The Project Gutenberg eBook of Wonder Stories: The Best Myths for Boys and Girls

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Title: Wonder Stories: The Best Myths for Boys and Girls

Author: Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Illustrator: C. M. Burd

Release date: March 29, 2011 [eBook #35704]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Bryan Ness, Martin Pettit and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber's Note:

A List of Illustrations has been added.

[Pg 1]



[Pg 2]

Iris crossing the Rainbow Bridge

Iris crossing the Rainbow Bridge.   Page 222

[Pg 3]




Author: "For the Children's Hour," "For the Story Teller,"
"Stories Children Need," "Tell Me Another Story,"
"Stories of Great Adventures," etc.





[Pg 4]

Copyrighted, 1920 by
Springfield, Mass.
All Rights Reserved


Bradley Quality Books
for Children

[Pg 5]


How the Myths Began 7
What Prometheus Did with a Bit of Clay 13
The Paradise of Children.—Nathaniel Hawthorne    22
What Became of the Giants 33
How Vulcan Made the Best of Things 40
How Orion Found His Sight 48
The Wonders Venus Wrought 56
Where the Labyrinth Led 65
How Perseus Conquered the Sea 74
Pegasus, the Horse Who Could Fly 84
How Mars Lost a Battle 92
How Minerva Built a City 102
Cadmus, the Alphabet King 113
The Picture Minerva Wove 120
The Hero with a Fairy Godmother 126
The Pygmies.—Nathaniel Hawthorne 136
The Horn of Plenty 148
The Wonder the Frogs Missed 154
When Phaeton's Chariot Ran Away 163
When Apollo was Herdsman 174
How Jupiter Granted a Wish 181
[Pg 6]How Hyacinthus Became a Flower 189
How King Midas Lost His Ears 196
How Mercury Gave up his Tricks 205
A Little Errand Girl's New Dress 215
When Proserpine was Lost 224
The Ploughman who Brought Famine 234
The Bee Man of Arcadia 242
When Pomona Shared Her Apples 252
How Psyche Reached Mount Olympus 261
How Melampos Fed the Serpent 272
How a Huntress Became a Bear 281
The Adventure of Glaucus 287
The Winning of the Golden Fleece 297
Medea's Cauldron 304
How a Golden Apple Caused a War 311
How a Wooden Horse Won a War 322
The Cyclops.—Alfred Church 329


Iris crossing the Rainbow Bridge. _Page 222_
Pandora saw a crowd of ugly little shapes.
"Bellerophon took the golden reins firmly in his hand."
"What design will Arachne embroider to-day?" asked one of the nymphs.
Apollo charms the wild beasts.
Paris and the Golden Apple.

[Pg 7]


Long ago, when our earth was more than two thousand years younger, there was a wonderful place called Mount Olympus at the top of the world that the ancients could see quite clearly with the eyes of hope and faith. It did not matter that the Greek and Roman people had never set foot on this mountain in the clouds. They knew it in story and reverenced the gods and goddesses who inhabited it.

In the days when the myths were told, Greece was a more beautiful country than any that is the result of civilization to-day, because the national ideal of the Greeks was beauty and they expressed it in whatever they thought, or wrote, or made with their hands. No matter how far away from home the Greeks journeyed they remembered with pride and love their blue bays and seacoast, the fertile valleys and sheep pastures of Arcadia, the sacred grove of Delphi, those great days when their athletes met for games and races at Athens, and the wide plains of Olympia covered and rich with the most perfect temples[Pg 8] and statues that the world has ever known. When the Greeks returned the most beloved sight that met their eyes was the flag of their nation flying at Corinth, or the towers of the old citadel that Cadmus had founded at Thebes.

It was the youth time of men, and there were no geographies or histories or books of science to explain to the ancients those things about life that everyone wants to know sooner or later. There was this same longing for truth among the Roman people as well as among the Greeks. The Romans, also, loved their country, and built temples as the Greeks did, every stone of which they carved and fitted as a stepping stone on the way to the abode of the gods.

But who were these gods, and what did a belief in their existence mean to the Greek and Roman people?

There have been certain changes in two thousand years on our earth. We have automobiles instead of chariots, our ships are propelled by steam instead of by a favorable wind, and we have books that attempt to tell us why spring always follows winter and that courage is a better part than cowardice. But we still have hard winters and times when it is most difficult to be brave. We still experience war and famine and[Pg 9] crime, and peace and plenty and love in just about the same measure that they were to be found in Greece and Rome. The only difference is that we are a little closer to understanding life than the ancients were. They tried to find a means of knowing life facts and of explaining the miracles of outdoors and of ruling their conduct by their daily intercourse with this higher race of beings, the gods, on Mount Olympus.

There was a gate of clouds on the top of Mount Olympus that the goddesses, who were known as the Seasons, opened to allow the inhabitants of the Mount to descend to the earth and return. Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, sat on the Olympian throne holding thunderbolts and darts of lightning in his mighty hands. The same arts and labors as those of men were practised by these celestial beings. Minerva and her handmaidens, the Graces, wove garments for the goddesses of more exquisite colors and textures than any that could be made by human hands. Vulcan built the houses of the gods of glittering brass. He shaped golden shoes that made it possible for them to travel with great speed, and he shod their steeds so that their chariots could ride upon the water. Hebe fed the gods with nectar and ambrosia, prepared and served by her own fair[Pg 10] hands. Mars loosed the dogs of war, and the music of Apollo's lute was the song of victory and peace when war was ended. Ceres tended and blessed the fields of grain, and Venus, clad in beautiful garments by the Seasons, expressed the desire of the nations, of dumb beasts and of all nature for love.

There were many more than these, making the great immortal family of the gods, like men, but different in their higher understanding of life and its meaning. They lived apart on their Mount, but they descended often to mingle with the people. They stood beside the forge and helped with the harvest, their voices were heard in the rustling leaves in the forest and above the tumult and crash of war. They guarded the flocks and crowned the victors in games and carried brave warriors to Elysian fields after their last battles. They loved adventure and outdoors; they felt joy and knew pain. These gods were the daily companions of the ancients who have given them to us in our priceless inheritance of the classics and art.

When you read the poems of the blind Roman, Homer, and those of Ovid and Virgil; when you see a picture of a columned Greek temple or the statue of the Apollo Belvedere or the Guido Reni[Pg 11] painting of Aurora lighting the sky with the torches of day, you, too, are following the age-old stepping stones that led to Mount Olympus. The myths were the inspiration for the greatest writing and architecture and sculpture and painting that the world has ever known. They were more than this.

Among the ruins of the ancient cities there was found one temple with a strange inscription on the altar: "To the unknown God." The temple was placed on Mars Hill as if, out of the horrors of war, this new hope had come to the people.

The word mythology means an account of tales. The myths were just that, tales, but most beautiful and worth while stories. So that people who made them and retold them and lived as the gods would have had them live came, finally, to feel that there was need for them to build this other, last altar.

[Pg 13]



Every boy and girl has the same wonder at one time or another.

"How was the world made?" they ask.

So did the boys and girls of that long ago time when the myths were new, and the Greek teachers told them that the earth and sky were all a huge Chaos at first until the gods from their thrones, with the help of Nature, straightened out all things and gave order to the world. They separated the earth from the sea, first, and then the sky from both of these. The universe was all a flaming mass in the beginning but the fiery part was light and ascended, forming the skies. The air hung just below the skies. The waters were very heavy and took the lowest place where the earth held them safely in its hollows.

Just as one takes a ball of clay and moulds it into shape, some one of the gods, it was said, moulded the Earth. He gave places to the rivers[Pg 14] and the bays, raised mountains, planted the forests and laid out fertile fields. And, next, the fishes swam in the waters, birds flew through the woods and built nests, and four-footed beasts began to be seen everywhere.

But the earth was not finished then by any means. There were two giants of the race of the Titans who inhabited the earth at that time, and both of these brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus, could do marvellous things with their hands. Prometheus took a little of the new earth in his hands and as he looked it over he saw, hidden in it, some heavenly seeds, very tiny of course but they gave him an idea about something wonderful that he might be able to do. So Prometheus mixed some water with this handful of earth and seed; he kneaded it well, and then he skilfully moulded it into a form as nearly like the gods as he could make it. This figure of clay stood upright. Instead of turning its eyes down to the ground as the four-footed creatures did, this form that Prometheus had made looked up toward the sky where the sun and the stars shone now that the air had cleared.

[Pg 15]

Prometheus had made man.

While the giant was accomplishing this, his brother, Epimetheus, had been busy with the task of equipping the other creatures of the earth so that they could take care of themselves. To some he gave the gift of courage, to others wisdom, great strength, or swiftness. Each creature was given that which he most needed. It was then that the slow moving tortoise found his shell and the eagle his talons. The deer was given his slender limbs and the dove his wings. The sheep put on his woolly covering that was to be renewed as often as man sheared it, and the horse, the camel and the elephant were provided with such great strength in their backs that they were able to draw and carry heavy loads.

Epimetheus was greatly interested in the man that his brother had made and he felt that he might be in danger from the wild beasts that were now so numerous and haunted the forests. So he suggested something to the giant and Prometheus took a torch, cut in the first forest, up to heaven and lighted it at the chariot of the sun. In this way he brought down fire to the earth.

[Pg 16]

That was the most useful gift he could possibly have given man. This first man had begun to dig caves and make leafy covers in the woods and huts woven of twigs to be his shelters. Now that fire had come to the earth he was able to light a forge and shape metals into weapons and tools. He could defend himself from wild beasts with the spear he made, and cut down trees with his axe for building a stronger home. He made a ploughshare and harnessed Epimetheus' oxen to it as he planted his fields with food grains.

It seemed as if the earth was going to be a very good place indeed for man and his children, but after awhile all kinds of unexpected things began to happen. The strange part about it was that man, Prometheus' mixture of clay and heavenly seed, seemed to be at the bottom of most of the trouble. Men used the axe to rob the forests of timber for building war ships and fortifications around the towns, and they forged swords and helmets and shields. Seamen spread their sails to the wind to vex the face of the ocean. Men were not satisfied with what the surface of the earth could give them, but dug deep down [Pg 17]underneath it and brought up gold and precious stones about which they fought among themselves, each wanting to possess more than his neighbor. The land was divided into shares and this was another cause of war, for each landowner wanted to take away his brother's grant and add it to his own.

Even the gods began to augment the troubles of the earth.

In the beginning, before the forge fires were lighted, there had been a Golden Age. Then the fields had given all the food that man needed. Flowers came up without the planting of seeds, the rivers flowed with milk, and thick, yellow honey was distilled by the honey bees. But the gods sent the Silver Age, not so pleasant as the one of gold. Jupiter, the king of the gods, shortened the spring and divided the year into seasons. Man learned then what it was to be too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. Then came the Bronze and the Iron ages. That was when war and greed broke out.

Jupiter decided that the people of the earth should be further punished. He imprisoned the north wind which scatters the clouds and sent out[Pg 18] the south wind to cover the face of the sky with pitchy darkness. The clouds were driven together with a crash and torrents of rain fell. The crops were laid low so that all the year's labor of the husbandman was destroyed. Jupiter even called upon his brother, Neptune, who was the god of the sea, to let loose the rivers and pour them over the land. He tore the land with an earthquake so that even the sea overflowed its shores. Such a flood as followed; the earth was nearly all sea without shore! The hills were the only land, and people were obliged to ride from one to another of them in boats while the fish swam among the tree tops. If an anchor was dropped, it found a place in a garden. Awkward sea-calves gamboled about where there had once been lambs playing in green pastures; wolves struggled in the water among sheep, and yellow lions and tigers were submerged by the rush of the sea.

It really seemed as if the earth was about to be lost in a second chaos, but at last a green mountain peak appeared above the waste that the waters had made and on it a man and woman of the race[Pg 19] the giant Prometheus had made took refuge. Remembering the heavenly seed that was part of their birthright, they looked up toward the sky and asked Jupiter to take pity on them. Jupiter ordered the north wind to drive away the clouds, and Neptune sounded his horn to order the waters to retreat. The waters obeyed, and the sea returned to its basins.

It was a very bare and desolate earth upon which the people looked down from the Mount of Parnassus. They had not forgotten how to build and mine and plant and harvest and keep a home. They would have to begin things all over again, they knew, and there were two ways of going about it.

One way would be to leave the earth the desert place which it now was and try to wreak vengeance on the gods for the destruction they had brought upon the earth. Prometheus, the Titan, still lived and he was possessed of a secret by means of which he could take Jupiter's throne away from him. He would probably never have used this secret, but the fact that he had it came to the ears of the mighty Jupiter and caused much[Pg 20] consternation among the gods. Jupiter ordered Vulcan, the smith of the gods, to forge some great links for a heavy chain. With these he chained Prometheus to a rock and sent a vulture to eat his flesh which grew again continually so that Prometheus suffered most terrible pain as the vulture returned each day.

His torture would come to an end the moment he told his secret, Jupiter assured Prometheus, but the giant would not speak because of the harm his words might cause the men and women of earth. He suffered there without any rest, and the earth began to take on its former guise of fertility and prosperity as man tried to bring again the Golden Age through his own efforts. And whenever a man felt like giving up the task, which was indeed a mighty one, he would think of Prometheus chained to the rock. His flesh that came from the earth was the prey of the vulture, but the seed of the gods which was hidden in every mortal, gave him strength to resist what he believed to be wrong and bear suffering.

A strange old story, is it not? But it is also a story of to-day. Ours is the same earth with its[Pg 21] fertile fields and wide forests, its rich mines and its wealth of flocks and herds. They are all given to us, just as the gods gave them to the first men, for the development of peace and plenty. And man, himself, is still a mixture of earth stuff and something else, too, that Prometheus called heavenly seed and we call soul. When selfishness and greed guide our uses of land and food and the metals there is apt to be pretty nearly as bad a time on the earth as when Jupiter and Neptune flooded it. But there is always a chance to be a Prometheus who can forget about everything except the right, and so help in bringing again the Golden Age of the gods to the world.

[Pg 22]


Long, long ago, when this old world was in its tender infancy, there was a child named Epimetheus who never had either father or mother; and that he might not be lonely, another child, fatherless and motherless like himself, was sent by the gods to be his playfellow and helpmate. Her name was Pandora.

The first thing that Pandora saw when she entered the cottage where Epimetheus lived was a great box. And almost the first question that she put to him was this,

"Epimetheus, what have you in that box?"

"My dear little Pandora," answered Epimetheus, "that is a secret, and you must be kind enough not to ask any questions about it. The box was left here to be kept safely, and I do not myself know what it contains."

It is thousands of years since the myths tell us that Epimetheus and Pandora lived; and the world[Pg 23] now-a-days is a very different sort of place from what it was then. There were no fathers or mothers to take care of the children, because there was no danger or trouble of any kind, and no clothes to be mended, and there was plenty to eat and drink. Whenever a child wanted his dinner, he found it growing on a tree. It was a very pleasant life indeed. No labor had to be done, no tasks studied, all was sport and dancing and the sweet voices of children talking, or caroling like birds, or laughing merrily all day long.

But Pandora was not altogether happy on account of Epimetheus' explanation about the box.

"Where can it have come from?" she continually asked herself, "and what on earth can be inside it?" At last she spoke to Epimetheus.

"You might open the box," Pandora said, "and then we could see its contents for ourselves."

"Pandora, what are you thinking of?" Epimetheus exclaimed. And his face expressed so much horror at the idea of looking into a box, which had been given him on condition that he never open it, that Pandora thought it best not to suggest it[Pg 24] any more. Still she could not help thinking and talking about it.

"At least," she said, "you can tell me how it came here."

"It was left at the door," Epimetheus replied, "just before you came and by a person who looked very smiling and intelligent, and who could hardly keep from smiling as he set it down. He was dressed in an odd kind of a cloak, and had on a cap that seemed to be made partly of feathers so that it looked as if it had wings."

"What sort of a staff had he?" asked Pandora.

"Oh, the most curious staff that you ever saw!" cried Epimetheus. "It was like two serpents twisting around a stick, and was carved so naturally that I, at first, thought the serpents were alive."

"I know him," said Pandora thoughtfully. "Nobody else has such a staff. It was Mercury, and he brought me here as well as the box. No doubt he intended it for me, and most probably it contains pretty dresses for me to wear, or toys for us both, or something nice for us to eat."

"Perhaps so," answered Epimetheus, turning away, "but until Mercury comes back and gives[Pg 25] his permission, we have neither of us any right to lift the lid."

One day not long after that Epimetheus went to gather figs and grapes by himself without asking Pandora. Ever since she had come he had heard about that box, nothing but the box, and he was tired of it. And as soon as he was gone, Pandora kneeled down on the floor and looked intently at it.

It was made of a beautiful kind of wood, and was so highly polished that Pandora could see her face in it. The edges and corners were carved with most wonderful skill. Around the edge there were figures of graceful men and women and the prettiest children ever seen, reclining or playing in gardens and forests. The most beautiful face of all was done in high relief in the centre of the box. There was nothing else save the dark, rich smoothness of the wood and this one face with a garland of flowers about its brow. The features had a kind of mischievous expression with all their loveliness and if the mouth had spoken it would probably have said,

"Do not be afraid Pandora! What harm can[Pg 26] there be in opening a box. Never mind that poor, simple Epimetheus. You are wiser than he and have ten times as much courage. Open the box and see if you do not find something very pretty."

And on this particular day, when Pandora was alone, her curiosity grew so great that at last she touched the box. She was more than half determined to open it if she could.

First, however, she tried to lift it. It was heavy, much too heavy for the slender strength of a child like Pandora. She raised one end of the box a few inches from the floor, and then let it fall with a pretty loud thump. A moment afterward she almost thought that she heard something stir inside the box. She was not quite sure whether she heard it or not, but her curiosity grew stronger than ever. Suddenly her eyes fell on a curious knot of gold that tied it. She took it in her fingers and, almost without intending it, she was soon busily engaged in trying to undo it.

It was a very intricate knot indeed, but at last, by the merest accident, Pandora gave the cord a kind of twist and it unwound itself, as if by magic. The box was without a fastening.

Pandora saw a crowd of ugly little shapes

Pandora saw a crowd of ugly little shapes.

[Pg 27]

"This is the strangest thing I ever knew," Pandora said. "What will Epimetheus say? And how can I possibly tie it again?"

And then the thought came into her naughty little heart that, since she would be suspected of looking into the box, she might as well do so at once.

As Pandora raised the lid of the box the cottage was suddenly darkened, for a black cloud had swept quite over the sun and seemed to have buried it alive. There had, for a little while past, been a low growling and grumbling which all at once broke into a heavy peal of thunder. But Pandora heeded nothing of all this. She lifted the lid nearly upright and looked inside. It seemed as if a sudden swarm of winged creatures brushed past her, taking flight out of the box while, at the same time, she heard the voice of Epimetheus in the doorway exclaiming as if he was in pain,

"Oh, I am stung! I am stung! Naughty Pandora, why have you opened this wicked box?"

Pandora let fall the lid and looked up to see what had befallen Epimetheus. The thundercloud had so darkened the room that she could not[Pg 28] clearly see what was in it. But she heard a disagreeable buzzing, as if a great many huge flies or giant bees were darting about. And as her eyes grew accustomed to the dimness she saw a crowd of ugly little shapes, looking very spiteful, and having bats' wings and terribly long stings in their tails. It was one of these that had strung Epimetheus. Nor was it a great while after before Pandora herself began to cry. An odious little monster had settled on her forehead, and would have stung her very deeply if Epimetheus had not run and brushed it away.

Now, if you wish to know what these ugly things were that made their escape out of the box, I must tell you that they were the whole family of earthly Troubles. There were evil Passions. There were a great many species of Cares. There were more than a hundred and fifty Sorrows. There were Diseases in a vast number of strange and painful shapes. There were more kinds of Naughtiness than it would be of any kind of use to talk about. In short, everything that has since afflicted the souls and bodies of mankind had been shut up in the mysterious box given to Epimetheus and [Pg 29]Pandora to be kept safely in order that the happy children of the world might never be molested by them. Had they been faithful to their trust all would have gone well with them. No grown person would ever have been sad, nor any child have had cause to shed a single tear, from that hour until this moment.

But it was impossible that the two children should keep the ugly swarm in their own little cottage. Pandora flung open the windows and doors to try and get rid of them and, sure enough, away flew the winged Troubles and so pestered and tormented the people everywhere about that none of them so much as smiled for many days afterward. And the children of the earth, who before had seemed ageless, now grew older, day by day, and came soon to be youths and maidens, and men and women, and then old folks, before they dreamed of such a thing.

Meanwhile, the naughty Pandora and Epimetheus remained in their cottage. Both of them had been painfully stung. Epimetheus sat down sullenly in a corner with his back to Pandora. As for poor little Pandora, she flung herself upon[Pg 30] the floor and rested her head on the fatal box. She was crying as if her heart would break. Suddenly there was a gentle little tap on the inside of the lid.

"What can that be?" cried Pandora, lifting her head.

But Epimetheus was too much out of humor to answer her.

Again the tap! It sounded like the tiny knuckles of a fairy's hand.

"Who are you?" asked Pandora, "who are you inside of this dreadful box?"

A sweet little voice came from within saying,

"Only lift the lid and you shall see."

"No, no," answered Pandora, "I have had enough of lifting the lid. You need never think that I shall be so foolish as to let you out."

"Ah," said the sweet little voice again, "you had much better let me out. I am not like those naughty creatures that have stings in their tails. They have no relation to me as you would soon find out if you would only lift the lid."

Indeed, there was a kind of cheerful witchery in the tone that made it almost impossible to [Pg 31]refuse anything which this little voice asked. Pandora's heart had grown lighter at every word that came from the box. Epimetheus, too, had left his corner and seemed to be in better spirits.

"Epimetheus!" exclaimed Pandora, "come what may, I am resolved to lift the lid."

"And as the lid seems very heavy," said Epimetheus, running across the room, "I will help you."

So, with one consent, the two children lifted the lid. Out flew a sunny and smiling little personage and hovered about the room, throwing light wherever she went. Have you ever made the sunshine dance into dark corners by reflecting it from a bit of looking glass? Well, so appeared the winged cheerfulness of this fairylike stranger amid the gloom of the cottage. She flew to Epimetheus and laid the least touch of her finger on the inflamed spot where the Trouble had stung him and immediately the pain of it was gone. Then she kissed Pandora on the forehead and her hurt was cured likewise.

"Who are you, beautiful creature?" asked Pandora.

[Pg 32]

"I am to be called Hope," explained the sunshiny figure, "and because I am such a cheerful person, I was packed by the gods into the box to make amends for the swarm of ugly Troubles. Never fear! We shall do pretty well in spite of them."

"Your wings are colored like the rainbow," exclaimed Pandora, "How beautiful!"

"And will you stay with us," asked Epimetheus, "forever and ever?"

"As long as you need me," said Hope, "and that will be as long as you live in the world. I promise never to desert you."

So Pandora and Epimetheus found Hope, and so has everybody else who has trusted her since that day. The Troubles are still flying around the world, but we have that lovely and lightsome fairy, Hope, to cure their stings and make the world new for us.


[1] By permission of and special arrangement with the Houghton Mifflin Co.

[Pg 33]


The giants had decided to invade Mount Olympus. They thought they could easily do this, for there were none of the gods who could hurt them; the giants were proof against all their weapons. They believed that this wonderful place among the clouds was theirs by right just because they were larger and stronger than the heroes. If the gods refused to give up their abode with its palaces, the gilded car of day, its stores of food such as had never been tasted by mortals and its weapons, the thunder and lightning, the giants were going to destroy the Mount. That would have been a pity, for with Mount Olympus would go some of the most beautiful foundations the world has ever known.

There was one of the gods, Apollo, who held the light of the whole universe in his right hand. It was not only that of the sun, but the light that shone in the hearts of the Greeks and made life brighter when they had wisdom, and knew truth, and could appreciate beauty. There was no [Pg 34]question at all about this light being Apollo's and coming as a gift to men from Mount Olympus, because of his great deeds.

There was a deep cavern on the green hillside of Parnassus in Greece where a goat herd, passing by its mouth in ancient times, had inhaled a strange fragrance that had made him able to speak with the knowledge of a seer. Apollo decided to preserve this cave. The city of Delphi grew around it and Apollo sent a priestess crowned with laurel to be its oracle and welcome those mortals who wanted to breathe its magic air. But a monster of darkness, the Python, placed itself in front of the oracle and allowed no man to approach Delphi.

Apollo, with his shaft of light, drove away the Python and made it possible for any one who wanted better eyesight or keener hearing or more truthful speech to come to the oracle.

That was not all, either, that Apollo had accomplished for the good of men. He protected the Muses, who were the daughters of Jupiter and Memory and could do all sorts of things to make happiness. They could sing, and draw music from the strings of the lire, write stories and poems,[Pg 35] and paint pictures. It was said, also, that the laurel tree belonged to Apollo for making wreaths with which to crown those who had done great deeds or made dark paths bright.

But the giants could see little value in Apollo's light. They thought mainly of how to wrest riches and nectar and ambrosia from the gods, and they decided to try and kill Apollo and the Muses first of all.

Thessaly had the wildest forests and the most rocky coasts of any part of Greece. It was a fitting place for the giants to meet, and it must have been a terrible sight when they landed and formed their ranks for battle. They say that Tityus, one of their leaders, covered nine acres when he lay down for a nap on a plain. Certain others had a hundred arms, limbs made of huge serpents and could breathe fire. The worst part about this race of giants was the fact that their hearts were different from those of the celestials and the mortals. They had hearts made of solid stone which could never beat and feel warm. That was why the giants made preparations to climb up the steep sides of Mount Olympus.

[Pg 36]

No one in all Greece dared to try and stop this war of the giants. They pulled up the mountain Ossa and balanced it on top of Pelion to bridge the way from the earth to the sky. They armed themselves by tearing up great oak and cypress trees for clubs and carrying rocks as large as small hills with them. Then the giants climbed up and attacked the habitation of the gods.

It seemed as if the giants were going to win, for even the gods were frightened and made haste to change their forms. The mighty Jupiter took upon himself the figure of a ram. Apollo became a crow, Diana a cat, Juno a cow, Venus a fish and Mercury a bird. But Mars, the god of war, got out his chariot and went to meet the giants, and the others returned at last, for there was really no courage like theirs.

The battle was still with the giants, though, for no weapons could kill them. Mars threw his spears and they rebounded from the stone hearts of the giants. No one knew what would happen, for certain of the giants went down to the earth again and brought up hills with which to crush the habitations of the gods, but just then a great idea[Pg 37] came to Apollo. He believed that there were unseen forces which were quite as powerful as the giants' trees and rocks and hills in deciding this battle. So Apollo sent Mercury, the messenger with winged shoes, post haste with a secret message to Helios who lived in the palace of the sun commanding him to close and lock the doors. There was no light for the giants to fight by and they were well known to be hulking, awkward creatures, very clumsy about using their hands and feet. They needed the light. They had even made attempts to steal the summer from mortals that they might have more sunshine themselves and they had succeeded in a way, for winter came upon the earth every year with its cold and shorter days. But the giants had neglected to bring any sunshine with them and it was suddenly as dark as night on Mount Olympus.

The giants fumbled about and stumbled and fell upon their own weapons. Taking advantage of this temporary rout, Jupiter sent a sky full of thunderbolts into their midst and they tumbled back to earth again. It was odd, but Apollo, whom the giants had thought so unessential [Pg 38]because he protected knowledge and the oracle of Delphi and the tender Muses, had conquered with his own special weapon, light.

The giants were not particularly hurt by their fall; they were only driven out of the habitation of the gods and they began taking counsel together at once as to how they might begin their war all over again. But they suddenly discovered that they had nothing to eat. In their absence, Ceres had cut down and uprooted from the earth the herbs that they needed to keep them alive and preserve their strength. Then, to make sure that their destruction would be complete, Jupiter covered each giant with a volcano. Each was imprisoned fast underneath a mountain, and all he could do was to breathe through the top once in a while in a fiery way.

That was the end of the giants. For a while they did some damage, particularly the giant Enceladus whom it took the whole of the volcano Aetna to cover and keep down. But gradually even the volcanoes became quiet and there was more peace upon the earth.

Mortals, for all time, though, have followed[Pg 39] the example of the giants and have tried to use their strength in battle for pillage. They have destroyed beautiful buildings and put out home fires and interfered with teaching and music and painting and writing, because they could not see the light shining in these. But what usually happens to them in the end is just what happened to the giants who started out to destroy Mount Olympus. They find that they have pulled a volcano down over their shoulders.

[Pg 40]


No one wanted Vulcan at Olympus because he was a cripple. His mother, Juno, was ashamed of him, and his father, the great Jupiter, had the same kind of feeling, that it was a disgrace to have a son who was misshapen and must always limp as he took his way among the other straight limbed gods.

But Vulcan had a desire to be of service to his fellows. There was once an assemblage of the gods at which they were to discuss important matters of heaven and earth, and Vulcan offered his help as cup bearer for the company. He made a droll figure hobbling from seat to seat with the great golden cup, and some of the gods laughed at him.

At last they threw Vulcan out of the skies and he fell for an entire day, so far was it from Olympus to the earth. Near sunset he found himself lying on the ground beside a smoking mountain,[Pg 41] bruised and more handicapped than he had ever been before. He had fallen to the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea.

It was a bare, unbeautiful place, for the coast was set thick with volcanoes that poured forth burning metal at intervals from one year's end to another. The Sintians, who were the only inhabitants of the island of Lemnos, had scant means of subsistence because the land was unfertile and few ships dared anchor at their shores under the rain of fire from the volcano that might destroy them. These people of Lemnos were a kind, simple folk, though, and they had a great pity for Vulcan. They gathered about him and bound up his wounds with healing herbs. They shared their scanty store of fruit with him, and they hastened to prepare him a tent. But when the Sintians returned to the foot of the mountain Mosychlos where they had left Vulcan he was gone.

"We dreamed of this visitor from the gods," they decided. "It was only a falling star that we watched, dropped from the zenith."

Seasons passed and at last it was noticed that the fiery Mosychlos was only smoking. It no longer[Pg 42] threatened the lives of the inhabitants of Lemnos with its red hot torrents. The same fact was to be noted about the other volcanoes; they seemed more like the smoking, sooty chimneys of our factories of to-day than the towers of death they had been before. And above the sound of the surf and the wailing of the wind there could be heard a new sound, the steady beating of a hammer on metal as a smith strikes his ringing blows from morning until night.

The bolder of the people of Lemnos went to the foot of the mountain and discovered, to their amazement, that the rock opened like a door. They went inside, following the sound of the hammer. In the very depths of the mountain they saw a sight that had never been seen on earth before. There was a dark smithy in the heart of the burning mountain with a forge fire in which the power of the volcano burned, a great forge upon which Vulcan was shaping metal into things of dazzling beauty, and all about the smithy were the materials for making more; white steel, glowing copper, shining silver, and burnished brass and gold.

[Pg 43]

A strange company of apprentices, the Cyclopes, served Vulcan here. They had once been shepherds, but their peaceful occupation had been taken away from them because they had neglected to pay tribute to Apollo. Each had but a single eye, placed in the middle of the forehead, but they were using their great strength in the smithy of Vulcan to forge thunderbolts for Jupiter, to make a trident for Neptune and a quiver of arrows for Apollo. Beside Vulcan stood two wonderful hand-maidens of gold, who, like living creatures, moved about and helped the lame smith as he worked.

Vulcan, the despised of the gods, had chained fire and conquered the metals of the earth that he might make gifts for the gods and for the heroes.

Wonderful objects appeared at the doorway of Vulcan's shop and were carried to Mount Olympus. He shaped golden shoes, wearing which, the celestials were able to walk upon land or sea, and travel faster than thought flies. He made gold chairs and tables which could move without hands in and out of the halls of the gods. The celestial steeds were brought to Vulcan at Lemnos and he shod them so cleverly with brass that they were[Pg 44] able to whirl the chariots of the gods through the air or on the waters with all the speed of the wind. He was even shaping brass columns for the houses of the gods. Vulcan had become the architect, smith, armorer, chariot-builder and the artist of all the work in Mount Olympus.

He was accomplishing more than this. Because he had captured fire and made the metals of the earth serve the ends of peace, the island of Lemnos became a safe, fertile land. Vineyards were planted and yielded rich harvests, flocks fed in green meadows, and Vulcan forged tools with which agriculture could be carried on. Ships from the other islands of Greece sailed to Lemnos and commerce, the strength of a nation, began.

In those days there was a great war being waged between the Trojans and the Greeks, and many hearts beat with hope at the prowess of a young Greek hero, Achilles. Hector, at the head of the Trojans, had stormed the Greek camp and set fire to many of their ships. A captain of the Greeks begged Achilles to lend him his armor that he might lead the soldiers against the forces of Troy.

"They may think me, in your mail, the brave[Pg 45] Achilles," he said, "and pause from fighting, and the warlike sons of Greece, tired as they are, may breathe once more and gain a respite from the conflict."

So Achilles loaned this captain, Patroclus, his radiant armor and his chariot, and marshalled his men to follow into the field. At first the assault was successful, but there came a change of fortune. Patroclus' chariot driver was killed; then he met Hector in single combat, at the same time receiving a spear thrust at the back. So Patroclus fell, mortally wounded, and it was a great sorrow as well as a tragedy for Greece, for Patroclus had been Achilles' beloved friend, and Hector stole the armor of Achilles from his body. News of the defeat went even to Mount Olympus and Jupiter covered all the heavens with a black cloud.

But Thetis, the mother of Achilles, hastened to the smithy of Vulcan and told him that her son was in sore straits, having no suit of mail. She found the lame artisan of the gods at his forge, sweating and toiling, and with busy hands plying the bellows. But Vulcan laid by his work at once to weld a splendid suit of armor for Achilles.[Pg 46] There was, first of all, a shield decorated with the insignia of war; then a helmet crested with gold and a corselet and greaves of metal so tempered that no dart could penetrate them. The task was done in a night and Thetis carried the armor to her son and laid it at his feet at dawn of the next day. No man before had ever worn such sumptuous armor.

Arrayed in Vulcan's mail Achilles went forth to battle, and the bravest of the Trojan warriors fled before him or fell under his spear. Achilles, his armor flashing lightning, and he, himself, as terrible as Mars, pursued the entire army as far as the gates of Troy. His triumph would have been complete, but he had an enemy among the company of the gods on Mount Olympus. No arrow shot by the hand of man could have hurt Achilles, but Apollo's shaft wounded him mortally. Apollo and Mars were then, and will be for all time, enemies; light and music and song have no sympathy with war.

