OLD GREEK FOLK STORIES (wiersz klasyka)
Peabody Josephine Preston
OLD GREEK FOLK STORIES TOLD ANEW BY JOSEPHINE PRESTON PEABODY 1897 PUBLISHERS' NOTE. Hawthorne, in his _Wonder-Book_ and _Tanglewood Tales_, has told, in amanner familiar to multitudes of American children and to many more whoonce were children, a dozen of the old Greek folk stories. They haveserved to render the persons and scenes known as no classicaldictionary would make them known. But Hawthorne chose a few out of themany myths which are constantly appealing to the reader not only ofancient but of modern literature. The group contained in the collectionwhich follows will help to fill out the list; it is designed to serveas a complement to the _Wonder-Book_ and _Tanglewood Tales_, so thatthe references to the stories in those collections are brief andallusive only. In order to make the entire series more useful, theindex added to this number of the _Riverside Literature Series_ is madeto include also the stories contained in the other numbers of theseries which contain Hawthorne's two books. Thus the index serves as atolerably full clue to the best-known characters in Greek mythology. _Once upon a time, men made friends with the Earth. They listened toall that woods and waters might say; their eyes were keen to seewonders in silent country places and in the living creatures that hadnot learned to be afraid. To this wise world outside the people tooktheir joy and sorrow; and because they loved the Earth, she answeredthem._ _It was not strange that Pan himself sometimes brought home ashepherd's stray lamb. It was not strange, if one broke the branches ofa tree, that some fair life within wept at the hurt. Even now, theEarth is glad with us in springtime, and we grieve for her when theleaves go. But in the old days there was a closer union, clearer speechbetween men and all other creatures, Earth and the stars about her._ _Out of the life that they lived together, there have come down to usthese wonderful tales; and, whether they be told well or ill, they aretoo good to be forgotten._ CONTENTS. THE WOOD-FOLK THE JUDGMENT OF MIDAS PROMETHEUS THE DELUGE ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE ICARUS AND DAEDALUS PHAETHON NIOBE ADMETUS AND THE SHEPHERD ALCESTIS APOLLO'S SISTER I. DIANA AND ACTAEON II. DIANA AND ENDYMION THE CALYDONIAN HUNT ATALANTA'S RACE ARACHNE PYRAMUS AND THISBE PYGMALION AND GALATEA OEDIPUS CUPID AND PSYCHE THE TRIAL OF PSYCHE STORIES OP THE TROJAN WAR I. THE APPLE OF DISCORD II. THE ROUSING OF THE HEROES III. THE WOODEN HORSE THE HOUSE OF AGAMEMNON THE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS I. THE CURSE OF POLYPHEMUS II. THE WANDERING OF ODYSSEUS III. THE HOME-COMING THE WOOD-FOLK. Pan led a merrier life than all the other gods together. He was belovedalike by shepherds and countrymen, and by the fauns and satyrs, birdsand beasts, of his own kingdom. The care of flocks and herds was his,and for home he had all the world of woods and waters; he was lord ofeverything out-of-doors! Yet he felt the burden of it no more than hefelt the shadow of a leaf when he danced, but spent the days inlaughter and music among his fellows. Like him, the fauns and satyrshad furry, pointed ears, and little horns that sprouted above theirbrows; in fact, they were all enough like wild creatures to seem nostrangers to anything untamed. They slept in the sun, piped in theshade, and lived on wild grapes and the nuts that every squirrel wasready to share with them. The woods were never lonely. A man might wander away into thosesolitudes and think himself friendless; but here and there a riverknew, and a tree could tell, a story of its own. Beautiful creaturesthey were, that for one reason or another had left off human shape.Some had been transformed against their will, that they might do nomore harm to their fellow-men. Some were changed through the pity ofthe gods, that they might share the simple life of Pan, mindless ofmortal cares, glad in rain and sunshine, and always close to the heartof the Earth. There was Dryope, for instance, the lotus-tree. Once a careless, happywoman, walking among the trees with her sister Iole and her own baby,she had broken a lotus that held a live nymph hidden, and blood drippedfrom the wounded plant. Too late, Dryope saw her heedlessness; andthere her steps had taken root, and there she had said good-by to herchild, and prayed Iole to bring him sometimes to play beneath hershadow. Poor mother-tree! Perhaps she took comfort with the birds andgave a kindly shelter to some nest. There, too, was Echo, once a wood-nymph who angered the goddess Junowith her waste of words, and was compelled now to wait till othersspoke, and then to say nothing but their last word, like anymocking-bird. One day she saw and loved the youth Narcissus, who wassearching the woods for his hunting companions. "Come hither!" hecalled, and Echo cried "Hither!" eager to speak at last. "Here amI,--come!" he repeated, looking about for the voice. "I come," saidEcho, and she stood before him. But the youth, angry at such mimicry,only stared at her and hastened away. From that time she faded to avoice, and to this day she lurks hidden and silent till you call. But Narcissus himself was destined to fall in love with a shadow. For,leaning over the edge of a brook one day, he saw his own beautiful facelooking up at him like a water-nymph. He leaned nearer, and the facerose towards him, but when he touched the surface it was gone in ahundred ripples. Day after day he besought the lovely creature to havepity and to speak; but it mocked him with his own tears and smiles, andhe forgot all else, until he changed into a flower that leans over tosee its image in the pool. There, too, was the sunflower Clytie, once a maiden who thought nothingso beautiful as the sun-god Phoebus Apollo. All the day long she usedto look after him as he journeyed across the heavens in his goldenchariot, until she came to be a fair rooted plant that ever turns itshead to watch the sun. Many like were there. Daphne the laurel, Hyacinthus (once a beautifulyouth, slain by mischance), who lives and renews his bloom as aflower,--these and a hundred others. The very weeds were friendly.... But there were wise, immortal voices in certain caves and trees. Mencalled them Oracles; for here the gods spoke in answer to the prayersof folk in sorrow or bewilderment. Sometimes they built a temple aroundsuch a befriending voice, and kings would journey far to hear it speak. As for Pan, only one grief had he, and in the end a glad thing came ofit. One day, when he was loitering in Arcadia, he saw the beautifulwood-nymph Syrinx. She was hastening to join Diana at the chase, andshe herself was as swift and lovely as any bright bird that one longsto capture. So Pan thought, and he hurried after to tell her. ButSyrinx turned, caught one glimpse of the god's shaggy locks and brighteyes, and the two little horns on his head (he was much like a wildthing, at a look), and she sprang away down the path in terror. Begging her to listen, Pan followed; and Syrinx, more and morefrightened by the patter of his hoofs, never heeded him, but went asfast as light till she came to the brink of the river. Only then shepaused, praying her friends, the water-nymphs, for some way of escape.The gentle, bewildered creatures, looking up through the water, couldthink of but one device. Just as the god overtook Syrinx and stretched out his arms to her, shevanished like a mist, and he found himself grasping a cluster of tallreeds. Poor Pan! The breeze that sighed whenever he did--and oftener--shook the reedsand made a sweet little sound,--a sudden music. Pan heard it, halfconsoled. "Is it your voice, Syrinx?" he said. "Shall we sing together?" He bound a number of the reeds side by side; to this day, shepherdsknow how. He blew across the hollow pipes and they made music! THE JUDGMENT OF MIDAS Pan came at length to be such a wonderful piper with his syrinx (for sohe named his flute) that he challenged Apollo to make better music ifhe could. Now the sun-god was also the greatest of divine musicians,and he resolved to punish the vanity of the country-god, and soconsented to the test. For judge they chose the mountain Tmolus, sinceno one is so old and wise as the hills. And, since Tmolus could notleave his home, to him went Pan and Apollo, each with his followers,oreads and dryads, fauns, satyrs, and centaurs. Among the worshippers of Pan was a certain Midas, who had a strangestory. Once a king of great wealth, he had chanced to befriendDionysus, god of the vine; and when he was asked to choose some goodgift in return, he prayed that everything he touched might be turnedinto gold. Dionysus smiled a little when he heard this foolish prayer,but he granted it. Within two days, King Midas learned the secret ofthat smile, and begged the god to take away the gift that was a curse.He had touched everything that belonged to him, and little joy did hehave of his possessions! His palace was as yellow a home as a dandelionto a bee, but not half so sweet. Row upon row of stiff golden treesstood in his garden; they no longer knew a breeze when they heard it.When he sat down to eat, his feast turned to treasure uneatable. Helearned that a king may starve, and he came to see that gold cannotreplace the live, warm gifts of the Earth. Kindly Dionysus took backthe charm, but from that day King Midas so hated gold that he chose tolive far from luxury, among the woods and fields. Even here he was notto go free from misadventure. Tmolus gave the word, and Pan uprose with his syrinx, and blew upon thereeds a melody so wild and yet so coaxing that the squirrels came, asif at a call, and the birds hopped down in rows. The trees swayed witha longing to dance, and the fauns looked at one another and laughed forjoy. To their furry little ears, it was the sweetest music that couldbe. But Tmolus bowed before Apollo, and the sun-god rose with his goldenlyre in his hands. As he moved, light shook out of his radiant hair asraindrops are showered from the leaves. His trailing robes were purple,like the clouds that temper the glory of a sunset, so that one may lookupon it. He touched the strings of his lyre, and all things were silentwith joy. He made music, and the woods dreamed. The fauns and satyrswere quite still; and the wild creatures crouched, blinking, under acharm of light that they could not understand. To hear such a musiccease was like bidding farewell to father and mother. With one accord they fell at the feet of Apollo, and Tmolus proclaimedthe victory his. Only one voice disputed that award. Midas refused to acknowledge Apollo lord of music,--perhaps because thelooks of the god dazzled his eyes unpleasantly, and put him in mind ofhis foolish wish years before. For him there was no music in a goldenlyre! But Apollo would not leave such dull ears unpunished. At a word fromhim they grew long, pointed, furry, and able to turn this way and that(like a poplar leaf),--a plain warning to musicians. Midas had the earsof an ass, for every one to see! For a long time the poor man hid this oddity with such skill that wemight never have heard of it. But one of his servants learned thesecret, and suffered so much from keeping it to himself that he had tounburden his mind at last. Out into the meadows he went, hollowed alittle place in the turf, whispered the strange news into it quitesoftly, and heaped the earth over again. Alas! a bed of reeds sprang upthere before long, and whispered in turn to the grass-blades. Yearafter year they grew again, ever gossipping among themselves; and tothis day, with every wind that sets them nodding together, they murmur,laughing, "_Midas has the ears of an ass: Oh, hush, hush!_" PROMETHEUS. In the early days of the universe, there was a great struggle forempire between Zeus and the Titans. The Titans, giant powers of heavenand earth, were for seizing whatever they wanted, with no more ado thana whirlwind. Prometheus, the wisest of all their race, long tried topersuade them that good counsel would avail more than violence; butthey refused to listen. Then, seeing that such rulers would soon turnheaven and earth into chaos again, Prometheus left them to their owndevices, and went over to Zeus, whom he aided so well that the Titanswere utterly overthrown. Down into Tartarus they went, to live amongthe hidden fires of the earth; and there they spent a long term ofbondage, muttering like storm, and shaking the roots of mountains. Oneof them was Enceladus, who lay bound under Aetna; and one, Atlas, wasmade to stand and bear up the weight of the sky on his giant shoulders. Zeus was left King of gods and men. Like any young ruler, he was eagerto work great changes with his new power. Among other plans, heproposed to destroy the race of men then living, and to replace it withsome new order of creatures. Prometheus alone heard this scheme withindignation. Not only did he plead for the life of man and save it, butever after he spent his giant efforts to civilize the race, and toendow it with a wit near to that of gods. In the Golden Age, men had lived free of care. They took no heed ofdaily wants, since Zeus gave them all things needful, and the earthbrought forth fruitage and harvest without asking the toil ofhusbandmen. If mortals were light of heart, however, their minds wereempty of great enterprise. They did not know how to build or plant orweave; their thoughts never flew far, and they had no wish to cross thesea. But Prometheus loved earthly folk, and thought that they had beenchildren long enough. He was a mighty workman, with the whole world fora workshop; and little by little he taught men knowledge that iswonderful to know, so that they grew out of their childhood, and beganto take thought for themselves. Some people even say that he knew howto make men,--as we make shapes out of clay,--and set their five witsgoing. However that may be, he was certainly a cunning workman. Hetaught men first to build huts out of clay, and to thatch roofs withstraw. He showed them how to make bricks and hew marble. He taught themnumbers and letters, the signs of the seasons, and the coming and goingof the stars. He showed them how to use for their healing the simpleherbs that once had no care save to grow and be fragrant. He taughtthem how to till the fields; how to tame the beasts, and set them alsoto work; how to build ships that ride the water, and to put wings uponthem that they may go faster, like birds. With every new gift, men desired more and more. They set out to seeunknown lands, and their ambitions grew with their knowledge. They werelike a race of poor gods gifted with dreams of great glory and thepower to fashion marvellous things; and, though they had no endlessyouth to spend, the gods were troubled. Last of all, Prometheus went up secretly to heaven after the treasureof the immortals. He lighted a reed at the flame of the sun, andbrought down the holy fire which is dearest to the gods. For with theaid of fire all things are possible, all arts are perfected. This was his greatest gift to man, but it was a theft from the immortalgods, and Zeus would endure no more. He could not take back the secretof fire; but he had Prometheus chained to a lofty crag in the Caucasus,where every day a vulture came to prey upon his body, and at night thewound would heal, so that it was ever to suffer again. It was a bitterpenalty for so noble-hearted a rebel, and as time went by, and Zeusremembered his bygone services, he would have made peace once more. Heonly waited till Prometheus should bow his stubborn spirit, but thisthe son of Titans would not do. Haughty as rock beneath his dailytorment, believing that he suffered for the good of mankind, he enduredfor years. One secret hardened his spirit. He was sure that the empire of Zeusmust fall some day, since he knew of a danger that threatened it. Forthere was a certain beautiful sea-nymph, Thetis, whom Zeus desired forhis wife. (This was before his marriage to Queen Juno.) Prometheusalone knew that Thetis was destined to have a son who should be fargreater than his father. If she married some mortal, then, the prophecywas not so wonderful; but if she were to marry the King of gods andmen, and her son should be greater than he, there could be no safetyfor the kingdom. This knowledge Prometheus kept securely hidden; but heever defied Zeus, and vexed him with dark sayings about a danger thatthreatened his sovereignty. No torment could wring the secret from him.Year after year, lashed by the storms and scorched by the heat of thesun, he hung in chains and the vulture tore his vitals, while the youngOceanides wept at his feet, and men sorrowed over the doom of theirprotector. At last that earlier enmity between the gods and the Titans came to anend. The banished rebels were set free from Tartarus, and theythemselves came and besought their brother, Prometheus, to hear theterms of Zeus. For the King of gods and men had promised to pardon hisenemy, if he would only reveal this one troublous secret. In all heaven and earth there was but one thing that marred the newharmony,--this long struggle between Zeus and Prometheus; and the Titanrelented. He spoke the prophecy, warned Zeus not to marry Thetis, andthe two were reconciled. The hero Heracles (himself an earthly son ofZeus) slew the vulture and set Prometheus free. But it was still needful that a life should be given to expiate thatancient sin,--the theft of fire. It happened that Chiron, noblest ofall the Centaurs (who are half horses and half men), was wandering theworld in agony from a wound that he had received by strange mischance.For, at a certain wedding-feast among the Lapithae of Thessaly, one ofthe turbulent Centaurs had attempted to steal away the bride. A fiercestruggle followed, and in the general confusion, Chiron, blameless ashe was, had been wounded by a poisoned arrow. Ever tormented with thehurt and never to be healed, the immortal Centaur longed for death, andbegged that he might be accepted as an atonement for Prometheus. Thegods heard his prayer and took away his pain and his immortality. Hedied like any wearied man, and Zeus set him as a shining archer amongthe stars. So ended a long feud. From the day of Prometheus, men spent their livesin ceaseless enterprise, forced to take heed for food and raiment,since they knew how, and to ply their tasks of art and handicraft, Theyhad taken unresting toil upon them, but they had a wondrous servant attheir beck and call,--the bright-eyed fire that is the treasure of thegods. THE DELUGE. Even with the gifts of Prometheus, men could not rest content. As yearswent by, they lost all the innocence of the early world; they grew moreand more covetous and evil-hearted. Not satisfied with the fruits ofthe Earth, or with the fair work of their own hands, they delved in theground after gold and jewels; and for the sake of treasure nations madewar upon each other and hate sprang up in households. Murder and theftbroke loose and left nothing sacred. At last Zeus spoke. Calling the gods together, he said: "Ye see whatthe Earth has become through the baseness of men. Once they weredeserving of our protection; now they even neglect to ask it. I willdestroy them with my thunderbolts and make a new race." But the gods withheld him from this impulse. "For," they said, "let notthe Earth, the mother of all, take