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Title: Herakles, the Hero of Thebes, and Other Heroes of the Myth - Adapted from the Second Book of the Primary Schools of Athens, Greece
Author: Burt, Mary E. (Mary Elizabeth), Ragozin, Zenaïde A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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             THE HERO OF THEBES


     Adapted from the Second Book of the
      Primary Schools of Athens, Greece


                MARY E. BURT

  _Author of "Literary Landmarks," "Stories
  from Plato," "Story of the German Iliad,"
  "The Child-Life Reading Study"; Editor of
  "The Cable Story Book," "The Eugene Field
   Book"; Teacher in the John A. Browning
           School, New York City_


             ZENAÏDE A. RAGOZIN

   _Author of "The Story of Chaldea," "The
   Story of Assyria," Etc.; Member of the
   Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain
    and Ireland, of the American Oriental
   Society, of the Société Ethnologique of
                Paris, etc._

                  NEW YORK

             Copyright, 1900, by

               TROW DIRECTORY
                  NEW YORK


In Uniform Binding; each 12mo, _net_, 60 Cents.

  Lobo, Rag and Vixen. From "Wild Animals I Have Known." By Ernest
    Seton-Thompson. Illustrated.

  The Howells Story Book. Edited by Mary E. Burt and Mildred
    Howells. Illustrated.

  The Cable Story Book. Selections for School Reading, with the
    Story of the Author's Life. Edited by Mary E. Burt and Lucy
    Leffingwell Cable. Illustrated.

  The Eugene Field Book. Verses, Stories, and Letters for School
    Reading. Edited by Mary E. Burt and Mary B. Cable. Introduction
    by George W. Cable. Illustrated.

  Fanciful Tales. By Frank R. Stockton. Edited by Julia E.
    Langworthy. Introduction by Mary E. Burt.

  The Hoosier School-Boy. By Edward Eggleston. Illustrated.

  Children's Stories in American Literature, 1660-1860. By
    Henrietta C. Wright.

  Children's Stories in American Literature, 1860-1896. By
    Henrietta C. Wright.

  Odysseus, the Hero of Ithaca. By Mary E. Burt. A Translation of
    the Story of Odysseus as used in the Schools of Athens and
    Berlin. Fully Illustrated.

  Poems of American Patriotism. Chosen by Brander Matthews. 285

  Twelve Naval Captains. By Molly Elliot Seawell. 233 pages.

  Herakles, the Hero of Thebes. By Mary E. Burt. A Translation of
    the Story of Herakles and other Greek Heroes, as used in the
    Schools of Athens. Illustrated.

      (Giovanni Bologna.)]




      WILLIE            MACY

    REGGIE             CHARLES

       LOUIS         OLIVER



The child's heart goes out to the man of action, the man who makes
short work of things and gets directly at a result. He responds to
life, to energy, quick wit, the blow that hits the nail on the head at
the first stroke.

The rapidity of action in the stories of Herakles, Jason, and other
Heroes of the Myth, the prowess and courage and untiring endurance of
the men, render the characters worthy subjects of thought to young
minds, and have secured the stories a permanent place in educational
literature. It is not elegant literature alone that boys need, but
inspiring ideals which will impel them to stand fearlessly to their
guns, to do the hard thing with untiring perseverance, to reach the
result with unerring insight.

It is exactly this unbending courage in Herakles and his comrade
heroes, that has made them the backbone of literature for ages,
holding their own in spite of the sapless literary fungus crowding our

While travelling in Greece I found the children of the primary schools
reading these stories in the lower grades, the book being the one used
next above the primer. The interest was enthusiastic, and I brought
home a copy of the book, which, with Madame Ragozin's collaboration, I
have arranged as a first or second book of reading for our own

                                               Mary E. Burt.

The John A. Browning School, New York, March 15, 1900.


   Introduction                                                     xi

        I. The Babe Herakles                                         1

       II. Herakles is Doomed to Serve Eurystheus                    4

      III. The First Labor--The Nemean Lion                          6

       IV. The Second Labor--Herakles Kills the Water-Snake of
             Lake Lerna                                              9

        V. The Third Labor--The Golden-Horned Hind                  12

       VI. The Fourth Labor--The Erymanthian Boar                   15

      VII. The Fifth Labor--Herakles Cleans the Augeian Stables     19

     VIII. The Sixth Labor--The Birds of Stymphalos                 22

       IX. The Seventh Labor--Herakles Catches the Mad Bull
             of Crete                                               24

        X. The Eighth Labor--The Horses of Diomedes                 25

       XI. The Ninth Labor--The Girdle of Hippolyte                 27

      XII. The Tenth Labor--The Cattle of Geryon                    30

     XIII. The Eleventh Labor--The Golden Apples of Hesperides      35

      XIV. The Twelfth Labor--Herakles Fetches Cerberus Out
             of Hades                                               40

       XV. Theseus, the Hero of Athens                              43

      XVI. The First Exploits of Theseus. He Finds His Father       47

     XVII. The Adventures of Theseus                                51

    XVIII. The Adventures of Theseus                                56

      XIX. Jason, the Hero of Thessaly                              60

       XX. Jason Claims His Throne                                  63

      XXI. The Expedition                                           69

     XXII. Jason Finds the Golden Fleece                            74

    XXIII. Orpheus, the Hero of the Lyre                            78

     XXIV. Pelops, the Hero of the Peloponnesos                     83

      XXV. Perseus, the Hero of Argos                               87

     XXVI. Perseus Finds the Gorgons                                92

    XXVII. Perseus Rescues Andromeda                                95

   XXVIII. Perseus Becomes King of Tiryns                          100

     XXIX. Triptolemos, the Hero of Eleusis, and Demeter,
             the Earth-Mother                                      103

      XXX. Demeter's Grief                                         106

     XXXI. Demeter's Joy                                           111

    XXXII. Triptolemos Becomes a Hero. Demeter's Gift              116

   XXXIII. Prometheus, the Champion of Mankind                     118

    XXXIV. Prometheus Unbound                                      122

     XXXV. Deukalion, the Champion of a New Race                   126

    XXXVI. Dædalos, a Hero of Invention                            132

   XXXVII. Phaethon, a Hero of Bad Fortune                         136

  XXXVIII. The Death of Phaethon                                   141


  Herakles Slaying a Centaur                            _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE
  The Priestess of Apollo at Delphi                                  6

  The Temple to Theseus at the Foot of the Acropolis
    in Athens                                                       60

  Orpheus Leading Eurydike Out of Hades                             80

  The Return of Persephone                                         114

  Dædalos and Ikaros                                               134



One look at the map of Greece will show us that it is the smallest of
European countries. For many hundreds of years it was inhabited by the
handsomest, bravest, and most intelligent people in the world. But
these people, the Greeks, or Hellenes, as they called themselves, had
not always lived in the country.

Thousands of years before the Hellenes came to Greece it was a perfect
wilderness of mountains, narrow valleys, torrents, and tangled
forests. It was a land of wild beasts, and they were so numerous and
fierce that there was almost no room for men.

Yet men did live there, but we know nothing about them or what they
were like, except that they hid in caves and had hardly got beyond the
art of making fire, trapping and killing the less dangerous animals
with sticks or little arrows pointed with stones, and using their meat
for food and hides for clothing.

Then the new people, the Greeks, began to come into the country. They
came in boats from across the sea and on foot from the north, through
numberless mountain-passes. They did not come all at once, but in
small detachments, in single tribes, so that it took them many years
to spread over the country.

The new race was nobler than the old, more advanced in knowledge and
in the arts of civilized life. It was not a race to be content with
caves and forest-dens, but each tribe, after it had chosen a district
and taken possession of it, selected some high hill, built rude
dwellings upon it and temples to its patron gods, a public
treasure-house also, and enclosed the hill with strong walls. It had
become a fortress, and was called Acropolis, in their language.

Each tribe, of course, had its leaders, usually belonging to some
family which had earned the gratitude and loyalty of the people by
brave and affectionate service, and the leadership descended from
father to son. These were the kings and they resided within the

Around it and under the protection of its walls the people built their
own huts and began to clear the land. They sowed various crops,
planted the vine and the olive, and raised herds of sheep and goats.
There was room enough within the walls for all the families, with
their herds, to find shelter in the Acropolis in times of danger, from
the attacks of the wild natives or of the still wilder beasts of the
forests and fields.

Now these latter were by far the most dangerous enemies of the new
settlers, who soon found that they could venture but a few miles from
their small home-farms without encountering huge and ferocious animals
which the increased herds attracted and which their miserable weapons
were utterly insufficient to slay or even put to flight.

Each small district had its particular terror, just as many districts
of India now have a man-eating tiger, which makes miles and miles of
country around unsafe for man or beast.

It became a question which of the two, the men or the wild animals,
would remain in possession. Then young and courageous men, sons of the
ruling families, athletes in strength, practised in the arts of war,
commanding through their greater wealth the use of better weapons,
felt it their duty to their people to do for them what the poor
herdsmen and laborers had neither the strength nor the skill to do for

From all the central royal cities they started singly or in small
troops, a bevy of young heroes, as eager for the delights of adventure
as for the public good. Year after year they wandered across country
seeking the most impassable wildernesses, directed by the stories they
heard on their way to the dens of the cruel monsters, which they
usually overcame by force or cunning.

Then they would return to their homes triumphant, bearing the proof of
their incredible prowess, the hides, or horns, or heads of the
monsters they had slain. Thus they put new heart into their people.
Their trophies seemed to say: "You see these creatures were not so
terrible as they might have been; what we have done others can do." So
they did a double good--one immediate by the destruction of the
dreaded foes and by the opening of the land to the planters and the
tillers; the other even more far-reaching and more beneficent in its
results by raising men's spirits, inspiring them with confidence and
with the ambition to show that they were not mere helpless boors,
cowed and dependent on their betters.

The Greek nation in years to come proved itself a nation of heroes and
was so called by fame. But who can tell how much these heroes were
indebted for this honorable distinction which has remained by them to
this day, to the early vigorous education which those doughty
champions of old imparted to them, not by preaching or advice, but by
their own dauntless example.

Can we wonder if their people's passionate gratitude and unselfish
admiration survived those glorious men through ages? Can we wonder if
after centuries had come and gone the memory of their deeds and
persons appeared to later generations through a halo of wonder and

Deeds of a remote past always assume gigantic proportions. "Surely,"
men would say, "surely, those heroes were more than ordinary mortals!
They had more than human strength, endurance, wisdom. Neither iron
fang nor claw of steel could harm them. They died, indeed, but of
their nature they must have been half divine; their mothers were
human, but surely the gods themselves were their fathers."

And thus it was settled, and for many, many hundreds of years the
Greeks continued to honor their ancient heroes as half-divine men, or
demi-gods, and to erect altars to them and come to them with prayers
and offerings. The Greek had to grow in mind and soul high enough to
grasp the truth that there can be only one God, and that no man, high
as he may tower above his kind, can be more than human.

But it was a beautiful and ennobling belief, and at first sight it
seems a pity that it was ever lost, yet in reality it was a great
gain, for men may think they have an excuse for not putting forth
their bravest efforts if they believe that the gods only can achieve
deeds of courage. There is no reason why men may not aspire to any
height of bravery which has been gained by other men.

The undying energy embodied in the characters of these old heroes is
the inheritance of every child. The children of America are not born
the sons of ruling houses. But they are destined to be the guardians
and rulers of their native land. And if the children take into their
future lives the heroism they first realize in ancient story, they
will find themselves, when the time comes, armed with the same
courage, endurance, and love of human beings which have made the
heroes of all lands and ages.





Far away in the land of Argos there once lived a beautiful maiden, the
daughter of a brave king. She was tall and fair and her name was
Alkmene. Her father was rich in the possession of many oxen.

Her husband also owned great herds of oxen. He had so many that he
could not tell them from those of the king. So he quarrelled with the
king and slew him. Then he took Alkmene and fled from his native land.
They came to Thebes and made it their home.

Here Herakles was born, the babe who was stronger than the strongest
of men. The goddess, Hera, hated Herakles. She was the wife of Zeus,
the Lord of Thunder and King of Heaven. Hera was angry because Zeus
loved him, and she was jealous because Zeus had foretold that
Herakles would become the greatest of men. More than that Zeus had
deceived Hera and sent the infant Herakles to her to be nursed that he
might be made strong and god-like by tasting divine milk.

So Hera sent two large snakes to devour the babe when she found out
what child it was that she had fed. Herakles lay asleep in the great
brazen shield which his father carried in battle, for he had no other
cradle. The fearful serpents crept up with open mouths into the shield
with the sleeping babe.

As soon as Alkmene saw them she was terribly frightened and called in
a loud voice for help. His father, hearing the outcry of Alkmene, ran
into the house with his sword drawn and a great many warriors came
with weapons in their hands.

Herakles was only eight months old, but before his father could reach
him he sat up in his bed and seized the serpents by their necks with
his little hands. He squeezed and choked them with such force that
they died.

When Alkmene saw that the two snakes were dead and that Herakles was
safe, she rejoiced greatly. But Hera's heart was filled with wrath and
she began to plan more mischief against the child.

Herakles had his free will as long as he was a boy. His teachers were
celebrated heroes who taught him boxing, wrestling, riding, and all
kinds of games. He learned to read and write and to hurl the spear and
shoot with bows and arrows. Linos taught him music.

Herakles had a violent temper, and one day as Linos was teaching him
to play the lute, the good teacher had reason to punish him. Herakles
flew into a rage at this and struck Linos and killed him. Then his
father sent him to the hills and left him to the care of herdsmen.

The boy grew to be very large and strong. While he was yet a youth he
slew a lion of great size that had killed many of his father's cattle.
He went home wearing the lion's skin as a sign of his victory.

Because he was so brave the King of Thebes gave his daughter to him in
marriage and he lived happily with her for many years. But a sudden
insanity came upon him during which he mistook his wife and children
for wild beasts and shot them down with his bow and arrows. When
Herakles recovered from his insanity and saw what he had done his
grief was boundless.



The wrath of Hera followed Herakles. When Zeus saw that Hera's heart
was filled with anger toward Herakles, he mused within his own mind
how he might best appease her resentment and protect the young man.

So he called the gods together in council and they advised that
Herakles be placed in bondage to his uncle Eurystheus, to serve him as
a slave, and they ordained that he should perform twelve hard tasks,
after which he would be numbered among the gods.

Eurystheus was a mean fellow, stupid and cowardly. He was glad enough
to have a chance to bully a man wiser and stronger than himself. He
was born in Tiryns, a great fortress with many castles, built upon a
large rock, but he had been made King of Argos and lived in the
capital, Mykenæ, and he resolved to keep Herakles as far away from the
kingdom as possible, for in his heart he was afraid of him.

Herakles was grieved at being compelled to serve a man so much below
him in strength and character, so he consulted the oracle at Delphi
to see if there was any escape, but he did not murmur, for he was
willing to obey the law of the gods.

The oracle of Delphi was a mysterious influence, a divine spirit which
expressed itself through a priestess living in a sacred temple. It was
supposed to be the voice of the god Apollo using this human agency for
making known his will to men. The priestess became inspired to utter
Apollo's holy laws by sitting on a golden tripod (or stool with three
legs) over a chasm in the rock, from whence arose a sacred, sulphurous
vapor which she breathed in as the breath of the god, and which caused
her to breathe out his commands in wonderful sayings.

The chasm from which the vapor issued was called The Chasm of the
Oracle, and was in a large apartment or room in the temple. This
celebrated temple had many columns of marble and splendid rooms made
beautiful with thousands of marble statues. It stood on the side of
Mount Parnassos, whose snow-covered head reaches into the clouds and
looks down into the blue Gulf of Corinth below it to the south.

It was here that Apollo killed the great dragon, Pytho, which had been
the scourge of the land for many years, and the grateful people built
the temple in his honor. The oracle bade Herakles go forth to be the
slave of Eurystheus and so atone for all his sins, but it gave him as
a compensation a dear friend, Iolaos, who was also his young nephew.
Wherever Herakles went Iolaos went with him and helped him.



It happened that a fearful lion lived in Nemea, a wild district in
upper Argolis, and it devastated all the land and was the terror of
the inhabitants. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to bring him the skin of
this lion. So Herakles took his bow, his quiver, and heavy club and
started out in search of the beast.

When he had reached a little town which is in the neighborhood of
Nemea he was kindly received by a good countryman, who promised to put
him on the track of the lion if he would sacrifice the animal to Zeus.

      (Michael Angelo.)]

Herakles promised, and the countryman went with him to show him the
way. When they reached the place where traces of the lion were
seen, Herakles said to his guide: "Remain here thirty days. If I
return safely from the lion-hunt you must sacrifice a sheep to Zeus,
for he is the god who will have saved me. But if I am slain by the
lion you must sacrifice the sheep to me, for after my death I shall be
honored as a hero." Having said this, Herakles went his way.

He reached the wilderness of Nemea, where he spent several days in
looking for the lion, but without success. Not a trace of him could be
found, nor did he fall in with any human being, for there was no one
bold enough to wander around in that wilderness. Finally he spied the
lion as he was about to crawl into his den.

The lion was indeed worthy of his terrible fame. His size was
prodigious, his eyes shot forth flames of fire, and his tongue licked
his bloody chops. When he roared, the whole desert resounded.

But Herakles stood fearlessly near a grove from whence he might
approach the lion, and suddenly shot at him with his bow and arrow,
hitting him squarely in the breast. The arrow glanced aside, and
slipping around the lion's neck, fell on a rock behind him. When
Herakles saw this he knew that the lion was proof against arrows and
must be killed in some other way, and seizing his club, he gave chase
to him.

The lion made for a cave which had two mouths. Herakles closed up one
of the entrances with heavy rocks and entered the other. He seized the
lion by the throat and then came a terrible struggle, but Herakles
squeezed him in his mighty arms until he gasped for breath, and at
last lay dead.

Then Herakles took up the huge body and, throwing it easily over his
shoulder, returned to the place where he had left the countryman. It
was on the last of the thirty appointed days, and the rustic,
supposing that Herakles had come to his death through the lion, was
about to offer up a sheep as a sacrifice in his honor.

He rejoiced greatly when he saw Herakles alive and victorious, and the
sheep was offered up to Zeus. Herakles left the little town and went
to Mykenæ to the house of his uncle and showed him the dead body of
the terrible lion. Eurystheus was so greatly frightened at the sight
that he hid himself within a tower whose walls were built of solid

And he ordered Herakles not to enter the city again, but to stay
outside of its gates until he had performed the other labors.