And Achilles, having been taken from the battle-fields of earth by a dart which Apollo directed, was carried to Olympus along a bright pathway[Pg 47] through the skies. On his way he stopped at the palace of the sun. It was reared on stately columns that glittered with gold and precious stones. The ceilings were of ivory, polished and carved, and all the doors were of silver. There were pictures on the walls that surpassed in their lines and colors the work of artists upon the earth. The whole world, the sea and the skies with their inhabitants were pictured. Nymphs played in the sea, rode on the backs of fishes or sat on the rocks and dried their long hair. The earth was lovely with its forests and rivers and valleys. There was a picture of Spring crowned with flowers. Summer wore a garland made of the heads of ripe, golden grain. Autumn carried his arms full of grapes, and Winter wore a mantle of bright ice and snow. Seeing this beauty, the hero forgot his wound.

Achilles had been obliged to leave his armor on the earth, an inheritance for other brave heroes who were to take his place in the siege of Troy, but Apollo had shown him the greatest work of Vulcan. It was the crippled one of the gods who had built this palace of the sun.

[Pg 48]


Neptune, the burly old god of the sea, had a son named Orion who was almost as fond of the woods as he was of the ocean. From the time when Orion was old enough to catch a sea horse and ride on its back to shore he was gone from his home in the depths of the sea for days at a time. When Neptune blew his conch-shell to call the runaway home, Orion would return regretfully with the tales of the bear he had seen in the forest or the comb of wild honey he had found in an old oak tree.

Neptune wanted Orion to be happy, so he bestowed upon him at last the power of wading as far and in as deep water as he liked. No one had ever been able to wade right through the fathomless ocean before, but Orion could be seen any day, his dark head showing above the surface of the waters, and his feet paddling beneath without touching the bottom. He was not obliged to depend any more upon his father's chariot or the dolphins or the sea horses to carry him to shore.

[Pg 49]

So Orion began to spend a good deal of his time on land, and as he grew up to be a youth he became a mighty hunter. His arrows seemed to have been charmed by Diana, so swift and sure they were. And every day Orion bagged great spoils of game and deer.

He was making his way through the forest one day with a mighty bear that he had just slain over his shoulder when he came suddenly upon a clearing and in its midst there stood a fair white castle, its towers reaching above the pine trees toward the sky. It was surrounded by a great wall, and when Orion approached and asked the gatekeeper why it was so fortified, he was told that the king of that country who lived in it was in constant terror, day and night, of wild beasts.

"He would give half of his kingdom to whoever could rid the forest of its ravening beasts," the gatekeeper told Orion.

As Orion listened, he glanced up at a window of one of the castle towers and there he saw the face of the king's daughter, Merope, looking down at him. Hers was a bright face, the blue eyes and smiling lips framed in her hair which fell in a golden[Pg 50] shower and wrapped her about like a cloak. Orion delighted in the thought that Merope was smiling at him, although her eyes were really looking beyond this uncouth son of the sea and as far as the shores of Corinth where the heroes set sail for their adventures.

"Would the king, by any chance, do you think, give his daughter, Merope, to that hunter who rids the forest of wild beasts?" Orion asked.

The gatekeeper looked at Orion's shaggy hair, his bare feet and his mantle, made of a lion's skin. He turned away to conceal a smile as he answered.

"One could ask the king," he said.

Orion returned to the deep places where the night was made terrible by the crying of those beasts of prey that hunted for men, and Neptune did not see his son for many moons. Orion shot lions and wrestled single-handed with bears. He strangled great snakes with his own brawny hands and he hunted the wolf and the tiger with his spear. When the forest was rid of the pest of these man-eating creatures, Orion returned to the castle in the clearing, not waiting even to wash the gore of his mighty hunting from his[Pg 51] hands and garments, and he presented himself to the king.

"The forest is free of wild beasts that kill, O King," Orion said. "You may tear down your ramparts and walk in safety among the trees. As my reward for the great deed I have done, I ask the hand of your daughter, Merope. I would take her home with me to my palace of coral and shell in Neptune's kingdom. And if you refuse her to me, I will take her by force."

The king was speechless at first. Then, when he realized the boon that this son of the sea was asking, he seemed to have no words with which to express his scorn. He raised his sceptre in anger and struck Orion's eyes.

"Begone from my court, boaster," he commanded.

Orion rose from his place where he had been kneeling at the foot of the king's throne and he put his hands to his eyes, for the room seemed suddenly as dark as night. He tried to find the door but he stumbled, groping for it, until the attendants of the court had to take his hands and lead him outside. They mocked at him as they[Pg 52] pushed him through the palace gate and watched this mighty hunter, who had the strength of the sea in his limbs, stagger down the road like a blind beggar.

Orion was now sightless. The king, for his presumption in asking for Merope, had struck him blind.

Without sun by day or moon by night, Orion wandered up and down the earth, asking of whoever he met the way he must take to find the light again.

Once he came to a spot in the woods where he heard the sound of many soft footsteps dancing on the moss to the sound of merry piping. Orion stretched out his arms as he felt his way nearer to the Hamadryads, those gay creatures of the forest who played all day long with Pan and his tunes for company.

"Can you, by any chance, direct me to Apollo who drives the chariot of the sun?" Orion asked.

"Oh, no," the Hamadryads answered, scattering at the sight of the blind wayfarer. "We seldom see Apollo, for he doesn't like the music Pan plays on his pipes."

[Pg 53]

So Orion stumbled on, and he heard in the course of his wanderings the clash and din of battle as two armies met in mortal combat on the edge of a city. War chariots crashed by him, and he heard the din of shield striking shield, and the groans of those heroes who fell wounded to death.

"These fighters must know the way to take to the light," Orion thought and, sheltering himself from the combat beside a column that still stood, he cried out to one of the warriors,

"Have you seen Apollo, driving the chariot of the sun, pass this way lately?"

"No," the man replied. "Apollo avoids the battle field. We cannot direct you to the god of light."

So Orion wandered on in his darkness until he came at last to the island of Lemnos and as he stumbled along a rocky road the sharp ringing of hammers beating on metal came to his ears.

"There must be a smithy close by," Orion thought, "a place as black and ugly as the world my blindness makes for me. I have heard tales of the Cyclopes, with only one eye apiece, who spend all their lives under the mountains shaping[Pg 54] thunderbolts at their forges. Their master is the ill-shaped Vulcan, the despised of the gods. There is little use in my following the sound of a hammer."

But, against his will, Orion kept on. There was a call in the ringing of the hammer that drew him on faster than the merrymaking of Pan had, or the sound of battle. Before long the heat of the forge fire touching his face told Orion that he had reached the doorway of Vulcan's smithy at the foot of the mountain, and he asked again,

"Can you tell me the way to Apollo, who drives the chariot of the sun?"

How surprised he was to hear Vulcan reply,

"Apollo is here. We are sending some forgings of gold to his palace and he will take you with him to the sun, blind Orion."

That was a thrilling ride for Orion, away from the darkness he had walked in so long on the earth, and up along the road of stars that led to the sun. Apollo drove the chariot himself, and when they came to the stately gold columns that guarded the entrance to his palace, he told Orion to look straight at the blazing light of the sun. As he[Pg 55] looked, Orion's blindness passed. He opened his eyes and could see again.

The myths say that Orion never left the sky after that. The gods changed him into a giant, with a wide hunting belt, a sword, a lion's-skin mantle and a club made all of stars. And they even brought Sirius, his faithful hunting dog, to follow his master forever through the heavens.

[Pg 56]


Of all the many strange things that happened in the days of the old gods and goddesses, the most wonderful of all came to pass one spring morning near the island of Cyprus.

One expects all kinds of surprises in spring, new leaves and flowers on bare branches, the nesting and singing of the wild birds and brighter sunshine than in months before, but this wonder of Greece was quite unexplainable. To this day no one seems to have been able to account for it or understand it. There was hardly a breeze to stir the blue sea and the waters lay like a turquoise mirror, smooth and still. Suddenly the fishermen who were casting their nets on the shore saw a bright, rose colored cloud that trembled and then began to drop lower toward the sea until it floated lightly on the surface of the water. It was so soft and ethereal that it seemed as if a breath would blow it away, but it rose and fell like mist and seemed to almost breathe.

No one spoke, watching the wonder, and [Pg 57]suddenly the cloud began to take form and shape. It really breathed, and it blossomed into the most beautiful woman who had ever been seen on earth or on Mount Olympus either. Her hair was as bright as sunlight and her face glowed with warm color like that of the rosy cloud from which she had come. Her flowing garments were as soft and lovely as the tinted sky at sunrise, and she stretched out her slender white arms toward the shore.

At once the four Zephyrs of the west who had not been anywhere about before came and surrounded this beauteous being, and with their help she glided toward the island of Cyprus. The four Seasons descended from Mount Olympus to meet her there, as the people of Cyprus watched and wondered at the marvel.

"Can it be possible that this heavenly being has come to remain with us?" they asked each other.

And even as they wondered the second strange thing happened.

Vulcan, the smith of Mount Olympus, had a shop on Cyprus. Here his anvil could be heard ringing every day from sunrise until sunset, for Vulcan was shaping and fitting together the parts[Pg 58] of a gold throne for Jupiter. He was making other things with his skilful hands, weapons and armor for the gods and the heroes, and thunderbolts for Jupiter. He was a lonely smith, very much handicapped by his lameness, and seldom went about much unless it was to take his finished work home to Mount Olympus.

But this is what happened that long ago morning in spring. With amazing grace this lovely person who had been born in the foam of the sea made her way to the abode of Vulcan. She was the goddess of love, Venus, who is sometimes called Aphrodite. She had come to be the wife of Vulcan who was, in spite of his lameness, the god of fire.

Things were very different on the earth after the coming of Venus. The whole world had been looking for her and hoping for her coming although they had not really known this desire of their hearts. And one of the first matters that the goddess of love attended to was that of the wilful Atalanta who had caused so much sorrow among the heroes of Greece.

Atalanta was a princess, too boyish for a girl and too girlish for a boy. Many of the heroes had[Pg 59] claimed her hand in marriage but she liked her own free, wild ways too much to give them up for spinning and the household arts. To any prince or hero who asked for her hand Atalanta made the same reply,

"I will be the prize of him who shall conquer me in a race; but death shall be the penalty of all who try and fail!"

It was a cruel decree. How Atalanta could run! There had never been a boy even who was able to beat her in a race. The breezes seemed to give her wings, her bright hair blew over her shoulders, and the gay fringe of her dress fluttered behind her. But as Atalanta raced, the ruddy hue of her skin seemed to fade and she became as white as marble, for her heart grew cold. All her suitors were outdistanced and they were put to death without mercy.

Then Hippomenes came and decided to risk his life in a race with Atalanta. He was a brave, bold youth and although he had been obliged to act as judge and condemn many of his friends whom Atalanta had defeated to death, he wanted to run. And he asked Venus to help him in the race.

[Pg 60]

In Venus' garden in her own island of Cyprus there was a tree with yellow leaves and yellow branches and golden fruit. Aphrodite gathered three golden apples from the tree and gave them, unseen, to Hippomenes, telling him how to use them.

The signal was given and Atalanta darted forward along the sand of the shore near Venus' temple with Hippomenes at her side. Hippomenes was a swift runner, with a tread so light that it seemed as if he might skim the water or a field of waving grain without leaving a foot print. At first he gained. Then he felt the beat of Atalanta's breath on his shoulder, and the goal was not yet in sight. At that moment Hippomenes threw down one of the golden apples.

Atalanta was so surprised that she stopped a second. She stooped and picked up the apple and as she did so Hippomenes shot on ahead. But Atalanta redoubled her speed and soon overtook him. Again he threw down a golden apple. Atalanta could not bear to leave it, and she again stopped and picked it up. Then she ran on again. Hippomenes was almost to the goal but Atalanta[Pg 61] reached and passed him. In a minute she would have won, but Hippomenes dropped the third golden apple. It glittered and shone so that Atalanta could not resist it. A third time she hesitated and as she did so Hippomenes won the race.

The two were very happy, Hippomenes in his success and Atalanta in her precious fruit. She at once wanted a house in which to keep it, and when Hippomenes built her one Atalanta began to spin and weave and take great pride in making her home beautiful and comfortable. Venus had been quite sure that this would happen. She had known that it would be better for Atalanta to forget her cruel races, so she gave her these golden apples to show her the prizes love brings.

The goddess of love had other work to do on earth. She was particularly fond of her garden in Cyprus and she busied herself for a long time tending and coaxing a new bush to live and blossom. It was different from any shoot that had been seen there before, tough, and dry, and covered with sharp thorns that pricked whoever touched them and drew blood like spear points.[Pg 62] But Venus handled and trimmed the stalks without fear until the bush spread and sent out branches that stretched up and covered the wall of her temple like a vine. It was noticed that the new shoots and leaves pushed their way up from underneath some of the thorns, which dried up at once and dropped off. Then flower buds appeared where there had been sharp thorns which opened, when summer decked Cyprus, into the loveliest blossoms the earth had ever seen. Their fragrance filled the island and their color was like that of the cloud from which Aphrodite had come.

It was the rose, Venus' own flower, and destined to be always the most loved flower of earth.

Venus watched over everything that was beautiful on earth. That is why she was sorry that Pygmalion, the King of Greece, was so hardhearted. Pygmalion was a sculptor as well as a king, and so skilled with clay and marble that he was able to mould likenesses of the beings of Mount Olympus, even. But he closed his heart to men and he felt that there was no woman living who was worthy to share his kingdom.

One spring Pygmalion decided to make a statue[Pg 63] of ivory, and when it was finished it was so exquisite that there had never before been seen such beauty save that of Venus. Pygmalion was proud of his work and as he admired it Venus put a better feeling into his heart. Pygmalion laid his hand upon his statue to see if it were living or not. He began to wish that it was not ivory, and he named it Galatea.

Pygmalion gave Galatea the presents that a young girl of Greece loved, bright shells and polished stones, birds in golden cages, flowers of many colors, beads, and amber. He dressed her in silk and put jewels on her fingers and a necklace about her neck. She wore ear rings and many strings of pearls. When he had done all this Venus rewarded him. Pygmalion, returning to his home one day, touched his statue and the ivory felt soft and yielded to his fingers as if it had been wax. Its pallor changed to the color of life, and Galatea opened her eyes and smiled at Pygmalion.

After that all Cyprus was changed for this king who had been selfish and hardhearted. He was able to hear the silvery song of his fountain that he had never noticed before. He began to love[Pg 64] the forests, and flowers, and people, for Venus had given him Galatea to share his kingdom.

Venus and Vulcan began to spend about as much time with the gods as they did on the earth, for Mount Olympus was their real home. Venus carried her roses there to deck her hand-maidens, the Graces, who presided over the banquets, the dances, and the arts of the gods. She was watchful of mortals, though, for she knew that they would always have need of her.

[Pg 65]


Daedalous stood in the shadows at the entrance of the Labyrinth and watched one of the heroes enter the dark passageway. It was a strange, secret edifice that Daedalous, an artist of the gods, had built with his mighty skill. Numberless winding passageways and turnings opened one into the other in a confusing maze that seemed to have no beginning or end. There was a river in Greece, the Maeander, that had never been traced to its source, for it flowed forward and backward, always returning and Daedalous had planned the Labyrinth like the course of the river Maeander.

There was hardly anything that Daedalous was not able to do with his hands, for he had been given great gifts by the gods. But he liked trickery more than honesty and had spent years and used his clever brain in inventing this maze.

As he peered into the dark alleys of the Labyrinth he saw the hero disappear. He would never[Pg 66] return, Daedalous knew, for no one yet had ever been able to retrace his steps through its turnings. Like many secret things, the Labyrinth caught and destroyed even the brave.

It was a pity that anything so dreadful should have happened on such a day as that. The olive trees of Crete were in full leaf, and Daedalous could hear a nightingale singing in the forest nearby. He was deaf to the music of birds, though, for he was listening for another sound. It was May of the year, and the day when Athens sent a tribute of seven of the strongest lads and seven of the fairest daughters of Greece to be driven into the the Labyrinth, a tribute to King Minos of Crete. The Minotaur, a raging beast half man and half bull, waited in its secret passageways to devour them. Daedalous had built the Labyrinth and confined the Minotaur in it to commend himself to King Minos. The sound he listened for was the crying of these youths and maidens on their way to the sacrifice.

The road was strangely quiet, although Daedalous could see the white garments of the children as they made their way toward him through the[Pg 67] aisles of flowering trees. Their eyes were bright with courage, and a youth who was taller and older than the others led them. Daedalous trembled and hid behind a bank of moss as he saw him.

All Greece was beginning to talk of this youth, Theseus, the son of the King of Athens. He had but lately come to Athens, having lived with his grandfather at Troezen, and had astounded the populace with his prowess. The boys in the streets had ridiculed him a bit at first because of the long Ionian garment that he wore and his long hair. They called him a girl and told him that he should not be out alone in public. Hearing this ridicule, Theseus had unyoked a loaded wagon that stood near by and had thrown it lightly up into the air to the marvel of all who saw him. Next, Theseus had overpowered some fifty giants who hoped to overthrow the government of Athens and set up their own rule of pillage and terror in the city. Then Theseus had, by his extraordinary strength, captured a furious bull that was destroying the fields of grain outside the city, and had brought it captive into Athens.

[Pg 68]

Daedalous did not know, however, of this last adventure which Theseus had taken upon himself.

The Athenians were in deep affliction when he had come to the court of Athens, for it was the time of the year when its sons and daughters must be sent for the annual offering to King Minos. Theseus resolved to try and save his countrymen from this too great sacrifice and had offered himself as one of the victims to leave for Crete. His father, King Aegeus, was loath to have him go. He was growing old, and Theseus was his hope for the throne of Athens. But the day of the tribute came, seven girls and six boys were drawn by lot, and they set sail with Theseus in a ship that departed under black sails.

When they arrived at Crete, the victims were exhibited before King Minos, and Theseus saw Ariadne, his daughter, seated at the foot of his throne. Ariadne was so beautiful that we may still see her crown of gems in the sky, a starry circle above the constellation of Hercules who kneels at her feet. She was also as good as she was beautiful, and a great pity filled her heart when she[Pg 69] saw Theseus and these young people of Athens so soon to perish in the Labyrinth. She wanted to save them all to be the glory of Athens when they grew up, so she gave Theseus a sword for his encounter with the Minotaur and a coil of slender white thread.

Daedalous, from his hiding place, saw these and wondered as Theseus approached the Labyrinth and fearlessly entered.

As he followed the crooked, twisting passages, Theseus unwound his white skein and left the thread behind him. He went on boldly until he reached the devouring beast in the center of the Labyrinth and slew it easily with Ariadne's keen blade. Then Theseus retraced his steps, following the thread, as he found his way out of the Labyrinth and into the light again. Daedalous was seized with an overpowering fear, for the artifice of his work had been discovered. There would be no more sacrifices of the heroes and the children of Greece to the Minotaur. The crooked ways of the Labyrinth had been made plain by Theseus' white thread of truth.

King Minos was most angry of all with [Pg 70]Daedalous at this failure of the maze. He imprisoned Daedalous and his son, Icarus, whom Daedalous loved more than anything else in the world, in a high tower in Crete. When they escaped, he set guards along the entire shores of the island and had all ships searched so that the two might not leave by sea. Icarus had great faith in his father and entreated him to find some way by which they might elude the guards and begin their life anew on some other island. So Daedalous forgot his lesson of the Labyrinth and set about making wings for himself and Icarus.

The wings were as false as the maze had been crooked. Daedalous set the boy to gathering all the feathers he could find that the sea birds and the birds of the forest had dropped. Icarus brought his hands full of these; he was very proud of his father and had always longed to be old enough to help him in his work. He sat beside his father in the shelter of a cedar grove, sorting the larger from the smaller feathers, and bringing wax that the bees had left in the hollow trees. Daedalous wrought the feathers together with his skilful fingers, beginning with the smallest ones[Pg 71] and adding the longer to imitate the sweep of a bird's wings. He sewed the large feathers with thread and fastened the others with wax until he had completed two pairs of wings. He fastened them to his own shoulders and to those of Icarus, and they ran to the shore, buoyed upwards and feeling the power of birds as they made ready for their flight.

Icarus was as joyous as the nightingale that spreads his wings to carry his song as far as the sky. But Daedalous was again terrified at the work of his hands. He warned the boy:

"Fly along the middle track, my Icarus," he said, "not high or low. If you fly low, the ocean spray will weight your wings, and the sun may hurt you with his fiery dart if you fly too far. Keep near me."

Then Daedalous kissed his boy, rose on his wings and flew off beckoning for Icarus to follow. As they soared away from Crete, the ploughmen stopped their work and the shepherds forgot their flocks as they watched the strange sight. Daedalous and his son seemed like two gods chasing the air above the blue sea.

[Pg 72]

Together they flew by Samos and Delos, on the way to Sicily, a long distance. Then Icarus, exulting in his wings, began to rise and leave the lower course along which his father had been guiding him. He had wanted, all his life, to see the city of the gods on Mount Olympus and now his chance had come to reach it. Icarus was sure that his wings were strong enough to carry him as far as he had a desire to fly, because his father whom he had trusted had made them for him.

Up, up toward the heavens Icarus mounted, but the coolness of the waters changed to blazing heat, for Icarus was near the sun. The heat softened the wax that held the feathers together and Icarus' wings came off. He stretched his arms wide, but there was nothing to hold him in mid air.

"Icarus, my Icarus, where are you?" Daedalous cried, but all he could see was a ripple in the ocean where his son had fallen and the bright, scattered plumage floating on the surface.

That was the real end of the Labyrinth, where the daughters of the sea, the Nereids, took Icarus in their arms and carried him tenderly down among[Pg 73] their gardens of pearly sea flowers. For Daedalous had to fly on alone to Sicily, and although he built a temple to Apollo there and hung his wings in it as an offering to the god he never saw his son again.

[Pg 74]


A heavy storm raged at sea. The billows, as tall and stronger than ships, rolled from the cave on the coast of Greece where Medusa, the Gorgon, ruled and directed them. She drove them out in an endless line of destruction to crush any frail craft that braved the waters, send the sailors to the bottom and leave only broken oars and spars to be washed up on the rocks outside her stony dwelling place.

As the sea arose and the winds shrieked, a ship far out from the land could be seen, riding on the crest of the waves and coming closer to the shore. Then its form changed and the fishermen who had dared the weather saw that it was a chest made of carved cedar wood and having hinges of chased gold. It would be almost submerged one minute and then it would appear again, floating bravely on the surf. At last it was tossed upon the rocks, and the fishermen ran to salvage the treasure that some ruthless [Pg 75]destroyer had cast out for Medusa to capture if she could.

When they reached the chest the fishermen saw a young mother inside it clasping her baby son closely in her arms. It had held a human treasure abandoned to the Gorgon's cruel powers of the sea. They conducted her to their King, Polydectes, of Seriphus, and she told him her story.

"I am Danae, the princess of Argos," she said, "but my father, King Acrisius, is afraid of the powers that this little son of mine may develop in manhood. He caused us to be shut up in a frail chest and set adrift among the waves. I pray your protection, O King, for my son, who is strong and of noble birth, until he is able to dare great deeds and reward you for your kindness."

No one could have resisted the pleading of Danae, so lovely and holding her baby in her arms. She remained in Seriphus and her son, Perseus, grew to a boy and then to a fearless, daring young hero.

All this time Medusa was working sorrow on land and sea. She had once been a beautiful maiden of the coast of Greece, but she had quarreled with Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, and for this act[Pg 76] the gods had changed her into a Gorgon. Her long, curling hair was now a mass of clustering, venomous serpents that twined about her white shoulders and crawled down to her feet where they twisted themselves around her ankles. No one could describe the terrible features of Medusa, but whoever looked in her face was turned from a living thing to a creature of stone. All around the cave where she lived could be seen the stony figures of animals and men who had chanced to catch a glimpse of her and had been petrified in an instant. Above all, Medusa held the ruthlessness of the sea in her power. Those captains who had cruel hearts abandoned their enemies to the waters and she crushed them with her billows.

So it seemed to Perseus that his first adventure on coming to manhood must be the conquest of Medusa, the snaky haired Gorgon, and the gods approved of his decision and met in counsel on Mount Olympus to decide how they should help the young hero.

"I will lend Perseus my shield for his adventure," Minerva, the wisest goddess of them all, said.

[Pg 77]

"And I will lend Perseus my winged shoes," Mercury, the god of speed, decided, "to help him hasten on his brave errand."

Even Pluto, the king of the dark regions beneath the earth, heard of Perseus' determination and sent him his magic helmet by means of which any one was able to become invisible.

Perseus was well equipped when he started out. He wore Pluto's helmet and Mercury's shoes, and travelled to the lonely cave of the Gorgon without being seen and as fast as a dart of fire sent by Jupiter.

Medusa paced the halls of her cave endlessly, moaning and crying in her despair, for she was never able to escape those crawling, slimy snakes which covered her head and body. Perseus waited until she was so weary that she sank down on the stones of the cave and slept. Then, taking care not to look at her hideous face but only following her image that was reflected in his shield, Perseus cut off Medusa's head and carried it away in triumph.

Then the people who travelled the sea in ships were saved from her cruelty, and her power for[Pg 78] evil was changed in Perseus' hands to a power for good. Carrying the head of Medusa high, the hero flew in the winged shoes far and wide over land and sea until he came at last to the western limit of the earth where the sun goes down.

That was the realm of Atlas, one of the giants who was rich in herds and flocks and allowed no one to share his wealth or even enter his estates. Atlas' chief pride was his orchard whose fruits were all of gold, hung on golden branches and folded from sight by golden leaves. Perseus had no ambition to take this golden harvest.

"I stop in your domain only as a guest," he explained to the giant, "I am of noble birth, having sprung from the gods, and I have just accomplished the brave deed of destroying the terror Medusa wrought on the sea. I ask only rest and food of you."

But Atlas could think of nothing but his greed for his gold apples.

"Be gone, boaster!" he cried, "or I will crush you like a worm beneath my heel. Neither your parentage or your valor shall avail you anything."

Perseus did not attempt to meet the force of the[Pg 79] giant's greater strength, but he held up the head of the Gorgon full in his face. Then the massive bulk of Atlas was slowly but surely turned to stone. His iron muscles, his brawny limbs, his huge body and head increased in size and petrified until he towered above Perseus, a mighty mountain. His beard and hair became forests, his arm and shoulders cliffs, his head a summit, and his bones rocks. For all the rest of the centuries Atlas was to stand there holding the sky with its weight of stars on his shoulders.

Perseus continued his flight and he came to the country of the Ethiopians. The sea was as ruthless here as it had been when Medusa ruled the billows in her cave on the coast of Greece. As Perseus approached the coast he saw a terrible sight.

A sea monster was lashing the waves to fury and coming closer and closer to the shore. And a beautiful girl was chained to the rocks, waiting to be devoured by this dragon. She hung there, so pale and motionless that if it had not been for her tears that flowed in a long stream down the rocks, and her bright hair that the breezes from[Pg 80] the sea blew about her like a cloud, Perseus would have thought her a marble statue carved and placed there on the rocks.

Perseus alighted beside her, startled at her horrible plight, and entranced with her beauty.

"Why are you fastened here in such danger?" he asked.

The girl did not speak at first, trying to cover her face, but her hands were also chained. At last she explained to Perseus.

"I am Andromeda, the princess of Ethiopia," she said, "and I must be a sacrifice to the sea because my mother, Queen Cassiopeia, has enraged the sea by comparing her beauty to that of the nymphs. I am offered here to appease the deities. Look, the monster comes!" she ended in a shriek.

Almost before she had finished speaking, a hissing sound could be heard on the surface of the water and the sea monster appeared with his head above the surf and cleaving the waves with his broad breast. The shore filled with people who loved Andromeda and shrieked their lamentations at the tragedy which was about to take place. The sea monster was in range of a cliff at last and[Pg 81] Perseus, with a sudden bound of his winged feet, rose in the air.

He soared above the waters like an eagle and darted down upon this dragon of the sea. He plunged his sword into its shoulder, but the creature was only pricked by the thrust and lashed the sea into such a fury that Perseus could scarcely see to attack him. But as he caught sight of the dragon through the mist of spray, Perseus pierced it between its scales, now in the side, then in the flank, and then in the head. At last the monster spurted blood from its nostrils. Perseus alighted on a rock beside Andromeda and gave it a death stroke. And the people who had gathered on the shore shouted with joy until the hills re-echoed their glad cries.

Like the prince of a fairy tale, Perseus asked for the fair Andromeda as his bride to reward him for this last victory over the sea, and his wish was granted. It seemed as if his tempestuous adventures were going to reach a peaceful ending as he took his bride. There was a banquet spread for the wedding feast in the palace of Andromeda's father and all was joy and festivity when there[Pg 82] came a sound of warlike clamor from outside the gates. Phineas, a warrior of Ethiopia, who had loved Andromeda, but had not had the courage to rescue her from the terror of the sea, had arrived with his train to take her away from Perseus.

"You should have claimed her when she was chained to the rock," Perseus said. "You are a coward to attack us here with so overpowering an army."

Phineas made no reply but raised his javelin to hurl it at Perseus. The hero had a sudden thought to save him from destruction.

"Let my friends all depart, or turn away their eyes," he said, and he held aloft the hideous snaky head of the Gorgon.

His enemy's arm that held the javelin stiffened so that he could neither thrust it forward nor pull it back. His limbs became rigid, his mouth opened but no sound came from it. He and all his followers were turned to stone.

So Perseus was able to claim Andromeda as his bride after all, and they both had a great desire after a while to go to Argos and visit Perseus' old grandfather, the king of that country who had[Pg 83] been so afraid of a baby that he had sent his grandson drifting across the sea in a chest.

"I want to show him that he has nothing to fear from me," Perseus said.

It happened that they found the old king in a sad plight. He had been driven from the throne and was a prisoner of state. But Perseus slew the usurper and restored his grandfather to his rightful place.

In time, Perseus took the throne and his reign in Argos was so wise and kind that the gods at last made a place for him and beautiful Andromeda among the stars. You may see them on any clear night in the constellation of Cassiopeia.

[Pg 84]


A very strange thing happened when Perseus so heroically cut off the head of Medusa, the Gorgon. On the spot where the blood dripped into the earth from Perseus' sword there arose a slender limbed, wonderful horse with wings on his shoulders. This horse was known as Pegasus, and there was never, before or since, so marvellous a creature.

At that time, a young hero, Bellerophon by name, made a journey from his own country to the court of King Iobates of Lycia. He brought two sealed messages in a kind of letter of introduction from the husband of this king's daughter, one of Bellerophon's own countrymen. The first message read,

"The bearer, Bellerophon, is an unconquerable hero. I pray you welcome him with all hospitality."

The second was this,

"I would advise you to put Bellerophon to death."

[Pg 85]

The truth of the matter was that the son-in-law of King Iobates was jealous of Bellerophon and really desired to have him put out of the way in order to satisfy his own ambitions.

The King of Lycia was at heart a friendly person and he was very much puzzled to know how to act upon the advice in the letter introducing Bellerophon. He was still puzzling over the matter when a dreadful monster, known as the Chimaera, descended upon the kingdom. It was a beast far beyond any of mortal kind in terror. It had a goat's rough body and the tail of a dragon. The head was that of a lion with wide spreading nostrils which breathed flames and a gaping throat that emitted poisonous breath whose touch was death. As the subjects of King Iobates appealed to him for protection from the Chimaera a sudden thought came to him. He decided to send the heroic stranger, Bellerophon, to meet and conquer the beast.

The hero had expected a period of rest at the court of Lycia. He had looked forward to a feast that might possibly be given in his honor and a chance to show his skill in throwing the discus[Pg 86] and driving a chariot at the court games. But the day after Bellerophon arrived at the palace of King Iobates, he was sent out to hunt down and kill the Chimaera.

He had not the slightest idea where he was to go, and neither had he any plan for destroying the creature, but he decided that it would be a good plan to spend the night in the temple of Minerva before he met the danger face to face. Minerva was the goddess of wisdom and might give him help in his hopeless adventure.

So Bellerophon journeyed to Athens, the chosen city of Minerva, and tarried for a night in her temple there, so weary that he fell asleep in the midst of his supplications to the goddess. But when he awoke in the morning, he found a golden bridle in his hands, and he heard a voice directing him to hasten with it to a well outside of the city.

Bellerophon took the golden reins firmly in his hand

"Bellerophon took the golden reins firmly in his hand."

Pegasus, the winged horse, had been pasturing meanwhile in the meadows of the Muses. There were nine of these Muses, all sisters and all presiding over the arts of song and of memory. One took care of poets and another of those who wrote[Pg 87] history. There was a Muse of the dance, of comedy, of astronomy, and in fact of whatever made life more worth while in the sight of the gods. They needed a kind of dream horse like Pegasus with wings to carry them on his back to Mount Olympus whenever they wanted to return from the earth.

Bellerophon had never known of the existence even of Pegasus, but when he reached the well to which the oracle had directed him, there stood Pegasus, or, rather, this horse of the Muses poised there, for his wings buoyed him so that his hoofs could scarcely remain upon the earth. When Pegasus saw the golden bridle that the goddess of Wisdom had given Bellerophon, he came directly up to the hero and stood quietly to be harnessed. A dark shadow crossed the sky just then; the dreaded Chimaera hovered over Bellerophon's head, its fiery jaws raining sparks down upon him.

Bellerophon mounted upon Pegasus and took the golden reins firmly in one hand as he brandished his sword in the other. He rose swiftly in the air and met the ravening creature in a fierce battle in the clouds. Not for an instant did the[Pg 88] winged horse falter, and Bellerophon killed the Chimaera easily. It was a great relief to the people of Lycia, and indeed to people of all time. You may have heard of a Chimaera. It means nowadays any kind of terror that is not nearly so hard to conquer as it seemed in the beginning when people were afraid of it.

This story ought to end with the hero returning his winged steed to the Muses and entering the kingdom of Lycia in great triumph, but something very different happened. Bellerophon decided to keep Pegasus, and he rode him so long and so hard that he grew very full of pride and presumption in his success. One day Bellerophon made up his mind to drive Pegasus to the gates of the gods in the sky which was too great an ambition for a mortal who had received no invitation as yet from the dwellers on Mount Olympus. Jupiter saw this rider of the skies mounting higher and higher and he became very angry with him. He sent a gadfly which stung Pegasus and made him throw Bellerophon to the earth. He was always lame and blind after that.

