity, where it coils
itself up and remains in a torpid state till the spring again
calls it forth. It may therefore sometimes be carried with the
fuel to the fire, and wake up only time enough to put forth all
its faculties for its defence. Its viscous juice would do good
service, and all who profess to have seen it, acknowledge that it
got out of the fire as fast as its legs could carry it; indeed,
too fast for them ever to make prize of one, except in one
instance, and in that one the animal's feet and some parts of its
body were badly burned.

Dr. Young, in the "Night Thoughts," with more quaintness than good
taste, compares the sceptic who can remain unmoved in the
contemplation of the starry heavens to a salamander unwarmed in
the fire:

   "An undevout astronomer is mad!

   "O, what a genius must inform the skies!
    And is Lorenzo's salamander-heart
    Cold and untouched amid these sacred fires?"




Our knowledge of the religion of the ancient Persians is
principally derived from the Zendavesta, or sacred books of that
people. Zoroaster was the founder of their religion, or rather the
reformer of the religion which preceded him. The time when he
lived is doubtful, but it is certain that his system became the
dominant religion of Western Asia from the time of Cyrus (550
B.C.) to the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. Under the
Macedonian monarchy the doctrines of Zoroaster appear to have been
considerably corrupted by the introduction of foreign opinions,
but they afterwards recovered their ascendency.

Zoroaster taught the existence of a supreme being, who created two
other mighty beings and imparted to them as much of his own nature
as seemed good to him. Of these, Ormuzd (called by the Greeks
Oromasdes) remained faithful to his creator, and was regarded as
the source of all good, while Ahriman (Arimanes) rebelled, and
became the author of all evil upon the earth. Ormuzd created man
and supplied him with all the materials of happiness; but Ahriman
marred this happiness by introducing evil into the world, and
creating savage beasts and poisonous reptiles and plants. In
consequence of this, evil and good are now mingled together in
every part of the world, and the followers of good and evil--the
adherents of Ormuzd and Ahriman--carry on incessant war. But this
state of things will not last forever. The time will come when the
adherents of Ormuzd shall everywhere be victorious, and Ahriman
and his followers be consigned to darkness forever.

The religious rites of the ancient Persians were exceedingly
simple. They used neither temples, altars, nor statues, and
performed their sacrifices on the tops of mountains. They adored
fire, light, and the sun as emblems of Ormuzd, the source of all
light and purity, but did not regard them as independent deities.
The religious rites and ceremonies were regulated by the priests,
who were called Magi. The learning of the Magi was connected with
astrology and enchantment, in which they were so celebrated that
their name was applied to all orders of magicians and enchanters.

Wordsworth thus alludes to the worship of the Persians:

   "... the Persian,--zealous to reject
    Altar and Image, and the inclusive walls
    And roofs of temples built by human hands,--
    The loftiest heights ascending, from their tops,
    With myrtle-wreathed Tiara on his brows,
    Presented sacrifice to Moon and Stars,
    And to the Winds and mother Elements,
    And the whole circle of the Heavens, for him
    A sensitive existence and a God."

    --Excursion, Book IV.

In "Childe Harold" Byron speaks thus of the Persian worship:

   "Not vainly did the early Persian make
    His altar the high places and the peak
    Of earth-o'er-gazing mountains, and thus take
    A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek
    The Spirit, in whose honor shrines are weak,
    Upreared of human hands. Come and compare
    Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek,
    With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air,
    Nor fix on fond abodes to circumscribe thy prayer."

III., 91.

The religion of Zoroaster continued to flourish even after the
introduction of Christianity, and in the third century was the
dominant faith of the East, till the rise of the Mahometan power
and the conquest of Persia by the Arabs in the seventh century,
who compelled the greater number of the Persians to renounce their
ancient faith. Those who refused to abandon the religion of their
ancestors fled to the deserts of Kerman and to Hindustan, where
they still exist under the name of Parsees, a name derived from
Pars, the ancient name of Persia. The Arabs call them Guebers,
from an Arabic word signifying unbelievers. At Bombay the Parsees
are at this day a very active, intelligent, and wealthy class. For
purity of life, honesty, and conciliatory manners, they are
favorably distinguished. They have numerous temples to Fire, which
they adore as the symbol of the divinity.

The Persian religion makes the subject of the finest tale in
Moore's "Lalla Rookh," the "Fire Worshippers." The Gueber chief

   "Yes! I am of that impious race,
      Those slaves of Fire, that morn and even
    Hail their creator's dwelling-place
      Among the living lights of heaven;
    Yes! I am of that outcast crew
    To Iran and to vengeance true,
    Who curse the hour your Arabs came
    To desecrate our shrines of flame,
    And swear before God's burning eye,
    To break our country's chains or die."


The religion of the Hindus is professedly founded on the Vedas. To
these books of their scripture they attach the greatest sanctity,
and state that Brahma himself composed them at the creation. But
the present arrangement of the Vedas is attributed to the sage
Vyasa, about five thousand years ago.

The Vedas undoubtedly teach the belief of one supreme God. The
name of this deity is Brahma. His attributes are represented by
the three personified powers of creation, preservation, and
destruction, which under the respective names of Brahma, Vishnu,
and Siva form the Trimurti or triad of principal Hindu gods. Of
the inferior gods the most important are: 1. Indra, the god of
heaven, of thunder, lightning, storm, and rain; 2. Agni, the god
of fire; 3. Yama, the god of the infernal regions; 4. Surya, the
god of the sun.

Brahma is the creator of the universe, and the source from which
all the individual deities have sprung, and into which all will
ultimately be absorbed. "As milk changes to curd, and water to
ice, so is Brahma variously transformed and diversified, without
aid of exterior means of any sort." The human soul, according to
the Vedas, is a portion of the supreme ruler, as a spark is of the


Vishnu occupies the second place in the triad of the Hindus, and
is the personification of the preserving principle. To protect the
world in various epochs of danger, Vishnu descended to the earth
in different incarnations, or bodily forms, which descents are
called Avatars. They are very numerous, but ten are more
particularly specified. The first Avatar was as Matsya, the Fish,
under which form Vishnu preserved Manu, the ancestor of the human
race, during a universal deluge. The second Avatar was in the form
of a Tortoise, which form he assumed to support the earth when the
gods were churning the sea for the beverage of immortality,

We may omit the other Avatars, which were of the same general
character, that is, interpositions to protect the right or to
punish wrong-doers, and come to the ninth, which is the most
celebrated of the Avatars of Vishnu, in which he appeared in the
human form of Krishna, an invincible warrior, who by his exploits
relieved the earth from the tyrants who oppressed it.

Buddha is by the followers of the Brahmanical religion regarded as
a delusive incarnation of Vishnu, assumed by him in order to
induce the Asuras, opponents of the gods, to abandon the sacred
ordinances of the Vedas, by which means they lost their strength
and supremacy.

Kalki is the name of the tenth Avatar, in which Vishnu will appear
at the end of the present age of the world to destroy all vice and
wickedness, and to restore mankind to virtue and purity.


Siva is the third person of the Hindu triad. He is the
personification of the destroying principle. Though the third
name, he is, in respect to the number of his worshippers and the
extension of his worship, before either of the others. In the
Puranas (the scriptures of the modern Hindu religion) no allusion
is made to the original power of this god as a destroyer; that
power not being to be called into exercise till after the
expiration of twelve millions of years, or when the universe will
come to an end; and Mahadeva (another name for Siva) is rather the
representative of regeneration than of destruction.

The worshippers of Vishnu and Siva form two sects, each of which
proclaims the superiority of its favorite deity, denying the
claims of the other, and Brahma, the creator, having finished his
work, seems to be regarded as no longer active, and has now only
one temple in India, while Mahadeva and Vishnu have many. The
worshippers of Vishnu are generally distinguished by a greater
tenderness for life, and consequent abstinence from animal food,
and a worship less cruel than that of the followers of Siva.


Whether the worshippers of Juggernaut are to be reckoned among the
followers of Vishnu or Siva, our authorities differ. The temple
stands near the shore, about three hundred miles south-west of
Calcutta. The idol is a carved block of wood, with a hideous face,
painted black, and a distended blood-red mouth. On festival days
the throne of the image is placed on a tower sixty feet high,
moving on wheels. Six long ropes are attached to the tower, by
which the people draw it along. The priests and their attendants
stand round the throne on the tower, and occasionally turn to the
worshippers with songs and gestures. While the tower moves along
numbers of the devout worshippers throw themselves on the ground,
in order to be crushed by the wheels, and the multitude shout in
approbation of the act, as a pleasing sacrifice to the idol. Every
year, particularly at two great festivals in March and July,
pilgrims flock in crowds to the temple. Not less than seventy or
eighty thousand people are said to visit the place on these
occasions, when all castes eat together.


The division of the Hindus into classes or castes, with fixed
occupations, existed from the earliest times. It is supposed by
some to have been founded upon conquest, the first three castes
being composed of a foreign race, who subdued the natives of the
country and reduced them to an inferior caste. Others trace it to
the fondness of perpetuating, by descent from father to son,
certain offices or occupations.

The Hindu tradition gives the following account of the origin of
the various castes: At the creation Brahma resolved to give the
earth inhabitants who should be direct emanations from his own
body. Accordingly from his mouth came forth the eldest born,
Brahma (the priest), to whom he confided the four Vedas; from his
right arm issued Shatriya (the warrior), and from his left, the
warrior's wife. His thighs produced Vaissyas, male and female
(agriculturists and traders), and lastly from his feet sprang
Sudras (mechanics and laborers).

The four sons of Brahma, so significantly brought into the world,
became the fathers of the human race, and heads of their
respective castes. They were commanded to regard the four Vedas as
containing all the rules of their faith, and all that was
necessary to guide them in their religious ceremonies. They were
also commanded to take rank in the order of their birth, the
Brahmans uppermost, as having sprung from the head of Brahma.

A strong line of demarcation is drawn between the first three
castes and the Sudras. The former are allowed to receive
instruction from the Vedas, which is not permitted to the Sudras.
The Brahmans possess the privilege of teaching the Vedas, and were
in former times in exclusive possession of all knowledge. Though
the sovereign of the country was chosen from the Shatriya class,
also called Rajputs, the Brahmans possessed the real power, and
were the royal counsellors, the judges and magistrates of the
country; their persons and property were inviolable; and though
they committed the greatest crimes, they could only be banished
from the kingdom. They were to be treated by sovereigns with the
greatest respect, for "a Brahman, whether learned or ignorant, is
a powerful divinity."

When the Brahman arrives at years of maturity it becomes his duty
to marry. He ought to be supported by the contributions of the
rich, and not to be obliged to gain his subsistence by any
laborious or productive occupation. But as all the Brahmans could
not be maintained by the working classes of the community, it was
found necessary to allow them to engage in productive employments.

We need say little of the two intermediate classes, whose rank and
privileges may be readily inferred from their occupations. The
Sudras or fourth class are bound to servile attendance on the
higher classes, especially the Brahmans, but they may follow
mechanical occupations and practical arts, as painting and
writing, or become traders or husbandmen. Consequently they
sometimes grow rich, and it will also sometimes happen that
Brahmans become poor. That fact works its usual consequence, and
rich Sudras sometimes employ poor Brahmans in menial occupations.

There is another class lower even than the Sudras, for it is not
one of the original pure classes, but springs from an unauthorized
union of individuals of different castes. These are the Pariahs,
who are employed in the lowest services and treated with the
utmost severity. They are compelled to do what no one else can do
without pollution. They are not only considered unclean
themselves, but they render unclean everything they touch. They
are deprived of all civil rights, and stigmatized by particular
laws regulating their mode of life, their houses, and their
furniture. They are not allowed to visit the pagodas or temples of
the other castes, but have their own pagodas and religious
exercises. They are not suffered to enter the houses of the other
castes; if it is done incautiously or from necessity, the place
must be purified by religious ceremonies. They must not appear at
public markets, and are confined to the use of particular wells,
which they are obliged to surround with bones of animals, to warn
others against using them. They dwell in miserable hovels, distant
from cities and villages, and are under no restrictions in regard
to food, which last is not a privilege, but a mark of ignominy, as
if they were so degraded that nothing could pollute them. The
three higher castes are prohibited entirely the use of flesh. The
fourth is allowed to use all kinds except beef, but only the
lowest caste is allowed every kind of food without restriction.


Buddha, whom the Vedas represent as a delusive incarnation of
Vishnu, is said by his followers to have been a mortal sage, whose
name was Gautama, called also by the complimentary epithets of
Sakyasinha, the Lion, and Buddha, the Sage.

By a comparison of the various epochs assigned to his birth, it is
inferred that he lived about one thousand years before Christ.

He was the son of a king; and when in conformity to the usage of
the country he was, a few days after his birth, presented before
the altar of a deity, the image is said to have inclined its head
as a presage of the future greatness of the new-born prophet. The
child soon developed faculties of the first order, and became
equally distinguished by the uncommon beauty of his person. No
sooner had he grown to years of maturity than he began to reflect
deeply on the depravity and misery of mankind, and he conceived
the idea of retiring from society and devoting himself to
meditation. His father in vain opposed this design. Buddha escaped
the vigilance of his guards, and having found a secure retreat,
lived for six years undisturbed in his devout contemplations. At
the expiration of that period he came forward at Benares as a
religious teacher. At first some who heard him doubted of the
soundness of his mind; but his doctrines soon gained credit, and
were propagated so rapidly that Buddha himself lived to see them
spread all over India. He died at the age of eighty years.

The Buddhists reject entirely the authority of the Vedas, and the
religious observances prescribed in them and kept by the Hindus.
They also reject the distinction of castes, and prohibit all
bloody sacrifices, and allow animal food. Their priests are chosen
from all classes; they are expected to procure their maintenance
by perambulation and begging, and among other things it is their
duty to endeavor to turn to some use things thrown aside as
useless by others, and to discover the medicinal power of plants.
But in Ceylon three orders of priests are recognized; those of the
highest order are usually men of high birth and learning, and are
supported at the principal temples, most of which have been richly
endowed by the former monarchs of the country.

For several centuries after the appearance of Buddha, his sect
seems to have been tolerated by the Brahmans, and Buddhism appears
to have penetrated the peninsula of Hindustan in every direction,
and to have been carried to Ceylon, and to the eastern peninsula.
But afterwards it had to endure in India a long-continued
persecution, which ultimately had the effect of entirely
abolishing it in the country where it had originated, but to
scatter it widely over adjacent countries. Buddhism appears to
have been introduced into China about the year 65 of our era. From
China it was subsequently extended to Corea, Japan, and Java.


It is a doctrine alike of the Brahminical Hindus and of the
Buddhist sect that the confinement of the human soul, an emanation
of the divine spirit, in a human body, is a state of misery, and
the consequence of frailties and sins committed during former
existences. But they hold that some few individuals have appeared
on this earth from time to time, not under the necessity of
terrestrial existence, but who voluntarily descended to the earth
to promote the welfare of mankind. These individuals have
gradually assumed the character of reappearances of Buddha
himself, in which capacity the line is continued till the present
day, in the several Lamas of Thibet, China, and other countries
where Buddhism prevails. In consequence of the victories of Gengis
Khan and his successors, the Lama residing in Thibet was raised to
the dignity of chief pontiff of the sect. A separate province was
assigned to him as his own territory, and besides his spiritual
dignity he became to a limited extent a temporal monarch. He is
styled the Dalai Lama.

The first Christian missionaries who proceeded to Thibet were
surprised to find there in the heart of Asia a pontifical court
and several other ecclesiastical institutions resembling those of
the Roman Catholic church. They found convents for priests and
nuns; also processions and forms of religious worship, attended
with much pomp and splendor; and many were induced by these
similarities to consider Lamaism as a sort of degenerated
Christianity. It is not improbable that the Lamas derived some of
these practices from the Nestorian Christians, who were settled in
Tartary when Buddhism was introduced into Thibet.


An early account, communicated probably by travelling merchants,
of a Lama or spiritual chief among the Tartars, seems to have
occasioned in Europe the report of a Presbyter or Prester John, a
Christian pontiff resident in Upper Asia. The Pope sent a mission
in search of him, as did also Louis IX. of France, some years
later, but both missions were unsuccessful, though the small
communities of Nestorian Christians, which they did find, served
to keep up the belief in Europe that such a personage did exist
somewhere in the East. At last in the fifteenth century, a
Portuguese traveller, Pedro Covilham, happening to hear that there
was a Christian prince in the country of the Abessines
(Abyssinia), not far from the Red Sea, concluded that this must be
the true Prester John. He accordingly went thither, and penetrated
to the court of the king, whom he calls Negus. Milton alludes to
him in "Paradise Lost," Book XI., where, describing Adam's vision
of his descendants in their various nations and cities, scattered
over the face of the earth, he says,--

    "... Nor did his eyes not ken
     Th' empire of Negus, to his utmost port,
     Ercoco, and the less maritime kings,
     Mombaza and Quiloa and Melind."




The stories which have engaged our attention thus far relate to
the mythology of southern regions. But there is another branch of
ancient superstitions which ought not to be entirely overlooked,
especially as it belongs to the nations from which we, through our
English ancestors, derive our origin. It is that of the northern
nations, called Scandinavians, who inhabited the countries now
known as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. These mythological
records are contained in two collections called the Eddas, of
which the oldest is in poetry and dates back to the year 1056, the
more modern or prose Edda being of the date of 1640.

According to the Eddas there was once no heaven above nor earth
beneath, but only a bottomless deep, and a world of mist in which
flowed a fountain. Twelve rivers issued from this fountain, and
when they had flowed far from their source, they froze into ice,
and one layer accumulating over another, the great deep was filled

Southward from the world of mist was the world of light. From this
flowed a warm wind upon the ice and melted it. The vapors rose in
the air and formed clouds, from which sprang Ymir, the Frost giant
and his progeny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded
nourishment and food to the giant. The cow got nourishment by
licking the hoar frost and salt from the ice. While she was one
day licking the salt stones there appeared at first the hair of a
man, on the second day the whole head, and on the third the entire
form endowed with beauty, agility, and power. This new being was a
god, from whom and his wife, a daughter of the giant race, sprang
the three brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve. They slew the giant Ymir,
and out of his body formed the earth, of his blood the seas, of
his bones the mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the
heavens, and of his brain clouds, charged with hail and snow. Of
Ymir's eyebrows the gods formed Midgard (mid earth), destined to
become the abode of man.

Odin then regulated the periods of day and night and the seasons
by placing in the heavens the sun and moon and appointing to them
their respective courses. As soon as the sun began to shed its
rays upon the earth, it caused the vegetable world to bud and
sprout. Shortly after the gods had created the world they walked
by the side of the sea, pleased with their new work, but found
that it was still incomplete, for it was without human beings.
They therefore took an ash tree and made a man out of it, and they
made a woman out of an elder, and called the man Aske and the
woman Embla. Odin then gave them life and soul, Vili reason and
motion, and Ve bestowed upon them the senses, expressive features,
and speech. Midgard was then given them as their residence, and
they became the progenitors of the human race.

The mighty ash tree Ygdrasill was supposed to support the whole
universe. It sprang from the body of Ymir, and had three immense
roots, extending one into Asgard (the dwelling of the gods), the
other into Jotunheim (the abode of the giants), and the third to
Niffleheim (the regions of darkness and cold). By the side of each
of these roots is a spring, from which it is watered. The root
that extends into Asgard is carefully tended by the three Norns,
goddesses, who are regarded as the dispensers of fate. They are
Urdur (the past), Verdandi (the present), Skuld (the future). The
spring at the Jotunheim side is Ymir's well, in which wisdom and
wit lie hidden, but that of Niffleheim feeds the adder Nidhogge
(darkness), which perpetually gnaws at the root. Four harts run
across the branches of the tree and bite the buds; they represent
the four winds. Under the tree lies Ymir, and when he tries to
shake off its weight the earth quakes.

Asgard is the name of the abode of the gods, access to which is
only gained by crossing the bridge Bifrost (the rainbow). Asgard
consists of golden and silver palaces, the dwellings of the gods,
but the most beautiful of these is Valhalla, the residence of
Odin. When seated on his throne he overlooks all heaven and earth.
Upon his shoulders are the ravens Hugin and Munin, who fly every
day over the whole world, and on their return report to him all
they have seen and heard. At his feet lie his two wolves, Geri and
Freki, to whom Odin gives all the meat that is set before him, for
he himself stands in no need of food. Mead is for him both food
and drink. He invented the Runic characters, and it is the
business of the Norns to engrave the runes of fate upon a metal
shield. From Odin's name, spelt Woden, as it sometimes is, came
Wednesday, the name of the fourth day of the week.

Odin is frequently called Alfadur (All-father), but this name is
sometimes used in a way that shows that the Scandinavians had an
idea of a deity superior to Odin, uncreated and eternal.


Valhalla is the great hall of Odin, wherein he feasts with his
chosen heroes, all those who have fallen bravely in battle, for
all who die a peaceful death are excluded. The flesh of the boar
Schrimnir is served up to them, and is abundant for all. For
although this boar is cooked every morning, he becomes whole again
every night. For drink the heroes are supplied abundantly with
mead from the she-goat Heidrum. When the heroes are not feasting
they amuse themselves with fighting. Every day they ride out into
the court or field and fight until they cut each other in pieces.
This is their pastime; but when meal time comes they recover from
their wounds and return to feast in Valhalla.


The Valkyrie are warlike virgins, mounted upon horses and armed
with helmets and spears. Odin, who is desirous to collect a great
many heroes in Valhalla to be able to meet the giants in a day
when the final contest must come, sends down to every battle-field
to make choice of those who shall be slain. The Valkyrie are his
messengers, and their name means "Choosers of the slain." When
they ride forth on their errand, their armor sheds a strange
flickering light, which flashes up over the northern skies, making
what men call the "Aurora Borealis," or "Northern Lights."
[Footnote: Gray's ode, "The Fatal Sisters," is founded on this


Thor, the thunderer, Odin's eldest son, is the strongest of gods
and men, and possesses three very precious things. The first is a
hammer, which both the Frost and the Mountain giants know to their
cost, when they see it hurled against them in the air, for it has
split many a skull of their fathers and kindred. When thrown, it
returns to his hand of its own accord. The second rare thing he
possesses is called the belt of strength. When he girds it about
him his divine might is doubled. The third, also very precious, is
his iron gloves, which he puts on whenever he would use his mallet
efficiently. From Thor's name is derived our word Thursday.

Frey is one of the most celebrated of the gods. He presides over
rain and sunshine and all the fruits of the earth. His sister
Freya is the most propitious of the goddesses. She loves music,
spring, and flowers, and is particularly fond of the Elves
(fairies). She is very fond of love ditties, and all lovers would
do well to invoke her.

Bragi is the god of poetry, and his song records the deeds of
warriors. His wife, Iduna, keeps in a box the apples which the
gods, when they feel old age approaching, have only to taste of to
become young again.

Heimdall is the watchman of the gods, and is therefore placed on
the borders of heaven to prevent the giants from forcing their way
over the bridge Bifrost (the rainbow). He requires less sleep than
a bird, and sees by night as well as by day a hundred miles around
him. So acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for he can
even hear the grass grow and the wool on a sheep's back.


There is another deity who is described as the calumniator of the
gods and the contriver of all fraud and mischief. His name is
Loki. He is handsome and well made, but of a very fickle mood and
most evil disposition. He is of the giant race, but forced himself
into the company of the gods, and seems to take pleasure in
bringing them into difficulties, and in extricating them out of
the danger by his cunning, wit, and skill. Loki has three
children. The first is the wolf Fenris, the second the Midgard
serpent, the third Hela (Death), The gods were not ignorant that
these monsters were growing up, and that they would one day bring
much evil upon gods and men. So Odin deemed it advisable to send
one to bring them to him. When they came he threw the serpent into
that deep ocean by which the earth is surrounded. But the monster
had grown to such an enormous size that holding his tail in his
mouth he encircles the whole earth. Hela he cast into Niffleheim,
and gave her power over nine worlds or regions, into which she
distributes those who are sent to her; that is, all who die of
sickness or old age. Her hall is called Elvidner. Hunger is her
table, Starvation her knife, Delay her man, Slowness her maid,
Precipice her threshold, Care her bed, and Burning Anguish forms
the hangings of the apartments. She may easily be recognized, for
her body is half flesh color and half blue, and she has a
dreadfully stern and forbidding countenance. The wolf Fenris gave
the gods a great deal of trouble before they succeeded in chaining
him. He broke the strongest fetters as if they were made of
cobwebs. Finally the gods sent a messenger to the mountain
spirits, who made for them the chain called Gleipnir. It is
fashioned of six things, viz., the noise made by the footfall of a
cat, the beards of women, the roots of stones, the breath of
fishes, the nerves (sensibilities) of bears, and the spittle of
birds. When finished it was as smooth and soft as a silken string.
But when the gods asked the wolf to suffer himself to be bound
with this apparently slight ribbon, he suspected their design,
fearing that it was made by enchantment. He therefore only
consented to be bound with it upon condition that one of the gods
put his hand in his (Fenris's) mouth as a pledge that the band was
to be removed again. Tyr (the god of battles) alone had courage
enough to do this. But when the wolf found that he could not break
his fetters, and that the gods would not release him, he bit off
Tyr's hand, and he has ever since remained one-handed. HOW THOR

Once on a time, when the gods were constructing their abodes and
had already finished Midgard and Valhalla, a certain artificer
came and offered to build them a residence so well fortified that
they should be perfectly safe from the incursions of the Frost
giants and the giants of the mountains. But he demanded for his
reward the goddess Freya, together with the sun and moon. The gods
yielded to his terms, provided he would finish the whole work
himself without any one's assistance, and all within the space of
one winter. But if anything remained unfinished on the first day
of summer he should forfeit the recompense agreed on. On being
told these terms the artificer stipulated that he should be
allowed the use of his horse Svadilfari, and this by the advice of
Loki was granted to him. He accordingly set to work on the first
day of winter, and during the night let his horse draw stone for
the building. The enormous size of the stones struck the gods with
astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse did one-half
more of the toilsome work than his master. Their bargain, however,
had been concluded, and confirmed by solemn oaths, for without
these precautions a giant would not have thought himself safe
among the gods, especially when Thor should return from an
expedition he had then undertaken against the evil demons.

As the winter drew to a close, the building was far advanced, and
the bulwarks were sufficiently high and massive to render the
place impregnable. In short, when it wanted but three days to
summer, the only part that remained to be finished was the
gateway. Then sat the gods on their seats of justice and entered
into consultation, inquiring of one another who among them could
have advised to give Freya away, or to plunge the heavens in
darkness by permitting the giant to carry away the sun and the

They all agreed that no one but Loki, the author of so many evil
deeds, could have given such bad counsel, and that he should be
put to a cruel death if he did not contrive some way to prevent
the artificer from completing his task and obtaining the
stipulated recompense. They proceeded to lay hands on Loki, who in
his fright promised upon oath that, let it cost him what it would,
he would so manage matters that the man should lose his reward.
That very night when the man went with Svadilfari for building
stone, a mare suddenly ran out of a forest and began to neigh. The
horse thereat broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest,
which obliged the man also to run after his horse, and thus
between one and another the whole night was lost, so that at dawn
the work had not made the usual progress. The man, seeing that he
must fail of completing his task, resumed his own gigantic
stature, and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in reality
a mountain giant who had come amongst them. Feeling no longer
bound by their oaths, they called on Thor, who immediately ran to
their assistance, and lifting up his mallet, paid the workman his
wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by sending him back
to Jotunheim, for with the first blow he shattered the giant's
skull to pieces and hurled him headlong into Niffleheim.


Once upon a time it happened that Thor's hammer fell into the
possession of the giant Thrym, who buried it eight fathoms deep
under the rocks of Jotunheim. Thor sent Loki to negotiate with
Thrym, but he could only prevail so far as to get the giant's
promise to restore the weapon if Freya would consent to be his
bride. Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, but
the goddess of love was quite horrified at the idea of bestowing
her charms on the king of the Frost giants. In this emergency Loki
persuaded Thor to dress himself in Freya's clothes and accompany
him to Jotunheim. Thrym received his veiled bride with due
courtesy, but was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her
supper eight salmons and a full grown ox, besides other
delicacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of mead. Loki,
however, assured him that she had not tasted anything for eight
long nights, so great was her desire to see her lover, the
renowned ruler of Jotunheim. Thrym had at length the curiosity to
peep under his bride's veil, but started back in affright and
demanded why Freya's eyeballs glistened with fire. Loki repeated
the same excuse and the giant was satisfied. He ordered the hammer
to be brought in and laid on the maiden's lap. Thereupon Thor
threw off his disguise, grasped his redoubted weapon, and
slaughtered Thrym and all his followers.

Frey also possessed a wonderful weapon, a sword which would of
itself spread a field with carnage whenever the owner desired it.
Frey parted with this sword, but was less fortunate than Thor and
never recovered it. It happened in this way: Frey once mounted
Odin's throne, from whence one can see over the whole universe,
and looking round saw far off in the giant's kingdom a beautiful
maid, at the sight of whom he was struck with sudden sadness,
insomuch that from that moment he could neither sleep, nor drink,
nor speak. At last Skirnir, his messenger, drew his secret from
him, and undertook to get him the maiden for his bride, if he
would give him his sword as a reward. Frey consented and gave him
the sword, and Skirnir set off on his journey and obtained the
maiden's promise that within nine nights she would come to a
certain place and there wed Frey. Skirnir having reported the
success of his errand, Frey exclaimed:

    "Long is one night,
     Long are two nights,
     But how shall I hold out three?
     Shorter hath seemed
     A month to me oft
     Than of this longing time the half."

So Frey obtained Gerda, the most beautiful of all women, for his
wife, but he lost his sword.

This story, entitled "Skirnir For," and the one immediately
preceding it, "Thrym's Quida," will be found poetically told in
Longfellow's "Poets and Poetry of Europe."




One day the god Thor, with his servant Thialfi, and accompanied by
Loki, set out on a journey to the giant's country. Thialfi was of
all men the swiftest of foot. He bore Thor's wallet, containing
their provisions. When night came on they found themselves in an
immense forest, and searched on all sides for a place where they
might pass the night, and at last came to a very large hall, with
an entrance that took the whole breadth of one end of the
building. Here they lay down to sleep, but towards midnight were
alarmed by an earthquake which shook the whole edifice. Thor,
rising up, called on his companions to seek with him a place of
safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber, into which
the others entered, but Thor remained at the doorway with his
mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself, whatever might
happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the night, and at
dawn of day Thor went out and found lying near him a huge giant,
who slept and snored in the way that had alarmed them so. It is
said that for once Thor was afraid to use his mallet, and as the
giant soon waked up, Thor contented himself with simply asking his

"My name is Skrymir," said the giant, "but I need not ask thy
name, for I know that thou art the god Thor. But what has become
of my glove?" Thor then perceived that what they had taken
overnight for a hall was the giant's glove, and the chamber where
his two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. Skrymir then
proposed that they should travel in company, and Thor consenting,
they sat down to eat their breakfast, and when they had done,
Skrymir packed all the provisions into one wallet, threw it over
his shoulder, and strode on before them, taking such tremendous
strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with him. So they
travelled the whole day, and at dusk Skrymir chose a place for
them to pass the night in under a large oak tree. Skrymir then
told them he would lie down to sleep. "But take ye the wallet," he
added, "and prepare your supper."

Skrymir soon fell asleep and began to snore strongly; but when
Thor tried to open the wallet, he found the giant had tied it up
so tight he could not untie a single knot. At last Thor became
wroth, and grasping his mallet with both hands he struck a furious
blow on the giant's head. Skrymir, awakening, merely asked whether
a leaf had not fallen on his head, and whether they had supped and
were ready to go to sleep. Thor answered that they were just going
to sleep, and so saying went and laid himself down under another
tree. But sleep came not that night to Thor, and when Skrymir
snored again so loud that the forest reechoed with the noise, he
arose, and grasping his mallet launched it with such force at the
giant's skull that it made a deep dint in it. Skrymir, awakening,
cried out, "What's the matter? Are there any birds perched on this
tree? I felt some moss from the branches fall on my head. How
fares it with thee, Thor?" But Thor went away hastily, saying that
he had just then awoke, and that as it was only midnight, there
was still time for sleep. He, however, resolved that if he had an
opportunity of striking a third blow, it should settle all matters
between them. A little before daybreak he perceived that Skrymir
was again fast asleep, and again grasping his mallet, he dashed it
with such violence that it forced its way into the giant's skull
up to the handle. But Skrymir sat up, and stroking his cheek said,
"An acorn fell on my head. What! Art thou awake, Thor? Me thinks
it is time for us to get up and dress ourselves; but you have not
now a long way before you to the city called Utgard. I have heard
you whispering to one another that I am not a man of small
dimensions; but if you come to Utgard you will see there many men
much taller than I. Wherefore, I advise you, when you come there,
not to make too much of yourselves, for the followers of Utgard--
Loki will not brook the boasting of such little fellows as you
are. You must take the road that leads eastward, mine lies
northward, so we must part here."

Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulders and turned away
from them into the forest, and Thor had no wish to stop him or to
ask for any more of his company.

Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and towards noon
descried a city standing in the middle of a plain. It was so lofty
that they were obliged to bend their necks quite back on their
shoulders in order to see to the top of it. On arriving they
entered the city, and seeing a large palace before them with the
door wide open, they went in, and found a number of men of
prodigious stature, sitting on benches in the hall. Going further,
they came before the king, Utgard-Loki, whom they saluted with
great respect. The king, regarding them with a scornful smile,
said, "If I do not mistake me, that stripling yonder must be the
god Thor." Then addressing himself to Thor, he said, "Perhaps thou
mayst be more than thou appearest to be. What are the feats that
thou and thy fellows deem yourselves skilled in, for no one is
permitted to remain here who does not, in some feat or other,
excel all other men?"

"The feat that I know," said Loki, "is to eat quicker than any one
else, and in this I am ready to give a proof against any one here
who may choose to compete with me."

"That will indeed be a feat," said Utgard-Loki, "if thou
performest what thou promisest, and it shall be tried forthwith."

He then ordered one of his men who was sitting at the farther end
of the bench, and whose name was Logi, to come forward and try his
skill with Loki. A trough filled with meat having been set on the
hall floor, Loki placed himself at one end, and Logi at the other,
and each of them began to eat as fast as he could, until they met
in the middle of the trough. But it was found that Loki had only
eaten the flesh, while his adversary had devoured both flesh and
bone, and the trough to boot. All the company therefore adjudged
that Loki was vanquished.

Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man who accompanied
Thor could perform. Thialfi answered that he would run a race with
any one who might be matched against him. The king observed that
skill in running was something to boast of, but if the youth would
win the match he must display great agility. He then arose and
went with all who were present to a plain where there was good
ground for running on, and calling a young man named Hugi, bade
him run a match with Thialfi. In the first course Hugi so much
out-stripped his competitor that he turned back and met him not
far from the starting place. Then they ran a second and a third
time, but Thialfi met with no better success.

Utgard-Loki then asked Thor in what feats he would choose to give
proofs of that prowess for which he was so famous. Thor answered
that he would try a drinking-match with any one. Utgard-Loki bade
his cup-bearer bring the large horn which his followers were
obliged to empty when they had trespassed in any way against the
law of the feast. The cupbearer having presented it to Thor,
Utgard-Loki said, "Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn
at a single draught, though most men make two of it, but the most
puny drinker can do it in three."

Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no extraordinary size
though somewhat long; however, as he was very thirsty, he set it
to his lips, and without drawing breath, pulled as long and as
deeply as he could, that he might not be obliged to make a second
draught of it; but when he set the horn down and looked in, he
could scarcely perceive that the liquor was diminished.

After taking breath, Thor went to it again with all his might, but
when he took the horn from his mouth, it seemed to him that he had
drunk rather less than before, although the horn could now be
carried without spilling.

"How now, Thor?" said Utgard-Loki; "thou must not spare thyself;
if thou meanest to drain the horn at the third draught thou must
pull deeply; and I must needs say that thou wilt not be called so
mighty a man here as thou art at home if thou showest no greater
prowess in other feats than methinks will be shown in this."

Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, and did his
best to empty it; but on looking in found the liquor was only a
little lower, so he resolved to make no further attempt, but gave
back the horn to the cup-bearer.

"I now see plainly," said Utgard-Loki, "that thou art not quite so
stout as we thought thee: but wilt thou try any other feat, though
methinks thou art not likely to bear any prize away with thee

"What new trial hast thou to propose?" said Thor.

"We have a very trifling game here," answered Utgard-Loki, "in
which we exercise none but children. It consists in merely lifting
my cat from the ground; nor should I have dared to mention such a
feat to the great Thor if I had not already observed that thou art
by no means what we took thee for."

As he finished speaking, a large gray cat sprang on the hall
floor. Thor put his hand under the cat's belly and did his utmost
to raise him from the floor, but the cat, bending his back, had,
notwithstanding all Thor's efforts, only one of his feet lifted
up, seeing which Thor made no further attempt.

"This trial has turned out," said Utgard-Loki, "just as I imagined
it would. The cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison to
our men."

"Little as ye call me," answered Thor, "let me see who among you
will come hither now I am in wrath and wrestle with me."

"I see no one here," said Utgard-Loki, looking at the men sitting
on the benches, "who would not think it beneath him to wrestle
with thee; let somebody, however, call hither that old crone, my
nurse Elli, and let Thor wrestle with her if he will. She has
thrown to the ground many a man not less strong than this Thor

A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and was told by
Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The tale is shortly told. The
more Thor tightened his hold on the crone the firmer she stood. At
length after a very violent struggle Thor began to lose his
footing, and was finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard-Loki
then told them to desist, adding that Thor had now no occasion to
ask any one else in the hall to wrestle with him, and it was also
getting late; so he showed Thor and his companions to their seats,
and they passed the night there in good cheer.