Herakles stripped the skin from the lion with his fingers, although
it was so tough, and knowing it to be arrow-proof, took it for a cloak
and wore it as long as he lived.



Not far from Mykenæ is a small lake called Lerna. It is formed from a
large spring at the foot of a hill. In this lake there lived a
water-snake called the Hydra. It was a snake of uncommon size, with
nine heads. Eight of the heads were mortal, but the one in the middle
was immortal.

The Hydra frequently came out of the water and swallowed up herds of
cattle, laying waste the surrounding country. Eurystheus ordered
Herakles to kill the snake, so he put on his lion's skin, and taking
his club, started out. He mounted his chariot and took his faithful
friend Iolaos, who acted as charioteer.

Every warrior had to have a charioteer to drive the horses, leaving
him free to use both of his hands. But driving was by no means the
charioteer's only duty; he had also to look out for danger and
protect the warrior with his shield as well as to supply him with
arrows from the quiver suspended at the side of every chariot, and
with reserve spears when his own was broken in the fray.

It is clear, therefore, that the warrior's life was entirely in the
hands of his charioteer, so it is no wonder that only the hero's
dearest and most trusted friends were allowed to serve him in this

After driving along for a while through groves of olive-trees and past
pleasant vineyards, they came to wild places and saw Lake Lerna
gleaming through the trees. Having reached the lake, Herakles
descended from the chariot, left the horses in care of Iolaos, and
went to hunt for the snake.

He found it in a swampy place where it was hiding. Herakles shot some
burning arrows at the Hydra and forced it to come out. It darted
furiously at him, but he met it fearlessly, put his foot upon its
tail, and with his club began to strike off its heads. He could not
accomplish anything in this way, for as fast as he knocked off one
head two others grew in its place.

The snake coiled itself so firmly around one of Herakles' legs that he
was no longer able to stir from the place. Added to all this there
came a huge crab to the assistance of the snake. It crept up to
Herakles' foot, and seizing it with its sharp claws, inflicted painful
wounds. Herakles killed the crab with his club and called Iolaos to
help him.

Under Herakles' directions Iolaos produced a fire-brand which he
applied to the neck as fast as Herakles cut off one of the snake's
heads, in this way preventing them from growing again. Finally it came
the turn of the head which could not die. Cutting it off Herakles
buried it in the ground, placing a heavy stone over it.

Then he dipped some arrows into the Hydra's blood, which was
poisonous, so that whoever was wounded by one of them could not be
healed. The least scratch inflicted by such an arrow was incurable.

Eurystheus, of course, had no word of praise for his great bondsman,
but the people, knowing that the place was now safe, flocked to the
land in great numbers and drained the lake, which was really not much
more than a big marshy pond, and in their new homes they blessed the
hero's name forever. That was the prize for which Herakles cared the

If you should go to-day to that old battle-field of Herakles you
would still find the spring flowing from the rocks, but Lake Lerna
exists only in story.



The lower part of Greece is a most peculiar-looking bit of country.
You would think it had been torn off from the bulk of the land but
kept hanging on to it by a small narrow strip. Then, too, its shape is
so queer that it has been compared to all sorts of things; sometimes
to a mulberry leaf, sometimes to an open hand.

If we keep to the latter comparison, we will find that the part which
answers to the palm of the hand is a large and intricate knot of high
wooded mountains which shoot out spurs in all directions. These spurs
with the land attached to them stretch out into the sea as so many
small peninsulas and not badly represent the fingers of the hand. The
central knot of mountains is even now different from the country all

The people there are wilder, very much given to robbery and violence
and very slow to accept new ways of life or improvements of any kind.
In the old heroic times of several thousand years ago that country was
simply an impassable wilderness.

It was overcrowded with wild beasts, among which the bear must have
been the most plentiful since the land was named after him,
Arcadia--the land of Bears. Wolves were known also to abound.

The men who had their villages in the narrow valleys by the
mountain-streams were fierce and lawless. There was nothing for them
to do but to keep goats and hunt all day long. Arcadia was truly the
paradise of hunters and therefore held as specially sacred to the
beautiful huntress, the goddess, Artemis--the Lady of the Chase. She
roamed over hills and valleys and through woods and groves by
moonlight to protect the herds and flocks, this beautiful daughter of

In these same mountains of Arcadia there roamed a lovely Hind sacred
to Queen Artemis, who gave her golden horns so that she might be known
from other deer by the huntsmen. Thus they might be saved from the
crime of slaying what was sacred to the gods. Eurystheus ordered
Herakles to bring him the Hind alive, for he did not dare to have her

Herakles spent a whole year seeking her from the mountain-tops down
to the valleys, through tangles of brush, over streams and in forests,
but he was not able to catch her. After a long chase he forced her at
last to take refuge on the side of a mountain and from that place to
go down to a river to drink.

In order that he might prevent the deer from crossing the water,
Herakles was obliged slightly to wound one of her legs. Not till then
was he able to secure his game and carry it to Eurystheus.

On his way to Mykenæ Herakles was met by Artemis, who upbraided him
for having captured the Hind belonging to her. Herakles made answer:
"Great Goddess, if I have chased and caught thy deer, I did it out of
necessity, not impiety; for thou well knowest that the gods ordered me
to be a servant to Eurystheus and he commanded me to catch the Hind."

With these words he soothed the anger of the goddess and brought the
golden-horned Hind to Mykenæ.



Elis is a beautiful plain lying to the north and west of Arcadia. Here
once in five years there was a great festival in honor of Zeus, when
all the men and boys ran races, wrestled, boxed and played all sorts
of games. Between Arcadia and Elis there is a high mountain-range,
called Erymanthos. There a terrible Boar had its lair.

The Boar frequently left its den and came down into the plains and
killed cattle, destroyed fields of grain and attacked people.
Eurystheus, having heard of this Boar, made up his mind that he wanted
the beast alive, and so ordered Herakles to bring it to him.

The hero put on his lion skin once more and started for the mountain.
On his way he stopped at a little town where the Centaurs had their
home. These strange people were half man and half horse. We have heard
that they were really men, but such good riders that they seemed to be
one with their mountain ponies.

Their home was just on the edge of a high plain, covered with
oak-trees and looking down across a wild valley, through which flowed
the Erymanthos River. There were many forests and little streams and
dreadful gorges in the valley, where these horsemen used to hunt and

The Centaur Chief, Pholos, received Herakles as a guest and gave him
cooked meat to eat, while he ate it raw himself, after the Centaurs'

When Herakles had eaten his fill, he said to Pholos: "Thy food is
indeed good and tasteful. But I should enjoy it still more if I could
have a sip of wine, for I am very thirsty." To which Pholos replied:
"My dear guest, we have very fine and fragrant wine in this mountain,
and I should like nothing better than to give thee some of it. But I
am afraid to do so, because it has a strong aroma, and the other
Centaurs, if they smelt it, might come to my cave and want some. They
are very fierce and lawless, and might do thee great harm."

"Let not that trouble thee," said Herakles. "I am not afraid of the
Centaurs." So the wine was placed before him and he drank of it. In a
little while a great noise was heard outside of the cave, a shouting
of many wild voices and a stamping of many horses' feet. What Pholos
feared had come to pass.

The Centaurs had smelt the fragrance of the wine and in full armor
had made for the cave of Pholos. Then began a terrible fight. The
Centaurs fell upon Herakles with pine-branches, rocks, axes, and
fire-brands, and the clouds, their mothers, poured a flood of water on
him. But Herakles was too clever for them. He put two to flight,
prevented others from entering the cave, and shot the rest down with
his arrows.

Pholos was a kind-hearted chief, and hearing one of the Centaurs
crying for help outside of his cave, went out to him and tried to pull
the arrow from his wound, wondering at the same time that so slight a
weapon could cause his death. But the arrow slipped out of his hand
and struck his own foot. It made only a scratch, but it could not be
healed, for the arrow was one of those which Herakles had dipped in
the blood of the Hydra, and poor Pholos breathed his last.

The death of his kind host was a great sorrow to Herakles, for in
those times, when there was so little safety in travelling, the bond
of kindness and gratitude between host and guest was one of the
closest and most sacred, often more so than that between members of
the same family. In all their later lives, host and guest could never
meet as enemies, and if the chances of war brought them face to face
as foes, they were not expected to fight. They exchanged greetings and
gifts and drove off in different directions.

Herakles therefore sincerely mourned his friend, performed over him
the proper funeral rites, and buried him with all due honors in the
side of the mountain. There he left him, sore at heart, but comforted
by knowing that he had done all he could do to reconcile the shade of
Pholos, and that his soul would bear him no grudge in Spirit Land.

Then Herakles went on his way in search of the Boar. He soon spied him
in a dense thicket and chased him to the very top of the mountain. The
mountain-top was covered with deep snow, which prevented the Boar from
running fast enough to escape. So Herakles ran up to him, caught him
in a net, threw him over his shoulder and carried him off alive to

It is said that Eurystheus hid himself in a large brazen bowl when he
heard Herakles approaching the city, and that Herakles threw the Boar
into the same brazen bowl as the safest place in which to keep him.
How astonished Eurystheus must have been to find himself in such
terrible company! And we can fancy that he scrambled out with all
possible haste.



We have already read about Elis, a plain in the southwestern part of
Greece, where all the people used to worship Zeus and where they built
a wonderful temple in his honor. They built a temple to Hera, his
wife, also, and many other temples which were filled with statues.
What a fine time you would have if you could only go and see this
beautiful land. Perhaps you will some time.

The temples are in ruins now, and they cover enough ground for a small
town. The huge blocks of marble lie on the ground just as they fell,
and there are the marble floors as people used to see them two
thousand years ago. There is a high hill close to the ruins. It is
called the mountain of Kronos, "Old Father Time." Kronos is said to
have been one of the early kings of Elis and he was the father of
Zeus. He swallowed up his children when they were babes, if we care
to believe what is said of him, and the story could easily be true,
for Time swallows everything if he is only long enough about it.

The strong men and the boys used to come to Elis to have athletic
games in honor of Zeus. They ran races, they boxed, they shot arrows
and did all sorts of things to show how strong they were. There are
two rivers at the foot of Mount Kronos, and beyond the rivers are many
low hills where people used to sit and watch the games.

There was at one time a king of Elis, Augeias, who was so rich in
cattle that he hardly knew what to do with them and consequently he
built a stable miles long and drove his cows into it. He did this year
after year and the herds kept growing larger. He could not get men
enough to take care of his stables and the cows could hardly get into
them on account of the filth; or if they did get in they were never
sure of getting out again because the dirt was piled so high.

Eurystheus thought he had found a disagreeable and impossible task for
Herakles, and so he ordered him to clean out the stables in one day.
Herakles told Augeias that he must clean the barns and promised to do
it in one day if he would give him one-tenth of all his cows. The
king thought Herakles would never be able to do it in one day and
readily promised him in the presence of his son one-tenth of the cows.

The king's stables were close to the two rivers, near Mount Kronos.
Herakles cut channels and sent the rivers running into the stables.
They rushed along and carried the dirt out so quickly that the king
was astonished. He did not intend to pay the promised reward and
pretended that he never made any such promise.

And he said he would have the matter come before a court and the
judges should decide it. Then Herakles called the little prince as a
witness before the judges, and the boy told the truth about it, which
caused the king to fall into such a rage that he sent both his son and
Herakles out of the country. Herakles left the land of Elis and went
back to Mykenæ. But his heart was filled with contempt for the
faithless king.



On the northern limit of Arcadia is a huge cliff, over which pours a
black ribbon of water. At the bottom of the cliff it is lost among
piles of rocks. The water itself is not black, but it appears so
because the rock is covered with black moss, and so the stream is
called the Styx or Black Water.

The Styx is icy cold and it runs along under the ground so that it
seems to belong to the dead, and is called the River of Death. When
the gods used to make a promise which they did not dare to break they
said, "I promise by the Styx." This promise was called "the Great Oath
of the Gods."

Farther on in the land of Arcadia there is a vale called Stymphalos.
It lies among the mountains and is open to the storms of winter and
the floods of spring. And there are a lake and a city both called
Stymphalos. The people of Athens hope to carry the water of this lake
to Athens by means of an underground channel. All about the lake are
hills covered with firs and plane-trees.

Lake Stymphalos was the home of a countless number of birds which held
noisy meetings in the woods. They had iron claws and their feathers
were sharper than arrows. They were so strong and fierce that they
dared attack men, and would tear them to pieces that they might feast
upon human flesh. They bore a striking resemblance to the Harpies, and
were the terror of all the people who lived near Stymphalos.

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to drive the birds away. So Herakles took
his bow and quiver and went to the lake. But the forests were so dense
that he could not see the birds, and he sat down to think of the best
way to drive them out. Suddenly the goddess of wisdom came to him to
help him.

The goddess gave him a huge rattle and told him how to use it.
Herakles went up on to the highest mountain that lies near the lake
and shook the rattle with a will. The birds were so frightened by the
noise that they came out of the thick wood where their nests were and
flew high up into the air.

Their heavy feathers fell like flakes in a driving snow-storm.
Herakles shot at the birds with his arrows. He killed a great many of
them and the rest were so scared that they flew away and were never
seen again at Stymphalos.



There is an island south of Greece which is so large that it would
take you from early morning until late at night to sail past it. There
are high mountains all along the shore and they look as if they were
covered with snow. There is a cave in one of the mountains where Zeus
was hidden when he was a babe so that his father, Kronos, should not
swallow him. The nymphs fed him on honey and a famous goat gave him

The name of this island was Crete, and Minos ruled there as king. It
was his duty to sacrifice to Poseidon, the God of the Sea, whatever
came up out of the water.

Minos was rich and greedy. He loved his cattle better than the will of
the gods. It came to pass that a wonderful Bull rose from the sea
while Minos was king. When Minos saw him he admired the beauty of the
animal so much that he resolved to keep him. He drove the Bull into
his barn and sacrificed another to the God of the Sea.

Poseidon grew angry with him and caused the Bull to become mad so that
no one dared to approach him. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to catch him
and bring him to Mykenæ.

So Herakles went to Crete and begged Minos to give him the Bull. The
king told him that he was entirely welcome to the Bull if he could
catch him. Herakles seized him by the horns and bound his feet
together and carried him off to Mykenæ.

There he showed the mad animal to Eurystheus and then set him free.
The Bull wandered off to Sparta and over the hills of Arcadia and
crossing the Isthmus, he reached Marathon, where he left the land and
swam off into the sea.



Greece was bounded on the north by a wild and mountainous land, called
Thrace. The natives were not of Greek stock and remained fierce,
lawless, and cruel for a long time after Greece had become the most
civilized of countries. They were so quarrelsome and such desperate
fighters that their country was supposed to be the favorite residence
of the war god, Ares.

The king who reigned in Thrace at the time of Herakles was so much
worse than the rest of the people that he was said to be Ares' own
son, and he was called the storm king. He was very fond of horses and
kept a breed of them after his own heart. They were man-eating horses,
which he fed on the flesh of any strangers who came to that country or
that were wrecked on the shore, thus breaking the most sacred laws and
making himself hated by men and gods. The horses were blood-thirsty
and so furious that they had to be chained to their stalls.

Eurystheus commanded Herakles to bring these horses to his stables in
Mykenæ. This time Herakles took several friends with him, who helped
him catch the horses and lead them to the shore. Diomedes, having
heard of the robbery, started in pursuit with many armed men.

Herakles and his friends went by sea. They attacked the guards and led
the horses down to the ship. A terrible battle followed, in which the
wicked king was slain by Herakles, who threw him as food to the
horses. The warriors who helped Diomedes were put to flight and some
of Herakles' best men were also killed. With the rest he drove the
horses into his ship and brought them safely to Mykenæ.

Eurystheus, of course, had no intention of keeping them in his stables
and had them set loose. They ran off into the forests of Arcadia and
were never seen again. It was thought that they were devoured by the
mountain wolves.



Eurystheus, as we have seen, sent Herakles a little farther every time
in hopes of never seeing him again. It would take you a whole day
going on the best steamer to get to Crete from Athens, and in those
days, when steamers had not been thought of, the sailing must have
been slow indeed. Eurystheus now sent the hero yet farther off to the
Black Sea, on the southern shore of which there lived the Amazons, a
nation of warlike women.

The Amazons were brought up like men. Their main occupation was war,
and they were excellent horsewomen. They were sharpshooters with the
bow and arrow. Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons, was a brave and
handsome woman. She wore a celebrated girdle, the gift of Ares, as a
sign of her queenly rank.

Eurystheus had a daughter who had heard of the beauty of the famous
girdle which was worn by the Amazon queen. She begged her father to
send Herakles to bring it to her. Then Eurystheus ordered Herakles to
fetch the girdle, and he manned a ship and sailed away, taking several
companions with him.

After many wanderings they reached the Black Sea and sailed to the
Amazon country. Queen Hippolyte was at once informed that some
strangers had arrived from a far-off land, and she came down to the
shore to learn why they had come. Herakles told her that a princess
had sent him to get the girdle given her by Ares. Hippolyte admired
the bold hero for his frankness and promised that she would give it to

But Hera changed herself into an Amazon and rushing into the midst of
an army of them cried out, "The strangers are carrying off our queen!"
Then all the Amazons snatched up their arms and rushed on horseback
to the ship. When Herakles saw them coming armed to attack his men, he
thought Hippolyte had betrayed him and he slew her and took her

Then he attacked the rest of the Amazons and put them to flight. When
the battle was over, Herakles and his companions went on board the
ship and sailed for home.

Soon after they had started on their way to Mykenæ they found Hesione,
the daughter of Laömedon, on the shore chained to a rock. Laömedon was
at that time king of Troy, and Herakles and his companions stopped to
find out why the daughter of a great king had to suffer such a
terrible punishment. She told Herakles that Apollo, the sun god, and
Poseidon, the god of the sea, once took on the form of man and began
to build walls around the city of Troy. Her father promised to aid
them but neglected to keep his promise. This conduct made the gods
indignant and Apollo sent a pestilence to rage in the city while
Poseidon sent a sea-monster which came up out of the ocean and
devoured the people.

Laömedon asked the priest of Apollo how he might appease the wrath of
the gods. The priest answered that the city would be freed from the
double plague if Laömedon would chain his daughter to the rock on the
shore where the monster might devour her.