It really had not been the fault of Pegasus at[Pg 89] all. He was only the steed of those who followed dreams, even if he did have wings. When his rider fell, Pegasus fell too, and he landed unhurt but a long distance from his old pastures. He did not know in which direction they lay or how to find the road that led back to his friends, the Muses. Pegasus' wings seemed to be of no use to him. He roamed from one end of the country to the other, driven from one field to the next by the rustics who mistook him for some sort of a dragon because of his wings. He grew old and lost his fleetness. It even seemed to him that his wings were nothing but a dragging weight and that he would never be able to use them again.

Finally the same thing happened to Pegasus that happens to old horses to-day that have enjoyed a wonderful youth as racers. He was sold to a farmer and fastened to a plough.

Pegasus was not used to this heavy work of the soil; his strength was better suited to climbing through the air than plodding along the surface of the earth. He used all the strength he could put forth in pulling the plough, but his wings[Pg 90] dragged and were in the way and his master beat his aching back with an ox whip. That might have been the end of this winged horse, but one day good fortune came to him.

There was a youth passing by who was beloved of the Muses. He was so poor that he had often no other shelter than the woods and hedges afforded, or any food save wild fruits and the herbs of the field. But this youth could put the beauties of the earth, its hills and valleys, its temples, flowers, and the desires and loves of its people into words that sang together as the notes of a lute sang. He was a young poet.

The poet felt a great compassion for the horse he saw in the field, bent low under the blows of his clownish master, and with wings dragging and tattered.

"Let me try to drive your horse," he begged, crossing the field and mounting upon Pegasus' back.

It was suddenly as if one of the gods were riding Pegasus. He lifted his head high, and his heavy feet left the clods of earth. His wings straightened and spread wide. Carrying the[Pg 91] youth, Pegasus arose through the air as the country people gathered from all the neighboring farms to watch the wonder, a winged horse with a flowing golden mane rising and then hidden within the clouds that opened upon Mount Olympus.

[Pg 92]


Terminus was the god of boundaries, and a kind of picnic was being held in his honor one day in the long-ago myth time on the edge of a little Roman town.

No one had ever really seen Terminus but every farmer who owned a few acres of land, and the men who governed the cities were quite sure as to how he looked. It was likely that he wore such garb as did Pan, they had decided, and carried instruments for measuring similar to those that a surveyor uses to-day. His chariot was loaded with large stones and finely chiselled posts for marking the limits of a man's farm, or that of a town. There were no fences in those days, but the gods had appointed Terminus to protect land holders and to safeguard citizens by keeping all boundaries sacred from invasion by an enemy.

No wonder the Terminalia, as they called this holiday, was a joyous time. All through the[Pg 93] neighboring vineyards and fields and on the edge of the village stones had been placed to mark the boundaries, and there were stone pillars, also, having carved heads to make them beautiful. Everyone who came to the picnic brought an offering for the god Terminus, a wreath of bright roses, a garland of green laurel, or a basket of grapes and pomegranates which they placed on one of these boundary stones or posts. The law of the gods that prevented invasion was the greatest blessing these people had, for it made them free to till the earth and build homes and keep their hearth fires burning.

Suddenly the merrymaking was interrupted. The children who had been gathering wild flowers ran, crying, to their fathers and mothers, for the sky was darkened in an instant as if a hurricane was approaching. The young men who had been playing games and the maidens who had been dancing huddled together in frightened groups, for they saw between rifts in the clouds the tracks of dark chariot wheels making their swift way down to earth from the sky. And the older folk, who knew the meaning of the rumblings and dull[Pg 94] roar and occasional darts of fire that parted the clouds, shuddered.

"See who stands in our midst in his black cloak, scattering hoar frost that blights the fields and freezes us!" they exclaimed. "It is Dread, the courier of Mars, the god of war, who is approaching in his chariot."

There came dreadful sounds soon that almost drowned the voices of the people, the crashing of swords and shields, and the cries of women and little children as a chariot plunged through their midst, its wheels dripping with blood. It was driven by two other attendants of war, Alarm and Terror, the face of one as dark as a thunder cloud, and the other with a countenance as pale as death.

"What shall we do; we are unarmed and will perish?" one man cried. And another answered him.

"Look to yourself and your own safety. Why did you leave your sword at home, and what care is it of mine that you have no means of protecting yourself?"

Strange words for a noble people to speak to one another in a time of such need, were they not?[Pg 95] But it was not the heart or the soul speech of these Romans. The two other attendants of war, Fear and Discord in tarnished armor, had appeared in their midst and had put these thoughts into the minds of the men.

"Mars comes!" they said then, and the air grew dense and suffocating with smoke, only pierced at intervals by fiery arrows. Thunderbolts forged by the black, one-eyed Cyclopes in their workshops under the volcanoes fell all about, tearing up the earth and bursting in thousands of burning pieces. Through this slaughter and carnage rode the mailed Mars, one of the gods of war.

His steeds were hot and bleeding, and his own eyes shone like fire in his dark, cruel face, for Mars had no pity and took pleasure in war for the sake of itself. It was never the purpose but always the battle that gave him pleasure. With his attendants he sat on a throne that was stained with blood, and the worship that delighted his ears like music was the crash of strife and the cries of those who were sorely wounded.

Mars' palace on Mount Olympus was a most terrible place. Fancy a grim old stronghold built[Pg 96] for strength only, without a chink or a crack for letting in Apollo's cheerful sunlight, and never visited by the happy Muses or by Orpheus with his sweet toned lute, or by jolly old Momus, the god of laughter. The palace was guarded, night and day, by a huge hound and a vulture, both of them the constant visitants of battle fields. Mars sat on his throne, waited upon by a company of sad prisoners of war, and holding forever the insignia of his office, a spear and a flaming torch. Why had he left his abode and descended upon the peaceful merrymaking of the Terminalia?

Mars was a very ruthless kind of god. In fact he was so cruel and thoughtless that the family of the gods was rather sorry that Jupiter had appointed him to so important a position, and they decided at last to have two war-gods. But who the other one was and what happened when this second chariot of war crashed down through the clouds is another story that you shall hear presently. The reason for Mars riding out with those frightful friends of his, Dread, Alarm, Fear, and Discord, was that he had not the slightest[Pg 97] respect for Terminus, the god of boundaries. He had decided to knock down his stones and shatter his pillars.

Everyone, from the days of the myths down to the present time, has believed in a fair fight. It is about the greatest adventure a man can have, that of using all his strength and giving up his life perhaps in a battle to right a wrong or protect a defenseless people. But fancy this old fight of Mars when he rode down in the chariot that the gods had given him upon a people who were without arms and with the purpose of violating their boundaries.

With a rumble like that of all the thunder storms in the world rolled into one and a crashing like the sound of a thousand spears, Mars touched the earth and rode across Terminus' carefully laid out boundary lines and destroyed them. The wheels of his chariot ground the stones Terminus had so honestly placed to powder, and the beautifully carved pillars were shattered, and the pieces buried in the dust. The shouts of Mars and his followers drowned all the peaceful melody of earth, the singing of birds, the laughter of the children,[Pg 98] and the pleasant sounds of spinning and mowing and grinding.

It was indeed a most dreadful invasion and for a while it seemed as if it was going to end in nothing but destruction of the people and the industry on the earth which the gods loved and had helped. But in an instant something happened.

There was a roar as if wild beasts of the forests for miles around had been captured, and the earth trembled as it did when the giants were thrown out of the home of the gods, for Mars had fallen and was crying about it. He had thought himself invulnerable, but whether an arrow from some unseen hero had hit him or whether his steeds had stumbled over one of Terminus' boundary posts, the invincible Mars lay prostrate on the field he had himself invaded, and before he could pick himself up, something else happened.

It was really rather amusing, for Mars was not hurt. He was only taught a much needed lesson.

Just beyond the lines of Terminus which Mars had violated there lived two giant planters, Otus and Ephialtes, whose father had been a planter[Pg 99] also and his father before him. They had been much too busy to attend the Terminalia picnic. In fact they almost never took a holiday, but toiled from sunrise to sunset on their farm which supplied the nearby market with fruits and bread stuffs. Otus and Ephialtes were very much surprised to hear the thundering crash that Mars made when he tumbled down; and they dropped their tools and ran to see what was the matter.

It is said that the fallen Mars covered seven acres of ground, but the two giants started at once picking him up and he began to shrink then like a rubber balloon when the air leaks out of it.

"What shall we do with this troublemaker?" Otus asked his brother.

"We must put him where he will not interfere with our work or the other work of the earth for a while at least," Ephialtes said as they tugged Mars, still roaring, home.

"That's a good idea," Otus agreed. "We will shut him up."

And so they crammed the troublesome Mars into a great bronze vase and took turns sitting on the cover so that he was not able, by any chance,[Pg 100] to get out for thirteen months. That gave everyone an opportunity to plant and gather another harvest, and to place Terminus' boundary stones again.

These giant planters would have liked to keep this god of war bottled up in the vase for all the rest of time, but he was one of the family of the Olympians and so this was not possible. In time he was allowed to drive home and both the Greek and the Roman people tried to make the best of him, not as a protecting deity, but as the god of strength and brawn.

The Greeks named a hill for him near Athens, and here was held a court of justice for the right decision of cases involving life and death. That put Mars to work in a very different way. And the Romans gave him a great field for military manoeuvres and martial games. We would call it a training camp to-day. There, in Mars Field, chariot races were held twice a year and there were competitions in riding, in discus and spear throwing, and in shooting arrows at a mark. Once in five years the able-bodied young men of Rome came to Mars Field to enlist for the army, and[Pg 101] no Roman general started out to war without first swinging a sacred shield and spear which hung there and saying,

"Watch over me, O Mars." For Mars could put muscle into a man's arm, and the heroes themselves were learning to choose the good fight.

[Pg 102]


The sea that broke in surf on the shore of Attica became suddenly as smooth as a floor of crystal. Over it, as if he had leaped from the caverns of rock in its depths, dashed Neptune, the god of the sea, his trident held high, his horses' golden manes flowing in the wind, and their bronze hoofs scarcely touching the water as they galloped toward the shore.

At the same moment a war-like goddess appeared on the edge of the land. She was as tall and straight and strong as Mars, but her armor shone like gold while his was often tarnished. She held the storm shield of her father, Jupiter and carried a dart of lightning for her spear. Minerva, the other god of war, she was, as fearful and powerful as a storm, but also as gentle and peaceful as the warmth of the sky when it shines down on the fields when the storm is over.

"Why have Neptune and Minerva met?" the fishermen and sailors who crowded the beach asked.

[Pg 103]

"They have come together for a contest to see which shall have the honor of building a City," some of the wise men told them, and then these Greeks drew aside and waited to see what would happen, for with them was to rest the judgment in the matter.

Neptune drove his chariot up onto the land, dismounted, and blew a mighty blast on his trumpet to call the nymphs of the waters and the spirits of the winds to his aid. Then he ascended to a barren rock that lifted its head above the surrounding hills, bleak and without a single blade of grass to soften it. The Greeks watched Neptune breathlessly as he stood on its top, a mighty figure in his cloak of dripping seaweed and the white of sea salt in his flowing, dark green hair. He raised his trident, struck the rocks with it, and the age-old stone cracked in a deep fissure. Out of the crack in the rock burst a spring of water where there had been not a drop through all the centuries before.

"Neptune wins! None of the gods can excel this feat of bringing water out of bare rock," the cry went up from the people.

[Pg 104]

But Minerva ascended now to this rock of the Acropolis and took her place beside Neptune. She, also, touched the barren stone with her spear that was forged and tempered by the gods. And as she did so, a marvel resulted to her honor as well.

The green shoot of a tree suddenly appeared, pushing its way up through the hard stone. The shoot grew tall and broadened to form a trunk and branches, and then covered itself with gray-green leaves that made a pleasant shade from the brilliancy of the sun. Last, this wonder tree was hung on every branch with a strange new fruit, green balls of delicious flavor and full of oil that was healthful and healing and needed by the whole world.

The Greeks broke their ranks and gathered about the tree to taste and enjoy the fruit.

"Minerva wins!" they shouted. "Neptune's spring here in the Acropolis is like the sea, brackish in flavor, but Minerva has given Greece the olive tree."

That is just what had happened. Minerva had given the people something that they really[Pg 105] needed, and the fair city of Athens was raised and awarded to this goddess of war as the prize of her kindness to the people.

But Neptune proved himself a very poor loser. He was a blustering, boastful old god, used from the days of his father Oceanus, when the waters were first separated from the land, to having his own way. He had wanted to own Athens himself, to be able to go and come in it whenever he liked, and it was particularly humiliating that he must give it up to a goddess. Neptune stormed down to the shore, blew another blast on his trumpet, and called all the deities of the sea and of tempests to come to his aid and destroy the city.

What an army they made as they obeyed his summons!

Triton, a son of Neptune, led the hosts and sounded the horn of battle as they approached the land, and all around him flew the Harpies, those birds as large as men with crooked claws and a hunger for human flesh. There were sea serpents that could crush a man with a single coil, and Boreas, the North Wind, drove the regiment of the high tides up on the coast. With these[Pg 106] powers of the sea came a mighty rushing of water, and it seemed as if neither Athens or its people would be able to survive this arising of the sea.

But Minerva, the goddess of righteous, defensive war was there and on the side of the Greeks. She presided over battles, but only to lead on to victory and through victory to peace and prosperity. Few could withstand the straight glance of Minerva's eyes, valiant, conquering and terrifying, or the sight of her gloriously emblazoned shield. As the powers of Neptune advanced, Minerva raised her shield, and the tides rested and the waters receded. Then she drove the forces of Neptune back at the point of her spear, and Athens was saved.

You will remember that the gods were very much like men in wanting particular kinds of gifts which would be their very own, and which they could treasure. Jupiter had a special fondness for thunderbolts and kept piles of them behind his throne. Apollo treasured his lyre, and Mercury his shoes and his cap. Venus never travelled without a jewelled girdle which she thought added to her beauty, but Minerva had always[Pg 107] wanted a city. Now her wish had come true, for she had a very large and beautiful one, the fair Athens.

People began coming to Athens from all parts of Greece and from neighboring countries as well, because Minerva spent so much time there tending and spreading the olive orchards, and keeping the city free from invasion. Neptune had left a horse near the hill of the Acropolis when he had to retreat, and Minerva invented a harness for it and broke it to the bit and bridle with her own hands in the market square of Athens. Having horses for ploughing and carrying loads of lumber and stone and grain helped the prosperity of Athens and brought it wealth. And when the people were at peace, Minerva laid aside her armor and crossed the thresholds of the houses, teaching the women to spin, and weave, and extract the precious oil from her olives.

Everyone was growing very prosperous and very rich. It seemed that the olive tree had brought all this wealth, for it had spread throughout Attica and plenty followed wherever it bore fruit.

[Pg 108]

Not far from Athens lay the kingdom of the Persians who were invincible in battle, having devoted themselves for many years to the arts of warfare. Through their interest in their own affairs the Athenians forgot about their warlike neighbors, until one fateful day when a runner breathlessly told them that the hosts of the Persian army waited at the boundaries of their cities.

Such confusion and terror as ensued! The Athenians were not ready for war. They consulted an oracle as to how to meet the Persian host and the oracle replied,

"Trust to your citadel of wood!"

The wise men of Athens quite misunderstood this advice and went busily to work erecting wooden fortifications around the hill of the Acropolis where Minerva's first olive tree stood as if it were guarding their prosperity. The oracle had meant for the Athenians to trust to their fleet and try to prevent the Persian army from entering along the coast, and by the time the wooden wall was built, the Persians had begun to fire Athens.

Minerva, with her flaming spear raised and her eyes filled with tears, went to her father, Jupiter,[Pg 109] to beg for the safety of her city. She kneeled at the foot of his throne to make her plea, and it must have been hard indeed for Jupiter to refuse his favorite daughter as he looked down at Minerva, prostrate before him in her shining suit of mail. But the king of the gods told Minerva something about her city which even he was powerless to change.

"Athens, in her prosperity, has forgotten the gods," Jupiter said. "She lives and works for herself and not for others. She must perish in order that a better and nobler city may rise from her ruins."

So Minerva was obliged to watch from the clouds as fire and sword consumed Athens and the smoke of the flaming city rose like incense to the seats of the gods. When there seemed to be nothing left except the stones which had been the foundation of Athens' beauty, and those of her heroes who had not perished had been obliged to take to the sea, Minerva descended to her hill, the Acropolis. She wanted to see if the roots, at least, of her olive tree had been spared, and she found a wonder.

[Pg 110]

As a sign that she had not forsaken Athens, even in ruins, Jupiter had allowed the roots of her tree to remain, and from them there sprang a new green shoot. With wonderful quickness it grew to a height of three yards in the barren waste that was all the Persians had left, a sign that Athens was not dead, but would live and arise a new, fairer city.

Minerva held her bright shield above her golden helmet and hastened to the sea coast, calling together the heroes to man the ships and set sail against the fleet of the enemy. The Persian fleet greatly outnumbered that of the Greeks, but at last it was driven off with terrible rout and those of the Persians who were left on land were destroyed. The war was won for the Greeks through Minerva's help, but Jupiter's prophecy had been fulfilled. The old Athens was gone, and it was necessary to build a new city.

That was just the kind of undertaking that Minerva liked, to win a defensive war and then build so as to destroy all traces of it. She and the Greeks, with the help of all the other gods, went to work to make Athens such a city as had not been dreamed of before.

[Pg 111]

Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, restored the waste fields and orchards so that the olive grew again and plenty came once more. Minerva busied herself encouraging the women to do more beautiful handwork than before the war, and she taught them how to feed and tend little children so that they might grow up strong and well and be the glory of Greece. Large numbers of horses were trained and harnessed to war chariots. Apollo sent sunshine and music to the city, and the builders erected beautiful marble temples and statues and pillars and fountains.

The Athenians began doing things together, which always helps to make a city great and strong. There were parades of the soldiers and the athletes on the holidays, and public games and banquets and drills were held. The best holiday of all was Minerva's own. First, there was a procession in which a new robe for the goddess, woven and embroidered by the most skilful women and girls of Athens, was carried through the city on a wagon built in the form of a ship, the robe spread like a sail on the front. It was like a great float in a parade. All Athens followed the wagon, the[Pg 112] young of the nobility on horseback or in chariots, the soldiers fully armed, and the trades people and farmers with their wives and daughters in their best clothes. The new robe was intended for the statue of Minerva that stood in the Parthenon in Athens. They named her Pallas Athene at last, the guardian of their beloved city.

Then came games in which the athletes took part, and the most sought for prize was a large earthenware vase on one side of which there was painted a figure of Minerva striding forward as if she was hurling her spear, and having a column on each side of her to indicate a race-course. On the other side of the vase was a picture of the game in which it was won, and it was filled to brimming with pure olive oil from Minerva's tree. For the Greeks had learned that war is sometimes necessary, but Minerva would heal their wounds with the oil of her sacred tree and the new Athens was to be known always as one of the most perfect cities of the ages.

[Pg 113]


There are many ways of building a city, and this is how Cadmus, in the days of the myths, built Thebes, the beautiful.

Cadmus was but a youth when he began his wanderings which took him from shore to shore of the earth, for he was descended from Neptune, the god of the sea, and had been born with the spirit of the restless tides in his heart. But Cadmus had a longing to search out and make for himself a home on land where he could gather the heroes about him and make temples and a market place and set up fair statues.

So he consulted the oracle of Apollo to know what country he should settle in, and a voice issued from that strange, deep cleft in the rock at Delphi saying that he would find a cow in a field, and should pursue her wherever she wandered. Where she stopped Cadmus also should stop and build a city which he was to call Thebes.

As soon as Cadmus left the cave of the oracle,[Pg 114] he was surprised to see a white cow wearing a garland of flowers about her neck and cropping in the grass nearby. She raised her head when Cadmus appeared, and walked slowly before him. So he followed her, and she went on until she came to a wide plain in the fertile land of Egypt. Here she stood still and lifted her broad forehead to the sky, filling the air with her lowings.

Cadmus stooped down and lifted a handful of the foreign soil to his lips, kissing it, and looking with delight at the beauties of the blue hills which surrounded this spot to which Apollo had guided him. He felt that he ought to offer his thanks to Jupiter, and so he went to a nearby fountain to draw some pure water to bathe his hands before he lifted them up to the sky.

The fountain spouted, as clear as crystal, from a cave covered with a thick growth of bushes and situated in an ancient grove that had never been profaned by an axe. Cadmus pushed his way into it, and when he was inside the cave it seemed as if he had left the world behind, so dark was it, with the shadows of the boughs and thick leaves.

Cadmus dipped a vase which his servants had[Pg 115] brought him in the waters of the fountain, and was about to raise it, brimming full, when it suddenly dropped from his hands, the blood left his cheeks, and his limbs trembled. A venomous serpent whose eyes shone like fire and who showed triple fangs and triple teeth raised its head from the waters with a terrible hiss. Its crested head and scales glittered like burnished bronze; it twisted its body in a huge coil and then raised itself, ready to strike, to a height that over-topped the trees of the grove. And while Cadmus' servants stood still, unable to move for their fright, the serpent killed them all, some with its poisonous fangs, some with its foaming breath, and others in its choking folds.

There was only Cadmus left, and at last he crept out of the cave, screening his body behind the bushes, and made ready to take his stand against the serpent. He covered himself from head to foot with a lion's skin. In one hand he carried a javelin and in the other a lance, but in his heart Cadmus carried courage which was a stronger weapon than either of these. Then he faced the serpent, standing in the midst of his[Pg 116] fallen men and looking into its bloody jaws as he lifted a huge stone and threw it straight. It struck the serpent's scales and penetrated to its heart. The creature's neck swelled with rage, the panting breath that issued from its nostrils poisoned the air. Then it twisted itself in a circle and fell to the ground where it lay like the shattered trunk of a tree. Cadmus, watching for his chance, went boldly up to the monster and thrust his spear into its head, fastening it to the tree beneath which it had fallen. The serpent's weight bent and twisted the tree as it struggled to free itself, but at last Cadmus saw it give up the fight and hang there, quiet in death.

Then a marvellous thing happened. As Cadmus stood, looking at his fallen foe, a voice came to him which he could hear distinctly, although he was not able to know from whence it came, and it said,

"It is decreed, O Cadmus, that you shall take out the teeth of this dragon and plant them in the plain upon which you are to found the city of Thebes."

So Cadmus obeyed the command. He pulled[Pg 117] out the serpent's triple row of sharply pointed teeth. He made a furrow and planted them in it, and scarcely had he covered them with earth than the clods raised themselves. As happened in the days when Jason had traveled all the long way in search of the fleece of gold, the ground where the dragon's teeth had taken root was pierced by the metal points of helmets and spears. After these sprouting signs of war came the heads and breasts of an army of warriors until the entire plain was bright with their shields and the air smoked and resounded with the din of fearful fighting.

Cadmus was only one against the terrible ranks of all these earth-born brothers of his, but he made ready to do his best and encounter this new enemy. As he advanced, however, he heard the unknown voice again,

"Meddle not with civil war, Cadmus," it said.

But Cadmus' spirit was fired with his high desire to build a city which would be a place of peace and industry, and he knew that civil strife was the destruction of such a city. So he entered the battle, single handed, and smote one of these, his[Pg 118] fighting brothers, with a sword, but fell, pierced in his side by an arrow. He was up and advancing again as soon as he staunched the flow of blood, killing four of the warriors. In the meantime the warriors seemed to become mad with the spirit of warfare and killed each other until the whole crowd was pitted against one another. At last all of the warriors fell, mortally wounded, except five. These five survivors threw aside their weapons and cried, as with one voice,

"Brothers, let us live in peace."

And they joined with Cadmus in laying the foundations of a great city which they called Thebes.

They measured and laid out roads, making them hard and strong for the wheels of heavy chariots which would bear kings to and from the city. They built houses whose decorations of carvings and precious metals were not to be equalled in all Greece, and they filled them with rare furnishings, and they painted pictures of the contests of the gods on the walls, and shaped golden plates and cups for the tables. They set up a strong citadel at the boundary line of the city to protect it from invasion, and Cadmus built factories for making[Pg 119] tools and furniture and household utensils so as to draw traders to the city and increase its prosperity through commerce. And there were seven gates to Thebes, in honor of the seven strings of Apollo's lyre from which he drew the sweet strains that brought harmony to the earth.

When Thebes was finished, it seemed as if it had no rival among the cities of the earth, it was so good to look upon, so full of industry, and peace, and plenty. But Cadmus had yet one gift more to make to Thebes.

For a long time he worked secretly, carving with a sharp pointed tool upon a stone tablet. One day he brought forth the result of his work. Cadmus had invented the alphabet; he had given the power of learning through reading and writing to his people.

That made his city complete, for a people who are through with civil strife, and able to work and be educated can be as great as the gods if they will it so.

They became great and they made Cadmus the king of Thebes for a rule that was long and just and good.

[Pg 120]


Arachne, the wonderful girl weaver of Greece, took a roll of white wool in her skilled hands and separated it into long white strands. Then she carded it until it was as soft and light as a cloud. She was at work out of doors in a green forest and her loom was set up under an old oak tree with the sunlight shining down between the leaves to brighten the pattern that she set up on it. In and out her shuttle flew without stopping until she had woven at last a fair piece of fabric.

Then Arachne threaded a needle with wool dyed in rainbow colors. She had all the colors of this long arch, that the sunbeams shining through raindrops make, to use in her work.

"What design will the clever Arachne embroider on her tapestry to-day?" one of the Nymphs of the forest who had clustered about her to watch her work asked. Then all the Nymphs, looking like a part of the forest in their soft green [Pg 121]garments, crowded close as Arachne began to embroider a picture. The grass seemed to grow in it beneath her needle, and the flowers bloomed just as they always bloom in the spring.

What design will Arachne embroider to-day? asked one of the nymphs.

"What design will Arachne embroider to-day?" asked one of the nymphs.

"You weave and sew as if the great Minerva herself had taught you her arts," a Nymph said timidly to Arachne.

The girl's face flushed with anger. It was true that the goddess Minerva who presided over the arts that women need to know, spinning, weaving and needlework, had taught Arachne her skill, but the girl was vain and always denied it.

"My skill is my own," she replied. "Let Minerva try to compete with me and if she is able to finish a rarer piece of work than mine, I am willing to pay any penalty."

It was a thoughtless, daring boast which Arachne had made. As she spoke the leaves of the trees fluttered, for the Nymphs, frightened at a mortal's presumption, were moving away from Arachne. She looked up and in their place saw an old dame standing beside her.

"Challenge your fellow mortals, my child," she said, "but do not try to compete with a goddess.[Pg 122] You ought to ask Minerva's forgiveness for your rash words."

Arachne tossed her head in disdain.

"Keep your counsel," she replied, "for your hand-maidens. I know what I say and I mean it. I am not afraid of the goddess. I repeat it; let Minerva try her skill with mine if she dare venture."

"She comes!" said the old dame, dropping her disguise and appearing before Arachne in the shining silver mail of the goddess Minerva.

Arachne grew pale with fear at first, but her presumption overcame her fear. Her heart was full of her foolish conceit and she set a new piece of work on her loom as Minerva produced a second loom, and the contest began. They attached the web to the beam and began tossing their slender shuttles in and out of the threads. They pushed the woof up into place with their fine reeds until the fabric was compact. Then the needlework was begun.

Arachne, though, had decided to work something that was forbidden by the gods. She was going to use her skill of hand and all her art for evil instead of good.

[Pg 123]

She began embroidering a picture that would be displeasing to the gods, and she was able to make it seem as if it were alive, because of the figures and scenes she could outline with her needle and fill in with her colored wools. The picture Arachne embroidered was that of the fair Princess Europa tending her father's herds of cattle beside the sea. One of the bulls seemed so tame that Europa mounted his back, and he plunged into the sea with her and carried her far away from her native shores to Greece. Arachne pictured this bull as the great god Jupiter.

Minerva's embroidery was of a very different pattern from this. She was the goddess of wisdom and her gift from Mount Olympus to the earth had been the beautiful olive tree that gave mortals shade, and fruit, and oil, and wood for their building. Minerva stitched the pattern of a green olive tree on the tapestry she was embroidering.

Among the leaves of the olive tree Minerva embroidered a butterfly. It seemed to live and flutter in and out among the olives. One could almost touch the velvet nap that lay on its wings and the silk down which covered its back; there[Pg 124] were its broad, outstretched horns, its gleaming eyes, its glorious colors. Minerva's workmanship was more wonderful than Arachne could ever hope to learn. As they finished she knew that she was outdone.

Minerva looked at Arachne's tapestry, woven of pride and a desire for vain conquest. It could not be allowed to stand beside hers that showed the gift of life to man in the olives and such beauty as that of the butterfly. The goddess struck Arachne's tapestry with her shuttle and tore it in pieces.

Arachne was suddenly filled with an understanding of how she had wasted her skill, and she longed to get away from all sight and sound of her weaving. A vine trailed down to the ground from a near by tree. Arachne twisted it about her body and tried to pull herself up by it to the tree, but Minerva would not allow this. She touched Arachne's form with the juices of aconite and at once her hair came off, and her nose and her ears as well. Her body shrank and shrivelled and her head grew smaller. Her fingers fastened themselves to her side and served for[Pg 125] legs. She hung from the vine which changed to a long gray thread.

Arachne, the skilful weaver of Greece, was changed to Arachne, the spider of the forest. Through all the centuries since then she has been spinning her fragile threads and weaving her frail webs that a breath of wind, even, can destroy.

[Pg 126]


The prince who was the hero of one of your favorite once-upon-a-time stories was quite sure to have had a fairy godmother to watch over his ways and help in bringing his adventures to success. But Hercules, the Great, of old Greece than whom we have never known a greater hero, had two fairy godmothers. They were not known by exactly that name in the days when the myths were made, but there were two very powerful goddesses who presided over Hercules' destiny, and the odd thing about it was that no one knew which of these was the more important.

Hercules began life just like any other baby except that his father was the mighty Jupiter, a fact which made everyone expect a great deal of him. And just as used to happen in your old fairy tales, he had enemies because of his noble birth. One of these was the goddess, Juno.

Hercules lay in his cradle one day before he was able to walk even, and he suddenly saw [Pg 127]something that would have frightened anyone much older than he. On each side of his cradle there appeared the green, hissing head of a huge serpent, their poisonous fangs thrust out to sting this child of the gods to death. Hercules' attendants ran away in terror not daring to give fight to the vipers, but he reached out his tiny hands, gripped a serpent in each by its throat and strangled them.

People began to look at Hercules in wonder after that. They watched him grow up, just like any other boy except that his limbs were stronger and his muscles harder than those of the average boy of Greece. There were still those who admired him and those who hated him, knowing that he was, really, the son of a god. So his enemies put Hercules in charge of a kind of tutor named Eurystheus who was under orders to give him the most impossible tasks to try and perform.

"The lad will fail and then we shall be well rid of him," the goddess Juno, who particularly disliked Hercules, said.

Hercules began life in a part of Greece that was known as the valley of Nemea. It was a[Pg 128] place of olive orchards and fruit trees and fields of grain, but the terror of the place was the Nemean lion who lived close by in the fastness of the hills. There had never been known so huge a lion, with such wide, blood thirsty jaws. Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the tawny hide of this monster.

"How shall I slay the Nemean lion?" Hercules asked.

"With your arrows and your club," Eurystheus replied carelessly, but he knew that no arrows in all Greece could pierce the lion's skin and that Hercules' club, made of a stout young tree, would also be powerless against the beast.

"Hercules will never return," the people of the valley said to each other as they watched the young hero start out boldly toward the hills.

But he returned the next day, as fresh and untroubled as when he had started, with the hide of the Nemean lion slung over his shoulder.

"Are yours magic arrows, and is your club charmed as well?" the youths who were Hercules' friends asked, crowding around him.

"I killed the lion with my hands alone, [Pg 129]grasping him about his throat," Hercules explained to them.

Eurystheus, listening on the edge of the crowd, frowned at these words. "I must plan a greater labor for him," he thought.

There was a rich and beautiful city of Greece named Argos, but a fearful monster called the Hydra infested a swamp just outside it and one never knew when it would descend upon the well that supplied the people with pure water. It had nine heads and one of these was immortal, so the rumor went.

"Go to Argos and kill the Hydra," Eurystheus commanded Hercules.

Hercules was ready to dare this adventure. He started out again with no other arms than he had carried before and when he came to the well of Argos which kept the country from drought, he found the Hydra stationed there. Going up to it, Hercules struck off one of its heads with his club. What was his surprise to see two heads grow in the place of this one! It was going to be a task to destroy this creature, Hercules understood, as he laid on with his club against the [Pg 130]menacing and increasing heads, hitting right and left and with no time between his telling blows. He struck off all of the Hydra's heads at last except the undying one. Finally Hercules thought of a plan for destroying this. He wrenched it off with his mighty hands and buried it deeply underneath a rock.

"Hercules shall be put to a task he will not like so well as encountering wild beasts," Eurystheus decided then. "He shall clean the Augean stables. We will see if a son of the gods has the will to accomplish that labor."

This was indeed a labor with very little of the spirit of adventure in it. Old King Augeus, of Elis in Greece had a herd of three thousand cattle and their stalls in his many stables had not been cleaned for thirty years. The cattle, all of them of blooded stock, were dying off because they were not properly cared for, and there was no hero of the king's train but felt the work of cleaning the stables to be too menial for him.

Hercules had no such thought as this, however. He was ready to attempt the labor; his only idea was how to accomplish it, and thoroughly. At last he had a very novel idea.

[Pg 131]

There were scarcely any of the lesser gods of outdoors who had not, by this time, felt the strength of Hercules. There had been the river god who took delight in leading the waters of the streams over their banks and inundating the farms in the spring when the fields had just been planted. Hercules had wrestled with this river god and had broken off one of his horns, on account of which he had to keep the streams between their banks. Hercules made up his mind that he would take advantage of his power over the river god in his present need.

So what did Hercules do but lead the courses of two streams, the Alpheus and the Peneus, right through the Augean stables cleansing them thoroughly. When he finished this labor, the result was so fine that he had quite as much reason to be proud of it as he had over his other prowess. It was as splendid to use one's strength in cleaning as in any other way, Hercules discovered.

