Bulfinch's Mythology
Thomas Bulfinch

Part 5 out of 19

never more be free from fear." "Grant me, then," said he, "a last
request, since nought will avail to save my life, that I may die,
as I have lived, as becomes a bard. When I shall have sung my
death song, and my harp-strings shall have ceased to vibrate, then
I will bid farewell to life, and yield uncomplaining to my fate."
This prayer, like the others, would have been unheeded,--they
thought only of their booty,--but to hear so famous a musician,
that moved their rude hearts. "Suffer me," he added, "to arrange
my dress. Apollo will not favor me unless I be clad in my minstrel

He clothed his well-proportioned limbs in gold and purple fair to
see, his tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned
his arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, and over his
neck and shoulders flowed his hair perfumed with odors. His left
hand held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he struck
its chords. Like one inspired, he seemed to drink the morning air
and glitter in the morning ray. The seamen gazed with admiration.
He strode forward to the vessel's side and looked down into the
deep blue sea. Addressing his lyre, he sang, "Companion of my
voice, come with me to the realm of shades. Though Cerberus may
growl, we know the power of song can tame his rage. Ye heroes of
Elysium, who have passed the darkling flood,--ye happy souls, soon
shall I join your band. Yet can ye relieve my grief? Alas, I leave
my friend behind me. Thou, who didst find thy Eurydice, and lose
her again as soon as found; when she had vanished like a dream,
how didst thou hate the cheerful light! I must away, but I will
not fear. The gods look down upon us. Ye who slay me unoffending,
when I am no more, your time of trembling shall come. Ye Nereids,
receive your guest, who throws himself upon your mercy!" So
saying, he sprang into the deep sea. The waves covered him, and
the seamen held on their way, fancying themselves safe from all
danger of detection.

But the strains of his music had drawn round him the inhabitants
of the deep to listen, and Dolphins followed the ship as if
chained by a spell. While he struggled in the waves, a Dolphin
offered him his back, and carried him mounted thereon safe to
shore. At the spot where he landed, a monument of brass was
afterwards erected upon the rocky shore, to preserve the memory of
the event.

When Arion and the dolphin parted, each to his own element, Arion
thus poured forth his thanks: "Farewell, thou faithful, friendly
fish! Would that I could reward thee; but thou canst not wend with
me, nor I with thee. Companionship we may not have. May Galatea,
queen of the deep, accord thee her favor, and thou, proud of the
burden, draw her chariot over the smooth mirror of the deep."

Arion hastened from the shore, and soon saw before him the towers
of Corinth. He journeyed on, harp in hand, singing as he went,
full of love and happiness, forgetting his losses, and mindful
only of what remained, his friend and his lyre. He entered the
hospitable halls, and was soon clasped in the embrace of
Periander. "I come back to thee, my friend," he said. "The talent
which a god bestowed has been the delight of thousands, but false
knaves have stripped me of my well-earned treasure; yet I retain
the consciousness of wide spread fame." Then he told Periander all
the wonderful events that had befallen him, who heard him with
amazement. "Shall such wickedness triumph?" said he. "Then in vain
is power lodged in my hands. That we may discover the criminals,
you must remain here in concealment, and so they will approach
without suspicion." When the ship arrived in the harbor, he
summoned the mariners before him. "Have you heard anything of
Arion?" he inquired. "I anxiously look for his return." They
replied, "We left him well and prosperous in Tarentum." As they
said these words, Arion stepped forth and faced them. His well-
proportioned limbs were arrayed in gold and purple fair to see,
his tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned his
arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, and over his neck
and shoulders flowed his hair perfumed with odors; his left hand
held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he struck its
chords. They fell prostrate at his feet, as if a lightning bolt
had struck them. "We meant to murder him, and he has become a god.
O Earth, open and receive us!" Then Periander spoke. "He lives,
the master of the lay! Kind Heaven protects the poet's life. As
for you, I invoke not the spirit of vengeance; Arion wishes not
your blood. Ye slaves of avarice, begone! Seek some barbarous
land, and never may aught beautiful delight your souls!"

Spenser represents Arion, mounted on his dolphin, accompanying the
train of Neptune and Amphitrite:

"Then was there heard a most celestial sound
Of dainty music which did next ensue,
And, on the floating waters as enthroned,
Arion with his harp unto him drew
The ears and hearts of all that goodly crew;
Even when as yet the dolphin which him bore
Through the Aegean Seas from pirates' view,
Stood still, by him astonished at his lore,
And all the raging seas for joy forgot to roar."

Byron, in his "Childe Harold," Canto II., alludes to the story of
Arion, when, describing his voyage, he represents one of the
seamen making music to entertain the rest:

"The moon is up; by Heaven a lovely eve!
Long streams of light o'er dancing waves expand;
Now lads on shore may sigh and maids believe;
Such be our fate when we return to land!
Meantime some rude Arion's restless hand
Wakes the brisk harmony that sailors love;
A circle there of merry listeners stand,
Or to some well-known measure featly move
Thoughtless as if on shore they still were free to rove."


In order to understand the story of Ibycus which follows it is
necessary to remember, first, that the theatres of the ancients
were immense fabrics capable of containing from ten to thirty
thousand spectators, and as they were used only on festival
occasions, and admission was free to all, they were usually
filled. They were without roofs and open to the sky, and the
performances were in the daytime. Secondly, the appalling
representation of the Furies is not exaggerated in the story. It
is recorded that Aeschylus, the tragic poet, having on one
occasion represented the Furies in a chorus of fifty performers,
the terror of the spectators was such that many fainted and were
thrown into convulsions, and the magistrates forbade a like
representation for the future.

Ibycus, the pious poet, was on his way to the chariot races and
musical competitions held at the Isthmus of Corinth, which
attracted all of Grecian lineage. Apollo had bestowed on him the
gift of song, the honeyed lips of the poet, and he pursued his way
with lightsome step, full of the god. Already the towers of
Corinth crowning the height appeared in view, and he had entered
with pious awe the sacred grove of Neptune. No living object was
in sight, only a flock of cranes flew overhead taking the same
course as himself in their migration to a southern clime. "Good
luck to you, ye friendly squadrons," he exclaimed, "my companions
from across the sea. I take your company for a good omen. We come
from far and fly in search of hospitality. May both of us meet
that kind reception which shields the stranger guest from harm!"

He paced briskly on, and soon was in the middle of the wood. There
suddenly, at a narrow pass, two robbers stepped forth and barred
his way. He must yield or fight. But his hand, accustomed to the
lyre, and not to the strife of arms, sank powerless. He called for
help on men and gods, but his cry reached no defender's ear. "Then
here must I die," said he, "in a strange land, unlamented, cut off
by the hand of outlaws, and see none to avenge my cause." Sore
wounded, he sank to the earth, when hoarse screamed the cranes
overhead. "Take up my cause, ye cranes," he said, "since no voice
but yours answers to my cry." So saying he closed his eyes in

The body, despoiled and mangled, was found, and though disfigured
with wounds, was recognized by the friend in Corinth who had
expected him as a guest. "Is it thus I find you restored to me?"
he exclaimed. "I who hoped to entwine your temples with the wreath
of triumph in the strife of song!"

The guests assembled at the festival heard the tidings with
dismay. All Greece felt the wound, every heart owned its loss.
They crowded round the tribunal of the magistrates, and demanded
vengeance on the murderers and expiation with their blood.

But what trace or mark shall point out the perpetrator from amidst
the vast multitude attracted by the splendor of the feast? Did he
fall by the hands of robbers or did some private enemy slay him?
The all-discerning sun alone can tell, for no other eye beheld
it. Yet not improbably the murderer even now walks in the midst of
the throng, and enjoys the fruits of his crime, while vengeance
seeks for him in vain. Perhaps in their own temple's enclosure he
defies the gods mingling freely in this throng of men that now
presses into the amphitheatre.