Laömedon obeyed the oracle and had her chained to the cliff near the
sea. Just then Herakles arrived and stopped near the shore, when
Laömedon with hot tears entreated him to save his daughter. Herakles
promised to do it under the condition that Laömedon should give him as
a reward a famous horse in his possession.

Herakles killed the sea-monster, but Laömedon again did not keep his
promise and Herakles left Troy, his heart filled with scorn for the
faithless king. On his return to Mykenæ he gave the girdle of the
Amazon queen to his cousin, the daughter of Eurystheus.



Iberia, now called Spain, lies at the farthest end of Europe, and
beyond it, in the Atlantic, is an island which was once the home of
Geryon, a famous giant. His body was as large around as three other
men's bodies put together. He had three heads and three pairs of legs
and six arms. He had huge wings also and carried dangerous weapons.

Geryon was the lord of many herds of cattle. He had one herd of red
oxen, as red as the sky at the setting of the sun, and they were
guarded by a trusty herdsman and a fierce two-headed dog. Eurystheus
ordered Herakles to bring the cattle to Mykenæ.

Herakles having overcome numberless difficulties, wandering through
wild deserts and unknown lands, finally reached the open ocean, the
end of all. There he erected as a monument two pillars opposite each
other, one on the African shore, and one in Europe. These were called
the Pillars of Herakles in those days, but now they are known as the
Rocks of Ceuta and Gibraltar.

Helios, the Sun, admiring the bravery of Herakles, lent him his golden
skiff, shaped like a cup. Helios always sailed round the world every
night from west to east in this cup, and Herakles, although he feared
a storm, took his place in the strange boat and started for the island
where Geryon tended his red cattle. The world, as the Greeks saw it,
was in the form of a great plate, and the ocean was a river
surrounding it as the rim surrounds the plate.

When the two-headed dog saw Herakles he rushed at him with fury, and
the herdsman also attacked him at the same time. Herakles slew them
both with his club, took the cattle and fled toward the boat. Then
Geryon sprang upon him and forced him to fight for his life. They had
a dreadful battle, in which Herakles drew his bow and shot at the
giant with one of his deadly arrows and Geryon died.

Herakles at once drove the oxen down to the boat, and after a safe
voyage landed them in Iberia. Then he started for home on foot,
driving his cattle northward over the Pyrenees into Gaul or France.
Here he was attacked by hundreds of people who wanted to rob him of
his cattle.

Herakles shot at them with his arrows and killed great numbers, and
they stoned him in return with large stones. Herakles would have lost
the battle but Zeus sent down a shower of rocks of vast size, and
Herakles hurled them at his foes, driving them away like frightened
sheep. These enormous rocks are still to be seen in the south of

After this adventure Herakles drove his cattle over the Alps and down
into Italy across the Tiber, and they came to the Seven Hills of Rome.
In one of these hills there was a cave, the home of a lawless giant
named Cacus. He was a creature of iron strength, and was hideously
ugly. He breathed out fire and smoke, often killing people in this
way, and everybody in all the country about feared him. Cacus saw
Herakles coming with his cattle over the river and among the hills,
and he determined to steal the cattle and hide them in his den.

So when Herakles was asleep and the cattle were grazing quietly, Cacus
slipped out of his cave and, seizing great numbers of them by the
tails, dragged them backward into the cavern that their tracks might
point away from the cave and not toward it. When Herakles awoke he
missed his cattle and began to look for them. He found their tracks
and went in the direction they seemed to point out, getting farther
and farther from their place of hiding. The oxen bellowed, and their
noises were muffled by the rocks of the cavern, but Herakles heard
them and returned to the Seven Hills. Listening intently he traced
them to the right hill, but Cacus had braced a stone slab against the
opening and it could not be moved from the outside.

Herakles went around to the other side of the hill and, tearing the
stones away, forced a new entrance. He sprang into the cave and
seized the terrible monster by the throat. Cacus blew flames into the
hero's face and tried to burn him to death, but Herakles held on and
strangled the giant to death. A volume of black smoke came from his
mouth and a stream of melted lead as he fell back dead. Herakles tore
the slab from the door of the cave and threw the body of Cacus out on
the hill, and all the people came to see it and rejoice that their foe
was slain. And they built an altar to Herakles and instituted games to
be held every year in his honor.

Herakles left the Seven Hills and drove his cattle southward. Being
tired, he lay down to rest on a mountain near Locri, and the
grasshoppers came around him singing in such shrill tones that he
could not sleep. He prayed to the gods to drive them away, and the
gods swept them out of that region so that they never came back.

One of the wild oxen ran away to the southwest and escaped to an
island. Herakles followed, driving the whole herd over to the island.
The cattle swam across, and Herakles, sitting on the back of one of
the oxen and holding on by its horns, was safely taken over. He
captured the runaway and wandered for a long time through the island,
enjoying the fresh water of the springs and the kindness of the
people. Then he drove his cattle back to Italy and passed up the
shores of the Ionian Sea.

But Hera sent gadflies to make the cattle wilder than they were
before, and they scattered over the mountain-heights as clouds are
scattered by a hot wind. They fled far to the east, until they came to
Thrace. There Herakles gathered together as many as he could and
brought them to Mykenæ, where Eurystheus sacrificed them to Hera.



When the wedding between Zeus and Hera was celebrated all the gods
brought presents. Mother Earth brought some apple-trees as her gift.
These trees bore precious golden apples, and Zeus and Hera were so
pleased with their wonderful wedding-present that they appointed four
maidens, called the Daughters of the West, to guard the apples, and
also they placed a dragon there with a hundred heads, who never slept.

The fruit was so inviting that even the maidens would have been
tempted to eat it if the terrible dragon had not kept close to the
tree. A roar like thunder came out of each of his hundred mouths and
frightened everything away that dared approach the trees, and
lightning darted from his eyes to strike down intruders.

The trees grew more and more beautiful from year to year, and the
apples were so heavy that the boughs bent beneath the golden load.
They grew in the Garden of the Hesperides, in islands way off to the
west, and were watered by springs of nectar which had their rise near
the throne of Zeus.

Eurystheus had heard of the apples and he ordered Herakles to bring
them to him. For a long time Herakles wandered about in various lands
until he came to the river Rhone, where the water-goddesses or nymphs
advised him to ask counsel from the ancient lord of the deep sea, who
knew all the secrets of the ocean depths and whose wisdom was beyond
that of the gods. He is called by many names, but his gentlest name is
Nereus, and he does not like to be questioned unless he can take any
shape he pleases.

He usually escapes intruders, but to those who are not afraid and who
manage to grasp and to hold him, he freely opens the store of his
wisdom. This was what Herakles did. Nereus took on the form of a lion,
a serpent, a fish, a stream of water, and at last, of an old man, but
Herakles held him close and learned from him the road to the Garden of
the Hesperides.

Leaving Nereus, Herakles travelled south into Africa, where he met
Antæos, a huge giant who lived in the desert. Antæos was a son of
Earth and Ocean, and he was as strong as the terrible sand-storms. He
was cruel to all travellers who crossed his domains and slew them, but
he loved and protected the tiny Pygmies that lived all around him. No
one had ever been able to vanquish him in battle, for Mother Earth
gave him new strength and vigor every time he lay down or touched the

Herakles wrestled with him and threw him down many times, but Antæos
sprang up stronger than ever. At last Herakles caught him up with one
hand, and holding him high in the air where he could not receive help
from Mother Earth, squeezed him to death.

Herakles was tired out with this tremendous exertion and lay down in
the desert to rest. But he did not sleep long, for a whole army of
the little people, seeing their beloved giant lying dead, came with
their weapons to attack Herakles. He found himself covered with them
from head to foot. He sprang up, and quickly gathering up his lion's
skin, crushed a multitude of the Pygmies and killed them.

Then he hurried away toward the east, going through many countries
until he came to India, and finding himself travelling in the wrong
direction, turned to the north and west and came to the Caucasus
Mountains. Here he found Prometheus chained to the rocks of a high
mountain-peak. Prometheus had taught mankind the use of fire and how
to build houses and had otherwise interfered with the work of the
gods, thereby bringing this punishment upon himself. Herakles took
pity on him and set him free. In return for this kindly act Prometheus
told him the most direct way to the Garden of the Hesperides, which
was through Scythia and the region of the Hyperboreans at the back of
the North Wind.

On his way Herakles stopped to visit Atlas, who as a punishment for
once having rebelled against the gods was obliged to carry the heavens
on his shoulders. "Let me relieve thee for awhile, friend Atlas," said
Herakles, after greeting him in a most cordial manner. "Let me take
the heavens on my shoulders and I will let thee do me a great service
in return. I must have the Golden Apples that grow in the Garden of
the Hesperides to take to Eurystheus, and thou canst bring them to

Atlas gladly placed the heavy firmament on Herakles' shoulders and
took his way to the Garden. There he contrived to put the many-headed
dragon to sleep and then slay him. Taking possession of the Golden
Apples, he returned with them to Herakles.

"I thank thee very much, friend Atlas," said Herakles. "Take thy place
again and give me the apples."

"Nay, I have borne the weight of the heavens for a long time,"
answered Atlas. "Thou hadst better keep my place and I will carry the
Golden Apples to Eurystheus."

Herakles was taken aback at this reply and began to consider how he
might escape from this unexpected dilemma. At last he spoke. "Very
well, I will willingly remain in thy place, friend Atlas," he said.
"One thing only I must first ask of thee. Take the heavens back just
for a moment while I get a pad to put on my head so that the weight
may not hurt it. Otherwise the heavens will fall and crush us both."

Poor, simple old Atlas agreed to this, and putting the Golden Apples
on the ground he again took the firmament on his shoulders. Herakles
picked up the apples and went off saying, "We must not bear malice
toward each other, friend Atlas. Good-by."

With this he departed and hastened back to Mykenæ.



According to the terms of the doom that was laid upon Herakles, the
performance of the last task was to free him from Eurystheus. Eleven
were now fulfilled and the tyrant's heart failed him when he thought
of what he might expect at the hands of the hero he had used so ill
when once he was free from his power.

Cowards always fear those whom they have ill-treated, so he determined
to send Herakles on an errand from which he thought he could not
possibly return. He had come back unharmed from every known and
unknown country on the face of the earth, but who was ever known to
return alive from the land of the dead? So Eurystheus as a last task
ordered him to go down to Hades and bring out alive Cerberus, the
three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the lower world, feeling
sure that Herakles would remain forever in Hades.

Cerberus was a terrible monster. Besides having three heads, he had a
tail which ended in a serpent's head, and all along his spine he had
serpents' heads instead of hair. His duty was to see that no dead
should escape from Hades after once entering its gates.

There was a long dark cave leading down to Hades and the river Styx
flowed across it. A white-haired old ferryman, Charon by name, waited
with his boat on the shore to carry the spirits of all who died. There
they were met by Minos, the great judge, who told them whether they
could go into the fields of the Blessed or whether they were doomed to
the region of the Unhappy. Charon's boat was but a delicate skiff and
adapted only to carrying souls without bodies, so Herakles was not a
welcome passenger.

Herakles found his way into Hades in spite of all the difficulties,
and presenting himself to Pluto, the King of the Dead, begged him to
give him the Dog.

Pluto replied: "Take him and lead him out into the world and thou
shalt have him. But thou must not use any weapon." Herakles answered,
"I will use no weapon but my hands, and with them alone I will conquer
him." Wearing his breastplate and clad in the lion's skin he
approached Cerberus, who stood on guard at the gates. He threw his
arms around the Dog's three heads and pressed them with all his might.
The Dog fought with great fury, and bit him with the snake's mouth
which he had at the end of his tail. Herakles threw his lion's skin
over the head of the Dog and dragged him out by another gate into the
daylight. Cerberus had never seen the light of the sun and was
frightened beyond measure. He foamed at the mouth, and wherever the
foam fell upon the ground it caused a poisonous plant to grow.

Herakles took Cerberus to Eurystheus, who was not pleased to see the
Dog or the Hero. Then he carried him back to Hades and restored him to
Pluto, and so were the twelve great labors ended.



The land of Attica is very different from Arcadia. It was cleared at a
much earlier time than the southern part of Greece, which could be
done the more easily as the soil being naturally rather barren was not
covered with the thick, bristling forests which there sheltered so
many dangerous animals, and made it such hard work for the peasants to
clear the smallest patch of farm.

Then, although the land offers but scanty pasture for cattle and bears
but few kinds of trees and crops, it happens that those which it does
bear are the very ones that were the greatest favorites with Greek
farmers--the olive and the vine. Besides which, being a peninsula, and
therefore almost entirely surrounded by the sea, fish and other
sea-food was very plentiful, and trade with more or less distant
neighbors very easy.

Attica has no very high mountains, but those that there are supply the
country with beautiful marbles, both white and colored. The people,
having such lovely material within reach, became from the earliest
times the most skilful of builders. Their Acropolis, for which nature
itself supplied them with a beautiful, tall rock, of bright-colored
stone, soon became their greatest pride. It was the envy of their
neighbors, because of the splendid marble palaces and temples which
they could raise there at so little cost.

The city which grew up at the foot of the Acropolis was named Athens,
after the goddess of wisdom and cunning craft, Athena, the favorite
daughter of Zeus. It is clear from this that the Athenians considered
themselves more civilized and in every way superior to the other
Greeks. Indeed, they were all that, and even as far back as the heroic
times their city began to be famous above others.

In this favored land of Attica, at the same time that Herakles
astonished the world with his miraculous deeds, there reigned a king,
Ægeus, who, having no child to succeed him on the throne, was grieved
at heart. So Ægeus went to Delphi to consult the Oracle, and the
priestess told him that he should go to Trœzene, where he would find a
beautiful and gentle wife, the Princess Æthra, daughter of Pittheus,
the King of Trœzene. And the Oracle promised that his wife should bear
him a son whose name would become famous over all the world.

So Ægeus took his way to Trœzene, where he found Pittheus, the wise
old king, who received him hospitably and gave him his daughter,
Æthra, in marriage. Ægeus grew very fond of his wife, but after awhile
he had to think of returning to his own kingdom, which he could not
leave to itself forever. Æthra's father was old and feeble, and she
did not like to leave him to the care of slaves; so Ægeus agreed to
let her stay with him.

But before Ægeus departed he took Æthra to an out-of-the-way place and
dug a pit in which he hid his sword and sandals. Then he rolled a
large stone over the pit and said to his wife: "Listen, Æthra; take
good care of the son which the gods are about to send us, but do not
tell him who his father is. When he has grown to be a youth, bring him
to this spot, and if he is able to lift the stone, let him take the
sword and the sandals and come to me with them." After saying these
words, Ægeus kissed his wife, and bidding her an affectionate
farewell, returned to Athens.

When Theseus was born, Æthra rejoiced greatly, and brought him up with
great care, as she had promised Ægeus she would do. He was the pride
of his grandfather's court, and the good old king had him trained in
all kinds of games and athletic exercises and in the use of the lyre.
When he had grown up, Æthra led him to the rock, and after having told
him the name of his father, she said to him: "My son, lift up this
heavy stone. You will find under it what your father left for you.
Take his gift and go to Athens with it."

Theseus, without any difficulty, raised the stone with his strong
arms, and Æthra hung his father's sword over his shoulder and tied the
sandals to his feet. Then Theseus was ready to set out for Athens.
Æthra advised him to go by sea. It was the quickest and safest way.
The woods by land were everywhere full of dangers from wild beasts and
wicked men.

But Theseus, having heard of the great deeds of Herakles and envying
the fame of the hero, said: "Herakles was set the task to destroy the
wicked and to cleanse the land and sea from evil-doers; and so I will
not shirk tasks which lie under my very feet and I will not shame my
father, fleeing ingloriously over the sea, where I can perform no
noble deeds by which I might prove myself a worthy son to him, and do
honor to my mother's wisdom in bringing me up in the way she has

Theseus kissed his mother and grandfather and started on his journey
by land. The worst part of his road lay across the Isthmus of Corinth,
which was so narrow that it gave little chance for escape.



To the northwest of Trœzene is a tongue of land projecting into the
Ægean Sea. In ancient times the town of Epidauros was situated upon
it, and the temple, where Asklepios, the God of Healing, was
worshipped, stood near by. It was a wild country whose hills were
covered with trees and shrubs--the hiding-place of lawless robbers,
the boldest of whom was named Periphetes. He was also called
Korynetes, and he used an iron crown for a weapon, and with it he
smashed the heads of travellers.

Periphetes put himself in Theseus' way and would not let him go on.
But the youth grappled with him, and taking his iron crown from him,
crushed him to death with it. Theseus carried the crown as his own
particular weapon, just as Herakles wore the skin of the Nemean lion.

The most cruel of all the robbers lived a few miles farther to the
north, on the Isthmus of Corinth, and his name was Sinis. He was
called the Tree-bender, because he used to bend together two young
pines. Then he would tie a man by a leg and arm to each tree and let
the trees spring back, tearing the poor wretch to pieces. Theseus
punished this malefactor by giving him the same treatment that he gave
to others, and the people of the Isthmus were so grateful that they
started a festival, called the Isthmian Games, to be held in honor of
the hero every year.

On to the north went Theseus. He slew a man-eating boar at Krommyon,
which had long terrified the people of that district. Coming among the
wild cliffs near the sea in Megaris, he heard of the cruel giant
Skiron, who used to lie in wait for travellers. This evil-doer
compelled those who fell into his power to wash his feet. This task
performed, he flung the unlucky traveller into the sea.

When Theseus passed his den Skiron ordered him to wash his feet, and
Theseus answered: "To tell the truth, friend Skiron, thy demand is too
small. I would willingly do more for thee. Not only are thy feet in
need of a bath but so is thy whole body. The sea is near and I will
give thee a thorough washing." And he seized Skiron around the body
and flung him over the rocks into the breakers. From that time until
to-day the rocks are called the Skironian Cliffs.

A little farther on Theseus came upon another famous robber known far
and near as the Stretcher, Korydallon, or Prokrustes. This robber used
to force the wayfarer to lie down on a bed which was always too long
or too short for him. If the traveller proved too tall for the bed,
Prokrustes would cut off his feet and legs to make him short enough to
fit it. But if the traveller were too short for the bed, he would have
him stretched until his feet touched the foot-board. Prokrustes
invited Theseus to try the bed, but Theseus answered him: "Thou shalt
try it first, friend Prokrustes, and I will try it after thee." Then
Prokrustes was compelled to lie down in the bed, which was much too
short for him, and Theseus cut off his head and his feet to make him
fit the bed, as the cruel Stretcher had done to so many hapless
strangers. Theseus exterminated a great many more cruel robbers who
had made the roads to Athens unsafe, and the glory of his deeds went
on before him.

