*       *       *       *       *


   *       *       *       *       *

The want of an interesting work on Greek and Roman mythology, suitable for
the requirements of both boys and girls, has long been recognized by the
principals of our advanced schools. The study of the classics themselves,
even where the attainments of the pupil have rendered this feasible, has
not been found altogether successful in giving to the student a clear and
succinct idea of the religious beliefs of the ancients, and it has been
suggested that a work which would so deal with the subject as to render it
at once interesting and instructive would be hailed as a valuable
introduction to the study of classic authors, and would be found to assist
materially the labours of both master and pupil.

In endeavouring to supply this want I have sought to place before the
reader a lifelike picture of the deities of classical times as they were
conceived and worshipped by the ancients themselves, and thereby to awaken
in the minds of young students a desire to become more intimately
acquainted with the noble productions of classical antiquity.

It has been my aim to render the Legends, which form the second portion of
the work, a picture, as it were, of old Greek life; its customs, its
superstitions, and its princely hospitalities, for which reason they are
given at somewhat greater length than is usual in works of the kind.

In a chapter devoted to the purpose some interesting particulars have been
collected respecting the public worship of the ancient Greeks and Romans
(more especially of the former), to which is subjoined an account of their
principal festivals.

I may add that no pains have been spared in order that, without passing
over details the omission of which would have {ii} marred the completeness
of the work, not a single passage should be found which could possibly
offend the most scrupulous delicacy; and also that I have purposely treated
the subject with that reverence which I consider due to every religious
system, however erroneous.

It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the importance of the study of
Mythology: our poems, our novels, and even our daily journals teem with
classical allusions; nor can a visit to our art galleries and museums be
fully enjoyed without something more than a mere superficial knowledge of a
subject which has in all ages inspired painters, sculptors, and poets. It
therefore only remains for me to express a hope that my little work may
prove useful, not only to teachers and scholars, but also to a large class
of general readers, who, in whiling away a leisure hour, may derive some
pleasure and profit from its perusal.


   *       *       *       *       *



URANUS AND GÆA (Coelus and Terra),

CRONUS (Saturn)
RHEA (Ops)

ZEUS (Jupiter)
HERA (Juno)
HESTIA (Vesta)
EOS (Aurora
POSEIDON (Neptune)


NYX (Nox)
THANATOS (Mors), HYPNUS (Somnus)
TYCHE (Fortuna) and ANANKE (Necessitas)
EROS (Cupid, Amor) and PSYCHE
HEBE (Juventas)
HORÆ (Seasons)
PAN (Faunus)
ASCLEPIAS (Æsculapius)







Before entering upon the many strange beliefs of the ancient Greeks, and
the extraordinary number of gods they worshipped, we must first consider
what kind of beings these divinities were.

In appearance, the gods were supposed to resemble mortals, whom, however,
they far surpassed in beauty, grandeur, and strength; they were also more
commanding in stature, height being considered by the Greeks an attribute
of beauty in man or woman. They resembled human beings in their feelings
and habits, intermarrying and having children, and requiring daily
nourishment to recruit their strength, and refreshing sleep to restore
their energies. Their blood, a bright ethereal fluid called Ichor, never
engendered disease, and, when shed, had the power of producing new life.

The Greeks believed that the mental qualifications of their gods were of a
much higher order than those of men, but nevertheless, as we shall see,
they were not considered to be exempt from human passions, and we
frequently behold them actuated by revenge, deceit, and jealousy. They,
however, always punish the evil-doer, and visit with dire calamities any
impious mortal who dares to neglect their worship or despise their rites.
We often hear of them visiting mankind and partaking of their hospitality,
and not unfrequently both gods and goddesses {8} become attached to
mortals, with whom they unite themselves, the offspring of these unions
being called heroes or demi-gods, who were usually renowned for their great
strength and courage. But although there were so many points of resemblance
between gods and men, there remained the one great characteristic
distinction, viz., that the gods enjoyed immortality. Still, they were not
invulnerable, and we often hear of them being wounded, and suffering in
consequence such exquisite torture that they have earnestly prayed to be
deprived of their privilege of immortality.

The gods knew no limitation of time or space, being able to transport
themselves to incredible distances with the speed of thought. They
possessed the power of rendering themselves invisible at will, and could
assume the forms of men or animals as it suited their convenience. They
could also transform human beings into trees, stones, animals, &c., either
as a punishment for their misdeeds, or as a means of protecting the
individual, thus transformed, from impending danger. Their robes were like
those worn by mortals, but were perfect in form and much finer in texture.
Their weapons also resembled those used by mankind; we hear of spears,
shields, helmets, bows and arrows, &c., being employed by the gods. Each
deity possessed a beautiful chariot, which, drawn by horses or other
animals of celestial breed, conveyed them rapidly over land and sea
according to their pleasure. Most of these divinities lived on the summit
of Mount Olympus, each possessing his or her individual habitation, and all
meeting together on festive occasions in the council-chamber of the gods,
where their banquets were enlivened by the sweet strains of Apollo’s lyre,
whilst the beautiful voices of the Muses poured forth their rich melodies
to his harmonious accompaniment. Magnificent temples were erected to their
honour, where they were worshipped with the greatest solemnity; rich gifts
were presented to them, and animals, and indeed sometimes human beings,
were sacrificed on their altars.

In the study of Grecian mythology we meet with some {9} curious, and what
may at first sight appear unaccountable notions. Thus we hear of terrible
giants hurling rocks, upheaving mountains, and raising earthquakes which
engulf whole armies; these ideas, however, may be accounted for by the
awful convulsions of nature, which were in operation in pre-historic times.
Again, the daily recurring phenomena, which to us, who know them to be the
result of certain well-ascertained laws of nature, are so familiar as to
excite no remark, were, to the early Greeks, matter of grave speculation,
and not unfrequently of alarm. For instance, when they heard the awful roar
of thunder, and saw vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied by black clouds
and torrents of rain, they believed that the great god of heaven was angry,
and they trembled at his wrath. If the calm and tranquil sea became
suddenly agitated, and the crested billows rose mountains high, dashing
furiously against the rocks, and threatening destruction to all within
their reach, the sea-god was supposed to be in a furious rage. When they
beheld the sky glowing with the hues of coming day they thought that the
goddess of the dawn, with rosy fingers, was drawing aside the dark veil of
night, to allow her brother, the sun-god, to enter upon his brilliant
career. Thus personifying all the powers of nature, this very imaginative
and highly poetical nation beheld a divinity in every tree that grew, in
every stream that flowed, in the bright beams of the glorious sun, and the
clear, cold rays of the silvery moon; for them the whole universe lived and
breathed, peopled by a thousand forms of grace and beauty.

The most important of these divinities may have been something more than
the mere creations of an active and poetical imagination. They were
possibly human beings who had so distinguished themselves in life by their
preeminence over their fellow-mortals that after death they were deified by
the people among whom they lived, and the poets touched with their magic
wand the details of lives, which, in more prosaic times, would simply have
been recorded as illustrious. {10}

It is highly probable that the reputed actions of these deified beings were
commemorated by bards, who, travelling from one state to another,
celebrated their praise in song; it therefore becomes exceedingly
difficult, nay almost impossible, to separate bare facts from the
exaggerations which never fail to accompany oral traditions.

In order to exemplify this, let us suppose that Orpheus, the son of Apollo,
so renowned for his extraordinary musical powers, had existed at the
present day. We should no doubt have ranked him among the greatest of our
musicians, and honoured him as such; but the Greeks, with their vivid
imagination and poetic license, exaggerated his remarkable gifts, and
attributed to his music supernatural influence over animate and inanimate
nature. Thus we hear of wild beasts tamed, of mighty rivers arrested in
their course, and of mountains being moved by the sweet tones of his voice.
The theory here advanced may possibly prove useful in the future, in
suggesting to the reader the probable basis of many of the extraordinary
accounts we meet with in the study of classical mythology.

And now a few words will be necessary concerning the religious beliefs of
the Romans. When the Greeks first settled in Italy they found in the
country they colonized a mythology belonging to the Celtic inhabitants,
which, according to the Greek custom of paying reverence to all gods, known
or unknown, they readily adopted, selecting and appropriating those
divinities which had the greatest affinity to their own, and thus they
formed a religious belief which naturally bore the impress of its ancient
Greek source. As the primitive Celts, however, were a less civilized people
than the Greeks, their mythology was of a more barbarous character, and
this circumstance, combined with the fact that the Romans were not gifted
with the vivid imagination of their Greek neighbours, leaves its mark on
the Roman mythology, which is far less fertile in fanciful conceits, and
deficient in all those fairy-like stories and wonderfully poetic ideas
which so strongly characterize that of the Greeks.

   *       *       *       *       *



The ancient Greeks had several different theories with regard to the origin
of the world, but the generally accepted notion was that before this world
came into existence, there was in its place a confused mass of shapeless
elements called Chaos. These elements becoming at length consolidated (by
what means does not appear), resolved themselves into two widely different
substances, the lighter portion of which, soaring on high, formed the sky
or firmament, and constituted itself into a vast, overarching vault, which
protected the firm and solid mass beneath.

Thus came into being the two first great primeval deities of the Greeks,
Uranus and Ge or Gæa.

Uranus, the more refined deity, represented the light and air of heaven,
possessing the distinguishing qualities of light, heat, purity, and
omnipresence, whilst Gæa, the firm, flat,[1] life-sustaining earth, was
worshipped as the great all-nourishing mother. Her many titles refer to her
more or less in this character, and she appears to have been universally
revered among the Greeks, there being scarcely a city in Greece which did
not contain a temple erected in her honour; indeed Gæa was held in such
veneration that her name was always invoked whenever the gods took a solemn
oath, made an emphatic declaration, or implored assistance.

Uranus, the heaven, was believed to have united himself in marriage with
Gæa, the earth; and a moment’s reflection will show what a truly poetical,
and also what a logical idea this was; for, taken in a figurative sense,
{12} this union actually does exist. The smiles of heaven produce the
flowers of earth, whereas his long-continued frowns exercise so depressing
an influence upon his loving partner, that she no longer decks herself in
bright and festive robes, but responds with ready sympathy to his
melancholy mood.

The first-born child of Uranus and Gæa was Oceanus,[2] the ocean stream,
that vast expanse of ever-flowing water which encircled the earth. Here we
meet with another logical though fanciful conclusion, which a very slight
knowledge of the workings of nature proves to have been just and true. The
ocean is formed from the rains which descend from heaven and the streams
which flow from earth. By making Oceanus therefore the offspring of Uranus
and Gæa, the ancients, if we take this notion in its literal sense, merely
assert that the ocean is produced by the combined influence of heaven and
earth, whilst at the same time their fervid and poetical imagination led
them to see in this, as in all manifestations of the powers of nature, an
actual, tangible divinity.

But Uranus, the heaven, the embodiment of light, heat, and the breath of
life, produced offspring who were of a much less material nature than his
son Oceanus. These other children of his were supposed to occupy the
intermediate space which divided him from Gæa. Nearest to Uranus, and just
beneath him, came Aether (Ether), a bright creation representing that
highly rarified atmosphere which immortals alone could breathe. Then
followed Aër (Air), which was in close proximity to Gæa, and represented,
as its name implies, the grosser atmosphere surrounding the earth which
mortals could freely breathe, and without which they would perish. Aether
and Aër were separated from each other by divinities called Nephelae. These
were their restless and wandering sisters, who existed in the form of
clouds, ever {13} floating between Aether and Aër. Gæa also produced the
mountains, and Pontus (the sea). She united herself with the latter, and
their offspring were the sea-deities Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and

Co-existent with Uranus and Gæa were two mighty powers who were also the
offspring of Chaos. These were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night), who
formed a striking contrast to the cheerful light of heaven and the bright
smiles of earth. Erebus reigned in that mysterious world below where no ray
of sunshine, no gleam of daylight, nor vestige of health-giving terrestrial
life ever appeared. Nyx, the sister of Erebus, represented Night, and was
worshipped by the ancients with the greatest solemnity.

Uranus was also supposed to have been united to Nyx, but only in his
capacity as god of light, he being considered the source and fountain of
all light, and their children were Eos (Aurora), the Dawn, and Hemera, the
Daylight. Nyx again, on her side was also doubly united, having been
married at some indefinite period to Erebus.

In addition to those children of heaven and earth already enumerated,
Uranus and Gæa produced two distinctly different races of beings called
Giants and Titans. The Giants personified brute strength alone, but the
Titans united to their great physical power intellectual qualifications
variously developed. There were three Giants, Briareus, Cottus, and Gyges,
who each possessed a hundred hands and fifty heads, and were known
collectively by the name of the Hecatoncheires, which signified
hundred-handed. These mighty Giants could shake the universe and produce
earthquakes; it is therefore evident that they represented those active
subterranean forces to which allusion has been made in the opening chapter.
The Titans were twelve in number; their names were: Oceanus, Ceos, Crios,
Hyperion, Iapetus, Cronus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, and

Now Uranus, the chaste light of heaven, the essence of all that is bright
and pleasing, held in abhorrence his {14} crude, rough, and turbulent
offspring, the Giants, and moreover feared that their great power might
eventually prove hurtful to himself. He therefore hurled them into
Tartarus, that portion of the lower world which served as the subterranean
dungeon of the gods. In order to avenge the oppression of her children, the
Giants, Gæa instigated a conspiracy on the part of the Titans against
Uranus, which was carried to a successful issue by her son Cronus. He
wounded his father, and from the blood of the wound which fell upon the
earth sprang a race of monstrous beings also called Giants. Assisted by his
brother-Titans, Cronus succeeded in dethroning his father, who, enraged at
his defeat, cursed his rebellious son, and foretold to him a similar fate.
Cronus now became invested with supreme power, and assigned to his brothers
offices of distinction, subordinate only to himself. Subsequently, however,
when, secure of his position, he no longer needed their assistance, he
basely repaid their former services with treachery, made war upon his
brothers and faithful allies, and, assisted by the Giants, completely
defeated them, sending such as resisted his all-conquering arm down into
the lowest depths of Tartarus.

   *       *       *       *       *



Cronus was the god of time in its sense of eternal duration. He married
Rhea, daughter of Uranus and Gæa, a very important divinity, to whom a
special chapter will be devoted hereafter. Their children were, three sons:
Aïdes (Pluto), Poseidon (Neptune), Zeus (Jupiter), and three daughters:
Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), and Hera (Juno). Cronus, having an uneasy
conscience, was afraid that his children might one day rise up against his
authority, and thus verify the prediction of his father {15} Uranus. In
order, therefore, to render the prophecy impossible of fulfilment, Cronus
swallowed each child as soon as it was born,[3] greatly to the sorrow and
indignation of his wife Rhea. When it came to Zeus, the sixth and last,
Rhea resolved to try and save this one child at least, to love and cherish,
and appealed to her parents, Uranus and Gæa, for counsel and assistance. By
their advice she wrapped a stone in baby-clothes, and Cronus, in eager
haste, swallowed it, without noticing the deception. The child thus saved,
eventually, as we shall see, dethroned his father Cronus, became supreme
god in his stead, and was universally venerated as the great national god
of the Greeks.

Anxious to preserve the secret of his existence from Cronus, Rhea sent the
infant Zeus secretly to Crete, where he was nourished, protected, and
educated. A sacred goat, called Amalthea, supplied the place of his mother,
by providing him with milk; nymphs, called Melissae, fed him with honey,
and eagles and doves brought him nectar and ambrosia.[4] He was kept
concealed in a cave in the heart of Mount Ida, and the Curetes, or priests
of Rhea, by beating their shields together, kept up a constant noise at the
entrance, which drowned the cries of the child and frightened away all
intruders. Under the watchful care of the Nymphs the infant Zeus throve
rapidly, developing great physical powers, combined with {16} extraordinary
wisdom and intelligence. Grown to manhood, he determined to compel his
father to restore his brothers and sisters to the light of day, and is said
to have been assisted in this difficult task by the goddess Metis, who
artfully persuaded Cronus to drink a potion, which caused him to give back
the children he had swallowed. The stone which had counterfeited Zeus was
placed at Delphi, where it was long exhibited as a sacred relic.

Cronus was so enraged at being circumvented that war between the father and
son became inevitable. The rival forces ranged themselves on two separate
high mountains in Thessaly; Zeus, with his brothers and sisters, took his
stand on Mount Olympus, where he was joined by Oceanus, and others of the
Titans, who had forsaken Cronus on account of his oppressions. Cronus and
his brother-Titans took possession of Mount Othrys, and prepared for
battle. The struggle was long and fierce, and at length Zeus, finding that
he was no nearer victory than before, bethought himself of the existence of
the imprisoned Giants, and knowing that they would be able to render him
most powerful assistance, he hastened to liberate them. He also called to
his aid the Cyclops (sons of Poseidon and Amphitrite),[5] who had only one
eye each in the middle of their foreheads, and were called Brontes
(Thunder), Steropes (Lightning), and Pyracmon (Fire-anvil). They promptly
responded to his summons for help, and brought with them tremendous
thunderbolts which the Hecatoncheires, with their hundred hands, hurled
down upon the enemy, at the same time raising mighty earthquakes, which
swallowed up and destroyed all who opposed them. Aided by these new and
powerful allies, Zeus now made a furious onslaught on his enemies, and so
tremendous was the encounter that all nature is said to have throbbed in
accord with this mighty effort of the celestial deities. The sea rose
mountains high, and its angry billows {17} hissed and foamed; the earth
shook to its foundations, the heavens sent forth rolling thunder, and flash
after flash of death-bringing lightning, whilst a blinding mist enveloped
Cronus and his allies.

And now the fortunes of war began to turn, and victory smiled on Zeus.
Cronus and his army were completely overthrown, his brothers despatched to
the gloomy depths of the lower world, and Cronus himself was banished from
his kingdom and deprived for ever of the supreme power, which now became
vested in his son Zeus. This war was called the Titanomachia, and is most
graphically described by the old classic poets.

With the defeat of Cronus and his banishment from his dominions, his career
as a ruling Greek divinity entirely ceases. But being, like all the gods,
immortal, he was supposed to be still in existence, though possessing no
longer either influence or authority, his place being filled to a certain
extent by his descendant and successor, Zeus.

Cronus is often represented as an old man leaning on a scythe, with an
hour-glass in his hand. The hour-glass symbolizes the fast-fleeting moments
as they succeed each other unceasingly; the scythe is emblematical of time,
which mows down all before it.


The Romans, according to their custom of identifying their deities with
those of the Greek gods whose attributes were similar to their own,
declared Cronus to be identical with their old agricultural divinity
Saturn. They believed that after his defeat in the {18} Titanomachia and
his banishment from his dominions by Zeus, he took refuge with Janus, king
of Italy, who received the exiled deity with great kindness, and even
shared his throne with him. Their united reign became so thoroughly
peaceful and happy, and was distinguished by such uninterrupted prosperity,
that it was called the Golden Age.

Saturn is usually represented bearing a sickle in the one hand and a
wheat-sheaf in the other.

A temple was erected to him at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, in which
were deposited the public treasury and the laws of the state.


Rhea, the wife of Cronus, and mother of Zeus and the other great gods of
Olympus, personified the earth, and was regarded as the Great Mother and
unceasing producer of all plant-life. She was also believed to exercise
unbounded sway over the animal creation, more especially over the lion, the
noble king of beasts. Rhea is generally represented wearing a crown of
turrets or towers and seated on a throne, with lions crouching at her feet.
She is sometimes depicted sitting in a chariot, drawn by lions.

The principal seat of her worship, which was always of a very riotous
character, was at Crete. At her festivals, which took place at night, the
wildest music of flutes, cymbals, and drums resounded, whilst joyful shouts
and cries, accompanied by dancing and loud stamping of feet, filled the

This divinity was introduced into Crete by its first colonists from
Phrygia, in Asia Minor, in which country she was worshipped under the name
of Cybele. The people of Crete adored her as the Great Mother, more
especially in her signification as the sustainer of the vegetable world.
Seeing, however, that year by year, as winter appears, all her glory
vanishes, her flowers fade, and her trees become leafless, they poetically
expressed this process of nature under the figure of a lost love. She {19}
was said to have been tenderly attached to a youth of remarkable beauty,
named Atys, who, to her grief and indignation, proved faithless to her. He
was about to unite himself to a nymph called Sagaris, when, in the midst of
the wedding feast, the rage of the incensed goddess suddenly burst forth
upon all present. A panic seized the assembled guests, and Atys, becoming
afflicted with temporary madness, fled to the mountains and destroyed
himself. Cybele, moved with sorrow and regret, instituted a yearly mourning
for his loss, when her priests, the Corybantes, with their usual noisy
accompaniments, marched into the mountains to seek the lost youth. Having
discovered him[6] they gave full vent to their ecstatic delight by
indulging in the most violent gesticulations, dancing, shouting, and, at
the same time, wounding and gashing themselves in a frightful manner.


In Rome the Greek Rhea was identified with Ops, the goddess of plenty, the
wife of Saturn, who had a variety of appellations. She was called
Magna-Mater, Mater-Deorum, Berecynthia-Idea, and also Dindymene. This
latter title she acquired from three high mountains in Phrygia, whence she
was brought to Rome as Cybele during the second Punic war, B.C. 205, in
obedience to an injunction contained in the Sybilline books. She was
represented as a matron crowned with towers, seated in a chariot drawn by

   *       *       *       *       *


We will now return to Zeus and his brothers, who, having gained a complete
victory over their enemies, began to consider how the world, which they had
{20} conquered, should be divided between them. At last it was settled by
lot that Zeus should reign supreme in Heaven, whilst Aïdes governed the
Lower World, and Poseidon had full command over the Sea, but the supremacy
of Zeus was recognized in all three kingdoms, in heaven, on earth (in which
of course the sea was included), and under the earth. Zeus held his court
on the top of Mount Olympus, whose summit was beyond the clouds; the
dominions of Aïdes were the gloomy unknown regions below the earth; and
Poseidon reigned over the sea. It will be seen that the realm of each of
these gods was enveloped in mystery. Olympus was shrouded in mists, Hades
was wrapt in gloomy darkness, and the sea was, and indeed still is, a
source of wonder and deep interest. Hence we see that what to other nations
were merely strange phenomena, served this poetical and imaginative people
as a foundation upon which to build the wonderful stories of their

The division of the world being now satisfactorily arranged, it would seem
that all things ought to have gone on smoothly, but such was not the case.
Trouble arose in an unlooked-for quarter. The Giants, those hideous
monsters (some with legs formed of serpents) who had sprung from the earth
and the blood of Uranus, declared war against the triumphant deities of
Olympus, and a struggle ensued, which, in consequence of Gæa having made
these children of hers invincible as long as they kept their feet on the
ground, was wearisome and protracted. Their mother’s precaution, however,
was rendered unavailing by pieces of rock being hurled upon them, which
threw them down, and their feet being no longer placed firmly on their
mother-earth, they were overcome, and this tedious war (which was called
the Gigantomachia) at last came to an end. Among the most daring of these
earth-born giants were Enceladus, Rhoetus, and the valiant Mimas, who, with
youthful fire and energy, hurled against heaven great masses of rock and
burning oak-trees, and defied the lightnings of Zeus. One of the most
powerful monsters who opposed Zeus in this {21} war was called Typhon or
Typhoeus. He was the youngest son of Tartarus and Gæa, and had a hundred
heads, with eyes which struck terror to the beholders, and awe-inspiring
voices frightful to hear. This dreadful monster resolved to conquer both
gods and men, but his plans were at length defeated by Zeus, who, after a
violent encounter, succeeded in destroying him with a thunderbolt, but not
before he had so terrified the gods that they had fled for refuge to Egypt,
where they metamorphosed themselves into different animals and thus

   *       *       *       *       *


Just as there were several theories concerning the origin of the world, so
there were various accounts of the creation of man.

The first natural belief of the Greek people was that man had sprung from
the earth. They saw the tender plants and flowers force their way through
the ground in the early spring of the year after the frost of winter had
disappeared, and so they naturally concluded that man must also have issued
from the earth in a similar manner. Like the wild plants and flowers, he
was supposed to have had no cultivation, and resembled in his habits the
untamed beasts of the field, having no habitation except that which nature
had provided in the holes of the rocks, and in the dense forests whose
overarching boughs protected him from the inclemency of the weather.

In the course of time these primitive human beings became tamed and
civilized by the gods and heroes, who taught them to work in metals, to
build houses, and other useful arts of civilization. But the human race
became in the course of time so degenerate that the gods resolved to
destroy all mankind by means of a flood; Deucalion {22} (son of Prometheus)
and his wife Pyrrha, being, on account of their piety, the only mortals

By the command of his father, Deucalion built a ship, in which he and his
wife took refuge during the deluge, which lasted for nine days. When the
waters abated the ship rested on Mount Othrys in Thessaly, or according to
some on Mount Parnassus. Deucalion and his wife now consulted the oracle of
Themis as to how the human race might be restored. The answer was, that
they were to cover their heads, and throw the bones of their mother behind
them. For some time they were perplexed as to the meaning of the oracular
command, but at length both agreed that by the bones of their mother were
meant the stones of the earth. They accordingly took up stones from the
mountain side and cast them over their shoulders. From those thrown by
Deucalion there sprang up men, and from those thrown by Pyrrha, women.

After the lapse of time the theory of Autochthony (from autos, self, and
chthon, earth) was laid aside. When this belief existed there were no
religious teachers whatever; but in course of time temples were raised in
honour of the different gods, and priests appointed to offer sacrifices to
them and conduct their worship. These priests were looked upon as
authorities in all religious matters, and the doctrine they taught was,
that man had been created by the gods, and that there had been several
successive ages of men, which were called the Golden, Silver, Brazen, and
Iron Ages.

Life in the Golden Age was one unceasing round of ever-recurring pleasures
unmarred by sorrow or care. The favoured mortals living at this happy time
led pure and joyous lives, thinking no evil, and doing no wrong. The earth
brought forth fruits and flowers without toil or labour in plentiful
luxuriance, and war was unknown. This delightful and god-like existence
lasted for hundreds of years, and when at length life on earth was ended,
death laid his hand so gently upon them that they passed painlessly away in
a happy dream, and continued their existence as ministering spirits in
Hades, watching over and {23} protecting those they had loved and left
behind on earth. The men of the Silver Age[7] were a long time growing up,
and during their childhood, which lasted a hundred years, they suffered
from ill-health and extreme debility. When they at last became men they
lived but a short time, for they would not abstain from mutual injury, nor
pay the service due to the gods, and were therefore banished to Hades.
There, unlike the beings of the Golden Age, they exercised no beneficent
supervision over the dear ones left behind, but wandered about as restless
spirits, always sighing for the lost pleasures they had enjoyed in life.

The men of the Brazen Age were quite a different race of beings, being as
strong and powerful as those of the Silver Age were weak and enervated.
Everything which surrounded them was of brass; their arms, their tools,
their dwellings, and all that they made. Their characters seem to have
resembled the metal in which they delighted; their minds and hearts were
hard, obdurate, and cruel. They led a life of strife and contention,
introduced into the world, which had hitherto known nothing but peace and
tranquillity, the scourge of war, and were in fact only happy when fighting
and quarrelling with each other. Hitherto Themis, the goddess of Justice,
had been living among mankind, but becoming disheartened at their evil
doings, she abandoned the earth, and winged her flight back to heaven. At
last the gods became so tired of their evil deeds and continual
dissensions, that they removed them from the face of the earth, and sent
them down to Hades to share the fate of their predecessors.

We now come to the men of the Iron Age. The earth, no longer teeming with
fruitfulness, only yielded her increase after much toil and labour. The
goddess of Justice having abandoned mankind, no influence remained
sufficiently powerful to preserve them from every kind of wickedness and
sin. This condition grew worse as time went on, until at last Zeus in his
anger let loose the water-courses from above, and drowned every {24}
individual of this evil race, except Deucalion and Pyrrha.

The theory of Hesiod,[8] the oldest of all the Greek poets, was that the
Titan Prometheus, the son of Iapetus, had formed man out of clay, and that
Athene had breathed a soul into him. Full of love for the beings he had
called into existence, Prometheus determined to elevate their minds and
improve their condition in every way; he therefore taught them astronomy,
mathematics, the alphabet, how to cure diseases, and the art of divination.
He created this race in such great numbers that the gods began to see the
necessity of instituting certain fixed laws with regard to the sacrifices
due to them, and the worship to which they considered themselves entitled
from mankind in return for the protection which they accorded them. An
assembly was therefore convened at Mecone in order to settle these points.
It was decided that Prometheus, as the advocate of man, should slay an ox,
which should be divided into two equal parts, and that the gods should
select one portion which should henceforth, in all future sacrifices, be
set apart for them. Prometheus so divided the ox that one part consisted of
the bones (which formed of course the least valuable portion of the
animal), artfully concealed by the white fat; whilst the other contained
all the edible parts, which he covered with the skin, and on the top of all
he laid the stomach.

Zeus, pretending to be deceived, chose the heap of bones, but he saw
through the stratagem, and was so angry at the deception practised on him
by Prometheus that he avenged himself by refusing to mortals the gift of
fire. {25} Prometheus, however, resolved to brave the anger of the great
ruler of Olympus, and to obtain from heaven the vital spark so necessary
for the further progress and comfort of the human race. He accordingly
contrived to steal some sparks from the chariot of the sun, which he
conveyed to earth hidden in a hollow tube. Furious at being again
outwitted, Zeus determined to be revenged first on mankind, and then on
Prometheus. To punish the former he commanded Hephæstus (Vulcan) to mould a
beautiful woman out of clay, and determined that through her
instrumentality trouble and misery should be brought into the world.

The gods were so charmed with the graceful and artistic creation of
Hephæstus, that they all determined to endow her with some special gift.
Hermes (Mercury) bestowed on her a smooth persuasive tongue, Aphrodite gave
her beauty and the art of pleasing; the Graces made her fascinating, and
Athene (Minerva) gifted her with the possession of feminine
accomplishments. She was called Pandora, which means all-gifted, having
received every attribute necessary to make her charming and irresistible.
Thus beautifully formed and endowed, this exquisite creature, attired by
the Graces, and crowned with flowers by the Seasons, was conducted to the
house of Epimetheus[9] by Hermes the messenger of the gods. Now Epimetheus
had been warned by his brother not to accept any gift whatever from the
gods; but he was so fascinated by the beautiful being who suddenly appeared
before him, that he welcomed her to his home, and made her his wife. It was
not long, however, before he had cause to regret his weakness.

He had in his possession a jar of rare workmanship, containing all the
blessings reserved by the gods for mankind, which he had been expressly
forbidden to open. But woman’s proverbial curiosity could not withstand so
great a temptation, and Pandora determined to solve the mystery at any
cost. Watching her opportunity she raised the lid, and immediately all the
blessings which {26} the gods had thus reserved for mankind took wing and
flew away. But all was not lost. Just as Hope (which lay at the bottom) was
about to escape, Pandora hastily closed the lid of the jar, and thus
preserved to man that never-failing solace which helps him to bear with
courage the many ills which assail him.[10]

Having punished mankind, Zeus determined to execute vengeance on
Prometheus. He accordingly chained him to a rock in Mount Caucasus, and
sent an eagle every day to gnaw away his liver, which grew again every
night ready for fresh torments. For thirty years Prometheus endured this
fearful punishment; but at length Zeus relented, and permitted his son
Heracles (Hercules) to kill the eagle, and the sufferer was released.

   *       *       *       *       *



Zeus, the great presiding deity of the universe, the ruler of heaven and
earth, was regarded by the Greeks, first, as the god of all aërial
phenomena; secondly, as the personification of the laws of nature; thirdly,
as lord of state-life; and fourthly, as the father of gods and men.

As the god of aërial phenomena he could, by shaking his ægis,[12] produce
storms, tempests, and intense darkness. At his command the mighty thunder
rolls, the lightning flashes, and the clouds open and pour forth their
refreshing streams to fructify the earth.

As the personification of the operations of nature, he represents those
grand laws of unchanging and harmonious order, by which not only the
physical but also {27} the moral world is governed. Hence he is the god of
regulated time as marked by the changing seasons, and by the regular
succession of day and night, in contradistinction to his father Cronus, who
represents time absolutely, i.e. eternity.

As the lord of state-life, he is the founder of kingly power, the upholder
of all institutions connected with the state, and the special friend and
patron of princes, whom he guards and assists with his advice and counsel.
He protects the assembly of the people, and, in fact, watches over the
welfare of the whole community.

As the father of the gods, Zeus sees that each deity performs his or her
individual duty, punishes their misdeeds, settles their disputes, and acts
towards them on all occasions as their all-knowing counsellor and mighty

As the father of men, he takes a paternal interest in the actions and
well-being of mortals. He watches over them with tender solicitude,
rewarding truth, charity, and uprightness, but severely punishing perjury,
cruelty, and want of hospitality. Even the poorest and most forlorn
wanderer finds in him a powerful advocate, for he, by a wise and merciful
dispensation, ordains that the mighty ones of the earth should succour
their distressed and needy brethren.

The Greeks believed that the home of this their mighty and all-powerful
deity was on the top of Mount Olympus, that high and lofty mountain between
Thessaly and Macedon, whose summit, wrapt in clouds and mist, was hidden
from mortal view. It was supposed that this mysterious region, which even a
bird could not reach, extended beyond the clouds right into Aether, the
realm of the immortal gods. The poets describe this ethereal atmosphere as
bright, glistening, and refreshing, exercising a peculiar, gladdening
influence over the minds and hearts of those privileged beings permitted to
share its delights. Here youth never ages, and the passing years leave no
traces on its favoured inhabitants. On the cloud-capped summit of Olympus
was the palace of {28} Zeus and Hera, of burnished gold, chased silver, and
gleaming ivory. Lower down were the homes of the other gods, which, though
less commanding in position and size, were yet similar to that of Zeus in
design and workmanship, all being the work of the divine artist Hephæstus.
Below these were other palaces of silver, ebony, ivory, or burnished brass,
where the Heroes, or Demi-gods, resided.

As the worship of Zeus formed so important a feature in the religion of the
Greeks, his statues were necessarily both numerous and magnificent. He is
usually represented as a man of noble and imposing mien, his countenance
expressing all the lofty majesty of the omnipotent ruler of the universe,
combined with the gracious, yet serious, benignity of the father and friend
of mankind. He may be recognized by his rich flowing beard, and the thick
masses of hair, which rise straight from the high and intellectual forehead
and fall to his shoulders in clustering locks. The nose is large and finely
formed, and the slightly-opened lips impart an air of sympathetic
kindliness which invites confidence. He is always accompanied by an eagle,
which either surmounts his sceptre, or sits at his feet; he generally bears
in his uplifted hand a sheaf of thunder-bolts, just ready to be hurled,
whilst in the other he holds the lightning. The head is frequently
encircled with a wreath of oak-leaves.

The most celebrated statue of the Olympian Zeus was that by the famous
Athenian sculptor Phidias, which was forty feet high, and stood in the
temple of Zeus at Olympia. It was formed of ivory and gold, and was {29}
such a masterpiece of art, that it was reckoned among the seven wonders of
the world. It represented the god, seated on a throne, holding in his right
hand a life-sized image of Nike (the goddess of Victory), and in his left a
royal sceptre, surmounted by an eagle. It is said that the great sculptor
had concentrated all the marvellous powers of his genius on this sublime
conception, and earnestly entreated Zeus to give him a decided proof that
his labours were approved. An answer to his prayer came through the open
roof of the temple in the shape of a flash of lightning, which Phidias
interpreted as a sign that the god of heaven was pleased with his work.

Zeus was first worshipped at Dodona in Epirus, where, at the foot of Mount
Tomarus, on the woody shore of Lake Joanina, was his famous oracle, the
most ancient in Greece. Here the voice of the eternal and invisible god was
supposed to be heard in the rustling leaves of a giant oak, announcing to
mankind the will of heaven and the destiny of mortals; these revelations
being interpreted to the people by the priests of Zeus, who were called
Selli. Recent excavations which have been made at this spot have brought to
light the ruins of the ancient temple of Zeus, and also, among other
interesting relics, some plates of lead, on which are engraved inquiries
which were evidently made by certain individuals who consulted the oracle.
These little leaden plates speak to us, as it were, in a curiously homely
manner of a by-gone time in the buried past. One person inquires what god
he should apply to for health and fortune; another asks for advice
concerning his child; and a third, evidently a shepherd, promises a gift to
the oracle should a speculation in sheep turn out successfully. Had these
little memorials been of gold instead of lead, they would doubtless have
shared the fate of the numerous treasures which adorned this and other
temples, in the universal pillage which took place when Greece fell into
the hands of barbarians.

Though Dodona was the most ancient of his shrines, the great national seat
of the worship of Zeus was at Olympia in Elis, where there was a
magnificent temple {30} dedicated to him, containing the famous colossal
statue by Phidias above described. Crowds of devout worshippers flocked to
this world-renowned fane from all parts of Greece, not only to pay homage
to their supreme deity, but also to join in the celebrated games which were
held there at intervals of four years. The Olympic games were such a
thoroughly national institution, that even Greeks who had left their native
country made a point of returning on these occasions, if possible, in order
to contend with their fellow-countrymen in the various athletic sports
which took place at these festivals.

It will be seen on reflection that in a country like Greece, which
contained so many petty states, often at variance with each other, these
national gatherings must have been most valuable as a means of uniting the
Greeks in one great bond of brotherhood. On these festive occasions the
whole nation met together, forgetting for the moment all past differences,
and uniting in the enjoyment of the same festivities.

It will doubtless have been remarked that in the representations of Zeus he
is always accompanied by an eagle. This royal bird was sacred to him,
probably from the fact of its being the only creature capable of gazing at
the sun without being dazzled, which may have suggested the idea that it
was able to contemplate the splendour of divine majesty unshrinkingly.

The oak-tree, and also the summits of mountains, were sacred to Zeus. His
sacrifices consisted of white bulls, cows, and goats.

Zeus had seven immortal wives, whose names were Metis, Themis, Eurynome,
Demeter, Mnemosyne, Leto, and Hera.

METIS, his first wife, was one of the Oceanides or sea-nymphs. She was the
personification of prudence and wisdom, a convincing proof of which she
displayed in her successful administration of the potion which caused
Cronus to yield up his children. She was endowed with the gift of prophecy,
and foretold to Zeus that one of their children would gain ascendency over
{31} him. In order, therefore, to avert the possibility of the prediction
being fulfilled he swallowed her before any children were born to them.
Feeling afterwards violent pains in his head, he sent for Hephæstus, and
ordered him to open it with an axe. His command was obeyed, and out sprang,
with a loud and martial shout, a beautiful being, clad in armour from head
to foot. This was Athene (Minerva), goddess of Armed Resistance and Wisdom.

THEMIS was the goddess of Justice, Law, and Order.

EURYNOME was one of the Oceanides, and the mother of the Charites or

DEMETER,[13] the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, was the goddess of

MNEMOSYNE, the daughter of Uranus and Gæa, was the goddess of Memory and
the mother of the nine Muses.

LETO (Latona) was the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe. She was gifted with
wonderful beauty, and was tenderly loved by Zeus, but her lot was far from
being a happy one, for Hera, being extremely jealous of her, persecuted her
with inveterate cruelty, and sent the dreadful serpent Python[14] to
terrify and torment her wherever she went. But Zeus, who had observed with
the deepest compassion her weary wanderings and agonized fears, resolved to
create for her some place of refuge, however humble, where she might feel
herself safe from the venomous attacks of the serpent. He therefore brought
her to Delos, a floating island in the Ægean Sea, which he made stationary
by attaching it with chains of adamant to the bottom of the sea. Here she
gave birth to her twin-children, Apollo and Artemis (Diana), two of the
most beautiful of the immortals.

According to some versions of the story of Leto, Zeus transformed her into
a quail, in order that she might thus elude the vigilance of Hera, and she
is said to have {32} resumed her true form when she arrived at the island
of Delos.

HERA, being the principal wife of Zeus and queen of heaven, a detailed
account will be given of her in a special chapter.

In the union of Zeus with most of his immortal wives we shall find that an
allegorical meaning is conveyed. His marriage with Metis, who is said to
have surpassed both gods and men in knowledge, represents supreme power
allied to wisdom and prudence. His union with Themis typifies the bond
which exists between divine majesty and justice, law, and order. Eurynome,
as the mother of the Charites or Graces, supplied the refining and
harmonizing influences of grace and beauty, whilst the marriage of Zeus
with Mnemosyne typifies the union of genius with memory.

   *       *       *       *       *

In addition to the seven immortal wives of Zeus, he was also allied to a
number of mortal maidens whom he visited under various disguises, as it was
supposed that if he revealed himself in his true form as king of heaven the
splendour of his glory would cause instant destruction to mortals. The
mortal consorts of Zeus have been such a favourite theme with poets,
painters, and sculptors, that it is necessary to give some account of their
individual history. Those best known are Antiope, Leda, Europa, Callisto,
Alcmene, Semele, Io, and Danae.

ANTIOPE, to whom Zeus appeared under the form of a satyr, was the daughter
of Nicteus, king of Thebes. To escape the anger of her father she fled to
Sicyon, where king Epopeus, enraptured with her wonderful beauty, made her
his wife without asking her father’s consent. This so enraged Nicteus that
he declared war against Epopeus, in order to compel him to restore Antiope.
At his death, which took place before he could succeed in his purpose,
Nicteus left his kingdom to his brother Lycus, commanding him, at the same
time, to carry on the war, and execute his vengeance. Lycus invaded Sicyon,
defeated and killed Epopeus, and brought back {33} Antiope as a prisoner.
On the way to Thebes she gave birth to her twin-sons, Amphion and Zethus,
who, by the orders of Lycus, were at once exposed on Mount Cithaeron, and
would have perished but for the kindness of a shepherd, who took pity on
them and preserved their lives. Antiope was, for many years, held captive
by her uncle Lycus, and compelled to suffer the utmost cruelty at the hands
of his wife Dirce. But one day her bonds were miraculously loosened, and
she flew for shelter and protection to the humble dwelling of her sons on
Mount Cithaeron. During the long period of their mother’s captivity the
babes had grown into sturdy youths, and, as they listened angrily to the
story of her wrongs, they became all impatience to avenge them. Setting off
at once to Thebes they succeeded in possessing themselves of the town, and
after slaying the cruel Lycus they bound Dirce by the hair to the horns of
a wild bull, which dragged her hither and thither until she expired. Her
mangled body was cast into the fount near Thebes, which still bears her
name. Amphion became king of Thebes in his uncle’s stead. He was a friend
of the Muses, and devoted to music and poetry. His brother, Zethus, was
famous for his skill in archery, and was passionately fond of the chase. It
is said that when Amphion wished to inclose the town of Thebes with walls
and towers, he had but to play a sweet melody on the lyre, given to him by
Hermes, and the huge stones began to move, and obediently fitted themselves

The punishment of Dirce at the hands of Amphion and Zethus forms the
subject of the world-renowned marble group in the museum at Naples, known
by the name of the Farnese Bull.

In sculpture Amphion is always represented with a lyre; Zethus with a club.

LEDA, whose affections Zeus won under the form of a swan, was the daughter
of Thestius, king of Ætolia. Her twin-sons, Castor and (Polydeuces or)
Pollux,[15] were {34} renowned for their tender attachment to each other.
They were also famous for their physical accomplishments, Castor being the
most expert charioteer of his day, and Pollux the first of pugilists. Their
names appear both among the hunters of the Calydonian boar-hunt and the
heroes of the Argonautic expedition. The brothers became attached to the
daughters of Leucippus, prince of the Messenians, who had been betrothed by
their father to Idas and Lynceus, sons of Aphareus. Having persuaded
Leucippus to break his promise, the twins carried off the maidens as their
brides. Idas and Lynceus, naturally furious at this proceeding, challenged
the Dioscuri to mortal combat, in which Castor perished by the hand of
Idas, and Lynceus by that of Pollux. Zeus wished to confer the gift of
immortality upon Pollux, but he refused to accept it unless allowed to
share it with Castor. Zeus gave the desired permission, and the faithful
brothers were both allowed to live, but only on alternate days. The
Dioscuri received divine honours throughout Greece, and were worshipped
with special reverence at Sparta.

EUROPA was the beautiful daughter of Agenor, king of Phoenicia. She was one
day gathering flowers with her companions in a meadow near the sea-shore,
when Zeus, charmed with her great beauty, and wishing to win her love,
transformed himself into a beautiful white bull, and trotted quietly up to
the princess, so as not to alarm her. Surprised at the gentleness of the
animal, and admiring its beauty, as it lay placidly on the grass, she
caressed it, crowned it with flowers, and, at last, playfully seated
herself on its back. Hardly had she done so than the disguised god bounded
away with his lovely burden, and swam across the sea with her to the island
of Crete.

Europa was the mother of Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus. Minos, who became
king of Crete, was celebrated for his justice and moderation, and after
death he was created one of the judges of the lower world, which office he
held in conjunction with his brothers. {35}

CALLISTO, the daughter of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, was a huntress in the
train of Artemis, devoted to the pleasures of the chase, who had made a vow
never to marry; but Zeus, under the form of the huntress-goddess, succeeded
in obtaining her affections. Hera, being extremely jealous of her, changed
her into a bear, and caused Artemis (who failed to recognize her attendant
under this form) to hunt her in the chase, and put an end to her existence.
After her death she was placed by Zeus among the stars as a constellation,
under the name of Arctos, or the bear.

ALCMENE, the daughter of Electryon, king of Mycenae, was betrothed to her
cousin Amphytrion; but, during his absence on a perilous undertaking, Zeus
assumed his form, and obtained her affections. Heracles (whose
world-renowned exploits will be related among the legends) was the son of
Alcmene and Zeus.

SEMELE, a beautiful princess, the daughter of Cadmus, king of Phoenicia,
was greatly beloved by Zeus. Like the unfortunate Callisto, she was hated
by Hera with jealous malignity, and the haughty queen of heaven determined
to effect her destruction. Disguising herself, therefore, as Beroe,
Semele’s faithful old nurse, she artfully persuaded her to insist upon Zeus
visiting her, as he appeared to Hera, in all his power and glory, well
knowing that this would cause her instant death. Semele, suspecting no
treachery, followed the advice of her supposed nurse; and the next time
Zeus came to her, she earnestly entreated him to grant the favour she was
about to ask. Zeus swore by the Styx (which was to the gods an irrevocable
oath) to accede to her request whatsoever it might be. Semele, therefore,
secure of gaining her petition, begged of Zeus to appear to her in all the
glory of his divine power and majesty. As he had sworn to grant whatever
she asked of him, he was compelled to comply with her wish; he therefore
revealed himself as the mighty lord of the universe, accompanied by thunder
and lightning, and she was instantly consumed in the flames. {36}

IO, daughter of Inachus, king of Argos, was a priestess of Hera. She was
very beautiful, and Zeus, who was much attached to her, transformed her
into a white cow, in order to defeat the jealous intrigues of Hera, who,
however, was not to be deceived. Aware of the stratagem, she contrived to
obtain the animal from Zeus, and placed her under the watchful care of a
man called Argus-Panoptes, who fastened her to an olive-tree in the grove
of Hera. He had a hundred eyes, of which, when asleep, he never closed more
than two at a time; being thus always on the watch, Hera found him
extremely useful in keeping guard over Io. Hermes, however, by the command
of Zeus, succeeded in putting all his eyes to sleep with the sound of his
magic lyre, and then, taking advantage of his helpless condition, slew him.
The story goes, that in commemoration of the services which Argus had
rendered her, Hera placed his eyes on the tail of a peacock, as a lasting
memorial of her gratitude. Ever fertile in resource, Hera now sent a gadfly
to worry and torment the unfortunate Io incessantly, and she wandered all
over the world in hopes of escaping from her tormentor. At length she
reached Egypt, where she found rest and freedom from the persecutions of
her enemy. On the banks of the Nile she resumed her original form and gave
birth to a son called Epaphus, who afterwards became king of Egypt, and
built the famous city of Memphis.

DANAE.–Zeus appeared to Danae under the form of a shower of gold. (Further
details concerning her will be found in the legend of Perseus.)

   *       *       *       *       *

The Greeks supposed that the divine ruler of the Universe occasionally
assumed a human form, and descended from his celestial abode, in order to
visit mankind and observe their proceedings, his aim being generally either
to punish the guilty, or to reward the deserving.

On one occasion Zeus, accompanied by Hermes, made a journey through
Phrygia, seeking hospitality and shelter wherever they went. But nowhere
did they receive a {37} kindly welcome till they came to the humble cottage
of an old man and his wife called Philemon and Baucis, who entertained them
with the greatest kindness, setting before them what frugal fare their
humble means permitted, and bidding them welcome with unaffected
cordiality. Observing in the course of their simple repast that the wine
bowl was miraculously replenished, the aged couple became convinced of the
divine nature of their guests. The gods now informed them that on account
of its wickedness their native place was doomed to destruction, and told
them to climb the neighbouring hill with them, which overlooked the village
where they dwelt. What was their dismay on beholding at their feet, in
place of the spot where they had passed so many happy years together,
nothing but a watery plain, the only house to be seen being their own
little cottage, which suddenly changed itself into a temple before their
eyes. Zeus now asked the worthy pair to name any wish they particularly
desired and it should be granted. They accordingly begged that they might
serve the gods in the temple below, and end life together.

Their wish was granted, for, after spending the remainder of their lives in
the worship of the gods, they both died at the same instant, and were
transformed by Zeus into trees, remaining for ever side by side.

Upon another occasion Zeus, wishing to ascertain for himself the truth of
the reports concerning the atrocious wickedness of mankind, made a journey
through Arcadia. Being recognized by the Arcadians as king of heaven, he
was received by them with becoming respect and veneration; but Lycaon,
their king, who had rendered himself infamous by the gross impiety of
himself and his sons, doubted the divinity of Zeus, ridiculed his people
for being so easily duped, and, according to his custom of killing all
strangers who ventured to trust his hospitality, resolved to murder him.
Before executing this wicked design, however, he decided to put Zeus to the
test, and having killed a boy for the purpose, placed before him a dish
containing human flesh. But Zeus was {38} not to be deceived. He beheld the
revolting dish with horror and loathing, and angrily upsetting the table
upon which it was placed, turned Lycaon into a wolf, and destroyed all his
fifty sons by lightning, except Nyctimus, who was saved by the intervention
of Gæa.


The Roman Jupiter, who is so frequently confounded with the Greek Zeus, is
identical with him only as being the head of the Olympic gods, and the
presiding deity over Life, Light, and Aërial Phenomena. Jupiter is lord of
life in its widest and most comprehensive signification, having absolute
power over life and death, in which respect he differed from the Greek
Zeus, who was to a certain extent controlled by the all-potent sway of the
Moiræ or Fates. Zeus, as we have seen, often condescends to visit mankind,
either as a mortal, or under various disguises, whereas Jupiter always
remains essentially the supreme god of heaven, and never appears upon

The most celebrated temple of Jupiter was that on the Capitoline Hill in
the city of Rome, where he was worshipped under the names of
Jupiter-Optimus-Maximus, Capitolinus, and Tarpeius.

The Romans represented him seated on a throne of ivory, holding in his
right hand a sheaf of thunderbolts, and in his left a sceptre, whilst an
eagle stands beside his throne.


Hera, the eldest daughter of Cronus and Rhea, was born at Samos, or,
according to some accounts, at Argos, and was reared by the sea-divinities
Oceanus and Tethys, who were models of conjugal fidelity.[16] She was the
{39} principal wife of Zeus, and, as queen of heaven, participated in the
honours paid to him, but her dominion only extended over the air (the lower
aërial regions). Hera appears to be the sublime embodiment of strict
matronly virtue, and is on that account the protectress of purity and
married women. Faultless herself in her fidelity as a wife, she is
essentially the type of the sanctity of the marriage tie, and holds in
abhorrence any violation of its obligations. So strongly was she imbued
with this hatred of any immorality, that, finding herself so often called
upon to punish the failings of both gods and men in this respect, she
became jealous, harsh, and vindictive. Her exalted position as the wife of
the supreme deity, combined with her extreme beauty, caused her to become
exceedingly vain, and she consequently resented with great severity any
infringement on her rights as queen of heaven, or any apparent slight on
her personal appearance.

The following story will signally illustrate how ready she was to resent
any slight offered to her.

At the marriage of the sea-nymph Thetis with a mortal called Peleus, all
the gods and goddesses were present, except Eris (the goddess of Discord).
Indignant at not being invited, she determined to cause dissension in the
assembly, and for this purpose threw into the midst of the guests a golden
apple with the inscription on it “For the Fairest.” Now, as all the
goddesses were extremely beautiful, each claimed the apple; but at length,
the rest having relinquished their pretensions, the number of candidates
was reduced to three, Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite, who agreed to appeal to
Paris for a settlement of this delicate question, he being noted for the
wisdom he had displayed in his judgment upon several occasions. Paris was
the son of Priam, king of Troy, who, ignorant of his noble birth, was at
this time feeding his flocks on Mount Ida, in Phrygia. Hermes, as messenger
of the gods, conducted the three rival beauties to the young shepherd, and
with breathless anxiety they awaited his decision. Each fair candidate
endeavoured {40} to secure his favour by the most tempting offers. Hera
promised him extensive dominions; Athene, martial fame and glory; and
Aphrodite, the loveliest woman in the world. But whether he really
considered Aphrodite the fairest of the three, or preferred a beautiful
wife to fame and power, we cannot tell; all we know is that to her he
awarded the golden apple, and she became ever after universally
acknowledged as the goddess of beauty. Hera, having fully expected that
Paris would give her the preference, was so indignant that she never
forgave him, and not only persecuted him, but all the family of Priam,
whose dreadful sufferings and misfortunes during the Trojan war were
attributed to her influence. In fact, she carried her animosity to such an
extent that it was often the cause of domestic disagreements between
herself and Zeus, who espoused the cause of the Trojans.

Among the many stories of these frequent quarrels there is one connected
with Heracles, the favourite son of Zeus, which is as follows:–Hera having
raised a storm at sea in order to drive him out of his course, Zeus became
so angry that he hung her in the clouds by a golden chain, and attached
heavy anvils to her feet. Her son Hephæstus tried to release his mother
from her humiliating position, for which Zeus threw him out of heaven, and
his leg was broken by the fall.

Hera, being deeply offended with Zeus, determined to separate herself from
him for ever, and she accordingly left him and took up her abode in Euboea.
Surprised and grieved at this unlooked-for desertion, Zeus resolved to
leave no means untried to win her back again. In this emergency he
consulted Cithaeron, king of Platea, who was famed for his great wisdom and
subtlety. Cithaeron advised him to dress up an image in bridal attire and
place it in a chariot, announcing that this was Platea, his future wife.
The artifice succeeded. Hera, incensed at the idea of a rival, flew to meet
the procession in great anger, and seizing the supposed bride, she
furiously attacked her and dragged off her nuptial attire. Her delight on
discovering the deception was so great that a {41} reconciliation took
place, and, committing the image to the flames, with joyful laughter she
seated herself in its place and returned to Olympus.

Hera was the mother of Ares (Mars), Hephæstus, Hebe, and Eileithyia. Ares
was the god of War; Hephæstus, of Fire; Hebe, of Youth; and Eileithyia
presided over the birth of mortals.

Hera dearly loved Greece, and indeed always watched over and protected
Greek interests, her beloved and favourite cities being Argos, Samos,
Sparta, and Mycenæ.

Her principal temples were at Argos and Samos. From a remote period she was
greatly venerated at Olympia, and her temple there, which stood in the
Altis or sacred grove, was five hundred years older than that of Zeus on
the same spot. Some interesting excavations which are now going on there
have brought to light the remains of the ancient edifice, which contains
among other treasures of antiquity several beautiful statues, the work of
the famous sculptors of ancient Greece. At first this temple was built of
wood, then of stone, and the one lately discovered was formed of
conglomerate of shells.

In the Altis races were run by young maidens in honour of Hera, and the
fleetest of foot received in token of her victory an olive-wreath and a
piece of the flesh of the sacrifices. These races, like the Olympic Games,
were celebrated at intervals of four years, and were called Heræ. A
beautiful robe, woven by sixteen women chosen from the sixteen cities of
Elis, was always offered to Hera on these {42} occasions, and choral songs
and sacred dances formed part of the ceremonies.

Hera is usually represented seated on a throne, holding a pomegranate in
one hand and a sceptre surmounted by a cuckoo in the other. She appears as
a calm, dignified matron of majestic beauty, robed in a tunic and mantle,
her forehead is broad and intellectual, her eyes large and fully opened,
and her arms dazzlingly white and finely moulded.

The finest statue of this divinity was that by Polycletus at Argos.

Her attributes are the diadem, veil, sceptre, and peacock.

The first day of every month a ewe-lamb and sow were sacrificed to Hera.
The hawk, goose, and more particularly the peacock[17] were sacred to her.
Flocks of these beautiful birds generally surround her throne and draw her
chariot, Iris, the Rainbow, being seated behind her.

Her favourite flowers were the dittany, poppy, and lily.


Juno, the Roman divinity supposed to be identical with the Greek Hera,
differed from her in the most salient points, for whereas Hera invariably
appears as the haughty, unbending queen of heaven, Juno, on the other hand,
is revered and beloved as the type of a matron and housewife. She was
worshipped in Rome under various titles, most of which point to her
vocation as the protectress of married women. Juno was believed to watch
over and guard the life of every woman from her birth to her death. The
principal temples dedicated to her were in Rome, one being erected on the
Aventine, and the other on the Capitoline Hill. She had also a temple on
the Arx, in which she was worshipped as Juno Moneta, or the {43} warning
goddess. Adjacent to this shrine was the public mint.[18] On the 1st of
March a grand annual festival, called the Matronalia, was celebrated in her
honour by all the married women of Rome, and this religious institution was
accompanied with much solemnity.[19]


Pallas-Athene, goddess of Wisdom and Armed Resistance, was a purely Greek
divinity; that is to say, no other nation possessed a corresponding
conception. She was supposed, as already related, to have issued from the
head of Zeus himself, clad in armour from head to foot. The miraculous
advent of this maiden goddess is beautifully described by Homer in one of
his hymns: snow-capped Olympus shook to its foundation; the glad earth
re-echoed her martial shout; the billowy sea became agitated; and Helios,
the sun-god, arrested his fiery steeds in their headlong course to welcome
this wonderful emanation from the godhead. Athene was at once admitted into
the assembly of the gods, and henceforth took her place as the most
faithful and sagacious of all her father’s counsellors. This brave,
dauntless maiden, so exactly the essence of all that is noble in the
character of “the father of gods and men,” remained throughout chaste in
word and deed, and kind at heart, without exhibiting any of those failings
which somewhat mar the nobler features in the character of Zeus. This
direct emanation from his own self, justly his favourite child, his better
and purer counterpart, received from him several important prerogatives.
She was permitted to hurl the thunderbolts, to prolong the life of man, and
to bestow the gift of prophecy; in fact Athene was the only divinity whose
authority was equal to that of Zeus himself, and when he had ceased to
visit the earth in person {44} she was empowered by him to act as his
deputy. It was her especial duty to protect the state and all peaceful
associations of mankind, which she possessed the power of defending when
occasion required. She encouraged the maintenance of law and order, and
defended the right on all occasions, for which reason, in the Trojan war
she espouses the cause of the Greeks and exerts all her influence on their
behalf. The Areopagus, a court of justice where religious causes and
murders were tried, was believed to have been instituted by her, and when
both sides happened to have an equal number of votes she gave the
casting-vote in favour of the accused. She was the patroness of learning,
science, and art, more particularly where these contributed directly
towards the welfare of nations. She presided over all inventions connected
with agriculture, invented the plough, and taught mankind how to use oxen
for farming purposes. She also instructed mankind in the use of numbers,
trumpets, chariots, &c., and presided over the building of the Argo,[20]
thereby encouraging the useful art of navigation. She also taught the
Greeks how to build the wooden horse by means of which the destruction of
Troy was effected.

The safety of cities depended on her care, for which reason her temples
were generally built on the citadels, and she was supposed to watch over
the defence of the walls, fortifications, harbours, &c. A divinity who so
faithfully guarded the best interests of the state, by not only protecting
it from the attacks of enemies, but also by developing its chief resources
of wealth and prosperity, was worthily chosen as the presiding deity of the
state, and in this character as an essentially political goddess she was
called Athene-Polias.

The fact of Athene having been born clad in armour, which merely signified
that her virtue and purity were unassailable, has given rise to the
erroneous supposition that she was the presiding goddess of war; but a
deeper {45} study of her character in all its bearings proves that, in
contradistinction to her brother Ares, the god of war, who loved strife for
its own sake, she only takes up arms to protect the innocent and deserving
against tyrannical oppression. It is true that in the Iliad we frequently
see her on the battlefield fighting valiantly, and protecting her favourite
heroes; but this is always at the command of Zeus, who even supplies her
with arms for the purpose, as it is supposed that she possessed none of her
own. A marked feature in the representations of this deity is the ægis,
that wonderful shield given to her by her father as a further means of
defence, which, when in danger, she swung so swiftly round and round that
it kept at a distance all antagonistic influences; hence her name Pallas,
from pallo, I swing. In the centre of this shield, which was covered with
dragon’s scales, bordered with serpents, and which she sometimes wore as a
breastplate, was the awe-inspiring head of the Medusa, which had the effect
of turning to stone all beholders.

In addition to the many functions which she exercised in connection with
the state, Athene presided over the two chief departments of feminine
industry, spinning and weaving. In the latter art she herself displayed
unrivalled ability and exquisite taste. She wove her own robe and that of
Hera, which last she is said to have embroidered very richly; she also gave
Jason a cloak wrought by herself, when he set forth in quest of the Golden
Fleece. Being on one occasion challenged to a contest in this
accomplishment by a mortal maiden named Arachne, whom she had instructed in
the art of weaving, she accepted the challenge and was completely
vanquished by her pupil. Angry at her defeat, she struck the unfortunate
maiden on the forehead with the shuttle which she held in her hand; and
Arachne, being of a sensitive nature, was so hurt by this indignity that
she hung herself in despair, and was changed by Athene into a spider. This
goddess is said to have invented the flute,[21] upon {46} which she played
with considerable talent, until one day, being laughed at by the assembled
gods and goddesses for the contortions which her countenance assumed during
these musical efforts, she hastily ran to a fountain in order to convince
herself whether she deserved their ridicule. Finding to her intense disgust
that such was indeed the fact, she threw the flute away, and never raised
it to her lips again.

Athene is usually represented fully draped; she has a serious and
thoughtful aspect, as though replete with earnestness and wisdom; the
beautiful oval contour of her countenance is adorned by the luxuriance of
her wealth of hair, which is drawn back from the temples and hangs down in
careless grace; she looks the embodiment of strength, grandeur, and
majesty; whilst her broad shoulders and small hips give her a slightly
masculine appearance.

When represented as the war-goddess she appears clad in armour, with a
helmet on her head, from which waves a large plume; she carries the ægis on
her arm, and in her hand a golden staff, which possessed the property of
endowing her chosen favourites with youth and dignity.

Athene was universally worshipped throughout Greece, but was regarded with
special veneration by the Athenians, she being the guardian deity of
Athens. Her most celebrated temple was the Parthenon, which stood on the
{47} Acropolis at Athens, and contained her world-renowned statue by
Phidias, which ranks second only to that of Zeus by the same great artist.
This colossal statue was 39 feet high, and was composed of ivory and gold;
its majestic beauty formed the chief attraction of the temple. It
represented her standing erect, bearing her spear and shield; in her hand
she held an image of Nike, and at her feet there lay a serpent.

The tree sacred to her was the olive, which she herself produced in a
contest with Poseidon. The olive-tree thus called into existence was
preserved in the temple of Erectheus, on the Acropolis, and is said to have
possessed such marvellous vitality, that when the Persians burned it after
sacking the town it immediately burst forth into new shoots.

The principal festival held in honour of this divinity was the Panathenæa.

The owl, cock, and serpent were the animals sacred to her, and her
sacrifices were rams, bulls, and cows.


The Minerva of the Romans was identified with the Pallas-Athene of the
Greeks. Like her she presides over learning and all useful arts, and is the
patroness of the feminine accomplishments of sewing, spinning, weaving, &c.
Schools were under her especial care, and schoolboys, therefore, had
holidays during her festivals (the Greater Quinquatria), when they always
brought a gift to their master, called the Minerval.

It is worthy of notice that the only three divinities {48} worshipped in
the Capitol were Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and in their joint honour the
Ludi Maximi or great games were held.


Themis, who has already been alluded to as the wife of Zeus, was the
daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and personified those divine laws of justice
and order by means of which the well-being and morality of communities are
regulated. She presided over the assemblies of the people and the laws of
hospitality. To her was intrusted the office of convoking the assembly of
the gods, and she was also mistress of ritual and ceremony. On account of
her great wisdom Zeus himself frequently sought her counsel and acted upon
her advice. Themis was a prophetic divinity, and had an oracle near the
river Cephissus in Boeotia.

She is usually represented as being in the full maturity of womanhood, of
fair aspect, and wearing a flowing garment, which drapes her noble,
majestic form; in her right hand she holds the sword of justice, and in her
left the scales, which indicate the impartiality with which every cause is
carefully weighed by her, her eyes being bandaged so that the personality
of the individual should carry no weight with respect to the verdict.

This divinity is sometimes identified with Tyche, sometimes with Ananke.

Themis, like so many other Greek divinities, takes the place of a more
ancient deity of the same name who was a daughter of Uranus and Gæa. This
elder Themis inherited from her mother the gift of prophecy, and when she
became merged into her younger representative she transmitted to her this
prophetic power.

HESTIA (Vesta).

Hestia was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was the goddess of Fire in
its first application to the wants of mankind, hence she was essentially
the presiding deity {49} of the domestic hearth and the guardian spirit of
man, and it was her pure and benign influence which was supposed to protect
the sanctity of domestic life.

Now in these early ages the hearth was regarded as the most important and
most sacred portion of the dwelling, probably because the protection of the
fire was an important consideration, for if once permitted to become
extinct, re-ignition was attended with extreme difficulty. In fact, the
hearth was held so sacred that it constituted the sanctum of the family,
for which reason it was always erected in the centre of every house. It was
a few feet in height and was built of stone; the fire was placed on the top
of it, and served the double purpose of preparing the daily meals, and
consuming the family sacrifices. Round this domestic hearth or altar were
gathered the various members of the family, the head of the house occupying
the place of honour nearest the hearth. Here prayers were said and
sacrifices offered, and here also every kind and loving feeling was
fostered, which even extended to the hunted and guilty stranger, who, if he
once succeeded in touching this sacred altar, was safe from pursuit and
punishment, and was henceforth placed under the protection of the family.
Any crime committed within the sacred precincts of the domestic hearth was
invariably visited by death.

In Grecian cities there was a common hall, called the Prytaneum, in which
the members of the government had their meals at the expense of the state,
and here too was the Hestia, or public hearth, with its fire, by means of
which those meals were prepared. It was customary for emigrants to take
with them a portion of this sacred fire, which they jealously guarded and
brought with them to their new home, where it served as a connecting link
between the young Greek colony and the mother country. Hestia is generally
represented standing, and in accordance with the dignity and sanctity of
her character, always appears fully draped. Her countenance is
distinguished by a serene gravity of expression. {50}


Vesta occupies a distinguished place among the earlier divinities of the
Romans. Her temple in Rome, containing as it were the hearthstone of the
nation, stood close beside the palace of Numa Pompilius.