fire and perish. But seek out somemeans to destroy mankind and leave her unhurt." So Zeus unloosed the waters of the world and there was a great flood. The streams that had been pent in narrow channels, like wild steedsbound to the ploughshare, broke away with exultation; the springspoured down from the mountains, and the air was blind with rain.Valleys and uplands were covered; strange countries were joined in onegreat sea; and where the highest trees had towered, only a littlegreenery pricked through the water, as weeds show in a brook. Men and women perished with the flocks and herds. Wild beasts from theforest floated away on the current with the poor sheep. Birds, lefthomeless, circled and flew far and near seeking some place of rest,and, finding none, they fell from weariness and died with human folk,that had no wings. Then for the first time the sea-creatures--nymphs anddolphins--ventured far from their homes, up, up through the swollenwaters, among places that they had never seen before,--forests whoselike they had not dreamed, towns and deluged farmsteads. They went inand out of drowned palaces, and wondered at the strange ways of men.And in and out the bright fish darted, too, without a fear. Wonderfulman was no more. His hearth was empty; and fire, his servant, was deadon earth. One mountain alone stood high above this ruin. It was Parnassus, sacredto the gods; and here one man and woman had found refuge. Strangelyenough, this husband and wife were of the race of the Titans,--Deucalion,a son of Prometheus, and Pyrrha, a child of Epimetheus, his brother; andthese alone had lived pure and true of heart. Warned by Prometheus of the fate in store for the Earth, they had putoff from their home in a little boat, and had made the crest ofParnassus their safe harbor. The gods looked down on these two lonely creatures, and, beholding alltheir past lives clear and just, suffered them to live on. Zeus badethe rain cease and the floods withdraw. Once more the rivers sought their wonted channels, and the sea-gods andthe nymphs wandered home reluctantly with the sinking seas. The suncame out; and they hastened more eagerly to find cool depths. Little bylittle the forest trees rose from the shallows as if they were growinganew. At last the surface of the world lay clear to see, but sodden anddeserted, the fair fields covered with ooze, the houses rank with moss,the temples cold and lightless. Deucalion and Pyrrha saw the bright waste of water sink and grow dimand the hills emerge, and the earth show green once more. But eventheir thankfulness of heart could not make them merry. "Are we to live on this great earth all alone?" they said. "Ah! if wehad but the wisdom and cunning of our fathers, we might make a new raceof men to bear us company. But now what remains to us? We have onlyeach other for all our kindred." "Take heart, dear wife," said Deucalion at length, "and let us pray tothe gods in yonder temple." They went thither hand in hand. It touched their hearts to see thesacred steps soiled with the water-weeds,--the altar without fire; butthey entered reverently, and besought the Oracle to help them. "Go forth," answered the spirit of the place, "with your faces veiledand your robes ungirt; and cast behind you, as ye go, the bones of yourmother." Deucalion and Pyrrha heard with amazement. The strange word wasterrible to them. "We may never dare do this," whispered Pyrrha. "It would be impious tostrew our mother's bones along the way." In sadness and wonder they went out together and took thought, a littlecomforted by the firmness of the dry earth beneath their feet. SuddenlyDeucalion pointed to the ground. "Behold the Earth, our mother!" said he. "Surely it was this that theOracle meant. And what should her bones be but the rocks that are afoundation for the clay, and the pebbles that strew the path?" Uncertain, but with lighter hearts, they veiled their faces, ungirttheir garments, and, gathering each an armful of the stones, flung thembehind, as the Oracle had bidden. And, as they walked, every stone that Deucalion flung became a man; andevery one that Pyrrha threw sprang up a woman. And the hearts of thesetwo were filled with joy and welcome. Down from the holy mountain they went, all those new creatures, readyto make them homes and to go about human work. For they were strong toendure, fresh and hardy of spirit, as men and women should be who aretrue children of our Mother Earth. ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE. When gods and shepherds piped and the stars sang, that was the day ofmusicians! But the triumph of Phoebus Apollo himself was not sowonderful as the triumph of a mortal man who lived on earth, thoughsome say that he came of divine lineage. This was Orpheus, that best ofharpers, who went with the Grecian heroes of the great ship Argo insearch of the Golden Fleece. After his return from the quest, he won Eurydice for his wife, and theywere as happy as people can be who love each other and every one else.The very wild beasts loved them, and the trees clustered about theirhome as if they were watered with music. But even the gods themselveswere not always free from sorrow, and one day misfortune came upon thatharper Orpheus whom all men loved to honor. Eurydice, his lovely wife, as she was wandering with the nymphs,unwittingly trod upon a serpent in the grass. Surely, if Orpheus hadbeen with her, playing upon his lyre, no creature could have harmedher. But Orpheus came too late. She died of the sting, and was lost tohim in the Underworld. For days he wandered from his home, singing the story of his loss andhis despair to the helpless passers-by. His grief moved the very stonesin the wilderness, and roused a dumb distress in the hearts of savagebeasts. Even the gods on Mount Olympus gave ear, but they held no powerover the darkness of Hades. Wherever Orpheus wandered with his lyre, no one had the will to forbidhim entrance; and at length he found unguarded that very cave thatleads to the Underworld where Pluto rules the spirits of the dead. Hewent down without fear. The fire in his living heart found him a waythrough the gloom of that place. He crossed the Styx, the black riverthat the gods name as their most sacred oath. Charon, the harsh oldferryman who takes the Shades across, forgot to ask of him the cointhat every soul must pay. For Orpheus sang. There in the Underworld thesong of Apollo would not have moved the poor ghosts so much. It wouldhave amazed them, like a star far off that no one understands. But herewas a human singer, and he sang of things that grow in every humanheart, youth and love and death, the sweetness of the Earth, and thebitterness of losing aught that is dear to us. Now the dead, when they go to the Underworld, drink of the pool ofLethe; and forgetfulness of all that has passed comes upon them like asleep, and they lose their longing for the world, they lose theirmemory of pain, and live content with that cool twilight. But not thepool of Lethe itself could withstand the song of Orpheus; and in thehearts of the Shades all the old dreams awoke wondering. Theyremembered once more the life of men on Earth, the glory of the sun andmoon, the sweetness of new grass, the warmth of their homes, all theold joy and grief that they had known. And they wept. Even the Furies were moved to pity. Those, too, who were sufferingpunishment for evil deeds ceased to be tormented for themselves, andgrieved only for the innocent Orpheus who had lost Eurydice. Sisyphus,that fraudulent king (who is doomed to roll a monstrous boulder uphillforever), stopped to listen. The daughters of Danaus left off theirtask of drawing water in a sieve. Tantalus forgot hunger and thirst,though before his eyes hung magical fruits that were wont to vanish outof his grasp, and just beyond reach bubbled the water that was atorment to his ears; he did not hear it while Orpheus sang. So, among a crowd of eager ghosts, Orpheus came, singing with all hisheart, before the king and queen of Hades. And the queen Proserpinawept as she listened and grew homesick, remembering the fields of Ennaand the growing of the wheat, and her own beautiful mother, Demeter.Then Pluto gave way. They called Eurydice and she came, like a young guest unused to thedarkness of the Underworld. She was to return with Orpheus, but on onecondition. If he turned to look at her once before they reached theupper air, he must lose her again and go back to the world alone. Rapt with joy, the happy Orpheus hastened on the way, thinking only ofEurydice, who was following him. Past Lethe, across the Styx they went,he and his lovely wife, still silent as a Shade. But the place was fullof gloom, the silence weighed upon him, he had not seen her for solong; her footsteps made no sound; and he could hardly believe themiracle, for Pluto seldom relents. When the first gleam of upperdaylight broke through the cleft to the dismal world, he forgot all,save that he must know if she still followed. He turned to see herface, and the promise was broken! She smiled at him forgivingly, but it was too late. He stretched outhis arms to take her, but she faded from them, as the bright snow, thatnone may keep, melts in our very hands. A murmur of farewell came tohis ears,--no more. She was gone. He would have followed, but Charon, now on guard, drove him back. Sevendays he lingered there between the worlds of life and death, but afterthe broken promise, Hades would not listen to his song. Back to theEarth he wandered, though it was sweet to him no longer. He died young,singing to the last, and round about the place where his body rested,nightingales nested in the trees. His lyre was set among the stars; andhe himself went down to join Eurydice, unforbidden. Those two had no need of Lethe, for their life on earth had been whollyfair, and now that they are together they no longer own a sorrow. ICARUS AND DAEDALUS. Among all those mortals who grew so wise that they learned the secretsof the gods, none was more cunning than Daedalus. He once built, for King Minos of Crete, a wonderful Labyrinth ofwinding ways so cunningly tangled up and twisted around that, onceinside, you could never find your way out again without a magic clue.But the king's favor veered with the wind, and one day he had hismaster architect imprisoned in a tower. Daedalus managed to escape fromhis cell; but it seemed impossible to leave the island, since everyship that came or went was well guarded by order of the king. At length, watching the sea-gulls in the air,--the only creatures thatwere sure of liberty,--he thought of a plan for himself and his youngson Icarus, who was captive with him. Little by little, he gathered a store of feathers great and small. Hefastened these together with thread, moulded them in with wax, and sofashioned two great wings like those of a bird. When they were done,Daedalus fitted them to his own shoulders, and after one or twoefforts, he found that by waving his arms he could winnow the air andcleave it, as a swimmer does the sea. He held himself aloft, waveredthis way and that with the wind, and at last, like a great fledgling,he learned to fly. Without delay, he fell to work on a pair of wings for the boy Icarus,and taught him carefully how to use them, bidding him beware of rashadventures among the stars. "Remember," said the father, "never to flyvery low or very high, for the fogs about the earth would weigh youdown, but the blaze of the sun will surely melt your feathers apart ifyou go too near." For Icarus, these cautions went in at one ear and out by the other. Whocould remember to be careful when he was to fly for the first time? Arebirds careful? Not they! And not an idea remained in the boy's head butthe one joy of escape. The day came, and the fair wind that was to set them free. The fatherbird put on his wings, and, while the light urged them to be gone, hewaited to see that all was well with Icarus, for the two could not flyhand in hand. Up they rose, the boy after his father. The hatefulground of Crete sank beneath them; and the country folk, who caught aglimpse of them when they were high above the tree-tops, took it for avision of the gods,--Apollo, perhaps, with Cupid after him. At first there was a terror in the joy. The wide vacancy of the airdazed them,--a glance downward made their brains reel. But when a greatwind filled their wings, and Icarus felt himself sustained, like ahalcyon-bird in the hollow of a wave, like a child uplifted by hismother, he forgot everything in the world but joy. He forgot Crete andthe other islands that he had passed over: he saw but vaguely thatwinged thing in the distance before him that was his father Daedalus.He longed for one draught of flight to quench the thirst of hiscaptivity: he stretched out his arms to the sky and made towards thehighest heavens. Alas for him! Warmer and warmer grew the air. Those arms, that hadseemed to uphold him, relaxed. His wings wavered, drooped. He flutteredhis young hands vainly,--he was falling,--and in that terror heremembered. The heat of the sun had melted the wax from his wings; thefeathers were falling, one by one, like snowflakes; and there was noneto help. He fell like a leaf tossed down the wind, down, down, with one cry thatovertook Daedalus far away. When he returned, and sought high and lowfor the poor boy, he saw nothing but the bird-like feathers afloat onthe water, and he knew that Icarus was drowned. The nearest island he named Icaria, in memory of the child; but he, inheavy grief, went to the temple of Apollo in Sicily, and there hung uphis wings as an offering. Never again did he attempt to fly. PHAETHON. Once upon a time, the reckless whim of a lad came near to destroyingthe Earth and robbing the spheres of their wits. There were two playmates, said to be of heavenly parentage. One wasEpaphus, who claimed Zeus as a father; and one was Phaethon, theearthly child of Phoebus Apollo (or Helios, as some name the sun-god).One day they were boasting together, each of his own father, andEpaphus, angry at the other's fine story, dared him to go prove hiskinship with the Sun. Full of rage and humiliation, Phaethon went to his mother, Clymene,where she sat with his young sisters, the Heliades. "It is true, my child," she said, "I swear it in the light of yonderSun. If you have any doubt, go to the land whence he rises at morningand ask of him any gift you will; he is your father, and he cannotrefuse you." As soon as might be, Phaethon set out for the country of sunrise. Hejourneyed by day and by night far into the east, till he came to thepalace of the Sun. It towered high as the clouds, glorious with goldand all manner of gems that looked like frozen fire, if that might be.The mighty walls were wrought with images of earth and sea and sky.Vulcan, the smith of the gods, had made them in his workshop (forMount-Aetna is one of his forges, and he has the central fires of theearth to help him fashion gold and iron, as men do glass). On the doorsblazed the twelve signs of the Zodiac, in silver that shone like snowin the sunlight. Phaethon was dazzled with the sight, but when heentered the palace hall he could hardly bear the radiance. In one glimpse through his half-shut eyes, he beheld a glorious being,none other than Phoebus himself, seated upon a throne. He was clothedin purple raiment, and round his head there shone a blinding light,that enveloped even his courtiers upon the right and upon theleft,--the Seasons with their emblems, Day, Month, Year, and thebeautiful young Hours in a row. In one glance of those all-seeing eyes,the sun-god knew his child; but in order to try him he asked the boyhis errand. "O my father," stammered Phaethon, "if you are my father indeed," andthen he took courage; for the god came down from his throne, put offthe glorious halo that hurt mortal eyes, and embraced him tenderly. "Indeed, thou art my son," said he. "Ask any gift of me and it shall bethine; I call the Styx to witness." "Ah!" cried Phaethon rapturously. "Let me drive thy chariot for oneday!" For an instant the Sun's looks clouded. "Choose again, my child," saidhe. "Thou art only a mortal, and this task is mine alone of all thegods. Not Zeus himself dare drive the chariot of the Sun. The way isfull of terrors, both for the horses and for all the stars along theroadside, and for the Earth, who has all blessings from me. Listen, andchoose again." And therewith he warned Phaethon of all the dangers thatbeset the way,--the great steep that the steeds must climb, the numbingdizziness of the height, the fierce constellations that breathe outfire, and that descent in the west where the Sun seems to go headlong. But these counsels only made the reckless boy more eager to win honorof such a high enterprise. "I will take care; only let me go," he begged. Now Phoebus' had sworn by the black river Styx, an oath that none ofthe gods dare break, and he was forced to keep his promise. Already Aurora, goddess of dawn, had thrown open the gates of the eastand the stars were beginning to wane. The Hours came forth to harnessthe four horses, and Phaethon looked with exultation at the splendidcreatures, whose lord he was for a day. Wild, immortal steeds theywere, fed with ambrosia, untamed as the winds; their very pet namessignified flame, and all that flame can do,--Pyrois, Eoüs, Aethon,Phlegon. As the lad stood by, watching, Phoebus anointed his face with a philterthat should make him strong to endure the terrible heat and light, thenset the halo upon his head, with a last word of counsel. "Follow the road," said he, "and never turn aside. Go not too high ortoo low, for the sake of heavens and earth; else men and gods willsuffer. The Fates alone know whether evil is to come of this. Yet ifyour heart fails you, as I hope, abide here and I will make thejourney, as I am wont to do." But Phaethon held to his choice and bade his father farewell. He tookhis place in the chariot, gathered up the reins, and the horses sprangaway, eager for the road. As they went, they bent their splendid necks to see the meaning of thestrange hand upon the reins,--the slender weight in the chariot. Theyturned their wild eyes upon Phaethon, to his secret foreboding, andneighed one to another. This was no master-charioteer, but a mere lad,a feather riding the wind. It was holiday for the horses of the Sun,and away they went. Grasping the reins that dragged him after, like an enemy, Phaethonlooked down from the fearful ascent and saw the Earth far beneath him,dim and fair. He was blind with dizziness and bewilderment. His holdslackened and the horses redoubled their speed, wild with new liberty.They left the old tracks. Before he knew where he was, they hadstartled the constellations and well-nigh grazed the Serpent, so thatit woke from its torpor and hissed. The steeds took fright. This way and that they went, terrified by themonsters they had never encountered before, shaking out of their silverquiet the cool stars towards the north, then fleeing as far to thesouth among new wonders. The heavens were full of terror. Up, far above the clouds, they went, and down again, towards thedefenceless Earth, that could not flee from the chariot of the Sun.Great rivers hid themselves in the ground, and mountains were consumed.Harvests perished like a moth that is singed in a candle-flame. In vain did Phaethon call to the horses and pull upon the reins. As