Theseus, having performed these brave deeds, reached Athens; but the
rougher class, seeing a stranger who wore a garb of a different
fashion from their own, scoffed at him, as is the custom of vulgar
people. His hair was long and his form slender, so they called him a
girl and told him that he ought to take his nurse with him to protect
him. As he walked along among these coarse people he came to a wagon
heavily laden. He took up the wagon with its load and tossed it high
in the air as easily as he would toss a ball, much to the astonishment
of his tormentors.

Theseus having come to the king's palace in Athens, at once presented
himself before Ægeus. But he did not immediately make himself known as
his son. When he was called to the table as a guest he drew his sword
as if he wanted to eat the meat with it, and Ægeus recognized him as
his son and received him with joy and affection. Calling together the
citizens he proclaimed Theseus his son and successor.

The citizens had heard of his heroic exploits, and acknowledged him
heir to the throne amid general rejoicings. Only the nephews of Ægeus
were sorry that Theseus had appeared in their midst. They had hoped to
inherit the kingdom after their uncle's death, believing that he had
no children. But now that Theseus came among them as a successor to
the throne, they rebelled.

Theseus was brave and strong enough to defend his father and himself.
He fought the rebels one after another and killed them. These
victories increased his glory greatly and won him the hearts of the
people of Athens.



_I. The Marathonian Bull_

Theseus was too active to love an idle life and began to look around
him to find ways of helping his father's people. He wanted to be
worthy of the throne. "It is not enough," he said, "that I am of royal
descent. I should also have a royal heart and be of real service to
mankind. I must be a leader in deeds as well as in words." He soon
found an opportunity to show his prowess.

To the northeast of Athens is a beautiful mountain-ridge with a white
marble band across it. This is the famous Pentelikon, and the purple
mountain of Hymettos is separated from it by a narrow pass. Beyond
these mountains is the plain of Marathon sloping down to the blue sea.
In the plain of Marathon the terrible Bull which Herakles had brought
from Crete to Eurystheus still roamed, but the tyrant had turned it
loose. This Bull did great havoc among the inhabitants of the
surrounding country.

Theseus heard of their distress and promised to free them from the
fearful beast. He armed himself with a tough shield and a long spear
and went to Marathon. When he found out the Bull's hiding-place he
chased and overtook him. He grappled him by the horns with his
powerful hands and dragged him back to Athens. The people of Athens
and all the country about came to meet Theseus. They rejoiced because
he had rid them of such a pest and they admired his strength, but they
did not dare to help him, and stood ready to run for their lives in
case the Bull should slip away from him. Theseus went through the
midst of the city holding on to the Bull, which he took to the temple
of Apollo and offered up as a sacrifice to that god. Old Ægeus shed
tears of joy when he saw how the gods honored him in the possession of
such a son.

_II. Theseus Sails to Crete_

But there was a greater adventure with greater glory awaiting Theseus,
for Athens had a more terrible enemy than the mad Bull of Marathon. It
had happened years before that a son of Minos, the wise and powerful
King of Crete, had come to Athens to take part in the yearly festival
held in honor of the goddess Athena. He took part in all their public
games and came off victor every time. The athletes of Athens were very
angry that a man from another country should show more skill and carry
off all the prizes, so with Ægeus' consent they killed him.

Then Minos made war on the Athenians and killed a great number of
them, and the gods also punished them for this treacherous murder by
letting the land bear no crops and by sending on them a deadly fever.

The Athenians were compelled to surrender to Minos, and they had to
agree to the most humiliating terms. They promised to send seven
youths and seven maidens every year to Crete.

Now Minos had a park laid out by the most cunning man of his times.
There were walks and paths so many and so winding that no one who got
into it could get out again, but had to wander on and on, getting more
and more confused. This park was called the Labyrinth, and in the
centre of it was a cave in which just at that time King Minos kept a
dangerous monster which had the body and limbs of a man but the head
of a bull.

The creature was called the Minotaur and it was fierce and cruel.
There was only one way to prevent him from roaming the fields and
endangering the lives of the people. He had to be kept in a good
humor, and this could be done only by feeding him now and then on
human flesh. So Minos bethought him of using the Athenian captives for
that purpose.

When the time of the third tribute arrived, the citizens of Athens
began to urge Ægeus to do something to prevent the dreadful sacrifice.
They accused him of being the sole cause of the trouble. They told him
that it was shameful that he had no share in the punishment. These
complaints wounded the ambitious Theseus to the quick.

His sense of justice told him that it would be only right for him to
share the troubles of the citizens, and therefore he insisted on going
to Crete with the seven youths and the seven maidens.

The citizens felt sorry for Theseus, and Ægeus prayed his son to
remain at home with him, but Theseus answered: "My dear father, how
can I be happy when the whole nation suffers? How can I abide in
safety when our subjects are sacrificed? Do not try to dissuade me,
for honor calls."

The vessel which was to take them to Crete was ready to start. It
carried a black sail, a sign of its direful errand. Theseus tried to
console his father by telling him that he was going to kill the
Minotaur. Ægeus was quick to believe in the valor of his son and gave
another sail, a white one, to the pilot, telling him to hoist it if
they returned happily, but to leave the black one up if Theseus failed
to win the victory. The ship sailed away and the parents and relatives
of the youths and maidens wept bitter tears, but all the citizens
called aloud to the gods to give Theseus success in his generous



_III. Theseus Kills the Minotaur_

The ship reached Crete and Minos ordered the weeping youths and
maidens to be thrown into the den of the Minotaur and Theseus with
them. By a lucky chance Ariadne, the daughter of the king, saw Theseus
and was moved with pity and a wish to save him. She slyly gave him a
ball of yarn and told him to fasten one end of it to the inside
entrance to the Labyrinth and then wind it off as he walked along that
he might find his way back again.

Theseus took the ball and went with his companions into the Labyrinth.
He fastened one end of the thread firmly to the inside of the
entrance, and as he walked along the thread caught and held on to the
bushes. They could hear the bellowing of the Minotaur as they
approached the cave, and the companions of Theseus hid themselves in
the bushes, trembling with fright. But Theseus approached fearlessly,
and rushing upon the Minotaur, thrust his sword through him and the
monster fell dead.

The youths and maidens came out from their hiding-places, and
surrounding Theseus, kissed his hands and called him their preserver.
Theseus, guided by the thread which Ariadne had given him, led his
companions safely to the entrance of the Labyrinth. And when they were
free from its entanglements, Theseus gratefully raised up his hands to
heaven and offered a prayer of thanks to the gods for their escape.

Theseus and the companions whom he had saved reached the sea-shore
unhindered, hurried their vessel into the water, unfurled the sail,
and rowed with all their might in order to escape as quickly as
possible from Crete and return to their own beloved country. The wind
was favorable and the vessel cut through the sea like a swan. They
passed through the midst of the islands of the sea and first landed at
Delos, the home of the god, Apollo. This beautiful land was like a
floating star and was said to be surrounded by a wall of pure gold.

Theseus offered a sacrifice to Apollo and danced with the youths and
maidens a dance in which they represented the winding passages of the
Labyrinth. But in their great joy neither he nor the pilot thought of
unfurling the white sail. Old Ægeus came every day to the sea-shore to
watch for the return of the ship. There he sat on a high cliff and
gazed over the wide waters; he hoped to see the boat coming with the
white sail hoisted, and was in great agony of mind for fear he should
see it coming with the black sail up.

At last he espied, one day, a ship coming from afar. The nearer it
came the greater grew the old king's anxiety. Soon he recognized the
boat. It was the one which had borne away his beloved Theseus. But
alas! the ship still carried the black sail, the sign of sorrow.

"My son is dead!" exclaimed the unhappy king. "My only son is dead! My
beloved Theseus!"

The grief of Ægeus was beyond bounds and his reason left him. In
despair he threw himself from the cliff into the sea and was drowned,
and from that time all that water has been called the Ægean Sea.

The ship entered the port near Athens and Theseus brought the
thanksgiving offerings which he had promised the gods when he left the
port, and he sent a herald into the city to announce their safe

The Athenians, as soon as they learned that Theseus and the seven
youths and seven maidens had returned safely, hastened to the palace,
men, women, and children, and received him with joy and honors. But
Theseus' pleasure changed to grief when he learned that his father had
died on account of his great love for his son.

The Athenians led him forth, however, amidst the greatest
demonstrations of enthusiasm and proclaimed him their king. Thus
Theseus became King of Athens not only because he was of royal descent
but because he was manly and loved his country better than himself.
The court of Theseus became celebrated for its splendor and he ruled
with prudence. The villages of the plain of Attica had formerly been
at war with each other. Now they united under one government, with
Athens as the chief city. Theseus founded festivals and encouraged
education, and was in every way a good and wise leader.

Long after his death there was a beautiful temple erected in his
honor, and it stands in Athens to this day. The stories of his great
deeds are carved in its stones, which are much worn by time. There you
can see the hero slaying Prokrustes, Skiron, the Minotaur, and
Periphetes. And you can see the capture of the wild Bull of Marathon.
There, too, are the stories of Herakles, in stone, as he slew the lion
and hydra and performed other valiant deeds.

We speak of these heroes as if they had once lived in the flesh and
died like mortals, but no one can tell whether or not they are purely
Heroes of the Myth.



_Phrixos and Helle_

Bœotia is a district northwest of Athens and quite different from the
Attic plain. The name means The Land of Cattle, because it abounds in
fat pasture-lands, is moist and fertile, and its beautiful green
meadows slope up to the wooded mountains and lead down to well-watered
valleys. Bœotia was always the paradise of farmers, who from the
conditions of their life became famous for their stupidity.


Thebes was the capital of Bœotia, but each district had its own
smaller city and its own ruling family, whose sons called themselves
kings. One of these petty kings, Athamas, had a son and daughter
named Phrixos and Helle, and when their mother died he took another
wife, the fair Ino, but she was not as good as she was fair, for she
was jealous of her step-children. So she contrived a plot for getting
rid of them which was well carried out. Ino persuaded all the women of
the country to use the seed grain or hide it so that none of it could
be used for the next year's crop.

The women followed the queen's advice and the next year there was a
great famine in the land. The women did not dare to tell their secret,
although their families were beginning to starve. Then Athamas sent to
the Oracle at Delphi in order to find out the cause of the trouble,
and how he might deliver the country from the distress.

But Ino secretly persuaded the messenger to say that the Oracle had
given the following answer: "The famine will cease when Athamas has
sacrificed Phrixos to Zeus."

The king was almost stunned with grief when he received this message.
How was it possible for him to sacrifice his own beloved son? But the
wicked Ino published the false Oracle among the starving people, who,
driven by hunger, clamored loudly for the death of Phrixos. The king
being compelled by his people, allowed Phrixos to be led to the altar
to be sacrificed.

But the spirit of the child's own mother came down in the form of a
cloud to save him. She brought a large ram whose fleece was of shining
gold, and said to the two children: "My dear unfortunate little ones,
come and sit on this golden sheep and he will fly away with you and
carry you safely into a far country, where the wicked Ino will no
longer have the power of injuring you." Then she helped Phrixos to
mount to the back of the ram and she placed his little sister Helle
behind him with both her arms around him, and disappeared.

The ram flew up into the air like a bird and soared away over
mountains and valleys and rivers and plains. Away, away they went
through the blue sky until they reached the straits which separate
Europe from Asia. There Helle lost her balance and fell into the sea.
In vain did Phrixos try to save his sister, who cried and stretched
out her arms to him. The poor child was swallowed by the waves and
devoured by sea-monsters. From that time the sea in that place has
been called the Hellespont.

Phrixos sailed on alone, on the back of the ram, which took him to
the farthest shore of the Black Sea and landed him at Kolchis. There
the king received Phrixos kindly. Phrixos sacrificed the ram to Zeus
and hung up the golden fleece in a grove which was sacred to Ares, the
God of War. The golden fleece was priceless in value and was guarded
by a terrible sleepless dragon.



More than a hundred miles northwest of Athens is Thessaly, the most
northern country of Greece. The greater part of it consists of
mountains, the highest and steepest of all Greece. Among these the
loftiest is Mount Olympos, whose summit, with its three snowy peaks
standing out like glittering marble against the blue sky, rises high
above the surrounding ridges. So glorious and so pure and so high did
it appear to the ancient Greeks, that they imagined it to be the
dwelling-place of the gods. It seemed the very end of the world as it
rose up and shut off this horizon; and they believed the throne of
Zeus, himself, to be on its summit.

When the shining crest was obscured by clouds, pious people from many
countries around turned to it in awe and said that the Lord of Heaven
had hid his face, and waited for him to hurl his lightnings and speak
in thunder. And the people of Thessaly loved to walk in the Vale of
Tempe, where the wild fig-tree and wild grape, the willow, and ivy
clung with tough roots to the rugged rocks at the foot of the

The most mountainous portion of Thessaly was, of course, wild and
inhospitable. The Centaurs were said to dwell in its gorges and caves,
and it was claimed that they were wiser and gentler than the Centaurs
of Arcadia. They were said to have gathered much lore of herbs and
forest things, and to have been excellent surgeons. The same was told
by fame of the Thessalian mountain-women, who, while as rugged and
fierce as the men, were said to be extremely handsome and great
mistresses in the art of making ointments and magic waters and juices
for the casting of spells; in short, they were famous all over Greece
as the most knowing and dangerous witches.

The land changed wonderfully where it sloped down to the sea. The
narrow valleys spread out into broad plains. The moisture, gathered
and treasured by the forests and protected by their shade, filtered
through the soil, keeping the grass green for the large herds which at
that time were the greatest wealth, both of farmer and king; while the
thousand rivulets and streamlets that hurried down the mountain-side
in brooks and torrents ran together and formed handsome rivers which
scarcely ever became dry or even shallow, as did the small and stony
streams of Attica. Many of the rivers of Attica are so small that they
never reach the sea at all, but run into the sand and waste
themselves, while the Thessalian rivers all carry their waters to the

The largest of them, that which flows through the richest and most
fertile country, is the Peneus, famed in song and story. In this
beautiful land of Thessaly lived a king, Pelias. He really had no
right to the throne, for he had an older brother. But that brother,
being of a peaceful nature, allowed Pelias to take the crown from him,
while he himself retired to some land he had in the mountains. His
son, Jason, a handsome youth of great promise, he sent for his
education to the wise Centaur, Chiron, who made his home in the
deepest mountain-caves.

When Jason was twenty years old and his education in manly sports and
in the art of war, in song and in music, was such as to do honor to
his master, Chiron, he was directed by an Oracle to go straight to his
uncle Pelias and boldly claim his father's kingdom. This was an
undertaking after his own heart. Shortly after this Pelias celebrated
the yearly festival of Poseidon, the God of the Sea, by solemn
sacrifices offered on the shore. This was a grand national occasion,
so he invited everyone around and did not dare to leave Jason out.

Jason accepted the invitation. He donned the skin of a panther which
he had killed himself, and taking two long spears, started on his way.
Now Pelias had learned from an Oracle that he should lose his kingdom,
and he was always in fear. The Oracle had said that a descendant of
Œolus would take his crown and throne from him, and that this person
would come to him with only one sandal on. Pelias, therefore, was
always on the lookout for the man with one sandal.

As Jason came along he saw an old woman sitting on the bank of a river
which he had to cross. She begged him to take her over. The young
Greeks were taught that their first duty was to be helpful and
respectful to old people. Jason willingly took the old woman in his
arms and carried her over as if she had been a child. She thanked him
and wished him good luck.

The current of the river was strong and rapid and it swept away one of
Jason's sandals. He set the old woman down on the shore after crossing
and then stood in doubt as to whether he had better go back to look
for his sandal. The old woman, however, advised him to proceed on his
way. Then she disappeared. This meeting turned out to be of much
greater importance to the young man than he could have imagined, for
it was the goddess Hera, the Queen of Heaven, herself, who had taken
the shape of an old woman to test his kindness and good-breeding.
Being pleased with both, she remained his friend and protector.

The public square was full of people when Jason arrived. His face was
comely, his figure heroic, and his long hair hung down to the
panther's skin on his shoulders. He carried two long spears and walked
like a king. Everybody turned in wonder to gaze at him, and some of
them said to one another, "This stranger is no mortal man--he must be
Apollo in disguise." Others said, "No, it is the God of War. Look at
his powerful, athletic frame."

Just at this moment Pelias came driving by on his chariot drawn by
two fleet-footed mules. His eyes were also attracted by the beauty of
the youthful stranger, but when he noticed that he wore only one
sandal he trembled with fear. Pelias, being old and crafty, concealed
his anxiety and received his young kinsman with cordial friendliness
seemingly. Jason at once announced his right to the king's throne, and
Pelias admitted his claim.

But Pelias told him that he was too young to take such a responsible
place, and suggested that so stalwart a youth ought to do some valiant
deed to win the respect and admiration of his people before coming
into power. "The people would not care for thee," he said, "if thou
shouldst take the crown as a birthright and not because of thy

Then King Pelias proposed, as a suitable and honorable test of Jason's
qualities as hero and leader, that he should cross the Black Sea and
bring from Kolchis the golden fleece of Phrixos' ram. The wily old man
had judged Jason at a glance and knew that no words or offer of his
could appeal more powerfully to the young hero's generous instincts;
he also knew that the danger of such an undertaking would be
attractive to his youthful imagination. But he smiled wickedly under
his beard when Jason delightedly agreed to his proposal. Pelias
thought to himself, "No sane man would ever go on such an expedition,
and not the bravest man could return alive. He will never come back,
and I shall remain the King of Iolkos."



Jason cared little about the motives of the king in sending him after
the Golden Fleece. His courage ran high and the anticipation of seeing
other countries and doing valiant deeds filled his mind. He set about
building a large ship, the finest the world had ever seen, and to do
this he employed Argos, a famous shipbuilder. No expense or labor was
spared, and when the ship was finished it was named the Argo in honor
of the builder. It was the largest ship that had ever sailed from

When the ship was ready Jason assembled the noblest heroes of all
Hellas, Herakles, Kastor and Pollux, Meleagros, Peleus, Admetos,
Theseus, Orpheus and two sons of Boreas, and many others of great
renown. Jason invited them to go with him on this expedition, and
they gladly accepted the invitation. They praised the ship; it was
such a remarkable piece of work, and said that Athena must have
advised and helped Argos, for no human being could make such a good
boat. Jason was to be the captain, and all those who embarked on it
with him would receive the name Argonauts, which means those who sail
in the Argo.