On her altar burned the never-ceasing fire, which was tended by her
priestesses, the Vestal Virgins.[22]

The temple of Vesta was circular in form, and contained that sacred and
highly prized treasure the Palladium of Troy.[23]

The great festival in honour of Vesta, called the Vestalia, was celebrated
on the 9th of June.

DEMETER (Ceres).

Demeter (from Ge-meter, earth-mother) was the daughter of Cronus and
Rhea.[24] She represented that portion of Gæa (the whole solid earth) which
we call the earth’s crust, and which produces all vegetation. As goddess of
agriculture, field-fruits, plenty, and productiveness, she was the
sustainer of material life, and was therefore a divinity of great
importance. When ancient Gæa lost, with Uranus, her position as a ruling
divinity, she abdicated her sway in favour of her daughter Rhea, who
henceforth inherited the powers which her mother had previously possessed,
receiving in her place the honour and worship of mankind. In a very old
poem Gæa is accordingly described as retiring to a cavern in the bowels
{51} of the earth, where she sits in the lap of her daughter, slumbering,
moaning, and nodding for ever and ever.

It is necessary to keep clearly in view the distinctive difference between
the three great earth-goddesses Gæa, Rhea, and Demeter. Gæa represents the
earth as a whole, with its mighty subterranean forces; Rhea is that
productive power which causes vegetation to spring forth, thus sustaining
men and animals; Demeter, by presiding over agriculture, directs and
utilizes Rhea’s productive powers. But in later times, when Rhea, like
other ancient divinities, loses her importance as a ruling deity, Demeter
assumes all her functions and attributes, and then becomes the goddess of
the life-producing and life-maintaining earth-crust. We must bear in mind
the fact that man in his primitive state knew neither how to sow nor how to
till the ground; when, therefore, he had exhausted the pastures which
surrounded him he was compelled to seek others which were as yet unreaped;
thus, roaming constantly from one place to another, settled habitations,
and consequently civilizing influences, were impossible. Demeter, however,
by introducing a knowledge of agriculture, put an end, at once and for
ever, to that nomadic life which was now no longer necessary.

The favour of Demeter was believed to bring mankind rich harvests and
fruitful crops, whereas her displeasure caused blight, drought, and famine.
The island of Sicily was supposed to be under her especial protection, and
there she was regarded with particular veneration, the Sicilians naturally
attributing the wonderful fertility of their country to the partiality of
the goddess.

Demeter is usually represented as a woman of noble {52} bearing and
majestic appearance, tall, matronly, and dignified, with beautiful golden
hair, which falls in rippling curls over her stately shoulders, the yellow
locks being emblematical of the ripened ears of corn. Sometimes she appears
seated in a chariot drawn by winged dragons, at others she stands erect,
her figure drawn up to its full height, and always fully draped; she bears
a sheaf of wheat-ears in one hand and a lighted torch in the other. The
wheat-ears are not unfrequently replaced by a bunch of poppies, with which
her brows are also garlanded, though sometimes she merely wears a simple
riband in her hair.

Demeter, as the wife of Zeus, became the mother of Persephone (Proserpine),
to whom she was so tenderly attached that her whole life was bound up in
her, and she knew no happiness except in her society. One day, however,
whilst Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow, attended by the
ocean-nymphs, she saw to her surprise a beautiful narcissus, from the stem
of which sprang forth a hundred blossoms. Drawing near to examine this
lovely flower, whose exquisite scent perfumed the air, she stooped down to
gather it, suspecting no evil, when a yawning abyss opened at her feet, and
Aïdes, the grim ruler of the lower world, appeared from its depths, seated
in his dazzling chariot drawn by four black horses. Regardless of her tears
and the shrieks of her female attendants, Aïdes seized the terrified
maiden, and bore her away to the gloomy realms over which he reigned in
melancholy grandeur. Helios, the all-seeing sun-god, and Hecate, a
mysterious and very ancient divinity, alone heard her cries for aid, but
were powerless to help her. When Demeter became conscious of her loss her
grief was intense, and she refused to be comforted. She knew not where to
seek for her child, but feeling that repose and inaction were impossible,
she set out on her weary search, taking with her two torches which she
lighted in the flames of Mount Etna to guide her on her way. For nine long
days and nights she wandered on, inquiring of every one she met for tidings
of her child. {53} But all was in vain! Neither gods nor men could give her
the comfort which her soul so hungered for. At last, on the tenth day, the
disconsolate mother met Hecate, who informed her that she had heard her
daughter’s cries, but knew not who it was that had borne her away. By
Hecate’s advice Demeter consulted Helios, whose all-seeing eye nothing
escapes, and from him she learnt that it was Zeus himself who had permitted
Aïdes to seize Persephone, and transport her to the lower world in order
that she might become his wife. Indignant with Zeus for having given his
sanction to the abduction of his daughter, and filled with the bitterest
sorrow, she abandoned her home in Olympus, and refused all heavenly food.
Disguising herself as an old woman, she descended upon earth, and commenced
a weary pilgrimage among mankind. One evening she arrived at a place called
Eleusis, in Attica, and sat down to rest herself near a well beneath the
shade of an olive-tree. The youthful daughters of Celeus, the king of the
country, came with their pails of brass to draw water from this well, and
seeing that the tired wayfarer appeared faint and dispirited, they spoke
kindly to her, asking who she was, and whence she came. Demeter replied
that she had made her escape from pirates, who had captured her, and added
that she would feel grateful for a home with any worthy family, whom she
would be willing to serve in a menial capacity. The princesses, on hearing
this, begged Demeter to have a moment’s patience while they returned home
and consulted their mother, Metaneira. They soon brought the joyful
intelligence that she was desirous of securing her services as nurse to her
infant son Demophoon, or Triptolemus. When Demeter arrived at the house a
radiant light suddenly illumined her, which circumstance so overawed
Metaneira that she treated the unknown stranger with the greatest respect,
and hospitably offered her food and drink. But Demeter, still grief-worn
and dejected, refused her friendly offers, and held herself apart from the
social board. At length, however, the maid-servant Iambe succeeded, by
means {54} of playful jests and merriment, in somewhat dispelling the grief
of the sorrowing mother, causing her at times to smile in spite of herself,
and even inducing her to partake of a mixture of barley-meal, mint, and
water, which was prepared according to the directions of the goddess
herself. Time passed on, and the young child throve amazingly under the
care of his kind and judicious nurse, who, however, gave him no food, but
anointed him daily with ambrosia, and every night laid him secretly in the
fire in order to render him immortal and exempt from old age. But,
unfortunately, this benevolent design on the part of Demeter was frustrated
by Metaneira herself, whose curiosity, one night, impelled her to watch the
proceedings of the mysterious being who nursed her child. When to her
horror she beheld her son placed in the flames, she shrieked aloud.
Demeter, incensed at this untimely interruption, instantly withdrew the
child, and throwing him on the ground, revealed herself in her true
character. The bent and aged form had vanished, and in its place there
stood a bright and beauteous being, whose golden locks streamed over her
shoulders in richest luxuriance, her whole aspect bespeaking dignity and
majesty. She told the awe-struck Metaneira that she was the goddess
Demeter, and had intended to make her son immortal, but that her fatal
curiosity had rendered this impossible, adding, however, that the child,
having slept in her arms, and been nursed on her lap, should ever command
the respect and esteem of mankind. She then desired that a temple and altar
should be erected to her on a neighbouring hill by the people of Eleusis,
promising that she herself would direct them how to perform the sacred
rites and ceremonies, which should be observed in her honour. With these
words she took her departure never to return.

Obedient to her commands, Celeus called together a meeting of his people,
and built the temple on the spot which the goddess had indicated. It was
soon completed, and Demeter took up her abode in it, but her heart was
still sad for the loss of her daughter, and the whole world felt the
influence of her grief and dejection. This was {55} indeed a terrible year
for mankind. Demeter no longer smiled on the earth she was wont to bless,
and though the husbandman sowed the grain, and the groaning oxen ploughed
the fields, no harvest rewarded their labour. All was barren, dreary
desolation. The world was threatened with famine, and the gods with the
loss of their accustomed honours and sacrifices; it became evident,
therefore, to Zeus himself that some measures must be adopted to appease
the anger of the goddess. He accordingly despatched Iris and many of the
other gods and goddesses to implore Demeter to return to Olympus; but all
their prayers were fruitless. The incensed goddess swore that until her
daughter was restored to her she would not allow the grain to spring forth
from the earth. At length Zeus sent Hermes, his faithful messenger, to the
lower world with a petition to Aïdes, urgently entreating him to restore
Persephone to the arms of her disconsolate mother. When he arrived in the
gloomy realms of Aïdes, Hermes found him seated on a throne with the
beautiful Persephone beside him, sorrowfully bewailing her unhappy fate. On
learning his errand, Aïdes consented to resign Persephone, who joyfully
prepared to follow the messenger of the gods to the abode of life and
light. Before taking leave of her husband, he presented to her a few seeds
of pomegranate, which in her excitement she thoughtlessly swallowed, and
this simple act, as the sequel will show, materially affected her whole
future life. The meeting between mother and child was one of unmixed
rapture, and for the moment all the past was forgotten. The loving mother’s
happiness would now have been complete had not Aïdes asserted his rights.
These were, that if any immortal had tasted food in his realms they were
bound to remain there for ever. Of course the ruler of the lower world had
to prove this assertion. This, however, he found no difficulty in doing, as
Ascalaphus, the son of Acheron and Orphne, was his witness to the fact.[25]
Zeus, pitying the disappointment of Demeter at finding {56} her hopes thus
blighted, succeeded in effecting a compromise by inducing his brother Aïdes
to allow Persephone to spend six months of the year with the gods above,
whilst during the other six she was to be the joyless companion of her grim
lord below. Accompanied by her daughter, the beautiful Persephone, Demeter
now resumed her long-abandoned dwelling in Olympus; the sympathetic earth
responded gaily to her bright smiles, the corn at once sprang forth from
the ground in fullest plenty, the trees, which late were sered and bare,
now donned their brightest emerald robes, and the flowers, so long
imprisoned in the hard, dry soil, filled the whole air with their fragrant
perfume. Thus ends this charming story, which was a favourite theme with
all the classic authors.

It is very possible that the poets who first created this graceful myth
merely intended it as an allegory to illustrate the change of seasons; in
the course of time, however, a literal meaning became attached to this and
similar poetical fancies, and thus the people of Greece came to regard as
an article of religious belief what, in the first instance, was nothing
more than a poetic simile.

In the temple erected to Demeter at Eleusis, the famous Eleusinian
Mysteries were instituted by the goddess herself. It is exceedingly
difficult, as in the case of all secret societies, to discover anything
with certainty concerning these sacred rites. The most plausible
supposition is that the doctrines taught by the priests to the favoured few
whom they initiated, were religious truths which were deemed unfit for the
uninstructed mind of the multitude. For instance, it is supposed that the
myth of Demeter and Persephone was explained by the teachers of the
Mysteries to signify the temporary loss which mother earth sustains every
year when the icy breath of winter robs her of her flowers and fruits and

It is believed that in later times a still deeper meaning was conveyed by
this beautiful myth, viz., the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The
grain, which, as it were, remains dead for a time in the dark earth, only
{57} to rise one day dressed in a newer and lovelier garb, was supposed to
symbolize the soul, which, after death, frees itself from corruption, to
live again under a better and purer form.

When Demeter instituted the Eleusinian Mysteries, Celeus and his family
were the first to be initiated, Celeus himself being appointed high-priest.
His son Triptolemus and his daughters, who acted as priestesses, assisted
him in the duties of his sacred office. The Mysteries were celebrated by
the Athenians every five years, and were, for a long time, their exclusive
privilege. They took place by torchlight, and were conducted with the
greatest solemnity.

In order to spread abroad the blessings which agriculture confers, Demeter
presented Triptolemus with her chariot drawn by winged dragons, and, giving
him some grains of corn, desired him to journey through the world, teaching
mankind the arts of agriculture and husbandry.

Demeter exercised great severity towards those who incurred her
displeasure. We find examples of this in the stories of Stellio and
Eresicthon. Stellio was a youth who ridiculed the goddess for the eagerness
with which she was eating a bowl of porridge, when weary and faint in the
vain search for her daughter. Resolved that he should never again have an
opportunity of thus offending, she angrily threw into his face the
remainder of the food, and changed him into a spotted lizard.

Eresicthon, son of Triopas, had drawn upon himself the anger of Demeter by
cutting down her sacred groves, for which she punished him with a constant
and insatiable hunger. He sold all his possessions in order to satisfy his
cravings, and was forced at last to devour his own limbs. His daughter
Metra, who was devotedly attached to him, possessed the power of
transforming herself into a variety of different animals. By this means she
contrived to support her father, who sold her again and again each time she
assumed a different form, and thus he dragged on a pitiful existence. {58}


The Roman Ceres is actually the Greek Demeter under another name, her
attributes, worship, festivals, &c., being precisely identical.

The Romans were indebted to Sicily for this divinity, her worship having
been introduced by the Greek colonists who settled there.

The Cerealia, or festivals in honour of Ceres, commenced on the 12th of
April, and lasted several days.


Aphrodite (from aphros, sea-foam, and dite, issued), the daughter of
Zeus and a sea-nymph called Dione, was the goddess of Love and Beauty.

Dione, being a sea-nymph, gave birth to her daughter beneath the waves; but
the child of the heaven-inhabiting Zeus was forced to ascend from the
ocean-depths and mount to the snow-capped summits of Olympus, in order to
breathe that ethereal and most refined atmosphere which pertains to the
celestial gods.

Aphrodite was the mother of Eros (Cupid), the god of Love, also of Æneas,
the great Trojan hero and the head of that Greek colony which settled in
Italy, and from which arose the city of Rome. As a mother Aphrodite claims
our sympathy for the tenderness she exhibits towards her children. Homer
tells us in his Iliad, how, when Æneas was wounded in battle, she came to
his assistance, regardless of personal danger, and was herself severely
wounded in attempting to save his life. {59}

Aphrodite was tenderly attached to a lovely youth, called Adonis, whose
exquisite beauty has become proverbial. He was a motherless babe, and
Aphrodite, taking pity on him, placed him in a chest and intrusted him to
the care of Persephone, who became so fond of the beautiful youth that she
refused to part with him. Zeus, being appealed to by the rival
foster-mothers, decided that Adonis should spend four months of every year
with Persephone, four with Aphrodite, whilst during the remaining four
months he should be left to his own devices. He became, however, so
attached to Aphrodite that he voluntarily devoted to her the time at his
own disposal. Adonis was killed, during the chase, by a wild boar, to the
great grief of Aphrodite, who bemoaned his loss so persistently that Aïdes,
moved with pity, permitted him to pass six months of every year with her,
whilst the remaining half of the year was spent by him in the lower world.

Aphrodite possessed a magic girdle (the famous cestus) which she
frequently lent to unhappy maidens suffering from the pangs of unrequited
love, as it was endowed with the power of inspiring affection for the
wearer, whom it invested with every attribute of grace, beauty, and

Her usual attendants are the Charites or Graces (Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and
Thalia), who are represented undraped and intertwined in a loving embrace.

In Hesiod’s Theogony she is supposed to belong to the more ancient
divinities, and, whilst those of later date are represented as having
descended one from another, and all more or less from Zeus, Aphrodite has a
variously-accounted-for, yet independent origin.

The most poetical version of her birth is that when Uranus was wounded by
his son Cronus, his blood mingled with the foam of the sea, whereupon the
bubbling waters at once assumed a rosy tint, and from their depths arose,
in all the surpassing glory of her loveliness, Aphrodite, goddess of love
and beauty! Shaking her long, fair tresses, the water-drops rolled down
into the beautiful {60} sea-shell in which she stood, and became
transformed into pure glistening pearls. Wafted by the soft and balmy
breezes, she floated on to Cythera, and was thence transported to the
island of Cyprus. Lightly she stepped on shore, and under the gentle
pressure of her delicate foot the dry and rigid sand became transformed
into a verdant meadow, where every varied shade of colour and every sweet
odour charmed the senses. The whole island of Cyprus became clothed with
verdure, and greeted this fairest of all created beings with a glad smile
of friendly welcome. Here she was received by the Seasons, who decked her
with garments of immortal fabric, encircling her fair brow with a wreath of
purest gold, whilst from her ears depended costly rings, and a glittering
chain embraced her swan-like throat. And now, arrayed in all the panoply of
her irresistible charms, the nymphs escort her to the dazzling halls of
Olympus, where she is received with ecstatic enthusiasm by the admiring
gods and goddesses. The gods all vied with each other in aspiring to the
honour of her hand, but Hephæstus became the envied possessor of this
lovely being, who, however, proved as faithless as she was beautiful, and
caused her husband much unhappiness, owing to the preference she showed at
various times for some of the other gods and also for mortal men.

The celebrated Venus of Milo, now in the Louvre, is an exquisite statue of
this divinity. The head is beautifully formed; the rich waves of hair
descend on her rather low but broad forehead and are caught up gracefully
in a small knot at the back of the head; the expression of the face is most
bewitching, and bespeaks the perfect {61} joyousness of a happy nature
combined with the dignity of a goddess; the drapery falls in careless folds
from the waist downwards, and her whole attitude is the embodiment of all
that is graceful and lovely in womanhood. She is of medium height, and the
form is perfect in its symmetry and faultless proportions.

Aphrodite is also frequently represented in the act of confining her
dripping locks in a knot, whilst her attendant nymphs envelop her in a
gauzy veil.

The animals sacred to her were the dove, swan, swallow, and sparrow. Her
favourite plants were the myrtle, apple-tree, rose, and poppy.

The worship of Aphrodite is supposed to have been introduced into Greece
from Central Asia. There is no doubt that she was originally identical with
the famous Astarté, the Ashtoreth of the Bible, against whose idolatrous
worship and infamous rites the prophets of old hurled forth their sublime
and powerful anathemas.


The Venus of the Romans was identified with the Aphrodite of the Greeks.
The worship of this divinity was only established in Rome in comparatively
later times. Annual festivals, called Veneralia, were held in her honour,
and the month of April, when flowers and plants spring forth afresh, was
sacred to her. She was worshipped as Venus Cloacina (or the Purifier), and
as Venus Myrtea (or the myrtle goddess), an epithet derived from the
myrtle, the emblem of Love.


The worship of Helios was introduced into Greece from Asia. According to
the earliest conceptions of the Greeks he was not only the sun-god, but
also the personification of life and all life-giving power, for light is
well known to be an indispensable condition of all healthy terrestrial
life. The worship of the sun was originally very widely spread, {62} not
only among the early Greeks themselves, but also among other primitive
nations. To us the sun is simply the orb of light, which, high above our
heads, performs each day the functions assigned to it by a mighty and
invisible Power; we can, therefore, form but a faint idea of the impression
which it produced upon the spirit of a people whose intellect was still in
its infancy, and who believed, with child-like simplicity, that every power
of nature was a divinity, which, according as its character was baleful or
beneficent, worked for the destruction or benefit of the human race.

Helios, who was the son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, is described as
rising every morning in the east, preceded by his sister Eos (the Dawn),
who, with her rosy fingers, paints the tips of the mountains, and draws
aside that misty veil through which her brother is about to appear. When he
has burst forth in all the glorious light of day, Eos disappears, and
Helios now drives his flame-darting chariot along the accustomed track.
This chariot, which is of burnished gold, is drawn by four fire-breathing
steeds, behind which the young god stands erect with flashing eyes, his
head surrounded with rays, holding in one hand the reins of those fiery
coursers which in all hands save his are unmanageable. When towards evening
he descends the curve[26] in order to cool his burning forehead in the
waters of the deep sea, he is followed closely by his sister Selene (the
Moon), who is now prepared to take charge of the world, and illumine with
her silver crescent the dusky night. Helios meanwhile rests from his
labours, and, reclining softly on the cool fragrant couch prepared for him
by the sea-nymphs, recruits himself for another life-giving, joy-inspiring,
and beauteous day.

It may appear strange that, although the Greeks considered the earth to be
a flat circle, no explanation is given of the fact that Helios sinks down
in the far {63} west regularly every evening, and yet reappears as
regularly every morning in the east. Whether he was supposed to pass
through Tartarus, and thus regain the opposite extremity through the bowels
of the earth, or whether they thought he possessed any other means of
making this transit, there is not a line in either Homer or Hesiod to
prove. In later times, however, the poets invented the graceful fiction,
that when Helios had finished his course, and reached the western side of
the curve, a winged-boat, or cup, which had been made for him by Hephæstus,
awaited him there, and conveyed him rapidly, with his glorious equipage, to
the east, where he recommenced his bright and glowing career.

This divinity was invoked as a witness when a solemn oath was taken, as it
was believed that nothing escaped his all-seeing eye, and it was this fact
which enabled him to inform Demeter of the fate of her daughter, as already
related. He was supposed to possess flocks and herds in various localities,
which may possibly be intended to represent the days and nights of the
year, or the stars of heaven.

Helios is said to have loved Clytie, a daughter of Oceanus, who ardently
returned his affection; but in the course of time the fickle sun-god
transferred his devotion to Leucothea, the daughter of Orchamus, king of
the eastern countries, which so angered the forsaken Clytie that she
informed Orchamus of his daughter’s attachment, and he punished her by
inhumanly burying her alive. Helios, overcome with grief, endeavoured, by
every means in his power, to recall her to life. At last, finding all his
efforts unavailing, he sprinkled her grave with heavenly nectar, and
immediately there sprang forth from the spot a shoot of frankincense, which
spread around its aromatic perfume.

The jealous Clytie gained nothing by her cruel conduct, for the sun-god
came to her no more. Inconsolable at his loss, she threw herself upon the
ground, and refused all sustenance. For nine long days she turned her face
towards the glorious god of day, as he moved along the {64} heavens, till
at length her limbs became rooted in the ground, and she was transformed
into a flower, which ever turns towards the sun.

Helios married Perse, daughter of Oceanus, and their children were, Aëtes,
king of Colchis (celebrated in the legend of the Argonauts as the possessor
of the Golden Fleece), and Circe, the renowned sorceress.

Helios had another son named Phaethon, whose mother was Clymene, one of the
Oceanides. The youth was very beautiful, and a great favourite with
Aphrodite, who intrusted him with the care of one of her temples, which
flattering proof of her regard caused him to become vain and presumptuous.
His friend Epaphus, son of Zeus and Io, endeavoured to check his youthful
vanity by pretending to disbelieve his assertion that the sun-god was his
father. Phaethon, full of resentment, and eager to be able to refute the
calumny, hastened to his mother Clymene, and besought her to tell him
whether Helios was really his father. Moved by his entreaties, and at the
same time angry at the reproach of Epaphus, Clymene pointed to the glorious
sun, then shining down upon them, and assured her son that in that bright
orb he beheld the author of his being, adding that if he had still any
doubt, he might visit the radiant dwelling of the great god of light and
inquire for himself. Overjoyed at his mother’s reassuring words, and
following the directions she gave him, Phaethon quickly wended his way to
his father’s palace.

As he entered the palace of the sun-god the dazzling rays almost blinded
him, and prevented him from approaching the throne on which his father was
seated, surrounded by the Hours, Days, Months, Years, and Seasons. Helios,
who with his all-seeing eye had watched him from afar, removed his crown of
glittering rays, and bade him not to be afraid, but to draw near to his
father. Encouraged by this kind reception, Phaethon entreated him to bestow
upon him such a proof of his love, that all the world might be convinced
that he was indeed his son; whereupon Helios desired him to ask any favour
he pleased, {65} and swore by the Styx that it should be granted. The
impetuous youth immediately requested permission to drive the chariot of
the sun for one whole day. His father listened horror-struck to this
presumptuous demand, and by representing the many dangers which would beset
his path, endeavoured to dissuade him from so perilous an undertaking; but
his son, deaf to all advice, pressed his point with such pertinacity, that
Helios was reluctantly compelled to lead him to the chariot. Phaethon
paused for a moment to admire the beauty of the glittering equipage, the
gift of the god of fire, who had formed it of gold, and ornamented it with
precious stones, which reflected the rays of the sun. And now Helios,
seeing his sister, the Dawn, opening her doors in the rosy east, ordered
the Hours to yoke the horses. The goddesses speedily obeyed the command,
and the father then anointed the face of his son with a sacred balm, to
enable him to endure the burning flames which issued from the nostrils of
the steeds, and sorrowfully placing his crown of rays upon his head,
desired him to ascend the chariot.

The eager youth joyfully took his place and grasped the coveted reins, but
no sooner did the fiery coursers of the sun feel the inexperienced hand
which attempted to guide them, than they became restive and unmanageable.
Wildly they rushed out of their accustomed track, now soaring so high as to
threaten the heavens with destruction, now descending so low as nearly to
set the earth on fire. At last the unfortunate charioteer, blinded with the
glare, and terrified at the awful devastation he had caused, dropped the
reins from his trembling hands. Mountains and forests were in flames,
rivers and streams were dried up, and a general conflagration was imminent.
The scorched earth now called on Zeus for help, who hurled his thunderbolt
at Phaethon, and with a flash of lightning brought the fiery steeds to a
standstill. The lifeless body of the youth fell headlong into the river
Eridanus,[27] where it was received and buried by the {66} nymphs of the
stream. His sisters mourned so long for him that they were transformed by
Zeus into poplars, and the tears they shed, falling into the waters, became
drops of clear, transparent amber. Cycnus, the faithful friend of the
unhappy Phaethon, felt such overwhelming grief at his terrible fate, that
he pined and wasted away. The gods, moved with compassion, transformed him
into a swan, which for ever brooded over the fatal spot where the waters
had closed over the head of his unfortunate friend.

The chief seat of the worship of Helios was the island of Rhodes, which
according to the following myth was his especial territory. At the time of
the Titanomachia, when the gods were dividing the world by lot, Helios
happened to be absent, and consequently received no share. He, therefore,
complained to Zeus, who proposed to have a new allotment, but this Helios
would not allow, saying, that as he pursued his daily journey, his
penetrating eye had beheld a lovely, fertile island lying beneath the waves
of the ocean, and that if the immortals would swear to give him the
undisturbed possession of this spot, he would be content to accept it as
his share of the universe. The gods took the oath, whereupon the island of
Rhodes immediately raised itself above the surface of the waters.

The famous Colossus of Rhodes, which was one of the seven wonders of the
world, was erected in honour of Helios. This wonderful statue was 105 feet
high, and was formed entirely of brass; it formed the entrance to the
harbour at Rhodes, and the largest vessel could easily sail between the
legs, which stood on moles, each side of the harbour. Though so gigantic,
it was perfectly proportioned in every part. Some idea of {67} its size may
be gained from the fact that very few people were able to span the thumb of
this statue with their arms. In the interior of the Colossus was a winding
staircase leading to the top, from the summit of which, by means of a
telescope, the coast of Syria, and also the shores of Egypt, are said to
have been visible.[28]


Eos, the Dawn, like her brother Helios, whose advent she always announced,
was also deified by the early Greeks. She too had her own chariot, which
she drove across the vast horizon both morning and night, before and after
the sun-god. Hence she is not merely the personification of the rosy morn,
but also of twilight, for which reason her palace is placed in the west, on
the island Ææa. The abode of Eos is a magnificent structure, surrounded by
flowery meads and velvety lawns, where nymphs and other immortal beings,
wind in and out in the mazy figures of the dance, whilst the music of a
sweetly-tuned melody accompanies their graceful, gliding movements.

Eos is described by the poets as a beautiful maiden with rosy arms and
fingers, and large wings, whose plumage is of an ever-changing hue; she
bears a star on her forehead, and a torch in her hand. Wrapping round her
the rich folds of her violet-tinged mantle, she leaves her couch before the
break of day, and herself yokes her two horses, Lampetus and Phaethon, to
her glorious chariot. She then hastens with active cheerfulness to open the
gates of heaven, in order to herald the approach of her brother, the god of
day, whilst the tender plants and flowers, revived by the morning dew, lift
their heads to welcome her as she passes.


Eos first married the Titan Astræus,[29] and their children were Heosphorus
(Hesperus), the evening star, and the winds. She afterwards became united
to Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy, who had won her affection by
his unrivalled beauty; and Eos, unhappy at the thought of their being ever
separated by death, obtained for him from Zeus the gift of immortality,
forgetting, however, to add to it that of eternal youth. The consequence
was that when, in the course of time, Tithonus grew old and decrepid, and
lost all the beauty which had won her admiration, Eos became disgusted with
his infirmities, and at last shut him up in a chamber, where soon little
else was left of him but his voice, which had now sunk into a weak, feeble
quaver. According to some of the later poets, he became so weary of his
cheerless and miserable existence, that he entreated to be allowed to die.
This was, however, impossible; but Eos, pitying his unhappy condition,
exerted her divine power, and changed him into a grasshopper, which is, as
it were, all voice, and whose monotonous, ceaseless chirpings may not
inaptly be compared to the meaningless babble of extreme old age.


Phoebus-Apollo, the god of Light, Prophecy, Music, Poetry, and the Arts and
Sciences, is by far the noblest conception within the whole range of Greek
mythology, and his worship, which not only extended to all the states of
Greece, but also to Asia Minor and to every Greek colony throughout the
world, stands out among the most ancient and strongly-marked features of
Grecian history, and exerted a more decided influence over the Greek
nation, than that of any other deity, not excepting Zeus himself.

Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, and was born beneath the shade of a
palm tree which grew at the foot {69} of Mount Cynthus, on the barren and
rocky island of Delos. The poets tell us that the earth smiled when the
young god first beheld the light of day, and that Delos became so proud and
exultant at the honour thus conferred upon her, that she covered herself
with golden flowers; swans surrounded the island, and the Delian nymphs
celebrated his birth with songs of joy.

The unhappy Leto, driven to Delos by the relentless persecutions of Hera,
was not long permitted to enjoy her haven of refuge. Being still tormented
by her enemy, the young mother was once more obliged to fly; she therefore
resigned the charge of her new-born babe to the goddess Themis, who
carefully wrapped the helpless infant in swaddling-clothes, and fed him
with nectar and ambrosia; but he had no sooner partaken of the heavenly
food than, to the amazement of the goddess, he burst asunder the bands
which confined his infant limbs, and springing to his feet, appeared before
her as a full-grown youth of divine strength and beauty. He now demanded a
lyre and a bow, declaring that henceforth he would announce to mankind the
will of his father Zeus. “The golden lyre,” said he, “shall be my friend,
the bent bow my delight, and in oracles will I foretell the dark future.”
With these words he ascended to Olympus, where he was received with joyful
acclamations into the assembly of the celestial gods, who acknowledged him
as the most beautiful and glorious of all the sons of Zeus.

Phoebus-Apollo was the god of light in a twofold {70} signification: first,
as representing the great orb of day which illumines the world; and
secondly, as the heavenly light which animates the soul of man. He
inherited his function as sun-god from Helios, with whom, in later times,
he was so completely identified, that the personality of the one became
gradually merged in that of the other. We, accordingly, find Helios
frequently confounded with Apollo, myths belonging to the former attributed
to the latter; and with some tribes–the Ionic, for instance–so complete
is this identification, that Apollo is called by them Helios-Apollo.

As the divinity whose power is developed in the broad light of day, he
brings joy and delight to nature, and health and prosperity to man. By the
influence of his warm and gentle rays he disperses the noxious vapours of
the night, assists the grain to ripen and the flowers to bloom.

But although, as god of the sun, he is a life-giving and life-preserving
power, who, by his genial influence, dispels the cold of winter, he is, at
the same time, the god who, by means of his fiercely darting rays, could
spread disease and send sudden death to men and animals; and it is to this
phase of his character that we must look for the explanation of his being
considered, in conjunction with his twin-sister, Artemis (as moon-goddess),
a divinity of death. The brother and sister share this function between
them, he taking man and she woman as her aim, and those especially who died
in the bloom of youth, or at an advanced age, were believed to have been
killed by their gentle arrows. But Apollo did not always send an easy
death. We see in the Iliad how, when angry with the Greeks, the “god of
the silver bow” strode down from Olympus, with his quiver full of
death-bringing darts, and sent a raging pestilence into their camp. For
nine days he let fly his fatal arrows, first on animals and then on men,
till the air became darkened with the smoke from the funeral pyres.

In his character as god of light, Phoebus-Apollo is the protecting deity of
shepherds, because it is he who warms {71} the fields and meadows, and
gives rich pastures to the flocks, thereby gladdening the heart of the

As the temperate heat of the sun exercises so invigorating an effect on man
and animals, and promotes the growth of those medicinal herbs and vegetable
productions necessary for the cure of diseases, Phoebus-Apollo was supposed
to possess the power of restoring life and health; hence he was regarded as
the god of healing; but this feature in his character we shall find more
particularly developed in his son Asclepius (Æsculapius), the veritable god
of the healing art.

Pursuing our analysis of the various phases in the character of
Phoebus-Apollo, we find that with the first beams of his genial light, all
nature awakens to renewed life, and the woods re-echo with the jubilant
sound of the untaught lays, warbled by thousands of feathered choristers.
Hence, by a natural inference, he is the god of music, and as, according to
the belief of the ancients, the inspirations of genius were inseparably
connected with the glorious light of heaven, he is also the god of poetry,
and acts as the special patron of the arts and sciences. Apollo is himself
the heavenly musician among the Olympic gods, whose banquets are gladdened
by the wondrous strains which he produces from his favourite instrument,
the seven-stringed lyre. In the cultus of Apollo, music formed a
distinguishing feature. All sacred dances, and even the sacrifices in his
honour, were performed to the sound of musical instruments; and it is, in a
great measure, owing to the influence which the music in his worship
exercised on the Greek nation, that Apollo came to be regarded as the
leader of the nine Muses, the legitimate divinities of poetry and song. In
this character he is called Musagetes, and is always represented robed in a
long flowing garment; his lyre, to the tones of which he appears to be
singing, is suspended by a band across the chest; his head is encircled by
a wreath of laurel, and his long hair, streaming down over his shoulders,
gives him a somewhat effeminate appearance.

And now we must view the glorious god of light under {72} another, and (as
far as regards his influence over the Greek nation) a much more important
aspect; for, in historical times, all the other functions and attributes of
Apollo sink into comparative insignificance before the great power which he
exercised as god of prophecy. It is true that all Greek gods were endowed,
to a certain extent, with the faculty of foretelling future events; but
Apollo, as sun-god, was the concentration of all prophetic power, as it was
supposed that nothing escaped his all-seeing eye, which penetrated the most
hidden recesses, and laid bare the secrets which lay concealed behind the
dark veil of the future.

We have seen that when Apollo assumed his god-like form, he took his place
among the immortals; but he had not long enjoyed the rapturous delights of
Olympus, before he felt within him an ardent desire to fulfil his great
mission of interpreting to mankind the will of his mighty father. He
accordingly descended to earth, and travelled through many countries,
seeking a fitting site upon which to establish an oracle. At length he
reached the southern side of the rocky heights of Parnassus, beneath which
lay the harbour of Crissa. Here, under the overhanging cliff, he found a
secluded spot, where, from the most ancient times, there had existed an
oracle, in which Gæa herself had revealed the future to man, and which, in
Deucalion’s time, she had resigned to Themis. It was guarded by the huge
serpent Python, the scourge of the surrounding neighbourhood, and the
terror alike of men and cattle. The young god, full of confidence in his
unerring aim, attacked and slew the monster with his arrows, thus freeing
land and people from their mighty enemy.

The grateful inhabitants, anxious to do honour to their deliverer, flocked
round Apollo, who proceeded to mark out a plan for a temple, and, with the
assistance of numbers of eager volunteers, a suitable edifice was soon
erected. It now became necessary to choose ministers, who would offer up
sacrifices, interpret his prophecies to the people, and take charge of the
temple. Looking round, he saw in the far distance a vessel bound from Crete
to the {73} Peloponnesus, and determined to avail himself of her crew for
his service. Assuming the shape of an enormous dolphin, he agitated the
waters to such a degree, that the ship was tossed violently to and fro, to
the great alarm of the mariners; at the same time he raised a mighty wind,
which drove the ship into the harbour of Crissa, where she ran aground. The
terrified sailors dared not set foot on shore; but Apollo, under the form
of a vigorous youth, stepped down to the vessel, revealed himself in his
true character, and informed them that it was he who had driven them to
Crissa, in order that they might become his priests, and serve him in his
temple. Arrived at the sacred fane, he instructed them how to perform the
services in his honour, and desired them to worship him under the name of
Apollo-Delphinios, because he had first appeared to them under the form of
a dolphin. Thus was established the far-famed oracle of Delphi, the only
institution of the kind which was not exclusively national, for it was
consulted by Lydians, Phrygians, Etruscans, Romans, &c., and, in fact, was
held in the highest repute all over the world. In obedience to its decrees,
the laws of Lycurgus were introduced, and the earliest Greek colonies
founded. No cities were built without first consulting the Delphic oracle,
for it was believed that Apollo took special delight in the founding of
cities, the first stone of which he laid in person; nor was any enterprise
ever undertaken, without inquiring at this sacred fane as to its probable

But that which brought Apollo more closely home to the hearts of the
people, and raised the whole moral tone of the Greek nation, was the
belief, gradually developed with the intelligence of the people, that he
was the god who accepted repentance as an atonement for sin, who pardoned
the contrite sinner, and who acted as the special protector of those, who,
like Orestes, had committed a crime, which required long years of

Apollo is represented by the poets as being eternally young; his
countenance, glowing with joyous life, is the embodiment of immortal
beauty; his eyes are of a deep {74} blue; his forehead low, but broad and
intellectual; his hair, which falls over his shoulders in long waving
locks, is of a golden, or warm chestnut hue. He is crowned with laurel, and
wears a purple robe; in his hand he bears his silver bow, which is unbent
when he smiles, but ready for use when he menaces evil-doers.

But Apollo, the eternally beautiful youth, the perfection of all that is
graceful and refined, rarely seems to have been happy in his love; either
his advances met with a repulse, or his union with the object of his
affection was attended with fatal consequences.

His first love was Daphne (daughter of Peneus, the river-god), who was so
averse to marriage that she entreated her father to allow her to lead a
life of celibacy, and devote herself to the chase, which she loved to the
exclusion of all other pursuits. But one day, soon after his victory over
the Python, Apollo happened to see Eros bending his bow, and proud of his
own superior strength and skill, he laughed at the efforts of the little
archer, saying that such a weapon was more suited to the one who had just
killed the terrible serpent. Eros angrily replied that his arrow should
pierce the heart of the mocker himself, and flying off to the summit of
Mount Parnassus, he drew from his quiver two darts of different
workmanship–one of gold, which had the effect of inspiring love; the other
of lead, which created aversion. Taking aim at Apollo, he pierced his
breast with the golden shaft, whilst the leaden one he discharged into the
bosom of the beautiful Daphne. The son of Leto instantly felt the most
ardent affection for the nymph, who, on her part, evinced the greatest
dislike towards her divine lover, and, at his approach, fled from him like
a hunted deer. He called upon her in the most endearing accents to stay,
but she still sped on, until at length, becoming faint with fatigue, and
fearing that she was about to succumb, she called upon the gods to come to
her aid. Hardly had she uttered her prayer before a heavy torpor seized her
limbs, and just as Apollo threw out his arms to embrace her, she became
transformed {75} into a laurel-bush. He sorrowfully crowned his head with
its leaves, and declared, that in memory of his love, it should henceforth
remain evergreen, and be held sacred to him.

He next sought the love of Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus; but though her
father approved his suit, the maiden preferred a youth named Idas, who
contrived to carry her off in a winged chariot which he had procured from
Poseidon. Apollo pursued the fugitives, whom he quickly overtook, and
forcibly seizing the bride, refused to resign her. Zeus then interfered,
and declared that Marpessa herself must decide which of her lovers should
claim her as his wife. After due reflection she accepted Idas as her
husband, judiciously concluding that although the attractions of the divine
Apollo were superior to those of her lover, it would be wiser to unite
herself to a mortal, who, growing old with herself, would be less likely to
forsake her, when advancing years should rob her of her charms.

Cassandra, daughter of Priam, king of Troy, was another object of the love
of Apollo. She feigned to return his affection, and promised to marry him,
provided he would confer upon her the gift of prophecy; but having received
the boon she desired, the treacherous maiden refused to comply with the
conditions upon which it had been granted. Incensed at her breach of faith,
Apollo, unable to recall the gift he had bestowed, rendered it useless by
causing her predictions to fail in obtaining credence. Cassandra became
famous in history for her prophetic powers, but her prophecies were never
believed. For instance, she warned her brother Paris that if he brought
back a wife from Greece he would cause the destruction of his father’s
house and kingdom; she also warned the Trojans not to admit the wooden
horse within the walls of the city, and foretold to Agamemnon all the
disasters which afterwards befell him.

Apollo afterwards married Coronis, a nymph of Larissa, and thought himself
happy in the possession of her faithful love; but once more he was doomed
to {76} disappointment, for one day his favourite bird, the crow, flew to
him with the intelligence that his wife had transferred her affections to a
youth of Haemonia. Apollo, burning with rage, instantly destroyed her with
one of his death-bringing darts. Too late he repented of his rashness, for
she had been tenderly beloved by him, and he would fain have recalled her
to life; but, although he exerted all his healing powers, his efforts were
in vain. He punished the crow for its garrulity by changing the colour of
its plumage from pure white to intense black, and forbade it to fly any
longer among the other birds.

Coronis left an infant son named Asclepius, who afterwards became god of
medicine. His powers were so extraordinary that he could not only cure the
sick, but could even restore the dead to life. At last Aïdes complained to
Zeus that the number of shades conducted to his dominions was daily
decreasing, and the great ruler of Olympus, fearing that mankind, thus
protected against sickness and death, would be able to defy the gods
themselves, killed Asclepius with one of his thunderbolts. The loss of his
highly gifted son so exasperated Apollo that, being unable to vent his
anger on Zeus, he destroyed the Cyclops, who had forged the fatal
thunderbolts. For this offence, Apollo would have been banished by Zeus to
Tartarus, but at the earnest intercession of Leto he partially relented,
and contented himself with depriving him of all power and dignity, and
imposing on him a temporary servitude in the house of Admetus, king of
Thessaly. Apollo faithfully served his royal master for nine years in the
humble capacity of a shepherd, and was treated by him with every kindness
and consideration. During the period of his service the king sought the
hand of Alcestis, the beautiful daughter of Pelias, son of Poseidon; but
her father declared that he would only resign her to the suitor who should
succeed in yoking a lion and a wild boar to his chariot. By the aid of his
divine herdsman, Admetus accomplished this difficult task, and gained his
bride. Nor was this the only favour which the king received from the exiled
god, for Apollo obtained from {77} the Fates the gift of immortality for
his benefactor, on condition that when his last hour approached, some
member of his own family should be willing to die in his stead. When the
fatal hour arrived, and Admetus felt that he was at the point of death, he
implored his aged parents to yield to him their few remaining days. But
“life is sweet” even to old age, and they both refused to make the
sacrifice demanded of them. Alcestis, however, who had secretly devoted
herself to death for her husband, was seized with a mortal sickness, which
kept pace with his rapid recovery. The devoted wife breathed her last in
the arms of Admetus, and he had just consigned her to the tomb, when
Heracles chanced to come to the palace. Admetus held the rites of
hospitality so sacred, that he at first kept silence with regard to his
great bereavement; but as soon as his friend heard what had occurred, he
bravely descended into the tomb, and when death came to claim his prey, he
exerted his marvellous strength, and held him in his arms, until he
promised to restore the beautiful and heroic queen to the bosom of her

Whilst pursuing the peaceful life of a shepherd, Apollo formed a strong
friendship with two youths named Hyacinthus and Cyparissus, but the great
favour shown to them by the god did not suffice to shield them from
misfortune. The former was one day throwing the discus with Apollo, when,
running too eagerly to take up the one thrown by the god, he was struck on
the head with it and killed on the spot. Apollo was overcome with grief at
the sad end of his young favourite, but being unable to restore him to
life, he changed him into the flower called after him the Hyacinth.
Cyparissus had the misfortune to kill by accident one of Apollo’s favourite
stags, which so preyed on his mind that he gradually pined away, and died
of a broken heart. He was transformed by the god into a cypress-tree, which
owes its name to this story.

After these sad occurrences Apollo quitted Thessaly and repaired to
Phrygia, in Asia Minor, where he met Poseidon, who, like himself, was in
exile, and condemned {78} to a temporary servitude on earth. The two gods
now entered the service of Laomedon, king of Troy, Apollo undertaking to
tend his flocks, and Poseidon to build the walls of the city. But Apollo
also contributed his assistance in the erection of those wonderful walls,
and, by the aid of his marvellous musical powers, the labours of his
fellow-worker, Poseidon, were rendered so light and easy that his otherwise
arduous task advanced with astonishing celerity; for, as the master-hand of
the god of music grasped the chords of his lyre,[30] the huge blocks of
stone moved of their own accord, adjusting themselves with the utmost
nicety into the places designed for them.

But though Apollo was so renowned in the art of music, there were two
individuals who had the effrontery to consider themselves equal to him in
this respect, and, accordingly, each challenged him to compete with them in
a musical contest. These were Marsyas and Pan. Marsyas was a satyr, who,
having picked up the flute which Athene had thrown away in disgust,
discovered, to his great delight and astonishment, that, in consequence of
its having touched the lips of a goddess, it played of itself in the most
charming manner. Marsyas, who was a great lover of music, and much beloved
on this account by all the elf-like denizens of the woods and glens, was so
intoxicated with joy at this discovery, that he foolishly challenged Apollo
to compete with him in a musical contest. The challenge being accepted, the
Muses were chosen umpires, and it was decided that the unsuccessful
candidate should suffer the punishment of being flayed alive. For a long
time the merits of both claimants remained so equally balanced, that it was
impossible to award the palm of victory to either, seeing which, Apollo,
resolved to conquer, added the sweet tones of his melodious voice to the
strains of his lyre, {79} and this at once turned the scale in his favour.
The unhappy Marsyas being defeated, had to undergo the terrible penalty,
and his untimely fate was universally lamented; indeed the Satyrs and
Dryads, his companions, wept so incessantly at his fate, that their tears,
uniting together, formed a river in Phrygia which is still known by the
name of Marsyas.

The result of the contest with Pan was by no means of so serious a
character. The god of shepherds having affirmed that he could play more
skilfully on his flute of seven reeds (the syrinx or Pan’s pipe), than
Apollo on his world-renowned lyre, a contest ensued, in which Apollo was
pronounced the victor by all the judges appointed to decide between the
rival candidates. Midas, king of Phrygia, alone demurred at this decision,
having the bad taste to prefer the uncouth tones of the Pan’s pipe to the
refined melodies of Apollo’s lyre. Incensed at the obstinacy and stupidity
of the Phrygian king, Apollo punished him by giving him the ears of an ass.
Midas, horrified at being thus disfigured, determined to hide his disgrace
from his subjects by means of a cap; his barber, however, could not be kept
in ignorance of the fact, and was therefore bribed with rich gifts never to
reveal it. Finding, however, that he could not keep the secret any longer,
he dug a hole in the ground into which he whispered it; then closing up the
aperture he returned home, feeling greatly relieved at having thus eased
his mind of its burden. But after all, this very humiliating secret was
revealed to the world, for some reeds which sprung up from the spot
murmured incessantly, as they waved to and fro in the wind: “King Midas has
the ears of an ass.”

In the sad and beautiful story of Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, and wife of
Amphion, king of Thebes, we have another instance of the severe punishments
meted out by Apollo to those who in any way incurred his displeasure. Niobe
was the proud mother of seven sons and seven daughters, and exulting in the
number of her children, she, upon one occasion, ridiculed the worship of
Leto, {80} because she had but one son and daughter, and desired the
Thebans, for the future, to give to her the honours and sacrifices which
they had hitherto offered to the mother of Apollo and Artemis. The
sacrilegious words had scarcely passed her lips before Apollo called upon
his sister Artemis to assist him in avenging the insult offered to their
mother, and soon their invisible arrows sped through the air. Apollo slew
all the sons, and Artemis had already slain all the daughters save one, the
youngest and best beloved, whom Niobe clasped in her arms, when the
agonized mother implored the enraged deities to leave her, at least, one
out of all her beautiful children; but, even as she prayed, the deadly
arrow reached the heart of this child also. Meanwhile the unhappy father,
unable to bear the loss of his children, had destroyed himself, and his
dead body lay beside the lifeless corpse of his favourite son. Widowed and
childless, the heart-broken mother sat among her dead, and the gods, in
pity for her unutterable woe, turned her into a stone, which they
transferred to Siphylus, her native Phrygian mountain, where it still
continues to shed tears.

The punishment of Niobe forms the subject of a magnificent marble group,
which was found at Rome in the year 1553, and is now in the gallery of
Uffizi, at Florence.

The renowned singer Orpheus was the son of Apollo and Calliope, the muse of
epic poetry, and, as might be expected with parents so highly gifted, was
endowed with most distinguished intellectual qualifications. He was a poet,
a teacher of the religious doctrines known as the Orphic mysteries, and a
great musician, having inherited from his father an extraordinary genius
for music. {81} When he sang to the sweet tones of his lyre, he charmed all
nature, and summoned round him the wild beasts of the forests, who, under
the influence of his music, became tame and gentle as lambs. The madly
rushing torrents stopped their rapid course, and the very mountains and
trees moved from their places at the sound of his entrancing melodies.

Orpheus became united to a lovely nymph named Eurydice, the daughter of the
sea-god Nereus, whom he fondly loved. She was no less attached to him, and
their married life was full of joy and happiness. But it was only
short-lived; for Aristæus,[31] the half-brother of Orpheus, having fallen
in love with the beautiful Eurydice, forcibly endeavoured to take her from
her husband, and as she fled across some fields to elude his pursuit, she
was bitten in the foot by a venomous snake, which lay concealed in the long
grass. Eurydice died of the wound, and her sorrowing husband filled the
groves and valleys with his piteous and unceasing lamentations.

His longing to behold her once more became at last so unconquerable, that
he determined to brave the horrors of the lower world, in order to entreat
Aïdes to restore to him his beloved wife. Armed only with his golden lyre,
the gift of Apollo, he descended into the gloomy depths of Hades, where his
heavenly music arrested for a while the torments of the unhappy sufferers.
The stone of Sisyphus remained motionless; Tantalus forgot his perpetual
thirst; the wheel of Ixion ceased to revolve; and even the Furies shed
tears, and withheld for a time their persecutions. Undismayed at the scenes
of horror and suffering which met his view on every side, he pursued his
way until he arrived at the palace of Aïdes. Presenting himself before the
throne on which sat the stony-hearted king and his consort Persephone,
Orpheus recounted his woes to the sound of his lyre. Moved to pity by his
sweet strains, they listened to his {82} melancholy story, and consented to
release Eurydice on condition that he should not look upon her until they
reached the upper world. Orpheus gladly promised to comply with this
injunction, and, followed by Eurydice, ascended the steep and gloomy path
which led to the realms of life and light. All went well until he was just
about to pass the extreme limits of Hades, when, forgetting for the moment
the hard condition, he turned to convince himself that his beloved wife was
really behind him. The glance was fatal, and destroyed all his hopes of
happiness; for, as he yearningly stretched out his arms to embrace her, she
was caught back, and vanished from his sight for ever. The grief of Orpheus
at this second loss was even more intense than before, and he now avoided
all human society. In vain did the nymphs, his once chosen companions,
endeavour to win him back to his accustomed haunts; their power to charm
was gone, and music was now his sole consolation. He wandered forth alone,
choosing the wildest and most secluded paths, and the hills and vales
resounded with his pathetic melodies. At last he happened to cross the path
of some Thracian women, who were performing the wild rites of Dionysus
(Bacchus), and in their mad fury at his refusing to join them, they
furiously attacked him, and tore him in pieces. In pity for his unhappy
fate, the Muses collected his remains, which they buried at the foot of
Mount Olympus, and the nightingale warbled a funeral dirge over his grave.
His head was thrown into the river Hebrus, and as it floated down the
stream, the lips still continued to murmur the beloved name of Eurydice.

The chief seat of the worship of Apollo was at Delphi, and here was the
most magnificent of all his temples, the foundation of which reaches far
beyond all historical knowledge, and which contained immense riches, the
offerings of kings and private persons, who had received favourable replies
from the oracle. The Greeks believed Delphi to be the central point of the
earth, because two eagles sent forth by Zeus, one from the east, the other
{83} from the west, were said to have arrived there at the same moment.

The Pythian games, celebrated in honour of the victory of Apollo over the
Python, took place at Delphi every four years. At the first celebration of
these games, gods, goddesses, and heroes contended for the prizes, which
were at first of gold or silver, but consisted, in later times, of simple
laurel wreaths.

On account of its being the place of his birth, the whole island of Delos
was consecrated to Apollo, where he was worshipped with great solemnity;
the greatest care was taken to preserve the sanctity of the spot, for which
reason no one was suffered to be buried there. At the foot of Mount Cynthus
was a splendid temple of Apollo which possessed an oracle, and was enriched
with magnificent offerings from all parts of Greece. Even foreign nations
held this island sacred, for when the Persians passed it on their way to
attack Greece, they not only sailed by, leaving it uninjured, but sent rich
presents to the temple. Games, called Delia, instituted by Theseus, were
celebrated at Delos every four years.

A festival termed the Gymnopedæa was held at Sparta in honour of Apollo, in
which boys sang the praises of the gods, and of the three hundred
Lacedæmonians who fell at the battle of Thermopylæ.

Wolves and hawks were sacrificed to Apollo, and the birds sacred to him
were the hawk, raven, and swan.


The worship of Apollo never occupied the all-important position in Rome
which it held in Greece, nor was it introduced till a comparatively late
period. There was no sanctuary erected to this divinity until B.C. 430,
when the Romans, in order to avert a plague, built a temple in his honour;
but we do not find the worship of Apollo becoming in any way prominent
until the time of Augustus, who, having called upon this god for aid before
the famous battle of Actium, ascribed the victory which he {84} gained, to
his influence, and accordingly erected a temple there, which he enriched
with a portion of the spoil.

Augustus afterwards built another temple in honour of Apollo, on the
Palatine Hill, in which at the foot of his statue, were deposited two gilt
chests, containing the Sibylline oracles. These oracles were collected to
replace the Sibylline books originally preserved in the temple of Jupiter,
which were destroyed when that edifice was burned.

The Sibyls were maidens who had received the gift of prophecy, and the
privilege of living to an incredible age. One of these Sibyls (known as the
Cumæan) appeared to Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome, offering
for sale nine books, which she informed him had been written by herself.
Not knowing who she was, Tarquin refused to buy them, upon which she burned
three, and returned with six, demanding the same price as before. Being
again driven away as an impostor, she again retired and burned three more,
returning with the remaining three, for which she still asked the same
price as at first. Tarquin, amazed at her inconsistency, now consulted the
Augurs, who blamed him for not having bought the nine books when they were
first offered to him, and desired him to secure the remaining three, at
whatever price they were to be had. He, accordingly, purchased the volumes,
which were found to contain predictions of great importance to the Romans.
After the disposal of the books, the Sibyl vanished, and was seen no more.

The most beautiful and renowned of all the statues of Apollo now in
existence, is that known as the Apollo Belvedere, which was found in 1503
among the ruins of {85} ancient Antium. It was purchased by Pope Julius
II., who removed it to the Belvedere of the Vatican, from whence it takes
its name, and where it has been, for more than three hundred years, the
admiration of the world. When Rome was taken, and plundered by the French,
this celebrated statue was transported to Paris, and placed in the museum
there, but in 1815 it was restored to its former place in the Vatican. The
attitude of the figure, which is more than seven feet high, is inimitable
in its freedom, grace, and majesty. The forehead is noble and intellectual,
and the whole countenance so exquisite in its beauty, that one pauses
spell-bound to gaze on so perfect a conception. The god has a very youthful
appearance, as is usual in all his representations, and with the exception
of a short mantle which falls from his shoulders, is unclothed. He stands
against the trunk of a tree, up which a serpent is creeping, and his left
arm is outstretched, as though about to punish.


Hecate would appear to have been originally a moon-goddess worshipped by
the Thracians. She became confounded, and eventually identified with Selene
and Persephone, and is one of those divinities of whom the ancients had
various conflicting accounts.

Hecate was the daughter of Perses and “gold-wreathed” Astræa (the starry
night[32]), and her sway extended over earth, heaven, and hell, for which
reason she is represented in works of art as a triple divinity, having
three female bodies, all young and beautiful, and united together.

In later times, when this divinity becomes identified with Persephone, she
is supposed to inhabit the lower world as a malignant deity, and
henceforward it is the gloomy, awe-inspiring side of her character which
alone {86} develops itself. She now presides over all practices connected
with witchcraft and enchantments, haunts sepulchres, and the point where
two roads cross, and lonely spots where murders have been committed. She
was supposed to be connected with the appearance of ghosts and spectres, to
possess unlimited influence over the powers of the lower world, and to be
able to lay to rest unearthly apparitions by her magic spells and

Hecate appears as a gigantic woman, bearing a torch and a sword. Her feet
and hair are formed of snakes, and her passage is accompanied by voices of
thunder, weird shrieks and yells, and the deep baying and howling of dogs.

Her favour was propitiated by offerings and sacrifices, principally
consisting of black lambs. Her festivals were celebrated at night, by
torchlight, when these animals were offered to her, accompanied by many
peculiar ceremonies. These ceremonies were carried out with the minutest
attention to details, as it was believed that the omission of the slightest
particular would afford to her ministers, the evil spirits of the lower
world, who hovered round the worshippers, an opportunity for entering among
them, and exerting their baneful influence. At the end of every month food
was placed wherever two roads met, in readiness for her and other malignant

In studying the peculiar characteristics which Hecate assumes when she
usurps the place of Persephone, the rightful mistress of the lower world,
we are reminded of the various superstitions with regard to spectres,
witchcraft, &c., which have, even down to our own times, exerted so
powerful an influence over the minds of the ignorant, and which would
appear to owe their origin to a remote pagan source.


Just as Helios personified the sun, so his sister Selene represented the
moon, and was supposed to drive her {87} chariot across the sky whilst her
brother was reposing after the toils of the day.

When the shades of evening began to enfold the earth, the two milk-white
steeds of Selene rose out of the mysterious depths of Oceanus. Seated in a
silvery chariot, and accompanied by her daughter Herse, the goddess of the
dew, appeared the mild and gentle queen of the night, with a crescent on
her fair brow, a gauzy veil flowing behind, and a lighted torch in her

Selene greatly admired a beautiful young shepherd named Endymion, to whom
Zeus had accorded the privilege of eternal youth, combined with the faculty
of sleeping whenever he desired, and as long as he wished. Seeing this
lovely youth fast asleep on Mount Latmus, Selene was so struck with his
beauty, that she came down every night from heaven to watch over and
protect him.


Artemis was worshipped by the Greeks under various appellations, to each of
which belonged special characteristics. Thus she is known as the Arcadian,
Ephesian and Brauronian Artemis, and also as Selene-Artemis, and in order
fully to comprehend the worship of this divinity, we must consider her
under each aspect.


The Arcadian Artemis (the real Artemis of the Greeks) was the daughter of
Zeus and Leto, and twin-sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of Hunting
and Chastity, and having obtained from her father permission to lead a life
of celibacy, she ever remained a maiden-divinity. Artemis is the feminine
counterpart of her brother, the glorious god of Light, and, like him,
though she deals out destruction and sudden death to men and animals, she
is also able to alleviate suffering and cure diseases. Like Apollo also,
she is skilled in the use of the bow, but in a far more eminent degree, for
in the character of Artemis, who devoted herself to the chase with
passionate {88} ardour, this becomes an all-distinguishing feature. Armed
with her bow and quiver, and attended by her train of huntresses, who were
nymphs of the woods and springs, she roamed over the mountains in pursuit
of her favourite exercise, destroying in her course the wild animals of the
forest. When the chase was ended, Artemis and her maidens loved to assemble
in a shady grove, or on the banks of a favourite stream, where they joined
in the merry song, or graceful dance, and made the hills resound with their
joyous shouts.

As the type of purity and chastity, Artemis was especially venerated by
young maidens, who, before marrying, sacrificed their hair to her. She was
also the patroness of those vowed to celibacy, and punished severely any
infringement of their obligation.

The huntress-goddess is represented as being a head taller than her
attendant nymphs, and always appears as a youthful and slender maiden. Her
features are beautiful, but wanting in gentleness of expression; her hair
is gathered negligently into a knot at the back of her well-shaped head;
and her figure, though somewhat masculine, is most graceful in its attitude
and proportions. The short robe she wears, leaves her limbs free for the
exercise of the chase, her devotion to which is indicated by the quiver
which is slung over her shoulder, and the bow which she bears in her hand.

There are many famous statues of this divinity; but the most celebrated is
that known as the Diana of Versailles, now in the Louvre, which forms a not
unworthy companion to the Apollo-Belvedere of the Vatican. In this statue,
the goddess appears in the act of rescuing a hunted deer from its pursuers,
on whom she is turning with angry mien. One hand is laid protectingly on
the head of the stag, whilst with the other she draws an arrow from the
quiver which hangs over her shoulder.

Her attributes are the bow, quiver, and spear. The animals sacred to her
are the hind, dog, bear, and wild boar.

Artemis promptly resented any disregard or neglect of {89} her worship; a
remarkable instance of this is shown in the story of the Calydonian
boar-hunt, which is as follows:–

Oeneus, king of Calydon in Ætolia, had incurred the displeasure of Artemis
by neglecting to include her in a general sacrifice to the gods which he
had offered up, out of gratitude for a bountiful harvest. The goddess,
enraged at this neglect, sent a wild boar of extraordinary size and
prodigious strength, which destroyed the sprouting grain, laid waste the
fields, and threatened the inhabitants with famine and death. At this
juncture, Meleager, the brave son of Oeneus, returned from the Argonautic
expedition, and finding his country ravaged by this dreadful scourge,
entreated the assistance of all the celebrated heroes of the age to join
him in hunting the ferocious monster. Among the most famous of those who
responded to his call were Jason, Castor and Pollux, Idas and Lynceus,
Peleus, Telamon, Admetus, Perithous, and Theseus. The brothers of Althea,
wife of Oeneus, joined the hunters, and Meleager also enlisted into his
service the fleet-footed huntress Atalanta.

The father of this maiden was Schoeneus, an Arcadian, who, disappointed at
the birth of a daughter when he had particularly desired a son, had exposed
her on the Parthenian Hill, where he left her to perish. Here she was
nursed by a she-bear, and at last found by some hunters, who reared her,
and gave her the name of Atalanta. As the maiden grew up, she became an
ardent {90} lover of the chase, and was alike distinguished for her beauty
and courage. Though often wooed, she led a life of strict celibacy, an
oracle having predicted that inevitable misfortune awaited her, should she
give herself in marriage to any of her numerous suitors.

Many of the heroes objected to hunt in company with a maiden; but Meleager,
who loved Atalanta, overcame their opposition, and the valiant band set out
on their expedition. Atalanta was the first to wound the boar with her
spear, but not before two of the heroes had met their death from his fierce
tusks. After a long and desperate encounter, Meleager succeeded in killing
the monster, and presented the head and hide to Atalanta, as trophies of
the victory. The uncles of Meleager, however, forcibly took the hide from
the maiden, claiming their right to the spoil as next of kin, if Meleager
resigned it. Artemis, whose anger was still unappeased, caused a violent
quarrel to arise between uncles and nephew, and, in the struggle which
ensued, Meleager killed his mother’s brothers, and then restored the hide
to Atalanta. When Althea beheld the dead bodies of the slain heroes, her
grief and anger knew no bounds. She swore to revenge the death of her
brothers on her own son, and unfortunately for him, the instrument of
vengeance lay ready to her hand.

At the birth of Meleager, the Moirae, or Fates, entered the house of
Oeneus, and pointing to a piece of wood then burning on the hearth,
declared that as soon as it was consumed the babe would surely die. On
hearing this, Althea seized the brand, laid it up carefully in a chest, and
henceforth preserved it as her most precious possession. But now, love for
her son giving place to the resentment she felt against the murderer of her
brothers, she threw the fatal brand into the devouring flames. As it
consumed, the vigour of Meleager wasted away, and when it was reduced to
ashes, he expired. Repenting too late the terrible effects of her rash
deed, Althea, in remorse and despair, took away her own life.

The news of the courage and intrepidity displayed by {91} Atalanta in the
famous boar-hunt, being carried to the ears of her father, caused him to
acknowledge his long-lost child. Urged by him to choose one of her numerous
suitors, she consented to do so, but made it a condition that he alone, who
could outstrip her in the race, should become her husband, whilst those she
defeated should be put to death by her, with the lance which she bore in
her hand. Thus many suitors had perished, for the maiden was unequalled for
swiftness of foot, but at last a beautiful youth, named Hippomenes, who had
vainly endeavoured to win her love by his assiduous attentions in the
chase, ventured to enter the fatal lists. Knowing that only by stratagem
could he hope to be successful, he obtained, by the help of Aphrodite,
three golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides, which he threw down
at intervals during his course. Atalanta, secure of victory, stooped to
pick up the tempting fruit, and, in the meantime, Hippomenes arrived at the
goal. He became the husband of the lovely Atalanta, but forgot, in his
newly found happiness, the gratitude which he owed to Aphrodite, and the
goddess withdrew her favour from the pair. Not long after, the prediction
which foretold misfortune to Atalanta, in the event of her marriage, was
verified, for she and her husband, having strayed unsanctioned into a
sacred grove of Zeus, were both transformed into lions.

The trophies of the ever-memorable boar-hunt had been carried by Atalanta
into Arcadia, and, for many centuries, the identical hide and enormous
tusks of the Calydonian boar hung in the temple of Athene at Tegea. The
tusks were afterwards conveyed to Rome, and shown there among other

A forcible instance of the manner in which Artemis resented any intrusion
on her retirement, is seen in the fate which befell the famous hunter
Actaeon, who happening one day to see Artemis and her attendants bathing,
imprudently ventured to approach the spot. The goddess, incensed at his
audacity, sprinkled him with water, and transformed him into a stag,
whereupon he was torn in pieces and devoured by his own dogs. {92}


The Ephesian Artemis, known to us as “Diana of the Ephesians,” was a very
ancient Asiatic divinity of Persian origin called Metra,[33] whose worship
the Greek colonists found already established, when they first settled in
Asia Minor, and whom they identified with their own Greek Artemis, though
she really possessed but one single attribute in common with their home

Metra was a twofold divinity, and represented, in one phase of her
character, all-pervading love; in the other she was the light of heaven;
and as Artemis, in her character as Selene, was the only Greek female
divinity who represented celestial light, the Greek settlers, according to
their custom of fusing foreign deities into their own, seized at once upon
this point of resemblance, and decided that Metra should henceforth be
regarded as identical with Artemis.

In her character as the love which pervades all nature, and penetrates
everywhere, they believed her also to be present in the mysterious Realm of
Shades, where she exercised her benign sway, replacing to a certain extent
that ancient divinity Hecate, and partly usurping also the place of
Persephone, as mistress of the lower world. Thus they believed that it was
she who permitted the spirits of the departed to revisit the earth, in
order to communicate with those they loved, and to give them timely warning
of coming evil. In fact, this great, mighty, and omnipresent power of love,
as embodied in the Ephesian Artemis, was believed by the great thinkers of
old, to be the ruling spirit of the universe, and it was to her influence,
that all the mysterious and beneficent workings of nature were ascribed.