For now crowded together, row on row, the multitude fill the seats
till it seems as if the very fabric would give way. The murmur of
voices sounds like the roar of the sea, while the circles widening
in their ascent rise tier on tier, as if they would reach the sky.

And now the vast assemblage listens to the awful voice of the
chorus personating the Furies, which in solemn guise advances with
measured step, and moves around the circuit of the theatre. Can
they be mortal women who compose that awful group, and can that
vast concourse of silent forms be living beings?

The choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless hands
torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Their cheeks were bloodless,
and in place of hair writhing and swelling serpents curled around
their brows. Forming a circle, these awful beings sang their
hymns, rending the hearts of the guilty, and enchaining all their
faculties. It rose and swelled, overpowering the sound of the
instruments, stealing the judgment, palsying the heart, curdling
the blood.

"Happy the man who keeps his heart pure from guilt and crime! Him
we avengers touch not; he treads the path of life secure from us.
But woe! woe! to him who has done the deed of secret murder. We
the fearful family of Night fasten ourselves upon his whole being.
Thinks he by flight to escape us? We fly still faster in pursuit,
twine our snakes around his feet, and bring him to the ground.
Unwearied we pursue; no pity checks our course; still on and on,
to the end of life, we give him no peace nor rest." Thus the
Eumenides sang, and moved in solemn cadence, while stillness like
the stillness of death sat over the whole assembly as if in the
presence of superhuman beings; and then in solemn march completing
the circuit of the theatre, they passed out at the back of the

Every heart fluttered between illusion and reality, and every
breast panted with undefined terror, quailing before the awful
power that watches secret crimes and winds unseen the skein of
destiny. At that moment a cry burst forth from one of the
uppermost benches--"Look! look! comrade, yonder are the cranes of
Ibycus!" And suddenly there appeared sailing across the sky a dark
object which a moment's inspection showed to be a flock of cranes
flying directly over the theatre. "Of Ibycus! did he say?" The
beloved name revived the sorrow in every breast. As wave follows
wave over the face of the sea, so ran from mouth to mouth the
words, "Of Ibycus! him whom we all lament, whom some murderer's
hand laid low! What have the cranes to do with him?" And louder
grew the swell of voices, while like a lightning's flash the
thought sped through every heart, "Observe the power of the
Eumenides! The pious poet shall be avenged! the murderer has
informed against himself. Seize the man who uttered that cry and
the other to whom he spoke!"

The culprit would gladly have recalled his words, but it was too
late. The faces of the murderers, pale with terror, betrayed their
guilt. The people took them before the judge, they confessed their
crime, and suffered the punishment they deserved.


Simonides was one of the most prolific of the early poets of
Greece, but only a few fragments of his compositions have
descended to us. He wrote hymns, triumphal odes, and elegies. In
the last species of composition he particularly excelled. His
genius was inclined to the pathetic, and none could touch with
truer effect the chords of human sympathy. The "Lamentation of
Danae," the most important of the fragments which remain of his
poetry, is based upon the tradition that Danae and her infant son
were confined by order of her father, Acrisius, in a chest and set
adrift on the sea. The chest floated towards the island of
Seriphus, where both were rescued by Dictys, a fisherman, and
carried to Polydectes, king of the country, who received and
protected them. The child, Perseus, when grown up became a famous
hero, whose adventures have been recorded in a previous chapter.

Simonides passed much of his life at the courts of princes, and
often employed his talents in panegyric and festal odes, receiving
his reward from the munificence of those whose exploits he
celebrated. This employment was not derogatory, but closely
resembles that of the earliest bards, such as Demodocus, described
by Homer, or of Homer himself, as recorded by tradition.

On one occasion, when residing at the court of Scopas, king of
Thessaly, the prince desired him to prepare a poem in celebration
of his exploits, to be recited at a banquet. In order to diversify
his theme, Simonides, who was celebrated for his piety, introduced
into his poem the exploits of Castor and Pollux. Such digressions
were not unusual with the poets on similar occasions, and one
might suppose an ordinary mortal might have been content to share
the praises of the sons of Leda. But vanity is exacting; and as
Scopas sat at his festal board among his courtiers and sycophants,
he grudged every verse that did not rehearse his own praises. When
Simonides approached to receive the promised reward Scopas
bestowed but half the expected sum, saying, "Here is payment for
my portion of thy performance; Castor and Pollux will doubtless
compensate thee for so much as relates to them." The disconcerted
poet returned to his seat amidst the laughter which followed the
great man's jest. In a little time he received a message that two
young men on horseback were waiting without and anxious to see
him. Simonides hastened to the door, but looked in vain for the
visitors. Scarcely, however, had he left the banqueting hall when
the roof fell in with a loud crash, burying Scopas and all his
guests beneath the ruins. On inquiring as to the appearance of the
young men who had sent for him, Simonides was satisfied that they
were no other than Castor and Pollux themselves.


Sappho was a poetess who flourished in a very early age of Greek
literature. Of her works few fragments remain, but they are enough
to establish her claim to eminent poetical genius. The story of
Sappho commonly alluded to is that she was passionately in love
with a beautiful youth named Phaon, and failing to obtain a return
of affection she threw herself from the promontory of Leucadia
into the sea, under a superstition that those who should take that
"Lover's-leap" would, if not destroyed, be cured of their love.

Byron alludes to the story of Sappho in "Childe Harold," Canto

"Childe Harold sailed and passed the barren spot
Where sad Penelope o'erlooked the wave,
And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot,
The lover's refuge and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire?

"'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve
Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's cape afar;" etc.

Those who wish to know more of Sappho and her "leap" are referred
to the "Spectator," Nos. 223 and 229. See also Moore's "Evenings
in Greece."




Endymion was a beautiful youth who fed his flock on Mount Latmos.
One calm, clear night Diana, the moon, looked down and saw him
sleeping. The cold heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his
surpassing beauty, and she came down to him, kissed him, and
watched over him while he slept.

Another story was that Jupiter bestowed on him the gift of
perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Of one so gifted we
can have but few adventures to record. Diana, it was said, took
care that his fortunes should not suffer by his inactive life, for
she made his flock increase, and guarded his sheep and lambs from
the wild beasts.

The story of Endymion has a peculiar charm from the human meaning
which it so thinly veils. We see in Endymion the young poet, his
fancy and his heart seeking in vain for that which can satisfy
them, finding his favorite hour in the quiet moonlight, and
nursing there beneath the beams of the bright and silent witness
the melancholy and the ardor which consumes him. The story
suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent more in dreams
than in reality, and an early and welcome death.--S. G. B.

The "Endymion" of Keats is a wild and fanciful poem, containing
some exquisite poetry, as this, to the moon:

"... The sleeping kine
Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine.
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes,
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent; the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken;" etc., etc.

Dr. Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to Endymion thus:

"... These thoughts, O night, are thine;
From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs,
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,
Her shepherd cheered, of her enamoured less
Than I of thee."

Fletcher, in the "Faithful Shepherdess," tells:

"How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
She took eternal fire that never dies;
How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,
His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
Head of old Latmos, where she stoops each night,
Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
To kiss her sweetest."


Orion was the son of Neptune. He was a handsome giant and a mighty
hunter. His father gave him the power of wading through the depths
of the sea, or, as others say, of walking on its surface.

