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Title: Gods and Heroes - Life Stories for Young People
Author: Becker, Carl Frederich, Schmidt, Ferdinand
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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                        [Illustration: _DIANA_]

                    _Life Stories for Young People_



                            GODS AND HEROES


               _Translated and adapted from the German of
              Ferdinand Schmidt and Carl Friedrich Becker_

                                   BY
                            GEORGE P. UPTON
         _Author of “Musical Memories,” “Standard Operas,” etc.
              Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc._

                           WITH FRONTISPIECE

                    [Illustration: A · C · M^cCLURG]

                                CHICAGO
                          A. C. McCLURG & CO.
                                  1912

                               Copyright
                          A. C. McClurg & Co.
                                  1912
                       Published September, 1912

                           THE·PLIMPTON·PRESS
                                [W·D·O]
                           NORWOOD·MASS·U·S·A



                          Translator’s Preface


In a rare little volume in my possession, written by William Sheldon,
F.A.S., and published by Isaiah Thomas, Jr., at Worcester, Mass., in
1810, over a century ago, the author introduces his “History of the
Heathen Gods and Heroes of Antiquity” in the following quaint manner:
“People of weak minds and of little learning, who have tasted the
Pierian spring but not drunk deep at it, when they read an account of
the Heathen Gods and Goddesses and of the images dedicated to them, and
hear that the heathens were Idolators, or worshippers of Images, give
credit to these stories, without any further inquiry or trouble. It may
not, therefore, be unnecessary to inform persons of this description,
that the people of all the nations which ever existed under heaven have
believed that there existed one God, who is Almighty and the Maker of
all things. But there have been people who believed also in inferior or
subordinate gods, who were agents or mediators between God and man; and
who were employed in carrying on the works of Providence and of the
creation or Nature.”

This quaint effort to show the impropriety of treating any description
of religion with unnecessary disrespect applies to this volume, which
the translator has adapted from the German. Our old author might have
added to his statement that there is rare beauty and fascination in many
of these Grecian myths and that many a one has wished with Wordsworth
that he might

  “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
  Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.”

The old gods and minor deities in these “short stories” also appeal to
us by their human qualities, and many an important moral lesson may be
read in the fate of unfortunate minor deities who offended the higher
gods. The sketches are in story form and are told in a refined and
entertaining manner. Several of the higher gods and goddesses are not
included in this volume, as they appear most interesting in the other
volumes in this series—“Achilles,” “Ulysses,” “Argonauts’ Expedition and
Labors of Hercules.”

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, _May_, 1912.



                                Contents


  Chapter                                                           Page
  I Prometheus                                                        13
  II Deucalion and Pyrrha                                             25
  III Hermes (Mercury)                                                33
  IV Phaëthon                                                         39
  V Orpheus                                                           49
  VI Atalanta                                                         53
  VII Tantalus                                                        57
  VIII Salmoneus, Sisyphus, Ixion, and Phlegyas                       61
  IX Niobe                                                            65
  X Bellerophon                                                       73
  XI Perseus                                                          77
  XII Cadmus                                                          83
  XIII Dionysus (Bacchus)                                             89
  XIV Actæon                                                          95
  XV Dædalus and Icarus                                              101
  XVI Philemon and Baucis                                            109
  XVII Arachne                                                       115
  XVIII Hyacinthus                                                   121

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



                            Gods and Heroes



                               Chapter I
                               Prometheus


Zeus (Jupiter), the mighty divinity, overcame the Titans[1] and became
the master of the heavens and the earth. But notwithstanding his hard
struggle, he would not have been victor had not Prometheus, the Titan,
aided him. At last Zeus, ruler in the skies, became the enemy of
Prometheus, who originated the hated race of the Titans, and only
awaited an opportunity to punish him. He soon found the opportunity, for
Prometheus was attached to mankind, whom Zeus intended to destroy, in
order to people the earth with a race of older creation. Prometheus
endeavored to dissuade him, but Zeus persisted in his purpose. Then
Prometheus said: “Have you forgotten that the curse of the dethroned
Cronus[2] rests upon you and that by the decrees of destiny a mortal
only can deliver you from that curse?”

When Zeus heard this, he decided to spare the race of mortals. They were
leading a wretched life and were unconscious of the spiritual or
intellectual gifts conferred upon them by their creator. They knew not
how to fell the trees and build houses to protect them against wind,
rain, and the heat of the sun. Like the beasts, they lived in dens and
caves which no ray of light penetrated. They knew none of the signs of
the approach of the fruit-bringing Autumn, nor of Winter, nor blooming
Spring. Destitute of purpose or perception, they lived like strangers in
a barren world.

Prometheus pitied them. He explained to them the rising and setting of
the stars and taught them how to recognize their orbits. He computed for
them their numbers, a marvellous feat, gave them the power of
recollection and the gift of writing, that highest of the sciences. He
made the ox a useful servant to the race by placing the yoke upon it and
harnessing it to the cart. He bridled the wild horse and showed them how
to use it for riding and drawing the wagon. They also learned from him
how to build vessels and manage sails. He disclosed the depths of the
earth to them with its treasures of iron, silver, and gold. Up to this
time, men had no knowledge of plants or their healing qualities.
Prometheus taught them how to avail themselves of this knowledge so as
to relieve pain and cure disease. He also imparted to them a knowledge
of what was transacted in the councils of the gods and taught them to
observe the flight of the eagle.

One element of comfortable living, however, was lacking for mankind. It
was fire. Prometheus resolved to bring it to them from heaven, but the
ruler of the skies ordered him to desist. Watching his opportunity,
Prometheus soared aloft, approached the chariot of the sun, and stuck a
rod which he carried in his hand in its blazing wheels. Then descending
like a falling star, he brought to men the blessing of the fire.

Hermes (Mercury), the swift messenger of the gods, saw this and at once
brought the news to the god father, Zeus. The all-powerful one
wrathfully directed Hermes: “Up, hasten to Hephaestus (Vulcan)[3] and
say that the ruler of the gods needs his service.” Vulcan, god of fire,
was also god of all the artificers who are engaged with fire. He was
honored as the discoverer of all the implements of the chase, the house,
the field, and war, and was also famous as the builder of the
gold-gleaming dwellings of the gods. So great was his skill that he
constructed bellows which could make the flame stronger or weaker, as he
wished, as well as sumptuous couches which, at a sign from him, were
placed in the assemblies of the gods for their use.

When Hephaestus appeared before the ruler of the skies, he was requested
to make a maiden of gold. He set about the work at once and when Apollo,
the next morning, mounted his flaming chariot to shed the heavenly light
both upon gods and men, a splendid image was finished which in
appearance, speed, and movement resembled a beautiful mortal. Zeus then
ordered the other deities to adorn the maiden, who was called Pandora,
most sumptuously. The celestial ones came at once bearing gifts. From
Athene (Minerva) she received a girdle. The Horae (Hours) crowned her
with flowers and the Graces adorned her with exquisite rings and
bracelets. Mercury brought her a pernicious gift, that of flattery and
unfaithfulness, which was to bring misfortune to men. Thus fitted out
with deluding charms and seductive graces, Pandora was conducted to
earth by the beautiful winged messenger. From Zeus she had received a
golden box, which contained a multitude of evils dangerous to men, and
from which they had suffered before Prometheus relieved them. Pandora
offered it to him as a gift from Zeus. The watchful son of Titan,
however, rejected the gift of the god. Thereupon Pandora offered it to
Epimetheus, a brother of Prometheus. He was deluded, forgot his
brother’s warning, and married the fascinating Pandora. The false one
immediately opened the golden box and the multitude of evils from which
Prometheus had saved mortals spread themselves abroad once more and men
found themselves again plunged into the very miseries from which they
had been saved by the son of the Titan. Thus it happened that the
seductive charm of woman brought misery to mortals.[4]

Zeus again summoned Hephaestus and the two giants, Kratos and Bia, and
said to them: “Seize Prometheus, conduct him to the limit of earth, and
fasten him to one of the loftiest cliff walls of the Caucasus.” The
giants undertook the task willingly, but not so Hephaestus, who had
compassion for Prometheus. But at last he had to submit to the will of
the ruler of gods and men. Prometheus was seized and taken to the
desolate cliff. Reluctantly Hephaestus went to work to fasten the son of
Titan with adamantine fetters to the cliff, while Kratos and Bia helped
in the task.

“Noble Prometheus,” said Hephaestus, “it pains my soul to lend my skill
to such a deed as this. What wretchedness awaits thee! Thousands of
years must pass and no end to thy suffering! Never wilt thou have sight
of one human being to comfort thee. The strength of thy limbs will wane
in the heat of the sun and longingly thou wilt yearn for the star-sown
night to cover thee with its mantle and bring coolness to thy burning
wounds.”

Thereupon Hephaestus and the two servants of Zeus left the fettered one,
who cried out: “Thou sacred sky! Ye swift-winged winds! Thou billowy
thundering ocean! Earth, thou all-giver! Sun, thou all-seer, I cry to
you. Behold the fate which has overtaken me, a deity. By the decree of
the ruler of all I must endure constant bitter pain a thousand years.
But I will submit to the decree, knowing that the power of fate is
irresistible.”

His groans were heard by the winged Oceanides in the crystalline grotto
of their father, Oceanus.[5] They hurried to him and when they witnessed
the fate of the son of Titan, they filled the air with lamentation.
Sorrowfully they turned away. Soon appeared their father, the gray
Oceanus, upon his winged sea horse, inquiring what Prometheus had done
that he should be exposed to such a dreadful penalty. When he was told,
he promised Prometheus to entreat mercy from Zeus. But Prometheus
admonished him, saying: “Well I know you have always been my friend,
worthy Oceanus, but I pray you do not appeal to Zeus for me. It would
avail me nothing and only prejudice Zeus against you.”

Concealing his deep grief in his heart, Oceanus left the tortured one.

A long time passed. Zeus, believing that the Titan’s obstinate spirit
had been broken, sent his winged messenger, Hermes, to him, who said:
“Zeus desires to know what you heard from your brother about that
marriage which, if he enters into it, will some time precipitate his
ruin. You know it and have found how severely he punishes the theft of
the fire. So anger him no longer, but tell him what he wishes to know.”

Prometheus replied: “Never shall Zeus know what he desires to learn
until I am freed from my fetters and relieved of my torments.”

Hermes returned to the ruler of the skies and told him that Prometheus,
in spite of his unspeakable torments, still remained obstinate. Zeus
stormed wrathfully and decided to subject his victim to still more
dreadful punishment. All at once black clouds gathered over Caucasus,
fiery thunderbolts, hurled by his hand, shook the lofty jagged cliffs,
and the roar of the hurricane filled all the space between the sky and
earth.

“Wrathful, implacable deity,” cried Prometheus, “I know this is the
manifestation of thy power, but thou canst not move me.”

Then he heard a fearful bellowing issuing from the depths, the earth
shook, and great waves hurled themselves upon him and the cliff to which
he was fastened. A year ran its course, and when finished, Zeus again
dispelled the darkness about the cliff, but with no intention of
mitigating Prometheus’ punishment. On the other hand, he determined to
make it harder. He sent a vulture who attacked his body and devoured his
liver. This torment was renewed daily, for every night his liver grew
again. Zeus also vowed that as Prometheus, being a god, could not die,
he should hang on the cliffs of Caucasus forever. And thus it happened
through many generations of men.