There was a magnificent temple erected to this divinity at Ephesus (a city
of Asia Minor), which was ranked among the seven wonders of the world, and
was unequalled in beauty and grandeur. The interior of this {93} edifice
was adorned with statues and paintings, and contained one hundred and
twenty-seven columns, sixty feet in height, each column having been placed
there by a different king. The wealth deposited in this temple was
enormous, and the goddess was here worshipped with particular awe and
solemnity. In the interior of the edifice stood a statue of her, formed of
ebony, with lions on her arms and turrets on her head, whilst a number of
breasts indicated the fruitfulness of the earth and of nature. Ctesiphon
was the principal architect of this world-renowned structure, which,
however, was not entirely completed till two hundred and twenty years after
the foundation-stone was laid. But the labour of centuries was destroyed in
a single night; for a man called Herostratus, seized with the insane desire
of making his name famous to all succeeding generations, set fire to it and
completely destroyed it.[34] So great was the indignation and sorrow of the
Ephesians at this calamity, that they enacted a law, forbidding the
incendiary’s name to be mentioned, thereby however, defeating their own
object, for thus the name of Herostratus has been handed down to posterity,
and will live as long as the memory of the famous temple of Ephesus.


In ancient times, the country which we now call the Crimea, was known by
the name of the Taurica Chersonnesus. It was colonized by Greek settlers,
who, finding that the Scythian inhabitants had a native divinity somewhat
resembling their own Artemis, identified her with the huntress-goddess of
the mother-country. The worship of this Taurian Artemis was attended with
the most barbarous practices, for, in accordance with a law which she had
enacted, all strangers, whether male or female, landing, or shipwrecked on
her shores, were sacrificed upon her altars. It is supposed that this
decree was {94} issued by the Taurian goddess of Chastity, to protect the
purity of her followers, by keeping them apart from foreign influences.

The interesting story of Iphigenia, a priestess in the temple of Artemis at
Tauris, forms the subject of one of Schiller’s most beautiful plays. The
circumstances occurred at the commencement of the Trojan war, and are as
follows:–The fleet, collected by the Greeks for the siege of Troy, had
assembled at Aulis, in Boeotia, and was about to set sail, when Agamemnon,
the commander-in-chief, had the misfortune to kill accidentally a stag
which was grazing in a grove, sacred to Artemis. The offended goddess sent
continuous calms that delayed the departure of the fleet, and Calchas, the
soothsayer, who had accompanied the expedition, declared that nothing less
than the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s favorite daughter, Iphigenia, would
appease the wrath of the goddess. At these words, the heroic heart of the
brave leader sank within him, and he declared that rather than consent to
so fearful an alternative, he would give up his share in the expedition and
return to Argos. In this dilemma Odysseus and other great generals called a
council to discuss the matter, and, after much deliberation, it was decided
that private feeling must yield to the welfare of the state. For a long
time the unhappy Agamemnon turned a deaf ear to their arguments, but at
last they succeeded in persuading him that it was his duty to make the
sacrifice. He, accordingly, despatched a messenger to his wife,
Clytemnæstra, begging her to send Iphigenia to him, alleging as a pretext
that the great hero Achilles desired to make her his wife. Rejoicing at the
brilliant destiny which awaited her beautiful daughter, the fond mother at
once obeyed the command, and sent her to Aulis. When the maiden arrived at
her destination, and discovered, to her horror, the dreadful fate which
awaited her, she threw herself in an agony of grief at her father’s feet,
and with sobs and tears entreated him to have mercy on her, and to spare
her young life. But alas! her doom was sealed, and her now repentant and
{95} heart-broken father was powerless to avert it. The unfortunate victim
was bound to the altar, and already the fatal knife was raised to deal the
death-blow, when suddenly Iphigenia disappeared from view, and in her place
on the altar, lay a beautiful deer ready to be sacrificed. It was Artemis
herself, who, pitying the youth and beauty of her victim, caused her to be
conveyed in a cloud to Taurica, where she became one of her priestesses,
and intrusted with the charge of her temple; a dignity, however, which
necessitated the offering of those human sacrifices presented to Artemis.

Many years passed away, during which time the long and wearisome siege of
Troy had come to an end, and the brave Agamemnon had returned home to meet
death at the hands of his wife and Aegisthus. But his daughter, Iphigenia,
was still an exile from her native country, and continued to perform the
terrible duties which her office involved. She had long given up all hopes
of ever being restored to her friends, when one day two Greek strangers
landed on Taurica’s inhospitable shores. These were Orestes and Pylades,
whose romantic attachment to each other has made their names synonymous for
devoted self-sacrificing friendship. Orestes was Iphigenia’s brother, and
Pylades her cousin, and their object in undertaking an expedition fraught
with so much peril, was to obtain the statue of the Taurian Artemis.
Orestes, having incurred the anger of the Furies for avenging the murder of
his father Agamemnon, was pursued by them wherever he went, until at last
he was informed by the oracle of Delphi that, in order to pacify them, he
must convey the image of the Taurian Artemis from Tauris to Attica. This he
at once resolved to do, and accompanied by his faithful friend Pylades, who
insisted on sharing the dangers of the undertaking, he set out for Taurica.
But the unfortunate youths had hardly stepped on shore before they were
seized by the natives, who, as usual, conveyed them for sacrifice to the
temple of Artemis. Iphigenia, discovering that they were Greeks, though
unaware of their near relationship to herself, thought the {96} opportunity
a favourable one for sending tidings of her existence to her native
country, and, accordingly, requested one of the strangers to be the bearer
of a letter from her to her family. A magnanimous dispute now arose between
the friends, and each besought the other to accept the precious privilege
of life and freedom. Pylades, at length overcome by the urgent entreaties
of Orestes, agreed to be the bearer of the missive, but on looking more
closely at the superscription, he observed, to his intense surprise, that
it was addressed to Orestes. Hereupon an explanation followed; the brother
and sister recognized each other, amid joyful tears and loving embraces,
and assisted by her friends and kinsmen, Iphigenia escaped with them from a
country where she had spent so many unhappy days, and witnessed so many
scenes of horror and anguish.

The fugitives, having contrived to obtain the image of the Taurian Artemis,
carried it with them to Brauron in Attica. This divinity was henceforth
known as the Brauronian Artemis, and the rites which had rendered her
worship so infamous in Taurica were now introduced into Greece, and human
victims bled freely under the sacrificial knife, both in Athens and Sparta.
The revolting practice of offering human sacrifices to her, was continued
until the time of Lycurgus, the great Spartan lawgiver, who put an end to
it by substituting in its place one, which was hardly less barbarous,
namely, the scourging of youths, who were whipped on the altars of the
Brauronian Artemis in the most cruel manner; sometimes indeed they expired
under the lash, in which case their mothers, far from lamenting their fate,
are said to have rejoiced, considering this an honourable death for their


Hitherto we have seen Artemis only in the various phases of her terrestrial
character; but just as her brother Apollo drew into himself by degrees the
attributes of that more ancient divinity Helios, the sun-god, so, in like
manner, she came to be identified in later times {97} with Selene, the
moon-goddess, in which character she is always represented as wearing on
her forehead a glittering crescent, whilst a flowing veil, bespangled with
stars, reaches to her feet, and a long robe completely envelops her.


The Diana of the Romans was identified with the Greek Artemis, with whom
she shares that peculiar tripartite character, which so strongly marks the
individuality of the Greek goddess. In heaven she was Luna (the moon), on
earth Diana (the huntress-goddess), and in the lower world Proserpine; but,
unlike the Ephesian Artemis, Diana, in her character as Proserpine, carries
with her into the lower world no element of love or sympathy; she is, on
the contrary, characterized by practices altogether hostile to man, such as
the exercise of witchcraft, evil charms, and other antagonistic influences,
and is, in fact, the Greek Hecate, in her later development.

The statues of Diana were generally erected at a point where three roads
met, for which reason she is called Trivia (from tri, three, and via,

A temple was dedicated to her on the Aventine hill by Servius Tullius, who
is said to have first introduced the worship of this divinity into Rome.

The Nemoralia, or Grove Festivals, were celebrated in her honour on the
13th of August, on the Lacus Nemorensis, or forest-buried lake, near
Aricia. The priest who officiated in her temple on this spot, was always a
fugitive slave, who had gained his office by murdering his predecessor, and
hence was constantly armed, in order that he might thus be prepared to
encounter a new aspirant.


Hephæstus, the son of Zeus and Hera, was the god of fire in its beneficial
aspect, and the presiding deity over all workmanship accomplished by means
of this useful element. He was universally honoured, not only as the {98}
god of all mechanical arts, but also as a house and hearth divinity, who
exercised a beneficial influence on civilized society in general. Unlike
the other Greek divinities, he was ugly and deformed, being awkward in his
movements, and limping in his gait. This latter defect originated, as we
have already seen, in the wrath of his father Zeus, who hurled him down
from heaven[35] in consequence of his taking the part of Hera, in one of
the domestic disagreements, which so frequently arose between this royal
pair. Hephæstus was a whole day falling from Olympus to the earth, where he
at length alighted on the island of Lemnos. The inhabitants of the country,
seeing him descending through the air, received him in their arms; but in
spite of their care, his leg was broken by the fall, and he remained ever
afterwards lame in one foot. Grateful for the kindness of the Lemnians, he
henceforth took up his abode in their island, and there built for himself a
superb palace, and forges for the pursuit of his avocation. He instructed
the people how to work in metals, and also taught them other valuable and
useful arts.

It is said that the first work of Hephæstus was a most ingenious throne of
gold, with secret springs, which he presented to Hera. It was arranged in
such a manner that, once seated, she found herself unable to move, and
though all the gods endeavoured to extricate her, their efforts were
unavailing. Hephæstus thus revenged himself on his mother for the cruelty
she had always displayed towards him, on account of his want of comeliness
and grace. Dionysus, the wine god, contrived, however, to intoxicate
Hephæstus, and then induced him to return to Olympus, where, after having
released the {99} queen of heaven from her very undignified position, he
became reconciled to his parents.

He now built for himself a glorious palace on Olympus, of shining gold, and
made for the other deities those magnificent edifices which they inhabited.
He was assisted in his various and exquisitely skilful works of art, by two
female statues of pure gold, formed by his own hand, which possessed the
power of motion, and always accompanied him wherever he went. With the
assistance of the Cyclops, he forged for Zeus his wonderful thunderbolts,
thus investing his mighty father with a new power of terrible import. Zeus
testified his appreciation of this precious gift, by bestowing upon
Hephæstus the beautiful Aphrodite in marriage,[36] but this was a
questionable boon; for the lovely Aphrodite, who was the personification of
all grace and beauty, felt no affection for her ungainly and unattractive
spouse, and amused herself by ridiculing his awkward movements and
unsightly person. On one occasion especially, when Hephæstus good-naturedly
took upon himself the office of cup-bearer to the gods, his hobbling gait
and extreme awkwardness created the greatest mirth amongst the celestials,
in which his disloyal partner was the first to join, with unconcealed

Aphrodite greatly preferred Ares to her husband, and this preference
naturally gave rise to much jealousy on the part of Hephæstus, and caused
them great unhappiness.

Hephæstus appears to have been an indispensable member of the Olympic
Assembly, where he plays the part of smith, armourer, chariot-builder, &c.
As already mentioned, he constructed the palaces where the gods resided,
fashioned the golden shoes with which they trod the air or water, built for
them their wonderful chariots, and shod with brass the horses of celestial
breed, which conveyed these glittering equipages over land and sea. He also
made the tripods which moved of themselves in and out of the celestial
halls, formed for Zeus the {100} far-famed ægis, and erected the
magnificent palace of the sun. He also created the brazen-footed bulls of
Aetes, which breathed flames from their nostrils, sent forth clouds of
smoke, and filled the air with their roaring.

Among his most renowned works of art for the use of mortals were: the
armour of Achilles and Æneas, the beautiful necklace of Harmonia, and the
crown of Ariadne; but his masterpiece was Pandora, of whom a detailed
account has already been given.

There was a temple on Mount Etna erected in his honour, which none but the
pure and virtuous were permitted to enter. The entrance to this temple was
guarded by dogs, which possessed the extraordinary faculty of being able to
discriminate between the righteous and the unrighteous, fawning upon and
caressing the good, whilst they rushed upon all evil-doers and drove them

Hephæstus is usually represented as a powerful, brawny, and very muscular
man of middle height and mature age; his strong uplifted arm is raised in
the act of striking the anvil with a hammer, which he holds in one hand,
whilst with the other he is turning a thunderbolt, which an eagle beside
him is waiting to carry to Zeus. The principal seat of his worship was the
island of Lemnos, where he was regarded with peculiar veneration.


The Roman Vulcan was merely an importation from Greece, which never at any
time took firm root in Rome, nor entered largely into the actual life and
sympathies of the nation, his worship being unattended by the devotional
feeling and enthusiasm which characterized the religious rites of the other
deities. He still, however, retained in Rome his {101} Greek attributes as
god of fire, and unrivalled master of the art of working in metals, and was
ranked among the twelve great gods of Olympus, whose gilded statues were
arranged consecutively along the Forum. His Roman name, Vulcan, would seem
to indicate a connection with the first great metal-working artificer of
Biblical history, Tubal-Cain.


Poseidon was the son of Kronos and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus. He was
god of the sea, more particularly of the Mediterranean, and, like the
element over which he presided, was of a variable disposition, now
violently agitated, and now calm and placid, for which reason he is
sometimes represented by the poets as quiet and composed, and at others as
disturbed and angry.

In the earliest ages of Greek mythology, he merely symbolized the watery
element; but in later times, as navigation and intercourse with other
nations engendered greater traffic by sea, Poseidon gained in importance,
and came to be regarded as a distinct divinity, holding indisputable
dominion over the sea, and over all sea-divinities, who acknowledged him as
their sovereign ruler. He possessed the power of causing at will, mighty
and destructive tempests, in which the billows rise mountains high, the
wind becomes a hurricane, land and sea being enveloped in thick mists,
whilst destruction assails the unfortunate mariners exposed to their fury.
On the other hand, his alone was the power of stilling the angry {102}
waves, of soothing the troubled waters, and granting safe voyages to
mariners. For this reason, Poseidon was always invoked and propitiated by a
libation before a voyage was undertaken, and sacrifices and thanksgivings
were gratefully offered to him after a safe and prosperous journey by sea.

The symbol of his power was the fisherman’s fork or trident,[37] by means
of which he produced earthquakes, raised up islands from the bottom of the
sea, and caused wells to spring forth out of the earth.

Poseidon was essentially the presiding deity over fishermen, and was on
that account, more particularly worshipped and revered in countries
bordering on the sea-coast, where fish naturally formed a staple commodity
of trade. He was supposed to vent his displeasure by sending disastrous
inundations, which completely destroyed whole countries, and were usually
accompanied by terrible marine monsters, who swallowed up and devoured
those whom the floods had spared. It is probable that these sea-monsters
are the poetical figures which represent the demons of hunger and famine,
necessarily accompanying a general inundation.

Poseidon is generally represented as resembling his brother Zeus in
features, height, and general aspect; but we miss in the countenance of the
sea-god the kindness and benignity which so pleasingly distinguish his
mighty brother. The eyes are bright and piercing, and the contour of the
face somewhat sharper in its outline than that of Zeus, thus corresponding,
as it were, with his more angry and violent nature. His hair waves in dark,
disorderly masses over his shoulders; his chest is broad, and his frame
powerful and stalwart; he wears a short, curling beard, and a band round
his head. He usually appears standing erect in a graceful shell-chariot,
drawn by hippocamps, or sea-horses, with golden manes and brazen hoofs, who
bound over the dancing waves with such wonderful swiftness, that the
chariot scarcely touches {103} the water. The monsters of the deep,
acknowledging their mighty lord, gambol playfully around him, whilst the
sea joyfully smooths a path for the passage of its all-powerful ruler.

He inhabited a beautiful palace at the bottom of the sea at Ægea in Euboea,
and also possessed a royal residence on Mount Olympus, which, however, he
only visited when his presence was required at the council of the gods.

His wonderful palace beneath the waters was of vast extent; in its lofty
and capacious halls thousands of his followers could assemble. The exterior
of the building was of bright gold, which the continual wash of the waters
preserved untarnished; in the interior, lofty and graceful columns
supported the gleaming dome. Everywhere fountains of glistening, silvery
water played; everywhere groves and arbours of feathery-leaved sea-plants
appeared, whilst rocks of pure crystal glistened with all the varied
colours of the rainbow. Some of the paths were strewn with white sparkling
sand, interspersed with jewels, pearls, and amber. This delightful abode
was surrounded on all sides by wide fields, where there were whole groves
of dark purple coralline, and tufts of beautiful scarlet-leaved plants, and
sea-anemones of every tint. Here grew bright, pinky sea-weeds, mosses of
all hues and shades, and tall grasses, which, growing upwards, formed
emerald caves and grottoes such as the Nereides love, whilst fish of
various kinds playfully darted in and out, in the full enjoyment of their
native element. Nor was illumination wanting in this fairy-like region,
which at night was lit up by the glow-worms of the deep.

But although Poseidon ruled with absolute power over the ocean and its
inhabitants, he nevertheless bowed submissively to the will of the great
ruler of Olympus, and appeared at all times desirous of conciliating him.
We {104} find him coming to his aid when emergency demanded, and frequently
rendering him valuable assistance against his opponents. At the time when
Zeus was harassed by the attacks of the Giants, he proved himself a most
powerful ally, engaging in single combat with a hideous giant named
Polybotes, whom he followed over the sea, and at last succeeded in
destroying, by hurling upon him the island of Cos.

These amicable relations between the brothers were, however, sometimes
interrupted. Thus, for instance, upon one occasion Poseidon joined Hera and
Athene in a secret conspiracy to seize upon the ruler of heaven, place him
in fetters, and deprive him of the sovereign power. The conspiracy being
discovered, Hera, as the chief instigator of this sacrilegious attempt on
the divine person of Zeus, was severely chastised, and even beaten, by her
enraged spouse, as a punishment for her rebellion and treachery, whilst
Poseidon was condemned, for the space of a whole year, to forego his
dominion over the sea, and it was at this time that, in conjunction with
Apollo, he built for Laomedon the walls of Troy.

Poseidon married a sea-nymph named Amphitrite, whom he wooed under the form
of a dolphin. She afterwards became jealous of a beautiful maiden called
Scylla, who was beloved by Poseidon, and in order to revenge herself she
threw some herbs into a well where Scylla was bathing, which had the effect
of metamorphosing her into a monster of terrible aspect, having twelve
feet, six heads with six long necks, and a voice which resembled the bark
of a dog. This awful monster is said to have inhabited a cave at a very
great height in the famous rock which still bears her name,[38] and was
supposed to swoop down from her rocky eminence upon every ship that passed,
and with each of her six heads to secure a victim.

Amphitrite is often represented assisting Poseidon in attaching the
sea-horses to his chariot.


The Cyclops, who have been already alluded to in the history of Cronus,
were the sons of Poseidon and Amphitrite. They were a wild race of gigantic
growth, similar in their nature to the earth-born Giants, and had only one
eye each in the middle of their foreheads. They led a lawless life,
possessing neither social manners nor fear of the gods, and were the
workmen of Hephæstus, whose workshop was supposed to be in the heart of the
volcanic mountain Ætna.

Here we have another striking instance of the manner in which the Greeks
personified the powers of nature, which they saw in active operation around
them. They beheld with awe, mingled with astonishment, the fire, stones,
and ashes which poured forth from the summit of this and other volcanic
mountains, and, with their vivacity of imagination, found a solution of the
mystery in the supposition, that the god of Fire must be busy at work with
his men in the depths of the earth, and that the mighty flames which they
beheld, issued in this manner from his subterranean forge.

The chief representative of the Cyclops was the man-eating monster
Polyphemus, described by Homer as having been blinded and outwitted at last
by Odysseus. This monster fell in love with a beautiful nymph called
Galatea; but, as may be supposed, his addresses were not acceptable to the
fair maiden, who rejected them in favour of a youth named Acis, upon which
Polyphemus, with his usual barbarity, destroyed the life of his rival by
throwing upon him a gigantic rock. The blood of the murdered Acis, gushing
out of the rock, formed a stream which still bears his name.

Triton, Rhoda,[39] and Benthesicyme were also children of Poseidon and

The sea-god was the father of two giant sons called Otus and Ephialtes.[40]
When only nine years old they {106} were said to be twenty-seven cubits[41]
in height and nine in breadth. These youthful giants were as rebellious as
they were powerful, even presuming to threaten the gods themselves with
hostilities. During the war of the Gigantomachia, they endeavoured to scale
heaven by piling mighty mountains one upon another. Already had they
succeeded in placing Mount Ossa on Olympus and Pelion on Ossa, when this
impious project was frustrated by Apollo, who destroyed them with his
arrows. It was supposed that had not their lives been thus cut off before
reaching maturity, their sacrilegious designs would have been carried into

Pelias and Neleus were also sons of Poseidon. Their mother Tyro was
attached to the river-god Enipeus, whose form Poseidon assumed, and thus
won her love. Pelias became afterwards famous in the story of the
Argonauts, and Neleus was the father of Nestor, who was distinguished in
the Trojan War.

The Greeks believed that it was to Poseidon they were indebted for the
existence of the horse, which he is said to have produced in the following
manner: Athene and Poseidon both claiming the right to name Cecropia (the
ancient name of Athens), a violent dispute arose, which was finally settled
by an assembly of the Olympian gods, who decided that whichever of the
contending parties presented mankind with the most useful gift, should
obtain the privilege of naming the city. Upon this Poseidon struck the
ground with his trident, and the horse sprang forth in all his untamed
strength and graceful beauty. From the spot which Athene touched with her
wand, issued the olive-tree, whereupon the gods unanimously awarded to her
the victory, declaring her gift to be the emblem of peace and plenty,
whilst that of Poseidon was thought to be the symbol of war and {107}
bloodshed. Athene accordingly called the city Athens, after herself, and it
has ever since retained this name.

Poseidon tamed the horse for the use of mankind, and was believed to have
taught men the art of managing horses by the bridle. The Isthmian games (so
named because they were held on the Isthmus of Corinth), in which horse and
chariot races were a distinguishing feature, were instituted in honour of

He was more especially worshipped in the Peloponnesus, though universally
revered throughout Greece and in the south of Italy. His sacrifices were
generally black and white bulls, also wild boars and rams. His usual
attributes are the trident, horse, and dolphin.

In some parts of Greece this divinity was identified with the sea-god
Nereus, for which reason the Nereides, or daughters of Nereus, are
represented as accompanying him.


The Romans worshipped Poseidon under the name of Neptune, and invested him
with all the attributes which belong to the Greek divinity.

The Roman commanders never undertook any naval expedition without
propitiating Neptune by a sacrifice.

His temple at Rome was in the Campus Martius, and the festivals
commemorated in his honour were called Neptunalia.

   *       *       *       *       *



Oceanus was the son of Uranus and Gæa. He was the personification of the
ever-flowing stream, which, according to the primitive notions of the early
Greeks, encircled the world, and from which sprang all the rivers and
streams that watered the earth. He was married to Tethys, one of the
Titans, and was the father of a {108} numerous progeny called the
Oceanides, who are said to have been three thousand in number. He alone, of
all the Titans, refrained from taking part against Zeus in the
Titanomachia, and was, on that account, the only one of the primeval
divinities permitted to retain his dominion under the new dynasty.


Nereus appears to have been the personification of the sea in its calm and
placid moods, and was, after Poseidon, the most important of the
sea-deities. He is represented as a kind and benevolent old man, possessing
the gift of prophecy, and presiding more particularly over the Ægean Sea,
of which he was considered to be the protecting spirit. There he dwelt with
his wife Doris and their fifty blooming daughters, the Nereides, beneath
the waves in a beautiful grotto-palace, and was ever ready to assist
distressed mariners in the hour of danger.


Proteus, more familiarly known as “The Old Man of the Sea,” was a son of
Poseidon, and gifted with prophetic power. But he had an invincible
objection to being consulted in his capacity as seer, and those who wished
him to foretell events, watched for the hour of noon, when he was in the
habit of coming up to the island of Pharos,[42] with Poseidon’s flock of
seals, which he tended at the bottom of the sea. Surrounded by these
creatures of the deep, he used to slumber beneath the grateful shade of the
rocks. This was the favourable moment to seize the prophet, who, in order
to avoid importunities, would change himself into an infinite variety of
forms. But patience gained the day; for if he were only held long enough,
he became wearied at last, and, resuming his true form, gave the
information desired, after which he dived down again to the bottom of the
sea, accompanied by the animals he tended.



Triton was the only son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, but he possessed little
influence, being altogether a minor divinity. He is usually represented as
preceding his father and acting as his trumpeter, using a conch-shell for
this purpose. He lived with his parents in their beautiful golden palace
beneath the sea at Ægea, and his favourite pastime was to ride over the
billows on horses or sea-monsters. Triton is always represented as half
man, half fish, the body below the waist terminating in the tail of a
dolphin. We frequently find mention of Tritons who are either the offspring
or kindred of Triton.


Glaucus is said to have become a sea-divinity in the following manner.
While angling one day, he observed that the fish he caught and threw on the
bank, at once nibbled at the grass and then leaped back into the water. His
curiosity was naturally excited, and he proceeded to gratify it by taking
up a few blades and tasting them. No sooner was this done than, obeying an
irresistible impulse, he precipitated himself into the deep, and became a

Like most sea-divinities he was gifted with prophetic power, and each year
visited all the islands and coasts with a train of marine monsters,
foretelling all kinds of evil. Hence fishermen dreaded his approach, and
endeavoured, by prayer and fasting, to avert the misfortunes which he
prophesied. He is often represented floating on the billows, his body
covered with mussels, sea-weed, and shells, wearing a full beard and long
flowing hair, and bitterly bewailing his immortality.



The silver-footed, fair-haired Thetis, who plays an important part in the
mythology of Greece, was the daughter of Nereus, or, as some assert, of
Poseidon. Her grace and beauty were so remarkable that Zeus and Poseidon
both sought an alliance with her; but, as it had been foretold that a son
of hers would gain supremacy over his father, they relinquished their
intentions, and she became the wife of Peleus, son of Æacus. Like Proteus,
Thetis possessed the power of transforming herself into a variety of
different shapes, and when wooed by Peleus she exerted this power in order
to elude him. But, knowing that persistence would eventually succeed, he
held her fast until she assumed her true form. Their nuptials were
celebrated with the utmost pomp and magnificence, and were honoured by the
presence of all the gods and goddesses, with the exception of Eris. How the
goddess of discord resented her exclusion from the marriage festivities has
already been shown.

Thetis ever retained great influence over the mighty lord of heaven, which,
as we shall see hereafter, she used in favour of her renowned son,
Achilles, in the Trojan War.

When Halcyone plunged into the sea in despair after the shipwreck and death
of her husband King Ceyx, Thetis transformed both husband and wife into the
birds called kingfishers (halcyones), which, with the tender affection
which characterized the unfortunate couple, always fly in pairs. The idea
of the ancients was that these birds brought forth their young in nests,
which float on the surface of the sea in calm weather, before and after the
shortest day, when Thetis was said to keep the waters smooth and tranquil
for their especial benefit; hence the term “halcyon-days,” which signifies
a period of rest and untroubled felicity.



The early Greeks, with their extraordinary power of personifying all and
every attribute of Nature, gave a distinct personality to those mighty
wonders of the deep, which, in all ages, have afforded matter of
speculation to educated and uneducated alike. Among these personifications
we find Thaumas, Phorcys, and their sister Ceto, who were the offspring of

Thaumas (whose name signifies Wonder) typifies that peculiar, translucent
condition of the surface of the sea when it reflects, mirror-like, various
images, and appears to hold in its transparent embrace the flaming stars
and illuminated cities, which are so frequently reflected on its glassy

Thaumas married the lovely Electra (whose name signifies the sparkling
light produced by electricity), daughter of Oceanus. Her amber-coloured
hair was of such rare beauty that none of her fair-haired sisters could
compare with her, and when she wept, her tears, being too precious to be
lost, formed drops of shining amber.

Phorcys and Ceto personified more especially the hidden perils and terrors
of the ocean. They were the parents of the Gorgons, the Græa, and the
Dragon which guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides.


Leucothea was originally a mortal named Ino, daughter of Cadmus, king of
Thebes. She married Athamas, king of Orchomenus, who, incensed at her
unnatural conduct to her step-children,[43] pursued her and her son to the
sea-shore, when, seeing no hope of escape, she flung herself with her child
into the deep. They were kindly received by the Nereides, and became
sea-divinities under the name of Leucothea and Palæmon.



The Sirens would appear to have been personifications of those numerous
rocks and unseen dangers, which abound on the S.W. coast of Italy. They
were sea-nymphs, with the upper part of the body that of a maiden and the
lower that of a sea-bird, having wings attached to their shoulders, and
were endowed with such wonderful voices, that their sweet songs are said to
have lured mariners to destruction.


Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera, was the god of war, who gloried in strife
for its own sake; he loved the tumult and havoc of the battlefield, and
delighted in slaughter and extermination; in fact he presents no benevolent
aspect which could possibly react favourably upon human life.

Epic poets, in particular, represent the god of battles as a wild
ungovernable warrior, who passes through the armies like a whirlwind,
hurling to the ground the brave and cowardly alike; destroying chariots and
helmets, and triumphing over the terrible desolation which he produces.

In all the myths concerning Ares, his sister Athene ever appears in
opposition to him, endeavouring by every means in her power to defeat his
bloodthirsty designs. Thus she assists the divine hero Diomedes at the
siege of Troy, to overcome Ares in battle, and so well does he profit by
her timely aid, that he succeeds in wounding the sanguinary war-god, who
makes his exit from the field, roaring like ten thousand bulls.


Ares appears to have been an object of aversion to all the gods of Olympus,
Aphrodite alone excepted. As the son of Hera, he had inherited from his
mother the strongest feelings of independence and contradiction, and as he
took delight in upsetting that peaceful course of state-life which it was
pre-eminently the care of Zeus to establish, he was naturally disliked and
even hated by him.

When wounded by Diomedes, as above related, he complains to his father, but
receives no sympathy from the otherwise kindly and beneficent ruler of
Olympus, who thus angrily addresses him: “Do not trouble me with thy
complaints, thou who art of all the gods of Olympus most hateful to me, for
thou delightest in nought save war and strife. The very spirit of thy
mother lives in thee, and wert thou not my son, long ago wouldst thou have
lain deeper down in the bowels of the earth than the son of Uranus.”

Ares, upon one occasion, incurred the anger of Poseidon by slaying his son
Halirrhothios, who had insulted Alcippe, the daughter of the war-god. For
this deed, Poseidon summoned Ares to appear before the tribunal of the
Olympic gods, which was held upon a hill in Athens. Ares was acquitted, and
this event is supposed to have given rise to the name Areopagus (or Hill of
Ares), which afterwards became so famous as a court of justice. In the
Gigantomachia, Ares was defeated by the Aloidæ, the two giant-sons of
Poseidon, who put him in chains, and kept him in prison for thirteen

Ares is represented as a man of youthful appearance; his tall muscular form
combines great strength with wonderful agility. In his right hand he bears
a sword or a mighty lance, while on the left arm he carries his round
shield (see next page). His demoniacal surroundings are Terror and
Fear;[44] Enyo, the goddess of the war-cry; Keidomos, the demon of the
noise of battles; and Eris (Contention), his twin-sister and companion, who
always {114} precedes his chariot when he rushes to the fight, the latter
being evidently a simile of the poets to express the fact that war follows

Eris is represented as a woman of florid complexion, with dishevelled hair,
and her whole appearance angry and menacing. In one hand she brandishes a
poniard and a hissing adder, whilst in the other she carries a burning
torch. Her dress is torn and disorderly, and her hair intertwined with
venomous snakes. This divinity was never invoked by mortals, except when
they desired her assistance for the accomplishment of evil purposes.


The Roman divinity most closely resembling the Greek Ares, and identified
with him, was called Mars, Mamers, and Marspiter or Father Mars.

The earliest Italian tribes, who were mostly engaged in the pursuit of
husbandry, regarded this deity more especially as the god of spring, who
vanquished the powers of winter, and encouraged the peaceful arts of
agriculture. But with the Romans, who were an essentially warlike nation,
Mars gradually loses his peaceful character, and, as god of war, attains,
after Jupiter, the highest position among the Olympic gods. The Romans
looked upon him as their special protector, and declared him to have been
the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of their city. But although
he was especially {115} worshipped in Rome as god of war, he still
continued to preside over agriculture, and was also the protecting deity
who watched over the welfare of the state.

As the god who strode with warlike step to the battlefield, he was called
Gradivus (from gradus, a step), it being popularly believed by the Romans
that he himself marched before them to battle, and acted as their invisible
protector. As the presiding deity over agriculture, he was styled Sylvanus,
whilst in his character as guardian of the state, he bore the name of

The priests of Mars were twelve in number, and were called Salii, or the
dancers, from the fact that sacred dances, in full armour, formed an
important item in their peculiar ceremonial. This religious order, the
members of which were always chosen from the noblest families in Rome, was
first instituted by Numa Pompilius, who intrusted to their special charge
the Anciliæ, or sacred shields. It is said that one morning, when Numa was
imploring the protection of Jupiter for the newly-founded city of Rome, the
god of heaven, as though in answer to his prayer, sent down an oblong
brazen shield, and, as it fell at the feet of the king, a voice was heard
announcing that on its preservation depended the future safety and
prosperity of Rome. In order, therefore, to lessen the chances of this
sacred treasure being abstracted, Numa caused eleven more to be made
exactly like it, which were then given into the care of the Salii.

The assistance and protection of the god of war was always solemnly invoked
before the departure of a Roman army for the field of battle, and any
reverses of fortune were invariably ascribed to his anger, which was
accordingly propitiated by means of extraordinary sin-offerings and

In Rome a field, called the Campus Martius, was dedicated to Mars. It was a
large, open space, in which armies were collected and reviewed, general
assemblies of {116} the people held, and the young nobility trained to
martial exercises.

The most celebrated and magnificent of the numerous temples built by the
Romans in honour of this deity was the one erected by Augustus in the
Forum, to commemorate the overthrow of the murderers of Cæsar.

Of all existing statues of Mars the most renowned is that in the Villa
Ludovisi at Rome, in which he is represented as a powerful, muscular man in
the full vigour of youth. The attitude is that of thoughtful repose, but
the short, curly hair, dilated nostrils, and strongly marked features leave
no doubt as to the force and turbulence of his character. At his feet, the
sculptor has placed the little god of love, who looks up all undaunted at
the mighty war-god, as though mischievously conscious that this unusually
quiet mood is attributable to his influence.

Religious festivals in honour of Mars were generally held in the month of
March; but he had also a festival on the Ides of October, when
chariot-races took place, after which, the right-hand horse of the team
which had drawn the victorious chariot, was sacrificed to him. In ancient
times, human sacrifices, more especially prisoners of war, were offered to
him; but, at a later period, this cruel practice was discontinued.

The attributes of this divinity are the helmet, shield, and spear. The
animals consecrated to him were the wolf, horse, vulture, and woodpecker.

Intimately associated with Mars in his character as god of war, was a
goddess called BELLONA, who was evidently the female divinity of battle
with one or other of the primitive nations of Italy (most probably the
Sabines), and is usually seen accompanying Mars, whose war-chariot she
guides. Bellona appears on the battle-field, inspired with mad rage,
cruelty, and the love of extermination. She is in full armour, her hair is
dishevelled, and she bears a scourge in one hand, and a lance in the other.

A temple was erected to her on the Campus Martius. Before the entrance to
this edifice stood a pillar, over which a spear was thrown when war was
publicly declared. {117}


Nike, the goddess of victory, was the daughter of the Titan Pallas, and of
Styx, the presiding nymph of the river of that name in the lower world.

In her statues, Nike somewhat resembles Athene, but may easily be
recognized by her large, graceful wings and flowing drapery, which is
negligently fastened on the right shoulder, and only partially conceals her
lovely form. In her left hand, she holds aloft a crown of laurel, and in
the right, a palm-branch. In ancient sculpture, Nike is usually represented
in connection with colossal statues of Zeus or Pallas-Athene, in which case
she is life-sized, and stands on a ball, held in the open palm of the deity
she accompanies. Sometimes she is represented engaged in inscribing the
victory of a conqueror on his shield, her right foot being slightly raised
and placed on a ball.

A celebrated temple was erected to this divinity on the Acropolis at
Athens, which is still to be seen, and is in excellent preservation.


Under the name of Victoria, Nike was highly honoured by the Romans, with
whom love of conquest was an all-absorbing characteristic. There were
several sanctuaries in Rome dedicated to her, the principal of which was on
the Capitol, where it was the custom of generals, after success had
attended their arms, to erect statues of the goddess in commemoration of
their victories. The most magnificent of these statues, was that raised by
Augustus after the battle of Actium. A festival was celebrated in honour of
Nike on the 12th of April.


Hermes was the swift-footed messenger, and trusted ambassador of all the
gods, and conductor of shades to Hades. He presided over the rearing and
education of {118} the young, and encouraged gymnastic exercises and
athletic pursuits, for which reason, all gymnasiums and wrestling schools
throughout Greece were adorned with his statues. He is said to have
invented the alphabet, and to have taught the art of interpreting foreign
languages, and his versatility, sagacity, and cunning were so
extraordinary, that Zeus invariably chose him as his attendant, when,
disguised as a mortal, he journeyed on earth.

Hermes was worshipped as god of eloquence, most probably from the fact
that, in his office as ambassador, this faculty was indispensable to the
successful issue of the negotiations with which he was intrusted. He was
regarded as the god who granted increase and prosperity to flocks and
herds, and, on this account, was worshipped with special veneration by

In ancient times, trade was conducted chiefly by means of the exchange of
cattle. Hermes, therefore, as god of herdsmen, came to be regarded as the
protector of merchants, and, as ready wit and adroitness are valuable
qualities both in buying and selling, he was also looked upon as the patron
of artifice and cunning. Indeed, so deeply was this notion rooted in the
minds of the Greek people, that he was popularly believed to be also god of
thieves, and of all persons who live by their wits.

As the patron of commerce, Hermes was naturally supposed to be the promoter
of intercourse among nations; hence, he is essentially the god of
travellers, over whose safety he presided, and he severely punished those
who refused assistance to the lost or weary wayfarer. He was also guardian
of streets and roads, and his statues, called Hermæ (which were pillars of
stone surmounted by a head of Hermes), were placed at cross-roads, and
frequently in streets and public squares.

Being the god of all undertakings in which gain was a feature, he was
worshipped as the giver of wealth and {119} good luck, and any unexpected
stroke of fortune was attributed to his influence. He also presided over
the game of dice, in which he is said to have been instructed by Apollo.

Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia, the eldest and most beautiful of the
seven Pleiades (daughters of Atlas), and was born in a cave of Mount
Cyllene in Arcadia. As a mere babe, he exhibited an extraordinary faculty
for cunning and dissimulation; in fact, he was a thief from his cradle,
for, not many hours after his birth, we find him creeping stealthily out of
the cave in which he was born, in order to steal some oxen belonging to his
brother Apollo, who was at this time feeding the flocks of Admetus. But he
had not proceeded very far on his expedition before he found a tortoise,
which he killed, and, stretching seven strings across the empty shell,
invented a lyre, upon which he at once began to play with exquisite skill.
When he had sufficiently amused himself with the instrument, he placed it
in his cradle, and then resumed his journey to Pieria, where the cattle of
Admetus were grazing. Arriving at sunset at his destination, he succeeded
in separating fifty oxen from his brother’s herd, which he now drove before
him, taking the precaution to cover his feet with sandals made of twigs of
myrtle, in order to escape detection. But the little rogue was not
unobserved, for the theft had been witnessed by an old shepherd named
Battus, who was tending the flocks of Neleus, king of Pylos (father of
Nestor). Hermes, frightened at being discovered, bribed him with the finest
cow in the herd not to betray him, and Battus promised to keep the secret.
But Hermes, astute as he was dishonest, determined to test the shepherd’s
integrity. Feigning to go away, he assumed the form of Admetus, and then
returning to the spot offered the old man two of his best oxen if he would
disclose the author of the theft. The ruse succeeded, for the avaricious
shepherd, unable to resist the tempting bait, gave the desired information,
upon which Hermes, exerting his divine power, changed him into a lump of
touchstone, as a {120} punishment for his treachery and avarice. Hermes now
killed two of the oxen, which he sacrificed to himself and the other gods,
concealing the remainder in the cave. He then carefully extinguished the
fire, and, after throwing his twig shoes into the river Alpheus, returned
to Cyllene.

Apollo, by means of his all-seeing power, soon discovered who it was that
had robbed him, and hastening to Cyllene, demanded restitution of his
property. On his complaining to Maia of her son’s conduct, she pointed to
the innocent babe then lying, apparently fast asleep, in his cradle,
whereupon, Apollo angrily aroused the pretended sleeper, and charged him
with the theft; but the child stoutly denied all knowledge of it, and so
cleverly did he play his part, that he even inquired in the most naive
manner what sort of animals cows were. Apollo threatened to throw him into
Tartarus if he would not confess the truth, but all to no purpose. At last,
he seized the babe in his arms, and brought him into the presence of his
august father, who was seated in the council chamber of the gods. Zeus
listened to the charge made by Apollo, and then sternly desired Hermes to
say where he had hidden the cattle. The child, who was still in
swaddling-clothes, looked up bravely into his father’s face and said, “Now,
do I look capable of driving away a herd of cattle; I, who was only born
yesterday, and whose feet are much too soft and tender to tread in rough
places? Until this moment, I lay in sweet sleep on my mother’s bosom, and
have never even crossed the threshold of our dwelling. You know well that I
am not guilty; but, if you wish, I will affirm it by the most solemn
oaths.” As the child stood before him, looking the picture of innocence,
Zeus could not refrain from smiling at his cleverness and cunning, but,
being perfectly aware of his guilt, he commanded him to conduct Apollo to
the cave where he had concealed the herd, and Hermes, seeing that further
subterfuge was useless, unhesitatingly obeyed. But when the divine shepherd
was about to drive his cattle back into Pieria, Hermes, as though by
chance, touched the chords of his {121} lyre. Hitherto Apollo had heard
nothing but the music of his own three-stringed lyre and the syrinx, or
Pan’s pipe, and, as he listened entranced to the delightful strains of this
new instrument, his longing to possess it became so great, that he gladly
offered the oxen in exchange, promising at the same time, to give Hermes
full dominion over flocks and herds, as well as over horses, and all the
wild animals of the woods and forests. The offer was accepted, and, a
reconciliation being thus effected between the brothers, Hermes became
henceforth god of herdsmen, whilst Apollo devoted himself enthusiastically
to the art of music.

They now proceeded together to Olympus, where Apollo introduced Hermes as
his chosen friend and companion, and, having made him swear by the Styx,
that he would never steal his lyre or bow, nor invade his sanctuary at
Delphi, he presented him with the Caduceus, or golden wand. This wand was
surmounted by wings, and on presenting it to Hermes, Apollo informed him
that it possessed the faculty of uniting in love, all beings divided by
hate. Wishing to prove the truth of this assertion, Hermes threw it down
between two snakes which were fighting, whereupon the angry combatants
clasped each other in a loving embrace, and curling round the staff,
remained ever after permanently attached to it. The wand itself typified
power; the serpents, wisdom; and the wings, despatch–all qualities
characteristic of a trustworthy ambassador.

The young god was now presented by his father with a winged silver cap
(Petasus), and also with silver wings for his feet (Talaria), and was
forthwith appointed herald of the gods, and conductor of shades to Hades,
which office had hitherto been filled by Aïdes.

As messenger of the gods, we find him employed on all occasions requiring
special skill, tact, or despatch. Thus he conducts Hera, Athene, and
Aphrodite to Paris, leads Priam to Achilles to demand the body of Hector,
{122} binds Prometheus to Mount Caucasus, secures Ixion to the eternally
revolving wheel, destroys Argus, the hundred-eyed guardian of Io, &c. &c.

As conductor of shades, Hermes was always invoked by the dying to grant
them a safe and speedy passage across the Styx. He also possessed the power
of bringing back departed spirits to the upper world, and was, therefore,
the mediator between the living and the dead.

The poets relate many amusing stories of the youthful tricks played by this
mischief-loving god upon the other immortals. For instance, he had the
audacity to extract the Medusa’s head from the shield of Athene, which he
playfully attached to the back of Hephæstus; he also stole the girdle of
Aphrodite; deprived Artemis of her arrows, and Ares of his spear, but these
acts were always performed with such graceful dexterity, combined with such
perfect good humour, that even the gods and goddesses he thus provoked,
were fain to pardon him, and he became a universal favourite with them all.

It is said that Hermes was one day flying over Athens, when, looking down
into the city, he beheld a number of maidens returning in solemn procession
from the temple of Pallas-Athene. Foremost among them was Herse, the
beautiful daughter of king Cecrops, and Hermes was so struck with her
exceeding loveliness that he determined to seek an interview with her. He
accordingly presented himself at the royal palace, and begged her sister
Agraulos to favour his suit; but, being of an avaricious turn of mind, she
refused to do so without the payment of an enormous sum of money. It did
not take the messenger of the gods long to obtain the means of fulfilling
this condition, and he soon returned with a well-filled purse. But
meanwhile Athene, to punish the cupidity of Agraulos, had caused the demon
of envy to take possession of her, and the consequence was, that, being
unable to contemplate the happiness of her sister, she sat down before the
door, and resolutely refused to allow Hermes to enter. He tried every
persuasion and blandishment in his power, but she still remained obstinate.
At last, his patience {123} being exhausted, he changed her into a mass of
black stone, and, the obstacle to his wishes being removed, he succeeded in
persuading Herse to become his wife.

In his statues, Hermes is represented as a beardless youth, with broad
chest and graceful but muscular limbs; the face is handsome and
intelligent, and a genial smile of kindly benevolence plays round the
delicately chiselled lips.

As messenger of the gods he wears the Petasus and Talaria, and bears in his
hand the Caduceus or herald’s staff.

As god of eloquence, he is often represented with chains of gold hanging
from his lips, whilst, as the patron of merchants, he bears a purse in his

The wonderful excavations in Olympia, to which allusion has already been
made, have brought to light an exquisite marble group of Hermes and the
infant Bacchus, by Praxiteles. In this great work of art, Hermes is
represented as a young and handsome man, who is looking down kindly and
affectionately at the child resting on his arm, but unfortunately nothing
remains of the infant save the right hand, which is laid lovingly on the
shoulder of his protector.

The sacrifices to Hermes consisted of incense, honey, cakes, pigs, and
especially lambs and young goats. As god of eloquence, the tongues of
animals were sacrificed to him.


Mercury was the Roman god of commerce and gain. We find mention of a temple
having been erected to him {124} near the Circus Maximus as early as B.C.
495; and he had also a temple and a sacred fount near the Porta Capena.
Magic powers were ascribed to the latter, and on the festival of Mercury,
which took place on the 25th of May, it was the custom for merchants to
sprinkle themselves and their merchandise with this holy water, in order to
insure large profits from their wares.

The Fetiales (Roman priests whose duty it was to act as guardians of the
public faith) refused to recognize the identity of Mercury with Hermes, and
ordered him to be represented with a sacred branch as the emblem of peace,
instead of the Caduceus. In later times, however, he was completely
identified with the Greek Hermes.


Dionysus, also called Bacchus (from bacca, berry), was the god of wine,
and the personification of the blessings of Nature in general.

The worship of this divinity, which is supposed to have been introduced
into Greece from Asia (in all probability from India), first took root in
Thrace, whence it gradually spread into other parts of Greece.

Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, and was snatched by Zeus from the
devouring flames in which his mother perished, when he appeared to her in
all the splendour of his divine glory. The motherless child was intrusted
to the charge of Hermes, who conveyed him to Semele’s sister, Ino. But
Hera, still implacable in her vengeance, visited Athamas, the husband of
Ino, with madness, {125} and the child’s life being no longer safe, he was
transferred to the fostering care of the nymphs of Mount Nysa. An aged
satyr named Silenus, the son of Pan, took upon himself the office of
guardian and preceptor to the young god, who, in his turn, became much
attached to his kind tutor; hence we see Silenus always figuring as one of
the chief personages in the various expeditions of the wine-god.

Dionysus passed an innocent and uneventful childhood, roaming through the
woods and forests, surrounded by nymphs, satyrs, and shepherds. During one
of these rambles, he found a fruit growing wild, of a most refreshing and
cooling nature. This was the vine, from which he subsequently learnt to
extract a juice which formed a most exhilarating beverage. After his
companions had partaken freely of it, they felt their whole being pervaded
by an unwonted sense of pleasurable excitement, and gave full vent to their
overflowing exuberance, by shouting, singing, and dancing. Their numbers
were soon swelled by a crowd, eager to taste a beverage productive of such
extraordinary results, and anxious to join in the worship of a divinity to
whom they were indebted for this new enjoyment. Dionysus, on his part,
seeing how agreeably his discovery had affected his immediate followers,
resolved to extend the boon to mankind in general. He saw that wine, used
in moderation, would enable man to enjoy a happier, and more sociable
existence, and that, under its invigorating influence, the sorrowful might,
for a while, forget their grief and the sick their pain. He accordingly
gathered round him his zealous followers, and they set forth on their
travels, planting the vine and teaching its cultivation wherever they went.

We now behold Dionysus at the head of a large army composed of men, women,
fauns, and satyrs, all bearing in their hands the Thyrsus (a staff entwined
with vine-branches surmounted by a fir-cone), and clashing together cymbals
and other musical instruments. Seated in a chariot drawn by panthers, and
accompanied by thousands of enthusiastic followers, Dionysus made a
triumphal {126} progress through Syria, Egypt, Arabia, India, &c.,
conquering all before him, founding cities, and establishing on every side
a more civilized and sociable mode of life among the inhabitants of the
various countries through which he passed.

When Dionysus returned to Greece from his Eastern expedition, he
encountered great opposition from Lycurgus, king of Thrace, and Pentheus,
king of Thebes. The former, highly disapproving of the wild revels which
attended the worship of the wine-god, drove away his attendants, the nymphs
of Nysa, from that sacred mountain, and so effectually intimidated
Dionysus, that he precipitated himself into the sea, where he was received
into the arms of the ocean-nymph, Thetis. But the impious king bitterly
expiated his sacrilegious conduct. He was punished with the loss of his
reason, and, during one of his mad paroxysms, killed his own son Dryas,
whom he mistook for a vine.

Pentheus, king of Thebes, seeing his subjects so completely infatuated by
the riotous worship of this new divinity, and fearing the demoralizing
effects of the unseemly nocturnal orgies held in honour of the wine-god,
strictly prohibited his people from taking any part in the wild
Bacchanalian revels. Anxious to save him from the consequences of his
impiety, Dionysus appeared to him under the form of a youth in the king’s
train, and earnestly warned him to desist from his denunciations. But the
well-meant admonition failed in its purpose, for Pentheus only became more
incensed at this interference, and, commanding Dionysus to be cast into
prison, caused the most cruel preparations to be made for his immediate
execution. But the god soon freed himself from his ignoble confinement, for
scarcely had his jailers departed, ere the prison-doors opened of
themselves, and, bursting asunder his iron chains, he escaped to rejoin his
devoted followers.

Meanwhile, the mother of the king and her sisters, inspired with
Bacchanalian fury, had repaired to Mount Cithæron, in order to join the
worshippers of the {127} wine-god in those dreadful orgies which were
solemnized exclusively by women, and at which no man was allowed to be
present. Enraged at finding his commands thus openly disregarded by the
members of his own family, Pentheus resolved to witness for himself the
excesses of which he had heard such terrible reports, and for this purpose,
concealed himself behind a tree on Mount Cithæron; but his hiding-place
being discovered, he was dragged out by the half-maddened crew of
Bacchantes and, horrible to relate, he was torn in pieces by his own mother
Agave and her two sisters.

An incident which occurred to Dionysus on one of his travels has been a
favourite subject with the classic poets. One day, as some Tyrrhenian
pirates approached the shores of Greece, they beheld Dionysus, in the form
of a beautiful youth, attired in radiant garments. Thinking to secure a
rich prize, they seized him, bound him, and conveyed him on board their
vessel, resolved to carry him with them to Asia and there sell him as a
slave. But the fetters dropped from his limbs, and the pilot, who was the
first to perceive the miracle, called upon his companions to restore the
youth carefully to the spot whence they had taken him, assuring them that
he was a god, and that adverse winds and storms would, in all probability,
result from their impious conduct. But, refusing to part with their
prisoner, they set sail for the open sea. Suddenly, to the alarm of all on
board, the ship stood still, masts and sails were covered with clustering
vines and wreaths of ivy-leaves, streams of fragrant wine inundated the
vessel, and heavenly strains of music were heard around. The terrified
crew, too late repentant, crowded round the pilot for protection, and
entreated him to steer for the shore. But the hour of retribution had
arrived. Dionysus assumed the form of a lion, whilst beside him appeared a
bear, which, with a terrific roar, rushed upon the captain and tore him in
pieces; the sailors, in an agony of terror, leaped overboard, and were
changed into dolphins. The discreet and pious steersman was alone permitted
to escape the fate of his companions, {128} and to him Dionysus, who had
resumed his true form, addressed words of kind and affectionate
encouragement, and announced his name and dignity. They now set sail, and
Dionysus desired the pilot to land him at the island of Naxos, where he
found the lovely Ariadne, daughter of Minos, king of Crete. She had been
abandoned by Theseus on this lonely spot, and, when Dionysus now beheld
her, was lying fast asleep on a rock, worn out with sorrow and weeping.
Wrapt in admiration, the god stood gazing at the beautiful vision before
him, and when she at length unclosed her eyes, he revealed himself to her,
and, in gentle tones, sought to banish her grief. Grateful for his kind
sympathy, coming as it did at a moment when she had deemed herself forsaken
and friendless, she gradually regained her former serenity, and, yielding
to his entreaties, consented to become his wife.

Dionysus, having established his worship in various parts of the world,
descended to the realm of shades in search of his ill-fated mother, whom he
conducted to Olympus, where, under the name of Thyone, she was admitted
into the assembly of the immortal gods.

Among the most noted worshippers of Dionysus was Midas,[46] the wealthy
king of Phrygia, the same who, as already related, gave judgment against
Apollo. Upon one occasion Silenus, the preceptor and friend of Dionysus,
being in an intoxicated condition, strayed into the rose-gardens of this
monarch, where he was found by some of the king’s attendants, who bound him
with roses and conducted him to the presence of their royal master. Midas
treated the aged satyr with the greatest consideration, and, after
entertaining him hospitably for ten days, led him back to Dionysus, who was
so grateful for the kind attention shown to his old friend, that he offered
to grant Midas any favour he chose to demand; whereupon the avaricious
monarch, not content with his boundless wealth, and still thirsting for
more, desired that everything he touched might turn to gold. The request
was {129} complied with in so literal a sense, that the now wretched Midas
bitterly repented his folly and cupidity, for, when the pangs of hunger
assailed him, and he essayed to appease his cravings, the food became gold
ere he could swallow it; as he raised the cup of wine to his parched lips,
the sparkling draught was changed into the metal he had so coveted, and
when at length, wearied and faint, he stretched his aching frame on his
hitherto luxurious couch, this also was transformed into the substance
which had now become the curse of his existence. The despairing king at
last implored the god to take back the fatal gift, and Dionysus, pitying
his unhappy plight, desired him to bathe in the river Pactolus, a small
stream in Lydia, in order to lose the power which had become the bane of
his life. Midas joyfully obeying the injunction, was at once freed from the
consequences of his avaricious demand, and from this time forth the sands
of the river Pactolus have ever contained grains of gold.

Representations of Dionysus are of two kinds. According to the earliest
conceptions, he appears as a grave and dignified man in the prime of life;
his countenance is earnest, thoughtful, and benevolent; he wears a full
beard, and is draped from head to foot in the garb of an Eastern monarch.
But the sculptors of a later period represent him as a youth of singular
beauty, though of somewhat effeminate appearance; the expression of the
countenance is gentle and winning; the limbs are supple and gracefully
moulded; and the hair, which is adorned by a wreath of vine or ivy leaves,
falls over the shoulders in long curls. In one hand he bears the Thyrsus,
and in the other a drinking-cup with two handles, these being his
distinguishing attributes. He is often represented riding on a panther, or
seated in a chariot drawn by lions, tigers, panthers, or lynxes.

Being the god of wine, which is calculated to promote sociability, he
rarely appears alone, but is usually accompanied by Bacchantes, satyrs, and

The finest modern representation of Ariadne is that by Danneker, at
Frankfort-on-the-Maine. In this statue she {130} appears riding on a
panther; the beautiful upturned face inclines slightly over the left
shoulder; the features are regular and finely cut, and a wreath of
ivy-leaves encircles the well-shaped head. With her right hand she
gracefully clasps the folds of drapery which fall away negligently from her
rounded form, whilst the other rests lightly and caressingly on the head of
the animal.

Dionysus was regarded as the patron of the drama, and at the state festival
of the Dionysia, which was celebrated with great pomp in the city of
Athens, dramatic entertainments took place in his honour, for which all the
renowned Greek dramatists of antiquity composed their immortal tragedies
and comedies.

He was also a prophetic divinity, and possessed oracles, the principal of
which was that on Mount Rhodope in Thrace.

The tiger, lynx, panther, dolphin, serpent, and ass were sacred to this
god. His favourite plants were the vine, ivy, laurel, and asphodel. His
sacrifices consisted of goats, probably on account of their being
destructive to vineyards.


The Romans had a divinity called Liber who presided over vegetation, and
was, on this account, identified with the Greek Dionysus, and worshipped
under the name of Bacchus.

The festival of Liber, called the Liberalia, was celebrated on the 17th of


Aïdes, Aïdoneus, or Hades, was the son of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest
brother of Zeus and Poseidon. He was the ruler of that subterranean region
called Erebus, which was inhabited by the shades or spirits of the dead,
and also by those dethroned and exiled deities who had been vanquished by
Zeus and his allies. Aïdes, the grim and gloomy monarch of this lower
world, was the {131} successor of Erebus, that ancient primeval divinity
after whom these realms were called.

The early Greeks regarded Aïdes in the light of their greatest foe, and
Homer tells us that he was “of all the gods the most detested,” being in
their eyes the grim robber who stole from them their nearest and dearest,
and eventually deprived each of them of their share in terrestrial
existence. His name was so feared that it was never mentioned by mortals,
who, when they invoked him, struck the earth with their hands, and in
sacrificing to him turned away their faces.

The belief of the people with regard to a future state was, in the Homeric
age, a sad and cheerless one. It was supposed that when a mortal ceased to
exist, his spirit tenanted the shadowy outline of the human form it had
quitted. These shadows, or shades as they were called, were driven by Aïdes
into his dominions, where they passed their time, some in brooding over the
vicissitudes of fortune which they had experienced on earth, others in
regretting the lost pleasures they had enjoyed in life, but all in a
condition of semi-consciousness, from which the intellect could only be
roused to full activity by drinking of the blood of the sacrifices offered
to their shades by living friends, which, for a time, endowed them with
their former mental vigour. The only beings supposed to enjoy any happiness
in a future state were the heroes, whose acts of daring and deeds of
prowess had, during their life, reflected honour on the land of their
birth; and even these, according to Homer, pined after their career of
earthly activity. He tells us that when Odysseus visited the lower world at
the command of Circe, and held communion with the shades of the heroes of
the Trojan war, Achilles assured him that he would rather be the poorest
day-labourer on earth than reign supreme over the realm of shades.

The early Greek poets offer but scanty allusions to Erebus. Homer appears
purposely to envelop these realms in vagueness and mystery, in order,
probably, to heighten the sensation of awe inseparably connected with {132}
the lower world. In the Odyssey he describes the entrance to Erebus as
being beyond the furthermost edge of Oceanus, in the far west, where dwelt
the Cimmerians, enveloped in eternal mists and darkness.

In later times, however, in consequence of extended intercourse with
foreign nations, new ideas became gradually introduced, and we find
Egyptian theories with regard to a future state taking root in Greece,
which become eventually the religious belief of the whole nation. It is now
that the poets and philosophers, and more especially the teachers of the
Eleusinian Mysteries, begin to inculcate the doctrine of the future reward
and punishment of good and bad deeds. Aïdes, who had hitherto been regarded
as the dread enemy of mankind, who delights in his grim office, and keeps
the shades imprisoned in his dominions after withdrawing them from the joys
of existence, now receives them with hospitality and friendship, and Hermes
replaces him as conductor of shades to Hades. Under this new aspect Aïdes
usurps the functions of a totally different divinity called Plutus (the god
of riches), and is henceforth regarded as the giver of wealth to mankind,
in the shape of those precious metals which lie concealed in the bowels of
the earth.

The later poets mention various entrances to Erebus, which were for the
most part caves and fissures. There was one in the mountain of Taenarum,
another in Thesprotia, and a third, the most celebrated of all, in Italy,
near the pestiferous Lake Avernus, over which it is said no bird could fly,
so noxious were its exhalations.

In the dominions of Aïdes there were four great rivers, three of which had
to be crossed by all the shades. These three were Acheron (sorrow), Cocytus
(lamentation), and Styx (intense darkness), the sacred stream which flowed
nine times round these realms.

The shades were ferried over the Styx by the grim, unshaven old boatman
Charon, who, however, only took those whose bodies had received funereal
rites on earth, and who had brought with them his indispensable toll, which
was a small coin or obolus, usually placed under the {133} tongue of a dead
person for this purpose. If these conditions had not been fulfilled, the
unhappy shades were left behind to wander up and down the banks for a
hundred years as restless spirits.

On the opposite bank of the Styx was the tribunal of Minos, the supreme
judge, before whom all shades had to appear, and who, after hearing full
confession of their actions whilst on earth, pronounced the sentence of
happiness or misery to which their deeds had entitled them. This tribunal
was guarded by the terrible triple-headed dog Cerberus, who, with his three
necks bristling with snakes, lay at full length on the ground;–a
formidable sentinel, who permitted all shades to enter, but none to return.

The happy spirits, destined to enjoy the delights of Elysium, passed out on
the right, and proceeded to the golden palace where Aïdes and Persephone
held their royal court, from whom they received a kindly greeting, ere they
set out for the Elysian Fields which lay beyond.[47] This blissful region
was replete with all that could charm the senses or please the imagination;
the air was balmy and fragrant, rippling brooks flowed peacefully through
the smiling meadows, which glowed with the varied hues of a thousand
flowers, whilst the groves resounded with the joyous songs of birds. The
occupations and amusements of the happy shades were of the same nature as
those which they had delighted in whilst on earth. Here the warrior found
his horses, chariots, and arms, the musician his lyre, and the hunter his
quiver and bow.

In a secluded vale of Elysium there flowed a gentle, silent stream, called
Lethe (oblivion), whose waters had the effect of dispelling care, and
producing utter forgetfulness of former events. According to the
Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls, it was supposed that
after the shades had inhabited Elysium for a thousand years they were
destined to animate other bodies on {134} earth, and before leaving Elysium
they drank of the river Lethe, in order that they might enter upon their
new career without any remembrance of the past.

The guilty souls, after leaving the presence of Minos, were conducted to
the great judgment-hall of Hades, whose massive walls of solid adamant were
surrounded by the river Phlegethon, the waves of which rolled flames of
fire, and lit up, with their lurid glare, these awful realms. In the
interior sat the dread judge Rhadamanthus, who declared to each comer the
precise torments which awaited him in Tartarus. The wretched sinners were
then seized by the Furies, who scourged them with their whips, and dragged
them along to the great gate, which closed the opening to Tartarus, into
whose awful depths they were hurled, to suffer endless torture.

Tartarus was a vast and gloomy expanse, as far below Hades as the earth is
distant from the skies. There the Titans, fallen from their high estate,
dragged out a dreary and monotonous existence; there also were Otus and
Ephialtes, those giant sons of Poseidon, who, with impious hands, had
attempted to scale Olympus and dethrone its mighty ruler. Principal among
the sufferers in this abode of gloom were Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus,
Ixion, and the Danaïdes.

TITYUS, one of the earth-born giants, had insulted Hera on her way to
Peitho, for which offence Zeus flung him into Tartarus, where he suffered
dreadful torture, inflicted by two vultures, which perpetually gnawed his

TANTALUS was a wise and wealthy king of Lydia, with whom the gods
themselves condescended to associate; he was even permitted to sit at table
with Zeus, who delighted in his conversation, and listened with interest to
the wisdom of his observations. Tantalus, however, elated at these
distinguished marks of divine favour, presumed upon his position, and used
unbecoming language to Zeus himself; he also stole nectar and ambrosia from
the table of the gods, with which he regaled his friends; but his greatest
crime consisted in killing his own son, {135} Pelops, and serving him up at
one of the banquets to the gods, in order to test their omniscience. For
these heinous offences he was condemned by Zeus to eternal punishment in
Tartarus, where, tortured with an ever-burning thirst, he was plunged up to
the chin in water, which, as he stooped to drink, always receded from his
parched lips. Tall trees, with spreading branches laden with delicious
fruits, hung temptingly over his head; but no sooner did he raise himself
to grasp them, than a wind arose, and carried them beyond his reach.

SISYPHUS was a great tyrant who, according to some accounts, barbarously
murdered all travellers who came into his dominions, by hurling upon them
enormous pieces of rock. In punishment for his crimes he was condemned to
roll incessantly a huge block of stone up a steep hill, which, as soon as
it reached the summit, always rolled back again to the plain below.

IXION was a king of Thessaly to whom Zeus accorded the privilege of joining
the festive banquets of the gods; but, taking advantage of his exalted
position, he presumed to aspire to the favour of Hera, which so greatly
incensed Zeus, that he struck him with his thunderbolts, and commanded
Hermes to throw him into Tartarus, and bind him to an ever-revolving wheel.

The DANAÏDES were the fifty daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, who had
married their fifty cousins, the sons of Ægyptus. By the command of their
father, who had been warned by an oracle that his son-in-law would cause
his death, they all killed their husbands in one night, Hypermnestra alone
excepted. Their punishment in the lower world was to fill with water a
vessel full of holes,–a never-ending and useless task.

Aïdes is usually represented as a man of mature years and stern majestic
mien, bearing a striking resemblance to his brother Zeus; but the gloomy
and inexorable expression of the face contrasts forcibly with that peculiar
benignity which so characterizes the countenance of the mighty ruler of
heaven. He is seated on a throne of ebony, with his queen, the grave and
sad Persephone, {136} beside him, and wears a full beard, and long flowing
black hair, which hangs straight down over his forehead; in his hand he
either bears a two-pronged fork or the keys of the lower world, and at his
feet sits Cerberus. He is sometimes seen in a chariot of gold, drawn by
four black horses, and wearing on his head a helmet made for him by the
Cyclops, which rendered the wearer invisible. This helmet he frequently
lent to mortals and immortals.

Aïdes, who was universally worshipped throughout Greece, had temples
erected to his honour in Elis, Olympia, and also at Athens.

His sacrifices, which took place at night, consisted of black sheep, and
the blood, instead of being sprinkled on the altars or received in vessels,
as at other sacrifices, was permitted to run down into a trench, dug for
this purpose. The officiating priests wore black robes, and were crowned
with cypress.

The narcissus, maiden-hair, and cypress were sacred to this divinity.


Before the introduction into Rome of the religion and literature of Greece,
the Romans had no belief in a realm of future happiness or misery,
corresponding to the Greek Hades; hence they had no god of the lower world
identical with Aïdes. They supposed that there was, in the centre of the
earth, a vast, gloomy, and impenetrably dark cavity called Orcus, which
formed a place of eternal rest for the dead. But with the introduction of
Greek mythology, the Roman Orcus became the Greek Hades, and {137} all the
Greek notions with regard to a future state now obtained with the Romans,
who worshipped Aïdes under the name of Pluto, his other appellations being
Dis (from dives, rich) and Orcus from the dominions over which he ruled.
In Rome there were no temples erected to this divinity.