Orion loved Merope, the daughter of Oenopion, king of Chios, and
sought her in marriage. He cleared the island of wild beasts, and
brought the spoils of the chase as presents to his beloved; but as
Oenopion constantly deferred his consent, Orion attempted to gain
possession of the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at this
conduct, having made Orion drunk, deprived him of his sight and
cast him out on the seashore. The blinded hero followed the sound
of a Cyclops' hammer till he reached Lemnos, and came to the forge
of Vulcan, who, taking pity on him, gave him Kedalion, one of his
men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Kedalion on
his shoulders, Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the
sun-god, was restored to sight by his beam.

After this he dwelt as a hunter with Diana, with whom he was a
favorite, and it is even said she was about to marry him. Her
brother was highly displeased and often chid her, but to no
purpose. One day, observing Orion wading through the sea with his
head just above the water, Apollo pointed it out to his sister and
maintained that she could not hit that black thing on the sea. The
archer-goddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim. The waves rolled
the dead body of Orion to the land, and bewailing her fatal error
with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he
appears as a giant, with a girdle, sword, lion's skin, and club.
Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the Pleiads fly before him.

The Pleiads were daughters of Atlas, and nymphs of Diana's train.
One day Orion saw them and became enamoured and pursued them. In
their distress they prayed to the gods to change their form, and
Jupiter in pity turned them into pigeons, and then made them a
constellation in the sky. Though their number was seven, only six
stars are visible, for Electra, one of them, it is said left her
place that she might not behold the ruin of Troy, for that city
was founded by her son Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on
her sisters that they have looked pale ever since.

Mr. Longfellow has a poem on the "Occultation of Orion." The
following lines are those in which he alludes to the mythic story.
We must premise that on the celestial globe Orion is represented
as robed in a lion's skin and wielding a club. At the moment the
stars of the constellation, one by one, were quenched in the light
of the moon, the poet tells us

"Down fell the red skin of the lion
Into the river at his feet.
His mighty club no longer beat
The forehead of the bull; but he
Reeled as of yore beside the sea,
When blinded by Oenopion
He sought the blacksmith at his forge,
And climbing up the narrow gorge,
Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun."

Tennyson has a different theory of the Pleiads:

"Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising through the mellow
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid."

--Locksley Hall.

Byron alludes to the lost Pleiad:

"Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below."

See also Mrs. Hemans's verses on the same subject.


The goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon, was at times
inspired with the love of mortals. Her greatest favorite was
Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy. She stole him away, and
prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality; but, forgetting to
have youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to
discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing old. When
his hair was quite white she left his society; but he still had
the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, and was clad in
celestial raiment. At length he lost the power of using his limbs,
and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice
might at times be heard. Finally she turned him into a

Memnon was the son of Aurora and Tithonus. He was king of the
Aethiopians, and dwelt in the extreme east, on the shore of Ocean.
He came with his warriors to assist the kindred of his father in
the war of Troy. King Priam received him with great honors, and
listened with admiration to his narrative of the wonders of the
ocean shore.

The very day after his arrival, Memnon, impatient of repose, led
his troops to the field. Antilochus, the brave son of Nestor, fell
by his hand, and the Greeks were put to flight, when Achilles
appeared and restored the battle. A long and doubtful contest
ensued between him and the son of Aurora; at length victory
declared for Achilles, Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled in

Aurora, who from her station in the sky had viewed with
apprehension the danger of her son, when she saw him fall,
directed his brothers, the Winds, to convey his body to the banks
of the river Esepus in Paphlagonia. In the evening Aurora came,
accompanied by the Hours and the Pleiads, and wept and lamented
over her son. Night, in sympathy with her grief, spread the heaven
with clouds; all nature mourned for the offspring of the Dawn. The
Aethiopians raised his tomb on the banks of the stream in the
grove of the Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of
his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing into two
flocks, fought over the pile till they fell into the flame. Every
year at the anniversary of his death they return and celebrate his
obsequies in like manner. Aurora remains inconsolable for the loss
of her son. Her tears still flow, and may be seen at early morning
in the form of dew-drops on the grass.

Unlike most of the marvels of ancient mythology, there still exist
some memorials of this. On the banks of the river Nile, in Egypt,
are two colossal statues, one of which is said to be the statue of
Memnon. Ancient writers record that when the first rays of the
rising sun fall upon this statue a sound is heard to issue from
it, which they compare to the snapping of a harp-string. There is
some doubt about the identification of the existing statue with
the one described by the ancients, and the mysterious sounds are
still more doubtful. Yet there are not wanting some modern
testimonies to their being still audible. It has been suggested
that sounds produced by confined air making its escape from
crevices or caverns in the rocks may have given some ground for
the story. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, a late traveller, of the highest
authority, examined the statue itself, and discovered that it was
hollow, and that "in the lap of the statue is a stone, which on
being struck emits a metallic sound, that might still be made use
of to deceive a visitor who was predisposed to believe its

The vocal statue of Memnon is a favorite subject of allusion with
the poets. Darwin, in his "Botanic Garden," says:

"So to the sacred Sun in Memnon's fane
Spontaneous concords choired the matin strain;
Touched by his orient beam responsive rings
The living lyre and vibrates all its strings;
Accordant aisles the tender tones prolong,
And holy echoes swell the adoring song."

Book I., 1., 182.


Scylla was a fair virgin of Sicily, a favorite of the Sea-Nymphs.
She had many suitors, but repelled them all, and would go to the
grotto of Galatea, and tell her how she was persecuted. One day
the goddess, while Scylla dressed her hair, listened to the story,
and then replied, "Yet, maiden, your persecutors are of the not
ungentle race of men, whom, if you will, you can repel; but I, the
daughter of Nereus, and protected by such a band of sisters, found
no escape from the passion of the Cyclops but in the depths of the
sea;" and tears stopped her utterance, which when the pitying
maiden had wiped away with her delicate finger, and soothed the
goddess, "Tell me, dearest," said she, "the cause of your grief."
Galatea then said, "Acis was the son of Faunus and a Naiad. His
father and mother loved him dearly, but their love was not equal
to mine. For the beautiful youth attached himself to me alone, and
he was just sixteen years old, the down just beginning to darken
his cheeks. As much as I sought his society, so much did the
Cyclops seek mine; and if you ask me whether my love for Acis or
my hatred of Polyphemus was the stronger, I cannot tell you; they
were in equal measure. O Venus, how great is thy power! this
fierce giant, the terror of the woods, whom no hapless stranger
escaped unharmed, who defied even Jove himself, learned to feel
what love was, and, touched with a passion for me, forgot his
flocks and his well-stored caverns. Then for the first time he
began to take some care of his appearance, and to try to make
himself agreeable; he harrowed those coarse locks of his with a
comb, and mowed his beard with a sickle, looked at his harsh
features in the water, and composed his countenance. His love of
slaughter, his fierceness and thirst of blood prevailed no more,
and ships that touched at his island went away in safety. He paced
up and down the sea-shore, imprinting huge tracks with his heavy
tread, and, when weary, lay tranquilly in his cave.

"There is a cliff which projects into the sea, which washes it on
either side. Thither one day the huge Cyclops ascended, and sat
down while his flocks spread themselves around. Laying down his
staff, which would have served for a mast to hold a vessel's sail,
and taking his instrument compacted of numerous pipes, he made the
hills and the waters echo the music of his song. I lay hid under a
rock by the side of my beloved Acis, and listened to the distant
strain. It was full of extravagant praises of my beauty, mingled
with passionate reproaches of my coldness and cruelty.

"When he had finished he rose up, and, like a raging bull that
cannot stand still, wandered off into the woods. Acis and I
thought no more of him, till on a sudden he came to a spot which
gave him a view of us as we sat. 'I see you,' he exclaimed, 'and I
will make this the last of your love-meetings.' His voice was a
roar such as an angry Cyclops alone could utter. Aetna trembled at
the sound. I, overcome with terror, plunged into the water. Acis
turned and fled, crying, 'Save me, Galatea, save me, my parents!'
The Cyclops pursued him, and tearing a rock from the side of the
mountain hurled it at him. Though only a corner of it touched him,
it overwhelmed him.