The next morning, at break of day, Thor and his companions dressed
themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loki ordered a
table to be set for them, on which there was no lack of victuals
or drink. After the repast Utgard-Loki led them to the gate of the
city, and on parting asked Thor how he thought his journey had
turned out, and whether he had met with any men stronger than
himself. Thor told him that he could not deny but that he had
brought great shame on himself. "And what grieves me most," he
added, "is that ye will call me a person of little worth."

"Nay," said Utgard-Loki, "it behooves me to tell thee the truth,
now thou art out of the city, which so long as I live and have my
way thou shalt never enter again. And, by my troth, had I known
beforehand that thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst
have brought me so near to a great mishap, I would not have
suffered thee to enter this time. Know then that I have all along
deceived thee by my illusions; first in the forest, where I tied
up the wallet with iron wire so that thou couldst not untie it.
After this thou gavest me three blows with thy mallet; the first,
though the least, would have ended my days had it fallen on me,
but I slipped aside and thy blows fell on the mountain, where thou
wilt find three glens, one of them remarkably deep. These are the
dints made by thy mallet. I have made use of similar illusions in
the contests you have had with my followers. In the first, Loki,
like hunger itself, devoured all that was set before him, but Logi
was in reality nothing else than Fire, and therefore consumed not
only the meat, bat the trough which held it. Hugi, with whom
Thialfi contended in running, was Thought, and it was impossible
for Thialfi to keep pace with that. When thou in thy turn didst
attempt to empty the horn, thou didst perform, by my troth, a deed
so marvellous that had I not seen it myself I should never have
believed it. For one end of that horn reached the sea, which thou
wast not aware of, but when thou comest to the shore thou wilt
perceive how much the sea has sunk by thy draughts. Thou didst
perform a feat no less wonderful by lifting up the cat, and to
tell thee the truth, when we saw that one of his paws was off the
floor, we were all of us terror-stricken, for what thou tookest
for a cat was in reality the Midgard serpent that encompasseth the
earth, and he was so stretched by thee that he was barely long
enough to enclose it between his head and tail. Thy wrestling with
Elli was also a most astonishing feat, for there was never yet a
man, nor ever will be, whom Old Age, for such in fact was Elli,
will not sooner or later lay low. But now, as we are going to
part, let me tell thee that it will be better for both of us if
thou never come near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I shall
again defend myself by other illusions, so that thou wilt only
lose thy labor and get no fame from the contest with me."

On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of his mallet and
would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared,
and when Thor would have returned to the city to destroy it, he
found nothing around him but a verdant plain.




Baldur the Good, having been tormented with terrible dreams
indicating that his life was in peril, told them to the assembled
gods, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the
threatened danger. Then Frigga, the wife of Odin, exacted an oath
from fire and water, from iron and all other metals, from stones,
trees, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that
none of them would do any harm to Baldur. Odin, not satisfied with
all this, and feeling alarmed for the fate of his son, determined
to consult the prophetess Angerbode, a giantess, mother of Fenris,
Hela, and the Midgard serpent. She was dead, and Odin was forced
to seek her in Hela's dominions. This Descent of Odin forms the
subject of Gray's fine ode beginning,--

    "Uprose the king of men with speed
    And saddled straight his coal-black steed"

But the other gods, feeling that what Frigga had done was quite
sufficient, amused themselves with using Baldur as a mark, some
hurling darts at him, some stones, while others hewed at him with
their swords and battle-axes; for do what they would, none of them
could harm him. And this became a favorite pastime with them and
was regarded as an honor shown to Baldur. But when Loki beheld the
scene he was sorely vexed that Baldur was not hurt. Assuming,
therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir, the man-
sion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pretended woman,
inquired of her if she knew what the gods were doing at their
meetings. She replied that they were throwing darts and stones at
Baldur, without being able to hurt him. "Ay," said Frigga,
"neither stones, nor sticks, nor anything else can hurt Baldur,
for I have exacted an oath from all of them." "What," exclaimed
the woman, "have all things sworn to spare Baldur?" "All things,"
replied Frigga, "except one little shrub that grows on the eastern
side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I thought too
young and feeble to crave an oath from."

As soon as Loki heard this he went away, and resuming his natural
shape, cut off the mistletoe, and repaired to the place where the
gods were assembled. There he found Hodur standing apart, without
partaking of the sports, on account of his blindness, and going up
to him, said, "Why dost thou not also throw something at Baldur?"

"Because I am blind," answered Hodur, "and see not where Baldur
is, and have, moreover, nothing to throw."

"Come, then," said Loki, "do like the rest, and show honor to
Baldur by throwing this twig at him, and I will direct thy arm
towards the place where he stands."

Hodur then took the mistletoe, and under the guidance of Loki,
darted it at Baldur, who, pierced through and through, fell down
lifeless. Surely never was there witnessed, either among gods or
men, a more atrocious deed than this. When Baldur fell, the gods
were struck speechless with horror, and then they looked at each
other, and all were of one mind to lay hands on him who had done
the deed, but they were obliged to delay their vengeance out of
respect for the sacred place where they were assembled. They gave
vent to their grief by loud lamentations. When the gods came to
themselves, Frigga asked who among them wished to gain all her
love and good will. "For this," said she, "shall he have who will
ride to Hel and offer Hela a ransom if she will let Baldur return
to Asgard." Whereupon Hermod, surnamed the Nimble, the son of
Odin, offered to undertake the journey. Odin's horse, Sleipnir,
which has eight legs and can outrun the wind, was then led forth,
on which Hermod mounted and galloped away on his mission. For the
space of nine days and as many nights he rode through deep glens
so dark that he could not discern anything, until he arrived at
the river Gyoll, which he passed over on a bridge covered with
glittering gold. The maiden who kept the bridge asked him his name
and lineage, telling him that the day before five bands of dead
persons had ridden over the bridge, and did not shake it as much
as he alone. "But," she added, "thou hast not death's hue on thee;
why then ridest thou here on the way to Hel?"

"I ride to Hel," answered Hermod, "to seek Baldur. Hast thou
perchance seen him pass this way?"

She replied, "Baldur hath ridden over Gyoll's bridge, and yonder
lieth the way he took to the abodes of death"

Hermod pursued his journey until he came to the barred gates of
Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his saddle tighter, and remounting
clapped both spurs to his horse, who cleared the gate by a
tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod then rode on to the
palace, where he found his brother Baldur occupying the most
distinguished seat in the hall, and passed the night in his
company. The next morning he besought Hela to let Baldur ride home
with him, assuring her that nothing but lamentations were to be
heard among the gods. Hela answered that it should now be tried
whether Baldur was so beloved as he was said to be. "If,
therefore," she added, "all things in the world, both living and
lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to life; but if any
one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in

Hermod then rode back to Asgard and gave an account of all he had
heard and witnessed.

The gods upon this despatched messengers throughout the world to
beg everything to weep in order that Baldur might be delivered
from Hel. All things very willingly complied with this request,
both men and every other living being, as well as earths, and
stones, and trees, and metals, just as we have all seen these
things weep when they are brought from a cold place into a hot
one. As the messengers were returning, they found an old hag named
Thaukt sitting in a cavern, and begged her to weep Baldur out of
Hel. But she answered,

    "Thaukt will wail
    With dry tears
    Baldur's bale-fire.
    Let Hela keep her own."

It was strongly suspected that this hag was no other than Loki
himself, who never ceased to work evil among gods and men. So
Baldur was prevented from coming back to Asgard.

[Footnote: In Longfellow's Poems will be found a poem entitled
"Tegner's Drapa," upon the subject of Baldur's death.]

The gods took up the dead body and bore it to the seashore where
stood Baldur's ship "Hringham," which passed for the largest in
the world. Baldur's dead body was put on the funeral pile, on
board the ship, and his wife Nanna was so struck with grief at the
sight that she broke her heart, and her body was burned on the
same pile as her husband's. There was a vast concourse of various
kinds of people at Baldur's obsequies. First came Odin accompanied
by Frigga, the Valkyrie, and his ravens; then Frey in his car
drawn by Gullinbursti, the boar; Heimdall rode his horse Gulltopp,
and Freya drove in her chariot drawn by cats. There were also a
great many Frost giants and giants of the mountain present.
Baldur's horse was led to the pile fully caparisoned and consumed
in the same flames with his master.

But Loki did not escape his deserved punishment. When he saw how
angry the gods were, he fled to the mountain, and there built
himself a hut with four doors, so that he could see every
approaching danger. He invented a net to catch the fishes, such as
fishermen have used since his time. But Odin found out his hiding-
place and the gods assembled to take him. He, seeing this, changed
himself into a salmon, and lay hid among the stones of the brook.
But the gods took his net and dragged the brook, and Loki, finding
he must be caught, tried to leap over the net; but Thor caught him
by the tail and compressed it, so that salmons ever since have had
that part remarkably fine and thin. They bound him with chains and
suspended a serpent over his head, whose venom falls upon his face
drop by drop. His wife Siguna sits by his side and catches the
drops as they fall, in a cup; but when she carries it away to
empty it, the venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with
horror, and twist his body about so violently that the whole earth
shakes, and this produces what men call earthquakes.


The Edda mentions another class of beings, inferior to the gods,
but still possessed of great power; these were called Elves. The
white spirits, or Elves of Light, were exceedingly fair, more
brilliant than the sun, and clad in garments of a delicate and
transparent texture. They loved the light, were kindly disposed to
mankind, and generally appeared as fair and lovely children. Their
country was called Alfheim, and was the domain of Freyr, the god
of the sun, in whose light they were always sporting.

The Black or Night Elves were a different kind of creatures. Ugly,
long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown color, they appeared only at
night, for they avoided the sun as their most deadly enemy,
because whenever his beams fell upon any of them they changed them
immediately into stones. Their language was the echo of solitudes,
and their dwelling-places subterranean caves and clefts. They were
supposed to have come into existence as maggots produced by the
decaying flesh of Ymir's body, and were afterwards endowed by the
gods with a human form and great understanding. They were
particularly distinguished for a knowledge of the mysterious
powers of nature, and for the runes which they carved and
explained. They were the most skilful artificers of all created
beings, and worked in metals and in wood. Among their most noted
works were Thor's hammer, and the ship "Skidbladnir," which they
gave to Freyr, and which was so large that it could contain all
the deities with their war and household implements, but so
skillfully was it wrought that when folded together it could be
put into a side pocket.


It was a firm belief of the northern nations that a time would
come when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla and
Niffleheim, the inhabitants of Jotunheim, Alfheim, and Midgard,
together with their habitations, would be destroyed. The fearful
day of destruction will not, however, be without its forerunners.
First will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall from
the four corners of the heavens, the frost be very severe, the
wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no
gladness. Three such winters will pass away without being tempered
by a single summer. Three other similar winters will then follow,
during which war and discord will spread over the universe. The
earth itself will be frightened and begin to tremble, the sea
leave its basin, the heavens tear asunder, and men perish in great
numbers, and the eagles of the air feast upon their still
quivering bodies. The wolf Fenris will now break his bands, the
Midgard serpent rise out of her bed in the sea, and Loki, released
from his bonds, will join the enemies of the gods. Amidst the
general devastation the sons of Muspelheim will rush forth under
their leader Surtur, before and behind whom are flames and burning
fire. Onward they ride over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, which
breaks under the horses' hoofs. But they, disregarding its fall,
direct their course to the battlefield called Vigrid. Thither also
repair the wolf Fenris, the Midgard serpent, Loki with all the
followers of Hela, and the Frost giants.

Heimdall now stands up and sounds the Giallar horn to assemble the
gods and heroes for the contest. The gods advance, led on by Odin,
who engages the wolf Fenris, but falls a victim to the monster,
who is, however, slain by Vidar, Odin's son. Thor gains great
renown by killing the Midgard serpent, but recoils and falls dead,
suffocated with the venom which the dying monster vomits over him.
Loki and Heimdall meet and fight till they are both slain. The
gods and their enemies having fallen in battle, Surtur, who has
killed Freyr, darts fire and flames over the world, and the whole
universe is burned up. The sun becomes dim, the earth sinks into
the ocean, the stars fall from heaven, and time is no more.

After this Alfadur (the Almighty) will cause a new heaven and a
new earth to arise out of the sea. The new earth filled with
abundant supplies will spontaneously produce its fruits without
labor or care. Wickedness and misery will no more be known, but
the gods and men will live happily together.


One cannot travel far in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden without
meeting with great stones of different forms, engraven with
characters called Runic, which appear at first sight very
different from all we know. The letters consist almost invariably
of straight lines, in the shape of little sticks either singly or
put together. Such sticks were in early times used by the northern
nations for the purpose of ascertaining future events. The sticks
were shaken up, and from the figures that they formed a kind of
divination was derived.

The Runic characters were of various kinds. They were chiefly used
for magical purposes. The noxious, or, as they called them, the
BITTER runes, were employed to bring various evils on their
enemies; the favorable averted misfortune. Some were medicinal,
others employed to win love, etc. In later times they were
frequently used for inscriptions, of which more than a thousand
have been found. The language is a dialect of the Gothic, called
Norse, still in use in Iceland. The inscriptions may therefore be
read with certainty, but hitherto very few have been found which
throw the least light on history. They are mostly epitaphs on

Gray's ode on the "Descent of Odin" contains an allusion to the
use of Runic letters for incantation:

    "Facing to the northern clime,
    Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme;
    Thrice pronounced, in accents dread,
    The thrilling verse that wakes the dead,
    Till from out the hollow ground
    Slowly breathed a sullen sound."


The Skalds were the bards and poets of the nation, a very
important class of men in all communities in an early stage of
civilization. They are the depositaries of whatever historic lore
there is, and it is their office to mingle something of
intellectual gratification with the rude feasts of the warriors,
by rehearsing, with such accompaniments of poetry and music as
their skill can afford, the exploits of their heroes living or
dead. The compositions of the Skalds were called Sagas, many of
which have come down to us, and contain valuable materials of
history, and a faithful picture of the state of society at the
time to which they relate.


The Eddas and Sagas have come to us from Iceland. The following
extract from Carlyle's lectures on "Heroes and Hero Worship" gives
an animated account of the region where the strange stories we
have been reading had their origin. Let the reader contrast it for
a moment with Greece, the parent of classical mythology:

"In that strange island, Iceland,--burst up, the geologists say,
by fire from the bottom of the sea, a wild land of barrenness and
lava, swallowed many months of every year in black tempests, yet
with a wild, gleaming beauty in summer time, towering up there
stern and grim in the North Ocean, with its snow yokuls
[mountains], roaring geysers [boiling springs], sulphur pools, and
horrid volcanic chasms, like the waste, chaotic battlefield of
Frost and Fire,--where, of all places, we least looked for
literature or written memorials,--the record of these things was
written down. On the seaboard of this wild land is a rim of grassy
country, where cattle can subsist, and men by means of them and of
what the sea yields; and it seems they were poetic men these, men
who had deep thoughts in them and uttered musically their
thoughts. Much would be lost had Iceland not been burst up from
the sea, not been discovered by the Northmen!"


In the mythology of Germany proper, the name of Odin appears as
Wotan; Freya and Frigga are regarded as one and the same divinity,
and the gods are in general represented as less warlike in
character than those in the Scandinavian myths. As a whole,
however, Teutonic mythology runs along almost identical lines with
that of the northern nations. The most notable divergence is due
to modifications of the legends by reason of the difference in
climatic conditions. The more advanced social condition of the
Germans is also apparent in their mythology.


One of the oldest myths of the Teutonic race is found in the great
national epic of the Nibelungen Lied, which dates back to the
prehistoric era when Wotan, Frigga, Thor, Loki, and the other gods
and goddesses were worshipped in the German forests. The epic is
divided into two parts, the first of which tells how Siegfried,
the youngest of the kings of the Netherlands, went to Worms, to
ask in marriage the hand of Kriemhild, sister of Gunther, King of
Burgundy. While he was staying with Gunther, Siegfried helped the
Burgundian king to secure as his wife Brunhild, queen of Issland.
The latter had announced publicly that he only should be her
husband who could beat her in hurling a spear, throwing a huge
stone, and in leaping. Siegfried, who possessed a cloak of
invisibility, aided Gunther in these three contests, and Brunhild
became his wife. In return for these services, Gunther gave
Siegfried his sister Kriemhild in marriage.

After some time had elapsed, Siegfried and Kriemhild went to visit
Gunther, when the two women fell into a dispute about the relative
merits of their husbands. Kriemhild, to exalt Siegfried, boasted
that it was to the latter that Gunther owed his victories and his
wife. Brunhild, in great anger, employed Hagan, liegeman of
Gunther, to murder Siegfried. In the epic Hagan is described as

"Well-grown and well-compacted was that redoubted guest; Long were
his legs and sinewy, and deep and broad his chest; His hair, that
once was sable, with gray was dashed of late; Most terrible his
visage, and lordly was his gait."

--Nibelungen Lied, stanza 1789.

This Achilles of German romance stabbed Siegfried between the
shoulders, as the unfortunate King of the Netherlands was stooping
to drink from a brook during a hunting expedition.

The second part of the epic relates how, thirteen years later,
Kriemhild married Etzel, King of the Huns. After a time, she
invited the King of Burgundy, with Hagan and many others, to the
court of her husband. A fearful quarrel was stirred up in the
banquet hall, which ended in the slaughter of all the Burgundians
but Gunther and Hagan. These two were taken prisoners and given to
Kriemhild, who with her own hand cut off the heads of both. For
this bloody act of vengeance Kriemhild was herself slain by
Hildebrand, a magician and champion, who in German mythology holds
a place to an extent corresponding to that of Nestor in the Greek


This was a mythical mass of gold and precious stones which
Siegfried obtained from the Nibelungs, the people of the north
whom he had conquered and whose country he had made tributary to
his own kingdom of the Netherlands. Upon his marriage, Siegfried
gave the treasure to Kriemhild as her wedding portion. After the
murder of Siegfried, Hagan seized it and buried it secretly
beneath the Rhine at Lochham, intending to recover it at a future
period. The hoard was lost forever when Hagan was killed by
Kriemhild. Its wonders are thus set forth in the poem:

    "'Twas as much as twelve huge wagons in four whole nights and days
    Could carry from the mountain down to the salt sea bay;
    Though to and fro each wagon thrice journeyed every day.

    "It was made up of nothing but precious stones and gold;
    Were all the world bought from it, and down the value told,
    Not a mark the less would there be left than erst there was, I ween."

    --Nibelungen Lied, XIX.

Whoever possessed the Nibelungen hoard were termed Nibelungers.
Thus at one time certain people of Norway were so called. When
Siegfried held the treasure he received the title "King of the


Though Richard Wagner's music-drama of the Nibelungen Ring bears
some resemblance to the ancient German epic, it is a wholly
independent composition and was derived from various old songs and
sagas, which the dramatist wove into one great harmonious story.
The principal source was the Volsunga Saga, while lesser parts
were taken from the Elder Edda and the Younger Edda, and others
from the Nibelungen Lied, the Ecklenlied, and other Teutonic

In the drama there are at first only four distinct races,--the
gods, the giants, the dwarfs, and the nymphs. Later, by a special
creation, there come the valkyrie and the heroes. The gods are the
noblest and highest race, and dwell first in the mountain meadows,
later in the palace of Valhalla on the heights. The giants are a
great and strong race, but lack wisdom; they hate what is noble,
and are enemies of the gods; they dwell in caves near the earth's
surface. The dwarfs, or nibelungs, are black uncouth pigmies,
hating the good, hating the gods; they are crafty and cunning, and
dwell in the bowels of the earth. The nymphs are pure, innocent
creatures of the water. The valkyrie are daughters of the gods,
but mingled with a mortal strain; they gather dead heroes from the
battle-fields and carry them to Valhalla. The heroes are children
of the gods, but also mingled with a mortal strain; they are
destined to become at last the highest race of all, and to succeed
the gods in the government of the world.

The principal gods are Wotan, Loki, Donner, and Froh. The chief
giants are Fafner and Fasolt, brothers. The chief dwarfs are
Alberich and Mime, brothers, and later Hagan, son of Alberich. The
chief nymphs are the Rhine-daughters, Flosshilda, Woglinda, and
Wellgunda. There are nine Valkyrie, of whom Brunhild is the
leading one.

Wagner's story of the Ring may be summarized as follows:

A hoard of gold exists in the depths of the Rhine, guarded by the
innocent Rhine-maidens. Alberich, the dwarf, forswears love to
gain this gold. He makes it into a magic ring. It gives him all
power, and he gathers by it a vast amount of treasures.

Meanwhile Wotan, chief of the gods, has engaged the giants to
build for him a noble castle, Valhalla, from whence to rule the
world, promising in payment Freya, goddess of youth and love. But
the gods find they cannot spare Freya, as they are dependent on
her for their immortal youth. Loki, called upon to provide a
substitute, tells of Alberich's magic ring and other treasure.
Wotan goes with Loki, and they steal the ring and the golden hoard
from Alberich, who curses the ring and lays the curse on all who
shall henceforth possess it. The gods give the ring and the
treasure to the giants as a substitute for Freya. The curse at
once begins. One giant, Fafner, kills his brother to get all, and
transforms himself into a dragon to guard his wealth. The gods
enter Valhalla over the rainbow bridge. This ends the first part
of the drama, called the Rhine-Gold.

The second part, the Valkyrie, relates how Wotan still covets the
ring. He cannot take it himself, for he has given his word to the
giants. He stands or falls by his word. So he devises an artifice
to get the ring. He will get a hero-race to work for him and
recover the ring and the treasures. Siegmund and Sieglinda are
twin children of this new race. Sieglinda is carried off as a
child and is forced into marriage with Hunding. Siegmund comes,
and unknowingly breaks the law of marriage, but wins Nothung, the
great sword, and a bride. Brunhild, chief of the Valkyrie, is
commissioned by Wotan at the instance of Fricka, goddess of
marriage, to slay him for his sin. She disobeys and tries to save
him, but Hunding, helped by Wotan, slays him. Sieglinda, however,
about to bear the free hero, to be called Siegfried, is saved by
Brunhild, and hid in the forest. Brunhild herself is punished by
being made a mortal woman. She is left sleeping on the mountains
with a wall of fire around her which only a hero can penetrate.

The drama continues with the story of Siegfried, which opens with
a scene in the smithy between Mime the dwarf and Siegfried. Mime
is welding a sword, and Siegfried scorns him. Mime tells him
something of his mother, Sieglinda, and shows him the broken
pieces of his father's sword. Wotan comes and tells Mime that only
one who has no fear can remake the sword. Now Siegfried knows no
fear and soon remakes the sword Nothung. Wotan and Alberich come
to where the dragon Fafner is guarding the ring. They both long
for it, but neither can take it. Soon Mime comes bringing
Siegfried with the mighty sword. Fafner comes out, but Siegfried
slays him. Happening to touch his lips with the dragon's blood, he
understands the language of the birds. They tell him of the ring.
He goes and gets it. Siegfried now has possession of the ring, but
it is to bring him nothing of happiness, only evil. It is to curse
love and finally bring death. The birds also tell him of Mime's
treachery. He slays Mime. He longs for some one to love. The birds
tell him of the slumbering Brunnhilda, whom he finds and marries.

The Dusk of the Gods portrays at the opening the three norns or
fates weaving and measuring the thread of destiny. It is the
beginning of the end. The perfect pair, Siegfried and Brunhild,
appear in all the glory of their life, splendid ideals of manhood
and womanhood. But Siegfried goes out into the world to achieve
deeds of prowess. He gives her the Nibelungen ring to keep as a
pledge of his love till his return. Meanwhile Alberich also has
begotten a son, Hagan, to achieve for him the possession of the
ring. He is partly of the Gibichung race, and works through
Gunther and Gutrune, half-brother and half-sister to him. They
beguile Siegfried to them, give him a magic draught which makes
him forget Brunhild and fall in love with Gutrune. Under this same
spell, he offers to bring Brunhild for wife to Gunther. Now is
Valhalla full of sorrow and despair. The gods fear the end. Wotan
murmurs, "O that she would give back the ring to the Rhine." But
Brunhild will not give it up,--it is now her pledge of love.
Siegfried comes, takes the ring, and Brunhild is now brought to
the Rhine castle of the Gibichungs, but Siegfried under the spell
does not love her. She is to be wedded to Gunther. She rises in
wrath and denounces Siegfried. But at a hunting banquet Siegfried
is given another magic draught, remembers all, and is slain by
Hagan by a blow in the back, as he calls on Brunhild's name in
love. Then comes the end. The body of Siegfried is burned on a
funeral pyre, a grand funeral march is heard, and Brunhild rides
into the flames and sacrifices herself for love's sake; the ring
goes back to the Rhine-daughters; and the old world--of the gods
of Valhalla, of passion and sin--is burnt up with flames, for the
gods have broken moral law, and coveted power rather than love,
gold rather than truth, and therefore must perish. They pass, and
a new era, the reign of love and truth, has begun.

Those who wish to study the differences in the legends of the
Nibelungen Lied and the Nibelungen Ring, and the way in which
Wagner used his ancient material, are referred to Professor W. C.
Sawyer's book on "Teutonic Legends in the Nibelungen Lied and the
Nibelungen Ring," where the matter is treated in full detail. For
a very thorough and clear analysis of the Ring as Wagner gives it,
with a study of the musical motifs, probably nothing is better for
general readers than the volume "The Epic of Sounds," by Freda
Winworth. The more scholarly work of Professor Lavignac is
indispensable for the student of Wagner's dramas. There is much
illuminating comment on the sources and materials in "Legends of
the Wagner Drama" by J. L. Weston.




The Druids were the priests or ministers of religion among the
ancient Celtic nations in Gaul, Britain, and Germany. Our
information respecting them is borrowed from notices in the Greek
and Roman writers, compared with the remains of Welsh and Gaelic
poetry still extant.

The Druids combined the functions of the priest, the magistrate,
the scholar, and the physician. They stood to the people of the
Celtic tribes in a relation closely analogous to that in which the
Brahmans of India, the Magi of Persia, and the priests of the
Egyptians stood to the people respectively by whom they were

The Druids taught the existence of one god, to whom they gave a
name "Be' al," which Celtic antiquaries tell us means "the life of
everything," or "the source of all beings," and which seems to
have affinity with the Phoenician Baal. What renders this affinity
more striking is that the Druids as well as the Phoenicians
identified this, their supreme deity, with the Sun. Fire was
regarded as a symbol of the divinity. The Latin writers assert
that the Druids also worshipped numerous inferior gods.

They used no images to represent the object of their worship, nor
did they meet in temples or buildings of any kind for the
performance of their sacred rites. A circle of stones (each stone
generally of vast size), enclosing an area of from twenty feet to
thirty yards in diameter, constituted their sacred place. The most
celebrated of these now remaining is Stonehenge, on Salisbury
Plain, England.

These sacred circles were generally situated near some stream, or
under the shadow of a grove or wide-spreading oak. In the centre
of the circle stood the Cromlech or altar, which was a large
stone, placed in the manner of a table upon other stones set up on
end. The Druids had also their high places, which were large
stones or piles of stones on the summits of hills. These were
called Cairns, and were used in the worship of the deity under the
symbol of the sun.

That the Druids offered sacrifices to their deity there can be no
doubt. But there is some uncertainty as to what they offered, and
of the ceremonies connected with their religious services we know
almost nothing. The classical (Roman) writers affirm that they
offered on great occasions human sacrifices; as for success in war
or for relief from dangerous diseases. Caesar has given a detailed
account of the manner in which this was done. "They have images of
immense size, the limbs of which are framed with twisted twigs and
filled with living persons. These being set on fire, those within
are encompassed by the flames." Many attempts have been made by
Celtic writers to shake the testimony of the Roman historians to
this fact, but without success.

The Druids observed two festivals in each year. The former took
place in the beginning of May, and was called Beltane or "fire of
God." On this occasion a large fire was kindled on some elevated
spot, in honor of the sun, whose returning beneficence they thus
welcomed after the gloom and desolation of winter. Of this custom
a trace remains in the name given to Whitsunday in parts of
Scotland to this day. Sir Walter Scott uses the word in the "Boat
Song" in the "Lady of the Lake":

"Ours is no sapling, chance sown by the fountain, Blooming at
Beltane in winter to fade;" etc.

The other great festival of the Druids was called "Samh'in," or
"fire of peace," and was held on Halloweve (first of November),
which still retains this designation in the Highlands of Scotland.
On this occasion the Druids assembled in solemn conclave, in the
most central part of the district, to discharge the judicial
functions of their order. All questions, whether public or
private, all crimes against person or property, were at this time
brought before them for adjudication. With these judicial acts
were combined certain superstitious usages, especially the
kindling of the sacred fire, from which all the fires in the
district, which had been beforehand scrupulously extinguished,
might be relighted. This usage of kindling fires on Hallow-eve
lingered in the British islands long after the establishment of

Besides these two great annual festivals, the Druids were in the
habit of observing the full moon, and especially the sixth day of
the moon. On the latter they sought the Mistletoe, which grew on
their favorite oaks, and to which, as well as to the oak itself,
they ascribed a peculiar virtue and sacredness. The discovery of
it was an occasion of rejoicing and solemn worship. "They call
it," says Pliny, "by a word in their language, which means 'heal-
all,' and having made solemn preparation for feasting and
sacrifice under the tree, they drive thither two milk-white bulls,
whose horns are then for the first time bound. The priest then,
robed in white, ascends the tree, and cuts off the mistletoe with
a golden sickle. It is caught in a white mantle, after which they
proceed to slay the victims, at the same time praying that God
would render his gift prosperous to those to whom he had given
it." They drink the water in which it has been infused, and think
it a remedy for all diseases. The mistletoe is a parasitic plant,
and is not always nor often found on the oak, so that when it is
found it is the more precious.

The Druids were the teachers of morality as well as of religion.
Of their ethical teaching a valuable specimen is preserved in the
Triads of the Welsh Bards, and from this we may gather that their
views of moral rectitude were on the whole just, and that they
held and inculcated many very noble and valuable principles of
conduct. They were also the men of science and learning of their
age and people. Whether they were acquainted with letters or not
has been disputed, though the probability is strong that they
were, to some extent. But it is certain that they committed
nothing of their doctrine, their history, or their poetry to
writing. Their teaching was oral, and their literature (if such a
word may be used in such a case) was preserved solely by
tradition. But the Roman writers admit that "they paid much
attention to the order and laws of nature, and investigated and
taught to the youth under their charge many things concerning the
stars and their motions, the size of the world and the lands, and
concerning the might and power of the immortal gods."

Their history consisted in traditional tales, in which the heroic
deeds of their forefathers were celebrated. These were apparently
in verse, and thus constituted part of the poetry as well as the
history of the Druids. In the poems of Ossian we have, if not the
actual productions of Druidical times, what may be considered
faithful representations of the songs of the Bards.

The Bards were an essential part of the Druidical hierarchy. One
author, Pennant, says, "The Bards were supposed to be endowed with
powers equal to inspiration. They were the oral historians of all
past transactions, public and private. They were also accomplished
genealogists," etc.

Pennant gives a minute account of the Eisteddfods or sessions of
the Bards and minstrels, which were held in Wales for many
centuries, long after the Druidical priesthood in its other
departments became extinct. At these meetings none but Bards of
merit were suffered to rehearse their pieces, and minstrels of
skill to perform. Judges were appointed to decide on their
respective abilities, and suitable degrees were conferred. In the
earlier period the judges were appointed by the Welsh princes, and
after the conquest of Wales, by commission from the kings of
England. Yet the tradition is that Edward I., in revenge for the
influence of the Bards in animating the resistance of the people
to his sway, persecuted them with great cruelty. This tradition
has furnished the poet Gray with the subject of his celebrated
ode, the "Bard."

There are still occasional meetings of the lovers of Welsh poetry
and music, held under the ancient name. Among Mrs. Hemans' poems
is one written for an Eisteddfod, or meeting of Welsh Bards, held
in London, May 22, 1822. It begins with a description of the
ancient meeting, of which the following lines are a part:

    "... midst the eternal cliffs, whose strength defied
    The crested Roman in his hour of pride;
    And where the Druid's ancient cromlech frowned,
    And the oaks breathed mysterious murmurs round,
    There thronged the inspired of yore! on plain or height,
    In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light,
    And baring unto heaven each noble head,
    Stood in the circle, where none else might tread."

The Druidical system was at its height at the time of the Roman
invasion under Julius Caesar. Against the Druids, as their chief
enemies, these conquerors of the world directed their unsparing
fury. The Druids, harassed at all points on the mainland,
retreated to Anglesey and Iona, where for a season they found
shelter and continued their now dishonored rites.

The Druids retained their predominance in Iona and over the
adjacent islands and mainland until they were supplanted and their
superstitions overturned by the arrival of St. Columba, the
apostle of the Highlands, by whom the inhabitants of that district
were first led to profess Christianity.


One of the smallest of the British Isles, situated near a rugged
and barren coast, surrounded by dangerous seas, and possessing no
sources of internal wealth, Iona has obtained an imperishable
place in history as the seat of civilization and religion at a
time when the darkness of heathenism hung over almost the whole of
Northern Europe. lona or Icolmkill is situated at the extremity of
the island of Mull, from which it is separated by a strait of half
a mile in breadth, its distance from the mainland of Scotland
being thirty-six miles.

Columba was a native of Ireland, and connected by birth with the
princes of the land. Ireland was at that time a land of gospel
light, while the western and northern parts of Scotland were still
immersed in the darkness of heathenism. Columba with twelve
friends landed on the island of lona in the year of our Lord 563,
having made the passage in a wicker boat covered with hides. The
Druids who occupied the island endeavored to prevent his settling
there, and the savage nations on the adjoining shores incommoded
him with their hostility, and on several occasions endangered his
life by their attacks. Yet by his perseverance and zeal he
surmounted all opposition, procured from the king a gift of the
island, and established there a monastery of which he was the
abbot. He was unwearied in his labors to disseminate a knowledge
of the Scriptures throughout the Highlands and islands of
Scotland, and such was the reverence paid him that though not a
bishop, but merely a presbyter and monk, the entire province with
its bishops was subject to him and his successors. The Pictish
monarch was so impressed with a sense of his wisdom and worth that
he held him in the highest honor, and the neighboring chiefs and
princes sought his counsel and availed themselves of his judgment
in settling their disputes.

When Columba landed on lona he was attended by twelve followers
whom he had formed into a religious body of which he was the head.
To these, as occasion required, others were from time to time
added, so that the original number was always kept up. Their
institution was called a monastery and the superior an abbot, but
the system had little in common with the monastic institutions of
later times. The name by which those who submitted to the rule
were known was that of Culdees, probably from the Latin "cultores
Dei"--worshippers of God. They were a body of religious persons
associated together for the purpose of aiding each other in the
common work of preaching the gospel and teaching youth, as well as
maintaining in themselves the fervor of devotion by united
exercises of worship. On entering the order certain vows were
taken by the members, but they were not those which were usually
imposed by monastic orders, for of these, which are three,--
celibacy, poverty, and obedience.--the Culdees were bound to none
except the third. To poverty they did not bind themselves; on the
contrary they seem to have labored diligently to procure for
themselves and those dependent on them the comforts of life.
Marriage also was allowed them, and most of them seem to have
entered into that state. True, their wives were not permitted to
reside with them at the institution, but they had a residence
assigned to them in an adjacent locality. Near lona there is an
island which still bears the name of "Eilen nam ban," women's
island, where their husbands seem to have resided with them,
except when duty required their presence in the school or the

Campbell, in his poem of "Reullura," alludes to the married monks
of Iona:

    "... The pure Culdees
       Were Albyn's earliest priests of God,
    Ere yet an island of her seas
      By foot of Saxon monk was trod,
    Long ere her churchmen by bigotry
    Were barred from holy wedlock's tie.
    'Twas then that Aodh, famed afar,
      In lona preached the word with power,
    And Reullura, beauty's star,
      Was the partner of his bower."

In one of his "Irish Melodies," Moore gives the legend of St.
Senanus and the lady who sought shelter on the island, but was

    "O, haste and leave this sacred isle,
    Unholy bark, ere morning smile;
    For on thy deck, though dark it be,
        A female form I see;
    And I have sworn this sainted sod
    Shall ne'er by woman's foot be trod."

In these respects and in others the Culdees departed from the
established rules of the Romish church, and consequently were
deemed heretical. The consequence was that as the power of the
latter advanced that of the Culdees was enfeebled. It was not,
however, till the thirteenth centurv that the communities of the
Culdees were suppressed and the members dispersed. They still
continued to labor as individuals, and resisted the inroads of
Papal usurpation as they best might till the light of the
Reformation dawned on the world.

Iona, from its position in the western seas, was exposed to the
assaults of the Norwegian and Danish rovers by whom those seas
were infested, and by them it was repeatedly pillaged, its
dwellings burned, and its peaceful inhabitants put to the sword.
These unfavorable circumstances led to its gradual decline, which
was expedited by the subversion of the Culdees throughout
Scotland. Under the reign of Popery the island became the seat of
a nunnery, the ruins of which are still seen. At the Reformation,
the nuns were allowed to remain, living in community, when the
abbey was dismantled.

Iona is now chiefly resorted to by travellers on account of the
numerous ecclesiastical and sepulchral remains which are found
upon it. The principal of these are the Cathedral or Abbey Church
and the Chapel of the Nunnery. Besides these remains of
ecclesiastical antiquity, there are some of an earlier date, and
pointing to the existence on the island of forms of worship and
belief different from those of Christianity. These are the
circular Cairns which are found in various parts, and which seem
to have been of Druidical origin. It is in reference to all these
remains of ancient religion that Johnson exclaims, "That man is
little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the
plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer amid the
ruins of lona."

In the "Lord of the Isles" Scott beautifully contrasts the church
on lona with the cave of Staffa, opposite:

    "Nature herself, it seemed, would raise
    A minister to her Maker's praise!
    Not for a meaner use ascend
    Her columns, or her arches bend;
    Nor of a theme less solemn tells
    That mighty surge that ebbs and swells,
    And still between each awful pause,
    From the high vault an answer draws,
    In varied tone, prolonged and high,
    That mocks the organ's melody;
    Nor doth its entrance front in vain
    To old Iona's holy fane,
    That Nature's voice might seem to say,
    Well hast thou done, frail child of clay!
    Thy humble powers that stately shrine
    Tasked high and hard--but witness mine!"