He went on from one adventure to another with the years, always successful although everyone prophesied that some day his strength would fail and he would have to give up. Eurystheus[Pg 132] wanted a new yoke of oxen, and none would do except those who lived in the land of the setting sun, in the western part of Greece and were guarded by a giant who had three bodies. Hercules set out for the place and when he reached it he discovered that not only the giant, but a huge dog that had two heads guarded the oxen. Hercules killed the giant and his dog and drove the oxen home to Eurystheus.

Victor over wild beasts and giants, and able to accomplish any work which he attempted! What labor was there left for this son of Mount Olympus? Eurystheus knew. He sent Hercules on what seemed indeed a wild goose search. He commanded him to bring back to Greece the golden apples of the Hesperides without telling him where they were to be found.

They were very plump and beautiful apples made altogether of solid gold. It is said that they were the first oranges the world had ever known. However that may be the Greeks wanted them very much. Juno had received them for a wedding present from the goddess of Earth, and had hung some on a golden tree in the fair garden of[Pg 133] the daughters of Hesperis who kept a dragon to guard them. It would have been a task to pick them even if one had known where to go for them. Hercules started out, though, without route or chart and it was the most difficult of all his adventures.

He met Antaeus, a son of the Earth, who was a mighty giant and wrestler. Hercules encountered this son of the Earth and threw him countless times, but each time the giant rose from the ground with renewed strength. It was like magic, but Hercules found out at last the secret of Antaeus' strength, as you, also, will in the next story, and did battle with him. Then, on went Hercules, for the Earth could no longer stop him, and after awhile he found himself at Mount Atlas in Africa. The bent old giant, Atlas, stood on the top of this, holding up the sky on his shoulders. He was as ancient as the mountain itself and doomed by the gods to stand there through the seasons and never go home to the garden of the Hesperides where his daughters lived.

"If you will but bring me the golden apples of the Hesperides, old Atlas, I will take your place[Pg 134] on the mountain top for a space," Hercules said to the giant.

"The sky is heavier than you imagine, my son," Atlas replied. "I doubt if you can bear it."

"Let me but try," Hercules urged him.

So Atlas shifted the burden of the heavens from his shoulders to those of Hercules and the hero held them securely. When Atlas returned, his arms full of the precious golden balls, Hercules still held the sky as if he scarcely felt its weight. Atlas wanted to have him hold it always, but Hercules was of no mind to do that. He gave back his load to Atlas and took the apples of the Hesperides home to Greece.

Hercules had conquered the earth even in this last adventure, and it seemed as if there was no great deed left for this hero. But he continued using his mighty strength, even to descending to Pluto's realm of darkness and bringing back the heroic Theseus who was a prisoner there. At last even his enemies on Mount Olympus were forced to grant him a place of honor in their midst and Jupiter wrapped him in a cloud and sent a four horse chariot to bring him home along the road[Pg 135] of the stars. When Hercules reached the Olympian Heights it is said that old Atlas bent still lower with the weight on his shoulders, for this hero had added new strength to the heavens.

But how about those two goddesses, you ask, who presided like fairy godmothers over the destiny of Hercules? The ancients asked that same question, and Hercules answered it just before Jupiter called him away from Greece.

One of these goddesses was named Virtue, and the other Pleasure, but it was the first whom Hercules followed all his life.

[Pg 136]


A great while ago, in the days of the myths, there lived an earth-born Giant named Antaeus, and a race of little earth-born people who were called Pygmies. This Giant and these Pygmies, being children of the same Mother Earth, lived together in a very friendly way far off in the middle of hot Africa.

It must have been very curious to behold the Pygmies' little cities with streets two or three feet wide paved with the smallest pebbles and bordered by habitations about as big as a squirrel's cage. If one of the Pygmies grew to the height of six or eight inches he was reckoned a prodigiously tall man and there were so many sandy deserts and high mountains between them and the rest of mankind that nobody could get a peep at them oftener than once in a hundred years.

The king's palace was about as tall as a dolls' house and this and the rest of their houses were[Pg 137] built neither of stone or wood. They were neatly plastered together by the Pygmy workmen, pretty much like birds' nests, out of straw, feathers, egg shells, and other bits of small stuff with stiff clay instead of mortar. And when the sun had dried them they were just as snug and comfortable as a Pygmy could desire.

Their giant friend, Antaeus, was so very tall that he carried a pine tree for a walking stick. It took a far-sighted Pygmy to see the top of his head on a cloudy day. But at noonday, when the sun shone brightly over him, Antaeus presented a very grand spectacle. There he used to stand, a perfect mountain of a man, with his great countenance smiling down on his little brothers and his one eye, which was as big as a cart wheel and placed right in the centre of his forehead, giving a friendly wink to the whole nation at once. In spite of the difference in their size, it seemed as if Antaeus needed the Pygmies for his friend as much as they did him for the protection he was to them. No creature of his own size had ever talked with him. When he stood with his head among the clouds, he was quite alone and had been so for[Pg 138] hundreds of years and would be forever. Even if he had met one of the other Giants, Antaeus would have fancied the earth not large enough for them both and would have fought with him. But with the Pygmies he was the most merry and sweet tempered old Giant who ever washed his face in a cloud.

The Pygmies had but one thing to trouble them in the world. They were constantly at war with the cranes. From time to time very terrible battles had been fought in which sometimes the little men were victorious and sometimes the cranes. When the two armies joined battle, the cranes would rush forward, flapping their wings, and would perhaps snatch up some of the Pygmies crosswise in their beaks. It was truly an awful spectacle to see the little men kicking and sprawling in the air and then disappearing down the crane's crooked throat, swallowed alive. If Antaeus observed that the battle was going hard with his little allies, he ran with mile-long strides to their rescue, flourishing his club and shouting at the cranes who quacked and croaked and retreated as fast as they could.

[Pg 139]

One day the mighty Antaeus was lolling at full length among his friends. His head was in one part of the kingdom and his feet in another and he was taking what comfort he could while the Pygmies scrambled over him and played in his hair. Sometimes, for a minute or two, the Giant dropped to sleep and snored like the rush of a whirlwind. During one of these naps a Pygmy climbed upon his shoulder and took a view around the horizon as from the summit of a hill. Suddenly he saw something, a long way off, that made him rub his eyes and looked sharper than before. At first he mistook it for a mountain and then he saw the mountain move. As it came nearer, what should it turn out to be but a human shape, not so large as Antaeus, but an enormous figure when compared with the Pygmies.

The Pygmy scampered as fast as his legs would carry him to the Giant's ear and, stooping over, shouted in it,

"Brother Antaeus, get up this minute! Take your walking stick in your hand for here comes another Giant to do battle with you!"

"Pooh, pooh!" grumbled Antaeus, only half[Pg 140] awake. "None of your nonsense, my little fellow. Don't you see that I am sleepy? There is not another Giant on earth for whom I would take the trouble to get up."

But the Pygmy looked again and now perceived that the stranger was coming directly toward the prostrate form of Antaeus. There he was, with the sun flaming on his golden helmet and flashing from his polished breastplate. He had a sword by his side, and a lion's skin over his back, and on his right shoulder he carried a club which looked bulkier and heavier than the pine-tree walking stick of Antaeus.

By this time the whole nation of Pygmies had seen the new wonder and a million of them set up a shout all together,

"Get up, Antaeus! Bestir yourself, you lazy old Giant. Here comes another Giant, as strong as you are, to fight with you."

"Nonsense," growled the sleepy Giant. "I'll have my nap out, come who may."

Still the stranger drew nearer, and now the Pygmies could plainly discern that, if his stature were less lofty than the Giant's, yet his shoulders were[Pg 141] even broader. What a pair of shoulders they must have been, for they were, later, to uphold the sky! So the Pygmies kept shouting at Antaeus, and even went so far as to prick him with their swords. Antaeus sat up, gave a yawn that was several yards wide, and finally turned his stupid head in the direction in which the little people pointed.

No sooner did he set eye on the stranger than, leaping to his feet and seizing his walking stick, he strode a mile or two to meet him, all the while brandishing the sturdy pine-tree so that it whistled through the air.

"Who are you?" thundered the Giant, "and what do you want in my domain? Speak, you vagabond, or I'll try the thickness of your skull with my walking-stick."

"You are a very discourteous Giant," answered the stranger quietly, "and I shall probably have to teach you a little civility before we part. As for my name, it is Hercules. I have come hither because this is my most convenient road to the garden of the Hesperides, where I am going to get some of the golden apples for King Eurystheus."

[Pg 142]

"Then you shall go no farther!" bellowed Antaeus, for he had heard of the mighty Hercules and hated him because he was said to be so strong.

"I will hit you a slight rap with this pine-tree, for I would be ashamed to kill such a puny dwarf as you appear. I will make a slave of you, and you shall likewise be the slave of my brothers here, the Pygmies. So throw down your club. As for that lion's skin you wear, I intend to have a pair of gloves made of it."

"Come and take it off my shoulders then," answered Hercules, lifting his club.

At that Antaeus, scowling with rage, strode, towerlike, toward the stranger and gave a mighty blow at him with his pine-tree, which Hercules caught upon his club; and, being more skilful than the Giant, he paid him back such a rap that down tumbled the poor man-mountain flat upon the ground. But no sooner was the Giant down than up he bounded, aiming another blow at Hercules. But he was blinded with his wrath and only hit his poor, innocent Mother Earth, who groaned and trembled at the stroke. His pine tree went so deep into the ground that before Antaeus could[Pg 143] get it out, Hercules brought his club down over his shoulders with a mighty whack which made the Giant let out a terrible roar. Away it echoed, over mountains and valleys. As for the Pygmies, their capital city was laid in ruins by the vibration it made in the air.

But Antaeus scrambled to his feet again and succeeded in pulling his pine-tree out of the earth. He ran at Hercules, and brought down another blow.

"This time, rascal!" he shouted, "you shall not escape me."

But once more Hercules warded off the stroke with his club, and the Giant's pine-tree was shattered to a thousand splinters. Before Antaeus could get out of the way, Hercules let drive again, and gave him another knock-down blow. Then, watching his opportunity as the Giant rose again, Hercules caught him round the middle with both hands, lifted him high into the air, and held him aloft.

But the most wonderful thing was that, as soon as Antaeus was off the earth, he began to lose the vigor that it now appeared he had gained by touching it. Hercules soon discovered that his enemy[Pg 144] was growing weaker, both because he kicked and struggled with less violence, and because the thunder of his big voice subsided to a grumble. The truth was that, unless the Giant touched Mother Earth as often as once in five minutes, not only his overgrown strength, but the very breath of his life would depart from him. Hercules had guessed this secret; it may be well for us all to remember it in case we should ever have to fight with a fellow like Antaeus. For these earth-born Giants are not only difficult to conquer on their own ground but may easily be managed if we can contrive to lift them into a loftier and purer region.

When Antaeus' strength and breath were gone, Hercules gave his huge body a toss and flung it a mile off where it lay heavily with no more motion than a sand hill. His ponderous form may be lying in the same spot to-day, and might be mistaken for those of an uncommonly large elephant.

What a wailing the poor little Pygmies set up when they saw their enormous brother treated in this terrible way! As soon as they saw Hercules preparing for a nap, they nodded their little heads at one another and winked their little eyes. And[Pg 145] when he had closed his eyes the whole Pygmy nation set out to destroy the hero.

A body of twenty thousand archers marched in front with their little bows all ready and their arrows on the string. The same number were ordered to clamber on Hercules, some with spades to dig his eyes out, and others with bundles of hay to plug up his mouth and nostrils. These last could not harm him at all, for as soon as he snored he blew out the hay and sent the Pygmies flying before the hurricane of his breath. It was found necessary to hit upon some other way of carrying on the war.

After holding a council, the captains ordered their troops to collect sticks, straws and dry weeds and heap them around the head of Hercules. The archers, meanwhile, were stationed within bow shot with orders to let fly at Hercules the instant that he stirred. Everything being in readiness, a torch was applied to the pile which immediately burst into flames and soon waxed hot enough to roast Hercules. A Pygmy, you know, though so very small, might set the world on fire just as easily as a Giant could.

[Pg 146]

But no sooner did Hercules begin to be scorched than up he started.

"What's all this?" he cried, and staring about him as if he expected another Giant.

At that moment the twenty thousand archers twanged their bow strings and the arrows came whizzing like so many mosquitoes. Hercules gazed around, for he hardly felt the arrows. At last, looking narrowly at the ground, he espied the Pygmies at his feet. He stooped down and taking up the nearest one between his thumb and finger, set him on the palm of his left hand and looked at him.

"Who in the world, my little fellow, are you?" Hercules asked.

"I am your enemy," answered the Pygmy. "You have slain the Giant, Antaeus, our brother by our mother's side, and we are determined to put you to death."

Hercules was so amused by the Pygmy's big words and warlike gestures that he burst into laughter and almost dropped the poor little mite of a creature off his hand.

"Upon my word," he said, "I thought I had[Pg 147] seen wonders before to-day, hydras with many heads, three headed dogs, and giants with furnaces in their stomachs, but you outdo them all. Your body, my little friend, is about the size of an ordinary man's finger. Pray, how big may your soul be?"

"As big as your own," said the Pygmy.

Hercules was amazed at the little man's courage, and so he left the Pygmies, one and all, in their own country, building their little houses, waging their little warfare with the cranes, and doing their little business whatever it might have been.


[2] By permission of and special arrangement with the Houghton Mifflin Co.

[Pg 148]


Dejanira was one of the most beautiful of princesses who lived in the long ago days of the Greek gods and goddesses. It seemed as if all the charm of the world in this, its myth time, was hers. Her hair was bright with the yellow of the first spring sunshine, and her eyes were as blue as the skies of spring. Summer had touched Dejanira's cheeks with the pink of rose petals, and the colors of the autumn fruits shone in her jewels, crimson and purple and gold. Her robes were as white and soft as the snows of winter, and all the music of soft winds and bird songs and rippling brooks was in this princess' voice.

Because of her beauty and her goodness, which even surpassed it, princes came from all over the world to ask Dejanira's father, Aeneus, if she might go home to their kingdoms to be their queen. But to all these Aeneus replied that to none but the strongest would he give the princess.

[Pg 149]

So there were many tests of these strangers' skill and strength in games and wrestling, but one by one they failed. At last there were only two left, Hercules who was strong enough to hold the sky on his broad shoulders, and Achelous, the river-god, who twisted and twined through the fields making them fertile with the brooks and the streams. Each thought himself the greater of the two, and it lay between them which by his prowess should gain the princess to be his wife.

Hercules was massive of limb and of powerful strength. Beneath his shaggy eyebrows, his eyes gleamed like balls of fire. His garment was of lions' skins and his staff was a young tree. But the clever Achelous was able to slip between the huge fingers of Hercules. He was as slender and graceful as a willow tree and his garment was of the green of foliage. He wore a crown of water lilies on his fair hair, and carried a staff made of twined reeds. When Achelous spoke, his voice was like the rippling of a stream.

"The Princess Dejanira shall be mine!" said Achelous. "I will make her the queen of the[Pg 150] river lands. The music of the waters shall be always in her ears, and the plenty that follows wherever I go shall make her rich."

"No!" shouted Hercules. "I am the strength of the earth. Dejanira is mine. You shall not have her."

Then the river-god grew very angry. His green robe changed its color to that of the black of the sea in a storm, and his voice was as loud as that of a mountain cataract. Achelous could be almost as powerful as Hercules when he was angered.

"How do you dare claim this royal maiden?" he roared, "you, who have mortal blood in your veins! I am a god and the king of the waters. Wherever I take my way over the earth grains and fruits ripen and flowers bud and bloom. The Princess Dejanira is mine by right."

Hercules frowned as he advanced toward the river-god. "Your strength is only in words," he said scornfully. "My strength is in my arm. If you would win Dejanira, it must be by hand-to-hand combat." So the river-god threw off his garments and Hercules his lion's skin, and the two fought for the hand of the princess.

[Pg 151]

It was a brave and valorous battle. Neither yielded; both stood their ground. Achelous slipped in and out of Hercules' mighty grasp a dozen times, but at last the hero's powerful strength was too much for this god who had to depend upon adroitness only. Hercules gripped the river-god fast by his neck and held him, panting for breath.

Then Achelous resorted to the trickery that he knew. He suddenly changed his form through the magic arts he could practise to that of a long, slimy serpent. He twisted out of Hercules' grasp and darted a forked tongue out at him, showing his fangs. Hercules was not yet undone. He only laughed scornfully at the serpent and grasped the creature by the back of its neck, ready to strangle it.

Achelous struggled in vain to escape and at last resorted once more to sorcery. In a second the serpent had changed its form to that of a ferocious, roaring bull. It charged upon Hercules with lowered horns. But the hero was still unvanquished. He seized hold of the bull's horns, bent its head, gripped its brawny neck and threw it,[Pg 152] burying its horns in the ground. Then he broke off one of the horns with his iron strong hand and held it up in the air shouting,

"Victory! Dejanira is mine!"

Achelous returned to his own shape and, crying with pain, ran from the castle grounds where the combat had taken place and did not stop until he had plunged into a cooling stream. It had been right that Hercules should triumph, for his was the strength of arm, not of trickery.

The Princess Dejanira came to him and with her the goddess of plenty, Ceres, to give the conqueror his reward.

Ceres took the great horn which Hercules had torn from Achelous' head and heaped it full to overflowing with the treasures of the year's harvest. Ripe grain, purple grapes, rosy apples, plums, nuts, pomegranates, olives and figs filled the horn and spilled over the edge. The wood-nymphs and the water-nymphs came and twined the horn with vines and crimson leaves and the last bright flowers of the year. Then they carried this first horn of plenty high above their heads and gave it to Hercules and the beautiful Dejanira as[Pg 153] a wedding present. It was the richest gift the gods could make, that of the year's harvest.

And ever since that long-ago story time of the Greeks, the horn of plenty has stood for the year's blessing of us.

[Pg 154]


Latona had very wonderful twin babies and the queen of the gods, Juno, was jealous of her on account of these little ones. Perhaps Juno had the power to look ahead through the years to the time when Latona's children should be grown up and take their places with the family of the gods on Mount Olympus.

Who were these twins? Oh, that is the end of the story.

So Juno, who could work almost any good or evil which she desired, decreed that this mother should never have any fixed home in which to bring up her babies. If Latona found a shelter and a cradle for the twins in the cottage of some hospitable farmer, a drought would descend at once upon his fields and dry up the harvest, or a hailstorm would destroy his fruit crop so that there would be no food for the family. If Latona stopped with the vine dressers, laying her babies in the cool shade of an arbor while she helped to pick the grapes, a gale might arise and sweep down[Pg 155] upon the vineyard and all would have to flee for their lives.

She was obliged to wander up and down the land with her little ones, wrapping her cloak about them to shield them from the weather, and she grew very weary and despaired of ever raising her little boy and girl to be the fine man and woman she longed to have them.

One day in the heat of the summer Latona came to the country of Lycia in Greece and it really seemed as if she could not walk a single step farther. The babies were heavy and she had found no water for refreshing herself for a long time. By chance, though, she saw a pool of clear water just beyond in the hollow of a valley. Some of the country people of Lycia were there on the edge of the water gathering reeds and fine willows with which they were weaving baskets for holding fruits. Latona summoned all her strength and dragged herself to the pool, kneeling down on the bank to drink and dip up water for cooling the babies' heads.

"Stop!" the rustic people commanded her. "You have no right to touch our waters!"

[Pg 156]

"I only wish to drink, kind friends," Latona explained to them. "I thought that water was free to all, and my mouth is so dry that I can hardly speak. A drink of water would be nectar to me. The gods give us as common property the sunshine, the air, and the streams and I would only share your pool to revive me, not to bathe in it. See how my babies, too, stretch out their arms to you in pleading!"

It was quite true; Latona's little ones were holding out their arms in supplication, but the rustics turned their heads away. They did more than this. They waded into the pool and stirred up the water with their feet so as to make it muddy and unfit to drink. As they did this they laughed at Latona's discomfiture and jeered at her sorry plight.

She was a long suffering mother, but she felt as if this unkindness was more than she could bear. She lifted her hands toward the habitation of the gods and called to them for help.

"May these rustics who refuse to succor two children of your family be punished!" Latona begged. "May they never be able to leave this pool whose clear waters they have defiled!"

[Pg 157]

The company of the gods, and perhaps Juno also, heard Latona's entreaty and one of the strangest things of all mythology happened.

The rustics tried to leave the pool and return to their basket-making, but they discovered that their feet had suddenly grown flat and shapeless and were stuck fast in the mud. They called for help, but their voices were harsh, their throats bloated, and their mouths had stretched so that they were unable to form words. Their necks had disappeared and their heads, with great bulging eyes, were joined to their backs. Their flesh was turned to thick green skin and they could not stand erect.

It was as Latona had asked. These boorish, unseeing country clowns would never leave the slimy water into which they had stepped, for the gods had changed them into the first frogs.

"This is indeed a terrible punishment for so slight an offence as ridiculing a stranger," the people of Lycia said to each other as they visited the pools and rivers during the seasons that followed and listened to the continual, hoarse croaking of the frogs. The river god, Peneus, knew them also and so did the lovely nymph, Daphne,[Pg 158] his daughter, who was never happier than when she was flying on her fairy like feet, her soft green garments fluttering about her, along the edge of some stream.

Daphne was more like a spirit of the woods than a girl. She would rather live within the shadow of leaves than under a palace roof, and she liked better to follow the deer and gather wild flowers than to have any intercourse with the boys and girls of the villages. But she was unmatched by the most beautiful daughter of all Greece, her long hair flung loose like a veil over her shoulders, her eyes as soft and shining as stars, and her body as graceful and well moulded as some rare vase.

At that time a strange youth was seen to haunt the forests and banks of the river god. He was as fair and well shaped as Daphne, and there was also something unusual about him. Whenever he was seen, there seemed to be more light along the paths where he walked. He made the daytime brighter and the gold rays of the sun shine more gloriously. When this youth stopped for a while with a shepherd, no wolves attacked the flock, and he kept herds safe from the mountain lions. He[Pg 159] had made a lyre for himself, a musical instrument of many tuneful strings that had not been heard in Greece before. He was touching the strings into a song about the pastures and the woods in the spring one day when he suddenly saw the nymph, Daphne.

He had seen her before moving like a green bough blown by the wind along the shores of many waters. He thought that he had never seen so beautiful a creature or one so much to be desired, but whenever Daphne caught a glimpse of this strange, strong youth, she was frightened and was at once off and away. Now, though, he was determined to pursue Daphne and catch her. He dropped his lyre and ran after her, but she eluded him, running more swiftly than the wind.

"Stay, daughter of Peneus," he called. "Do not fly from me as a dove flies from a hawk. I am no rude peasant, but one of the gods and I know all things, present or future. It is for love that I pursue you, and I am miserable in the fear that you may fall and hurt yourself on these stones and I shall have been the cause of your hurt. Pray run slower and I will follow more slowly!"

[Pg 160]

But Daphne was deaf to the youth's entreating words. On she sped, the wind blowing her green garments, and her hair streaming loosely behind her. It was, at last, like the fleet running hound pursuing the hare; the youth was swifter and gained on her. His panting breath touched her neck. In her terror she did not stop to understand that he pursued her only because he loved her so much and that he would not do her any harm.

At last she came to the edge of a stream.

On one side of Daphne were the croaking frogs and the water reeds and the deeper waters beyond. On the other side was her pursuer. Daphne called to her father, the river god,

"Help me, Peneus! Open the earth to take me into it out of sight and sound!"

But the god of light and music knew what was better far for Daphne than this. He touched her fair form and it stiffened and her feet stood firmly upon the bank of the stream. Her body was suddenly enclosed in tender bark and her hair became leaves. Her arms were long, drooping branches and her face changed to the form of[Pg 161] a tree top. There had never been a tree like the one into which Daphne was transformed, the green laurel tree.

The young god looked at her and saw how fair a work of his hands was this changing of a nymph. The tree would never fade, but would stretch its green top up toward the sky to feel the light that he would pour down on it. When the wind touched the laurel's leaves they would sing as his lyre sang.

"Come and see what beauty I have given to the nymph, Daphne, whom I loved," he called, and out of the forest came a brave young huntress, a deer walking quite unafraid at her side. It was Diana, his sister, and she hung her quiver of arrows on the laurel tree and led the deer to a shelter underneath its branches.

"This shall be my tree," he said putting his hands on the laurel. "I will wear it for my crown, and when the great Roman conquerors lead their troops to the Capitol in triumphal pomp it shall be woven into wreaths for their brows. As eternal youth is mine, the laurel shall always be green and its leaves shall never wither."

The sun began to sink behind the hills and the[Pg 162] youth saw the light fade in terror. He could give the laurel the brightness of day but he had no power to keep it safe through the darkness of night. Just then a silver ball appeared in the purple sky rising higher and higher and sending down long white beams to brighten the dusk.

"Diana, see, there is a light in the evening sky!" the youth exclaimed, but his sister had disappeared. Diana, the huntress, was now Diana, the moon, the queen of the darkness and shedding her light on the laurel tree that her brother, Apollo, the god of the sun, loved so much.

The frogs along the river bank croaked harshly and could not understand any of these wonders that had come to pass right beside them. They had missed a wonder when they were rustics, too. There are some people like that. They, too, would see only a ragged, weary stranger with her tired babies, not worth the trouble of helping, when those little ones might be an Apollo and a Diana, the gods of the day and the night.

[Pg 163]


"You are only boasting, Phaeton. I don't believe for a moment that your father is Apollo, the god of light," Cycnus, one of his schoolmates, said to the lad who had just made this proud statement.

"It is true," Phaeton replied. "You won't believe me because I am alone here in Greece, cared for by one of the nymphs and learning the lessons that all Greek boys do. I shall show you, though. I will take my way to the home of the gods and present myself to my father."

That was indeed a bold plan on the part of this youth who had not been beyond the shores of his native land in all his life. But Phaeton set out at once for India, since that was the place where the sun which lighted Greece seemed to rise. He felt sure that he would find Apollo at the palace of the Sun, so he did not stop until he had climbed mountains and then beyond and higher through the steeps of the clouds. Suddenly he was obliged[Pg 164] to stop, covering his eyes with his hands to shut out the brilliant light that dazzled him. There, in front of Phaeton, reared aloft on shining columns, stood the palace of the Sun.

It glittered with gold and precious stones, and Phaeton made his way inside through heavy doors of solid silver. He had heard of the beautiful workmanship of Vulcan who had designed Apollo's palace, but when he stood beneath the polished ivory ceilings of the throne room it was more wonderful than anything he had ever imagined.

Apollo, in a royal purple robe, sat on the throne that was as bright as if it had been cut from a solid diamond, and about him stood his attendants who helped him in making the earth a pleasant, fruitful habitation for men. On Apollo's right hand and on his left stood the Days, the Months, and the Years, and at regular intervals the Hours. Spring was there, her head crowned with flowers, and Summer who wore a garland formed of spears of ripened grain. Autumn stood beside Apollo, his feet stained with the juice of the grape, and there was icy Winter, his hair stiffened with hoar frost. There was nothing hidden from Apollo in[Pg 165] the whole world and he saw Phaeton the instant he entered the hall.

"What is your errand here, rash lad?" he asked sternly.

Phaeton went closer and knelt at the foot of the throne.

"Oh, my father, light of the boundless world!" he said. "I want to be known as your son. Give me some proof by which I can show mortals and the gods as well that I am not of the earth but have a place with you on Mount Olympus!"

Apollo was pleased with the pleading of the youth and, laying aside the crown of bright beams that he wore on his head, stretched out his arms and embraced Phaeton.

"My son, you do not deserve to be disowned," he said. "To put an end to your doubts ask whatever favor you like of me and the gift shall be yours."

It was wonderful; Phaeton had never, in his dreams even, expected so great a boon as this. But he was as reckless and ambitious as many a boy of to-day who fancies himself able to carry on his father's work without all the skill and [Pg 166]experience which earned his success. He knew at once the desire that was closest to his heart.

"For one day only, father, let me drive your chariot?" Phaeton begged.

Apollo drew back in dismay.

"I spoke rashly," he said. "That is the one request I ought to refuse you. It is not a safe adventure or suited to your youth and strength, Phaeton. Your arms are mortal and you ask what is beyond mortal's power. You aspire to do that which even the gods can not accomplish. No one but myself, not even Jupiter whose terrible right arm hurls the thunderbolts and the lightning, may drive the flaming chariot of day."

"Why is it so difficult a task?" Phaeton asked, determined not to give up.

Apollo explained to him with great patience.

"It is a difficult track to keep through the skies," he said. "The beginning of the way is so steep that the horses, even when they are fresh in the morning, can hardly be urged to climb it. Then comes the middle of the course, so high up in the heavens and so narrow that I myself can scarcely look below without giddiness at the earth and[Pg 167] its waters. The last part of the course descends rapidly and calls for most expert driving. Add to all this the constant, dizzy turning of the sky with its sea of stars. I must be always on my guard lest their movement, which sweeps everything along with it, should hurry me or throw me out of my course. If I lend you my chariot, what can you, a boy, do? Can you keep the road with all the spheres in the universe revolving around you?"

"I am sure that I can, father," Phaeton replied boldly. "What you say, of course, does not deter me from starting along it. I have a strong arm and a steady eye for driving. There is no danger other than this on the way, is there?" he asked.

"There are greater dangers," Apollo said. "Do you expect to pass cool forests and white cities, the abodes of the gods, and palaces, and temples on the way? The road goes through the domain of frightful monsters. You must run the gauntlet of the Archer's arrows and pass by the horns of the Bull. The Lion's jaws will be open to devour you, the Scorpion will stretch out its tentacles for you, and the great Crab its claws. And you will find it no easy feat to manage the horses, their[Pg 168] breasts so full of fire that they breathe it out in flame through their nostrils. I can scarcely hold them myself when they are unruly and resist the reins."

"I have driven a chariot at the games of Athens," Phaeton boasted, "when wild beasts were close to the arena, and my steeds were most unmanageable."

Apollo made one last plea.

"Look the universe over, my son," he entreated, "and choose whatever is most precious in the earth or on the sea. This will I give you in proof that you are my son, but take back your other, rash request."

"I have only one wish, to drive the chariot of the Sun," Phaeton answered stubbornly.

There was but one course left then for Apollo, because a god could never break his promise. Without a word he led Phaeton to the great stable where he kept his lofty chariot.

The chariot was a gift of Vulcan to Apollo, and made of gold. The axle was of gold, the pole and wheels also of gold, and the spokes of the brightest silver. There were rows of chrysolites[Pg 169] and diamonds along the seat that reflected the rays of the sun. Apollo ordered the Hours to harness the horses and they led the steeds, full fed with ambrosia, from the stalls, and attached the reins. As Phaeton, full of pride, watched he saw that Dawn had thrown open the purple gates of the east and his pathway, strewn with roses, stretched before him. He seated himself in the chariot and took the reins.

Apollo anointed his son's face with a powerful unguent that would make it possible for him to endure the flaming heat of the sun. He set the rays of light on his head and said sorrowfully,

"If you will be so rash, I beg of you to hold the reins more tightly than you ever did before and spare the whip. The horses go fast enough of their own accord, and the difficulty is to hold them in. You are not to take the direct road, but turn to the left. You will see the marks of my wheels and these will guide you. Go not too high, or you will set the heavenly dwellings on fire, or so low as to burn the earth, but keep to the middle course which is best. Night is just passing out of the western gates so you can delay no longer. Start[Pg 170] the chariot, and may your chance work better for you than you have planned."

Phaeton stood up in the gilded chariot, lifted the reins, and was off like a dart.

In an instant the snorting, fiery horses discovered that they were carrying a lighter load than usual and they dashed through the clouds as if the chariot had been empty. It reeled and was tossed about like a ship at sea without ballast. The bars of the sky were let down and the limitless plain of the universe lay before the horses. They left Apollo's travelled course and Phaeton was powerless to guide them. He looked down at the earth so far below him, and he grew pale and his knees shook with terror. He turned his eyes on the trackless heavens in front of him and was even more terrified to see the huge forms among which he rode as if he was driven by a tempest; the Archer, the Great Bear, the Lion and the Crab. All those monsters of whom Apollo had warned him were there, and others too.

Phaeton wished he had never left the earth, never made so bold a request of his father. He lost his self command and could not tell whether[Pg 171] to draw the reins tightly or let them loose. He forgot the names of the steeds. At last, as he saw the Scorpion directly in his path, its two great arms extended and its fangs reeking with poison, he lost all his courage and the reins dropped from his hands. As the horses felt their loosened harness, they dashed away headlong into unknown regions of the sky, now up in high heaven among the stars and then hurling the chariot down almost to the earth.

The mountain tops took fire and the clouds began to smoke. Plants withered, the leafy branches of the trees burned, the harvests blazed and the fields were parched with heat. The whole world was on fire. Great cities perished with their beautiful towers and high walls, and entire nations with all their people were reduced to ashes. It is said that the river Nile fled away and hid its head in the desert where it still lies concealed. The earth cracked and the sea shrank. Dry plains lay where there had been oceans before and the mountains that had been covered by the sea lifted up their heads and became islands. Even Neptune, the god of the sea, was driven back by the[Pg 172] heat when he tried to lift his head above the surface of the waters, and the Earth looked up to Mount Olympus and called to Jupiter for help.

It was indeed time for the gods to act. Jupiter mounted to the tall tower where he kept his forked lightnings and from which he spread the rain clouds over the earth. He tossed his thunderbolts right and left and, brandishing a dart of lightning in his right hand, he aimed it at Phaeton and threw it, tossing him from his chariot down, down through space. The charioteer fell in a trail of fire like a shooting star. One of the great rivers of the earth received him and tried to cool his burning frame, but he was never again to see the palace of the Sun. His recklessness had brought him, not honor, but destruction.

Phaeton's friend, Cycnus, stood beside the bank of the river mourning for him and even plunged beneath the surface of the water to see if he could bring him back to the earth. But this angered the gods and they changed Cycnus to the swan who floats always on the water, continually thrusting its head down as if it were still looking for the fated charioteer of the skies.

[Pg 173]

Even the sea shell tells the story of Phaeton. Hold it to your ear and listen to its plaintive singing of the lad who lost a place in the palace of the sun because he drove the chariot of light for his own pride and without thought of others.

[Pg 174]


Apollo had incurred the anger of his father, Jupiter, and for the very good reason that this god of light had interfered with Jupiter's will.