Plutus, the son of Demeter and a mortal called Iasion, was the god of
wealth, and is represented as being lame when he makes his appearance, and
winged when he takes his departure. He was supposed to be both blind and
foolish, because he bestows his gifts without discrimination, and
frequently upon the most unworthy objects.

Plutus was believed to have his abode in the bowels of the earth, which was
probably the reason why, in later times, Aïdes became confounded with this

   *       *       *       *       *



The Harpies, who, like the Furies, were employed by the gods as instruments
for the punishment of the guilty, were three female divinities, daughters
of Thaumas and Electra, called Aello, Ocypete, and Celæno.

They were represented with the head of a fair-haired maiden and the body of
a vulture, and were perpetually devoured by the pangs of insatiable hunger,
which caused them to torment their victims by robbing them of their food;
this they either devoured with great {138} gluttony, or defiled in such a
manner as to render it unfit to be eaten.

Their wonderfully rapid flight far surpassed that of birds, or even of the
winds themselves. If any mortal suddenly and unaccountably disappeared, the
Harpies were believed to have carried him off. Thus they were supposed to
have borne away the daughters of King Pandareos to act as servants to the

The Harpies would appear to be personifications of sudden tempests, which,
with ruthless violence, sweep over whole districts, carrying off or
injuring all before them.


The Erinyes or Furies were female divinities who personified the torturing
pangs of an evil conscience, and the remorse which inevitably follows

Their names were Alecto, Megæra, and Tisiphone, and their origin was
variously accounted for. According to Hesiod, they sprang from the blood of
Uranus, when wounded by Cronus, and were hence supposed to be the
embodiment of all the terrible imprecations, which the defeated deity
called down upon the head of his rebellious son. According to other
accounts they were the daughters of Night.

Their place of abode was the lower world, where they were employed by Aïdes
and Persephone to chastise and torment those shades who, during their
earthly career, had committed crimes, and had not been reconciled to the
gods before descending to Hades.

But their sphere of action was not confined to the realm of shades, for
they appeared upon earth as the avenging deities who relentlessly pursued
and punished murderers, perjurers, those who had failed in duty to their
parents, in hospitality to strangers, or in the respect due to old age.
Nothing escaped the piercing glance of these terrible divinities, from whom
flight was unavailing, for no corner of the earth was so remote as {139} to
be beyond their reach, nor did any mortal dare to offer to their victims an
asylum from their persecutions.

The Furies are frequently represented with wings; their bodies are black,
blood drips from their eyes, and snakes twine in their hair. In their hands
they bear either a dagger, scourge, torch, or serpent.

When they pursued Orestes they constantly held up a mirror to his horrified
gaze, in which he beheld the face of his murdered mother.

These divinities were also called Eumenides, which signifies the
“well-meaning” or “soothed goddesses;” This appellation was given to them
because they were so feared and dreaded that people dared not call them by
their proper title, and hoped by this means to propitiate their wrath.

In later times the Furies came to be regarded as salutary agencies, who, by
severely punishing sin, upheld the cause of morality and social order, and
thus contributed to the welfare of mankind. They now lose their
awe-inspiring aspect, and are represented, more especially in Athens, as
earnest maidens, dressed, like Artemis, in short tunics suitable for the
chase, but still retaining, in their hands, the wand of office in the form
of a snake.

Their sacrifices consisted of black sheep and a libation composed of a
mixture of honey and water, called Nephalia. A celebrated temple was
erected to the Eumenides at Athens, near the Areopagus.


The ancients believed that the duration of human existence and the
destinies of mortals were regulated by three sister-goddesses, called
Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who were the daughters of Zeus and Themis.

The power which they wielded over the fate of man was significantly
indicated under the figure of a thread, which they spun out for the life of
each human being from his birth to the grave. This occupation they divided
between them. Clotho wound the flax round the distaff, {140} ready for her
sister Lachesis, who span out the thread of life, which Atropos, with her
scissors, relentlessly snapt asunder, when the career of an individual was
about to terminate.

Homer speaks of one Moira only, the daughter of Night, who represents the
moral force by which the universe is governed, and to whom both mortals and
immortals were forced to submit, Zeus himself being powerless to avert her
decrees; but in later times this conception of one inexorable,
all-conquering fate became amplified by the poets into that above
described, and the Moiræ are henceforth the special presiding deities over
the life and death of mortals.

The Moiræ are represented by the poets as stern, inexorable female
divinities, aged, hideous, and also lame, which is evidently meant to
indicate the slow and halting march of destiny, which they controlled.
Painters and sculptors, on the other hand, depicted them as beautiful
maidens of a grave but kindly aspect.

There is a charming representation of Lachesis, which depicts her in all
the grace of youth and beauty. She is sitting spinning, and at her feet lie
two masks, one comic, the other tragic, as though to convey the idea, that,
to a divinity of fate, the brightest and saddest scenes of earthly
existence are alike indifferent, and that she quietly and steadily pursues
her occupation, regardless of human weal or woe.

When represented at the feet of Aïdes in the lower world they are clad in
dark robes; but when they appear in Olympus they wear bright garments,
bespangled with stars, and are seated on radiant thrones, with crowns on
their heads.

It was considered the function of the Moiræ to indicate to the Furies the
precise torture which the wicked should undergo for their crimes.

They were regarded as prophetic divinities, and had sanctuaries in many
parts of Greece.

The Moiræ are mentioned as assisting the Charites to conduct Persephone to
the upper world at her periodical {141} reunion with her mother Demeter.
They also appear in company with Eileithyia, goddess of birth.


Nemesis, the daughter of Nyx, represents that power which adjusts the
balance of human affairs, by awarding to each individual the fate which his
actions deserve. She rewards, humble, unacknowledged merit, punishes crime,
deprives the worthless of undeserved good fortune, humiliates the proud and
overbearing, and visits all evil on the wrong-doer; thus maintaining that
proper balance of things, which the Greeks recognized as a necessary
condition of all civilized life. But though Nemesis, in her original
character, was the distributor of rewards as well as punishments, the world
was so full of sin, that she found but little occupation in her first
capacity, and hence became finally regarded as the avenging goddess only.

We have seen a striking instance of the manner in which this divinity
punishes the proud and arrogant in the history of Niobe. Apollo and Artemis
were merely the instruments for avenging the insult offered to their
mother; but it was Nemesis who prompted the deed, and presided over its

Homer makes no mention of Nemesis; it is therefore evident that she was a
conception of later times, when higher views of morality had obtained among
the Greek nation.

Nemesis is represented as a beautiful woman of thoughtful and benign aspect
and regal bearing; a diadem crowns her majestic brow, and she bears in her
hand a rudder, balance, and cubit;–fitting emblems of the manner in which
she guides, weighs, and measures all human events. She is also sometimes
seen with a wheel, to symbolize the rapidity with which she executes
justice. As the avenger of evil she appears winged, bearing in her hand
either a scourge or a sword, and seated in a chariot drawn by griffins.

Nemesis is frequently called Adrastia, and also Rhamnusia, from Rhamnus in
Attica, the chief seat of her worship, which contained a celebrated statue
of the goddess.

Nemesis was worshipped by the Romans, (who invoked her on the Capitol), as
a divinity who possessed the power of averting the pernicious consequences
of envy.



Nyx, the daughter of Chaos, being the personification of Night, was,
according to the poetic ideas of the Greeks, considered to be the mother of
everything mysterious and inexplicable, such as death, sleep, dreams, &c.
She became united to Erebus, and their children were Aether and Hemera (Air
and Daylight), evidently a simile of the poets, to indicate that darkness
always precedes light.

Nyx inhabited a palace in the dark regions of the lower world, and is
represented as a beautiful woman, seated in a chariot, drawn by two black
horses. She is clothed in dark robes, wears a long veil, and is accompanied
by the stars, which follow in her train.


Thanatos (Death) and his twin-brother Hypnus (Sleep) were the children of

Their dwelling was in the realm of shades, and when they appear among
mortals, Thanatos is feared and hated as the enemy of mankind, whose hard
heart knows no pity, whilst his brother Hypnus is universally loved and
welcomed as their kindest and most beneficent friend.

But though the ancients regarded Thanatos as a gloomy and mournful
divinity, they did not represent him with any exterior repulsiveness. On
the contrary, he appears as a beautiful youth, who holds in his hand an
inverted {143} torch, emblematical of the light of life being extinguished,
whilst his disengaged arm is thrown lovingly round the shoulder of his
brother Hypnus.

Hypnus is sometimes depicted standing erect with closed eyes; at others he
is in a recumbent position beside his brother Thanatos, and usually bears a
poppy-stalk in his hand.

A most interesting description of the abode of Hypnus is given by Ovid in
his Metamorphoses. He tells us how the god of Sleep dwelt in a
mountain-cave near the realm of the Cimmerians, which the sun never pierced
with his rays. No sound disturbed the stillness, no song of birds, not a
branch moved, and no human voice broke the profound silence which reigned
everywhere. From the lowermost rocks of the cave issued the river Lethe,
and one might almost have supposed that its course was arrested, were it
not for the low, monotonous hum of the water, which invited slumber. The
entrance was partially hidden by numberless white and red poppies, which
Mother Night had gathered and planted there, and from the juice of which
she extracts drowsiness, which she scatters in liquid drops all over the
earth, as soon as the sun-god has sunk to rest. In the centre of the cave
stands a couch of blackest ebony, with a bed of down, over which is laid a
coverlet of sable hue. Here the god himself reposes, surrounded by
innumerable forms. These are idle dreams, more numerous than the sands of
the sea. Chief among them is Morpheus, that changeful god, who may assume
any shape or form he pleases. Nor can the god of Sleep resist his own
power; for though he may rouse himself for a while, he soon succumbs to the
drowsy influences which surround him.


Morpheus, the son of Hypnus, was the god of Dreams.

He is always represented winged, and appears sometimes as a youth,
sometimes as an old man. In his hand he bears a cluster of poppies, and as
he steps with {144} noiseless footsteps over the earth, he gently scatters
the seeds of this sleep-producing plant over the eyes of weary mortals.

Homer describes the House of Dreams as having two gates: one, whence issue
all deceptive and flattering visions, being formed of ivory; the other,
through which proceed those dreams which are fulfilled, of horn.


The Gorgons, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, were the three daughters of
Phorcys and Ceto, and were the personification of those benumbing, and, as
it were, petrifying sensations, which result from sudden and extreme fear.

They were frightful winged monsters, whose bodies were covered with scales;
hissing, wriggling snakes clustered round their heads instead of hair;
their hands were of brass; their teeth resembled the tusks of a wild boar;
and their whole aspect was so appalling, that they are said to have turned
into stone all who beheld them.

These terrible sisters were supposed to dwell in that remote and mysterious
region in the far West, beyond the sacred stream of Oceanus.

The Gorgons were the servants of Aïdes, who made use of them to terrify and
overawe those shades, doomed to be kept in a constant state of unrest as a
punishment for their misdeeds, whilst the Furies, on their part, scourged
them with their whips and tortured them incessantly.

The most celebrated of the three sisters was Medusa, who alone was mortal.
She was originally a golden-haired and very beautiful maiden, who, as a
priestess of Athene, was devoted to a life of celibacy; but, being wooed by
Poseidon, whom she loved in return, she forgot her vows, and became united
to him in marriage. For this offence she was punished by the goddess in a
most terrible manner. Each wavy lock of the beautiful hair which had so
charmed her husband, was changed into a {145} venomous snake; her once
gentle, love-inspiring eyes now became blood-shot, furious orbs, which
excited fear and disgust in the mind of the beholder; whilst her former
roseate hue and milk-white skin assumed a loathsome greenish tinge. Seeing
herself thus transformed into so repulsive an object, Medusa fled from her
home, never to return. Wandering about, abhorred, dreaded, and shunned by
all the world, she now developed into a character, worthy of her outward
appearance. In her despair she fled to Africa, where, as she passed
restlessly from place to place, infant snakes dropped from her hair, and
thus, according to the belief of the ancients, that country became the
hotbed of these venomous reptiles. With the curse of Athene upon her, she
turned into stone whomsoever she gazed upon, till at last, after a life of
nameless misery, deliverance came to her in the shape of death, at the
hands of Perseus.

It is well to observe that when the Gorgons are spoken of in the singular,
it is Medusa who is alluded to.

Medusa was the mother of Pegasus and Chrysaor, father of the three-headed,
winged giant Geryones, who was slain by Heracles.


The Grææ, who acted as servants to their sisters the Gorgons, were also
three in number; their names were Pephredo, Enyo, and Dino.

In their original conception they were merely personifications of kindly
and venerable old age, possessing all its benevolent attributes without its
natural infirmities. They were old and gray from their birth, and so they
ever remained. In later times, however, they came to be regarded as
misshapen females, decrepid, and hideously ugly, having only one eye, one
tooth, and one gray wig between them, which they lent to each other, when
one of them wished to appear before the world.

When Perseus entered upon his expedition to slay the Medusa, he repaired to
the abode of the Grææ, in the far {146} west, to inquire the way to the
Gorgons, and on their refusing to give any information, he deprived them of
their one eye, tooth, and wig, and did not restore them until he received
the necessary directions.


The Sphinx was an ancient Egyptian divinity, who personified wisdom, and
the fertility of nature. She is represented as a lion-couchant, with the
head and bust of a woman, and wears a peculiar sort of hood, which
completely envelops her head, and falls down on either side of the face.

Transplanted into Greece, this sublime and mysterious Egyptian deity
degenerates into an insignificant, and yet malignant power, and though she
also deals in mysteries, they are, as we shall see, of a totally different
character, and altogether inimical to human life.

The Sphinx is represented, according to Greek genealogy, as the offspring
of Typhon and Echidna.[48] Hera, being upon one occasion displeased with
the Thebans, sent them this awful monster, as a punishment for their
offences. Taking her seat on a rocky eminence near the city of Thebes,
commanding a pass which the Thebans were compelled to traverse in their
usual way of business, she propounded to all comers a riddle, and if they
failed to solve it, she tore them in pieces.

During the reign of King Creon, so many people had fallen a sacrifice to
this monster, that he determined to use every effort to rid the country of
so terrible a scourge. On consulting the oracle of Delphi, he was informed
that the only way to destroy the Sphinx was to solve one of her riddles,
when she would immediately precipitate herself from the rock on which she
was seated.

Creon, accordingly, made a public declaration to the effect, that whoever
could give the true interpretation of a riddle propounded by the monster,
should obtain the crown, and the hand of his sister Jocaste. Oedipus
offered {147} himself as a candidate, and proceeding to the spot where she
kept guard, received from her the following riddle for solution: “What
creature goes in the morning on four legs, at noon on two, and in the
evening on three?” Oedipus replied, that it must be man, who during his
infancy creeps on all fours, in his prime walks erect on two legs, and when
old age has enfeebled his powers, calls a staff to his assistance, and thus
has, as it were, three legs.

The Sphinx no sooner heard this reply, which was the correct solution of
her riddle, than she flung herself over the precipice, and perished in the
abyss below.

The Greek Sphinx may be recognized by having wings and by being of smaller
dimensions than the Egyptian Sphinx.



Tyche personified that peculiar combination of circumstances which we call
luck or fortune, and was considered to be the source of all unexpected
events in human life, whether good or evil. If a person succeeded in all he
undertook without possessing any special merit of his own, Tyche was
supposed to have smiled on his birth. If, on the other hand, undeserved
ill-luck followed him through life, and all his efforts resulted in
failure, it was ascribed to her adverse influence.

This goddess of Fortune is variously represented. Sometimes she is depicted
bearing in her hand two rudders, with one of which she steers the bark of
the fortunate, and with the other that of the unfortunate among mortals. In
later times she appears blindfolded, and stands on a ball or wheel,
indicative of the fickleness and ever-revolving {148} changes of fortune.
She frequently bears the sceptre and cornucopia[49] or horn of plenty, and
is usually winged. In her temple at Thebes, she is represented holding the
infant Plutus in her arms, to symbolize her power over riches and

Tyche was worshipped in various parts of Greece, but more particularly by
the Athenians, who believed in her special predilection for their city.


Tyche was worshipped in Rome under the name of Fortuna, and held a position
of much greater importance among the Romans than the Greeks.

In later times Fortuna is never represented either winged or standing on a
ball; she merely bears the cornucopia. It is evident, therefore, that she
had come to be regarded as the goddess of good luck only, who brings
blessings to man, and not, as with the Greeks, as the personification of
the fluctuations of fortune.

In addition to Fortuna, the Romans worshipped Felicitas as the giver of
positive good fortune.


As Ananke, Tyche assumes quite another character, and becomes the
embodiment of those immutable laws of nature, by which certain causes
produce certain inevitable results.

In a statue of this divinity at Athens she was represented with hands of
bronze, and surrounded with nails and hammers. The hands of bronze probably
indicated the irresistible power of the inevitable, and the hammer and
chains the fetters which she forged for man.

Ananke was worshipped in Rome under the name of Necessitas.



In addition to the Moiræ, who presided over the life of mortals, there was
another divinity, called Ker, appointed for each human being at the moment
of his birth. The Ker belonging to an individual was believed to develop
with his growth, either for good or evil; and when the ultimate fate of a
mortal was about to be decided, his Ker was weighed in the balance, and,
according to the preponderance of its worth or worthlessness, life or death
was awarded to the human being in question. It becomes evident, therefore,
that according to the belief of the early Greeks, each individual had it in
his power, to a certain extent, to shorten or prolong his own existence.

The Keres, who are frequently mentioned by Homer, were the goddesses who
delighted in the slaughter of the battle-field.


Ate, the daughter of Zeus and Eris, was a divinity who delighted in evil.

Having instigated Hera to deprive Heracles of his birthright, her father
seized her by the hair of her head, and hurled her from Olympus, forbidding
her, under the most solemn imprecations, ever to return. Henceforth she
wandered among mankind, sowing dissension, working mischief, and luring men
to all actions inimical to their welfare and happiness. Hence, when a
reconciliation took place between friends who had quarrelled, Ate was
blamed as the original cause of disagreement.


Momus, the son of Nyx, was the god of raillery and ridicule, who delighted
to criticise, with bitter sarcasm, the actions of gods and men, and
contrived to discover in all things some defect or blemish. Thus when
Prometheus created the first man, Momus considered his work incomplete
because there was no aperture in the breast through which his inmost
thoughts might be read. He {150} also found fault with a house built by
Athene because, being unprovided with the means of locomotion, it could
never be removed from an unhealthy locality. Aphrodite alone defied his
criticism, for, to his great chagrin, he could find no fault with her
perfect form.[50]

In what manner the ancients represented this god is unknown. In modern art
he is depicted like a king’s jester, with a fool’s cap and bells.


According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Eros, the divine spirit of Love, sprang
forth from Chaos, while all was still in confusion, and by his beneficent
power reduced to order and harmony the shapeless, conflicting elements,
which, under his influence, began to assume distinct forms. This ancient
Eros is represented as a full-grown and very beautiful youth, crowned with
flowers, and leaning on a shepherd’s crook.

In the course of time, this beautiful conception gradually faded away, and
though occasional mention still continues to be made of the Eros of Chaos,
he is replaced by the son of Aphrodite, the popular, mischief-loving little
god of Love, so familiar to us all.

In one of the myths concerning Eros, Aphrodite is described as complaining
to Themis, that her son, though so beautiful, did not appear to increase in
stature; whereupon Themis suggested that his small proportions were
probably attributable to the fact of his being always alone, and advised
his mother to let him have a companion. Aphrodite accordingly gave him, as
a playfellow, his younger brother Anteros (requited love), and soon had the
gratification of seeing the little Eros begin to grow and thrive; but,
curious to relate, this desirable result only continued as long as the
brothers remained together, for the moment they were separated, Eros shrank
once more to his original size.


By degrees the conception of Eros became multiplied and we hear of little
love-gods (Amors), who appear under the most charming and diversified
forms. These love-gods, who afforded to artists inexhaustible subjects for
the exercise of their imagination, are represented as being engaged in
various occupations, such as hunting, fishing, rowing, driving chariots,
and even busying themselves in mechanical labour.

Perhaps no myth is more charming and interesting than that of Eros and
Psyche, which is as follows:–Psyche, the youngest of three princesses, was
so transcendently beautiful that Aphrodite herself became jealous of her,
and no mortal dared to aspire to the honour of her hand. As her sisters,
who were by no means equal to her in attractions, were married, and Psyche
still remained unwedded, her father consulted the oracle of Delphi, and, in
obedience to the divine response, caused her to be dressed as though for
the grave, and conducted to the edge of a yawning precipice. No sooner was
she alone than she felt herself lifted up, and wafted away by the gentle
west wind Zephyrus, who transported her to a verdant meadow, in the midst
of which stood a stately palace, surrounded by groves and fountains.

Here dwelt Eros, the god of Love, in whose arms Zephyrus deposited his
lovely burden. Eros, himself unseen, wooed her in the softest accents of
affection; but warned her, as she valued his love, not to endeavour to
behold his form. For some time Psyche was obedient to the injunction of her
immortal spouse, and made no effort to gratify her natural curiosity; but,
unfortunately, in the midst of her happiness she was seized with an
unconquerable longing for the society of her {152} sisters, and, in
accordance with her desire, they were conducted by Zephyrus to her
fairy-like abode. Filled with envy at the sight of her felicity, they
poisoned her mind against her husband, and telling her that her unseen
lover was a frightful monster, they gave her a sharp dagger, which they
persuaded her to use for the purpose of delivering herself from his power.

After the departure of her sisters, Psyche resolved to take the first
opportunity of following their malicious counsel. She accordingly rose in
the dead of night, and taking a lamp in one hand and a dagger in the other,
stealthily approached the couch where Eros was reposing, when, instead of
the frightful monster she had expected to see, the beauteous form of the
god of Love greeted her view. Overcome with surprise and admiration, Psyche
stooped down to gaze more closely on his lovely features, when, from the
lamp which she held in her trembling hand, there fell a drop of burning oil
upon the shoulder of the sleeping god, who instantly awoke, and seeing
Psyche standing over him with the instrument of death in her hand,
sorrowfully reproached her for her treacherous designs, and, spreading out
his wings, flew away.

In despair at having lost her lover, the unhappy Psyche endeavoured to put
an end to her existence by throwing herself into the nearest river; but
instead of closing over her, the waters bore her gently to the opposite
bank, where Pan (the god of shepherds) received her, and consoled her with
the hope of becoming eventually reconciled to her husband.

Meanwhile her wicked sisters, in expectation of meeting with the same good
fortune which had befallen Psyche, placed themselves on the edge of the
rock, but were both precipitated into the chasm below.

Psyche herself, filled with a restless yearning for her lost love, wandered
all over the world in search of him. At length she appealed to Aphrodite to
take compassion on her; but the goddess of Beauty, still jealous of her
charms, imposed upon her the hardest tasks, the accomplishment of which
often appeared impossible. In these {153} she was always assisted by
invisible, beneficent beings, sent to her by Eros, who still loved her, and
continued to watch over her welfare.

Psyche had to undergo a long and severe penance before she became worthy to
regain the happiness, which she had so foolishly trifled away. At last
Aphrodite commanded her to descend into the under world, and obtain from
Persephone a box containing all the charms of beauty. Psyche’s courage now
failed her, for she concluded that death must of necessity precede her
entrance into the realm of shades. About to abandon herself to despair, she
heard a voice which warned her of every danger to be avoided on her
perilous journey, and instructed her with regard to certain precautions to
be observed. These were as follows:–not to omit to provide herself with
the ferryman’s toll for Charon, and the cake to pacify Cerberus, also to
refrain from taking any part in the banquets of Aïdes and Persephone, and,
above all things, to bring the box of beauty charms unopened to Aphrodite.
In conclusion, the voice assured her, that compliance with the above
conditions would insure for her a safe return to the realms of light. But,
alas, Psyche, who had implicitly followed all injunctions, could not
withstand the temptation of the last condition; and, hardly had she quitted
the lower world, when, unable to resist the curiosity which devoured her,
she raised the lid of the box with eager expectation. But, instead of the
wondrous charms of beauty which she expected to behold, there issued from
the casket a dense black vapour, which had the effect of throwing her into
a death-like sleep, out of which Eros, who had long hovered round her
unseen, at length awoke her with the point of one of his golden arrows. He
gently reproached her with this second proof of her curiosity and folly,
and then, having persuaded Aphrodite to be reconciled to his beloved, he
induced Zeus to admit her among the immortal gods.

Their reunion was celebrated amidst the rejoicings of all the Olympian
deities. The Graces shed perfume on {154} their path, the Hours sprinkled
roses over the sky, Apollo added the music of his lyre, and the Muses
united their voices in a glad chorus of delight.

This myth would appear to be an allegory, which signifies that the soul,
before it can be reunited to its original divine essence, must be purified
by the chastening sorrows and sufferings of its earthly career.[51]

Eros is represented as a lovely boy, with rounded limbs, and a merry,
roguish expression. He has golden wings, and a quiver slung over his
shoulder, which contained his magical and unerring arrows; in one hand he
bears his golden bow, and in the other a torch.

He is also frequently depicted riding on a lion, dolphin, or eagle, or
seated in a chariot drawn by stags or wild boars, undoubtedly emblematical
of the power of love as the subduer of all nature, even of the wild

In Rome, Eros was worshipped under the name of Amor or Cupid.


Hymen or Hymenæus, the son of Apollo and the muse Urania, was the god who
presided over marriage and nuptial solemnities, and was hence invoked at
all marriage festivities.

There is a myth concerning this divinity, which tells us that Hymen was a
beautiful youth of very poor parents, who fell in love with a wealthy
maiden, so far above him in rank, that he dared not cherish the hope of
ever becoming united to her. Still he missed no opportunity of seeing her,
and, upon one occasion, disguised himself as {155} a girl, and joined a
troop of maidens, who, in company with his beloved, were proceeding from
Athens to Eleusis, in order to attend a festival of Demeter. On their way
thither they were surprised by pirates, who carried them off to a desert
island, where the ruffians, after drinking deeply, fell into a heavy sleep.
Hymen, seizing the opportunity, slew them all, and then set sail for
Athens, where he found the parents of the maidens in the greatest distress
at their unaccountable disappearance. He comforted them with the assurance
that their children should be restored to them, provided they would promise
to give him in marriage the maiden he loved. The condition being gladly
complied with, he at once returned to the island, and brought back the
maidens in safety to Athens, whereupon he became united to the object of
his love; and their union proved so remarkably happy, that henceforth the
name of Hymen became synonymous with conjugal felicity.


Iris, the daughter of Thaumas and Electra, personified the rainbow, and was
the special attendant and messenger of the queen of heaven, whose commands
she executed with singular tact, intelligence, and swiftness.

Most primitive nations have regarded the rainbow as a bridge of
communication between heaven and earth, and this is doubtless the reason
why Iris, who represented that beautiful phenomenon of nature, should have
been invested by the Greeks with the office of communicating between gods
and men.

Iris is usually represented seated behind the chariot of Hera, ready to do
the bidding of her royal mistress. She appears under the form of a slender
maiden of great beauty, robed in an airy fabric of variegated hues,
resembling mother-of-pearl; her sandals are bright as burnished silver, she
has golden wings, and wherever she appears, a radiance of light, and a
sweet odour, as of delicate spring flowers, pervades the air. {156}


Hebe was the personification of eternal youth under its most attractive and
joyous aspect.

She was the daughter of Zeus and Hera, and though of such distinguished
rank, is nevertheless represented as cup-bearer to the gods; a forcible
exemplification of the old patriarchal custom, in accordance with which the
daughters of the house, even when of the highest lineage, personally
assisted in serving the guests.

Hebe is represented as a comely, modest maiden, small, of a beautifully
rounded contour, with nut-brown tresses and sparkling eyes. She is often
depicted pouring out nectar from an upraised vessel, or bearing in her hand
a shallow dish, supposed to contain ambrosia, the ever youth-renewing food
of the immortals.

In consequence of an act of awkwardness, which caused her to slip while
serving the gods, Hebe was deprived of her office, which was henceforth
delegated to Ganymedes, son of Tros.

Hebe afterwards became the bride of Heracles, when, after his apotheosis,
he was received among the immortals.


Juventas was the Roman divinity identified with Hebe, whose attributes,
however, were regarded by the Romans as applying more particularly to the
imperishable vigour and immortal glory of the state.

In Rome, several temples were erected in honour of this goddess. {157}


Ganymedes, the youngest son of Tros, king of Troy, was one day drawing
water from a well on Mount Ida, when he was observed by Zeus, who, struck
with his wonderful beauty, sent his eagle to transport him to Olympus,
where he was endowed with immortality, and appointed cup-bearer to the

Ganymedes is represented as a youth of exquisite beauty, with short golden
locks, delicately chiselled features, beaming blue eyes, and pouting lips.


Of all the Olympic deities, none occupy a more distinguished position than
the Muses, the nine beautiful daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

In their original signification, they presided merely over music, song, and
dance; but with the progress of civilization the arts and sciences claimed
their special presiding divinities, and we see these graceful creations, in
later times, sharing among them various functions, such as poetry,

The Muses were honoured alike by mortals and immortals. In Olympus, where
Apollo acted as their leader, no banquet or festivity was considered
complete without their joy-inspiring presence, and on earth no social
gathering was celebrated without libations being poured out to them; nor
was any task involving intellectual effort ever undertaken, without
earnestly supplicating their assistance. They endowed their chosen
favourites with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; they bestowed upon
the orator the gift of eloquence, inspired the poet with his noblest
thoughts, and the musician with his sweetest harmonies.

Like so many of the Greek divinities, however, the refined conception of
the Muses is somewhat marred by the acerbity with which they punished any
effort on the part {158} of mortals to rival them in their divine powers.
An instance of this is seen in the case of Thamyris, a Thracian bard, who
presumed to invite them to a trial of skill in music. Having vanquished
him, they not only afflicted him with blindness, but deprived him also of
the power of song.

Another example of the manner in which the gods punished presumption and
vanity is seen in the story of the daughters of King Pierus. Proud of the
perfection to which they had brought their skill in music, they presumed to
challenge the Muses themselves in the art over which they specially
presided. The contest took place on Mount Helicon, and it is said that when
the mortal maidens commenced their song, the sky became dark and misty,
whereas when the Muses raised their heavenly voices, all nature seemed to
rejoice, and Mount Helicon itself moved with exultation. The Pierides were
signally defeated, and were transformed by the Muses into singing birds, as
a punishment for having dared to challenge comparison with the immortals.

Undeterred by the above example, the Sirens also entered into a similar
contest. The songs of the Muses were loyal and true, whilst those of the
Sirens were the false and deceptive strains with which so many unfortunate
mariners had been lured to their death. The Sirens were defeated by the
Muses, and as a mark of humiliation, were deprived of the feathers with
which their bodies were adorned.

The oldest seat of the worship of the Muses was Pieria in Thrace, where
they were supposed to have first seen the light of day. Pieria is a
district on one of the sloping declivities of Mount Olympus, whence a
number of rivulets, as they flow towards the plains beneath, produce those
sweet, soothing sounds, which may possibly have suggested this spot as a
fitting home for the presiding divinities of song.

They dwelt on the summits of Mounts Helicon, Parnassus, and Pindus, and
loved to haunt the springs and fountains which gushed forth amidst these
rocky {159} heights, all of which were sacred to them and to poetic
inspiration. Aganippe and Hippocrene on Mount Helicon, and the Castalian
spring on Mount Parnassus, were sacred to the Muses. The latter flowed
between two lofty rocks above the city of Delphi, and in ancient times its
waters were introduced into a square stone basin, where they were retained
for the use of the Pythia and the priests of Apollo.

The libations to these divinities consisted of water, milk, and honey, but
never of wine.

Their names and functions are as follows:–

CALLIOPE, the most honoured of the Muses, presided over heroic song and
epic poetry, and is represented with a pencil in her hand, and a slate upon
her knee.

CLIO, the muse of History, holds in her hand a roll of parchment, and wears
a wreath of laurel.

MELPOMENE, the muse of Tragedy, bears a tragic mask.

THALIA, the muse of Comedy, carries in her right hand a shepherd’s crook,
and has a comic mask beside her.

POLYHYMNIA, the muse of Sacred Hymns, is crowned with a wreath of laurel.
She is always represented in a thoughtful attitude, and entirely enveloped
in rich folds of drapery.

TERPSICHORE, the muse of Dance and Roundelay, is represented in the act of
playing on a seven-stringed lyre.

URANIA, the muse of Astronomy, stands erect, and bears in her left hand a
celestial globe.

EUTERPE, the muse of Harmony, is represented bearing a musical instrument,
usually a flute.

ERATO, the muse of Love and hymeneal songs, wears a wreath of laurel, and
is striking the chords of a lyre. {160}

With regard to the origin of the Muses, it is said that they were created
by Zeus in answer to a request on the part of the victorious deities, after
the war with the {161} Titans, that some special divinities should be
called into existence, in order to commemorate in song the glorious deeds
of the Olympian gods.



Pegasus was a beautiful winged horse who sprang from the body of Medusa
when she was slain by the hero Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danaë.
Spreading out his wings he immediately flew to the top of Mount Olympus,
where he was received with delight and admiration by all the immortals. A
place in his palace was assigned to him by Zeus, who employed him to carry
his thunder and lightning. Pegasus permitted none but the gods to mount
him, except in the case of Bellerophon, whom, at the command of Athene, he
carried aloft, in order that he might slay the Chimæra with his arrows.

The later poets represent Pegasus as being at the service of the Muses, and
for this reason he is more celebrated in modern times than in antiquity. He
would appear to represent that poetical inspiration, which tends to develop
man’s higher nature, and causes the mind to soar heavenwards. The only
mention by the ancients of Pegasus in connection with the Muses, is the
story of his having produced with his hoofs, the famous fountain

It is said that during their contest with the Pierides, the Muses played
and sang on the summit of Mount Helicon with such extraordinary power and
sweetness, that heaven and earth stood still to listen, whilst the mountain
raised itself in joyous ecstasy towards the abode of the celestial gods.
Poseidon, seeing his special function thus interfered with, sent Pegasus to
check the boldness of the mountain, in daring to move without his
permission. When Pegasus reached the summit, he stamped the ground with his
hoofs, and out gushed the waters of Hippocrene, afterwards so renowned as
the sacred fount, whence the Muses quaffed their richest draughts of


The Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas, dwelt in an island in the far west,
whence they derived their name. {163}

They were appointed by Hera to act as guardians to a tree bearing golden
apples, which had been presented to her by Gæa on the occasion of her
marriage with Zeus.

It is said that the Hesperides, being unable to withstand the temptation of
tasting the golden fruit confided to their care, were deprived of their
office, which was henceforth delegated to the terrible dragon Ladon, who
now became the ever-watchful sentinel of these precious treasures.

The names of the Hesperides were Aegle, Arethusa, and Hesperia.


All those gentler attributes which beautify and refine human existence were
personified by the Greeks under the form of three lovely sisters,
Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia, the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (or,
according to later writers, of Dionysus and Aphrodite).

They are represented as beautiful, slender maidens in the full bloom of
youth, with hands and arms lovingly intertwined, and are either undraped,
or wear a fleecy, transparent garment of an ethereal fabric.

They portray every gentle emotion of the heart, which vents itself in
friendship and benevolence, and were believed to preside over those
qualities which constitute grace, modesty, unconscious beauty, gentleness,
kindliness, innocent joy, purity of mind and body, and eternal youth.

They not only possessed the most perfect beauty themselves, but also
conferred this gift upon others. All the enjoyments of life were enhanced
by their presence, and were deemed incomplete without them; and wherever
joy or pleasure, grace and gaiety reigned, there they were supposed to be

Temples and altars were everywhere erected in their honour, and people of
all ages and of every rank in life entreated their favour. Incense was
burnt daily upon their altars, and at every banquet they were invoked,
{164} and a libation poured out to them, as they not only heightened all
enjoyment, but also by their refining influence moderated the exciting
effects of wine.

Music, eloquence, poetry, and art, though the direct work of the Muses,
received at the hands of the Graces an additional touch of refinement and
beauty; for which reason they are always regarded as the friends of the
Muses, with whom they lived on Mount Olympus.

Their special function was to act, in conjunction with the Seasons, as
attendants upon Aphrodite, whom they adorned with wreaths of flowers, and
she emerges from their hands like the Queen of Spring, perfumed with the
odour of roses and violets, and all sweet-scented blossoms.

The Graces are frequently seen in attendance on other divinities; thus they
carry music for Apollo, myrtles for Aphrodite, &c., and frequently
accompany the Muses, Eros, or Dionysus.


Closely allied to the Graces were the Horæ, or Seasons, who were also
represented as three beautiful maidens, daughters of Zeus and Themis. Their
names were Eunomia, Dice, and Irene.

It may appear strange that these divinities, presiding over the seasons,
should be but three in number, but this is quite in accordance with the
notions of the ancient Greeks, who only recognized spring, summer, and
autumn as seasons; nature being supposed to be wrapt in death or slumber,
during that cheerless and unproductive portion of the year which we call
winter. In some parts of Greece there were but two Horæ, Thallo, goddess of
the bloom, and Carpo, of the corn and fruit-bearing season.

The Horæ are always regarded as friendly towards mankind, and totally
devoid of guile or subtlety; they are represented as joyous, but gentle
maidens, crowned with flowers, and holding each other by the hand in a
round dance. When they are depicted separately as personifications of the
different seasons, the Hora {165} representing spring appears laden with
flowers, that of summer bears a sheaf of corn, whilst the personification
of autumn has her hands filled with clusters of grapes and other fruits.
They also appear in company with the Graces in the train of Aphrodite, and
are seen with Apollo and the Muses.

They are inseparably connected with all that is good and beautiful in
nature, and as the regular alternation of the seasons, like all her other
operations, demands the most perfect order and regularity, the Horæ, being
the daughters of Themis, came to be regarded as the representatives of
order, and the just administration of human affairs in civilized
communities. Each of these graceful maidens took upon herself a separate
function: Eunomia presided more especially over state life, Dice guarded
the interests of individuals, whilst Irene, the gayest and brightest of the
three sisters, was the light-hearted companion of Dionysus.

The Horæ were also the deities of the fast-fleeting hours, and thus
presided over the smaller, as well as the larger divisions of time. In this
capacity they assist every morning in yoking the celestial horses to the
glorious chariot of the sun, which they again help to unyoke when he sinks
to rest.

In their original conception they were personifications of the clouds, and
are described as opening and closing the gates of heaven, and causing
fruits and flowers to spring forth, when they pour down upon them their
refreshing and life-giving streams.


The graceful beings called the Nymphs were the presiding deities of the
woods, grottoes, streams, meadows, &c.

These divinities were supposed to be beautiful maidens of fairy-like form,
and robed in more or less shadowy garments. They were held in the greatest
veneration, though, being minor divinities, they had no temples {166}
dedicated to them, but were worshipped in caves or grottoes, with libations
of milk, honey, oil, &c.

They may be divided into three distinct classes, viz., water, mountain, and
tree or wood nymphs.



The worship of water-deities is common to most primitive nations. The
streams, springs, and fountains of a country bear the same relation to it
which the blood, coursing through the numberless arteries of a human being,
bears to the body; both represent the living, moving, life-awakening
element, without which existence would be impossible. Hence we find among
most nations a deep feeling of attachment to the streams and waters of
their native land, the remembrance of which, when absent in foreign climes,
is always treasured with peculiar fondness. Thus among the early Greeks,
each tribe came to regard the rivers and springs of its individual state as
beneficent powers, which brought blessing and prosperity to the country. It
is probable also that the charm which ever accompanies the sound of running
water exercised its power over their imagination. They heard with delight
the gentle whisper of the fountain, lulling the senses with its low,
rippling tones; the soft purling of the brook as it rushes over the
pebbles, or the mighty voice of the waterfall as it dashes on in its
headlong course; and the beings which they pictured to themselves as
presiding over all these charming sights and sounds of nature,
corresponded, in their graceful appearance, with the scenes with which they
were associated.


The OCEANIDES, or Ocean Nymphs, were the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys,
and, like most sea divinities, were endowed with the gift of prophecy.

They are personifications of those delicate vapour-like {167} exhalations,
which, in warm climates, are emitted from the surface of the sea, more
especially at sunset, and are impelled forwards by the evening breeze. They
are accordingly represented as misty, shadowy beings, with graceful swaying
forms, and robed in pale blue, gauze-like fabrics.


The NEREIDES were the daughters of Nereus and Doris, and were nymphs of the
Mediterranean Sea.

They are similar in appearance to the Oceanides, but their beauty is of a
less shadowy order, and is more like that of mortals. They wear a flowing,
pale green robe; their liquid eyes resemble, in their clear depths, the
lucid waters of the sea they inhabit; their hair floats carelessly over
their shoulders, and assumes the greenish tint of the water itself, which,
far from deteriorating from their beauty, greatly adds to its effect. The
Nereides either accompany the chariot of the mighty ruler of the sea, or
follow in his train.

We are told by the poets that the lonely mariner watches the Nereides with
silent awe and wondering delight, as they rise from their grotto-palaces in
the deep, and dance, in joyful groups, over the sleeping waves. Some, with
arms entwined, follow with their movements the melodies which seem to hover
over the sea, whilst others scatter liquid gems around, these being
emblematical of the phosphorescent light, so frequently observed at night
by the traveller in southern waters.

The best known of the Nereides were Thetis, the wife of Peleus, Amphitrite,
the spouse of Poseidon, and Galatea, the beloved of Acis.


The NAIADES were the nymphs of fresh-water springs, lakes, brooks, rivers,

As the trees, plants, and flowers owed their nourishment to their genial,
fostering care, these divinities were {168} regarded by the Greeks as
special benefactors to mankind. Like all the nymphs, they possessed the
gift of prophecy, for which reason many of the springs and fountains over
which they presided were believed to inspire mortals who drank of their
waters with the power of foretelling future events. The Naiades are
intimately connected in idea with those flowers which are called after them
Nymphæ, or water-lilies, whose broad, green leaves and yellow cups float
upon the surface of the water, as though proudly conscious of their own
grace and beauty.

We often hear of the Naiades forming alliances with mortals, and also of
their being wooed by the sylvan deities of the woods and dales.


The tree nymphs partook of the distinguishing characteristics of the
particular tree to whose life they were wedded, and were known collectively
by the name of the Dryades.

The HAMADRYADES, or oak nymphs, represent in their peculiar individuality
the quiet, self-reliant power which appears to belong essentially to the
grand and lordly king of the forest.

The BIRCH NYMPH is a melancholy maiden with floating hair, resembling the
branches of the pale and fragile-looking tree which she inhabits.

The BEECH NYMPH is strong and sturdy, full of life and joyousness, and
appears to give promise of faithful love and undisturbed repose, whilst her
rosy cheeks, deep brown eyes, and graceful form bespeak health, vigour, and

The nymph of the LINDEN TREE is represented as a little coy maiden, whose
short silver-gray dress reaches a little below the knee, and displays to
advantage her delicately formed limbs. The sweet face, which is partly
averted, reveals a pair of large blue eyes, which appear to look at you
with wondering surprise and shy mistrust; {169} her pale, golden hair is
bound by the faintest streak of rose-coloured ribbon.

The tree nymph, being wedded to the life of the tree she inhabited, ceased
to exist when it was either felled, or so injured as to wither away and



The Napææ were the kind and gentle nymphs of the valleys and glens who
appear in the train of Artemis. They are represented as lovely maidens with
short tunics, which, reaching only to the knee, do not impede their swift
and graceful movements in the exercise of the chase. Their pale brown
tresses are fastened in a knot at the back of the head, whence a few stray
curls escape over their shoulders. The Napææ are shy as the fawns, and
quite as frolicsome.

The OREADES, or mountain nymphs, who are the principal and constant
companions of Artemis, are tall, graceful maidens, attired as huntresses.
They are ardent followers of the chase, and spare neither the gentle deer
nor the timid hare, nor indeed any animal they meet with in their rapid
course. Wherever their wild hunt goes the shy Napææ are represented as
hiding behind the leaves, whilst their favourites, the fawns, kneel
tremblingly beside them, looking up beseechingly for protection from the
wild huntresses; and even the bold Satyrs dart away at their approach, and
seek safety in flight.

There is a myth connected with one of these mountain nymphs, the
unfortunate Echo. She became enamoured of a beautiful youth named
Narcissus, son of the river-god Cephissus, who, however, failed to return
her love, which so grieved her that she gradually pined away, becoming a
mere shadow of her former self, till, at length, nothing remained of her
except her voice, which henceforth gave back, with unerring fidelity, every
sound that was uttered in the hills and dales. Narcissus himself {170} also
met with an unhappy fate, for Aphrodite punished him by causing him to fall
in love with his own image, which he beheld in a neighbouring fountain,
whereupon, consumed with unrequited love, he wasted away, and was changed
into the flower which bears his name.

The LIMONIADES, or meadow nymphs, resemble the Naiades, and are usually
represented dancing hand in hand in a circle.

The HYADES, who in appearance are somewhat similar to the Oceanides, are
cloudy divinities, and, from the fact of their being invariably accompanied
by rain, are represented as incessantly weeping.

The MELIADES were the nymphs who presided over fruit-trees.

Before concluding this subject, attention should be drawn to the fact that,
in more modern times, this beautiful idea of animating all nature in detail
reappears under the various local traditions extant in different countries.
Thus do the Oceanides and Nereides live again in the mermaids, whose
existence is still believed in by mariners, whilst the flower and meadow
nymphs assume the shape of those tiny elves and fairies, who were formerly
believed to hold their midnight revels in every wood and on every common;
indeed, even at the present day, the Irish peasantry, especially in the
west, firmly believe in the existence of the fairies, or “good people,” as
they are called.


According to the oldest accounts, Æolus was a king of the Æolian Islands,
to whom Zeus gave the command of the winds, which he kept shut up in a deep
cave, and which he freed at his pleasure, or at the command of the gods.

In later times the above belief underwent a change, and the winds came to
be regarded as distinct divinities, whose aspect accorded with the
respective winds with which they were identified. They were depicted as
{171} winged youths in full vigour in the act of flying through the air.

The principal winds were: Boreas (the north wind), Eurus (the east wind),
Zephyrus (the west wind), and Notus (the south wind), who were said to be
the children of Eos and Astræus.

There are no myths of interest connected with these divinities. Zephyrus
was united to Chloris (Flora), the goddess of flowers. Of Boreas it is
related that while flying over the river Ilissus, he beheld on the banks
Oreithyia, the charming daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens, whom he
carried off to his native Thrace, and there made her his bride. Boreas and
Oreithyia were the parents of Zetes and Calais, afterwards famous in the
expedition of the Argonauts.

There was an altar erected at Athens in honour of Boreas, in commemoration
of his having destroyed the Persian fleet sent to attack the Greeks.

On the Acropolis at Athens there was a celebrated octagonal temple, built
by Pericles, which was dedicated to the winds, and on its sides were their
various representations. The ruins of this temple are still to be seen.


Pan was the god of fertility, and the special patron of shepherds and
huntsmen; he presided over all rural occupations, was chief of the Satyrs,
and head of all rural divinities.

According to the common belief, he was the son of Hermes and a wood nymph,
and came into the world with horns sprouting from his forehead, a goat’s
beard and a crooked nose, pointed ears, and the tail and feet of a goat,
and presented altogether so repulsive {172} an appearance that, at the
sight of him, his mother fled in dismay.

Hermes, however, took up his curious little offspring, wrapt him in a hare
skin, and carried him in his arms to Olympus. The grotesque form and merry
antics of the little stranger made him a great favourite with all the
immortals, especially Dionysus; and they bestowed upon him the name of Pan
(all), because he had delighted them all.

His favourite haunts were grottoes, and his delight was to wander in
uncontrolled freedom over rocks and mountains, following his various
pursuits, ever cheerful, and usually very noisy. He was a great lover of
music, singing, dancing, and all pursuits which enhance the pleasures of
life; and hence, in spite of his repulsive appearance, we see him
surrounded with nymphs of the forests and dales, who love to dance round
him to the cheerful music of his pipe, the syrinx. The myth concerning the
origin of Pan’s pipe is as follows:–Pan became enamoured of a beautiful
nymph, called Syrinx, who, appalled at his terrible appearance, fled from
the pertinacious attentions of her unwelcome suitor. He pursued her to the
banks of the river Ladon, when, seeing his near approach, and feeling
escape impossible, she called on the gods for assistance, who, in answer to
her prayer, transformed her into a reed, just as Pan was about to seize
her. Whilst the love-sick Pan was sighing and lamenting his unfortunate
fate, the winds gently swayed the reeds, and produced a murmuring sound as
of one complaining. Charmed with the soothing tones, he endeavoured to
reproduce them himself, and after cutting seven of the reeds of unequal
length, he joined them together, and succeeded in producing the pipe, which
he called the syrinx, in memory of his lost love.

Pan was regarded by shepherds as their most valiant protector, who defended
their flocks from the attacks of wolves. The shepherds of these early
times, having no penfolds, were in the habit of gathering together their
flocks in mountain caves, to protect them against the {173} inclemency of
the weather, and also to secure them at night against the attacks of wild
animals; these caves, therefore, which were very numerous in the mountain
districts of Arcadia, Boeotia, &c., were all consecrated to Pan.

As it is customary in all tropical climates to repose during the heat of
the day, Pan is represented as greatly enjoying his afternoon sleep in the
cool shelter of a tree or cave, and also as being highly displeased at any
sound which disturbed his slumbers, for which reason the shepherds were
always particularly careful to keep unbroken silence during these hours,
whilst they themselves indulged in a quiet siesta.

Pan was equally beloved by huntsmen, being himself a great lover of the
woods, which afforded to his cheerful and active disposition full scope,
and in which he loved to range at will. He was regarded as the patron of
the chase, and the rural sportsmen, returning from an unsuccessful day’s
sport, beat, in token of their displeasure, the wooden image of Pan, which
always occupied a prominent place in their dwellings.

All sudden and unaccountable sounds which startle travellers in lonely
spots, were attributed to Pan, who possessed a frightful and most
discordant voice; hence the term _pan_ic terror, to indicate sudden fear.
The Athenians ascribed their victory at Marathon to the alarm which he
created among the Persians by his terrible voice.

Pan was gifted with the power of prophecy, which he is said to have
imparted to Apollo, and he possessed a well-known and very ancient oracle
in Arcadia, in which state he was more especially worshipped.

The artists of later times have somewhat toned down the original very
unattractive conception of Pan, as above described, and merely represent
him as a young man, hardened by the exposure to all weathers which a rural
life involves, and bearing in his hand the shepherd’s crook and
syrinx–these being his usual attributes–whilst small horns project from
his forehead. He is either undraped, or wears merely the light cloak called
the chlamys.

The usual offerings to Pan were milk and honey in {174} shepherds’ bowls.
Cows, lambs, and rams were also sacrificed to him.

After the introduction of Pan into the worship of Dionysus, we hear of a
number of little Pans (Panisci), who are sometimes confounded with the


The Romans had an old Italian divinity called Faunus, who, as the god of
shepherds, was identified with the Greek Pan, and represented in a similar

Faunus is frequently called Inuus or the fertilizer, and Lupercus or the
one who wards off wolves. Like Pan, he possessed the gift of prophecy, and
was the presiding spirit of the woods and fields; he also shared with his
Greek prototype the faculty of alarming travellers in solitary places. Bad
dreams and evil apparitions were attributed to Faunus, and he was believed
to enter houses stealthily at night for this purpose.

Fauna was the wife of Faunus, and participated in his functions.


The Satyrs were a race of woodland spirits, who evidently personified the
free, wild, and untrammelled life of the forest. Their appearance was both
grotesque and repulsive; they had flat broad noses, pointed ears, and
little horns sprouting from their foreheads, a rough shaggy skin, and small
goat’s tails. They led a life of pleasure and self-indulgence, followed the
chase, revelled in every description of wild music and dancing, were
terrible wine-bibbers, and addicted to the deep slumbers which follow heavy
potations. They were no less dreaded by mortals than by the gentle woodland
nymphs, who always avoided their coarse rough sports.

The Satyrs were conspicuous figures in the train of Dionysus, and, as we
have seen, Silenus their chief was tutor to the wine god. The older Satyrs
were called Silens, and are represented in antique sculpture, as more
nearly approaching the human form.


In addition to the ordinary Satyrs, artists delighted in depicting little
Satyrs, young imps, frolicking about the woods in a marvellous variety of
droll attitudes. These little fellows greatly resemble their friends and
companions, the Panisci.

In rural districts it was customary for the shepherds and peasants who
attended the festivals of Dionysus, to dress themselves in the skins of
goats and other animals, and, under this disguise, they permitted
themselves all kinds of playful tricks and excesses, to which circumstance
the conception of the Satyrs is by some authorities attributed.

In Rome the old Italian wood-divinities, the FAUNS, who had goats’ feet and
all other characteristics of the Satyrs greatly exaggerated, were
identified with them.


Priapus, the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, was regarded as the god of
fruitfulness, the protector of flocks, sheep, goats, bees, the fruit of the
vine, and all garden produce.

His statues, which were set up in gardens and vineyards, acted not only as
objects of worship, but also as scarecrows, the appearance of this god
being especially repulsive and unsightly. These statues were formed of wood
or stone, and from the hips downwards were merely rude columns. They
represent him as having a red and very ugly face; he bears in his hand a
pruning knife, and his head is crowned with a wreath of vine and laurel. He
usually carries fruit in his garments or a cornucopia in his hand, always,
however, retaining his singularly revolting aspect. It is said that Hera,
wishing {176} to punish Aphrodite, sent her this misshapen and unsightly
son, and that when he was born, his mother was so horrified at the sight of
him, that she ordered him to be exposed on the mountains, where he was
found by some shepherds, who, taking pity on him, saved his life.

This divinity was chiefly worshipped at Lampsacus, his birthplace. Asses
were sacrificed to him, and he received the first-fruits of the fields and
gardens, with a libation of milk and honey.

The worship of Priapus was introduced into Rome at the same time as that of
Aphrodite, and was identified with a native Italian divinity named Mutunus.


Asclepias, the god of the healing art, was the son of Apollo and the nymph
Coronis. He was educated by the noble Centaur Chiron, who instructed him in
all knowledge, but more especially in that of the properties of herbs.
Asclepias searched out the hidden powers of plants, and discovered cures
for the various diseases which afflict the human body. He brought his art
to such perfection, that he not only succeeded in warding off death, but
also restored the dead to life. It was popularly believed that he was
materially assisted in his wonderful cures by the blood of the Medusa,
given to him by Pallas-Athene.

It is well to observe that the shrines of this divinity, which were usually
built in healthy places, on hills outside the town, or near wells which
were believed to have healing powers, offered at the same time means of
cure for the sick and suffering, thus combining religious with sanitary
influences. It was the custom for the sufferer to sleep in the temple,
when, if he had been earnest in his devotions, Asclepias appeared to him in
a dream, and revealed the means to be employed for the cure of his malady.
On the walls of these temples were hung tablets, inscribed by the different
pilgrims with the particulars of their maladies, the remedies practised,
and the cures {177} worked by the god:–a custom undoubtedly productive of
most beneficial results.

Groves, temples, and altars were dedicated to Asclepias in many parts of
Greece, but Epidaurus, the chief seat of his worship,–where, indeed, it is
said to have originated,–contained his principal temple, which served at
the same time as a hospital.

The statue of Asclepias in the temple at Epidaurus was formed of ivory and
gold, and represented him as an old man with a full beard, leaning on a
staff round which a serpent is climbing. The serpent was the distinguishing
symbol of this divinity, partly because these reptiles were greatly used by
the ancients in the cure of diseases, and partly also because all the
prudence and wisdom of the serpent were deemed indispensable to the
judicious physician.

His usual attributes are a staff, a bowl, a bunch of herbs, a pineapple, a
dog, and a serpent.

His children inherited, for the most part, the distinguished talents of
their father. Two of his sons, Machaon and Podalirius, accompanied
Agamemnon to the Trojan war, in which expedition they became renowned, not
only as military heroes, but also as skilful physicians.

Their sisters, HYGEIA (health), and PANACEA (all-healing), had temples
dedicated to them, and received divine honours. The function of Hygeia was
to maintain the health of the community, which great blessing was supposed
to be brought by her as a direct and beneficent gift from the gods.


The worship of Æsculapius was introduced into Rome from Epidaurus, whence
the statue of the god of healing {178} was brought at the time of a great
pestilence. Grateful for their deliverance from this plague, the Romans
erected a temple in his honour, on an island near the mouth of the Tiber.

   *       *       *       *       *



From the earliest ages Janus was regarded by the Romans with the utmost
affection and veneration, as a divinity who ranked only second to Jupiter
himself, and through whom all prayers and petitions were transmitted to the
other gods.

He was believed to preside over the beginnings of all things, hence it was
he who inaugurated the years, months, and seasons, and in course of time
came to be considered as specially protecting the beginnings of all human
enterprises. The great importance which the Romans attached to an
auspicious commencement, as contributing to the ultimate success of an
enterprise, accounts for the high estimation in which Janus was held as the
god of beginnings.

This divinity would appear to have been the ancient sun-god of the Italian
tribes, in which capacity he opens and closes the gates of heaven every
morning and evening. Hence he was regarded as the door-keeper of heaven,
and also as the presiding deity over all gates, entrances, &c., on earth.

The fact of his being the god of city gates, which were called Jani after
him, is ascribed, however, to the following myth:–After the abduction of
their women by the Romans, the Sabines, in revenge, invaded the Roman
state, and were already about to enter the gates of the city, when suddenly
a hot sulphur spring, which was believed to have been sent by Janus for
their special preservation, gushed forth from the earth, and arrested the
progress of the enemy.


In his character as guardian of gates and doors, he was also regarded as a
protecting deity of the home, for which reason little shrines were erected
to him over the doors of houses, which contained an image of the god,
having two faces.

Janus possessed no temples in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but all
the gates of cities were dedicated to him. Close to the Forum of Rome stood
the so-called temple of Janus, which, however, was merely an arched
passage, closed by massive gates. This temple was open only in time of war,
as it was supposed that the god had then taken his departure with the Roman
army, over whose welfare he personally presided. It is worthy of notice, as
an evidence of the many wars in which the Romans were engaged, that the
gates of this sanctuary were only closed three times during 700 years.

As the god who ushers in the new year, the first month was called after
him, and on the 1st of January his most important festival was celebrated,
on which occasion all entrances of public and private buildings were
decorated with laurel branches and garlands of flowers.

His sacrifices, consisting of cakes, wine, and barley, were offered to him
at the beginning of every month; and before sacrificing to the other gods
his name was always invoked, and a libation poured out to him.

Janus is usually represented with two faces; in his special function as
door-keeper of heaven he stands erect, bearing a key in one hand, and a rod
or sceptre in the other.

It is supposed that Janus was the most ancient king of Italy, who, during
his life, governed his subjects with such wisdom and moderation that, in
gratitude for the benefits conferred upon them, his people deified him
after death and placed him in the foremost rank among their divinities. We
have already seen in the history of Cronus that Saturn, who was identified
with the Greek Cronus (god of time), was the friend and colleague of Janus.
Anxious to prove his gratitude to his benefactor, Cronus endowed him with
the knowledge of past and future {180} events, which enabled him to adopt
the wisest measures for the welfare of his subjects, and it is on this
account that Janus is represented with two faces looking in opposite
directions, the one to the past, the other to the future.


Flora was the goddess of flowers, and was regarded as a beneficent power,
who watched over and protected the early blossoms.

She was held in the highest estimation by the Romans, and a festival,
called the Floralia, was celebrated in her honour from the 28th of April to
the 1st of May. This festival was a season of universal merriment, in which
flowers were used profusely in adorning houses, streets, &c., and were worn
by young girls in their hair.

Flora, who typified the season of Spring, is generally represented as a
lovely maiden, garlanded with flowers.


In opposition to Flora we find an antagonistic divinity, called Robigus, a
worker of evil, who delighted in the destruction of the tender herbs by
mildew, and whose wrath could only be averted by prayers and sacrifices,
when he was invoked under the title of Averuncus, or the Avertor.

The festival of Robigus (the Robigalia) was celebrated on the 25th of


Pomona was the goddess of orchards and fruit-trees, who, according to Ovid,
cares not for woods or streams, but loves her gardens and the boughs that
bear the thriving fruit.

Pomona, who typifies Autumn, is represented as a lovely maiden, laden with
branches of fruit-trees.



Vertumnus was the god of garden and field produce. He personifies the
change of seasons, and that process of transformation in nature by means of
which the leaf-buds become developed into blossoms, and the blossoms into

The change of seasons is symbolized in a myth which represents Vertumnus as
metamorphosing himself into a variety of different forms in order to gain
the affection of Pomona, who so loved her vocation that she abjured all
thoughts of marriage. He first appears to her as a ploughman, typifying
Spring; then as a reaper, to represent Summer; afterwards as a
vine-gatherer, to indicate Autumn; and finally as a gray-haired old woman,
symbolical of the snows of Winter; but it was not until he assumed his true
form, that of a beautiful youth, that he succeeded in his suit.

Vertumnus is generally represented crowned with wheat-sheaves, and bearing
in his hand a cornucopia.


Pales, a very ancient Italian divinity, is represented sometimes as a male,
sometimes as a female power.

As a male divinity he is more particularly the god of shepherds and flocks.

As a female deity, Pales presides over husbandry and the fruitfulness of
herds. Her festivals, the Palilia, were celebrated on the 21st of April,
the day on which the city of Rome was founded. During this festival it was
customary for shepherds to ignite a mass of straw, through which they
rushed with their flocks, believing that this ordeal would purify them from

The name Palatine, which originally signified a pastoral colony, is derived
from this divinity. Her offerings were cakes and milk.



Picus, the son of Saturn and father of Faunus, was a woodland divinity,
gifted with prophetic powers.

An ancient myth relates that Picus was a beautiful youth, united to a nymph
called Canens. The sorceress Circe, infatuated by his beauty, endeavoured
to secure his love, but he rejected her advances, and she, in revenge,
changed him into a woodpecker, under which form he still retained his
powers of prophecy.

Picus is represented as a youth, with a woodpecker perched upon his head,
which bird became henceforth regarded as possessed of the power of


Picumnus and Pilumnus were two household divinities of the Romans, who were
the special presiding deities of new-born infants.


Silvanus was a woodland divinity, who, like Faunus, greatly resembled the
Greek Pan. He was the presiding deity of plantations and forests, and
specially protected the boundaries of fields.

Silvanus is represented as a hale old man, carrying a cypress-tree, for,
according to Roman mythology, the transformation of the youth Cyparissus
into the tree which bears his name was attributed to him.

His sacrifices consisted of milk, meat, wine, grapes, wheat-ears, and pigs.


Terminus was the god who presided over all boundaries and landmarks.

He was originally represented by a simple block of stone, which in later
times became surmounted by a {183} head of this divinity. Numa Pompilius,
the great benefactor of his people, anxious to inculcate respect for the
rights of property, specially enjoined the erection of these blocks of
stone, as a durable monument to mark the line dividing one property from
another. He also caused altars to be raised to Terminus, and instituted his
festival (the Terminalia), which was celebrated on the 23rd of February.

Upon one occasion, when Tarquin wished to remove the altars of several
deities, in order to build a new temple, it is said that Terminus and
Juventas alone objected to being displaced. This obstinate refusal on their
part was interpreted as a good omen, signifying that the city of Rome would
never lose her boundaries, and would remain ever young and vigorous.


Consus was the god of secret counsel.

The Romans believed that when an idea developed itself spontaneously within
the mind of an individual, it was Consus who had prompted the suggestion.
This applied, however, more particularly to plans which resulted

An altar was erected to this divinity on the Circus Maximus, which was kept
always covered, except during his festival, the Consualia, which was
celebrated on the 18th of August.


Libitina was the goddess who presided over funerals. This divinity was
identified with Venus, possibly because the ancients considered that the
power of love extended even to the realms of death.

Her temple in Rome, which was erected by Servius Tullius, contained all the
requisites for funerals, and these could either be bought or hired there. A
register of all deaths which occurred in the city of Rome was kept in {184}
this temple, and in order to ascertain the rate of mortality, a piece of
money was paid by command of Servius Tullius, on the demise of each person.


Laverna was the presiding goddess of thieves, and of all artifice and
fraud. There was an altar erected to her near the Porta Lavernalis, which
was called after her, and she possessed a sacred grove on the Via Salavia.


Comus was the presiding genius of banquets, festive scenes, revelry, and
all joyous pleasures and reckless gaiety.

He is represented as a young man crowned with flowers, his face heated and
flushed with wine, leaning against a post in a half-sleepy and drunken
attitude, with a torch falling from his hand.


The Camenæ were prophetic nymphs held in high veneration by the ancient
Italians. They were four in number, the best known of whom are Carmenta and

Carmenta was celebrated as being the mother of Evander, who led an Arcadian
colony into Italy, and founded a town on the river Tiber, which became
afterwards incorporated with the city of Rome. Evander is said to have been
the first who introduced Greek art and civilization into Italy, and also
the worship of Greek divinities.

A temple was erected to Carmenta on the Capitoline Hill, and a festival,
called the Carmentalia, was celebrated in her honour on the 11th of

Egeria is said to have initiated Numa Pompilius in the forms of religious
worship, which he introduced among his people. She was regarded as the
giver of {185} life, and was therefore invoked by women before the birth of
their children.

The Camenæ are frequently identified by Roman writers with the Muses.


A comforting and assuring belief existed among the Romans, that each
individual was accompanied through life, from the hour of his birth to that
of his death, by a protecting spirit, called his genius, who prompted him
to good and noble deeds, and acted towards him as a guardian angel,
comforting him in sorrow, and guiding him throughout his earthly career.

In the course of time a second genius was believed to exist, of an evil
nature, who, as the instigator of all wrong-doing, was ever at war with the
beneficent genius; and on the issue of the conflict between these
antagonistic influences, depended the fate of the individual. The genii
were depicted as winged beings, greatly resembling our modern
representations of guardian angels.

Every state, town, or city, (as well as every man), possessed its special
genius. The sacrifices to the genii consisted of wine, cakes, and incense,
which were offered to them on birthdays.

The genius which guided a woman was called, after the queen of heaven,

Among the Greeks, beings called Dæmons were regarded as exercising similar
functions to those of the Roman genii. They were believed to be the spirits
of the righteous race which existed in the Golden Age, who watched over
mankind, carrying their prayers to the gods, and the gifts of the gods to



The Manes were the spirits of the departed, and were of two kinds, viz.,
Lemures (or Larvæ) and Lares. {186}

The Lemures were those Manes who haunted their former abodes on earth as
evil spirits, appearing at night under awful forms and hideous shapes,
greatly to the alarm of their friends and relatives. They were so feared
that a festival, called the Lemuralia, was celebrated in order to
propitiate them.

It appears extremely probable that the superstitions with regard to ghosts,
haunted houses, &c., which exist even at the present day, owe their origin
to this very ancient pagan source.

The Lares Familiares were a much more pleasing conception. They were the
spirits of the ancestors of each family, who exercised after death a
protecting power over the well-being and prosperity of the family to which
they had in life belonged. The place of honour beside the hearth was
occupied by the statue of the Lar of the house, who was supposed to have
been the founder of the family. This statue was the object of profound
veneration, and was honoured on all occasions by every member of the
family; a portion of each meal was laid before it, and it was believed to
take an active part in all family affairs and domestic events, whether of a
sad or joyful nature. Before starting on any expedition the master of the
house saluted the statue of the Lar, and, on his return, a solemn
thanksgiving was offered to this, the presiding deity of his hearth and
home, in grateful acknowledgment of his protection; whereupon the statue
was crowned with garlands of flowers, these being the favourite offerings
to the Lares on all occasions of especial family rejoicing.