At last the spirit of Titan’s son was broken and he longed for peace and
freedom. The other Titans who were once overcome by Zeus and hurled into
Tartarus, had long regained their freedom. Reconciliation, however,
seemed impossible, for Zeus had once vowed he would not send away the
vulture and strike off his fetters unless a deity should undertake to
descend into dark Tartarus.

At this time Heracles (Hercules), a son of Zeus by a mortal, was
traversing the world, fighting every monster which was endangering the
human race. In his travels he came to Caucasus. To his utter
astonishment he saw the son of a god fastened there and asked him why he
had to endure such agonies. Thereupon Prometheus told him of his fate
and Hercules determined to rescue him. Throwing aside his lion skin and
club, and taking a poisoned arrow from his quiver, he shot the vulture,
tore his claws from the Titan’s groin, and threw him into an abyss. Then
Hercules released him from his chains and conducted him to Zeus.
Prometheus unwillingly announced to him that a marriage with the
beautiful sea nymph Thetis would be his ruin. The reconciliation,
however, was not complete, for Zeus’ vow was not yet satisfied. He gave
Prometheus a gold ring in which Hephaestus had set a little stone from
the Caucasus. “Promise me always to wear this ring,” said Zeus, “and my
vow may be accomplished.” Prometheus took the ring and made the promise.
Then Hercules fetched Cheiron, whom he had unintentionally wounded with
a poisoned arrow, to the deity. Cheiron, who was suffering unspeakable
torments and longed to die, gladly descended into Tartarus. Thus the
conciliation was complete.

Warned by Prometheus, Zeus married Thetis to a mortal, King Peleus. At
once a multitude of lovely sea nymphs came to escort the bride and groom
in festal procession. Zeus and the other divinities also joined in the
festivities and celebrated the marriage of the beautiful sea nymph.



                               Chapter II
                          Deucalion and Pyrrha


The human race, which had been steadfast under misfortune, could not
bear good fortune. It became sensual, effeminate, and haughty. Zeus
heard of this human degeneracy, assumed human form, and betook himself
to earth to discover how much of truth there was in these evil reports.
He found a worse state of things than he had feared. Every kind of
abomination prevailed. At the close of day he went to the palace of
Lycaon, king of Arcadia. To those assembled there he gave a sign that a
deity was present. They immediately began to pray. Then said the king:
“Let us see whether this is a deity or a mortal like ourselves.” If
mortal, he resolved to slay him in the night. He first of all prepared a
banquet for him. He cut the throat of a man who had been sent to him by
the people of Molossia to be scourged, took the still quivering members,
threw some of them into boiling water, and placed the rest of them upon
a spit and held them over the fire.

When Zeus saw this he shook the earth and at once the mighty castle was
in ruins. The king fled in terror to the fields. He tried to speak, but
his voice was an awful howl. And as his voice changed, so did his whole
body. He had hair instead of garments and his arms became feet. As a
wolf, with eyes glaring, with a longing for blood, and with the action
of the wild beasts, he sprang among the herds and his teeth were covered
with the blood of the strangled animals.

Zeus not only determined to punish Lycaon, but prepared for the
destruction of the whole human race. He betook himself to Olympus,
entered his golden palace, called the other deities together, and
announced his decision to them. Some approved of it; to others the word
of their master caused pain and they said: “Who will build us
sacrificial altars in future if the race of mortals is destroyed?”

Zeus promised to people the earth with another and better race and
seized his thunderbolts to hurl them over all the earth. But suddenly he
feared that the storm of fire might spread through the whole sacred
firmament and reduce the universe to ashes. Therefore he dismissed the
one-eyed Cyclops, who forged his bolts, and decided to destroy the world
by a deluge. He summoned Æolus, god of the winds, and ordered him to
retain in his grotto the winds which dispel the rain clouds and release
only the south wind. This was done. The south wind immediately spread
its heavy, wet wings over sea and land, its foreboding face was
concealed by the night, mists covered its brow, its heavily waving beard
dripped with rain, and from its curls torrents of water poured down.
Zeus pressed the cloud with his broad hand and at once the thunder
resounded through immeasurable space. Swiftly the goddess Iris ascended
and descended her seven-hued rainbow, drawing water from the agitated
sea and filling the clouds. All growing things were bent to the ground
and it was not long before the husbandman’s hopes disappeared before the
raging flood.

Poseidon (Neptune), god of the sea, was the ruler in the universe most
actively engaged in the work of destruction. He ordered the rivers to
break through the dikes and overflow the land. He himself rode over the
sea in his chariot and excited it so that it hurled its foaming waves
upon the shore. Then he smote the earth with his golden trident so that
it trembled and the water covered every place. Trees, houses, and
temples fell before the wrath of the flood. The rush of the storm
drowned the piteous shrieks of men, who, sitting in the trees or upon
ridge-poles, vainly stretched out their hands to the darkened heavens.
Others fled in multitudes to the mountains to save themselves among the
peaks. But higher and higher rose the flood. Some died of fright, some
of despair. Others, bereft of reason, rushed aimlessly here and there,
until with horrible shrieks they were swallowed up in the raging flood.

The waters soon flowed over the tops of the highest mountains and only
the sky and water were visible. Here and there men rowed in boats, and
tigers and lions vainly sought to save their lives by swimming. The
sheep were in no danger from the wolves when the flood swept among them.
Every animal perished. Even the birds, which can remain long in the air,
at last sank with tired wings into the water.

Only one place was free from water, the heights of Parnassus, which
tower among the clouds. There a small boat was caught in which were
Deucalion, king of Thessaly, and his spouse. They lifted their voices
and implored a nymph dwelling in a grotto near by to save them. Zeus saw
them clinging to the wall of the height, and knowing that they were the
only god-fearing ones among the thousands who had perished, decided to
let them live. So the winds following the rain clouds were checked and
the blue sky smiled once more and Apollo ascended in his flaming
chariot. Poseidon stilled the sea. He gave a signal with his trident and
the vast tide ebbed. Then he called his son Triton, ruler of the depths
of the sea, who dwelt there in a golden house with his mother
Amphitrité. He was half man and half fish, with a bluish scaly skin.
Triton appeared and Poseidon ordered him to call back the floods and
streams which had swept over the land. In obedience to his father’s
request Triton raised his wreathed shell and from sunrise to sunset
sounded a blast which called all the waters back to their depths. The
flood receded, mountains and hills appeared above the water, and
gradually the plains and forests and devastated fields became visible.

Deucalion and Pyrrha left their boat, and as he looked around him at the
widespread desolation he said: “Oh my spouse, bound to me by ties of
kindred and marriage, behold, we are the only human beings in the wide
world. How wretched would it then have been if death also had overtaken
me! If thou hadst been swept away by the flood I should have followed
after thee, for without thee I could not have lived, best beloved! Oh!
would that I possessed my father’s divine power of creating men and
bestowing life upon them.”

Tears choked his voice and Pyrrha wept also. At last they decided to
implore Themis[6] to have mercy and relieve them in their sore straits,
and repaired to the temple of the goddess. What a spectacle! The aisles
were covered with slime and the fires upon the altars were extinguished.
They fell upon their knees, kissed the cold stones, and prayed: “Divine,
all-gracious, and merciful one, behold! Empty is the world! We alone
remain of all its mortals. Oh pity us and let us once more live among
people like ourselves.”

At once through the halls of the temple resounded these words: “Leave
the temple, cover your heads, loosen your girdles, and throw behind you
the bones of your great mother.”

They were mute with astonishment for a time, but at last Pyrrha said
with trembling voice: “Be not angry with me, oh goddess, that I cannot
throw my mother’s bones behind me. Thereby I should disturb the dear one
now wandering among the shades in Tartarus.”

Sadly they descended the temple steps, Deucalion meditating over the
mysterious message to them. At last the shadows of grief in his heart
were dissipated and he said: “Best beloved, the goddess intends no harm
to us. I believe this is the meaning of her message. The earth is the
mother, the stones are her bones. So we will throw them.”

They began at once to obey the goddess’s message. They loosened their
girdles, covered their heads, and threw stones behind them. Suddenly
life began to manifest itself in the stones. They began to enlarge and
take shape. Soon they resembled blocks of marble which the sculptor is
fashioning in human form. The softer parts were changing to flesh, the
harder to bones. At last appeared the forms of living persons. The
stones which Deucalion threw behind him became men and those which
Pyrrha threw became women. Thus was the earth repopulated with beings
made of stone—a race of strong minds and stout bodies.



                              Chapter III
                            Hermes (Mercury)


Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia, daughter of Atlas the Titan, eldest
brother of Prometheus. His divine descent was revealed on the very first
day by his extraordinary shrewdness and ingenuity, for he arose at noon
from his cradle and hurriedly left the dark grotto of his mother.
Espying a speckled tortoise feeding in the high grass, and laughing at
the sight, he cried out: “Welcome, pretty one! It is well said where
thou abidest there is neither anger nor witchcraft, and yet I think I
will kill thee to make of thy shell a pleasant plaything.” Thereupon he
seized the tortoise with both hands, went back to the grotto, and killed
the animal. He perforated the speckled shell, inserted pegs in the
openings, covered the whole with ox-hide, added a neck to it, and strung
seven well-toned strings. It was all accomplished in the twinkling of an
eye. He tested the strings and, behold, they resounded powerfully and
harmoniously to his song. As he sang, another emotion filled his soul.
He bethought himself of flesh, for he already had an appetite for
well-prepared tasteful meat.

As the sun-chariot disappeared beneath the red gleaming waves of
Oceanus, he took his well-toned lute and came at twilight to the shadowy
mountains of Pireas, where the cattle of the Sun-god feed in luxuriant
meadows. The crafty child enticed fifty of the herd to follow him and
made them go backwards so that the hoof tracks would be concealed. That
his own footsteps should not betray him, he took tamarisk and myrtle
twigs and wove magic sandals with them. Thus he wandered, driving the
herd before him, by many devious ways over blooming meadows and darkly
wooded heights. At last night waned and the soft light which Selene
(Luna) sends down when Apollo sinks in Oceanus was dissipated by the
rosy shimmer of Eos (Aurora) in the smiling eastern sky.

When Hermes reached the river Alpheus with the cattle, he herded them
and kindled a fire. He then seized two of them by their horns, threw
them to the ground with great strength, and killed them with a sharp
steel. Then he took the best pieces and spread them on wooden spits, but
saved the skins for drying. Next he divided the flesh in twelve parts
and offered them to the twelve highest Olympian deities. As he saw the
smoke of offering rising to the skies, a longing seized him to learn
from the flesh whether he belonged to the divine race which is nourished
by nectar and ambrosia. But his exalted intelligence restrained him from
the experiment. He left the flesh untouched, surrounded it with dry
pieces of wood, and burned it together with the heads and hoofs of the
animals. As the smoke rose, he threw his sandals into the Alpheus and
hastened back to the grotto. Lightly as the breeze he slipped through
the oval opening, sprang into his cradle, and like a playful child took
his lute in his left hand. But his mother was not deceived and she
scolded him for his long absence.

The rosy Aurora spread over the morning sky, and when Apollo rose in his
chariot with its heavily-maned white steeds he looked down upon the
lonely meadows and missed the cattle. Amazed, he looked for the tracks
of their feet, but nowhere found a trace of them, and no sign that man
or god had been that way. He came to Onchestus, where he found an old
man, keeper of a vineyard, and asked him about it. The old man replied:
“It was a wee child who swung a wand with his hand and drove the herd
away.”