It was Jupiter's privilege to throw thunderbolts about whenever he wished and to strike down anyone he chose. He kept the Cyclopes busy night and day forging his bolts down under the mountains so that he might have a never-failing supply. One day a thunderbolt directed by Jove hit Aesculapius, a man of the Greeks who could heal almost any sickness among mortals by means of his herbs. Apollo looked upon this physician as an adopted son, because his art of healing brought so much joy and light to men. He resented the injury done him by Jupiter's hand and he did what even mortals do when they are angry; Apollo vented his wrath on whoever was handiest. He aimed his arrows at those innocent workmen, the Cyclopes, and wounded several.

[Pg 175]

Jupiter could not have his authority put aside in this way and he knew that he must punish Apollo. So he commanded him to descend to the earth and offer his services as herdsman to Admetus, the king of Thessaly.

It was very humble work for a god to wear a shepherd's dark cloak and pasture his flocks in the meadows outside of Thessaly, particularly a god who was used to living in the sumptuous palace of the sun. Apollo's slender hands were little suited to the work of ploughing, sowing and reaping, but he took excellent care of his ewes and lambs and grew to enjoy his task. In his leisure time he found an empty tortoise-shell and stretched some cords tightly across it. Then he ran his slender finger tips across the cords and drew from them most beautiful music. That was the first lute, and Apollo played on it every day. King Admetus heard his music and came out to listen to the tunes his herdsman played, sitting beside Apollo on a mossy bank, but he looked very sorrowful. The sweet strains seemed to have no power to cheer him, or even rouse him from his sadness.

[Pg 176]

"Why do you mourn, O King?" Apollo asked Admetus at last.

"I long for the hand of the fair Alcestis, the princess of a neighboring kingdom, that I may make her my queen," King Admetus explained, "but she has expressed a strange desire. She demands that her suitor appear before her in a chariot drawn by lions and bears in which she will ride home with him. In no other way will Alcestis come to my court and it is impossible for me to harness wild beasts to any one of my chariots."

Apollo could not help but be amused at the foolish whim of this wayward princess, but he had a desire to bring happiness wherever he went so he decided to humor her. He went with his lute to the edge of the forest that lay just next to his pasture and he played a tune upon it so sweet as to tame any wild beasts. Then out of the forest came two lions and two bears, as quietly as if they had been sheep. The king fastened them to a gilded chariot and drove off for Alcestis with great rejoicing. And Apollo had the pleasure of seeing the two return and Alcestis crowned as the queen of Thessaly.

Apollo charms the wild beasts

Apollo charms the wild beasts.

[Pg 177]

It seemed as if Admetus were destined to enjoy a long and prosperous reign, but shortly after he brought his queen home he fell ill of a very deadly plague. Aesculapius, the physician, was no longer able to come to the king's aid and it seemed as if there was no hope for him. But his celestial herdsman, Apollo, again befriended him. Apollo was not able to entirely remove the plague but he decreed that the king should live if someone, who cared enough for him, would die in his stead.

Admetus was full of joy at this hope. He remembered the vows of faith and attachment that bound all his courtiers to him and he expected that a score would at once offer themselves, willing to sacrifice their lives for their king. But not one was to be found. The bravest warrior, who would willingly have given his life for his king on the battlefield, had not the courage to die for him on a sick-bed. Old servants, who had known the king's bounty and that of his father from the days of their childhood, were not willing to give up the rest of their few days for their sovereign. Each subject wished someone else to make the sacrifice.

[Pg 178]

"Why do not the parents of Admetus give their lives for their son?" was asked, but these aged people felt that they could not bear to be parted from him for even a short time, and looked to others.

What was to be done about it. It was an irrevocable decree on the part of Apollo that he had wrested only by means of much persuasion from the Fates. There was no remedy for Admetus except this sacrifice.

Then a very strange and wonderful thing happened. Queen Alcestis, the fair princess who had wanted to ride behind lions and bears when she was a girl in her own kingdom, had grown very wise and gracious since she had attained to the throne of Thessaly. It had never for an instant entered the minds of anyone that she could be offered to the gods in the place of the king. But Queen Alcestis offered herself to save Admetus, and as she sickened the king revived and was restored to his old health and vigor.

Apollo was, of all the mourners of Thessaly, the saddest to see Alcestis so ill. She had often found her way to the pastures where he led his flock and[Pg 179] had sat on a bank twining wreaths of wild flowers that she liked better to wear than a crown, while he entertained her with the music of his lute. And, for once, Apollo did not know what to do, banished as he was from the council of the gods for a while, and unable to summon the physician, Aesculapius, to his aid.

He knew that only great strength could bring Alcestis back from the stupor in which she now lay, neither moving or speaking, and with her rosy cheeks pale and her eyes closed. He knew, too, that of all the heroes Hercules was the strongest. Hercules had performed feats that no one had believed possible. Would he attempt to keep Alcestis safe from death, Apollo wondered, particularly when he was entreated by a lowly herdsman?

Hercules assented, however. He took his station at the gates of the palace and wrestled with Death, throwing him, just as he was about to enter and claim Alcestis. She lost her weakness, opened her eyes, the color came again to her cheeks and she was restored to Admetus by this last labor of Hercules.

[Pg 180]

So the matter which had bade fair to be so disastrous for a good many people turned out very well after all. Apollo returned to Mount Olympus when the period of his exile on the earth was up and he delighted the Muses much with the sweet tones of his lyre. He even pleaded with his father, Jupiter, to take pity on Aesculapius and the god at last made a place for the physician on the road of stars that leads across the sky.

[Pg 181]


Each of the villagers in a town of Phrygia heard a knock at the door of his cottage one summer day in the long-ago time of the myths. Each, on opening it, saw two strangers, weary travellers, who sought food and a shelter for the night.

It was a part of the temple teachings that a man should succor a stranger, no matter how humble, but these Phrygians were a pleasure-loving, careless people, neglectful of hospitality and of their temple, even, which had fallen into decay.

So it happened that the same retort met the strangers at whatever door they stopped.

"Be off! We have only sufficient food for ourselves and no room for any but members of our own family."

There was not a single door but was shut in the faces of these travellers.

The afternoon was passing and it would soon be dusk. The strangers, tired and half famished, climbed a hill on the edge of the village and came[Pg 182] at last upon a little cottage set there among the trees. It was a very poor and humble cottage, thatched with straw, and barely large enough for the two old peasants, Philemon and his wife, Baucis, who lived there. But it opened at once when the strangers knocked to let in the two strangers.

"We have come to-day from a far country," the one who seemed to be the older of the two explained.

"And we have not touched food since yesterday," added the younger one who might have been his son.

"Then you are welcome to whatever we have to offer you," said Philemon. "We are as poor as the birds that nest in the straw of our eaves, but my old wife, Baucis, can prepare a meal from very little which may perhaps serve you if you are hungry. Come in, and share with us whatever we have."

The two guests crossed the humble threshold, bowing their heads in order to pass beneath the low lintel, and Baucis offered them a seat and begged them to try and feel at home.

The day had grown chilly and the old woman[Pg 183] raked out the coals from the ashes, covered them with leaves and dry bark, and blew the fire into flame with her scanty breath. Then she brought some split sticks and dry branches from a corner where she had kept them like a treasure and put them under the kettle that hung over the fire. Afterward, she spread a white cloth on the table.

As Baucis made these preparations, Philemon went out to their small garden and gathered the last of the pot-herbs. Baucis put these to boil in the kettle and Philemon cut a piece from their last flitch of bacon and put it in to flavor the herbs. A bowl carved from beech wood was filled with warm water that the strangers might be refreshed by bathing their faces, and then Baucis tremblingly made the preparations for serving the meal.

The guests were to sit on the only bench which the cottage afforded and Baucis laid a cushion stuffed with seaweed on it and over the cushion she spread a piece of embroidered cloth, ancient and coarse, but one that she used only on great occasions. One of the legs of the table was shorter than the other, but Philemon placed a flat stone under it to make it level, and Baucis rubbed sweet[Pg 184] smelling herbs over the entire top of the table. Then she placed the food before the strangers, the steaming, savory herbs, olives from the wild trees of Minerva, some sweet berries preserved in vinegar, cheese, radishes, and eggs cooked lightly in the ashes. It was served in earthen dishes and beside the guests stood an earthenware pitcher and two wooden cups.

There could hardly have been a more appetizing supper, and the kindly cheer of the two old peasants made it seem even more delectable. The guests ate hungrily and when they had emptied the dishes Baucis brought a bowl of rosy apples and a comb of wild honey for dessert. She noticed that the two seemed to be enjoying their milk hugely and it made her anxious, for the pitcher had not been more than half full. They filled their cups again and again and drained them.

"They will finish the milk and ask for more," Baucis thought, "and I have not another drop."

Then a great fear and awe possessed the old woman. She peered over the shoulder of the older of the strangers into the pitcher and saw that it was brimming full! He poured from it for his[Pg 185] companion and it was again full to overflowing as he set it down. Here was a miracle, Baucis knew. Suddenly the strangers rose and their disguise of age and travel stained garments fell from them. They were Jupiter, the king of the gods, and his winged son, Mercury!

Baucis and Philemon were struck with terror as they recognized their heavenly guests, and they fell on their knees at the gods' feet. With their shaking hands clasped they implored the gods to pardon them for their poor entertainment.

They had an old goose which they tended and cherished as the guardian of their cottage, and now they felt that they must kill it as a sacrifice and offering to Jupiter and Mercury. But the goose ran nimbly away from them and took refuge between the gods themselves.

"Do not slay the bird," Jupiter commanded. "Your hospitality has been perfect. But this inhospitable village shall pay the penalty for its lack of reverence. You alone shall remain unpunished. Come and look at the valley below."

Baucis and Philemon left the cottage and hobbled a little way down the hill with the gods. In the[Pg 186] last light of the setting sun they saw the destruction which the people below had brought upon themselves. There was nothing left of the village. All the valley was sunk in a blue lake, the borders of it being wild marsh land indented with pools in which the fen-birds waded and called shrilly.

"There is no house left save ours," Philemon gasped.

Then, as they turned, they saw that their cottage, also, had disappeared. It had not been destroyed, though. It was transformed. Stately marble columns had taken the place of the wooden corner posts. The thatch had grown yellow and was now a golden roof. There were colored mosaic floors and wide silver doors with ornaments and carvings of gold. Their little hut, that had been scarcely large enough for two, had grown to the height and bulk of a temple whose gilded spires reached up toward the sky. Baucis and Philemon were too awed for words, but Jupiter spoke to them.

"What further gift of the gods would you like, good people? Ask whatever you wish and it shall be granted you."

[Pg 187]

The two old folks consulted for a moment and then Philemon made their request of Jupiter.

"We would like to be the guardians of your temple, great Jupiter. And since we have passed so much of our lives here in harmony and love, we wish that we might always remain here and never be parted for a moment."

As Philemon finished speaking, he heard Jupiter say, "Your wish is granted." And with these words the gods disappeared from earth. There was a long trail of purple light in the sky like Jupiter's robe, and beside it lay two wing-shaped clouds which marked the road Mercury had taken, but that was all.

Baucis and Philemon went into the temple and were its keepers as long as they were able. One day in the spring when the old couple had become very ancient indeed they stood on the temple steps side by side, looking at the new green the earth was putting forth. In that moment another miracle happened to them.

Each grew straight instead of bent with age, and their garments were covered with green leaves. A leafy crown grew upon the head of each and as[Pg 188] they tried to speak, a covering of bark prevented them. Two stately trees, the linden and the oak, stood beside the temple door to guard it in the place of the two good old people who, for their reverence, had been thus transformed by the gods.

[Pg 189]


Kings and athletes, country folk and the musicians, sages and merchants from the towns were all on their way toward the green hill of Parnassus, one of the long-ago days of the myths, where the city of Delphi stood. The kings rode in their gaily adorned chariots which were drawn by the fleetest steeds from the royal stables. The youths were dressed for running, or they carried flat, circular discs of stone for throwing at a mark, javelins and bows and quivers of arrows. The road that led to the white temple of Apollo at Delphi was choked with people on foot, people on horseback, and people riding in farm wagons, all going in the same direction. It was a very great occasion indeed, one that came but once in five years, the day when the Pythian games in honor of Apollo were held at Delphi.

They climbed the hill of Parnassus which was a very famous mount, because of all that had happened there. When the gods saw fit to destroy the[Pg 190] earth, Parnassus, alone, had raised its head above the waters and sheltered man. There, too, Apollo had transformed his beloved, Daphne, into a laurel tree and ever since then the slopes of the hill had been green and pink with the branches and blossoms of the laurel. Now, Parnassus sheltered one of the most famed cities of Greece, Delphi, and on a wide plain, near a deep cleft in the rock where the oracle was supposed to speak, the games of the Greeks were held in honor of Apollo, who was the god of sports.

The ground about the game field and the tiers of stone seats surrounding it were soon filled with a crowd of onlookers in their holiday garments of white and purple and gold. Upon a carved marble pillar at the entrance of the field was hung a great wreath of laurel, the prize of the winner, and everyone was talking about who this would be.

"The greatest test of all is the discus throwing," a lad on the edge of the crowd said to another. "The stone that is hurled from a javelin, or a spear thrown by a trained soldier has a chance to go straight to the mark, but who can aim the thin[Pg 191] discus with the wind waiting to turn it from its course and carry it wide of the mark?"

The other lad thought for a moment. Then he spoke.

"The youth, Hyacinthus, could," he said.

"Oh, Hyacinthus!" the first lad replied as if the name was a kind of spell to work magic. "Hyacinthus, of course, would win the prize, for is he not the friend of Apollo? It is said that the great god of sports has visited and played games with Hyacinthus ever since the lad was able to swing a javelin. He comes to him in the form of a youth like himself because he loves him so, and they run races and have contests of skill here on Parnassus, and roam the groves together. How great an honor to have a god for one's friend!" the boy said wistfully.

But both boys stepped back then and watched breathlessly as four war chariots, driven abreast, approached. The horses sweated and foamed, the drivers stood up perilously, shouting and gripping the reins as the chariots tipped and crashed along the course. Two chariots locked wheels and the drivers fell beneath the terrified, stamping steeds, but no[Pg 192] one heeded them as the other two rolled and swayed past them, and one reached the goal heralded by a shout the crowd sent up as if from one giant throat.

"Now, the discus combat!" the boy who had spoken before said, as a slender youth in a robe of Tyrian dyes stepped proudly into the centre of the field holding the flat, round discus in his hand.

"Hyacinthus, by my word!" the second lad exclaimed, "but who is that beside him?" he asked, as another youth, dark eyed, straight limbed, and with a countenance that shone like fire appeared, as if he had dropped from the clouds, and took his place beside Hyacinthus.

"It is Apollo himself in the guise of a youth!" the awed whisper ran through the crowd. "He has come to guide the discus that his friend Hyacinthus carries straight to the mark."

That was the wonder that had happened. Those who had far-seeing eyes could discern in the strange youth on the game field the god Apollo, his crown of light showing in bright rays about his head. No one spoke. All faces were turned toward the two as Apollo grasped the discus, raised it far above[Pg 193] his head, and with a strange power mingled with skill sent it high and far.

Hyacinthus watched the discus cut through the air as straight as an arrow shot from a bow. He was perfectly sure that it would skim, without turning, as far as the goal at the opposite end of the field and perhaps farther, for he had great faith in this heavenly youth who had been his companion in so many good times. As swiftly as the discus traveled, did Hyacinthus' thoughts wing their memories of Apollo's friendship. He had accompanied Hyacinthus in his tramps through the forest, carried the nets when he went fishing, led his dogs to the chase and even neglected his lyre for their excursions up to the top of Parnassus.

"I will run ahead and bring back the discus," Hyacinthus thought, and excited by the sport and the crowds, he leaped forward to follow the flight of the swift stone.

At that instant the discus, turned from its course by Zephyrous, the wind-god, who also loved Hyacinthus and was jealous of Apollo's affection for him, struck the earth and bounded back, hitting Hyacinthus' forehead.

[Pg 194]

Apollo, as pale as the fallen Hyacinthus, ran to his side, raised him, and tried with all his art to stop the bleeding of his wound and save his life. But the youth's hurt was beyond the power of all healing. As a white lily, when one has broken it, hangs its head in the garden and turns toward the earth, so the head of the dying Hyacinthus, too heavy for his neck, lay upon his shoulders.

"I have killed you, my dearest friend," Apollo cried, as the people pushed closer to see the tragedy and then turned their faces away from this grief of a god which was greater than a mortal could feel. "I have robbed you of your youth. Yours was the suffering and mine the crime. I would that I were able to mingle my blood with yours which is spilled here for me." Then Apollo was silent, looking at the ground where Hyacinthus' blood had stained the grass, for a wonder was happening.

The crimson stain on the leaves changed to royal purple, and the stem and foliage and petals of a new flower appeared, so sweetly fragrant that it filled the whole field with its perfume. There had never been so beautiful a blossom as[Pg 195] this. Touching its wax-like flowers, Apollo knew that the gods had comforted him in his sorrow. His friend would live always in the flower that had sprung where he fell on Parnassus, our hyacinth, the promise of the spring.

[Pg 196]


They needed a new king in the country of Phrygia in Asia and there was an old saying at the court that some day they would have a ruler who arrived at the palace in a farm wagon.

No one had thought very much about this prophecy but, to the surprise of all, a peasant and his wife drove into the public square one day in an ox cart, bringing their son, Midas, on the seat between them. The peasant's name was Gordius, and he dismounted, tying his wagon in such a hard knot that it looked as if he intended that the team should stay there. In fact it was called the Gordian knot and it was so hard a knot that it was reported that he who was able to untie it would be the ruler of all Asia.

The wagon remained there, just outside the palace gates, securely fastened, and Gordius and his wife walked home leaving Midas. It was so exactly an interpretation of the prophecy that Midas was made king and put upon the throne of Phrygia.

[Pg 197]

He had every opportunity of being a ruler of parts, for his humble birth would not have interfered at all, but Midas, from the very beginning of his reign, used his power to satisfy his own wishes instead of carrying out the will of the people.

Bacchus, with vine leaves twisted about his curling locks and a goblet of the purple juice of the grape always in his hand, was the god of the vineyards. King Midas made the acquaintance of Bacchus, who was a friendly, peaceful god and fond of human companionship. And Bacchus unexpectedly offered Midas his choice of any wish that he cherished.

What did King Midas ask but that whatever he touched might be turned to gold!

He hardly believed that Bacchus would be able to grant the gift of such greedy power as this, and Bacchus wished that Midas had made a better choice. The god consented, though, and King Midas hurried off to test his gift alone so that he need not share it with anyone. He could not believe his eyes when he discovered that the twig of an oak, which he pulled from a branch, turned in his fingers to a bar of solid gold. He picked up[Pg 198] a stone; it turned to a gold nugget. He touched a piece of sod; it became a mass of gold dust, thick and heavy. He snatched an apple from an orchard tree; it was as if he had robbed the gardens of Hesperides of one of their apples of gold. King Midas' joy knew no bounds. He hurried home and ordered his servants to prepare and serve a most costly and elaborate feast for him in celebration of his new found gift of gold.

He was hungry and could scarcely wait to eat; he almost snatched a piece of white bread to begin his meal. What was King Midas' surprise to see the bread harden into a slab of yellow metal in his hands. He lifted a goblet of creamy milk to his lips and it congealed into a thick, molten liquid of gold. It was so with whatever King Midas tried to eat; fowls, fruit, cakes, all were changed to gold before he had a chance to even touch the food with his lips. He was faced in the midst of all his wealth with death by starvation.

Raising his arms, shining with gold, in supplication to Bacchus, Midas begged that he might be saved from his own power of glittering destruction.

[Pg 199]

Although the gods were able to grant gifts, it was not possible for Bacchus to relieve a man from the dangers of his own use of a godly gift unless he, himself, helped. Bacchus was too kind hearted, however, to leave the foolish king to his fate so he consented to show him a way out of his dilemma.

"Go," he told Midas, "to the River Pactolus. Follow its winding course to the fountain head and then plunge your body and head in its waters to wash away your greed and its punishment."

It was a long and difficult journey for King Midas whose joints, even, creaked and were stiff with the golden metal into which they had changed, and who could find no food or any bed on the way that was not at once transformed to gold the instant he touched it. He was obliged to flee and hide from robbers who pursued this fugitive form of gold. At last, however, he came to the river, immersed himself in it, and had the relief of feeling his stiff, glittering body soften to its natural flesh again.

"I have had enough of the power of gold," Midas[Pg 200] said when he returned to his court. "From this time I shall avoid all riches and live in the country."

So King Midas acquired a farm and took his court there, becoming a worshipper of Pan, the goat-footed god of the fields.

The god Pan was the merriest and almost the best beloved of all the gods, for his domain was the whole of the beautiful, wide outdoors. He was a wanderer of the mountains and valleys through all the seasons, peering into the grottos where the shepherds lived, amusing himself by chasing the nymphs, and bringing laughter and merriment wherever he went. The stump of a tree with its shaggy roots was Pan's pillow and the dusky leaves his only shelter.

No one on the earth was safe from the wiles of Pan. One summer day Diana, the huntress, was roaming through a forest when she heard a rustle of leaves in the path behind her. Turning, she saw the dark, mocking face of Pan and his horned head and hairy body. Diana fled and Pan followed.

Pan must have known it was a goddess whom he pursued, for Diana's hunting horn and her[Pg 201] bow were of silver like the moon whose deity she was, but this did not stop him. On he went as Diana ran in terror from him until they came to the bank of a river. Here Pan overtook her and Diana had only time to call to her friends, the water-nymphs, for aid when the god clasped her in his arms.

But it was not Diana he had caught. He held a tuft of dripping water reeds in his hands through which the nymphs had allowed the goddess to escape. Pan held up the reeds and breathed a sigh through them because of the failure of his prank. The reeds gave out a lovely melody. Pan was charmed with the novelty and the sweetness of the music. He took some of the reeds of unequal lengths and, placing them side by side, he bound them together. So he made his pipes on which he learned to play tunes like the singing of birds and the babbling of brooks.

King Midas enjoyed his life in the country, and he made the acquaintance of the god Pan as he had that of Bacchus. He encouraged Pan in his tricks and flattered him by telling him how well he played his pipes.

[Pg 202]

"If you think me skilful, King Midas, it is possible that I may challenge Apollo in a contest of musical skill," Pan boasted.

"It would be an excellent idea," King Midas replied.

Midas should have known better and so should the frolicsome, reckless Pan. Apollo's lute was the musical instrument of the heavens and Pan's pipes could play only the tunes of earth, but Pan sent for Apollo and the god of light and song descended to a green field where the contest was to be held. Tmolus, the mountain god, was chosen to be the judge and at a signal Pan played the rustic melody on his pipes which was all he knew, and which greatly pleased King Midas who sat near to listen.

Then Apollo rose, crowned with laurel and wearing a robe of Tyrian purple that swept the ground. He struck the strings of his lyre and earth was filled with the music of the gods. The mountain-god swept away the trees that surrounded him so that he could listen better, and the trees themselves leaned toward Apollo in wonder and homage. When the music stopped, the strings still vibrated[Pg 203] making the hills carry and echo the harmony to the skies. The mountain-god awarded the victory in the unequal contest to Apollo, but King Midas objected.

"I like better the music of Pan's pipes," he said. "I question the judgment of Tmolus."

Poor old Midas, still self centered and earthly! Apollo could not suffer such a depraved pair of ears to wear human form any longer. He touched Midas' ears and they began to lengthen, to move where they joined his head, and they grew heavy inside and outside. Midas had the ears of an ass!

Such a mortification for a king to have to bear! Indeed King Midas could not stand it alone, and he told the secret of his odd ears to the court hair-dresser in order to get his help in disguising them.

"But on pain of death do not tell anyone about my ears!" Midas commanded.

The hairdresser cut the King's hair so as to cover up the flopping ass's ears and he even fashioned a large turban to further conceal them, but he couldn't keep such a good secret. He went out into a meadow, dug a hole in the ground, and[Pg 204] stooping down, whispered the secret into it. Then he carefully covered it up.

In a very short time a thick bed of reeds sprang up in the meadow in the exact spot where the hairdresser had buried the secret of King Midas' disgrace. As soon as the reeds had grown high enough to be played upon by the breezes they began to whisper the story of the king who had to finish his reign with a pair of asses' ears instead of his own, because of his self will. And it is said that the meadow reeds, blown by the wind, tell the story of King Midas to-day.

[Pg 205]


Apollo was in great trouble, for he had lost one of the herds of cattle he owned upon the earth. He knew the exact spot where he had left them the night before in a pasture of Arcadia, but when he rode out the next morning in his chariot of light with the first dawning of the day, the herd had disappeared. He searched the country for leagues about, but was unable to find a single trace of the cows. There was not even one hoof print to tell where they had gone.

As Apollo searched, he met a farmer of that country named Battus, whose eyes were fairly popping out of his head with wonder.

"Have you seen a straying herd of cattle in these parts, rustic?" Apollo asked him. "I have lost my best herd, and can find trace of neither hoof or hide of one of them."

"I saw strange doings last evening with a herd," Battus replied. "The night was dark and cloudy, and I went out to see if my flock of sheep was[Pg 206] safely fastened in the fold. What I saw was like one of the tricks that Pan and his family of Satyrs plays, but I doubt if even they have such witching powers. I do believe that I must have dreamed it."

"Tell me what you saw with no further words," Apollo commanded the farmer impatiently.

"It was in the middle of the night," Battus explained. "As I passed a field where a fine herd of cattle was at rest I saw a child coming as swiftly and as surely over the grass as if he had wings. Once in a while he stopped and gathered a handful of broom straw, sorting it into bunches and tying it with dried grass. Presently the child came to the herd, and he tied a bunch of straw to the hoof of each cow. Then he drove the entire herd backward toward the cave of Pylos that you know is but a short distance from here. I followed him for part of the way, but I lost them, for the child went with the speed of the wind. I could not find their trail again, because they left not a single foot print. The brooms on their hoofs swept their track clean."

"A trick played on me, of the circle of the gods!"[Pg 207] Apollo exclaimed, his eyes dark with anger and the rays of light he wore about his head sending off sparks of fire. And without so much as thanking Battus for his information, Apollo drove with the swiftness of lightning to the cave of Pylos. There was his herd feeding peacefully outside, and as Apollo forced his way into the cave, he saw the mischievous little boy who had been the cause of all the trouble.

He was still fast asleep and he was quite alone, for he had been born in that cave and knew no other home. Apollo shook him, and he opened a pair of the brightest, most roguish eyes that ever were seen in the earth or on Mount Olympus either. But when he spied Apollo, he closed them again, pretending that he was asleep, for, like most people who use their clever wits to make trouble for others, he didn't want to be found out. It was Mercury, and he had begun as early as this to play tricks on even the gods.

"What do you mean by driving away the herds of Arcadia to this lonely spot?" Apollo asked Mercury angrily. "Do you not know that the inhabitants of the country depend on them for food[Pg 208] and that the gods, descending to earth, have need of cream and curds?"

But Mercury said not a word. He only shrugged his small shoulders and squeezed his eyes more tightly shut.

"Well, you shall be punished as you deserve," Apollo said, quite losing his patience, and he picked up Mercury, not very gently, and dropped him into his chariot. Then he drove off with him as fast as he could straight up to the throne of Jupiter, the king of the gods, on Mount Olympus.

It must have been quite an ordeal, particularly for a little boy like Mercury. Jupiter's throne was very high and quite blinded his eyes with its flashing gold and precious stones, and there were piles of thunderbolts close by all ready to throw if the need arose. And Jupiter himself wore a very dark frown when Apollo told him of the trick that Mercury had played.

"He shall be thrown—" Jupiter began, having in mind the punishment of denying Mercury the fellowship of the gods, but just then Mercury looked the king of the gods straight in the eyes, and Jupiter looked back. Then Jupiter started,[Pg 209] for he saw that Mercury was, himself, a god. He might be, just then, a very naughty and young god, but it seemed as if he could do great deeds if only he were to make up his mind to. Jupiter called Mercury close to his throne and spoke to him.

"I, myself, have lost a cow," he told Mercury. "In fact she is not really a cow at all, but a beautiful maiden named Io, in disguise, and I understand that she lives upon the earth guarded by a watchman named Argus who has a hundred eyes. I should like to rescue the lovely Io and restore her to her proper form, but Argus never closes all of his eyes at once. He sleeps with as many as fifty of them open. Could you help me in this matter, do you suppose?"

Mercury stood up very straight as he said,

"I will try."

"You may need help, lad," Apollo said, forgetting his anger in his interest at this great adventure Mercury was going to attempt. "Take these," and he gave the young god some very useful presents, a golden divining rod made in a design of two twined serpents, and a pair of wings for his feet and a pair also for his cap.

[Pg 210]

As Mercury took the golden rod in his hand and fastened on his wings, he suddenly grew very tall and of almost the stature and pattern of the gods. He was their messenger now, and he knew that he had quicker wits and more shrewdness than any of them. He set out at once for the green fields of Arcadia where Io was pastured.

And there was old Argus guarding her with all his hundred eyes. He let the little heifer feed during the day, but when night came he tied a rough rope around her neck. She longed to stretch out her arms and implore freedom of Argus, but she had no arms to stretch and her voice was only a loud bellow that frightened even herself. Her father and her brothers fed her tufts of grass but did not know who she was. No wonder Mercury made haste to come to Io's help, laying aside his wings when he reached Argus and keeping only his wand. On the way he borrowed the pipes of Pan and brought a flock of sheep so that he appeared before Argus as only a wandering shepherd.

Argus listened to the music of the pipes with the greatest delight, for he had never heard them before. He called to Mercury as he strolled along.

[Pg 211]

"Come and take a seat by me on this stone," he begged. "There is no better grazing ground in all Arcadia than this."

So Mercury sat down beside Argus and played to him as long as he wished, and then he told him stories all the rest of the day until the sun had set and it was starlight and Io still grazed nearby without being tied. As the night wore on and Mercury still soothed Argus with his music and his tales, one by one his hundred eyes closed. At the first streak of dawn, the last eye was shut, and Mercury led Io away to Jupiter to be restored to her proper shape. He did something else too. He gave Juno all of Argus' eyes as a present, which pleased her so much that she put them for ornaments in the tail of her peacock. You may see them there to-day.

So Mercury was safe in the good graces of the gods. They began giving him unusual things to do, such as taking Pandora and her enchanted box down to the earth, carrying new suits of armor to the heroes, and taking off the chains which Mars, the clumsy god of war, had made for his own uses but had become bound with himself. These [Pg 212]commissions were little more than fun for Mercury, and they made him feel so important that he began playing tricks again.

Almost all the gods had their own particular treasures which were, in a way, the marks of their authority and power. They grew to depend on these and to feel that they could not carry on their good works without them. And what did that rascal, Mercury, do but take Venus' jewelled girdle, Jupiter's sceptre, Mars' best sword, Vulcan's tongs, and Neptune's trident, and either hide them or try to make use of them himself for a while. Then he would manage to make up in some way for his mischief and smooth the whole matter over. It caused a great deal of anxiety and inconvenience among the gods and at last they sent Mercury down to earth once more to act as a guide to the heroes when they undertook dangerous adventures.

So Mercury took his winged way from one end of the world to the other. Whenever there was a hazard where skill and dexterity were needed as greatly as courage, Mercury was there. His journeys took him to the islands of Greece and to[Pg 213] many foreign lands, and in these travels he never lost a chance to direct travellers and strangers who had lost their way.

Mercury was so busy that he forgot to play tricks on either the gods or men, and after a while he was accepted as a member in good standing of the family of the gods. The people of Greece had reason to worship Mercury because of something very helpful that he did for them.

There was a place in Greece where several roads met. It was really such a place as is known as the cross-roads now, and dangerous. A traveller on foot was not able to see the approach of a swiftly driven chariot, and a stranger might easily lose his his way, for the roads were not marked. Mercury set up the first sign post here at the cross-roads with plain directions telling where each one of the roads led.

The Greeks placed sign posts in honor of Mercury at every crossing of the roads after that, much more beautiful than ours because they were made in the form of marble pillars with a head of Mercury in his winged cap at the top. Every man who came to one of these first sign posts was asked[Pg 214] to place a stone beside it as an offering to Mercury. The stones were greatly appreciated by this god of speed, for they helped in clearing the fields and making the roads easier to travel. Commerce and business were beginning. Loads of timber and grain and wool and fruits were carried in huge ox carts to the sea to be loaded in ships, and Mercury wanted good roads as a help to commerce.

Mercury turned out very well indeed, in spite of his bad beginning. It had depended upon how he used his wits, whether or not he helped the world or hindered it.

[Pg 215]


Once upon a time there was a child of the gods named Iris who had many very interesting relatives. On her mother's side was the Pleiades family, daughters of old Atlas who held the earth on his shoulders and nymphs in the train of Diana, the huntress. Diana was to be seen in the silvery moon of the night sky, and the Pleiades surrounded her there, seven shining stars.

Iris had a most distinguished grandfather, Oceanus, the sea god. So she spent part of her time in the sky with the Pleiades and part in the ocean with her grandfather. It was very interesting to be in either place, for she loved the bright lights of the heavens, and the coral palaces of the sea made delightful places to explore.

All of her family loved Iris, and it is surprising that she was not spoiled with the amount of freedom she had, going here and there between earth and sky without any one saying no to her. But Iris had been well brought up, and she began when[Pg 216] she was still quite small making herself just as useful as she possibly could.

At that time another child of the gods, Proserpine, had made a great deal of trouble by straying away from home and being kidnapped by Pluto. Her mother Ceres, the goddess of the fields, had to neglect her work for a long time as she searched for Proserpine, and the earth grew dry and barren in her absence. As Iris took her way from the sky to the sea and then back again, she felt sorry for the grain, the fruits and the flowers that were withering, and she did wish that she might help them.

One summer day Iris was paying a visit to Oceanus, her grandfather, and having a most beautiful time riding the crest of the waves on a frolicsome dolphin. The sea was covered with soft, light vapor and when it was time for Iris to go home to the sky in order to be there in time to help light the lamps of the Pleiades, she wrapped herself all about with this fleecy vapor. Still wearing it like a cloak, Iris reached the sky when a most unusual thing happened. It was so cool up there among the clouds that the sea foam turned to [Pg 217]raindrops. Iris had to hurry away or she would have been wet through. Leaning over the edge of a cloud bank to see what was happening, she discovered that a shower of rain was falling to cool the earth and comfort it a little in its condition of drought.