ina hideous dream, he saw his own Earth, his beautiful home and the homeof all men, his kindred, parched by the fires of this mad chariot, andblackening beneath him. The ground cracked open and the sea shrank.Heedless water-nymphs, who had lingered in the shallows, were leftgasping like bright fishes. The dryads shrank, and tried to coverthemselves from the scorching heat. The poor Earth lifted her witheredface in a last prayer to Zeus to save them if he might. Then Zeus, calling all the gods to witness that there was no othermeans of safety, hurled his thunderbolt; and Phaethon knew no more. His body fell through the heavens, aflame like a shooting-star; and thehorses of the Sun dashed homeward with the empty chariot. Poor Clymene grieved sore over the boy's death; but the young Heliades,daughters of the Sun, refused all comfort. Day and night they wepttogether about their brother's grave by the river, until the gods tookpity and changed them all into poplar-trees. And ever after that theywept sweet tears of amber, clear as sunlight. NIOBE. There are so many tales of the vanity of kings and queens that the halfof them cannot be told. There was Cassiopaeia, queen of Aethiopia, who boasted that her beautyoutshone the beauty of all the sea-nymphs, so that in anger they sent ahorrible sea-serpent to ravage the coast. The king prayed of an Oracleto know how the monster might be appeased, and learned that he mustoffer up his own daughter, Andromeda. The maiden was therefore chainedto a rock by the sea-side, and left to her fate. But who should come torescue her but a certain young hero, Perseus, who was hasteninghomeward after a perilous adventure with the snaky-haired Gorgons.Filled with pity at the story of Andromeda, he waited for the dragon,met and slew him, and set the maiden free. As for the boastful queen,the gods forgave her, and at her death she was set among the stars.That story ended well. But there was once a queen of Thebes, Niobe, fortunate above all women,and yet arrogant in the face of the gods. Very beautiful she was, andnobly born, but above all things she boasted of her children, for shehad seven sons and seven daughters. Now there came the day when the people were wont to celebrate the feastof Latona, mother of Apollo and Diana; and Niobe, as she stood lookingupon the worshippers on their way to the temple, was filled withoverweening pride. "Why do you worship Latona before me?" she cried out. "What does shepossess that I have not in greater abundance? She has but two children,while I have seven sons and as many daughters. Nay, if she robbed meout of envy, I should still be rich. Go back to your houses; you havenot eyes to know the rightful goddess." Such impiety was enough to frighten any one, and her subjects returnedto their daily work, awestruck and silent. But Apollo and Diana were filled with wrath at this insult to theirdivine mother. Not only was she a great goddess and a power in theheavens, but during her life on earth she had suffered many hardshipsfor their sake. The serpent Python had been sent to torment her; and,driven from land to land, under an evil spell, beset with dangers, shehad found no resting-place but the island of Delos, held sacred everafter to her and her children. Once she had even been refused water bysome churlish peasants, who could not believe in a goddess if sheappeared in humble guise and travel-worn. But these men were allchanged into frogs. It needed no word from Latona herself to rouse her children tovengeance. Swift as a thought, the two immortal archers, brother andsister, stood in Thebes, upon the towers of the citadel. Near by, theyouth were pursuing their sports, while the feast of Latona wentneglected. The sons of Queen Niobe were there, and against them Apollobent his golden bow. An arrow crossed the air like a sunbeam, andwithout a word the eldest prince fell from his horse. One by one hisbrothers died by the same hand, so swiftly that they knew not what hadbefallen them, till all the sons of the royal house lay slain. Only thepeople of Thebes, stricken with terror, bore the news to Queen Niobe,where she sat with her seven daughters. She would not believe in such asorrow. "Savage Latona," she cried, lifting her arms against the heavens,"never think that you have conquered. I am still the greater." At that moment one of her daughters sank beside her. Diana had sped anarrow from her bow that is like the crescent moon. Without a cry, nay,even as they murmured words of comfort, the sisters died, one by one.It was all as swift and soundless as snowfall. Only the guilty mother was left, transfixed with grief. Tears flowedfrom her eyes, but she spoke not a word, her heart never softened; andat last she turned to stone, and the tears flowed down her cold faceforever. ADMETUS AND THE SHEPHERD. Apollo did not live always free of care, though he was the mostglorious of the gods. One day, in anger with the Cyclopes who work atthe forges of Vulcan, he sent his arrows after them, to the wrath ofall the gods, but especially of Zeus. (For the Cyclopes always make histhunderbolts, and make them well.) Even the divine archer could not gounpunished, and as a penalty he was sent to serve some mortal for ayear. Some say one year and some say nine, but in those days timepassed quickly; and as for the gods, they took no heed of it. Now there was a certain king in Thessaly, Admetus by name, and therecame to him one day a stranger, who asked leave to serve about thepalace. None knew his name, but he was very comely, and moreover, whenthey questioned him he said that he had come from a position of hightrust. So without further delay they made him chief shepherd of theroyal flocks. Every day thereafter, he drove his sheep to the banks of the riverAmphrysus, and there he sat to watch them browse. The country-folk thatpassed drew near to wonder at him, without daring to ask questions. Heseemed to have a knowledge of leech-craft, and knew how to cure theills of any wayfarer with any weed that grew near by; and he would pipefor hours in the sun. A simple-spoken man he was, yet he seemed to knowmuch more than he would say, and he smiled with a kindly mirth when thepeople wished him sunny weather. Indeed, as days went by, it seemed as if summer had come to stay, and,like the shepherd, found the place friendly. Nowhere else were theflocks so white and fair to see, like clouds loitering along a brightsky; and sometimes, when he chose, their keeper sang to them. Then thegrasshoppers drew near and the swans sailed close to the river banks,and the country-men gathered about to hear wonderful tales of theslaying of the monster Python, and of a king with ass's ears, and of alovely maiden, Daphne, who grew into a laurel-tree. In time the rumorof these things drew the king himself to listen; and Admetus, who hadbeen to see the world in the ship Argo, knew at once that this was noearthly shepherd, but a god. From that day, like a true king, hetreated his guest with reverence and friendliness, asking no questions;and the god was well pleased. Now it came to pass that Admetus fell in love with a beautiful maiden,Alcestis, and, because of the strange condition that her father Peliashad laid upon all suitors, he was heavy-hearted. Only that man whoshould come to woo her in a chariot drawn by a wild boar and a lionmight ever marry Alcestis; and this task was enough to puzzle even aking. As for the shepherd, when he heard of it he rose, one fine morning, andleft the sheep and went his way,--no one knew whither. If the sun hadgone out, the people could not have been more dismayed. The kinghimself went, late in the day, to walk by the river Amphrysus, andwonder if his gracious keeper of the flocks had deserted him in a timeof need. But at that very moment, whom should he see returning from thewoods but the shepherd, glorious as sunset, and leading side by side alion and a boar, as gentle as two sheep! The very next morning, withjoy and gratitude, Admetus set out in his chariot for the kingdom ofPelias, and there he wooed and won Alcestis, the most loving wife thatwas ever heard of. It was well for Admetus that he came home with such a comrade, for theyear was at an end, and he was to lose his shepherd. The strange mancame to take leave of the king and queen whom he had befriended. "Blessed be your flocks, Admetus," he said, smiling. "They shallprosper even though I leave them. And, because you can discern the godsthat come to you in the guise of wayfarers, happiness shall never gofar from your home, but ever return to be your guest. No man may liveon earth forever, but this one gift have I obtained for you. When yourlast hour draws near, if any one shall be willing to meet it in yourstead, he shall die, and you shall live on, more than the mortal lengthof days. Such kings deserve long life." So ended the happy year when Apollo tended sheep. ALCESTIS. For many years the remembrance of Apollo's service kept Thessaly fullof sunlight. Where a god could work, the people took heart to workalso. Flocks and herds throve, travellers were befriended, and men werehappy under the rule of a happy king and queen. But one day Admetus fell ill, and he grew weaker and weaker until helay at death's door. Then, when no remedy was found to help him and thehope of the people was failing, they remembered the promise of theFates to spare the king if some one else would die in his stead. Thisseemed a simple matter for one whose wishes are law, and whose life isneeded by all his fellow-men. But, strange to say, the substitute didnot come forward at once. Among the king's most faithful friends, many were afraid to die. Mensaid that they would gladly give their lives in battle, but that theycould not die in bed at home like helpless old women. The wealthy hadtoo much to live for; and the poor, who possessed nothing but life,could not bear to give up that. Even the aged parents of Admetus shrunkfrom the thought of losing the few years that remained to them, andthought it impious that any one should name such a sacrifice. All this time, the three Fates were waiting to cut the thread of life,and they could not wait longer. Then, seeing that even the old and wretched clung to their gift oflife, who should offer herself but the young and lovely queen,Alcestis? Sorrowful but resolute, she determined to be the victim, andmade ready to die for the sake of her husband. She took leave of her children and commended them to the care ofAdmetus. All his pleading could not change the decree of the Fates.Alcestis prepared for death as for some consecration. She bathed andanointed her body, and, as a mortal illness seized her, she lay down todie, robed in fair raiment, and bade her kindred farewell. Thehousehold was filled with mourning, but it was too late. She wanedbefore the eyes of the king, like daylight that must be gone. At this grievous moment Heracles, mightiest of all men, who wasjourneying on his way to new adventures, begged admittance to thepalace, and inquired the cause of such grief in that hospitable place.He was told of the misfortune that had befallen Admetus, and, struckwith pity, he resolved to try what his strength might do for this manwho had been a friend of gods. Already Death had come out of Hades for Alcestis, and as Heracles stoodat the door of her chamber he saw that awful form leading away thelovely spirit of the queen, for the breath had just departed from herbody. Then the might that he had from his divine father Zeus stood bythe hero. He seized Death in his giant arms and wrestled for victory. Now Death is a visitor that comes and goes. He may not tarry in theupper world; its air is not for him; and at length, feeling his powergive way, he loosed his grasp of the queen, and, weak with thestruggle, made escape to his native darkness of Hades. In the chamber where the royal kindred were weeping, the body ofAlcestis lay, fair to see, and once more the breath stirred in herheart, like a waking bird. Back to its home came her lovely spirit, andfor long years after she lived happily with her husband, King Admetus. APOLLO'S SISTER. I. DIANA AND ACTAEON. Like the Sun-god, whom men dreaded as the divine archer and loved asthe divine singer, Diana, his sister, had two natures, as different asday from night. On earth she delighted in the wild life of the chase, keeping holidayamong the dryads, and hunting with all those nymphs that loved theboyish pastime. She and her maidens shunned the fellowship of men andwould not hear of marriage, for they disdained all household arts; andthere are countless tales of their cruelty to suitors. Syrinx and Atalanta were of their company, and Arethusa, who waschanged into a fountain and ever pursued by Alpheus the river-god, tillat last the two were united. There was Daphne, too, who disdained thelove of Apollo himself, and would never listen to a word of his suit,but fled like Syrinx, and prayed like Syrinx for escape; but Daphne waschanged into a fair laurel-tree, held sacred by Apollo forever after. All these maidens were as untamed and free of heart as the wildcreatures they loved to hunt, and whoever molested them did so at hisperil. None dared trespass in the home of Diana and her nymphs, noteven the riotous fauns and satyrs who were heedless enough to goa-swimming in the river Styx, if they had cared to venture near such adismal place. But the maiden goddess laid a spell upon their unrulywits, even as the moon controls the tides of the sea. Her precinctswere holy. There was one man, however, whose ill-timed curiositybrought heavy punishment upon him. This was Actaeon, a grandson of thegreat king Cadmus. Wearied with hunting, one noon, he left his comrades and idled throughthe forest, perhaps to spy upon those woodland deities of whom he hadheard. Chance brought him to the very grove where Diana and her nymphswere wont to bathe. He followed the bright thread of the brook, neverturning aside, though mortal reverence should have warned him that theplace was for gods. The air was wondrous clear and sweet; a throng offair trees drooped their branches in the way, and from a shelteredgrotto beyond fell a mingled sound of laughter and running waters. ButActaeon would not turn back. Roughly pushing aside the laurel branchesthat hid the entrance of the cave, he looked in, startling Diana andher maidens. In an instant a splash of water shut his eyes, and thegoddess, reading his churlish thought, said: "Go now, if thou wilt, andboast of this intrusion." He turned to go, but a stupid bewilderment had fallen upon him. Helooked back to speak, and could not. He put his hand to his head, andfelt antlers branching above his forehead. Down he fell on hands andfeet; these likewise changed. The poor offender! Crouching by the brookthat he had followed, he looked in, and saw nothing but the image of astag, bending to drink, as only that morning he had seen the creaturethey had come out to kill. With an impulse of terror he fled away,faster than he had ever run before, crashing through bush and bracken,the noise of his own flight ever after him like an enemy. Suddenly he heard the blast of a horn close by, then the baying ofhounds. His comrades, who had rested and were ready for the chase, madeafter him. This time he was their prey. He tried to call and could not.His antlers caught in the branches, his breath came with pain, and thedogs were upon him,--his own dogs! With all the eagerness that he had often praised in them, they fellupon him, knowing not their own master. And so he perished, hunter andhunted. Only the goddess of the chase could have devised so terrible a revenge. II. DIANA AND ENDYMION. But with the daylight, all of Diana's joy in the wild life of the woodsseemed to fade. By night, as goddess of the moon, she watched over thesleep of the earth,--measured the tides of the ocean, and went acrossthe wide path of heaven, slow and fair to see. And although she boreher emblem of the bow, like a silver crescent, she was never terrible,but beneficent and lovely. Indeed, there was once a young shepherd, Endymion, who used to lead hisflocks high up the slopes of Mount Latmos to the purer air; and there,while the sheep browsed, he spent his days and nights dreaming on thesolitary uplands. He was a beautiful youth and very lonely. Lookingdown one night from the heavens near by and as lonely as he, Diana sawhim, and her heart was moved to tenderness for his weariness andsolitude. She cast a spell of sleep upon him, with eternal youth, whiteand untroubled as moonlight. And there, night after night, she watchedhis sheep for him, like any peasant maid who wanders slowly through thepastures after the flocks, spinning white flax from her distaff as shegoes, alone and quite content. Endymion dreamed such beautiful dreams as come only to happy poets.Even when he woke, life held no care for him, but he seemed to walk ina light that was for him alone. And all this time, just as the Sun-godwatched over the sheep of King Admetus, Diana kept the flocks ofEndymion, but it was for love's sake. THE CALYDONIAN HUNT. In that day of the chase, there was one enterprise renowned above allothers,--the great hunt of Calydon. Thither, in search of highadventure, went all the heroes of Greece, just as they joined the questof the Golden Fleece, and, in a later day, went to the rescue of FairHelen in the Trojan War. For Oeneus, king of Calydon, had neglected the temples of Diana, andshe had sent a monstrous boar to lay waste all the fields and farms inthe country. The people had never seen so terrible a beast, and theysoon wished that they had never offended the goddess who keeps thewoods clear of such monsters. No mortal device availed against it, and,after a hundred disasters, Prince Meleager, the son of Oeneus, summonedthe heroes to join him in this perilous hunt. The prince had a strange story. Soon after his birth, Althea, thequeen, had seen in a vision the three Fates spinning the thread of lifeand crooning over their work. For Clotho spins the thread, Lachesisdraws it out, and Atropos waits to cut it off with her glitteringshears. So the queen beheld them, and heard them foretell that her babyshould live no longer than a brand that was then burning on the hearth.Horror inspired the mother. Quick as a thought she seized the brand,put out the flame, and laid it by in some safe and secret place whereno harm could touch it. So the child gathered strength and grew up tomanhood. He was a mighty hunter, and the other heroes came gladly to bear himcompany. Many of the Argonauts were there,--Jason, Theseus, Nestor,even Atalanta, that valorous maiden who had joined the rowers of theArgo, a beloved charge of Diana. Boyish in her boldness for wildsports, she was fleet of foot and very lovely to behold, altogether abride for a princely hunter. So Meleager thought, the moment that hesaw her face. Together they all set out for the lair of the boar, the heroes and themen of Calydon,--Meleager and his two uncles. Phlexippus and Toxeus,brothers of Queen Althea. All was ready. Nets were stretched from tree to tree, and the dogs werelet loose. The heroes lay in wait. Suddenly the monster, startled bythe shouts of the company, rose hideous and unwieldy from hishiding-place and rushed upon them. What were hounds to such as he, ornets spread for a snare? Jason's spear missed and fell. Nestor onlysaved his life by climbing the nearest tree. Several of the