The first act of a bride on entering her new abode was to do homage to the
Lar, in the belief that he would exercise over her a protecting influence
and shield her from evil.

In addition to those above enumerated there were also public Lares, who
were guardians of the state, highroads, country, and sea. Their temples
were always open for any pious worshipper to enter, and on their altars
public sacrifices were offered for the welfare of the state or city. {187}


The Penates were deities selected by each family, and frequently by its
individual members, as a special protector. Various causes led to this
selection. If, for instance, a child were born on the festival of Vesta, it
was thought that that deity would henceforward act as its special guardian.
If a youth possessed great business talents he adopted Mercury as his
tutelary deity; should he, on the other hand, develop a passion for music,
Apollo was selected as his patron god, and so forth. These became regarded
as the special divinities of the household, small images of them adorned
the surroundings of the hearth, and honours similar to those paid to the
Lares were accorded to them.

Just as there were public Lares so there were public Penates, which were
worshipped by the Roman people under the form of two youthful warriors,
who, in later times, were regarded as identical with Castor and Pollux.
They are generally represented on horseback, with conical caps on their
heads, and bearing long spears in their hands.




In very remote times the Greeks had no shrines or sanctuaries devoted to
public worship, but performed their devotions beneath the vast and
boundless canopy of heaven, in the great temple of nature itself. Believing
that their divinities throned above the clouds, pious worshippers naturally
sought the highest available points, in order to place themselves in the
closest communion possible with their gods; hence the summits of high
mountains were selected for devotional purposes, and the more exalted the
rank and importance of the divinity invoked, the more elevated was the site
selected for his or her worship. But the inconvenience attending this mode
of worship gradually suggested the idea of erecting edifices which would
afford means of shelter from the inclemency of the weather.

These structures were, in the first instance, of the most simple form, and
without decoration; but when, with the progress of civilization, the Greeks
became a {189} wealthy and powerful people, temples were built and adorned
with the greatest splendour and magnificence, talent, labour, and wealth
being lavished unsparingly on their erection and decoration; indeed so
massively were they constructed, that some of them have, to a certain
extent, withstood the ravages of time. The city of Athens especially
contains numerous remains of these buildings of antiquity. On the Acropolis
we may still behold, among other monuments of ancient art, the temple of
Athene-Polias, and that of Theseus, the latter of which is the most entire
ancient edifice in the world. In the island of Delos, also, are to be seen
the ruins of the temples of Apollo and Artemis, both of which are in a
wonderful state of preservation. These ruins are most valuable, being
sufficiently complete to enable us to study, by their aid, the plan and
character of the original structure.

Among the Lacedæmonians, however, we find no vestiges of these stately
temples, for they were specially enjoined by a law of Lycurgus to serve the
gods with as little outlay as possible. When the great lawgiver was asked
the reason of this injunction, he replied that the Lacedæmonians, being a
poor nation, might otherwise abstain altogether from the observance of
their religious duties, and wisely added that magnificent edifices and
costly sacrifices were not so pleasing to the gods, as the true piety and
unfeigned devotion of their worshippers.

The most ancient temples known to us served a double purpose: they were not
only consecrated to the service of the gods, but were at the same time
venerable monuments in honour of the dead. Thus, for instance, the temple
of Pallas-Athene, in the tower of the city of Larissa, served as the
sepulchre of Acrisius, and the Acropolis at Athens received the ashes of
Cecrops, founder of the city.

A temple was frequently dedicated to two or more gods, and was always built
after the manner considered most acceptable to the particular divinities to
whom it was consecrated; for just as trees, birds, and animals of {190}
every description were held to be sacred to certain deities, so almost
every god had a form of building peculiar to himself, which was deemed more
acceptable to him than any other. Thus the Doric style of architecture was
sacred to Zeus, Ares, and Heracles; the Ionic to Apollo, Artemis, and
Dionysus; and the Corinthian to Hestia.

In the porch of the temple stood a vessel of stone or brass, containing
holy water (which had been consecrated by putting into it a burning torch,
taken from the altar), with which all those admitted to take part in the
sacrifices were besprinkled. In the inmost recess of the sanctuary was the
most holy place, into which none but the priests were suffered to enter.

Temples in the country were usually surrounded with groves of trees. The
solitude of these shady retreats naturally tended to inspire the worshipper
with awe and reverence, added to which the delightful shade and coolness
afforded by tall leafy trees is peculiarly grateful in hot countries.
Indeed so general did this custom of building temples in groves become,
that all places devoted to sacred purposes, even where no trees existed,
were called groves. That this practice must be of very remote antiquity is
proved by the Biblical injunction, having for its object the separation of
the Jews from all idolatrous practices: “Thou shalt not plant thee a grove
of trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God.”


The Greeks worshipped their gods without any visible representations of
them until the time of Cecrops. The most ancient of these representations
consisted of square blocks of stone, upon which the name of the deity
intended to be represented was engraved. The first attempts at sculpture
were rude stocks, with a head at one end and a shapeless trunk at the
other, tapering slightly down to the feet, which, however, were not
divided, the limbs being in no way defined. But the artists of later times
devoted all their genius to the {191} successful production of the highest
ideals of their gods, some of which are preserved to this day, and are
regarded as examples of purest art.

On a pedestal in the centre of the edifice stood the statue of the divinity
to whom the temple was dedicated, surrounded by images of other gods, all
of which were fenced off by rails.


The altar in a Greek temple, which stood in the centre of the building and
in front of the statue of the presiding deity, was generally of a circular
form, and constructed of stone. It was customary to engrave upon it the
name or distinguishing symbol of the divinity to whom it was dedicated; and
it was held so sacred that if any malefactor fled to it his life was safe
from his pursuers, and it was considered one of the greatest acts of
sacrilege to force him from this asylum.

The most ancient altars were adorned with horns, which in former times were
emblems of power and dignity, as wealth, and consequently importance,
consisted among most primitive nations in flocks and herds.

In addition to those erected in places of public worship, altars were
frequently raised in groves, on highways, or in the market-places of

The gods of the lower world had no altars whatever, ditches or trenches
being dug for the reception of the blood of the sacrifices offered to them.


In ancient times the priests were recognized as a special social caste, and
were distinguished not only by their sacerdotal vestments, but also by
their piety, wisdom, and blameless life. They were the chosen mediators
between gods and men, and offered prayers and sacrifices in the name of the
people, whom they also instructed as to what vows, gifts, and offerings
would be most acceptable to the gods.


Every deity had a different order of priests consecrated to his worship,
and in every place a high-priest was appointed, whose duty it was to
superintend the rest of his order, and also to carry out the more sacred
rites and religious observances.

Priests and priestesses were permitted to marry, but not a second time;
some, however, voluntarily adopted a life of celibacy.


There is no doubt that a feeling of gratitude to the gods for their
protecting care, and the abundance with which they were believed to bless
mankind, has induced men of all nations and in all countries to feel a
desire to sacrifice to their divinities some portion of the gifts so
generously lavished upon them.

Among the Greeks, sacrifices were of various kinds. They consisted of
free-will offerings, propitiatory offerings, &c.

Free-will offerings were grateful acknowledgments for benefits received,
and usually consisted of the first-fruits of the field, or the finest of
the flocks and herds, which were required to be without spot or blemish.

Propitiatory offerings were brought with the object of appeasing the
anger of the gods.

In addition to those above enumerated, sacrifices were made, either with a
view of obtaining success in an enterprise about to be undertaken, or in
fulfilment of a vow, or at the command of an oracle.

Every sacrifice was accompanied by salt and also by a libation, which
usually consisted of wine, the cup being always filled to the brim,
indicating that the offering was made without stint. When sacrificing to
the infernal gods the cup containing the libation was filled with blood.

The animals offered to the Olympian divinities were white, whilst those to
the gods of the lower world were black. When a man offered a special
sacrifice for himself or his family it partook of the nature of his {193}
occupation; thus a shepherd brought a sheep, a vine-grower his grapes, and
so forth. But in the case of public sacrifices, the supposed individuality
of the deity was always consulted. For instance, to Demeter a sow was
offered, because that animal is apt to root up the seed-corn; to Dionysus a
goat, on account of its being destructive to vineyards, &c.

The value of offerings depended greatly upon the position of the
individual; it being regarded as a contempt of the gods for a rich man to
bring a sordid offering, whilst from a poor man the smallest oblation was
considered acceptable.

Hecatombs consisted of a hundred animals, and were offered by entire
communities, or by wealthy individuals who either desired, or had obtained
some special favour from the gods.

When a sacrifice was to be offered, a fire was kindled on the altar, into
which wine and frankincense were poured, in order to increase the flame. In
very ancient times, the victim was laid upon the altar and burned whole;
but after the time of Prometheus portions only of the shoulders, thighs,
entrails, &c., were sacrificed, the remainder becoming the perquisites of
the priests.

The officiating priests wore a crown composed of the leaves of the tree
sacred to the deity they invoked. Thus when sacrificing to Apollo the
crowns were of laurel; when to Heracles, of poplar. This practice of
wearing crowns was, at a later period, adopted by the general public at
banquets and other festivities.

On occasions of special solemnity the horns of the victim were overlaid
with gold, and the altars decked with flowers and sacred herbs.

The mode of conducting the sacrifices was as follows:–All things being
prepared, a salt cake, the sacrificial knife, and the crowns, were placed
in a small basket, and carried to the sanctuary by a young maiden,
whereupon the victim was conducted into the temple, frequently to the
accompaniment of music. If a small animal, it was driven loose to the
altar; if a large one, it was led by a {194} long trailing rope, in order
to indicate that it was not an unwilling sacrifice.

When all were assembled, the priest, after walking in solemn state round
the altar, besprinkled it with a mixture of meal and holy water, after
which he also besprinkled the assembled worshippers, and exhorted them to
join with him in prayer. The service being ended, the priest first tasted
the libation, and after causing the congregation to do the like, poured the
remainder between the horns of the victim, after which frankincense was
strewn upon the altar, and a portion of the meal and water poured upon the
animal, which was then killed. If by any chance the victim escaped the
stroke, or became in any way restless, it was regarded as an evil omen; if,
on the contrary, it expired without a struggle, it was considered

At the sacrifices to the aërial divinities music was added, whilst dances
were performed round the altar, and sacred hymns sung. These hymns were
generally composed in honour of the gods, and contained an account of their
famous actions, their clemency and beneficence, and the gifts conferred by
them on mankind. In conclusion, the gods were invoked for a continuance of
their favour, and when the service was ended a feast was held.


The desire to penetrate the dark veil of futurity, and thereby to avert, if
possible, threatened danger, has animated mankind in all ages of the world.
Prophetic knowledge was sought by the Greeks at the mouth of oracles, whose
predictions were interpreted to the people by priests, specially appointed
for the purpose.

The most famous of these institutions was the oracle of Apollo at Delphi,
which was held in general repute all over the world. People flocked from
far and near to consult this wonderful mouth-piece of the gods, one month
in the year being specially set apart for the purpose.


The priestess who delivered the oracles was called the Pythia, after the
serpent Python, which was killed by Apollo. Having first bathed in the
waters of the Castalian spring, she was conducted into the temple by the
priests, and was seated on a sort of three-legged stool or table, called a
tripod, which was placed over the mouth of a cave whence issued sulphurous
vapours. Here she gradually became affected in a remarkable manner, and
fell into an ecstatic condition, in which she uttered wild and
extraordinary phrases, which were held to be the utterance of Apollo
himself; these the priests interpreted to the people, but in most cases in
so ambiguous a manner that the fulfilment of the prediction could not
easily be disputed. During the ceremony, clouds of incense filled the
temple, and hid the priestess from the view of the uninitiated, and at its
conclusion she was reconducted, in a fainting condition, to her cell.

The following is a striking instance of the ambiguity of oracular
predictions:–Croesus, the rich king of Lydia, before going to war with
Cyrus, king of Persia, consulted an oracle as to the probable success of
the expedition. The reply he received was, that if he crossed a certain
river he would destroy a great empire. Interpreting the response as being
favourable to his design, Croesus crossed the river, and encountered the
Persian king, by whom he was entirely defeated; and his own empire being
destroyed, the prediction of the oracle was said to have been fulfilled.


In addition to the manifestation of the will of the gods by means of
oracles, the Greeks also believed that certain men, called soothsayers,
were gifted with the power of foretelling future events from dreams, from
observing the flight of birds, the entrails of sacrificed animals, and even
the direction of the flames and smoke from the altar, &c. {196}


The Roman soothsayers were called augurs, and played an important part in
the history of the Romans, as no enterprise was ever undertaken without
first consulting them with regard to its ultimate success.


Festivals were instituted as seasons of rest, rejoicing, and thanksgiving,
and also as anniversaries to commemorate events of national importance. The
most ancient festivals were those held after the ingathering of the harvest
or vintage, and were celebrated with rejoicings and merry-makings, which
lasted many days, during which time the first-fruits of the fields were
offered to the gods, accompanied by prayers and thanksgiving.

The festivals held in cities in honour of special divinities, or in
commemoration of particular events, were conducted with an elaborate
ceremonial. Gorgeous processions, games, chariot races, &c., were
conspicuous features on these occasions, and dramatic performances,
representing particular episodes in the lives of the gods and heroes,
frequently took place.

We subjoin a few of the most interesting of the Greek and Roman festivals.

   *       *       *       *       *



One of the most ancient and important among the festivals observed by the
Greeks was that of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which was celebrated in honour
of Demeter and Persephone. The name was derived from Eleusis, a town in
Attica, where the Mysteries were first introduced by the goddess herself.
They were divided into the {197} Greater and Lesser Mysteries, and,
according to the general account, were held every five years. The Greater,
which were celebrated in honour of Demeter, and lasted nine days, were held
in autumn; the Lesser, dedicated to Persephone (who at these festivals was
affectionately called Cora, or the maiden), were held in spring.

It is supposed that the secrets taught to the initiated by the priests–the
expounders of the Mysteries–were moral meanings, elucidated from the myths
concerning Demeter and Persephone; but the most important belief inculcated
was the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That the lessons taught
were of the highest moral character is universally admitted. “The souls of
those who participated in them were filled with the sweetest hopes both as
to this and the future world;” and it was a common saying among the
Athenians: “In the Mysteries no one is sad.”

The initiation into these solemn rites (which was originally the exclusive
privilege of the Athenians) was accompanied with awe-inspiring ceremonies;
and secrecy was so strictly enjoined that its violation was punished by
death. At the conclusion of the initiation great rejoicings took place,
chariot-races, wrestling matches, &c., were held, and solemn sacrifices

The initiation into the Lesser Mysteries served as a preparation for the


The Thesmophoria was another festival held in honour of Demeter, in her
character as presiding over marriage and social institutions resulting from
the spread of agriculture.

This festival was celebrated exclusively by women.


A joyous spring festival was held in honour of Dionysus, in the month of
March, and lasted several days.


This festival, which was called the Greater Dionysia, was celebrated with
particular splendour at Athens, when strangers flocked from all parts of
the world to take part in the ceremonies. The city was gaily decorated, the
houses were garlanded with ivy-leaves, crowds perambulated the streets,
everything wore its holiday garb, and wine was freely indulged in.

In the processions which took place during these festivities, the statue of
Dionysus was carried, and men and women, crowned with ivy and bearing the
thyrsus, were dressed in every description of grotesque costume, and played
on drums, pipes, flutes, cymbals, &c. Some representing Silenus rode on
asses, others wearing fawn-skins appeared as Pan or the Satyrs, and the
whole multitude sang pæans in honour of the wine-god. Public shows, games,
and sports took place, and the entire city was full of revelry.

What lent additional interest to these festivals was the custom of
introducing new comedies and tragedies to the public, representations of
which were given, and prizes awarded to those which elicited the greatest

The Lesser Dionysia were vintage festivals, celebrated in rural districts
in the month of November, and were characterized by drinking, feasting, and
joviality of all kinds.

In connection with some of the festivals in honour of Dionysus were certain
mystic observances, into which only women, called Menades or Bacchantes,
were initiated. Clad in fawn-skins, they assembled by night on the mountain
sides, {199} some carrying blazing torches, others thyrsi, and all animated
with religious enthusiasm and frenzy. They shouted, clapped their hands,
danced wildly, and worked themselves up to such a pitch of excitement and
fury that in their mad frenzy they tore in pieces the animal brought as a
sacrifice to Dionysus.

Under the name of Bacchanalia, these mystic rites were introduced into
Rome, where men also were allowed to participate in them; but they were
attended with such frightful excesses that the state authorities at length
interfered and prohibited them.


The Panathenæa was a famous festival celebrated in Athens in honour of
Athene-Polias, the guardian of the state. There were two festivals of this
name, the Lesser and the Greater Panathenæa. The former was held annually,
and the latter, which lasted several days, was celebrated every fourth

For the Greater Panathenæa a garment, embroidered with gold, called the
Peplus, was specially woven by Athenian maidens, on which was represented
the victory gained by Athene over the Giants. This garment was suspended to
the mast of a ship which stood outside the city; and during the festival,
which was characterized by a grand procession, the ship (with the Peplus on
its mast) was impelled forward by means of invisible machinery, and formed
the most conspicuous feature of the pageant. The whole population, bearing
olive branches in their hands, took part in the procession; and amidst
music and rejoicings this imposing pageant wended its way to the temple of
Athene-Polias, where the Peplus was deposited on the statue of the goddess.

At this festival, Homer’s poems were declaimed aloud, and poets also
introduced their own works to the public. Musical contests, foot and horse
races, and wrestling matches were held, and dances were performed by boys
in armour.


Men who had deserved well of their country were presented at the festival
with a crown of gold, and the name of the person so distinguished was
announced publicly by a herald.

The victors in the races and athletic games received, as a prize, a vase of
oil, supposed to have been extracted from the fruit of the sacred
olive-tree of Athene.


The Daphnephoria was celebrated at Thebes in honour of Apollo every ninth

The distinguishing feature of this festival was a procession to the temple
of Apollo, in which a young priest (the Daphnephorus) of noble descent,
splendidly attired and wearing a crown of gold, was preceded by a youth,
carrying an emblematical representation of the sun, moon, stars, and days
of the year, and followed by beautiful maidens bearing laurel branches, and
singing hymns in honour of the god.

   *       *       *       *       *



The Saturnalia, a national festival held in December in honour of Saturn,
was celebrated after the ingathering of the harvest, and lasted several

It was a time of universal rejoicing, cessation from labour, and
merry-making. School children had holidays, friends sent presents to each
other, the law-courts were closed, and no business was transacted.

Crowds of people from the surrounding country flocked to Rome for this
festival attired in every variety of masquerade dress; practical jokes were
given and received with the utmost good humour, shouts of exultation filled
{201} the air, all classes abandoned themselves to enjoyment, and
unrestrained hilarity reigned supreme. Social distinctions were for a time
suspended, or even reversed; and so heartily was the spirit of this
festival entered into, that masters waited upon their slaves at banquets
which they provided for them; the slaves being dressed upon these occasions
in the garments of their masters.

There appears little doubt that the modern Carnival is a survival of the
ancient Saturnalia.


This festival was celebrated in honour of Ceres. It was solemnized
exclusively by women, who, dressed in white garments, wandered about with
torches in their hands, to represent the search of the goddess for her
daughter Proserpine.

During this festival, games were celebrated in the Circus Maximus, to which
none were admitted unless clothed in white.


The Vestalia was a festival held in honour of Vesta on the 9th of June, and
was celebrated exclusively by women, who walked barefooted in procession to
the temple of the goddess.

The priestesses of Vesta, called Vestales or Vestal Virgins, played a
conspicuous part in these festivals. They were six in number, and were
chosen–between the ages of six and ten–from the noblest families in Rome.
Their term of office was thirty years. During the first ten years, they
were initiated in their religious duties, during the second ten they
performed them, and during the third they instructed novices. Their chief
duty was to watch and feed the ever-burning flame on the altar of Vesta,
the extinction of which was regarded as a national calamity of ominous

Great honours and privileges were accorded to them; the best seats were
reserved for their use at all public spectacles, and even the consuls and
prætors made way for them to pass. If they met a criminal on his way to
execution they had the power to pardon him, provided it could be proved
that the meeting was accidental.

The Vestales were vowed to chastity, a violation of which was visited by
the frightful punishment of being buried alive.

   *       *       *       *       *



The following is the legendary account of the founding of Thebes:–

After the abduction of his daughter Europa by Zeus, Agenor, king of
Phoenicia, unable to reconcile himself to her loss, despatched his son
Cadmus in search of her, desiring him not to return without his sister.

For many years Cadmus pursued his search through various countries, but
without success. Not daring to return home without her, he consulted the
oracle of Apollo at Delphi; and the reply was that he must desist from his
task, and take upon himself a new duty, i.e. that of founding a city, the
site of which would be indicated to him by a heifer which had never borne
the yoke, and which would lie down on the spot whereon the city was to be

Scarcely had Cadmus left the sacred fane, when he observed a heifer who
bore no marks of servitude on her neck, walking slowly in front of him. He
followed the animal for a considerable distance, until at length, on the
site where Thebes afterwards stood, she looked towards heaven and, gently
lowing, lay down in the long grass. Grateful for this mark of divine
favour, Cadmus resolved to offer up the animal as a sacrifice, and
accordingly sent his followers to fetch water for the libation from a
neighbouring spring. This spring, which was sacred to Ares, was situated in
a wood, and guarded by a fierce dragon, who, at the approach of the
retainers of Cadmus, suddenly pounced upon them and killed them.

After waiting some time for the return of his servants {204} Cadmus grew
impatient, and hastily arming himself with his lance and spear, set out to
seek them. On reaching the spot, the mangled remains of his unfortunate
followers met his view, and near them he beheld the frightful monster,
dripping with the blood of his victims. Seizing a huge rock, the hero
hurled it with all his might upon the dragon; but protected by his tough
black skin and steely scales as by a coat of mail, he remained unhurt.
Cadmus now tried his lance, and with more success, for it pierced the side
of the beast, who, furious with pain, sprang at his adversary, when Cadmus,
leaping aside, succeeded in fixing the point of his spear within his jaws,
which final stroke put an end to the encounter.

While Cadmus stood surveying his vanquished foe Pallas-Athene appeared to
him, and commanded him to sow the teeth of the dead dragon in the ground.
He obeyed; and out of the furrows there arose a band of armed men, who at
once commenced to fight with each other, until all except five were killed.
These last surviving warriors made peace with each other, and it was with
their assistance that Cadmus now built the famous city of Thebes. In later
times the noblest Theban families proudly claimed their descent from these
mighty earth-born warriors.

Ares was furious with rage when he discovered that Cadmus had slain his
dragon, and would have killed him had not Zeus interfered, and induced him
to mitigate his punishment to that of servitude for the term of eight
years. At the end of that time the god of war became reconciled to Cadmus,
and, in token of his forgiveness, bestowed upon him the hand of his
daughter Harmonia in marriage. Their nuptials were almost as celebrated as
those of Peleus and Thetis. All the gods honoured them with their presence,
and offered rich gifts and congratulations. Cadmus himself presented his
lovely bride with a splendid necklace fashioned by Hephæstus, which,
however, after the death of Harmonia, always proved fatal to its possessor.

The children of Cadmus and Harmonia were one son, {205} Polydorus, and four
daughters, Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Agave.

For many years the founder of Thebes reigned happily, but at length a
conspiracy was formed against him, and he was deprived of his throne by his
grandson Pentheus. Accompanied by his faithful wife Harmonia, he retired
into Illyria, and after death they were both changed by Zeus into serpents,
and transferred to Elysium.


Perseus, one of the most renowned of the legendary heroes of antiquity, was
the son of Zeus and Danaë, daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos.

An oracle having foretold to Acrisius that a son of Danaë would be the
cause of his death, he imprisoned her in a tower of brass in order to keep
her secluded from the world. Zeus, however, descended through the roof of
the tower in the form of a shower of gold, and the lovely Danaë became his

For four years Acrisius remained in ignorance of this union, but one
evening as he chanced to pass by the brazen chamber, he heard the cry of a
young child proceeding from within, which led to the discovery of his
daughter’s marriage with Zeus. Enraged at finding all his precautions
unavailing, Acrisius commanded the mother and child to be placed in a chest
and thrown into the sea.

But it was not the will of Zeus that they should perish. He directed
Poseidon to calm the troubled waters, and caused the chest to float safely
to the island of Seriphus. Dictys, brother of Polydectes, king of the
island, was fishing on the sea-shore when he saw the chest stranded on the
beach; and pitying the helpless condition of its unhappy occupants, he
conducted them to the palace of the king, where they were treated with the
greatest kindness.

Polydectes eventually became united to Danaë, and {206} bestowed upon
Perseus an education befitting a hero. When he saw his stepson develop into
a noble and manly youth he endeavoured to instil into his mind a desire to
signalize himself by the achievement of some great and heroic deed, and
after mature deliberation it was decided that the slaying of the Gorgon,
Medusa, would bring him the greatest renown.

For the successful accomplishment of his object it was necessary for him to
be provided with a pair of winged sandals, a magic wallet, and the helmet
of Aïdes, which rendered the wearer invisible, all of which were in the
keeping of the Nymphs, the place of whose abode was known only to the Grææ.
Perseus started on his expedition, and, guided by Hermes and Pallas-Athene,
arrived, after a long journey, in the far-off region, on the borders of
Oceanus, where dwelt the Grææ, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto. He at once
applied to them for the necessary information, and on their refusing to
grant it he deprived them of their single eye and tooth, which he only
restored to them when they gave him full directions with regard to his
route. He then proceeded to the abode of the Nymphs, from whom he obtained
the objects indispensable for his purpose.

Equipped with the magic helmet and wallet, and armed with a sickle, the
gift of Hermes, he attached to his feet the winged sandals, and flew to the
abode of the Gorgons, whom he found fast asleep. Now as Perseus had been
warned by his celestial guides that whoever looked upon these weird sisters
would be transformed into stone, he stood with averted face before the
sleepers, and caught on his bright metal shield their triple image. Then,
guided by Pallas-Athene, he cut off the head of the Medusa, which he placed
in his wallet. No sooner had he done so than from the headless trunk there
sprang forth the winged steed Pegasus, and Chrysaor, the father of the
winged giant Geryon. He now hastened to elude the pursuit of the two
surviving sisters, who, aroused from their slumbers, eagerly rushed to
avenge the death of their sister.

His invisible helmet and winged sandals here stood him in good stead; for
the former concealed him from the view of the Gorgons, whilst the latter
bore him swiftly over land and sea, far beyond the reach of pursuit. In
passing over the burning plains of Libya the drops of blood from the head
of the Medusa oozed through the wallet, and falling on the hot sands below
produced a brood of many-coloured snakes, which spread all over the

Perseus continued his flight until he reached the kingdom of Atlas, of whom
he begged rest and shelter. But as this king possessed a valuable orchard,
in which every tree bore golden fruit, he was fearful lest the slayer of
the Medusa might destroy the dragon which guarded it, and then rob him of
his treasures. He therefore refused to grant the hospitality which the hero
demanded, whereupon Perseus, exasperated at the churlish repulse, produced
from his wallet the head of the Medusa, and holding it towards the king,
transformed him into a stony mountain. Beard and hair erected themselves
into forests; shoulders, hands, and limbs became huge rocks, and the head
grew up into a craggy peak which reached into the clouds.

Perseus then resumed his travels. His winged sandals bore him over deserts
and mountains, until he arrived at Æthiopia, the kingdom of King Cepheus.
Here he found the country inundated with disastrous floods, towns and
villages destroyed, and everywhere signs of desolation and ruin. On a
projecting cliff close to the shore he beheld a lovely maiden chained to a
rock. This was Andromeda, the king’s daughter. Her mother Cassiopea, having
boasted that her beauty surpassed that of the Nereides, the angry
sea-nymphs appealed to Poseidon to avenge their wrongs, whereupon the
sea-god devastated the country with a terrible inundation, which brought
with it a huge monster who devoured all that came in his way.

In their distress the unfortunate Æthiopians applied to the oracle of
Jupiter-Ammon, in the Libyan desert, {208} and obtained the response, that
only by the sacrifice of the king’s daughter to the monster could the
country and people be saved.

Cepheus, who was tenderly attached to his child, at first refused to listen
to this dreadful proposal; but overcome at length by the prayers and
solicitations of his unhappy subjects, the heart-broken father gave up his
child for the welfare of his country. Andromeda was accordingly chained to
a rock on the sea-shore to serve as a prey to the monster, whilst her
unhappy parents bewailed her sad fate on the beach below.

On being informed of the meaning of this tragic scene, Perseus proposed to
Cepheus to slay the dragon, on condition that the lovely victim should
become his bride. Overjoyed at the prospect of Andromeda’s release, the
king gladly acceded to the stipulation, and Perseus hastened to the rock,
to breathe words of hope and comfort to the trembling maiden. Then assuming
once more the helmet of Aïdes, he mounted into the air, and awaited the
approach of the monster.

Presently the sea opened, and the shark’s head of the gigantic beast of the
deep raised itself above the waves. Lashing his tail furiously from side to
side, he leaped forward to seize his victim; but the gallant hero, watching
his opportunity, suddenly darted down, and producing the head of the Medusa
from his wallet, held it before the eyes of the dragon, whose hideous body
became gradually transformed into a huge black rock, which remained for
ever a silent witness of the miraculous deliverance of Andromeda. Perseus
then led the maiden to her now happy parents, who, anxious to evince their
gratitude to her deliverer ordered immediate preparations to be made for
the nuptial feast. But the young hero was not to bear away his lovely bride
uncontested; for in the midst of the banquet, Phineus, the king’s brother,
to whom Andromeda had previously been betrothed, returned to claim his
bride. Followed by a band of armed warriors he forced his way into the
hall, and a desperate encounter took place between the rivals, {209} which
might have terminated fatally for Perseus, had he not suddenly bethought
himself of the Medusa’s head. Calling to his friends to avert their faces,
he drew it from his wallet, and held it before Phineus and his formidable
body-guard, whereupon they all stiffened into stone.

Perseus now took leave of the Æthiopian king, and, accompanied by his
beautiful bride, returned to Seriphus, where a joyful meeting took place
between Danaë and her son. He then sent a messenger to his grandfather,
informing him that he intended returning to Argos; but Acrisius, fearing
the fulfilment of the oracular prediction, fled for protection to his
friend Teutemias, king of Larissa. Anxious to induce the aged monarch to
return to Argos, Perseus followed him thither. But here a strange fatality
occurred. Whilst taking part in some funereal games, celebrated in honour
of the king’s father, Perseus, by an unfortunate throw of the discus,
accidentally struck his grandfather, and thereby was the innocent cause of
his death.

After celebrating the funereal rites of Acrisius with due solemnity,
Perseus returned to Argos; but feeling loath to occupy the throne of one
whose death he had caused, he exchanged kingdoms with Megapenthes, king of
Tiryns, and in course of time founded the cities of Mycenæ and Midea.

The head of the Medusa he presented to his divine patroness, Pallas-Athene,
who placed it in the centre of her shield.

Many great heroes were descended from Perseus and Andromeda, foremost among
whom was Heracles, whose mother, Alcmene, was their granddaughter.

Heroic honours were paid to Perseus, not only {210} throughout Argos, but
also at Athens and in the island of Seriphus.


Ion was the son of Crëusa (the beauteous daughter of Erechtheus, king of
Athens) and the sun-god Phoebus-Apollo, to whom she was united without the
knowledge of her father.

Fearing the anger of Erechtheus, Crëusa placed her new-born babe in a
little wicker basket, and hanging some golden charms round his neck,
invoked for him the protection of the gods, and concealed him in a lonely
cave. Apollo, pitying his deserted child, sent Hermes to convey him to
Delphi, where he deposited his charge on the steps of the temple. Next
morning the Delphic priestess discovered the infant, and was so charmed by
his engaging appearance that she adopted him as her own son. The young
child was carefully tended and reared by his kind foster-mother, and was
brought up in the service of the temple, where he was intrusted with some
of the minor duties of the holy edifice.

And now to return to Crëusa. During a war with the Euboeans, in which the
latter were signally defeated, Xuthus, son of Æolus, greatly distinguished
himself on the side of the Athenians, and as a reward for his valuable
services, the hand of Crëusa, the king’s daughter, was bestowed upon him in
marriage. Their union, however, was not blest with children, and as this
was a source of great grief to both of them, they repaired to Delphi in
order to consult the oracle. The response was, that Xuthus should regard
the first person who met him on leaving the sanctuary as his son. Now it
happened that Ion, the young guardian of the temple, was the first to greet
his view, and when Xuthus beheld the beautiful youth, he gladly welcomed
him as his son, declaring that the gods had sent him to be a blessing and
comfort to his old age. Crëusa, however, who concluded that the youth was
the offspring of a secret marriage on the part of her husband, was filled
with suspicion and jealousy; {211} when an old servant, observing her
grief, begged her to be comforted, assuring her that the cause of her
distress should be speedily removed.

When, upon the occasion of the public adoption of his son, Xuthus gave a
grand banquet, the old servant of Crëusa contrived to mix a strong poison
in the wine of the unsuspecting Ion. But the youth–according to the pious
custom of the ancients, of offering a libation to the gods before partaking
of any repast–poured upon the ground a portion of the wine before putting
it to his lips, when suddenly, as if by a miracle, a dove flew into the
banquet-hall, and sipped of the wine of the libation; whereupon the poor
little creature began to quiver in every limb, and in a few moments

Ion’s suspicions at once fell upon the obsequious servant of Crëusa, who
with such officious attention had filled his cup. He violently seized the
old man, and accused him of his murderous intentions. Unprepared for this
sudden attack he admitted his guilt, but pointed to the wife of Xuthus as
the instigator of the crime. Ion was about to avenge himself upon Crëusa,
when, by means of the divine intervention of Apollo, his foster-mother, the
Delphic priestess appeared on the scene, and explained the true
relationship which existed between Crëusa and Ion. In order to set all
doubts at rest, she produced the charms which she had found round the neck
of the infant, and also the wicker basket in which he had been conveyed to

Mother and son now became reconciled to each other, and Crëusa revealed to
Ion the secret of his divine origin. The priestess of Delphi foretold that
he would become the father of a great nation, called after him the Ionians,
and also that Xuthus and Crëusa would have a son called Dorus, who would be
the progenitor of the Dorian people, both of which predictions were in due
time verified.


Dædalus, a descendant of Erechtheus, was an Athenian architect, sculptor,
and mechanician. He was the first {212} to introduce the art of sculpture
in its higher development, for before his time statues were merely rude
representations, having the limbs altogether undefined.

But great as was his genius, still greater was his vanity, and he could
brook no rival. Now his nephew and pupil, Talus, exhibited great talent,
having invented both the saw and the compass, and Dædalus, fearing lest he
might overshadow his own fame, secretly killed him by throwing him down
from the citadel of Pallas-Athene. The murder being discovered, Dædalus was
summoned before the court of the Areopagus and condemned to death; but he
made his escape to the island of Crete, where he was received by king Minos
in a manner worthy of his great reputation.

Dædalus constructed for the king the world-renowned labyrinth, which was an
immense building, full of intricate passages, intersecting each other in
such a manner, that even Dædalus himself is said, upon one occasion, to
have nearly lost his way in it; and it was in this building the king placed
the Minotaur, a monster with the head and shoulders of a bull and the body
of a man.

In the course of time the great artist became weary of his long exile, more
especially as the king, under the guise of friendship, kept him almost a
prisoner. He therefore resolved to make his escape, and for this purpose
ingeniously contrived wings for himself and his young son Icarus, whom he
diligently trained how to use them. Having awaited a favourable
opportunity, father and son commenced their flight, and were well on their
way when Icarus, pleased with the novel sensation, forgot altogether his
father’s oft-repeated injunction not to approach too near the sun. The
consequence was that the wax, by means of which his wings were attached,
melted, and he fell into the sea and was drowned. The body of the
unfortunate Icarus was washed up by the tide, and was buried by the
bereaved father on an island which he called after his son, Icaria.

After this sad event, Dædalus winged his flight to the island of Sicily,
where he met with a kind welcome from {213} king Cocalus, for whom he
constructed several important public works. But no sooner did Minos receive
the intelligence that his great architect had found an asylum with Cocalus
than he sailed over to Sicily with a large army, and sent messengers to the
Sicilian king demanding the surrender of his guest. Cocalus feigned
compliance and invited Minos to his palace, where he was treacherously put
to death in a warm bath. The body of their king was brought to Agrigent by
the Cretans, where it was buried with great pomp, and over his tomb a
temple to Aphrodite was erected.

Dædalus passed the remainder of his life tranquilly in the island of
Sicily, where he occupied himself in the construction of various beautiful
works of art.

Aeson, king of Iolcus, was forced to fly from his dominions, which had been
usurped by his younger brother, Pelias, and with difficulty succeeded in
saving the life of his young son, Jason, who was at that time only ten
years of age. He intrusted him to the care of the Centaur Chiron, by whom
he was carefully trained in company with other noble youths, who, like
himself, afterwards signalized themselves by their bravery and heroic
exploits. For ten years Jason remained in the cave of the Centaur, by whom
he was instructed in all useful and warlike arts. But as he approached
manhood he became filled with an unconquerable desire to regain his
paternal inheritance. He therefore took leave of his kind friend and
preceptor, and set out for Iolcus to demand from his uncle Pelias the
kingdom which he had so unjustly usurped.


In the course of his journey he came to a broad and foaming river, on the
banks of which he perceived an old woman, who implored him to help her
across. At first he hesitated, knowing that even alone he would find some
difficulty in stemming the fierce torrent; but, {214} pitying her forlorn
condition, he raised her in his arms, and succeeded, with a great effort,
in reaching the opposite shore. But as soon as her feet had touched the
earth she became transformed into a beautiful woman, who, looking kindly at
the bewildered youth, informed him that she was the goddess Hera, and that
she would henceforth guide and protect him throughout his career. She then
disappeared, and, full of hope and courage at this divine manifestation,
Jason pursued his journey. He now perceived that in crossing the river he
had lost one of his sandals, but as it could not be recovered he was
obliged to proceed without it.

On his arrival at Iolcus he found his uncle in the market-place, offering
up a public sacrifice to Poseidon. When the king had concluded his
offering, his eye fell upon the distinguished stranger, whose manly beauty
and heroic bearing had already attracted the attention of his people.
Observing that one foot was unshod, he was reminded of an oracular
prediction which foretold to him the loss of his kingdom by a man wearing
only one sandal. He, however, disguised his fears, conversed kindly with
the youth, and drew from him his name and errand. Then pretending to be
highly pleased with his nephew, Pelias entertained him sumptuously for five
days, during which time all was festivity and rejoicing. On the sixth,
Jason appeared before his uncle, and with manly firmness demanded from him
the throne and kingdom which were his by right. Pelias, dissembling his
true feelings, smilingly consented to grant his request, provided that, in
return, Jason would undertake an expedition for him, which his advanced age
prevented him from accomplishing himself. He informed his nephew that the
shade of Phryxus had appeared to him in his dreams, and entreated him to
bring back from Colchis his mortal remains and the Golden Fleece; and added
that if Jason succeeded in obtaining for him these sacred relics, throne,
kingdom, and sceptre should be his.


Athamas, king of Boeotia, had married Nephele, a cloud-nymph, and their
children were Helle and Phryxus. The restless and wandering nature of
Nephele, however, soon wearied her husband, who, being a mortal, had little
sympathy with his ethereal consort; so he divorced her, and married the
beautiful but wicked Ino (sister of Semele), who hated her step-children,
and even planned their destruction. But the watchful Nephele contrived to
circumvent her cruel designs, and succeeded in getting the children out of
the palace. She then placed them both on the back of a winged ram, with a
fleece of pure gold, which had been given to her by Hermes; and on this
wonderful animal brother and sister rode through the air over land and sea;
but on the way Helle, becoming seized with giddiness, fell into the sea
(called after her the Hellespont) and was drowned.

Phryxus arrived safely at Colchis, where he was hospitably received by king
Aëtes, who gave him one of his daughters in marriage. In gratitude to Zeus
for the protection accorded him during his flight, Phryxus sacrificed to
him the golden ram, whilst the fleece he presented to Aëtes, who nailed it
up in the Grove of Ares, and dedicated it to the god of War. An oracle
having declared that the life of Aëtes depended on the safe-keeping of the
fleece, he carefully guarded the entrance to the grove by placing before it
an immense dragon, which never slept.

BUILDING AND LAUNCH OF THE ARGO.–We will now return to Jason, who eagerly
undertook the perilous expedition proposed to him by his uncle, who, well
aware of the dangers attending such an enterprise, hoped by this means to
rid himself for ever of the unwelcome intruder.

Jason accordingly began to arrange his plans without delay, and invited the
young heroes whose friendship he {216} had formed whilst under the care of
Chiron, to join him in the perilous expedition. None refused the
invitation, all feeling honoured at being allowed the privilege of taking
part in so noble and heroic an undertaking.

Jason now applied to Argos, one of the cleverest ship-builders of his time,
who, under the guidance of Pallas-Athene, built for him a splendid
fifty-oared galley, which was called the Argo, after the builder. In the
upper deck of the vessel the goddess had imbedded a board from the speaking
oak of the oracle of Zeus at Dodona, which ever retained its powers of
prophecy. The exterior of the ship was ornamented with magnificent
carvings, and the whole vessel was so strongly built that it defied the
power of the winds and waves, and was, nevertheless, so light that the
heroes, when necessary, were able to carry it on their shoulders. When the
vessel was completed, the Argonauts (so called after their ship) assembled,
and their places were distributed by lot.

Jason was appointed commander-in-chief of the expedition, Tiphys acted as
steersman, Lynceus as pilot. In the bow of the vessel sat the renowned hero
Heracles; in the stern, Peleus (father of Achilles) and Telamon (the father
of Ajax the Great). In the inner space were Castor and Pollux, Neleus (the
father of Nestor), Admetus (the husband of Alcestes), Meleager (the slayer
of the Calydonian boar), Orpheus (the renowned singer), Menoctius (the
father of Patroclus), Theseus (afterwards king of Athens) and his friend
Pirithöus (the son of Ixion), Hylas (the adopted son of Heracles), Euphemus
(the son of Poseidon), Oileus (father of Ajax the Lesser), Zetes and Calais
(the winged sons of Boreas), Idmon the Seer (the son of Apollo), Mopsus
(the Thessalian prophet), &c. &c.

Before their departure Jason offered a solemn sacrifice to Poseidon and all
the other sea-deities; he also invoked the protection of Zeus and the
Fates, and then, Mopsus having taken the auguries, and found them
auspicious, the heroes stepped on board. And now a favourable breeze having
sprung up, they take their allotted places, {217} the anchor is weighed,
and the ship glides like a bird out of the harbour into the waters of the
great sea.

ARRIVAL AT LEMNOS.–The Argo, with her brave crew of fifty heroes, was soon
out of sight, and the sea-breeze only wafted to the shore a faint echo of
the sweet strains of Orpheus.

For a time all went smoothly, but the vessel was soon driven, by stress of
weather, to take refuge in a harbour in the island of Lemnos. This island
was inhabited by women only, who, the year before, in a fit of mad
jealousy, had killed all the male population of the island, with the
exception of the father of their queen, Hypsipyle. As the protection of
their island now devolved upon themselves they were always on the look-out
for danger. When, therefore, they sighted the Argo from afar they armed
themselves and rushed to the shore, determined to repel any invasion of
their territory.

On arriving in port the Argonauts, astonished at beholding an armed crowd
of women, despatched a herald in one of their boats, bearing the staff of
peace and friendship. Hypsipyle, the queen, proposed that food and presents
should be sent to the strangers, in order to prevent their landing; but her
old nurse, who stood beside her, suggested that this would be a good
opportunity to provide themselves with noble husbands, who would act as
their defenders, and thus put an end to their constant fears. Hypsipyle
listened attentively to the advice of her nurse, and after some
consultation, decided to invite the strangers into the city. Robed in his
purple mantle, the gift of Pallas-Athene, Jason, accompanied by some of his
companions, stepped on shore, where he was met by a deputation consisting
of the most beautiful of the Lemnian women, and, as commander of the
expedition, was invited into the palace of the queen.

When he appeared before Hypsipyle, she was so struck with his godlike and
heroic presence that she presented him with her father’s sceptre, and
invited him to seat himself on the throne beside her. Jason thereupon {218}
took up his residence in the royal castle, whilst his companions scattered
themselves through the town, spending their time in feasting and pleasure.
Heracles, with a few chosen comrades, alone remained on board.

From day to day their departure was delayed, and the Argonauts, in their
new life of dissipation, had almost forgotten the object of the expedition,
when Heracles suddenly appeared amongst them, and at last recalled them to
a sense of their duty.

GIANTS AND DOLIONES.–The Argonauts now pursued their voyage, till contrary
winds drove them towards an island, inhabited by the Doliones, whose king
Cyzicus received them with great kindness and hospitality. The Doliones
were descendants of Poseidon, who protected them against the frequent
attacks of their fierce and formidable neighbours, the earth-born
Giants–monsters with six arms.

Whilst his companions were attending a banquet given by king Cyzicus,
Heracles, who, as usual, had remained behind to guard the ship, observed
that these Giants were busy blocking up the harbour with huge rocks. He at
once realized the danger, and, attacking them with his arrows, succeeded in
considerably thinning their numbers; then, assisted by the heroes, who at
length came to his aid, he effectually destroyed the remainder.

The Argo now steered out of the harbour and set sail; but in consequence of
a severe storm which arose at night, was driven back once more to the
shores of the kindly Doliones. Unfortunately, however, owing to the
darkness of the night, the inhabitants failed to recognize their former
guests, and, mistaking them for enemies, commenced to attack them. Those
who had so recently parted as friends were now engaged in mortal combat,
and in the battle which ensued, Jason himself pierced to the heart his
friend king Cyzicus; whereupon the Doliones, being deprived of their
leader, fled to their city and closed the gates. When morning dawned, and
both sides perceived their error, they were filled with {219} the deepest
sorrow and remorse; and for three days the heroes remained with the
Doliones, celebrating the funereal rites of the slain, with every
demonstration of mourning and solemnity.

HERACLES LEFT BEHIND.–The Argonauts once more set sail, and after a stormy
voyage arrived at Mysia, where they were hospitably received by the
inhabitants, who spread before them plentiful banquets and sumptuously
regaled them.

While his friends were feasting, Heracles, who had declined to join them,
went into the forest to seek a fir-tree which he required for an oar, and
was missed by his adopted son Hylas, who set out to seek him. When the
youth arrived at a spring, in the most secluded part of the forest, the
nymph of the fountain was so struck by his beauty that she drew him down
beneath the waters, and he was seen no more. Polyphemus, one of the heroes,
who happened to be also in the forest, heard his cry for help, and on
meeting Heracles informed him of the circumstance. They at once set out in
search of the missing youth, no traces of whom were to be found, and whilst
they were engaged looking for him, the Argo set sail and left them behind.

The ship had proceeded some distance before the absence of Heracles was
observed. Some of the heroes were in favour of returning for him, others
wished to proceed on their journey, when, in the midst of the dispute, the
sea-god Glaucus arose from the waves, and informed them that it was the
will of Zeus that Heracles, having another mission to perform, should
remain behind. The Argonauts continued their voyage without their
companions; Heracles returned to Argos, whilst Polyphemus remained with the
Mysians, where he founded a city and became its king.

CONTEST WITH AMYCUS.–Next morning the Argo touched at the country of the
Bebrycians, whose king Amycus was a famous pugilist, and permitted no
strangers to leave his shores without matching their {220} strength with
his. When the heroes, therefore, demanded permission to land, they were
informed that they could only do so provided that one of their number
should engage in a boxing-match with the king. Pollux, who was the best
pugilist in Greece, was selected as their champion, and a contest took
place, which, after a tremendous struggle, proved fatal to Amycus, who had
hitherto been victorious in all similar encounters.

PHINEUS AND THE HARPIES.–They now proceeded towards Bithynia, where
reigned the blind old prophet-king Phineus, son of Agenor. Phineus had been
punished by the gods with premature old age and blindness for having abused
the gift of prophecy. He was also tormented by the Harpies, who swooped
down upon his food, which they either devoured or so defiled as to render
it unfit to be eaten. This poor old man, trembling with the weakness of
age, and faint with hunger, appeared before the Argonauts, and implored
their assistance against his fiendish tormentors, whereupon Zetes and
Calais, the winged sons of Boreas, recognizing in him the husband of their
sister Cleopatra, affectionately embraced him, and promised to rescue him
from his painful position.

The heroes prepared a banquet on the sea-shore, to which they invited
Phineus; but no sooner had he taken his place, than the Harpies appeared
and devoured all the viands. Zetes and Calais now rose up into the air,
drove the Harpies away, and were pursuing them with drawn swords, when
Iris, the swift-footed messenger of the gods, appeared, and desired them to
desist from their work of vengeance, promising that Phineus should be no
longer molested.

Freed at length from his tormentors the old man sat down and enjoyed a
plentiful repast with his kind friends the Argonauts, who now informed him
of the object of their voyage. In gratitude for his deliverance Phineus
gave them much useful information concerning their journey, and not only
warned them of the manifold {221} dangers awaiting them, but also
instructed them how they might be overcome.

PASSAGE OF THE SYMPLEGADES.–After a fortnight’s sojourn in Bithynia the
Argonauts once more set sail, but had not proceeded far on their course,
when they heard a fearful and tremendous crash. This was caused by the
meeting of two great rocky islands, called the Symplegades, which floated
about in the sea, and constantly met and separated.

Before leaving Bithynia, the blind old seer, Phineus, had informed them
that they would be compelled to pass between these terrible rocks, and he
instructed them how to do so with safety. As they now approached the scene
of danger they remembered his advice, and acted upon it. Typhus, the
steersman, stood at the helm, whilst Euphemus held in his hand a dove ready
to be let loose; for Phineus had told them that if the dove ventured to fly
through, they might safely follow. Euphemus now despatched the bird, which
passed swiftly through the islands, yet not without losing some of the
feathers of her tail, so speedily did they reunite. Seizing the moment when
the rocks once more separated, the Argonauts worked at their oars with all
their might, and achieved the perilous passage in safety.

After the miraculous passage of the Argo, the Symplegades became
permanently united, and attached to the bottom of the sea.

THE STYMPHALIDES.–The Argo pursued her course along the southern coast of
the Pontus, and arrived at the island of Aretias, which was inhabited by
birds, who, as they flew through the air, discharged from their wings
feathers sharp as arrows.

As the ship was gliding along, Oileus was wounded by one of these birds,
whereupon the Argonauts held a council, and by the advice of Amphidamas, an
experienced hero, all put on their helmets, and held up their glittering
shields, uttering, at the same time, such fearful cries that {222} the
birds flew away in terror, and the Argonauts were enabled to land with
safety on the island.

Here they found four shipwrecked youths, who proved to be the sons of
Phryxus, and were greeted by Jason as his cousins. On ascertaining the
object of the expedition they volunteered to accompany the Argo, and to
show the heroes the way to Colchis. They also informed them that the Golden
Fleece was guarded by a fearful dragon, that king Aëtes was extremely
cruel, and, as the son of Apollo, was possessed of superhuman strength.

ARRIVAL AT COLCHIS.–Taking with them the four new-comers they journeyed
on, and soon came in sight of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus, when,
towards evening, the loud flapping of wings was heard overhead. It was the
giant eagle of Prometheus on his way to torture the noble and
long-suffering Titan, whose fearful groans soon afterwards fell upon their
ears. That night they reached their journey’s end, and anchored in the
smooth waters of the river Phases. On the left bank of this river they
beheld Ceuta, the capital of Colchis; and on their right a wide field, and
the sacred grove of Ares, where the Golden Fleece, suspended from a
magnificent oak-tree, was glittering in the sun. Jason now filled a golden
cup with wine, and offered a libation to mother-earth, the gods of the
country, and the shades of those of the heroes who had died on the voyage.

Next morning a council was held, in which it was decided, that before
resorting to forcible measures kind and conciliatory overtures should first
be made to king Aëtes in order to induce him to resign the Golden Fleece.
It was arranged that Jason, with a few chosen companions, should proceed to
the royal castle, leaving the remainder of the crew to guard the Argo.
Accompanied, therefore, by Telamon and Augeas, and the four sons of
Phryxus, he set out for the palace.

When they arrived in sight of the castle they were struck by the vastness
and massiveness of the building, at the entrance to which sparkling
fountains played in {223} the midst of luxuriant and park-like gardens.
Here the king’s daughters, Chalciope and Medea, who were walking in the
grounds of the palace, met them. The former, to her great joy, recognized
in the youths who accompanied the hero her own long-lost sons, whom she had
mourned as dead, whilst the young and lovely Medea was struck with the
noble and manly form of Jason.

The news of the return of the sons of Phryxus soon spread through the
palace, and brought Aëtes himself to the scene, whereupon the strangers
were presented to him, and were invited to a banquet which the king ordered
to be prepared in their honour. All the most beautiful ladies of the court
were present at this entertainment; but in the eyes of Jason none could
compare with the king’s daughter, the young and lovely Medea.

When the banquet was ended, Jason related to the king his various
adventures, and also the object of his expedition, with the circumstances
which had led to his undertaking it. Aëtes listened, in silent indignation,
to this recital, and then burst out into a torrent of invectives against
the Argonauts and his grand-children, declaring that the Fleece was his
rightful property, and that on no consideration would he consent to
relinquish it. Jason, however, with mild and persuasive words, contrived so
far to conciliate him, that he was induced to promise that if the heroes
could succeed in demonstrating their divine origin by the performance of
some task requiring superhuman power, the Fleece should be theirs.

The task proposed by Aëtes to Jason was that he should yoke the two
brazen-footed, fire-breathing oxen of the king (which had been made for him
by Hephæstus) to his ponderous iron plough. Having done this he must till
with them the stony field of Ares, and then sow in the furrows the
poisonous teeth of a dragon, from which armed men would arise. These he
must destroy to a man, or he himself would perish at their hands.

When Jason heard what was expected of him, his heart for a moment sank
within him; but he determined, nevertheless, not to flinch from his task,
but to trust to the {224} assistance of the gods, and to his own courage
and energy.

JASON PLOUGHS THE FIELD OF ARES.–Accompanied by his two friends, Telamon
and Augeas, and also by Argus, the son of Chalciope, Jason returned to the
vessel for the purpose of holding a consultation as to the best means of
accomplishing these perilous feats.

Argus explained to Jason all the difficulties of the superhuman task which
lay before him, and pronounced it as his opinion that the only means by
which success was possible was to enlist the assistance of the Princess
Medea, who was a priestess of Hecate, and a great enchantress. His
suggestion meeting with approval, he returned to the palace, and by the aid
of his mother an interview was arranged between Jason and Medea, which took
place, at an early hour next morning, in the temple of Hecate.

A confession of mutual attachment took place, and Medea, trembling for her
lover’s safety, presented him with a magic salve, which possessed the
property of rendering any person anointed with it invulnerable for the
space of one day against fire and steel, and invincible against any
adversary however powerful. With this salve she instructed him to anoint
his spear and shield on the day of his great undertaking. She further added
that when, after having ploughed the field and sown the teeth, armed men
should arise from the furrows, he must on no account lose heart, but
remember to throw among them a huge rock, over the possession of which they
would fight among themselves, and their attention being thus diverted he
would find it an easy task to destroy them. Overwhelmed with gratitude,
Jason thanked her, in the most earnest manner, for her wise counsel and
timely aid; at the same time he offered her his hand, and promised her he
would not return to Greece without taking her with him as his wife.

Next morning Aëtes, in all the pomp of state, surrounded by his family and
the members of his court, {225} repaired to a spot whence a full view of
the approaching spectacle could be obtained. Soon Jason appeared in the
field of Ares, looking as noble and majestic as the god of war himself. In
a distant part of the field the brazen yokes and the massive plough met his
view, but as yet the dread animals themselves were nowhere to be seen. He
was about to go in quest of them, when they suddenly rushed out from a
subterranean cave, breathing flames of fire, and enveloped in a thick

The friends of Jason trembled; but the undaunted hero, relying on the magic
powers with which he was imbued by Medea, seized the oxen, one after the
other, by the horns, and forced them to the yoke. Near the plough was a
helmet full of dragon’s teeth, which he sowed as he ploughed the field,
whilst with sharp pricks from his lance he compelled the monstrous
creatures to draw the plough over the stony ground, which was thus speedily

While Jason was engaged sowing the dragon’s teeth in the deep furrows of
the field, he kept a cautious look-out lest the germinating giant brood
might grow too quickly for him, and as soon as the four acres of land had
been tilled he unyoked the oxen, and succeeded in frightening them so
effectually with his weapons, that they rushed back in terror to their
subterranean stables. Meanwhile armed men had sprung up out of the furrows,
and the whole field now bristled with lances; but Jason, remembering the
instructions of Medea, seized an immense rock and hurled it into the midst
of these earth-born warriors, who immediately began to attack each other.
Jason then rushed furiously upon them, and after a terrible struggle not
one of the giants remained alive.

Furious at seeing his murderous schemes thus defeated, Aëtes not only
perfidiously refused to give Jason the Fleece which he had so bravely
earned, but, in his anger, determined to destroy all the Argonauts, and to
burn their vessel.

JASON SECURES THE GOLDEN FLEECE.–Becoming aware of the treacherous designs
of her father, Medea at {226} once took measures to baffle them. In the
darkness of night she went on board the Argo, and warned the heroes of
their approaching danger. She then advised Jason to accompany her without
loss of time to the sacred grove, in order to possess himself of the
long-coveted treasure. They set out together, and Medea, followed by Jason,
led the way, and advanced boldly into the grove. The tall oak-tree was soon
discovered, from the topmost boughs of which hung the beautiful Golden
Fleece. At the foot of this tree, keeping his ever-wakeful watch, lay the
dreadful, sleepless dragon, who at sight of them bounded forward, opening
his huge jaws.

Medea now called into play her magic powers, and quietly approaching the
monster, threw over him a few drops of a potion, which soon took effect,
and sent him into a deep sleep; whereupon Jason, seizing the opportunity,
climbed the tree and secured the Fleece. Their perilous task being now
accomplished, Jason and Medea quitted the grove, and hastened on board the
Argo, which immediately put to sea.

MURDER OF ABSYRTUS.–Meanwhile Aëtes, having discovered the loss of his
daughter and the Golden Fleece, despatched a large fleet, under the command
of his son Absyrtus, in pursuit of the fugitives. After some days’ sail
they arrived at an island at the mouth of the river Ister, where they found
the Argo at anchor, and surrounded her with their numerous ships. They then
despatched a herald on board of her, demanding the surrender of Medea and
the Fleece.

Medea now consulted Jason, and, with his consent, carried out the following
stratagem. She sent a message to her brother Absyrtus, to the effect that
she had been carried off against her will, and promised that if he would
meet her, in the darkness of night, in the temple of Artemis, she would
assist him in regaining possession of the Golden Fleece. Relying on the
good faith of his sister, Absyrtus fell into the snare, and duly appeared
at the appointed trysting-place; and whilst Medea kept her {227} brother
engaged in conversation, Jason rushed forward and slew him. Then, according
to a preconcerted signal, he held aloft a lighted torch, whereupon the
Argonauts attacked the Colchians, put them to flight, and entirely defeated

The Argonauts now returned to their ship, when the prophetic board from the
Dodonean oak thus addressed them: “The cruel murder of Absyrtus was
witnessed by the Erinyes, and you will not escape the wrath of Zeus until
the goddess Circe has purified you from your crime. Let Castor and Pollux
pray to the gods that you may be enabled to find the abode of the
sorceress.” In obedience to the voice, the twin-brothers invoked divine
assistance, and the heroes set out in search of the isle of Circe.

THEY ARRIVE AT THE ISLAND OF CIRCE.–The good ship Argo sped on her way,
and, after passing safely through the foaming waters of the river Eridanus,
at length arrived in the harbour of the island of Circe, where she cast

Commanding his companions to remain on board, Jason landed with Medea, and
conducted her to the palace of the sorceress. The goddess of charms and
magic arts received them kindly, and invited them to be seated; but instead
of doing so they assumed a supplicating attitude, and humbly besought her
protection. They then informed her of the dreadful crime which they had
committed, and implored her to purify them from it. This Circe promised to
do. She forthwith commanded her attendant Naiads to kindle the fire on the
altar, and to prepare everything necessary for the performance of the
mystic rites, after which a dog was sacrificed, and the sacred cakes were
burned. Having thus duly purified the criminals, she severely reprimanded
them for the horrible murder of which they had been guilty; whereupon
Medea, with veiled head, and weeping bitterly, was reconducted by Jason to
the Argo.

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE ARGONAUTS.–Having left the island of Circe they
were wafted by gentle {228} zephyrs towards the abode of the Sirens, whose
enticing strains soon fell upon their ears. The Argonauts, powerfully
affected by the melody, were making ready to land, when Orpheus perceived
the danger, and, to the accompaniment of his magic lyre, commenced one of
his enchanting songs, which so completely absorbed his listeners that they
passed the island in safety; but not before Butes, one of their number,
lured by the seductive music of the Sirens, had sprung from the vessel into
the waves below. Aphrodite, however, in pity for his youth, landed him
gently on the island of Libibaon before the Sirens could reach him, and
there he remained for many years.

And now the Argonauts approached new dangers, for on one side of them
seethed and foamed the whirlpool of Charybdis, whilst on the other towered
the mighty rock whence the monster Scylla swooped down upon unfortunate
mariners; but here the goddess Hera came to their assistance, and sent to
them the sea-nymph Thetis, who guided them safely through these dangerous

The Argo next arrived at the island of the Phæaces, where they were
hospitably entertained by King Alcinous and his queen Arete. But the
banquet prepared for them by their kind host was unexpectedly interrupted
by the appearance of a large army of Colchians, sent by Aëtes to demand the
restoration of his daughter.

Medea threw herself at the feet of the queen, and implored her to save her
from the anger of her father, and Arete, in her kindness of heart, promised
her her protection. Next morning, in an assembly of the people at which the
Colchians were invited to be present, the latter were informed that as
Medea was the lawful wife of Jason they could not consent to deliver her
up; whereupon the Colchians, seeing that the resolution of the king was not
to be shaken, and fearing to face the anger of Aëtes should they return to
Colchis without her, sought permission of Alcinous to settle in his
kingdom, which request was accorded them.

After these events the Argonauts once more set sail, and steered for
Iolcus; but, in the course of a terrible and fearful night, a mighty storm
arose, and in the morning they found themselves stranded on the treacherous
quicksands of Syrtes, on the shores of Libya. Here all was a waste and
barren desert, untenanted by any living creature, save the venomous snakes
which had sprung from the blood of the Medusa when borne by Perseus over
these arid plains.

They had already passed several days in this abode of desolation, beneath
the rays of the scorching sun, and had abandoned themselves to the deepest
despair, when the Libyan queen, who was a prophetess of divine origin,
appeared to Jason, and informed him that a sea-horse would be sent by the
gods to act as his guide.

Scarcely had she departed when a gigantic hippocamp was seen in the
distance, making its way towards the Argo. Jason now related to his
companions the particulars of his interview with the Libyan prophetess, and
after some deliberation it was decided to carry the Argo on their
shoulders, and to follow wherever the sea-horse should lead them. They then
commenced a long and weary journey through the desert, and at last, after
twelve days of severe toil and terrible suffering, the welcome sight of the
sea greeted their view. In gratitude for having been saved from their
manifold dangers they offered up sacrifices to the gods, and launched their
ship once more into the deep waters of the ocean.

ARRIVAL AT CRETE.–With heartfelt joy and gladness they proceeded on their
homeward voyage, and after some days arrived at the island of Crete, where
they purposed to furnish themselves with fresh provisions and water. Their
landing, however, was opposed by a terrible giant who guarded the island
against all intruders. This giant, whose name was Talus, was the last of
the Brazen race, and being formed of brass, was invulnerable, except in his
right ankle, where there was a sinew of flesh and a vein of blood. As he
saw the Argo {230} nearing the coast, he hurled huge rocks at her, which
would inevitably have sunk the vessel had not the crew beat a hasty
retreat. Although sadly in want of food and water, the Argonauts had
decided to proceed on their journey rather than face so powerful an
opponent, when Medea came forward and assured them that if they would trust
to her she would destroy the giant.

Enveloped in the folds of a rich purple mantle, she stepped on deck, and
after invoking the aid of the Fates, uttered a magic incantation, which had
the effect of throwing Talus into a deep sleep. He stretched himself at
full length upon the ground, and in doing so grazed his vulnerable ankle
against the point of a sharp rock, whereupon a mighty stream of blood
gushed forth from the wound. Awakened by the pain, he tried to rise, but in
vain, and with a mighty groan of anguish the giant fell dead, and his
enormous body rolled heavily over into the deep. The heroes being now able
to land, provisioned their vessel, after which they resumed their homeward

ARRIVAL AT IOLCUS.–After a terrible night of storm and darkness they
passed the island of Ægina, and at length reached in safety the port of
Iolcus, where the recital of their numerous adventures and hair-breadth
escapes was listened to with wondering admiration by their

The Argo was consecrated to Poseidon, and was carefully preserved for many
generations till no vestige of it remained, when it was placed in the
heavens as a brilliant constellation.

On his arrival at Iolcus, Jason conducted his beautiful bride to the palace
of his uncle Pelias, taking with him the Golden Fleece, for the sake of
which this perilous expedition had been undertaken. But the old king, who
had never expected that Jason would return alive, basely refused to fulfil
his part of the compact, and declined to abdicate the throne.

Indignant at the wrongs of her husband, Medea avenged them in a most
shocking manner. She made friends with the daughters of the king, and
feigned great interest in all their concerns. Having gained their
confidence, she informed them, that among her numerous magic arts, she
possessed the power of restoring to the aged all the vigour and strength of
youth, and in order to give them a convincing proof of the truth of her
assertion, she cut up an old ram, which she boiled in a cauldron,
whereupon, after uttering various mystic incantations, there came forth
from the vessel a beautiful young lamb. She then assured them, that in a
similar manner they could restore to their old father his former youthful
frame and vigour. The fond and credulous daughters of Pelias lent an all
too willing ear to the wicked sorceress, and thus the old king perished at
the hands of his innocent children.

DEATH OF JASON.–Medea and Jason now fled to Corinth, where at length they
found, for a time, peace and tranquillity, their happiness being completed
by the birth of three children.

As time passed on, however, and Medea began to lose the beauty which had
won the love of her husband, he grew weary of her, and became attracted by
the youthful charms of Glauce, the beautiful daughter of Creon, king of
Corinth. Jason had obtained her father’s consent to their union, and the
wedding-day was already fixed, before he disclosed to Medea the treachery
which he meditated against her. He used all his persuasive powers in order
to induce her to consent to his union with Glauce, assuring her that his
affection had in no way diminished, but that for the sake of the advantages
which would thereby accrue to their children, he had decided on forming
this alliance with the royal house. Though justly enraged at his deceitful
conduct, Medea dissembled her wrath, and, feigning to be satisfied with
this explanation, sent, as a wedding-gift to her rival, a magnificent robe
of cloth-of-gold. This robe was imbued with a deadly {232} poison which
penetrated to the flesh and bone of the wearer, and burned them as though
with a consuming fire. Pleased with the beauty and costliness of the
garment, the unsuspecting Glauce lost no time in donning it; but no sooner
had she done so than the fell poison began to take effect. In vain she
tried to tear the robe away; it defied all efforts to be removed, and after
horrible and protracted sufferings, she expired.