"All that fate left in my power I did for Acis. I endowed him with
the honors of his grandfather, the river-god. The purple blood
flowed out from under the rock, but by degrees grew paler and
looked like the stream of a river rendered turbid by rains, and in
time it became clear. The rock cleaved open, and the water, as it
gushed from the chasm, uttered a pleasing murmur."

Thus Acis was changed into a river, and the river retains the name
of Acis.

Dryden, in his "Cymon and Iphigenia," has told the story of a
clown converted into a gentleman by the power of love, in a way
that shows traces of kindred to the old story of Galatea and the

"What not his father's care nor tutor's art
Could plant with pains in his unpolished heart,
The best instructor, Love, at once inspired,
As barren grounds to fruitfulness are fired.
Love taught him shame, and shame with love at strife
Soon taught the sweet civilities of life."



Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, but on one occasion she did a
very foolish thing; she entered into competition with Juno and
Venus for the prize of beauty. It happened thus: At the nuptials
of Peleus and Thetis all the gods were invited with the exception
of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, the goddess threw a
golden apple among the guests, with the inscription, "For the
fairest." Thereupon Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the
apple. Jupiter, not willing to decide in so delicate a matter,
sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where the beautiful shepherd
Paris was tending his flocks, and to him was committed the
decision. The goddesses accordingly appeared before him. Juno
promised him power and riches, Minerva glory and renown in war,
and Venus the fairest of women for his wife, each attempting to
bias his decision in her own favor. Paris decided in favor of
Venus and gave her the golden apple, thus making the two other
goddesses his enemies. Under the protection of Venus, Paris sailed
to Greece, and was hospitably received by Menelaus, king of
Sparta. Now Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was the very woman whom
Venus had destined for Paris, the fairest of her sex. She had been
sought as a bride by numerous suitors, and before her decision was
made known, they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, one of their
number, took an oath that they would defend her from all injury
and avenge her cause if necessary. She chose Menelaus, and was
living with him happily when Paris became their guest. Paris,
aided by Venus, persuaded her to elope with him, and carried her
to Troy, whence arose the famous Trojan war, the theme of the
greatest poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Virgil.

Menelaus called upon his brother chieftains of Greece to fulfil
their pledge, and join him in his efforts to recover his wife.
They generally came forward, but Ulysses, who had married
Penelope, and was very happy in his wife and child, had no
disposition to embark in such a troublesome affair. He therefore
hung back and Palamedes was sent to urge him. When Palamedes
arrived at Ithaca Ulysses pretended to be mad. He yoked an ass and
an ox together to the plough and began to sow salt. Palamedes, to
try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon
the father turned the plough aside, showing plainly that he was no
madman, and after that could no longer refuse to fulfil his
promise. Being now himself gained for the undertaking, he lent his
aid to bring in other reluctant chiefs, especially Achilles. This
hero was the son of that Thetis at whose marriage the apple of
Discord had been thrown among the goddesses. Thetis was herself
one of the immortals, a sea-nymph, and knowing that her son was
fated to perish before Troy if he went on the expedition, she
endeavored to prevent his going. She sent him away to the court of
King Lycomedes, and induced him to conceal himself in the disguise
of a maiden among the daughters of the king. Ulysses, hearing he
was there, went disguised as a merchant to the palace and offered
for sale female ornaments, among which he had placed some arms.
While the king's daughters were engrossed with the other contents
of the merchant's pack, Achilles handled the weapons and thereby
betrayed himself to the keen eye of Ulysses, who found no great
difficulty in persuading him to disregard his mother's prudent
counsels and join his countrymen in the war.

Priam was king of Troy, and Paris, the shepherd and seducer of
Helen, was his son. Paris had been brought up in obscurity,
because there were certain ominous forebodings connected with him
from his infancy that he would be the ruin of the state. These
forebodings seemed at length likely to be realized, for the
Grecian armament now in preparation was the greatest that had ever
been fitted out. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and brother of the
injured Menelaus, was chosen commander-in-chief. Achilles was
their most illustrious warrior. After him ranked Ajax, gigantic in
size and of great courage, but dull of intellect; Diomede, second
only to Achilles in all the qualities of a hero; Ulysses, famous
for his sagacity; and Nestor, the oldest of the Grecian chiefs,
and one to whom they all looked up for counsel. But Troy was no
feeble enemy. Priam, the king, was now old, but he had been a wise
prince and had strengthened his state by good government at home
and numerous alliances with his neighbors. But the principal stay
and support of his throne was his son Hector, one of the noblest
characters painted by heathen antiquity. He felt, from the first,
a presentiment of the fall of his country, but still persevered in
his heroic resistance, yet by no means justified the wrong which
brought this danger upon her. He was united in marriage with
Andromache, and as a husband and father his character was not less
admirable than as a warrior. The principal leaders on the side of
the Trojans, besides Hector, were Aeneas and Deiphobus, Glaucus
and Sarpedon.

After two years of preparation the Greek fleet and army assembled
in the port of Aulis in Boeotia. Here Agamemnon in hunting killed
a stag which was sacred to Diana, and the goddess in return
visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm which
prevented the ships from leaving the port. Calchas, the
soothsayer, thereupon announced that the wrath of the virgin
goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin on her
altar, and that none other but the daughter of the offender would
be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, yielded his consent,
and the maiden Iphigenia was sent for under the pretence that she
was to be married to Achilles. When she was about to be sacrificed
the goddess relented and snatched her away, leaving a hind in her
place, and Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was carried to Tauris,
where Diana made her priestess of her temple.

Tennyson, in his "Dream of Fair Women," makes Iphigenia thus
describe her feelings at the moment of sacrifice:

"I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears;
My father held his hand upon his face;
I, blinded by my tears,

"Still strove to speak; my voice was thick with sighs,
As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes,
Waiting to see me die.

"The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat,
The temples and the people and the shore;
One drew a sharp knife through my tender throat
Slowly,--and--nothing more."

The wind now proving fair the fleet made sail and brought the
forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans came to oppose their
landing, and at the first onset Protesilaus fell by the hand of
Hector. Protesilaus had left at home his wife, Laodamia, who was
most tenderly attached to him. When the news of his death reached
her she implored the gods to be allowed to converse with him only
three hours. The request was granted. Mercury led Protesilaus back
to the upper world, and when he died a second time Laodamia died
with him. There was a story that the nymphs planted elm trees
round his grave which grew very well till they were high enough to
command a view of Troy, and then withered away, while fresh
branches sprang from the roots.

Wordsworth has taken the story of Protesilaus and Laodamia for the
subject of a poem. It seems the oracle had declared that victory
should be the lot of that party from which should fall the first
victim to the war. The poet represents Protesilaus, on his brief
return to earth, as relating to Laodamia the story of his fate:

"'The wished-for wind was given; I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And if no worthier led the way, resolved
That of a thousand vessels mine should be
The foremost prow impressing to the strand,--
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.

"'Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life,
The paths which we had trod,--these fountains, flowers;
My new planned cities and unfinished towers.

"'But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
"Behold they tremble! haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die?"
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Old frailties then recurred: but lofty thought
In act embodied my deliverance wrought.'

"... upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever when such stature they had gained
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight,
A constant interchange of growth and blight!"