Iris could travel with the speed of the wind from one end of the world to the other, and after that she busied herself searching for thirsty plants and trying to help them. She would descend to the ocean, a lake or a river, wherever she might be, and carry vapor that was full of water to the sky from which it dropped to earth to nourish all growing things. The farmers looked upon Iris as their most important help, and at last the news of her good works came to the ears of the gods on Olympus.

The gods had one messenger, Mercury, who wore wings on his heels and also on his cap. He was so swift that he was detailed to carry out the most difficult and delicate errands of the gods such as taking new suits of armor to the warriors of Greece, guiding the heroes, and even rescuing Mars, the god of war, when he once found himself bound[Pg 218] by the chains he had designed for others. But one never knew exactly how Mercury would carry out a commission. He liked to linger with Pan in the woods and forests, giving as an excuse the care of young Bacchus, god of the vine, whom he must guard.

So the gods decided that they would have an errand girl who would live on Olympus and leave the habitation of the gods only when it was necessary to go to man as a guide and adviser.

That was the high trust which was given Iris by the gods. She had to use her own judgment to quite an extent as to when and where she was most needed by the dwellers of the earth, and how she could best help them. One day she noticed something happening in the kingdom of her grandfather.

A ship glided out of a harbor, the breeze playing among the ropes, and the seamen drew in their oars and hoisted their sails. The night drew on, the sea began to whiten with swelling waves, and the east wind blew a gale. The captain gave orders to strengthen the ship and reef the sail but none of the sailors could hear his voice above[Pg 219] the roar of the wind and the sea. The cries of the men, the rattling of the shrouds, and the breaking surf mingled with the thunder. Then the swelling sea seemed to be lifted up to the heavens, to scatter its foam among the clouds, and then sink away to the bottom.

The ship could not stand the storm; it seemed like a wild beast charged upon by the spears of the hunter. There came a flash of lightning, tearing the darkness asunder, and illuminating all with its glare. It shattered the mast and broke the rudder, and the triumphant surge, rising over the ship, looked down on the wreck, then fell and crushed it to fragments. As the ship went down, the captain cried out in longing,


Then Iris, who could see beyond and through the darkness, had a vision of the beautiful Queen Halcyone, of Sicily, who mourned her shipwrecked husband, the captain of this ship.

Without a moment's hesitation, Iris set out for the palace of Somnus, the king of sleep. It was a long and dangerous journey. Even Apollo did not dare to approach it at dawn, noon, or [Pg 220]evening. It was set in a country where the light glimmered but faintly, and clouds and shadows rose out of the ground. No wild beast, or cattle, or tree moved by the wind, or any sound of voices broke the stillness, but the river Lethe flowed through it, rippling with a low kind of lullaby.

Iris approached the home of Somnus very timidly. All the way there were fields of poppies and the herbs from which Night distilled sleep to scatter over the darkened earth. There was no gate to the palace to creak as it opened, or any watchman. So this little errand girl of the gods went inside and made her way to the room where there was a throne of black ebony draped with dusky plumes and curtains. On the throne reclined Somnus, scarcely opening his eyes, and with his hair and beard covering him like a mantle.

Iris knelt before him,

"Somnus, gentlest of the gods, and soother of careworn hearts," she said, "will you not allow me to despatch a dream to Halcyone about her husband whom she mourns. See these dreams that lie around you, as many as the harvest bears stalks, or the forest leaves, or the seashore grains[Pg 221] of sand! Can you not spare one beautiful dream for Halcyone?"

Somnus called his servant, Morpheus, who selected a dream and flew, making no noise with his wings, until he came to the city of Trachine where Halcyone could not sleep, but lay and tossed and wept in terror at the thought of what might have happened to her husband's ship. And at that moment Halcyone fell into a deep and happy dream in which she saw her husband. He stood beside her couch and spoke to her.

"The stormy winds have sunk my ship in the Aegean Sea," he told Halcyone, "let me not be alone. Arise and come with me!"

It was the most enlightening dream that Somnus could have sent. Halcyone left off her lamentations and implored the gods that she be allowed to join her husband, and the pitying gods turned them both into birds. They became the Halcyone gulls of the sea, riding the surf together, guarding their nest that floated upon the sea, and never again separated.

As soon as she felt sure that her errand was safely accomplished, Iris made haste to leave the domain[Pg 222] of Somnus, for she felt its drowsiness creeping over her. She tried not to crush any of the sleep producing herbs as she went, and she was careful not to pick a single poppy. At last she was safely outside the boundaries, and then she could hardly believe what she saw, for a wonder had happened to her.

The gods had built her a long bridge that arched from the earth to the sky and over which she could go home to Olympus. It was made of colored stones, the ruby, the topaz, the emerald, the sapphire, and the amethyst. Row upon row the glistening stones of the arch made a bright path for Iris' feet. She passed along it, the light of the brilliant gems scintillating about her, and when she came to the abode of the gods, Iris found another surprise. There was a beautiful new dress waiting for her there.

It had the same colors as those of the precious stones that made the bridge, crimson, orange and yellow, green, blue, and violet and so marvellously blended that they seemed to be one pattern and one piece of brightness. There were wings that went with the dress, and when Iris put it on not even Juno had so beautiful a garment.

[Pg 223]

Iris wore her dress of colors as she took her way along her arched bridge from Olympus to earth and then back again. And her errands were those of help and courage and bright hope.

Have you guessed who she was? Why, of course you have, for you see her bridge of colors in the sky after a shower when the sun is shining through the clouds. Iris was the child of the gods who gave us the rainbow.

[Pg 224]


There were lilies and great blue violets growing wild on the banks of the lake in the vale of Enna. How could a little girl resist them, and particularly Proserpine whose mother was Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, and who had played and lived outdoors all her life? Proserpine had been racing through the forest with some of her boy and girls friends, farther than was wise.

"Don't go out of sight of our own home fields," Ceres had said that morning.

But here was Proserpine out of sight and sound of her playmates even. Violets like to grow in damp, dark places, and Proserpine had followed their blue trail until she was shut in the vale of Enna by the trees. She was quite alone and, suddenly, in danger.

There was the sound of racing chariot steeds and the crash of heavy wheels breaking the low branches and the bushes. A dark shadow made the vale darker than it had been before. A black chariot[Pg 225] burst into sight, drawn by black horses and driven by a man who was dressed in black from head to foot. He was Pluto, the king of darkness, who had been waiting for a long time for this chance to kidnap fair little Proserpine. Her flowers fell from her apron in which she had been holding them; she screamed, but there was no one to hear her. Pluto dragged her into his grasp and threw her in the chariot. The horses dashed away, and Proserpine left the land of springtime for Pluto's dark kingdom beneath the earth.

Pluto shouted to his steeds, calling each by name, and giving them the length of the iron colored reins over their heads and necks. He reached the River Cyane which had no bridge, but he struck the waters with his trident and they rolled back, giving him a passage down through the earth to Tartarus where his throne was.

It was a prison place that they reached by way of a deep gulf, and its recesses were as far beneath the level of the earth as Mount Olympus was high above their heads. A strange sound of singing came to Proserpine from the depths of the cave where Pluto led her:

[Pg 226]
"Twist ye, twine ye! Even so,
Mingle shades of joy and woe,
Hope, and fear, and peace, and strife
In the thread of human life."

And when Proserpine's eyes were a little more used to the dimness of the cave she saw three gray women, the Fates, with threads and shears, seated beside the throne and singing those words. One of them spun the thread of life, and another twisted its bright and dark lines together. But the third Fate cut the threads apart whenever she liked.

Other grim and terrible creatures met Proserpine's frightened gaze. The Furies had spread their couches there as had also Fear and Hunger. The Hydra hissed with each one of its nine heads and the Chimaeras breathed fire. There was a giant with a hundred arms, and Discord whose hair was bound with a fillet made of vipers.

"Take me back to the light. I want to go home. Oh, I beg of you, take me home!" Proserpine cried, but her words only echoed through the vaults of the kingdom of darkness. And when she tried to make her escape, her frail little hands were[Pg 227] bruised from beating against the thick iron door that shut her in.

The next morning Aurora rode through the sky to put away the stars and touch the clouds with the pink color of the dawn. Looking down to the earth, she saw a goddess who had arisen long before the dawn and was hurrying up and down the earth, wringing her hands and with tears in her eyes. She wore a chaplet woven of the golden heads of the grain, and she was straight and strong and beautiful in her flowing robes of green, but she did not lift her eyes from the earth, so deep was her sorrow.

That evening Hesperus, who followed in Aurora's course each sunset to lead out the stars, saw the same goddess. Her robes were torn and stained from her travels and bedraggled with the dew. She was still weeping, and still searching. She was going to search, without rest, all night.

Many others saw this goddess in the days that followed. She was always roaming from daylight until dark, in the open, in sunlight and moonlight, and in falling showers. She was weary and sad. In such a plight a peasant, named Celeus, found her[Pg 228] one day. He had been out in a field gathering acorns and blackberries, and binding bundles of sticks for his fire. The goddess sat there on a stone, too tired to go on.

"Why do you sit here alone on the rocks?" Celeus asked her. He carried a heavy load, but he stopped to try and succor her. "Come to my cottage and rest," he entreated her. "My little son is very ill, and we have only a most humble roof, but such as it is we will be glad to share it with you."

The goddess rose and gathered her arms full of crimson poppies. Then she followed Celeus home.

They found deep distress in the cottage, for the little boy was so ill as to be almost past hope. His mother could scarcely speak for her sorrow, but she welcomed the wandering goddess and spread the table for her with curds and cream, apples, and golden honey dripping from the comb. The goddess ate, but her eyes were on the sick child and when his mother poured milk into a goblet for him she mingled the juice of her poppies with it.

At last night came, and the peasants slept.[Pg 229] Then the goddess arose and took the little boy in her arms. She touched his weak limbs with her strong, skilful hands, said a charm over him three times, and then laid him in the warm ashes of the fire.

"Would you kill my son? Wicked woman that you are to so abuse my hospitality!" the child's mother cried, awaking and seeing what the goddess had done.

But just then a strange thing happened. The cottage was filled with a splendor like white lightning, and a light seemed to shine from the skin of the goddess. A lovely perfume was scattered from her fragrant garments, and her hair was as bright as gold.

"Your son will not die, but live," she told the wife of Celeus. "He shall grow up and be great and useful. He shall teach men the use of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the cultivation of the soil."

"Who are you?" the woman asked in amazement as she saw the boy's white cheeks grow rosy with new life.

"I am Ceres," the goddess answered, "whose[Pg 230] grief is greater than yours, for my child is lost. I search the earth for her, and never find her." With these words she was gone, as if she had wrapped herself in a cloud and floated away to meet the dawning of another day of her journey.

That was who this wanderer of the earth was, the immortal Ceres, who still did not care to live without her loved little daughter, Proserpine.

She was obliged to neglect her work of caring for the earth in her search for Proserpine, and disaster came to the land for many seasons. The cattle died and no plough broke the furrows. The seed failed to come up. There was too much sun and too much rain. The birds stole the harvest, little as there was, and seeds and brambles were the main growth. Even Arethusa, the nymph of the fountain, was about to die as Ceres, in her search, came to the banks of the River Cyane, where Pluto had passed with Proserpine to his own domain. Ceres had almost given up hope.

"Ungrateful soil that I have clothed with herbs and fruits and grains," she said. "You have taken my child and shall enjoy my favors no longer."

[Pg 231]

But Arethusa spoke:

"Do not blame the earth, Mother Ceres," she said. "It opened unwillingly to take your daughter. I come from the waters. I know them so well that I can count the pebbles in the bottom of this river, the willows that shade it and the violets on the bank. I was at play not long since in the river and Alpheus, the god of the stream, pursued me. I ran and he followed in an attempt to keep me from going back to my home in the fountain. As I tried to escape him, I plunged through the depths of the earth and into a cavern. While I passed through the bowels of the earth I saw your Proserpine. She was sad, but had no look of terror. Pluto had made her his queen in the realm of the dead. I have made my way back to tell you."

Ceres knew then that Proserpine was lost to her unless Jupiter helped in taking her away from the king of darkness. She summoned her chariot and rode to Mount Olympus, but even Jupiter had not complete power over Pluto.

"If Proserpine has taken food in Pluto's realm, the Fates will not allow her to return to earth," he[Pg 232] told Ceres. "But I will send my swift messenger, Mercury, with Spring to try and bring her home."

In all that time Proserpine had eaten none of the rich food that Pluto had set before her, only six seeds of a red pomegranate as she had pressed the fruit to her lips to quench her thirst. But Spring, with all her strength that can bring new leaves and blooms from dead branches, with the help of Mercury, the god of the winged shoes, brought Proserpine the long way back to her mother for six months. The remaining six months of the year, one month for each pomegranate seed that she had eaten, Proserpine was doomed to spend as queen of Pluto's kingdom of darkness.

No one, and particularly not her mother, worried very much, though, about those months of darkness because of the wonders that Proserpine brought when she returned to earth. Every tree that she touched with her garments burst into green, and wherever her feet pressed the earth the grass and wild flowers appeared and spread. Ploughing and planting were begun again, and the new shoots of the corn pushed up through the ground.

[Pg 233]

Indeed, it seemed to Ceres that her other child, the corn, was telling the story of lost Proserpine. The seed of the corn that is thrust into the earth and lies there, concealed in the dark, is like Proserpine carried off by the god of the underworld. Then Spring gives the seed a new form and it appears to bless the earth, just as Proserpine was led forth to her mother and to the light of day.

[Pg 234]


Erisichthon had made up his mind to kill the Dryad who lived in the oak tree.

He was one of the strongest ploughmen in all Greece, and he knew Ceres who presided over the fields and her favorite Dryad of the oak tree very well. The oak tree had stood for centuries in a grove in which Ceres loved to rest, and it was almost a forest in itself. It overtopped the other trees as far as they stretched above the shrubs. Its trunk measured fifteen cubits around, and it was supported upon roots that were almost as strong as iron cables.

It was supposed in those old days of Greece to be a tree of wonders. It was this oak that guarded the wide agricultural domain of Ceres, and the Dryad who lived inside was one of the messengers of this goddess through the farms and orchards. She was a slender, fair young creature who would never grow old and carried sunbeams in her hands[Pg 235] that brought new growth wherever she spilled them.

When the grove was empty and still, all the other Dryads would step softly from their dwelling places in the cypress, the olive and the pine trees and join hands as they danced lightly about the oak tree, singing their praises of the great Ceres who fed with her bounty the whole of Greece. The country people, and even those from the cities, came to pay their homage to Ceres' oak, bringing garlands of roses and laurel that they hung on its boughs, and carving messages of thanks and love for the Dryad on its bark.

Erisichthon knew all this, but he wanted a quantity of wood for his farm without the trouble of earning it. He decided the property of Ceres was his, by right, because he had ploughed her fields at the time of the planting. So Erisichthon saw no reason why he should spare the wonderful oak tree, even if it did shelter a Dryad. He called his servants together, armed them with freshly sharpened axes, and they set out for the forest.

When they reached the oak tree, Erisichthon's men hesitated. The tree looked like a temple,[Pg 236] its wide spreading branches sheltering the other trees, and its great trunk towering toward the sky like a bronze pillar. Each man remembered Ceres' bounty toward him, her gifts of apples and corn, grapes and wheat, and best of all her offering of land that would bring plenty for the ploughing and planting.

"We cannot cut it. This is a tree well beloved of Ceres," the men said to their master.

"I care not whether it be a tree beloved of the goddess or not," Erisichthon shouted angrily to them. "If I cut it down I shall have no more need of Ceres, for its wood will make me rich beyond the need of planting. She owes me a living on account of the past seasons in which I have worked for her. If Ceres herself were in my way I would cut her down also!" he exclaimed.

With this terrible threat on his lips, the lawless ploughman seized an axe from one of his trembling servants and began chopping the trunk of the mighty tree. He had great strength, and each blow cut a deep gash.

As Erisichthon cut in toward the heart of the oak tree, that held the Dryad, the oak began to shiver[Pg 237] and groan, but he showed it no mercy. He ordered his men to tie ropes to the branches and pull, and he continued to cut it until the tree fell with a crash that was like the sound of a thunderbolt, and brought down with it a great part of the forest that surrounded it.

As the giant trunk lay on the ground at the feet of Erisichthon, there was a sighing of the branches like that of a summer breeze passing through, and the leaves fluttered as if they had been stirred by the flight of a bird. It was the spirit of the Dryad whom Erisichthon had so hurt, taking her way to her family of the gods on Mount Olympus.

Those Dryads who were left in the grove hastened to Ceres with news of what had happened.

"This man must be punished!" they cried.

Ceres bowed her head in assent, and the fields of grain bowed also, and the branches of the fruit trees drooped. It was the ripe time of the harvest, but there were no crops on the farm of Erisichthon, and Ceres decreed that no neighbor should share with him.

In the northern part of Greece lay the ice topped mountains of Scythia, a bleak, unfertile region[Pg 238] without fruit or grain. Cold, and Fear, and Shuddering lived there and one other, who was more to be dreaded than all three. This was Famine with unkempt hair and sunken eyes, blanched lips, and her skin tightly drawn over her sharp bones. She made her home in a hard, stony field where she pulled up the scanty herbage with her claw-like fingers and tried to subsist on it.

After Erisichthon had cut down the old oak tree Ceres sent to Scythia for Famine.

Erisichthon found that it was going to be a month's task to cut up his wood and carry it to his farm, so he went home to rest over night, planning to start the work in the morning. He felt hungry after his hard work of chopping down the tree, but he had not even a pomegranate for his supper. All his food had strangely disappeared. He decided to go to bed and try to forget his hunger in sleep.

"I will sell a load of wood in the morning for many gold coins," he thought, "and buy food in plenty."

So Erisichthon lay down on his couch and was soon fast asleep. Then Famine sped in through[Pg 239] the window and hovered over where he lay. She folded her wings around him and breathed her poison into his veins. Then she hastened back to Scythia, for she had no other errand in a land of plenty.

Erisichthon did not wake but he stirred in his sleep and moved his jaws as if he were eating, for he was very hungry in his dreams. In the morning he woke with a raging hunger that was a hundred times worse than that of the day before.

He sold his load of wood and spent all the money for whatever food the earth, the air, and the sea produced. He consumed vast quantities of fish, fowl, the flesh of lambs, fruit and vegetables; but the more Erisichthon ate, the greater was his hunger. The amount of food that would have been enough for the whole of Athens was not sufficient for this man. He continually craved more.

Erisichthon sold the wood of the entire oak tree, and began selling pieces of the land that made his farm in order to get food for appeasing his terrible hunger. At last his fields were gone and he had to sell his furniture, his tools, his books,[Pg 240] and all his vases. Still he could not get food enough to appease his gnawing appetite, so he sold his house and lived in a tent that he set up beside the road. But his hunger was still unsatisfied and in his madness Erisichthon sold his only daughter to be the slave of a fisherman who cast his nets beside the Aegean Sea.

The girl loved her father very dearly and her grief, as she gathered sea weed along the shore for her master, touched the heart of Neptune, the god of the sea. He changed her to the form of a horse, and she went home to Erisichthon, hoping that he would look upon so fine an animal with favor, and give it a home. But her father sold the horse to a chariot racer. She escaped and went again to the shore where Neptune changed her, in turn, to a stag, an ox, and a rare bird. Each time she made her way home, and each time her father sold her to buy food. So the bird flew away to Mount Olympus and was never seen again.

At last there came a day when Erisichthon could feed himself no longer. There was nothing left to him in the world that he could sell, and his hunger was so great that he went, like a raving beast,[Pg 241] up and down the bountiful fields of Ceres demanding that food be given him.

But those whom Famine touches because they break Ceres' laws, and destroy life and property find no help unless they try to restore the order that they have hurt. Erisichthon was too weak to work, and he could never raise another oak tree like that one which had been growing for centuries. So he went, at last, to live with Famine in Scythia which was a long way from the Mount of the gods.

[Pg 242]


Strange things were happening in a field of the beautiful country called Arcadia. A youth who wore a wreath of green laurel leaves on his dark hair sat on a rock and held a lyre in his hands from whose strings he drew sweet music. And as he played a wolf, who had been the terror of the shepherds for many leagues around, came out of the woods and lay down like a great dog at the feet of the youth. Next, the nearby olive trees bent their heads to listen and then moved toward him until they stood in a circle at his feet. Then the hard rock on which the musician rested covered itself with soft green verdure and bluebells and violets began to lift their heads, growing out of its age-old stones.

This was what always happened when Orpheus, the son of Apollo, played the lyre that his father had given him and had taught him to use. Nothing could withstand the charm of his music. Not only the farmers and shepherds, the nymphs and[Pg 243] fauns of Arcadian woods and fields were softened and drawn by his tunes, but the wild beasts as well laid by their fierceness and stood, entranced, at his strains.

Orpheus touched his lyre again and played an even lovelier song. And out of the forest glided the nymph, Eurydice, taking her place near Orpheus. His music had won her devotion and Hymen, the god of marriage, had made the two very happy. Their deepest wish was that they might never be separated.

The whole of Arcadia was charmed by Orpheus' lute. No, there was just one person in that beautiful country who positively disliked music, and that was the bee-man, Aristaeus. In fact, Aristaeus could not see the value of anything beautiful, the statues and vases in the temple of Apollo, the tapestries the weavers decorated with so many soft colors, the tints of the wild flowers, or the arch of the rainbow in the sky after a shower. This bee-man could find no interest in anything except his combs of yellow honey, their number, and how many gold coins he would be paid for them. Not only did Aristaeus dislike beautiful[Pg 244] things, but he did not want others to enjoy them. A cross old Arcadian, was he not?

He was feeling particularly disagreeable on the morning when Orpheus began playing his lute near his farm. And when Eurydice, whom Orpheus so loved, approached him to ask for a comb of his delicious honey for dinner for the two, Aristaeus entirely lost his temper. He not only refused the nymph, which no one but a very stingy person could have done, for she smiled at him so winningly and asked for it so politely; but he chased Eurydice off his farm.

No one had treated Eurydice so rudely in all her life before. Even Pan had gathered flowers for her to twine into garlands and had refrained from teasing her as he did almost all the other nymphs. And here she was, a long distance from Orpheus and pursued by an ugly tempered country man! Eurydice ran like the wind, the bee-man coming fast behind her. She was much fleeter than he and would have reached the woods safely, but she stepped suddenly on a snake that she had not seen as it lay coiled up in the grass. The snake stung Eurydice's bare feet and she dropped down on the ground.

[Pg 245]

"It serves her right!" the bee-man said, not going to see how badly she was hurt. And with that he went back to his bees.

Aristaeus was the very first bee-man, the myths tell us. When the gods made the little creatures of the earth they made also the honey bees and taught them how to build themselves homes in hollow trees or holes in the rocks, to find the nectar in the flowers, and make from it their thick, golden honey. Aristaeus was the son of the water-nymph Cyrene, and he came to Arcadia with the remembrance of the music of the waters and the brightness of the sun in his heart, but when he discovered how to attract the bees to his farm and take their honey away from them and sell it, he forgot everything except his business. That was when he began to dislike Orpheus and to become blind to the fair country in which he lived.

"Three hives are swarming to-day," the bee-man thought as he came home. "I ought to be able to get a good sum for the honey." Then, as he reached the orchard where his hives were placed on the wall, he looked about him in [Pg 246]amazement. Hives, bees, all were gone. Not a buzz, a sting, or a single drop of honey was left!

Aristaeus looked throughout the entire countryside for his bees for days, but he could not find a single one. At last he gave up the search and did what a good many boys and girls would be apt to do in the same emergency. He went to ask the advice of his mother, the sea-nymph Cyrene.

He went to the edge of the river where he knew she lived and called her.

"O mother, the pride of my life is taken away from me. I have lost my precious bees. My care and skill have availed me nothing. Can you turn from me this blow of misfortune?"

His mother heard these complaints as she sat in her palace at the bottom of the river with her attendant nymphs around her. They were busy spinning and weaving beautiful designs in water weeds and painting pebbles while another told stories to amuse the rest. But the sad voice of the bee-man interrupted them and one put her head above the water. Seeing Aristaeus, she returned and told his mother, who ordered that he be brought down to her.

[Pg 247]

At the command of Cyrene, the river opened itself and let him pass through, as it stood curled like a mountain on either side. The bee-man descended to the place where the fountains of the great rivers lie. He saw the enormous rock beds of the waters and was almost deafened by their roar as he saw them hurrying off in all their different directions to water the face of the earth. Then Aristaeus came to his mother's palace of shells and stone and he was taken to her apartment where he told her his troubles.

Cyrene, being a dweller of the waters which are the fountain of life, was very wise. She understood at once that her son had made a mistake in not seeing that it was possible to combine beauty and usefulness. Arcadia needed bees, but it needed Orpheus and his lute also, and the gods had punished the bee-man for his sordidness. Still, he was her son and Cyrene decided to try and help Aristaeus out of his difficulty.

"You must go to old Proteus, who is the herdsman of Neptune's sea-calves," Cyrene said. "He can tell you, my son, how to get back your bees, for he is a great prophet. You will have to force[Pg 248] him to help you, however. If you are able to seize him, chain him at once; he will answer your questions in order to be released. I will conduct you to the cave where he comes at noon to take his nap. Then you can easily secure him, but when he finds himself in chains he will cause you a great deal of trouble. He will make a noise like the crackling of flames so as to frighten you into loosing your hold on the chain. Or he may become a wild boar, a fierce tiger, a lion with ravenous jaws or a devouring dragon. But you have only to keep Proteus fast bound and when he finds all his arts to be of no avail he will return to his natural shape and obey your commands."

So Cyrene led Aristaeus to the cave by the sea and showed him where to hide behind a rock while she, herself, arose and took her place behind the clouds. Promptly at noon old Proteus, covered with dripping green weeds, issued from the water followed by a herd of sea calves who spread themselves out on the shore. The herdsman of the sea counted them, sat down on the floor of the cave, and then in a very short time had stretched himself out, fast asleep. Aristaeus waited until he was snoring and[Pg 249] then he bound him with a heavy chain he had brought for the purpose.

When Proteus awoke and found himself captured, he struggled like a wild animal at bay. Next, he turned to flame and then, in succession to many terrible beasts, but Aristaeus never once let go of the chain that secured him. At last he returned to his true form and spoke angrily to Aristaeus.

"Who are you, who boldly invades my domain and what do you want?" Proteus demanded.

"You know already," the bee-man replied, "for you have the powers of a prophet and nothing is hidden from you. I have lost my bees, and I want to have them returned to me."

At these words, the prophet fixed his eyes on Aristaeus with a piercing look.

"Your trouble is the just reward sent you by the gods because you killed Eurydice," he said. "To avenge her death, her companion nymphs sent this destruction to your bees."

"I killed Eurydice?" Aristaeus asked in amazement. "Does she no longer listen to the music of Orpheus?"

[Pg 250]

"Yes, but not in Arcadia," Proteus explained. "When she was stung by the viper, she was obliged to make her way alone to the dark realm of Pluto. Orpheus sang his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both gods and men, and then he started out to search for Eurydice. He passed through the crowd of ghosts and entered the realm beyond the dark river Styx. There, in front of the throne of Pluto, he sang of his longing that Eurydice might be restored to him, until the cheeks of even the Fates were wet with tears.

"Pluto himself gave way to Orpheus' music and called Eurydice. She came to Orpheus, limping on her wounded foot. They roam the happy fields of the gods together now, he leading sometimes and sometimes she. And Jupiter has placed Orpheus' lyre among the stars."

As Proteus finished telling his story, the penitent Aristaeus fell on the ground at his feet.

"What can I do to appease the anger of the gods for my wickedness?" he asked.

"You may use your skill to build temples to the two in the country of Arcadia which they so loved," Proteus said. "Take your way home. Forget[Pg 251] your own gains for a while and gather stones to fit together for the altars."

So the bee-man did this, and he discovered that he came to enjoy the work very much. He took pleasure in cutting and polishing the stones until they were as beautiful as those of any temple in Greece. As he worked in the grove that he had selected for his building he often thought that he detected the music of Orpheus' lyre as the birds sang, and the streams rippled, and the wind blew through the leaves. He found it very sweet indeed.

One day, shortly after his beautiful altars were built, Aristaeus found a wonder. It was spring, when the nearby orchards were white and sweet with blossoms, and there were all his honey bees returned, and busily starting their hives under the shadow of the temple of Eurydice.

[Pg 252]


Pomona was a dryad, and Venus had given her a wild apple tree to be her home. As Pomona grew up under the shadow of its branches, protecting the buds from winter storms, dressing herself in its pink blossoms in the spring time, and holding up her hands to catch its apples in the fall, she found that her love for this fruit tree was greater than anything else in her life. At last Pomona planted the first orchard and lived in it and tended it.

The dryads were those favored children of the gods who lived in the ancient woods and groves, each in her special tree. Dressed in fluttering green garments, they danced through the woodland ways with steps as light as the wind, sang to the tune of Pan's pipe, or fled, laughing, from the Fauns. They missed Pomona in the woods, and tales came to these forest dwellers of the wonders she was working in the raising of fruits fit for the table of the gods.

[Pg 253]

She had trees on which golden oranges and yellow lemons hung among deep green leaves. She raised citrons and limes, and even cultivated the wide spreading tamarind tree whose fruit was of such value to Epictetus, the physician of Greece, in cooling the fires of fever. The wood folk left their mossy hiding places to peer over the wall of Pomona's orchard and watch her working so busily there.

They were a strange company. Pan came from Arcadia where he was the god of flocks and shepherds. He had fastened some reeds from the stream together to make his pipes, and on them he could play the merriest music. It sounded like birds and the singing of brooks and summer breezes all in one. With Pan came his family of Fauns, the deities of the woods and fields. Their bodies were covered with bristling hair, there were short, sprouting horns on their heads, and their feet were shaped like those of a goat. Pan was of the same strange guise as the Fauns were, but to distinguish his rank, he wore a garland of pine about his head.

These and Pomona's sisters, the dryads, watched her longingly from the budding time of the year until[Pg 254] the harvest. It was a pleasant sight to see Pomona taking care of her apples. She was never without a pruning knife which she carried as proudly as Jupiter did his sceptre. With it she trimmed away the foliage of her fruit trees wherever it had grown too thick, cut the branches that had straggled out of shape, and sometimes deftly split a twig to graft in a new one so that the tree might bear different, better apples.

Pomona even led streams of water close to the roots of the trees so that they need not suffer from drought. She looked, herself, a part of the orchard, for she wore a wreath of bright fruits and her arms were often full of apples almost as huge and golden as the famous apples of Hesperides.

The dryads and the Fauns begged one, at least, of the apples, but Pomona refused them all. She had grown selfish through the seasons in which she had brought her orchard to a state of such bounteous perfection. She would not give away a single apple, and she kept her gate always locked. So the wood creatures were obliged to go home empty handed to their forest places.

[Pg 255]

In those days Vertumnus was one of the lesser gods who watched over the seasons. The fame of Pomona's fruits came to the ear of Vertumnus and he was suddenly possessed of a great desire to share the orchard and its care with her. He sent messengers in the form of the birds to plead his cause with Pomona, but she was just as cruel to him as she had been to the family of Pan and to her own sisters. She had made up her mind that she would never share her orchard with any one in the world.

Vertumnus would not give up, though. He had the power to change his form as he willed, and he decided to go to Pomona in disguise to see if he could not win her by appealing to her pity. She was obliged to buy her grain, and one day in October when the apple boughs bent low with their great red and yellow balls a reaper came to the orchard gate with a basket of ears of corn for Pomona.

"I ask no gold for my grain," he said to the goddess, "I want only a basket full of fruit in return for it."

"My fruit is not to be given away or bartered for. It is mine and mine alone until it spoils," Pomona replied, driving the reaper away.

[Pg 256]

But the following day a farmer stopped at the orchard, an ox goad in his hand as if he had just unyoked a pair of weary oxen from his hay cart, left them resting beside some stream, and had gone on to ask refreshment for himself. Pomona invited him into her orchard, but she did not offer him a single apple. As soon as the sun began to lower she bade him be on his way.

In the days that followed Vertumnus came to Pomona in many guises. He appeared with a pruning hook and a ladder as if he were a vine dresser ready and willing to climb up into her trees and help her gather the harvest. But Pomona scorned his services. Then Vertumnus trudged along as a discharged soldier in need of alms, and again with a fishing rod and a string of fish to exchange for only one apple. Each time that Vertumnus came disguised to Pomona he found her more beautiful and her orchard a place of greater plenty than ever; but the richer her harvest the deeper was her greed. She refused to share even a half of one of her apples.

At last, when the vines were dripping with purple juice of the grape and the boughs of the fruit trees[Pg 257] hung so heavily that they touched the ground, a strange woman hobbled down the road and stopped at Pomona's gate. Her hair was white and she was obliged to lean on a staff. Pomona opened the gate and the crone entered and sat down on a bank, admiring the trees.

"Your orchard does you great credit, my daughter," she said to Pomona.

Then she pointed to a grape vine that twined itself about the trunk and branches of an old oak. The oak was massive and strong, and the vine clung to it in safety and had covered itself with bunches of beautiful purple grapes.

"If that tree stood alone," the old woman explained to Pomona, "with no vine to cling to it, it would have nothing to offer but its useless leaves. And if the vine did not have the tree to cling to, it would have to lie prostrate on the ground.

"You should take a lesson from the vine. Might not your orchard be still more fruitful if you were to open the gate to Vertumnus who has charge of the seasons and can help you as the oak helps the vine? The gods believe in sharing the gifts they[Pg 258] give the earth. No one who is selfish can prosper for long."

"Tell me about this Vertumnus, good mother," Pomona asked curiously.

"I know Vertumnus as well as I know myself," the crone replied. "He is not a wandering god, but belongs among these hills and pastures of our fair land. He is young and handsome and has the power to take upon himself any form that he may wish. He likes the same things that you do, gardening, and caring for the ruddy fruits. Venus, who gave you an apple tree to be your first home, hates a hard heart and if you will persist in living alone in your orchard, refusing to share your apples, she is likely to punish you by sending frosts to blight your young fruits and terrible winds to break the boughs."

Pomona clasped her hands in fear. She suddenly understood how true was everything that this old woman said. She had known a spring-time when a storm of wind and hail had shaken off the apple blossoms, and frosts had touched the fruits one fall before she had been able to pick them.