Maddened at the loss of her husband’s love Medea next put to death her
three sons, and when Jason, thirsting for revenge, left the chamber of his
dead bride, and flew to his own house in search of Medea, the ghastly
spectacle of his murdered children met his view. He rushed frantically to
seek the murderess, but nowhere could she be found. At length, hearing a
sound above his head, he looked up, and beheld Medea gliding through the
air in a golden chariot drawn by dragons.

In a fit of despair Jason threw himself on his own sword, and perished on
the threshold of his desolate and deserted home.


Pelops, the son of the cruel Tantalus, was a pious and virtuous prince.
After his father was banished into Tartarus, a war ensued between Pelops
and the king of Troy, in which the former was vanquished and forced to fly
from his dominions in Phrygia. He emigrated into Greece, where, at the
court of Oenomaus, king of Elis, he beheld Hippodamia, the king’s daughter,
whose beauty won his heart. But an oracle having foretold to Oenomaus that
he would die on the day of his daughter’s marriage, he threw every obstacle
in the way of her suitors, and declared that he would only give her to him
who succeeded in vanquishing him in a chariot race, but that all
unsuccessful competitors should suffer death at his hands.

The conditions of the contest were as follows:–The race was to be run from
a given point at Pisa to the altar of Poseidon at Corinth; the suitor was
allowed to start {233} on his course whilst Oenomaus performed his
sacrifice to Zeus, and only on its completion did the king mount his
chariot, guided by the skilful Myrtilus, and drawn by his two famous
horses, Phylla and Harpinna, who surpassed in swiftness the winds
themselves. In this manner many a gallant young prince had perished; for
although a considerable start was given to all competitors, still Oenomaus,
with his swift team, always overtook them before they reached the goal, and
killed them with his spear. But the love of Pelops for Hippodamia overcame
all fears, and, undeterred by the terrible fate of his predecessors, he
announced himself to Oenomaus as a suitor for the hand of his daughter.

On the eve of the race, Pelops repaired to the sea-shore and earnestly
implored Poseidon to assist him in his perilous undertaking. The sea-god
heard his prayer, and sent him out of the deep a chariot drawn by two
winged horses.

When Pelops appeared on the course, the king at once recognized the horses
of Poseidon; but, nothing daunted, he relied on his own supernatural team,
and the contest was allowed to proceed.

Whilst the king was offering his sacrifice to Zeus Pelops set out on the
race, and had nearly reached the goal, when, turning round, he beheld
Oenomaus, spear in hand, who, with his magic steeds, had nearly overtaken
him. But in this emergency Poseidon came to the aid of the son of Tantalus.
He caused the wheels of the royal chariot to fly off, whereupon the king
was thrown out violently, and killed on the spot, just as Pelops arrived at
the altar of Poseidon.

As the hero was about to return to Pisa to claim his bride, he beheld, in
the distance, flames issuing from the royal castle, which at that instant
had been struck by lightning. With his winged horses he flew to rescue his
lovely bride, and succeeded in extricating her uninjured from the burning
building. They soon afterwards became united, and Pelops reigned in Pisa
for many years in great splendour.


Heracles, the most renowned hero of antiquity, was the son of Zeus and
Alcmene, and the great grandson of Perseus.

At the time of his birth Alcmene was living at Thebes with her husband
Amphitryon, and thus the infant Heracles was born in the palace of his

Aware of the animosity with which Hera persecuted all those who rivalled
her in the affections of Zeus, Alcmene, fearful lest this hatred should be
visited on her innocent child, intrusted him, soon after his birth, to the
care of a faithful servant, with instructions to expose him in a certain
field, and there leave him, feeling assured that the divine offspring of
Zeus would not long remain without the protection of the gods.

Soon after the child had been thus abandoned, Hera and Pallas-Athene
happened to pass by the field, and were attracted by its cries. Athene
pityingly took up the infant in her arms, and prevailed upon the queen of
heaven to put it to her breast; but no sooner had she done so, than the
child, causing her pain, she angrily threw him to the ground, and left the
spot. Athene, moved with compassion, carried him to Alcmene, and entreated
her kind offices on behalf of the poor little foundling. Alcmene at once
recognized her child, and joyfully accepted the charge.

Soon afterwards Hera, to her extreme annoyance, discovered whom she had
nursed, and became filled with jealous rage. She now sent two venomous
snakes into the chamber of Alcmene, which crept, unperceived by the nurses,
to the cradle of the sleeping child. He awoke with a cry, and grasping a
snake in each hand, strangled them both. Alcmene and her attendants, whom
the cry of the child had awakened, rushed to the cradle, where, to their
astonishment and terror, they beheld the two reptiles dead in the hands of
the infant Heracles. Amphitryon was also attracted to the chamber by the
{235} commotion, and when he beheld this astounding proof of supernatural
strength, he declared that the child must have been sent to him as a
special gift from Zeus. He accordingly consulted the famous seer Tiresias,
who now informed him of the divine origin of his stepson, and
prognosticated for him a great and distinguished future.

When Amphitryon heard the noble destiny which awaited the child intrusted
to his care, he resolved to educate him in a manner worthy of his future
career. At a suitable age he himself taught him how to guide a chariot;
Eurytus, how to handle the bow; Autolycus, dexterity in wrestling and
boxing; and Castor, the art of armed warfare; whilst Linus, the son of
Apollo, instructed him in music and letters.

Heracles was an apt pupil; but undue harshness was intolerable to his high
spirit, and old Linus, who was not the gentlest of teachers, one day
corrected him with blows, whereupon the boy angrily took up his lyre, and,
with one stroke of his powerful arm, killed his tutor on the spot.

Apprehensive lest the ungovernable temper of the youth might again involve
him in similar acts of violence, Amphitryon sent him into the country,
where he placed him under the charge of one of his most trusted herdsmen.
Here, as he grew up to manhood, his extraordinary stature and strength
became the wonder and admiration of all beholders. His aim, whether with
spear, lance, or bow, was unerring, and at the age of eighteen he was
considered to be the strongest as well as the most beautiful youth in all

THE CHOICE OF HERACLES.–Heracles felt that the time had now arrived when
it became necessary to decide for himself how to make use of the
extraordinary powers with which he had been endowed by the gods; and in
order to meditate in solitude on this all-important subject, he repaired to
a lonely and secluded spot in the heart of the forest.

Here two females of great beauty appeared to him. {236} One was Vice, the
other Virtue. The former was full of artificial wiles and fascinating arts,
her face painted and her dress gaudy and attractive; whilst the latter was
of noble bearing and modest mien, her robes of spotless purity.

Vice stepped forward and thus addressed him: “If you will walk in my paths,
and make me your friend, your life shall be one round of pleasure and
enjoyment. You shall taste of every delight which can be procured on earth;
the choicest viands, the most delicious wines, the most luxuriant of
couches shall be ever at your disposal; and all this without any exertion
on your part, either physical or mental.”

Virtue now spoke in her turn: “If you will follow me and be my friend, I
promise you the reward of a good conscience, and the love and respect of
your fellowmen. I cannot undertake to smooth your path with roses, or to
give you a life of idleness and pleasure; for you must know that the gods
grant no good and desirable thing that is not earned by labour; and as you
sow, so must you reap.”

Heracles listened patiently and attentively to both speakers, and then,
after mature deliberation, decided to follow in the paths of virtue, and
henceforth to honour the gods, and to devote his life to the service of his

Full of these noble resolves he sought once more his rural home, where he
was informed that on Mount Cithæron, at the foot of which the herds of
Amphitryon were grazing, a ferocious lion had fixed his lair, and was
committing such frightful ravages among the flocks and herds that he had
become the scourge and terror of the whole neighbourhood. Heracles at once
armed himself and ascended the mountain, where he soon caught sight of the
lion, and rushing at him with his sword succeeded in killing him. The hide
of the animal he wore ever afterwards over his shoulders, and the head
served him as a helmet.

As he was returning from this, his first exploit, he met {237} the heralds
of Erginus, king of the Minyans, who were proceeding to Thebes to demand
their annual tribute of 100 oxen. Indignant at this humiliation of his
native city, Heracles mutilated the heralds, and sent them back, with ropes
round their necks, to their royal master.

Erginus was so incensed at the ill-treatment of his messengers that he
collected an army and appeared before the gates of Thebes, demanding the
surrender of Heracles. Creon, who was at this time king of Thebes, fearing
the consequences of a refusal, was about to yield, when the hero, with the
assistance of Amphitryon and a band of brave youths, advanced against the

Heracles took possession of a narrow defile through which the enemy were
compelled to pass, and as they entered the pass the Thebans fell upon them,
killed their king Erginus, and completely routed them. In this engagement
Amphitryon, the kind friend and foster-father of Heracles, lost his life.
The hero now advanced upon Orchomenus, the capital of the Minyans, where he
burned the royal castle and sacked the town.

After this signal victory all Greece rang with the fame of the young hero,
and Creon, in gratitude for his great services, bestowed upon him his
daughter Megara in marriage. The Olympian gods testified their appreciation
of his valour by sending him presents; Hermes gave him a sword,
Phoebus-Apollo a bundle of arrows, Hephæstus a golden quiver, and Athene a
coat of leather.

HERACLES AND EURYSTHEUS.–And now it will be necessary to retrace our
steps. Just before the birth of Heracles, Zeus, in an assembly of the gods,
exultingly declared that the child who should be born on that day to the
house of Perseus should rule over all his race. When Hera heard her lord’s
boastful announcement she knew well that it was for the child of the hated
Alcmene that this brilliant destiny was designed; and in order to rob the
son of her rival of his rights, she called to her aid the goddess
Eilithyia, who retarded the birth of {238} Heracles, and caused his cousin
Eurystheus (another grandson of Perseus) to precede him into the world. And
thus, as the word of the mighty Zeus was irrevocable, Heracles became the
subject and servant of his cousin Eurystheus.

When, after his splendid victory over Erginus, the fame of Heracles spread
throughout Greece, Eurystheus (who had become king of Mycenæ), jealous of
the reputation of the young hero, asserted his rights, and commanded him to
undertake for him various difficult tasks. But the proud spirit of the hero
rebelled against this humiliation, and he was about to refuse compliance,
when Zeus appeared to him and desired him not to rebel against the Fates.
Heracles now repaired to Delphi in order to consult the oracle, and
received the answer that after performing ten tasks for his cousin
Eurystheus his servitude would be at an end.

Soon afterwards Heracles fell into a state of the deepest melancholy, and
through the influence of his inveterate enemy, the goddess Hera, this
despondency developed into raving madness, in which condition he killed his
own children. When he at length regained his reason he was so horrified and
grieved at what he had done, that he shut himself up in his chamber and
avoided all intercourse with men. But in his loneliness and seclusion the
conviction that work would be the best means of procuring oblivion of the
past decided him to enter, without delay, upon the tasks appointed him by

  1. THE NEMEAN LION.–His first task was to bring to Eurystheus the skin of
    the much-dreaded Nemean lion, which ravaged the territory between Cleone
    and Nemea, and whose hide was invulnerable against any mortal weapon.

Heracles proceeded to the forest of Nemea, where, having discovered the
lion’s lair, he attempted to pierce him with his arrows; but finding these
of no avail he felled him to the ground with his club, and before the
animal had time to recover from the terrible blow, {239} Heracles seized
him by the neck and, with a mighty effort, succeeded in strangling him. He
then made himself a coat of mail of the skin, and a new helmet of the head
of the animal. Thus attired, he so alarmed Eurystheus by appearing suddenly
before him, that the king concealed himself in his palace, and henceforth
forbade Heracles to enter his presence, but commanded him to receive his
behests, for the future, through his messenger Copreus.

  1. THE HYDRA.–His second task was to slay the Hydra, a monster serpent
    (the offspring of Typhon and Echidna), bristling with nine heads, one of
    which was immortal. This monster infested the neighbourhood of Lerna, where
    she committed great depredations among the herds.

Heracles, accompanied by his nephew Iolaus, set out in a chariot for the
marsh of Lerna, in the slimy waters of which he found her. He commenced the
attack by assailing her with his fierce arrows, in order to force her to
leave her lair, from which she at length emerged, and sought refuge in a
wood on a neighbouring hill. Heracles now rushed forward and endeavoured to
crush her heads by means of well-directed blows from his tremendous club;
but no sooner was one head destroyed than it was immediately replaced by
two others. He next seized the monster in his powerful grasp; but at this
juncture a giant crab came to the assistance of the Hydra and commenced
biting the feet of her assailant. Heracles destroyed this new adversary
with his club, and now called upon his nephew to come to his aid. At his
command Iolaus set fire to the neighbouring trees, {240} and, with a
burning branch, seared the necks of the monster as Heracles cut them off,
thus effectually preventing the growth of more. Heracles next struck off
the immortal head, which he buried by the road-side, and placed over it a
heavy stone. Into the poisonous blood of the monster he then dipped his
arrows, which ever afterwards rendered wounds inflicted by them incurable.

  1. THE HORNED HIND.–The third labour of Heracles was to bring the horned
    hind Cerunitis alive to Mycenæ. This animal, which was sacred to Artemis,
    had golden antlers and hoofs of brass.

Not wishing to wound the hind Heracles patiently pursued her through many
countries for a whole year, and overtook her at last on the banks of the
river Ladon; but even there he was compelled, in order to secure her, to
wound her with one of his arrows, after which he lifted her on his
shoulders and carried her through Arcadia. On his way he met Artemis with
her brother Phoebus-Apollo, when the goddess angrily reproved him for
wounding her favourite hind; but Heracles succeeded in appeasing her
displeasure, whereupon she permitted him to take the animal alive to

  1. THE ERYMANTIAN BOAR.–The fourth task imposed upon Heracles by
    Eurystheus was to bring alive to Mycenæ the Erymantian boar, which had laid
    waste the region of Erymantia, and was the scourge of the surrounding

On his way thither he craved food and shelter of a Centaur named Pholus,
who received him with generous hospitality, setting before him a good and
plentiful repast. When Heracles expressed his surprise that at such a
well-furnished board {241} wine should be wanting, his host explained that
the wine-cellar was the common property of all the Centaurs, and that it
was against the rules for a cask to be broached, except all were present to
partake of it. By dint of persuasion, however, Heracles prevailed on his
kind host to make an exception in his favour; but the powerful, luscious
odour of the good old wine soon spread over the mountains, and brought
large numbers of Centaurs to the spot, all armed with huge rocks and
fir-trees. Heracles drove them back with fire-brands, and then, following
up his victory, pursued them with his arrows as far as Malea, where they
took refuge in the cave of the kind old Centaur Chiron. Unfortunately,
however, as Heracles was shooting at them with his poisoned darts, one of
these pierced the knee of Chiron. When Heracles discovered that it was the
friend of his early days that he had wounded, he was overcome with sorrow
and regret. He at once extracted the arrow, and anointed the wound with a
salve, the virtue of which had been taught him by Chiron himself. But all
his efforts were unavailing. The wound, imbued with the deadly poison of
the Hydra, was incurable, and so great was the agony of Chiron that, at the
intercession of Heracles, death was sent him by the gods; for otherwise,
being immortal, he would have been doomed to endless suffering.

Pholus, who had so kindly entertained Heracles, also perished by means of
one of these arrows, which he had extracted from the body of a dead
Centaur. While he was quietly examining it, astonished that so small and
insignificant an object should be productive of such serious results, the
arrow fell upon his foot and fatally wounded him. Full of grief at this
untoward event, Heracles buried him with due honours, and then set out to
chase the boar.

With loud shouts and terrible cries he first drove him out of the thickets
into the deep snow-drifts which covered the summit of the mountain, and
then, having at length wearied him with his incessant pursuit, he captured
the exhausted animal, bound him with a rope, and brought him alive to

  1. CLEANSING THE STABLES OF AUGEAS.–After slaying the Erymantian boar
    Eurystheus commanded Heracles to cleanse in one day the stables of Augeas.

Augeas was a king of Elis who was very rich in herds. Three thousand of his
cattle he kept near the royal palace in an inclosure where the refuse had
accumulated for many years. When Heracles presented himself before the
king, and offered to cleanse his stables in one day, provided he should
receive in return a tenth part of the herds, Augeas, thinking the feat
impossible, accepted his offer in the presence of his son Phyleus.

Near the palace were the two rivers Peneus and Alpheus, the streams of
which Heracles conducted into the stables by means of a trench which he dug
for this purpose, and as the waters rushed through the shed, they swept
away with them the whole mass of accumulated filth.

But when Augeas heard that this was one of the labours imposed by
Eurystheus, he refused the promised guerdon. Heracles brought the matter
before a court, and called Phyleus as a witness to the justice of his
claim, whereupon Augeas, without waiting for the delivery of the verdict,
angrily banished Heracles and his son from his dominions.

  1. THE STYMPHALIDES.–The sixth task was to chase away the Stymphalides,
    which were immense birds of prey who, as we have seen (in the legend of the
    Argonauts), shot from their wings feathers sharp as arrows. The home of
    these birds was on the shore of the lake Stymphalis, in Arcadia (after
    which they were called), where they caused great destruction among men and

On approaching the lake, Heracles observed great numbers of them; and,
while hesitating how to commence the attack, he suddenly felt a hand on his
shoulder. Looking round he beheld the majestic form of Pallas-Athene, who
held in her hand a gigantic pair of brazen clappers made by Hephæstus, with
which she {243} presented him; whereupon he ascended to the summit of a
neighbouring hill, and commenced to rattle them violently. The shrill noise
of these instruments was so intolerable to the birds that they rose into
the air in terror, upon which he aimed at them with his arrows, destroying
them in great numbers, whilst such as escaped his darts flew away, never to

  1. THE CRETAN BULL.–The seventh labour of Heracles was to capture the
    Cretan bull.

Minos, king of Crete, having vowed to sacrifice to Poseidon any animal
which should first appear out of the sea, the god caused a magnificent bull
to emerge from the waves in order to test the sincerity of the Cretan king,
who, in making this vow, had alleged that he possessed no animal, among his
own herds, worthy the acceptance of the mighty sea-god. Charmed with the
splendid animal sent by Poseidon, and eager to possess it, Minos placed it
among his herds, and substituted as a sacrifice one of his own bulls.
Hereupon Poseidon, in order to punish the cupidity of Minos, caused the
animal to become mad, and commit such great havoc in the island as to
endanger the safety of the inhabitants. When Heracles, therefore, arrived
in Crete for the purpose of capturing the bull, Minos, far from opposing
his design, gladly gave him permission to do so.

The hero not only succeeded in securing the animal, but tamed him so
effectually that he rode on his back right across the sea as far as the
Peloponnesus. He now delivered him up to Eurystheus, who at once set him at
liberty, after which he became as ferocious and wild as before, roamed all
over Greece into Arcadia, and was eventually killed by Theseus on the
plains of Marathon.

  1. THE MARES OF DIOMEDES.–The eighth labour of Heracles was to bring to
    Eurystheus the mares of Diomedes, a son of Ares, and king of the
    Bistonians, a warlike Thracian tribe. This king possessed a breed of wild
    horses of tremendous size and strength, whose food consisted of human
    flesh, and all strangers who had the {244} misfortune to enter the country
    were made prisoners and flung before the horses, who devoured them.

When Heracles arrived he first captured the cruel Diomedes himself, and
then threw him before his own mares, who, after devouring their master,
became perfectly tame and tractable. They were then led by Heracles to the
sea-shore, when the Bistonians, enraged at the loss of their king, rushed
after the hero and attacked him. He now gave the animals in charge of his
friend Abderus, and made such a furious onslaught on his assailants that
they turned and fled.

But on his return from this encounter he found, to his great grief, that
the mares had torn his friend in pieces and devoured him. After celebrating
due funereal rites to the unfortunate Abderus, Heracles built a city in his
honour, which he named after him. He then returned to Tiryns, where he
delivered up the mares to Eurystheus, who set them loose on Mount Olympus,
where they became the prey of wild beasts.

It was after the performance of this task that Heracles joined the
Argonauts in their expedition to gain possession of the Golden Fleece, and
was left behind at Chios, as already narrated. During his wanderings he
undertook his ninth labour, which was to bring to Eurystheus the girdle of
Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons.

  1. THE GIRDLE OF HIPPOLYTE.–The Amazons, who dwelt on the shores of the
    Black Sea, near the river Thermodon, were a nation of warlike women,
    renowned for their strength, courage, and great skill in horsemanship.
    Their queen, Hippolyte, had received from her father, Ares, a beautiful
    girdle, which she always wore as a sign of her royal power and authority,
    and it was this girdle which Heracles was required to place in the hands of
    Eurystheus, who designed it as a gift for his daughter Admete.

Foreseeing that this would be a task of no ordinary difficulty the hero
called to his aid a select band of brave companions, with whom he embarked
for the Amazonian {245} town Themiscyra. Here they were met by queen
Hippolyte, who was so impressed by the extraordinary stature and noble
bearing of Heracles that, on learning his errand, she at once consented to
present him with the coveted girdle. But Hera, his implacable enemy,
assuming the form of an Amazon, spread the report in the town that a
stranger was about to carry off their queen. The Amazons at once flew to
arms and mounted their horses, whereupon a battle ensued, in which many of
their bravest warriors were killed or wounded. Among the latter was their
most skilful leader, Melanippe, whom Heracles afterwards restored to
Hippolyte, receiving the girdle in exchange.

On his voyage home the hero stopped at Troy, where a new adventure awaited

During the time that Apollo and Poseidon were condemned by Zeus to a
temporary servitude on earth, they built for king Laomedon the famous walls
of Troy, afterwards so renowned in history; but when their work was
completed the king treacherously refused to give them the reward due to
them. The incensed deities now combined to punish the offender. Apollo sent
a pestilence which decimated the people, and Poseidon a flood, which bore
with it a marine monster, who swallowed in his huge jaws all that came
within his reach.

In his distress Laomedon consulted an oracle, and was informed that only by
the sacrifice of his own daughter Hesione could the anger of the gods be
appeased. Yielding at length to the urgent appeals of his people he
consented to make the sacrifice, and on the arrival of Heracles the maiden
was already chained to a rock in readiness to be devoured by the monster.

When Laomedon beheld the renowned hero, whose marvellous feats of strength
and courage had become the wonder and admiration of all mankind, he
earnestly implored him to save his daughter from her impending fate, and to
rid the country of the monster, holding out to him as a reward the horses
which Zeus had presented to {246} his grandfather Tros in compensation for
robbing him of his son Ganymede.

Heracles unhesitatingly accepted the offer, and when the monster appeared,
opening his terrible jaws to receive his prey, the hero, sword in hand,
attacked and slew him. But the perfidious monarch once more broke faith,
and Heracles, vowing future vengeance, departed for Mycenæ, where he
presented the girdle to Eurystheus.

  1. THE OXEN OF GERYONES.–The tenth labour of Heracles was the capture of
    the magnificent oxen belonging to the giant Geryon or Geryones, who dwelt
    on the island of Erythia in the bay of Gadria (Cadiz). This giant, who was
    the son of Chrysaor, had three bodies with three heads, six hands, and six
    feet. He possessed a herd of splendid cattle, which were famous for their
    size, beauty, and rich red colour. They were guarded by another giant named
    Eurytion, and a two-headed dog called Orthrus, the offspring of Typhon and

In choosing for him a task so replete with danger, Eurystheus was in hopes
that he might rid himself for ever of his hated cousin. But the indomitable
courage of the hero rose with the prospect of this difficult and dangerous

After a long and wearisome journey he at last arrived at the western coast
of Africa, where, as a monument of his perilous expedition, he erected the
famous “Pillars of Hercules,” one of which he placed on each side of the
Straits of Gibraltar. Here he found the intense heat so insufferable that
he angrily raised his bow towards heaven, and threatened to shoot the
sun-god. But Helios, far from being incensed at his audacity, was so struck
with admiration at his daring that he lent to him the golden boat with
which he accomplished his nocturnal transit from West to East, and thus
Heracles crossed over safely to the island of Erythia.

No sooner had he landed than Eurytion, accompanied by his savage dog
Orthrus, fiercely attacked him; but Heracles, with a superhuman effort,
slew the dog and {247} then his master. Hereupon he collected the herd, and
was proceeding to the sea-shore when Geryones himself met him, and a
desperate encounter took place, in which the giant perished.

Heracles then drove the cattle into the sea, and seizing one of the oxen by
the horns, swam with them over to the opposite coast of Iberia (Spain).
Then driving his magnificent prize before him through Gaul, Italy, Illyria,
and Thrace, he at length arrived, after many perilous adventures and
hair-breadth escapes, at Mycenæ, where he delivered them up to Eurystheus,
who sacrificed them to Hera.

Heracles had now executed his ten tasks, which had been accomplished in the
space of eight years; but Eurystheus refused to include the slaying of the
Hydra and the cleansing of the stables of Augeas among the number, alleging
as a reason that the one had been performed by the assistance of Iolaus,
and that the other had been executed for hire. He therefore insisted on
Heracles substituting two more labours in their place.

  1. THE APPLES OF THE HESPERIDES.–The eleventh task imposed by Eurystheus
    was to bring him the golden apples of the Hesperides, which grew on a tree
    presented by Gæa to Hera, on the occasion of her marriage with Zeus. This
    sacred tree was guarded by four maidens, daughters of Night, called the
    Hesperides, who were assisted in their task by a terrible hundred-headed
    dragon. This dragon never slept, and out of its hundred throats came a
    constant hissing sound, which effectually warned off all intruders. But
    what rendered the undertaking still more difficult was the complete
    ignorance of the hero as to the locality of the garden, and he was forced,
    in consequence, to make many fruitless journeys and to undergo many trials
    before he could find it.

He first travelled through Thessaly and arrived at the river Echedorus,
where he met the giant Cycnus, the son of Ares and Pyrene, who challenged
him to single combat. In this encounter Heracles completely vanquished
{248} his opponent, who was killed in the contest; but now a mightier
adversary appeared on the scene, for the war-god himself came to avenge his
son. A terrible struggle ensued, which had lasted some time, when Zeus
interfered between the brothers, and put an end to the strife by hurling a
thunderbolt between them. Heracles proceeded on his journey, and reached
the banks of the river Eridanus, where dwelt the Nymphs, daughters of Zeus
and Themis. On seeking advice from them as to his route, they directed him
to the old sea-god Nereus, who alone knew the way to the Garden of the
Hesperides. Heracles found him asleep, and seizing the opportunity, held
him so firmly in his powerful grasp that he could not possibly escape, so
that notwithstanding his various metamorphoses he was at last compelled to
give the information required. The hero then crossed over to Libya, where
he engaged in a wrestling-match with king Anteos, son of Poseidon and Gæa,
which terminated fatally for his antagonist.

From thence he proceeded to Egypt, where reigned Busiris, another son of
Poseidon, who (acting on the advice given by an oracle during a time of
great scarcity) sacrificed all strangers to Zeus. When Heracles arrived he
was seized and dragged to the altar; but the powerful demi-god burst
asunder his bonds, and then slew Busiris and his son.

Resuming his journey he now wandered on through Arabia until he arrived at
Mount Caucasus, where Prometheus groaned in unceasing agony. It was at this
time that Heracles (as already related) shot the eagle which had so long
tortured the noble and devoted friend of mankind. Full of gratitude for his
deliverance, Prometheus instructed him how to find his way to that remote
region in the far West where Atlas supported the heavens on his shoulders,
near which lay the Garden of the Hesperides. He also warned Heracles not to
attempt to secure the precious fruit himself, but to assume for a time the
duties of Atlas, and to despatch him for the apples. {249}

On arriving at his destination Heracles followed the advice of Prometheus.
Atlas, who willingly entered into the arrangement, contrived to put the
dragon to sleep, and then, having cunningly outwitted the Hesperides,
carried off three of the golden apples, which he now brought to Heracles.
But when the latter was prepared to relinquish his burden, Atlas, having
once tasted the delights of freedom, declined to resume his post, and
announced his intention of being himself the bearer of the apples to
Eurystheus, leaving Heracles to fill his place. To this proposal the hero
feigned assent, merely begging that Atlas would be kind enough to support
the heavens for a few moments whilst he contrived a pad for his head. Atlas
good-naturedly threw down the apples and once more resumed his load, upon
which Heracles bade him adieu, and departed.

When Heracles conveyed the golden apples to Eurystheus the latter presented
them to the hero, whereupon Heracles placed the sacred fruit on the altar
of Pallas-Athene, who restored them to the garden of the Hesperides.

  1. CERBERUS.–The twelfth and last labour which Eurystheus imposed on
    Heracles was to bring up Cerberus from the lower world, believing that all
    his heroic powers would be unavailing in the Realm of Shades, and that in
    this, his last and most perilous undertaking, the hero must at length
    succumb and perish.

Cerberus was a monster dog with three heads, out of whose awful jaws
dripped poison; the hair of his head and back was formed of venomous
snakes, and his body terminated in the tail of a dragon.

After being initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, and {250} obtaining
from the priests certain information necessary for the accomplishment of
his task, Heracles set out for Tænarum in Lacolia, where there was an
opening which led to the under-world. Conducted by Hermes, he commenced his
descent into the awful gulf, where myriads of shades soon began to appear,
all of whom fled in terror at his approach, Meleager and Medusa alone
excepted. About to strike the latter with his sword, Hermes interfered and
stayed his hand, reminding him that she was but a shadow, and that
consequently no weapon could avail against her.

Arrived before the gates of Hades he found Theseus and Pirithöus, who had
been fixed to an enchanted rock by Aïdes for their presumption in
endeavouring to carry off Persephone. When they saw Heracles they implored
him to set them free. The hero succeeded in delivering Theseus, but when he
endeavoured to liberate Pirithöus, the earth shook so violently beneath him
that he was compelled to relinquish his task.

Proceeding further Heracles recognized Ascalaphus, who, as we have seen in
the history of Demeter, had revealed the fact that Persephone had swallowed
the seeds of a pomegranate offered to her by her husband, which bound her
to Aïdes for ever. Ascalaphus was groaning beneath a huge rock which
Demeter in her anger had hurled upon him, and which Heracles now removed,
releasing the sufferer.

Before the gates of his palace stood Aïdes the mighty ruler of the lower
world, and barred his entrance; but Heracles, aiming at him with one of his
unerring darts, shot him in the shoulder, so that for the first time the
god experienced the agony of mortal suffering. Heracles then demanded of
him permission to take Cerberus to the upper-world, and to this Aïdes
consented on condition that he should secure him unarmed. Protected by his
breastplate and lion’s skin Heracles went in search of the monster, whom he
found at the mouth of the river Acheron. Undismayed by the hideous barking
which proceeded from his three heads, he seized the {251} throat with one
hand and the legs with the other, and although the dragon which served him
as a tail bit him severely, he did not relinquish his grasp. In this manner
he conducted him to the upper-world, through an opening near Troezen in

When Eurystheus beheld Cerberus he stood aghast, and despairing of ever
getting rid of his hated rival, he returned the hell-hound to the hero, who
restored him to Aïdes, and with this last task the subjection of Heracles
to Eurystheus terminated.

MURDER OF IPHITUS.–Free at last Heracles now returned to Thebes; and it
being impossible for him to live happily with Megara in consequence of his
having murdered her children he, with her own consent, gave her in marriage
to his nephew Iolaus. Heracles himself sought the hand of Iole, daughter of
Eurytus, king of Oechalia, who had instructed him when a boy in the use of
the bow. Hearing that this king had promised to give his daughter to him
who could surpass himself and his three sons in shooting with the bow,
Heracles lost no time in presenting himself as a competitor. He soon proved
that he was no unworthy pupil of Eurytus, for he signally defeated all his
opponents. But although the king treated him with marked respect and honour
he refused, nevertheless, to give him the hand of his daughter, fearing for
her a similar fate to that which had befallen Megara. Iphitus, the eldest
son of Eurytus, alone espoused the cause of Heracles, and essayed to induce
his father to give his consent to the marriage; but all to no purpose, and
at length, stung to the quick at his rejection, the hero angrily took his

Soon afterwards the oxen of the king were stolen by the notorious thief
Autolycus, and Heracles was suspected by Eurytus of having committed the
theft. But Iphitus loyally defended his absent friend, and proposed to seek
out Heracles, and with his assistance to go in search of the missing
cattle. {252}

The hero warmly welcomed his staunch young friend, and entered cordially
into his plan. They at once set out on their expedition; but their search
proved altogether unsuccessful. When they approached the city of Tiryns
they mounted a tower in hopes of discovering the missing herd in the
surrounding country; but as they stood on the topmost summit of the
building, Heracles became suddenly seized with one of his former attacks of
madness, and mistaking his friend Iphitus for an enemy, hurled him down
into the plain below, and he was killed on the spot.

Heracles now set forth on a weary pilgrimage, begging in vain that some one
would purify him from the murder of Iphitus. It was during these wanderings
that he arrived at the palace of his friend Admetus, whose beautiful and
heroic wife (Alcestes) he restored to her husband after a terrible struggle
with Death, as already related.

Soon after this event Heracles was struck with a fearful disease, and
betook himself to the temple of Delphi, hoping to obtain from the oracle
the means of relief. The priestess, however, refused him a response on the
ground of his having murdered Iphitus, whereupon the angry hero seized upon
the tripod, which he carried off, declaring that he would construct an
oracle for himself. Apollo, who witnessed the sacrilege, came down to
defend his sanctuary, and a violent struggle ensued. Zeus once more
interfered, and, flashing his lightnings between his two favourite sons,
ended the combat. The Pythia now vouchsafed an answer to the prayer of the
hero, and commanded him, in expiation of his crime, to allow himself to be
sold by Hermes for three years as a slave, the purchase-money to be given
to Eurytus in compensation for the loss of his son.

HERACLES BECOMES THE SLAVE OF OMPHALE.–Heracles bowed in submission to the
divine will, and was conducted by Hermes to Omphale, queen of Lydia. The
three talents which she paid for him were given {253} to Eurytus, who,
however, declined to accept the money, which was handed over to the
children of Iphitus.

Heracles now regained his former vigour. He rid the territory of Omphale of
the robbers which infested it and performed for her various other services
requiring strength and courage. It was about this time that he took part in
the Calydonian boar-hunt, details of which have already been given.

When Omphale learned that her slave was none other than the renowned
Heracles himself she at once gave him his liberty, and offered him her hand
and kingdom. In her palace Heracles abandoned himself to all the enervating
luxuries of an oriental life, and so completely was the great hero
enthralled by the fascination which his mistress exercised over him, that
whilst she playfully donned his lion’s skin and helmet, he, attired in
female garments, sat at her feet spinning wool, and beguiling the time by
the relation of his past adventures.

But when at length, his term of bondage having expired, he became master of
his own actions, the manly and energetic spirit of the hero reasserted
itself, and tearing himself away from the palace of the Mæonian queen, he
determined to carry out the revenge he had so long meditated against the
treacherous Laomedon and the faithless Augeas.

some of his old brave companions-in-arms, Heracles collected a fleet of
vessels and set sail for Troy, where he landed, took the city by storm, and
killed Laomedon, who thus met at length the retribution he had so richly

To Telamon, one of his bravest followers, he gave Hesione, the daughter of
the king, in marriage. When Heracles gave her permission to release one of
the prisoners of war she chose her own brother Podarces, whereupon she was
informed that as he was already a prisoner of war she would be compelled to
ransom him. {254} On hearing this Hesione took off her golden diadem, which
she joyfully handed to the hero. Owing to this circumstance Podarces
henceforth bore the name of Priamus (or Priam), which signifies the
“ransomed one.”

Heracles now marched against Augeas to execute his vengeance on him also
for his perfidious conduct. He stormed the city of Elis and put to death
Augeas and his sons, sparing only his brave advocate and staunch defender
Phyleus, on whom he bestowed the vacant throne of his father.

HERACLES AND DEIANEIRA.–Heracles now proceeded to Calydon, where he wooed
the beautiful Deianeira, daughter of Oeneus, king of Ætolia; but he
encountered a formidable rival in Achelous, the river-god, and it was
agreed that their claims should be decided by single combat. Trusting to
his power of assuming various forms at will, Achelous felt confident of
success; but this availed him nothing, for having at last transformed
himself into a bull, his mighty adversary broke off one of his horns, and
compelled him to acknowledge himself defeated.

After passing three happy years with Deianeira an unfortunate accident
occurred, which for a time marred their felicity. Heracles was one day
present at a banquet given by Oeneus, when, by a sudden swing of his hand,
he had the misfortune to strike on the head a youth of noble birth, who,
according to the custom of the ancients, was serving the guests at table,
and so violent was the blow that it caused his death. The father of the
unfortunate youth, who had witnessed the occurrence, saw that it was the
result of accident, and therefore absolved the hero from blame. But
Heracles resolved to act according to the law of the land, banished himself
from the country, and bidding farewell to his father-in-law, set out for
Trachin to visit his friend King Ceyx, taking with him his wife Deianeira,
and his young son Hyllus.

In the course of their journey they arrived at the river Evenus, over which
the Centaur Nessus was in the habit {255} of carrying travellers for hire.
Heracles, with his little son in his arms, forded the stream unaided,
intrusting his wife to the care of the Centaur, who, charmed with the
beauty of his fair burden, attempted to carry her off. But her cries were
heard by her husband, who without hesitation shot Nessus through the heart
with one of his poisoned arrows. Now the dying Centaur was thirsting for
revenge. He called Deianeira to his side, and directed her to secure some
of the blood which flowed from his wound, assuring her that if, when in
danger of losing her husband’s affection, she used it in the manner
indicated by him, it would act as a charm, and prevent her from being
supplanted by a rival. Heracles and Deianeira now pursued their journey,
and after several adventures at length arrived at their destination.

DEATH OF HERACLES.–The last expedition undertaken by the great hero was
against Eurytus, king of Oechalia, to revenge himself upon this king and
his sons for having refused to bestow upon him the hand of Iole, after
having fairly won the maiden. Having collected a large army Heracles set
out for Euboea in order to besiege Oechalia, its capital. Success crowned
his arms. He stormed the citadel, slew the king and his three sons, reduced
the town to ashes, and carried away captive the young and beautiful Iole.

Returning from his victorious expedition, Heracles halted at Cenoeus in
order to offer a sacrifice to Zeus, and sent to Deianeira to Trachin for a
sacrificial robe. Deianeira having been informed that the fair Iole was in
the train of Heracles was fearful lest her youthful charms might supplant
her in the affection of her husband, and calling to mind the advice of the
dying Centaur, she determined to test the efficacy of the love-charm which
he had given to her. Taking out the phial which she had carefully
preserved, she imbued the robe with a portion of the liquid which it
contained, and then sent it to Heracles.

The victorious hero clothed himself with the garment, {256} and was about
to perform the sacrifice, when the hot flames rising from the altar heated
the poison with which it was imbued, and soon every fibre of his body was
penetrated by the deadly venom. The unfortunate hero, suffering the most
fearful tortures, endeavoured to tear off the robe, but it adhered so
closely to the skin that all his efforts to remove it only increased his

In this pitiable condition he was conveyed to Trachin, where Deianeira, on
beholding the terrible suffering of which she was the innocent cause, was
overcome with grief and remorse, and hanged herself in despair. The dying
hero called his son Hyllus to his side, and desired him to make Iole his
wife, and then ordering his followers to erect a funeral pyre, he mounted
it and implored the by-standers to set fire to it, and thus in mercy to
terminate his insufferable torments. But no one had the courage to obey
him, until at last his friend and companion Philoctetes, yielding to his
piteous appeal, lighted the pile, and received in return the bow and arrows
of the hero.

Soon flames on flames ascended, and amidst vivid flashes of lightning,
accompanied by awful peals of thunder, Pallas-Athene descended in a cloud,
and bore her favourite hero in a chariot to Olympus.

Heracles became admitted among the immortals; and Hera, in token of her
reconciliation, bestowed upon him the hand of her beautiful daughter Hebe,
the goddess of eternal youth.


Bellerophon, or Bellerophontes, was the son of Glaucus, king of Corinth,
and grandson of Sisyphus. In consequence of an unpremeditated murder
Bellerophon fled to Tiryns, where he was kindly received by King Proetus,
who purified him from his crime. Antea, the wife of Proetus, was so charmed
with the comely youth that she fell in love with him; but Bellerophon did
not return her affection, and she, in revenge, slandered him to the king by
a gross misrepresentation of the facts. {257}

The first impulse of Proetus, when informed of the conduct of Bellerophon,
was to kill him; but the youth, with his gentle and winning manners, had so
endeared himself to his host that he felt it impossible to take his life
with his own hands. He therefore sent him to his father-in-law, Iobates,
king of Lycia, with a kind of letter or tablet which contained mysterious
signs, indicating his desire that the bearer of the missive should be put
to death. But the gods watched over the true and loyal youth, and inclined
the heart of Iobates, who was an amiable prince, towards his guest. Judging
by his appearance that he was of noble birth, he entertained him, according
to the hospitable custom of the Greeks, in the most princely manner for
nine days, and not until the morning of the tenth did he inquire his name
and errand.

Bellerophon now presented to him the letter intrusted to him by Proetus.
Iobates, who had become greatly attached to the youth, was horror-struck at
its contents. Nevertheless he concluded that Proetus must have good reasons
for his conduct, and that probably Bellerophon had committed a crime which
deserved death. But as he could not make up his mind to murder the guest he
had grown to esteem, he decided to despatch him upon dangerous enterprises,
in which he would in all probability lose his life.

He first sent him to kill the Chimæra, a monster which was at this time
devastating the country. The fore part of its body was that of a lion, the
centre of a goat, and the hind part of a dragon; whilst out of its jaws
issued flames of fire.

Before starting on this difficult task Bellerophon invoked the protection
of the gods, and in answer to his prayer they despatched to his aid the
immortal-winged horse Pegasus, the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. But
the divine animal would not suffer himself to be {258} caught, and at last,
worn out with his fruitless exertions, Bellerophon fell into a deep sleep
beside the sacred spring Pirene. Here Pallas-Athene appeared to him in a
dream, and presented him with a magic bridle for the purpose of capturing
the divine steed. On awaking Bellerophon instinctively put out his hand to
grasp it, when, to his amazement, there lay beside him the bridle of his
dream, whilst Pegasus was quietly drinking at the fountain close by.
Seizing him by the mane Bellerophon threw the bridle over his head, and
succeeded in mounting him without further difficulty; then rising with him
into the air he slew the Chimæra with his arrows.

Iobates next sent him on an expedition against the Solymans, a fierce
neighbouring tribe with whom he was at enmity. Bellerophon succeeded in
vanquishing them, and was then despatched against the much-dreaded Amazons;
but greatly to the astonishment of Iobates the hero again returned

Finally, Iobates placed a number of the bravest Lycians in ambush for the
purpose of destroying him, but not one returned alive, for Bellerophon
bravely defended himself and slew them all. Convinced at length that
Bellerophon, far from deserving death, was the special favourite of the
gods, who had evidently protected him throughout his perilous exploits, the
king now ceased his persecutions.

Iobates admitted him to a share in the government, and gave him his
daughter in marriage. But Bellerophon having attained the summit of earthly
prosperity became intoxicated with pride and vanity, and incurred the
displeasure of the gods by endeavouring to mount to heaven on his winged
horse, for the purpose of gratifying his idle curiosity. Zeus punished him
for his impiety by sending {259} a gadfly to sting the horse, who became so
restive that he threw his rider, who was precipitated to the earth. Filled
with remorse at having offended the gods Bellerophon fell a prey to the
deepest melancholy, and wandered about for the remainder of his life in the
loneliest and most desolate places.

After death he was honoured in Corinth as a hero, and an altar was erected
to him in the grove of Poseidon.


Aegeus, king of Athens, being twice married, and having no children, was so
desirous of an heir to his throne that he made a pilgrimage to Delphi in
order to consult the oracle. But the response being ambiguous, he repaired
to Troezen to consult his wise friend Pittheus, who reigned over that city,
by whose advice he contracted a secret marriage with his friend’s daughter

After passing some time with his bride, Aegeus prepared to take his
departure for his own dominions; but before doing so he led Aethra to the
sea-shore, where, after depositing his sword and sandals under a huge rock,
he thus addressed her: “Should the gods bless our union with a son, do not
reveal to him the name and rank of his father until he is old enough to
possess the strength requisite for moving this stone. Then send him to my
palace at Athens bearing these tokens of his identity.”

A son was born to Aethra, whom she called Theseus, and who was carefully
trained and educated by his grandfather Pittheus. When he had developed
into a strong and manly youth his mother conducted him to the spot where
the rock had been placed by Aegeus, and at her command he rolled away the
stone, and took possession of the sword and sandals which had lain there
for sixteen years, and which she now desired him to convey to his father
Aegeus, king of Athens.

His mother and grandfather were anxious that the youth should travel by the
safe sea route, the road between Troezen and Athens being at this time
infested {260} with robbers of great ferocity and enormous strength. But
feeling within himself the spirit of a hero, Theseus resolved to emulate
the deeds of Heracles, with whose fame all Greece resounded, and therefore
chose the more dangerous journey by land, as calculated to afford him an
opportunity of distinguishing himself by feats of valour.

His first adventure occurred at Epidaurus, where he met Periphetes, a son
of Hephæstus, who was armed with an iron club, with which he killed all
travellers. Having received from his grandfather a full description of this
savage, Theseus at once recognized him, and rushing upon him with his
sword, succeeded after a desperate encounter in killing him. He
appropriated the club as a trophy of his victory, and proceeded on his
journey without hinderance until he arrived at the Isthmus of Corinth.

Here the people warned him to beware of Sinnis the robber, who forced all
travellers to bend with him one of the branches of a tall pine-tree. Having
dragged it to the ground, the cruel Sinnis suddenly released his hold,
whereupon the bough rebounding high up into the air, the unfortunate victim
was dashed to the ground and killed. When Theseus beheld Sinnis advancing
towards him he steadily awaited his approach; then seizing his powerful
club, he killed the inhuman wretch with one blow.

Passing through the woody district of Crommyon Theseus next slew a wild and
dangerous sow which had long ravaged the country.

He then continued his journey and approached the borders of Megara, where,
on a narrow path overhanging the sea, dwelt the wicked Scyron, another
terror to travellers. It was his custom to compel all strangers who passed
his abode to wash his feet, during which operation he kicked them over the
rock into the sea. Theseus boldly attacked the giant, overcame him, and
then flung his body over the cliff where so many of his victims had

Theseus now journeyed on to Eleusis, where he found {261} another adversary
in the person of King Cercyon, who forced all comers to wrestle with him,
and killed those whom he vanquished; but Theseus overcame the mighty
wrestler and slew him.

Near Eleusis, on the banks of the river Cephissus, Theseus met with a new
adventure. Here lived the giant Damastes, called Procrustes or the
Stretcher, who had two iron beds, one being long and the other short, into
which he forced all strangers; In the short one he placed the tall men,
whose limbs he cut to the size of the bed, whilst to the short ones he
assigned the large bed, stretching them out to fit it; and thus he left his
victims to expire in the most cruel torments. Theseus freed the country
from this inhuman monster by serving him as he had done his unfortunate

The hero now continued his journey, and at length reached Athens without
meeting with any further adventures. When he arrived at his destination he
found his father a helpless tool in the hands of the sorceress Medea, whom
he had married after her departure from Corinth. Knowing, by means of her
supernatural powers, that Theseus was the king’s son, and fearing that her
influence might be weakened by his presence, she poisoned the mind of the
old king against the stranger, whom she represented as being a spy. It was
accordingly arranged that Theseus should be invited to a banquet, and a
strong poison mixed with his wine.

Now Theseus had resolved to reveal himself at this feast to the father whom
he yearned to embrace. Before tasting the wine he put his plan into
execution, and drew out his sword so that the eyes of the king might rest
upon it. When Aegeus beheld once more the well-known weapon which he had so
often wielded, he knew that it was his son who stood before him. He warmly
embraced him, presented him as his heir to his courtiers and subjects, and
then, no longer able to endure the sight of Medea, he banished her for ever
from his dominions.

When Theseus was acknowledged as the rightful heir to the throne he was
opposed by the fifty sons of Pallas, {262} the king’s brother, who had
confidently expected that on the demise of the old king the government of
the country would devolve upon them. They therefore resolved to put Theseus
to death; but their plans becoming known to him, he surprised them as they
lay in ambush awaiting his approach, and destroyed them all.

Fearing, however, lest the Athenians might entertain a prejudice against
him on account of his extermination of their fellow-citizens, the
Pallantids, Theseus resolved to perform some signal service for the state,
which should gain for him the hearts of the people. He accordingly decided
to rid the country of the famous bull of Marathon, which had become a
terror to the cultivators of the land. He captured the animal and brought
him in chains to Athens, where, after publicly exhibiting him to the
astonished multitude, he solemnly sacrificed him to Apollo.

The next enterprise undertaken by Theseus far surpassed all his other feats
of heroic daring, and secured to him the universal admiration and gratitude
of his fellow-citizens. This was the slaying of the Minotaur, which put an
end for ever to the shameful tribute of seven youths and seven maidens
which was exacted from the Athenians every nine years.

The origin of this barbarous tribute was as follows: Androgeos, the
youthful son of Minos, king of Crete, having been treacherously murdered by
the Athenians, his father, anxious to avenge the death of his son, declared
war against their king Aegeus, and conquered Athens and the villages in its
vicinity. The conqueror henceforth compelled the Athenians to send to him
every nine years a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens of the noblest
families of the land, who became the prey of the Minotaur, a monster,
half-man, half-bull, whose lair was in the wonderful labyrinth, constructed
by Dædalus for the Cretan king.

When Theseus informed his father of his heroic determination, he was
overwhelmed with grief, and endeavoured, by every means in his power, to
shake his son’s resolution, but, confident of success, Theseus assured his
{263} father that he would slay the Minotaur and return home victorious.

It was customary for the vessel bearing its unhappy freight of human
victims to use on this voyage black sails only; but Theseus promised his
father that, should he return in safety, he would hoist white ones in their

Before leaving Athens Theseus, by the advice of an oracle, chose Aphrodite
as his guardian and protectress, and accordingly offered up a sacrifice to
her. When he arrived in the presence of king Minos, the goddess of Love
inspired Ariadne, the beautiful daughter of the king, with an ardent
attachment for the noble young hero. During a secret interview, in which a
mutual confession of affection took place, Ariadne furnished him with a
sharp sword and a clue of thread, the end of which she desired him to
fasten at the entrance to the labyrinth and to continue to unwind it till
he reached the lair of the Minotaur. Full of hope as to the successful
issue of his undertaking, Theseus took leave of the kind maiden, after
expressing his gratitude for her timely aid.

At the head of his companions he was now conducted by Minos to the entrance
of the labyrinth. Strictly adhering to the injunctions of the fair Ariadne
he succeeded in finding the Minotaur, whom, after a fierce and violent
struggle, he defeated and killed; then carefully feeling his way, by means
of the clue of thread, he led his companions safely out of the labyrinth.
They then fled to their ship, taking with them the lovely maiden to whose
affection for their deliverer they owed their safety.

Arrived at the island of Naxos, Theseus had a dream, in which Dionysus, the
wine-god, appeared to him, and informed him that the Fates had decreed that
Ariadne should be his bride, at the same time menacing the hero with all
kinds of misfortunes should he refuse to resign her. Now Theseus, having
been taught from his youth to reverence the gods, feared to disobey the
wishes of Dionysus. He accordingly took a sad farewell of the {264}
beautiful maiden who so tenderly loved him, and left her on the lonely
island, where she was found and wooed by the wine-god.

Theseus and his companions felt keenly the loss of their benefactress, and
in their grief at parting with her, forgot that the ship still bore the
black sails with which she had left the Attic coast. As she neared the port
of Athens, Aegeus, who was anxiously awaiting the return of his son on the
beach, caught sight of the vessel with its black sails, and concluding that
his gallant son had perished, threw himself in despair into the sea.

With the unanimous approval of the Athenians, Theseus now ascended the
vacant throne, and soon proved himself to be not only a valiant hero but
also a wise prince and prudent legislator. Athens was at this time but a
small city surrounded by a number of villages, each of which possessed its
own separate form of government; but by means of kind and conciliatory
measures Theseus induced the heads of these different communities to resign
their sovereignty, and to intrust the administration of public affairs to a
court which should sit constantly at Athens, and exercise jurisdiction over
all the inhabitants of Attica. The result of these judicious measures was,
that the Athenians became a united and powerful people, and that numbers of
strangers and foreigners flocked to Athens, which became a flourishing
maritime port and a commercial centre of great importance.

Theseus renewed the Isthmian Games, and also instituted numerous festivals,
the principal of which was the Panathenæa, held in honour of Athene-Polias.

It is related that Theseus upon one occasion arrived during a voyage at the
Amazonian coast. Anxious to ascertain the object of his visit, the Amazons
sent Hippolyte, one of their number, with presents to the stranger; but no
sooner did the fair herald set foot on board his vessel than Theseus set
sail and carried her off to Athens, where he made her his queen. Enraged at
this indignity the Amazons determined to be revenged. Some time afterwards,
when the whole affair would {265} appear to have been forgotten, they
seized the opportunity when the city of Athens was in a defenceless
condition and landed an army in Attica. So sudden was their attack that
they had penetrated into the very heart of the city before the Athenians
could organize their forces; but Theseus expeditiously collected his troops
and commenced such a furious onslaught upon the invaders that, after a
desperate encounter, they were driven from the city. Peace was then
concluded, whereupon the Amazons evacuated the country. During this
engagement Hippolyte, forgetful of her origin, fought valiantly by the side
of her husband against her own kinsfolk, and perished on the field of

It was soon after this sad event that Theseus joined the world-renowned
Calydonian Boar-hunt, in which he took a leading part. He also formed one
of the brave band who shared in the perils of the Argonautic expedition.

The remarkable friendship which existed between Theseus and Pirithöus
originated under such peculiar circumstances that it is worthy of mention.

Hearing upon one occasion that his herds, pasturing in the plains of
Marathon, had been carried off by Pirithöus, Theseus collected together an
armed force and sallied forth to punish the plunderer. But, when the two
heroes met face to face, both were seized with an impulse of sympathetic
admiration for each other. Pirithöus, holding out his hand in token of
peace, exclaimed, “What satisfaction shall I render thee, oh Theseus? Be
thou thyself the judge.” Theseus seized the proffered hand and replied, “I
ask nought save thy {266} friendship;” whereupon the heroes embraced each
other and swore eternal fidelity.

When, soon afterwards, Pirithöus became united to Hippodamia, a Thessalian
princess, he invited Theseus to the wedding-feast, which was also attended,
among other guests, by a large number of Centaurs, who were friends of
Pirithöus. Towards the end of the banquet Eurytion, a young Centaur, heated
and flushed with wine, seized the lovely bride and sought by force to carry
her off. The other Centaurs, following his example, each endeavoured to
capture a maiden. Pirithöus and his followers, aided by Theseus, who
rendered most valuable assistance, attacked the Centaurs, and after a
violent hand-to-hand struggle in which many perished, forced them to
relinquish their prey.

After the death of Hippolyte Theseus sought the hand of Phædra, the sister
of his former bride Ariadne, to whom he became united. For some years they
lived happily together, and their union was blessed by the birth of two
sons. During this time Hippolytus, the son of the Amazonian queen, had been
absent from home, having been placed under the care of the king’s uncles in
order to be educated. When, having grown to manhood, he now returned to his
father’s palace, his young stepmother, Phædra, fell violently in love with
him; but Hippolytus failed to return her affection, and treated her with
contempt and indifference. Filled with rage and despair at his coldness
Phædra put an end to her existence; and when she was discovered by her
husband she held in her hand a letter, accusing Hippolytus of being the
cause of her death, and of having conspired against the honour of the king.

Now Poseidon had upon one occasion promised to grant Theseus whatever
request he should demand; he therefore called upon the sea-god to destroy
Hippolytus, whom he cursed in the most solemn manner. The father’s awful
malediction fell but too soon upon his innocent son; for, as the latter was
driving his chariot along the sea-shore, between Troezen and Athens, a
{267} monster, sent by Poseidon, rose out of the deep, and so frightened
the horses that they became altogether unmanageable. As they rushed on in
their mad career the chariot was dashed to pieces, and the unfortunate
youth, whose feet had become entangled in the reins, was dragged along
until life was nearly extinct.

In this condition he was found by the unhappy Theseus, who, having
ascertained the true facts of the case from an old servant of Phædra, had
hastened to prevent the catastrophe. But he arrived too late, and was only
able to soothe the last moments of his dying son by acknowledging the sad
mistake which he had committed, and declaring his firm belief in his honour
and innocence.

After these events Theseus was persuaded by his friend Pirithöus, who had
also about this time lost his young wife, Hippodamia, to join him in a
journey through Greece, with the object of carrying off by force the most
beautiful maidens whom they should chance to meet.

Arrived at Sparta they beheld, in the temple of Artemis, Helen, the
daughter of Zeus and Leda, who was engaged in performing sacred dances in
honour of the goddess. Although the maiden was only nine years old the fame
of her beauty, which was destined to play so important a part in the
history of Greece, had already spread far and wide. Theseus and Pirithöus
forcibly abducted her, and then having cast lots for her, she fell to
Theseus, who placed her under the charge of his mother Æthra.

Pirithöus now requested Theseus to assist him in his ambitious scheme of
descending to the lower world and carrying off Persephone, the queen of
Hades. Though fully alive to the perils of the undertaking Theseus would
not forsake his friend, and together they sought the gloomy realm of
Shades. But Aïdes had been forewarned of their approach, and scarcely had
the two friends set foot within his dominions when, by his orders, they
were seized, bound with chains, and secured to an enchanted rock at the
entrance of Hades. Here the two {268} friends languished for many years,
until Heracles passed by in his search for Cerberus, when he released
Theseus; but in obedience to an injunction of the gods, left Pirithöus to
endure for ever the punishment of his too daring ambition.

While Theseus was imprisoned in the under world Castor and Pollux, the
brothers of Helen, invaded Athens, and demanded the restoration of their
young sister. Seeing his country threatened with the horrors of warfare, an
Athenian citizen named Academus, who knew of Helen’s place of concealment,
repaired to the camp of the Dioscuri, and informed them where they would
find her. Æthra at once resigned her charge, whereupon the brothers took
leave of Athens, and, accompanied by Helen, returned to their native

But the prolonged absence of Theseus gave rise to other troubles of a more
serious character. Thinking the opportunity favourable for a revolt, a
faction, headed by Menesthius, a descendant of Erechtheus, arrogated to
themselves supreme power, and seized the reins of government.

Returned to Athens, Theseus at once took active measures to quell the
insubordination which existed on all sides. He expelled Menesthius from
office, rigorously punished the ringleaders of the revolt, and placed
himself once more upon the throne. But his hold upon the people was gone.
His former services were all forgotten, and, finding at length that
dissensions and revolts were rife, he voluntarily abdicated the throne, and
retired to his estates in the island of Scyros. Here Lycomedes, king of the
island, feigned to receive him with the utmost friendship; but being, as it
is supposed, in league with Menesthius, he led the old king to the summit
of a high rock, under pretence of showing him his estates, and
treacherously killed him by pushing him over the cliff.

Many centuries after his death, by the command of the oracle of Delphi,
Cimon, the father of Miltiades, at the conclusion of the Persian war,
brought the remains of Theseus, the great benefactor of Athens, to that
city, {269} and in his honour a temple was erected, which exists to the
present day, and serves as a museum of art.


Laius, king of Thebes, the son of Labdacus, and a direct descendant of
Cadmus, was married to Jocaste, the daughter of a noble Theban. An oracle
having foretold that he would perish by the hand of his own son, he
determined to destroy the infant to whom Jocaste had just given birth. With
the consent of his wife, whose affection for her husband overcame her love
for her child, he pierced the feet of the babe, bound them together, and
handed the infant over to a servant, with instructions to expose him on
Mount Cithæron to perish. But instead of obeying this cruel command, the
servant intrusted him to a shepherd who was tending the flocks of Polybus,
king of Corinth, and then returned to Laius and Jocaste, and informed them
that their orders had been obeyed. The parents were satisfied with the
intelligence, and quieted their conscience by the reflection that they had
thus prevented their son from committing the crime of parricide.

Meanwhile the shepherd of king Polybus had unbound the feet of the infant,
and in consequence of their being much swollen he called him Oedipus, or
Swollen-foot. He then carried him to the king, his master, who, pitying the
poor little waif, enlisted for him the kind offices of his wife, Merope.
Oedipus was adopted by the king and queen as their own son, and grew up in
the belief that they were his parents, until one day a Corinthian noble
taunted him at a banquet with not being the son of the king. Stung at this
reproach the youth appealed to Merope, but receiving an equivocal, though
kindly answer, he repaired to Delphi to consult the oracle. The Pythia
vouchsafed no reply to his inquiry, but informed him, to his horror, that
he was fated to kill his father and to marry his own mother.

Filled with dismay, for he was tenderly attached to Polybus and Merope,
Oedipus determined not to return {270} to Corinth, and took instead the
road leading to Boeotia. On his way a chariot passed him, in which sat an
old man with two servants, who rudely pushed the pedestrian out of the
path. In the scuffle which ensued Oedipus struck the old man with his heavy
stick, and he fell back dead on the seat of the chariot. Struck with dismay
at the unpremeditated murder which he had committed, the youth fled, and
left the spot without learning that the old man whom he had killed was his
father, Laius, king of Thebes.

Not long after this occurrence the Sphinx (full details of whom have
already been given) was sent by the goddess Hera as a punishment to the
Thebans. Stationed on a rocky height just outside the city, she propounded
to the passers by riddles which she had been taught by the Muses, and
whoever failed to solve them was torn in pieces and devoured by the
monster, and in this manner great numbers of the inhabitants of Thebes had

Now on the death of the old king Laius, Creon, the brother of the widowed
queen, had seized the reins of government and mounted the vacant throne;
and when at length his own son fell a victim to the Sphinx, he resolved at
all costs to rid the country of this fearful scourge. He accordingly issued
a proclamation, that the kingdom and the hand of his sister Jocaste should
be awarded to him who should succeed in solving one of the riddles of the
Sphinx, it having been foretold by an oracle that only then would the
country be freed from the monster.

Just as this proclamation was being made in the streets of Thebes Oedipus,
with his pilgrim’s staff in his hand, entered the city. Tempted by the
prospect of so magnificent a reward he repaired to the rock, and boldly
requested the Sphinx to propound to him one of her riddles. She proposed to
him one which she deemed impossible of solution, but Oedipus at once solved
it; whereupon the Sphinx, full of rage and despair, precipitated herself
into the abyss and perished. Oedipus {271} received the promised reward. He
became king of Thebes and the husband of Jocaste, the widow of his father,
king Laius.

For many years Oedipus enjoyed the greatest happiness and tranquillity.
Four children were born to him–two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, and two
daughters, Antigone and Ismene. But at last the gods afflicted the country
with a grievous pestilence, which made terrible havoc among the people. In
their distress they entreated the help of the king, who was regarded by his
subjects as a special favourite of the gods. Oedipus consulted an oracle,
and the response was that the pestilence would continue to rage until the
land was purified of the blood of king Laius, whose murderer was living
unpunished at Thebes.

The king now invoked the most solemn imprecations on the head of the
murderer, and offered a reward for any information concerning him. He then
sent for the blind old seer Tiresias, and implored him, by means of his
prophetic powers, to reveal to him the author of the crime. Tiresias at
first hesitated, but yielding to the earnest solicitations of the king, the
old prophet thus addressed him: “Thou thyself art the murderer of the old
king Laius, who was thy father; and thou art wedded to his widow, thine own
mother.” In order to convince Oedipus of the truth of his words, he brought
forward the old servant who had exposed him as a babe on Mount Cithæron,
and the shepherd who had conveyed him to king Polybus. Horrified at this
awful revelation Oedipus, in a fit of despair, deprived himself of sight,
and the unfortunate Jocaste, unable to survive her disgrace, hanged

Accompanied by his faithful and devoted daughter Antigone, Oedipus quitted
Thebes and became a miserable and homeless outcast, begging his bread from
place to place. At length, after a long and painful pilgrimage, he found a
place of refuge in the grove of the Eumenides (at Colonus, near Athens),
where his last moments were soothed and tended by the care and devotion of
the faithful Antigone.


After the voluntary abdication of Oedipus, his two sons, Eteocles and
Polynices, took possession of the crown and reigned over the city of
Thebes. But Eteocles, being an ambitious prince, soon seized the reins of
government himself, and expelled his brother from the throne.

Polynices now repaired to Argos, where he arrived in the dead of night.
Outside the gates of the royal palace he encountered Tydeus, the son of
Oeneus, king of Calydon. Having accidentally killed a relative in the
chase, Tydeus was also a fugitive; but being mistaken by Polynices in the
darkness for an enemy, a quarrel ensued, which might have ended fatally,
had not king Adrastus, aroused by the clamour, appeared on the scene and
parted the combatants.

By the light of the torches borne by his attendants Adrastus observed, to
his surprise, that on the shield of Polynices a lion was depicted, and on
that of Tydeus a boar. The former bore this insignia in honour of the
renowned hero Heracles, the latter in memory of the famous Calydonian
boar-hunt. This circumstance reminded the king of an extraordinary oracular
prediction concerning his two beautiful daughters, Argia and Deipyle, which
was to the effect that he would give them in marriage to a lion and a boar.
Hailing with delight what he regarded as an auspicious solution of the
mysterious prophecy, he invited the strangers into his palace; and when he
heard their history, and had convinced himself that they were of noble
birth, he bestowed upon Polynices his beautiful daughter Argia, and upon
Tydeus the fair Deipyle, promising at the same time that he would assist
both his sons-in-law to regain their rightful patrimony.

The first care of Adrastus was to aid Polynices in regaining possession of
his lawful share in the government of Thebes. He accordingly invited the
most powerful chiefs in his kingdom to join in the expedition, {273} all of
whom readily obeyed the call with the exception of the king’s
brother-in-law, Amphiaraus, the seer. As he foresaw a disastrous
termination to the enterprise, and knew that not one of the heroes, save
Adrastus himself, would return alive, he earnestly dissuaded the king from
carrying out his project, and declined to take any part in the undertaking.
But Adrastus, seconded by Polynices and Tydeus, was obstinately bent on the
achievement of his purpose, and Amphiaraus, in order to escape from their
importunities, concealed himself in a hiding-place known only to his wife

Now on the occasion of the marriage of Amphiaraus it had been agreed, that
if he ever differed in opinion with the king, his wife should decide the
question. As the presence of Amphiaraus was indispensable to the success of
the undertaking, and, moreover, as Adrastus would not enter upon it without
“the eye of the army,” as he called his brother-in-law, Polynices, bent on
securing his services, determined to bribe Eriphyle to use her influence
with her husband and to decide the question in accordance with his wishes.
He bethought himself of the beautiful necklace of Harmonia, wife of Cadmus,
which he had brought with him in his flight from Thebes. Without loss of
time he presented himself before the wife of Amphiaraus, and held up to her
admiring gaze the glittering bauble, promising that if she revealed the
hiding-place of her husband and induced him to join the expedition, the
necklace should be hers. Eriphyle, unable to withstand the tempting bait,
accepted the bribe, and thus Amphiaraus was compelled to join the army. But
before leaving his home he extorted a solemn promise from his son Alcmæon
that, should he perish on the field of battle, he would avenge his death on
his mother, the perfidious Eriphyle.