Before sailing, the heroes gathered around the altar of Zeus, and
Jason offered up a sacrifice and prayed for a sign of good luck, if
the God looked favorably on their undertaking. Zeus answered with a
peal of thunder and a flash of lightning, which pleased Jason and gave
the heroes courage. At first the voyage went so smoothly that it
seemed like a grand holiday trip. As they sailed out from the
olive-clad plains surrounding Iolkos, Orpheus with his god-like voice
and magic lyre quieted the wild waves of the sea, and inspired the men
on the Argo with love for battle.

In this way they sailed along until they came to the island of Lemnos,
where they were received in kindly fashion and remained a long time
enjoying the new scenes and the festivals. Then they set sail again
and came to a small island where they stayed a short time. Herakles
had broken his oar and he wanted to replace it. He left the ship,
taking with him a beautiful youth, Hylas, and they went into the woods
to cut down a tree to make a new oar.

But the wood-nymphs saw Hylas and said to each other, "We will keep
this beautiful youth to ramble with us in the forest, for he is gentle
and kind and would be an agreeable companion. He is strong and will
protect us against the rude creatures that cause us alarm." So they
carried Hylas away and hid him, and Herakles would not leave the
island without him. Then the Argo sailed on toward Kolchis, and the
heroes mourned the loss of their two comrades.

They landed again soon on another island, where lived a king who was
known to fame as a great boxer. He was cruel to travellers. He
challenged them to boxing matches and killed them in the sport. The
Argonauts asked him to give them a supply of fresh water for their
ship, and in return he asked them to box with him. Pollux accepted the
challenge, and gave him such a beating that his bones were broken.
Then they took all the fresh water they needed and went back to the
ship. After this, Pollux, instead of the cruel and boastful king, was
known as the great boxer.

The Argo sailed on across the Ægean Sea and through the Hellespont,
where the unfortunate Helle was drowned, and reached the straits of
the Bosporus. There were the immense Symplegades, two high cliffs that
were not solidly rooted in the ground, but clashed together under the
power of the winds, making the passage through the sea dangerous. It
seemed impossible for the Argo to pass them without being crushed.

But they were saved from this peril by the advice of Phineus, the
blind old king of the district, who was also a soothsayer. Phineus had
long suffered a terrible penalty, which the gods had sent on him for
some unkindness, and he had been punished quite enough. Whenever he
sat down to a meal the Harpies pounced upon his food, devouring the
most of it and polluting the rest of it so that it was unspeakably
filthy. When the Argonauts asked him to direct them past the
Symplegades, he promised to do so if they would free him from the
Harpies. This the Argonauts promised to do.

They set a table before him laden with food, and the Harpies rushed
down with great cries, perching on the table, eating greedily and
snatching the food with their brazen claws.

Then the winged sons of Boreas, who were with Jason, rose into the
air and pursued the Harpies with swords. The feathers of the Harpies
flew like dirt in a windstorm as they rushed screaming this way and
that. They fled from that region, and so Phineus was rescued.

Phineus showed the Argonauts how to steer their ship. He advised them
to let a pigeon fly across the Symplegades, and if the bird passed
unhurt they should quickly follow. When the Argonauts had come near
the rocks they let a pigeon loose from the prow of their ship. It flew
through between the cliffs, and the clashing together of the rocks
caught only the end of its tail. Watching for the moment when the
rocks should open and swing away from each other, the Argonauts sailed
between them, rowing with all their might.

They called on Hera for assistance, and the goddess bade the rocks
move slowly. The cliffs did not have time to close together upon the
ship, and she got through safely, except that a small portion of the
rudder was broken off. From that time on the Symplegades became one
rock and remained firm. After this the Argonauts sailed along the
whole coast of the Black Sea toward the east, and finally reached



When the Argonauts had drawn their ship up on the beach, Jason
presented himself before the king and said: "Oh, king, we have come to
ask thee for the Golden Fleece, which belongs to the Greeks at Iolkos.
The ram which it covered was given to Phrixos and he dedicated it to
Zeus; but the Fleece he hung up in the garden sacred to Ares.
Moreover, the King of Iolkos has sent me to bring it back to Hellas."

The king answered: "Oh, stranger, thou art welcome to the Fleece. Take
it back to Hellas, I pray thee. But first thou must yoke two wild
bulls, which no one has ever yet been able to manage, to a plough, and
turn up furrows in a field and sow it with dragons' teeth. The bulls
snort fire with every breath and have brass hoofs. Beware lest they
turn upon thee and burn thee to death with the fire of their nostrils,
and trample thee into the earth."

Jason did not know how to tame the terrible bulls, and began to
ponder. But Medea, the daughter of the king, saw Jason and pitied
him. Medea was very much of a witch and could make all sorts of charms
and mixtures of enchantment. She gave a magic ointment to Jason and
said: "Stranger, I would gladly help thee to tame the wild bulls. Take
this box of magic ointment and anoint thyself, also the end of thy
spear and thy shield. It will make thee proof against fire and steel
for one day, so that they cannot harm thee.

"And thou shouldst know that out of the dragons' teeth which thou art
to sow, men will spring up all clad in armor. Hide thyself where these
men cannot see thee, and when they stand close together throw stones
among them." Jason took the drug and did as he was told. He anointed
himself and his spear and shield, and went in search of the fiery

As soon as he found them he went boldly up and hitched them to a
plough. They breathed fire at him and tried to strike him with their
brazen hoofs. But he ploughed the field, turning back furrow after
furrow. Then he went back to sow the field with dragons' teeth and hid
himself nearby. Soon armed giants arose out of the ground. Jason threw
a large stone into the midst of them, which made them think that some
one of their own company was attacking the others. They began fighting
among themselves, and became so furious with one another that they
did not see Jason approach. He took his sword and slew them all. Then
he returned to the king to receive the Golden Fleece.

But the king was surprised, for he had no intention of keeping his
promise. He expected that Jason would be slain and never come back.
And he was contriving a plot to burn the ship Argo, and kill Jason's

Jason had done all that the king had required of him and would not
give up the idea of taking the Fleece, and the king refused to let him
have it. Then Jason went back to Medea for advice. Her admiration for
the hero was greater than ever, since she had seen how fearlessly he
went about his tasks.

She led him to the grove where hung the Golden Fleece, and with her
magic drugs put the watchful dragon that guarded it to sleep. Jason
snatched the Fleece and made for the ship, taking Medea, who had
promised to be his wife, with him. When the old king missed his
daughter he was very angry, and gave pursuit. But Jason and his
companions pushed the boat out into the sea, and unfurling the sails,
they swiftly took their way over the waters toward their own land.

After many wanderings and perils, the Argonauts came to the Greek
coast, and the Argo entered again the sea of their own beloved
country. They reached Iolkos, bringing the world-famous Golden Fleece
with them, and the people received them in triumph. But Pelias still
refused to give up the throne to Jason, although he gladly took the
Golden Fleece which the young hero had brought him. So Jason slew him
and made himself King of Iolkos; and as Medea's father had once
reigned in Corinth, he added that country to his kingdom.

Jason lived in peace ten happy years in Kolchis, and his kingdom
prospered; but a great trouble came upon his household. Medea, with
her black arts of witchery and enchantment and her evil heart, could
not always please him or hold his affections. He went to Corinth,
where he met the gentle-hearted Kreusa, and her peaceful, kindly
disposition won his heart. Now in those days a man was not despised
and looked upon as a law-breaker if he married more than one wife, for
the people had a different standard of right and wrong from that of
the present day. And Jason in an unlucky hour took Kreusa for his

Medea was maddened with jealousy when she heard of this, and she
consulted the evil spirits of her witchcraft to find out how she could
do away with Kreusa. She took a beautiful dress and a crown, and
having sprinkled them with an enchanted juice, sent them to Kreusa.
Her rival accepted the gifts and put them on, but she could never get
them off again. They clung to her and burned into her flesh, so that
she died. Then Medea took further revenge by burning Kreusa's home;
and when she found that Jason was angry with her she slew her children
and fled from Iolkos in a fiery chariot drawn by winged serpents. Poor
Jason, beside himself with grief, went to his good ship Argo, which
was now kept as a sacred place for the worship of the gods, and there
he died.



In the same land of Thrace in which Jason's family ruled, Orpheus, the
greatest musician of Greece, was born. It was said that his mother was
the Goddess of Song, and such was the power of his voice and his art
of playing on the lyre that he could move stones and trees. When the
wild beasts heard his music they left their dens and lay down at his
feet, the birds in the trees stopped singing, and the fishes came to
the surface of the sea to listen to him.

Orpheus had a wife, Eurydike, celebrated for her beauty and virtue,
and he loved her very dearly. One day when Eurydike was gathering
flowers on the bank of a lake a venomous snake bit her foot and she
died. Orpheus could not be consoled. He went off into the wildest
waste that he could find and there he mourned day and night till all
nature shared in his grief. At last he made up his mind to go down
into Hades and beg her back of King Pluto, for life was worthless
without her.

Orpheus took his lyre, and singing as he went, found his way down to
Hades through a dismal abyss. Grim Cerberus himself held his breath to
listen to the marvellous music. Not one bark did he give from any of
his three terrible heads, and when Orpheus passed him he crouched at
his feet. So Orpheus entered Hades unhindered, and standing before the
throne of Pluto and his pale queen Persephone, he said: "Oh, king and
queen, I have not come down into Hades to see the gloomy Tartaros,
nor in order to carry away the three-headed warder of your kingdom,
the dreadful Cerberus. I came down to implore you to give me back my
beloved wife, Eurydike. I cannot bear life without her. To me the
world is a desert, and life a burden. Why should she die, so young and
beautiful? Have pity on me! If I may not take her back, then I will
not again see the light of the sun, but I, too, will remain in the
gloomy Hades."

Pluto and Persephone listened in silence to the pleadings of Orpheus.
His pathetic voice and the sweet tones of his melodious lyre held them
like a charm. The shades of the dead came flocking around him and
mourned. Tantalos forgot his thirst and listened to the singer's
complaints. Sisyphos, who was compelled to roll a stone to the top of
a mountain whence it always dashed back again to the bottom, ceased
his dreadful labor to listen, and the Furies themselves first shed

      (From the painting by Corot.)]

Persephone and Pluto were pitiless gods. Their hearts were long since
hardened to the cries of the living who prayed for the restoration of
their loved ones. But they could not resist the power of the
enchanting sounds that Orpheus made. They called the spirit of the
beautiful Eurydike to them and said to the musician: "Take thy wife
Eurydike and go up again to the light of the sun. Let her gaze on the
smiling sky and see the fields of the upper world. But beware of one
thing. Let her follow thee and do not turn around to look at her
before reaching the world of the living. If thou shouldst turn and
look upon her she will return at once to her place among the dead."

Orpheus left Hades in great haste and Eurydike followed him. In the
midst of deepest silence they ascended through dismal rocky places.
They neared their journey's end. They could almost see the green earth
when Orpheus was seized with a dreadful doubt. "I hear no sound
whatever behind me," he said to himself. "Is my beloved Eurydike
really following me?" He turned his head a little. He saw Eurydike,
who followed him like a shadow. But suddenly she began to be drawn
backward. She stretched out her arms toward Orpheus as if imploring
his help. Orpheus hurried to take her in his arms, but she vanished
from his sight and Orpheus was alone again.

Yet he did not despair. Again he descended into Hades and reached the
river which separates this world from that of the dead, but the
boatman, Charon, refused to ferry him across. Seven days and seven
nights Orpheus remained there without drink or food, weeping and
mourning. The decree of the gods was not to be changed. When Orpheus
found that he could effect nothing he returned to the earth. He
wandered alone over the mountains and glens of Thrace, which resounded
with his plaintive songs day and night.

One day as he sat upon a grassy spot and played his lyre a troop of
wild women who were celebrating a festival rushed upon him and tried
to make him play for them to dance. Orpheus indignantly refused, and
they grew angry and handled him so roughly that he died. Where he was
buried the nightingales sang more sweetly than elsewhere. And his
lyre, which was thrown into the sea, was caught by the waves, which
made sweet music upon it as they rose and fell.

Orpheus was honored by the gods, and after his death they brought him
to the Abode of the Blessed, where he found his beloved Eurydike and
was reunited to her.



Some of the heroes famed in Greek song and story, and whose
descendants lived in Greece, had come from foreign countries, many of
them from Asia Minor. Greece and Asia Minor had always been closely
connected. Travellers from each were in the habit of visiting the
other country. Sometimes they traded together and sometimes made war
on each other.

One of the most powerful kingdoms of Asia Minor was Phrygia, and it
was ruled by a king of the name of Tantalos, who had at first governed
wisely and in the fear of the gods. He was made arrogant by
prosperity, and at length grew so overbearing and cruel even to his
own son, Pelops, that the gods determined to make an example of him.
They sent him living to Tartaros, the portion of Hades reserved for
the very worst offenders, there to endure a terrible punishment

He was placed up to his waist in the midst of running water, clear and
cool, under hanging boughs laden with lovely fruit. Yet he could not
reach the water or the fruit, and was always faint with hunger and
thirst. Whenever he bent down to get a drink of water it rapidly
rushed away from him, and if he lifted up his hand to pluck some of
the ripe fragrant fruit, a sudden gust of wind tossed the branches
high up into the air. Poor Tantalos never came nearer than this to
quenching his thirst or satisfying his hunger.

To make his misery more unbearable, a huge block of rock was poised
above his head, so lightly that it moved with every breeze, and he was
in perpetual fear of its falling down on him. Pelops, the son whom he
had abused in childhood, became a great favorite with the gods, and
they wished to make up to him for his father's cruelty. They gave him
a shoulder of ivory to replace the shoulder of which his father had
deprived him. When he grew up the gods helped him to leave his native
land, where he had been ill-treated, and they guided him across the
Ægean Sea, and around the southern point of Greece to Elis, where
Herakles had cleaned out the stables of Augeias. The capital of Elis
was the city of Pisa, where a king ruled who had a beautiful daughter
named Hippodameia. She must have been very fond of sports and
athletics, for her name means "The Tamer of Horses."

Hippodameia had many suitors, but her father, Œnomaos, had heard that
he would be dethroned by his daughter's husband, and so he did not
wish her to marry. He was very warlike, being a son of Ares, the God
of War, and he determined to kill all the suitors. So he proposed a
chariot race with each of the wooers, and promised that the one who
succeeded in winning the race should have his daughter in marriage; on
the other hand, if the suitor lost the race he should be put to death
by the king.

Œnomaos was a famous charioteer, and he had steeds which were swifter
than the wind. The race-course began at Pisa, and stretched as far as
the Isthmus of Corinth to the altar of Poseidon. Œnomaos believed in
himself and in his own skill. So great was his self-reliance, and so
sure was he of the swiftness of his horses, that whenever a suitor
came along he let him go ahead with his chariot drawn by four horses,
while he himself first sacrificed a ram to Zeus, and only at the end
of the ceremony mounted his chariot, having as driver, Myrtilos, and
being armed with a strong spear. Then he would overtake the suitor and
kill him. Thus he had already killed a great many.

Pelops, on his arrival at Pisa, saw Hippodameia, and at once had a
strong desire to make her his wife. When he saw that he could not
conquer Œnomaos by fair means he planned a trick. He secretly
approached the king's charioteer, Myrtilos, and said to him:
"Myrtilos, hear what I have to say to thee. Help me to win the race
and I will give thee half the kingdom when I become King of Pisa."

Hippodameia, too, who greatly admired the young man, advised the
charioteer to lend them his aid. Myrtilos accepted the proposal of
Pelops. On the day of the race Œnomaos again waited to sacrifice a ram
to Zeus, leaving Pelops to drive on ahead, and only mounted his
chariot after the offering was over, being sure that he should
overtake the suitor as he had done with the others.

But suddenly a wheel flew off from the king's chariot, and Œnomaos
fell to the ground, hurting himself badly. Myrtilos had removed the
pin which held the wheel on to the axle. Thus Pelops reached the
Isthmus before the king and won the race.

Œnomaos died of his injuries, and Pelops married Hippodameia, and took
possession of the kingdom. Then Myrtilos demanded half the kingdom as
it had been promised him by Pelops. But Pelops carried him to the sea
and cast him into it. On account of this crime the descendants of
Pelops, the Pelopides, had to suffer many misfortunes. Crime and craft
may answer an immediate purpose, but they are followed by divine

Pelops instituted the famous Olympic games, which were celebrated
every fourth year, and lasted five days. And he did many other things
which were of great use to his people. In honor of Pelops, the great
peninsula, south of the Isthmus of Corinth, was called Peloponnesos,
which means Pelops' Island. The name was not quite correct at the
time, for the land was not an island but a peninsula. But after all
these thousands of years it has curiously come to pass that the old
name is a true one, for it was only a few years ago that the Isthmus
of Corinth was cut in two, and the Peloponnesos was in truth made an



Less than sixty miles in a straight line to the southwest of Athens
there is a barren, swampy plain. It is in the Peloponnesos and is
bounded on all sides by mountains except to the south, where it is
bounded by the sea. In this plain lies the market-town, Argos, at the
foot of a lofty hill, its acropolis, Larisa. There is a citadel on
this acropolis which looks off to a high mountain at the north near
the Isthmus of Corinth, and the white-streaked hills beyond. And
nearer to the citadel, on the north, is a higher mountain, the highest
of the Peloponnesos, where the people used to pray to Zeus and Hera
for rain. To the southeast the Larisa looks over a great prison on a
fortified mountain.

We have said that the Peloponnesos was the shape of a man's hand. The
thumb of this hand is a peninsula pointing toward the east and south.
In more ancient times this thumb was called the peninsula of Argos.
The town, Argos, shares its name with the barren plain in which it is
situated, and in olden times it shared it with the peninsula also. The
peninsula of Argos was quite separate from a larger district, called
Argolis, until the Romans conquered Greece. But now it is one with the
entire district, and Argos the town, and Argos the plain, and Argos
the peninsula, are all in Argolis.