Apollo thought of Hermes and betook himself to Maia’s grotto. When
Hermes saw the Sun-god’s dazzling face he buried himself deeper in the
snow-white sheets and pretended to be asleep. But Apollo saw through the
cunning of the child. He searched through the cavern and opened all the
spacious chambers. In one he saw nectar and ambrosia and plenty of gold,
in another chests of cedar filled with the purple and snow-white
garments of the nymph. But as he nowhere found what he sought, he
stepped to the cradle and said: “Cunning boy, arise and show me the
cattle you carried off. If you do not hasten to obey me, I will hurl you
without mercy into the blackened depths of Tartarus, from which no one
can rescue you.”

As Hermes struggled to rise, Apollo seized him and took him to Zeus,
who, after hearing the Sun-god’s complaint, laughed loudly and released
his cunning son. After giving some living cattle to the Sun-god, Zeus
kept Hermes and he became the deity of barter and business and the swift
messenger of the gods. All ways were soon known to him and his winged
feet bore him with the swiftness of the wind over land and sea.



                               Chapter IV
                                Phaëthon


Clymene bore a son, named Phaëthon, who grew up a handsome and stately
youth. His father was Phœbus (Apollo), the Sun-god. Once, when he
boasted of his heavenly descent, his companions laughed at him. Shame
and anger filled the youth’s heart and he resolved, upon the advice of
his mother, to ask the Sun-god himself if he were not his father. After
wandering through Ethiopia and India, he at last reached Apollo’s
palace. Lofty columns, some made of solid gold, others of fire-colored
rubies, dazzled him. Their splendid pediments were made of polished
ivory and the folding door of lustrous silver, the work of the artistic
divinity, Hephaestus. There too were to be seen upon the billows of the
sea the horn-blowing Triton, near him gray Proteus, whose office it is
to protect the sea god’s seals, and Doris, with her daughters, the
Nereids.[7] Some of these sea maidens were represented as sitting upon
the rocks and drying their green hair, others, riding upon dolphins.
Above them was the arching firmament.

Phaëthon approached the palace, but for a spell remained in the hall at
a distance, for the brilliancy which emanated from the sparkling crown
of his progenitor blinded him. Apollo, with a purple robe flowing from
his shoulders, sat upon a golden throne gleaming with jewels. To the
right and left of him stood the year, the month, the day, and the hours.
Golden-tressed Spring was adorned with a wreath, and Summer, with
sheaves of corn. Autumn carried a red basket with golden grape clusters
on her head, and Winter could be recognized by his icy beard and silver
hair.

Apollo, delighted with the sight of his blooming son, said: “What is it,
Phaëthon, that has brought you here?”

“Divine father,” replied the son, “they mock at me when I call you
father. Give me some proof that I am your son.”

Thereupon Apollo took his sparkling crown from his brow, called his son
to him, and embracing him said: “What your mother has told you is true.
I am Apollo, your father. That you may know it beyond all question, ask
anything of me. Whatever it may be, it shall be granted. I promise you
this by the Stygian Lake, the dark waters of the underworld; and such a
vow, as you well know, is inviolate for us deities.”

Hardly had his father finished speaking before Phaëthon, with sparkling
eyes, replied: “I pray you let me drive your sun-chariot and winged
steeds for one day.”

How Apollo regretted his vow! With mournful visage he shook his head and
spoke. “Woe is me that I must keep my promise. Had I not made it, your
wish would not have been granted. But now I can do no more than warn
you. The fulfilment of your wish will result in dreadful dangers. What
you desire is so great a task that your youth and strength are not equal
to it. You, a mortal, wish to be immortal. None of the Olympian gods
themselves would undertake such a task. It is known to them as to
mortals that I alone can drive the sun-chariot. Zeus himself, mightiest
of the gods, who holds the thunderbolts in his hand and rules over
heaven and earth, would not dare to drive it. Learn now the dangers
which threaten you. Only with the greatest exertion can the freshly
harnessed steeds climb the upward morning-path. It is a fearful sight to
gaze down from the summit of the sun-course. My own heart trembles when
I reach that spot. Then the path descends, growing more and more steep.
To accomplish it needs a sure hand. Thetis herself, who awaits me in the
waves, looks up anxiously, fearing I may not be able to make the
downward plunge. And this is not all you must learn. The heavens revolve
around you constantly, and the high stars weave in circles. The goal
must be firmly kept in sight in spite of the furious oscillation and you
must not deviate from the course. Oh son, ask yourself seriously if you
can do this. Think of this, too. Far otherwise will the sky appear to
you than it does from the earth. You will not journey to cities nor to
groves with lofty temples, but you will encounter apparitions of wild
animals, at sight of which the blood of a mortal will turn to ice. How
can you manage these ungovernable fire steeds which I can hardly bridle,
so great is their strength? Therefore, oh son, abandon your wish. There
are so many things in heaven and earth better worth the asking which I
can give you. The granting of your wish means your destruction.”

The deity’s warnings were useless. Phaëthon repeated his request. As
Apollo was bound by his vow, he led the youth to the sun-chariot, which
was a gift from Hephaestus. The axles were golden, as well as the shafts
and the rims of the wheels, but the spokes were of solid silver. The
shafts and the harness glittered with chrysolite and other precious
stones. While Phaëthon was gazing at the chariot in astonishment, Eos
opened the purple door leading to the halls in which the flowers of
heaven at all times bloom. The stars disappeared, the morning star, last
of the gleaming choir, faded and finally was lost to view. When Selene
(Luna) had sunk beneath the sea, Apollo summoned the blessing-giving
Hours whose duty it was to harness the steeds to the sun-chariot. With
light step the rosy divinities betook themselves to the hall, loosed the
white steeds from their marble cribs, filled with ambrosia, led them to
the chariot, and placed their trappings on them while Apollo besmeared
his son’s face with a sacred ointment so that he should not be blinded.
Then he placed the sparkling crown upon his beautiful tresses and said
with a sigh: “Since I cannot dissuade you, at least take this advice to
heart. Do not urge the horses with the goad, for they go swiftly enough,
but hold the reins securely, try to restrain their fiery snorting and
govern them safely. Avoid the South as well as the North Pole and keep
to the course indicated by the ruts of the wheels. Observe further that
it is necessary sky and earth should be equally warm. Go neither too
high nor too low, lest you burn either the heavenly mansions or the
dwellings on earth. May Fortune help you in all other things, so now
take the reins and think of my advice. It would be vastly better for you
to desist from your ruinous folly that I to-day, as usual, may furnish
light for men and gods.”

During these last words the headstrong youth mounted the chariot and
took the reins from the hands of his sorrowful father. The neighing of
the steeds filled the atmosphere. They champed their bits and stamped.
When Phaëthon pulled the reins they flew with the chariot. They soon
outran the swift winds, clove asunder the morning clouds, and the vast,
immeasurable universe lay before Phaëthon’s gaze. The chariot swung from
side to side as the load was too light. When the steeds noticed this,
they took to wild flight and left the usual course. The youth was
overcome by fear. How could he find the course again? Not once but many
times he sought to free the tangled reins. Upward went the chariot. When
Phaëthon looked upon the height of the sky, a panic seized him, his
knees trembled, and all grew dark before his eye. Now he repented that
he had not heeded his father’s warnings, but it was too late. He was
hurled about like a dismasted vessel in raging waters. He knew not what
to do. He had already traversed a great part of the sky, but endless was
the expanse which still lay before him. In despair he looked ahead and
behind. He still held the reins, but he no longer made any effort to
direct the steeds. A great terror awaited him as he suddenly beheld
frightful apparitions above him. Terrified by them, the steeds ran still
farther from the course, dragging the swaying, cracking chariot after
them. The elevated plains of earth took fire. Broad fissures appeared in
the ground, the forest disappeared in a furious sea of flame, and a
luminous dust arose from the meadows and harvest fields. Cities and
their people were destroyed. Fiery clouds swept over places teeming with
life shortly before. The mountains were masses of seething fire.
Phaëthon, gazing about, saw nothing but flames. Higher and higher they
rose, and at last the sun-chariot was surrounded by clouds of hot
moisture. Phaëthon no longer knew where he was. Then, so says the myth,
the terrified nymphs fled, mourning over their fountains and waters
destroyed by fire. The earth became such a vast chasm that the glare of
the fire was reflected in Tartarus and the gods of the underworld were
terrified. The sea itself retreated from its shores, its bed rose,
islands appeared where there had been none, fishes and seals lay dead
upon the banks. The sea nymphs fled with Doris and Nereus to a cool
grotto, where the air was so glowing that Poseidon had to plunge in
water the arm with which he raised his trident to try and hurl Phaëthon
down.

When Zeus beheld what was happening he pitied the dying world. With a
thunderbolt he killed the audacious charioteer. A lock of his hair,
taking fire, floated down like a falling star. The terrible bolt
frightened the steeds. The chariot broke and axles, spokes, and
fragments of the wheels flew in all directions.

Phaëthon fell into the river Eridanus and the naiads of the stream came
to bury his body. Apollo, who had seen all that happened to his son,
sorrowfully veiled his face.[8]



                               Chapter V
                                Orpheus


Orpheus was the hero-singer of the Thracians, who in the ancient times
dwelt at the foot of the mountains Olympus, Parnassus, and Helicon. He
was the son of Apollo[9] and the muse Calliope[10] and the husband of
Eurydice. His name became so celebrated among later poets that his power
of song was said to have produced most marvellous effects. When he
struck his lute, the fable says, the lions of the forest fawned upon him
like dogs, rivers halted in their course, and the trees and rocks
listened to him. He accompanied the Argonauts on their expedition and
accomplished by his music many marvellous escapes for them. When he
returned from the expedition his young wife, Eurydice, and her
companions danced upon a beautiful grass plat one day. While engaged in
their sports a snake stung her in the foot and she died in the very
bloom of her youth.[11] The inconsolable husband poured out his grief in
tones that filled all hearts with sorrow. Taking his lute, he ventured
to the entrance of the underworld, Tartarus, and entreated Persephone,
spouse of Hades, god of the underworld, to give him back Eurydice. The
bars of the gate flew back as he sang. With ever tenderer tones he
approached the place where departed spirits wander. Cerberus, the
three-headed dog who guards the entrance, quietly wagged his tail as he
passed, Ixion’s wheel stood still,[12] and Sisyphus stopped his
fruitless task to listen to him.[13]

Persephone graciously heard Orpheus’ entreaty and said: “Go back whence
you came. Eurydice shall silently follow. But have a care that you do
not look at her until you have reached the upper world. If you gaze at
her but an instant she will be lost to you forever.”

Orpheus turned back. He had not yet seen her. Would she follow him or
not? A goddess surely would not deceive him. But he heard no step behind
him. Singing, he went his way for a time, and when in the distance he
saw the gleam of the upper world, he cried “Eurydice” in tender, eager
tones. No answer was made. Overcome by grief and anxiety, he forgot the
warning of the goddess. An irresistible desire to see her caused him to
turn his head, and behold his wife was quietly and lightly following
him. He stretched out his arms to her and in an instant the goddess’s
warning was realized. Eurydice suddenly went back and was never again
seen by him.