On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after
Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost
destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less
powerful, held local sway, as far as each could enforce his
dominion, and occasionally those chiefs would unite for a common
object; but, in ordinary times, they were much more likely to be
found in hostility to one another. In such a state of things the
rights of the humbler classes of society were at the mercy of
every assailant; and it is plain that, without some check upon the
lawless power of the chiefs, society must have relapsed into
barbarism. Such checks were found, first, in the rivalry of the
chiefs themselves, whose mutual jealousy made them restraints upon
one another; secondly, in the influence of the Church, which, by
every motive, pure or selfish, was pledged to interpose for the
protection of the weak; and lastly, in the generosity and sense of
right which, however crushed under the weight of passion and
selfishness, dwell naturally in the heart of man. From this last
source sprang Chivalry, which framed an ideal of the heroic
character, combining invincible strength and valor, justice,
modesty, loyalty to superiors, courtesy to equals, compassion to
weakness, and devotedness to the Church; an ideal which, if never
met with in real life, was acknowledged by all as the highest
model for emulation.

The word "Chivalry" is derived from the French "cheval," a horse.
The word "knight," which originally meant boy or servant, was
particularly applied to a young man after he was admitted to the
privilege of bearing arms. This privilege was conferred on youths
of family and fortune only, for the mass of the people were not
furnished with arms. The knight then was a mounted warrior, a man
of rank, or in the service and maintenance of some man of rank,
generally possessing some independent means of support, but often
relying mainly on the gratitude of those whom he served for the
supply of his wants, and often, no doubt, resorting to the means
which power confers on its possessor.

In time of war the knight was, with his followers, in the camp of
his sovereign, or commanding in the field, or holding some castle
for him. In time of peace he was often in attendance at his
sovereign's court, gracing with his presence the banquets and
tournaments with which princes cheered their leisure. Or he was
traversing the country in quest of adventure, professedly bent on
redressing wrongs and enforcing rights, sometimes in fulfilment of
some vow of religion or of love. These wandering knights were
called knights-errant; they were welcome guests in the castles of
the nobility, for their presence enlivened the dulness of those
secluded abodes, and they were received with honor at the abbeys,
which often owed the best part of their revenues to the patronage
of the knights; but if no castle or abbey or hermitage were at
hand their hardy habits made it not intolerable to them to lie
down, supperless, at the foot of some wayside cross, and pass the

It is evident that the justice administered by such an
instrumentality must have been of the rudest description. The
force whose legitimate purpose was to redress wrongs might easily
be perverted to inflict them Accordingly, we find in the romances,
which, however fabulous in facts, are true as pictures of manners,
that a knightly castle was often a terror to the surrounding
country; that is, dungeons were full of oppressed knights and
ladies, waiting for some champion to appear to set them free, or
to be ransomed with money; that hosts of idle retainers were ever
at hand to enforce their lord's behests, regardless of law and
justice; and that the rights of the unarmed multitude were of no
account. This contrariety of fact and theory in regard to chivalry
will account for the opposite impressions which exist in men's
minds respecting it. While it has been the theme of the most
fervid eulogium on the one part, it has been as eagerly denounced
on the other. On a cool estimate, we cannot but see reason to
congratulate ourselves that it has given way in modern times to
the reign of law, and that the civil magistrate, if less
picturesque, has taken the place of the mailed champion.


The preparatory education of candidates for knighthood was long
and arduous. At seven years of age the noble children were usually
removed from their father's house to the court or castle of their
future patron, and placed under the care of a governor, who taught
them the first articles of religion, and respect and reverence for
their lords and superiors, and initiated them in the ceremonies of
a court. They were called pages, valets, or varlets, and their
office was to carve, to wait at table, and to perform other menial
services, which were not then considered humiliating. In their
leisure hours they learned to dance and play on the harp, were
instructed in the mysteries of woods and rivers, that is, in
hunting, falconry, and fishing, and in wrestling, tilting with
spears, and performing other military exercises on horseback. At
fourteen the page became an esquire, and began a course of severer
and more laborious exercises. To vault on a horse in heavy armor;
to run, to scale walls, and spring over ditches, under the same
encumbrance; to wrestle, to wield the battle-axe for a length of
time, without raising the visor or taking breath; to perform with
grace all the evolutions of horsemanship,--were necessary
preliminaries to the reception of knighthood, which was usually
conferred at twenty-one years of age, when the young man's
education was supposed to be completed. In the meantime, the
esquires were no less assiduously engaged in acquiring all those
refinements of civility which formed what was in that age called
courtesy. The same castle in which they received their education
was usually thronged with young persons of the other sex, and the
page was encouraged, at a very early age, to select some lady of
the court as the mistress of his heart, to whom he was taught to
refer all his sentiments, words, and actions. The service of his
mistress was the glory and occupation of a knight, and her smiles,
bestowed at once by affection and gratitude, were held out as the
recompense of his well-directed valor. Religion united its
influence with those of loyalty and love, and the order of
knighthood, endowed with all the sanctity and religious awe that
attended the priesthood, became an object of ambition to the
greatest sovereigns.

The ceremonies of initiation were peculiarly solemn. After
undergoing a severe fast, and spending whole nights in prayer, the
candidate confessed, and received the sacrament. He then clothed
himself in snow-white garments, and repaired to the church, or the
hall, where the ceremony was to take place, bearing a knightly
sword suspended from his neck, which the officiating priest took
and blessed, and then returned to him. The candidate then, with
folded arms, knelt before the presiding knight, who, after some
questions about his motives and purposes in requesting admission,
administered to him the oaths, and granted his request. Some of
the knights present, sometimes even ladies and damsels, handed to
him in succession the spurs, the coat of mail, the hauberk, the
armlet and gauntlet, and lastly he girded on the sword. He then
knelt again before the president, who, rising from his seat, gave
him the "accolade," which consisted of three strokes, with the
flat of a sword, on the shoulder or neck of the candidate,
accompanied by the words: "In the name of God, of St. Michael, and
St. George, I make thee a knight; be valiant, courteous, and
loyal!" Then he received his helmet, his shield, and spear; and
thus the investiture ended.


The other classes of which society was composed were, first,
FREEMEN, owners of small portions of land independent, though they
sometimes voluntarily became the vassals of their more opulent
neighbors, whose power was necessary for their protection. The
other two classes, which were much the most numerous, were either
serfs or villains, both of which were slaves.

The SERFS were in the lowest state of slavery. All the fruits of
their labor belonged to the master whose land they tilled, and by
whom they were fed and clothed.

The VILLIANS were less degraded. Their situation seems to have
resembled that of the Russian peasants at this day. Like the
serfs, they were attached to the soil, and were transferred with
it by purchase; but they paid only a fixed rent to the landlord,
and had a right to dispose of any surplus that might arise from
their industry.

The term "clerk" was of very extensive import. It comprehended,
originally, such persons only as belonged to the clergy, or
clerical order, among whom, however, might be found a multitude of
married persons, artisans or others. But in process of time a much
wider rule was established; every one that could read being
accounted a clerk or clericus, and allowed the "benefit of
clergy," that is, exemption from capital and some other forms of
punishment, in case of crime.


The splendid pageant of a tournament between knights, its gaudy
accessories and trappings, and its chivalrous regulations,
originated in France. Tournaments were repeatedly condemned by the
Church, probably on account of the quarrels they led to, and the
often fatal results. The "joust," or "just," was different from
the tournament. In these, knights fought with their lances, and
their object was to unhorse their antagonists; while the
tournaments were intended for a display of skill and address in
evolutions, and with various weapons, and greater courtesy was
observed in the regulations. By these it was forbidden to wound
the horse, or to use the point of the sword, or to strike a knight
after he had raised his vizor, or unlaced his helmet. The ladies
encouraged their knights in these exercises; they bestowed prizes,
and the conqueror's feats were the theme of romance and song. The
stands overlooking the ground, of course, were varied in the
shapes of towers, terraces, galleries, and pensile gardens,
magnificently decorated with tapestry, pavilions, and banners.
Every combatant proclaimed the name of the lady whose servant
d'amour he was. He was wont to look up to the stand, and
strengthen his courage by the sight of the bright eyes that were
raining their influence on him from above. The knights also
carried FAVORS, consisting of scarfs, veils, sleeves, bracelets,
clasps,--in short, some piece of female habiliment,--attached to
their helmets, shields, or armor. If, during the combat, any of
these appendages were dropped or lost the fair donor would at
times send her knight new ones, especially if pleased with his


Mail armor, of which the hauberk is a species, and which derived
its name from maille, a French word for MESH, was of two kinds,
PLATE or SCALE mail, and CHAIN mail. It was originally used for
the protection of the body only, reaching no lower than the knees.
It was shaped like a carter's frock, and bound round the waist by
a girdle. Gloves and hose of mail were afterwards added, and a
hood, which, when necessary, was drawn over the head, leaving the
face alone uncovered. To protect the skin from the impression of
the iron network of the chain mail, a quilted lining was employed,
which, however, was insufficient, and the bath was used to efface
the marks of the armor.

The hauberk was a complete covering of double chain mail. Some
hauberks opened before, like a modern coat; others were closed
like a shirt.

The chain mail of which they were composed was formed by a number
of iron links, each link having others inserted into it, the whole
exhibiting a kind of network, of which (in some instances at
least) the meshes were circular, with each link separately

The hauberk was proof against the most violent blow of a sword;
but the point of a lance might pass through the meshes, or drive
the iron into the flesh. To guard against this, a thick and well-
stuffed doublet was worn underneath, under which was commonly
added an iron breastplate. Hence the expression "to pierce both
plate and mail," so common in the earlier poets.

Mail armor continued in general use till about the year 1300, when
it was gradually supplanted by plate armor, or suits consisting of
pieces or plates of solid iron, adapted to the different parts of
the body.

Shields were generally made of wood, covered with leather, or some
similar substance. To secure them, in some sort, from being cut
through by the sword, they were surrounded with a hoop of metal.


The helmet was composed of two parts: the HEADPIECE, which was
strengthened within by several circles of iron, and the VISOR,
which, as the name implies, was a sort of grating to see through,
so contrived as, by sliding in a groove, or turning on a pivot, to
be raised or lowered at pleasure. Some helmets had a further
improvement called a BEVER, from the Italian bevere, to drink. The
VENTAYLE, or "air-passage," is another name for this.

To secure the helmet from the possibility of falling, or of being
struck off, it was tied by several laces to the meshes of the
hauberk; consequently, when a knight was overthrown it was
necessary to undo these laces before he could be put to death;
though this was sometimes effected by lifting up the skirt of the
hauberk, and stabbing him in the belly. The instrument of death
was a small dagger, worn on the right side.


In ages when there were no books, when noblemen and princes
themselves could not read, history or tradition was monopolized by
the story-tellers. They inherited, generation after generation,
the wondrous tales of their predecessors, which they retailed to
the public with such additions of their own as their acquired
information supplied them with. Anachronisms became of course very
common, and errors of geography, of locality, of manners, equally
so. Spurious genealogies were invented, in which Arthur and his
knights, and Charlemagne and his paladins, were made to derive
their descent from Aeneas, Hector, or some other of the Trojan

With regard to the derivation of the word "Romance," we trace it
to the fact that the dialects which were formed in Western Europe,
from the admixture of Latin with the native languages, took the
name of Langue Romaine. The French language was divided into two
dialects. The river Loire was their common boundary. In the
provinces to the south of that river the affirmative, YES, was
expressed by the word oc; in the north it was called oil (oui);
and hence Dante has named the southern language langue d'oc, and
the northern langue d'oil. The latter, which was carried into
England by the Normans, and is the origin of the present French,
may be called the French Romane; and the former the Provencal, or
Provencial Romane, because it was spoken by the people of Provence
and Languedoc, southern provinces of France.

These dialects were soon distinguished by very opposite
characters. A soft and enervating climate, a spirit of commerce
encouraged by an easy communication with other maritime nations,
the influx of wealth, and a more settled government, may have
tended to polish and soften the diction of the Provencials, whose
poets, under the name of Troubadours, were the masters of the
Italians, and particularly of Petrarch. Their favorite pieces were
Sirventes (satirical pieces), love-songs, and Tensons, which last
were a sort of dialogue in verse between two poets, who questioned
each other on some refined points of loves' casuistry. It seems
the Provencials were so completely absorbed in these delicate
questions as to neglect and despise the composition of fabulous
histories of adventure and knighthood, which they left in a great
measure to the poets of the northern part of the kingdom, called

At a time when chivalry excited universal admiration, and when all
the efforts of that chivalry were directed against the enemies of
religion, it was natural that literature should receive the same
impulse, and that history and fable should be ransacked to furnish
examples of courage and piety that might excite increased
emulation. Arthur and Charlemagne were the two heroes selected for
this purpose. Arthur's pretensions were that he was a brave,
though not always a successful warrior; he had withstood with
great resolution the arms of the infidels, that is to say of the
Saxons, and his memory was held in the highest estimation by his
countrymen, the Britons, who carried with them into Wales, and
into the kindred country of Armorica, or Brittany, the memory of
his exploits, which their national vanity insensibly exaggerated,
till the little prince of the Silures (South Wales) was magnified
into the conqueror of England, of Gaul, and of the greater part of
Europe. His genealogy was gradually carried up to an imaginary
Brutus, and to the period of the Trojan war, and a sort of
chronicle was composed in the Welsh, or Armorican language, which,
under the pompous title of the "History of the Kings of Britain,"
was translated into Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, about the year
1150. The Welsh critics consider the material of the work to have
been an older history, written by St. Talian, Bishop of St. Asaph,
in the seventh century.

As to Charlemagne, though his real merits were sufficient to
secure his immortality, it was impossible that his HOLY WARS
against the Saracens should not become a favorite topic for
fiction. Accordingly, the fabulous history of these wars was
written, probably towards the close of the eleventh century, by a
monk, who, thinking it would add dignity to his work to embellish
it with a contemporary name, boldly ascribed it to Turpin, who was
Archbishop of Rheims about the year 773.

These fabulous chronicles were for a while imprisoned in languages
of local only or of professional access. Both Turpin and Geoffrey
might indeed be read by ecclesiastics, the sole Latin scholars of
those times, and Geoffrey's British original would contribute to
the gratification of Welshmen; but neither could become
extensively popular till translated into some language of general
and familiar use. The Anglo-Saxon was at that time used only by a
conquered and enslaved nation; the Spanish and Italian languages
were not yet formed; the Norman French alone was spoken and
understood by the nobility in the greater part of Europe, and
therefore was a proper vehicle for the new mode of composition.

That language was fashionable in England before the Conquest, and
became, after that event, the only language used at the court of
London. As the various conquests of the Normans, and the
enthusiastic valor of that extraordinary people, had familiarized
the minds of men with the most marvellous events, their poets
eagerly seized the fabulous legends of Arthur and Charlemagne,
translated them into the language of the day, and soon produced a
variety of imitations. The adventures attributed to these
monarchs, and to their distinguished warriors, together with those
of many other traditionary or imaginary heroes, composed by
degrees that formidable body of marvellous histories which, from
the dialect in which the most ancient of them were written, were
called "Romances."


The earliest form in which romances appear is that of a rude kind
of verse. In this form it is supposed they were sung or recited at
the feasts of princes and knights in their baronial halls. The
following specimen of the language and style of Robert de
Beauvais, who flourished in 1257, is from Sir Walter Scott's
"Introduction to the Romance of Sir Tristrem":

    "Ne voil pas emmi dire,
    Ici diverse la matyere,
    Entre ceus qui solent cunter,
    E de le cunte Tristran parler."

    "I will not say too much about it,
    So diverse is the matter,
    Among those who are in the habit of telling
    And relating the story of Tristran."

This is a specimen of the language which was in use among the
nobility of England, in the ages immediately after the Norman
conquest. The following is a specimen of the English that existed
at the same time, among the common people. Robert de Brunne,
speaking of his Latin and French authorities, says:

    "Als thai haf wryten and sayd
    Haf I alle in myn Inglis layd,
    In symple speche as I couthe,
    That is lightest in manne's mouthe.
    Alle for the luf of symple men,
    That strange Inglis cannot ken."

The "strange Inglis" being the language of the previous specimen.

It was not till toward the end of the thirteenth century that the
PROSE romances began to appear. These works generally began with
disowning and discrediting the sources from which in reality they
drew their sole information. As every romance was supposed to be a
real history, the compilers of those in prose would have forfeited
all credit if they had announced themselves as mere copyists of
the minstrels. On the contrary, they usually state that, as the
popular poems upon the matter in question contain many "lesings,"
they had been induced to translate the real and true history of
such or such a knight from the original Latin or Greek, or from
the ancient British or Armorican authorities, which authorities
existed only in their own assertion.

A specimen of the style of the prose romances may be found in the
following extract from one of the most celebrated and latest of
them, the "Morte d'Arthur" of Sir Thomas Mallory, of the date of
1485. From this work much of the contents of this volume has been
drawn, with as close an adherence to the original style as was
thought consistent with our plan of adapting our narrative to the
taste of modern readers.

"It is notoyrly knowen thorugh the vnyuersal world that there been
ix worthy and the best that ever were. That is to wete thre
paynyms, three Jewes, and three crysten men. As for the paynyms,
they were tofore the Incarnacyon of Cryst whiche were named, the
fyrst Hector of Troye; the second Alysaunder the grete, and the
thyrd Julyus Cezar, Emperour of Rome, of whome thystoryes ben wel
kno and had. And as for the thre Jewes whyche also were tofore
thyncarnacyon of our Lord, of whome the fyrst was Duc Josue,
whyche brought the chyldren of Israhel into the londe of beheste;
the second Dauyd, kyng of Jherusalem, and the thyrd Judas
Machabeus; of these thre the byble reherceth al theyr noble
hystoryes and actes. And sythe the sayd Incarnacyon haue ben the
noble crysten men stalled and admytted thorugh the vnyuersal world
to the nombre of the ix beste and worthy, of whome was fyrst the
noble Arthur, whose noble actes I purpose to wryte in this person
book here folowyng. The second was Charlemayn, or Charles the
grete, of whome thystorye is had in many places both in frensshe
and englysshe, and the thyrd and last was Godefray of boloyn."



The illustrious poet, Milton, in his "History of England," is the
author whom we chiefly follow in this chapter.

According to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant, and son of
Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules, ruled over the island, to
which he gave his name. Presuming to oppose the progress of
Hercules in his western march, he was slain by him.

Another story is that Histion, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah,
had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alemannus, and Britto, from whom
descended the French, Roman, German, and British people.

Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton gives more regard
to the story of Brutus, the Trojan, which, he says, is supported
by "descents of ancestry long continued, laws and exploits not
plainly seeming to be borrowed or devised, which on the common
belief have wrought no small impression; defended by many, denied
utterly by few." The principal authority is Geoffrey of Monmouth,
whose history, written in the twelfth century, purports to be a
translation of a history of Britain brought over from the opposite
shore of France, which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly
peopled by natives of Britain who, from time to time, emigrated
thither, driven from their own country by the inroads of the Picts
and Scots. According to this authority, Brutus was the son of
Silvius, and he of Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, whose flight from
Troy and settlement in Italy are narrated in "Stories of Gods and

Brutus, at the age of fifteen, attending his father to the chase,
unfortunately killed him with an arrow. Banished therefor by his
kindred, he sought refuge in that part of Greece where Helenus,
with a band of Trojan exiles, had become established. But Helenus
was now dead and the descendants of the Trojans were oppressed by
Pandrasus, the king of the country. Brutus, being kindly received
among them, so throve in virtue and in arms as to win the regard
of all the eminent of the land above all others of his age. In
consequence of this the Trojans not only began to hope, but
secretly to persuade him to lead them the way to liberty. To
encourage them, they had the promise of help from Assaracus, a
noble Greek youth, whose mother was a Trojan. He had suffered
wrong at the hands of the king, and for that reason the more
willingly cast in his lost with the Trojan exiles.

Choosing a fit opportunity, Brutus with his countrymen withdrew to
the woods and hills, as the safest place from which to
expostulate, and sent this message to Pandrasus: "That the
Trojans, holding it unworthy of their ancestors to serve in a
foreign land, had retreated to the woods, choosing rather a savage
life than a slavish one. If that displeased him, then, with his
leave, they would depart to some other country." Pandrasus, not
expecting so bold a message from the sons of captives, went in
pursuit of them, with such forces as he could gather, and met them
on the banks of the Achelous, where Brutus got the advantage, and
took the king captive. The result was, that the terms demanded by
the Trojans were granted; the king gave his daughter Imogen in
marriage to Brutus, and furnished shipping, money, and fit
provision for them all to depart from the land.

The marriage being solemnized, and shipping from all parts got
together, the Trojans, in a fleet of no less than three hundred
and twenty sail, betook themselves to the sea. On the third day
they arrived at a certain island, which they found destitute of
inhabitants, though there were appearances of former habitation,
and among the ruins a temple of Diana. Brutus, here performing
sacrifice at the shrine of the goddess, invoked an oracle for his
guidance, in these lines:

    "Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will
    Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep;
    On thy third realm, the earth, look now, and tell
    What land, what seat of rest, thou bidd'st me seek;
    What certain seat where I may worship thee
    For aye, with temples vowed and virgin choirs."

To whom, sleeping before the altar, Diana in a vision thus

    "Brutus! far to the west, in the ocean wide,
    Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
    Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old;
    Now, void, it fits thy people: thither bend
    Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat;
    There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,
    And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded might
    Shall awe the world, and conquer nations bold"

Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by divine direction, sped his
course towards the west, and, arriving at a place on the Tyrrhene
sea, found there the descendants of certain Trojans who, with
Antenor, came into Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief. These
joined company, and the ships pursued their way till they arrived
at the mouth of the river Loire, in France, where the expedition
landed, with a view to a settlement, but were so rudely assaulted
by the inhabitants that they put to sea again, and arrived at a
part of the coast of Britain, now called Devonshire, where Brutus
felt convinced that he had found the promised end of his voyage,
landed his colony, and took possession.

The island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a manner desert
and inhospitable, occupied only by a remnant of the giant race
whose excessive force and tyranny had destroyed the others. The
Trojans encountered these and extirpated them, Corineus, in
particular, signalizing himself by his exploits against them; from
whom Cornwall takes its name, for that region fell to his lot, and
there the hugest giants dwelt, lurking in rocks and caves, till
Corineus rid the land of them.

Brutus built his capital city, and called it Trojanova (New Troy),
changed in time to Trinovantus, now London;

    "For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold,
    And Troynovant was built of old Troy's ashes cold" SPENSER,

    Book III, Canto IX., 38.]

and, having governed the isle twenty-four years, died, leaving
three sons, Locrine, Albanact and Camber. Locrine had the middle
part, Camber the west, called Cambria from him, and Albanact
Albania, now Scotland. Locrine was married to Guendolen, the
daughter of Corineus, but having seen a fair maid named Estrildis,
who had been brought captive from Germany, he became enamoured of
her, and had by her a daughter, whose name was Sabra. This matter
was kept secret while Corineus lived, but after his death Locrine
divorced Guendolen, and made Estrildis his queen. Guendolen, all
in rage, departed to Cornwall, where Madan, her son, lived, who
had been brought up by Corineus, his grandfather. Gathering an
army of her father's friends and subjects, she gave battle to her
husband's forces and Locrine was slain. Guendolen caused her
rival, Estrildis, with her daughter Sabra, to be thrown into the
river, from which cause the river thenceforth bore the maiden's
name, which by length of time is now changed into Sabrina or
Severn. Milton alludes to this in his address to the rivers,--

    "Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death";--

and in his "Comus" tells the story with a slight variation, thus:

    "There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
    That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream;
    Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure:
    Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
    That had the sceptre from his father, Brute,
    She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
    Of her enraged step-dame, Guendolen,
    Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
    That stayed her night with his cross-flowing course
    The water-nymphs that in the bottom played,
    Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,
    Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall,
    Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
    And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
    In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel,
    And through the porch and inlet of each sense
    Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived,
    And underwent a quick, immortal change,
    Made goddess of the river," etc.

If our readers ask when all this took place, we must answer, in
the first place, that mythology is not careful of dates; and next,
that, as Brutus was the great-grandson of Aeneas, it must have
been not far from a century subsequent to the Trojan war, or about
eleven hundred years before the invasion of the island by Julius
Caesar. This long interval is filled with the names of princes
whose chief occupation was in warring with one another. Some few,
whose names remain connected with places, or embalmed in
literature, we will mention.


Bladud built the city of Bath, and dedicated the medicinal waters
to Minerva. He was a man of great invention, and practised the
arts of magic, till, having made him wings to fly, he fell down
upon the temple of Apollo, in Trinovant, and so died, after twenty
years' reign.


Leir, who next reigned, built Leicester, and called it after his
name. He had no male issue, but only three daughters. When grown
old he determined to divide his kingdom among his daughters, and
bestow them in marriage. But first, to try which of them loved him
best, he determined to ask them solemnly in order, and judge of
the warmth of their affection by their answers. Goneril, the
eldest, knowing well her father's weakness, made answer that she
loved him "above her soul." "Since thou so honorest my declining
age," said the old man, "to thee and to thy husband I give the
third part of my realm." Such good success for a few words soon
uttered was ample instruction to Regan, the second daughter, what
to say. She therefore to the same question replied that "she loved
him more than all the world beside;" and so received an equal
reward with her sister. But Cordelia, the youngest, and hitherto
the best beloved, though having before her eyes the reward of a
little easy soothing, and the loss likely to attend plain-
dealing, yet was not moved from the solid purpose of a sincere and
virtuous answer, and replied: "Father, my love towards you is as
my duty bids. They who pretend beyond this flatter." When the old
man, sorry to hear this, and wishing her to recall these words,
persisted in asking, she still restrained her expressions so as to
say rather less than more than the truth. Then Leir, all in a
passion, burst forth: "Since thou hast not reverenced thy aged
father like thy sisters, think not to have any part in my kingdom
or what else I have;"--and without delay, giving in marriage his
other daughters, Goneril to the Duke of Albany, and Regan to the
Duke of Cornwall, he divides his kingdom between them, and goes to
reside with his eldest daughter, attended only by a hundred
knights. But in a short time his attendants, being complained of
as too numerous and disorderly, are reduced to thirty. Resenting
that affront, the old king betakes him to his second daughter; but
she, instead of soothing his wounded pride, takes part with her
sister, and refuses to admit a retinue of more than five. Then
back he returns to the other, who now will not receive him with
more than one attendant. Then the remembrance of Cordeilla comes
to his thoughts, and he takes his journey into France to seek her,
with little hope of kind consideration from one whom he had so
injured, but to pay her the last recompense he can render,--
confession of his injustice. When Cordeilla is informed of his
approach, and of his sad condition, she pours forth true filial
tears. And, not willing that her own or others' eyes should see
him in that forlorn condition, she sends one of her trusted
servants to meet him, and convey him privately to some comfortable
abode, and to furnish him with such state as befitted his dignity.
After which Cordeilla, with the king her husband, went in state to
meet him, and, after an honorable reception, the king permitted
his wife, Cordeilla, to go with an army and set her father again
upon his throne. They prospered, subdued the wicked sisters and
their consorts, and Leir obtained the crown and held it three
years. Cordeilla succeeded him and reigned five years; but the
sons of her sisters, after that, rebelled against her, and she
lost both her crown and life.

Shakspeare has chosen this story as the subject of his tragedy of
"King Lear," varying its details in some respects. The madness of
Leir, and the ill success of Cordeilla's attempt to reinstate her
father, are the principal variations, and those in the names will
also be noticed. Our narrative is drawn from Milton's "History;"
and thus the reader will perceive that the story of Leir has had
the distinguished honor of being told by the two acknowledged
chiefs of British literature.


Ferrex and Porrex were brothers, who held the kingdom after Leir.
They quarrelled about the supremacy, and Porrex expelled his
brother, who, obtaining aid from Suard, king of the Franks,
returned and made war upon Porrex. Ferrex was slain in battle and
his forces dispersed. When their mother came to hear of her son's
death, who was her favorite, she fell into a great rage, and
conceived a mortal hatred against the survivor. She took,
therefore, her opportunity when he was asleep, fell upon him, and,
with the assistance of her women, tore him in pieces. This horrid
story would not be worth relating, were it not for the fact that
it has furnished the plot for the first tragedy which was written
in the English language. It was entitled "Gorboduc," but in the
second edition "Ferrex and Porrex," and was the production of
Thomas Sackville, afterwards Earl of Dorset, and Thomas Norton, a
barrister. Its date was 1561.


This is the next name of note. Molmutius established the Molmutine
laws, which bestowed the privilege of sanctuary on temples,
cities, and the roads leading to them, and gave the same
protection to ploughs, extending a religious sanction to the
labors of the field. Shakspeare alludes to him in "Cymbeline," Act
III., Scene 1:

    "... Molmutius made our laws;
     Who was the first of Britain which did put
     His brows within a golden crown, and called
     Himself a king."


The sons of Molmutius, succeeded him. They quarrelled, and Brennus
was driven out of the island, and took refuge in Gaul, where he
met with such favor from the king of the Allobroges that he gave
him his daughter in marriage, and made him his partner on the
throne. Brennus is the name which the Roman historians give to the
famous leader of the Gauls who took Rome in the time of Camillus.
Geoffrey of Monmouth claims the glory of the conquest for the
British prince, after he had become king of the Allobroges.


After Belinus and Brennus there reigned several kings of little
note, and then came Elidure. Arthgallo, his brother, being king,
gave great offence to his powerful nobles, who rose against him,
deposed him, and advanced Elidure to the throne. Arthgallo fled,
and endeavored to find assistance in the neighboring kingdoms to
reinstate him, but found none. Elidure reigned prosperously and
wisely. After five years' possession of the kingdom, one day, when
hunting, he met in the forest his brother, Arthgallo, who had been
deposed. After long wandering, unable longer to bear the poverty
to which he was reduced, he had returned to Britain, with only ten
followers, designing to repair to those who had formerly been his
friends. Elidure, at the sight of his brother in distress,
forgetting all animosities, ran to him, and embraced him. He took
Arthgallo home with him, and concealed him in the palace. After
this he feigned himself sick, and, calling his nobles about him,
induced them, partly by persuasion, partly by force, to consent to
his abdicating the kingdom, and reinstating his brother on the
throne. The agreement being ratified, Elidure took the crown from
his own head, and put it on his brother's head. Arthgallo after
this reigned ten years, well and wisely, exercisng strict justice
towards all men.

He died, and left the kingdom to his sons, who reigned with
various fortunes, but were not long-lived, and left no offspring,
so that Elidure was again advanced to the throne, and finished the
course of his life in just and virtuous actions, receiving the
name of THE PIOUS, from the love and admiration of his subjects.

Wordsworth has taken the story of Artegal and Elidure for the
subject of a poem, which is No. 2 of "Poems founded on the


After Elidure, the Chronicle names many kings, but none of special
note, till we come to Lud, who greatly enlarged Trinovant, his
capital, and surrounded it with a wall. He changed its name,
bestowing upon it his own, so that henceforth it was called Lud's
town, afterwards London. Lud was buried by the gate of the city
called after him Ludgate. He had two sons, but they were not old
enough at the time of their father's death to sustain the cares of
government, and therefore their uncle, Caswallaun, or
Cassibellaunus, succeeded to the kingdom. He was a brave and
magnificent prince, so that his fame reached to distant countries.


About this time it happened (as is found in the Roman histories)
that Julius Caesar, having subdued Gaul, came to the shore
opposite Britain. And having resolved to add this island also to
his conquests, he prepared ships and transported his army across
the sea, to the mouth of the River Thames. Here he was met by
Cassibellaun with all his forces, and a battle ensued, in which
Nennius, the brother of Cassibellaun, engaged in single combat
with Csesar. After several furious blows given and received, the
sword of Caesar stuck so fast in the shield of Nennius that it
could not be pulled out, and the combatants being separated by the
intervention of the troops Nennius remained possessed of this
trophy. At last, after the greater part of the day was spent, the
Britons poured in so fast that Caesar was forced to retire to his
camp and fleet. And finding it useless to continue the war any
longer at that time, he returned to Gaul.

Shakspeare alludes to Cassibellaunus, in "Cymbeline":

    "The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point
     (O giglot fortune!) to master Caesar's sword,
     Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright,
     And Britons strut with courage."


Caesar, on a second invasion of the island, was more fortunate,
and compelled the Britons to pay tribute. Cymbeline, the nephew of
the king, was delivered to the Romans as a hostage for the
faithful fulfilment of the treaty, and, being carried to Rome by
Caesar, he was there brought up in the Roman arts and
accomplishments. Being afterwards restored to his country, and
placed on the throne, he was attached to the Romans, and continued
through all his reign at peace with them. His sons, Guiderius and
Arviragus, who made their appearance in Shakspeare's play of
"Cymbeline," succeeded their father, and, refusing to pay tribute
to the Romans, brought on another invasion. Guiderius was slain,
but Arviragus afterward made terms with the Romans, and reigned
prosperously many years.


The next event of note is the conquest and colonization of
Armorica, by Maximus, a Roman general, and Conan, lord of Miniadoc
or Denbigh-land, in Wales. The name of the country was changed to
Brittany, or Lesser Britain; and so completely was it possessed by
the British colonists, that the language became assimilated to
that spoken in Wales, and it is said that to this day the
peasantry of the two countries can understand each other when
speaking their native language.

The Romans eventually succeeded in establishing themselves in the
island, and after the lapse of several generations they became
blended with the natives so that no distinction existed between
the two races. When at length the Roman armies were withdrawn from
Britain, their departure was a matter of regret to the
inhabitants, as it left them without protection against the
barbarous tribes, Scots, Picts, and Norwegians, who harassed the
country incessantly. This was the state of things when the era of
King Arthur began.

The adventure of Albion, the giant, with Hercules is alluded to by
Spenser, "Faery Queene," Book IV., Canto xi:

   "For Albion the son of Neptune was;
    Who for the proof of his great puissance,
    Out of his Albion did on dry foot pass
    Into old Gaul that now is cleped France,
    To fight with Hercules, that did advance
    To vanquish all the world with matchless might:
    And there his mortal part by great mischance
    Was slain."



Merlin was the son of no mortal father, but of an Incubus, one of
a class of beings not absolutely wicked, but far from good, who
inhabit the regions of the air. Merlin's mother was a virtuous
young woman, who, on the birth of her son, intrusted him to a
priest, who hurried him to the baptismal fount, and so saved him
from sharing the lot of his father, though he retained many marks
of his unearthly origin.

At this time Vortigern reigned in Britain. He was a usurper, who
had caused the death of his sovereign, Moines, and driven the two
brothers of the late king, whose names were Uther and Pendragon,
into banishment. Vortigern, who lived in constant fear of the
return of the rightful heirs of the kingdom, began to erect a
strong tower for defence. The edifice, when brought by the workmen
to a certain height, three times fell to the ground, without any
apparent cause. The king consulted his astrologers on this
wonderful event, and learned from them that it would be necessary
to bathe the corner-stone of the foundation with the blood of a
child born without a mortal father.

In search of such an infant, Vortigern sent his messengers all
over the kingdom, and they by accident discovered Merlin, whose
lineage seemed to point him out as the individual wanted. They
took him to the king; but Merlin, young as he was, explained to
the king the absurdity of attempting to rescue the fabric by such
means, for he told him the true cause of the instability of the
tower was its being placed over the den of two immense dragons,
whose combats shook the earth above them. The king ordered his
workmen to dig beneath the tower, and when they had done so they
discovered two enormous serpents, the one white as milk the other
red as fire. The multitude looked on with amazement, till the
serpents, slowly rising from their den, and expanding their
enormous folds, began the combat, when every one fled in terror,
except Merlin, who stood by clapping his hands and cheering on the
conflict. The red dragon was slain, and the white one, gliding
through a cleft in the rock, disappeared.

These animals typified, as Merlin afterwards explained, the
invasion of Uther and Pendragon, the rightful princes, who soon
after landed with a great army. Vortigern was defeated, and
afterwards burned alive in the castle he had taken such pains to
construct. On the death of Vortigern, Pendragon ascended the
throne. Merlin became his chief adviser, and often assisted the
king by his magical arts.

   "Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts,
    Had built the King his havens, ships and halls."


Among other endowments, he had the power of transforming himself
into any shape he pleased. At one time he appeared as a dwarf, at
others as a damsel, a page, or even a greyhound or a stag. This
faculty he often employed for the service of the king, and
sometimes also for the diversion of the court and the sovereign.

Merlin continued to be a favorite counsellor through the reigns of
Pendragon, Uther, and Arthur, and at last disappeared from view,
and was no more found among men, through the treachery of his
mistress, Viviane, the Fairy, which happened in this wise.

Merlin, having become enamoured of the fair Viviane, the Lady of
the Lake, was weak enough to impart to her various important
secrets of his art, being impelled by fatal destiny, of which he
was at the same time fully aware. The lady, however, was not
content with his devotion, unbounded as it seems to have been, but
"cast about," the Romance tells us, how she might "detain him for
evermore," and one day addressed him in these terms: "Sir, I would
that we should make a fair place and a suitable, so contrived by
art and by cunning that it might never be undone, and that you and
I should be there in joy and solace." "My lady," said Merlin, "I
will do all this." "Sir," said she, "I would not have you do it,
but you shall teach me, and I will do it, and then it will be more
to my mind." "I grant you this," said Merlin. Then he began to
devise, and the damsel put it all in writing. And when he had
devised the whole, then had the damsel full great joy, and showed
him greater semblance of love than she had ever before made, and
they sojourned together a long while. At length it fell out that,
as they were going one day hand in hand through the forest of
Breceliande, they found a bush of white-thorn, which was laden
with flowers; and they seated themselves under the shade of this
white-thorn, upon the green grass, and Merlin laid his head upon
the damsel's lap, and fell asleep. Then the damsel rose, and made
a ring with her wimple round the bush, and round Merlin, and began
her enchantments, such as he himself had taught her; and nine
times she made the ring, and nine times she made the enchantment,
and then she went and sat down by him, and placed his head again
upon her lap.