heroes weregored by the tusks of the boar before they could make their escape. Inthe midst of this horrible tumult, Atalanta sped an arrow at thecreature and wounded him. Meleager saw it with joy, and called upon theothers to follow. One by one they tried without success, but he, afterone false thrust, drove his spear into the side of the monster and laidhim dead. The heroes crowded to do him honor, but he turned to Atalanta, who hadfirst wounded the boar, and awarded her the shaggy hide that was herfair-won trophy. This was too much for the warriors, who had beenoutdone by a girl. Phlexippus and Toxeus were so enraged that theysnatched the prize from the maiden, churlishly, and denied her victory.Maddened at this, Meleager forgot everything but the insult offered toAtalanta, and he fell upon the two men and stabbed them. Only when theylay dead before him did he remember that they were his own kinsmen. In the mean time news had flown to the city that the pest was slain,and Queen Althea was on her way to the temple to give thanks for theirdeliverance. At the very gates she came upon a multitude of mensurrounding a litter, and drawing near she saw the bodies of her twobrothers. Swift upon this horror came a greater shock,--the name of themurderer, her own son Meleager. All pity left the mother's heart whenshe heard it; she thought only of revenge. In a lightning-flash sheremembered that brand which she had plucked from the fire when her sonwas but a new-born babe,--the brand that was to last with his life. She ordered a pyre to be built and lighted, and straightway she went tothat hiding-place where she had kept the precious thing all these,years, and brought it back and stood before the flames. At the lastmoment her soul was torn between love for her son and grief for hermurdered brothers. She stretched forth the brand, and plucked it againfrom the tongues of fire. She cried out in despair that the honor ofher house should require such an expiation. But, covering her eyes, sheflung the brand into the flames. At the same time, far away with his companions, and unwitting of thesethings, Meleager was struck through with a sudden pang. Wondering andhelpless, the heroes gathered about, to behold him dying of someunknown agony, while he strove to conquer his pain. Even as the brandburned in the fire before the wretched queen, Meleager was consumed bya mysterious death, blessing with his last breath friends and kindred,his dear Atalanta, and the mother who had brought him to this doom,though he knew it not. At last the brand fell into ashes, and in theforest the hero lay dead. The king and queen fell into such grief when all was known, that Dianatook pity upon them and changed them into birds. ATALANTA'S RACE. Even if Prince Meleager had lived, it is doubtful if he could ever havewon Atalanta to be his wife. The maiden was resolved to live unwed, andat last she devised a plan to be rid of all her suitors. She was knownfar and wide as the swiftest runner of her time; and so she said thatshe would only marry that man who could outstrip her in the race, butthat all who dared to try and failed must be put to death. This threat did not dishearten all of the suitors, however, and to hergrief, for she was not cruel, they held her to her promise. On acertain day the few bold men who were to try their fortune made ready,and chose young Hippomenes as judge. He sat watching them before theword was given, and sadly wondered that any brave man should risk hislife merely to win a bride. But when Atalanta stood ready for thecontest, he was amazed by her beauty. She looked like Hebe, goddess ofyoung health, who is a glad serving-maiden to the gods when they sit atfeast. The signal was given, and, as she and the suitors darted away, flightmade her more enchanting than ever. Just as a wind brings sparkles tothe water and laughter to the trees, haste fanned her loveliness to aglow. Alas for the suitors! She ran as if Hermes had lent her his wingedsandals. The young men, skilled as they were, grew heavy with wearinessand despair. For all their efforts, they seemed to lag like ships in acalm, while Atalanta flew before them in some favoring breeze--andreached the goal! To the sorrow of all on-lookers, the suitors were led away; but thejudge himself, Hippomenes, rose and begged leave to try his fortune. AsAtalanta listened, and looked at him, her heart was filled with pity,and she would willingly have let him win the race to save him fromdefeat and death; for he was comely and younger than the others. Buther friends urged her to rest and make ready, and she consented, withan unwilling heart. Meanwhile Hippomenes prayed within himself to Venus: "Goddess of Love,give ear, and send me good speed. Let me be swift to win as I have beenswift to love her." Now Venus, who was not far off,--for she had already moved the heart ofHippomenes to love,--came to his side invisibly, slipped into his handthree wondrous golden apples, and whispered a word of counsel in hisear. The signal was given; youth and maiden started over the course. Theywent so like the wind that they left not a footprint. The peoplecheered on Hippomenes, eager that such valor should win. But the coursewas long, and soon fatigue seemed to clutch at his throat, the lightshook before his eyes, and, even as he pressed on, the maiden passedhim by. At that instant Hippomenes tossed ahead one of the golden apples. Therolling bright thing caught Atalanta's eye, and full of wonder shestooped to pick it up. Hippomenes ran on. As he heard the flutter ofher tunic close behind him, he flung aside another golden apple, andanother moment was lost to the girl. Who could pass by such a marvel?The goal was near and Hippomenes was ahead, but once again Atalantacaught up with him, and they sped side by side like two dragon-flies.For an instant his heart failed him; then, with a last prayer to Venus,he flung down the last apple. The maiden glanced at it, wavered, andwould have left it where it had fallen, had not Venus turned her headfor a second and given her a sudden wish to possess it. Against herwill she turned to pick up the golden apple, and Hippomenes touched thegoal. So he won that perilous maiden; and as for Atalanta, she was glad tomarry such a valorous man. By this time she understood so well what itwas like to be pursued, that she had lost a little of her pleasure inhunting. ARACHNE. Not among mortals alone were there contests of skill, nor yet among thegods, like Pan and Apollo. Many sorrows befell men because they grewarrogant in their own devices and coveted divine honors. There was oncea great hunter, Orion, who outvied the gods themselves, till they tookhim away from his hunting-grounds and set him in the heavens, with hissword and belt, and his hound at his heels. But at length jealousyinvaded even the peaceful arts, and disaster came of spinning! There was a certain maiden of Lydia, Arachne by name, renownedthroughout the country for her skill as a weaver. She was as nimblewith her fingers as Calypso, that nymph who kept Odysseus for sevenyears in her enchanted island. She was as untiring as Penelope, thehero's wife, who wove day after day while she watched for his return.Day in and day out, Arachne wove too. The very nymphs would gatherabout her loom, naiads from the water and dryads from the trees. "Maiden," they would say, shaking the leaves or the foam from theirhair, in wonder, "Pallas Athena must have taught you!" But this did not please Arachne. She would not acknowledge herself adebtor, even to that goddess who protected all household arts, and bywhose grace alone one had any skill in them. "I learned not of Athena," said she, "If she can weave better, let hercome and try." The nymphs shivered at this, and an aged woman, who was looking on,turned to Arachne. "Be more heedful of your words, my daughter," said she. "The goddessmay pardon you if you ask forgiveness, but do not strive for honorswith the immortals." Arachne broke her thread, and the shuttle stopped humming. "Keep your counsel," she said. "I fear not Athena; no, nor any oneelse." As she frowned at the old woman, she was amazed to see her changesuddenly into one tall, majestic, beautiful,--a maiden of gray eyes andgolden hair, crowned with a golden helmet. It was Athena herself. The bystanders shrank in fear and reverence; only Arachne was unawedand held to her foolish boast. In silence the two began to weave, and the nymphs stole nearer, coaxedby the sound of the shuttles, that seemed to be humming with delightover the two webs,--back and forth like bees. They gazed upon the loom where the goddess stood plying her task, andthey saw shapes and images come to bloom out of the wondrous colors, assunset clouds grow to be living creatures when we watch them. And theysaw that the goddess, still merciful, was spinning, as a warning forArachne, the pictures of her own triumph over reckless gods andmortals. In one corner of the web she made a story of her conquest over thesea-god Poseidon. For the first king of Athens had promised to dedicatethe city to that god who should bestow upon it the most useful gift.Poseidon gave the horse. But Athena gave the olive,--means oflivelihood,--symbol of peace and prosperity, and the city was calledafter her name. Again she pictured a vain woman of Troy, who had beenturned into a crane for disputing the palm of beauty with a goddess.Other corners of the web held similar images, and the whole shone likea rainbow. Meanwhile Arachne, whose head was quite turned with vanity, embroideredher web with stories against the gods, making light of Zeus himself andof Apollo, and portraying them as birds and beasts. But she wove withmarvellous skill; the creatures seemed to breathe and speak, yet it wasall as fine as the gossamer that you find on the grass before rain. Athena herself was amazed. Not even her wrath at the girl's insolencecould wholly overcome her wonder. For an instant she stood entranced;then she tore the web across, and three times she touched Arachne'sforehead with her spindle. "Live on, Arachne," she said. "And since it is your glory to weave, youand yours must weave forever." So saying, she sprinkled upon the maidena certain magical potion. Away went Arachne's beauty; then her very human form shrank to that ofa spider, and so remained. As a spider she spent all her days weavingand weaving; and you may see something like her handiwork any day amongthe rafters. PYRAMUS AND THISBE. Venus did not always befriend true lovers, as she had befriendedHippomenes, with her three golden apples. Sometimes, in the enchantedisland of Cyprus, she forgot her worshippers far away, and they calledon her in vain. So it was in the sad story of Hero and Leander, who lived on oppositeborders of the Hellespont. Hero dwelt at Sestos, where she served as apriestess, in the very temple of Venus; and Leander's home was inAbydos, a town on the opposite shore. But every night this lover wouldswim across the water to see Hero, guided by the light which she waswont to set in her tower. Even such loyalty could not conquer fate.There came a great storm, one night, that put out the beacon, andwashed Leander's body up with the waves to Hero, and she sprang intothe water to rejoin him, and so perished. Not wholly unlike this was the fate of Halcyone, a queen of Thessaly,who dreamed that her husband Ceyx had been drowned, and on wakinghastened to the shore to look for him. There she saw her dream cometrue,--his lifeless body floating towards her on the tide; and as sheflung herself after him, mad with grief, the air upheld her and sheseemed to fly. Husband and wife were changed into birds; and there onthe very water, at certain seasons, they build a nest that floatsunhurt,--a portent of calm for many days and safe voyage for the ships.So it is that seamen love these birds and look for halcyon weather. But there once lived in Babylonia two lovers named Pyramus and Thisbe,who were parted by a strange mischance. For they lived in adjoininghouses; and although their parents had forbidden them to marry, thesetwo had found a means of talking together through a crevice in thewall. Here, again and again, Pyramus on his side of the wall and Thisbe onhers, they would meet to tell each other all that had happened duringthe day, and to complain of their cruel parents. At length they decidedthat they would endure it no longer, but that they would leave theirhomes and be married, come what might. They planned to meet, on acertain evening, by a mulberry-tree near the tomb of King Ninus,outside the city gates. Once safely met, they were resolved to bravefortune together. So far all went well. At the appointed time, Thisbe, heavily veiled,managed to escape from home unnoticed, and after a stealthy journeythrough the streets of Babylon, she came to the grove of mulberriesnear the tomb of Ninus. The place was deserted, and once there she putoff the veil from her face to see if Pyramus waited anywhere among theshadows. She heard the sound of a footfall and turned to behold--notPyramus, but a creature unwelcome to any tryst--none other than alioness crouching to drink from the pool hard by. Without a cry, Thisbe fled, dropping her veil as she ran. She found ahiding-place among the rocks at some distance, and there she waited,not knowing what else to do. The lioness, having quenched her thirst (after some ferocious meal),turned from the spring and, coming upon the veil, sniffed at itcuriously, tore and tossed it with her reddened jaws,--as she wouldhave done with Thisbe herself,--then dropped the plaything and creptaway to the forest once more. It was but a little after this that Pyramus came hurrying to themeeting-place, breathless with eagerness to find Thisbe and tell herwhat had delayed him. He found no Thisbe there. For a moment he wasconfounded. Then he looked about for some sign of her, some footprintby the pool. There was the trail of a wild beast in the grass, and nearby a woman's veil, torn and stained with blood; he caught it up andknew it for Thisbe's. So she had come at the appointed hour, true to her word; she had waitedthere for him alone and defenceless, and she had fallen a prey to somebeast from the jungle! As these thoughts rushed upon the young man'smind, he could endure no more. "Was it to meet me, Thisbe, that you came to such a death!" cried he."And I followed all too late. But I will atone. Even now I comelagging, but by no will of mine!" So saying, the poor youth drew his sword and fell upon it, there at thefoot of that mulberry-tree which he had named as the trysting-place,and his life-blood ran about the roots. During these very moments, Thisbe, hearing no sound and a littlereassured, had stolen from her hiding-place and was come to the edge ofthe grove. She saw that the lioness had left the spring, and, eager toshow her lover that she had dared all things to keep faith, she cameslowly, little by little, back to the mulberry-tree. She found Pyramus there, according to his promise. His own sword was inhis heart, the empty scabbard by his side, and in his hand he held herveil still clasped. Thisbe saw these things as in a dream, and suddenlythe truth awoke her. She saw the piteous mischance of all; and when thedying Pyramus opened his eyes and fixed them upon her, her heart broke.With the same sword she stabbed herself, and the lovers died together. There the parents found them, after a weary search, and they wereburied together in the same tomb. But the berries of the mulberry-treeturned red that day, and red they have remained ever since. PYGMALION AND GALATEA. The island of Cyprus was dear to the heart of Venus. There her templeswere kept with honor, and there, some say, she watched with the Lovesand Graces over the long enchanted sleep of Adonis. This youth, ahunter whom she had dearly loved, had died of a wound from the tusk ofa wild boar; but the bitter grief of Venus had won over even the powersof Hades. For six months of every year, Adonis had to live as a Shadein the world of the dead; but for the rest of time he was free tobreathe the upper air. Here in Cyprus the people came to worship him asa god, for the sake of Venus who loved him; and here, if any calledupon her, she was like to listen. Now there once lived in Cyprus a young sculptor, Pygmalion by name, whothought nothing on earth so beautiful as the white marble folk thatlive without faults and never grow old. Indeed, he said that he wouldnever marry a mortal woman, and people began to think that his dailylife among marble creatures was hardening his heart altogether. But it chanced that Pygmalion fell to work upon an ivory statue of amaiden, so lovely that it must have moved to envy every breathingcreature that came to look upon it. With a happy heart the sculptorwrought day by day, giving it all the beauty of his dreams, until, whenthe work was completed, he felt powerless to leave it. He was bound toit by the tie of his highest aspiration, his most perfect ideal, hismost patient work. Day after day the ivory maiden looked down at him silently, and helooked back at her until he felt that he loved her more than anythingelse in the world. He thought of her no longer as a statue, but as thedear companion of his life; and the whim grew upon him like anenchantment. He named her Galatea, and arrayed her like a princess; hehung jewels about her neck, and made all his home beautiful and fit forsuch a presence. Now the festival of Venus was at hand, and Pygmalion, like all wholoved Beauty, joined the worshippers. In the temple victims wereoffered, solemn rites were held, and votaries from many lands came topray the favor of the goddess. At length Pygmalion himself approachedthe altar and made his prayer. "Goddess," he said, "who hast vouchsafed to me this gift of beauty,give me a perfect love, likewise, and let me have for bride, one likemy ivory maiden." And Venus heard. Home to his house of dreams went the sculptor, loath to be parted for aday from his statue, Galatea. There she stood, looking down upon himsilently, and he looked back at her. Surely the sunset had shed a flushof life upon her whiteness. He drew near in wonder and delight, and felt, instead of the chill airthat was wont to wake him out of his spell, a gentle warmth around her,like the breath of a plant. He touched her hand, and it yielded likethe hand of one living! Doubting his senses, yet fearing to reassurehimself, Pygmalion kissed the statue. In an instant the maiden's face bloomed like a waking rose, her hairshone golden as returning sunlight; she lifted her ivory eyelids andsmiled at him. The statue herself had awakened, and she stepped downfrom the pedestal, into the arms of her creator, alive! There was a dream that came true. OEDIPUS. Behind the power of the gods and beyond all the efforts of men, thethree Fates sat at their spinning. No one could tell whence these sisters were, but by some strangenecessity they spun the web of human life and made destinies withoutknowing why. It was not for Clotho to decree whether the thread of alife should be stout or fragile, nor for Lachesis to choose the fashionof the web; and Atropos herself must sometimes have wept to cut a lifeshort with her shears, and let it fall unfinished. But they were likespinners for some Power that said of life, as of a garment, _Thus itmust be_. That Power neither gods nor men could withstand. There was once a king named Laius (a