The war continued without decisive results for nine years. Then an
event occurred which seemed likely to be fatal to the cause of the
Greeks, and that was a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. It
is at this point that the great poem of Homer, "The Iliad,"
begins. The Greeks, though unsuccessful against Troy, had taken
the neighboring and allied cities, and in the division of the
spoil a female captive, by name Chryseis, daughter of Chryses,
priest of Apollo, had fallen to the share of Agamemnon. Chryses
came bearing the sacred emblems of his office, and begged the
release of his daughter. Agamemnon refused. Thereupon Chryses
implored Apollo to afflict the Greeks till they should be forced
to yield their prey. Apollo granted the prayer of his priest, and
sent pestilence into the Grecian camp. Then a council was called
to deliberate how to allay the wrath of the gods and avert the
plague. Achilles boldly charged their misfortunes upon Agamemnon
as caused by his withholding Chryseis. Agamemnon, enraged,
consented to relinquish his captive, but demanded that Achilles
should yield to him in her stead Briseis, a maiden who had fallen
to Achilles' share in the division of the spoil. Achilles
submitted, but forthwith declared that he would take no further
part in the war. He withdrew his forces from the general camp and
openly avowed his intention of returning home to Greece.

The gods and goddesses interested themselves as much in this
famous war as the parties themselves. It was well known to them
that fate had decreed that Troy should fall, at last, if her
enemies should persevere and not voluntarily abandon the
enterprise. Yet there was room enough left for chance to excite by
turns the hopes and fears of the powers above who took part with
either side. Juno and Minerva, in consequence of the slight put
upon their charms by Paris, were hostile to the Trojans; Venus for
the opposite cause favored them. Venus enlisted her admirer Mars
on the same side, but Neptune favored the Greeks. Apollo was
neutral, sometimes taking one side, sometimes the other, and Jove
himself, though he loved the good King Priam, yet exercised a
degree of impartiality; not, however, without exceptions.

Thetis, the mother of Achilles, warmly resented the injury done to
her son. She repaired immediately to Jove's palace and besought
him to make the Greeks repent of their injustice to Achilles by
granting success to the Trojan arms. Jupiter consented, and in the
battle which ensued the Trojans were completely successful. The
Greeks were driven from the field and took refuge in their ships.

Then Agamemnon called a council of his wisest and bravest chiefs.
Nestor advised that an embassy should be sent to Achilles to
persuade him to return to the field; that Agamemnon should yield
the maiden, the cause of the dispute, with ample gifts to atone
for the wrong he had done. Agamemnon consented, and Ulysses, Ajax,
and Phoenix were sent to carry to Achilles the penitent message.
They performed that duty, but Achilles was deaf to their
entreaties. He positively refused to return to the field, and
persisted in his resolution to embark for Greece without delay.

The Greeks had constructed a rampart around their ships, and now
instead of besieging Troy they were in a manner besieged
themselves, within their rampart. The next day after the
unsuccessful embassy to Achilles, a battle was fought, and the
Trojans, favored by Jove, were successful, and succeeded in
forcing a passage through the Grecian rampart, and were about to
set fire to the ships. Neptune, seeing the Greeks so pressed, came
to their rescue. He appeared in the form of Calchas the prophet,
encouraged the warriors with his shouts, and appealed to each
individually till he raised their ardor to such a pitch that they
forced the Trojans to give way. Ajax performed prodigies of valor,
and at length encountered Hector. Ajax shouted defiance, to which
Hector replied, and hurled his lance at the huge warrior. It was
well aimed and struck Ajax, where the belts that bore his sword
and shield crossed each other on the breast. The double guard
prevented its penetrating and it fell harmless. Then Ajax, seizing
a huge stone, one of those that served to prop the ships, hurled
it at Hector. It struck him in the neck and stretched him on the
plain. His followers instantly seized him and bore him off,
stunned and wounded.

While Neptune was thus aiding the Greeks and driving back the
Trojans, Jupiter saw nothing of what was going on, for his
attention had been drawn from the field by the wiles of Juno. That
goddess had arrayed herself in all her charms, and to crown all
had borrowed of Venus her girdle, called "Cestus," which had the
effect to heighten the wearer's charms to such a degree that they
were quite irresistible. So prepared, Juno went to join her
husband, who sat on Olympus watching the battle. When he beheld
her she looked so charming that the fondness of his early love
revived, and, forgetting the contending armies and all other
affairs of state, he thought only of her and let the battle go as
it would.

But this absorption did not continue long, and when, upon turning
his eyes downward, he beheld Hector stretched on the plain almost
lifeless from pain and bruises, he dismissed Juno in a rage,
commanding her to send Iris and Apollo to him. When Iris came he
sent her with a stern message to Neptune, ordering him instantly
to quit the field. Apollo was despatched to heal Hector's bruises
and to inspirit his heart. These orders were obeyed with such
speed that, while the battle still raged, Hector returned to the
field and Neptune betook himself to his own dominions.

An arrow from Paris's bow wounded Machaon, son of Aesculapius, who
inherited his father's art of healing, and was therefore of great
value to the Greeks as their surgeon, besides being one of their
bravest warriors. Nestor took Machaon in his chariot and conveyed
him from the field. As they passed the ships of Achilles, that
hero, looking out over the field, saw the chariot of Nestor and
recognized the old chief, but could not discern who the wounded
chief was. So calling Patroclus, his companion and dearest friend,
he sent him to Nestor's tent to inquire.

Patroclus, arriving at Nestor's tent, saw Machaon wounded, and
having told the cause of his coming would have hastened away, but
Nestor detained him, to tell him the extent of the Grecian
calamities. He reminded him also how, at the time of departing for
Troy, Achilles and himself had been charged by their respective
fathers with different advice: Achilles to aspire to the highest
pitch of glory, Patroclus, as the elder, to keep watch over his
friend, and to guide his inexperience. "Now," said Nestor, "is the
time for such influence. If the gods so please, thou mayest win
him back to the common cause; but if not let him at least send his
soldiers to the field, and come thou, Patroclus, clad in his
armor, and perhaps the very sight of it may drive back the

Patroclus was strongly moved with this address, and hastened back
to Achilles, revolving in his mind all he had seen and heard. He
told the prince the sad condition of affairs at the camp of their
late associates: Diomede, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Machaon, all
wounded, the rampart broken down, the enemy among the ships
preparing to burn them, and thus to cut off all means of return to
Greece. While they spoke the flames burst forth from one of the
ships. Achilles, at the sight, relented so far as to grant
Patroclus his request to lead the Myrmidons (for so were Achilles'
soldiers called) to the field, and to lend him his armor, that he
might thereby strike more terror into the minds of the Trojans.
Without delay the soldiers were marshalled, Patroclus put on the
radiant armor and mounted the chariot of Achilles, and led forth
the men ardent for battle. But before he went, Achilles strictly
charged him that he should be content with repelling the foe "Seek
not," said he, "to press the Trojans without me, lest thou add
still more to the disgrace already mine." Then exhorting the
troops to do their best he dismissed them full of ardor to the

Patroclus and his Myrmidons at once plunged into the contest where
it raged hottest; at the sight of which the joyful Grecians
shouted and the ships reechoed the acclaim. The Trojans, at the
sight of the well-known armor, struck with terror, looked
everywhere for refuge. First those who had got possession of the
ship and set it on fire left and allowed the Grecians to retake it
and extinguish the flames. Then the rest of the Trojans fled in
dismay. Ajax, Menelaus, and the two sons of Nestor performed
prodigies of valor. Hector was forced to turn his horses' heads
and retire from the enclosure, leaving his men entangled in the
fosse to escape as they could. Patroclus drove them before him,
slaying many, none daring to make a stand against him.