Hera, wife of Zeus and goddess of the heavens, was the patron deity of
Argos. It is said that she had a contest with Poseidon to see which
should name the land, and as she brought the most valuable gift, the
honor fell to her. The river Inachos flows through Argos the plain.
The first king of Argos was a son of the river-god, Inachos, and the
ocean-nymph, Melia, was his mother.

The earliest people of Argos must have worked hard to keep the country
rightly irrigated. They were called Danaæ, doubtless because their
work resembled that of the Danaïds, who were said to be punished in
the lower world by carrying water in pitchers to fill a broken
cistern. As fast as they poured water in the cistern it ran out
through the cracks at the bottom. So, too, the Danaæ carried water to
the sandy soil, but it ran into the earth without doing very much

The Danaæ came from Egypt and were accustomed to farming in the sand.
They knew the unsparing pains that must be taken to conquer it, and
kept at work until the land became fertile enough to repay them. But
in modern times the plain has lost its fertility because the farmers
do not take the same trouble in cultivating the soil.

One of the earliest of the Argive kings, Danaos, sent his daughters
out to search for springs as he would have sent them to bring water
from the Nile if they had remained in Egypt. Poseidon, seeing how
fair one of them was, loved her and caused a spring to flow at Lerna,
and it is called by her own name, Amyone, to the present time. It was
this spring that created the marsh where the terrible Hydra was slain
by Herakles.

Danaos had many descendants, one after another succeeding him as king.
The fifth successor was Akrisios and he had a daughter, Danäe. Some
oracle had told him that he would be slain by a son of Danäe if she
ever had one. This worried the king and he determined that she should
never marry. He built a high tower of brass and shut her up in it so
that no one could get to her.

Danäe grew very lonely, shut up in the tower, and she used to watch
from the window to try to catch a glimpse of the people below. No one
looked up to notice her, but Zeus saw her from his abode in the
heavens and was struck with her beauty and loneliness. He sent a
golden shower of sunbeams to console her in her prison, and a little
babe was born to her, and she called him Perseus, the son of Light.

Akrisios, the king, heard the child's voice and called his daughter to
a holy sanctuary and bade her tell the truth about the babe. This she
did, but the king would not believe her. He put her into a box and
the child with her and cast the box into the sea to sink or float. The
box did float and the kind waves carried it to the island of Seriphos.
A good old fisherman caught it in a net and took it to his own little
hut, and thus Danäe and her babe were saved.

Perseus grew up to be a strong, handsome lad, and was often seen with
his beautiful mother wandering over the island. As Perseus grew older
he became his mother's protector and champion and could never do
enough for her. They continued to live at the cottage of the
fisherman, who had adopted them as members of his own family.

The fisherman had a brother, Polydektes, who was king of the island,
and he was as proud and cruel as the fisherman was simple and kind.
Polydektes saw the beautiful Danäe and resolved to add her to his
possessions and make her subject to his whims. He feared Perseus,
however, and studied how to get him out of the way. So he called his
friends together, among them Perseus, and said that he was looking for
quaint gifts to send to the wedding of Hippodameia, the daughter of

All the young men came to the court of the king and listened to his
request, and each one promised to go on some quest and find a present
worthy of the princess. Perseus wanted to outdo all the others, and
said he would bring the head of Medusa if the king desired it.
Polydektes took him at his word and ordered him to go for it at once.



Medusa was the youngest of three sisters known as the Gorgons, who
lived somewhere in the far west by the ocean. She was the fairest of
the three and in her youth had been a famous beauty. But having
insulted Athena in her holy temple, that goddess punished her by
spoiling her beauty in a most ghastly way. She changed her beautiful
locks into living snakes. A great horror settled on the face of the
poor girl, and it became so terrible in its look of agony, with its
frightful frame of snakes, that no one could bear the sight. Whoever
looked at her turned to stone.

Perseus set forth to find Medusa with the courage of a youth who has
never known defeat. The goddess, Athena, who particularly despised
the Gorgon, lent him her aid. She advised him to go to three aged
women, who lived in a dark cavern near the entrance to the infernal
regions. They were old women from their birth, gray-haired, misshapen,
and had but one eye and a single tooth for the three. These they
exchanged, each taking a turn at using the tooth and eye, while the
other two sat toothless and blind.

Perseus approached them quietly, for they were easily alarmed and
always on the lookout for something to dread. As they were passing the
eye from one to the other, Perseus seized it, and they pleaded
piteously for him to restore it. This Perseus refused to do until they
should tell him the way to the home of the nymphs who took care of the
invisible helmet of Hades and the winged shoes of Hermes, messenger of
the gods. The three miserable old women were glad to get back their
eye and tooth, although they were loath to give Perseus the
information he wanted. But they told him the way to find the home of
the nymphs, and he went on with a happier heart.

Perseus received the winged sandals from the nymphs and bound them to
his own feet. They gave him a mantle, too, which he threw over his
shoulders. It made him invisible, just as the darkness of night hides
everything from human eyes. They put the helmet of Hades on his head.
Whoever wore this helmet could see others, but no one could see him.
Moreover, Hermes gave him a two-edged sword and Athena gave him a
shield of brass, which was polished on the inside until it glittered
like a mirror and reflected the image of everything back of the person
using it.

Perseus, being thus armed, went flying toward the ocean and found the
Gorgons lying on the shore. There were three of them and they were
sisters. Medusa alone was immortal. The other Gorgons, as well as
Medusa, had snakes on their heads instead of hair, and large teeth
like wild beasts, and iron hands with golden nails. Athena had taught
Perseus how to approach them without being the victim of Medusa's
deadly stare. Instead of facing her, he kept his face turned toward
his shield and looked at her image only.

In this way, guarded by his cloak and helmet of invisibility, he came
close to Medusa, and with one blow from his two-edged sword cut off
the monster's head. As the blood flowed down over the sand, there
sprang from it a beautiful white-winged horse. Perseus had brought a
large pouch which the nymphs had given him; a magic pocket that could
be distended to almost any size. He hurried the head into the pouch
without looking at it and flew away as fast as his winged sandals
would carry him; the other Gorgons followed him in vain, for he was
invisible to them.



On his way back to the island of Seriphos, Perseus met with many
adventures. He visited Atlas, expecting the hospitality which the
Greeks consider due to all strangers. But Atlas did not receive him
with courtesy, and Perseus in return held up the Gorgon's head for
Atlas to gaze at. Atlas was turned into a rocky mountain, and there he
stands and always will stand with the firmament resting on his head.

In his flight Perseus reached Ætheopia, where King Kepheus reigned.
There he saw an immense rock on the coast and a charming maiden was
chained to the rock. Perseus approached her in pity and said, "Tell
me, oh maiden, why thou art bound to this rock! What is thy name and
which is thy country?" "I am a princess, the daughter of King
Kepheus," answered the girl, "and my name is Andromeda. My mother
praised my beauty above that of the daughters of Nereus, displeasing
the nymphs themselves and offending the god.

"The Nereids complained to Poseidon, and in his wrath he sent a
sea-monster on shore to destroy the people and their flocks and herds
and devastate the country. The king, my father, inquired of the Oracle
how the country might be freed from this calamity. The Oracle made
reply that the country would be delivered if the king would give up
his own daughter to be devoured by the monster. When the people of
Ætheopia heard of the answer of the Oracle they forced my father to
accede to the terms. They themselves chained me to this rock, and
every moment I expect the monster to come and tear me to pieces."

No sooner had Andromeda finished her tale than the monster appeared in
the distance. Her father and mother saw him too and wept in despair.
Crying out to their beloved child, with extended hands they bewailed
her fate.

"A truce to tears!" cried Perseus. "The brave man sheds no tears in
the face of danger! He wastes no words but dares! Shall Perseus, the
son of Zeus and Danäe, having slain Medusa, quail before a
sea-serpent? I will save thy daughter, but thou must give her to me to
be my wife!"

"Thou shalt have our daughter for thy wife and our kingdom as well,"
cried the king, "if thou wilt save her!"

The waves rose higher and higher around the cliff and the sea-monster
came roaring and hissing, with open jaws showing his savage teeth, his
neck outstretched, and his head reared high above the breakers. Over
the waves rose his tremendous back covered with thick, heavy scales,
and he lashed the waters to a foam with his coiling tail.

Then Perseus, with the aid of his winged sandals, rose up into the air
and attacked the monster from above. The beast plunged this way and
that, leaping up and striking at Perseus with his fangs, diving again
into the water and springing out, bellowing in a frightful manner.

Time after time Perseus thrust his sword into the monster, until a
stream of black blood ran from its throat, and it grew motionless and
died. Perseus quickly flew to Andromeda and took off the chains that
bound her, and she sprang into her father's arms with a cry of joy.
The king and queen threw their arms around their beloved daughter and
covered her with kisses, and they clasped the hand of Perseus with
gratitude which they could not express.

Then they returned to the grand castle of Kepheus, promising to
celebrate the nuptials of Perseus and Andromeda. The wedding took
place amidst great pomp and splendor, but while they were in the midst
of their festivities the din of arms and battle-cries resounded
through the hall. Phineus, the brother of the king, had come with a
crowd of warriors to steal the bride. For Andromeda, before her
misfortunes, had been promised to him in marriage, but in the hour of
danger he had left her to her fate, a prey to the sea-monster.

Now that she was safe again and in favor, Phineus had come to claim
her. He said petulantly to Perseus, "Andromeda belongs to me. I come
to get her. Neither thy winged sandals nor thy father Zeus shall save
thee from my wrath. Thou art a robber trying to take my bride from

Then the king answered him angrily. "Phineus," he said, "thou art a
boastful coward. In no way does Perseus rob thee of Andromeda. Thou
hast lost her through thine own fault, for when she was in peril thou
didst desert her like a coward, and she would have been devoured by
the sea-monster before now if this noble youth had not saved her. My
daughter shall wed the man who has saved her from a terrible death."

But Phineus would not yield. Wishing to kill Perseus, he shot an arrow
at him. At the same time he ordered his band of followers to rush upon
him. The arrow did not hit Perseus, who fought single-handed against
them all, but as soon as he struck down one foe a new one sprang up in
his place. Perseus saw that he could keep on fighting for all time,
and never conquer this army, which could furnish a new warrior as
often as one was slain. Having thus fought alone against great numbers
until he saw it was hopeless, Perseus took the head of Medusa out of
the pouch where he had kept it and held it up for Phineus and his
warriors to gaze upon. Instantly everyone of them was changed to
stone, and Perseus, taking his bride, returned to the island of



When Perseus reached home he did not find the glad welcome to which he
had looked forward with all the ardor of a youth who has been for the
first time on an important errand. His mother had taken refuge in a
temple at the altar of Zeus to escape the persecutions of King
Polydektes, who had begun to ill-treat her as soon as Perseus had
departed in search of Medusa. His brother, the fisherman, had tried to
protect her and had used hot words in warning the king to desist from
his unmanly purpose. But Polydektes turned his wrath upon his brother
also, and he, too, could find no refuge save the sacred altars.

Perseus went at once to the king and announced his arrival. The king
was uneasy, and yet he did not believe that Perseus had been able to
keep his word. He called all the nobles of his court together to
listen to what Perseus had to say. Perseus came before them, and
taking the fearful head from its covering, held it up for them to look
at. At once they became stone images, a ghastly court of petrified
men. Even the frogs and beetles and other animals in the castle and
its grounds were turned to stone.

Then Perseus flew to his mother, who was still a beautiful woman in
spite of all her sorrows. She had long prayed for her son's return,
almost without hope, and now that he had really come her joy was
boundless. Perseus established the fisherman as king of the island in
his brother's place, and the people rejoiced that they had been freed
from the tyrant, Polydektes.

Perseus now gave up his winged sandals to Hermes, and asked him to
carry the helmet and mantle to the nymphs, but the head of Medusa he
gave to Athena, who wore it on her shield ever after.

Perseus could not remain idle at Seriphos. He set out for Argos to
visit his grandfather, taking his mother and Andromeda. Akrisios,
suspecting that he would come, for the words of the Oracle often came
to his mind, had gone to Thessaly. There at Larissa he had built a
home and established himself, hoping that his grandson would be
contented to remain in Argos.

But Perseus went on until he came to Thessaly, and finding some games
going on he took part in them. He threw a discus which accidentally
struck his grandfather's foot, giving him a painful wound which could
not be cured. Thus the Oracle was fulfilled. Learning whom he had
killed and that Akrisios had died according to an old prophecy, he
mourned for him and buried him with honors outside of the city.

Perseus then returned to Argos, where he had left his wife and mother,
and he became king of the country in the place of his grandfather,
Akrisios. But the thought of sitting on a throne whose rightful king
he had accidentally killed was distasteful to him, so he exchanged
kingdoms with Megapenthes of Tiryns.

It is said that the Persian kings claimed to be descendants from
Perses, a son of Perseus and Andromeda. However this may be, Perseus
has certainly inspired many a poet and artist and hero to express
great actions and courage in word and deed.



Twelve miles to the west of Athens is a beautiful hill which ends
abruptly close to the sea. It is the acropolis or highest point of
Eleusis and is covered with splendid blocks of marble, the ruins of
wonderful temples which stood there in ancient times. The greatest of
these temples was called The Temple of the Mysteries. Demeter, the
Earth-Mother, was worshipped there.

The principal road leading to the acropolis of Eleusis begins at the
acropolis at Athens and is called The Sacred Way. Over this road,
thousands of years ago, went the stately processions of loose-robed
Greeks, their beautiful garments fluttering in the winds. Their heavy
chariot-wheels left deep prints in the rocks, and there they are at
the present time. There are ruins of temples to the gods along The
Sacred Way, and the little lambs and kids skip playfully about among

A narrow pass between the hills admits you into a flowery meadow. It
was here that Persephone played when a child. There are two salt
lakes in the plain in which only priests were allowed to fish in the
olden times. There, too, is a well where you stop for a cup of water
as people have done through the long ages.

The plain of Eleusis is separated from Attica by a range of low hills
clad with fields of wheat and barley. At the foot of the acropolis is
the sickly little village of Eleusis, but the Island of Salamis rises
across the blue waters of the bay like a fairyland shining through a
delicate atmosphere of violet tint. This was the kingdom of Keleos and
his son Triptolemos, the Hero of Agriculture, and it was the scene of
the story of Demeter and Persephone, the story which brings us to the
Hero of Eleusis.

It is said that Kronos and Rhea were the father and mother of the
greatest of the gods, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades or (Pluto) and their
sister Demeter, the mother of fertility. Though men might plough the
fields and the rain moisten the swelling seed-grains, it was Demeter
who gave the vital touch which caused the new life to spring up.

Demeter had one beloved daughter, Persephone, on whom she bestowed all
the tenderness of her divine mother-heart. One day Persephone went out
into the blooming meadows to play with her companions. The fields
were gay with roses, violets, and lilies. The yellow crocus, the
asphodel, and the purple and pink narcissus made bank and by-path seem
like a soft carpet and filled the air with sweet fragrance.

Persephone stooped to pluck a flower of unusual beauty, when the earth
suddenly opened and Hades appeared with a splendid chariot drawn by
fiery black horses. He seized Persephone, and placing her on his
chariot, drove away to his kingdom under the earth. Persephone uttered
piercing cries, praying to the gods and imploring men to come to her
rescue. But all in vain. Zeus looked on with approval, for he knew
that his good brother ought not to be condemned to reign alone in the
dread realms of darkness.

Now there was a goddess of the night, a torch-bearer who lived in a
dark cave. Her name was Hekate and she knew the secrets of lonely
forests and cross-roads and the gloomy underground world. She heard
the shrieks of the maiden when Hades seized her; and Helios, too, the
sun-god who sees everything, saw him bear her away.

The mother, Demeter, also, heard the cries of her daughter, and an
unspeakable grief took possession of her. She wandered from place to
place, taking neither food nor sleep, beseeching everyone to tell her
where she could find her child. But no one could give her any
information. She yoked her winged snakes to her car and drove with
lighted torch through every country. Wherever she went she was
received gladly by the people, for she stopped to teach them something
of agriculture and left her blessing with them when she departed.



On the tenth day of her wanderings she met Hekate, who said: "Lovable
Demeter, who hath robbed thee of thy daughter and plunged thee into
sorrow? I heard her cries when she was carried off, but I could not
see who it was that took her. There is one, however, who sees
everything, Helios, and he may tell thee where thy daughter is

Demeter gladly took the hint, and with Hekate she set out to find
Helios, and when they saw his horses and chariot they stationed
themselves where they could speak to him. The venerable goddess said
to him: "If ever, oh, Helios, I have pleased thee in word or deed, I
pray thee look down from the heavens and tell me truly whether it is a
god or a mortal that hath stolen my daughter."

"Honored Queen," replied Helios, "I willingly tell thee all I know.
Hades hath taken thy daughter and led her into the gloomy kingdom
below. But Zeus is the author of this deed, for he gave his permission
to Hades to make Persephone his wife. Yet thou hast no need to grieve,
for Hades is a loving husband and hath given thy daughter an honorable
place as queen of his realm."

When Demeter heard this her grief was unbounded and her anger
terrible. She left the abode of the gods on Mount Olympos and went
down to earth, where she assumed the form of a mortal woman. In her
travels on the earth she reached Eleusis, and sat down on a stone near
a spring, from which the people drew water.

As she sat there two beautiful maidens, daughters of Keleos, the King
of Eleusis, came to the spring to fill their bronze pitchers with
water. They saw the stately woman in garments of mourning, and,
approaching her, asked with sympathy whence she came and why she sat
alone so far from the city instead of coming to the houses, where the
women would gladly show her every kindness in word and deed.

Demeter replied: "May the Olympian gods bestow all good gifts upon
you, my daughters. Have pity on me and lead me to the house of some
chief, where I may be a servant, doing such work as an old woman can
perform. I can take care of a new-born babe, guard the house, tend the
beds, and teach serving-women housework."

"Venerable lady," answered one of the daughters, "I thank thee for thy
good wishes, and I will tell thee the names of the foremost men of the
city. There are several chiefs of note in Eleusis, but our father is
the king and he will give thee royal welcome. Let us take thee to our
mother, Metaneira, and she will not let thee go into a strange house.
She has a little son, and if thou wilt bring him up well she will give
thee rich gifts."