grandson of Cadmus himself), whoruled over Thebes, with Jocasta his wife. To them an Oracle hadforetold that if a son of theirs lived to grow up, he would one daykill his father and marry his own mother. The king and queen resolvedto escape such a doom, even at terrible cost. Accordingly Laius gavehis son, who was only a baby, to a certain herdsman, with instructionsto put him to death. This was not to be. The herdsman carried the child to a lonelymountain-side, but once there, his heart failed him. Hardly daring todisobey the king's command, yet shrinking from murder, he hung thelittle creature by his feet to the branches of a tree, and left himthere to die. But there chanced to come that way with his flocks, a man who servedKing Polybus of Corinth. He found the baby perishing in the tree, and,touched with pity, took him home to his master. The king and queen ofCorinth were childless, and some power moved them to take thismysterious child as a gift. They called him Oedipus (Swollen-Foot)because of the wounds they had found upon him, and, knowing naught ofhis parentage, they reared him as their own son. So the years went by. Now, when Oedipus had come to manhood, he went to consult the Oracle atDelphi, as all great people were wont, to learn what fortune had instore for him. But for him the Oracle had only a sentence of doom.According to the Fates, he would live to kill his own father and wedhis mother. Filled with dismay, and resolved in his turn to conquer fate, Oedipusfled from Corinth; for he had never dreamed that his parents were otherthan Polybus and Merope the queen. Thinking to escape crime, he tookthe road towards Thebes, so hastening into the very arms of his evildestiny. It happened that King Laius, with one attendant, was on his way toDelphi from the city Thebes. In a narrow road he met this strange youngman, also driving in a chariot, and ordered him to quit the way.Oedipus, who had been reared to princely honors, refused to obey; andthe king's charioteer, in great anger, killed one of the young man'shorses. At this insult Oedipus fell upon master and servant; mad withrage, he slew them both, and went on his way, not knowing the half ofwhat he had done. The first saying of the Oracle was fulfilled. But the prince was to have his day of triumph before the doom. Therewas a certain wonderful creature called the Sphinx, which had been aterror to Thebes for many days. In form half woman and half lion, shecrouched always by a precipice near the highway, and put the samemysterious question to every passer-by. None had ever been able toanswer, and none had ever lived to warn men of the riddle; for theSphinx fell upon every one as he failed, and hurled him down the abyss,to be dashed in pieces. This way came Oedipus towards the city Thebes, and the Sphinx crouched,face to face with him, and spoke the riddle that none had been able toguess. "_What animal is that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noonon two, and in the evening upon three?_" Oedipus, hiding his dread of the terrible creature, took thought, andanswered "Man. In childhood he creeps on hands and knees, in manhood hewalks erect, but in old age he has need of a staff." At this reply the Sphinx uttered a cry, sprang headlong from the rockinto the valley below, and perished. Oedipus had guessed the answer.When he came to the city and told the Thebans that their torment wasgone, they hailed him as a deliverer. Not long after, they married himwith great honor to their widowed queen, Jocasta, his own mother. Thedestiny was fulfilled. For years Oedipus lived in peace, unwitting; but at length upon thatunhappy city there fell a great pestilence and famine. In his distressthe king sent to the Oracle at Delphi, to know what he or the Thebanshad done, that they should be so sorely punished. Then for the thirdtime the Oracle spoke his own fateful sentence; and he learned all. Jocasta died, and Oedipus took the doom upon himself, and left Thebes.Blinded by his own hand, he wandered away into the wilderness. Neveragain did he rule over men; and he had one only comrade, his faithfuldaughter Antigone. She was the truest happiness in his life of sorrow,and she never left him till he died. CUPID AND PSYCHE. Once upon a time, through that Destiny that overrules the gods, Lovehimself gave up his immortal heart to a mortal maiden. And thus it cameto pass. There was a certain king who had three beautiful daughters. The twoelder married princes of great renown; but Psyche, the youngest, was soradiantly fair that no suitor seemed worthy of her. People thronged tosee her pass through the city, and sang hymns in her praise, whilestrangers took her for the very goddess of beauty herself. This angered Venus, and she resolved to cast down her earthly rival.One day, therefore, she called hither her son Love (Cupid, some namehim), and bade him sharpen his weapons. He is an archer more to bedreaded than Apollo, for Apollo's arrows take life, but Love's bringjoy or sorrow for a whole life long. "Come, Love," said Venus. "There is a mortal maid who robs me of myhonors in yonder city. Avenge your mother. Wound this precious Psyche,and let her fall in love with some churlish creature mean in the eyesof all men." Cupid made ready his weapons, and flew down to earth invisibly. At thatmoment Psyche was asleep in her chamber; but he touched her heart withhis golden arrow of love, and she opened her eyes so suddenly that hestarted (forgetting that he was invisible), and wounded himself withhis own shaft. Heedless of the hurt, moved only by the loveliness of the maiden, hehastened to pour over her locks the healing joy that he ever kept byhim, undoing all his work. Back to her dream the princess went,unshadowed by any thought of love. But Cupid, not so light of heart,returned to the heavens, saying not a word of what had passed. Venus waited long; then, seeing that Psyche's heart had somehow escapedlove, she sent a spell upon the maiden. From that time, lovely as shewas, not a suitor came to woo; and her parents, who desired to see hera queen at least, made a journey to the Oracle, and asked counsel. Said the voice: "The princess Psyche shall never wed a mortal. Sheshall be given to one who waits for her on yonder mountain; heovercomes gods and men." At this terrible sentence the poor parents were half distraught, andthe people gave themselves up to grief at the fate in store for theirbeloved princess. Psyche alone bowed to her destiny. "We have angeredVenus unwittingly," she said, "and all for sake of me, heedless maidenthat I am! Give me up, therefore, dear father and mother. If I atone,it may be that the city will prosper once more." So she besought them, until, after many unavailing denials, the parentsconsented; and with a great company of people they led Psyche up themountain,--as an offering to the monster of whom the Oracle hadspoken,--and left her there alone. Full of courage, yet in a secret agony of grief, she watched herkindred and her people wind down the mountain-path, too sad to lookback, until they were lost to sight. Then, indeed, she wept, but asudden breeze drew near, dried her tears, and caressed her hair,seeming to murmur comfort. In truth, it was Zephyr, the kindly WestWind, come to befriend her; and as she took heart, feeling somebenignant presence, he lifted her in his arms, and carried her on wingsas even as a sea-gull's, over the crest of the fateful mountain andinto a valley below. There he left her, resting on a bank of hospitablegrass, and there the princess fell asleep. When she awoke, it was near sunset. She looked about her for some signof the monster's approach; she wondered, then, if her grievous trialhad been but a dream. Near by she saw a sheltering forest, whose youngtrees seemed to beckon as one maid beckons to another; and eager forthe protection of the dryads, she went thither. The call of running waters drew her farther and farther, till she cameout upon an open place, where there was a wide pool. A fountainfluttered gladly in the midst of it, and beyond there stretched a whitepalace wonderful to see. Coaxed by the bright promise of the place, shedrew near, and, seeing no one, entered softly. It was all kinglier thanher father's home, and as she stood in wonder and awe, soft airsstirred about her. Little by little the silence grew murmurous like thewoods, and one voice, sweeter than the rest, took words. "All that yousee is yours, gentle high princess," it said. "Fear nothing; onlycommand us, for we are here to serve you." Full of amazement and delight, Psyche followed the voice from hall tohall, and through the lordly rooms, beautiful with everything thatcould delight a young princess. No pleasant thing was lacking. Therewas even a pool, brightly tiled and fed with running waters, where shebathed her weary limbs; and after she had put on the new and beautifulraiment that lay ready for her, she sat down to break her fast, waitedupon and sung to by the unseen spirits. Surely he whom the Oracle had called her husband was no monster, butsome beneficent power, invisible like all the rest. When daylight wanedhe came, and his voice, the beautiful voice of a god, inspired her totrust her strange destiny and to look and long for his return. Oftenshe begged him to stay with her through the day, that she might see hisface; but this he would not grant. "Never doubt me, dearest Psyche," said he. "Perhaps you would fear ifyou saw me, and love is all I ask. There is a necessity that keeps mehidden now. Only believe." So for many days Psyche was content; but when she grew used tohappiness, she thought once more of her parents mourning her as lost,and of her sisters who shared the lot of mortals while she lived as agoddess. One night she told her husband of these regrets, and beggedthat her sisters at least might come to see her. He sighed, but did notrefuse. "Zephyr shall bring them hither," said he. And on the followingmorning, swift as a bird, the West Wind came over the crest of the highmountain and down into the enchanted valley, bearing her two sisters. They greeted Psyche with joy and amazement, hardly knowing how they hadcome hither. But when this fairest of the sisters led them through herpalace and showed them all the treasures that were hers, envy grew intheir hearts and choked their old love. Even while they sat at feastwith her, they grew more and more bitter; and hoping to find somelittle flaw in her good fortune, they asked a thousand questions. "Where is your husband?" said they. "And why is he not here with you?" "Ah," stammered Psyche. "All the day long--he is gone, hunting uponthe mountains." "But what does he look like?" they asked; and Psyche could find noanswer. When they learned that she had never seen him, they laughed her faithto scorn. "Poor Psyche," they said. "You are walking in a dream. Wake, before itis too late. Have you forgotten what the Oracle decreed,--that you weredestined for a dreadful creature, the fear of gods and men? And are youdeceived by this show of kindliness? We have come to warn you. Thepeople told us, as we came over the mountain, that your husband is adragon, who feeds you well for the present, that he may feast thebetter, some day soon. What is it that you trust? Good words! But onlytake a dagger some night, and when the monster is asleep go, light alamp, and look at him. You can put him to death easily, and all hisriches will be yours--and ours." Psyche heard this wicked plan with horror. Nevertheless, after hersisters were gone, she brooded over what they had said, not seeingtheir evil intent; and she came to find some wisdom in their words.Little by little, suspicion ate, like a moth, into her lovely mind; andat nightfall, in shame and fear, she hid a lamp and a dagger in herchamber. Towards midnight, when her husband was fast asleep, up sherose, hardly daring to breathe; and coming softly to his side, sheuncovered the lamp to see some horror. But there the youngest of the gods lay sleeping,--most beautiful, mostirresistible of all immortals. His hair shone golden as the sun, hisface was radiant as dear Springtime, and from his shoulders sprang tworainbow wings. Poor Psyche was overcome with self-reproach. As she leaned towards him,filled with worship, her trembling hands held the lamp ill, and someburning oil fell upon Love's shoulder and awakened him. He opened his eyes, to see at once his bride and the dark suspicion inher heart. "O doubting Psyche!" he exclaimed with sudden grief,--and then he flewaway, out of the window. Wild with sorrow, Psyche tried to follow, but she fell to the groundinstead. When she recovered her senses, she stared about her. She wasalone, and the place was beautiful no longer. Garden and palace hadvanished with Love. THE TRIAL OF PSYCHE. Over mountains and valleys Psyche journeyed alone until she came to thecity where her two envious sisters lived with the princes whom they hadmarried. She stayed with them only long enough to tell the story of herunbelief and its penalty. Then she set out again to search for Love. As she wandered one day, travel-worn but not hopeless, she saw a loftypalace on a hill near by, and she turned her steps thither. The placeseemed deserted. Within the hall she saw no human being,--only heaps ofgrain, loose ears of corn half torn from the husk, wheat and barley,alike scattered in confusion on the floor. Without delay, she set towork binding the sheaves together and gathering the scattered ears ofcorn in seemly wise, as a princess would wish to see them. While shewas in the midst of her task, a voice startled her, and she looked upto behold Demeter herself, the goddess of the harvest, smiling upon herwith good will. "Dear Psyche," said Demeter, "you are worthy of happiness, and you mayfind it yet. But since you have displeased Venus, go to her and ask herfavor. Perhaps your patience will win her pardon." These motherly words gave Psyche heart, and she reverently took leaveof the goddess and set out for the temple of Venus. Most humbly sheoffered up her prayer, but Venus could not look at her earthly beautywithout anger. "Vain girl," said she, "perhaps you have come to make amends for thewound you dealt your husband; you shall do so. Such clever people canalways find work!" Then she led Psyche into a great chamber heaped high with mingledgrain, beans, and lintels (the food of her doves), and bade herseparate them all and have them ready in seemly fashion by night.Heracles would have been helpless before such a vexatious task; andpoor Psyche, left alone in this desert of grain, had not courage tobegin. But even as she sat there, a moving thread of black crawledacross the floor from a crevice in the wall; and bending nearer, shesaw that a great army of ants in columns had come to her aid. Thezealous little creatures worked in swarms, with such industry over thework they like best, that, when Venus came at night, she found the taskcompleted. "Deceitful girl," she cried, shaking the roses out of her hair withimpatience, "this is my son's work, not yours. But he will soon forgetyou. Eat this black bread if you are hungry, and refresh your dull mindwith sleep. To-morrow you will need more wit." Psyche wondered what new misfortune could be in store for her. But whenmorning came, Venus led her to the brink of a river, and, pointing tothe wood across the water, said, "Go now to yonder grove where thesheep with the golden fleece are wont to browse. Bring me a golden lockfrom every one of them, or you must go your ways and never come backagain." This seemed not difficult, and Psyche obediently bade the goddessfarewell, and stepped into the water, ready to wade across. But asVenus disappeared, the reeds sang louder and the nymphs of the river,looking up sweetly, blew bubbles to the surface and murmured: "Nay,nay, have a care, Psyche. This flock has not the gentle ways of sheep.While the sun burns aloft, they are themselves as fierce as flame; butwhen the shadows are long, they go to rest and sleep, under the trees;and you may cross the river without fear and pick the golden fleece offthe briers in the pasture." Thanking the water-creatures, Psyche sat down to rest near them, andwhen the time came, she crossed in safety and followed their counsel.By twilight she returned to Venus with her arms full of shining fleece. "No mortal wit did this," said Venus angrily. "But if you care to proveyour readiness, go now, with this little box, down to Proserpina andask her to enclose in it some of her beauty, for I have grown pale incaring for my wounded son." It needed not the last taunt to sadden Psyche. She knew that it was notfor mortals to go into Hades and return alive; and feeling that Lovehad forsaken her, she was minded to accept her doom as soon as mightbe. But even as she hastened towards the descent, another friendly voicedetained her. "Stay, Psyche, I know your grief. Only give ear and youshall learn a safe way through all these trials." And the voice went onto tell her how one might avoid all the dangers of Hades and come outunscathed. (But such a secret could not pass from mouth to mouth, withthe rest of the story.) "And be sure," added the voice, "when Proserpina has returned the box,not to open it, however much you may long to do so." Psyche gave heed, and by this device, whatever it was, she found herway into Hades safely, and made her errand known to Proserpina, and wassoon in the upper world again, wearied but hopeful. "Surely Love has not forgotten me," she said. "But humbled as I am andworn with toil, how shall I ever please him? Venus can never need allthe beauty in this casket; and since I use it for Love's sake, it mustbe right to take some." So saying, she opened the box, heedless asPandora! The spells and potions of Hades are not for mortal maids, andno sooner had she inhaled the strange aroma than she fell down like onedead, quite overcome. But it happened that Love himself was recovered from his wound, and hehad secretly fled from his chamber to seek out and rescue Psyche. Hefound her lying by the wayside; he gathered into the casket whatremained of the philter, and awoke his beloved. "Take comfort," he said, smiling. "Return to our mother and do herbidding till I come again." Away he flew; and while Psyche went cheerily homeward, he hastened upto Olympus, where all the gods sat feasting, and begged them tointercede for him with his angry mother. They heard his story and their hearts were touched. Zeus himself coaxedVenus with kind words till at last she relented, and remembered thatanger hurt her beauty, and smiled once more. All the younger gods werefor welcoming Psyche at once, and Hermes was sent to bring her hither.The maiden came, a shy newcomer among those bright creatures. She tookthe cup that Hebe held out to her, drank the divine ambrosia, andbecame immortal. Light came to her face like moonrise, two radiant wings sprang from hershoulders; and even as a butterfly bursts from its dull cocoon, so thehuman Psyche blossomed into immortality. Love took her by the hand, and they were never parted any more. STORIES OF THE TROJAN WAR. I. THE APPLE OF DISCORD. There was once a war so great that the sound of it has come ringingdown the centuries from singer to singer, and will never die. The rivalries of men and gods brought about many calamities, but noneso heavy as this; and it would never have come to pass, they say, if ithad not been for jealousy among