Seven leaders were now chosen, each at the head of a separate detachment of
troops. These were Adrastus the king, his two brothers Hippomedon and
Parthenopæus, Capaneus his nephew, Polynices and Tydeus, and Amphiaraus.

When the army was collected they set out for Nemea, which was at this time
governed by king Lycurgus. Here the Argives, being short of water, halted
on the outskirts of a forest in order to search for a spring, when they saw
a majestic and beautiful woman seated on the trunk of a tree, nursing an
infant. They concluded from her noble and queenly appearance that she must
be a goddess, but were informed by her that she was Hypsipile, queen of the
Lemnians, who had been carried away captive by pirates, and sold as a slave
to king Lycurgus, and that she was now acting as nurse to his infant son.
When the warriors told her that they were in search of water, she laid the
child down in the grass, and led them to a secret spring in the forest,
with which she alone was acquainted. But on their return they found, to
their grief, that the unfortunate babe had been killed during their
absence, by a serpent. They slew the reptile, and then collecting the
remains of the infant, they buried them with funereal honours and proceeded
on their way.

The warlike host now appeared before the walls of Thebes, and each leader
placed himself before one of the seven gates of the city in readiness for
the attack. Eteocles, in conjunction with Creon, had made due preparations
to repel the invaders, and had stationed troops, under the command of
trusty leaders, to guard each of the gates. Then, according to the practice
of the ancients of consulting soothsayers before entering upon any
undertaking, the blind old seer Tiresias was sent for, who, after carefully
taking the auguries from the flight of birds, declared that all efforts to
defend the city would prove unavailing, unless the youngest descendant of
the house of Cadmus would offer himself as a voluntary sacrifice for the
good of the state.

When Creon heard the words of the seer his first thought was of his
favourite son Menoeceus, the youngest scion of the royal house, who was
present at the interview. He therefore earnestly implored him to leave the
city, and to repair for safety to Delphi. But the gallant youth heroically
resolved to sacrifice his life for the {275} benefit of his country, and
after taking leave of his old father, mounted the city walls, and plunging
a dagger into his heart, perished in the sight of the contending hosts.

Adrastus now gave his troops the word of command to storm the city, and
they rushed forward to the attack with great valour. The battle raged long
and furiously, and after heavy losses on both sides the Argives were routed
and put to flight.

After the lapse of some days they reorganized their forces, and again
appeared before the gates of Thebes, when Eteocles, grieved to think that
there should be such a terrible loss of life on his account, sent a herald
into the opposite camp, with a proposition that the fate of the campaign
should be decided by single combat between himself and his brother
Polynices. The challenge was readily accepted, and in the duel which took
place outside the city walls, in the sight of the rival forces, Eteocles
and Polynices were both fatally wounded and expired on the field of battle.

Both sides now claimed the day, and the result was that hostilities
recommenced, and soon the battle raged with greater fury than ever. But
victory at last declared itself for the Thebans. In their flight the
Argives lost all their leaders, Adrastus excepted, who owed his safety to
the fleetness of his horse Arion.

By the death of the brothers, Creon became once more king of Thebes, and in
order to show his abhorrence of the conduct of Polynices in fighting
against his country, he strictly forbade any one to bury either his remains
or those of his allies. But the faithful Antigone, who had returned to
Thebes on the death of her father, could not endure that the body of her
brother should remain unburied. She therefore bravely disregarded the
orders of the king, and endeavoured to give sepulture to the remains of

When Creon discovered that his commands had been set at defiance, he
inhumanly condemned the devoted maiden to be entombed alive in a
subterranean vault. {276} But retribution was at hand. His son, Hæmon, who
was betrothed to Antigone, having contrived to effect an entrance into the
vault, was horrified to find that Antigone had hanged herself by her veil.
Feeling that life without her would be intolerable, he threw himself in
despair on his own sword, and after solemnly invoking the malediction of
the gods on the head of his father, expired beside the dead body of his

Hardly had the news of the tragic fate of his son reached the king, before
another messenger appeared, bearing the tidings that his wife Eurydice, on
hearing of the death of Hæmon, had put an end to her existence, and thus
the king found himself in his old age both widowed and childless.

Nor did he succeed in the execution of his vindictive designs; for
Adrastus, who, after his flight from Thebes, had taken refuge at Athens,
induced Theseus to lead an army against the Thebans, to compel them to
restore the dead bodies of the Argive warriors to their friends, in order
that they might perform due funereal rites in honour of the slain. This
undertaking was successfully accomplished, and the remains of the fallen
heroes were interred with due honours.


Ten years after these events the sons of the slain heroes, who were called
Epigoni, or descendants, resolved to avenge the death of their fathers, and
with this object entered upon a new expedition against the city of Thebes.

By the advice of the Delphic oracle the command was intrusted to Alcmæon,
the son of Amphiaraus; but remembering the injunction of his father he
hesitated to accept this post before executing vengeance on his mother
Eriphyle. Thersander, however, the son of Polynices, adopting similar
tactics to those of his father, bribed Eriphyle with the beautiful veil of
Harmonia, bequeathed to him by Polynices, to induce her son {277} Alcmæon
and his brother Amphilochus to join in this second war against Thebes.

Now the mother of Alcmæon was gifted with that rare fascination which
renders its possessor irresistible to all who may chance to come within its
influence; nor was her own son able to withstand her blandishments.
Yielding therefore to her wily representations he accepted the command of
the troops, and at the head of a large and powerful army advanced upon

Before the gates of the city Alcmæon encountered the Thebans under the
command of Laodamas, the son of Eteocles. A fierce battle ensued, in which
the Theban leader, after performing prodigies of valour, perished by the
hand of Alcmæon.

After losing their chief and the flower of their army, the Thebans
retreated behind the city walls, and the enemy now pressed them hard on
every side. In their distress they appealed to the blind old seer Tiresias,
who was over a hundred years old. With trembling lips and in broken
accents, he informed them that they could only save their lives by
abandoning their native city with their wives and families. Upon this they
despatched ambassadors into the enemy’s camp; and whilst these were
protracting negotiations during the night, the Thebans, with their wives
and children, evacuated the city. Next morning the Argives entered Thebes
and plundered it, placing Thersander, the son of Polynices (who was a
descendant of Cadmus), on the throne which his father had so vainly


When Alcmæon returned from his expedition against the Thebans he determined
to fulfil the last injunction of his father Amphiaraus, who had desired him
to be revenged on his mother Eriphyle for her perfidy in accepting a bribe
to betray him. This resolution was further strengthened by the discovery
that his unprincipled mother had urged him also to join the expedition
{278} in return for the much-coveted veil of Harmonia. He therefore put her
to death; and taking with him the ill-fated necklace and veil, abandoned
for ever the home of his fathers.

But the gods, who could not suffer so unnatural a crime to go unpunished,
afflicted him with madness, and sent one of the Furies to pursue him
unceasingly. In this unhappy condition he wandered about from place to
place, until at last having reached Psophis in Arcadia, Phegeus, king of
the country, not only purified him of his crime, but also bestowed upon him
the hand of his daughter Arsinoë, to whom Alcmæon presented the necklace
and veil, which had already been the cause of so much unhappiness.

Though now released from his mental affliction, the curse which hung over
him was not entirely removed, and on his account the country of his
adoption was visited with a severe drought. On consulting the oracle of
Delphi he was informed that any land which offered him shelter would be
cursed by the gods, and that the malediction would continue to follow him
till he came to a country which was not in existence at the time he had
murdered his mother. Bereft of hope, and resolved no longer to cast the
shadow of his dark fate over those he loved, Alcmæon took a tender leave of
his wife and little son, and became once more an outcast and wanderer.

Arrived after a long and painful pilgrimage at the river Achelous, he
discovered, to his unspeakable joy, a beautiful and fertile island, which
had but lately emerged from beneath the water. Here he took up his abode;
and in this haven of rest he was at length freed from his sufferings, and
finally purified of his crime by the river-god Achelous. But in his
new-found home where prosperity smiled upon him, Alcmæon soon forgot the
loving wife and child he had left behind, and wooed Calirrhoë, the
beautiful daughter of the river-god, who became united to him in marriage.

For many years Alcmæon and Calirrhoë lived happily together, and two sons
were born to them. But {279} unfortunately for the peace of her husband,
the daughter of Achelous had heard of the celebrated necklace and veil of
Harmonia, and became seized with a violent desire to become the possessor
of these precious treasures.

Now the necklace and veil were in the safe-keeping of Arsinoë; but as
Alcmæon had carefully concealed the fact of his former marriage from his
young wife, he informed her, when no longer able to combat her
importunities, that he had concealed them in a cave in his native country,
and promised to hasten thither and procure them for her. He accordingly
took leave of Calirrhoë and his children, and proceeded to Psophis, where
he presented himself before his deserted wife and her father, king Phegeus.
To them he excused his absence by the fact of his having suffered from a
fresh attack of madness, and added that an oracle had foretold to him that
his malady would only be cured when he had deposited the necklace and veil
of Harmonia in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Arsinoë, deceived by his
artful representations, unhesitatingly restored to him his bridal gifts,
whereupon Alcmæon set out on his homeward journey, well satisfied with the
successful issue of his expedition.

But the fatal necklace and veil were doomed to bring ruin and disaster to
all who possessed them. During his sojourn at the court of king Phegeus,
one of the servants who had accompanied Alcmæon betrayed the secret of his
union with the daughter of the river-god; and when the king informed his
sons of his treacherous conduct, they determined to avenge the wrongs of
their sister Arsinoë. They accordingly concealed themselves at a point of
the road which Alcmæon was compelled to pass, and as he neared the spot
they suddenly emerged from their place of ambush, fell upon him and
despatched him.

When Arsinoë, who still loved her faithless husband, heard of the murder,
she bitterly reproached her brothers for the crime which they had
perpetrated, at which they were so incensed, that they placed her in a
chest, and conveyed her to Agapenor, son of Ancæus, at Tegea. {280} Here
they accused her of the murder of which they themselves were guilty, and
she suffered a painful death.

Calirrhoë, on learning the sad fate of Alcmæon, implored Zeus that her
infant sons might grow at once to manhood, and avenge the death of their
father. The ruler of Olympus heard the petition of the bereaved wife, and,
in answer to her prayer, the children of yesterday became transformed into
bearded men, full of strength and courage, and thirsting for revenge.

Hastening to Tegea, they there encountered the sons of Phegeus, who were
about to repair to Delphi, in order to deposit the necklace and veil in the
sanctuary of Apollo; and before the brothers had time to defend themselves,
the stalwart sons of Calirrhoë rushed upon them and slew them. They then
proceeded to Psophis, where they killed king Phegeus and his wife, after
which they returned to their mother with the necklace and veil, which, by
the command of her father Achelous, were deposited as sacred offerings in
the temple of Apollo at Delphi.


After the apotheosis of Heracles, his children were so cruelly persecuted
by Eurystheus, that they fled for protection to king Ceyx at Trachin,
accompanied by the aged Iolaus, the nephew and life-long friend of their
father, who constituted himself their guide and protector. But on
Eurystheus demanding the surrender of the fugitives, the Heraclidæ, knowing
that the small force at the disposal of king Ceyx would be altogether
inadequate to protect them against the powerful king of Argos, abandoned
his territory, and sought refuge at Athens, where they were hospitably
received by king Demophoon, the son of the great hero Theseus. He warmly
espoused their cause, and determined to protect them at all costs against
Eurystheus, who had despatched a numerous force in pursuit of them.

When the Athenians had made all necessary preparations to repel the
invaders, an oracle announced that the {281} sacrifice of a maiden of noble
birth was necessary to ensure to them victory; whereupon Macaria, the
beautiful daughter of Heracles and Deianira, magnanimously offered herself
as a sacrifice, and, surrounded by the noblest matrons and maidens of
Athens, voluntarily devoted herself to death.

While these events were transpiring in Athens, Hyllus, the eldest son of
Heracles and Deianira, had advanced with a large army to the assistance of
his brothers, and having sent a messenger to the king announcing his
arrival, Demophoon, with his army, joined his forces.

In the thick of the battle which ensued, Iolaus, following a sudden
impulse, borrowed the chariot of Hyllus, and earnestly entreated Zeus and
Hebe to restore to him, for this one day only, the vigour and strength of
his youth. His prayer was heard. A thick cloud descended from heaven and
enveloped the chariot, and when it disappeared, Iolaus, in the full
plenitude of manly vigour, stood revealed before the astonished gaze of the
combatants. He then led on his valiant band of warriors, and soon the enemy
was in headlong flight; and Eurystheus, who was taken prisoner, was put to
death by the command of king Demophoon.

After gratefully acknowledging the timely aid of the Athenians, Hyllus,
accompanied by the faithful Iolaus and his brothers, took leave of king
Demophoon, and proceeded to invade the Peloponnesus, which they regarded as
their lawful patrimony; for, according to the will of Zeus, it should have
been the rightful possession of their father, the great hero Heracles, had
not Hera maliciously defeated his plans by causing his cousin Eurystheus to
precede him into the world.

For the space of twelve months the Heraclidæ contrived to maintain
themselves in the Peloponnesus; but at the expiration of that time a
pestilence broke out, which spread over the entire peninsula, and compelled
the Heraclidæ to evacuate the country and return to Attica, where for a
time they settled.

After the lapse of three years Hyllus resolved on {282} making another
effort to obtain his paternal inheritance. Before setting out on the
expedition, however, he consulted the oracle of Delphi, and the response
was, that he must wait for the third fruit before the enterprise would
prove successful. Interpreting this ambiguous reply to signify the third
summer, Hyllus controlled his impatience for three years, when, having
collected a powerful army, he once more entered the Peloponnesus.

At the isthmus of Corinth he was opposed by Atreus, the son of Pelops, who
at the death of Eurystheus had inherited the kingdom. In order to save
bloodshed, Hyllus offered to decide his claims by single combat, the
conditions being, that if he were victorious, he and his brothers should
obtain undisputed possession of their rights; but if defeated, the
Heraclidæ were to desist for fifty years from attempting to press their

The challenge was accepted by Echemon, king of Tegea, and Hyllus lost his
life in the encounter, whereupon the sons of Heracles, in virtue of their
agreement, abandoned the Peloponnesus and retired to Marathon.

Hyllus was succeeded by his son Cleodæus, who, at the expiration of the
appointed time, collected a large army and invaded the Peloponnesus; but he
was not more successful than his father had been, and perished there with
all his forces.

Twenty years later his son Aristomachus consulted an oracle, which promised
him victory if he went by way of the defile. The Heraclidæ once more set
out, but were again defeated, and Aristomachus shared the fate of his
father and grandfather, and fell on the field of battle.

When, at the expiration of thirty years, the sons of Aristomachus, Temenus,
Cresphontes, and Aristodemus again consulted the oracle, the answer was
still the same; but this time the following explanation accompanied the
response: the third fruit signified the third generation, to which they
themselves belonged, and not the third fruit of the earth; and by the
defile was indicated, not the isthmus of Corinth, but the straits on the
right of the isthmus.

Temenus lost no time in collecting an army and building ships of war; but
just as all was ready and the fleet about to sail, Aristodemus, the
youngest of the brothers, was struck by lightning. To add to their
misfortunes, Hippolytes, a descendant of Heracles, who had joined in the
expedition, killed a soothsayer whom he mistook for a spy, and the gods, in
their displeasure, sent violent tempests, by means of which the entire
fleet was destroyed, whilst famine and pestilence decimated the ranks of
the army.

The oracle, on being again consulted, advised that Hippolytes, being the
offender, should be banished from the country for ten years, and that the
command of the troops should be delegated to a man having three eyes. A
search was at once instituted by the Heraclidæ for a man answering to this
description, who was found at length in the person of Oxylus, a descendant
of the Ætolian race of kings. In obedience to the command of the oracle,
Hippolytes was banished, an army and fleet once more equipped, and Oxylus
elected commander-in-chief.

And now success at length crowned the efforts of the long-suffering
descendants of the great hero. They obtained possession of the
Peloponnesus, which was divided among them by lot. Argos fell to Temenus,
Lacedæmon to Aristodemus, and Messene to Cresphontes. In gratitude for the
services of their able leader, Oxylus, the kingdom of Elis, was conferred
upon him by the Heraclidæ.


Troy or Ilion was the capital of a kingdom in Asia Minor, situated near the
Hellespont, and founded by Ilus, son of Tros. At the time of the famous
Trojan war this city was under the government of Priam, a direct descendant
of Ilus. Priam was married to Hecuba, daughter of Dymas, king of Thrace;
and among the most celebrated of their children were the renowned and {284}
valiant Hector, the prophetess Cassandra, and Paris, the cause of the
Trojan war.

Before the birth of her second son Paris, Hecuba dreamt that she had given
birth to a flaming brand, which was interpreted by Æsacus the seer (a son
of Priam by a former marriage) to signify that she would bear a son who
would cause the destruction of the city of Troy. Anxious to prevent the
fulfilment of the prophecy, Hecuba caused her new-born babe to be exposed
on Mount Ida to perish; but being found by some kind-hearted shepherds, the
child was reared by them, and grew up unconscious of his noble birth.

As the boy approached manhood he became remarkable, not only for his
wonderful beauty of form and feature, but also for his strength and
courage, which he exercised in defending the flocks from the attacks of
robbers and wild beasts; hence he was called Alexander, or helper of men.
It was about this time that he settled the famous dispute concerning the
golden apple, thrown by the goddess of Discord into the assembly of the
gods. As we have already seen, he gave his decision in favour of Aphrodite;
thus creating for himself two implacable enemies, for Hera and Athene never
forgave the slight.

Paris became united to a beautiful nymph named Oenone, with whom he lived
happily in the seclusion and tranquillity of a pastoral life; but to her
deep grief this peaceful existence was not fated to be of long duration.

Hearing that some funereal games were about to be held in Troy in honour of
a departed relative of the king, Paris resolved to visit the capital and
take part in them himself. There he so greatly distinguished himself in a
contest with his unknown brothers, Hector and Deiphobus, that the proud
young princes, enraged that an obscure shepherd should snatch from them the
prize of victory, were about to create a disturbance, when Cassandra, who
had been a spectator of the proceedings, stepped forward, and announced to
them that the humble peasant who had so signally defeated them was their
own {285} brother Paris. He was then conducted to the presence of his
parents, who joyfully acknowledged him as their child; and amidst the
festivities and rejoicings in honour of their new-found son the ominous
prediction of the past was forgotten.

As a proof of his confidence, the king now intrusted Paris with a somewhat
delicate mission. As we have already seen in the Legend of Heracles, that
great hero conquered Troy, and after killing king Laomedon, carried away
captive his beautiful daughter Hesione, whom he bestowed in marriage on his
friend Telamon. But although she became princess of Salamis, and lived
happily with her husband, her brother Priam never ceased to regret her
loss, and the indignity which had been passed upon his house; and it was
now proposed that Paris should be equipped with a numerous fleet, and
proceed to Greece in order to demand the restoration of the king’s sister.

Before setting out on this expedition, Paris was warned by Cassandra
against bringing home a wife from Greece, and she predicted that if he
disregarded her injunction he would bring inevitable ruin upon the city of
Troy, and destruction to the house of Priam.

Under the command of Paris the fleet set sail, and arrived safely in
Greece. Here the young Trojan prince first beheld Helen, the daughter of
Zeus and Leda, and sister of the Dioscuri, who was the wife of Menelaus,
king of Sparta, and the loveliest woman of her time. The most renowned
heroes in Greece had sought the honour of her hand; but her stepfather,
Tyndareus, king of Sparta, fearing that if he bestowed her in marriage on
one of her numerous lovers he would make enemies of the rest, made it a
stipulation that all suitors should solemnly swear to assist and defend the
successful candidate, with all the means at their command, in any feud
which might hereafter arise in connection with the marriage. He at length
conferred the hand of Helen upon Menelaus, a warlike prince, devoted to
martial exercises and the pleasures of the chase, to whom he resigned his
throne and kingdom.

When Paris arrived at Sparta, and sought hospitality at the royal palace,
he was kindly received by king Menelaus. At the banquet given in his
honour, he charmed both host and hostess by his graceful manner and varied
accomplishments, and specially ingratiated himself with the fair Helen, to
whom he presented some rare and chaste trinkets of Asiatic manufacture.

Whilst Paris was still a guest at the court of the king of Sparta, the
latter received an invitation from his friend Idomeneus, king of Crete, to
join him in a hunting expedition; and Menelaus, being of an unsuspicious
and easy temperament, accepted the invitation, leaving to Helen the duty of
entertaining the distinguished stranger. Captivated by her surpassing
loveliness, the Trojan prince forgot every sense of honour and duty, and
resolved to rob his absent host of his beautiful wife. He accordingly
collected his followers, and with their assistance stormed the royal
castle, possessed himself of the rich treasures which it contained, and
succeeded in carrying off its beautiful, and not altogether unwilling

They at once set sail, but were driven by stress of weather to the island
of Crania, where they cast anchor; and it was not until some years had
elapsed, during which time home and country were forgotten, that Paris and
Helen proceeded to Troy.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE WAR.–When Menelaus heard of the violation of his
hearth and home he proceeded to Pylos, accompanied by his brother
Agamemnon, in order to consult the wise old king Nestor, who was renowned
for his great experience and state-craft. On hearing the facts of the case
Nestor expressed it as his opinion that only by means of the combined
efforts of all the states of Greece could Menelaus hope to regain Helen in
defiance of so powerful a kingdom as that of Troy.

Menelaus and Agamemnon now raised the war-cry, which was unanimously
responded to from one end of Greece to the other. Many of those who
volunteered {287} their services were former suitors of the fair Helen, and
were therefore bound by their oath to support the cause of Menelaus; others
joined from pure love of adventure, but one and all were deeply impressed
with the disgrace which would attach to their country should such a crime
be suffered to go unpunished. Thus a powerful army was collected in which
few names of note were missing.

Only in the case of two great heroes, Odysseus (Ulysses) and Achilles, did
Menelaus experience any difficulty.

Odysseus, famed for his wisdom and great astuteness, was at this time
living happily in Ithaca with his fair young wife Penelope and his little
son Telemachus, and was loath to leave his happy home for a perilous
foreign expedition of uncertain duration. When therefore his services were
solicited he feigned madness; but the shrewd Palamedes, a distinguished
hero in the suite of Menelaus, detected and exposed the ruse, and thus
Odysseus was forced to join in the war. But he never forgave the
interference of Palamedes, and, as we shall see, eventually revenged
himself upon him in a most cruel manner.

Achilles was the son of Peleus and the sea-goddess Thetis, who is said to
have dipped her son, when a babe, in the river Styx, and thereby rendered
him invulnerable, except in the right heel, by which she held him. When the
boy was nine years old it was foretold to Thetis that he would either enjoy
a long life of inglorious ease and inactivity, or that after a brief career
of victory he would die the death of a hero. Naturally desirous of
prolonging the life of her son, the fond mother devoutly hoped that the
former fate might be allotted to him. With this view she conveyed him to
the island of Scyros, in the Ægean Sea, where, disguised as a girl, he was
brought up among the daughters of Lycomedes, king of the country.

Now that the presence of Achilles was required, owing to an oracular
prediction that Troy could not be taken without him, Menelaus consulted
Calchas the soothsayer, who revealed to him the place of his concealment.
Odysseus was accordingly despatched to Scyros, where, by {288} means of a
clever device, he soon discovered which among the maidens was the object of
his search. Disguising himself as a merchant, Odysseus obtained an
introduction to the royal palace, where he offered to the king’s daughters
various trinkets for sale. The girls, with one exception, all examined his
wares with unfeigned interest. Observing this circumstance Odysseus
shrewdly concluded that the one who held aloof must be none other than the
young Achilles himself. But in order further to test the correctness of his
deduction, he now exhibited a beautiful set of warlike accoutrements,
whilst, at a given signal, stirring strains of martial music were heard
outside; whereupon Achilles, fired with warlike ardour, seized the weapons,
and thus revealed his identity. He now joined the cause of the Greeks,
accompanied at the request of his father by his kinsman Patroclus, and
contributed to the expedition a large force of Thessalian troops, or
Myrmidons, as they were called, and also fifty ships.

For ten long years Agamemnon and the other chiefs devoted all their energy
and means in preparing for the expedition against Troy. But during these
warlike preparations an attempt at a peaceful solution of the difficulty
was not neglected. An embassy consisting of Menelaus, Odysseus, &c., was
despatched to king Priam demanding the surrender of Helen; but though the
embassy was received with the utmost pomp and ceremony, the demand was
nevertheless rejected; upon which the ambassadors returned to Greece, and
the order was given for the fleet to assemble at Aulis, in Boeotia.

Never before in the annals of Greece had so large an army been collected. A
hundred thousand warriors were assembled at Aulis, and in its bay floated
over a thousand ships, ready to convey them to the Trojan coast. The
command of this mighty host was intrusted to Agamemnon, king of Argos, the
most powerful of all the Greek princes.

Before the fleet set sail solemn sacrifices were offered to the gods on the
sea-shore, when suddenly a serpent was seen to ascend a plane-tree, in
which was a sparrow’s {289} nest containing nine young ones. The reptile
first devoured the young birds and then their mother, after which it was
turned by Zeus into stone. Calchas the soothsayer, on being consulted,
interpreted the miracle to signify that the war with Troy would last for
nine years, and that only in the tenth would the city be taken.

DEPARTURE OF THE GREEK FLEET.–The fleet then set sail; but mistaking the
Mysian coast for that of Troy, they landed troops and commenced to ravage
the country. Telephus, king of the Mysians, who was a son of the great hero
Heracles, opposed them with a large army, and succeeded in driving them
back to their ships, but was himself wounded in the engagement by the spear
of Achilles. Patroclus, who fought valiantly by the side of his kinsman,
was also wounded in this battle; but Achilles, who was a pupil of Chiron,
carefully bound up the wound, which he succeeded in healing; and from this
incident dates the celebrated friendship which ever after existed between
the two heroes, who even in death remained united.

The Greeks now returned to Aulis. Meanwhile, the wound of Telephus proving
incurable, he consulted an oracle, and the response was, that he alone who
had inflicted the wound possessed the power of curing it. Telephus
accordingly proceeded to the Greek camp, where he was healed by Achilles,
and, at the solicitation of Odysseus, consented to act as guide in the
voyage to Troy.

Just as the expedition was about to start for the second time, Agamemnon
had the misfortune to kill a hind sacred to Artemis, who, in her anger,
sent continuous calms, which prevented the fleet from setting sail. Calchas
on being consulted announced that the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the daughter
of Agamemnon, would alone appease the incensed goddess. How Agamemnon at
length overcame his feelings as a father, and how Iphigenia was saved by
Artemis herself, has been already related in a previous chapter.

A fair wind having at length sprung up, the fleet {290} once more set sail.
They first stopped at the island of Tenedos, where the famous archer
Philoctetes–who possessed the bow and arrows of Heracles, given to him by
the dying hero–was bitten in the foot by a venomous snake. So unbearable
was the odour emitted by the wound, that, at the suggestion of Odysseus,
Philoctetes was conveyed to the island of Lesbos, where, to his great
chagrin, he was abandoned to his fate, and the fleet proceeded on their
journey to Troy.

COMMENCEMENT OF HOSTILITIES.–Having received early intelligence of the
impending invasion of their country, the Trojans sought the assistance of
the neighbouring states, who all gallantly responded to their call for
help, and thus ample preparations were made to receive the enemy. King
Priam being himself too advanced in years for active service, the command
of the army devolved upon his eldest son, the brave and valiant Hector.

At the approach of the Greek fleet the Trojans appeared on the coast in
order to prevent their landing. But great hesitation prevailed among the
troops as to who should be the first to set foot on the enemy’s soil, it
having been predicted that whoever did so would fall a sacrifice to the
Fates. Protesilaus of Phylace, however, nobly disregarding the ominous
prediction, leaped on shore, and fell by the hand of Hector.

The Greeks then succeeded in effecting a landing, and in the engagement
which ensued the Trojans were signally defeated, and driven to seek safety
behind the walls of their city. With Achilles at their head the Greeks now
made a desperate attempt to take the city by storm, but were repulsed with
terrible losses. After this defeat the invaders, foreseeing a long and
wearisome campaign, drew up their ships on land, erected tents, huts, &c.,
and formed an intrenched camp on the coast.

Between the Greek camp and the city of Troy was a plain watered by the
rivers Scamander and Simois, and it was on this plain, afterwards so
renowned in history, {291} that the ever memorable battles between the
Greeks and Trojans were fought.

The impossibility of taking the city by storm was now recognized by the
leaders of the Greek forces. The Trojans, on their side, being less
numerous than the enemy, dared not venture on a great battle in the open
field; hence the war dragged on for many weary years without any decisive
engagement taking place.

It was about this time that Odysseus carried out his long meditated revenge
against Palamedes. Palamedes was one of the wisest, most energetic, and
most upright of all the Greek heroes, and it was in consequence of his
unflagging zeal and wonderful eloquence that most of the chiefs had been
induced to join the expedition. But the very qualities which endeared him
to the hearts of his countrymen rendered him hateful in the eyes of his
implacable enemy, Odysseus, who never forgave his having detected his
scheme to avoid joining the army.

In order to effect the ruin of Palamedes, Odysseus concealed in his tent a
vast sum of money. He next wrote a letter, purporting to be from king Priam
to Palamedes, in which the former thanked the Greek hero effusively for the
valuable information received from him, referring at the same time to a
large sum of money which he had sent to him as a reward. This letter, which
was found upon the person of a Phrygian prisoner, was read aloud in a
council of the Greek princes. Palamedes was arraigned before the chiefs of
the army and accused of betraying his country to the enemy, whereupon a
search was instituted, and a large sum of money being found in his tent, he
was pronounced guilty and sentenced to be stoned to death. Though fully
aware of the base treachery practised against him, Palamedes offered not a
word in self-defence, knowing but too well that, in the face of such
damning evidence, the attempt to prove his innocence would be vain.

DEFECTION OF ACHILLES.–During the first year of the campaign the Greeks
ravaged the surrounding country, {292} and pillaged the neighbouring
villages. Upon one of these foraging expeditions the city of Pedasus was
sacked, and Agamemnon, as commander-in-chief, received as his share of the
spoil the beautiful Chrysëis, daughter of Chryses, the priest of Apollo;
whilst to Achilles was allotted another captive, the fair Brisëis. The
following day Chryses, anxious to ransom his daughter, repaired to the
Greek camp; but Agamemnon refused to accede to his proposal, and with rude
and insulting words drove the old man away. Full of grief at the loss of
his child Chryses called upon Apollo for vengeance on her captor. His
prayer was heard, and the god sent a dreadful pestilence which raged for
ten days in the camp of the Greeks. Achilles at length called together a
council, and inquired of Calchas the soothsayer how to arrest this terrible
visitation of the gods. The seer replied that Apollo, incensed at the
insult offered to his priest, had sent the plague, and that only by the
surrender of Chrysëis could his anger be appeased.

On hearing this Agamemnon agreed to resign the maiden; but being already
embittered against Calchas for his prediction with regard to his own
daughter Iphigenia, he now heaped insults upon the soothsayer and accused
him of plotting against his interests. Achilles espoused the cause of
Calchas, and a violent dispute arose, in which the son of Thetis would have
killed his chief but for the timely interference of Pallas-Athene, who
suddenly appeared beside him, unseen by the rest, and recalled him to a
sense of the duty he owed to his commander. Agamemnon revenged himself on
Achilles by depriving him of his beautiful captive, the fair Brisëis, who
had become so attached to her kind and noble captor that she wept bitterly
on being removed from his charge. Achilles, now fairly disgusted with the
ungenerous conduct of his chief, withdrew himself to his tent, and
obstinately declined to take further part in the war.

Heart-sore and dejected he repaired to the sea-shore, and there invoked the
presence of his divine mother. In answer to his prayer Thetis emerged from
beneath {293} the waves, and comforted her gallant son with the assurance
that she would entreat the mighty Zeus to avenge his wrongs by giving
victory to the Trojans, so that the Greeks might learn to realize the great
loss which they had sustained by his withdrawal from the army. The Trojans
being informed by one of their spies of the defection of Achilles, became
emboldened by the absence of this brave and intrepid leader, whom they
feared above all the other Greek heroes; they accordingly sallied forth,
and made a bold and eminently successful attack upon the Greeks, who,
although they most bravely and obstinately defended their position, were
completely routed, and driven back to their intrenchments, Agamemnon and
most of the other Greek leaders being wounded in the engagement.

Encouraged by this marked and signal success the Trojans now commenced to
besiege the Greeks in their own camp. At this juncture Agamemnon, seeing
the danger which threatened the army, sunk for the moment all personal
grievances, and despatched an embassy to Achilles consisting of many noble
and distinguished chiefs, urgently entreating him to come to the assistance
of his countrymen in this their hour of peril; promising that not only
should the fair Brisëis be restored to him, but also that the hand of his
own daughter should be bestowed on him in marriage, with seven towns as her
dowry. But the obstinate determination of the proud hero was not to be
moved; and though he listened courteously to the arguments and
representations of the messengers of Agamemnon, his resolution to take no
further part in the war remained unshaken.

In one of the engagements which took place soon afterwards, the Trojans,
under the command of Hector, penetrated into the heart of the Greek camp,
and had already commenced to burn their ships, when Patroclus, seeing the
distress of his countrymen, earnestly besought Achilles to send him to the
rescue at the head of the Myrmidons. The better nature of the hero
prevailed, and he not only intrusted to his friend the command of {294} his
brave band of warriors, but lent him also his own suit of armour.

Patroclus having mounted the war-chariot of the hero, Achilles lifted on
high a golden goblet and poured out a libation of wine to the gods,
accompanied by an earnest petition for victory, and the safe return of his
beloved comrade. As a parting injunction he warned Patroclus against
advancing too far into the territory of the enemy, and entreated him to be
content with rescuing the galleys.

At the head of the Myrmidons Patroclus now made a desperate attack upon the
enemy, who, thinking that the invincible Achilles was himself in command of
his battalions, became disheartened, and were put to flight. Patroclus
followed up his victory and pursued the Trojans as far as the walls of
their city, altogether forgetting in the excitement of battle the
injunction of his friend Achilles. But his temerity cost the young hero his
life, for he now encountered the mighty Hector himself, and fell by his
hands. Hector stripped the armour from his dead foe, and would have dragged
the body into the city had not Menelaus and Ajax the Greater rushed
forward, and after a long and fierce struggle succeeded in rescuing it from

DEATH OF HECTOR.–And now came the mournful task of informing Achilles of
the fate of his friend. He wept bitterly over the dead body of his comrade,
and solemnly vowed that the funereal rites should not be solemnized in his
honour until he had slain Hector with his own hands, and captured twelve
Trojans to be immolated on his funeral pyre. All other considerations
vanished before the burning desire to avenge the death of his friend; and
Achilles, now thoroughly aroused from his apathy, became reconciled to
Agamemnon, and rejoined the Greek army. At the request of the goddess
Thetis, Hephæstus forged for him a new suit of armour, which far surpassed
in magnificence that of all the other heroes.

Thus gloriously arrayed he was soon seen striding {295} along, calling the
Greeks to arms. He now led the troops against the enemy, who were defeated
and put to flight until, near the gates of the city, Achilles and Hector
encountered each other. But here, for the first time throughout his whole
career, the courage of the Trojan hero deserted him. At the near approach
of his redoubtable antagonist he turned and fled for his life. Achilles
pursued him; and thrice round the walls of the city was the terrible race
run, in sight of the old king and queen, who had mounted the walls to watch
the battle. Hector endeavoured, during each course, to reach the city
gates, so that his comrades might open them to admit him or cover him with
their missiles; but his adversary, seeing his design, forced him into the
open plain, at the same time calling to his friends to hurl no spear upon
his foe, but to leave to him the vengeance he had so long panted for. At
length, wearied with the hot pursuit, Hector made a stand and challenged
his foe to single combat. A desperate encounter took place, in which Hector
succumbed to his powerful adversary at the Scæan gate; and with his last
dying breath the Trojan hero foretold to his conqueror that he himself
would soon perish on the same spot.

The infuriated victor bound the lifeless corse of his fallen foe to his
chariot, and dragged it three times round the city walls and thence to the
Greek camp. Overwhelmed with horror at this terrible scene the aged parents
of Hector uttered such heart-rending cries of anguish that they reached the
ears of Andromache, his faithful wife, who, rushing to the walls, beheld
the dead body of her husband, bound to the conqueror’s car.

Achilles now solemnized the funereal rites in honour of his friend
Patroclus. The dead body of the hero was borne to the funeral pile by the
Myrmidons in full panoply. His dogs and horses were then slain to accompany
him, in case he should need them in the realm of shades; after which
Achilles, in fulfilment of his savage vow, slaughtered twelve brave Trojan
captives, who were {296} laid on the funeral pyre, which was now lighted.
When all was consumed the bones of Patroclus were carefully collected and
inclosed in a golden urn. Then followed the funereal games, which consisted
of chariot-races, fighting with the cestus (a sort of boxing-glove),
wrestling matches, foot-races, and single combats with shield and spear, in
all of which the most distinguished heroes took part, and contended for the

PENTHESILEA.–After the death of Hector, their great hope and bulwark, the
Trojans did not venture beyond the walls of their city. But soon their
hopes were revived by the appearance of a powerful army of Amazons under
the command of their queen Penthesilea, a daughter of Ares, whose great
ambition was to measure swords with the renowned Achilles himself, and to
avenge the death of the valiant Hector.

Hostilities now recommenced in the open plain. Penthesilea led the Trojan
host; the Greeks on their side being under the command of Achilles and
Ajax. Whilst the latter succeeded in putting the enemy to flight, Achilles
was challenged by Penthesilea to single combat. With heroic courage she
went forth to the fight; but even the strongest men failed before the power
of the great Achilles, and though a daughter of Ares, Penthesilea was but a
woman. With generous chivalry the hero endeavoured to spare the brave and
beautiful maiden-warrior, and only when his own life was in imminent danger
did he make a serious effort to vanquish his enemy, when Penthesilea shared
the fate of all who ventured to oppose the spear of Achilles, and fell by
his hand.

Feeling herself fatally wounded, she remembered the desecration of the dead
body of Hector, and earnestly entreated the forbearance of the hero. But
the petition was hardly necessary, for Achilles, full of compassion for his
brave but unfortunate adversary, lifted her gently from the ground, and she
expired in his arms.

On beholding the dead body of their leader in the {297} possession of
Achilles, the Amazons and Trojans prepared for a fresh attack in order to
wrest it from his hands; but observing their purpose, Achilles stepped
forward and loudly called upon them to halt. Then in a few well-chosen
words he praised the great valour and intrepidity of the fallen queen, and
expressed his willingness to resign the body at once.

The chivalrous conduct of Achilles was fully appreciated by both Greeks and
Trojans. Thersites alone, a base and cowardly wretch, attributed unworthy
motives to the gracious proceedings of the hero; and, not content with
these insinuations, he savagely pierced with his lance the dead body of the
Amazonian queen; whereupon Achilles, with one blow of his powerful arm,
felled him to the ground, and killed him on the spot.

The well-merited death of Thersites excited no commiseration, but his
kinsman Diomedes came forward and claimed compensation for the murder of
his relative; and as Agamemnon, who, as commander-in-chief, might easily
have settled the difficulty, refrained from interfering, the proud nature
of Achilles resented the implied condemnation of his conduct, and he once
more abandoned the Greek army and took ship for Lesbos. Odysseus, however,
followed him to the island, and, with his usual tact, succeeded in inducing
the hero to return to the camp.

DEATH OF ACHILLES.–A new ally of the Trojans now appeared on the field in
the person of Memnon, the Æthiopian, a son of Eos and Tithonus, who brought
with him a powerful reinforcement of negroes. Memnon was the first opponent
who had yet encountered Achilles on an equal footing; for like the great
hero himself he was the son of a goddess, and possessed also, like
Achilles, a suit of armour made for him by Hephæstus.

Before the heroes encountered each other in single combat, the two
goddesses, Thetis and Eos, hastened to Olympus to intercede with its mighty
ruler for the life of their sons. Resolved even in this instance not to act
in opposition to the Moiræ, Zeus seized the golden scales {298} in which he
weighed the lot of mortals, and placed in it the respective fates of the
two heroes, whereupon that of Memnon weighed down the balance, thus
portending his death.

Eos abandoned Olympus in despair. Arrived on the battlefield she beheld the
lifeless body of her son, who, after a long and brave defence, had at
length succumbed to the all-conquering arm of Achilles. At her command her
children, the Winds, flew down to the plain, and seizing the body of the
slain hero conveyed it through the air safe from the desecration of the

The triumph of Achilles was not of long duration. Intoxicated with success
he attempted, at the head of the Greek army, to storm the city of Troy,
when Paris, by the aid of Phoebus-Apollo, aimed a well-directed dart at the
hero, which pierced his vulnerable heel, and he fell to the ground fatally
wounded before the Scæan gate. But though face to face with death, the
intrepid hero, raising himself from the ground, still performed prodigies
of valour, and not until his tottering limbs refused their office was the
enemy aware that the wound was mortal.

By the combined efforts of Ajax and Odysseus the body of Achilles was
wrested from the enemy after a long and terrible fight, and conveyed to the
Greek camp. Weeping bitterly over the untimely fate of her gallant son,
Thetis came to embrace him for the last time, and mingled her regrets and
lamentations with those of the whole Greek army. The funeral pyre was then
lighted, and the voices of the Muses were heard chanting his funeral dirge.
When, according to the custom of the ancients, the body had been burned on
the pyre, the bones of the hero were collected, inclosed in a golden urn,
and deposited beside the remains of his beloved friend Patroclus.

In the funereal games celebrated in honour of the fallen hero, the property
of her son was offered by Thetis as the prize of victory. But it was
unanimously agreed that the beautiful suit of armour made by Hephæstus
should be awarded to him who had contributed the most to the {299} rescue
of the body from the hands of the enemy. Popular opinion unanimously
decided in favour of Odysseus, which verdict was confirmed by the Trojan
prisoners who were present at the engagement. Unable to endure the slight,
the unfortunate Ajax lost his reason, and in this condition put an end to
his existence.

FINAL MEASURES.–Thus were the Greeks deprived at one and the same time of
their bravest and most powerful leader, and of him also who approached the
nearest to this distinction. For a time operations were at a standstill,
until Odysseus at length, contrived by means of a cleverly-arranged ambush
to capture Helenus, the son of Priam. Like his sister Cassandra, Helenus
possessed the gift of prophecy, and the unfortunate youth was now coerced
by Odysseus into using this gift against the welfare of his native city.

The Greeks learned from the Trojan prince that three conditions were
indispensable to the conquest of Troy:–In the first place the son of
Achilles must fight in their ranks; secondly, the arrows of Heracles must
be used against the enemy; and thirdly, they must obtain possession of the
wooden image of Pallas-Athene, the famous Palladium of Troy.

The first condition was easily fulfilled. Ever ready to serve the interests
of the community, Odysseus repaired to the island of Scyros, where he found
Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. Having succeeded in arousing the ambition
of the fiery youth, he generously resigned to him the magnificent armour of
his father, and then conveyed him to the Greek camp, where he immediately
distinguished himself in single combat with Eurypylus, the son of Telephus,
who had come to the aid of the Trojans.

To procure the poison-dipped arrows of Heracles was a matter of greater
difficulty. They were still in the possession of the much-aggrieved
Philoctetes, who had remained in the island of Lemnos, his wound still
unhealed, suffering the most abject misery. But the {300} judicious zeal of
the indefatigable and ever-active Odysseus, who was accompanied in this
undertaking by Diomedes, at length gained the day, and he induced
Philoctetes to accompany him to the camp, where the skilful leech Machaon,
the son of Asclepias, healed him of his wound.

Philoctetes became reconciled to Agamemnon, and in an engagement which took
place soon after, he mortally wounded Paris, the son of Priam. But though
pierced by the fatal arrow of the demi-god, death did not immediately
ensue; and Paris, calling to mind the prediction of an oracle, that his
deserted wife Oenone could alone cure him if wounded, caused himself to be
transported to her abode on Mount Ida, where he implored her by the memory
of their past love to save his life. But mindful only of her wrongs, Oenone
crushed out of her heart every womanly feeling of pity and compassion, and
sternly bade him depart. Soon, however, all her former affection for her
husband awoke within her. With frantic haste she followed him; but on her
arrival in the city she found the dead body of Paris already laid on the
lighted funeral pile, and, in her remorse and despair, Oenone threw herself
on the lifeless form of her husband and perished in the flames.

The Trojans were now shut up within their walls and closely besieged; but
the third and most difficult condition being still unfulfilled, all efforts
to take the city were unavailing. In this emergency the wise and devoted
Odysseus came once more to the aid of his comrades. Having disfigured
himself with self-inflicted wounds, he assumed the disguise of a wretched
old mendicant, and then crept stealthily into the city in order to discover
where the Palladium was preserved. He succeeded in his object, and was
recognized by no one save the fair Helen, who after the death of Paris had
been given in marriage to his brother Deiphobus. But since death had robbed
her of her lover, the heart of the Greek princess had turned yearningly
towards her native country and her husband Menelaus, and Odysseus now found
in her a most unlooked-for ally. On his return to the camp {301} Odysseus
called to his aid the valiant Diomedes, and with his assistance the
perilous task of abstracting the Palladium from its sacred precincts was,
after some difficulty, effected.

The conditions of conquest being now fulfilled, a council was called to
decide on final proceedings. Epeios, a Greek sculptor, who had accompanied
the expedition, was desired to construct a colossal wooden horse large
enough to contain a number of able and distinguished heroes. On its
completion a band of warriors concealed themselves within, whereupon the
Greek army broke up their camp, and then set fire to it, as though, wearied
of the long and tedious ten years’ siege, they had abandoned the enterprise
as hopeless.

Accompanied by Agamemnon and the sage Nestor, the fleet set sail for the
island of Tenedos, where they cast anchor, anxiously awaiting the torch
signal to hasten back to the Trojan coast.

DESTRUCTION OF TROY.–When the Trojans saw the enemy depart, and the Greek
camp in flames, they believed themselves safe at last, and streamed in
great numbers out of the town in order to view the site where the Greeks
had so long encamped. Here they found the gigantic wooden horse, which they
examined with wondering curiosity, various opinions being expressed with
regard to its utility. Some supposed it to be an engine of war, and were in
favour of destroying it, others regarded it as a sacred idol, and proposed
that it should be brought into the city. Two circumstances which now
occurred induced the Trojans to incline towards the latter opinion.

Chief among those who suspected a treacherous design in this huge
contrivance was Laocoon, a priest of Apollo, who, in company with his two
young sons, had issued from the city with the Trojans in order to offer a
sacrifice to the gods. With all the eloquence at his command he urged his
countrymen not to place confidence in any gift of the Greeks, and even went
so far as to pierce the {302} side of the horse with a spear which he took
from a warrior beside him, whereupon the arms of the heroes were heard to
rattle. The hearts of the brave men concealed inside the horse quailed
within them, and they had already given themselves up for lost, when
Pallas-Athene, who ever watched over the cause of the Greeks, now came to
their aid, and a miracle occurred in order to blind and deceive the devoted
Trojans;–for the fall of Troy was decreed by the gods.

Whilst Laocoon with his two sons stood prepared to perform the sacrifice,
two enormous serpents suddenly rose out of the sea, and made direct for the
altar. They entwined themselves first round the tender limbs of the
helpless youths, and then encircled their father who rushed to their
assistance, and thus all three were destroyed in sight of the horrified
multitude. The Trojans naturally interpreted the fate of Laocoon and his
sons to be a punishment sent by Zeus for his sacrilege against the wooden
horse, and were now fully convinced that it must be consecrated to the

The crafty Odysseus had left behind his trusty friend Sinon with full
instructions as to his course of action. Assuming the rôle assigned to him,
he now approached king Priam with fettered hands and piteous entreaties,
alleging that the Greeks, in obedience to the command of an oracle, had
attempted to immolate him as a sacrifice; but that he had contrived to
escape from their hands, and now sought protection from the king.

The kind-hearted monarch, believing his story, released {303} his bonds,
assured him of his favour, and then begged him to explain the true meaning
of the wooden horse. Sinon willingly complied. He informed the king that
Pallas-Athene, who had hitherto been the hope and stay of the Greeks
throughout the war, was so deeply offended at the removal of her sacred
image, the Palladium, from her temple in Troy, that she had withdrawn her
protection from the Greeks, and refused all further aid till it was
restored to its rightful place. Hence the Greeks had returned home in order
to seek fresh instructions from an oracle. But before leaving, Calchas the
seer had advised their building this gigantic wooden horse as a tribute to
the offended goddess, hoping thereby to appease her just anger. He further
explained that it had been constructed of such colossal proportions in
order to prevent its being brought into the city, so that the favour of
Pallas-Athene might not be transferred to the Trojans.

Hardly had the crafty Sinon ceased speaking when the Trojans, with one
accord, urged that the wooden horse should be brought into their city
without delay. The gates being too low to admit its entrance, a breach was
made in the walls, and the horse was conveyed in triumph into the very
heart of Troy; whereupon the Trojans, overjoyed at what they deemed the
successful issue of the campaign, abandoned themselves to feasting and

Amidst the universal rejoicing the unhappy Cassandra, foreseeing the result
of the admission of the wooden horse into the city, was seen rushing
through the streets with wild gestures and dishevelled hair, warning her
people against the dangers which awaited them. But her eloquent words fell
on deaf ears; for it was ever the fate of the unfortunate prophetess that
her predictions should find no credence.

When, after the day’s excitement, the Trojans had retired to rest, and all
was hushed and silent, Sinon, in the dead of night, released the heroes
from their voluntary imprisonment. The signal was then given to the Greek
fleet lying off Tenedos, and the whole army in unbroken silence once more
landed on the Trojan coast. {304}

To enter the city was now an easy matter, and a fearful slaughter ensued.
Aroused from their slumbers, the Trojans, under the command of their
bravest leaders, made a gallant defence, but were easily overcome. All
their most valiant heroes fell in the fight, and soon the whole city was
wrapt in flames.

Priam fell by the hand of Neoptolemus, who killed him as he lay prostrate
before the altar of Zeus, praying for divine assistance in this awful hour
of peril. The unfortunate Andromache with her young son Astyanax had taken
refuge on the summit of a tower, where she was discovered by the victors,
who, fearing lest the son of Hector might one day rise against them to
avenge the death of his father, tore him from her arms and hurled him over
the battlements.

Æneas alone, the son of Aphrodite, the beloved of gods and men, escaped the
universal carnage with his son and his old father Anchises, whom he carried
on his shoulders out of the city. He first sought refuge on Mount Ida, and
afterwards fled to Italy, where he became the ancestral hero of the Roman

Menelaus now sought Helen in the royal palace, who, being immortal, still
retained all her former beauty and fascination. A reconciliation took
place, and she accompanied her husband on his homeward voyage. Andromache,
the widow of the brave Hector, was given in marriage to Neoptolemus,
Cassandra fell to the share of Agamemnon, and Hecuba, the gray-haired and
widowed queen, was made prisoner by Odysseus.

The boundless treasures of the wealthy Trojan king fell into the hands of
the Greek heroes, who, after having levelled the city of Troy to the
ground, prepared for their homeward voyage.


During the sacking of the city of Troy the Greeks, in the hour of victory,
committed many acts of desecration and cruelty, which called down upon them
the wrath of the {305} gods, for which reason their homeward voyage was
beset with manifold dangers and disasters, and many perished before they
reached their native land.

Nestor, Diomedes, Philoctetes, and Neoptolemus were among those who arrived
safely in Greece after a prosperous voyage. The vessel which carried
Menelaus and Helen was driven by violent tempests to the coast of Egypt,
and only after many years of weary wanderings and vicissitudes did they
succeed in reaching their home at Sparta.

Ajax the Lesser having offended Pallas-Athene by desecrating her temple on
the night of the destruction of Troy, was shipwrecked off Cape Caphareus.
He succeeded, however, in clinging to a rock, and his life might have been
spared but for his impious boast that he needed not the help of the gods.
No sooner had he uttered the sacrilegious words than Poseidon, enraged at
his audacity, split with his trident the rock to which the hero was
clinging, and the unfortunate Ajax was overwhelmed by the waves.

FATE OF AGAMEMNON.–The homeward voyage of Agamemnon was tolerably
uneventful and prosperous; but on his arrival at Mycenæ misfortune and ruin
awaited him.

His wife Clytemnestra, in revenge for the sacrifice of her beloved daughter
Iphigenia, had formed a secret alliance during his absence with Ægisthus,
the son of Thyestes, and on the return of Agamemnon they both conspired to
compass his destruction. Clytemnestra feigned the greatest joy on beholding
her husband, and in spite of the urgent warnings of Cassandra, who was now
a captive in his train, he received her protestations of affection with the
most trusting confidence. In her well-assumed anxiety for the comfort of
the weary traveller, she prepared a warm bath for his refreshment, and at a
given signal from the treacherous queen, Ægisthus, who was concealed in an
adjoining chamber, rushed upon the defenceless hero and slew him. {306}

During the massacre of the retainers of Agamemnon which followed, his
daughter Electra, with great presence of mind, contrived to save her young
brother Orestes. He fled for refuge to his uncle Strophius, king of Phocis,
who educated him with his own son Pylades, and an ardent friendship sprung
up between the youths, which, from its constancy and disinterestedness, has
become proverbial.

As Orestes grew up to manhood, his one great all-absorbing desire was to
avenge the death of his father. Accompanied by his faithful friend Pylades,
he repaired in disguise to Mycenæ, where Ægisthus and Clytemnestra reigned
conjointly over the kingdom of Argos. In order to disarm suspicion he had
taken the precaution to despatch a messenger to Clytemnestra, purporting to
be sent by king Strophius, to announce to her the untimely death of her son
Orestes through an accident during a chariot-race at Delphi.

Arrived at Mycenæ, he found his sister Electra so overwhelmed with grief at
the news of her brother’s death that to her he revealed his identity. When
he heard from her lips how cruelly she had been treated by her mother, and
how joyfully the news of his demise had been received, his long pent-up
passion completely overpowered him, and rushing into the presence of the
king and queen, he first pierced Clytemnestra to the heart, and afterwards
her guilty partner.

But the crime of murdering his own mother was not long unavenged by the
gods. Hardly was the fatal act committed when the Furies appeared and
unceasingly pursued the unfortunate Orestes wherever he went. In this
wretched plight he sought refuge in the temple of Delphi, where he
earnestly besought Apollo to release him from his cruel tormentors. The god
commanded him, in expiation of his crime, to repair to Taurica-Chersonnesus
and convey the statue of Artemis from thence to the kingdom of Attica, an
expedition fraught with extreme peril. We have already seen in a former
chapter how Orestes escaped the fate which befell all strangers {307} who
landed on the Taurian coast, and how, with the aid of his sister Iphigenia,
the priestess of the temple, he succeeded in conveying the statue of the
goddess to his native country.

But the Furies did not so easily relinquish their prey, and only by means
of the interposition of the just and powerful goddess Pallas-Athene was
Orestes finally liberated from their persecution. His peace of mind being
at length restored, Orestes assumed the government of the kingdom of Argos,
and became united to the beautiful Hermione, daughter of Helen and
Menelaus. On his faithful friend Pylades he bestowed the hand of his
beloved sister, the good and faithful Electra.

HOMEWARD VOYAGE OF ODYSSEUS.–With his twelve ships laden with enormous
treasures, captured during the sacking of Troy, Odysseus set sail with a
light heart for his rocky island home of Ithaca. At length the happy hour
had arrived which for ten long years the hero had so anxiously awaited, and
he little dreamt that ten more must elapse before he would be permitted by
the Fates to clasp to his heart his beloved wife and child.

During his homeward voyage his little fleet was driven by stress of weather
to a land whose inhabitants subsisted entirely on a curious plant called
the lotus, which was sweet as honey to the taste, but had the effect of
causing utter oblivion of home and country, and of creating an irresistible
longing to remain for ever in the land of the lotus-eaters. Odysseus and
his companions were hospitably received by the inhabitants, who regaled
them freely with their peculiar and very delicious food; after partaking of
which, however, the comrades of the hero refused to leave the country, and
it was only by sheer force that he at length succeeded in bringing them
back to their ships.

POLYPHEMUS.–Continuing their journey, they next arrived at the country of
the Cyclops, a race of giants remarkable for having only one eye, which was
placed in the centre of their foreheads. Here Odysseus, whose love of
adventure overcame more prudent considerations, {308} left his fleet safely
anchored in the bay of a neighbouring island, and with twelve chosen
companions set out to explore the country.

Near the shore they found a vast cave, into which they boldly entered. In
the interior they saw to their surprise huge piles of cheese and great
pails of milk ranged round the walls. After partaking freely of these
provisions his companions endeavoured to persuade Odysseus to return to the
ship; but the hero being curious to make the acquaintance of the owner of
this extraordinary abode, ordered them to remain and await his pleasure.

Towards evening a fierce giant made his appearance, bearing an enormous
load of wood upon his shoulders, and driving before him a large flock of
sheep. This was Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon, the owner of the cave.
After all his sheep had entered, the giant rolled before the entrance to
the cave an enormous rock, which the combined strength of a hundred men
would have been powerless to move.

Having kindled a fire of great logs of pine-wood he was about to prepare
his supper when the flames revealed to him, in a corner of the cavern, its
new occupants, who now came forward and informed him that they were
shipwrecked mariners, and claimed his hospitality in the name of Zeus. But
the fierce monster railed at the great ruler of Olympus–for the lawless
Cyclops knew no fear of the gods–and hardly vouchsafed a reply to the
demand of the hero. To the consternation of Odysseus the giant seized two
of his companions, and, after dashing them to the ground, consumed their
remains, washing down the ghastly meal with huge draughts of milk. He then
stretched his gigantic limbs on the ground, and soon fell fast asleep
beside the fire.

Thinking the opportunity a favourable one to rid himself and his companions
of their terrible enemy, Odysseus drew his sword, and, creeping stealthily
forward, was about to slay the giant when he suddenly remembered that the
aperture of the cave was effectually closed by the immense rock, which
rendered egress impossible. He {309} therefore wisely determined to wait
until the following day, and set his wits to work in the meantime to devise
a scheme by which he and his companions might make their escape.

When, early next morning, the giant awoke, two more unfortunate companions
of the hero were seized by him and devoured; after which Polyphemus
leisurely drove out his flock, taking care to secure the entrance of the
cave as before.

Next evening the giant devoured two more of his victims, and when he had
finished his revolting meal Odysseus stepped forward and presented him with
a large measure of wine which he had brought with him from his ship in a
goat’s skin. Delighted with the delicious beverage the giant inquired the
name of the donor. Odysseus replied that his name was Noman, whereupon
Polyphemus, graciously announced that he would evince his gratitude by
eating him the last.

The monster, thoroughly overcome with the powerful old liquor, soon fell
into a heavy sleep, and Odysseus lost no time in putting his plans into
execution. He had cut during the day a large piece of the giant’s own
olive-staff, which he now heated in the fire, and, aided by his companions,
thrust it into the eye-ball of Polyphemus, and in this manner effectually
blinded him.

The giant made the cave resound with his howls of pain and rage. His cries
being heard by his brother Cyclops, who lived in caves not far distant from
his own, they soon came trooping over the hills from all sides, and
assailed the door of the cave with inquiries concerning the cause of his
cries and groans. But as his only reply was, “Noman has injured me,” they
concluded that he had been playing them a trick, and therefore abandoned
him to his fate.

The blinded giant now groped vainly round his cave in hopes of laying hands
on some of his tormentors; but wearied at length of these fruitless
exertions he rolled away the rock which closed the aperture, thinking that
his victims would rush out with the sheep, when it would {310} be an easy
matter to capture them. But in the meantime Odysseus had not been idle, and
the subtlety of the hero was now brought into play, and proved more than a
match for the giant’s strength. The sheep were very large, and Odysseus,
with bands of willow taken from the bed of Polyphemus, had cleverly linked
them together three abreast, and under each centre one had secured one of
his comrades. After providing for the safety of his companions, Odysseus
himself selected the finest ram of the flock, and, by clinging to the wool
of the animal, made his escape. As the sheep passed out of the cave the
giant felt carefully among them for his victims, but not finding them on
the backs of the animals he let them pass, and thus they all escaped.

They now hastened on board their vessel, and Odysseus, thinking himself at
a safe distance, shouted out his real name and mockingly defied the giant;
whereupon Polyphemus seized a huge rock, and, following the direction of
the voice, hurled it towards the ship, which narrowly escaped destruction.
He then called upon his father Poseidon to avenge him, entreating him to
curse Odysseus with a long and tedious voyage, to destroy all his ships and
all his companions, and to make his return as late, as unhappy, and as
desolate as possible.

FURTHER ADVENTURES.–After sailing about over unknown seas for some time
the hero and his followers cast anchor at the island of Æolus, king of the
Winds, who welcomed them cordially, and sumptuously entertained them for a
whole month.

When they took their leave he gave Odysseus the skin of an ox, into which
he had placed all the contrary winds in order to insure to them a safe and
speedy voyage, and then, having cautioned him on no account to open it,
caused the gentle Zephyrus to blow so that he might waft them to the shores
of Greece.

On the evening of the tenth day after their departure they arrived in sight
of the watch-fires of Ithaca. But here, unfortunately, Odysseus, being
completely wearied {311} out, fell asleep, and his comrades, thinking Æolus
had given him a treasure in the bag which he so sedulously guarded, seized
this opportunity of opening it, whereupon all the adverse winds rushed out,
and drove them back to the Æolian island. This time, however, Æolus did not
welcome them as before, but dismissed them with bitter reproaches and
upbraidings for their disregard of his injunctions.

After a six days’ voyage they at length sighted land. Observing what
appeared to be the smoke from a large town, Odysseus despatched a herald,
accompanied by two of his comrades, in order to procure provisions. When
they arrived in the city they discovered to their consternation that they
had set foot in the land of the Læstrygones, a race of fierce and gigantic
cannibals, governed by their king Antiphates. The unfortunate herald was
seized and killed by the king; but his two companions, who took to flight,
succeeded in reaching their ship in safety, and urgently entreated their
chief to put to sea without delay.

But Antiphates and his fellow-giants pursued the fugitives to the
sea-shore, where they now appeared in large numbers. They seized huge
rocks, which they hurled upon the fleet, sinking eleven of the ships with
all hands, on board; the vessel under the immediate command of Odysseus
being the only one which escaped destruction. In this ship, with his few
remaining followers, Odysseus now set sail, but was driven by adverse winds
to an island called Ææa.

CIRCE.–The hero and his companions were in sore need of provisions, but,
warned by previous disasters, Odysseus resolved that only a certain number
of the ship’s crew should be despatched to reconnoitre the country; and on
lots being drawn by Odysseus and Eurylochus, it fell to the share of the
latter to fill the office of conductor to the little band selected for this

They soon came to a magnificent marble palace, which was situated in a
charming and fertile valley. Here {312} dwelt a beautiful enchantress
called Circe, daughter of the sun-god and the sea-nymph Perse. The entrance
to her abode was guarded by wolves and lions, who, however, to the great
surprise of the strangers, were tame and harmless as lambs. These were, in
fact, human beings who, by the wicked arts of the sorceress, had been thus
transformed. From within they heard the enchanting voice of the goddess,
who was singing a sweet melody as she sat at her work, weaving a web such
as immortals alone could produce. She graciously invited them to enter, and
all save the prudent and cautious Eurylochus accepted the invitation.

As they trod the wide and spacious halls of tesselated marble objects of
wealth and beauty met their view on all sides. The soft and luxuriant
couches on which she bade them be seated were studded with silver, and the
banquet which she provided for their refreshment was served in vessels of
pure gold. But while her unsuspecting guests were abandoning themselves to
the pleasures of the table the wicked enchantress was secretly working
their ruin; for the wine-cup which was presented to them was drugged with a
potent draught, after partaking of which the sorceress touched them with
her magic wand, and they were immediately transformed into swine, still,
however, retaining their human senses.

When Odysseus heard from Eurylochus of the terrible fate which had befallen
his companions he set out, regardless of personal danger, resolved to make
an effort to rescue them. On his way to the palace of the sorceress he met
a fair youth bearing a wand of gold, who revealed himself to him as Hermes,
the divine messenger of the gods. He gently reproached the hero for his
temerity in venturing to enter the abode of Circe unprovided with an
antidote against her spells, and presented him with a peculiar herb called
Moly, assuring him that it would inevitably counteract the baneful arts of
the fell enchantress. Hermes warned Odysseus that Circe would offer him a
draught of drugged wine with the intention of transforming him as she had
done his companions. He bade him drink the wine, the effect of {313} which
would be completely nullified by the herb which he had given him, and then
rush boldly at the sorceress as though he would take her life, whereupon
her power over him would cease, she would recognize her master, and grant
him whatever he might desire.

Circe received the hero with all the grace and fascination at her command,
and presented him with a draught of wine in a golden goblet. This he
readily accepted, trusting to the efficacy of the antidote. Then, in
obedience to the injunction of Hermes, he drew his sword from its scabbard
and rushed upon the sorceress as though he would slay her.

When Circe found that her fell purpose was for the first time frustrated,
and that a mortal had dared to attack her, she knew that it must be the
great Odysseus who stood before her, whose visit to her abode had been
foretold to her by Hermes. At his solicitation she restored to his
companions their human form, promising at the same time that henceforth the
hero and his comrades should be free from her enchantments.

But all warnings and past experience were forgotten by Odysseus when Circe
commenced to exercise upon him her fascinations and blandishments. At her
request his companions took up their abode in the island, and he himself
became the guest and slave of the enchantress for a whole year; and it was
only at the earnest admonition of his friends that he was at length induced
to free himself from her toils.

Circe had become so attached to the gallant hero that it cost her a great
effort to part with him, but having vowed not to exercise her magic spells
against him she was powerless to detain him further. The goddess now warned
him that his future would be beset with many dangers, and commanded him to
consult the blind old seer Tiresias,[52] in the realm of Hades, concerning
his future destiny. She then loaded his ship with provisions for the
voyage, and reluctantly bade him farewell.

THE REALM OF SHADES.–Though somewhat appalled at the prospect of seeking
the weird and gloomy realms inhabited by the spirits of the dead, Odysseus
nevertheless obeyed the command of the goddess, who gave him full
directions with regard to his course, and also certain injunctions which it
was important that he should carry out with strict attention to detail.

He accordingly set sail with his companions for the dark and gloomy land of
the Cimmerians, which lay at the furthermost end of the world, beyond the
great stream Oceanus. Favoured by gentle breezes they soon reached their
destination in the far west. On arriving at the spot indicated by Circe,
where the turbid waters of the rivers Acheron and Cocytus mingled at the
entrance to the lower world, Odysseus landed, unattended by his companions.

Having dug a trench to receive the blood of the sacrifices he now offered a
black ram and ewe to the powers of darkness, whereupon crowds of shades
rose up from the yawning gulf, clustering round him, eager to quaff the
blood of the sacrifice, which would restore to them for a time their mental
vigour. But mindful of the injunction of Circe, Odysseus brandished his
sword, and suffered none to approach until Tiresias had appeared. The great
prophet now came slowly forward leaning on his golden staff, and after
drinking of the sacrifice proceeded to impart to Odysseus the hidden
secrets of his future fate. Tiresias also warned him of the numerous perils
which would assail him, not only during his homeward voyage but also on his
return to Ithaca, and then instructed him how to avoid them.