Demeter consented to go, and the girls, after filling their jugs,
hastened home, where they told the queen, their mother, what they had
seen and heard. The beautiful Metaneira sent them to call in the aged
woman, and they ran back to the spot where they had left her. They
took her by the hand and led her to their home, where they presented
her to their mother.

Metaneira had her baby in her arms and received Demeter kindly.
"Welcome, my dear woman," she said, "thou hast come in good time. But
I cannot treat thee as a servant, for thou dost appear like a

"The gods often visit us with misfortunes, which we must bear as best
we can. Let this home be thine and I will trust this babe of mine to
thee, that thou mayst rear him. We had no hope of his living when he
was born, but the gods had pity on me and let him live. For this
reason he is much dearer to me. Care for him most lovingly and I will
give thee a fitting reward."

"My greeting I give to thee, too, dear lady," answered Demeter. "May
the gods give thee all thy desires. I will tend thy child with
affection as if he were my own."

Demeter made herself at home in the large hall of Keleos and undertook
the bringing up of the boy. She gave him no other food but ambrosia,
that he might never grow feeble with old age. The child throve
wonderfully and was a joy to everybody. The father and mother were
astonished at his rapid growth and handsome face.

But one night Metaneira wished to see how her son was getting along,
and, going into the room where Demeter was tending him, saw a strange
sight, for the supposed old woman held him over a fire like a brand.
Metaneira, terribly frightened, cried out, "Oh, my child, the stranger
is burning thee!"

But the goddess grew angry, took the child out of the fire, and
setting it down on the ground, made reply: "Surely mortals are blind
and incapable of telling good from evil. I vow to thee by the waters
of the Styx that I have rendered thy beloved son immortal. I put him
on the fire that it should render his mortal flesh impervious to the
ills of men. For thee it is an eternal honor that I have lived in thy
house and let thee sit in my presence."

At that instant Demeter threw off her disguise as an old woman and
appeared in all her glory as a goddess. Her face shone like the sun,
and a heavenly odor was shed from her robe, and her golden hair
glittered as it fell over her shoulders.

"Know that I am the goddess Demeter," she said, "who am honored by
mortals and immortals. Thou shalt hasten to bid the whole populace of
Eleusis to build me a great temple above the spring on the mountain."

Metaneira was speechless with astonishment at what she had heard and
seen. She began to tremble and did not even take heed of her child,
who sat on the floor looking at them with wonder. She went at once to
her husband and told him all that had happened. King Keleos called his
people together in a general assembly and ordered a beautiful temple
to be built on the acropolis in honor of Demeter.

The people loved their king and believed his words, and they went to
work at once to build the temple. They set about it with such zeal
that it was finished in one day, for the goddess gave them divine
strength and directed the work. Demeter took up her abode in the
temple and remained away from the other gods, still mourning over the
loss of her daughter.



Persephone did not return, and the angry goddess grew more angry. She
determined to punish the gods, even though it brought suffering to
mankind. Indeed there was no other way to punish them. So she forbade
the earth to bring forth any more fruit, and there was a great
famine. In vain did the oxen pull the plough through the field. In
vain did the farmer sow the grain. The land was covered with stubble.
No flower sprang up on the parched earth; the starving people had no
sacrifice to offer to the gods, and their altars were left without the
incense arising from sacred offerings.

Now the gods loved the praises of men, and the incense from their
altars was most precious to them. They complained to Zeus because they
were deprived of their incense, and Zeus saw the cause of it. He sent
the rainbow-winged Iris to call Demeter back to Mount Olympos.

The beautiful messenger flew like a sunbeam through the space between
heaven and earth, and soon reached Eleusis. She found Demeter in her
temple and said to her, "Dear Mother, I bring a message to thee from
the great god Zeus. He commands thee to return to the abode of the
immortal gods, and his command no one dares to disobey."

But Demeter received the command with scorn, so Zeus sent all the
gods, one after another, to entreat her to return, and he sent
promises of beautiful gifts and courtly honors, but Demeter remained
unmoved. "The earth shall yield no fruits," she said, "nor will I
return to the company of the gods until I behold with mine own eyes my
beautiful daughter."

Then Zeus sent Hermes to Hades to persuade him with sweet words to
give up his wife and send her back to her mother since Demeter's anger
could not be appeased without her. Hermes went down to the under-world
to the King of the Dead, and said to him: "Immortal Hades, father Zeus
has charged me to take thy wife from this dark realm back to the light
of day that her mother may see her, for the anger of the goddess
cannot be appeased. In her wrath she is starving men and depriving the
gods of the honors that mortals bestow on them. She hath left the home
of the gods and will not abide with them. Neither will she speak to
them, but lives alone in her temple at Eleusis."

The grim king smiled and said to his wife, "Persephone, my queen, go
to thy blue-robed mother and appease her wrath. The winter is over and
thou must see the light of the sun. But first thou shalt eat with me
of the pomegranate, the apple of love, for thou dost love me and this
shall keep thee in remembrance of me."

Then Persephone took from the king the pomegranate and ate it, for
the grim Hades had made her truly a queen and had done honors to her.
But she was glad to return to her mother and the blessed light of the
day. She mounted the chariot. Hermes took the reins and the whip, and
the horses flew over the stony road that led from Hades. On and on
they went until they reached the Eleusinian plains and the temple of

There they emerged from the cave close to the temple, and a fig-tree
burst into budding as they came. Demeter stood with outstretched arms
at the mouth of the cave to receive her daughter. Hermes helped her
from the chariot and Persephone sprang into her mother's arms as the
flowers of May spring forth on the bosom of earth with the early

No one can describe Demeter's joy as she beheld once more her beloved
child, and pressed her to her heart, covering her with kisses. The
whole earth smiled and burst into verdant growth. The fields were
covered with grain. The meadows bloomed with gay flowers. The birds
sang and the people rejoiced.

      (Lord Leighton.)]

Demeter drew her daughter into the holiest sanctuary of her great
temple and they talked over all that had happened during Persephone's
long absence. She told her mother how Hades had stolen her away
from the meadows while she gathered flowers, and how he had treated
her while she stayed with him in the lower world. She had only words
of love and honor for the dread King of the Dead.

A whole day mother and daughter passed in an affectionate embrace and
in exchanging words of love, each pitying the other on account of the
long separation. Then Zeus sent Rhea to bring Demeter and Persephone
to Mount Olympos. And he told them that Persephone might remain with
her mother until the winter months came back again.

To this Demeter seriously objected, for she dreaded the separation and
the loneliness. But Zeus replied: "If thy daughter hath eaten of the
pomegranate she is truly wedded to Hades the King of the Dead, and
must go back to him to stay during the winter. For the pomegranate is
the apple of love, and having shared it with him, he hath part in her
affection and can claim her as his wife. But if she hath not eaten of
the fruit she shall remain with thee and go no more to the gloomy
realms below."

Demeter was satisfied with these terms and promised that Persephone
should return to her honored husband during the winter months, for
Persephone had told her that she had eaten with him of the
pomegranate and that she loved him in spite of his gloomy
surroundings. Then Demeter forgave Zeus for his part in allowing the
abduction of Persephone, and the mother and daughter descended once
more to Eleusis to bestow blessings upon the inhabitants, and from
that time on the earth was clad in flowers and foliage as long as
Persephone stayed with her mother. But it was brown and barren when
she returned to the regions of the Dead. And the good Hades warmed the
earth from below by virtue of his divine power, helping it to produce
more abundantly the precious grains and the fragrant flowers.



Demeter returned to her home among the gods on Mount Olympos. But
before she went she called Triptolemos, an older son of King Keleos to
her and gave him her car which was drawn by winged dragons. There is
nothing more precious to the gods than open, benevolent hearts and
generous hospitality. The poorest and meanest man may be god-like in
generosity, sharing his goods with open hand, as sunshine is poured
out from the heavens. King Keleos had shown himself a most
royal-hearted man in his princely generosity toward the goddess when
she came in the guise of a poor old woman, and Demeter resolved to
bestow upon him and upon mankind, for his sake, a blessing
proportionate to her power and rank.

So she gave to Triptolemos something far better than her magic car and
serpent-steeds. She taught him how to make the plough of iron.
Heretofore men had ploughed the fields with the crudest of ploughs--a
pointed stick, or an iron bar. She taught him how to turn a furrow and
put the seed into it, and cover it up so that the birds should not eat

And when summer came she showed him how to cut the grain, to bring it
in wagons to the barn where he was to thrash it, and to store it away,
keeping each kind separate.

Triptolemos, being carried on his wagon through the air, sowed the
precious grain all over the inhabited world and turned many a barren
waste into a cultivated field. He taught the people everywhere, as
Demeter had taught him, how to cultivate the soil. Thus he became a
great benefactor to all mankind and induced a better way of living.
For when people had farms to take care of, they ceased to roam
aimlessly about the world. They built homes and learned to be
friendly, and from this sprang up the government which should protect
the home and make men happy and comfortable.

Triptolemos received the honors of a god, and the people of Eleusis
built a temple to him close to the acropolis, where some of the stones
of the temple may still be seen. But his best monument is the
cultivated fields of barley, rye, and oats, and all the grains which
from Demeter (Ceres) we call cereals.



Heaven and earth were created. The sea rolled its waves against the
shore and played around the islands. The fishes sported in the waters
in lively gambols. On the land the birds flew from tree to tree
singing with sweetest voices; wild beasts were peaceable; flowers
threw out delicious odors; nature beamed with loveliness.

But mankind could not notice the beauty of nature. Men walked as in a
dream, for they were not awakened to delicate odors or sweet sounds
or beautiful forms and colors. They were barbarous and rude; they did
not know any of the arts of civilization; they were not even able to
build homes; they lived in caves like wild beasts and fed on nuts and

The cultivation of the soil was unknown. Men made no difference
between the blooming spring and fruitful summer and the cold winter.
They did not know how to cut stone. Like the wild creatures they lived
in constant fear, crawling about miserably.

Prometheus, the son of Japetos, was wise and good. He looked down from
his comfortable abode and saw with pity how man was stupefied and
enthralled by ignorance, and he wished to deliver him from his unhappy
state. At that time Zeus reigned in the heavens; he was the lord of
thunder and of fire. He stored the fire in the heavens and sent it
down to earth in the form of lightning to terrify men but not to help

Without fire upon earth man's condition was hopeless. He needed it for
making tools, if ever he learned to forge metals, for baking clay with
which to make bricks and dishes, for cooking his food, and protecting
himself from the biting frosts of winter. But Zeus does not willingly
part with his treasures, and he looked upon fire as property solely
his own. No one could get it from him by open means, and man had not
even dreamed that he needed it.

Prometheus made it a part of his own duty to teach man the use of fire
and how to live better by knowing its secrets. So he went to Olympos,
the home of Zeus himself, and took a few sparks of the heavenly fire,
which he hid in a hollow reed so that it could not go out. He came
down to earth, bringing it to men, and they made a great blaze and
gave thanks to Prometheus from the depths of their hearts when they
saw what it would do.

When it grew cold they sat around the big fire and warmed themselves.
They began to cook their food, they melted iron and made spears and
tools. They baked clay which they had moulded into dishes, and it led
on to their inventing all those things that are made by the use of

When Zeus looked down from the heavens and saw the light of the flames
on the earth he at once became aware that Prometheus had stolen the
fire from him and given it to mortals. Zeus was greatly alarmed to
find his power shared by men, for the lightning had been his sceptre.
He called Hephæstos to his aid, the Blacksmith of the Gods, and his
powerful servants, Violence and Force, and bade them lead Prometheus
far away and chain him to a lofty peak in the Caucasus, a wild
mountain-range of Scythia.

Hephæstos loved Prometheus, but he could not disobey the command of
Zeus. When they reached the Caucasus, Violence said to Hephæstos:
"See! we have reached far off Scythia, a desert where no trace of man
is ever found. Behold the Caucasus! Now is the time to perform the
task with which thy father Zeus hath charged thee. Let us chain
Prometheus to the highest rock with fetters which cannot be broken.
Thus may he learn the will of Zeus and that he is subject to his rule.
Thus, too, will he see where his love for wretched men has brought

But Hephæstos answered: "Force and Violence, do ye execute the order
of Zeus, for I have not the heart to fetter a god who is of my own
kin, to this wild mountain. It must be done, because it is the will of
Zeus, and it is a dangerous thing to disobey him."

Then, turning to Prometheus, he said: "High-minded son of Heaven, it
is with a sorrowful heart and against my will that I let my servants
bind thee with never-breaking bonds to this rock. There thou wilt
never hear a human voice nor see a human form. Here wilt thou stay
with no power to stir, and the burning sun will scorch thee. There is
no place where thou canst rest thy weary limbs or thy sleepless head.
This is thy reward for thy love to mankind. But I would rather bear
thy punishment than be the tyrant to treat thee so unjustly."



Prometheus was securely bound with iron fetters and fastened to the
solid rock. The servants of Hephæstos increased his tortures with
their bitter speeches. But Prometheus bore his sufferings and their
taunts with heroic indifference and courage. As long as they were near
not a sound came from his lips. Only when Hephæstos and his servants
were gone did he begin to bewail his unjust punishment.

The winds carried the sound of his moans far off to the shore of the
sea. The sea maidens, daughters of old Ocean, heard them and were
moved to tearful pity. They hastened on the wings of the salt breeze
like a swarm of birds to comfort and cheer him. Nay, more, old Ocean
himself came from afar, and rising up from his watery abode, stationed
himself near Prometheus to speak to him.

"I am grieved to the heart, dear Prometheus," he said, "for all that
thou hast to suffer. I am thy kin, and it breaks my heart to see thee
like this. Even apart from our kinship there is no one whom I honor as
much as thee. Tell me, is there any way in which I can help thee?"

Prometheus, hearing what Okeanos said, made reply: "What do my eyes
behold, friend Okeanos? Hast thou come to see me in my misery? I fear
me I have only bitter words in exchange for thy kindly greeting. See
in what manner Zeus treats me, his friend, who hath assisted him to
gain possession of the throne of the world!"

Okeanos felt the truth of his words, but thought it better to try to
persuade Prometheus to submit to Zeus, and so he answered pleadingly:
"Curb such overbearing speeches, dear Prometheus, and I will myself
try to appease the anger of Zeus." But Prometheus quickly replied: "I
have done no evil that I know of, and I will not bow to tyranny and

"My fault is this: I loved mankind too well to let them lie helpless
in stupidity and ignorance. I found them in a pitiable plight. They
had eyes but could not see. They had ears but could not hear. Not one
thing did they know until I taught them. I told them to observe the
rising and the setting of the sun, moon, and stars. I taught them how
to count, and write, and remember.

"I taught them to yoke oxen to their ploughs instead of dragging them
themselves. And I showed them how to harness horses to the chariots
likewise. I helped them to make boats with oars for the rivers, and
ships winged with white sails to traverse the seas. I taught them the
healing power of plants to relieve them in their sickness. From me
they learned how to mine for silver and copper, and how to work them.
Indeed, friend Okeanos, thou mayst well say that all the arts men know
how to apply they have learned from Prometheus."

Zeus sat uneasily on his throne, angry when he saw that the spirit of
Prometheus was unbroken. "He still defies me, but I will conquer yet,"
said the Thunderer; and he sent a cruel vulture to tear and eat his
vitals every day. At night they grew again and he was healed. But each
morning the vulture came and renewed his terrible feast.

Two thousand years the large hearted, man-loving Prometheus passed in
suffering in the Caucasus. At length Herakles came that way in his
wanderings, when he was trying to find his way to the Garden of the
Hesperides. He broke the iron bands like egg shells and set Prometheus

To tell the truth, Prometheus was too wise for Zeus to have him as an
enemy forever, for he knew one thing which Zeus did not--he knew the
future. Zeus was aware that there were many important secrets
concerning the future which he could learn from no one else. It is
supposed that Zeus may have hoped to force Prometheus to yield up his
secrets by these punishments, and that on finding out his mistake he
slyly connived at his victim's liberation because he could not afford
to be unreconciled to him any longer.

Prometheus has been loved and honored through all the ages. On an
island belonging to Greece the people built an altar to him at the
foot of a burning mountain. Once a year they put out all their fires
and sent a ship to Delos to bring a fresh light. They used this new
flame for kindling again the fires they had extinguished.

At Athens, Prometheus was held in sacred honor. People held
torch-light festivals in memory of him. And on frosty nights, as they
sat by the fire, they praised the great Prometheus, who could endure
long enough to conquer destiny, the hero who had brought them mental
balance, "The Gift of Equilibrium."



Deukalion was the son of Prometheus, and a just and god-fearing man.
In the time of Deukalion, Zeus destroyed the human race by means of a
great flood. People had become wicked and godless; they did not fear
the gods, and the meaner classes paid no respect to the better, and
all of them loved every manner of wickedness.

This state of affairs reached the ears of Zeus. But wishing to take
the evidence of his own eyes and see if the stories that came to him
were really true, he took the form of a mortal man and went down from
his Olympian home to the Earth.

One evening after sunset he reached Arcadia and asked for a night's
shelter in the palace of Lykaon, the king. Lykaon was famous for his
wickedness. Some of the people seemed to see some signs that Zeus was
a god and went down on their knees to him, but Lykaon laughed at their
credulity and said: "Stay till I find out whether he be a god or a

Lykaon had a stranger in his palace who had been sent to him as a
messenger. Lykaon had the stranger killed and served up as food for
his guest. When the dreadful feast was placed before Zeus, he arose at
once in anger and left the table, and he shattered the house with a
thunder-bolt. Lykaon betook himself to flight with all speed. He fled
to the fields howling like a wild beast.

Lykaon tried to speak, but his human voice had left him. His skin
turned into a wolf's pelt, his hands into paws. He rushed furiously
among the herds and began to tear and bite cattle and sheep. He had
been changed into a wolf.

Zeus, having seen with his own eyes that things were even worse than
had been told him, returned to Olympos. He called the gods together in
council and related to them the wicked deeds he had seen. He ended by
saying: "The whole race of man must surely perish," and the other gods
consented to his judgment.

At first Zeus thought it best to send thunder-bolts to destroy the
evil race, but he feared that the flames might reach from earth into
the heavens and burn the whole firmament. He therefore laid aside his
thunder-bolts and resolved to drown the earth's inhabitants by means
of a flood. So he ordered the God of the Winds to shut Boreas and all
the other winds in his cave, save Notos, only, the wet south wind, who
was to go free.