the immortals,--all because of a goldenapple! But Destiny has nurtured ominous plants from little seeds; andthis is how one evil grew great enough to overshadow heaven and earth. The sea-nymph Thetis (whom Zeus himself had once desired for his wife)was given in marriage to a mortal, Peleus, and there was a greatwedding-feast in heaven. Thither all the immortals were bidden, saveone, Eris, the goddess of Discord, ever an unwelcome guest. But shecame unbidden. While the wedding-guests sat at feast, she broke in upontheir mirth, flung among them a golden apple, and departed with looksthat boded ill. Some one picked up the strange missile and read itsinscription: _For the Fairest_; and at once discussion arose among thegoddesses. They were all eager to claim the prize, but only threepersisted. Venus, the very goddess of beauty, said that it was hers by right; butJuno could not endure to own herself less fair than another, and evenAthena coveted the palm of beauty as well as of wisdom, and would notgive it up! Discord had indeed come to the wedding-feast. Not one ofthe gods dared to decide so dangerous a question,--not Zeus himself,--and the three rivals were forced to choose a judge among mortals. Now there lived on Mount Ida, near the city of Troy, a certain youngshepherd by the name of Paris. He was as comely as Ganymedehimself,--that Trojan youth whom Zeus, in the shape of an eagle, seizedand bore away to Olympus, to be a cup-bearer to the gods. Paris, too,was a Trojan of royal birth, but like Oedipus he had been left on themountain in his infancy, because the Oracle had foretold that he wouldbe the death of his kindred and the ruin of his country. Destiny savedand nurtured him to fulfil that prophecy. He grew up as a shepherd andtended his flocks on the mountain, but his beauty held the favor of allthe wood-folk there and won the heart of the nymph Oenone. To him, at last, the three goddesses entrusted the judgment and thegolden apple. Juno first stood before him in all her glory as Queen ofgods and men, and attended by her favorite peacocks as gorgeous to seeas royal fan-bearers. "Use but the judgment of a prince, Paris," she said, "and I will givethee wealth and kingly power." Such majesty and such promises would have moved the heart of any man;but the eager Paris had at least to hear the claims of the otherrivals. Athena rose before him, a vision welcome as daylight, with hersea-gray eyes and golden hair beneath a golden helmet. "Be wise in honoring me, Paris," she said, "and I will give thee wisdomthat shall last forever, great glory among men, and renown in war." Last of all, Venus shone upon him, beautiful as none can ever hope tobe. If she had come, unnamed, as any country maid, her loveliness wouldhave dazzled him like sea-foam in the sun; but she was girt with hermagical Cestus, a spell of beauty that no one can resist. Without a bribe she might have conquered, and she smiled upon his dumbamazement, saying, "Paris, thou shalt yet have for wife the fairestwoman in the world." At these words, the happy shepherd fell on his knees and offered herthe golden apple. He took no heed of the slighted goddesses, whovanished in a cloud that boded storm. From that hour he sought only the counsel of Venus, and only cared tofind the highway to his new fortunes. From her he learned that he wasthe son of King Priam of Troy, and with her assistance he deserted thenymph Oenone, whom he had married, and went in search of his royalkindred. For it chanced at that time that Priam proclaimed a contest of strengthbetween his sons and certain other princes, and promised as prize themost splendid bull that could be found among the herds of Mount Ida.Thither came the herdsmen to choose, and when they led away the prideof Paris's heart, he followed to Troy, thinking that he would try hisfortune and perhaps win back his own. The games took place before Priam and Hecuba and all their children,including those noble princes Hector and Helenus, and the youngCassandra, their sister. This poor maiden had a sad story, in spite ofher royalty; for, because she had once disdained Apollo, she was fatedto foresee all things, and ever to have her prophecies disbelieved. Onthis fateful day, she alone was oppressed with strange forebodings. But if he who was to be the ruin of his country had returned, he hadcome victoriously. Paris won the contest. At the very moment of hishonor, poor Cassandra saw him with her prophetic eyes; and seeing aswell all the guilt and misery that he was to bring upon them, she brokeinto bitter lamentations, and would have warned her kindred against theevil to come. But the Trojans gave little heed; they were wont to lookupon her visions as spells of madness. Paris had come back to them aglorious youth and a victor; and when he made known the secret of hisbirth, they cast the words of the Oracle to the winds, and received theshepherd as a long-lost prince. Thus far all went happily. But Venus, whose promise had not yet beenfulfilled, bade Paris procure a ship and go in search of his destinedbride. The prince said nothing of this quest, but urged his kindred tolet him go; and giving out a rumor that he was to find his father'slost sister Hesione, he set sail for Greece, and finally landed atSparta. There he was kindly received by Menelaus, the king, and his wife, FairHelen. This queen had been reared as the daughter of Tyndarus and Queen Leda,but some say that she was the child of an enchanted swan, and there wasindeed a strange spell about her. All the greatest heroes of Greece hadwooed her before she left her father's palace to be the wife of KingMenelaus; and Tyndarus, fearing for her peace, had bound her manysuitors by an oath. According to this pledge, they were to respect herchoice, and to go to the aid of her husband if ever she should bestolen away from him. For in all Greece there was nothing so beautifulas the beauty of Helen. She was the fairest woman in the world. Now thus did Venus fulfil her promise and the shepherd win his rewardwith dishonor. Paris dwelt at the court of Menelaus for a long time,treated with a royal courtesy which he ill repaid. For at length whilethe king was absent on a journey to Crete, his guest won the heart ofFair Helen, and persuaded her to forsake her husband and sail away toTroy. King Menelaus returned to find the nest empty of the swan. Paris andthe fairest woman in the world were well across the sea. II. THE ROUSING OF THE HEROES. When this treachery came to light, all Greece took fire withindignation. The heroes remembered their pledge, and wrath came uponthem at the wrong done to Menelaus. But they were less angered withFair Helen than with Paris, for they felt assured that the queen hadbeen lured from her country and out of her own senses by some spell ofenchantment. So they took counsel how they might bring back Fair Helento her home and husband. Years had come and gone since that wedding-feast when Eris had flungthe apple of discord, like a firebrand, among the guests. But the sparkof dissension that had smouldered so long burst into flame now, and,fanned by the enmities of men and the rivalries of the gods, it seemedlike to fire heaven and earth. A few of the heroes answered the call to arms unwillingly. Time hadreconciled them to the loss of Fair Helen, and they were loath to leavehome and happiness for war, even in her cause. One of these was Odysseus, king of Ithaca, who had married Penelope,and was quite content with his kingdom and his little son Telemachus.Indeed, he was so unwilling to leave them that he feigned madness inorder to escape service, appeared to forget his own kindred, and wentploughing the seashore and sowing salt in the furrows. But a messenger,Palamedes, who came with the summons to war, suspected that this suddenmadness might be a stratagem, for the king was far famed as a man ofmany devices. He therefore stood by, one day (while Odysseus,pretending to take no heed of him, went ploughing the sand), and helaid the baby Telemachus directly in the way of the ploughshare. Foronce the wise man's craft deserted him. Odysseus turned the ploughsharply, caught up the little prince, and there his fatherly wits weremanifest! After this he could no longer play madman. He had to takeleave of his beloved wife Penelope and set out to join the heroes,little dreaming that he was not to return for twenty years. Onceembarked, however, he set himself to work in the common cause of theheroes, and was soon as ingenious as Palamedes in rousing laggardwarriors. There remained one who was destined to be the greatest warrior of all.This was Achilles, the son of Thetis,--foretold in the day ofPrometheus as a man who should far outstrip his own father in glory andgreatness. Years had passed since the marriage of Thetis to KingPeleus, and their son Achilles was now grown to manhood, a wonder ofstrength indeed, and, moreover, invulnerable. For his mother,forewarned of his death in the Trojan War, had dipped him in the sacredriver Styx when he was a baby, so that he could take no hurt from anyweapon. From head to foot she had plunged him in, only forgetting thelittle heel that she held him by, and this alone could be wounded byany chance. But even with such precautions Thetis was not content.Fearful at the rumors of war to be, she had her son brought up, inwoman's dress, among the daughters of King Lycomedes of Scyros, that hemight escape the notice of men and cheat his destiny. To this very palace, however, came Odysseus in the guise of a merchant,and he spread his wares before the royal household,--jewels and ivory,fine fabrics, and curiously wrought weapons. The king's daughters chosegirdles and veils and such things as women delight in; but Achilles,heedless of the like, sought out the weapons, and handled them withsuch manly pleasure that his nature stood revealed. So he, too, yieldedto his destiny and set out to join the heroes. Everywhere men were banded together, building the ships and gatheringsupplies. The allied forces of Greece (the Achaeans, as they calledthemselves) chose Agamemnon for their commander-in-chief. He was amighty man, king of Mycenae and Argos, and the brother of the wrongedMenelaus. Second to Achilles in strength was the giant Ajax; after himDiomedes, then wise Odysseus, and Nestor, held in great reverencebecause of his experienced age and fame. These were the chief heroes.After two years of busy preparation, they reached the port of Aulis,whence they were to sail for Troy. But here delay held them. Agamemnon had chanced to kill a stag whichwas sacred to Diana, and the army was visited by pestilence, while agreat calm kept the ships imprisoned. At length the Oracle made knownthe reason of this misfortune and demanded for atonement the maidenIphigenia, Agamemnon's own daughter. In helpless grief the kingconsented to offer her up as a victim, and the maiden was brought readyfor sacrifice. But at the last moment Diana caught her away in a cloud,leaving a white hind in her place, and carried her to Tauris inScythia, there to serve as a priestess in the temple. In the mean time,her kinsfolk, who were at a loss to understand how she had disappeared,mourned her as dead. But Diana had accepted their child as an offering,and healing came to the army, and the winds blew again. So the shipsset sail. Meanwhile, in Troy across the sea, the aged Priam and Hecuba gaveshelter to their son Paris and his stolen bride. They were not withoutmisgivings as to these guests, but they made ready to defend theirkindred and the citadel. There were many heroes among the Trojans and their allies, brave andupright men, who little deserved that such reproach should be broughtupon them by the guilt of Prince Paris. There were Aeneas andDeiphobus, Glaucus and Sarpedon, and Priam's most noble son Hector,chief of all the forces, and the very bulwark of Troy. These and manymore were bitterly to regret the day that had brought Paris back to hishome. But he had taken refuge with his own people, and the Trojans hadto take up his cause against the hostile fleet that was coming acrossthe sea. Even the gods took sides. Juno and Athena, who had never forgiven thejudgment of Paris, condemned all Troy with, him and favored the Greeks,as did also Poseidon, god of the sea. But Venus, true to her favorite,furthered the interests of the Trojans with all her power, andpersuaded the warlike Mars to do likewise. Zeus and Apollo strove to beimpartial, but they were yet to aid now one side, now another,according to the fortunes of the heroes whom they loved. Over the sea came the great embassy of ships, sped hither safely by thegod Poseidon; and the heroes made their camp on the plain before Troy.First of all Odysseus and King Menelaus himself went into the city anddemanded that Fair Helen should be given back to her rightful husband.This the Trojans refused; and so began the siege of Troy. III. THE WOODEN HORSE. Nine years the Greeks laid siege to Troy, and Troy held out againstevery device. On both sides the lives of many heroes were spent, andthey were forced to acknowledge each other enemies of great valor. Sometimes the chief warriors fought in single combat, while the armieslooked on, and the old men of Troy, with the women, came out to watchfar off from the city walls. King Priam and Queen Hecuba would come,and Cassandra, sad with foreknowledge of their doom, and Andromache,the lovely young wife of Hector, with her little son whom the peoplecalled _The City King_. Sometimes Fair Helen came to look across theplain to the fellow-countrymen whom she had forsaken; and although shewas the cause of all this war, the Trojans half forgave her when shepassed by, because her beauty was like a spell, and warmed hard heartsas the sunshine mellows apples. So for nine years the Greeks plunderedthe neighboring towns, but the city Troy stood fast, and the Grecianships waited with folded wings. The half of that story cannot be told here, but in the tenth year ofthe war many things came to pass, and the end drew near. Of this tenthyear alone, there are a score of tales. For the Greeks fell toquarrelling among themselves over the spoils of war, and the greatAchilles left the camp in anger and refused to fight. Nothing wouldinduce him to return, till his friend Patroclus was slain by PrinceHector. At that news, indeed, Achilles rose in great might and returnedto the Greeks; and he went forth clad in armor that had been wroughtfor him by Vulcan, at the prayer of Thetis. By the river Scamander,near to Troy, he met and slew Hector, and afterwards dragged the hero'sbody after his chariot across the plain. How the aged Priam went aloneby night to the tent of Achilles to ransom his son's body, and howAchilles relented, and moreover granted a truce for the funeral honorsof his enemy,--all these things have been so nobly sung that they cannever be fitly spoken. Hector, the bulwark of Troy, had fallen, and the ruin of the city wasat hand. Achilles himself did not long survive his triumph, and,ruthless as he was, he ill-deserved the manner of his death. He wastreacherously slain by that Paris who would never have dared to meethim in the open field. Paris, though he had brought all this disasterupon Troy, had left the danger to his countrymen. But he lay in waitfor Achilles in a temple sacred to Apollo, and from his hiding-place hesped a poisoned arrow at the hero. It pierced his ankle where the waterof the Styx had not charmed him against wounds, and of that venom thegreat Achilles died. Paris himself died soon after by another poisonedarrow, but that was no long grief to anybody! Still Troy held out, and the Greeks, who could not take it by force,pondered how they might take it by craft. At length, with the aid ofOdysseus, they devised a plan. A portion of the Grecian host broke up camp and set sail as if theywere homeward bound; but, once out of sight, they anchored their shipsbehind a neighboring island. The rest of the army then fell to workupon a great image of a horse. They built it of wood, fitted andcarved, and with a door so cunningly concealed that none might noticeit. When it was finished, the horse looked like a prodigious idol; butit was hollow, skilfully pierced here and there, and so spacious that aband of men could lie hidden within and take no harm. Into thishiding-place went Odysseus, Menelaus, and the other chiefs, fullyarmed, and when the door was shut upon them, the rest of the Grecianarmy broke camp and went away. Meanwhile, in Troy, the people had seen the departure of the ships, andthe news had spread like wildfire. The great enemy had lostheart,--after ten years of war! Part of the army had gone,--the restwere going. Already the last of the ships had set sail, and the campwas deserted. The tents that had whitened the plain were gone like afrost before the sun. The war was over! The whole city went wild with joy. Like one who has been a prisoner formany years, it flung off all restraint, and the people rose as a singleman to test the truth of new liberty. The gates were thrown wide, andthe Trojans--men, women, and children--thronged over the plain andinto the empty camp of the enemy. There stood the Wooden Horse. No one knew what it could be. Fearful at first, they gathered aroundit, as children gather around a live horse; they marvelled at itswondrous height and girth, and were for moving it into the city as atrophy of war. At this, one man interposed,--Laocoön, a priest of Poseidon. "Takeheed, citizens," said he. "Beware of all that comes from the Greeks.Have you fought them for ten years without learning their devices? Thisis some piece of treachery." But there was another outcry in the crowd, and at that moment certainof the Trojans dragged forward a wretched man who wore the garments ofa Greek. He seemed the sole remnant of the Grecian army, and as suchthey consented to spare his life, if he would tell them the truth. Sinon, for this was the spy's name, said that he had been left behindby the malice of Odysseus, and he told them that the Greeks had builtthe Wooden Horse as an offering to Athena, and that they had made it sohuge in order to keep it from being moved out of the camp, since it wasdestined to bring triumph to its possessors. At this, the joy of the Trojans was redoubled, and they set their witsto find out how they might soonest drag the great horse across theplain and into the city to ensure victory. While they stood talking,two immense serpents rose out of the sea and made towards the camp.Some of the people took flight, others were transfixed with terror; butall, near and far, watched this new omen. Rearing their crests, thesea-serpents crossed the shore, swift, shining, terrible as a risenwater-flood that descends upon a helpless little town. Straight throughthe crowd they swept, and seized the priest Laocoön where he stood,with his two sons, and wrapped them all round and round in fearfulcoils. There was no chance of escape. Father and sons perishedtogether; and when the monsters had devoured the three men, into thesea they slipped again, leaving no trace of the horror. The terrified Trojans saw an omen in this. To their minds, punishmenthad come upon Laocoön for his words against the Wooden Horse. Surely,it was sacred to the gods; he had spoken blasphemy, and had perishedbefore their eyes. They flung his warning to the winds. They wreathedthe horse with garlands, amid great acclaim; and then, all lending