His soul was rent with anguish. He wandered despairingly with his lute
in the Thracian forest, where he found among the rocks a swarm of
Mænades, those creatures who foregather at the festivals of Bacchus and,
excited with wine and wild debauches, go through the woods inciting
everyone to attend the revels which are given in honor of that divinity.
They made a loud clamor by clashing their cymbals together and blowing
trumpets and horns and swung their wands, wound with vine leaves and
ivy, called the thyrsus, crying, “Evoe, Evoe, Bacchus.”

These Mænades who found Orpheus lamenting for Eurydice, snatched his
lute away and ordered him to entertain them. With horror he turned from
them and rejected their importunities. That was too much for a horde of
mad women. They stoned him, tore him to pieces, and threw his bleeding
limbs into the forest.



                               Chapter VI
                                Atalanta


Schœneus married in Arcadia and entreated the gods to send him a son.
When his spouse bore him a daughter, he became so enraged that he took
the child from her mother, carried her into the wilderness, and left her
there. The child was nourished by a bear until she was found by some
hunters, who took her away, brought her up, and named her Atalanta.

Atalanta grew in beauty and strength and became a vigorous huntress,
surpassing all men and youths in daring, swiftness, and skill. Like
Artemis, she chose to live unmarried and paid no attention to the youths
who solicited her hand. When hard pressed she at last made this
condition. He only should have her as wife who surpassed her in running;
but those who were defeated should die.

Hard as the condition was, the beauty of the maiden attracted a crowd of
suitors. Among them was Hippomenes, who came not to take part in the
race, but to deride the youths who would risk their lives by such folly.
But when the race began and he saw the beautiful huntress, he himself
was smitten with love and hoped that none of the youths would win the
prize, so that he might take Atalanta home as his wife. The race was
finished. The maiden returned with the wreath of victory on her head,
but the youths were taken away to suffer death.

Then Hippomenes stepped forward and said: “It was not much glory, O
Atalanta, to surpass those. Now I wish to race with you. Should fortune
favor me, it will be no shame for you to be beaten by one who is great
grandson of Poseidon, god of the waters, and whose courage is not
inferior to his skill. But should you win, your name will be honored in
future days.”

Atalanta looked upon the bold youth, and as he was pleasing in her sight
she was uncertain whether she wished his victory or his defeat. Then she
said: “What divinity, O youth, seeks your destruction by giving you the
desire to race with me? Those foolish ones, they tried and now must die.
At least let me warn you to seek some other maiden. If you reject my
advice, I bespeak for you the help of the gods that you may be the
winner.”

While the beautiful huntress thus spoke, Hippomenes called to Venus, who
suddenly stood by his side, unseen by Atalanta. She gave him three
golden apples gathered in the gardens of the Hesperides, and told him
how to use them. The trumpet sounded and both started swiftly over the
course. What a sight it was to watch the beautiful creature whose feet
scarcely touched the ground! “Look,” said one, “she could skim over the
waving wheat without bending it, or fly over the sea without wetting the
soles of her feet.” The encouraging shouts of his friends greeted the
youth.

Hippomenes was overjoyed at the greetings, and Atalanta noticed it with
pleasure. It seemed unendurable to her to be beaten, but it was even
more painful to beat and thereby sacrifice Hippomenes’ life. For a long
time they ran side by side. At last Hippomenes threw an apple to the
ground. The maiden saw the rolling gold and stooped to pick it up. The
delay threw her back in the race, but she soon caught up with the youth.
He threw the second apple. Running out of her course she seized it and
Hippomenes gained further advantage. He was nearing the goal when he
heard the distant applause of his friends. The maiden put forth all her
power and soon flew past Hippomenes with burning cheeks, so that his
death seemed inevitable. Then he supplicated the goddess and threw the
third apple, which rolled far out of the course. The maiden would have
left it, but Aphrodite (Venus) induced her to get it. The goddess made
the task so difficult that Hippomenes reached the goal first. The judges
crowned him and Atalanta, as she had promised, gave him her hand.

The day of their marriage was the day of ruin for both, for they wholly
forgot the goddess and neither made thank-offerings nor remembered her
kind assistance. Aphrodite therefore decreed a severe penalty. The angry
goddess changed them into a pair of lions and harnessed them to her
golden chariot.



                              Chapter VII
                                Tantalus


Tantalus, a rich and powerful king, was deemed worthy by Zeus to visit
the gold-gleaming mansions of the gods on high Olympus and to partake of
nectar and ambrosia at their tables. Zeus and the other immortals even
deigned to appear under Tantalus’ roof, to sit at his table, and
converse in his own speech. Such an honor was too great for a mortal to
bear. Inflated with pride, he made himself hated by gods and men. He not
only made sport of the names of the immortals and uttered falsehoods,
but he would reveal their decrees to mortals and steal nectar and
ambrosia for his friends. He at last grew so audacious that he was
warned and threatened by the gods. Finally his penalty overtook him.
Upon one occasion when the gods were visiting him and partaking of a
banquet, he decided to test just how far they were omniscient. He killed
his son Pelops, prepared his flesh as a test, and set the disgusting
food before them. All recognized the unnatural deed of the father except
Ceres, whose heart was full of sorrow over the loss of her daughter.[14]
So it happened that she partook of the food, and ate of the shoulder of
Pelops. Zeus collected the parts of the body, substituted an ivory
shoulder, recalled Pelops’ soul from Tartarus, restored him to life, and
then plunged Tantalus into Hades to suffer endless torment.

When Tantalus regained consciousness, he found himself standing up to
his chin in water. Overcome with burning thirst, he bent his head to
drink. But the more he bent his head the lower the water receded, and at
last sunk into the ground, leaving nothing at his feet but dry, black
dust. As he raised his head the water raised, only to disappear whenever
he tried to drink. Over his head hung branches loaded with fruit.
Between the green leaves were pomegranates, balsamic pears, olives,
figs, and spicy apples, but whenever the victim raised his hands to
pluck them, a wind drove the branches away from him. His torment was
endless. A restless longing never to be satisfied was the punishment
inflicted upon him by the revengeful divinity.



                              Chapter VIII
                Salmoneus, Sisyphus, Ixion, and Phlegyas


Salmoneus was a brother of Tantalus, whom Zeus punished so severely for
his audacity. A similar fate overtook him also, for he had a spite
against the gods and strove to be equal to them. He snatched the
offerings intended for Zeus from his altars and commanded that they
should be offered to himself. He imitated Zeus’ thunderbolts with
lighted torches, which he threw down upon the people, and represented
thunder by the clashing of iron vessels. In fact he imitated the ruler
of the universe in every way.

When he had reached the summit of his insolence his ruin overtook him.
Zeus struck him with one of his bolts and hurled him down to Tartarus.

Sisyphus was in the same dreadful place. In the upper world he had been
guilty of thefts both among men and the gods. In the very hour of his
death he perpetrated an evil deed. He seized and bound Thanatos, the god
of death, with brazen bands, and for a long time no one died on earth.
The gods of the underworld sent to Zeus this message: “Behold Thanatos,
who went to the upper world to bring Sisyphus here, has not returned.
For several days no shade has entered our dark kingdom.” Thereupon Zeus
sent for the powerful war god, Ares,[15] and ordered him to find the god
of death. He soon found and released him from his fetters, and Sisyphus
was taken to the underworld by Thanatos. Even then he continued his
deceitful deeds. He said to his wife: “Do not bury my body and make the
customary death offering to the gods of the underworld.” Then he
appeared before Hades and Persephone and said: “My wife has not buried
my body and has neglected to make the death offering. Let me go to her
and remind the faithless one of her duty. Then I surely will return.”

His wish was granted and he returned to the upper world. As he did not
come back, word was again sent to Zeus, who despatched the swift-flying
Hermes to take the deceiver back. When Sisyphus saw the divine
messenger, his courage gave way, for he knew that no mortal could outdo
him in cunning. Hermes took him back to the dark kingdom, where a
fearful penalty awaited him. He had to roll a huge block of marble up a
high mountain which no sooner reached the top than it went thundering
down. He had to begin his task over again with sweat of toil and anguish
dropping from his brow to the earth.

Ixion, who had offered violence to the goddess Hera,[16] suffered
another penalty. He was tied to a wheel which never ceased revolving.
Phlegyas,[17] who burned the temple of Apollo, was also there. He was
continually threatened by a rock hanging over his head, which exposed
him to constant apprehension and unspeakable torture.



                               Chapter IX
                                 Niobe


Amphion, who married a godlike maiden named Niobe, ruled over Thebes.
She became the mother of seven stately sons and seven blooming
daughters.

She would have been esteemed the most blessed of mothers if she could
have borne her happiness with moderation. Her husband Amphion was
well-nigh equal to the divine singer Orpheus in song and lute playing,
while in possessions and power she surpassed most princesses of her
time. But more than all else she prided herself upon her children.

The prophetess Manto went through the streets and ordered the Theban
women to the altars of Latona. “Arise, you women,” she cried; “twine
your tresses with fresh laurel and bring fragrant incense for the mother
of Apollo and Diane.”

The women immediately assembled at the altar of the goddess and
supplicatingly scattered incense in the sacred flames. Hardly had they
begun the offering song when Niobe appeared, proudly advancing. She wore
a gold-embroidered cloak and on her brow gleamed a diadem. Standing
before the altar, she raised her head proudly and said: “Foolish ones,
would you honor Latona and refuse incense at my altar? Was not my
father, Tantalus, a guest at the tables of the gods? Atlas, who carries
the world’s axle on his shoulders, is my ancestor. Zeus is another. My
power extends even in far-off Phrygia. The stones with which Cadmus
built this city and its castle dance to the music of my husband’s lute.
Wherever you look in my palace you find inexhaustible treasures. But it
is my richest fortune to be the mother of seven stately sons and as many
blooming daughters. And yet you offer to Latona, who has borne but two,
Apollo and Artemis (Diane)! Do you not know, foolish ones, how she was
persecuted by Juno when the hour of her delivery approached? She could
find refuge neither in heaven nor on earth, so contemptuously was she
regarded! At last the island of Delos pitied the fugitive and said to
her: ‘Thou wanderest about restless, like myself, and so I have
compassion for thee and offer thee refuge.’ She remained at Delos and
bore the Twins who are so highly esteemed by mortals—Apollo and Diane.
But am not I with my fourteen children more blest than she with two? She
is almost childless, but I am rich in children. So take the laurels from
your brows and leave the altar of the goddess who is far less fortunate
than I.”

The Theban women reluctantly acceded to her request. Holding their
wreaths in their hands, they stole away, but did not forget to
supplicate their goddess in light murmurs.

Latona was angry at the insult which Niobe offered her. She called her
children, Apollo and Artemis, and said to them: “Behold, my children,
how that woman has dishonored me and how the Theban women have forsaken
my altar!”

While the goddess was requesting them to avenge her shameful treatment,
Apollo interposed and said: “Say no more, divine mother, your wrongs
shall be speedily righted.” Artemis said the same. Thereupon they betook
themselves to the castle built by Cadmus. Nearby they found the fields
covered with the tracks of horses which Niobe’s sons were driving about.
Suddenly Ismenos, the eldest, cried out in agony. Behold, his heart was
pierced with a silver arrow shot by Apollo from a cloud with his
unerring bow. The youth paled at the sight and his gold-mounted bridle
dropped from his hands. He raised his head again and fell, dying, from
his horse.