At last Sarpedon, son of Jove, ventured to oppose himself in fight
to Patroclus. Jupiter looked down upon him and would have snatched
him from the fate which awaited him, but Juno hinted that if he
did so it would induce all others of the inhabitants of heaven to
interpose in like manner whenever any of their offspring were
endangered; to which reason Jove yielded. Sarpedon threw his
spear, but missed Patroclus, but Patroclus threw his with better
success. It pierced Sarpedon's breast and he fell, and, calling to
his friends to save his body from the foe, expired. Then a furious
contest arose for the possession of the corpse. The Greeks
succeeded and stripped Sarpedon of his armor; but Jove would not
allow the remains of his son to be dishonored, and by his command
Apollo snatched from the midst of the combatants the body of
Sarpedon and committed it to the care of the twin brothers Death
and Sleep, by whom it was transported to Lycia, the native land of
Sarpedon, where it received due funeral rites.

Thus far Patroclus had succeeded to his utmost wish in repelling
the Trojans and relieving his countrymen, but now came a change of
fortune. Hector, borne in his chariot, confronted him. Patroclus
threw a vast stone at Hector, which missed its aim, but smote
Cebriones, the charioteer, and knocked him from the car. Hector
leaped from the chariot to rescue his friend, and Patroclus also
descended to complete his victory. Thus the two heroes met face to
face. At this decisive moment the poet, as if reluctant to give
Hector the glory, records that Phoebus took part against
Patroclus. He struck the helmet from his head and the lance from
his hand. At the same moment an obscure Trojan wounded him in the
back, and Hector, pressing forward, pierced him with his spear. He
fell mortally wounded.

Then arose a tremendous conflict for the body of Patroclus, but
his armor was at once taken possession of by Hector, who retiring
a short distance divested himself of his own armor and put on that
of Achilles, then returned to the fight. Ajax and Menelaus
defended the body, and Hector and his bravest warriors struggled
to capture it. The battle raged with equal fortunes, when Jove
enveloped the whole face of heaven with a dark cloud. The
lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and Ajax, looking round for
some one whom he might despatch to Achilles to tell him of the
death of his friend, and of the imminent danger that his remains
would fall into the hands of the enemy, could see no suitable
messenger. It was then that he exclaimed in those famous lines so
often quoted,

"Father of heaven and earth! deliver thou
Achaia's host from darkness; clear the skies;
Give day; and, since thy sovereign will is such,
Destruction with it; but, O, give us day."


Or, as rendered by Pope,

"... Lord of earth and air!
O king! O father! hear my humble prayer!
Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore;
Give me to see and Ajax asks no more;
If Greece must perish we thy will obey,
But let us perish in the face of day."

Jupiter heard the prayer and dispersed the clouds. Then Ajax sent
Antilochus to Achilles with the intelligence of Patroclus's death,
and of the conflict raging for his remains. The Greeks at last
succeeded in bearing off the body to the ships, closely pursued by
Hector and Aeneas and the rest of the Trojans.

Achilles heard the fate of his friend with such distress that
Antilochus feared for a while that he would destroy himself. His
groans reached the ears of his mother, Thetis, far down in the
deeps of ocean where she abode, and she hastened to him to inquire
the cause. She found him overwhelmed with self-reproach that he
had indulged his resentment so far, and suffered his friend to
fall a victim to it. But his only consolation was the hope of
revenge. He would fly instantly in search of Hector. But his
mother reminded him that he was now without armor, and promised
him, if he would but wait till the morrow, she would procure for
him a suit of armor from Vulcan more than equal to that he had
lost. He consented, and Thetis immediately repaired to Vulcan's
palace. She found him busy at his forge making tripods for his own
use, so artfully constructed that they moved forward of their own
accord when wanted, and retired again when dismissed. On hearing
the request of Thetis, Vulcan immediately laid aside his work and
hastened to comply with her wishes. He fabricated a splendid suit
of armor for Achilles, first a shield adorned with elaborate
devices, then a helmet crested with gold, then a corselet and
greaves of impenetrable temper, all perfectly adapted to his form,
and of consummate workmanship. It was all done in one night, and
Thetis, receiving it, descended with it to earth, and laid it down
at Achilles' feet at the dawn of day.

The first glow of pleasure that Achilles had felt since the death
of Patroclus was at the sight of this splendid armor. And now,
arrayed in it, he went forth into the camp, calling all the chiefs
to council. When they were all assembled he addressed them.
Renouncing his displeasure against Agamemnon and bitterly
lamenting the miseries that had resulted from it, he called on
them to proceed at once to the field. Agamemnon made a suitable
reply, laying all the blame on Ate, the goddess of discord; and
thereupon complete reconcilement took place between the heroes.

Then Achilles went forth to battle inspired with a rage and thirst
for vengeance that made him irresistible. The bravest warriors
fled before him or fell by his lance. Hector, cautioned by Apollo,
kept aloof; but the god, assuming the form of one of Priam's sons,
Lycaon, urged Aeneas to encounter the terrible warrior. Aeneas,
though he felt himself unequal, did not decline the combat. He
hurled his spear with all his force against the shield the work of
Vulcan. It was formed of five metal plates; two were of brass, two
of tin, and one of gold. The spear pierced two thicknesses, but
was stopped in the third. Achilles threw his with better success.
It pierced through the shield of Aeneas, but glanced near his
shoulder and made no wound. Then Aeneas seized a stone, such as
two men of modern times could hardly lift, and was about to throw
it, and Achilles, with sword drawn, was about to rush upon him,
when Neptune, who looked out upon the contest, moved with pity for
Aeneas, who he saw would surely fall a victim if not speedily
rescued, spread a cloud between the combatants, and lifting Aeneas
from the ground, bore him over the heads of warriors and steeds to
the rear of the battle. Achilles, when the mist cleared away,
looked round in vain for his adversary, and acknowledging the
prodigy, turned his arms against other champions. But none dared
stand before him, and Priam looking down from the city walls
beheld his whole army in full flight towards the city. He gave
command to open wide the gates to receive the fugitives, and to
shut them as soon as the Trojans should have passed, lest the
enemy should enter likewise. But Achilles was so close in pursuit
that that would have been impossible if Apollo had not, in the
form of Agenor, Priam's son, encountered Achilles for a while,
then turned to fly, and taken the way apart from the city.
Achilles pursued and had chased his supposed victim far from the
walls, when Apollo disclosed himself, and Achilles, perceiving how
he had been deluded, gave up the chase.

But when the rest had escaped into the town Hector stood without
determined to await the combat. His old father called to him from
the walls and begged him to retire nor tempt the encounter. His
mother, Hecuba, also besought him to the same effect, but all in
vain. "How can I," said he to himself, "by whose command the
people went to this day's contest, where so many have fallen, seek
safety for myself against a single foe? But what if I offer him to
yield up Helen and all her treasures and ample of our own beside?
Ah, no! it is too late. He would not even hear me through, but
slay me while I spoke." While he thus ruminated. Achilles
approached, terrible as Mars, his armor flashing lightning as he
moved. At that sight Hector's heart failed him and he fled.
Achilles swiftly pursued. They ran, still keeping near the walls,
till they had thrice encircled the city. As often as Hector
approached the walls Achilles intercepted him and forced him to
keep out in a wider circle. But Apollo sustained Hector's strength
and would not let him sink in weariness. Then Pallas, assuming the
form of Deiphobus, Hector's bravest brother, appeared suddenly at
his side. Hector saw him with delight, and thus strengthened
stopped his flight and turned to meet Achilles. Hector threw his
spear, which struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. He
turned to receive another from the hand of Deiphobus, but
Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood his doom and said,
"Alas! it is plain this is my hour to die! I thought Deiphobus at
hand, but Pallas deceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will
not fall inglorious," So saying he drew his falchion from his side
and rushed at once to combat. Achilles, secured behind his shield,
waited the approach of Hector. When he came within reach of his
spear, Achilles choosing with his eye a vulnerable part where the
armor leaves the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part and
Hector fell, death-wounded, and feebly said, "Spare my body! Let
my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the
sons and daughters of Troy." To which Achilles replied, "Dog, name
not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire
distress. No! trust me, naught shall save thy carcass from the
dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I
would refuse it all."