ahand, they dragged it, little by little, out of the camp and into thecity of Troy. With the close of that victorious day, they gave up everymemory of danger and made merry after ten years of privation. That very night Sinon the spy opened the hidden door of the WoodenHorse, and in the darkness, Odysseus, Menelaus, and the other chiefswho had lain hidden there crept out and gave the signal to the Grecianarmy. For, under cover of night, those ships that had been mooredbehind the island had sailed back again, and the Greeks were come uponTroy. Not a Trojan was on guard. The whole city was at feast when the enemyrose in its midst, and the warning of Laocoön was fulfilled. Priam and his warriors fell by the sword, and their kingdom wasplundered of all its fair possessions, women and children and treasure.Last of all, the city itself was burned to its very foundations. Homeward sailed the Greeks, taking as royal captives poor Cassandra andAndromache and many another Trojan. And home at last went Fair Helen,the cause of all this sorrow, eager to be forgiven by her husband, KingMenelaus. For she had awakened from the enchantment of Venus, and evenbefore the death of Paris she had secretly longed for her home andkindred. Home to Sparta she came with the king after a long and stormyvoyage, and there she lived and died the fairest of women. But the kingdom of Troy was fallen. Nothing remained of all its glorybut the glory of its dead heroes and fair women, and the ruins of itscitadel by the river Scamander. There even now, beneath the foundationsof later homes that were built and burned, built and burned, in thewars of a thousand years after, the ruins of ancient Troy lie hidden,like mouldered leaves deep under the new grass. And there, to this veryday, men who love the story are delving after the dead city as youmight search for a buried treasure. THE HOUSE OF AGAMEMNON. The Greeks had won back Fair Helen, and had burned the city of Troybehind them, but theirs was no triumphant voyage home. Many were drivenfar and wide before they saw their land again, and one who escaped suchhardships came home to find a bitter welcome. This was the chief of allthe hosts, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and Argos. He it was who hadoffered his own daughter Iphigenia to appease the wrath of Diana beforethe ships could sail for Troy. An ominous leave-taking was his, andcalamity was there to greet him home again. He had entrusted the cares of the state to his cousin Aegisthus,commending also to his protection Queen Clytemnestra with her tworemaining children, Electra and Orestes. Now Clytemnestra was a sister of Helen of Troy, and a beautiful womanto see; but her heart was as evil as her face was fair. No sooner hadher husband gone to the wars than she set up Aegisthus in his place, asif there were no other king of Argos. For years this faithless pairlived arrogantly in the face of the people, and controlled the affairsof the kingdom. But as time went by and the child Orestes grew to be ayouth, Aegisthus feared lest the Argives should stand by their ownprince, and drive him away as an usurper. He therefore planned thedeath of Orestes, and even won the consent of the queen, who was nogentle mother! But the princess Electra, suspecting their plot,secretly hurried her brother away to the court of King Strophius inPhocis, and so saved his life. She was not, however, to save a secondvictim. The ten years of war went by, and the chief, Agamemnon, came home intriumph, heralded by all the Argives, who were as exultant over thereturn of their lawful king as over the fall of Troy. Into the citycame the remnant of his own men, bearing the spoils of war, and, in themidst of a jubilant multitude, King Agamemnon sharing his chariot withthe captive princess, Cassandra. Queen Clytemnestra went out to greet him with every show of joy andtriumph. She had a cloth of purple spread before the palace, that herhusband might come with state into his home once more; and before allbeholders she protested that the ten years of his absence had bereavedher of all happiness. The unsuspicious king left his chariot and entered the palace; but theprincess Cassandra hesitated and stood by in fear. Poor Cassandra! Herkindred were slain and the doom of her city was fulfilled, but thecurse of prophecy still followed her. She felt the shadow of comingevil, and there before the door she recoiled, and cried out that therewas blood in the air. At length, despairing of her fate, she too wentin. Even while the Argives stood about the gates, pitying her madness,the prophecy came true. Clytemnestra, like any anxious wife, had led the travel-worn king to abath; and there, when he had laid by his arms, she and Aegisthus threwa net over him, as they would have snared any beast of prey, and slewhim, defenceless. In the same hour Cassandra, too, fell into theirhands, and they put an end to her warnings. So died the chief of thegreat army and his royal captive. The murderers proclaimed themselves king and queen before all thepeople, and none dared rebel openly against such terrible authority.But Aegisthus was still uneasy at the thought that the Prince Orestesmight return some day to avenge his father. Indeed, Electra had sentfrom time to time secret messages to Phocis, entreating her brother tocome and take his rightful place, and save her from her cruel motherand Aegisthus. But there came to Argos one day a rumor that Oresteshimself had died in Phocis, and the poor princess gave up all hope ofpeace; while Clytemnestra and Aegisthus made no secret of their relief,but even offered impious thanks in the temple, as if the gods were oftheir mind! They were soon undeceived. Two young Phocians came to the palace with news of the last days ofOrestes, so they said; and they were admitted to the presence of theking and queen. They were, in truth, Orestes himself and his friendPylades (son of King Strophius), who had ventured safety and all toavenge Agamemnon. Then and there Orestes killed Aegisthus andClytemnestra, and appeared before the Argives as their rightful prince. But not even so did he find peace. In slaying Clytemnestra, wicked asshe was, he had murdered his own mother, a deed hateful to gods andmen. Day and night he was haunted by the Furies. These dread sisters never leave Hades save to pursue and torture someguilty conscience. They wear black raiment, like the wings of a bat;their hair writhes with serpents fierce as remorse, and in their handsthey carry flaming torches that make all shapes look greater and morefearful than they are. No sleep can soothe the mind of him they follow.They come between his eyes and the daylight; at night their torchesdrive away all comfortable darkness. Poor Orestes, though he hadpunished two murderers, felt that he was no less a murderer himself. From land to land he wandered in despair that grew to madness, with oneonly comrade, the faithful Pylades, who was his very shadow. At lengthhe took refuge in Athens, under the protection of Athena, and gavehimself up to be tried by the court of the Areopagus. There he wasacquitted; but not all the Furies left him, and at last he besought theOracle of Apollo to befriend him. "Go to Tauris, in Scythia," said the voice, "and bring from thence theimage of Diana which fell from the heavens." So he set out with hisPylades and sailed to the shore of Scythia. Now the Taurians were a savage people, who strove to honor Diana, totheir rude minds, by sacrificing all the strangers that fell into theirhands. There was a temple not far from the seaside, and its priestesswas a Grecian maiden, one Iphigenia, who had miraculously appearedthere years before, and was held in especial awe by Thoas, the king ofthe country round about. Sorely against her will, she had to hallow thevictims offered at this shrine; and into her presence Orestes andPylades were brought by the men who had seized them. On learning that they were Grecians and Argives (for they withheldtheir names), the priestess was moved to the heart. She asked them manyquestions concerning the fate of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and thewarriors against Troy, which they answered as best they could. Atlength she said that she would help one of them to escape, if he wouldswear to take a message from her to one in Argos. "My friend shall bear it home," said Orestes. "As for me, I stay andendure my fate." "Nay," said Pylades; "how can I swear? for I might lose this letter byshipwreck or some other mischance." "Hear the message, then," said the high-priestess. "And thou wilt keepit by thee with thy life. To Orestes, son of Agamemnon, say Iphigenia,his sister, is dead indeed unto her parents, but not to him. Say thatDiana has had charge over her these many years since she was snatchedaway at Aulis, and that she waits until her brother shall come torescue her from this duty of bloodshed and take her home." At these words their amazement knew no bounds. Orestes embraced hislost sister and told her all his story, and the three, breathless witheagerness, planned a way of escape. The king of Tauris had already come to witness the sacrifice. ButIphigenia took in her hands the sacred image of Diana, and went out totell him that the rites must be delayed. One of the strangers, saidshe, was guilty of the murder of his mother, the other sharing hiscrime; and these unworthy victims must be cleansed with pure sea-waterbefore they could be offered to Diana. The sacred image had beendesecrated by their touch, and that, too, must be solemnly purged by noother hands than hers. To this the king consented. He remained to burn lustral fires in thetemple; the people withdrew to their houses to escape pollution, andthe priestess with her victims reached the seaside in safety. Once there, with the sacred image which was to bring them good fortune,they hastened to the Grecian galley and put off from that desolateshore. So, with his new-found sister and his new hope, Orestes wentover the seas to Argos, to rebuild the honor of the royal house. THE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS. I. THE CURSE OF POLYPHEMUS. Of all the heroes that wandered far and wide before they came to theirhomes again after the fall of Troy, none suffered so many hardships asOdysseus. There was, indeed, one other man whose adventures have been likened tohis, and this was Aeneas, a Trojan hero. He escaped from the burningcity with a band of fugitives, his countrymen; and after years of periland wandering he came to found a famous race in Italy. On the way, hefound one hospitable resting-place in Carthage, where Queen Didoreceived him with great kindliness; and when he left her she took herown life, out of very grief. But there were no other hardships such as beset Odysseus, between theburning of Troy and his return to Ithaca, west of the land of Greece.Ten years did he fight against Troy, but it was ten years more beforehe came to his home and his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. Now all these latter years of wandering fell to his lot because ofPoseidon's anger against him. For Poseidon had favored the Greciancause, and might well have sped home this man who had done so much towin the Grecian victory. But as evil destiny would have it, Odysseusmortally angered the god of the sea by blinding his son, the CyclopsPolyphemus. And thus it came to pass. Odysseus set out from Troy with twelve good ships. He touched first atIsmarus, where his first misfortune took place, and in a skirmish withthe natives he lost a number of men from each ship's crew. A storm thendrove them to the land of the Lotus-Eaters, a wondrous people, kindlyand content, who spend their lives in a day-dream and care for nothingelse under the sun. No sooner had the sailors eaten of this magicallotus than they lost all their wish to go home, or to see their wivesand children again. By main force, Odysseus drove them back to theships and saved them from the spell. Thence they came one day to a beautiful strange island, a verdant placeto see, deep with soft grass and well watered with springs. Here theyran the ships ashore, and took their rest and feasted for a day. ButOdysseus looked across to the mainland, where he saw flocks and herds,and smoke going up softly from the homes of men; and he resolved to goacross and find out what manner of people lived there. Accordingly,next morning, he took his own ship's company and they rowed across tothe mainland. Now, fair as the place was, there dwelt in it a race of giants, theCyclopes, great rude creatures, having each but one eye, and that inthe middle of his forehead. One of them was Polyphemus, the son ofPoseidon. He lived by himself as a shepherd, and it was to his cavethat Odysseus came, by some evil chance. It was an enormous grotto, bigenough to house the giant and all his flocks, and it had a greatcourtyard without. But Odysseus, knowing nought of all this, chose outtwelve men, and with a wallet of corn and a goatskin full of wine theyleft the ship and made a way to the cave, which they had seen from thewater. Much they wondered who might be the master of this strange house.Polyphemus was away with his sheep, but many lambs and kids were pennedthere, and the cavern was well stored with goodly cheeses and cream andwhey. Without delay, the wearied men kindled a fire and sat down to eat suchthings as they found, till a great shadow came dark against thedoorway, and they saw the Cyclops near at hand, returning with hisflocks. In an instant they fled into the darkest corner of the cavern. Polyphemus drove his flocks into the place and cast off from hisshoulders a load of young trees for firewood. Then he lifted and set inthe entrance of the cave a gigantic boulder of a door-stone. Not untilhe had milked the goats and ewes and stirred up the fire did histerrible one eye light upon the strangers. "What are ye?" he roared then, "robbers or rovers?" And Odysseus alonehad heart to answer. "We are Achaeans of the army of Agamemnon," said he. "And by the willof Zeus we have lost our course, and are come to you as strangers.Forget not that Zeus has a care for such as we, strangers andsuppliants." Loud laughed the Cyclops at this. "You are a witless churl to bid meheed the gods!" said he. "I spare or kill to please myself and noneother. But where is your cockle-shell that brought you hither?" Then Odysseus answered craftily: "Alas, my ship is gone! Only I and mymen escaped alive from the sea." But Polyphemus, who had been looking them over with his one eye, seizedtwo of the mariners and dashed them against the wall and made hisevening meal of them, while their comrades stood by helpless. Thisdone, he stretched himself through the cavern and slept all night long,taking no more heed of them than if they had been flies. No sleep cameto the wretched seamen, for, even had they been able to slay him, theywere powerless to move away the boulder from the door. So all nightlong Odysseus took thought how they might possibly escape. At dawn the Cyclops woke, and his awakening was like a thunderstorm.Again he kindled the fire, again he milked the goats and ewes, andagain he seized two of the king's comrades and served them up for histerrible repast. Then the savage shepherd drove his flocks out of thecave, only turning back to set the boulder in the doorway and pen upOdysseus and his men in their dismal lodging. But the wise king had pondered well. In the sheepfold he had seen amighty club of olive-wood, in size like the mast of a ship. As soon asthe Cyclops was gone, Odysseus bade his men cut off a length of thisclub and sharpen it down to a point. This done, they hid it away underthe earth that heaped the floor; and they waited in fear and tormentfor their chance of escape. At sundown, home came the Cyclops. Just as he had done before, he drovein his flocks, barred the entrance, milked the goats and ewes, and madehis meal of two more hapless men, while their fellows looked on withburning eyes. Then Odysseus stood forth, holding a bowl of the winethat he had brought with him; and, curbing his horror of Polyphemus, hespoke in friendly fashion: "Drink, Cyclops, and prove our wine, such asit was, for all was lost with our ship save this. And no other man willever bring you more, since you are such an ungentle host." The Cyclops tasted the wine and laughed with delight so that the caveshook. "Ho, this is a rare drink!" said he. "I never tasted milk sogood, nor whey, nor grape-juice either. Give me the rest, and tell meyour name, that I may thank you for it." Twice and thrice Odysseus poured the wine and the Cyclops drank it off;then he answered: "Since you ask it, Cyclops, my name is Noman." "And I will give you this for your wine, Noman," said the Cyclops; "youshall be eaten last of all!" As he spoke his head drooped, for his wits were clouded with drink, andhe sank heavily out of his seat and lay prone, stretched along thefloor of the cavern. His great eye shut and he fell asleep. Odysseus thrust the stake under the ashes till it was glowing hot; andhis fellows stood by him, ready to venture all. Then together theylifted the club and drove it straight into the eye of Polyphemus andturned it around and about. The Cyclops gave a horrible cry, and, thrusting away the brand, hecalled on all his fellow-giants near and far. Odysseus and his men hidin the uttermost corners of the cave, but they heard the resoundingsteps of the Cyclopes who were roused, and their shouts as they called,"What ails thee, Polyphemus? Art thou slain? Who has done thee anyhurt?" "Noman!" roared the blinded Cyclops; "Noman is here to slay me bytreachery." "Then if no man hath hurt thee," they called again, "let us sleep." Andaway they went to their homes once more. But Polyphemus lifted away the boulder from the door and sat there inthe entrance, groaning with pain and stretching forth his hands to feelif any one were near. Then, while he sat in double darkness, with thelight of his eye gone out, Odysseus bound together the rams of theflock, three by three, in such wise that every three should save one ofhis comrades. For underneath the mid ram of each group a man clung,grasping his shaggy fleece; and the rams on each side guarded him fromdiscovery. Odysseus himself chose out the greatest ram and laid hold ofhis fleece and clung beneath his shaggy body, face upward. Now, when dawn came, the rams hastened out to pasture, and Polyphemusfelt of their backs as they huddled along together; but he knew notthat every three held a man bound securely. Last of all came the kinglyram that was dearest to his rude heart, and he bore the King of Ithaca.Once free of the cave, Odysseus and his fellows loosed their hold andtook flight, driving the rams in haste to the ship, where, withoutdelay, they greeted their comrades and went aboard. But as they pushed from shore, Odysseus could not refrain from hailingthe Cyclops with taunts, and at the sound of that voice Polyphemus cameforth from his cave and hurled a great rock after the ship. It missedand upheaved the water like an earthquake. Again Odysseus called,saying: "Cyclops, if any shall ask who blinded thine eye, say that itwas Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithaca." Then Polyphemus groaned and cried: "An Oracle foretold it, but I waitedfor some man of might who should overcome me by his valor,--not aweakling! And now"--he lifted his hands and prayed,--"Father