                                 "And a sleep
    Fell upon Merlin more like death, so deep
    Her finger on her lips; then Vivian rose,
    And from her brown-locked head the wimple throws,
    And takes it in her hand and waves it over
    The blossomed thorn tree and her sleeping lover.
    Nine times she waved the fluttering wimple round,
    And made a little plot of magic ground."

    --Matthew Arnold.

And when he awoke, and looked round him, it seemed to him that he
was enclosed in the strongest tower in the world, and laid upon a
fair bed. Then said he to the dame: "My lady, you have deceived
me, unless you abide with me, for no one hath power to unmake this
tower but you alone." She then promised she would be often there,
and in this she held her covenant with him. And Merlin never went
out of that tower where his Mistress Viviane had enclosed him; but
she entered and went out again when she listed.

After this event Merlin was never more known to hold converse with
any mortal but Viviane, except on one occasion. Arthur, having for
some time missed him from his court, sent several of his knights
in search of him, and, among the number, Sir Gawain, who met with
a very unpleasant adventure while engaged in this quest. Happening
to pass a damsel on his road, and neglecting to salute her, she
revenged herself for his incivility by transforming him into a
hideous dwarf. He was bewailing aloud his evil fortune as he went
through the forest of Breceliande, when suddenly he heard the
voice of one groaning on his right hand; and, looking that way, he
could see nothing save a kind of smoke, which seemed like air, and
through which he could not pass. Merlin then addressed him from
out the smoke, and told him by what misadventure he was imprisoned
there. "Ah, sir!" he added, "you will never see me more, and that
grieves me, but I cannot remedy it; I shall never more speak to
you, nor to any other person, save only my mistress. But do thou
hasten to King Arthur, and charge him from me to undertake,
without delay, the quest of the Sacred Graal. The knight is
already born, and has received knighthood at his hands, who is
destined to accomplish this quest." And after this he comforted
Gawain under his transformation, assuring him that he should
speedily be disenchanted; and he predicted to him that he should
find the king at Carduel, in Wales, on his return, and that all
the other knights who had been on like quest would arrive there
the same day as himself. And all this came to pass as Merlin had

Merlin is frequently introduced in the tales of chivalry, but it
is chiefly on great occasions, and at a period subsequent to his
death, or magical disappearance. In the romantic poems of Italy,
and in Spenser, Merlin is chiefly represented as a magical artist.
Spenser represents him as the artificer of the impenetrable shield
and other armor of Prince Arthur ("Faery Queene," Book I., Canto
vii.), and of a mirror, in which a damsel viewed her lover's
shade. The Fountain of Love, in the "Orlando Innamorata," is
described as his work; and in the poem of "Ariosto" we are told of
a hall adorned with prophetic paintings, which demons had executed
in a single night, under the direction of Merlin.

The following legend is from Spenser's "Faery Queene," Book III.,
Canto iii.:


   "Forthwith themselves disguising both, in straunge
    And base attire, that none might them bewray,
    To Maridunum, that is now by chaunge
    Of name Caer-Merdin called, they took their way:
    There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say)
    To make his wonne, low underneath the ground
    In a deep delve, far from the view of day,
    That of no living wight he mote be found,
  Whenso he counselled with his sprights encompassed round.

   "And if thou ever happen that same way
    To travel, go to see that dreadful place;
    It is a hideous hollow cave (they say)
    Under a rock that lies a little space
    From the swift Barry, tombling down apace
    Amongst the woody hills of Dynevor;
    But dare not thou, I charge, in any case,
    To enter into that same baleful bower,
  For fear the cruel fiends should thee unwares devour.

   "But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear,
    And there such ghastly noise of iron chains
    And brazen cauldrons thou shalt rumbling hear,
    Which thousand sprites with long enduring pains
    Do toss, that it will stun thy feeble brains;
    And oftentimes great groans, and grievous stounds,
    When too huge toil and labor them constrains;
    And oftentimes loud strokes and ringing sounds
  From under that deep rock most horribly rebounds.

   "The cause some say is this. A little while
    Before that Merlin died, he did intend
    A brazen wall in compas to compile
    About Caermerdin, and did it commend
    Unto these sprites to bring to perfect end;
    During which work the Lady of the Lake,
    Whom long he loved, for him in haste did send;
    Who, thereby forced his workmen to forsake,
  Them bound till his return their labor not to slack.

   "In the mean time, through that false lady's train,
    He was surprised, and buried under beare,
    He ever to his work returned again;
    Nathless those fiends may not their work forbear,
    So greatly his commandement they fear;
    But there do toil and travail day and night,
    Until that brazen wall they up do rear.
    For Merlin had in magic more insight
  Than ever him before or after living wight."

[Footnote: Buried under beare. Buried under something which
enclosed him like a coffin or bier.]



We shall begin our history of King Arthur by giving those
particulars of his life which appear to rest on historical
evidence; and then proceed to record those legends concerning him
which form the earliest portion of British literature.

Arthur was a prince of the tribe of Britons called Silures, whose
country was South Wales, the son of Uther, named Pendragon, a
title given to an elective sovereign, paramount over the many
kings of Britain. He appears to have commenced his martial career
about the year 500, and was raised to the Pendragonship about ten
years later. He is said to have gained twelve victories over the
Saxons. The most important of them was that of Badon, by some
supposed to be Bath, by others Berkshire. This was the last of his
battles with the Saxons, and checked their progress so
effectually, that Arthur experienced no more annoyance from them,
and reigned in peace, until the revolt of his nephew Modred,
twenty years later, which led to the fatal battle of Camlan, in
Cornwall, in 542. Modred was slain, and Arthur, mortally wounded,
was conveyed by sea to Glastonbury, where he died, and was buried.
Tradition preserved the memory of the place of his interment
within the abbey, as we are told by Giraldus Cambrensis, who was
present when the grave was opened by command of Henry II. about
1150, and saw the bones and sword of the monarch, and a leaden
cross let into his tombstone, with the inscription in rude Roman
letters, "Here lies buried the famous King Arthur, in the island
Avalonia." This story has been elegantly versified by Warton. A
popular traditional belief was long entertained among the Britons,
that Arthur was not dead, but had been carried off to be healed of
his wounds in Fairy-land, and that he would reappear to avenge his
countrymen and reinstate them in the sovereignty of Britain. In
Warton's "Ode" a bard relates to King Henry the traditional story
of Arthur's death, and closes with these lines.

   "Yet in vain a paynim foe
    Armed with fate the mighty blow:
    For when he fell, the Elfin queen,
    All in secret and unseen,
    O'er the fainting hero threw
    Her mantle of ambrosial blue,
    And bade her spirits bear him far,
    In Merlin's agate-axled car,
    To her green isle's enamelled steep,
    Far in the navel of the deep.
    O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew
    From flowers that in Arabia grew.

    There he reigns a mighty king,
    Thence to Britain shall return,
    If right prophetic rolls I learn,
    Borne on victory's spreading plume,
    His ancient sceptre to resume,
    His knightly table to restore,
    And brave the tournaments of yore."

After this narration another bard came forward who recited a
different story:

   "When Arthur bowed his haughty crest,
    No princess veiled in azure vest
    Snatched him, by Merlin's powerful spell,
    In groves of golden bliss to dwell;
    But when he fell, with winged speed,
    His champions, on a milk-white steed,
    From the battle's hurricane,
    Bore him to Joseph's towered fane,
    In the fair vale of Avalon;
    There, with chanted orison
    And the long blaze of tapers clear,
    The stoled fathers met the bier;
    Through the dim aisles, in order dread
    Of martial woe, the chief they led,
    And deep entombed in holy ground,
    Before the altar's solemn bound."

[Footnote: Glastonbury Abbey, said to be founded by Joseph of
Arimathea, in a spot anciently called the island or valley of

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," alludes to the legend of
Arthur's rescue by the Faery queen, thus:

   "Or mythic Uther's deeply wounded son,
      In some fair space of sloping greens,
    Lay dozing in the vale of Avalon,
      And watched by weeping queens."]

It must not be concealed that the very existence of Arthur has
been denied by some. Milton says of him: "As to Arthur, more
renowned in songs and romances than in true stories, who he was,
and whether ever any such reigned in Britain, hath been doubted
heretofore, and may again, with good reason." Modern critics,
however, admit that there was a prince of this name, and find
proof of it in the frequent mention of him in the writings of the
Welsh bards. But the Arthur of romance, according to Mr. Owen, a
Welsh scholar and antiquarian, is a mythological person. "Arthur,"
he says, "is the Great Bear, as the name literally implies
(Arctos, Arcturus), and perhaps this constellation, being so near
the pole, and visibly describing a circle in a small space, is the
origin of the famous Round Table."


Constans, king of Britain, had three sons, Moines, Ambrosius,
otherwise called Uther, and Pendragon. Moines, soon after his
accession to the crown, was vanquished by the Saxons, in
consequence of the treachery of his seneschal, Vortigern, and
growing unpopular, through misfortune, he was killed by his
subjects, and the traitor Vortigern chosen in his place.

Vortigern was soon after defeated in a great battle by Uther and
Pendragon, the surviving brothers of Moines, and Pendragon
ascended the throne.

This prince had great confidence in the wisdom of Merlin, and made
him his chief adviser. About this time a dreadful war arose
between the Saxons and Britons. Merlin obliged the royal brothers
to swear fidelity to each other, but predicted that one of them
must fall in the first battle. The Saxons were routed, and
Pendragon, being slain, was succeeded by Uther, who now assumed in
addition to his own name the appellation of Pendragon.

Merlin still continued a favorite counsellor. At the request of
Uther he transported by magic art enormous stones from Ireland, to
form the sepulchre of Pendragon. These stones constitute the
monument now called Stonehenge, on Salisbury plain.

Merlin next proceeded to Carlisle to prepare the Round Table, at
which he seated an assemblage of the great nobles of the country.
The companions admitted to this high order were bound by oath to
assist each other at the hazard of their own lives, to attempt
singly the most perilous adventures, to lead, when necessary, a
life of monastic solitude, to fly to arms at the first summons,
and never to retire from battle till they had defeated the enemy,
unless night intervened and separated the combatants.

Soon after this institution, the king invited all his barons to
the celebration of a great festival, which he proposed holding
annually at Carlisle.

As the knights had obtained the sovereign's permission to bring
their ladies along with them, the beautiful Igerne accompanied her
husband, Gorlois, Duke of Tintadel, to one of these anniversaries.
The king became deeply enamoured of the duchess, and disclosed his
passion; but Igerne repelled his advances, and revealed his
solicitations to her husband. On hearing this, the duke instantly
removed from court with Igerne, and without taking leave of Uther.
The king complained to his council of this want of duty, and they
decided that the duke should be summoned to court, and, if
refractory, should be treated as a rebel. As he refused to obey
the citation, the king carried war into the estates of his vassal
and besieged him in the strong castle of Tintadel. Merlin
transformed the king into the likeness of Gorlois, and enabled him
to have many stolen interviews with Igerne. At length the duke was
killed in battle and the king espoused Igerne.

From this union sprang Arthur, who succeeded his father, Uther,
upon the throne.


Arthur, though only fifteen years old at his father's death, was
elected king, at a general meeting of the nobles. It was not done
without opposition, for there were many ambitious competitors.

   "For while he linger'd there
    A doubt that ever smoulder'd in the hearts
    Of those great Lords and Barons of his realm
    Flash'd forth and into war: for most of these
    Made head against him, crying, 'Who is he
    That he should rule us? who hath proven him
    King Uther's son? for lo! we look at him,
    And find nor face nor bearing, limbs nor voice,
    Are like to those of Uther whom we knew."

    --Coming of Arthur.

But Bishop Brice, a person of great sanctity, on Christmas eve
addressed the assembly, and represented that it would well become
them, at that solemn season, to put up their prayers for some
token which should manifest the intentions of Providence
respecting their future sovereign. This was done, and with such
success, that the service was scarcely ended when a miraculous
stone was discovered before the church door, and in the stone was
firmly fixed a sword, with the following words engraven on its

   "I am hight Escalibore,
    Unto a king fair tresore."

Bishop Brice, after exhorting the assembly to offer up their
thanksgiving for this signal miracle, proposed a law, that whoever
should be able to draw out the sword from the stone, should be
acknowledged as sovereign of the Britons; and his proposal was
decreed by general acclamation. The tributary kings of Uther, and
the most famous knights, successively put their strength to the
proof, but the miraculous sword resisted all their efforts. It
stood till Candlemas; it stood till Easter, and till Pentecost,
when the best knights in the kingdom usually assembled for the
annual tournament. Arthur, who was at that time serving in the
capacity of squire to his foster-brother, Sir Kay, attended his
master to the lists. Sir Kay fought with great valor and success,
but had the misfortune to break his sword, and sent Arthur to his
mother for a new one. Arthur hastened home, but did not find the
lady; but having observed near the church a sword, sticking in a
stone, he galloped to the place, drew out the sword with great
ease, and delivered it to his master. Sir Kay would willingly have
assumed to himself the distinction conferred by the possession of
the sword, but when, to confirm the doubters, the sword was
replaced in the stone he was utterly unable to withdraw it, and it
would yield a second time to no hand but Arthur's. Thus decisively
pointed out by Heaven as their king, Arthur was by general consent
proclaimed as such, and an early day appointed for his solemn

Immediately after his election to the crown, Arthur found himself
opposed by eleven kings and one duke, who with a vast army were
actually encamped in the forest of Rockingham. By Merlin's advice
Arthur sent an embassy to Brittany, to solicit the aid of King Ban
and King Bohort, two of the best knights in the world. They
accepted the call, and with a powerful army crossed the sea,
landing at Portsmouth, where they were received with great
rejoicing. The rebel kings were still superior in numbers; but
Merlin, by a powerful enchantment, caused all their tents to fall
down at once, and in the confusion Arthur with his allies fell
upon them and totally routed them.

After defeating the rebels, Arthur took the field against the
Saxons. As they were too strong for him unaided, he sent an
embassy to Armorica, beseeching the assistance of Hoel, who soon
after brought over an army to his aid. The two kings joined their
forces, and sought the enemy, whom they met, and both sides
prepared for a decisive engagement. "Arthur himself," as Geoffrey
of Monmouth relates, "dressed in a breastplate worthy of so great
a king, places on his head a golden helmet engraved with the
semblance of a dragon. Over his shoulders he throws his shield
called Priwen, on which a picture of the Holy Virgin constantly
recalled her to his memory. Girt with Caliburn, a most excellent
sword, and fabricated in the isle of Avalon, he graces his right
hand with the lance named Ron. This was a long and broad spear,
well contrived for slaughter." After a severe conflict, Arthur,
calling on the name of the Virgin, rushes into the midst of his
enemies, and destroys multitudes of them with the formidable
Caliburn, and puts the rest to flight. Hoel, being detained by
sickness, took no part in this battle.

This is called the victory of Mount Badon, and, however disguised
by fable, it is regarded by historians as a real event.

The feats performed by Arthur at the battle of Badon Mount are
thus celebrated in Drayton's verse:

    "They sung how he himself at Badon bore, that day,
    When at the glorious goal his British sceptre lay;
    Two daies together how the battel stronglie stood;
    Pendragon's worthie son, who waded there in blood,
    Three hundred Saxons slew with his owne valiant hand."

    --Song IV.


Merlin had planned for Arthur a marriage with the daughter of King
Laodegan of Carmalide. By his advice Arthur paid a visit to the
court of that sovereign, attended only by Merlin and by thirty-
nine knights whom the magician had selected for that service. On
their arrival they found Laodegan and his peers sitting in
council, endeavoring, but with small prospect of success, to
devise means of resisting the impending attack of Ryence, king of
Ireland, who, with fifteen tributary kings and an almost
innumerable army, had nearly surrounded the city. Merlin, who
acted as leader of the band of British knights, announced them as
strangers, who came to offer the king their services in his wars;
but under the express condition that they should be at liberty to
conceal their names and quality until they should think proper to
divulge them. These terms were thought very strange, but were
thankfully accepted, and the strangers, after taking the usual
oath to the king, retired to the lodging which Merlin had prepared
for them.

A few days after this, the enemy, regardless of a truce into which
they had entered with King Laodegan, suddenly issued from their
camp and made an attempt to surprise the city. Cleodalis, the
king's general, assembled the royal forces with all possible
despatch. Arthur and his companions also flew to arms, and Merlin
appeared at their head, bearing a standard on which was emblazoned
a terrific dragon. Merlin advanced to the gate, and commanded the
porter to open it, which the porter refused to do, without the
king's order. Merlin thereupon took up the gate, with all its
appurtenances of locks, bars, bolts, etc., and directed his troops
to pass through, after which he replaced it in perfect order. He
then set spurs to his horse and dashed, at the head of his little
troop, into a body of two thousand pagans. The disparity of
numbers being so enormous, Merlin cast a spell upon the enemy, so
as to prevent their seeing the small number of their assailants;
notwithstanding which the British knights were hard pressed. But
the people of the city, who saw from the walls this unequal
contest, were ashamed of leaving the small body of strangers to
their fate, so they opened the gate and sallied forth. The numbers
were now more nearly equal, and Merlin revoked his spell, so that
the two armies encountered on fair terms. Where Arthur, Ban,
Bohort, and the rest fought the king's army had the advantage; but
in another part of the field the king himself was surrounded and
carried off by the enemy. The sad sight was seen by Guenever, the
fair daughter of the king, who stood on the city wall and looked
at the battle. She was in dreadful distress, tore her hair, and
swooned away.

But Merlin, aware of what passed in every part of the field,
suddenly collected his knights, led them out of the battle,
intercepted the passage of the party who were carrying away the
king, charged them with irresistible impetuosity, cut in pieces or
dispersed the whole escort, and rescued the king. In the fight
Arthur encountered Caulang, a giant fifteen feet high, and the
fair Guenever, who had already began to feel a strong interest in
the handsome young stranger, trembled for the issue of the
contest. But Arthur, dealing a dreadful blow on the shoulder of
the monster, cut through his neck so that his head hung over on
one side, and in this condition his horse carried him about the
field, to the great horror and dismay of the Pagans. Guenever
could not refrain from expressing aloud her wish that the gentle
knight, who dealt with giants so dexterously, were destined to
become her husband, and the wish was echoed by her attendants. The
enemy soon turned their backs and fled with precipitation, closely
pursued by Laodegan and his allies.

After the battle Arthur was disarmed and conducted to the bath by
the princess Guenever, while his friends were attended by the
other ladies of the court. After the bath the knights were
conducted to a magnificent entertainment, at which they were
diligently served by the same fair attendants. Laodegan, more and
more anxious to know the name and quality of his generous
deliverers, and occasionally forming a secret wish that the chief
of his guests might be captivated by the charms of his daughter,
appeared silent and pensive, and was scarcely roused from his
reverie by the banters of his courtiers. Arthur, having had an
opportunity of explaining to Guenever his great esteem for her
merit, was in the joy of his heart, and was still further
delighted by hearing from Merlin the late exploits of Gawain at
London, by means of which his immediate return to his dominions
was rendered unnecessary, and he was left at liberty to protract
his stay at the court of Laodegan. Every day contributed to
increase the admiration of the whole court for the gallant
strangers, and the passion of Guenever for their chief; and when
at last Merlin announced to the king that the object of the visit
of the party was to procure a bride for their leader, Laodegan at
once presented Guenever to Arthur, telling him that, whatever
might be his rank, his merit was sufficient to entitle him to the
possession of the heiress of Carmalide.

   "And could he find a woman in her womanhood
    As great as he was in his manhood--
    The twain together might change the world."


Arthur accepted the lady with the utmost gratitude, and Merlin
then proceeded to satisfy the king of the rank of his son-in-law;
upon which Laodegan, with all his barons, hastened to do homage to
their lawful sovereign, the successor of Uther Pendragon. The fair
Guenever was then solemnly betrothed to Arthur, and a magnificent
festival was proclaimed, which lasted seven days. At the end of
that time, the enemy appearing again with renewed force, it became
necessary to resume military operations. [Footnote: Guenever, the
name of Arthur's queen, also written Genievre and Geneura, is
familiar to all who are conversant with chivalric lore. It is to
her adventures, and those of her true knight, Sir Launcelot, that
Dante alludes in the beautiful episode of Francesca di Rimini.]

We must now relate what took place at and near London, while
Arthur was absent from his capital. At this very time a band of
young heroes were on their way to Arthur's court, for the purpose
of receiving knighthood from him. They were Gawain and his three
brothers, nephews of Arthur, sons of King Lot, and Galachin,
another nephew, son of King Nanters. King Lot had been one of the
rebel chiefs whom Arthur had defeated, but he now hoped by means
of the young men to be reconciled to his brother-in-law. He
equipped his sons and his nephew with the utmost magnificence,
giving them a splendid retinue of young men, sons of earls and
barons, all mounted on the best horses, with complete suits of
choice armor. They numbered in all seven hundred, but only nine
had yet received the order of knighthood; the rest were candidates
for that honor, and anxious to earn it by an early encounter with
the enemy. Gawain, the leader, was a knight of wonderful strength;
but what was most remarkable about him was that his strength was
greater at certain hours of the day than at others. From nine
o'clock till noon his strength was doubled, and so it was from
three to evensong; for the rest of the time it was less
remarkable, though at all times surpassing that of ordinary men.

After a march of three days they arrived in the vicinity of
London, where they expected to find Arthur and his court, and very
unexpectedly fell in with a large convoy belonging to the enemy,
consisting of numerous carts and wagons, all loaded with
provisions, and escorted by three thousand men, who had been
collecting spoil from all the country round. A single charge from
Gawain's impetuous cavalry was sufficient to disperse the escort
and recover the convoy, which was instantly despatched to London.
But before long a body of seven thousand fresh soldiers advanced
to the attack of the five princes and their little army. Gawain,
singling out a chief named Choas, of gigantic size, began the
battle by splitting him from the crown of the head to the breast.
Galachin encountered King Sanagran, who was also very huge, and
cut off his head. Agrivain and Gahariet also performed prodigies
of valor. Thus they kept the great army of assailants at bay,
though hard pressed, till of a sudden they perceived a strong body
of the citizens advancing from London, where the convoy which had
been recovered by Gawain had arrived, and informed the mayor and
citizens of the danger of their deliverer. The arrival of the
Londoners soon decided the contest. The enemy fled in all
directions, and Gawain and his friends, escorted by the grateful
citizens, entered London, and were received with acclamations.


ARTHUR (Continued)

After the great victory of Mount Badon, by which the Saxons were
for the time effectually put down, Arthur turned his arms against
the Scots and Picts, whom he routed at Lake Lomond, and compelled
to sue for mercy. He then went to York to keep his Christmas, and
employed himself in restoring the Christian churches which the
Pagans had rifled and overthrown. The following summer he
conquered Ireland, and then made a voyage with his fleet to
Iceland, which he also subdued. The kings of Gothland and of the
Orkneys came voluntarily and made their submission, promising to
pay tribute. Then he returned to Britain, where, having
established the kingdom, he dwelt twelve years in peace.

During this time he invited over to him all persons whatsoever
that were famous for valor in foreign nations, and augmented the
number of his domestics, and introduced such politeness into his
court as people of the remotest countries thought worthy of their
imitation. So that there was not a nobleman who thought himself of
any consideration unless his clothes and arms were made in the
same fashion as those of Arthur's knights.

Finding himself so powerful at home, Arthur began to form designs
for extending his power abroad. So, having prepared his fleet, he
first attempted Norway, that he might procure the crown of it for
Lot, his sister's husband. Arthur landed in Norway, fought a great
battle with the king of that country, defeated him, and pursued
the victory till he had reduced the whole country under his
dominion, and established Lot upon the throne. Then Arthur made a
voyage to Gaul and laid siege to the city of Paris. Gaul was at
that time a Roman province, and governed by Flollo, the Tribune.
When the siege of Paris had continued a month, and the people
began to suffer from famine, Flollo challenged Arthur to single
combat, proposing to decide the conquest of the province in that
way. Arthur gladly accepted the challenge, and slew his adversary
in the contest, upon which the citizens surrendered the city to
him. After the victory Arthur divided his army into two parts, one
of which he committed to the conduct of Hoel, whom he ordered to
march into Aquitaine, while he with the other part should endeavor
to subdue the other provinces. At the end of nine years, in which
time all the parts of Gaul were entirely reduced, Arthur returned
to Paris, where he kept his court, and, calling an assembly of the
clergy and people, established peace and the just administration
of the laws in that kingdom. Then he bestowed Normandy upon
Bedver, his butler, and the province of Andegavia upon Kay, his
steward, [Footnote: This name, in the French romances, is spelled
Queux, which means head cook. This would seem to imply that it was
a title, and not a name; yet the personage who bore it is never
mentioned by any other. He is the chief, if not the only, comic
character among the heroes of Arthur's court. He is the Seneschal
or Steward, his duties also embracing those of chief of the cooks.
In the romances, his general character is a compound of valor and
buffoonery, always ready to fight, and generally getting the worst
of the battle. He is also sarcastic and abusive in his remarks, by
which he often gets into trouble. Yet Arthur seems to have an
attachment to him, and often takes his advice, which is generally
wrong.] and several other provinces upon his great men that
attended him. And, having settled the peace of the cities and
countries, he returned back in the beginning of spring to Britain.

Upon the approach of the feast of Pentecost, Arthur, the better to
demonstrate his joy after such triumphant successes, and for the
more solemn observation of that festival, and reconciling the
minds of the princes that were now subject to him, resolved during
that season to hold a magnificent court, to place the crown upon
his head, and to invite all the kings and dukes under his
subjection to the solemnity. And he pitched upon Caerleon, the
City of Legions, as the proper place for his purpose. For, besides
its great wealth above the other cities, its situation upon the
river Usk, near the Severn sea, was most pleasant and fit for so
great a solemnity. For on one side it was washed by that noble
river, so that the kings and princes from the countries beyond the
seas might have the convenience of sailing up to it. On the other
side the beauty of the meadows and groves, and magnificence of the
royal palaces, with lofty gilded roofs that adorned it, made it
even rival the grandeur of Rome. It was also famous for two
churches, whereof one was adorned with a choir of virgins, who
devoted themselves wholly to the service of God, and the other
maintained a convent of priests. Besides, there was a college of
two hundred philosophers, who, being learned in astronomy and the
other arts, were diligent in observing the courses of the stars,
and gave Arthur true predictions of the events that would happen.
In this place, therefore, which afforded such delights, were
preparations made for the ensuing festival.

[Footnote: Several cities are allotted to King Arthur by the
romance-writers. The principal are Caerleon, Camelot, and

Caerleon derives its name from its having been the station of one
of the legions, during the dominion of the Romans. It is called by
Latin writers Urbs Legionum, the City of Legions. The former word
being rendered into Welsh by Caer, meaning city, and the latter
contracted into lleon. The river Usk retains its name in modern
geography, and there is a town or city of Caerleon upon it, though
the city of Cardiff is thought to be the scene of Arthur's court.
Chester also bears in Welsh the name of Caerleon; for Chester,
derived from castra, Latin for camp, is the designation of
military headquarters.

Camelot is thought to be Winchester.

Shalott is Guilford.

Hamo's Port is Southampton.

Carlisle is the city still retaining that name, near the Scottish
border. But this name is also sometimes applied to other places,
which were, like itself, military stations.]

Ambassadors were then sent into several kingdoms, to invite to
court the princes both of Gaul and of the adjacent islands.
Accordingly there came Augusel, king of Albania, now Scotland,
Cadwallo, king of Venedotia, now North Wales, Sater, king of
Demetia, now South Wales; also the archbishops of the metropolitan
sees, London and York, and Dubricius, bishop of Caerleon, the City
of Legions. This prelate, who was primate of Britain, was so
eminent for his piety that he could cure any sick person by his
prayers. There were also the counts of the principal cities, and
many other worthies of no less dignity.

From the adjacent islands came Guillamurius, king of Ireland,
Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys, Malvasius, king of Iceland, Lot,
king of Norway, Bedver, the butler, Duke of Normandy, Kay, the
sewer, Duke of Andegavia; also the twelve peers of Gaul, and Hoel,
Duke of the Armorican Britons, with his nobility, who came with
such a train of mules, horses, and rich furniture as it is
difficult to describe. Besides these there remained no prince of
any consideration on this side of Spain who came not upon this
invitation. And no wonder, when Arthur's munificence, which was
celebrated over the whole world, made him beloved by all people.

When all were assembled upon the day of the solemnity the
archbishops were conducted to the palace, in order to place the
crown upon the king's head. Then Dubricius, inasmuch as the court
was held in his diocese, made himself ready to celebrate the
office. As soon as the king was invested with his royal
habiliments he was conducted in great pomp to the metropolitan
church, having four kings, viz., of Albania, Cornwall, Demetia,
and Venedotia, bearing four golden swords before him. On another
part was the queen, dressed out in her richest ornaments,
conducted by the archbishops and bishops to the Church of Virgins;
the four queens, also, of the kings last mentioned, bearing before
her four white doves, according to ancient custom. When the whole
procession was ended so transporting was the harmony of the
musical instruments and voices, whereof there was a vast variety
in both churches, that the knights who attended were in doubt
which to prefer, and therefore crowded from the one to the other
by turns, and were far from being tired of the solemnity, though
the whole day had been spent in it. At last, when divine service
was over at both churches, the king and queen put off their
crowns, and, putting on their lighter ornaments, went to the
banquet. When they had all taken their seats according to
precedence, Kay, the sewer, in rich robes of ermine, with a
thousand young noblemen all in like manner clothed in rich attire,
served up the dishes. From another part Bedver, the butler, was
followed by the same number of attendants, who waited with all
kinds of cups and drinking-vessels. And there was food and drink
in abundance, and everything was of the best kind, and served in
the best manner. For at that time Britain had arrived at such a
pitch of grandeur that in riches, luxury, and politeness it far
surpassed all other kingdoms.

As soon as the banquets were over they went into the fields
without the city to divert themselves with various sports, such as
shooting with bows and arrows, tossing the pike, casting of heavy
stones and rocks, playing at dice, and the like, and all these
inoffensively, and without quarrelling. In this manner were three
days spent, and after that they separated, and the kings and
noblemen departed to their several homes.

After this Arthur reigned five years in peace. Then came
ambassadors from Lucius Tiberius, Procurator under Leo, Emperor of
Rome, demanding tribute. But Arthur refused to pay tribute, and
prepared for war. As soon as the necessary dispositions were made
he committed the government of his kingdom to his nephew Modred
and to Queen Guenever, and marched with his army to Hamo's Port,
where the wind stood fair for him. The army crossed over in
safety, and landed at the mouth of the river Barba. And there they
pitched their tents to wait the arrival of the kings of the

As soon as all the forces were arrived Arthur marched forward to
Augustodunum, and encamped on the banks of the river Alba. Here
repeated battles were fought, in all which the Britons, under
their valiant leaders, Hoel, Duke of Armorica, and Gawain, nephew
to Arthur, had the advantage. At length Lucius Tiberius determined
to retreat, and wait for the Emperor Leo to join him with fresh
troops. But Arthur, anticipating this event, took possession of a
certain valley, and closed up the way of retreat to Lucius,
compelling him to fight a decisive battle, in which Arthur lost
some of the bravest of his knights and most faithful followers.
But on the other hand Lucius Tiberius was slain, and his army
totally defeated. The fugitives dispersed over the country, some
to the by-ways and woods, some to cities and towns, and all other
places where they could hope for safety.

Arthur stayed in those parts till the next winter was over, and
employed his time in restoring order and settling the government.
He then returned into England, and celebrated his victories with
great splendor.

Then the king stablished all his knights, and to them that were
not rich he gave lands, and charged them all never to do outrage
nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no means to be
cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asked mercy, upon pain of
forfeiture of their worship and lordship; and always to do ladies,
damosels, and gentlewomen service, upon pain of death. Also that
no man take battle in a wrongful quarrel, for no law, nor for any
world's goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table
Round, both old and young. And at every year were they sworn at
the high feast of Pentecost.


While the army was encamped in Brittany, awaiting the arrival of
the kings, there came a countryman to Arthur, and told him that a
giant, whose cave was on a neighboring mountain, called St.
Michael's Mount, had for a long time been accustomed to carry off
the children of the peasants to devour them. "And now he hath
taken the Duchess of Brittany, as she rode with her attendants,
and hath carried her away in spite of all they could do." "Now,
fellow," said King Arthur, "canst thou bring me there where this
giant haunteth?" "Yea, sure," said the good man; "lo, yonder where
thou seest two great fires, there shalt thou find him, and more
treasure than I suppose is in all France beside." Then the king
called to him Sir Bedver and Sir Kay, and commanded them to make
ready horse and harness for himself and them; for after evening he
would ride on pilgrimage to St. Michael's Mount.

So they three departed, and rode forth till they came to the foot
of the mount. And there the king commanded them to tarry, for he
would himself go up into that mount. So he ascended the hill till
he came to a great fire, and there he found an aged woman sitting
by a new-made grave, making great sorrow. Then King Arthur saluted
her, and demanded of her wherefore she made such lamentation; to
whom she answered: "Sir knight, speak low, for yonder is a devil,
and if he hear thee speak, he will come and destroy thee. For ye
cannot make resistance to him, he is so fierce and so strong. He
hath murdered the Duchess, which here lieth, who was the fairest
of all the world, wife to Sir Hoel, Duke of Brittany." "Dame,"
said the king, "I come from the noble conqueror, King Arthur, to
treat with that tyrant." "Fie on such treaties," said she; "he
setteth not by the king, nor by no man else." "Well," said Arthur,
"I will accomplish my message for all your fearful words." So he
went forth by the crest of the hill, and saw where the giant sat
at supper, gnawing on the limb of a man, and baking his broad
limbs at the fire, and three fair damsels lying bound, whose lot
it was to be devoured in their turn. When King Arthur beheld that,
he had great compassion on them, so that his heart bled for
sorrow. Then he hailed the giant, saying, "He that all the world
ruleth give thee short life and shameful death. Why hast thou
murdered this Duchess? Therefore come forth, for this day thou
shalt die by my hand." Then the giant started up, and took a great
club, and smote at the king, and smote off his coronal; and then
the king struck him in the belly with his sword, and made a
fearful wound. Then the giant threw away his club, and caught the
king in his arms, so that he crushed his ribs. Then the three
maidens kneeled down and prayed for help and comfort for Arthur.
And Arthur weltered and wrenched, so that he was one while under,
and another time above. And so weltering and wallowing they rolled
down the hill, and ever as they weltered Arthur smote him with his
dagger; and it fortuned they came to the place where the two
knights were. And when they saw the king fast in the giant's arms
they came and loosed him. Then the king commanded Sir Kay to smite
off the giant's head, and to set it on the truncheon of a spear,
and fix it on the barbican, that all the people might see and
behold it. This was done, and anon it was known through all the
country, wherefor the people came and thanked the king. And he
said, "Give your thanks to God; and take ye the giant's spoil and
divide it among you." And King Arthur caused a church to be
builded on that hill, in honor of St. Michael.


One day King Arthur rode forth, and on a sudden he was ware of
three churls chasing Merlin, to have slain him. And the king rode
unto them and bade them, "Flee, churls!" Then were they afraid
when they saw a knight, and fled. "O Merlin," said Arthur, "here
hadst thou been slain, for all thy crafts, had I not been by."
"Nay," said Merlin, "not so, for I could save myself if I would;
but thou art more near thy death than I am." So, as they went thus
talking, King Arthur perceived where sat a knight on horseback, as
if to guard the pass. "Sir knight," said Arthur, "for what cause
abidest thou here?" Then the knight said, "There may no knight
ride this way unless he just with me, for such is the custom of
the pass." "I will amend that custom," said the king. Then they
ran together, and they met so hard that their spears were
shivered. Then they drew their swords and fought a strong battle,
with many great strokes. But at length the sword of the knight
smote King Arthur's sword in two pieces. Then said the knight unto
Arthur, "Thou art in my power, whether to save thee or slay thee,
and unless thou yield thee as overcome and recreant, thou shalt
die." "As for death," said King Arthur, "welcome be it when it
cometh; but to yield me unto thee as recreant, I will not." Then
he leapt upon the knight, and took him by the middle and threw him
down; but the knight was a passing strong man, and anon he brought
Arthur under him, and would have razed off his helm to slay him.
Then said Merlin, "Knight, hold thy hand, for this knight is a man
of more worship than thou art aware of." "Why, who is he?" said
the knight. "It is King Arthur." Then would he have slain him for
dread of his wrath, and lifted up his sword to slay him; and
therewith Merlin cast an enchantment on the knight, so that he
fell to the earth in a great sleep. Then Merlin took up King
Arthur, and set him on his horse. "Alas!" said Arthur, "what hast
thou done, Merlin? hast thou slain this good knight by thy
crafts?" "Care ye not," said Merlin; "he is wholer than ye be. He
is only asleep, and will wake in three hours."

Then the king and he departed, and went till they came to a
hermit, that was a good man and a great leech. So the hermit
searched all his wounds, and applied good salves; and the king was
there three days, and then were his wounds well amended, that he
might ride and go. So they departed, and as they rode Arthur said,
"I have no sword." "No matter," said Merlin; "hereby is a sword
that shall be yours." So they rode till they came to a lake, which
was a fair water and broad. And in the midst of the lake Arthur
was aware of an arm clothed in white samite, [Footnote: Samite, a
sort of silk stuff.] that held a fair sword in the hand. "Lo!"
said Merlin, "yonder is that sword that I spake of. It belongeth
to the Lady of the Lake, and, if she will, thou mayest take it;
but if she will not, it will not be in thy power to take it."