When Sipylus saw this, terror seized him and he sought to escape. But
his fate overtook him. The arrow was shot at him with such skill that it
pierced his throat. Plunging forward, his blood ran down his steed’s
white neck and a moment after he fell lifeless to the earth.

Two sons skilled in the ring stood breast to breast and the same fatal
arrow pierced both. Alphenor, seeing them fall, threw himself upon them
with loud lamentation. His death came quickly, for his body was also
pierced by an arrow. His moans had hardly ceased when Damasichthos fell
wounded in the knee. While trying to stanch the wound, a second arrow
pierced him and he sank dead to the earth. The youngest of the sons,
Ilioneus, alone remained. The beautiful boy fell upon his knees and thus
implored: “All ye gods, spare me!” Apollo was touched, but it was too
late, for the fatal arrow was already on its way and reached its
mark—the heart of the supplicating one.

A cry of anguish ran through the city. When the king learned what had
happened, despair seized him and he ran his sword through his body.
Niobe also heard of the horror, but could not believe it. She hurried to
the field and found the bleeding bodies. How everything had changed for
her who but a short time before had been so boastful! Her face was
pitiful to look upon. Even her enemies felt compassion.

She threw herself down, now upon this body, now upon that, and covered
them with kisses and tears. Her hair hung down and the blood of her sons
stained it and her garments. She raised her arms and wildly cried:
“Revengeful Latona, now satisfy your delight in my sufferings. My sons’
death is my death. Triumph, dreadful one, for thou hast overcome me. But
no, for I am still richer than thou.”

Hardly had these words escaped her lips before the dismal twang of the
bow was heard anew. Horror seized upon the people and the seven
daughters who were rushing to the spot. Niobe did not quail. Misfortune
had stupefied her. One of the daughters, while seeking to draw the arrow
from the heart of Ilioneus, was pierced and fell upon his body. Another,
while consoling her mother, fell dead. Thus one after the other was
killed until only the youngest was left. She fled to the lap of her
mother, who covered her with her cloak. “Only this one is left to me,
Implacable One, only this one,” exclaimed Niobe in despair. The death
cry was heard, and she held in her arms a bleeding body.

The mother sat amidst her murdered children, rigid with sorrow. Her face
was like white marble. Her tongue clove to the roof of her mouth. The
blood stood still in her veins. Her whole body turned to stone. A storm
swept past with a frightful roar. Lo, tears of stone fell from her eyes.
Suddenly the hurricane carried her upon its wings and left her among the
rocky crags of Sipylus.[18]

A marble block is there to-day and every morning the cold marble weeps.



                               Chapter X
                              Bellerophon


Bellerophon, grandson of Sisyphus, received from the gods both beauty
and manliness, but the heavenly gifts wrought his ruin. Hardly had Queen
Antia looked upon him before she forgot her duty to the king and tried
to win him for a husband. When Bellerophon learned her purpose, he
turned from her with abhorrence. Thereupon she determined to destroy
him, and said to her husband: “Kill that profligate who has tried to
make me faithless to thee.”

The king’s heart was filled with anger when he learned this, and yet he
was reluctant to kill the youth himself. So he wrote a letter and sent
Bellerophon with it to his father-in-law, the prince of the rich country
of Lycia, who extended hospitalities to him and gave a feast in his
honor, which lasted several days. Bellerophon then took the letter,
whose contents he did not understand, and gave it to the prince. He was
amazed when he read that Bellerophon must die, and disliked to deprive
so handsome a youth of his life.

Finally he ordered him to fight with the dreadful Chimæra, a monster
having the fore part that of a lion, the middle that of a goat, and the
hind part that of a dragon, which continually emitted fire from its
jaws. The gods, compassionating the innocent one, sent Pegasus, the
winged horse, to him, so that he could raise himself in the air. But he
could not catch the horse. Wearied with his exertions, he slept by the
edge of a spring. Athene appeared to him there, gave him a golden
bridle, and said: “Make an offering to Poseidon, the sea god, and he
will aid thee.” When the youth awoke he was holding the bridle in his
hand. He at once made the offering and erected an altar to Athene. Then
he started to catch the horse, which came to him of its own accord. He
placed the golden bridle on it and in his brazen armor vaulted upon the
back of the divine steed. It extended its wings at once and took him to
the lair of the Chimæra.

Now the battle began. His steed sinking towards the earth, Bellerophon
hurled a lance at the animal which penetrated deep into its back.
Roaring with rage and pain, the monster reared its dragon body and
emitted flames. But its exertions were useless, for Pegasus flew still
farther upwards with the youth. It writhed upon the ground and sought to
pull out the bronze spear with its jaws. Then it crawled over the
fields, streaking them with blood. Bellerophon followed it, when
suddenly it coiled itself up as if dead. But it did not deceive him.
From on high he shot down a deadly arrow which pierced through its mane
into its neck. It sprang up again, but could not reach the youth. Hardly
had it sunk down to the ground before another arrow was driven through
its eyes. Fearful was its roar. Men and beasts fled far away in terror,
but Bellerophon was not afraid. Unerringly he shot the third arrow,
which struck the monster between the vertebræ and pierced the marrow.
Spouting fire and blood, it died.

When Bellerophon returned from his battle, still harder tasks awaited
him. He had first to encounter the famous Solymi and then the bold
Amazons. With the aid of the gods he was victorious, but on his homeward
way new danger awaited him. The king sent out a troop of his most
valiant men against him and they approached the unsuspecting Bellerophon
from an ambush. But it was of no avail, for after a short battle he
overcame them. When he appeared before the prince, the latter said:
“Surely thou art innocent and a favorite of the gods, else thou couldst
not have escaped all these dangers.” He loved him from that moment and
gave him his daughter to wife.

Rich in possessions and honors, Bellerophon lived in Lycia. But his good
fortune did not last long. He attempted to fly to heaven with Pegasus to
participate in the assemblies of the gods. His efforts were useless and
he lost their favor. Pegasus was frightened and threw his rider to the
earth, who fell into a field called Aleius because he wandered in it
blind the rest of his life. Joyless were his days and at last he died,
his heart broken by sorrow. But Pegasus was placed among the stars.



                               Chapter XI
                                Perseus


Acrisius was king in Argos. It was once foretold that he would be killed
by the son of his daughter, Danaë. Thereupon he shut up his daughter and
her son, Perseus by name, in a chest and threw it into a raging flood.
The gods pitied the innocent ones and directed it to the island of
Seriphus.

The kings of the island, Dictys and Polydectes, were one day drawing a
net from the sea. Great was their astonishment when they found a chest
in the net and heard sorrowful moanings in its interior. They opened it
and the noble Danaë stepped out with her beautiful son. Dictys took them
home with him and cared for them as if they had been his own brother and
sister.

When Perseus reached his young manhood, he surpassed everyone in skill
and dexterity in martial sports. Polydectes conceived evil designs
against the innocent Danaë, and as he feared Perseus he decided to send
him out of the country. He soon found the opportunity. He gave a banquet
to the leading men of the island, at which he announced that he was
going to take a wife. He also required each one of them to procure a
beautiful horse for a wedding gift. In his youthful presumptuousness
Perseus said: “Whatever you wish I promise to do. Even should you
request the head of the Gorgon, I would procure it for you.”

The king replied: “Bring me the Gorgon’s head, but know this: If you do
not keep your word, your mother Danaë shall make compensation.”

Troubled in mind, Perseus went to the seashore and confided his fears to
the waves. Hermes, the divine messenger, at once appeared and promised
his assistance. He conducted him to the house of Night in the extreme
limits of the earth, where there is neither the golden light of the sun
nor the mild lustre of the moon. The daughters of Phorcus, the monster,
who were gray at birth, dwelt in that fearful darkness. They had but one
eye and one tooth, common to them all. The fearless Perseus snatched
from them both eye and tooth. They raised a frightful clamor and
implored the youth to restore them. “It shall be done,” said Perseus,
“if you will show me the way to the nymphs.” They did so, and he
returned them.

From the nymphs he received the cloak of Pluto, the winged shoes of
Mercury, and the shield of Minerva. He donned the cloak which rendered
him invisible, and fastened the winged shoes to his feet. Hermes gave
him a sword. Then he rose in the air with his winged feet and in a trice
reached Oceanus. There dwelt the sisters, the terrible Gorgons, whose
heads were covered with snakes. The chill of death struck those who
looked upon them, their breath left them, and they turned to stone. The
monsters slept with their faces turned downwards.

As Perseus courageously approached with his drawn sword, Hermes and
Athene suddenly stood at his side, instructing him how to begin so as to
keep his word. “Advance so you do not see the faces,” said they, “lest
they turn you to stone. Draw your sword only against the middle one of
the Gorgons, the Medusa, for she alone is mortal. When you have
recognized her, raise this gleaming shield in which her face will be
mirrored.”

After these words, the immortals left the youth. Approaching nearer, he
saw the figure of the Gorgon on his shield. He raised his sword and
struck off her head. He then seized it by the snaky hair, fastened it to
his shield, and hurried away. The two living Gorgons awoke and swept the
air with their wings, but could not catch the youth, as the cloak of
Pluto hid him from their sight.

On his way back, Perseus came to Ethiopia. The people there were in
great trouble, for a dreadful calamity had happened to them. The water
of the sea was in flood and had brought with it a monster which devoured
men and animals. The oracle was consulted and gave this answer: “Only
when Andromeda, the king’s daughter, is given to the sea monster for
food will the flood abate.” Although the noble maiden was greatly
beloved, there was a universal demand to offer her up and save the
country. Andromeda was thereupon taken to a rock and securely bound to
it.

Flying through the air, Perseus saw the maiden. He immediately descended
and ascertained her fate. Then he hastened to the king and asked him if
he would give his daughter to him for wife if he freed the country from
the monster. The king promised that he would.

Perseus betook himself to the shore and awaited the appearance of the
monster. It soon emerged from the water and made for the rocks to devour
the maiden. Perseus attacked and killed it after a hard fight. The waves
of the sea at once receded and the country was freed from the pest. The
king gave the victor his daughter for wife and a great festival was held
in his honor.

After some time had elapsed, Perseus bethought himself of the promise he
had made King Polydectes to bring him the Gorgon’s head, and therefore
made his way with his wife to the island of Seriphus, where Polydectes
ruled in common with his brother.

How astonished Polydectes was when he saw the hero returning whose death
he had wished! Perseus held the head of Medusa before the king. The
sight of it turned him to stone instantly. When Polydectes had thus been
punished, Perseus gave the Medusa’s head to Athene, who fastened it in
the middle of her breastplate. The shield, cloak, and shoes he gave to
Hermes, who returned them to the nymphs.

Perseus now went back to Argos, his homeland. When Acrisius heard he was
approaching the castle, he fled to the Pelasgians. Perseus followed him
and found him there. He implored him to return with him to Argos and
promised that he would do him no harm. This reassured Acrisius and he
agreed to follow him.

On the day fixed for their departure a contest was arranged by the
Pelasgians in which Perseus took part. He engaged in disk throwing and
Perseus struck his grandfather upon the foot with the disk, which led to
his illness and death. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled.

Perseus lived long and happily with his wife Andromeda, who bore him six
sons and two daughters.



                              Chapter XII
                                 Cadmus


Agenor, hearing of the extraordinary abduction of Europa,[19] called his
son Cadmus to him and ordered him to bring back the maiden or never
again enter his house. Cadmus wandered over the earth for a long time,
but could nowhere find his sister. As he did not dare to venture home
without her, he consulted the oracle and asked where she might dwell.