So saying he stripped the body of its armor, and fastening cords
to the feet tied them behind his chariot, leaving the body to
trail along the ground. Then mounting the chariot he lashed the
steeds and so dragged the body to and fro before the city. What
words can tell the grief of King Priam and Queen Hecuba at this
sight! His people could scarce restrain the old king from rushing
forth. He threw himself in the dust and besought them each by name
to give him way. Hecuba's distress was not less violent. The
citizens stood round them weeping. The sound of the mourning
reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, as she sat
among her maidens at work, and anticipating evil she went forth to
the wall. When she saw the sight there presented, she would have
thrown herself headlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into
the arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her fate,
picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a captive, and
her son dependent for his bread on the charity of strangers.

When Achilles and the Greeks had taken their revenge on the killer
of Patroclus they busied themselves in paying due funeral rites to
their friend. A pile was erected, and the body burned with due
solemnity; and then ensued games of strength and skill, chariot
races, wrestling, boxing, and archery. Then the chiefs sat down to
the funeral banquet and after that retired to rest. But Achilles
neither partook of the feast nor of sleep. The recollection of his
lost friend kept him awake, remembering their companionship in
toil and dangers, in battle or on the perilous deep. Before the
earliest dawn he left his tent, and joining to his chariot his
swift steeds, he fastened Hector's body to be dragged behind.
Twice he dragged him around the tomb of Patroclus, leaving him at
length stretched in the dust. But Apollo would not permit the body
to be torn or disfigured with all this abuse, but preserved it
free from all taint or defilement.

While Achilles indulged his wrath in thus disgracing brave Hector,
Jupiter in pity summoned Thetis to his presence. He told her to go
to her son and prevail on him to restore the body of Hector to his
friends. Then Jupiter sent Iris to King Priam to encourage him to
go to Achilles and beg the body of his son. Iris delivered her
message, and Priam immediately prepared to obey. He opened his
treasuries and took out rich garments and cloths, with ten talents
in gold and two splendid tripods and a golden cup of matchless
workmanship. Then he called to his sons and bade them draw forth
his litter and place in it the various articles designed for a
ransom to Achilles. When all was ready, the old king with a single
companion as aged as himself, the herald Idaeus, drove forth from
the gates, parting there with Hecuba, his queen, and all his
friends, who lamented him as going to certain death.

But Jupiter, beholding with compassion the venerable king, sent
Mercury to be his guide and protector. Mercury, assuming the form
of a young warrior, presented himself to the aged couple, and
while at the sight of him they hesitated whether to fly or yield,
the god approached, and grasping Priam's hand offered to be their
guide to Achilles' tent. Priam gladly accepted his offered
service, and he, mounting the carriage, assumed the reins and soon
conveyed them to the tent of Achilles. Mercury's wand put to sleep
all the guards, and without hinderance he introduced Priam into
the tent where Achilles sat, attended by two of his warriors. The
old king threw himself at the feet of Achilles, and kissed those
terrible hands which had destroyed so many of his sons. "Think, O
Achilles," he said, "of thy own father, full of days like me, and
trembling on the gloomy verge of life. Perhaps even now some
neighbor chief oppresses him and there is none at hand to succor
him in his distress. Yet doubtless knowing that Achilles lives he
still rejoices, hoping that one day he shall see thy face again.
But no comfort cheers me, whose bravest sons, so late the flower
of Ilium, all have fallen. Yet one I had, one more than all the
rest the strength of my age, whom, fighting for his country, thou
hast slain. I come to redeem his body, bringing inestimable ransom
with me. Achilles! reverence the gods! recollect thy father! for
his sake show compassion to me!" These words moved Achilles, and
he wept; remembering by turns his absent father and his lost
friend. Moved with pity of Priam's silver locks and beard, he
raised him from the earth, and thus spake: "Priam, I know that
thou hast reached this place conducted by some god, for without
aid divine no mortal even in his prime of youth had dared the
attempt. I grant thy request, moved thereto by the evident will of
Jove." So saying he arose, and went forth with his two friends,
and unloaded of its charge the litter, leaving two mantles and a
robe for the covering of the body, which they placed on the
litter, and spread the garments over it, that not unveiled it
should be borne back to Troy. Then Achilles dismissed the old king
with his attendants, having first pledged himself to allow a truce
of twelve days for the funeral solemnities.

As the litter approached the city and was descried from the walls,
the people poured forth to gaze once more on the face of their
hero. Foremost of all, the mother and the wife of Hector came, and
at the sight of the lifeless body renewed their lamentations. The
people all wept with them, and to the going down of the sun there
was no pause or abatement of their grief.

The next day preparations were made for the funeral solemnities.
For nine days the people brought wood and built the pile, and on
the tenth they placed the body on the summit and applied the
torch; while all Troy thronging forth encompassed the pile. When
it had completely burned, they quenched the cinders with wine,
collected the bones and placed them in a golden urn, which they
buried in the earth, and reared a pile of stones over the spot.

"Such honors Ilium to her hero paid,
And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade."





The story of the Iliad ends with the death of Hector, and it is
from the Odyssey and later poems that we learn the fate of the
other heroes. After the death of Hector, Troy did not immediately
fall, but receiving aid from new allies still continued its
resistance. One of these allies was Memnon, the Aethiopian prince,
whose story we have already told. Another was Penthesilea, queen
of the Amazons, who came with a band of female warriors. All the
authorities attest their valor and the fearful effect of their war
cry. Penthesilea slew many of the bravest warriors, but was at
last slain by Achilles. But when the hero bent over his fallen
foe, and contemplated her beauty, youth, and valor, he bitterly
regretted his victory. Thersites, an insolent brawler and
demagogue, ridiculed his grief, and was in consequence slain by
the hero.

Achilles by chance had seen Polyxena, daughter of King Priam,
perhaps on the occasion of the truce which was allowed the Trojans
for the burial of Hector. He was captivated with her charms, and
to win her in marriage agreed to use his influence with the Greeks
to grant peace to Troy. While in the temple of Apollo, negotiating
the marriage, Paris discharged at him a poisoned arrow, which,
guided by Apollo, wounded Achilles in the heel, the only
vulnerable part about him. For Thetis his mother had dipped him
when an infant in the river Styx, which made every part of him
invulnerable except the heel by which she held him. [Footnote 1:
The story of the invulnerability of Achilles is not found in
Homer, and is inconsistent with his account. For how could
Achilles require the aid of celestial armor if be were

The body of Achilles so treacherously slain was rescued by Ajax
and Ulysses. Thetis directed the Greeks to bestow her son's armor
on the hero who of all the survivors should be judged most
deserving of it. Ajax and Ulysses were the only claimants; a
select number of the other chiefs were appointed to award the
prize. It was awarded to Ulysses, thus placing wisdom before
valor; whereupon Ajax slew himself. On the spot where his blood
sank into the earth a flower sprang up, called the hyacinth,
bearing on its leaves the first two letters of the name of Ajax,
Ai, the Greek for "woe." Thus Ajax is a claimant with the boy
Hyacinthus for the honor of giving birth to this flower. There is
a species of Larkspur which represents the hyacinth of the poets
in preserving the memory of this event, the Delphinium Ajacis--
Ajax's Larkspur.