So Sir Arthur and Merlin alighted from their horses, and went into
a boat. And when they came to the sword that the hand held Sir
Arthur took it by the handle and took it to him, and the arm and
the hand went under the water.

Then they returned unto the land and rode forth. And Sir Arthur
looked on the sword and liked it right well.

So they rode unto Caerleon, whereof his knights were passing glad.
And when they heard of his adventures they marvelled that he would
jeopard his person so alone. But all men of worship said it was a
fine thing to be under such a chieftain as would put his person in
adventure as other poor knights did.



Sir Gawain was nephew to King Arthur, by his sister Morgana,
married to Lot, king of Orkney, who was by Arthur made king of
Norway. Sir Gawain was one of the most famous knights of the Round
Table, and is characterized by the romancers as the SAGE and
COURTEOUS Gawain. To this Chaucer alludes in his "Squiere's Tale,"
where the strange knight "salueth" all the court

    "With so high reverence and observance,
    As well in speeche as in countenance,
    That Gawain, with his olde curtesie,
    Though he were come agen out of faerie,
    Ne coude him not amenden with a word."

Gawain's brothers were Agrivain, Gahariet, and Gareth.


Once upon a time King Arthur held his court in merry Carlisle,
when a damsel came before him and craved a boon. It was for
vengeance upon a caitiff knight, who had made her lover captive
and despoiled her of her lands. King Arthur commanded to bring him
his sword, Excalibar, and to saddle his steed, and rode forth
without delay to right the lady's wrong. Ere long he reached the
castle of the grim baron, and challenged him to the conflict. But
the castle stood on magic ground, and the spell was such that no
knight could tread thereon but straight his courage fell and his
strength decayed. King Arthur felt the charm, and before a blow
was struck, his sturdy limbs lost their strength, and his head
grew faint. He was fain to yield himself prisoner to the churlish
knight, who refused to release him except upon condition that he
should return at the end of a year, and bring a true answer to the
question, "What thing is it which women most desire?" or in
default thereof surrender himself and his lands. King Arthur
accepted the terms, and gave his oath to return at the time
appointed. During the year the king rode east, and he rode west,
and inquired of all whom he met what thing it is which all women
most desire. Some told him riches; some, pomp and state; some,
mirth; some, flattery; and some, a gallant knight. But in the
diversity of answers he could find no sure dependence. The year
was well-nigh spent, when one day, as he rode thoughtfully through
a forest, he saw sitting beneath a tree a lady of such hideous
aspect that he turned away his eyes, and when she greeted him in
seemly sort, made no answer. "What wight art thou," the lady said,
"that will not speak to me? It may chance that I may resolve thy
doubts, though I be not fair of aspect." "If thou wilt do so,"
said King Arthur, "choose what reward thou wilt, thou grim lady,
and it shall be given thee." "Swear me this upon thy faith," she
said, and Arthur swore it. Then the lady told him the secret, and
demanded her reward, which was that the king should find some fair
and courtly knight to be her husband.

King Arthur hastened to the grim baron's castle and told him one
by one all the answers which he had received from his various
advisers, except the last, and not one was admitted as the true
one. "Now yield thee, Arthur," the giant said, "for thou hast not
paid thy ransom, and thou and thy lands are forfeited to me." Then
King Arthur said:

    "Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baron,
      I pray thee hold thy hand,
    And give me leave to speak once more,
      In rescue of my land.
    This morn as I came over a moor,
      I saw a lady set,
    Between an oak and a green holly,
      All clad in red scarlett.
      This is their chief desire;
    Now yield, as thou art a baron true,
      That I have paid my hire."

"It was my sister that told thee this," the churlish baron
exclaimed. "Vengeance light on her! I will some time or other do
her as ill a turn."

King Arthur rode homeward, but not light of heart, for he
remembered the promise he was under to the loathly lady to--give
her one of his young and gallant knights for a husband. He told
his grief to Sir Gawain, his nephew, and he replied, "Be not sad,
my lord, for I will marry the loathly lady." King Arthur replied:

    "Now nay, now nay, good Sir Gawaine,
      My sister's son ye be;
    The loathly lady's all too grim,
      And all too foule for thee."

But Gawain persisted, and the king at last, with sorrow of heart,
consented that Gawain should be his ransom. So one day the king
and his knights rode to the forest, met the loathly lady, and
brought her to the court. Sir Gawain stood the scoffs and jeers of
his companions as he best might, and the marriage was solemnized,
but not with the usual festivities. Chaucer tells us:

    "... There was no joye ne feste at alle;
    There n' as but hevinesse and mochel sorwe,
    For prively he wed her on the morwe,
    And all day after hid him as an owle,
    So wo was him his wife loked so foule!"

[Footnote: N'AS is NOT WAS, contracted; in modern phrase, THERE

When night came, and they were alone together, Sir Gawain could
not conceal his aversion; and the lady asked him why he sighed so
heavily, and turned away his face. He candidly confessed it was on
account of three things, her age, her ugliness, and her low
degree. The lady, not at all offended, replied with excellent
arguments to all his objections. She showed him that with age is
discretion, with ugliness security from rivals, and that all true
gentility depends, not upon the accident of birth, but upon the
character of the individual.

Sir Gawain made no reply; but, turning his eyes on his bride, what
was his amazement to perceive that she wore no longer the unseemly
aspect that had so distressed him. She then told him that the form
she had worn was not her true form, but a disguise imposed upon
her by a wicked enchanter, and that she was condemned to wear it
until two things should happen: one, that she should obtain some
young and gallant knight to be her husband. This having been done,
one-half of the charm was removed. She was now at liberty to wear
her true form for half the time, and she bade him choose whether
he would have her fair by day, and ugly by night, or the reverse.
Sir Gawain would fain have had her look her best by night, when he
alone would see her, and show her repulsive visage, if at all, to
others. But she reminded him how much more pleasant it would be to
her to wear her best looks in the throng of knights and ladies by
day. Sir Gawain yielded, and gave up his will to hers. This alone
was wanting to dissolve the charm. The lovely lady now with joy
assured him that she should change no more, but as she now was, so
would she remain by night as well as by day.

    "Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek,
      Her eyen were black as sloe,
    The ripening cherrye swelled her lippe,
      And all her neck was snow.
    Sir Gawain kist that ladye faire
      Lying upon the sheete,
    And swore, as he was a true knight,
      The spice was never so swete."

The dissolution of the charm which had held the lady also released
her brother, the "grim baron," for he too had been implicated in
it. He ceased to be a churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and
generous knight as any at Arthur's court.



Caradoc was the son of Ysenne, the beautiful niece of Arthur. He
was ignorant who his father was, till it was discovered in the
following manner: When the youth was of proper years to receive
the honors of knighthood, King Arthur held a grand court for the
purpose of knighting him. On this occasion a strange knight
presented himself, and challenged the knights of Arthur's court to
exchange blow for blow with him. His proposal was this--to lay his
neck on a block for any knight to strike, on condition that, if he
survived the blow, the knight should submit in turn to the same
experiment. Sir Kay, who was usually ready to accept all
challenges, pronounced this wholly unreasonable, and declared that
he would not accept it for all the wealth in the world. And when
the knight offered his sword, with which the operation was to be
performed, no person ventured to accept it, till Caradoc, growing
angry at the disgrace which was thus incurred by the Round Table,
threw aside his mantle and took it. "Do you do this as one of the
best knights?" said the stranger. "No," he replied, "but as one of
the most foolish." The stranger lays his head upon the block,
receives a blow which sends it rolling from his shoulders, walks
after it, picks it up, replaces it with great success, and says he
will return when the court shall be assembled next year, and claim
his turn. When the anniversary arrived, both parties were punctual
to their engagement. Great entreaties were used by the king and
queen, and the whole court, in behalf of Caradoc, but the stranger
was inflexible. The young knight laid his head upon the block, and
more than once desired him to make an end of the business, and not
keep him longer in so disagreeable a state of expectation. At last
the stranger strikes him gently with the side of the sword, bids
him rise, and reveals to him the fact that he is his father, the
enchanter Eliaures, and that he gladly owns him for a son, having
proved his courage and fidelity to his word.

But the favor of enchanters is short-lived and uncertain. Eliaures
fell under the influence of a wicked woman, who, to satisfy her
pique against Caradoc, persuaded the enchanter to fasten on his
arm a serpent, which remained there sucking at his flesh and
blood, no human skill sufficing either to remove the reptile or
alleviate the torments which Caradoc endured.

Caradoc was betrothed to Guimier, sister to his bosom friend,
Cador, and daughter to the king of Cornwall. As soon as they were
informed of his deplorable condition, they set out for Nantes,
where Caradoc's castle was, that Guimier might attend upon him.
When Caradoc heard of their coming, his first emotion was that of
joy and love. But soon he began to fear that the sight of his
emaciated form, and of his sufferings, would disgust Guimier; and
this apprehension became so strong, that he departed secretly from
Nantes, and hid himself in a hermitage. He was sought far and near
by the knights of Arthur's court, and Cador made a vow never to
desist from the quest till he should have found him. After long
wandering, Cador discovered his friend in the hermitage, reduced
almost to a skeleton, and apparently near his death. All other
means of relief having already been tried in vain, Cador at last
prevailed on the enchanter Eliaures to disclose the only method
which could avail for his rescue. A maiden must be found, his
equal in birth and beauty, and loving him better than herself, so
that she would expose herself to the same torment to deliver him.
Two vessels were then to be provided, the one filled with sour
wine, and the other with milk. Caradoc must enter the first, so
that the wine should reach his neck, and the maiden must get into
the other, and, exposing her bosom upon the edge of the vessel,
invite the serpent to forsake the withered flesh of his victim for
this fresh and inviting food. The vessels were to be placed three
feet apart, and as the serpent crossed from one to the other. a
knight was to cut him in two. If he failed in his blow, Caradoc
would indeed be delivered, but it would be only to see his fair
champion suffering the same cruel and hopeless torment. The sequel
may be easily foreseen. Guimier willingly exposed herself to the
perilous adventure, and Cador, with a lucky blow, killed the
serpent. The arm in which Caradoc had suffered so long recovered
its strength, but not its shape, in consequence of which he was
called Caradoc Briefbras, Caradoc of the Shrunken Arm.

Caradoc and Guimier are the hero and heroine of the ballad Of the
"Boy and the Mantle," which follows:


    "In Carlisle dwelt King Arthur,
      A prince of passing might,
    And there maintained his Table Round,
      Beset with many a knight.

    "And there he kept his Christmas,
      With mirth and princely cheer,
    When lo! a strange and cunning boy
      Before him did appear.

    "A kirtle and a mantle
      This boy had him upon,
    With brooches, rings, and ouches,
      Full daintily bedone.

    "He had a sash of silk
      About his middle meet;
    And thus with seemly curtesie
      He did King Arthur greet:

    "'God speed thee, brave King Arthur.
      Thus feasting in thy bower,
    And Guenever, thy goodly queen,
      That fair and peerless flower.

    "'Ye gallant lords and lordlings,
      I wish you all take heed,
    Lest what ye deem a blooming rose
      Should prove a cankered weed.'

    "Then straightway from his bosom
      A little wand he drew;
    And with it eke a mantle,
      Of wondrous shape and hue.

    "'Now have thou here, King Arthur,
      Have this here of me,
    And give unto thy comely queen,
      All shapen as you see.

    "'No wife it shall become,
      That once hath been to blame.'
    Then every knight in Arthur's court
      Sly glanced at his dame.

    "And first came Lady Guenever,
      The mantle she must try.
    This dame she was new-fangled, [1]
      And of a roving eye.

    "When she had taken the mantle,
      And all with it was clad,
    From top to toe it shivered down,
      As though with shears beshred.

    "One while it was too long,
      Another while too short,
    And wrinkled on her shoulders,
      In most unseemly sort.

    "Now green, now red it seemed,
      Then all of sable hue;
    'Beshrew me,' quoth King Arthur,
      'I think thou be'st not true!'

    "Down she threw the mantle,
      No longer would she stay;
    But, storming like a fury,
      To her chamber flung away.

    "She cursed the rascal weaver,
      That had the mantle wrought;
    And doubly cursed the froward imp
      Who thither had it brought.

    I had rather live in deserts,
      Beneath the greenwood tree,
    Than here, base king, among thy grooms
      The sport of them and thee.'

    "Sir Kay called forth his lady,
      And bade her to come near:
    'Yet dame, if thou be guilty,
      I pray thee now forbear.'

    "This lady, pertly giggling,
      With forward step came on,
    And boldly to the little boy
      With fearless face is gone.

    "When she had taken the mantle,
      With purpose for to wear,
    It shrunk up to her shoulder,
      And left her back all bare.

    "Then every merry knight,
      That was in Arthur's court,
    Gibed and laughed and flouted,
      To see that pleasant sport.

    "Down she threw the mantle,
      No longer bold or gay,
    But, with a face all pale and wan
      To her chamber slunk away.

    "Then forth came an old knight
      A pattering o'er his creed,
    And proffered to the little boy
       Five nobles to his meed:

    "'And all the time of Christmas
      Plum-porridge shall be thine,
    If thou wilt let my lady fair
      Within the mantle shine.'

    "A saint his lady seemed,
      With step demure and slow,
    And gravely to the mantle
      With mincing face doth go.

    "When she the same had taken
      That was so fine and thin,
    It shrivelled all about her,
      And showed her dainty skin.

    "Ah! little did her mincing,
      Or his long prayers bestead;
     She had no more hung on her
      Than a tassel and a thread.

    "Down she threw the mantle,
      With terror and dismay,
    And with a face of scarlet
      To her chamber hied away.

    "Sir Cradock called his lady,
      And bade her to come near:
    'Come win this mantle, lady,
       And do me credit here:

    "'Come win this mantle, lady,
      For now it shall be thine,
    If thou hast never done amiss,
      Since first I made thee mine.'

    "The lady, gently blushing,
      With modest grace came on;
    And now to try the wondrous charm
      Courageously is gone.

    "When she had ta'en the mantle,
      And put it on her back,
    About the hem it seemed
      To wrinkle and to crack.

    "'Lie still,' she cried, 'O mantle!
      And shame me not for naught;
    I'll freely own whate'er amiss
      Or blameful I have wrought.

    "'Once I kissed Sir Cradock
      Beneath the greenwood tree;
    Once I kissed Sir Cradock's mouth,
      Before he married me.'

    "When she had thus her shriven,
      And her worst fault had told,
    The mantle soon became her,
      Right comely as it should.

    "Most rich and fair of color,
      Like gold it glittering shone,
    And much the knights in Arthur's court
      Admired her every one."

[Footnote 1: New-fangled--fond of novelty.]

The ballad goes on to tell of two more trials of a similar kind,
made by means of a boar's head and a drinking horn, in both of
which the result was equally favorable with the first to Sir
Cradock and his lady. It then concludes as follows:

    "Thus boar's head, horn, and mantle
      Were this fair couple's meed;
    And all such constant lovers,
      God send them well to speed"

    --Percy's Reliques.



King Ban, of Brittany, the faithful ally of Arthur was attacked by
his enemy Claudas, and after a long war saw himself reduced to the
possession of a single fortress, where he was besieged by his
enemy. In this extremity he determined to solicit the assistance
of Arthur, and escaped in a dark night, with his wife Helen and
his infant son Launcelot, leaving his castle in the hands of his
seneschal, who immediately surrendered the place to Claudas. The
flames of his burning citadel reached the eyes of the unfortunate
monarch during his flight and he expired with grief. The wretched
Helen, leaving her child on the brink of a lake, flew to receive
the last sighs of her husband, and on returning perceived the
little Launcelot in the arms of a nymph, who, on the approach of
the queen, threw herself into the lake with the child. This nymph
was Viviane, mistress of the enchanter Merlin, better known by the
name of the Lady of the Lake. Launcelot received his appellation
from having been educated at the court of this enchantress, whose
palace was situated in the midst, not of a real, but, like the
appearance which deceives the African traveller, of an imaginary
lake, whose deluding resemblance served as a barrier to her
residence. Here she dwelt not alone, but in the midst of a
numerous retinue, and a splendid court of knights and damsels.

The queen, after her double loss, retired to a convent, where she
was joined by the widow of Bohort, for this good king had died of
grief on hearing of the death of his brother Ban. His two sons,
Lionel and Bohort, were rescued by a faithful knight, and arrived
in the shape of greyhounds at the palace of the lake, where,
having resumed their natural form, they were educated along with
their cousin Launcelot.

The fairy, when her pupil had attained the age of eighteen,
conveyed him to the court of Arthur for the purpose of demanding
his admission to the honor of knighthood; and at the first
appearance of the youthful candidate the graces of his person,
which were not inferior to his courage and skill in arms, made an
instantaneous and indelible impression on the heart of Guenever,
while her charms inspired him with an equally ardent and constant
passion. The mutual attachment of these lovers exerted, from that
time forth, an influence over the whole history of Arthur. For the
sake of Guenever, Launcelot achieved the conquest of
Northumberland, defeated Gallehaut, King of the Marches, who
afterwards became his most faithful friend and ally, exposed
himself in numberless encounters, and brought hosts of prisoners
to the feet of his sovereign.


After King Arthur was come from Rome into England all the knights
of the Table Round resorted unto him and made him many justs and
tournaments. And in especial Sir Launcelot of the Lake in all
tournaments and justs and deeds of arms, both for life and death,
passed all other knights, and was never overcome, except it were
by treason or enchantment; and he increased marvellously in
worship, wherefore Queen Guenever had him in great favor, above
all other knights. And for certain he loved the queen again above
all other ladies; and for her he did many deeds of arms, and saved
her from peril, through his noble chivalry. Thus Sir Launcelot
rested him long with play and game, and then he thought to prove
himself in strange adventures; so he bade his nephew, Sir Lionel,
to make him ready,-- "for we two will seek adventures." So they
mounted on their horses, armed at all sights, and rode into a
forest, and so into a deep plain. And the weather was hot about
noon, and Sir Launcelot had great desire to sleep. Then Sir Lionel
espied a great apple-tree that stood by a hedge, and he said:
"Brother, yonder is a fair shadow--there may we rest us and our
horses." "It is well said," replied Sir Launcelot. So they there
alighted, and Sir Launcelot laid him down, and his helm under his
head, and soon was asleep passing fast. And Sir Lionel waked while
he slept. And presently there came three knights riding as fast as
ever they might ride, and there followed them but one knight. And
Sir Lionel thought he never saw so great a knight before. So
within a while this great knight overtook one of those knights,
and smote him so that he fell to the earth. Then he rode to the
second knight and smote him, and so he did to the third knight.
Then he alighted down and bound all the three knights fast with
their own bridles. When Sir Lionel saw him do thus, he thought to
assay him, and made him ready silently, not to awake Sir
Launcelot, and rode after the strong knight, and bade him turn.
And the other smote Sir Lionel so hard that horse and man fell to
the earth; and then he alighted down and bound Sir Lionel, and
threw him across his own horse; and so he served them all four,
and rode with them away to his own castle. And when he came there
he put them in a deep prison, in which were many more knights in
great distress.

Now while Sir Launcelot lay under the apple-tree sleeping, there
came by him four queens of great estate. And that the heat should
not grieve them, there rode four knights about them, and bare a
cloth of green silk on four spears, betwixt them and the sun. And
the queens rode on four white mules.

Thus as they rode they heard by them a great horse grimly neigh.
Then they were aware of a sleeping knight, that lay all armed
under an apple-tree; and as the queens looked on his face, they
knew it was Sir Launcelot. Then they began to strive for that
knight, and each one said she would have him for her love. "We
will not strive," said Morgane le Fay, that was King Arthur's
sister, "for I will put an enchantment upon him, that he shall not
wake for six hours, and we will take him away to my castle; and
then when he is surely within my hold, I will take the enchantment
from him, and then let him choose which of us he will have for his
love." So the enchantment was cast upon Sir Launcelot. And then
they laid him upon his shield, and bare him so on horseback
between two knights, and brought him unto the castle and laid him
in a chamber, and at night they sent him his supper. And on the
morning came early those four queens, richly dight, and bade him
good morning, and he them again. "Sir knight," they said, "thou
must understand thou art our prisoner; and we know thee well, that
thou art Sir Launcelot of the Lake, King Ban's son, and that thou
art the noblest knight living. And we know well that there can no
lady have thy love but one, and that is Queen Guenever; and now
thou shalt lose her for ever, and she thee; and therefore it
behooveth thee now to choose one of us. I am the Queen Morgane le
Fay, and here is the Queen of North Wales, and the Queen of
Eastland, and the Queen of the Isles. Now choose one of us which
thou wilt have, for if thou choose not, in this prison thou shalt
die." "This is a hard case," said Sir Launcelot, "that either I
must die, or else choose one of you; yet had I liever to die in
this prison with worship, than to have one of you for my paramour,
for ye be false enchantresses." "Well," said the queens, "is this
your answer, that ye will refuse us." "Yea, on my life it is,"
said Sir Launcelot. Then they departed, making great sorrow.

Then at noon came a damsel unto him with his dinner, and asked
him, "What cheer?" "Truly, fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot,
"never so ill." "Sir," said she, "if you will be ruled by me, I
will help you out of this distress. If ye will promise me to help
my father on Tuesday next, who hath made a tournament betwixt him
and the king of North Wales; for last Tuesday my father lost the
field." "Fair maiden," said Sir Launcelot, "tell me what is your
father's name, and then will I give you an answer." "Sir knight,"
she said, "my father is King Bagdemagus." "I know him well," said
Sir Launcelot, "for a noble king and a good knight; and, by the
faith of my body, I will be ready to do your father and you
service at that day."

So she departed, and came on the next morning early and found him
ready, and brought him out of twelve locks, and brought him to his
own horse, and lightly he saddled him, and so rode forth.

And on the Tuesday next he came to a little wood where the
tournament should be. And there were scaffolds and holds, that
lords and ladies might look on, and give the prize. Then came into
the field the king of North Wales, with eightscore helms, and King
Badgemagus came with fourscore helms. And then they couched their
spears, and came together with a great dash, and there were
overthrown at the first encounter twelve of King Bagdemagus's
party and six of the king of North Wales's party, and King
Bagdemagus's party had the worse.

With that came Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and thrust in with his
spear in the thickest of the press; and he smote down five knights
ere he held his hand; and he smote down the king of North Wales,
and he brake his thigh in that fall. And then the knights of the
king of North Wales would just no more; and so the gree was given
to King Bagdemagus.

And Sir Launcelot rode forth with King Bagdemagus unto his castle;
and there he had passing good cheer, both with the king and with
his daughter. And on the morn he took his leave, and told the king
he would go and seek his brother, Sir Lionel, that went from him
when he slept. So he departed, and by adventure he came to the
same forest where he was taken sleeping. And in the highway he met
a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and they saluted each other.
"Fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "know ye in this country any
adventures?" "Sir knight," said the damsel, "here are adventures
near at hand, if thou durst pursue them." "Why should I not prove
adventures?" said Sir Launcelot, "since for that cause came I
hither." "Sir," said she, "hereby dwelleth a knight that will not
be overmatched for any man I know, except thou overmatch him. His
name is Sir Turquine, and, as I understand, he is a deadly enemy
of King Arthur, and he has in his prison good knights of Arthur's
court, threescore and more, that he hath won with his own hands."
"Damsel," said Launcelot, "I pray you bring me unto this knight."
So she told him, "Hereby, within this mile, is his castle, and by
it on the left hand is a ford for horses to drink of, and over
that ford there groweth a fair tree, and on that tree hang many
shields that good knights wielded aforetime, that are now
prisoners; and on the tree hangeth a basin of copper and latten,
and if thou strike upon that basin thou shalt hear tidings." And
Sir Launcelot departed, and rode as the damsel had shown him, and
shortly he came to the ford, and the tree where hung the shields
and the basin. And among the shields he saw Sir Lionel's and Sir
Hector's shields, besides many others of knights that he knew.

Then Sir Launcelot struck on the basin with the butt of his spear;
and long he did so, but he saw no man. And at length he was ware
of a great knight that drove a horse before him, and across the
horse there lay an armed knight bounden. And as they came near,
Sir Launcelot thought he should know the captive knight. Then Sir
Launcelot saw that it was Sir Gaheris, Sir Gawain's brother, a
knight of the Table Round. "Now, fair knight," said Sir Launcelot,
"put that wounded knight off the horse, and let him rest awhile,
and let us two prove our strength. For, as it is told me, thou
hast done great despite and shame unto knights of the Round Table,
therefore now defend thee." "If thou be of the Table Round," said
Sir Turquine, "I defy thee and all thy fellowship." "That is
overmuch said," said Sir Launcelot.

Then they put their spears in the rests, and came together with
their horses as fast as they might run. And each smote the other
in the middle of their shields, so that their horses fell under
them, and the knights were both staggered; and as soon as they
could clear their horses they drew out their swords and came
together eagerly, and each gave the other many strong strokes, for
neither shield nor harness might withstand their strokes. So
within a while both had grimly wounds, and bled grievously. Then
at the last they were breathless both, and stood leaning upon
their swords. "Now, fellow," said Sir Turquine, "thou art the
stoutest man that ever I met with, and best breathed; and so be it
thou be not the knight that I hate above all other knights, the
knight that slew my brother, Sir Carados, I will gladly accord
with thee; and for thy love I will deliver all the prisoners that
I have."

"What knight is he that thou hatest so above others?" "Truly,"
said Sir Turquine, "his name is Sir Launcelot of the Lake." "I am
Sir Launcelot of the Lake, King Ban's son of Benwick, and very
knight of the Table Round; and now I defy thee do thy best." "Ah!"
said Sir Turquine, "Launcelot, thou art to me the most welcome
that ever was knight; for we shall never part till the one of us
be dead." And then they hurtled together like two wild bulls,
rashing and lashing with their swords and shields, so that
sometimes they fell, as it were, headlong. Thus they fought two
hours and more, till the ground where they fought was all
bepurpled with blood.

Then at the last Sir Turquine waxed sore faint, and gave somewhat
aback, and bare his shield full low for weariness. That spied Sir
Launcelot, and leapt then upon him fiercely as a lion, and took
him by the beaver of his helmet, and drew him down on his knees.
And he raised off his helm, and smote his neck in sunder.

And Sir Gaheris, when he saw Sir Turquine slain, said, "Fair lord,
I pray you tell me your name, for this day I say ye are the best
knight in the world, for ye have slain this day in my sight the
mightiest man and the best knight except you that ever I saw."
"Sir, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lac, that ought to help you of
right for King Arthur's sake, and in especial for Sir Gawain's
sake, your own dear brother. Now I pray you, that ye go into
yonder castle, and set free all the prisoners ye find there, for I
am sure ye shall find there many knights of the Table Round, and
especially my brother Sir Lionel. I pray you greet them all from
me, and tell them I bid them take there such stuff as they find;
and tell my brother to go unto the court and abide me there, for
by the feast of Pentecost I think to be there; but at this time I
may not stop, for I have adventures on hand." So he departed, and
Sir Gaheris rode into the castle, and took the keys from the
porter, and hastily opened the prison door and let out all the
prisoners. There was Sir Kay, Sir Brandeles, and Sir Galynde, Sir
Bryan, and Sir Alyduke, Sir Hector de Marys, and Sir Lionel, and
many more. And when they saw Sir Gaheris they all thanked him, for
they thought, because he was wounded, that he had slain Sir
Turquine. "Not so," said Sir Gaheris; "it was Sir Launcelot that
slew him, right worshipfully; I saw it with mine eyes."

Sir Launcelot rode till at nightfall he came to a fair castle, and
therein he found an old gentlewoman, who lodged him with good-
will, and there he had good cheer for him and his horse. And when
time was, his host brought him to a fair chamber over the gate to
his bed. Then Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his harness by
him, and went to bed, and anon he fell asleep. And soon after,
there came one on horseback and knocked at the gate in great
haste; and when Sir Launcelot heard this, he arose and looked out
of the window, and saw by the moonlight three knights riding after
that one man, and all three lashed on him with their swords, and
that one knight turned on them knightly again and defended
himself. "Truly," said Sir Launcelot, "yonder one knight will I
help, for it is shame to see three knights on one." Then he took
his harness and went out at the window by a sheet down to the four
knights; and he said aloud, "Turn you knights unto me, and leave
your fighting with that knight." Then the knights left Sir Kay,
for it was he they were upon, and turned unto Sir Launcelot, and
struck many great strokes at Sir Launcelot, and assailed him on
every side. Then Sir Kay addressed him to help Sir Launcelot, but
he said, "Nay, sir, I will none of your help; let me alone with
them." So Sir Kay suffered him to do his will, and stood one side.
And within six strokes Sir Launcelot had stricken them down.

Then they all cried, "Sir knight, we yield us unto you." "As to
that," said Sir Launcelot, "I will not take your yielding unto me.
If so be ye will yield you unto Sir Kay the Seneschal, I will save
your lives, but else not." "Fair knight," then they said, "we will
do as thou commandest us." "Then shall ye," said Sir Launcelot,
"on Whitsunday next, go unto the court of King Arthur, and there
shall ye yield you unto Queen Guenever, and say that Sir Kay sent
you thither to be her prisoners." "Sir," they said, "it shall be
done, by the faith of our bodies;" and then they swore, every
knight upon his sword. And so Sir Launcelot suffered them to

On the morn Sir Launcelot rose early and left Sir Kay sleeping;
and Sir Launcelot took Sir Kay's armor, and his shield, and armed
him, and went to the stable and took his horse, and so he
departed. Then soon after arose Sir Kay, and missed Sir Launcelot.
And then he espied that he had taken his armor and his horse.
"Now, by my faith, I know well," said Sir Kay, "that he will
grieve some of King Arthur's knights, for they will deem that it
is I, and will be bold to meet him. But by cause of his armor I am
sure I shall ride in peace." Then Sir Kay thanked his host and

Sir Launcelot rode in a deep forest, and there he saw four
knights, under an oak, and they were of Arthur's court. There was
Sir Sagramour le Desirus, and Hector de Marys, and Sir Gawain, and
Sir Uwaine. As they spied Sir Launcelot they judged by his arms it
had been Sir Kay. "Now, by my faith," said Sir Sagramour, "I will
prove Sir Kay's might;" and got his spear in his hand, and came
towards Sir Launcelot. Therewith Sir Launcelot couched his spear
against him, and smote Sir Sagramour so sore that horse and man
fell both to the earth. Then said Sir Hector, "Now shall ye see
what I may do with him." But he fared worse than Sir Sagramour,
for Sir Launcelot's spear went through his shoulder and bare him
from his horse to the ground. "By my faith," said Sir Uwaine,
"yonder is a strong knight, and I fear he hath slain Sir Kay, and
taken his armor." And therewith Sir Uwaine took his spear in hand,
and rode toward Sir Launcelot; and Sir Launcelot met him on the
plain and gave him such a buffet that he was staggered, and wist
not where he was. "Now see I well," said Sir Gawain, "that I must
encounter with that knight." Then he adjusted his shield, and took
a good spear in his hand, and Sir Launcelot knew him well. Then
they let run their horses with all their mights, and each knight
smote the other in the middle of his shield. But Sir Gawain's
spear broke, and Sir Launcelot charged so sore upon him that his
horse fell over backward. Then Sir Launcelot passed by smiling
with himself, and he said, "Good luck be with him that made this
spear, for never came a better into my hand." Then the four
knights went each to the other and comforted one another. "What
say ye to this adventure," said Sir Gawain, "that one spear hath
felled us all four?" "I dare lay my head it is Sir Launcelot,"
said Sir Hector; "I know it by his riding."

And Sir Launcelot rode through many strange countries, till by
fortune he came to a fair castle; and as he passed beyond the
castle he thought he heard two bells ring. And then he perceived
how a falcon came flying over his head, toward a high elm; and she
had long lunys [Footnote: LUNYS, the string with which the falcon
is held.] about her feet, and she flew unto the elm to take her
perch, and the lunys got entangled in the bough; and when she
would have taken her flight, she hung by the legs fast, and Sir
Launcelot saw how she hung, and beheld the fair falcon entangled,
and he was sorry for her. Then came a lady out of the castle and
cried aloud, "O Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art the flower of
all knights, help me to get my hawk; for if my hawk be lost, my
lord will slay me, he is so hasty." "What is your lord's name?"
said Sir Launcelot. "His name is Sir Phelot, a knight that
belongeth to the king of North Wales." "Well, fair lady, since ye
know my name, and require me of knighthood to help you, I will do
what I may to get your hawk; and yet in truth I am an ill climber,
and the tree is passing high, and few boughs to help me." And
therewith Sir Launcelot alighted and tied his horse to the tree,
and prayed the lady to unarm him. And when he was unarmed, he put
off his jerkin, and with might and force he clomb up to the
falcon, and tied the lunys to a rotten bough, and threw the hawk
down with it; and the lady got the hawk in her hand. Then suddenly
there came out of the castle her husband, all armed, and with his
naked sword in his hand, and said, "O Knight Launcelot, now have I
got thee as I would," and stood at the boll of the tree to slay
him. "Ah, lady!" said Sir Launcelot, "why have ye betrayed me?"
"She hath done," said Sir Phelot, "but as I commanded her; and
therefore there is none other way but thine hour is come, and thou
must die." "That were shame unto thee," said Sir Launcelot; "thou
an armed knight to slay a naked man by treason." "Thou gettest
none other grace," said Sir Phelot, "and therefore help thyself if
thou canst." "Alas!" said Sir Launcelot, "that ever a knight
should die weaponless!" And therewith he turned his eyes upward
and downward; and over his head he saw a big bough leafless, and
he brake it off from the trunk. And then he came lower, and
watched how his own horse stood; and suddenly he leapt on the
further side of his horse from the knight. Then Sir Phelot lashed
at him eagerly, meaning to have slain him. But Sir Launcelot put
away the stroke, with the big bough, and smote Sir Phelot
therewith on the side of the head, so that he fell down in a swoon
to the ground. Then Sir Launcelot took his sword out of his hand
and struck his head from the body. Then said the lady, "Alas! why
hast thou slain my husband?" "I am not the cause," said Sir
Launcelot, "for with falsehood ye would have slain me, and now it
is fallen on yourselves." Thereupon Sir Launcelot got all his
armor, and put it upon him hastily, for fear of more resort, for
the knight's castle was so nigh. And as soon as he might, he took
his horse and departed, and thanked God he had escaped that

And two days before the feast of Pentecost, Sir Launcelot came
home; and the king and all the court were passing glad of his
coming. And when Sir Gawain, Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramour, and Sir
Hector de Marys saw Sir Launcelot in Sir Kay's armor then they
wist well it was he that smote them down, all with one spear. Then
there was laughing and merriment among them; and from time to time
came all the knights that Sir Turquine had prisoners, and they all
honored and worshipped Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Gaheris said, "I
saw all the battle from the beginning to the end," and he told
King Arthur all how it was. Then Sir Kay told the king how Sir
Launcelot had rescued him, and how he "made the knights yield to
me, and not to him." And there they were, all three, and confirmed
it all "And, by my faith," said Sir Kay, "because Sir Launcelot
took my harness and left me his, I rode in peace, and no man would
have to do with me."

And so at that time Sir Launcelot had the greatest name of any
knight of the world, and most was he honored of high and low.



It befell in the month of May, Queen Guenever called to her
knights of the Table Round, and gave them warning that early upon
the morrow she would ride a-maying into the woods and fields
beside Westminster; "and I warn you that there be none of you but
he be well horsed, and that ye all be clothed in green, either
silk or cloth; and I shall bring with me ten ladies, and every
knight shall have a lady behind him, and every knight shall have a
squire and two yeoman, and all well horsed."

    "For thus it chanced one morn when all the court,
     Green-suited, but with plumes that mock'd the May,
     Had been, their wont, a-maying"


So they made them ready; and these were the names of the knights:
Sir Kay the Seneschal, Sir Agrivaine, Sir Brandiles, Sir Sagramour
le Desirus, Sir Dodynas le Sauvage, Sir Ozanna, Sir Ladynas, Sir
Persant of Inde, Sir Ironside, and Sir Pelleas; and these ten
knights made them ready, in the freshest manner, to ride with the
queen. So upon the morn they took their horses with the queen, and
rode a-maying in woods and meadows, as it pleased them, in great
joy and delight. Now there was a knight named Maleagans, son to
King Brademagus, who loved Queen Guenever passing well, and so had
he done long and many years. Now this knight, Sir Maleagans,
learned the queen's purpose, and that she had no men of arms with
her but the ten noble knights all arrayed in green for maying; so
he prepared him twenty men of arms, and a hundred archers, to take
captive the queen and her knights.

    "In the merry month of May,
     In a morn at break of day,
     With a troop of damsels playing,
     The Queen, forsooth, went forth a-maying."

    --Old Song.

So when the queen had mayed, and all were bedecked with herbs,
mosses, and flowers in the best manner and freshest, right then
came out of a wood Sir Maleagans with eightscore men well
harnessed, and bade the queen and her knights yield them
prisoners. "Traitor knight," said Queen Guenever, "what wilt thou
do? Wilt thou shame thyself? Bethink thee how thou art a king's
son, and a knight of the Table Round, and how thou art about to
dishonor all knighthood and thyself?" "Be it as it may," said Sir
Maleagans, "know you well, madam, I have loved you many a year and
never till now could I get you to such advantage as I do now; and
therefore I will take you as I find you." Then the ten knights of
the Round Table drew their swords, and the other party run at them
with their spears, and the ten knights manfully abode them, and
smote away their spears. Then they lashed together with swords
till several were smitten to the earth. So when the queen saw her
knights thus dolefully oppressed, and needs must be slain at the
last, then for pity and sorrow she cried, "Sir Maleagans, slay not
my noble knights and I will go with you, upon this covenant, that
they be led with me wheresoever thou leadest me." "Madame," said
Maleagans, "for your sake they shall be led with you into my own
castle, if that ye will be ruled, and ride with me." Then Sir
Maleagans charged them all that none should depart from the queen,
for he dreaded lest Sir Launcelot should have knowledge of what
had been done.