The oracle replied: “In a lonely field you will find a young steer which
has never worn a yoke. Follow it, and where it lies down in the soft
grass to rest, there build a city. It shall be called Thebes, and the
country round about, Bœotia.”

Cadmus left the cave in which he had heard the voice of the deity and
soon found the steer which had never worn a yoke. He followed it with
his companions, humbly supplicating Apollo. The steer led him afar, but
at last stopped, turned its head towards him and his companions, and
loudly lowed. Then it laid down in the soft grass.

Cadmus knelt down, kissed the soil, and greeted the surrounding fields,
mountains, and forests. Then turning to his companions he said: “Arise,
and bring water that we may make an offering to Zeus, the all-powerful.”

There was a forest nearby which had never been touched by the axe. In
the centre of this forest they found a cavern, grown round about with
bushes, from which an abundance of water gushed. This cavern was the
lair of a dragon. The body of the monster was swollen with poison. Fire
darted from its eyes, its crest gleamed golden, its tongue was thrice
cloven, and there were triple rows of teeth in its jaws.

As the men, suspecting no danger, made their way through the forest,
they heard the plashing of water. Joyously they hastened towards it and
came to the cavern. But hardly had they dipped their buckets into the
water before the dragon awoke from its sleep. It raised itself and
beheld the victims who had approached it so unsuspectingly. Suddenly the
men heard a frightful hissing, and as they looked around they saw the
dragon’s bluish head emerging from the cavern. They dropped their
buckets. Their faces grew deadly pale and their limbs trembled. In the
meantime the dragon coiled its scaly body and arched itself over the men
so that they could not fly. Not one of them escaped. The monster tore
some with its teeth, killed some by strangling them in its coils, and
the rest were killed by the poisonous breath from its throat.

It was already midday, and as the men had not returned, Cadmus decided
to search for them. He threw around him the shaggy lion’s skin which
served for a cloak and donned his glittering helmet. He took two spears
with him. He had not gone far before he saw the dragon and under it his
dead companions, whose wounds the horrible monster was licking.

“I will have revenge or die like you,” he cried. He seized a huge rock
and hurled it at the dragon with such force that it might have shattered
a tower, but it did not harm the monster. The rock glanced from its
scaly hide and fell heavily to the ground. Deep into its back he hurled
a spear, the point of which penetrated its entrails. The monster reared,
bent its neck, and seized the spear with its teeth. It jerked it one
side and the other powerfully and at last tore it out. But it had only
taken out the handle. The iron remained sticking in the entrails. In its
fury its eyes flashed fire terribly, its veins and throat swelled, and
white foam flew from its poisonous jaws. Next it coiled itself, with a
terrible rattling of its scales, and hurled itself at Cadmus with the
swiftness of lightning. Cadmus sprang to one side and plunged his second
spear into the dragon’s neck. The spear glanced, the dragon turned its
neck, seized it, and broke it to pieces. Cadmus thereupon drew his sword
and drove it into its neck with such force that it not only ran it
through, but also penetrated an oak, thus holding the dragon fastened to
the tree. It coiled itself around the trunk and lashed it with its tail
until it shook. Cadmus sprang back, for the air was poisonous near the
monster. Blood and foam streamed from its neck and at last it died.

As Cadmus advanced to look at the monster, Athene suddenly appeared at
his side and said: “Cadmus, make a circle in the ground with your sword
and furrow it and sow in the furrows the teeth of the dead dragon.”

Athene disappeared and Cadmus set about the work. He furrowed the soil
with his strong arms, took the dragon’s teeth, scattered them in the
furrows, and covered them with earth. Lo, instantly the clods stirred,
spear points pierced upwards, followed by glittering helmets, bearded
heads, and at last the bodies of armed men. The human crop increased
until at last a troop of warriors stood before him. Cadmus sprang to his
weapons, but one of the warriors said: “Do not arm yourself, Cadmus, but
avoid the contest.”

Thereupon the warriors began to attack each other and a mighty struggle
ensued. Only five of them survived. Their weapons were thrown to the
ground and they made peace with each other. The five followed the brave
Cadmus and helped him to build the city upon the spot designated by the
oracle. He named it Thebes, as Apollo had ordered.[20]



                              Chapter XIII
                           Dionysus (Bacchus)


Dionysus (Bacchus) was the son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of Cadmus of
Thebes. By the orders of Zeus the child was intrusted to Hermes, to be
taken to Nysa, a majestic island with clear flowing streams and ever
green meadows. The fruit-bearing trees are covered with vine clusters
and the ocean breezes temper the sun’s heat. In the midst of this island
is a beautiful valley. The tops of the trees are so closely interwoven
that neither a sun ray nor a drop of rain can penetrate them. There is a
cavern there, whose rocky arches gleam with variegated colors. Upon
either side are lofty trees, some in continual blossom, others loaded
with spicy fruit. Brilliantly plumaged birds nest in the trees and their
songs are wonderfully melodious. Flowers grow beneath the trees, filling
the air with perennial perfume. There are also resting places for the
nymphs there; not made by men, but fashioned by nature. One never sees a
withered flower there, nor a dry leaf, nor a trace of decay.

Hermes took the child there to be brought up by the nymphs. The boy,
named Dionysus (Bacchus), grew rapidly and travelled over various
countries to teach men vine growing. He went to Egypt and Syria and
received from Rhea, mother of Zeus, his India coat, variegated deerskin,
and thyrsus. He next passed through the golden vales of Lydia, the sunny
plains of Phrygia and Persia, and the rough country of Media. He visited
Arabia the blest and nearly all Asia paid him reverence. He rode in a
gold-gleaming chariot, drawn by leopards. A multitude of cupids, nymphs,
fauns, and satyrs followed him. The old and continually drunken Silenus
also belonged to his retinue, which accompanied its pæans with the clash
of cymbals and the music of Phrygian flutes.

Once it happened that Silenus fell asleep in a wood and was left behind.
Some Lydian peasants found the old man and carried him upon a litter of
branches to their king, Midas, at whose palace Bacchus later arrived.
Finding that Silenus had been hospitably entertained, Bacchus assured
Midas that any wish of his should be granted. Midas requested that
whatever he touched might turn to gold. The request was granted, but
Midas soon found that his wish would prove fatal, for not only water and
wine, but fruit and all kinds of food, turned to gold when he touched
them. Repenting his folly, he implored Bacchus to recall the gift.
Taking pity upon him, Bacchus ordered him to bathe in the river
Pactolus, having done which, he was soon relieved. From that time the
sands of that river became gold.

Dionysus next came to the country of Edoni, free passage through which
had been promised him by Lycurgus, its prince. When he encamped in the
woods with his train he was suddenly attacked by the treacherous prince.
He placed himself under the protection of the sea goddess, Thetis, but
he and his retinue were taken prisoners and fettered. The punishment of
this misdeed came quickly. Lycurgus was seized by an incurable madness,
and thinking his own son was a vine he cut off his hands and feet with
an axe. But when he saw the bleeding body lying upon the earth he
realized what he had done and released Bacchus. But retribution was not
yet complete. The earth bore nothing for his people a whole year long.
The Edonians in despair consulted the oracle, which announced that full
compensation could be rendered only by the death of the king. He was
seized and taken to the mountain of Pangaeus where he was torn to pieces
by wild horses.

Bacchus next went to Thebes, the city of his birth. The palace was in
ashes and his mother had perished in it, struck down by Zeus’
thunderbolts. The gray Cadmus was still living, but no longer ruled the
city. Pentheus was its prince and to him came the blind seer Tiresias
announcing the approach of Bacchus. He was enraged at the words of the
seer and rebuked the Thebans when he saw them arraying themselves to
meet him. “Is it possible,” he exclaimed, “that you have forgotten your
origin? Your fathers were heroes and you would bow before a boy who
smears his tresses with balsams, wears a wreath of vine leaves in place
of a helmet, and a purple cloak in place of armor?”

Thereupon he despatched his servants with orders to seize Bacchus and
bind him. His friends were alarmed when they heard this order. Their
entreaties were useless; he only adhered more firmly to his purpose. It
was not long before the servants returned, bringing Bacchus in fetters.
Pentheus said to his people jubilantly: “Now, you know what fools you
were,” and ordered Bacchus to be imprisoned. Then he sent his servants
to arrest the whole train, when something wonderful occurred. The earth
shook, flames played about the columns of the palace, and Bacchus rose
in majesty from his prison. The king was terrified and tried to escape.
But he could not avoid his punishment. He was suddenly seized with a
longing to witness the revels of Bacchus’ followers. Bacchus ordered
that he should appear to them as a wild animal. With fearful cries the
Bacchantes rushed upon him and killed him.

From Thebes Bacchus went to Argos, and from thence he decided to cross
over to Naxos, and made his arrangements with some sea robbers. Not
knowing him, they decided to sell him as a slave and pass by Naxos.
Suddenly they beheld a stream of wine flowing over the deck and filling
the whole vessel with its perfume. Red clusters of grapes hung from the
sails. Wreaths of flowers and fruits extended up the mast to the
pennant. The crew were overcome with astonishment. “A divinity directs
the ship,” cried the most sensible of them; “let us sail to Naxos.” But
it was too late. Bacchus suddenly stood on the deck in the form of a
lion, seized the leader of the pirates, and tore him to pieces. When the
others saw his fate, they sprang into the sea and were changed to
dolphins. Thus Bacchus punished their misdeeds. After founding many
temples he took his mother Semele to Olympus.



                              Chapter XIV
                                 Actæon


Actæon was the son of the hunt-loving deity, Aristæus, and Autonoë,
daughter of Cadmus. When he had passed the childhood age he was taken to
the woody mountain of Pelion by the wise centaur, Chiron, and trained as
a robust hunter. It was his greatest pleasure to hunt in the valleys and
mountains. One day he hunted with some jovial companions in the forests
of Mount Cithæron until midday, when it grew so hot that he rested in
the cool shade of the trees. While reposing, he called his companions to
him and said: “We have game enough. Our steel and traps are drenched
with blood. Let us end hunting for to-day. When the sun rises in the
morning we will resume the joyous sport.” Thus he spoke and dismissed
his willing companions. Then he went with his hounds deeper into the
forest to find a cool, shadowy spot where he could sleep through the
heat of the noon and rest his wearied limbs.

He reached a valley full of fir trees and lofty cypresses, called
Gargaphia, which was sacred to Artemis. Deep in a corner of the valley
he found a leafy grotto. The rocky arch seemed to be the product of
human skill, but was the work of nature. A stream murmured gently along,
whose clear water, bordered by green turf, broadened out into a wide
pool. This was the spot where the goddess, tired with the chase, bathed
her sacred limbs. She was in the grotto, attended by her nymphs, one of
whom took her hunting spear and bow. Another relieved the goddess of her
cloak, and two of them unloosed her sandals. The beautiful Crocale,
cleverest of them all, fastened her tresses together in a knot. Then her
attendants filled urns with water and poured it over the goddess.

While the goddess was thus enjoying her bath, Actæon approached through
the bushes by an untrodden way. Evil destiny led him to the sacred haunt
of Artemis’ grotto. Unsuspecting any harm, he entered, delighted to have
found such a cool resting place. When the nymphs beheld a man, they
cried aloud and crowded about their mistress to conceal her with their
bodies; but being a head taller, the goddess towered above them all. Her
glowing face wore a wrathful look, and her eyes were sternly fixed upon
the intruder, who stood motionless, surprised, and dazzled by the
wondrous sight.