"I will open my gate to the country people and[Pg 259] to strangers," she said. "I will open it also to Vertumnus if he is still willing to share my orchard and my work."

As Pomona spoke, the old woman rose and her gray hair turned to the dark locks of Vertumnus. Her wrinkles faded in the glow of his sunburned cheeks. Her travel stained garments were replaced by Vertumnus' russet gardening smock and her staff to his pruning fork. He seemed to Pomona like the sun bursting through a cloud. She had never really seen him before, having never looked at anyone except with the eyes of selfishness. Vertumnus and Pomona began the harvesting together, and they opened the gate wide to let in those who had need of sharing their plenty.

Then the fauns danced in and made merry to the tunes that Pan played. The dryads found new homes for themselves in the trunks of the trees, and the seasons gave rain and sunshine in greater abundance than ever before as these two pruned, and trimmed, and grafted the trees and vines together.

Achelous, the river god, took his way past the orchard kingdom of Pomona and Vertumnus and brought with him Plenty who was able to fill her[Pg 260] horn with gifts of fruit for all, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, plums, and citrons until it overflowed. Ever since the October when Pomona opened her gate and shared her apples, an orchard has been a place of beauty, bounty, and play.

[Pg 261]


Once upon a time there was a king of Greece who had three beautiful daughters, but the youngest, who was named Psyche, was the most beautiful of all. The fame of her lovely face and the charm of her whole being were so great that strangers from the neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the sight and they paid Psyche the homage of love that was due to Venus herself. Venus' temple was deserted, and as Psyche passed by the people sang her praises, and strewed her way with flowers and wreaths.

Venus had a son, Cupid, who was dearer to her than any other being on Mount Olympus or in the earth. Like every mother, Venus had great ambitions for the future of her son, but she was not always able to follow him, for Cupid had wings and a golden bow and arrows with which he was fond of playing among mortals. What was Venus' wrath to discover at last that Cupid had lost his heart to Psyche, the lovely maiden of earth! It[Pg 262] was like a fairy story in which a prince marries a peasant girl and may not bring her home to the palace because of her mean birth. Venus quite refused to recognize Psyche or award her a place in the honored family of the gods.

Cupid and Psyche had a very wonderful earthly palace in which to live. Golden pillars supported the vaulted roof, and the walls of the apartments of state were richly carved and hung with embroidered tapestries of many colors. When Psyche wished food, all she had to do was to seat herself in an alcove when a table immediately appeared without the aid of servants and covered itself with rare fruits and rich cakes and honey. When she longed for music, she had a feast of it played by invisible lutes, and with a chorus of harmonious voices. But Psyche was not happy in this life of luxury, for she had to be alone so much of the time. Venus could not take Cupid away from her altogether, but she allowed him to be with Psyche only in the hours of darkness. He fled before the dawn.

There had been a direful prophecy in Psyche's family of which her sisters had continually reminded her.

[Pg 263]

"Your youngest daughter is destined for a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist," was the oracle given to the king, and the memory of it began to fill Psyche's heart with fear. Her sisters came to visit her and increased her fear. They asked all manner of questions about Cupid, and Psyche was obliged to confess that she could not exactly describe him because she had never seen him in the light of day. Her jealous sisters began at once to fill Psyche's mind with dark suspicions.

"How do you know," they asked, "that your husband is not a terrible and venomous serpent, who feeds you for a while with all these dainties that he may devour you in the end? Take our advice. Provide yourself with a lamp well filled with oil and tonight, when this villain returns and sleeps, go into his apartment and see whether or not our prophecy is true."

Psyche tried to resist her sisters, but at last their urging and her own curiosity were too much for her. She filled her lamp, and when her husband had fallen into his first sleep, she went silently to his couch and held the light above him.

[Pg 264]

There lay Cupid, the most beautiful and full of grace of all the gods! His golden ringlets were a crown above his snowy forehead and crimson cheeks, and two wings whose feathers were like the soft white blossoms of the orchard sprang from his shoulders. In her joy at finding no cause for her fears, Psyche leaned over, tipping her lamp, that she might look more closely at Cupid's face. As she bent down, a drop of the burning oil fell on the god's shoulder. He opened his eyes, startled, and looked up at Psyche. Then, without saying a word, he spread his wide wings and flew out of the window.

Psyche tried to follow him, but she had no wings and fell to the ground. For one brief moment Cupid stayed his flight and turned to see her lying there below him in the dust.

"Foolish Psyche," he said, "why did you repay my love in this way? After having disobeyed my mother's commands and made you my wife, could you not trust me? I will inflict no further punishment upon you than this, that I leave you forever, for love cannot live with suspicion." And with these words Cupid flew out of Psyche's sight.

[Pg 265]

That was the beginning of the long road of trouble Psyche had to follow. She wandered day and night, without food or rest, in search of Cupid. One day she saw a magnificent temple set upon the brow of a lofty hill and she toiled the long way up to it, saying to herself,

"Perhaps my love inhabits here."

When Psyche reached the top of the hill and entered the temple, she saw heaps of corn, some in sheaves and others in loose ears, and there was barley mingled with it. There were sickles and rakes and all the other instruments of the harvest scattered about in great confusion as if the reapers, at the end of the sultry day, had left them in this disorder. In spite of her sorrow, Psyche could not bear to see this disarray and she began trying to set the place in order. She worked so busily that she did not see Ceres, whose temple it was, enter. Turning at last, Psyche saw the goddess of the harvest, wearing her fruit trimmed garments and standing at her side.

"Poor Psyche!" she said pityingly. "But it is possible for you to find a way to the abode of the gods where Cupid has his home. Go and surrender[Pg 266] yourself to Venus and try by your own works to win her forgiveness and, perhaps, her favor."

So Psyche obeyed this command of Ceres, although it took a great deal of courage, and she travelled to the temple of Venus in Thebes where the goddess received her in anger.

"The only way by which you can merit the favor of the gods, unfortunate Psyche," she said, "is by your own efforts. I, myself, am going to make a trial of your housewifely skill to see if you are industrious and dilligent."

With these words Venus conducted Psyche to a storehouse connected with her temple where there was an enormous quantity of grain laid up; beans, lentils, barley, wheat and the tiny seeds of the millet which Venus had stored to feed her pigeons.

"Separate all these grains," the goddess said to Psyche, "putting those of the same kind in a pile, and see that you finish before evening." Then she left Psyche who was in consternation at the impossible task spread before her.

Psyche dipped her fingers into the golden heap gathering up a handful to sort the grains, but it took her a long time and the grain lay about her on every[Pg 267] side like a yellow river. The grains she held were less than a drop taken from its surface.

"I shall not be able to finish. I shall never see my husband again!" Psyche moaned.

Still she worked on steadily and at last a little ant, a native of the fields, crawled across the floor and took compassion on the toiling Psyche. It was a king in its own domain and was followed by a host of its little red subjects. Grain by grain, they separated the seeds, helping to put them in their own piles, and when the work was accomplished they vanished as quickly as they had appeared.

When evening came Venus returned, breathing odors of nectar and crowned with roses, from a banquet of the gods. When she saw that Psyche's task was done, she scarcely believed her eyes.

"You must have had assistance," she said. "To-morrow you shall try a more difficult undertaking. Beyond my temple you will see a grassy meadow which stretches along the borders of the water. There you will find a flock of sheep with golden shining fleeces on their backs and grazing[Pg 268] without a shepherd. Bring me a sample of their precious wool that you gather from each of the fleeces."

Psyche once more obeyed, but this was a test of her life as well as of her endurance. As she reached the meadow, the river god, whispering to her through the rushes, warned her.

"Do not venture among the flock while the sun shines on them," he told her. "In the heat of the rising sun, the rams burn with a cruel rage to destroy mortals with their sharp teeth. Wait until twilight, when you will find their woolly gold sticking to the bushes and the trunks of the trees."

The compassion of the river god helped Psyche to do as Venus had commanded her and she returned to the temple in the evening with her arms full of golden fleece.

Still Venus was not satisfied.

"I have a third task for you," she told the weary Psyche. "Take this box to the realm of Pluto and give it to Proserpine saying to her, 'My mistress, Venus, desires you to send her a little of your beauty, for in tending her son whom Psyche burned she has lost some of her own.' And make all [Pg 269]possible haste, for I must use it before I appear next in the circle of the gods on Mount Olympus."

Psyche felt that now her destruction was surely at hand. It was a dangerous road that led to the dark, underground kingdom of Pluto and there were deadly dangers on the way. But Psyche was finding a new courage with each of the difficulties that she had to encounter, and she set out with the box. She passed safely by Cerberus, Pluto's three headed watch dog. She prevailed upon Charon, the ferryman, to take her across the black river and wait for her while she begged Proserpine to fill the box. Then she started back to the light again.

All would have gone well with Psyche if she had not grown curious. That was why her road to the dwelling place of the gods was so long and difficult. Psyche was always mixing up a little bit of earth with her good intentions. Having come so far successfully with her dangerous task, she wanted to open the box.

"I would take only the least bit of this beauty from Venus," Psyche thought, "to make myself more fair for Cupid if I ever behold him again."

So she carefully opened the box, but there was[Pg 270] nothing in it of beauty at all. It was a potion that caused Psyche to fall beside the road in a sleep which seemed to have no waking. She did not stir, or breathe, or remember.

It was there that love, in the form of Cupid found Psyche. He was healed of his wound, and he could not bear her absence any longer. He flew through a crack in the window of the palace of Venus and made his way to earth and straight to the spot where Psyche lay. He gathered the deadly sleep from her body and put it fast inside the box again. Then he touched her lightly with one of his arrows and she woke.

"Again you have almost perished because of your curiosity," he said as Psyche reached up her arms to him "but perform exactly this task which my mother asked of you and I will attend to the rest."

Then Cupid, as swift as a bird flies, returned to Mount Olympus and pleaded with Jupiter for a welcome for Psyche. Jupiter consented at last to have this daughter of earth admitted to the family of the gods and Mercury was sent to bring her and offer her the cup of ambrosial nectar that would make her one of the immortals.

[Pg 271]

It is said that at the moment when Psyche completed her tasks and took her departure for Mount Olympus a winged creature, the butterfly, that had never been seen before on earth, arose from a garden and flew on golden wings up toward the sun. So it was thought that the story of Psyche was the story of the butterfly who bursts its gray house of the cocoon and rises, with a new beauty and the power of wings, toward the sky. And the Greeks had still another name for Psyche whom neither her troubles or the sleep of Pluto could keep from the abode of the gods when Love pleaded for her. They spoke of her as the Soul.

[Pg 272]


There was a hollow oak tree in front of the house of Melampos in Greece and inside it was a nest of serpents.

Melampos was a farmer, skilful in raising fruits and grains and full of love for everything that lived out of doors. He would not so much as crush an ant hurrying home to its hill with a grain of sand, and although he did not particularly like snakes he saw no harm in these that had made themselves a home in a tree that no one wanted.

"They will do us no hurt unless we disturb them," Melampos told his servants. "Let them alone and perhaps, when the weather is warmer, they will take their way off to the neighboring marsh."

But Melampos' servants were not so sure as he of the harmlessness of the serpents.

"Our master is growing old and child like," they said to each other. "The next time he drives to the city with a load of grain we will get rid of the nest of vipers."

[Pg 273]

So that was what they did. In Melampos' absence they fired the nest of the serpents with a torch and burned it up completely, as they thought. But when Melampos returned that afternoon and sat down under his arbor to rest and eat his supper of bread and grapes, he saw a pair of bright black eyes peering up at him from the grass. Then he spied a round green head raised above a long green body. It was one of the young serpents that had not been hurt when the nest was burned and had come to the master of the place for protection.

Melampos looked cautiously around to see that no one was watching him.

"If any of the servants see me, they will think me out of my senses," he said to himself, "but I am sorry for this little creature and would befriend it." Then, seeing that he was quite unobserved, Melampos broke off a piece of his bread and threw the crumbs to the young serpent. It devoured them to the last one and then glided off so silently that it left no trail except a long line of gently moving grasses.

The next day the serpent came and the next, always hungry and always lifting its little head and[Pg 274] looking at Melampos in its odd, bright way. One day as Melampos broke his bread as usual to share it with the serpent, he heard a voice speaking to him.

"The gods have been watching your kindness, Melampos," it said, "and have rewarded you in the way you will like best. They have given you the power of understanding the tongues of the wild."

Melampos looked all about him, but there was not another mortal within sight. Then his eyes caught those of the serpent and he suddenly realized that it had been its voice which he had heard. That was the beginning of strange experiences for Melampos upon whom the gods had conferred so wonderful a gift.

The serpent never returned after that day, but that very same evening a tree toad spoke to Melampos.

"Water your olive trees well around the roots, Melampos," it said, "for there is a season of drought approaching."

That was an excellent warning, because the farmer had a grove of young trees that needed very[Pg 275] tender care. Melampos sprayed the trees and soaked the roots and felt very thankful to the tree toad for its advice.

After a few days of dry weather Melampos was on his way to the city when a grasshopper spoke to him from the side of the road.

"Turn back, Melampos, and gather your sheaves of wheat into your storehouse," the grasshopper said, "for Jupiter is about to send a thunderbolt down to the earth."

That was exactly what happened. Melampos had just time to reach his grain field and order his men to put the ripe sheaves safely under cover when the sky grew black and the thunder rolled along the mountain tops. A high wind blew and the rain was heavy, but Melampos had saved his harvest.

All outdoors talked to Melampos after that, and it was very pleasant indeed, for he had no boys and girls of his own to keep him company. If he sat down to rest on a bank of moss in the forest, he was at once surrounded by friends. A little wild bee would light on a branch in front of him and tell him where he might find its sweet comb[Pg 276] dripping with honey nearby. A butterfly would poise on his rough, soil stained hand and tell him where he would be able to see a bed of yellow daffodils beside a brook. Or a bird in a nearby bush would sing to him of the gay doings of Pan and the dryads and tell him the road to take to their haunts farther and deeper in the woods.

Melampos had never had such a good time in his life. He was an excellent husbandman and managed to make his farm pay well every year, but he cared very much more for this friendship of outdoors than he did for the hoards of food each harvest gave him. And, more and more, he came to stay in the woods and fields, holding conversation with the insects and the wild animals.

One harvest season Melampos was returning from the market with a large purse of gold pieces that had just been paid him for the sale of his summer wheat. He was taking his way through a deserted path of the forest where he hoped he might hear the echo, at least, of the merry pipes of Pan. He had not a thought or care in the world when, in an instant, he was laid low on the ground from a blow on his head, his gold was snatched[Pg 277] away from him, and he was bound so tightly that he could not move. Melampos had been set upon by a band of robbers who threw him over the back of a horse and made off with him into the recesses of the forest.

It was not that peaceful, sylvan grove of the forest that Pan and his friends inhabited, but a dark, gloomy part where it was so still that even the sound of a twig falling to the ground seemed as loud as the splintering of an arrow, and no one ever passed by. The robbers put Melampos in an underground passage of a prison-like fortress which they had built for themselves. From beam to floor the fortress was built all of oak planks so old and thick and so completely covered with ivy on the outside that it looked like part of the forest itself.

Melampos had only a slit in the wall for a window, and he never saw his captors save when they tossed him some dried crusts once a day. He could hear them, though, counting their stolen coin and rattling it about. Then he heard the sound of clinking armor and the occasional clashing of swords.

[Pg 278]

"They are planning to kill me," he thought.

He looked longingly at the narrow chink in his prison wall, hardly large enough to let a sunbeam through.

"If I could but beckon to a wood pigeon and tell it my plight, I should be able to send a message to my friends by it," he sighed, "or I could ask the woodpecker who can bore through wood to try and widen my window so that I might escape."

Just then Melampos heard a rustling sound in the heavy beam of the ceiling of the room where he was imprisoned and then a small voice spoke to him.

"We could teach you better than any other creatures how to escape," it said. "For years this forest has belonged to us, small as we are, and in a very short time now it will return to the earth from which the trees that built it came."

Melampos was amazed. He looked in all the corners of the room but could see no one. Then the voice went on.

"No wood, or men who live in shelters made of wood are safe from us. We have bored the beams[Pg 279] and timbers of this fortress in a thousand places until they are hollow and ready to fall."

Suddenly Melampos discovered the source of the voice. Through a knothole in a beam above his head a wood worm peered down at him. With its companions it had eaten the planks that made the fortress until it was no safer than a house of paper.

"We are all doomed," Melampos told one of the robbers who brought him his food that night.

"Doomed; what do you mean by that?" the robber asked in terror, for like most of his kind he was nothing but a coward at heart.

Melampos showed him the decayed wood, hollow, and riddled with holes, and the man called his companions to see their danger. They decided that they must flee from the fortress at once, and they decided to give Melampos his freedom. It would not have been safe to stay in the fortress another season, for almost as soon as the winter storms came it crumbled like a house of sand, and the ants and the crickets used it to make themselves winter shelters.

[Pg 280]

Melampos went back to his farm and the pleasant conversation of the insects, the birds, and his four-footed friends. He was the first mortal to have such friends, but there were others who followed him and found happiness, also, through being kind to little wild creatures.

[Pg 281]


Although Juno was the queen of the gods she had a failing that is common to mortals. She was very jealous, and particularly of any maiden of Earth whom she fancied might sometime be given a place by Jupiter among the great family of the gods on Mount Olympus. As soon as Juno saw Callisto, a beautiful huntress of the forests of Arcadia, she disliked her.

Perhaps Juno would have liked to be free to roam through the woods where Pan played his music for dancing and the Dryads sported from one season to another as Callisto did. The goddess may have envied the huntress her happy, free life with no royal duties to interfere with her daily chase of the deer or any heavy crown to keep the breezes from tossing her long dark hair. Callisto reverenced Jupiter and Juno alike, with no thought that she might be arousing the displeasure of the goddess, but one day a strange and fearful thing happened to her.

[Pg 282]

She had just raised her bow to her shoulder ready to shoot an arrow as straight as a dart through the green path of the forest when it suddenly struck her hand and she fell to the moss upon her hands and knees. She tried to reach out her arms in supplication but they had become thick and heavy and were covered with long black hair. Her hands grew rounded, were armed with crooked claws and served her for feet. Her voice, which had been so sweet that it charmed the birds when she called to them, changed to a terrifying growl.

Callisto raised herself as well as she could, lifting up her paws to beg mercy of the gods and uttering frightful roars as she bemoaned her fate. She had always been obliged to defend herself from the lions and wolves that haunted the forest and she felt that she would be at their mercy now. All at once, though, she understood what had happened to her. She, herself, was now no longer a mortal but a wild beast. Juno had persuaded Jupiter to change Callisto to the first bear.

She had never liked to be out in the wood at night, but now she had no shelter and had to roam through the darkness, pursued often by the same[Pg 283] wild beasts whom it had been her custom to hunt before. She fled from her own dogs in terror and was in hourly terror of the same arrows which she had formerly aimed so straight. In the winter Callisto crawled into some hollow log or dug a cave for herself that she might keep alive during the season of the North Wind's reign, and when spring came she crawled out, lean and weak, to search for the wild bee's comb and the first juicy berries of the juniper.

One day a boy saw the bear as he was out hunting. Callisto saw him at the same time and realized that he was her own son, Arcas, now grown to be a tall youth and taking his part in the chase as his mother had so many seasons before. Callisto forgot her changed form in her great joy at seeing her son, and she arose to her hind feet and hastened toward him holding out her paws to embrace him. The boy, alarmed, raised his hunting spear and ran to meet the bear and thrust its point through her heart. Callisto's son would have killed her if Jupiter had not, just then, looked down on the forest from his throne and felt a sudden pity for the tragedy he had brought about.

[Pg 284]

The gods had made a long road in the sky that led to the palace of the Sun. Any one may see this road on a clear night, for it stretches across the face of the sky and is known as the Milky Way. The palaces of the illustrious gods stood on either side of the road and a little farther back were placed the homes of the lesser deities.

At the very moment that Arcas, his spear raised, rushed upon Callisto, two new comers appeared in the sky near the road of the gods. They had the form of a Great Bear and a Little Bear, but their bodies were made of brightly shining stars. The mighty Jupiter had transformed Callisto and her son into these two constellations.

How enraged Juno was when she found it out! She descended to the sea and told her troubles to Oceanus, a giant of the race of Titans who ruled the waters at that time.

"Do you wonder, Oceanus," Juno cried, "why I, the queen of the gods, have left the heavenly plains and seek your depths? It is because my authority has been set aside. I shall be supplanted among my fellow gods, for Callisto, the bear, has been taken up to the skies and given a place among the[Pg 285] stars. Who can deny but that she may not occupy my throne next!"

"What would you have me do about it?" old Oceanus asked, a little puzzled as to why Juno had consulted him.

"I forbade Callisto to keep her human form and my will has been unjustly set aside," Juno replied. "Now that she has an abode on the road to heaven she will be able to take any form she desires and may come to you for help in her attempt to steal my throne. I command you to never allow the stars of her constellation to touch the waters."

Oceanus called a council of the other powers of the waters and they assented to Juno's decree. One after another the stars rose and set, touching the sea in their courses, but the Great Bear and the Little Bear moved ceaselessly round and round in the sky, never sinking to rest as the other stars did beneath the ocean. Juno had thought that this would be a punishment for them but as it turned out it was a kind of reward.

Because the Great Bear and the Little Bear were always to be seen in their changeless, shining course, people who were obliged to travel at night, and[Pg 286] particularly those who were at sea, grew to depend upon them as a means of finding their way in the darkness. The last star in the tail of the Little Bear indicated the north and was known after a while as the Pole Star. The ancients called it also the Star of Arcadia, for it helped so many mariners to find their way home across the perilous waters.

It had happened to Juno, as it often happens to jealous people to-day, that she had not hurt Callisto in the least but had brought her a great deal of honor.

[Pg 287]


Glaucus, the fisherman, rubbed his eyes to find out if he was not dreaming. He had just drawn in his net to land and had emptied it, ready to sort the fish that lay, a large haul, all over the grass. But a strange thing was happening to them. Of a sudden, the fishes began to revive and move their fins exactly as if they were in the water. Then, as Glaucus looked at them in astonishment, the fishes one and all moved off to the water, plunged in, and swam away.

The spot where Glaucus fished was a beautiful island in the river, but a solitary place, for it was inhabited only by him. It was not used to pasture cattle even, or visited by anyone. No one was there to work sorcery with his haul. Glaucus did not know what to make of the happening.

"Can it be that the river-god is working this marvel?" he wondered to himself. Then it occurred to him that there might be some secret power[Pg 288] in the thick green leaves that covered the island among the grasses.

"What may not be the power of this herb?" he asked himself, pulling up a handful of the leaves and tasting one.

Scarcely had the juices of the plant touched Glaucus' tongue than a strange feeling of restlessness filled him, and he was overcome by an unconquerable thirst. He could not keep away from the water but ran to the edge of the river where he had fished for so many years, plunged in and swam away toward the sea.

It was a wonderful, free kind of experience for Glaucus who had never known any life but that of hauling in his nets and then casting them again. As he followed the swiftly flowing currents, the waters of a hundred rivers flowed over him, washing away all that was mortal of the fisherman, and he came at last to the sea. A marvellous sight met him there. The surf that beat against a rocky shore became suddenly smooth, as a chariot drawn by horses shod with brass and having long floating manes of gold rolled toward Glaucus over the surface of the sea. A giant who held a three-pointed[Pg 289] spear for crushing rocks and blew loud trumpet blasts from a great curved shell, drove the chariot toward Glaucus and then stopped, inviting him to ride down to the depths of the ocean.

It was Neptune, the god of the sea, and Glaucus discovered that he felt quite at home in the chariot. He was no longer a dweller of the earth, but had become a citizen of that boundless country that lay beneath the waves. The fisherman was completely changed in form. His hair was sea green and trailed behind him through the water. His shoulders broadened, and his limbs took the shape and use of a fish's tail. He had never known such freedom and joy as now when he spent whole days doing nothing but following the ebb and flow of the tides and learning the use of his newly found fins as a bird tries its wings on first leaving the nest.

But Glaucus still retained powers of thinking and of action which are denied the inhabitants of the sea. One day he saw the beautiful maiden, Scylla, one of the water nymphs, come out from a sheltered nook on the shore and seat herself on a rock, dipping her hands in the water and bringing up sea-shells for twining in the water weeds[Pg 290] to make a necklace. Glaucus had never seen so fair a creature as Scylla and he moved toward her through the waves, rising at last and stopping at the place where she sat as he murmured his affection for her above the singing of the sea.

But Scylla was very much terrified at the sight of this strange personage, half youth and half fish. She turned to run as soon as she saw him and did not stop until she had gained a cliff that overlooked the sea. Here she waited for a moment and turned around to look in wonder as Glaucus raised himself upon a rock and the sun touched his green hair and scaly covering until he shone in its light. He called to Scylla.

"Do not flee from me, maiden! I am no monster or even a sea-animal, but have been transformed from a poor fisherman to a god of the sea." Then Glaucus told Scylla the whole story of his amazing adventures and tried to describe to her the kingdom of Neptune with its playing dolphins, the castles of rose colored and white coral, and the never ending music of the waters.

"Come with me, and descend to Neptune's realm," he begged, but Scylla would not remain[Pg 291] to even listen. She fled and left nothing to console Glaucus but her scattered sea shells lying in bright heaps on the rocks.

Glaucus did not pursue Scylla but he felt that he could not give her up. He remembered the strange charm of the sea that there had been in the herbs on his native island, and he wondered if he might, by chance, find some such power for giving the nymph, Scylla, the desire for the sea that had drawn him to Neptune's kingdom. But Glaucus could not explore his little fishing island, for it was a long way off and he had forgotten its direction even. So he made what proved to be an almost disastrous decision. He set out for the island of Circe, the enchantress, to ask her help in winning Scylla.

Circe was, in the beginning, a daughter of the sun but she had put her light of learning to wicked uses and had made herself into a powerful sorceress. She lived in a palace embowered with trees and those were the only signs of vegetation on her island. But if a shipwrecked crew came up the shores, hoping to find a welcome and timber for building a new bark, they were immediately surrounded by lions, tigers and wolves who had formerly been men[Pg 292] but had been changed by Circe's magic to the form of beasts.

The brave hero of Greece, Ulysses, came in his travels to Circe's isle once, and his crew heard the sounds of lovely music coming from the castle in the trees and the tones of a maiden's sweet singing. They had endured the raging of the sea and all its perils for many days and they hastened to the palace where Circe, who had the appearance of a princess, greeted them and ordered a feast for them. As they ate, she touched them one by one with her wand and the men were all changed to swine. They kept the thoughts of men, but they had the head, body, voice and bristles of these despised creatures, and Circe shut them up in sties and fed them with acorns. Ulysses persuaded the sorceress to release his men, but he, the hero, was not able to resist her charms and remained in her palace a year, his work and country forgotten.

Surely Glaucus was setting out on a mad errand when he decided to go to Circe. But he persisted and landed on her island. He told her how Scylla had looked upon him with terror, and he begged to have a charm by means of which he might make[Pg 293] Scylla love the sea as the herb had made him a subject of Neptune.

"Sooner shall trees grow at the bottom of the ocean and sea weed on the mountain peaks than I will cease to love Scylla and her alone," Glaucus told Circe.

The enchantress looked on Glaucus and she began to admire him as much as Scylla had been frightened by him. He was really quite a distinguished looking personage, for he had the power to take on human form when he wished, and his trailing robes of green seaweed looked almost kingly.

"I will brew a potion as you wish with my own hands and carry it to Scylla," Circe told Glaucus, but she had decided to work harm on the innocent nymph in order to keep Glaucus forever on her island.

Circe's potion was mixed of the most poisonous plants which grew on her island. She blended them with deadly skill and then took her way to the coast of Sicily where Scylla lived. There was a little bay on the coast where Scylla loved to come in the middle of the day when the sun was high[Pg 294] to bathe in the cool waters. Circe poured her poison into the clear blue bay and muttered incantations of mighty power over it. Then she returned to her island.

Scylla came that day as usual when the sun was high and plunged into the waters up to her waist. What was her horror to discover that she was sinking to her shoulders and then to her head. The waters covered her before anyone heard her frightened calls for help and where she had stepped so happily into the waters which she loved, there were only a few ripples on the surface of the bay and soon even they were gone. Circe's charm had taken effect and the lovable Scylla had been carried down to Neptune's kingdom, but not as Glaucus had desired, for she was without motion or sight or speech.

Glaucus, meanwhile, forgot Scylla in the enchantment of Circe's island and remained in the waters near there, taking human form when he wished and enjoying the luxuries of her palace. Perhaps he might never have remembered that he was a subject of Neptune if his attention had not been attracted one day to the wild beasts which prowled[Pg 295] about the island. They were speaking to each other with the voices of men and bewailing the fate by which they had been led there from their ships and brought into Circe's power.

Glaucus, hearing them, understood what might be in store for him. He began to hate the powers of the wicked enchantress and the memory came to him of Scylla as she had appeared to him on the rock, her hands full of bright shells. He plunged into the water and was soon a long distance from the fatal island.

Glaucus began then to search for Scylla through the many leagues of the ocean but he could not find her. That was because Scylla, through the design of Circe, had gone down as mortals do and been drowned. The sea was full of such, and as Glaucus wandered about among the gardens of sea anemones and along the shell strewn roads of Neptune's kingdom, he felt a new desire in his heart. He knew how those mortals felt whose loved ones had been taken away from them by the sea, and he began using his power to restore the drowned to life again. For a thousand years Glaucus went up and down through the sea [Pg 296]restoring mortals who had loved to each other again. And in all his following of the tides he was searching for Scylla.

After a thousand years had passed and it seemed to the gods that Glaucus had expiated the wrong he had done in appealing to Circe, he found Scylla in the green depths. And the nymphs say that the two lived always happily together in a coral palace with a sea garden of anemones and green water plants all about it.

[Pg 297]


Jason was having a boat built in which he planned to set sail on a kind of pirate expedition. He was going as far as the eastern shore of the Black Sea to try and capture and bring home the Golden Fleece.

This golden fleece was a prize indeed, for it was a good deal like the magic carpet in a fairy tale. In very ancient times Mercury, the god with the winged shoes, had given the queen of Thessaly a ram whose fleece was of pure gold. There came a time when the queen found it necessary to send her son away from the kingdom for safety as quickly and secretly as possible. So she sent him on the back of this ram, who leaped into the air, crossed the strait that divides Europe and Asia, and landed the boy without accident in Colchis in the Black Sea.

Ever since then its fleece of gold had hung in a sacred grove of Colchis guarded by a dragon who never slept. It was said that the fleece could[Pg 298] carry one through the air as far as he wished to go, and its gold was the finest and purest in the world. A great many adventurers had equipped expeditions for getting the golden fleece, but so far none of them had been successful. Jason had a different idea about it, however, than any youth of Greece who had set out for the fleece before. He felt that it was his right, in a way, because he was going to be a king if he could bring it home.

Jason's uncle, Pelias, was the king of a part of Thessaly. Because the golden fleece had belonged in Thessaly in the first place, Pelias had an idea that any king in Thessaly who could get it might keep it, and enjoy its magic powers. But Pelias did not want the trouble of going for it. He was willing to give up his throne to the lad, Jason, if he could bring the golden fleece home. And Jason was quite willing to be the head of such a pirate expedition with the promise of this advantage at the end.

Jason did not even build his ship, but paid a vast sum of money to have it done for him. It was a stupendous task in those days to make a boat that would weather a sea voyage. About the only[Pg 299] boats that the Greeks had were small ones shaped like canoes and hollowed out from the trunks of trees. Jason had decided to take fifty of his friends with him, and that meant the building of a larger boat than had ever been launched before from Thessaly. A gigantic tree had to be cut down and gouged and shaped by hand. New looms had to be set working to weave wide enough cloth for the sails. For months the sound of axes and chisels echoed along the beach, until at last this great boat, the Argo, was finished and launched, and Jason brought his friends, whom he called the Argonauts, to board her.

Jason chose his crew well. They were all fine, well born youths of Greece, and everyone of them made a name for himself later on. Hercules was of the Argonauts, and there has never been any such strength as his. There was Theseus, who could move rocks and capture robbers single-handed. There was also Orpheus, the son of Apollo, who could tame, wild beasts with the beautiful music of his lyre. Nestor, who grew up to be a famous warrior of Greece, went with them. They seated themselves with their leader, Jason, in the ship, a[Pg 300] whistling breeze filled her sails, and they shot swiftly before the wind toward Colchis.

It was a long voyage, but they reached this foreign shore with no serious mishap, leaped onto the bank, and went at once to the king of Colchis, demanding from him the golden fleece. The Argonauts thought in the pride of their youth that no one could resist them or refuse them anything, but the king looked serious over the matter.

"You must earn the fleece, Jason," he said. "Nothing so valuable can be had for only the asking. Are you brave enough to yoke my bulls to a plough and plant a field full of dragon's teeth?"

Jason gasped. He knew these bulls of Colchis by reputation, although it had never occurred to him that he might be called upon to harness and drive them. They had brazen teeth and breathed fire from their nostrils that consumed whatever it touched. The sound of their breathing was like the roar of a furnace, and the smoke of their breath was suffocating.

In spite of his fear, though, Jason had another thought. The king had said that the fleece must[Pg 301] be earned, that nothing so golden could be had for the asking. That was really true, Jason thought, and he began to feel a great courage. He was growing into the hero that he always had been at heart, being a youth of Greece.

"Send out your bulls," he said to the king of Colchis.

Something happened then that is very apt to happen when anyone makes up his mind to dare a seemingly impossible deed. Help came to Jason. Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis, gave Jason a charm that protected him from fire. The bulls rushed into the field toward Jason, sending forth their burning breath like dragons, but Jason advanced boldly to meet them. His friends, the Argonauts, watched him in terror, but he went straight up to the bulls and his voice seemed to soothe their rage. He stroked their necks fearlessly, slipped on the yoke and harnessed them to the plough.

Dragons' teeth were a strange kind of seed to plant. As Jason ploughed straight furrows and dropped in the teeth, the people of the kingdom and the Argonauts gathered at the edge of the[Pg 302] field to watch, and it came to his mind that perhaps the king was making a joke of him. There would have been some sense in having that pair of fiery bulls use their great strength to plough in corn and wheat, Jason thought, as he plodded up and down the field. But suddenly a cry from the crowd startled Jason and he looked back. A strange sight met his eyes.