Then the queen privily called unto her a page of her chamber that
was swiftly horsed, to whom she said, "Go thou when thou seest thy
time, and bear this ring unto Sir Launcelot, and pray him as he
loveth me, that he will see me and rescue me. And spare not thy
horse," said the queen, "neither for water nor for land." So the
child espied his time, and lightly he took his horse with the
spurs and departed as fast as he might. And when Sir Maleagans saw
him so flee, he understood that it was by the queen's commandment
for to warn Sir Launcelot. Then they that were best horsed chased
him, and shot at him, but the child went from them all. Then Sir
Maleagans said to the queen, "Madam, ye are about to betray me,
but I shall arrange for Sir Launcelot that he shall not come
lightly at you." Then he rode with her and them all to his castle,
in all the haste that they might. And by the way Sir Maleagans
laid in ambush the best archers that he had to wait for Sir
Launcelot. And the child came to Westminster and found Sir
Launcelot and told his message and delivered him the queen's ring.
"Alas!" said Sir Launcelot, "now am I shamed for ever, unless I
may rescue that noble lady." Then eagerly he asked his armor and
put it on him, and mounted his horse and rode as fast as he might;
and men say he took the water at Westminster Bridge, and made his
horse swim over Thames unto Lambeth. Then within a while he came
to a wood where was a narrow way; and there the archers were laid
in ambush. And they shot at him and smote his horse so that he
fell. Then Sir Launcelot left his horse and went on foot, but
there lay so many ditches and hedges betwixt the archers and him
that he might not meddle with them. "Alas! for shame," said Sir
Launcelot, "that ever one knight should betray another! but it is
an old saw, a good man is never in danger, but when he is in
danger of a coward." Then Sir Launcelot went awhile and he was
exceedingly cumbered by his armor, his shield, and his spear, and
all that belonged to him. Then by chance there came by him a cart
that came thither to fetch wood.

Now at this time carts were little used except for carrying offal
and for conveying criminals to execution. But Sir Launcelot took
no thought of anything but the necessity of haste for the purpose
of rescuing the queen; so he demanded of the carter that he should
take him in and convey him as speedily as possible for a liberal
reward. The carter consented, and Sir Launcelot placed himself in
the cart and only lamented that with much jolting he made but
little progress. Then it happened Sir Gawain passed by and seeing
an armed knight travelling in that unusual way he drew near to see
who it might be. Then Sir Launcelot told him how the queen had
been carried off, and how, in hastening to her rescue, his horse
had been disabled and he had been compelled to avail himself of
the cart rather than give up his enterprise. Then Sir Gawain said,
"Surely it is unworthy of a knight to travel in such sort;" but
Sir Launcelot heeded him not.

At nightfall they arrived at a castle and the lady thereof came
out at the head of her damsels to welcome Sir Gawain. But to admit
his companion, whom she supposed to be a criminal, or at least a
prisoner, it pleased her not; however, to oblige Sir Gawain, she
consented. At supper Sir Launcelot came near being consigned to
the kitchen and was only admitted to the lady's table at the
earnest solicitation of Sir Gawain. Neither would the damsels
prepare a bed for him. He seized the first he found unoccupied and
was left undisturbed.

Next morning he saw from the turrets of the castle a train
accompanying a lady, whom he imagined to be the queen. Sir Gawain
thought it might be so, and became equally eager to depart. The
lady of the castle supplied Sir Launcelot with a horse and they
traversed the plain at full speed. They learned from some
travellers whom they met, that there were two roads which led to
the castle of Sir Maleagans. Here therefore the friends separated.
Sir Launcelot found his way beset with obstacles, which he
encountered successfully, but not without much loss of time. As
evening approached he was met by a young and sportive damsel, who
gayly proposed to him a supper at her castle. The knight, who was
hungry and weary, accepted the offer, though with no very good
grace. He followed the lady to her castle and ate voraciously of
her supper, but was quite impenetrable to all her amorous
advances. Suddenly the scene changed and he was assailed by six
furious ruffians, whom he dealt with so vigorously that most of
them were speedily disabled, when again there was a change and he
found himself alone with his fair hostess, who informed him that
she was none other than his guardian fairy, who had but subjected
him to tests of his courage and fidelity. The next day the fairy
brought him on his road, and before parting gave him a ring, which
she told him would by its changes of color disclose to him all
enchantments, and enable him to subdue them.

Sir Launcelot pursued his journey, without being much incommoded
except by the taunts of travellers, who all seemed to have
learned, by some means, his disgraceful drive in the cart. One,
more insolent than the rest, had the audacity to interrupt him
during dinner, and even to risk a battle in support of his
pleasantry. Launcelot, after an easy victory, only doomed him to
be carted in his turn.

At night he was received at another castle, with great apparent
hospitality, but found himself in the morning in a dungeon, and
loaded with chains. Consulting his ring, and finding that this was
an enchantment, he burst his chains, seized his armor in spite of
the visionary monsters who attempted to defend it, broke open the
gates of the tower, and continued his journey. At length his
progress was checked by a wide and rapid torrent, which could only
be passed on a narrow bridge, on which a false step would prove
his destruction. Launcelot, leading his horse by the bridle, and
making him swim by his side, passed over the bridge, and was
attacked as soon as he reached the bank by a lion and a leopard,
both of which he slew, and then, exhausted and bleeding, seated
himself on the grass, and endeavored to bind up his wounds, when
he was accosted by Brademagus, the father of Maleagans, whose
castle was then in sight, and at no great distance. This king, no
less courteous than his son was haughty and insolent, after
complimenting Sir Launcelot on the valor and skill he had
displayed in the perils of the bridge and the wild beasts, offered
him his assistance, and informed him that the queen was safe in
his castle, but could only be rescued by encountering Maleagans.
Launcelot demanded the battle for the next day, and accordingly it
took place, at the foot of the tower, and under the eyes of the
fair captive. Launcelot was enfeebled by his wounds, and fought
not with his usual spirit, and the contest for a time was
doubtful; till Guenever exclaimed, "Ah, Launcelot! my knight,
truly have I been told that thou art no longer worthy of me!"
These words instantly revived the drooping knight; he resumed at
once his usual superiority, and soon laid at his feet his haughty

He was on the point of sacrificing him to his resentment, when
Guenever, moved by the entreaties of Brademagus, ordered him to
withhold the blow, and he obeyed. The castle and its prisoners
were now at his disposal. Launcelot hastened to the apartment of
the queen, threw himself at her feet, and was about to kiss her
hand, when she exclaimed, "Ah, Launcelot! why do I see thee again,
yet feel thee to be no longer worthy of me, after having been
disgracefully drawn about the country in a--" She had not time to
finish the phrase, for her lover suddenly started from her, and,
bitterly lamenting that he had incurred the displeasure of his
sovereign lady, rushed out of the castle, threw his sword and his
shield to the right and left, ran furiously into the woods, and

It seems that the story of the abominable cart, which haunted
Launcelot at every step, had reached the ears of Sir Kay, who had
told it to the queen, as a proof that her knight must have been
dishonored. But Guenever had full leisure to repent the haste with
which she had given credit to the tale. Three days elapsed, during
which Launcelot wandered without knowing where he went, till at
last he began to reflect that his mistress had doubtless been
deceived by misrepresentation, and that it was his duty to set her
right. He therefore returned, compelled Maleagans to release his
prisoners, and, taking the road by which they expected the arrival
of Sir Gawain, had the satisfaction of meeting him the next day;
after which the whole company proceeded gayly towards Camelot.



King Arthur proclaimed a solemn tournament to be held at
Winchester. The king, not less impatient than his knights for this
festival, set off some days before to superintend the
preparations, leaving the queen with her court at Camelot. Sir
Launcelot, under pretence of indisposition, remained behind also.
His intention was to attend the tournament--in disguise; and
having communicated his project to Guenever, he mounted his horse,
set off without any attendant, and, counterfeiting the feebleness
of age, took the most unfrequented road to Winchester, and passed
unnoticed as an old knight who was going to be a spectator of the
sports. Even Arthur and Gawain, who happened to behold him from
the windows of a castle under which he passed, were the dupes of
his disguise. But an accident betrayed him. His horse happened to
stumble, and the hero, forgetting for a moment his assumed
character, recovered the animal with a strength and agility so
peculiar to himself, that they instantly recognized the inimitable
Launcelot. They suffered him, however, to proceed on his journey
without interruption, convinced that his extraordinary feats of
arms must discover him at the approaching festival.

In the evening Launcelot was magnificently entertained as a
stranger knight at the neighboring castle of Shalott. The lord of
this castle had a daughter of exquisite beauty, and two sons
lately received into the order of knighthood, one of whom was at
that time ill in bed, and thereby prevented from attending the
tournament, for which both brothers had long made preparation.
Launcelot offered to attend the other, if he were permitted to
borrow the armor of the invalid, and the lord of Shalott, without
knowing the name of his guest, being satisfied from his appearance
that his son could not have a better assistant in arms, most
thankfully accepted the offer. In the meantime the young lady, who
had been much struck by the first appearance of the stranger
knight, continued to survey him with increased attention, and,
before the conclusion of supper, became so deeply enamoured of
him, that after frequent changes of color, and other symptoms
which Sir Launcelot could not possibly mistake, she was obliged to
retire to her chamber, and seek relief in tears. Sir Launcelot
hastened to convey to her, by means of her brother, the
information that his heart was already disposed of, but that it
would be his pride and pleasure to act as her knight at the
approaching tournament. The lady, obliged to be satisfied with
that courtesy, presented him her scarf to be worn at the

Launcelot set off in the morning with the young knight, who, on
their approaching Winchester, carried him to the castle of a lady,
sister to the lord of Shalott, by whom they were hospitably
entertained. The next day they put on their armor, which was
perfectly plain and without any device, as was usual to youths
during the first year of knighthood, their shields being only
painted red, as some color was necessary to enable them to be
recognized by their attendants. Launcelot wore on his crest the
scarf of the maid of Shalott, and, thus equipped, proceeded to the
tournament, where the knights were divided into two companies, the
one commanded by Sir Galehaut, the other by King Arthur. Having
surveyed the combat for a short time from without the lists, and
observed that Sir Galehaut's party began to give way, they joined
the press and attacked the royal knights, the young man choosing
such adversaries as were suited to his strength, while his
companion selected the principal champions of the Round Table, and
successively overthrew Gawain, Bohort, and Lionel. The
astonishment of the spectators was extreme, for it was thought
that no one but Launcelot could possess such invincible force; yet
the favor on his crest seemed to preclude the possibility of his
being thus disguised, for Launcelot had never been known to wear
the badge of any but his sovereign lady. At length Sir Hector,
Launcelot's brother, engaged him, and, after a dreadful combat,
wounded him dangerously in the head, but was himself completely
stunned by a blow on the helmet, and felled to the ground; after
which the conqueror rode off at full speed, attended by his

They returned to the castle of Shalott, where Launcelot was
attended with the greatest care by the good earl, by his two sons,
and, above all, by his fair daughter, whose medical skill probably
much hastened the period of his recovery. His health was almost
completely restored, when Sir Hector, Sir Bohort, and Sir Lionel,
who, after the return of the court to Camelot, had undertaken the
quest of their relation, discovered him walking on the walls of
the castle. Their meeting was very joyful; they passed three days
in the castle amidst constant festivities, and bantered each other
on the events of the tournament. Launcelot, though he began by
vowing vengeance against the author of his wound, yet ended by
declaring that he felt rewarded for the pain by the pride he took
in witnessing his brother's extraordinary prowess. He then
dismissed them with a message to the queen, promising to follow
immediately, it being necessary that he should first take a formal
leave of his kind hosts, as well as of the fair maid of Shalott.

The young lady, after vainly attempting to detain him by her tears
and solicitations, saw him depart without leaving her any ground
for hope.

It was early summer when the tournament took place; but some
months had passed since Launcelot's departure, and winter was now
near at hand. The health and strength of the Lady of Shalott had
gradually sunk, and she felt that she could not live apart from
the object of her affections. She left the castle, and descending
to the river's brink placed herself in a boat, which she loosed
from its moorings, and suffered to bear her down the current
toward Camelot.

One morning, as Arthur and Sir Lionel looked from the window of
the tower, the walls of which were washed by a river, they
descried a boat richly ornamented, and covered with an awning of
cloth of gold, which appeared to be floating down the stream
without any human guidance. It struck the shore while they watched
it, and they hastened down to examine it. Beneath the awning they
discovered the dead body of a beautiful woman, in whose features
Sir Lionel easily recognized the lovely maid of Shalott. Pursuing
their search, they discovered a purse richly embroidered with gold
and jewels, and within the purse a letter, which Arthur opened,
and found addressed to himself and all the knights of the Round
Table, stating that Launcelot of the Lake, the most accomplished
of knights and most beautiful of men, but at the same time the
most cruel and inflexible, had by his rigor produced the death of
the wretched maiden, whose love was no less invincible than his
cruelty. The king immediately gave orders for the interment of the
lady with all the honors suited to her rank, at the same time
explaining to the knights the history of her affection for
Launcelot, which moved the compassion and regret of all.

Tennyson has chosen the story of the "Lady of Shalott" for the
subject of a poem. The catastrophe is told thus:

      "Under tower and balcony,
      By garden-wall and gallery,
      A gleaming shape she floated by,
      A corse between the houses high,
          Silent into Camelot.
      Out upon the wharfs they came,
      Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
      And round the prow they read her name,
          'The Lady of Shalott'

      "Who is this? and what is here?
      And in the lighted palace near
      Died the sound of royal cheer;
      And they crossed themselves for fear,

      All the knights at Camelot.
      But Launcelot mused a little space;
      He said, 'She has a lovely face;
      God in his mercy lend her grace,
          The Lady of Shalott.'"



It happened at this time that Queen Guenever was thrown into great
peril of her life. A certain squire who was in her immediate
service, having some cause of animosity to Sir Gawain, determined
to destroy him by poison, at a public entertainment. For this
purpose he concealed the poison in an apple of fine appearance,
which he placed on the top of several others, and put the dish
before the queen, hoping that, as Sir Gawain was the knight of
greatest dignity, she would present the apple to him. But it
happened that a Scottish knight of high distinction, who arrived
on that day, was seated next to the queen, and to him as a
stranger she presented the apple, which he had no sooner eaten
than he was seized with dreadful pain, and fell senseless. The
whole court was, of course, thrown into confusion; the knights
rose from table, darting looks of indignation at the wretched
queen, whose tears and protestations were unable to remove their
suspicions. In spite of all that could be done the knight died,
and nothing remained but to order a magnificent funeral and
monument for him, which was done.

Some time after Sir Mador, brother of the murdered knight, arrived
at Arthur's court in quest of him. While hunting in the forest he
by chance came to the spot where the monument was erected, read
the inscription, and returned to court determined on immediate and
signal vengeance. He rode into the hall, loudly accused the queen
of treason, and insisted on her being given up for punishment,
unless she should find by a certain day a knight hardy enough to
risk his life in support of her innocence. Arthur, powerful as he
was, did not dare to deny the appeal, but was compelled with a
heavy heart to accept it, and Mador sternly took his departure,
leaving the royal couple plunged in terror and anxiety.

During all this time Launcelot was absent, and no one knew where
he was. He fled in anger from his fair mistress, upon being
reproached by her with his passion for the Lady of Shalott, which
she had hastily inferred from his wearing her scarf at the
tournament. He took up his abode with a hermit in the forest, and
resolved to think no more of the cruel beauty, whose conduct he
thought must flow from a wish to get rid of him. Yet calm
reflection had somewhat cooled his indignation, and he had begun
to wish, though hardly able to hope, for a reconciliation when the
news of Sir Mador's challenge fortunately reached his ears. The
intelligence revived his spirits, and he began to prepare with the
utmost cheerfulness for a contest which, if successful, would
insure him at once the affection of his mistress and the gratitude
of his sovereign.

The sad fate of the Lady of Shalott had ere this completely
acquitted Launcelot in the queen's mind of all suspicion of his
fidelity, and she lamented most grievously her foolish quarrel
with him, which now, at her time of need, deprived her of her most
efficient champion.

As the day appointed by Sir Mador was fast approaching, it became
necessary that she should procure a champion for her defence; and
she successively adjured Sir Hector, Sir Lionel, Sir Bohort, and
Sir Gawain to undertake the battle. She fell on her knees before
them, called heaven to witness her innocence of the crime alleged
against her, but was sternly answered by all that they could not
fight to maintain the innocence of one whose act, and the fatal
consequence of it, they had seen with their own eyes. She retired,
therefore, dejected and disconsolate; but the sight of the fatal
pile on which, if guilty, she was doomed to be burned, exciting
her to fresh effort, she again repaired to Sir Bohort, threw
herself at his feet, and piteously calling on him for mercy, fell
into a swoon. The brave knight was not proof against this. He
raised her up, and hastily promised that he would undertake her
cause, if no other or better champion should present himself. He
then summoned his friends, and told them his resolution; and as a
mortal combat with Sir Mador was a most fearful enterprise, they
agreed to accompany him in the morning to the hermitage in the
forest, where he proposed to receive absolution from the hermit,
and to make his peace with Heaven before he entered the lists. As
they approached the hermitage, they espied a knight riding in the
forest, whom they at once recognized as Sir Launcelot. Overjoyed
at the meeting, they quickly, in answer to his questions,
confirmed the news of the queen's imminent danger, and received
his instructions to return to court, to comfort her as well as
they could, but to say nothing of his intention of undertaking her
defence, which he meant to do in tne character of an unknown

On their return to the castle they found that mass was finished,
and had scarcely time to speak to the queen before they were
summoned into the hall to dinner. A general gloom was spread over
the countenances of all the guests. Arthur himself was unable to
conceal his dejection, and the wretched Guenever, motionless and
bathed in tears, sat in trembling expectation of Sir Mador's
appearance. Nor was it long ere he stalked into the hall, and with
a voice of thunder, rendered more impressive by the general
silence, demanded instant justice on the guilty party. Arthur
replied with dignity, that little of the day was yet spent, and
that perhaps a champion might yet be found capable of satisfying
his thirst for battle. Sir Bohort now rose from table, and shortly
returning in complete armor, resumed his place, after receiving
the embraces and thanks of the king, who now began to resume some
degree of confidence. Sir Mador, growing impatient, again repeated
his denunciations of vengeance, and insisted that the combat
should no longer be postponed.

In the height of the debate there came riding into the hall a
knight mounted on a black steed, and clad in black armor, with his
visor down, and lance in hand. "Sir," said the king, "is it your
will to alight and partake of our cheer?" "Nay, sir," he replied;
"I come to save a lady's life. The queen hath ill bestowed her
favors, and honored many a knight, that in her hour of need she
should have none to take her part. Thou that darest accuse her of
treachery, stand forth, for to-day shalt thou need all thy might."

Sir Mador, though surprised, was not appalled by the stern
challenge and formidable appearance of his antagonist, but
prepared for the encounter. At the first shock both were unhorsed.
They then drew their swords, and commenced a combat which lasted
from noon till evening, when Sir Mador, whose strength began to
fail, was felled to the ground by Launcelot, and compelled to sue
for mercy. The victor, whose arm was already raised to terminate
the life of his opponent, instantly dropped his sword, courteously
lifted up the fainting Sir Mador, frankly confessing that he had
never before encountered so formidable an enemy. The other, with
similar courtesy, solemnly renounced all further projects of
vengeance for his brother's death; and the two knights, now become
fast friends, embraced each other with the greatest cordiality. In
the meantime Arthur, having recognized Sir Launcelot, whose helmet
was now unlaced, rushed down into the lists, followed by all his
knights, to welcome and thank his deliverer. Guenever swooned with
joy, and the place of combat suddenly exhibited a scene of the
most tumultuous delight.

The general satisfaction was still further increased by the
discovery of the real culprit. Having accidentally incurred some
suspicion, he confessed his crime, and was publicly punished in
the presence of Sir Mador.

The court now returned to the castle, which, with the title of "La
Joyeuse Garde" bestowed upon it in memory of the happy event, was
conferred on Sir Launcelot by Arthur, as a memorial of his



Meliadus was king of Leonois, or Lionesse, a country famous in the
annals of romance, which adjoined the kingdom of Cornwall, but has
now disappeared from the map, having been, it is said, overwhelmed
by the ocean. Meliadus was married to Isabella, sister of Mark,
king of Cornwall. A fairy fell in love with him, and drew him away
by enchantment while he was engaged in hunting. His queen set out
in quest of him, but was taken ill on her journey, and died,
leaving an infant son, whom, from the melancholy circumstances of
his birth, she called Tristram.

Gouvernail, the queen's squire, who had accompanied her, took
charge of the child, and restored him to his father, who had at
length burst the enchantments of the fairy, and returned home.

Meliadus after seven years married again, and the new queen, being
jealous of the influence of Tristram with his father, laid plots
for his life, which were discovered by Gouvernail, who in
consequence fled with the boy to the court of the king of France,
where Tristram was kindly received, and grew up improving in every
gallant and knightly accomplishment, adding to his skill in arms
the arts of music and of chess. In particular, he devoted himself
to the chase and to all woodland sports, so that he became
distinguished above all other chevaliers of the court for his
knowledge of all that relates to hunting. No wonder that Belinda,
the king's daughter, fell in love with him; but as he did not
return her passion, she, in a sudden impulse of anger, excited her
father against him, and he was banished the kingdom. The princess
soon repented of her act, and in despair destroyed herself, having
first written a most tender letter to Tristram, sending him at the
same time a beautiful and sagacious dog, of which she was very
fond, desiring him to keep it as a memorial of her. Meliadus was
now dead, and as his queen, Tristram's stepmother, held the
throne, Gouvernail was afraid to carry his pupil to his native
country, and took him to Cornwall, to his uncle Mark, who gave him
a kind reception.

King Mark resided at the castle of Tintadel, already mentioned in
the history of Uther and Igerne. In this court Tristram became
distinguished in all the exercises incumbent on a knight; nor was
it long before he had an opportunity of practically employing his
valor and skill. Moraunt, a celebrated champion, brother to the
queen of Ireland, arrived at the court, to demand tribute of King
Mark. The knights of Cornwall are in ill repute in romance for
their cowardice, and they exhibited it on this occasion. King Mark
could find no champion who dared to encounter the Irish knight,
till his nephew Tristram, who had not yet received the honors of
knighthood, craved to be admitted to the order, offering at the
same time to fight the battle of Cornwall against the Irish
champion. King Mark assented with reluctance; Tristram received
the accolade, which conferred knighthood upon him, and the place
and time were assigned for the encounter.

Without attempting to give the details of this famous combat, the
first and one of the most glorious of Tristram's exploits, we
shall only say that the young knight, though severely wounded,
cleft the head of Moraunt, leaving a portion of his sword in the
wound. Moraunt, half dead with his wound and the disgrace of his
defeat, hastened to hide himself in his ship, sailed away with all
speed for Ireland, and died soon after arriving in his own

The kingdom of Cornwall was thus delivered from its tribute.
Tristram, weakened by loss of blood, fell senseless. His friends
flew to his assistance. They dressed his wounds, which in general
healed readily; but the lance of Moraunt was poisoned, and one
wound which it made yielded to no remedies, but grew worse day by
day. The surgeons could do no more. Tristram asked permission of
his uncle to depart, and seek for aid in the kingdom of Loegria
(England). With his consent he embarked, and after tossing for
many days on the sea, was driven by the winds to the coast of
Ireland. He landed, full of joy and gratitude that he had escaped
the peril of the sea; took his rote,[Footnote: A musical
instrument.] and began to play. It was a summer evening, and the
king of Ireland and his daughter, the beautiful Isoude, were at a
window which overlooked the sea. The strange harper was sent for,
and conveyed to the palace, where, finding that he was in Ireland,
whose champion he had lately slain, he concealed his name, and
called himself Tramtris. The queen undertook his cure, and by a
medicated bath gradually restored him to health. His skill in
music and in games occasioned his being frequently called to
court, and he became the instructor of the princess Isoude in
minstrelsy and poetry, who profited so well under his care, that
she soon had no equal in the kingdom, except her instructor.

At this time a tournament was held, at which many knights of the
Round Table, and others, were present. On the first day a Saracen
prince, named Palamedes, obtained the advantage over all. They
brought him to the court, and gave him a feast, at which Tristram,
just recovering from his wound, was present. The fair Isoude
appeared on this occasion in all her charms. Palamedes could not
behold them without emotion, and made no effort to conceal his
love. Tristram perceived it, and the pain he felt from jealousy
taught him how dear the fair Isoude had already become to him.

Next day the tournament was renewed. Tristram, still feeble from
his wound, rose during the night, took his arms, and concealed
them in a forest near the place of the contest, and, after it had
begun, mingled with the combatants. He overthrew all that
encountered him, in particular Palamedes, whom he brought to the
ground with a stroke of his lance, and then fought him hand to
hand, bearing off the prize of the tourney. But his exertions
caused his wound to reopen; he bled fast, and in this sad state,
yet in triumph, they bore him to the palace. The fair Isoude
devoted herself to his relief with an interest which grew more
vivid day by day; and her skilful care soon restored him to

It happened one day that a damsel of the court, entering the
closet where Tristram's arms were deposited, perceived that a part
of the sword had been broken off. It occurred to her that the
missing portion was like that which was left in the skull of
Moraunt, the Irish champion. She imparted her thought to the
queen, who compared the fragment taken from her brother's wound
with the sword of Tristram, and was satisfied that it was part of
the same, and that the weapon of Tristram was that which reft her
brother's life. She laid her griefs and resentment before the
king, who satisfied himself with his own eyes of the truth of her
suspicions. Tristram was cited before the whole court, and
reproached with having dared to present himself before them after
having slain their kinsman. He acknowledged that he had fought
with Moraunt to settle the claim for tribute, and said that it was
by force of winds and waves alone that he was thrown on their
coast. The queen demanded vengeance for the death of her brother;
the fair Isoude trembled and grew pale, but a murmur rose from all
the assembly that the life of one so handsome and so brave should
not be taken for such a cause, and generosity finally triumphed
over resentment in the mind of the king. Tristram was dismissed in
safety, but commanded to leave the kingdom without delay, and
never to return thither under pain of death Tristram went back,
with restored health, to Cornwall.

King Mark made his nephew give him a minute recital of his
adventures. Tristram told him all minutely; but when he came to
speak of the fair Isoude he described her charms with a warmth and
energy such as none but a lover could display. King Mark was
fascinated with the description, and, choosing a favorable time,
demanded a boon[Footnote: "Good faith was the very corner-stone of
chivalry. Whenever a knight's word was pledged (it mattered not
how rashly) it was to be redeemed at any price. Hence the sacred
obligation of the boon granted by a knight to his suppliant.
Instances without number occur in romance, in which a knight, by
rashly granting an indefinite boon, was obliged to do or suffer
something extremely to his prejudice. But it is not in romance
alone that we find such singular instances of adherence to an
indefinite promise. The history of the times presents authentic
transactions equally embarrassing and absurd"--SCOTT, note to Sir
Tristram.] of his nephew, who readily granted it. The king made
him swear upon the holy reliques that he would fulfil his
commands. Then Mark directed him to go to Ireland, and obtain for
him the fair Isoude to be queen of Cornwall.

Tristram believed it was certain death for him to return to
Ireland; and how could he act as ambassador for his uncle in such
a cause? Yet, bound by his oath, he hesitated not for an instant.
He only took the precaution to change his armor. He embarked for
Ireland; but a tempest drove him to the coast of England, near
Camelot, where King Arthur was holding his court, attended by the
knights of the Round Table, and many others, the most illustrious
in the world.

Tristram kept himself unknown. He took part in many justs; he
fought many combats, in which he covered himself with glory. One
day he saw among those recently arrived the king of Ireland,
father of the fair Isoude. This prince, accused of treason against
his liege sovereign, Arthur, came to Camelot to free himself from
the charge. Blaanor, one of the most redoubtable warriors of the
Round Table, was his accuser, and Argius, the king, had neither
youthful vigor nor strength to encounter him. He must therefore
seek a champion to sustain his innocence. But the knights of the
Round Table were not at liberty to fight against one another,
unless in a quarrel of their own. Argius heard of the great renown
of the unknown knight; he also was witness of his exploits. He
sought him, and conjured him to adopt his defence, and on his oath
declared that he was innocent of the crime of which he was
accused. Tristram readily consented, and made himself known to the
king, who on his part promised to reward his exertions, if
successful, with whatever gift he might ask.

Tristram fought with Blaanor, and overthrew him, and held his life
in his power. The fallen warrior called on him to use his right of
conquest, and strike the fatal blow. "God forbid," said Tristram,
"that I should take the life of so brave a knight!" He raised him
up and restored him to his friends. The judges of the field
decided that the king of Ireland was acquitted of the charge
against him, and they led Tristram in triumph to his tent. King
Argius, full of gratitude, conjured Tristram to accompany him to
his kingdom. They departed together, and arrived in Ireland; and
the queen, forgetting her resentment for her brother's death,
exhibited to the preserver of her husband's life nothing but
gratitude and good-will.

How happy a moment for Isoude, who knew that her father had
promised his deliverer whatever boon he might ask! But the unhappy
Tristram gazed on her with despair, at the thought of the cruel
oath which bound him. His magnanimous soul subdued the force of
his love. He revealed the oath which he had taken, and with
trembling voice demanded the fair Isoude for his uncle.

Argius consented, and soon all was prepared for the departure of
Isoude. Brengwain, her favorite maid of honor, was to accompany
her. On the day of departure the queen took aside this devoted
attendant, and told her that she had observed that her daughter
and Tristram were attached to one another, and that to avert the
bad effects of this inclination she had procured from a powerful
fairy a potent philter (love-draught), which she directed
Brengwain to administer to Isoude and to King Mark on the evening
of their marriage.

Isoude and Tristram embarked together. A favorable wind filled the
sails, and promised them a fortunate voyage. The lovers gazed upon
one another, and could not repress their sighs. Love seemed to
light up all his fires on their lips, as in their hearts. The day
was warm; they suffered from thirst. Isoude first complained.
Tristram descried the bottle containing the love-draught, which
Brengwain had been so imprudent as to leave in sight. He took it,
gave some of it to the charming Isoude, and drank the remainder
himself. The dog Houdain licked the cup. The ship arrived in
Cornwall, and Isoude was married to King Mark, The old monarch was
delighted with his bride, and his gratitude to Tristram was
unbounded. He loaded him with honors, and made him chamberlain of
his palace, thus giving him access to the queen at all times.

In the midst of the festivities of the court which followed the
royal marriage, an unknown minstrel one day presented himself,
bearing a harp of peculiar construction. He excited the curiosity
of King Mark by refusing to play upon it till he should grant him
a boon. The king having promised to grant his request, the
minstrel, who was none other than the Saracen knight, Sir
Palamedes, the lover of the fair Isoude, sung to the harp a lay,
in which he demanded Isoude as the promised gift. King Mark could
not by the laws of knighthood withhold the boon. The lady was
mounted on her horse, and led away by her triumphant lover.
Tristram, it is needless to say, was absent at the time, and did
not return until their departure. When he heard what had taken
place he seized his rote, and hastened to the shore, where Isoude
and her new master had already embarked. Tristram played upon his
rote, and the sound reached the ears of Isoude, who became so
deeply affected, that Sir Palamedes was induced to return with her
to land, that they might see the unknown musician. Tristram
watched his opportunity, seized the lady's horse by the bridle,
and plunged with her into the forest, tauntingly informing his
rival that "what he had got by the harp he had lost by the rote."
Palamedes pursued, and a combat was about to commence, the result
of which must have been fatal to one or other of these gallant
knights; but Isoude stepped between them, and, addressing
Palamedes, said, "You tell me that you love me; you will not then
deny me the request I am about to make?" "Lady," he replied, "I
will perform your bidding." "Leave, then," said she, "this
contest, and repair to King Arthur's court, and salute Queen
Guenever from me; tell her that there are in the world but two
ladies, herself and I, and two lovers, hers and mine; and come
thou not in future in any place where I am." Palamedes burst into
tears. "Ah, lady," said he, "I will obey you; but I beseech you
that you will not for ever steel your heart against me."
"Palamedes," she replied, "may I never taste of joy again if I
ever quit my first love." Palamedes then went his way. The lovers
remained a week in concealment, after which Tristram restored
Isoude to her husband, advising him in future to reward minstrels
in some other way.

The king showed much gratitude to Tristram, but in the bottom of
his heart he cherished bitter jealousy of him. One day Tristram
and Isoude were alone together in her private chamber. A base and
cowardly knight of the court, named Andret, spied them through a
keyhole. They sat at a table of chess, but were not attending to
the game. Andret brought the king, having first raised his
suspicions, and placed him so as to watch their motions. The king
saw enough to confirm his suspicions, and he burst into the
apartment with his sword drawn, and had nearly slain Tristram
before he was put on his guard. But Tristram avoided the blow,
drew his sword, and drove before him the cowardly monarch, chasing
him through all the apartments of the palace, giving him frequent
blows with the flat of his sword, while he cried in vain to his
knights to save him. They were not inclined, or did not dare, to
interpose in his behalf.

A proof of the great popularity of the tale of Sir Tristram is the
fact that the Italian poets, Boiardo and Ariosto, have founded
upon it the idea of the two enchanted fountains, which produced
the opposite effects of love and hatred. Boiardo thus describes
the fountain of hatred:

   "Fair was that fountain, sculptured all of gold,
    With alabaster sculptured, rich and rare;
    And in its basin clear thou might'st behold
    The flowery marge reflected fresh and fair.
    Sage Merlin framed the font,--so legends bear,--
    When on fair Isoude doated Tristram brave,
    That the good errant knight, arriving there,
    Might quaff oblivion in the enchanted wave,
  And leave his luckless love, and 'scape his timeless grave.

   'But ne'er the warrior's evil fate allowed
    His steps that fountain's charmed verge to gain.
    Though restless, roving on adventure proud,
    He traversed oft the land and oft the main."



After this affair Tristram was banished from the kingdom, and
Isoude shut up in a tower, which stood on the bank of a river.
Tristram could not resolve to depart without some further
communication with his beloved; so he concealed himself in the
forest, till at last he contrived to attract her attention, by
means of twigs which he curiously peeled, and sent down the stream
under her window. By this means many secret interviews were
obtained. Tristram dwelt in the forest, sustaining himself by
game, which the dog Houdain ran down for him; for this faithful
animal was unequalled in the chase, and knew so well his master's
wish for concealment, that, in the pursuit of his game, he never
barked. At length Tristram departed, but left Houdain with Isoude,
as a remembrancer of him.

Sir Tristram wandered through various countries, achieving the
most perilous enterprises, and covering himself with glory, yet
unhappy at the separation from his beloved Isoude. At length King
Mark's territory was invaded by a neighboring chieftain, and he
was forced to summon his nephew to his aid. Tristram obeyed the
call, put himself at the head of his uncle's vassals, and drove
the enemy out of the country. Mark was full of gratitude, and
Tristram, restored to favor and to the society of his beloved
Isoude, seemed at the summit of happiness. But a sad reverse was
at hand.

Tristram had brought with him a friend named Pheredin, son of the
king of Brittany. This young knight saw Queen Isoude, and could
not resist her charms. Knowing the love of his friend for the
queen, and that that love was returned, Pheredin concealed his
own, until his health failed, and he feared he was drawing near
his end. He then wrote to the beautiful queen that he was dying
for love of her.

The gentle Isoude, in a moment of pity for the friend of Tristram,
returned him an answer so kind and compassionate that it restored
him to life. A few days afterwards Tristram found this letter. The
most terrible jealousy took possession of his soul; he would have
slain Pheredin, who with difficulty made his escape. Then Tristram
mounted his horse, and rode to the forest, where for ten days he
took no rest nor food. At length he was found by a damsel lying
almost dead by the brink of a fountain. She recognized him, and
tried in vain to rouse his attention. At last recollecting his
love for music she went and got her harp, and played thereon.
Tristram was roused from his reverie; tears flowed; he breathed
more freely; he took the harp from the maiden, and sung this lay,
with a voice broken with sobs:

    "Sweet I sang in former days,
     Kind love perfected my lays:
     Now my art alone displays
     The woe that on my being preys.

    "Charming love, delicious power,
     Worshipped from my earliest hour,
     Thou who life on all dost shower,
     Love! my life thou dost devour.

    "In death's hour I beg of thee,
     Isoude, dearest enemy,
     Thou who erst couldst kinder be,
     When I'm gone, forget not me.

    "On my gravestone passers-by
     Oft will read, as low I lie,
     'Never wight in love could vie
     With Tristram, yet she let him die.'"

Tristram, having finished his lay, wrote it off and gave it to the
damsel, conjuring her to present it to the queen.

Meanwhile Queen Isoude was inconsolable at the absence of
Tristram. She discovered that it was caused by the fatal letter
which she had written to Pheredin. Innocent, but in despair at the
sad effects of her letter, she wrote another to Pheredin, charging
him never to see her again. The unhappy lover obeyed this cruel
decree. He plunged into the forest, and died of grief and love in
a hermit's cell.

Isoude passed her days in lamenting the absence and unknown fate
of Tristram. One day her jealous husband, having entered her
chamber unperceived, overheard her singing the following lay:

    "My voice to piteous wail is bent,
     My harp to notes of languishment;
     Ah, love! delightsome days be meant
     For happier wights, with hearts content.

    "Ah, Tristram' far away from me,
     Art thou from restless anguish free?
     Ah! couldst thou so one moment be,
     From her who so much loveth thee?"

The king hearing these words burst forth in a rage; but Isoude was
too wretched to fear his violence. "You have heard me," she said;
"I confess it all. I love Tristram, and always shall love him.
Without doubt he is dead, and died for me. I no longer wish to
live. The blow that shall finish my misery will be most welcome."