It would have been better for the unfortunate Actæon had he fled at
once, for the goddess suddenly bent her head, dipped up water with her
hand, sprinkled it over the face and hair of the youth, and said in a
threatening tone: “What thou hast seen, now tell to men, if thou canst.”
Hardly had the last word been uttered when unspeakable distress seized
him. Swiftly he dashed off, and in his running was amazed by his speed.
The unfortunate one did not notice that antlers sprang from his head,
that his neck was longer, that his ears were pointed, his arms changed
to legs, and his hands to hoofs. His limbs were covered with a dappled
skin. He was no longer a man, but had been changed by the wrathful
goddess to a stag. As he fled, he saw his image mirrored in the water.
“Woe is me,” he would have cried, but his voice was mute and no word
escaped from his groaning breast. He could only utter a sigh of despair.
Tears poured from his eyes, but not upon human cheeks. Only his heart,
his old recollection, remained.

What should he do now? Return to his grandfather’s palace? Conceal
himself in the depths of the forest? While thus torn by the conflicting
emotions of fear and shame, his hounds saw him. The whole pack, fifty in
number, rushed upon the imaginary stag. Eager for their prey, they
chased him over mountain and valley, jagged rocks and yawning abysses.
Thus the despairing one, himself the hunted, fled over well-known
regions where he had often hunted wild animals. Twice he would have
turned and cried, “Spare me! I am Actæon.” But he was speechless. Baying
furiously, the leader of the pack overtook him and seized him by the
neck, while all the others rushed upon him and tore him with their sharp
teeth. The victim groaned heavily; no stag ever groaned that way, and
yet it was not a human groan. Like one praying he fell upon his knees,
and in mute anguish turned his face towards his assailants. At this
instant his companions, hearing the baying of the hounds, came up. With
their usual call they incited the hounds and then shouted for their
master, whom they believed was not far away. “Actæon,” rang through the
forest, “where art thou? Come and behold this wonderful capture.” Thus
they cried as the unfortunate victim was killed by the spears of his own
friends.

After Actæon had thus wretchedly perished, his hounds began to miss
their loved master. Baying and whining, they sought the lost one
everywhere, until at last they came to Chiron’s cavern. Chiron made a
bronze image of Actæon so much like him that it deceived them. When the
hounds saw it they sprang upon it, licked the hands and feet, and acted
as joyfully as if they had found their real master again.



                               Chapter XV
                           Dædalus and Icarus


Dædalus of Athens was a son of Metion, grandson of Erectheus. He was the
most skilful man of his time—an architect, sculptor, and stone worker.
His works were admired in various parts of the world, and his statues
were said to live, move, and see; for while the statues of earlier
artists had their eyes closed and the hands not separated from the body,
he was the first one who gave open eyes to his statues, extended the
hands, and represented the feet as walking. But skilful, zealous, and
active as he was in his work, he had vices which brought him into
trouble. He had a nephew, named Talos, who was his pupil, and who
displayed even more skill than his uncle and master. He discovered the
potter’s wheel. He also took the jaw of a snake and copied it in iron,
cutting into it a row of continuous teeth, thus inventing the saw. He
also invented the lathe and many useful instruments without assistance
from his teacher, which made him famous.

Dædalus, fearing that the name of his scholar might become more renowned
than his own, grew so jealous that he killed the boy by hurling him down
from the castle at Athens. While engaged in burying him, he was
surprised by the authorities and pretended he was burying a snake. At
last he was brought before the Areopagus, charged with murder, and was
found guilty. He managed to escape, however, and at first wandered about
in Attica, but finally fled to the island of Crete. There he met King
Minos, became his friend, and was highly esteemed as a renowned artist.
He was chosen to make a house for the Minotaur, a monster resembling a
bull from its head to its shoulders, the remainder of its body being
like a man, and to construct it so that the monster would be entirely
removed from human sight. The inventive genius of Dædalus produced the
Labyrinth, a structure full of complicated windings, confusing both to
the eyes and feet of those who entered it. When it was finished and
Dædalus began to look it over, the builder himself found his way back to
the opening only with the greatest difficulty. The Minotaur was kept in
the very centre of this Labyrinth, its food being seven youths and seven
maidens sent to it periodically from Athens.

In the meantime Dædalus began to weary of his long banishment from home.
It vexed him that he must spend his life upon an island exposed to the
caprices of a tyrannical and cruel king. After long consideration, he at
last joyfully exclaimed: “I have found the way to escape. Minos may be
master of land and water, but the sky is free to me. He has no power
over that. Through the air I will escape.” No sooner said than done. He
began by arranging bird feathers of different sizes in regular order.
These feathers he fastened in the middle with waxed linen cords. He then
bent the joined feathers in such perfect curves that they clearly
resembled wings. Dædalus had a boy, named Icarus, who stood by him and
eagerly meddled, childlike, with his father’s work. All of a sudden he
took some of the feathers and deftly kneaded the wax, which his father
had been using, with his thumb and forefinger. The father smiled at the
unassisted exertions of the child. After his work was finished Dædalus
fastened the wings to his body, balanced them equally, and sailed
through the air as lightly as a bird. Then, descending to earth, he
constructed a smaller pair for his son and instructed him how to use
them. “Always fly, my dear son, in the middle course,” he said. “If you
fly too low your wings may become so dampened by the sea air that they
will grow heavy and you may fall into the waves, and if you mount too
high and go too near the sunbeams your feathers may suddenly take fire.
Fly between sea and sky and always follow in my course.” After these
warnings Dædalus fastened his wings on Icarus’ shoulders, though the old
man’s hands trembled as he did so, and anxious tears dropped upon them.
He then embraced his son and kissed him for the last time.

The two rose in air. The father led the way, flying as natural as a
bird. He moved his wings easily and skilfully and from time to time
looked back to see how his son was succeeding. They soon passed the
island of Samos at the left and flew by the islands of Delos and Paros.
Several other localities were left behind them when suddenly Icarus, who
had grown over-confident, forsook his paternal guide to reach a higher
altitude. He soon encountered the danger his father predicted. The
proximity of the sun weakened the wax which held his wings together and
they became detached from his shoulders. The unfortunate youth tried to
keep in air with his bare arms, but it was in vain and he suddenly
plunged downwards with the name of his father on his lips; but before he
could call for help he sank in the sea’s blue depths. It all happened so
quickly that Dædalus, when he looked back for his son, could see nothing
of him. “Icarus, Icarus,” he shouted in the vacant sky, “where and in
what region of air shall I seek thee?” At last he cast an anxious glance
downward and saw the feathers floating on the water. He descended and
wandered from shore to shore seeking the body of his unfortunate child,
and at last found it. The murder of Talos was avenged. The despairing
father attended to the burial of his son, upon an island which in
lasting memory of the tragic event is called Icaria.

After Dædalus had buried his son he went to the large island of Sicily,
where King Cocalus ruled. He met with the same hospitable reception
which Minos once extended to him, and his skill created universal
astonishment. He constructed an artificial lake from which issued a
broad river emptying into the neighboring sea. Upon a barren and almost
insurmountable cliff, which had hardly room for a couple of trees, he
built a strong fortress approached by a winding way which could be
defended by three or four men. King Cocalus used this impregnable castle
as a storehouse for his treasures. The third work of Dædalus was a deep
cavern on the island of Sicily. Here he overcame the reek of internal
fires so skilfully that a visit to the cavern, which was usually so
damp, became as agreeable as if it were a mildly warmed room and the
body experienced a gentle perspiration without being overheated. He also
enlarged the temple of Aphrodite (Venus) upon Mount Eryx[21] and
dedicated to the goddess a golden honeycomb so skilfully made that it
was difficult to tell it from a real one.

When King Minos, whose island Dædalus forsook, learned that he had fled
to Sicily he resolved to follow him with a strong force. He organized a
fleet and set out from Crete to Agrigentum. There he disembarked his
troops and sent messengers to King Cocalus, demanding the surrender of
the fugitive. But Cocalus was enraged at this invasion by a foreign
tyrant and determined to find some way of destroying him. He pretended
to consent, promised to comply with his wishes in every way, and invited
him to an interview. Minos came and was received by Cocalus with the
greatest hospitality. A warm bath was prepared to relieve him of
fatigue, but when he sat in the tub it was so soon overheated that Minos
was suffocated. The king sent his body to the Cretans who came with him,
informing them that Minos had slipped and fallen into the hot water in
the tub. Minos was taken with great pomp by his warriors to Agrigentum
and above his grave a temple of Venus was built. Dædalus remained in the
continuous favor of Cocalus, educated many famous artists, and was the
founder of art in Sicily. But he was never happy after the death of his
son, and while he enriched the country which had given him refuge, with
beautiful art works, his old age was sorrowful and full of troubles. He
died upon the island and was buried there.



                              Chapter XVI
                          Philemon and Baucis


Upon a hill in the land of Phrygia stands a thousand year old oak, and
close by it a linden of the same age, both surrounded by a low wall.
Many a wreath has been hung upon the boughs of the neighborly pair. Not
far from them extends a swampy lake into which empties a shallow stream.
Where in former times people dwelt, now only herons and ducks rove
about. Once Father Zeus came to this spot with his son Hermes carrying
only his wand, but not his winged cap. They were seeking hospitality in
human form. They knocked at a thousand doors praying shelter for the
night. But the people were so disobliging that the heavenly visitants
could not anywhere find lodging. At the end of the village was a hut,
humble and small, covered with straw and rushes. In this poor house
lived a happy couple, honest Philemon and Baucis, his wife, of the same
age. They had spent their joyous youth together there, and there they
had grown white-haired. They made no complaint of their poverty, but
quietly bore their hard lot, united in love, and although childless,
they were content in the mean little house which they alone occupied
together.

As the high deities approached this humble roof and entered the low
passageway with bowed heads, the honest couple met them with a hearty
greeting. The old man placed seats for them, and Baucis, clad in a
coarse dress, begged them to rest themselves. The little mother busied
herself about the hearth, stirred up the ashes, piled up dry leaves and
brushwood, and kindled a fire. Then she brought split wood and placed it
under the little kettle hanging over the fire. In the meantime Philemon
brought cabbage from his well-watered garden, deftly unleaved it, took
down a side of smoked pork with his two-tined fork from the ceiling, and
cut a huge piece from the shoulder to put into the boiling water. That
the time might not seem too long to the strangers, they exerted
themselves to entertain them with light conversation. They also poured
water into the wooden tub so that they could enjoy a foot bath. Smiling
in a friendly way, the gods accepted these proffers, and while they were
stretching their feet comfortably in the water their gracious host
prepared the couch-bed, which stood in the middle of the room. The
cushions were stuffed with rushes and the feet and frame were made of
woven willow. Philemon brought carpetings which were only kept for feast
days,—how old and poor they were!—and the divine guests prepared to
enjoy the meal which was now ready. The little mother, in her neat
apron, placed with trembling hands the three-legged table before the
couch, and as it would not stand very securely, she raised it slightly
by placing something under it. Then she rubbed the plates with fresh
mint and food was set before them. There were olives, cornelian
cherries, preserved in clear thick sirup, also radishes, endives, fine
cheese, and eggs cooked in the ashes. Baucis brought all these in
earthen dishes, besides a showily colored pitcher and neat cups of
beechwood, glazed on the inside with yellow wax, filled with milk, for
they had no wine. Nuts, figs, and dates were brought for desert, and two
dishes filled with plums and spicy apples. In the middle of the table
was a whitish honeycomb. But the finest seasoning of the meal was the
good friendly faces of the honest old couple, testifying to their
honesty and generosity.