Meanwhile numbers of other shades had quaffed the sense-awakening draught
of the sacrifice, among whom Odysseus recognized to his dismay his
tenderly-loved mother Anticlea. From her he learned that she had died of
grief at her son’s protracted absence, and that his aged father Laertes was
wearing his life away in vain and anxious longings for his return. He also
conversed with the ill-fated Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Achilles. The latter
{315} bemoaned his shadowy and unreal existence, and plaintively assured
his former companion-in-arms that rather would he be the poorest
day-labourer on earth than reign supreme as king over the realm of shades.
Ajax alone, who still brooded over his wrongs, held aloof, refusing to
converse with Odysseus, and sullenly retired when the hero addressed him.

But at last so many shades came swarming round him that the courage of
Odysseus failed him, and he fled in terror back to his ship. Having
rejoined his companions they once more put to sea, and proceeded on their
homeward voyage.

THE SIRENS.–After some days’ sail their course led them past the island of
the Sirens.

Now Circe had warned Odysseus on no account to listen to the seductive
melodies of these treacherous nymphs; for that all who gave ear to their
enticing strains felt an unconquerable desire to leap overboard and join
them, when they either perished at their hands, or were engulfed by the

In order that his crew should not hear the song of the Sirens, Odysseus had
filled their ears with melted wax; but the hero himself so dearly loved
adventure that he could not resist the temptation of braving this new
danger. By his own desire, therefore, he was lashed to the mast, and his
comrades had strict orders on no account to release him until they were out
of sight of the island, no matter how he might implore them to set him

As they neared the fatal shore they beheld the Sirens seated side by side
on the verdant slopes of their island; and as their sweet and alluring
strains fell upon his ear the hero became so powerfully affected by them,
that, forgetful of all danger, he entreated his comrades to release him;
but the sailors, obedient to their orders, refused to unbind him until the
enchanted island had disappeared from view. The danger past, the hero
gratefully acknowledged the firmness of his followers, which had been the
means of saving his life. {316}

THE ISLAND OF HELIOS.–They now approached the terrible dangers of Scylla
and Charybdis, between which Circe had desired them to pass. As Odysseus
steered the vessel beneath the great rock, Scylla swooped down and seized
six of his crew from the deck, and the cries of her wretched victims long
rang in his ears. At length they reached the island of Trinacria (Sicily),
whereon the sun-god pastured his flocks and herds, and Odysseus, calling to
mind the warning of Tiresias to avoid this sacred island, would fain have
steered the vessel past and left the country unexplored. But his crew
became mutinous, and insisted on landing. Odysseus was therefore obliged to
yield, but before allowing them to set foot on shore he made them take an
oath not to touch the sacred herds of Helios, and to be ready to sail again
on the following morning.

It happened, unfortunately, however, that stress of weather compelled them
to remain a whole month at Trinacria, and the store of wine and food given
to them by Circe at parting being completely exhausted, they were obliged
to subsist on what fish and birds the island afforded. Frequently there was
not sufficient to satisfy their hunger, and one evening when Odysseus, worn
out with anxiety and fatigue, had fallen asleep, Eurylochus persuaded the
hungry men to break their vows and kill some of the sacred oxen.

Dreadful was the anger of Helios, who caused the hides of the slaughtered
animals to creep and the joints on the spits to bellow like living cattle,
and threatened that unless Zeus punished the impious crew he would withdraw
his light from the heavens and shine only in Hades. Anxious to appease the
enraged deity Zeus assured him that his cause should be avenged. When,
therefore, after feasting for seven days Odysseus and his companions again
set sail, the ruler of Olympus caused a terrible storm to overtake them,
during which the ship was struck with lightning and went to pieces. All the
crew were drowned except Odysseus, who, clinging to a mast, floated about
in the open sea for nine days, when, after once more {317} escaping being
sucked in by the whirlpool of Charybdis, he was cast ashore on the island
of Ogygia.

CALYPSO.–Ogygia was an island covered with dense forests, where, in the
midst of a grove of cypress and poplar, stood the charming grotto-palace of
the nymph Calypso, daughter of the Titan Atlas. The entrance to the grotto
was entwined with a leafy trellis-work of vine-branches, from which
depended clusters of purple and golden grapes; the plashing of fountains
gave a delicious sense of coolness to the air, which was filled with the
songs of birds, and the ground was carpeted with violets and mosses.

Calypso cordially welcomed the forlorn and shipwrecked hero, and hospitably
ministered to his wants. In the course of time she became so greatly
attached to him that she offered him immortality and eternal youth if he
would consent to remain with her for ever. But the heart of Odysseus turned
yearningly towards his beloved wife Penelope and his young son. He
therefore refused the boon, and earnestly entreated the gods to permit him
to revisit his home. But the curse of Poseidon still followed the
unfortunate hero, and for seven long years he was detained on the island by
Calypso, sorely against his will.

At length Pallas-Athene interceded with her mighty father on his behalf,
and Zeus, yielding to her request, forthwith despatched the fleet-footed
Hermes to Calypso, commanding her to permit Odysseus to depart and to
provide him with the means of transport.

The goddess, though loath to part with her guest, dared not disobey the
commands of the mighty Zeus. She therefore instructed the hero how to
construct a raft, for which she herself wove the sails. Odysseus now bade
her farewell, and alone and unaided embarked on the frail little craft for
his native land.

NAUSICAA.–For seventeen days Odysseus contrived to pilot the raft
skilfully through all the perils of the deep, directing his course
according to the directions {318} of Calypso, and guided by the stars of
heaven. On the eighteenth day he joyfully hailed the distant outline of the
Phæacian coast, and began to look forward hopefully to temporary rest and
shelter. But Poseidon, still enraged with the hero who had blinded and
insulted his son, caused an awful tempest to arise, during which the raft
was swamped by the waves, and Odysseus only saved himself by clinging for
bare life to a portion of the wreck.

For two days and nights he floated about, drifted hither and thither by the
angry billows, till at last, after many a narrow escape of his life, the
sea-goddess Leucothea came to his aid, and he was cast ashore on the coast
of Scheria, the island of the luxurious Phæaces. Worn out with the
hardships and dangers he had passed through he crept into a thicket for
security, and, lying down on a bed of dried leaves, soon fell fast asleep.

It chanced that Nausicaa, the beautiful daughter of king Alcinous and his
queen Arete, had come down to the shore, accompanied by her maidens, to
wash the linen which was destined to form part of her marriage portion.
When they had finished their task they bathed and sat down to a repast,
after which they amused themselves with singing and playing at ball.

Their joyous shouts at last awoke Odysseus, who, rising from his hiding
place, suddenly found himself in the midst of the happy group. Alarmed at
his wild aspect the attendants of Nausicaa fled in terror; but the
princess, pitying the forlorn condition of the stranger, addressed him with
kind and sympathetic words. After hearing from him the account of his
shipwreck and the terrible hardships he had undergone, Nausicaa called back
her attendants, reproached them for their want of courtesy, and bade them
supply the wanderer with food, drink, and suitable raiment. Odysseus then
left the maidens to resume their games, whilst he bathed and clothed
himself with the garments with which they had furnished him. Athene now
appeared to the hero and endowed him with a commanding and magnificent
stature, and with more than mortal beauty. When he reappeared, the young
{319} princess was struck with admiration, and requested the hero to visit
the palace of her father. She then desired her attendants to yoke the mules
to the wagons and prepare to return home.

Odysseus was cordially received by the king and queen, who entertained him
with magnificent hospitality, and in return for their kindness the hero
related to them the history of his long and eventful voyage, and the many
extraordinary adventures and miraculous escapes which had befallen him
since his departure from the coast of Ilion.

When he at last took leave of his royal entertainers Alcinous loaded him
with rich gifts, and ordered him to be conveyed in one of his own ships to

ARRIVAL AT ITHACA.–The voyage was a short and prosperous one. By the
direction of king Alcinous rich furs had been laid on deck for the comfort
of his guest, on which the hero, leaving the guidance of the ship to the
Phæacian sailors, soon fell into a deep sleep. When next morning the vessel
arrived in the harbour of Ithaca the sailors, concluding that so unusually
profound a slumber must be sent by the gods, conveyed him on shore without
disturbing him, where they gently placed him beneath the cool shade of an

When Odysseus awoke he knew not where he was, for his ever-watchful
protectress Pallas-Athene had enveloped him in a thick cloud in order to
conceal him from view. She now appeared to him in the disguise of a
shepherd, and informed him that he was in his native land; that his father
Laertes, bent with sorrow and old age, had withdrawn from the court; that
his son Telemachus had grown to manhood, and was gone to seek for tidings
of his father; and that his wife Penelope was harassed by the importunities
of numerous suitors, who had taken possession of his home and devoured his
substance. In order to gain time Penelope had promised to marry one of her
lovers as soon as she had finished weaving a robe for the aged Laertes; but
by secretly undoing at night {320} what she had done in the day she
effectually retarded the completion of the work, and thus deferred her
final reply. Just as Odysseus had set foot in Ithaca the angry suitors had
discovered her stratagem, and had become in consequence more clamorous than
ever. When the hero heard that this was indeed his native land, which,
after an absence of twenty years, the gods had at length permitted him to
behold once more, he threw himself on the ground, and kissed it in an
ecstacy of joy.

The goddess, who had meanwhile revealed her identity to Odysseus, now
assisted him to conceal in a neighbouring cave the valuable gifts of the
Phæacian king. Then seating herself beside him she consulted with him as to
the best means of ridding his palace of its shameless occupants.

In order to prevent his being recognized she caused him to assume the form
of an aged mendicant. His limbs became decrepid, his brown locks vanished,
his eyes grew dim and bleared, and the regal robes given to him by king
Alcinous were replaced by a tattered garb of dingy hue, which hung loosely
round his shrunken form. Athene then desired him to seek shelter in the hut
of Eumæus his own swine-herd.

Eumæus received the old beggar hospitably, kindly ministered to his wants,
and even confided to him his distress at the long continued absence of his
beloved old master, and his regrets at being compelled by the unruly
invaders of his house, to slaughter for their use all the finest and
fattest of the herd.

It chanced that the following morning Telemachus returned from his long and
fruitless search for his father, and going first to the hut of Eumæus,
heard from him the story of the seeming beggar whom he promised to
befriend. Athene now urged Odysseus to make himself known to his son; and
at her touch his beggar’s rags disappeared, and he stood before Telemachus
arrayed in royal robes and in the full strength and vigour of manhood. So
imposing was the appearance of the hero that at first the young prince
thought he must be a god; but when {321} he was convinced that it was
indeed his beloved father, whose prolonged absence had caused him so much
grief, he fell upon his neck and embraced him with every expression of
dutiful affection.

Odysseus charged Telemachus to keep his return a secret, and concerted with
him a plan whereby they might rid themselves of the detested suitors. In
order to carry it into effect Telemachus was to induce his mother to
promise her hand to the one who could conquer in shooting with the famous
bow of Odysseus, which the hero had left behind when he went to Troy,
deeming it too precious a treasure to be taken with him. Odysseus now
resumed his beggar’s dress and appearance and accompanied his son to the
palace, before the door of which lay his faithful dog Argo, who, though
worn and feeble with age and neglect, instantly recognized his master. In
his delight the poor animal made a last effort to welcome him; but his
strength was exhausted, and he expired at his feet.

When Odysseus entered his ancestral halls he was mocked and reviled by the
riotous suitors, and Antinous, the most shameless of them all, ridiculed
his abject appearance, and insolently bade him depart; but Penelope hearing
of their cruel conduct, was touched with compassion, and desired her
maidens to bring the poor mendicant into her presence. She spoke kindly to
him, inquiring who he was and whence he came. He told her that he was the
brother of the king of Crete, in whose palace he had seen Odysseus, who was
about starting for Ithaca, and had declared his intention of arriving there
before the year was out. The queen, overjoyed at the happy tidings, ordered
her maidens to prepare a bed for the stranger, and to treat him as an
honoured guest. She then desired the old nurse Euryclea to provide him with
suitable raiment and to attend to all his wants.

As the old servant was bathing his feet her eyes fell upon a scar which
Odysseus had received in his youth from the tusks of a wild boar; and
instantly recognizing the beloved master whom she had nursed as a babe, she
{322} would have cried aloud in her joy, but the hero placing his hand upon
her mouth, implored her not to betray him.

The next day was a festival of Apollo, and the suitors in honour of the
occasion feasted with more than their accustomed revelry. After the banquet
was over Penelope, taking down the great bow of Odysseus from its place,
entered the hall and declared that whosoever of her lovers could bend it
and send an arrow through twelve rings (a feat which she had often seen
Odysseus perform) should be chosen by her as her husband.

All the suitors tried their skill, but in vain; not one possessed the
strength required to draw the bow. Odysseus now stepped forward and asked
permission to be allowed to try, but the haughty nobles mocked at his
audacity, and would not have permitted it had not Telemachus interfered.
The pretended beggar took up the bow, and with the greatest ease sent an
arrow whizzing through the rings; then turning to Antinous, who was just
raising a goblet of wine to his lips, he pierced him to the heart. At this
the suitors sprang to their feet and looked round for their arms; but in
obedience to the instructions of Odysseus Telemachus had previously removed
them. He and his father now attacked the riotous revellers, and after a
desperate encounter not one of the whole crew remained alive.

The joyful intelligence of the return of Odysseus being conveyed to
Penelope she descended to the hall, but refused to recognize, in the aged
beggar, her gallant husband; whereupon he retired to the bath, from which
he emerged in all the vigour and beauty with which Athene had endowed him
at the court of Alcinous. But Penelope, still incredulous, determined to
put him to a sure test. She therefore commanded in his hearing that his own
bed should be brought from his chamber. Now the foot of this bed had been
fashioned by Odysseus himself out of the stem of an olive-tree which was
still rooted in the ground, and round it he had built the walls of the
chamber. Knowing therefore that the bed could not be moved, he exclaimed
that the errand was useless, for that no {323} mortal could stir it from
its place. Then Penelope knew that it must be Odysseus himself who stood
before her, and a most touching and affectionate meeting took place between
the long-separated husband and wife.

The following day the hero set out to seek his old father Laertes, whom he
found on one of his estates in the country engaged in digging up a young
olive-tree. The poor old man, who was dressed in the humble garb of a
labourer, bore the traces of deep grief on his furrowed countenance, and so
shocked was his son at the change in his appearance that for a moment he
turned aside to conceal his tears.

When Odysseus revealed himself to his father as the son whom he had so long
mourned as lost, the joy of the poor old man was almost greater than he
could bear. With loving care Odysseus led him into the house, where at
length, for the first time since the departure of his son, Laertes once
more resumed his regal robes, and piously thanked the gods for this great
and unlooked-for happiness.

But not yet was the hero permitted to enjoy his well-earned repose, for the
friends and relatives of the suitors now rose in rebellion against him and
pursued him to the abode of his father. The struggle, however, was but a
short one. After a brief contest negotiations of a peaceful nature were
entered into between Odysseus and his subjects. Recognizing the justice of
his cause, they became reconciled to their chief, who for many years
continued to reign over them.

   *       *       *       *       *


   *       *       *       *       *

[Note.–The system of pronunciation here followed is the English system,
because it is the one at present most used among English-speaking peoples.
In it the letters have substantially their English sound. Upon the
continent of Europe the pronunciation of Latin and Greek is in like manner
made to correspond in each nation to the pronunciation of its own language,
and thus there is much diversity among the continental systems, though they
resemble each other more closely than they do the English. In England and
America also the continental methods of pronunciation have been extensively
used. Thus Æneas may be pronounced A-na´-ahss; Aïdes ah-ee´-daze. Since the
true, the ancient, pronunciation has been lost, and, as many contend,
cannot be even substantially recovered, it is a matter of individual
preference what system shall be followed.]


Abderus (ab-dee´-rus), 244.
Absyrtus (ab-sir´-tus), 226.
Academus (ak-[)a]-dee´-mus), 268.
Achelous (ak-e-lo´-us), 254, 278.
Acheron (ak´-e-ron), 132, 250.
Achilles ([)a]-kil´-leez), 131, 291, 287, 297.
Acis ([=a]´-sis), 105, 167.
Acrisius ([)a]-crish´-e-us), 189, 205, 209.
Acropolis ([)a]-crop´-o-lis), 189.
Actæon (ak-tee´-on), 91.
Admete (ad-mee´-te), 244.
Admetus (ad-mee´-tus), 76, 119, 216.
Adonis ([)a]-don´-iss), 59.
Adrastia (ad-ras-ti´-ah), 142.
Adrastus ([)a]-dras´-tus), 272.
Æacus (ee´-[)a]-cus), 34.
Ææa (ee-ee´-ah), island of, 67.
Ægean Sea (ee-gee´-an), 287.
[53]Ægeus (ee´-juce), 259, 262, 264.
Ægina (ee-ji´-nah), island of, 230.
Ægis (ee´-jiss), 26.
Ægisthus (ee-jiss´-thus, th as in both), 305.
Ægle (egg´-le), 163.
Ægyptus (ee-jip´-tus), 135.
Aello ([)a]-el´-lo), 137.
Æneas (ee-nee´-ass), 304.
Æolus (ee´-o-lus), 170, 210.
Aër ([=a]´-er), 12.
Æsacus (es´-a-cus), 284.
Æsculapius (es-cu-la´-pe-us), 177.
Æson (ee´-son), 213.
Æetes (ee-ee´-teez), 215, 222.
Æther (ee´-ther), 12.
Æthiopia (e-thi-o´-pe-ah), 207.
Æthra (ee´-thrah), 259, 267, 288.
Ætna, Mount (et´-nah), 100.
Agamemnon (ag-[)a]-mem´-non), 94, 286, 305.
Agave ([)a]-ga´-ve), 127, 205.
Agenor ([)a]-jee´-nor), 203.
Ages, 22.
Aglaia (ag-lay´-yah), 163.
Agraulos ([)a]-graw´-l[)o]s), 122.
Agrigent (ag´-ri-jent), 213.
Aïdes (a-i´-deez), 52, 130, 250.
–helmet of 206, 208.
Aïdoneus (a-i-do´-nuce), 130.
Air, 12.
Ajax ([=a]´-jax) the Greater, 298.
–the Lesser, 305.
Alcestis (al-ses´-tiss), 76.
Alcinous (al-sin´-o-us), 228, 318.
Alcippe (al-sip´-pe), 113
Alcmæon (alk-mee´-on), 273, 277.
Alcmene (alk-mee´-ne), 35, 234.
Alecto (a-leck´-to), 138.
Alexander (al-ex-an´-der), 284.
Aloidæ (al-o-i´-de), 113.
Alpheus (al´-fuce), 242.
Altars, 191.
Althea (al-thee´-ah, th as in both), 90.
Altis (al´-tis) the, 41.
Amalthea (am-al-thee´-ah), 15.
Amazons (am´-a-zons), 244, 258, 264.
Ambrosia (am-bro´-zhah), 15.
Amor ([=a]´-mor), 150.
Amphiaraus (am´-fe-a-ray´-us), 273.
Amphidamas (am-fid´-a-mass), 221.
Amphilochus (am-fil´-o-cus), 277.
Amphion (am-fi´-on), 33.
Amphitrite (am-fe-tri´-te), 104, 167.
Amphitrion (am-fit´-re-on), 35, 234.
Amycus (am´-i-cus), 219.
Anaitis-Aphroditis (an-a-i´-tis-af-ro-di´-tis), 92.
Ananke (an-ang´-ke), 147.
Anciliæ (an-sil´-e-e), 115.
Androgeos (an-dro´-je-oss), 262.
Andromache (an-drom´-a-ke), 295, 304.
Andromeda (an-drom´-e-dah), 207.
Antea (an-tee´-ah), 256.
Anteos (an-tee´-[)o]s), 248.
Anteros (an´-te-ross), 150.
Antigone (an-tig´-o-ne), 271, 275.
Antinous (an-tin´-o-us), 321.
Antiope (an-ti´-o-pe), 32.
Antiphates (an-tif´-a-teez), 311.
Aphareus (af´-a-ruce), 34.
Aphrodite (af-ro-di´-te), 58, 99, 152.
Apollo ([)a]-pol´-lo), 68.
–(Roman), 83.
Apple of Discord, 39.
Arachne (a-rak´-ne), 45.
Arcadia (ar-ca´-de-ah), 240.
Arctos (ark´-t[)o]s), 35.
Areopagus (a-re-op´-a-gus), 44, 113, 212.
Ares ([=a]´-reez), 99, 112.
–grove of, 215.
–field of, 223, 225.
Arete (a-ree´-te or ar´-e-te), 228, 318.
Arethusa (ar-e-thu´-sah), 163.
Aretias ([)a]-ree´-she-ass), 221.
Argia (ar-ji´-ah), 272.
Argives (ar-jives), 274.
Argo, 215, 230, 321.
Argonauts (ar´-go-nawts), 213.
Argos (ar´-g[)o]s), 209, 216, 283.
Argus, 224.
Argus-Panoptes (pan-op´-teez), 36.
Ariadne (a-re-ad´-ne), 128, 263.
Aricia (a-rish´-e-ah), 97.
Arion (a-ri´-on), 275.
Aristæus (ar-iss-tee´-us), 81.
Aristodemus (a-ris´-to-de´-mus), 282.
Aristomachus (ar-is-tom´-a-cus), 282.
Arsinoë (ar-sin´-o-e), 278.
Artemis (ar´-te-miss), 87.
Ascalaphus (ass-cal´-a-fuss), 55, 250.
Asclepius (ass-clee´-pe-us), 71, 76, 176.
Ashtoreth (ash´-to-reth), 61.
Asphodel meadows (ass-fo-del), 133.
Astarte (ass-tar´-te), 61.
Astræa (ass-tree´-ah), 85.
Astræus (ass-tree´-us), 68.
Astyanax (ass-ti´-a-nax), 304.
Atalanta (at-a-lan´-tah), 89.
Ate ([=a]´-te), 149.
Athamas (ath´-a-mass), 111, 215.
Athene (a-thee´-ne, th as in both), 43.
Athene-Polias (po´-le-ass), 44, 189, 199, 264.
Athens, 264.
Atlas, 207, 248.
Atreus, ([)a]´-truce), 282.
Atropos (at´-ro-p[)o]s), 139.
Atys ([=a]´-tiss), 19.
Augeas (aw´-je-ass), 242, 254.
Augurs, 196.
Aulis (aw´-lis), 97.
Aurora (aw-ro´-rah), 13, 67.
Autochthony (aw-tok´-tho-ny), 22.
Autolycus (aw-tol´-i-cus), 235, 251.
Autonoe, (aw-ton´-o-e), 205.
Avernus (a-ver´-nus), 132.
Avertor ([=a]-ver´-tor), 180.
Averuncus (av-e-run´-cus), 180.


Bacchanalia (bac-ca-na´-le-ah), 199.
Bacchantes (bac-can´-teez), 198.
Bacchus (bac´-cus), 130.
Battus (bat´-tus), 119.
Baucis (baw´-sis), 37.
Bebricians (be-brish´-e-anz), 219.
Beech-nymph, 168.
Bellerophon (bel-ler´-o-fon), 256.
Bellerophontes (bel-ler´-o-fon´-teez), 256.
Bellona (bel-lo´-nah), 116.
Belvedere (bel´-vi-deer), 85.
Benthesicyme, (ben-the-siss´-i-me), 105.
Berecynthia-Idea (ber´-e-sin´-the-ah-i-dee´-ah), 19.
Beroe (ber´-o-e, first e like ei in their), 35.
Birch-nymph, 168.
Bistonians (bis-to´-ne-anz), 243.
Bithynia (bi-thin´-e-ah), 220.
Boreas (bo´-re-ass), 171.
Brauron (braw´-ron), 96.
Brazen Age, 23.
Briareus (bri´-a-ruce), 13.
Brisëis (bri-see´-iss), 292.
Brontes (bron´-teez), 16.
Busiris (bu-si´-ris), 248.
Butes (bu´-teez), 228.


Cadmus, 203.
Caduceus (ca-du´-she-us), 121.
Calais (cal´-a-iss), 171, 220.
Calchas (cal´-kas), 94, 287, 289, 292.
Calirrhoë (cal-lir´-ro-e), 278.
Calliope (cal-li´-o-pe), 80, 159.
Callisto (cal-lis´-to), 35.
Calydonian Boar-hunt, 89.
Calypso (ca-lip´-so), 317.
Camenæ (ca-mee´-nee), 184.
Campus Martius (mar´-she-us), 115.
Canens (ca´-nenz), 182.
Capaneus (cap´-a-nuce), 273.
Caphareus, Cape (ca-fa´-ruce), 305.
Carmenta (car-men´-tah), 184.
Carmentalia (car-men-ta´-le-ah), 184.
Carnival, 201.
Carpo, 164.
Cassandra (cas-san´-drah), 284, 303, 305.
Cassiopea (cas´-se-o-pee´-ah), 207.
Castalian Spring, 159, 195.
Castor, 33, 187, 268.
Caucasus (caw´-c[)a]-sus), Mount, 222.
Cecrops (see´-crops), 189.
Celæno (se-lee´-no), 137.
Celeus (see´-le-us), 53.
Celts, 10.
Cenæus (se-nee´-us), 255.
Centaurs (sen´-tawrs), 266.
Ceos (see´-[)o]s), 13.
Cepheus (see´-fuce), 207.
Cephissus (se-fiss´-us), 169.
Cerberus (ser´-be-rus), 133, 153, 249.
Cercyon (ser´-se-on), 261.
Cerealia (se-re-a´-le-ah), 201.
Ceres (see´-reez), 58, 201.
Cerunitis (ser-u-ni´-tis), 240.
Cestus (ses´-tus), 59.
Ceto (see´-to), 111.
Ceuta (su´-tah), 222.
Ceyx (see´-ix), 110, 254, 280.
Chalciope (cal-si´-o-pe), 223.
Chaos (ka´-oss), 11.
Chares (ca´-reez), 99.
Charites (car´-i-teez), 163.
Charon (ca´-ron), 132, 153.
Charybdis (ca-rib´-dis), 228, 316.
Chimæra (ki-mee´-rah), 257, 162.
Chiron (ki´-ron), 289.
Chloris (clo´-ris), 171.
Chrysaor (cris-[=a]´-or), 145.
Chrysëis (cri-see´-iss), 292.
Chryses (cri´-seez), 292.
Cimmerians (sim-me´-ri-anz), 132, 314.
Cimon (si´-mon), 268.
Circe (sir´-se), 64, 182, 227, 311.
Cithæron (si-thee´-ron, th as in both), 40.
–Mount, 236.
Cleodæus (cle-o-dee´-us), 282.
Cleopatra (cle-o-pat´-rah), 220.
Clio (cli´-o), 159.
Cloacina (clo-a-si´-nah), 61.
Clotho (clo´-tho), 139.
Clymene (clim´-e-ne), 64.
Clytæmnestra (clit-em-nes´-trah), 94, 305, 306.
Clytie (cli´-ti-e), 63.
Cocalus (coc´-a-lus), 213.
Cocytus (co-si´-tus), 132, 314.
Coelus (see´-lus), 11.
Colchis (col´-kis), 215, 222.
Colonus (co-lo´-nus), 271.
Colossus of Rhodes (co-l[)o]s´-sus), 66.
Comus (co´-mus), 184.
Consualia (con-su-a´-le-ah), 183.
Consus (con´-sus), 183.
Copreus (co´-pruce), 239.
Cora, 197.
Cornucopia (cor-noo-co´-pe-ah), 148.
Coronis (co-ro´-nis), 75.
Corybantes (cor-i-ban´-teez), 19.
Cos, island of (coss), 104.
Cottos (cot´-t[)o]s), 13.
Crania, island of (cra-ni´-ah), 286.
Creon (cree´-on), 237, 275.
Cresphontes (cres-fon´-teez), 282.
Cretan Bull, 243.
Crete (creet), 229.
Crëusa (cre-yu´-sah), 210.
Crios (cri´-[)o]s), 13.
Croesus (cree´-sus), 195.
Crommyon (crom´-me-on), 260.
Cronus (cro´-nus), 14, 179.
Ctesiphon (tes´-i-fon), 93.
Cumæan Sibyl, the (cu-mee´-an), 84.
Cupid (cu´-pid), 150.
Curetes (cu-ree´-teez), 15.
Cybele (sib´-i-le), 18, 128.
Cyclops (si´-clops), 105, 307.
Cycnus (sik´-nus), 66, 247.
Cyllene, Mount (sil-lee´-ne), 119.
Cyparissus (sip-a-ris´-sus), 77, 182.
Cyprus, island of (si´-prus), 60.
Cyrus (si´-rus), 195.
Cythera (sith-ee´-rah), 60.
Cyzicus (siz´-i-cus), 218.


Dædalus (ded´-a-lus), 211.
Dæmons (de´-mons), 185.
Damastes (da-mas´-teez), 261.
Danaë (dan´-a-e), 205, 209.
Danaïdes (dan-a´-[)i]-deez), 135.
Danaus (dan´-a-us), 135.
Danneker (dan´-ek-ker), 129.
Daphne (daf´-ne), 74.
Daphnephoria (daf-ne-fo´-re-ah), 200.
Daphnephorus (daf-nef´-o-rus), 200.
Deianeira (de-i´-a-ni´-rah), 254.
Deiphobus (de-if´-o-bus), 300.
Deipyle (de-ip´-i-le), 272.
Delia (dee´-le-ah), 83.
Delos, island of (dee´-l[)o]s), 69, 83.
Delphi (del´-fi), 82.
Delphic Oracle, 194.
Demeter (de-mee´-ter), 50, 197.
Demi-gods, 8.
Demophoon (de-mof´-o-on), 53, 280.
Deucalion (du-ca´-le-on), 21.
Diana (di-an´-nah), 87.
–of Versailles, 88.
Dice (di´-se), 164.
Dictys (dic´-tiss), 205.
Dindymene (din-di-mee´-ne), 19.
Dino (di´-no), 145.
Diomedes (di-o-mee´-deez), 112, 243, 297, 305.
Dione (di-o´-ne), 58.
Dionysia (di-o-nish´-e-ah), 180, 197.
Dionysus (di-o-ni´-sus), 124, 193, 198, 263.
Dioscuri (di-[)o]s-cu´-ri), 33.
Diræ (di´-ree), 138.
Dirce (dir´-se), 33.
Dis (diss), 137.
Discord, goddess of, 284.
Dodona (do-do´-nah), 29, 216.
Doliones (do-li´-o-neez), 218.
Dorians (do´-re-anz), 211.
Doris (do´-ris), 108.
Dorus (do´-rus), 211.
Dryades (dri´-a-deez), 168.
Dryas (dri´-ass), 126.
Dymas (di´-mass), 283.


Echedorus (ek-e-do´-rus), 247.
Echemon (ek-kee´-mon), 282.
Echidna, (ek-kid´-nah), 146.
Echo (ek´-o), 169.
Egeria (e-gee´-re-ah), 184.
Eilithyia (i-lith-i´-yah), 41, 237.
Electra (e-lek´-trah), 111, 306.
Electryon (e-lek´-tre-on), 35.
Eleusinian Mysteries (el-u-sin´-e-an), 56, 132, 196.
Eleusis (e-lu´-sis), 54.
Elis (ee´-lis), 254, 283.
Elysian Fields (e-lizh´-e-an), 133.
Elysium (e-lizh´-e-um), 133.
Enceladus (en-sel´-a-dus), 20.
Endymion (en-dim´-e-on), 87.
Enipeus (e-ni´-puce), 106.
Enyo (e-ni´-o), 113.
Eos (ee´-[)o]s), 67, 297.
Epaphus (ep´-a-fus), 36, 64.
Epeios (ep-i´-[)o]s), 301.
Ephesus, temple of (ef´-e-sus), 92.
Ephialtes (ef-e-[=a]l´-teez), 105.
Epidaurus (ep-e-daw´-rus), 260.
Epigoni (e-pig´-o-ni), 276.
Epimetheus (ep-e-me´-thuce), 25.
Epopeus (e-po´-puce), 32.
Erato (er´-a-to), 159.
Erebus (er´-e-buss), 13.
Erechtheus (e-rek´-thuce), 210.
Eresichthon (er-e-sik´-thon), 57.
Erginus (er-ji´-nus), 237.
Eridanus, river, the (e-rid´-a-nus), 65, 227, 248.
Erinnyes (e-rin´-ne-eez), 138.
Eriphyle (er-i-fi´-le), 273.
Eris (ee´-ris), 39.
Eros (ee´-r[)o]s), 74, 150.
Erymantian Boar (er-e-man´-shun), 240.
Erythia (er-e-thi´-ah), 246.
Eteocles (e-tee´-o-cleez), 272, 275.
Ether (ee´-ther), 12.
Euboeans (u-bee´-anz), 210.
Eumæus (u-mee´-us), 320.
Eumenides (u-men´-i-deez), 138, 271.
Eunomia (u-no´-me-ah), 164.
Euphemus (u-fee´-mus), 221.
Euphrosyne (u-fros´-i-ne), 163.
Europa (u-ro´-pah), 34.
Eurus (u´-rus), 171.
Euryale (u-ri´-a-le), 144.
Eurybia (u-rib´-e-ah), 13.
Euryclea (u-ri-clee´-ah), 321.
Eurydice (u-rid´-i-se), 81.
Eurylochus (u-ril´-o-kus), 311.
Eurynome (u-rin´-o-me), 98.
Eurypylus (u-rip´-i-lus), 299.
Eurystheus (u-riss´-thuce), 237, 280.
Eurytion (u-rit´-e-on), 246, 266.
Eurytus (u´-ri-tus), 235.
Euterpe (u-ter´-pe), 159.
Evander (e-van´-der), 184.
Evenus (e-ve´-nus), 254.


Farnese Bull, the (far´-neez), 33.
Fates, 139.
Fauns (fawns), 175.
Faunus (faw´-nus), 174.
Festivals, 196.
Fetiales (fe-she-a´-leez), 124.
Flora, 180.
Floralia (flo-ra´-le-ah), 180.
Fortuna (for-tu´-nah), 147.
Furies, 278, 306.


Gadria (gad´-re-ah), 246.
Gæa (je´-ah), 11.
Galatea (gal-a-tee´-ah), 167.
Ganymede (gan-i-mee´-de), 156, 246.
Ganymedes (gan-i-mee´-deez), 156, 246.
Ge, 11.
Genii (jee´-ne-i), 185.
Geryon (jee´-re-on), 246.
Geryones (je-ri´-o-neez), 246.
Giants, 13, 199, 218.
Gigantomachia (ji-gan´-to-ma´-ke-ah), 20.
Glauce (glaw´-se), 231.
Glaucus (glaw´-cus), 109, 219.
Golden Age, 22, 185.
Golden Fleece, 215, 223, 226, 230.
Gordius (gor´-de-us), 128.
Gorgons, 144, 206.
Graces, 163.
Gradivus (gra-di´-vus), 115.
Grææ (gree´-ee), 145, 206.
Gratiæ (gra´-she-ee), 163.
Gyges (ji´-jeez), 13.


Hades (ha´-deez), 250.
Hæmon (hee´-mon), 276.
Halcyone (hal-si´-o-ne), 110.
Halirrothius (hal-ir-ro´-the-us), 113.
Hamadryades (ham-a-dry´-a-deez), 168.
Harmonia (har-mo´-ne-ah), 204, 276.
Harpies (har´-piz), 137, 220.
Harpinna (har-pin´-nah), 233.
Hebe (hee´-be), 41, 156, 256.
Hebrus, river, the (hee´-brus), 82.
Hecate (hec´-a-te), 85.
Hecatombs (hec´-a-tomes), 193.
Hecatoncheires (hec´-a-ton-ki´-reez), 13.
Hector, 284, 290, 293.
Hecuba (hec´-u-bah), 283, 304.
Helen, 267, 286, 304.
Helenus (hel´-e-nus), 299.
Helicon (hel´-e-con), 158, 162.
Helios, (hee´-le-[)o]s), 61, 316.
Helios-Apollo, 70.
Helle (hel´-le), 215.
Hemera (hee´-me-rah), 13, 142.
Heosphorus (he-[)o]s´-fo-rus), 68.
Hephæstus (he-fes´-tus), 97.
Hera (he´-rah), 38, 214.
Heracles 54, 26, 218, 234.
Heraclidæ 54, 280.
Heræ (he´-ree), 41.
Hercules (her´-cu-leez) See Heracles.
–Pillars of, 246.
Hermæ (her´-mee), 118.
Hermes (her´-meez), 117, 250, 312.
Hermione (her-mi´-o-ne), 307.
Heroes, 8.
Herostratus (he-ros´-tra-tus), 93.
Herse (her´-se), 87, 122.
Hesiod’s Theogony (he´-she-od), 24, 150.
Hesione (he-si´-o-ne), 245, 253, 285.
Hesperia (hes-pee´-re-ah), 163.
Hesperides (hes-per´-i-deez), 162, 247.
Hesperus (hes´-pe-rus), 68.
Hestia (hes´-te-ah), 48.
Hip´pocamp, 229.
Hippocamps, 102.
Hippocrene (hip-po-cree´-ne), 159, 162.
Hippodamia (hip´-po-da-mi´-ah), 232, 266.
Hippolyte (hip-pol´-i-te), 264.
Hippolyte’s Girdle, 244.
Hippolytes (hip-pol´-i teez), 283.
Hippolytus (hip-pol´-i-tus), 266.
Hippomedon (hip-pom´-e-don), 273.
Hippomenes (hip-pom´-e-neez), 91.
Horæ (ho´-ree), 164.
Horned Hind, 240.
Hyacinthus (hi-a-sin´-thus), 77.
Hyades (hi´-a-deez), 170.
Hydra, Lernean, the (hi´-drah, ler-nee´-an), 239.
Hygeia (hi-jee´-yah), 177.
Hylas (hi´-las), 216, 219.
Hyllus (hil´-lus), 254, 281.
Hymen (hi´-men), or Hymenæus (hi-me-nee´-us), 154.
Hyperion (hi-pee´-re-on), 13.
Hypermnestra (hip-erm-nes´-trah), 135.
Hypnus (hip´-nus), 142.
Hypsipyle (hip-sip´-i-le), 274.


Iambe (i-am´-be), 53.
Iapetus (i-ap´-e-tus), 24.
Iasion (i-a´-zhe-on), 137.
Iberia (i-bee´-re-ah), 247.
Icaria (i-ca´-re-ah), 212.
Icarus (ic´-a-rus), 211.
Ichor (i´-kor), 7.
Ida, Mount, 157, 284, 300.
Idas (i´-dass), 34, 75.
Idmon (id´-mon), 216.
Idomeneus (i-dom´-e-nuce), 286.
Ilion (il´-e-on), 283.
Illyria (il-lir´-e-ah), 205.
Ilus (i´-lus), 283.
Inachus (in´-a-cus), 36.
Ino (i´-no), 205, 215.
Inuus (in´-u-us), 174.
Io (i´-o), 36.
Iobates (i-ob´-a-teez), 257.
Iolaus (i-o-la´-us), 239, 251, 281.
Iolcus (i-ol´-cus), 213, 230.
Iole (i´-o-le), 251, 255.
Ion (i´-on), 210.
Iphigenia (if´-i-ge-ni´-ah), 94, 289, 307.
Iphitus (if´-i-tus), 251.
Iris (i´-ris), 155, 220.
Iron Age, 23.
Ismene (iss-mee´-ne), 271.
Ister (iss´-ter), 226.
Isthmian Games (isth´-me-an), 107, 264.
Ithaca (ith´-a-cah), 310, 319.
Ixion (ix-i´-on), 135.


Jani (ja´-ni), 178.
Janus (ja´-nus), 18, 178.
Jason (ja´-son), 213.
Jocasta (jo-cas´-tah), 269, 270.
Juno (ju´-no), 42, 185.
Jupiter (ju´-pe-ter), 38.
Jupiter-Ammon, 207.
Juventas (ju-ven´-t[)a]ss), 156, 183.


Keidomos (ki´-do-mos), 113.
Ker (cur), 149.
Keres (kee´-reez), 149.


Labdacus (lab´-da-cus), 269.
Labyrinth (lab´-i-rinth), 212, 262.
Lacedæmon (las-e-dee´-mon), 283.
Lac´edæmo´nians, 189.
Lachesis (lak´-e-sis), 139.
Lacolia (la-co´-le-ah), 250.
Lacus Nemorensis (la´-cus nem-o-ren´-sis), 97.
Ladon (la´-don), 240.
Laertes (la-er´-teez), 314, 323.
Læstrygones (les-trig´-o-neez), 311.
Laius (la´-yus), 269.
Lampetus (lam´-pe-tus), 67.
Lampsacus (lamp´-sa-cus), 176.
Laocoon (la-oc´-o-on), 301.
Laodamas (la-od´-a-mass), 277.
Laomedon (la-om´-e-don), 104, 245, 253.
Lar, 186.
Lares Familiares (la´-reez fa-mil´-e-a´-reez), 186.
Larissa (la-ris´-sah), 189, 209.
Latmus Mount, 87.
Latona (la-to´-nah), 31.
Laverna (la-ver´-nah), 184.
Leda (lee´-dah), 33.
Lemnos, island of, (lem´-noss), 98, 217.
Lemuralia (lem-u-ra´-le-ah), 186.
Lemures (lem´-u-reez), 186.
Lerna, 239.
Lernean Hydra. See Hydra.
Lesbos (lez´-bos), 290.
Lethe (lee´-the, th as in both), 133.
Leto (lee´-to), 31.
Leucippus (lu-sip´-pus), 34.
Leucothea (lu-co´-the-ah, th as in both), 111, 318.
Liber (li´-ber), 130.
Liberalia (lib-er-a´-le-ah), 130.
Libya (lib´-yah), 207, 229.
Limoniades (lim-o-ni´-a-deez), 170.
Linden-nymph, 168.
Linus (li´-nus), 235.
Lion, Nemean (ne´-me-an), 238.
Ludi Maximi (lu´-di max´-i-mi), 48.
Ludovici Villa (lu-do-vee´-chee), 116.
Luna (lu´-nah), 86, 97.
Lupercus (lu-per´-cus), 174.
Lycaon (li-cay´-on), 37.
Lycomedes (lic-o-mee´-deez), 268, 287.
Lycurgus (li-cur´-gus), 126, 189, 274.
Lycus (li´-cus), 32.
Lynceus (lin´-suce), 34, 216.


Macaria (ma-ca´-re-ah), 281.
Machaon (ma-ca´-on), 177, 300.
Magna-Mater (may´-ter), 19.
Maia (may´-yah), 119.
Mamers (ma´-merz), 114.
Manes (ma´-neez), 185.
Marathonian Bull (mar-a-tho´-ne-an), 262.
Mares of Diomedes, 243
Marpessa (mar-pes´-sah), 75.
Mars (marz), 114.
Marspiter (mars´-pe-ter), 114.
Marsyas (mar´-she-ass), 78.
Mater-Deorum (dee-o´-rum), 19.
Matronalia (ma-tro-na´-le-ah), 43.
Mecone (me-co´-ne), 24.
Medea (me-dee´-ah), 223, 261.
Medusa (me-du´-sah), 45, 144, 206.
Megæra (me-jee´-rah), 138.
Megapenthes (meg-a-pen´-theez), 209.
Megara (meg´-a-rah), 138, 237, 251.
Melanippe (mel-a-nip´-pe), 245.
Meleager (me-le-a´-jer), 89, 216.
Meliades (me-li´-a-deez), 170.
Melissa (me-lis´-sah), 15.
Melpomene (mel-pom´-e-ne), 159.
Memnon (mem´-non), 297.
Memphis (mem´-fiss), 36.
Menades (men´-a-deez), 198.
Menelaus (men-e-la´-us), 294, 304, 305.
Menesthius (me-nes´-the-us), 268.
Menoeceus (me-nee´-suce), 274.
Menoetius (me-nee´-she-us), 216.
Mercury (mer´-cu-ry), 123.
Merope (mer´-ope, first e like ei in their), 269.
Messene (mes-see´-ne), 283.
Metaneira (met-a-ni´-rah), 53.
Metis (mee´-tiss), 30.
Metra (mee´-trah), 57, 92.
Midas (mi´-das), 79, 128.
Midea (mi-dee´-ah), 209.
Milo (mi´-lo), 60.
Miltiades (mil-ti´-a-deez), 268.
Mimas (mi´-mass), 20.
Minerva (mi-ner´-vah), 47.
Minerval (mi-ner´-val), 47.
Minos (mi´-n[)o]s), 34, 134, 212, 243.
Minotaur (min´-o-tawr), 212, 262.
Minyans (min´-yanz), 237.
Mnemosyne (ne-m[)o]s´-i-ne), 13, 31.
Moira (moy´-rah), 139.
Moiræ (moy´-ree), 297, 139.
Moly (mo´-ly), 312.
Momus (mo´-mus), 149.
Moneta Juno (mo-nee´-tah), 42.
Mopsus, 216.
Morpheus (mor´-fuce), 143.
Mors (morz). See Thanatos.
Musagetes (mu-saj´-e-teez), 71.
Muses, 157.
Mutunus (mu-tu´-nus), 176.
Mycenæ (mi-see´-ne), 209, 305.
Myrmidons (mir´-mi-dons), 288, 293, 295.
Myrtilus (mir´-ti-lus), 233.
Mysia (mish´-e-ah), 219.
Mysians, 289.


Naiads (na´-yads), or Naiades (na-i´-a-deez), 166, 227.
Napææ (na-pee´-ee), 169.
Narcissus (nar-sis´-sus), 169.
Nausicaa (naw-sic´-a-ah), 317.
Naxos (nax´-oss), 128, 263.
Necessitas (ne-ses´-si-tass), 148.
Nectar, 15.
Neleus (nee´-luce), 106, 119, 216.
Nemea (nee´-me-ah), 274.
Nemean Lion. See Lion.
Nemesis (nem´-e-siss), 141.
Nemoralia (nem-o-ra´-le-ah), 97.
Neoptolemus (ne-op-tol´-e-mus), 299, 304.
Nephalia (ne-fa´-le-ah), 139.
Nephelæ (nef´-e-lee), 12.
Nephele (nef´-e-le), 215.
Neptunalia (nep-tu-na´-le-ah), 107.
Neptune (nept´-une), 14, 107.
Nereides (ne-ree´-i-deez), 108, 167.
Nereus (nee´-ruce), 13, 108.
Nessus, 254.
Nestor, 286, 301, 305.
Nike (ni´-ke), 117.
Niobe (ni´-o-be), 79, 141.
Noman, 309.
Notus (no´-tus), 171.
Nox. See Nyx.
Nyctimus (nic´-ti-mus), 38.
Nycteus (nic´-tuce), 32.
Nymphs, 165.
Nysa, Mount (ni´-sah), 125.
Nyx (nix), 13, 142.


Oceanides (o-se-an´-i-deez), 108, 166.
Oceanus (o-see´-a-nus), 12, 107, 166, 314.
Ocypete (o-sip´-e-te), 137.
Odysseus (o-dis´-suce), 131, 287, 307.
Oechalia (e-ka´-le-ah), 255.
Oedipus (ed´-i-pus), 146, 269.
Oeneus (ee´-nuce), 89, 254.
Oenomaus (ee-nom´-a-us), 232.
Oenone (ee-no´-ne) 284, 300.
Ogygia (o-jij´-e-ah), 317.
Oileus (o-i´-luce), 216, 221.
Olympia (o-lim´-pe-ah), 29, 123.
Olym´pic Games, 30.
Olym´pus, Mount, 27.
Omphale (om´-fa-le), 252.
Ops, 19.
Oracles, 194.
Orchamus (or´-ca-mus), 63.
Orchomenus (or-com´-e-nus), 237.
Orcus (or´-cus), 136.
Oreades (o-ree´-a-deez), 169.
Orithyia (or´-i-thi´-yah), 171.
Orestes (o-res´-teez), 95, 139, 306.
Orpheus (or´-fuce), 80, 216, 228.
Orthrus (or´-thrus), 246.
Ossa (oss´-sah), 106.
Othrys, Mount, (o´-thris), 16.
Otus (o´-tus), 105.
Oxen of Geryones. See Geryones.
Oxylus (ox´-i-lus), 283.


Palæmon (pa-lee´-mon), 111.
Palamedes (pal-a-mee´-deez), 287, 291.
Palatine (pal´-a-tin), 181.
Pales (pa´-leez), 181.
Palilia (pa-lil´-e-ah), 181.
Palladium (pal-la´-de-um), 299, 301.
Pallan´tids, 262.
Pallas (pal´-lass), 117.
Pallas-Athene, 43, 234, 302.
Pan, 79, 171, 198.
Panacea (pan-a-see´-ah), 177.
Panathenæa (pan´-ath-e-nee´-ah), 199.
Pandareos (pan-da´-re-oss), 138.
Pandora (pan-do´-rah), 25.
Panisci (pa-nis´-si), 174.
Panoptes (pa-nop´-teez), 246.
Parcæ (par´-see). See Moiræ.
Paris (par´-ris), 39, 284, 286.
Parnassus (par-nas´-sus), 158.
Parthenon (par´-the-non), 46.
–Hill, 89.
Parthenopæus (par´-then-o-pee´-us), 273.
Patroclus (p[)a]-tro´-clus), 288, 293, 314.
Pedasus (ped´-a-sus), 292.
Pegasus (peg´-a-sus), 145, 162, 257.
Peitho (pi´-tho), 134.
Peleus (pee´-luce), 39, 287.
Pelias (pee´-le-ass), 106, 213, 230.
Pelion, Mount (pee´-le-on), 106.
Peloponnesus (pel´-o-pon-nee´-sus), 281.
Pelops (pee´-lops), 135, 232.
Penates (pe-na´-teez), 187.
Penelope (pe-nel´-o-pe), 287, 319.
Peneus (pe-nee´-us), 74, 242.
Penthesilea (pen´-the-si-lee´-ah), 296
Pentheus (pen´-thuce), 126, 205.
Pephredo (pe-free´-do), 145.
Peplus (pee´-plus), 199.
Periphetes (per-i-fee´-teez), 260.
Perse (per´-se), 64, 312.
Persephone (per-sef´-o-ne), 52, 197, 267.
Perseus (per´-suce), 145, 205.
Petasus (pet´-a-sus), 121.
Phæaces (fee-a´-seez), 228, 318.
Phædra (fee´-drah), 266.
Phaëthon (fa´-e-thon), 64, 67.
Pharos, isle of, (fa´-r[)o]s), 108.
Phases, river (fa´-seez), 222.
Phegeus (fee´-juce), 278.
Phidias (fid´-e-ass), 28.
Philemon (fi-lee´-mon), 37.
Philoctetes (fil-oc-tee´-teez), 256, 290, 299.
Phineus (fi´-nuce), 208, 220.
Phlegethon (flej´-e-thon), 134.
Phocis (fo´-siss), 306.
Phoebe (fee´-be), 13.
Phoebus-Apollo (fee´-bus), 68, 298.
Pholus (fo´-lus), 240.
Phorcys (for´-siss), 13, 111.
Phrygia (frij´-e-ah), 18.
Phryxus (frix´-us), 222.
Phylace (fil´-a-se), 290.
Phyleus (fi´-luce), 242, 254.
Phylla (fil´-lah), 233.
Picumnus (pi-cum´-nus), 182.
Picus (pi´-cus), 182.
Pieria (pi-ee´-re-ah), 119, 158.
Pierides (pi-er´-i-deez), 158, 162.
Pierus (pi´-e-rus), 158.
Pilumnus (pi-lum´-nus), 182.
Pindus, Mount, 158.
Pirithöus (pi-rith´-o-us), 216, 250, 265.
Pisa (pi´-sah), 232.
Pittheus (pit´-thuce), 259.
Platea (pla-tee´-ah), 40.
Pleiades (plee´-ya-deez), 119.
Pluto (plu´-to), 136.
Plutus (plu´-tus), 132, 137, 148.
Podalirius (pod-a-lir´-e-us), 177.
Podarces (po-dar´-seez), 253.
Pollux, 33, 187, 227, 268.
Polybotes (pol-e-bo´-teez), 104.
Polybus (pol´-e-bus), 269.
Polydectes (pol-e-dec´-teez), 205.
Polydeuces (pol-e-du´-seez). See Pollux.
Polydorus (pol-e-do´-rus), 205.
Polyhymnia (pol-e-him´-ne-ah), 159.
Polynices (pol-e-ni´-seez), 271, 272, 275.
Polyphemus (pol-e-fee´-mus), 105, 219, 307.
Pomona (po-mo´-nah), 180.
Pontus, 13.
Porta Lavernalis (lav-er-na´-lis), 184.
Poseidon (po-si´-don), 101, 162, 266.
Praxiteles (prax-it´-e-leez), 123.
Priam (pri´-am), 254, 283, 304.
Priamus (pri´-a-mus). See Priam.
Priapus (pri-a´-pus), 175.
Priests, 191.
Procrustes (pro-crus´-teez), 261.
Proetus (pree´-tus), 257.
Prometheus (pro-mee´-thuce), 24, 149, 193, 222.
Proserpine (pross´-er-pine), See Persephone.
Protesilaus (pro-tess´-i-la´-us), 290.
Proteus (pro´-tuce), 108.
Prytaneum (prit-a-nee´-um), 49.
Psophis (so´-fiss), 278.
Psyche (si´-ke), 150.
Pylades (pil´-a-deez), 95, 306.
Pylos (pi´-l[)o]s), 286.
Pyracmon (pi-rac´-mon), 16.
Pyrrha (pir´-rah), 22.
Pythia (pith´-e-ah) 195, 269.
Pythian Games, 83.
Python (pi´-thon), 31, 72, 195.


Quirinus (que-ri´-nus), 115.


Remus (ree´-mus), 114.
Rhadamanthus (rad-a-man´-thus), 34, 134.
Rhamnus (ram´-nus), 142.
Rhamnusia (ram-nu´-zhe-ah), 142.
Rhea (ree´-ah), 13, 18.
Rhoda (ro´-dah), 105.
Rhodes (roads), 105.
Rhodope, Mount (rod´-o-pe), 130.
Rhoetus (ree´-tus), 20.
Robigus (ro-bi´-gus), 180.
Romulus (rom´-u-lus), 114.


Sacrifices, 192.
Sagaris (sag´-a-ris), 19.
Salamis (sal´-a-mis), 285.
Salii (sa´-le-i), 115.
Samos (sa´-mos), 34.
Saturn (sat´-urn), 17, 200.
Saturnalia (sat-ur-na´-le-ah), 200.
Satyrs (sa´-turz), 174, 198.
Scamander (sca-man´-der), 290.
Scheria (skee´-re-ah), 318.
Schoeneus (skee´-nuce), 89.
Scyros, island of, (si´-r[)o]s), 268, 287.
Scylla (sil´-lah), 104, 316.
Scyron (si´-ron), 260.
Seasons, 164.
Selene (se-lee´-ne), 86.
Selene-Artemis, 96.
Selli (sel´-li), 29.
Semele (sem´-e-le), 35, 205, 215.
Seriphus (se-ri´-fus), 205.
Servius Tullius (ser´-ve-us tul´-le-us), 184.
Shades, realm of, 267, 314.
Sibyls (sib´-bles), 84.
Silens (si´-lenz), 174.
Silenus (si-lee´-nus), 125, 198.
Silvanus (sil-va´-nus), 115, 182.
Silver Age, 23.
Simois (sim´-o-iss), 290.
Sinnis (sin´-nis), 260.
Sinon (si´-non), 302.
Siphylus (sif´-i-lus), 80.
Sirens (si´-renz), 112, 158, 315.
Sisyphus (sis´-i-fus), 135.
Sol (soll). See Helios.
Solymans (sol´-i-mans), 258.
Somnus (som´-nus). See Hypnus.
Soothsayers, 195.
Sparta, 285.
Sphinx (sfinks), 146.
Stables, Augean (aw-jee´-an), 242.
Statues, 190.
Stellio (stel´-le-o), 57.
Steropes (ster´-o peez, the first e like ei in their), 16.
Stheno (sthee´-no), 144.
Strophius (stro´-fe-us), 306.
Stymphalides (stim-fal´-i-deez), 221, 242.
Styx (sticks), 117, 132, 287.
Symplegades (sim-pleg´-a-deez), 221.
Syrinx (si´-rinks), 172.
Syrtes (sir´-teez), 229.


Tænarum (ten´-a-rum), 132, 250.
Talaria (ta-la´-re-ah), 121.
Talus (ta´-lus), 229.
Tantalus (tan´-ta-lus), 134.
Tarquinius Superbus (tar-quin´-e-us su-per´-bus), 84.
Tartarus (tar´-ta-rus), 14, 134.
Taurica Chersonesus (taw´-ri-cah ker-so-nee´-sus), 93, 306.
Tauris (taw´-ris), 93, 306.
Tegea (tee´-je-ah), 279.
Telamon (tel´-a-mon), 216, 253, 285.
Telemachus (tel-lem´-a-cus), 287, 320.
Telephus (tel´-e-fus), 289.
Temenus (tem´-e-nus), 282.
Temples, 188.
Tenedos (ten´-e-dos), 290, 301, 303.
Terminus (ter´-mi-nus), 182.
Terpsichore (terp-sic´-o-re), 159.
Terra (ter´-rah, the e like ei in their), 11.
Tethys (tee´-thiss, th as in both), 107, 166.
Teutamias (tu-ta´-me-ass), 209.
[55]Thalia (tha-li´-ah), 159, 163.
Thallo (thal´-lo), 164.
Thamyris (tham´-i ris), 158.
Thanatos (than´-a-tos), 142.
Thaumas (thaw´-mass), 13, 111, 137.
Thebes (theebs), 203.
Theia (thi´-ah), 13.
Themis (thee´-mis), 31, 48.
Themiscyra (the-mis´-se-rah), 245.
Thermodon (ther-mo´-don), 244.
Thersander (ther-san´-der), 276.
Thersites (ther-si´-teez), 297.
Theseus (thee´-suce), 250, 259.
Thesmophoria (thes-mo-fo´-re-ah), 197.
Thes´saly, 77.
Thestius (thes´-te-us), 33.
Thetis (thee´-tis), 39, 98, 110, 297.
Thyone (thi-o´-ne), 128.
Tiphys (ti´-fiss), 216.
Tiresias (ti-ree´-she-ass), 235, 271, 274, 277, 313.
Tiryns (ti´-rinz), 209, 252.
Tirynth (ti´-rinth), 209, 252.
Tisiphone (ti-sif´-o-ne), 138.
Titanomachia (ti´-tan-o-ma´-ke-ah), 17.
Titans (ti´-tanz), 13.
Tithonus (ti-tho´-nus), 68, 297.
Tityus (tit´-e-us), 134.
Trachin (tra´-kin), 254.
Trachis (tra´-kis), 254.
Trinacria (tri-na´-cre-ah), 316.
Triptolemus (trip-tol´-e-mus), 53.
Triton (tri´-ton), 109.
Trivia (triv´-e-ah), 97.
Troezen (tree´-zen), 251
Tros (tr[)o]ss), 157, 246.
Troy, 283.
— walls of, 104.
Tubal-Cain (too´-bal-cane), 101.
Tyche (ti´-ke), 147.
Tydeus (ti´-duce), 272.
Tyndareus (tin-da´-re-us), 285.
Typhoeus (ti-fo´-yuce), 21.
Typhon (ti´-fon), 21.
Tyro (ti´-ro), 106.


Uffizi Gallery (oof´-fid-ze), 80.
Ulysses (u-lis´-seez), See Odysseus.
Urania (u-ra´-ne-ah), 159.
Uranus (u´-ra-nus), 11.


Veneralia (ven-e-ra´-le-ah), 61.
Venus (vee´-nus), 61, 183.
— of Milo, 60.
Vertumnus (ver-tum´-nus), 181.
Vesta (ves´-tah), 50, 201.
Vestalia (ves-ta´-le-ah), 59, 201.
Via Salavia (vi´-ah sa-la´-ve-ah), 184.
Victo´ria, 117.
Vulcan, 100.


Winds, 170, 298.
Wooden Horse, 301.


Xuthus (zoo-thus), 210.


Zephyrus (zef´-i-rus), 151, 171, 310.
Zetes (zee´-teez), 171.
Zethus (zee´-thus), 33.
Zeus (zuce), 26.

   *       *       *       *       *


   *       *       *       *       *

Spelling, Language, Grammar, Composition, Literature.

   *       *       *       *       *


In the preparation of this series the authors have had one object clearly
in view–to so develop the study of the English language as to present a
complete, progressive course, from the Spelling-Book to the study of
English Literature. The troublesome contradictions which arise in using
books arranged by different authors on these subjects, and which require
much time for explanation in the schoolroom, will be avoided by the use of
the above “Complete Course.”

Teachers are earnestly invited to examine these books.

43, 45, and 47 East Tenth Street, New York.

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[1] The early Greeks supposed the earth to be a flat circle, in the centre
of which was Greece. Oceanus, the ocean stream, encircled it; the
Mediterranean being supposed to flow into this river on the one side, and
the Euxine, or Black Sea, on the other.

[2] Owing to the vagueness of the various accounts of creation, the origin
of the primeval gods is variously accounted for. Thus, for instance,
Oceanus, with some, becomes the younger brother of Uranus and Gæa.

[3] The myth of Cronus swallowing his children is evidently intended by the
poets to express the melancholy truth that time destroys all things.

[4] Nectar was the drink, and ambrosia the food of the gods.

[5] The Cyclops are generally mentioned as the sons of Uranus and Gæa, but
Homer speaks of Polyphemus, the chief of the Cyclops, as the son of
Poseidon, and states the Cyclops to be his brothers.

[6] Possibly an image of him placed in readiness.

[7] This age was contemporary with the commencement of the dynasty of Zeus.

[8] Hesiod is said to have lived 850 years before the Christian era,
consequently about 200 years after King David. He lived in Boeotia, where
his tomb is still shown at Orchomenus. This ancient writer left behind him
two great poems, one entitled “The Works and Days,” in which he gives us
some of the earliest Greek legends, and the other, “The Theogony,”
containing the genealogies of the gods; but, unfortunately, both these
poems have been so interpolated by the writers of the Alexandrian school
that they have lost their value as reliable sources of information with
regard to the early beliefs of the Greek nation.

[9] Epimetheus signifies after-thought, Prometheus fore-thought.

[10] There are various versions of this myth. According to some the jar or
vase was full of all “the ills which flesh is heir to.”

[11] From Diaus, the sky.

[12] A sacred shield made for Zeus by Hephæstus, which derived its name
from being covered by the skin of the goat Amalthea, the word Ægis
signifying goat’s-skin.

[13] See Demeter.

[14] This frightful monster had sprung from the slimy and stagnant waters
which remained on the surface of the earth after the deluge of Deucalion.

[15] Castor and Pollux were known by the name of the Dioscuri, from dios,
gods, and kuroi, youths.

[16] The ancient Greeks attributed much of the subsequent character of an
individual to early influences; hence Hera, the future queen and mistress
of heaven, is represented as being brought up in a domesticated and orderly
household, where home virtues are carefully inculcated.

[17] In the Homeric age peacocks were unknown; it is therefore the later
poets who describe Hera surrounded with peacocks, which were brought to
Greece from India.

[18] This circumstance has given rise to the erroneous conclusion that Juno
presided over the finances of the state, but the word moneta is derived
from the Latin monere, which means to warn or admonish.

[19] See Roman Festivals.

[20] The first large ship possessed by the Greeks fit for more than coast

[21] When Perseus, with the help of Athene, had cut off the head of the
Medusa, the two sisters caused a sad dirge-like song to issue from the
mouths of the many snakes of which their hair was composed, whereupon
Athene, pleased with the sound, imitated the melody on a reed, and thus
invented the flute.

[22] For details see Roman Festivals.

[23] See Legend of Troy.

[24] Some, with but little reason, make Demeter the daughter of Uranus and

[25] Demeter transformed Ascalaphus into an owl for revealing the secret.

[26] The course which the sun ran was considered by the ancients to be a
rising and descending curve [drawing of an arc], the centre of which was
supposed to be reached by Helios at mid-day.

[27] The river Po.

[28] This great work of antiquity was destroyed by an earthquake fifty-six
years after its erection, B.C. 256. The fragments remained on the ground
for many centuries, until Rhodes was conquered by the Turks, and they were
eventually sold by one of the generals of Caliph Othman IV. to a merchant
of Emesa for £36,000, A.D. 672.

[29] According to some authorities, Strymon.

[30] This wonderful lyre, which had been given to Apollo by Hermes
(Mercury) in exchange for the Caduceus or rod of wealth, is said to have
possessed such extraordinary powers, that it caused a stone, upon which it
was laid, to become so melodious, that ever afterwards, on being touched,
it emitted a musical sound which resembled that produced by the lyre

[31] Aristæus was worshipped as a rural divinity in various parts of
Greece, and was supposed to have taught mankind how to catch bees, and to
utilize honey and wax.

[32] Astræa was the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Perses was son
of the Titans Crios and Eurybia.

[33] Called also Anaitis-Aphroditis.

[34] This occurred during the night Alexander the Great was born.

[35] Another version with regard to the origin of this defect, is that
being born ugly and deformed, his mother Hera, disgusted at his
unsightliness, herself threw him violently from her lap, and it was then
that his leg was broken, producing the lameness from which he suffered ever
after. On this occasion he fell into the sea, and was saved by the
sea-nymphs Thetis and Eurynome, who kept him for nine years in a cavern
beneath the ocean, where he made for them, in gratitude for their kindness,
several beautiful ornaments, and trinkets of rare workmanship.

[36] According to some accounts Chares was the wife of Hephæstus.

[37] The trident resembled the arrow-headed pronged fork, used by the
fishermen of the Mediterranean Sea in the eel-fishery.

[38] Scylla is a dangerous rock, much dreaded by mariners, in the Straits
of Messina.

[39] The island of Rhodes owes its name to her.

[40] It is worthy of notice that the sons of Poseidon were, for the most
part, distinguished by great force and turbulence of character, in keeping
with the element over which their father was the presiding deity. They were
giants in power, and intractable, fiery, and impatient by nature, spurning
all efforts to control them; in all respects, therefore, fitting
representatives of their progenitor, the mighty ruler of the sea.

[41] A cubit is the length from the elbow to the extremity of the middle
finger, and therefore an indefinite measure, but modern usage takes it as
representing a length of seventeen to eighteen inches.

[42] On the Egyptian coast.

[43] See Legend of the Argonauts.

[44] His two sons Deimos and Phobos.

[45] Romulus was deified by the Romans after death, and was worshipped by
them under the name of Quirinus, an appellation which he shared in common
with his father Mars.

[46] Midas was the son of Cybele and Gordius, the king who tied the
celebrated and intricate knot.

[47] The shades of those mortals whose lives had neither been distinguished
by virtue nor vice, were condemned to a monotonous, joyless, existence in
the Asphodel meadows of Hades.

[48] Echidna was a bloodthirsty monster, half maiden, half serpent.

[49] One of the horns of the goat Amalthea, broken off by Zeus, and
supposed to possess the power of filling itself with whatsoever its owner

[50] According to another account, Momus discovered that Aphrodite made a
noise when she walked.

[51] The word Psyche signifies “butterfly,” the emblem of the soul in
ancient art.

[52] Tiresias alone, of all the shades, was in full possession of his
mental vigour.

[53] Most of the words ending in eus may also be pronounced thus:
Æ´-ge-us, [=a]´-tre-us, pro-me´-the-us, etc.

[54] The first e like ei in their.

[55] Th at the beginning of a word has its soft sound, as in both.