The king was moved at the distress of the fair Isoude, and perhaps
the idea of Tristram's death tended to allay his wrath. He left
the queen in charge of her women, commanding them to take especial
care lest her despair should lead her to do harm to herself.

Tristram meanwhile, distracted as he was, rendered a most
important service to the shepherds by slaying a gigantic robber
named Taullas, who was in the habit of plundering their flocks and
rifling their cottages. The shepherds, in their gratitude to
Tristram, bore him in triumph to King Mark to have him bestow on
him a suitable reward. No wonder Mark failed to recognize in the
half-clad, wild man, before him his nephew Tristram; but grateful
for the service the unknown had rendered he ordered him to be well
taken care of, and gave him in charge to the queen and her women.
Under such care Tristram rapidly recovered his serenity and his
health, so that the romancer tells us he became handsomer than
ever. King Mark's jealousy revived with Tristram's health and good
looks, and, in spite of his debt of gratitude so lately increased,
he again banished him from the court.

Sir Tristram left Cornwall, and proceeded into the land of Loegria
(England) in quest of adventures. One day he entered a wide
forest. The sound of a little bell showed him that some inhabitant
was near. He followed the sound, and found a hermit, who informed
him that he was in the forest of Arnantes, belonging to the fairy
Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, who, smitten with love for King
Arthur, had found means to entice him to this forest, where by
enchantments she held him a prisoner, having deprived him of all
memory of who and what he was. The hermit informed him that all
the knights of the Round Table were out in search of the king, and
that he (Tristram) was now in the scene of the most grand and
important adventures.

This was enough to animate Tristram in the search. He had not
wandered far before he encountered a knight of Arthur's court, who
proved to be Sir Kay the Seneschal, who demanded of him whence he
came. Tristram answering, "From Cornwall," Sir Kay did not let
slip the opportunity of a joke at the expense of the Cornish
knight. Tristram chose to leave him in his error, and even
confirmed him in it; for meeting some other knights Tristram
declined to just with them. They spent the night together at an
abbey, where Tristram submitted patiently to all their jokes. The
Seneschal gave the word to his companions that they should set out
early next day, and intercept the Cornish knight on his way, and
enjoy the amusement of seeing his fright when they should insist
on running a tilt with him. Tristram next morning found himself
alone; he put on his armor, and set out to continue his quest. He
soon saw before him the Seneschal and the three knights, who
barred the way, and insisted on a just. Tristram excused himself a
long time; at last he reluctantly took his stand. He encountered
them, one after the other, and overthrew them all four, man and
horse, and then rode off, bidding them not to forget their friend
the knight of Cornwall.

Tristram had not ridden far when he met a damsel, who cried out,
"Ah, my lord! hasten forward, and prevent a horrid treason!"
Tristram flew to her assistance, and soon reached a spot where he
beheld a knight, whom three others had borne to the ground, and
were unlacing his helmet in order to cut off his head.

Tristram flew to the rescue, and slew with one stroke of his lance
one of the assailants. The knight, recovering his feet, sacrificed
another to his vengeance, and the third made his escape. The
rescued knight then raised the visor of his helmet, and a long
white beard fell down upon his breast. The majesty and venerable
air of this knight made Tristram suspect that it was none other
than Arthur himself, and the prince confirmed his conjecture.
Tristram would have knelt before him, but Arthur received him in
his arms, and inquired his name and country; but Tristram declined
to disclose them, on the plea that he was now on a quest requiring
secrecy. At this moment the damsel who had brought Tristram to the
rescue darted forward, and, seizing the king's hand, drew from his
finger a ring, the gift of the fairy, and by that act dissolved
the enchantment. Arthur, having recovered his reason and his
memory, offered to Tristram to attach him to his court, and to
confer honors and dignities upon him; but Tristram declined all,
and only consented to accompany him till he should see him safe in
the hands of his knights. Soon after, Hector de Marys rode up, and
saluted the king, who on his part introduced him to Tristram as
one of the bravest of his knights. Tristram took leave of the king
and his faithful follower, and continued his quest.

We cannot follow Tristram through all the adventures which filled
this epoch of his history. Suffice it to say, he fulfilled on all
occasions the duty of a true knight, rescuing the oppressed,
redressing wrongs, abolishing evil customs, and suppressing
injustice, thus by constant action endeavoring to lighten the
pains of absence from her he loved. In the meantime Isoude,
separated from her dear Tristram, passed her days in languor and
regret. At length she could no longer resist the desire to hear
some news of her lover. She wrote a letter, and sent it by one of
her damsels, niece of her faithful Brengwain. One day Tristram,
weary with his exertions, had dismounted and laid himself down by
the side of a fountain and fallen asleep. The damsel of Queen
Isoude arrived at the same fountain, and recognized Passebreul,
the horse of Tristram, and presently perceived his master asleep.
He was thin and pale, showing evident marks of the pain he
suffered in separation from his beloved. She awakened him, and
gave him the letter which she bore, and Tristram enjoyed the
pleasure, so sweet to a lover, of hearing from and talking about
the object of his affections. He prayed the damsel to postpone her
return till after the magnificent tournament which Arthur had
proclaimed should have taken place, and conducted her to the
castle of Persides, a brave and loyal knight, who received her
with great consideration.

Tristram conducted the damsel of Queen Isoude to the tournament,
and had her placed in the balcony among the ladies of the queen.

    "He glanced and saw the stately galleries,
    Dame, damsel, each through worship of their Queen
    White-robed in honor of the stainless child,
    And some with scatter'd jewels, like a bank
    Of maiden snow mingled with sparks of fire.
    He looked but once, and veiled his eyes again."

    --The Last Tournament.

He then joined the tourney. Nothing could exceed his strength and
valor. Launcelot admired him, and by a secret presentiment
declined to dispute the honor of the day with a knight so gallant
and so skilful. Arthur descended from the balcony to greet the
conqueror; but the modest and devoted Tristram, content with
having borne off the prize in the sight of the messenger of
Isoude, made his escape with her, and disappeared.

The next day the tourney recommenced. Tristram assumed different
armor, that he might not be known; but he was soon detected by the
terrible blows that he gave, Arthur and Guenever had no doubt that
it was the same knight who had borne off the prize of the day
before. Arthur's gallant spirit was roused. After Launcelot of the
Lake and Sir Gawain he was accounted the best knight of the Round
Table. He went privately and armed himself, and came into the
tourney in undistinguished armor. He ran a just with Tristram,
whom he shook in his seat; but Tristram, who did not know him,
threw him out of the saddle. Arthur recovered himself, and content
with having made proof of the stranger knight bade Launcelot
finish the adventure, and vindicate the honor of the Round Table.
Sir Launcelot, at the bidding of the monarch, assailed Tristram,
whose lance was already broken in former encounters. But the law
of this sort of combat was that the knight after having broken his
lance must fight with his sword, and must not refuse to meet with
his shield the lance of his antagonist. Tristram met Launcelot's
charge upon his shield, which that terrible lance could not fail
to pierce. It inflicted a wound upon Tristram's side, and,
breaking, left the iron in the wound. But Tristram also with his
sword smote so vigorously on Launcelot's casque that he cleft it,
and wounded his head. The wound was not deep, but the blood flowed
into his eyes, and blinded him for a moment, and Tristram, who
thought himself mortally wounded, retired from the field.
Launcelot declared to the king that he had never received such a
blow in his life before.

Tristram hastened to Gouvernail, his squire, who drew forth the
iron, bound up the wound, and gave him immediate ease. Tristram
after the tournament kept retired in his tent, but Arthur, with
the consent of all the knights of the Round Table, decreed him the
honors of the second day. But it was no longer a secret that the
victor of the two days was the same individual, and Gouvernail,
being questioned, confirmed the suspicions of Launcelot and Arthur
that it was no other than Sir Tristram of Leonais, the nephew of
the king of Cornwall.

King Arthur, who desired to reward his distinguished valor, and
knew that his Uncle Mark had ungratefully banished him, would have
eagerly availed himself of the opportunity to attach Tristram to
his court,--all the knights of the Round Table declaring with
acclamation that it would be impossible to find a more worthy
companion. But Tristram had already departed in search of
adventures, and the damsel of Queen Isoude returned to her



Sir Tristram rode through a forest and saw ten men fighting, and
one man did battle against nine. So he rode to the knights and
cried to them, bidding them cease their battle, for they did
themselves great shame, so many knights to fight against one. Then
answered the master of the knights (his name was Sir Breuse sans
Pitie, who was at that time the most villanous knight living):
"Sir knight, what have ye to do to meddle with us? If ye be wise
depart on your way as you came, for this knight shall not escape
us." "That were pity," said Sir Tristram, "that so good a knight
should be slain so cowardly; therefore I warn you I will succor
him with all my puissance."

Then Sir Tristram alighted off his horse, because they were on
foot, that they should not slay his horse. And he smote on the
right hand and on the left so vigorously that well-nigh at every
stroke he struck down a knight. At last they fled, with Breuse
sans Pitie, into the tower, and shut Sir Tristram without the
gate. Then Sir Tristram returned back to the rescued knight, and
found him sitting under a tree, sore wounded. "Fair knight," said
he, "how is it with you?" "Sir knight," said Sir Palamedes, for he
it was, "I thank you of your great goodness, for ye have rescued
me from death." "What is your name?" said Sir Tristram. He said,
"My name is Sir Palamedes." "Say ye so?" said Sir Tristram; "now
know that thou art the man in the world that I most hate;
therefore make thee ready, for I will do battle with thee." "What
is your name?" said Sir Palamedes. "My name is Sir Tristram, your
mortal enemy." "It may be so," said Sir Palamedes; "but you have
done overmuch for me this day, that I should fight with you.
Moreover, it will be no honor for you to have to do with me, for
you are fresh and I am wounded. Therefore, if you will needs have
to do with me, assign me a day, and I shall meet you without
fail." "You say well, "said Sir Tristram; "now I assign you to
meet me in the meadow by the river of Camelot, where Merlin set
the monument." So they were agreed. Then they departed and took
their ways diverse. Sir Tristram passed through a great forest
into a plain, till he came to a priory, and there he reposed him
with a good man six days.

Then departed Sir Tristram, and rode straight into Camelot to the
monument of Merlin, and there he looked about him for Sir
Palamedes. And he perceived a seemly knight, who came riding
against him all in white, with a covered shield. When he came nigh
Sir Tristram said aloud, "Welcome, sir knight, and well and truly
have you kept your promise." Then they made ready their shields
and spears, and came together with all the might of their horses,
so fiercely, that both the horses and the knights fell to the
earth. And as soon as they might they quitted their horses, and
struck together with bright swords as men of might, and each
wounded the other wonderfully sore, so that the blood ran out upon
the grass. Thus they fought for the space of four hours and never
one would speak to the other one word. Then at last spake the
white knight, and said, "Sir, thou fightest wonderful well, as
ever I saw knight; therefore, if it please you, tell me your
name." "Why dost thou ask my name?" said Sir Tristram; "art thou
not Sir Palamedes?" "No, fair knight," said he, "I am Sir
Launcelot of the Lake." "Alas!" said Sir Tristram, "what have I
done? for you are the man of the world that I love best." "Fair
knight," said Sir Launcelot, "tell me your name." "Truly," said
he, "my name is Sir Tristram de Lionesse." "Alas! alas!" said Sir
Launcelot, "what adventure has befallen me!" And therewith Sir
Launcelot kneeled down and yielded him up his sword; and Sir
Tristram kneeled down and yielded him up his sword; and so either
gave other the degree. And then they both went to the stone, and
sat them down upon it and took off their helms and each kissed the
other a hundred times. And then anon they rode toward Camelot, and
on the way they met with Sir Gawain and Sir Gaheris, that had made
promise to Arthur never to come again to the court till they had
brought Sir Tristram with them.

"Return again," said Sir Launcelot, "for your quest is done; for I
have met with Sir Tristram. Lo, here he is in his own person."
Then was Sir Gawain glad, and said to Sir Tristram, "Ye are
welcome." With this came King Arthur, and when he wist there was
Sir Tristram, he ran unto him, and took him by the hand, and said,
"Sir Tristram, ye are as welcome as any knight that ever came to
this court." Then Sir Tristram told the king how he came thither
for to have had to do with Sir Palamedes, and how he had rescued
him from Sir Breuse sans Pitie and the nine knights. Then King
Arthur took Sir Tristram by the hand, and went to the Table Round,
and Queen Guenever came, and many ladies with her, and all the
ladies said with one voice, "Welcome, Sir Tristram." "Welcome,"
said the knights. "Welcome," said Arthur, "for one of the best of
knights, and the gentlest of the world, and the man of most
worship; for of all manner of hunting thou bearest the prize, and
of all measures of blowing thou art the beginning, and of all the
terms of hunting and hawking ye are the inventor, and of all
instruments of music ye are the best skilled; therefore, gentle
knight," said Arthur, "ye are welcome to this court." And then
King Arthur made Sir Tristram knight of the Table Round with great
nobley and feasting as can be thought.


Tristram is often alluded to by the Romancers as the great
authority and model in all matters relating to the chase. In the
"Faery Queene," Tristram, in answer to the inquiries of Sir
Calidore, informs him of his name and parentage, and concludes:

    "All which my days I have not lewdly spent,
    Nor spilt the blossom of my tender years
    In idlesse; but, as was convenient,
    Have trained been with many noble feres
    In gentle thewes, and such like seemly leers;
    'Mongst which my most delight hath always been
    To hunt the salvage chace, amongst my peers,
    Of all that rangeth in the forest green,
    Of which none is to me unknown that yet was seen.

    "Ne is there hawk which mantleth on her perch,
    Whether high towering or accosting low,
    But I the measure of her flight do search,
    And all her prey, and all her diet know.
    Such be our joys, which in these forests grow."

[Footnote: Feres, companions; thewes, labors; leers, learning.]



The famous enchanter, Merlin, had exerted all his skill in
fabricating the Round Table. Of the seats which surrounded it he
had constructed thirteen, in memory of the thirteen Apostles.
Twelve of these seats only could be occupied, and they only by
knights of the highest fame; the thirteenth represented the seat
of the traitor Judas. It remained always empty. It was called the
PERILOUS SEAT, ever since a rash and haughty Saracen knight had
dared to place himself in it, when the earth opened and swallowed
him up.

    "In our great hall there stood a vacant chair,
    Fashion'd by Merlin ere he past away,
    And carven with strange figures; and in and out
    The figures, like a serpent, ran a scroll
    Of letters in a tongue no man could read
    And Merlin call'd it 'The Siege perilous,'
    Perilous for good and ill; 'for there,' he said,
    'No man could sit but he should lose himself.'"

    --The Holy Grail.

A magic power wrote upon each seat the name of the knight who was
entitled to sit in it. No one could succeed to a vacant seat
unless he surpassed in valor and glorious deeds the knight who had
occupied it before him; without this qualification he would be
violently repelled by a hidden force. Thus proof was made of all
those who presented themselves to replace any companions of the
order who had fallen.

One of the principal seats, that of Moraunt of Ireland, had been
vacant ten years, and his name still remained over it ever since
the time when that distinguished champion fell beneath the sword
of Sir Tristram. Arthur now took Tristram by the hand and led him
to that seat. Immediately the most melodious sounds were heard,
and exquisite perfumes filled the place; the name of Moraunt
disappeared, and that of Tristram blazed forth in light. The rare
modesty of Tristram had now to be subjected to a severe task; for
the clerks charged with the duty of preserving the annals of the
Round Table attended, and he was required by the law of his order
to declare what feats of arms he had accomplished to entitle him
to take that seat. This ceremony being ended, Tristram received
the congratulations of all his companions. Sir Launcelot and
Guenever took the occasion to speak to him of the fair Isoude, and
to express their wish that some happy chance might bring her to
the kingdom of Loegria.

While Tristram was thus honored and caressed at the court of King
Arthur, the most gloomy and malignant jealousy harassed the soul
of Mark. He could not look upon Isoude without remembering that
she loved Tristram, and the good fortune of his nephew goaded him
to thoughts of vengeance. He at last resolved to go disguised into
the kingdom of Loegria, attack Tristram by stealth, and put him to
death. He took with him two knights, brought up in his court, who
he thought were devoted to him; and, not willing to leave Isoude
behind, named two of her maidens to attend her, together with her
faithful Brengwain, and made them accompany him.

Having arrived in the neighborhood of Camelot, Mark imparted his
plan to his two knights, but they rejected it with horror; nay,
more, they declared that they would no longer remain in his
service; and left him, giving him reason to suppose that they
should repair to the court to accuse him before Arthur. It was
necessary for Mark to meet and rebut their accusation; so, leaving
Isoude in an abbey, he pursued his way alone to Camelot.

Mark had not ridden far when he encountered a party of knights of
Arthur's court, and would have avoided them, for he knew their
habit of challenging to a just every stranger knight whom they
met. But it was too late. They had seen his armor, and recognized
him as a Cornish knight, and at once resolved to have some sport
with him. It happened they had with them Daguenet, King Arthur's
fool, who, though deformed and weak of body, was not wanting in
courage. The knights as Mark approached laid their plan that
Daguenet should personate Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and challenge
the Cornish knight. They equipped him in armor belonging to one of
their number who was ill, and sent him forward to the cross-road
to defy the strange knight. Mark, who saw that his antagonist was
by no means formidable in appearance, was not disinclined to the
combat; but when the dwarf rode towards him, calling out that he
was Sir Launcelot of the Lake, his fears prevailed, he put spurs
to his horse, and rode away at full speed, pursued by the shouts
and laughter of the party.

Meanwhile Isoude, remaining at the abbey with her faithful
Brengwain, found her only amusement in walking occasionally in a
forest adjoining the abbey. There, on the brink of a fountain
girdled with trees, she thought of her love, and sometimes joined
her voice and her harp in lays reviving the memory of its pains or
pleasures. One day the caitiff knight, Breuse the Pitiless, heard
her voice, concealed himself, and drew near. She sang:

    "Sweet silence, shadowy bower, and verdant lair,
       Ye court my troubled spirit to repose,
     Whilst I, such dear remembrance rises there,
       Awaken every echo with my woes

    "Within these woods, by nature's hand arrayed,
       A fountain springs, and feeds a thousand flowers;
    Ah! how my groans do all its murmurs aid!
       How my sad eyes do swell it with their showers!

    "What doth my knight the while? to him is given
       A double meed; in love and arms' emprise,
    Him the Round Table elevates to heaven!
       Tristram! ah me! he hears not Isoude's cries."

Breuse the Pitiless, who like most other caitiffs had felt the
weight of Tristram's arm, and hated him accordingly, at hearing
his name breathed forth by the beautiful songstress, impelled by a
double impulse, rushed forth from his concealment and laid hands
on his victim. Isoude fainted, and Brengwain filled the air with
her shrieks. Breuse carried Isoude to the place where he had left
his horse; but the animal had got away from his bridle, and was at
some distance. He was obliged to lay down his fair burden, and go
in pursuit of his horse. Just then a knight came up, drawn by the
cries of Brengwain, and demanded the cause of her distress. She
could not speak, but pointed to her mistress lying insensible on
the ground.

Breuse had by this time returned, and the cries of Brengwain,
renewed at seeing him, sufficiently showed the stranger the cause
of the distress. Tristram spurred his horse towards Breuse, who,
not unprepared, ran to the encounter. Breuse was unhorsed, and lay
motionless, pretending to be dead; but when the stranger knight
left him to attend to the distressed damsels, he mounted his
horse, and made his escape.

The knight now approached Isoude, gently raised her head, drew
aside the golden hair which covered her countenance, gazed thereon
for an instant, uttered a cry, and fell back insensible. Brengwain
came; her cares soon restored her mistress to life, and they then
turned their attention to the fallen warrior. They raised his
visor, and discovered the countenance of Sir Tristram. Isoude
threw herself on the body of her lover, and bedewed his face with
her tears. Their warmth revived the knight, and Tristram on
awaking found himself in the arms of his dear Isoude.

It was the law of the Round Table that each knight after his
admission should pass the next ten days in quest of adventures,
during which time his companions might meet him in disguised armor
and try their strength with him. Tristram had now been out seven
days, and in that time had encountered many of the best knights of
the Round Table, and acquitted himself with honor. During the
remaining three days, Isoude remained at the abbey, under his
protection, and then set out with her maidens, escorted by Sir
Tristram, to rejoin King Mark at the court of Camelot.

This happy journey was one of the brightest epochs in the lives of
Tristram and Isoude. He celebrated it by a lay upon the harp in a
peculiar measure, to which the French give the name of Triolet.

    "With fair Isoude, and with love,
     Ah! how sweet the life I lead!
     How blest for ever thus to rove,
     With fair Isoude, and with love!
     As she wills, I live and move,
     And cloudless days to days succeed:
     With fair Isoude, and with love,
     Ah! how sweet the life I lead!

    "Journeying on from break of day,
     Feel you not fatigued, my fair?
     Yon green turf invites to play;
     Journeying on from day to day,
     Ah! let us to that shade away,
     Were it but to slumber there!
     Journeying on from break of day,
     Feel you not fatigued, my fair?"

They arrived at Camelot, where Sir Launcelot received them most
cordially. Isoude was introduced to King Arthur and Queen
Guenever, who welcomed her as a sister. As King Mark was held in
arrest under the accusation of the two Cornish knights, Queen
Isoude could not rejoin her husband, and Sir Launcelot placed his
castle of La Joyeuse Garde at the disposal of his friends, who
there took up their abode.

King Mark, who found himself obliged to confess the truth of the
charge against him, or to clear himself by combat with his
accusers, preferred the former, and King Arthur, as his crime had
not been perpetrated, remitted the penalty, only enjoining upon
him, under pain of his signal displeasure, to lay aside all
thoughts of vengeance against his nephew. In the presence of the
king and his court all parties were formally reconciled; Mark and
his queen departed for their home, and Tristram remained at
Arthur's court.



While Sir Tristram and the fair Isoude abode yet at La Joyeuse
Garde, Sir Tristram rode forth one day, without armor, having no
weapon but his spear and his sword. And as he rode he came to a
place where he saw two knights in battle, and one of them had
gotten the better and the other lay overthrown. The knight who had
the better was Sir Palamedes. When Sir Palamedes knew Sir
Tristram, he cried out, "Sir Tristram, now we be met, and ere we
depart we will redress our old wrongs." "As for that," said Sir
Tristram, "there never yet was Christian man that might make his
boast that I ever fled from him, and thou that art a Saracen shalt
never say that of me." And therewith Sir Tristram made his horse
to run, and with all his might came straight upon Sir Palamedes,
and broke his spear upon him. Then he drew his sword and struck at
Sir Palamedes six great strokes, upon his helm. Sir Palamedes saw
that Sir Tristram had not his armor on, and he marvelled at his
rashness and his great folly; and said to himself, "If I meet and
slay him, I am shamed wheresoever I go." Then Sir Tristram cried
out and said, "Thou coward knight, why wilt thou not do battle
with me? for have thou no doubt I shall endure all thy malice."
"Ah, Sir Tristram!" said Sir Palamedes, "thou knowest I may not
fight with thee for shame; for thou art here naked, and I am
armed; now I require that thou answer me a question that I shall
ask you." "Tell me what it is," said Sir Tristram. "I put the
case," said Palamedes, "that you were well armed, and I naked as
ye be; what would you do to me now, by your true knighthood?"
"Ah!" said Sir Tristram, "now I understand thee well, Sir
Palamedes; and, as God bless me, what I shall say shall not be
said for fear that I have of thee. But if it were so, thou
shouldest depart from me, for I would not have to do with thee."
"No more will I with thee," said Sir Palamedes, "and therefore
ride forth on thy way." "As for that, I may choose," said Sir
Tristram, "either to ride or to abide. But, Sir Palamedes, I
marvel at one thing,--that thou art so good a knight, yet that
thou wilt not be christened." "As for that," said Sir Palamedes,
"I may not yet be christened, for a vow which I made many years
ago; yet in my heart I believe in our Saviour and his mild mother,
Mary; but I have yet one battle to do, and when that is done I
will be christened, with a good will." "By my head," said Sir
Tristram, "as for that one battle, thou shalt seek it no longer;
for yonder is a knight, whom you have smitten down. Now help me to
be clothed in his armor, and I will soon fulfil thy vow." "As ye
will," said Sir Palamedes, "so shall it be." So they rode both
unto that knight that sat on a bank; and Sir Tristram saluted him,
and he full weary saluted him again. "Sir," said Sir Tristram, "I
pray you to lend me your whole armor; for I am unarmed, and I must
do battle with this knight." "Sir," said the hurt knight, "you
shall have it, with a right good will," Then Sir Tristram unarmed
Sir Galleron, for that was the name of the hurt knight, and he as
well as he could helped to arm Sir Tristram. Then Sir Tristram
mounted upon his own horse, and in his hand he took Sir Galleron's
spear. Thereupon Sir Palamedes was ready, and so they came hurling
together, and each smote the other in the midst of their shields.
Sir Palamedes' spear broke, and Sir Tristram smote down the horse.
Then Sir Palamedes leapt from his horse, and drew out his sword.
That saw Sir Tristram, and therewith he alighted and tied his
horse to a tree. Then they came together as two wild beasts,
lashing the one on the other, and so fought more than two hours;
and often Sir Tristram smote such strokes at Sir Palamedes that he
made him to kneel, and Sir Palamedes broke away Sir Tristram's
shield, and wounded him. Then Sir Tristram was wroth out of
measure, and he rushed to Sir Palamedes and wounded him passing
sore through the shoulder, and by fortune smote Sir Palamedes'
sword out of his hand And if Sir Palamedes had stooped for his
sword Sir Tristram had slain him. Then Sir Palamedes stood and
beheld his sword with a full sorrowful heart. "Now," said Sir
Tristram, "I have thee at a vantage, as thou hadst me to-day; but
it shall never be said, in court, or among good knights, that Sir
Tristram did slay any knight that was weaponless; therefore take
thou thy sword, and let us fight this battle to the end." Then
spoke Sir Palamedes to Sir Tristram: "I have no wish to fight this
battle any more. The offence that I have done unto you is not so
great but that, if it please you, we may be friends. All that I
have offended is for the love of the queen, La Belle Isoude, and I
dare maintain that she is peerless among ladies; and for that
offence ye have given me many grievous and sad strokes, and some I
have given you again. Wherefore I require you, my lord Sir
Tristram, forgive me all that I have offended you, and this day
have me unto the next church; and first I will be clean confessed,
and after that see you that I be truly baptized, and then we will
ride together unto the court of my lord, King Arthur, so that we
may be there at the feast of Pentecost." "Now take your horse,"
said Sir Tristram, "and as you have said, so shall it be done." So
they took their horses, and Sir Galleron rode with them. When they
came to the church of Carlisle, the bishop commanded to fill a
great vessel with water; and when he had hallowed it, he then
confessed Sir Palamedes clean, and christened him, and Sir
Tristram and Sir Galleron were his godfathers. Then soon after
they departed, and rode towards Camelot, where the noble King
Arthur and Queen Guenever were keeping a court royal. And the king
and all the court were glad that Sir Palamedes was christened.
Then Sir Tristram returned again to La Joyeuse Garde, and Sir
Palamedes went his way.

Not long after these events Sir Gawain returned from Brittany, and
related to King Arthur the adventure which befell him in the
forest of Breciliande, how Merlin had there spoken to him, and
enjoined him to charge the king to go without delay upon the quest
of the Holy Greal. While King Arthur deliberated Tristram
determined to enter upon the quest, and the more readily, as it
was well known to him that this holy adventure would, if achieved,
procure him the pardon of all his sins. He immediately departed
for the kingdom of Brittany, hoping there to obtain from Merlin
counsel as to the proper course to pursue to insure success.



On arriving in Brittany Tristram found King Hoel engaged in a war
with a rebellious vassal, and hard pressed by his enemy. His best
knights had fallen in a late battle, and he knew not where to turn
for assistance. Tristram volunteered his aid. It was accepted; and
the army of Hoel, led by Tristram, and inspired by his example,
gained a complete victory. The king, penetrated by the most lively
sentiments of gratitude, and having informed himself of Tristram's
birth, offered him his daughter in marriage. The princess was
beautiful and accomplished, and bore the same name with the Queen
of Cornwall; but this one is designated by the Romancers as Isoude
of the White Hands, to distinguish her from Isoude the Fair.

How can we describe the conflict that agitated the heart of
Tristram? He adored the first Isoude, but his love for her was
hopeless, and not unaccompanied by remorse. Moreover, the sacred
quest on which he had now entered demanded of him perfect purity
of life. It seemed as if a happy destiny had provided for him in
the charming princess Isoude of the White Hands the best security
for all his good resolutions. This last reflection determined him.
They were married, and passed some months in tranquil happiness at
the court of King Hoel. The pleasure which Tristram felt in his
wife's society increased day by day. An inward grace seemed to
stir within him from the moment when he took the oath to go on the
quest of the Holy Greal; it seemed even to triumph over the power
of the magic love-potion.

The war, which had been quelled for a time, now burst out anew.
Tristram as usual was foremost in every danger. The enemy was
worsted in successive conflicts, and at last shut himself up in
his principal city. Tristram led on the attack of the city. As he
mounted a ladder to scale the walls he was struck on the head by a
fragment of rock, which the besieged threw down upon him. It bore
him to the ground, where he lay insensible.

As soon as he recovered consciousness he demanded to be carried to
his wife. The princess, skilled in the art of surgery, would not
suffer any one but herself to touch her beloved husband. Her fair
hands bound up his wounds; Tristram kissed them with gratitude,
which began to grow into love. At first the devoted cares of
Isoude seemed to meet with great success; but after a while these
flattering appearances vanished, and, in spite of all her care,
the malady grew more serious day by day.

In this perplexity, an old squire of Tristram's reminded his
master that the princess of Ireland, afterwards queen of Cornwall,
had once cured him under circumstances quite as discouraging. He
called Isoude of the White Hands to him, told her of his former
cure, added that he believed that the Queen Isoude could heal him,
and that he felt sure that she would come to his relief, if sent

Isoude of the White Hands consented that Gesnes, a trusty man and
skilful navigator, should be sent to Cornwall. Tristram called
him, and, giving him a ring, "Take this," he said, "to the Queen
of Cornwall. Tell her that Tristram, near to death, demands her
aid. If you succeed in bringing her with you, place white sails to
your vessel on your return, that we may know of your success when
the vessel first heaves in sight. But if Queen Isoude refuses, put
on black sails; they will be the presage of my impending death."

Gesnes performed his mission successfully. King Mark happened to
be absent from his capital, and the queen readily consented to
return with the bark to Brittany. Gesnes clothed his vessel in the
whitest of sails, and sped his way back to Brittany.

Meantime the wound of Tristram grew more desperate day by day. His
strength, quite prostrated, no longer permitted him to be carried
to the seaside daily, as had been his custom from the first moment
when it was possible for the bark to be on the way homeward. He
called a young damsel, and gave her in charge to keep watch in the
direction of Cornwall, and to come and tell him the color of the
sails of the first vessel she should see approaching.

When Isoude of the White Hands consented that the queen of
Cornwall should be sent for, she had not known all the reasons
which she had for fearing the influence which renewed intercourse
with that princess might have on her own happiness. She had now
learned more, and felt the danger more keenly. She thought, if she
could only keep the knowledge of the queen's arrival from her
husband, she might employ in his service any resources which her
skill could supply, and still avert the dangers which she
apprehended. When the vessel was seen approaching, with its white
sails sparkling in the sun, the damsel, by command of her
mistress, carried word to Tristram that the sails were black.

Tristram, penetrated with inexpressible grief, breathed a profound
sigh, turned away his face, and said, "Alas, my beloved! we shall
never see one another again!" Then he commended himself to God,
and breathed his last.

The death of Tristram was the first intelligence which the queen
of Cornwall heard on landing. She was conducted almost senseless
into the chamber of Tristram, and expired holding him in her arms.

Tristram, before his death, had requested that his body should be
sent to Cornwall, and that his sword, with a letter he had
written, should be delivered to King Mark. The remains of Tristram
and Isoude were embarked in a vessel, along with the sword, which
was presented to the king of Cornwall. He was melted with
tenderness when he saw the weapon which slew Moraunt of Ireland,--
which had so often saved his life, and redeemed the honor of his
kingdom. In the letter Tristram begged pardon of his uncle, and
related the story of the amorous draught.

Mark ordered the lovers to be buried in his own chapel. From the
tomb of Tristram there sprung a vine, which went along the walls,
and descended into the grave of the queen. It was cut down three
times, but each time sprung up again more vigorous than before,
and this wonderful plant has ever since shaded the tombs of
Tristram and Isoude.

Spenser introduces Sir Tristram in his "Faery Queene." In Book
VI., Canto ii., Sir Calidore encounters in the forest a young
hunter, whom he thus describes:

    "Him steadfastly he marked, and saw to be
    A goodly youth of amiable grace,
    Yet but a slender slip, that scarce did see
    Yet seventeen yeares; but tall and faire of face,
    That sure he deemed him borne of noble race.
    All in a woodman's jacket he was clad
    Of Lincoln greene, belayed with silver lace;
    And on his head an hood with aglets sprad,
    And by his side his hunter's horne he hanging had.

[Footnote: Aglets, points or tags]

    "Buskins he wore of costliest cordawayne,
    Pinckt upon gold, and paled part per part,
    As then the guize was for each gentle swayne.
    In his right hand he held a trembling dart,
    Whose fellow he before had sent apart;
    And in his left he held a sharp bore-speare,
    With which he wont to launch the salvage heart
    Of many a lyon, and of many a beare,
  That first unto his hand in chase did happen neare."

[Footnote: PINCKT UPON GOLD, ETC., adorned with golden points, or
eyelets, and regularly intersected with stripes. PALED (in
heraldry), striped]



The father and two elder brothers of Perceval had fallen in battle
or tournaments, and hence, as the last hope of his family, his
mother retired with him into a solitary region, where he was
brought up in total ignorance of arms and chivalry. He was allowed
no weapon but "a lyttel Scots spere," which was the only thing of
all "her lordes faire gere" that his mother carried to the wood
with her. In the use of this he became so skilful, that he could
kill with it not only the animals of the chase for the table, but
even birds on the wing. At length, however, Perceval was roused to
a desire of military renown by seeing in the forest five knights
who were in complete armor. He said to his mother, "Mother, what
are those yonder?" "They are angels, my son," said she. "By my
faith, I will go and become an angel with them." And Perceval went
to the road and met them. "Tell me, good lad," said one of them,
"sawest thou a knight pass this way either today or yesterday?" "I
know not," said he, "what a knight is." "Such an one as I am,"
said the knight. "If thou wilt tell me what I ask thee, I will
tell thee what thou askest me." "Gladly will I do so," said Sir
Owain, for that was the knight's name. "What is this?" demanded
Perceval, touching the saddle. "It is a saddle," said Owain. Then
he asked about all the accoutrements which he saw upon the men and
the horses, and about the arms, and what they were for, and how
they were used. And Sir Owain showed him all those things fully.
And Perceval in return gave him such information as he had

Then Perceval returned to his mother, and said to her, "Mother,
those were not angels, but honorable knights." Then his mother
swooned away. And Perceval went to the place where they kept the
horses that carried firewood and provisions for the castle, and he
took a bony, piebald horse, which seemed to him the strongest of
them. And he pressed a pack into the form of a saddle, and with
twisted twigs he imitated the trappings which he had seen upon the
horses. When he came again to his mother, the countess had
recovered from her swoon. "My son," said she, "desirest thou to
ride forth?" "Yes, with thy leave," said he. "Go forward, then,"
she said, "to the court of Arthur, where there are the best and
the noblest and the most bountiful of men, and tell him thou art
Perceval, the son of Pelenore, and ask of him to bestow knighthood
on thee. And whenever thou seest a church, repeat there thy pater-
noster; and if thou see meat and drink, and hast need of them,
thou mayest take them. If thou hear an outcry of one in distress,
proceed toward it, especially if it be the cry of a woman, and
render her what service thou canst. If thou see a fair jewel, win
it, for thus shalt thou acquire fame; yet freely give it to
another, for thus thou shalt obtain praise. If thou see a fair
woman, pay court to her, for thus thou wilt obtain love."

After this discourse Perceval mounted the horse and taking a
number of sharp-pointed sticks in his hand he rode forth. And he
rode far in the woody wilderness without food or drink. At last he
came to an opening in the wood where he saw a tent, and as he
thought it might be a church he said his pater-noster to it. And
he went towards it; and the door of the tent was open. And
Perceval dismounted and entered the tent. In the tent he found a
maiden sitting, with a golden frontlet on her forehead and a gold
ring on her hand. And Perceval said, "Maiden, I salute you, for my
mother told me whenever I met a lady I must respectfully salute
her." Perceiving in one corner of the tent some food, two flasks
full of wine, and some boar's flesh roasted, he said, "My mother
told me, whenever I saw meat and drink to take it." And he ate
greedily, for he was very hungry. The maiden said, "Sir, thou
hadst best go quickly from here, for fear that my friends should
come, and evil should befall you." But Perceval said, "My mother
told me wheresoever I saw a fair jewel to take it," and he took
the gold ring from her finger, and put it on his own; and he gave
the maiden his own ring in exchange for hers; then he mounted his
horse and rode away.