As all were enjoying the food and drink, Philemon observed that the
pitcher contained wine instead of milk and that in spite of emptying of
the cups they were continually refilled. Then he recognized with
surprise and fear whom he was entertaining. In distress he flew to his
old companion with upraised arms and downcast eyes and implored her to
know what they should offer to their heavenly guests. Suddenly it
occurred to them that they might offer their only goose. Both ran out,
but the goose was faster than they. Hissing and flapping its wings, it
ran here and there, outdistancing the old people. Finally it ran into
the house and crouched behind the guests, as if seeking divine
protection. And it did not seek in vain.

The guests restrained the ardor of the old people and said with a laugh:
“We are gods who have come to earth to test the generosity of men. We
found your neighbors wicked and they shall be punished. But you shall
leave this house and follow us to the summit of the mountain, so that
you shall not suffer with the guilty ones.” Both obeyed, and leaning
upon their staffs they wearisomely climbed the mountain. They were not
an arrow’s flight from the highest peak when they anxiously looked down
and saw the whole place changed into a raging waste of waters, and of
all the houses only their own little one remained. While they stood
astonished and bewailed the fate of the others, behold the poor old hut
towered above the waters as a temple. A golden roof was supported on its
columns and its floors were of marble. Zeus turned to the trembling old
people and said: “Tell me, honest old man and worthy wife of the honest
old man, what do you most wish?” Philemon exchanged a few words with his
wife and then said: “We would be your priests. Permit us to serve in
that temple. And as we have so long lived together, let us die at the
same hour. Then I shall never see the grave of my dear wife nor will she
have to bury me.”

Their wish was granted. As long as they lived they served in the temple.
And once, when weary with the weight of age and years, they were
standing on the sacred steps, thinking of their wonderful fate, Baucis
saw her Philemon and Philemon his Baucis disappearing and floating away
to the distant height. “Farewell, dear one. Farewell, beloved one,” said
each as long as they could speak. Thus ended the worthy pair. He was
turned into an oak and she into a linden, and thus they remained as
close together in death as they had been in life. Goodness is prized by
the gods. They bestow honors upon those who prove themselves worthy.



                              Chapter XVII
                                Arachne


In Hypaipa, a little city of Lydia, dwelt a maiden of lowly birth named
Arachne. Idmon, her father, was a dyer at Colophon and her mother, who
died early, was born of poor parents. The name of Arachne was famous in
Lydia, for she surpassed all human women in skill and industry in
weaving. The nymphs of the vine-clad mountain of Tmolus and of the river
Pactolus came to her poor cottage to watch her work. Never were skill
and grace more closely united. Whether she was first preparing the
coarse wool, or drawing the threads finer and finer, or revolving the
spindle with nimble thumbs, or stitching with the needle, it always
seemed as if Pallas Athene herself must have instructed her. Arachne
knew nothing about it, but she often declared in an offended tone: “I
did not get my skill from the goddess. Let her come and try her skill
with me. If she defeats me I will bear any penalty.”

Athene was very angry when she heard this boast, assumed the form of a
little old woman, covered her brow with gray hair, and leaning for
support upon a staff, came to Arachne’s cottage and thus began: “The
years bring experience to gray old age. Therefore despise not my advice.
Seek for the glory of surpassing all mortals with your skill, but meekly
submit to the gods. Implore pardon for your haughty words and all will
be forgiven you.” Arachne’s countenance darkened, and she angrily
replied: “Thou art foolish, old one. The burden of the years has
weakened thy senses. It is not good to live long. Preach such silliness
to thy daughter. I need none of thy advice and spurn thy admonitions.
Why does not Pallas herself come? Why does she avoid the trial with me?”
The goddess could not longer restrain herself. “She is here now,” she
cried, as she threw off her disguise and stood before her in her own
image.

The nymphs and the Lydian women who were present fell humbly at her
feet, but Arachne did not tremble. A fleeting blush reddened her face
and she resolutely adhered to her purpose. Urged on by her foolish
vanity, she exposed herself to the penalty of which she had been warned.
The daughter of Zeus lost no time in further attempts to dissuade her,
but undertook the trial. Seating themselves, the weaving began. Purple
and a thousand other colors, distracting to eyes not used to them, were
skilfully woven together. Threads of gold ran through the webs, and
wonderful pictures astonished the eyes of the spectators. Athene
fashioned the cliffs of the Athenian mount and their contest with the
sea god for possession of the land. Twelve gods with Zeus in the centre
sat there, serious and dignified. Here stood Poseidon as he struck the
rocks with his trident. There appeared the goddess herself, the divine
artist, armed with shield and lance, her helmet on her head, the
terrible ægis on her breast, teaching men for the first time the culture
of the olive tree, and causing it to spring from the unfruitful earth
with the point of her spear. Thus Athene wove her own victory in the
web. In the four corners she worked four examples of human pride which
have tragic results from the vengeance of the gods. In the first corner
were the Thracian king, Harnus, and his wife Rhodope, who called
themselves Zeus and Hera and were changed into mountain peaks. In
another corner was the unhappy mother of the Pygmæi, who, overcome by
Hera, was changed to a crane, and fought her own children. In the third
corner was Antigone, the charming daughter of Laomedon, who was so proud
of her beauty and her tresses that she likened herself to Hera. The
goddess changed her tresses to snakes which bit and tormented her until
Zeus, pitying her, turned her into a stork. In the last Pallas pictured
Einyras, weeping over the fate of his daughter, who because of her pride
was changed by Hera to a stone step before one of her temples. All these
pictures Athene wove and surrounded them with a wreath of olive leaves.

Arachne wove in her web many pictures illustrating the disreputable
actions of Zeus and surrounded them with a wreath of ivy and blossoms.
When she had finished her work Athene could not find fault with the
skill of the maiden, but she was enraged with the sacrilege of the
weaver. She suddenly tore the web to pieces and struck the maiden three
times on the forehead with the spindle which she held in her hand. The
unfortunate one could not endure this. Madness seized her and she hanged
herself with a rope. As she was suspended in the air, the goddess had
compassion upon her and said: “Live, but hang there, thou audacious one.
And so shall thy whole race to the latest generation be punished.” With
these words she sprinkled Arachne with a few magic drops and went away.
The hair, nose, and ears of the maiden disappeared and she shrank into a
small and noxious insect. And the spider to-day still weaves its web—the
old art.



                             Chapter XVIII
                               Hyacinthus


The youngest of the sons of the Laconian king, Amyclas, was Hyacinthus.
Phœbus Apollo beheld the beautiful boy, who soon became his favorite. He
sought at first to elevate him to Olympus that he might be ever near
him; but a sad fate prevented this and cut him down in the very flower
of his youth.

Apollo often forsook sacred Delphi in order to enjoy the company of his
favorite at the river of Eurotas in the neighborhood of the unwalled
city of Sparta. He left his lyre and bow and joined Hyacinthus in
hunting among the hills of Taygetus. Once at noontime, when the sun was
sending down its hottest rays, both threw aside their garments, anointed
their bodies with oil, and began throwing the discus.

Apollo was the first to take the heavy weight and hurled it so
powerfully that it pierced the clouds. He waited long for the discus to
fall to earth again. Eager to imitate his teacher, the boy sprang
forward to make his throw, but suddenly was felled to the earth by
Apollo’s discus. Apollo rushed to him and sought to animate his
stiffened limbs. He wiped the blood from the dreadful wounds, applied
healing balms, and sought to stay the fleeing spirit of his favorite.
But it was in vain. Like a broken flower in the garden, the poor boy’s
head drooped, exhausted, upon Apollo’s breast. Apollo called him tender
names and bedewed his face with bitter tears. Oh, that he were not a god
so that he might die for him!

At last he cried out: “No, sweet child, thou shalt not wholly die. As a
flower thou shalt tell of my sorrow.” As Apollo said this, lo, from the
streaming blood which reddened the grass sprang a flower of dark lustre
like Tyrian purple, lily formed upon a stalk rich in blossoms, and
showing upon its little leaves in clear form the sigh of the god: “A I,
A I”; that is, “Alas! Alas!”

Thus originated the Spring flower which bears the name of the favorite
of the god and speedily dies as did he—a type of the transitoriness of
all beautiful things on earth. In Laconia when the Summer came they
always had a great festival in honor of Hyacinthus and his divine
friends, the hyacinths, whereby they kept the boy in memory—sorrowfully,
as one who perished early, but joyously, as one beloved of the gods and
deified.



                               Footnotes


[1]The Titans in Greek mythology were descended from Uranus and Gaea
   (Heaven and Earth). In the latest legends, Titan, father of the
   Titans, gave up supreme power to Cronus, his younger brother, but
   finally regained it. He in turn was overcome by Zeus.

[2]Cronus, father of Zeus, was a Titan, and was dethroned by Zeus after
   he had usurped the government of the world. The Romans identified him
   with Saturn.

[3]Vulcan, in mythology, was the son of Jupiter and Juno.

[4]The legend also states that hope remained in the box.

[5]Oceanus in Greek mythology is typical of the ocean and stream earlier
   than Poseidon.

[6]Themis in mythology was the goddess of justice and peace.

[7]Doris in mythology was the wife of Nereus, a seer dwelling in the
   Ægean Sea, and had fifty daughters, called Nereids.

[8]The myth also states that Phaëthon had three sisters—Phaëthusa,
   Lampetié, and Phœbé—and that while they were lamenting Phaëthon’s
   death, Zeus turned them into poplar trees, weeping amber instead of
   tears.

[9]He is also said in another myth to have been the son of Œagrus, a
   Thracian river god.

[10]The muse of epic poetry.

[11]Another version of the myth relates that Aristæus, son of Apollo and
   Cyrene, loved Eurydice and when she repulsed him he pushed her into a
   wood where the serpent stung her, and that the nymphs revenged her
   death by the destruction of his bees.

[12]Ixion is said to have been punished by Jupiter for insulting Juno.
   He was struck by a thunderbolt and sent to Tartarus, where he was
   tied to a wheel which never ceased revolving.

[13]Sisyphus was a famous robber killed by Theseus. His punishment was
   to roll a great rock to the top of a hill which no sooner reached the
   top than it rolled down again.

[14]Ceres’ daughter was Persephone, who was stolen by Pluto.

[15]In the Roman mythology, Mars.

[16]Hera is Juno in the Roman mythology.

[17]Phlegyas was the father of Ixion, and a Thessalian king.

[18]Mount Sipylus is near Smyrna.

[19]Europa, daughter of Agenor and sister of Cadmus, was abducted by
   Zeus, who took her to Crete. She was the mother of Minos and
   Rhadamanthus, judges in the lower world.

[20]Cadmus is also reputed to have been the introducer of the letters of
   the Greek alphabet.

[21]Eryx, a city and mountain in western Sicily, now known as Monte San
   Giuliano, near Palermo.



                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                    _Translated from the German by_
                            GEORGE P. UPTON

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