Then Notos flew forth with his damp wings. A thick cloud hid his face
like a veil and darkness hung around his head. Water ran down from his
brow and his hair. Cloud-bursts broke from the sky and sent cataracts
of water over the earth, flooding it in every direction. The work of
the farmers was stopped and their hopes destroyed in an instant.

But Zeus was not satisfied with that. He called Poseidon, Lord of the
Seas, to his assistance. Poseidon came quickly. He spoke to all the
rivers in a loud commanding voice. "Leave your beds," he cried, "and
rush wildly over your banks and flood the world!" The rivers obeyed,
and Poseidon himself struck the earth with his trident. The earth
quaked and, bursting open in many places, let forth torrents of water.

The waters rose higher and higher. The valleys became one wide lake,
and soon the tops of the trees were no longer above the water. Man
and herds were drowned. The altars of the gods were swept away. When a
house remained standing it was soon covered with water. The highest
towers disappeared in the flood. Land and sea were no longer
separated. The world was all sea--a long, shoreless sea.

Seals gambolled where goats had formerly grazed. Dolphins swam over
the cities that were buried beneath the waves. Wolves and sheep, lions
and tigers huddled close together and swam about as long as they could
keep afloat, when they sank below the waters. The deer could no longer
find ground for his fleet foot. The birds flew on tired, trembling
wings searching for a place on which to perch and finally fell into
the sea with worn-out wings.

The people tried to save themselves in any possible way. Some fled to
the hills and mountains. Some took refuge in ships and sailed over the
fields where formerly the plough had moved. By and by the
mountain-tops were swept by the waves, and the ships were whirled
about by the terrible currents and wrecked.

Deukalion and his wife, Pyrrha, were the only ones to be saved. He had
taken the advice of his father, Prometheus, to build himself a
floating-house in the form of a box and to store in it a great amount
of food; when the flood came he entered this house with his wife. The
house was carried about nine days and nine nights by the winds. Only
the two peaks of Parnassos remained above water. On this mountain the
floating-house stuck fast.

When Zeus cast his eyes down to earth he saw that everything was
covered with water, on the surface of which floated trees and grasses
and thousands of animals and people who had perished in the flood. And
he saw Deukalion and his wife safely anchored on the heights of

Then Zeus gave commands to Boreas to chase away the black clouds. The
sun shone again and the waters retreated from the earth, which was
soon dry again. Poseidon laid aside his trident and the rivers ran in
their old channels. Woods sprang up and the fields bloomed with

Deukalion and Pyrrha looked around them. Everywhere was loneliness and
silence. It was like the solitude of death. Deukalion wept and said to
his beloved Pyrrha: "My dear wife, I do not see a living soul far or
near in any direction. Thou art my only companion. All the friends we
have known have perished in the flood. We are the only inhabitants of
the earth. What will life be worth to us, since we must live alone in
the world with no fellow-men. I should like better to live if we had
other people whom we might love and help and with whom we could enjoy
ourselves. But we will give thanks to Zeus for saving us."

They walked along a little way and came to an altar of the Goddess of
Justice. There they fell on their knees and said: "Oh, divine Justice,
tell us how we may revive the human race which has perished. Oh, help
us and restore our lost ones to us." They listened for the goddess to
answer and soon they heard a soft voice reply: "Veil your faces, oh,
Deukalion and Pyrrha. Go down the mountain, and as ye go throw
backward over your shoulders the bones of your mother."

Deukalion and his wife were puzzled at these words and at first they
could not tell what they meant. But after some meditation Deukalion
said: "My dear wife, the earth is our mother and her bones are the
rocks. As we go down the mountain we will cast behind us the stones
which we find in our pathway."

So they started forth, the founders of a new race, throwing the stones
and rocks which they met over their shoulders and out of sight. From
the stones which they cast there sprang up living men and women; the
stones which Deukalion threw became men and those which Pyrrha cast
became women.

Deukalion and Pyrrha had many children. One of their sons was called
Hellen. Hellen's children and grandchildren spread over Greece and
were called Hellenes, and they gave the name Hellas to Greece.



Dædalos was a native of Athens and descended from one of the most
ancient kings of Attica. It was he who constructed the labyrinth in
which King Minos of Crete locked up the monster Minotaur. Dædalos was
the greatest artist of his time and was master of many useful crafts.
He produced wonderful pieces of work in a great many places of the

His statues were so cleverly made that they were taken for living
beings. It was thought that they could see and walk about. For while
the artists before him sculptured their statues with closed eyes, with
their hands crossed over their breasts, and their feet turned
sidewise, Dædalos made statues with open eyes, outstretched arms, and
feet pointing forward into space.

Dædalos had Talos for a disciple, a clever and intelligent youth, who,
though but a mere boy, had invented several tools of great usefulness.
One day, finding the jaw-bone of a snake he began to cut a piece of
wood with it. It was hardly sharp enough to answer his purpose, so he
constructed a saw of iron on the same plan.

Dædalos was so jealous of the boy that he pushed him off from the
Acropolis and the lad died of the injury. When Dædalos saw what he had
done he went to Talos, but found him dead, so he hurried to bury him.
He was surprised in the act and brought before the court which met on
the hill called Areopagus. He was condemned to death by the court, and
in order to save himself he fled to Crete.

At that time Minos was king in Crete. He received the famous artist
very kindly and held him in great honor. There Dædalos did many fine
works for Minos besides the famous labyrinth for the Minotaur.

After he had stayed some time in Crete he wanted to go away. But Minos
did not wish to let him go, and when Dædalos concealed himself, the
king searched for him everywhere and gave the order that no ship
should take him away from the island.

The ingenious Dædalos then meditated a plan of flight. Suddenly he
exclaimed, "Minos may watch the sea and the land, but he cannot watch
the air. That is still free. I will make me wings and fly away."

Dædalos constructed two large wings and fastened them to his body with
wax. Moving them with his arms and hands he was able to fly like a
bird. He made another pair of wings for his son Ikaros, fastened them
to the boy's body and taught him how to move them. Then he instructed
Ikaros to keep close to him and not to fly too high lest the wax
should be melted by the heat of the sun, nor to keep too near the
surface of the sea, as he might dip his wings into the water and
render them too heavy for flight.

After he had given this advice, he flew up first and his son followed.
Away they went, cutting through the air like two eagles, and soon the
high mountains of Crete were left far behind them. Below them the wide
sea stretched out its great expanse. The sailors looked up from their
boats and wondered what these strange beings were.

  [Illustration: DÆDALOS AND IKAROS.
      (From the painting by Van Dyck.)]

They flew over fields where farmers were ploughing, and the farmers
gazed up with astonishment. But Dædalos and Ikaros flew on and on,
heedless of all that was going on below. The fishermen forgot to take
in their fish and the farmers forgot to urge their oxen on with the
goad, but kept gazing into the sky until the flying people were out of

At first Ikaros kept close in the wake of his father, but when his
confidence grew stronger he rose up higher. He forgot his father's
advice and flew very high into the air. Up, up to the sun as nearly as
he could go. The wax melted. The wings parted and fell to pieces, and
Ikaros was precipitated like a stone into the sea.

Dædalos missed the boy in a short time and turned back to look for
him. He could not see him anywhere, so he called: "Ikaros, Ikaros, my
son, where art thou?" But Ikaros made no answer. Dædalos flew about in
great agony, and at last he saw the wings of his son floating on the
surface of the sea.

Then Dædalos knew that his beloved Ikaros was drowned. He descended to
an island and searched the cliffs, and at length he found the body of
Ikaros, which the waves had washed ashore. With tears and lamentations
Dædalos buried his only son, and thus was he punished for the death
of his disciple, Talos. And the sea in which Ikaros was drowned was
called the Icarian Sea from that time.



Helios, the god of the Day, had a famous son whose name was Phaethon.
Helios drove the chariot of the Sun through the heavens, and Phaethon
played by the sea-shore where his mother lived. She was a daughter of
Old Ocean and had many daughters of her own. Phaethon grew to be a
youth of great promise, but he had one fault, an excessive conceit.

When he had grown to be a young man he left his mother's home and went
to his father to receive the more manly instructions which belong to
those of heavenly descent. When he reached the wonderful palace of
Helios, which was built of gold and precious stones, he sat down and
rested near the glittering columns, his self-pride growing with the
thought of being one of the heirs to such an estate.

He rose and entered the silver gates which shone like mirrors. He
found Helios in the palace surrounded by a flood of light, sitting on
a throne shaped out of an emerald. To the right and left of Helios
stood Hemera (the Day), Men (the Month), Etos (the Year), the Æones
(the Seasons), and at equal distance from one another the Horæ
(Hours), and Ages unnumbered. There also stood Spring adorned by a
wreath of flowers, Summer with ears of grain in his hands, Autumn
laden with juicy fruits, and Winter with his white hair.

Phaethon halted in awe. But Helios, as soon as he perceived him,
welcomed him to his palace. He took the crown of golden rays from his
own head lest its dazzling splendor should blind the eyes of Phaethon,
and then called him to come nearer.

Phaethon approached with fear and trembling, but Helios called him his
son and reassured him with endearing words. When Phaethon's eyes had
grown somewhat accustomed to the blinding splendor, Helios said to him
with fatherly love: "What has brought my dear child into the heavenly
palace of his father? Surely this is hardly the place for anyone who
is accustomed to the cool earth."

Phaethon answered: "Oh, my royal father, I am very unhappy. I am the
subject of much gossip and derision. People taunt me because my
father lives in the heavens and does not abide in our home on earth.
They say that I am not thy son at all, and I have come to thee to get
the proof from thee that I am really thy son."

Now if Helios had lived upon earth everything would have been burned
up in the light of his glittering rays, but he felt sorry for his son
and said: "Thou art my dear son, indeed. I would gladly leave this
palace to come and abide in thy home by the sea. But I must drive the
chariot of the Day. Even the gods are not exempt from duty."

Then said Phaethon: "If thou art indeed my father, thou wilt grant me
the boon which I ask of thee." "Ask what thou wilt," replied Helios,
"and I swear to thee by the waters of the Styx, that I will give it to

Then Phaethon made answer: "Let me drive thy chariot for one day and
all these people who despise me will see that I am thy son."

Helios was dismayed when he heard the audacious and unexpected demand
of his son.

"What words hast thou spoken, my dear Phaethon!" he said. "Thou dost
ask for thine own destruction. Thou dost request a thing that no one
of the gods would dare to undertake, not even Zeus himself. No one
but myself is able to drive my chariot."

But Phaethon would not be persuaded. "Thou dost not love me, my
father," he said with tears. "I see that thou dost not love me. If
thou didst thou wouldst let me have thy chariot in order that the
whole world might see that I am indeed thy son."

"Foolish boy," responded Helios, "just because I love thee shall I let
thee destroy thyself? Ask any other boon but this."

"Nay, I want the chariot and nothing else," replied Phaethon.

Helios was stricken with grief, but he had bound himself by the Great
Oath of the Gods, which cannot be broken. He took Phaethon by the hand
and led him to his chariot and placed him in it.

The chariot was a wonderful piece of workmanship done by Hephæstos.
The seat and axle were made of gold. Golden also were the tires of the
wheels and the spokes were of silver.

While Phaethon was yet gazing with wonder at the glittering chariot of
his father, the rosy-fingered Dawn opened the dazzling gates of the
East, the stars, one after another, set--last of all the Morning Star,
and the light of the Moon died out.

Helios ordered the Hours to harness up his immortal steeds, which
were always fed on nectar and ambrosia. The Hours brought the horses
up from the stables and yoked them to the chariot. While this was done
Helios anointed the face of his son with heavenly oil, lest he might
be scorched by the fiery rays. Then he placed his radiant crown upon
Phaethon's head, and sighing bitterly, gave his son this parting

"My son, do not touch the horses with the whip, but hold on to the
reins with all thy might. The horses are impetuous and thou wilt find
it hard to hold them. Keep them well in hand when making the ascent as
well as in the descent. First thy course is steeply upward, and on the
other side it descends rapidly.

"Do not go near the earth lest thou burn it, and do not rise too high
or thou wilt set fire to the heavens. The twilight is waning. Go, my
son, for mortals are looking for the light of Helios. At the last
moment I pray thee to change thy mind and hand the reins to me."

But the son, exulting with joy, gathered up the reins, and taking
leave of his disconsolate father, boldly drove off.



The horses darted forward to their long race, and their first few
leaps brought them above the highest mountains. Before the eyes of the
youth the whole extent of land and sea lay outstretched.

The deer already had left their shelters and gone up on the heights.
All nature seemed to awake. The quiet woods resounded with the songs
of the birds, which seemed to greet the rising sun. Glittering
dewdrops hung on the leaves and flowers and shone like diamonds with
the light of Helios. Hares and rabbits left their hiding-places and
came forth for food. Bees flew humming from flower to flower,
gathering their precious sweets. The shepherd led forth his bleating
flocks into the green pastures, the farmer plodded off into the fields
with his rural tools. Smoke began to rise from the cottage chimneys.

Only the owls and other night-birds, unable to bear the light of the
sun, flew back to their lonely hiding-places, and a few timid flowers
closed their petals, but the sun-flowers turned their faces with joy
toward the rising sun. Phaethon was entranced by the sight of the
glorious beauty of awakening nature.

The horses soon perceived that they were not held by the powerful
hands of Helios; they also felt that they were not drawing their
accustomed burden, and as a ship that does not carry the necessary
ballast is tossed about by the waves, so the chariot was jolted
through the air, rising and falling as if it were empty.

The horses strayed from their path. Phaethon tried to rein them in. He
did not know the way and was not strong enough to curb the restive
steeds. They ran this way and that, to right and left, under the
uncertain guidance of their new driver.

On they flew. They were near the middle of the sky where the road was
steepest. Phaethon looked down from the tremendous height upon the
earth. He became dizzy; his hands trembled and his knees knocked
together. He let the reins go loose; the horses darted forward like
arrows. He pulled them back, and they plunged and stood on their hind
feet. He wanted to speak to them, but he did not know their names.

Overcome at last by fear, he threw the reins down on the backs of the
horses and clung to the chariot. Having no guidance whatever the
horses now started on a wild race. They approached the earth and
turned everything into a desert; woods and meadows, cities and
villages were burnt to ashes. The rivers were dried up and the sea was

Again the chariot was borne up to an immeasurable height and the earth
was relieved of the terrible heat. But now the firmament was in danger
of being destroyed by fire. Curses and prayers rose to heaven from the
suffering people on earth, and cries of fright resounded through

Zeus heard the sighs and wailings and cries, and to save the world
from destruction he hurled his thunder-bolt at the unfortunate
Phaethon, who fell from the dizzy heights to earth. With tears and
lamentations his mother searched for the body of her wayward son. She
found him near the mouth of a great river which had been burned dry.

There she buried him, and the sisters of the unfortunate youth shed
bitter tears over his grave. They could not bear to go away from the
tomb and leave him lying there alone, so they remained kneeling and
motionless until Zeus took pity on them and changed them into weeping
willows. Even then they kept on weeping, but their tears were dried
by the sun and carried away by the streams into the great sea, where
they became jewels of amber.

Kyknos, too, a friend of Phaethon's, mourned his loss and could not be
comforted; so Zeus, in kindness, changed him into a swan. Helios, in
his fatherly grief, refused to drive the chariot of the Sun any
longer, and the earth was left in darkness for a whole day. But the
gods entreated him to take the reins again and men prayed for light,
and from that time on the Sun has kept its true course through the
heavens, under his wise guidance.


    Ad mē' tos.
    Æ gē' us.
    Æ thra (ē' thra).
    A kris' i os.
    Alk mē' ne.
    An tæ os (an tē' os).
    A res (ā' rēs).
    A ri ad' ne.
    As klep' i os, or Æs cu la' pi us.
    Ath' a mas.
    Au gei as, or Au ge as (au gī' as, or au gē' as).
    Bœ o' ti a.
    Ca' cus, or Ka' kos.
    Cer' be rus, or Ker' be ros.
    Da' nä e (dă).
    Da' na æ.
    Da na' i des, or Da' na ids.
    Da´ na os.
    Dæ' da los.
    De' los.
    De me' ter.
    Deu ka' li on.
    Di o me' des.
    E leu' sis.
    Eu rys theus (ū rys' thuse).
    Glau' ke.
    Hĕ´ ka te.
    Hē' li os.
    He phæs tos (hĕ fēs' tos), or Vulcan.
    Her' a kles or Her' cu les.
    He si o ne (hĕ see' o ne).
    Hip po da mei a (hip po da mī' a).
    Hip pol' y te.
    Hy met' tos.
    Hy per bo rē' ans.
    I bē' ri a.
    I´ ka ros, or Ic' a rus.
    I o la os (ē ō' la os).
    I ol kos (ē ol' kos).
    Jap e tos, or I ap e tus (yap' e tos, or ē ap' e tus).
    Kē´ le os.
    Ke pheus (kē' fuse).
    Kre ū' sa.
    Krom' my on.
    La ri' sa.
    Li nos (lē' nos).
    Lo cri (lo' crē).
    Ly ka' on.
    Me de a (mĕ dē' a).
    Mĕ' ga ris.
    Me le a gros (mĕ le ah' gros).
    Met a nei ra (met a nī ra).
    My ke´ næ, or My cē' næ.
    Myr' til os.
    Ne me' an.
    Ne reus (nē' ruse).
    Πno' ma os.
    O ke' a nos.
    Or pheus (or' fuse).
    Pe leus (pē' luse).
    Pe li as (pē' li as).
    Pe lop' i des.
    Pe lop on nes' os, or Pe lop on nes' us.
    Per i phe' tes or Kor y ne' tes.
    Per seph' o ne, or Pro serp' i ne.
    Pha ë thon (fā' e thon).
    Phin' e us.
    Pit' theus.
    Po sei don (po sī' don).
    Se' ri phos (sĕ).
    Stym phā´ los.
    Sym ple gä' des (sym ple gah' des).
    Ta' los.
    The seus (the´ suse).
    Trip tol e mos (trip tol' a mos).
    Trœ ze ne (tre zē´ ne).
    Vale of Tem pe (tem' pe).
    Zeus (zuse).

Transcriber's Note

Variant spelling is preserved as printed.

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired. Hyphenation has been made

The following amendment has been made:

    Page vii--xiii amended to xi--Introduction xi

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.
Other illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are
not in the middle of a paragraph.

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