Perceval journeyed on till he arrived at Arthur's court. And it so
happened that just at that time an uncourteous knight had offered
Queen Guenever a gross insult. For when her page was serving the
queen with a golden goblet, this knight struck the arm of the page
and dashed the wine in the queen's face and over her stomacher.
Then he said, "If any have boldness to avenge this insult to
Guenever, let him follow me to the meadow." So the knight took his
horse and rode to the meadow, carrying away the golden goblet. And
all the household hung down their heads and no one offered to
follow the knight to take vengeance upon him. For it seemed to
them that no one would have ventured on so daring an outrage
unless he possessed such powers, through magic or charms, that
none could be able to punish him. Just then, behold, Perceval
entered the hall upon the bony, piebald horse, with his uncouth
trappings. In the centre of the hall stood Kay the Seneschal.
"Tell me, tall man," said Perceval, "is that Arthur yonder?" "What
wouldst thou with Arthur?" asked Kay. "My mother told me to go to
Arthur and receive knighthood from him." "By my faith," said he,
"thou art all too meanly equipped with horse and with arms." Then
all the household began to jeer and laugh at him. But there was a
certain damsel who had been a whole year at Arthur's court, and
had never been known to smile. And the king's fool [Footnote: A
fool was a common appendage of the courts of those days when this
romance was written. A fool was the ornament held in next
estimation to a dwarf. He wore a white dress with a yellow bonnet,
and carried a bell or bawble in his hand. Though called a fool,
his words were often weighed and remembered as if there were a
sort of oracular meaning in them.] had said that this damsel would
not smile till she had seen him who would be the flower of
chivalry. Now this damsel came up to Perceval and told him,
smiling, that if he lived he would be one of the bravest and best
of knights. "Truly," said Kay, "thou art ill taught to remain a
year at Arthur's court, with choice of society, and smile on no
one, and now before the face of Arthur and all his knights to call
such a man as this the flower of knighthood;" and he gave her a
box on the ear, that she fell senseless to the ground. Then said
Kay to Perceval, "Go after the knight who went hence to the
meadow, overthrow him and recover the golden goblet, and possess
thyself of his horse and arms, and thou shalt have knighthood." "I
will do so, tall man," said Perceval. So he turned his horse's
head toward the meadow. And when he came there, the knight was
riding up and down, proud of his strength and valor and noble
mien. "Tell me," said the knight, "didst thou see any one coming
after me from the court?" "The tall man that was there," said
Perceval, "told me to come and overthrow thee, and to take from
thee the goblet and thy horse and armor for myself." "Silence!"
said the knight; "go back to the court, and tell Arthur either to
come himself, or to send some other to fight with me; and unless
he do so quickly, I will not wait for him." "By my faith," said
Perceval, "choose thou whether it shall be willingly or
unwillingly, for I will have the horse and the arms and the
goblet." Upon this the knight ran at him furiously, and struck him
a violent blow with the shaft of his spear, between the neck and
the shoulder. "Ha, ha, lad!" said Perceval, "my mother's servants
were not used to play with me in this wise; so thus will I play
with thee." And he threw at him one of his sharp-pointed sticks,
and it struck him in the eye, and came out at the back of his
head, so that he fell down lifeless.

"Verily," said Sir Owain, the son of Urien, to Kay the Seneschal,
"thou wast ill-advised to send that madman after the knight, for
he must either be overthrown or flee, and either way it will be a
disgrace to Arthur and his warriors; therefore will I go to see
what has befallen him." So Sir Owain went to the meadow, and he
found Perceval trying in vain to get the dead knight's armor off,
in order to clothe himself with it. Sir Owain unfastened the
armor, and helped Perceval to put it on, and taught him how to put
his foot in the stirrup, and use the spur; for Perceval had never
used stirrup nor spur, but rode without saddle, and urged on his
horse with a stick. Then Owain would have had him return to the
court to receive the praise that was his due; but Perceval said,
"I will not come to the court till I have encountered the tall man
that is there, to revenge the injury he did to the maiden. But
take thou the goblet to Queen Guenever, and tell King Arthur that,
wherever I am, I will be his vassal, and will do him what profit
and service I can." And Sir Owain went back to the court, and
related all these things to Arthur and Guenever, and to all the

And Perceval rode forward. And he came to a lake on the side of
which was a fair castle, and on the border of the lake he saw a
hoary-headed man sitting upon a velvet cushion, and his attendants
were fishing in the lake. When the hoary-headed man beheld
Perceval approaching, he arose and went into the castle. Perceval
rode to the castle, and the door was open, and he entered the
hall. And the hoary-headed man received Perceval courteously, and
asked him to sit by him on the cushion. When it was time the
tables were set, and they went to meat. And when they had finished
their meat the hoary-headed man asked Perceval if he knew how to
fight with the sword "I know not," said Perceval, "but were I to
be taught, doubtless I should." And the hoary-headed man said to
him, "I am thy uncle, thy mother's brother; I am called King
Pecheur.[Footnote: The word means both FISHER and SINNER.] Thou
shalt remain with me a space, in order to learn the manners and
customs of different countries, and courtesy and noble bearing.
And this do thou remember, if thou seest aught to cause thy
wonder, ask not the meaning of it; if no one has the courtesy to
inform thee, the reproach will not fall upon thee, but upon me
that am thy teacher." While Perceval and his uncle discoursed
together, Perceval beheld two youths enter the hall bearing a
golden cup and a spear of mighty size, with blood dropping from
its point to the ground. And when all the company saw this they
began to weep and lament. But for all that, the man did not break
off his discourse with Perceval. And as he did not tell him the
meaning of what he saw, he forebore to ask him concerning it. Now
the cup that Perceval saw was the Sangreal, and the spear the
sacred spear; and afterwards King Pecheur removed with those
sacred relics into a far country.

One evening Perceval entered a valley, and came to a hermit's
cell; and the hermit welcomed him gladly, and there he spent the
night. And in the morning he arose, and when he went forth,
behold! a shower of snow had fallen in the night, and a hawk had
killed a wild-fowl in front of the cell. And the noise of the
horse had scared the hawk away, and a raven alighted on the bird.
And Perceval stood and compared the blackness of the raven and the
whiteness of the snow and the redness of the blood to the hair of
the lady that best he loved, which was blacker than jet, and to
her skin, which was whiter than the snow, and to the two red spots
upon her cheeks, which were redder than the blood upon the snow.

Now Arthur and his household were in search of Perceval, and by
chance they came that way. "Know ye," said Arthur, "who is the
knight with the long spear that stands by the brook up yonder?"
"Lord," said one of them, "I will go and learn who he is." So the
youth came to the place where Perceval was, and asked him what he
did thus, and who he was. But Perceval was so intent upon his
thought that he gave him no answer. Then the youth thrust at
Perceval with his lance; and Perceval turned upon him, and struck
him to the ground. And when the youth returned to the king, and
told how rudely he had been treated, Sir Kay said, "I will go
myself." And when he greeted Perceval, and got no answer, he spoke
to him rudely and angrily. And Perceval thrust at him with his
lance, and cast him down so that he broke his arm and his
shoulder-blade. And while he lay thus stunned his horse returned
back at a wild and prancing pace.

Then said Sir Gawain, surnamed the Golden-Tongued, because he was
the most courteous knight in Arthur's court: "It is not fitting
that any should disturb an honorable knight from his thought
unadvisedly; for either he is pondering some damage that he has
sustained, or he is thinking of the lady whom best he loves. If it
seem well to thee, lord, I will go and see if this knight has
changed from his thought, and if he has, I will ask him
courteously to come and visit thee."

And Perceval was resting on the shaft of his spear, pondering the
same thought, and Sir Gawain came to him, and said: "If I thought
it would be as agreeable to thee as it would be to me, I would
converse with thee. I have also a message from Arthur unto thee,
to pray thee to come and visit him. And two men have been before
on this errand." "That is true," said Perceval; "and uncourteously
they came. They attacked me, and I was annoyed thereat" Then he
told him the thought that occupied his mind, and Gawain said,
"This was not an ungentle thought, and I should marvel if it were
pleasant for thee to be drawn from it." Then said Perceval, "Tell
me, is Sir Kay in Arthur's court?" "He is," said Gawain; "and
truly he is the knight who fought with thee last." "Verily," said
Perceval, "I am not sorry to have thus avenged the insult to the
smiling maiden. "Then Perceval told him his name, and said, "Who
art thou?" And he replied, "I am Gawain." "I am right glad to meet
thee," said Perceval, "for I have everywhere heard of thy prowess
and uprightness; and I solicit thy fellowship." "Thou shalt have
it, by my faith; and grant me thine," said he. "Gladly will I do
so," answered Perceval.

So they went together to Arthur, and saluted him.

"Behold, lord," said Gawain, "him whom thou hast sought so long."
"Welcome unto thee, chieftain," said Arthur. And hereupon there
came the queen and her handmaidens, and Perceval saluted them. And
they were rejoiced to see him, and bade him welcome. And Arthur
did him great honor and respect and they returned towards



The Sangreal was the cup from which our Saviour drank at his last
supper. He was supposed to have given it to Joseph of Arimathea,
who carried it to Europe, together with the spear with which the
soldier pierced the Saviour's side. From generation to generation,
one of the descendants of Joseph of Arimathea had been devoted to
the guardianship of these precious relics; but on the sole
condition of leading a life of purity in thought, word, and deed.
For a long time the Sangreal was visible to all pilgrims, and its
presence conferred blessings upon the land in which it was
preserved. But at length one of those holy men to whom its
guardianship had descended so far forgot the obligation of his
sacred office as to look with unhallowed eye upon a young female
pilgrim whose robe was accidentally loosened as she knelt before
him. The sacred lance instantly punished his frailty,
spontaneously falling upon him, and inflicting a deep wound. The
marvellous wound could by no means be healed, and the guardian of
the Sangreal was ever after called "Le Roi Pescheur,"--The Sinner
King. The Sangreal withdrew its visible presence from the crowds
who came to worship, and an iron age succeeded to the happiness
which its presence had diffused among the tribes of Britain.

       "But then the times
    Grew to such evil that the Holy cup
    Was caught away to heaven and disappear'd."
                             --The Holy Grail.

We have told in the history of Merlin how that great prophet and
enchanter sent a message to King Arthur by Sir Gawain, directing
him to undertake the recovery of the Sangreal, informing him at
the same time that the knight who should accomplish that sacred
quest was already born, and of a suitable age to enter upon it.
Sir Gawain delivered his message, and the king was anxiously
revolving in his mind how best to achieve the enterprise, when, at
the vigil of Pentecost, all the fellowship of the Round Table
being met together at Camelot, as they sat at meat, suddenly there
was heard a clap of thunder, and then a bright light burst forth,
and every knight, as he looked on his fellow, saw him, in seeming,
fairer than ever before. All the hall was filled with sweet odors,
and every knight had such meat and drink as he best loved. Then
there entered into the hall the Holy Graal, covered with white
samite, so that none could see it, and it passed through the hall
suddenly, and disappeared. During this time no one spoke a word,
but when they had recovered breath to speak King Arthur said,
"Certainly we ought greatly to thank the Lord for what he hath
showed us this day." Then Sir Gawain rose up, and made a vow that
for twelve months and a day he would seek the Sangreal, and not
return till he had seen it, if so he might speed. When they of the
Round Table heard Sir Gawain say so, they arose, the most part of
them, and vowed the same. When King Arthur heard this, he was
greatly displeased, for he knew well that they might not gainsay
their vows. "Alas!" said he to Sir Gawain, "you have nigh slain me
with the vow and promise that ye have made, for ye have bereft me
of the fairest fellowship that ever were seen together in any
realm of the world; for when they shall depart hence, I am sure
that all shall never meet more in this world."


At that time there entered the hall a good old man, and with him
he brought a young knight, and these words he said: "Peace be with
you, fair lords." Then the old man said unto King Arthur, "Sir, I
bring you here a young knight that is of kings' lineage, and of
the kindred of Joseph of Arimathea, being the son of Dame Elaine,
the daughter of King Pelles, king of the foreign country." Now the
name of the young knight was Sir Galahad, and he was the son of
Sir Launcelot du Lac; but he had dwelt with his mother, at the
court of King Pelles, his grandfather, till now he was old enough
to bear arms, and his mother had sent him in the charge of a holy
hermit to King Arthur's court. Then Sir Launcelot beheld his son,
and had great joy of him. And Sir Bohort told his fellows, "Upon
my life, this young knight shall come to great worship." The noise
was great in all the court, so that it came to the queen. And she
said, "I would fain see him, for he must needs be a noble knight,
for so is his father." And the queen and her ladies all said that
he resembled much unto his father; and he was seemly and demure as
a dove, with all manner of good features, that in the whole world
men might not find his match. And King Arthur said, "God make him
a good man, for beauty faileth him not, as any that liveth."

Then the hermit led the young knight to the Siege Perilous; and he
lifted up the cloth, and found there letters that said, "This is
the seat of Sir Galahad, the good knight;" and he made him sit in
that seat. And all the knights of the Round Table marvelled
greatly at Sir Galahad, seeing him sit securely in that seat, and
said, "This is he by whom the Sangreal shall be achieved, for
there never sat one before in that seat without being mischieved."

On the next day the king said, "Now, at this quest of the Sangreal
shall all ye of the Round Table depart, and never shall I see you
again altogether; therefore I will that ye all repair to the
meadow of Camelot, for to just and tourney yet once more before ye
depart." But all the meaning of the king was to see Sir Galahad
proved. So then were they all assembled in the meadow. Then Sir
Galahad, by request of the king and queen, put on his harness and
his helm, but shield would he take none for any prayer of the
king. And the queen was in a tower, with all her ladies, to behold
that tournament. Then Sir Galahad rode into the midst of the
meadow; and there he began to break spears marvellously, so that
all men had wonder of him, for he surmounted all knights that
encountered with him, except two, Sir Launcelot and Sir Perceval.

    "So many knights, that all the people cried,
    And almost burst the barriers in their heat,
    Shouting 'Sir Galahad and Sir Perceval!'"

    --Sir Galahad

Then the king, at the queen's request, made him to alight, and
presented him to the queen; and she said, "Never two men resembled
one another more than he and Sir Launcelot, and therefore it is no
marvel that he is like him in prowess."

Then the king and the queen went to the minster, and the knights
followed them. And after the service was done they put on their
helms and departed, and there was great sorrow. They rode through
the streets of Camelot, and there was weeping of the rich and
poor; and the king turned away, and might not speak for weeping.
And so they departed, and every knight took the way that him best

Sir Galahad rode forth without shield, and rode four days, and
found no adventure. And on the fourth day he came to a white
abbey; and there he was received with great reverence, and led to
a chamber. He met there two knights, King Bagdemagus and Sir
Uwaine, and they made of him great solace. "Sirs," said Sir
Galahad, "what adventure brought you hither?" "Sir," said they,
"it is told us that within this place is a shield, which no man
may bear unless he be worthy; and if one unworthy should attempt
to bear it, it shall surely do him a mischief." Then King
Bagdemagus said, "I fear not to bear it, and that shall ye see to-

So on the morrow they arose, and heard mass; then King Bagdemagus
asked where the adventurous shield was. Anon a monk led him behind
an altar, where the shield hung, as white as snow; but in the
midst there was a red cross. Then King Bagdemagus took the shield,
and bare it out of the minster; and he said to Sir Galahad, "If it
please you, abide here till ye know how I shall speed."

Then King Bagdemagus and his squire rode forth: and when they had
ridden a mile or two, they saw a goodly knight come towards them,
in white armor, horse and all; and he came as fast as his horse
might run, with his spear in the rest; and King Bagdemagus
directed his spear against him, and broke it upon the white
knight, but the other struck him so hard that he broke the mails,
and thrust him through the right shoulder, for the shield covered
him not, and so he bare him from his horse. Then the white knight
turned his horse and rode away.

Then the squire went to King Bagdemagus, and asked him whether he
were sore wounded or not. "I am sore wounded," said he, "and full
hardly shall I escape death." Then the squire set him on his
horse, and brought him to an abbey; and there he was taken down
softly, and unarmed, and laid in a bed, and his wound was looked
to, for he lay there long, and hardly escaped with his life. And
the squire brought the shield back to the abbey.

The next day Sir Galahad took the shield, and within a while he
came to the hermitage, where he met the white knight, and each
saluted the other courteously. "Sir," said Sir Galahad, "can you
tell me the marvel of the shield?" "Sir," said the white knight,
"that shield belonged of old to the gentle knight, Joseph of
Arimathea; and when he came to die he said, 'Never shall man bear
this shield about his neck but he shall repent it, unto the time
that Sir Galahad the good knight bear it, the last of my lineage,
the which shall do many marvellous deeds.'" And then the white
knight vanished away.


After Sir Gawain departed, he rode many days, both toward and
forward, and at last he came to the abbey where Sir Galahad took
the white shield. And they told Sir Gawain of the marvellous
adventure that Sir Galahad had done. "Truly," said Sir Gawain, "I
am not happy that I took not the way that he went, for, if I may
meet with him, I will not part from him lightly, that I may
partake with him all the marvellous adventures which he shall
achieve." "Sir," said one of the monks, "he will not be of your
fellowship." "Why?" said Sir Gawain. "Sir," said he, "because ye
be sinful, and he is blissful." Then said the monk, "Sir Gawain,
thou must do penance for thy sins." "Sir, what penance shall I
do?" "Such as I will show," said the good man. "Nay," said Sir
Gawain, "I will do no penance, for we knights adventurous often
suffer great woe and pain." "Well," said the good man; and he held
his peace. And Sir Gawain departed.

Now it happened, not long after this, that Sir Gawain and Sir
Hector rode together, and they came to a castle where was a great
tournament. And Sir Gawain and Sir Hector joined themselves to the
party that seemed the weaker, and they drove before them the other
party. Then suddenly came into the lists a knight, bearing a white
shield with a red cross, and by adventure he came by Sir Gawain,
and he smote him so hard that he clave his helm and wounded his
head, so that Sir Gawain fell to the earth. When Sir Hector saw
that, he knew that the knight with the white shield was Sir
Galahad, and he thought it no wisdom to abide him, and also for
natural love, that he was his uncle. Then Sir Galahad retired
privily, so that none knew where he had gone. And Sir Hector
raised up Sir Gawain, and said, "Sir, me seemeth your quest is
done." "It is done," said Sir Gawain; "I shall seek no further."
Then Gawain was borne into the castle, and unarmed, and laid in a
rich bed, and a leech found to search his wound. And Sir Gawain
and Sir Hector abode together, for Sir Hector would not away till
Sir Gawain were whole.


THE SANGREAL (Continued)


Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wide forest, and
held no path but as wild adventure lee him.

    "My golden spurs now bring to me,
       And bring to me my richest mail,
     For to-morrow I go over land and sea
       In search of the Holy, Holy Grail

    Shall never a bed for me be spread,
    Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
    Till I begin my vow to keep.
    Here on the rushes will I sleep,
    And perchance there may come a vision true
    Ere day create the world anew"

                             --Lowell's Holy Grail.

And at last he came to a stone cross. Then Sir Launcelot looked
round him, and saw an old chapel. So he tied his horse to a tree,
and put off his shield, and hung it upon a tree; and then he went
into the chapel, and looked through a place where the wall was
broken. And within he saw a fair altar, full richly arrayed with
cloth of silk; and there stood a fair candlestick, which bare six
great candles, and the candlestick was of silver. When Sir
Launcelot saw this sight, he had a great wish to enter the chapel,
but he could find no place where he might enter. Then was he
passing heavy and dismayed. And he returned and came again to his
horse, and took off his saddle and his bridle, and let him
pasture; and unlaced his helm, and ungirded his sword, and laid
him down to sleep upon his shield before the cross.

And as he lay, half waking and half sleeping, he saw come by him
two palfreys, both fair and white, which bare a litter, on which
lay a sick knight. And when he was nigh the cross, he there abode
still. And Sir Launcelot heard him say, "O sweet Lord, when shall
this sorrow leave me, and when shall the holy vessel come by me
whereby I shall be healed?" And thus a great while complained the
knight, and Sir Launcelot heard it. Then Sir Launcelot saw the
candlestick, with the lighted tapers, come before the cross, but
he could see nobody that brought it. Also there came a salver of
silver and the holy vessel of the Sangreal; and therewithal the
sick knight sat him upright, and held up both his hands, and said,
"Fair, sweet Lord, which is here within the holy vessel, take heed
to me, that I may be whole of this great malady." And therewith,
upon his hands and upon his knees, he went so nigh that he touched
the holy vessel and kissed it. And anon he was whole. Then the
holy vessel went into the chapel again, with the candlestick and
the light, so that Sir Launcelot wist not what became of it.

Then the sick knight rose up and kissed the cross; and anon his
squire brought him his arms and asked his lord how he did. "I
thank God right heartily," said he, "for, through the holy vessel,
I am healed. But I have great marvel of this sleeping knight, who
hath had neither grace nor power to awake during the time that the
holy vessel hath been here present." "I dare it right well say,"
said the squire, "that this same knight is stained with some
manner of deadly sin, whereof he was never confessed." So they

Then anon Sir Launcelot waked, and set himself upright, and
bethought him of what he had seen and whether it were dreams or
not. And he was passing heavy, and wist not what to do. And he
said: "My sin and my wretchedness hath brought me into great
dishonor. For when I sought worldly adventures and worldly
desires, I ever achieved them, and had the better in every place,
and never was I discomfited in any quarrel, were it right or
wrong. And now I take upon me the adventure of holy things, I see
and understand that mine old sin hindereth me, so that I had no
power to stir nor to speak when the holy blood appeared before
me." So thus he sorrowed till it was day, and heard the fowls of
the air sing. Then was he somewhat comforted.

Then he departed from the cross into the forest. And there he
found a hermitage, and a hermit therein, who was going to mass. So
when mass was done Sir Launcelot called the hermit to him, and
prayed him for charity to hear his confession. "With a good will,"
said the good man. And then he told that good man all his life,
and how he had loved a queen unmeasurably many years. "And all my
great deeds of arms that I have done I did the most part for the
queen's sake, and for her sake would I do battle, were it right or
wrong, and never did I battle all only for God's sake, but for to
win worship, and to cause me to be better beloved; and little or
naught I thanked God for it. I pray you counsel me."

"I will counsel you," said the hermit, "if ye will insure me that
ye will never come in that queen's fellowship as much as ye may
forbear." And then Sir Launcelot promised the hermit, by his
faith, that he would no more come in her company. "Look that your
heart and your mouth accord," said the good man, "and I shall
insure you that ye shall have more worship than ever ye had."

Then the good man enjoined Sir Launcelot such penance as he might
do, and he assailed Sir Launcelot and made him abide with him all
that day. And Sir Launcelot repented him greatly.


Sir Perceval departed and rode till the hour of noon; and he met
in a valley about twenty men of arms. And when they saw Sir
Perceval, they asked him whence he was; and he answered: "Of the
court of King Arthur." Then they cried all at once, "Slay him."
But Sir Perceval smote the first to the earth, and his horse upon
him. Then seven of the knights smote upon his shield all at once,
and the remnant slew his horse, so that he fell to the earth. So
had they slain him or taken him, had not the good knight Sir
Galahad, with the red cross, come there by adventure. And when he
saw all the knights upon one, he cried out, "Save me that knight's
life." Then he rode toward the twenty men of arms as fast as his
horse might drive, with his spear in the rest, and smote the
foremost horse and man to the earth. And when his spear was
broken, he set his hand to his sword, and smote on the right hand
and on the left, that it was marvel to see; and at every stroke he
smote down one, or put him to rebuke, so that they would fight no
more, but fled to a thick forest, and Sir Galahad followed them.
And when Sir Perceval saw him chase them so, he made great sorrow
that his horse was slain. And he wist well it was Sir Galahad.
Then he cried aloud, "Ah, fair knight, abide, and suffer me to do
thanks unto thee; for right well have ye done for me." But Sir
Galahad rode so fast that at last he passed out of his sight. When
Sir Perceval saw that he would not turn, he said, "Now am I a very
wretch, and most unhappy above all other knights." So in his
sorrow he abode all that day till it was night; and then he was
faint, and laid him down and slept till midnight; and then he
awaked and saw before him a woman, who said unto him, "Sir
Perceval, what dost thou here?" He answered, "I do neither good,
nor great ill." "If thou wilt promise me," said she, "that thou
wilt fulfil my will when I summon thee, I will lend thee my own
horse, which shall bear thee whither thou wilt." Sir Perceval was
glad of her proffer, and insured her to fulfil all her desire.
"Then abide me here, and I will go fetch you a horse." And so she
soon came again, and brought a horse with her that was inky black.
When Perceval beheld that horse he marvelled, it was so great and
so well apparelled. And he leapt upon him and took no heed of
himself. And he thrust him with his spurs, and within an hour and
less he bare him four days' journey thence, until he came to a
rough water, which roared, and his horse would have borne him into
it. And when Sir Perceval came nigh the brim and saw the water so
boisterous he doubted to overpass it. And then he made the sign of
the cross on his forehead. When the fiend felt him so charged, he
shook off Sir Perceval, and went into the water crying and
roaring; and it seemed unto him that the water burned. Then Sir
Perceval perceived it was a fiend that would have brought him unto
his perdition. Then he commended himself unto God, and prayed our
Lord to keep him from all such temptations; and so he prayed all
that night till it was day. Then he saw that he was in a wild
place, that was closed with the sea nigh all about. And Sir
Perceval looked forth over the sea, and saw a ship come sailing
towards him; and it came and stood still under the rock. And when
Sir Perceval saw this, he hied him thither, and found the ship
covered with silk; and therein was a lady of great beauty, and
clothed so richly that none might be better.

And when she saw Sir Perceval, she saluted him, and Sir Perceval
returned her salutation. Then he asked her of her country and her
lineage. And she said, "I am a gentlewoman that am disinherited,
and was once the richest woman of the world." "Damsel," said Sir
Perceval, "who hath disinherited you? for I have great pity of
you." "Sir," said she, "my enemy is a great and powerful lord, and
aforetime he made much of me, so that of his favor and of my
beauty I had a little pride more than I ought to have had. Also I
said a word that pleased him not. So he drove me from his company
and from mine heritage. Therefore I know no good knight nor good
man, but I get him on my side if I may. And for that I know that
thou art a good knight, I beseech thee to help me."

Then Sir Perceval promised her all the help that he might, and she
thanked him.

And at that time the weather was hot, and she called to her a
gentlewoman, and bade her bring forth a pavilion. And she did so,
and pitched it upon the gravel. "Sir," said she, "now may ye rest
you in this heat of the day." Then he thanked her, and she put off
his helm and his shield, and there he slept a great while. Then he
awoke, and asked her if she had any meat, and she said yea, and so
there was set upon the table all manner of meats that he could
think on. Also he drank there the strongest wine that ever he
drank, and therewith he was a little chafed more than he ought to
be. With that he beheld the lady, and he thought she was the
fairest creature that ever he saw. And then Sir Perceval proffered
her love, and prayed her that she would be his. Then she refused
him in a manner, for the cause he should be the more ardent on
her, and ever he ceased not to pray her of love. And when she saw
him well enchafed, then she said, "Sir Perceval, wit you well I
shall not give ye my love, unless you swear from henceforth you
will be my true servant, and do no thing but that I shall command
you. Will you insure me this, as ye be a true knight?" "Yea," said
he, "fair lady, by the faith of my body." And as he said this, by
adventure and grace, he saw his sword lie on the ground naked, in
whose pommel was a red cross, and the sign of the crucifix
thereon. Then he made the sign of the cross on his forehead, and
therewith the pavilion shrivelled up, and changed into a smoke and
a black cloud. And the damsel cried aloud, and hasted into the
ship, and so she went with the wind roaring and yelling that it
seemed all the water burned after her. Then Sir Perceval made
great sorrow, and called himself a wretch, saying, "How nigh was I
lost!" Then he took his arms, and departed thence.


THE SANGREAL (Continued)


When Sir Boliort departed from Camelot he met with a religious
man, riding upon an ass; and Sir Bohort saluted him. "What are
ye?" said the good man. "Sir," said Sir Bohort, "I am a knight
that fain would be counselled in the quest of the Sangreal." So
rode they both together till they came to a hermitage; and there
he prayed Sir Bohort to dwell that night with him. So he alighted,
and put away his armor, and prayed him that he might be confessed.
And they went both into the chapel, and there he was clean
confessed. And they ate bread and drank water together. "Now,"
said the good man, "I pray thee that thou eat none other till thou
sit at the table where the Sangreal shall be." "Sir," said Sir
Bohort, "but how know ye that I shall sit there?" "Yea," said the
good man, "that I know well; but there shall be few of your
fellows with you." Then said Sir Bohort, "I agree me thereto" And
the good man when he had heard his confession found him in so pure
a life and so stable that he marvelled thereof.

On the morrow, as soon as the day appeared, Sir Bohort departed
thence, and rode into a forest unto the hour of midday. And there
befell him a marvellous adventure. For he met, at the parting of
two ways, two knights that led Sir Lionel, his brother, all naked,
bound upon a strong hackney, and his hands bound before his
breast; and each of them held in his hand thorns wherewith they
went beating him, so that he was all bloody before and behind; but
he said never a word, but, as he was great of heart, he suffered
all that they did to him as though he had felt none anguish. Sir
Bohort prepared to rescue his brother. But he looked on the other
side of him, and saw a knight dragging along a fair gentlewoman,
who cried out, "Saint Mary! succor your maid!" And when she saw
Sir Bohort, she called to him, and said, "By the faith that ye owe
to knighthood, help me!" When Sir Bohort heard her say thus he had
such sorrow that he wist not what to do. "For if I let my brother
be he must be slain, and that would I not for all the earth; and
if I help not the maid I am shamed for ever." Then lift he up his
eyes and said, weeping, "Fair Lord, whose liegeman I am, keep Sir
Lionel, my brother, that none of these knights slay him, and for
pity of you, and our Lady's sake, I shall succor this maid."

Then he cried out to the knight, "Sir knight, lay your hand off
that maid, or else ye be but dead." Then the knight set down the
maid, and took his shield, and drew out his sword. And Sir Bohort
smote him so hard that it went through his shield and habergeon,
on the left shoulder, and he fell down to the earth. Then came Sir
Bohort to the maid, "Ye be delivered of this knight this time."
"Now," said she, "I pray you lead me there where this knight took
me." "I shall gladly do it," said Sir Bohort. So he took the horse
of the wounded knight, and set the gentlewoman upon it, and
brought her there where she desired to be. And there he found
twelve knights seeking after her; and when she told them how Sir
Bohort had delivered her, they made great joy, and besought him to
come to her father, a great lord, and he should be right welcomed.
"Truly," said Sir Bohort, "that may not be; for I have a great
adventure to do." So he commended them to God and departed.

Then Sir Bohort rode after Sir Lionel, his brother, by the trace
of their horses. Thus he rode seeking, a great while. Then he
overtook a man clothed in a religious clothing, who said, "Sir
Knight, what seek ye?" "Sir," said Sir Bohort, "I seek my brother,
that I saw within a little space beaten of two knights." "Ah, Sir
Bohort, tiouble not thyself to seek for him, for truly he is
dead." Then he showed him a new-slain body, lying in a thick bush;
and it seemed him that it was the body of Sir Lionel. And then he
made such sorrow that he fell to the ground in a swoon, and lay
there long. And when he came to himself again, he said, "Fair
brother, since the fellowship of you and me is sundered, shall I
never have joy again; and now He that I have taken for my Master,
He be my help!" And when he had said thus he took up the body in
his arms, and put it upon the horse. And then he said to the man,
"Canst thou tell me the way to some chapel, where I may bury this
body?" "Come on," said the man, "here is one fast by." And so they
rode till they saw a fair tower, and beside it a chapel. Then they
alighted both, and put the body into a tomb of marble.

Then Sir Bohort commended the good man unto God, and departed. And
he rode all that day, and harbored with an old lady. And on the
morrow he rode unto the castle in a valley, and there he met with
a yeoman. "Tell me," said Sir Bohort, "knowest thou of any
adventure?" "Sir," said he, "here shall be, under this castle, a
great and marvellous tournament." Then Sir Bohort thought to be
there, if he might meet with any of the fellowship that were in
quest of the Sangreal; so he turned to a hermitage that was on the
border of the forest. And when he was come hither, he found there
Sir Lionel his brother, who sat all armed at the entry of the
chapel door. And when Sir Bohort saw him, he had great joy, and he
alighted off his horse, and said. "Fair brother, when came ye
hither?" As soon as Sir Lionel saw him he said, "Ah, Sir Bohort,
make ye no false show, for, as for you, I might have been slain,
for ye left me in peril of death to go succor a gentlewoman; and
for that misdeed I now assure you but death, for ye have right
well deserved it." When Sir Bohort perceived his brother's wrath
he kneeled down to the earth and cried him mercy, holding up both
his hands, and prayed him to forgive him. "Nay," said Sir Lionel,
"thou shalt have but death for it, if I have the upper hand;
therefore leap upon thy horse and keep thyself, and if thou do not
I will run upon thee there as thou standest on foot, and so the
shame shall be mine, and the harm thine, but of that I reck not."
When Sir Bohort saw that he must fight with his brother or else
die, he wist not what to do. Then his heart counselled him not so
to do, inasmuch as Sir Lionel was his elder brother, wherefore he
ought to bear him reverence. Yet kneeled he down before Sir
Lionel's horse's feet, and said, "Fair brother, have mercy upon me
and slay me not." But Sir Lionel cared not, for the fiend had
brought him in such a will that he should slay him. When he saw
that Sir Bohort would not rise to give him battle, he rushed over
him, so that he smote him with his horse's feet to the earth, and
hurt him sore, that he swooned of distress. When Sir Lionel saw
this he alighted from his horse for to have smitten off his head;
and so he took him by the helm, and would have rent it from his
head. But it happened that Sir Colgrevance, a knight of the Round
Table, came at that time thither, as it was our Lord's will; and
then he beheld how Sir Lionel would have slain his brother, and he
knew Sir Bohort, whom he loved right well.

Then leapt he down from his horse and took Sir Lionel by the
shoulders, and drew him strongly back from Sir Bohort, and said,
"Sir Lionel, will ye slay your brother?" "Why," said Sir Lionel,
"will ye stay me? If ye interfere in this I will slay you, and him
after." Then he ran upon Sir Bohort, and would have smitten him;
but Sir Colgrevance ran between them, and said, "If ye persist to
do so any more, we two shall meddle together." Then Sir Lionel
defied him, and gave him a great stroke through the helm. Then he
drew his sword, for he was a passing good knight, and defended
himself right manfully. So long endured the battle, that Sir
Bohort rose up all anguishly, and beheld Sir Colgrevance, the good
knight, fight with his brother for his quarrel. Then was he full
sorry and heavy, and thought that if Sir Colgrevance slew him that
was his brother he should never have joy, and if his brother slew
Sir Colgrevance the shame should ever be his.

Then would he have risen for to have parted them, but he had not
so much strength to stand on his feet; so he staid so long that
Sir Colgrevance had the worse; for Sir Lionel was of great
chivalry and right hardy. Then cried Sir Colgrevance, "Ah, Sir
Bohort, why come ye not to bring me out of peril of death, wherein
I have put me to succor you?" With that, Sir Lionel smote off his
helm and bore him to the earth. And when he had slain Sir
Colgrevance he ran upon his brother as a fiendly man, and gave him
such a stroke that he made him stoop. And he that was full of
humility prayed him, "for God's sake leave this battle, for if it
befell, fair brother, that I slew you, or ye me, we should be dead
of that sin." "Pray ye not me for mercy," said Sir Lionel. Then
Sir Bohort, all weeping, drew his sword, and said, "Now God have
mercy upon me, though I defend my life against my brother." With
that Sir Bohort lifted up his sword, and would have smitten his
brother. Then he heard a voice that said, "Flee, Sir Bohort, and
touch him not." Right so alighted a cloud between them, in the
likeness of a fire and a marvellous flame, so that they both fell
to the earth, and lay there a great while in a swoon. And when
they came to themselves, Sir Bohort saw that his brother had no
harm; and he was right glad, for he dread sore that God had taken
vengeance upon him. Then Sir Lionel said to his brother, "Brother,
forgive me, for God's sake, all that I have trespassed against
you." And Sir Bohort answered, "God forgive it thee, and I do."

With that Sir Bohort heard a voice say, "Sir Bohort, take thy way
anon, right to the sea, for Sir Perceval abideth thee there." So
Sir Bohort departed, and rode the nearest way to the sea. And at
last he came to an abbey that was nigh the sea. That night he
rested him there, and in his sleep there came a voice unto him and
bade him go to the sea-shore. He started up, and made a sign of
the cross on his forehead, and armed himself, and made ready his
horse and mounted him, and at a broken wall he rode out, and came
to the sea-shore. And there he found a ship, covered all with
white samite. And he entered into the ship; but it was anon so
dark that he might see no man, and he laid him down and slept till
it was day. Then he awaked, and saw in the middle of the ship a
knight all armed, save his helm. And then he knew it was Sir
Perceval de Galis, and each made of other right great joy. Then
said Sir Perceval, "We lack nothing now but the good knight Sir


It befell upon a night Sir Launcelot arrived before a castle,
which was rich and fair. And there was a postern that was opened
toward the sea, and was open without any keeping, save two lions
kept the entry; and the moon shined clear. Anon Sir Launcelot
heard a voice that said, "Launcelot, enter into the castle, where
thou shalt see a great part of thy desire." So he went unto the
gate, and saw the two lions; then he set hands to his sword, and
drew it. Then there came suddenly as it were a stroke upon the
arm, so sore that the sword fell out of his hand, and he heard a
voice that said, "O man of evil faith, wherefore believest thou
more in thy armor than in thy Maker?" Then said Sir Launcelot,
"Fair Lord, I thank thee of thy great mercy, that thou reprovest
me of my misdeed; now see I well that thou holdest me for thy
servant." Then he made a cross on his forehead, and came to the
lions; and they made semblance to do him harm, but he passed them
without hurt, and entered into the castle, and he found no gate
nor door but it was open. But at the last he found a chamber
whereof the door was shut; and he set his hand thereto, to have
opened it, but he might not. Then he listened, and heard a voice
which sung so sweetly that it seemed none earthly thing; and the
voice said, "Joy and honor be to the Father of heaven." Then Sir
Launcelot kneeled down before the chamber, for well he wist that
there was the Sangreal in that chamber. Then said he, "Fair, sweet
Lord, if ever I did anything that pleased thee, for thy pity show
me something of that which I seek." And with that he saw the
chamber door open, and there came out a great clearness, that the
house was as bright as though all the torches of the world had