Poseidon,my father, look upon Odysseus, the son of Laertes of Ithaca, and grantme this revenge,--let him never see Ithaca again! Yet, if he must, mayhe come late, without a friend, after long wandering, to find evilabiding by his hearth!" So he spoke and hurled another rock after them, but the shipoutstripped it, and sped by to the island where the other good shipswaited for Odysseus. Together they put out from land and hastened ontheir homeward voyage. But Poseidon, who is lord of the sea, had heard the prayer of his son,and that homeward voyage was to wear through ten years more, with stormand irksome calms and misadventure. II. THE WANDERING OF ODYSSEUS. Now Odysseus and his men sailed on and on till they came to Aeolia,where dwells the king of the winds, and here they came nigh to goodfortune. Aeolus received them kindly, and at their going he secretly gave toOdysseus a leathern bag in which all contrary winds were tied upsecurely, that only the favoring west wind might speed them to Ithaca.Nine days the ships went gladly before the wind, and on the tenth daythey had sight of Ithaca, lying like a low cloud in the west. Then, sonear his haven, the happy Odysseus gave up to his weariness and fellasleep, for he had never left the helm. But while he slept his men sawthe leathern bag that he kept by him, and, in the belief that it wasfull of treasure, they opened it. Out rushed the ill-winds! In an instant the sea was covered with white caps; the waves rosemountain high; the poor ships struggled against the tyranny of the galeand gave way. Back they were driven,--back, farther and farther; andwhen Odysseus woke, Ithaca was gone from sight, as if it had indeedbeen only a low cloud in the west! Straight to the island of Aeolus they were driven once more. But whenthe king learned what greed and treachery had wasted his good gift, hewould give them nothing more. "Surely thou must be a man hated of thegods, Odysseus," he said, "for misfortune bears thee company. Departnow; I may not help thee." So, with a heavy heart, Odysseus and his men departed. For many daysthey rowed against a dead calm, until at length they came to the landof the Laestrygonians. And, to cut a piteous tale short, these giantsdestroyed all their fleet save one ship,--that of Odysseus himself,and in this he made escape to the island of Circe. What befell there,how the greedy seamen were turned into swine and turned back into men,and how the sorceress came to befriend Odysseus,--all this has beenrelated. There in Aeaea the voyagers stayed a year before Circe would let themgo. But at length she bade Odysseus seek the region of Hades, and askof the sage Tiresias how he might ever return to Ithaca. How Odysseusfollowed this counsel, none may know; but by some mysterious journey,and with the aid of a spell, he came to the borders of Hades. There hesaw and spoke with many renowned Shades, old and young, even his ownfriends who had fallen on the plain of Troy. Achilles he saw, Patroclusand Ajax and Agamemnon, still grieving over the treachery of his wife.He saw, too, the phantom of Heracles, who lives with honor among thegods, and has for his wife Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Juno. Butthough he would have talked with the heroes for a year and more, hesought out Tiresias. "The anger of Poseidon follows thee," said the sage. "Wherefore,Odysseus, thy return is yet far off. But take heed when thou art cometo Thrinacia, where the sacred kine of the Sun have their pastures. Dothem no hurt, and thou shalt yet come home. _But if they be harmed inany wise_, ruin shall come upon thy men; and even if thou escape, thoushalt come home to find strange men devouring thy substance and wooingthy wife." With this word in his mind, Odysseus departed and came once more toAeaea. There he tarried but a little time, till Circe had told him allthe dangers that beset his way. Many a good counsel and crafty warningdid she give him against the Sirens that charm with their singing, andagainst the monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, and theClashing Rocks, and the cattle of the Sun. So the king and his men setout from the island of Aeaea. Now very soon they came to the Sirens who sing so sweetly that theylure to death every man who listens. For straightway he is mad to bewith them where they sing; and alas for the man that would fly withoutwings! But when the ship drew near the Sirens' island, Odysseus did as Circehad taught him. He bade all his shipmates stop up their ears withmoulded wax, so that they could not hear. He alone kept his hearing:but he had himself lashed to the mast so that he could in no wise move,and he forbade them to loose him, however he might plead, under thespell of the Sirens. As they sailed near, his soul gave way. He heard a wild sweetnesscoaxing the air, as a minstrel coaxes the harp; and there, close by,were the Sirens sitting in a blooming meadow that hid the bones of men.Beautiful, winning maidens they looked; and they sang, entreatingOdysseus by name to listen and abide and rest. Their voices weregolden-sweet above the sound of wind and wave, like drops of amberfloating on the tide; and for all his wisdom, Odysseus strained at hisbonds and begged his men to let him go free. But they, deaf alike tothe song and the sorcery, rowed harder than ever. At length, song andisland faded in the distance. Odysseus came to his wits once more, andhis men loosed his bonds and set him free. But they were close upon new dangers. No sooner had they avoided theClashing Rocks (by a device of Circe's) than they came to a perilousstrait. On one hand they saw the whirlpool where, beneath a hollowfig-tree, Charybdis sucks down the sea horribly. And, while they soughtto escape her, on the other hand monstrous Scylla upreared from thecave, snatched six of their company with her six long necks, anddevoured them even while they called upon Odysseus to save them. So, with bitter peril, the ship passed by and came to the island ofThrinacia; and here are goodly pastures for the flocks and herds of theSun. Odysseus, who feared lest his men might forget the warning ofTiresias, was very loath to land. But the sailors were weary and wornto the verge of mutiny, and they swore, moreover, that they would neverlay hands on the sacred kine. So they landed, thinking to depart nextday. But with the next day came a tempest that blew for a month withoutceasing, so that they were forced to beach the ship and live on theisland with their store of corn and wine. When that was gone they hadto hunt and fish, and it happened that, while Odysseus was absent inthe woods one day, his shipmates broke their oath. "For," said they,"when we are once more in Ithaca we will make amends to Helios withsacrifice. But let us rather drown than waste to death with hunger." Sothey drove off the best of the cattle of the Sun and slew them. Whenthe king returned, he found them at their fateful banquet; but it wastoo late to save them from the wrath of the gods. As soon as they were fairly embarked once more, the Sun ceased toshine. The sea rose high, the thunderbolt of Zeus struck that ship, andall its company was scattered abroad upon the waters. Not one was leftsave Odysseus. He clung to a fragment of his last ship, and so hedrifted, borne here and there, and lashed by wind and wave, until hewas washed up on the strand of the island Ogygia, the home of the nymphCalypso. He was not to leave this haven for seven years. Here, after ten years of war and two of wandering, he found a kindlywelcome. The enchanted island was full of wonders, and the nymphCalypso was more than mortal fair, and would have been glad to marrythe hero; yet he pined for Ithaca. Nothing could win his heart awayfrom his own country and his own wife Penelope, nothing but Letheitself, and that no man may drink till he dies. So for seven years Calypso strove to make him forget his longing withease and pleasant living and soft raiment. Day by day she sang to himwhile she broidered her web with gold; and her voice was like a goldenstrand that twines in and out of silence, making it beautiful. She evenpromised that she would make him immortal, if he would stay and becontent; but he was heartsick for home. At last his sorrow touched even the heart of Athena in heaven, for sheloved his wisdom and his many devices. So she besought Zeus and all theother gods until they consented to shield Odysseus from the anger ofPoseidon. Hermes himself bound on his winged sandals and flew down toOgygia, where he found Calypso at her spinning. After many words, thenymph consented to give up her captive, for she was kind of heart, andall her graces had not availed to make him forget his home. With herhelp, Odysseus built a raft and set out upon his lonely voyage,--theonly man remaining out of twelve good ships that had left Troy nighunto ten years before. The sea roughened against him, but (to shorten a tale of great peril)after many days, sore spent and tempest-tossed, he came to the land ofthe Phaeacians, a land dear to the immortal gods, abounding in gifts ofharvest and vintage, in godlike men and lovely women. Here the shipwrecked king met the princess Nausicaa by the seaside, asshe played ball with her maidens; and she, when she had heard of hisplight, gave him food and raiment, and bade him follow her home. So hefollowed her to the palace of King Alcinous and Queen Arete, and abodewith them, kindly refreshed, and honored with feasting and games andsong. But it came to pass, as the minstrel sang before them of theTrojan War and the Wooden Horse, that Odysseus wept over the story, itwas written so deep in his own heart. Then for the first time he toldthem his true name and all his trials. They would gladly have kept so great a man with them forever, but theyhad no heart to keep him longer from his home; so they bade himfarewell and set him upon one of their magical ships, with many giftsof gold and silver, and sent him on his way. Wonderful seamen are the Phaeacians. The ocean is to them as air to thebird,--the best path for a swift journey! Odysseus was glad enough totrust the way to them, and no sooner had they set out than a sweetsleep fell upon his eyelids. But the good ship sped like any bee thatknows the way home. In a marvellous short time they came even to theshore of the kingdom of Ithaca. While Odysseus was still sleeping, unconscious of his good fortune, thePhaeacians lifted him from the ship with kindly joy and laid him uponhis own shore; and beside him they set the gifts of gold and silver andfair work of the loom. So they departed; and thus it was that Odysseuscame to Ithaca after twenty years. III. THE HOME-COMING. Now all these twenty years, in the island of Ithaca, Penelope hadwatched for her husband's return. At first with high hopes and then indoubt and sorrow (when news of the great war came by some traveller),she had waited, eager and constant as a young bride. But now the warwas long past; her young son Telemachus had come to manhood; and as forOdysseus, she knew not whether he was alive or dead. For years there had been trouble in Ithaca. It was left a kingdomwithout a king, and Penelope was fair and wise. So suitors came fromall the islands round about to beg her hand in marriage, since manyloved the queen and as many more loved her possessions, and desired torule over them. Moreover, every one thought or said that King Odysseusmust be dead. Neither Penelope nor her aged father-in-law Laertes couldrid the place of these troublesome suitors. Some were nobles and somewere adventurers, but they all thronged the palace like a pest ofcrickets, and devoured the wealth of the kingdom with feasts in honorof Penelope and themselves and everybody else; and they besought thequeen to choose a husband from their number. For a long time she would hear none of this; but they grew so clamorousin their suit that she had to put them off with craft. For she saw thatthere would be danger to her country, and her son, and herself, unlessOdysseus came home some day and turned the suitors out of doors. Shetherefore spoke them fair, and gave them some hope of her marriage, tomake peace. "Ye princely wooers," she said, "now I believe that the king Odysseus,my husband, must long since have perished in a strange land; and I havebethought me once more of marriage. Have patience, therefore, till Ishall have finished the web that I am weaving. For it is a royal shroudthat I must make against the day that Laertes may die (the father of mylord and husband). This is the way of my people," said she; "and whenthe web is done, I will choose another king for Ithaca." She had set up in the hall a great loom, and day by day she wroughtthere at the web, for she was a marvellous spinner, patient as Arachne,but dear to Athena. All day long she would weave, but every night insecret she would unravel what she had wrought in the daytime, so thatthe web might never be done. For although she believed her dear husbandto be dead, yet her hope would put forth buds again and again, just asspring, that seems to die each year, will come again. So she everlooked to see Odysseus coming. Three years and more she held off the suitors with this wile, and theynever perceived it. For, being men, they knew nothing of women'shandicraft. It was all alike a marvel to them, both the beauty of theweb and this endless toil in the making! As for Penelope, all day longshe wove; but at night she would unravel her work and weep bitterly,because she had another web to weave and another day to watch, all fornothing, since Odysseus never came. In the fourth year, though, afaithless servant betrayed this secret to the wooers, and there came anend to peace and the web, too! Matters grew worse and worse. Telemachus set out to find his father,and the poor queen was left without husband or son. But the suitorscontinued to live about the palace like so many princes, and to makemerry on the wealth of Odysseus, while he was being driven from land toland and wreck to wreck. So it came true, that prophecy that, if theherds of the Sun were harmed, Odysseus should reach his home alone inevil plight to find Sorrow in his own household. But in the end he wasto drive her forth. Now, when Odysseus woke, he did not know his own country. Gone were thePhaeacians and their ship; only the gifts beside him told him that hehad not dreamed. While he looked about, bewildered, Athena, in theguise of a young countryman, came to his aid, and told him where hewas. Then, smiling upon his amazement and joy, she shone forth in herown form, and warned him not to hasten home, since the palace wasfilled with the insolent suitors of Penelope, whose heart waited emptyfor him as the nest for the bird. Moreover, Athena changed his shape into that of an aged pilgrim, andled him to the hut of a certain swineherd, Eumaeus, his old andfaithful servant. This man received the king kindly, taking him for atravel-worn wayfarer, and told him all the news of the palace, and thesuitors and the poor queen, who was ever ready to hear the idle talesof any traveller if he had aught to tell of King Odysseus. Now who should come to the hut at this time but the prince Telemachus,whom Athena had hastened safely home from his quest! Eumaeus receivedhis young master with great joy, but the heart of Odysseus was nigh tobursting, for he had never seen his son since he left him, an infant,for the Trojan War. When Eumaeus left them together, he made himselfknown; and for that moment Athena gave him back his kingly looks, sothat Telemachus saw him with exultation, and they two wept over eachother for joy. By this time news of her son's return had come to Penelope, and she wasalmost happy, not knowing that the suitors were plotting to killTelemachus. Home he came, and he hastened to assure his mother that hehad heard good news of Odysseus; though, for the safety of all, he didnot tell her that Odysseus was in Ithaca. Meanwhile Eumaeus and his aged pilgrim came to the city and the palacegates. They were talking to a goatherd there, when an old hound thatlay in the dust-heap near by pricked up his ears and stirred his tailfeebly as at a well-known voice. He was the faithful Argus, named aftera monster of many eyes that once served Juno as a watchman. Indeed,when the creature was slain, Juno had his eyes set in the feathers ofher pet peacocks, and there they glisten to this day. But the end ofthis Argus was very different. Once the pride of the king's heart, hewas now so old and infirm that he could barely move; but though hismaster had come home in the guise of a strange beggar, he knew thevoice, and he alone, after twenty years. Odysseus, seeing him, couldbarely restrain his tears; but the poor old hound, as if he had livedbut to welcome his master home, died that very same day. Into the palace hall went the swineherd and the pilgrim, among thesuitors who were feasting there. Now how Odysseus begged a portion ofmeat and was shamefully insulted by these men, how he saw his own wifeand hid his joy and sorrow, but told her news of himself as any beggarmight,--all these things are better sung than spoken. It is a longstory. But the end was near. The suitors had demanded the queen's choice, andonce more the constant Penelope tried to put it off. She took from hersafe treasure-chamber the great bow of Odysseus, and she promised thatshe would marry that one of the suitors who should send his arrowthrough twelve rings ranged in a line. All other weapons were takenaway by the care of Telemachus; there was nothing but the great bow andquiver. And when all was ready, Penelope went away to her chamber toweep. But, first of all, no one could string the bow. Suitor after suitortried and failed. The sturdy wood stood unbent against the strongest.Last of all, Odysseus begged leave to try, and was laughed to scorn.Telemachus, however, as if for courtesy's sake, gave him the bow; andthe strange beggar bent it easily, adjusted the cord, and before anycould stay his hand he sped the arrow from the string. Singing withtriumph, it flew straight through the twelve rings and quivered in themark! "Now for another mark!" cried Odysseus in the king's own voice. Heturned upon the most evil-hearted suitor. Another arrow hissed andstruck, and the man fell pierced. Telemachus sprang to his father's side, Eumaeus stood by him, and thefighting was short and bitter. One by one they slew those insolentsuitors; for the right was theirs, and Athena stood by them, and thetime was come. Every one of the false-hearted wooers they laid low, andevery corrupt servant in that house; then they made the place clean andfair again. But the old nurse Eurycleia hastened up to Queen Penelope, where shesat in fear and wonder, crying, "Odysseus is returned! Come and seewith thine own eyes!" After twenty years of false tales, the poor queen could not believe herears. She came down into the hall bewildered, and looked at thestranger as one walking in a dream. Even when Athena had given him backhis youth and kingly looks, she stood in doubt, so that her own sonreproached her and Odysseus was grieved in spirit. But when he drew near and called her by her name, entreating her by allthe tokens that she alone knew, her heart woke up and sang like a brookset free in spring! She knew him then for her husband Odysseus, comehome at last. Surely that was happiness enough to last them ever after.
przysłano: 5 marca 2010