The clods of earth that covered the teeth of the dragon began to stir, and the bright points of spears thrust their way up through to the surface. Helmets with nodding plumes appeared next, and after them came the shoulders and arms and limbs of men. In a moment the field was alive with armed warriors advancing upon Jason.

He was only one hero against all of this foe, but the sight put the same courage that had come to him into the heart of each one of the Argonauts and they rushed to help their leader. Jason led valiantly against the warriors, but there would have been no hope for him and the Greeks if his courage had not been rewarded a second time. Medea sent a charmed sword to the hero. He threw it into the ranks of the warriors and they suddenly[Pg 303] ceased attacking the Greeks, fell to fighting among themselves, and were destroyed.

There was still another danger for Jason to face, the dragon who guarded the fleece with eyes that never closed. His new courage was equal to it. He entered the grove that sheltered the golden fleece, took the glittering blanket from the oak tree where it hung, escaped the dragon and embarked with the Argonauts for the return trip to Greece.

The people proclaimed Jason king when he and the rest of these young heroes of Greece landed in Thessaly. They chose him for his valor, not for his spoils, and it seemed to add to his new glory that he had started out an adventurer and returned a victor in a great fight.

The strangest part of the story is that no one knows what became of the golden fleece after Jason and the Argonauts brought it home with them. No one seems to have ever heard of it again. Perhaps even such a treasure as that was grew dull and lost its value in comparison with the golden prize of courage in achievement that the Argonauts found and kept all the rest of their lives.

[Pg 304]


If a boy of to-day could have lived in the days of the ancient Greeks, learning by means of self restraint and all the arts of soldiery to be a hero in warfare, it is possible that his captain would have told him a strange story as part of his training. The boy would have wondered why he had to hear such a grim tale, and what it all meant, for it was one of the myths which rivalled almost all the rest in its hidden meaning. It was the story of Medea, the dark sorceress, and how she worked her art on Aeson, the father of Jason.

Jason brought Medea home to Thessaly with him at the same time that he brought the fleece of gold whose capture had been his great adventure. She was the princess who had helped him with her sorcery to brave a fire breathing dragon, but she was ill suited to the court of Greece, never having taken any pleasure in the arts that most maidens delighted in, needlework, weaving and the other crafts needful in making a home. Instead[Pg 305] Medea was wont to flee from the feasts and the games of the court and sit by herself on a cliff beside the sea, her long black hair blowing about her pale face and her lips muttering incantations to the wild accompaniment that the waves sang.

She had a fondness for the hero, Jason, though, in her own strange way, and pride in the mighty deeds he had dared. She heard him speak one day of his greatest wish.

"There is only one thing lacking in my triumph and the homage that the nation is paying me," Jason told Medea, "I would that my father were able to take part in the rejoicing but he is growing daily more feeble and helpless. I would willingly give enough years from my life to make him young and strong again."

Medea replied nothing in answer to this wish, but to herself she said,

"My power has been mighty in the aid of this hero and I will try it still farther. If my sorcery avails me anything, the life of Jason's father shall be lengthened without the cost of the sacrifice of any of the youth's own years."

So, when the moon was next in the full, Medea[Pg 306] made her way silently and alone out of the palace when it was the dead of night and all creatures slept. She moved swiftly along the fields and groves murmuring strange words as she went, and addressing an incantation to the moon and to the stars. There was a goddess, named Hecate, who was supposed to represent the darkness and terror of the night as Diana represented its beauties. At dusk she began her wandering over the earth, seen only by dogs who howled at her approach. Medea followed Hecate, imploring her help, and she also called to Tellus, that goddess of the earth by whose power those herbs that could be brewed for enchantment were grown. And Medea invoked the aid also of the gods of the woods and caverns, of valleys and mountains, of rivers and lakes, and of the winds and vapors.

As Medea took her enchanted way through the night, the stars shone with an unusual brilliancy and presently a chariot, drawn by flying serpents descended to meet her through the air. Medea ascended in it and made her way to distant regions where the most powerful plants grew and brought them back before the day's first light for her uses.[Pg 307] Nine nights Medea rode away in the chariot of the flying serpents, and in all that time she did not go within the doors of her palace or shelter herself under any roof, or speak to a human being.

Hebe was the goddess of youth and one of the cup bearers of the gods. When Medea had gathered the herbs which she needed for her potion, she built a fire in front of a nearby temple to Hebe and over the fire she hung a very wide and deep caldron. In this caldron she mixed the herbs with seeds and flowers that gave out a bitter juice, stones from the far distant east, and sands from the encircling shore of the ocean. There were other ingredients, also, in this brew; a screech owl's head and wings, hoar frost gathered by moonlight, fragments of the shells of tortoises who of all creatures are the most long lived, and the head and beak of a crow, the birds that outlives nine generations of men.

Medea boiled all these ingredients together to get them ready for the deed she proposed to do, stirring them with a dried branch from an olive tree. And, strange to say, the branch did not burn, but when the sorceress lifted it out it instantly turned as green as it had been in the spring, and in a short[Pg 308] time it was covered with leaves and a luxuriant growth of olives. The potion in the caldron bubbled and simmered and sometimes rose so high as it boiled that it spilled over the edge and down on the ground. But wherever the drops touched the earth, new green grass shot up and there were flowers as bright and fragrant as the most prized blossoms of the May.

The sorceress wished to further test her brew, though, and she put an old sheep, one of the most ancient of the flock, in the seething potion. Instead of being cooked, the creature was quite unhurt and when Medea removed the cover, a little new lamb, soft and white, jumped out and ran frisking away to the meadow.

So Medea knew that her spell was ready and she commanded that Jason bring his aged father, Aeson, to her.

"I would like to know him," she explained, "and hear from his lips of the deeds you did in your youth."

Then Jason, all unsuspecting, sent for his father and conducted him to the spot near the temple of Hebe where Medea waited. And as soon as she saw Aeson, Medea threw him into a deep sleep by[Pg 309] means of a charm and placed him on a bed of herbs where he lay with no apparent breath or life in him.

"Wicked sorceress, you have killed my father whom I so greatly loved," Jason cried.

Then, even as he spoke, Medea advanced toward the old man and wounded him deeply, so that all his blood poured out. After this she dipped into her caldron and poured the charmed brew into Aeson's mouth and bathed his wound with it.

As soon as he had imbibed it and felt its wonderful power, Aeson's hair and beard lost their whiteness and became as black as they had been in his youth. His paleness and emaciation disappeared, for his veins were full of new blood and his limbs were vigorous and robust. Aeson was amazed at himself as he ran toward Jason, for he was as he remembered himself to have been two score years before. The sorceress Medea had made his years drop away from him.

It would be very pleasant to end this story by saying that Medea always used her art for a good purpose as she did in this case, but that was not what happened. She did all manner of things[Pg 310] that were wrong, such as riding her serpent-drawn chariot in the pursuit of revenge, sending a poisoned dress to a bride, and setting fire to a palace. What a strange, unusual kind of a story is this one of Medea!

What did it mean to the young Greeks who heard it?

It meant for them just what it means for us to-day. Medea and her caldron signified those times of cruel war and change that come to every nation. They may result in evil. But sometimes, when the world has become old and feeble, it may be made young and strong again through bitter pains, as Aeson was made young through Medea's caldron of such bitter brewing.

[Pg 311]


No one, as far as could be found out, had invited Eris to the party. Indeed everyone would have desired to keep her away, for it was a very great wedding feast attended by both the immortals and men, and Eris was the goddess of discontent.

There was a beautiful nymph of the sea named Thetis whom even Jupiter had looked upon with favor, and she was given in marriage to a mortal, Peleus. The gathering was being held on Mount Olympus and just when the merrymaking was at its height and Ganymede, that comely Trojan youth whom Jupiter in the guise of an eagle had borne away to be the cupbearer of the gods, was offering his nectar to all, a golden apple fell in their midst.

It was very large and shone and glittered as if it had been made from skin to core of precious gold. Even the gods scrambled to grasp it, and for a moment they did not see who had thrown it. As Jupiter held the apple, though, and read an [Pg 312]inscription on its cheek, "For the Fairest," the guests had a flying vision of Discord, riding away in her dark chariot from the feast she had chosen to make bitter. For that apple was to be the beginning of a war so long and so terrible that there had never been any other to equal it through all the centuries.

At once the goddesses began to quarrel among themselves as to which was fair enough to merit the gilded fruit. Juno, being the queen of the gods, demanded the golden apple as only her just due, and Minerva wanted it in addition to her treasure of wisdom. They appealed to the mighty Jupiter, but neither he or any of the other gods dared to decide this question and so a judge had to be found among the mortals upon earth.

Paris and the Golden Apple

Paris and the Golden Apple.

Near the city of Troy, on a high mountain named Ida, there lived a young shepherd, Paris. No one but the gods knew the secret of Paris' royal birth. He had been left on Mount Ida when he was only a child because it had been told to his parents in prophecy that he would be the destruction of the kingdom and the ruin of his family. So Paris, all unknowing that he was a prince,[Pg 313] had grown up among his flocks, as good to look upon as a young god and greatly beloved by all the hamadryads and nymphs of the woods and streams. It was at last decided that the shepherd Paris should be the judge as to which of the three goddesses, Juno, Minerva or Venus merited the apple of gold, and they descended in clouds of glory to Mount Ida and stood before him for his judgment.

They seemed to have forgotten their heavenly birth in their jealousy, for each offered the young shepherd a bribe if he would declare her the most fair. Juno offered Paris great wealth and one of the kingdoms of the earth. Minerva said that she would grant Paris as her boon a share of her wisdom and invincible power in war. But Venus, her unmatched beauty dazzling the youth as the bright rays of the noontide sun, and wearing her enchanted girdle, a spell that no one had ever been able to resist, laid her hand that was as light as sea-foam on Paris' fast beating heart.

"I will give you the loveliest woman in the world to be your wife," she said.

At Venus' words, Paris pronounced his judgment, which has never been forgotten through all[Pg 314] the ages, ringing from singer to singer and from nation to nation in the great strife which it started. He put the apple of gold into the outstretched hands of Venus, not noticing that the cloud which carried the angry Juno and Minerva back to the sky was as black as when Jupiter was preparing to throw his thunderbolts.

Paris saw little after that except his own desires and ambitions, and Venus began at once feeding his vanity. She told him of his royal birth. He was the son of King Priam of Troy. So Paris set out for his father's kingdom to find his fortune, and his flocks never saw him again.

Just at that time King Priam declared a contest of wrestling among the princes of his court and those of the neighboring kingdoms. On his way to Troy, Paris heard of this, and he also saw the prize being led toward Troy by one of the king's herdsmen. It was the finest bull to be found on all the grazing plains of Mount Ida, and Paris decided to enter the contest and see if he could not win it for himself. So Paris presented himself to the court at Troy and wrestled in the sight of the king and his brothers and his sister, Cassandra,[Pg 315] who did not know him. And he threw all his opponents, and was proclaimed the victor.

He was greeted with joy, as King Priam recognized him, and was crowned with laurel. Only Cassandra, that sorrowful princess to whom the gods had given the fatal power of seeing coming events, wept as Paris was welcomed at the throne of his father. For Cassandra saw Paris as the destruction of Troy, and her gift of prophecy was her sadness, because she was doomed never to be believed.

Then Venus told Paris to demand a ship of King Priam and set sail for Sparta, in Greece, that her promise to him might be fulfilled. Paris set out, a wondrous appearing youth and a glorious victor, and he was well received by King Menelaus and his fair wife, Helen.

If Venus' beauty cast a spell among the gods, so did the loveliness of Helen blind the eyes of men to everything save her lovely face. There was a story told that Helen was the child of an enchanted swan and that this was the reason for the enchantment which she wrought in the hearts of the heroes. All the great princes of Greece had sued for Helen's[Pg 316] hand, and when she left her home to be the wife of Menelaus, her father made the heroes bind themselves by oath to go to the aid of Menelaus if it should chance that she was ever stolen away from him. Helen's father was fearful for her peace, because of the perilous gift of charm which was hers. In all of Greece, and indeed in the entire world there was nothing so beautiful as Helen's fair face.

For a long time Paris remained at the court of Sparta treated with a courtesy and respect which he did not deserve, because during all that time Venus was enchanting Helen until she was able to think of no one save the comely youth, Paris. After awhile King Menelaus was obliged to take a long journey and in his absence Paris persuaded Helen to forsake Sparta and set sail with him for Troy.

When these two were discovered in their treachery, the heroes were fired with anger and remembered their pledge to go to King Menelaus' aid if any deep wrong was done to him. Their wrath was not so much directed against Helen, whom they believed to be under the dread spell which Venus had cast upon her, as against Paris who[Pg 317] had so violated their hospitality. It was decided that preparations for war must be immediately begun and men were pressed into service everywhere gathering supplies and building ships. Agamemnon, who was a brother of King Menelaus and mighty in battle, was appointed to be the leader of the Greek army, and then began the work of finding the best men to help him in carrying on the great enterprise that was to be directed against Troy.

The heroes were as true and of as high courage then as they are to-day, but the adventure of the war was to be directed against a foreign shore and certain of the Greeks found that it tore their hearts to leave their own country, and in the cause of a wilful youth and a fair woman. One among these was Ulysses, the king of Ithaca.

Ulysses was content and happy in his peaceful kingdom and the love of his industrious queen, Penelope, and his baby son, Telemachus. We must not commit Ulysses to the sin of cowardice because he did not want to enlist for the Trojan war. There have been heroes like him in all time, destined to be the greatest warriors of all, when they [Pg 318]overcame their fears and took swords in their hands in the cause of right. But at first Ulysses pretended that he had lost his reason. He borrowed a plough from a farmer and drove it up and down the seashore, sowing salt in the furrows that he made. Ulysses was pursuing this mad occupation when a messenger of Agamemnon came to demand his services in the army of the Greeks. The messenger could not believe his eyes, and to test Ulysses he grasped the king's little son and laid him on the sand in the direct path of the plough-share. Ulysses dropped the plough handles and lifted the baby Telemachus to his heart, so his game of madness was over. He bade his kingdom and Penelope farewell, and set out to join the heroes. He was to be one of the bravest of them all, and doomed not to see his own land again for twenty years.

There was also a hero, a wonder of strength, who was detained from the war because of the very great love that his mother had for him. This was Achilles, who was destined to be the noblest hero of Greece in the contest with the Trojans. When he was a baby, Achilles' mother had taken him[Pg 319] to the river Styx and, holding him by one little heel, had plunged him in its sacred waters. This made him safe from any harm that might come to him in battle, although she forgot the heel which she had covered with her hand. Then the mother of Achilles sent him to friends in a far kingdom in the dress of a girl and he was brought up there among women so that he could not be called to arms.

At this time, when the Greeks were polishing their shields and fastening on their swords for the advance upon Troy, news of Achilles' cowardly hiding came to Ulysses. He who had overcome his own fear could not bear to have any other hero fall a victim of cowardice. So Ulysses disguised himself as a vendor of fine wares, scents and embroidered silks, carved ivory ornaments and jewels, and he went to the kingdom where Achilles, now a youth, sojourned in the disguise of a maiden. The women of the court seized with the greatest delight the fine fabrics and necklaces from Ulysses' store, but Achilles delved in the packet of goods until his eyes lighted upon some strange and beautifully wrought weapons which Ulysses had brought[Pg 320] also. These alone pleased him. So the destiny of Achilles was disclosed and he put on armor and went with Ulysses to join the army.

In the meantime King Priam had welcomed the erring Paris and Helen, so great was the charm that her fair face wrought everywhere, and had given them the shelter of his court. It was a sore trial to the heroes of Troy that this should have happened, for they were as bold and upright men in their way as the Greeks were, and had not deserved this shame that had come upon them. But they, too, were banded together to protect their king and so they made all the needful preparations to meet the forces of the enemy when the Greeks should cross the sea.

Since this great war had begun in the jealousy of the gods, the gods themselves took part in the struggle. Neptune carried the ships of the Greeks safely over to the plains of Troy where Ulysses accompanied King Menelaus into the city to demand the return of Helen. When King Priam refused, Venus endeavored to keep Helen in her power and she enlisted Mars on the side of the Trojans. Juno favored the Greeks, as did also Minerva,[Pg 321] the goddess of just warfare, and Apollo and Jupiter watched over the fate of those of the heroes whom they loved, no matter on which side they fought.

So the Trojan war began, but how it ended is a story of a strange horse made all of wood.

[Pg 322]


Ten years the siege of Troy lasted, that mighty struggle that had been kindled by the flame of jealousy of gods and men, and ten years the Trojans resisted the Greeks. On both sides the brave fell in battle and the plain outside of the city of Troy became a waste place, full of dread and death.

The hero Achilles, while offering up a sacrifice in the temple of Apollo, was treacherously slain by a poisoned arrow from Paris' bow that pierced his heel. The Greeks made use of the arrows of Hercules in their struggle, but even these proved useless against the strong fortifications of the Trojans. There was a statue of Minerva in the city of Troy called the Palladium. It was said to have fallen from heaven and that as long as it remained in the city Troy could not be taken. So the hero, Ulysses, with a few men, entered Troy in disguise and captured this statute at the risk of their lives, carrying it back to the camp of the Greeks, but Troy still held out and the tenth year[Pg 323] of the war drew near a close full of wretchedness and famine.

It seemed as if the spell of Helen's beauty, as she leaned from one of the towers of King Priam's castle to cheer the Trojans or descended to pass among their ranks, was their safety. No one, looking on her fair face, remembered hardship or felt fear, although the fated Cassandra wept alone, and was deemed mad because she saw, in her prophetic vision, the fall of the strong battlements of Troy.

At last the Greeks despaired of ever subduing Troy by force and they asked Ulysses if any plan occurred to him by which they could subdue the Trojans through strategy. Ulysses unfolded a plan to the generals, and what it was and how it succeeded is one of the strangest stories of all warfare. Acting upon his advice, the Greeks made preparation to abandon the war. Their ships that had waited with folded sails in the harbor, now drew anchor and sailed swiftly away, taking refuge behind a neighboring island. And the Trojans, seeing the encampment before their walls broken for the first time in so many years, and the[Pg 324] plain that the enemy's tents had whitened clear, broke into joy and merrymaking such as they had not known for so long. They forgot caution and opened the gates through which the men and women and children flocked out to the plain to make merry and exult over the defeat of the Greeks.

There they saw an astounding thing. In the centre of the plain stood a great wooden image of a horse, like an idol, more prodigious than any which the Trojans had ever seen. It was so closely fitted and carved from its mammoth hoofs to its head that no one could detect the joining. A hundred men could have ridden the horse with room for more, but they would never have been able to climb up to its back. At first the people of Troy, gathering around the wooden horse, were afraid of it. Then they made up their minds about it.

"This is a trophy of war!" they exclaimed, and they were for moving it into the city to exhibit in the public square as a sign of their victory over the Greeks.

There was among them, though, a man named Laocoon, a priest of Neptune, who objected to this plan.

[Pg 325]

"Beware, men of Troy!" Laocoon warned them. "You have fought for ten years with the Greeks and know that they do not give up a fight as easily as this. How do you know but that this is a piece of trickery on the part of their dauntless leader, Ulysses? I fear the Greeks, even when they bring us gifts."

As Laocoon uttered these prophetic words, he threw his lance at the side of the wooden horse and it rebounded with a hollow sound. At that, perhaps the Trojans might have taken his advice and destroyed the horse there where it stood, but suddenly a man, who appeared to be a prisoner and a Greek, was dragged out from the crowd.

He said that he was a Greek, Sinon by name, who had brought upon himself the malice of Ulysses and so had been left behind by the Greeks. He feigned terror, and the Trojans, falling into the trap, reassured Sinon, the spy, and told him that his life would be spared if he would disclose to the chiefs of Troy the secret of the wooden horse.

"It is an offering to Minerva," Sinon explained. "The Greeks made it so huge in order that you[Pg 326] would never be able to carry it inside the gates of Troy."

Sinon's words turned the tides of the people's feelings. They were just planning how they might best start the work of moving the giant horse when something happened which completely reassured them. Two immense serpents appeared advancing directly toward them over the sea. Side by side they moved toward the shore, their great heads erect, their burning eyes full of blood and fire and licking their hissing mouths with their quivering tongues. And these serpents came directly to the spot where Laocoon stood with his two sons.

They attacked the boys first, winding round their bodies and breathing their poisonous breath into their faces. Laocoon, trying to rescue his sons, was drawn into the serpent's coils and all three were strangled. Then the creatures moved on, threatening to glide into the city of Troy.

"It is an omen of the displeasure of the gods with us for having even doubted the sacred character of the wooden horse," the Trojans said. "Laocoon has been punished for his lack of reverence in despising it."

[Pg 327]

So they gave themselves up again to wild joy and reckless merrymaking. They wreathed the horse with garlands of flowers and dragged it, all lending a hand, across the plain and close to the gates of the city so that they could widen them in the morning and push it through; and they went home with great shouts like those of a victoriously returning army.

That night a door, cunningly set and concealed in the side of the wooden horse, was opened by Sinon, the spy. Out of the door came the hero Ulysses, King Menelaus, and a band of picked Greek generals, for the Greeks had made the wooden horse hollow so that a hundred men might be hidden inside for a long time with their arms and provisions and come to no harm. These men opened the gates of Troy, a city sunk in darkness and sleep, and through the gates went the Grecian army which had returned in the ships and crossed the plain silently in the cover of the night.

So the prophecy of Laocoon and of the sad Cassandra was proved true, for there was not a Trojan on guard. King Priam and his noblest warriors were killed, Cassandra was taken captive, and the[Pg 328] city was set on fire with torches and burned to the ground.

Then the Greeks set sail for their own country which they had not seen for so many years, and they took the beautiful Helen with them, awakened at last from the spell which Venus had cast upon her, and sorrowing for all the suffering she had caused.

But the glory of the old Trojan days was gone forever. Men search to-day the ruins of ancient Troy that lie hidden like bright jewels in the depths of the ancient mountains. There is little left but the memory of the apple of Discord that caused the destruction of the city and the heroes and the citadel of Troy's old power.

[Pg 329]


The hero Ulysses was about to sail home to Greece, after the great city of Troy had been taken, having wandered farthest and suffered most of all in the long Trojan war.

He was well-nigh the last to sail, for he had tarried many days to do homage to Agamemnon, lord of all the Greeks. Twelve ships he had with him, twelve that he had brought to Troy, and in each there were some fifty men, being scarce half of those that had sailed with them in the old days, so many valiant heroes slept the last sleep on the plain and on the seashore, slain in battle or by the shafts of Apollo.

So first Ulysses sailed to the Thracian coast where he and his men filled their ships with foodstuffs and oxen and jars of fragrant juices of the grape. Scarcely had he set out again when the wind began to blow fiercely, and seeing a smooth sandy beach, they drove the ships to shore, dragged[Pg 330] them out of reach of the waves, and waited there until the storm should abate. And the third morning, being fair, they sailed again, and journeyed prosperously. On the tenth day they came to the land where the lotus grows, a wonderful fruit which whoever eats cares not to see country, home, or children again.

Now the Lotus eaters, for so they call the people of the land, were a kindly folk and gave of the fruit to some of the sailors, not meaning any harm, but thinking it to be the best that they had to give. These men, when they had eaten, said that they would not sail any more over the sea. Which when the wise Ulysses heard, he bade their comrades bind them and carry them, sadly complaining, to the ships.

Then, the wind having abated, they took to their oars and rowed for many days until they came to the country where the Cyclops lived. A mile or so from the shore there was an island, very fair and fertile, but no man dwelled there or tilled the soil, and in the island there was a harbor where a ship might be safe from all winds and at the head of the harbor was a stream falling from the rock[Pg 331] with whispering alders all about it. Into this the ships passed safely and were hauled upon the beach and the crews slept by them, waiting for morning.

But in the morning Ulysses, who was always fond of adventure and would know of every land to which he came what manner of men it sheltered, took one of his twelve ships and bade the sailors row to land. There was a great hill sloping to the shore, and there rose up, here and there, a smoke from the caves where the Cyclopes lived apart, holding no converse with men. They were a rude and savage folk, each ruling his own household without taking thought of his neighbor.

Very close to the shore was one of these caves, very huge and deep, with a hedge of laurel hiding the opening and a wall of rough stone shaded by tall oaks and pines. Ulysses selected the twelve bravest men from his crew and bade the rest remain behind to guard the ship while he went to see what manner of dwelling it was and who abode there. He had his sword by his side and on his shoulder a mighty skin of the juice of grapes, sweet smelling and strong, with which he might win the heart of some fierce savage, should he chance to meet such.

[Pg 332]

So they entered the cave, and judged that it was the dwelling of some rich and skilful shepherd, for within there were pens for young sheep and goats, divided according to their age, and there were baskets full of cheeses, and full milk pails ranged along the wall. But the Cyclops, himself, was away in the pastures. Then the companions of Ulysses besought him to depart, but he would not, for he wished to see what manner of host this strange shepherd might be. And truly he saw to his cost!

It was evening when the Cyclops came home, a mighty giant, twenty feet or more tall. He carried a vast bundle of pine logs on his back for his fire, and threw them down outside the cave with a great crash. He drove the flocks inside and closed the entrance with a huge rock which twenty wagons and more could not have borne. Then he milked the ewes and goats, and half of the milk he curdled for cheese and half he set ready for himself when he should be hungry. Last, he kindled a fire with the pine logs and the flame lighted up all the cave, showing him Ulysses and his comrades.

"Who are you?" cried the Cyclops. "Are you traders, or pirates?"

[Pg 333]

"We are no pirates, mighty sir, but Greeks, sailing back from Troy. And we beg hospitality of you in the name of Jupiter who rewards or punishes the host according as he is hospitable or not."

"Then," said the giant, "it is idle to talk to me of Jupiter and the gods. We Cyclops take no account of gods, holding ourselves to be much better and stronger than they." Without more ado, he caught up two of the men, and devoured them with huge draughts of milk between, leaving not even a morsel or one of their bones. And when the giant had ended his meal, he lay down among his sheep and fell asleep.

Ulysses would have liked to slay the Cyclops where he lay, but he remembered that, were he to do this, his comrades would perish miserably. How could he move away the great rock that lay against the door of the cave? So they waited until morning. And the monster rose, seized two more men and devoured them for his meal. Then he went to the pastures, but put a great rock on the mouth of the cave just as a man puts down the lid on his quiver of arrows.

All that day the wise Ulysses was thinking what[Pg 334] he might best do to save himself and his companions, and the end of his thinking was this. There was a mighty pole in the cave, green wood of an olive tree as big as a ship's mast, which the giant proposed to use as a walking staff. Ulysses broke off a fathom's length of this and his companions pointed it and hardened it in the fire. Then they hid it away.

At evening the giant came back, drove his flocks into the cave, fastened the door and made his cruel feast as before. Then Ulysses came forward with the skin of crushed grapes in his hand and said:

"Drink, Cyclops, now that you have feasted. Drink and see what a strange draught we had in our ship."

So the Cyclops drank, and was greatly pleased.

"Give me more," he demanded. "In good truth this is a strange draught. We, too, have vines but they do not yield any juices like this, which indeed must be such as the gods drink."

Then Ulysses gave him the skin again and he drank from it. Three times he gave it to him and three times the giant drank, not knowing how it would work on his brain. At last he fell into a[Pg 335] deep slumber. Ulysses told his men to be of good courage for the time of their deliverance was come.

They thrust the olive stick into the fire until, green as it was, it was ready to burst into flame and they thrust it into the monster's eye, for he had but one eye set in the middle of his great forehead, and made him sightless.

Then the Cyclops leaped up and bore away the stake and cried aloud so that all the Cyclopes who lived on the mountain side heard him and came down, crowding about the entrance to his cave. The Cyclops rolled away the great stone from the door of the cave and came out in the midst of the other giants stretching out his hands to try and gather his sheep together. And Ulysses wondered how he and his men would be able to escape.

At last he lighted on a good device. The Cyclops had driven the rams with the other ship into the cave and they were huge and strong. Ulysses fastened his comrades underneath the rams, tying them with osier twigs of which the giant made his bed. There was one mighty ram, far larger than all the others, and to this Ulysses clung, grasping the fleece tight with both hands. So they waited in[Pg 336] the recesses of the cave for morning. And when the morning came, the rams rushed out to pasture as the giant sat in the door, feeling the back of each as it went by, but never touching the man who was bound underneath each. With them Ulysses escaped.

When they were out of reach of the giant, Ulysses loosed his hold of the rams and then unbound his comrades. They hastened to their ship, climbed in, and smote the sea with their oars, laying to right lustily that they might the sooner escape from this accursed land. But when they had rowed a hundred yards or so, the Cyclops heard them. He broke off the top of a great hill, a mighty rock, and hurled it where he heard the sound of the oars. It fell right in front of the ship's bow and washed the ship back to the shore again. But Ulysses seized a long pole with both hands and pushed the ship from the land and bade his comrades ply their oars softly, nodding with his head, for he was too wise to speak, lest the Cyclops should know where they were. Then they rowed with all their might and main.

They had gone twice as far as before, when Ulysses' pride became so great that he could no longer [Pg 337]contain himself. He stood up in the boat and called out.

"Hear, Cyclops. If any man asks who destroyed your power for evil, say it was the warrior Ulysses, dwelling in Ithaca."

The giant heard and he lifted up his hands and spoke to Neptune, the god of the sea, who was the father of the Cyclopes. "Hear me, Neptune, if I am indeed your son and you are my father. May this Ulysses never reach his home; or, if the Fates have ordered that he shall reach it, may he come alone, with all his comrades lost."

And as the Cyclops ended this wicked prayer, he hurled another mighty rock which almost lighted on the rudder's end, yet missed it as if by a hair's breadth. So Ulysses escaped and all his comrades with him, and they came to the island of the wild goats where they found the rest of their men who had waited long for them in sore fear lest they had perished. And they went home in triumph to Greece.


[3] Copyright Doubleday, Page and Co.

[Pg 339]


Achelous Ach-e-lo'us
Achilles A-chil'les
Acrisius A-cris'i-us
Admetus Ad-me'tus
Aegean Ae-ge'an
Aeneas Ae-ne'as
Aesculapius Aes'cu-la'pi-us
Aetna Aet'na
Agamemnon Aga'mem-non
Alcestis Al-ces'tis
Alpheus Al-phe'us
Andromeda An-drom'e-da
Antaeus An-tae'us
Arachne A-rach'ne
Arcas Ar'cas
Arethusa Ar-e-thu'sa
Argonaut Ar'go-naut
Argos Ar'gos
Ariadne A-ri-ad'ne
Aristaeus Ar-is-tae'us
Atalanta At-a-lan'ta
Attica At'tica
[Pg 340]Argus Ar'gus
Aurora Au-ro'ra
Bacchus Bac'chus
Battus Bat'tus
Baucis Bau'cis
Bellerophon    Bel-ler'o-phon
Belvidere Bel-vi-dere
Boreas Bo're-as
Cadmus Cad'mus
Callisto Cal-lis'to
Cassandra Cas-san'dra
Cassiopeia Cas-si-o-pe'ia
Celeus Ce'le-us
Cerberus Cer'be-rus
Ceres Ce'res
Charon Cha'ron
Chimaera Chi-mae'ra
Circe Cir'ce
Colchis Col'chis
Crete Cre'te
Cyane Cy'a-ne
Cyclopes Cy-clo'pes
Cycnus Cyc'nus
Cyrene Cy-re'ne
Daedalus Daed'a-lus
Danae Dan'a-e
Daphne Daph'ne
[Pg 341]Dejanira Dej'a-ni'ra
Delos De'los
Delphi Del'phi
Diana Di-a'na
Elis E'lis
Elysian E-lys'i-an
Enceladus En-cel'a-dus
Ephialtes Eph'i-al'tes
Epimetheus Ep-i-me'theus
Erisichthon Er-i-sich'thon
Europa Eu-ro'pa
Eurydice Eu-ryd'i-ce
Eurystheus Eu-rys'theus
Galatea Gal-a-te'a
Glaucus Glau'cus
Gordius Gor'di-us
Gorgon Gor'gon
Halcyone Hal-cy'o-ne
Hamadryad Ham-a-dry'ad
Hebe He'be
Hector Hec'tor
Helios He'lios
Hercules Her'cu-les
Hesperides Hes-per'i-des
Hesperus Hes'pe-rus
Hippomenes Hip-pom'e-nes
Hydra Hy'dra
[Pg 342]Icarus I'ca-rus
Iobates I-ob'a-tes
Iris I'ris
Laocoon La-oc'o-on
Latona La-to'na
Lemnos Lem'nos
Lycia Lyc'i-a
Medusa Me-du'sa
Melampos Me-lam'pos
Menelaus Men-e-la'us
Mercury Mer'cu-ry
Merope Mer'o-pe
Midas Mi'das
Minerva Mi-ner'va
Minos Mi'nos
Minotaur Min'o-taur
Mosychlos Mosy'chlos
Nemea Ne'me-a
Nereides Ne-re'i-des
Olympus O-lym'pus
Orion O-ri'on
Orpheus Or'pheus
Ossa Os'sa
Otus O-tus
Ovid Ov'id
Pactolus Pac-to'lus
Pandora Pan-do'ra
[Pg 343]Patroclus Pa-tro'clus
Pegasus Peg'a-sus
Pelias Pe'li-as
Peneus Pe-ne'us
Perseus Per'seus
Phaeton Pha'e-ton
Phineas Phin'e-us
Polydectes Pol-y-dec'tes
Priam Pri'am
Prometheus Pro-me'theus
Proserpine Pro-ser'pine
Philemon Phi-le'mon
Phrygia Phryg'ia
Pomona Po-mo'na
Proteus Pro'teus
Psyche Psy'che
Pygmalion Pyg-ma'lion
Pylos Py-los
Python Py'thon
Samos Sa'mos
Scylla Scyl'la
Seriphus Se-ri'phus
Sinon Si'non
Sirius Sir'i-us
Somnus Som'nus
Terminalia Ter'mi-nal-ia
Theseus The'se-us
[Pg 344]Thessaly Thess'a-ly
Thetis The'tis
Thracian Thra-ci'an
Tityus Tit'yus
Trachine Tra'ch-ine
Tmolus Tmo'lus
Triton Tri'ton
Troegene Troe'gene
Ulysses U-lys'ses
Vertumnus Ver-tum'nus
Vulcan Vul'can