It was now discovered that Troy could not be taken but by the aid
of the arrows of Hercules. They were in possession of Philoctetes,
the friend who had been with Hercules at the last and lighted his
funeral pyre. Philoctetes had joined the Grecian expedition
against Troy, but had accidentally wounded his foot with one of
the poisoned arrows, and the smell from his wound proved so
offensive that his companions carried him to the isle of Lemnos
and left him there. Diomed was now sent to induce him to rejoin
the army. He sukcceeded. Philoctetes was cured of his wound by
Machaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows. In
his distress Paris bethought him of one whom in his prosperity he
had forgotten. This was the nymph OEnone, whom he had married when
a youth, and had abandoned for the fatal beauty Helen. OEnone,
remembering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the
wound, and Paris went back to Troy and died. OEnone quickly
repented, and hastened after him with remedies, but came too late,
and in her grief hung herself. [Footnote 1: Tennyson has chosen
OEnone as the subject of a short poem; but he has omitted the most
poetical part of the story, the return of Paris wounded, her
cruelty and subsequent repentance.]

There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva called the
Palladium. It was said to have fallen from heaven, and the belief
was that the city could not be taken so long as this statue
remained within it. Ulysses and Diomed entered the city in
disguise and succeeded in obtaining the Palladium, which they
carried off to the Grecian camp.

But Troy still held out, and the Greeks began to despair of ever
subduing it by force, and by advice of Ulysses resolved to resort
to stratagem. They pretended to be making preparations to abandon
the siege, and a portion of the ships were withdrawn and lay hid
behind a neighboring island. The Greeks then constructed an
immense WOODEN HORSE, which they gave out was intended as a
propitiatory offering to Minerva, but in fact was filled with
armed men. The remaining Greeks then betook themselves to their
ships and sailed away, as if for a final departure. The Trojans,
seeing the encampment broken up and the fleet gone, concluded the
enemy to have abandoned the siege. The gates were thrown open, and
the whole population issued forth rejoicing at the long-prohibited
liberty of passing freely over the scene of the late encampment.
The great HORSE was the chief object of curiosity. All wondered
what it could be for. Some recommended to take it into the city as
a trophy; others felt afraid of it.

While they hesitate, Laocoon, the priest of Neptune exclaims,
"What madness, citizens, is this? Have you not learned enough of
Grecian fraud to be on your guard against it? For my part, I fear
the Greeks even when they offer gifts." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] So saying he threw his lance at the horse's side. It
struck, and a hollow sound reverberated like a groan. Then perhaps
the people might have taken his advice and destroyed the fatal
horse and all its contents; but just at that moment a group of
people appeared, dragging forward one who seemed a prisoner and a
Greek. Stupefied with terror, he was brought before the chiefs,
who reassured him, promising that his life should be spared on
condition of his returning true answers to the questions asked
him. He informed them that he was a Greek, Sinon by name, and that
in consequence of the malice of Ulysses he had been left behind by
his countrymen at their departure. With regard to the wooden
horse, he told them that it was a propitiatory offering to
Minerva, and made so huge for the express purpose of preventing
its being carried within the city; for Calchas the prophet had
told them that if the Trojans took possession of it they would
assuredly triumph over the Greeks. This language turned the tide
of the people's feelings and they began to think how they might
best secure the monstrous horse and the favorable auguries
connected with it, when suddenly a prodigy occurred which left no
room to doubt. There appeared, advancing over the sea, two immense
serpents. They came upon the land, and the crowd fled in all
directions. The serpents advanced directly to the spot where
Laocoon stood with his two sons. They first attacked the children,
winding round their bodies and breathing their pestilential breath
in their faces. The father, attempting to rescue them, is next
seized and involved in the serpents' coils. He struggles to tear
them away, but they overpower all his efforts and strangle him and
the children in their poisonous folds. This event was regarded as
a clear indication of the displeasure of the gods at Laocoon's
irreverent treatment of the wooden horse, which they no longer
hesitated to regard as a sacred object, and prepared to introduce
with due solemnity into the city. This was done with songs and
triumphal acclamations, and the day closed with festivity. In the
night the armed men who were enclosed in the body of the horse,
being let out by the traitor Sinon, opened the gates of the city
to their friends, who had returned under cover of the night. The
city was set on fire; the people, overcome with feasting and
sleep, put to the sword, and Troy completely subdued.

One of the most celebrated groups of statuary in existence is that
of Laocoon and his children in the embrace of the serpents. A cast
of it is owned by the Boston Athenaeum; the original is in the
Vatican at Rome. The following lines are from the "Childe Harold"
of Byron:

"Now turning to the Vatican go see
Laocoon's torture dignifying pain;
A father's love and mortal's agony
With an immortal's patience blending;--vain
The struggle! vain against the coiling strain
And gripe and deepening of the dragon's grasp
The old man's clinch; the long envenomed chain
Rivets the living links; the enormous asp
Enforces pang on pang and stifles gasp on gasp."

The comic poets will also occasionally borrow a classical
allusion. The following is from Swift's "Description of a City

"Boxed in a chair the beau impatient sits,
While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits,
And ever and anon with frightful din
The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed
Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed,
(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
Instead of paying chairmen, run them through);
Laocoon struck the outside with a spear,
And each imprisoned champion quaked with fear."

King Priam lived to see the downfall of his kingdom and was slain
at last on the fatal night when the Greeks took the city. He had
armed himself and was about to mingle with the combatants, but was
prevailed on by Hecuba, his aged queen, to take refuge with
herself and his daughters as a suppliant at the altar of Jupiter.
While there, his youngest son Polites, pursued by Pyrrhus, the son
of Achilles, rushed in wounded, and expired at the feet of his
father; whereupon Priam, overcome with indignation, hurled his
spear with feeble hand against Pyrrhus, [Footnote 1: Pyrrhus's
exclamation, "Not such aid nor such defenders does the time
require," has become proverbial. See Proverbial Expressions.] and
was forthwith slain by him.

Queen Hecuba and her daughter Cassandra were carried captives to
Greece. Cassandra had been loved by Apollo, and he gave her the
gift of prophecy; but afterwards offended with her, he rendered
the gift unavailing by ordaining that her predictions should never
be believed. Polyxena, another daughter, who had been loved by
Achilles, was demanded by the ghost of that warrior, and was
sacrificed by the Greeks upon his tomb.


Our readers will be anxious to know the fate of Helen, the fair
but guilty occasion of so much slaughter. On the fall of Troy
Menelaus recovered possession of his wife, who had not ceased to
love him, though she had yielded to the might of Venus and
deserted him for another. After the death of Paris she aided the
Greeks secretly on several occasions, and in particular when
Ulysses and Diomed entered the city in disguise to carry off the
Palladium. She saw and recognized Ulysses, but kept the secret and
even assisted them in obtaining the image. Thus she became
reconciled to her husband, and they were among the first to leave
the shores of Troy for their native land. But having incurred the
displeasure of the gods they were driven by storms from shore to
shore of the Mediterranean, visiting Cyprus, Phoenicia, and Egypt.
In Egypt they were kindly treated and presented with rich gifts,
of which Helen's share was a golden spindle and a basket on
wheels. The basket was to hold the wool and spools for the queen's

Dyer, in his poem of the "Fleece," thus alludes to this incident:

"... many yet adhere
To the ancient distaff, at the bosom fixed,
Casting the whirling spindle as they walk.

This was of old, in no inglorious days,
The mode of spinning, when the Egyptian prince
A golden distaff gave that beauteous nymph,
Too beauteous Helen; no uncourtly gift."

Milton also alludes to a famous recipe for an invigorating
draught, called Nepenthe, which the Egyptian queen gave to Helen:

"Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone
In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena,
Is of such power to stir up joy as this,
To life so friendly or so cool to thirst."


Menelaus and Helen at length arrived in safety at Sparta, resumed
their royal dignity, and lived and reigned in splendor; and when
Telemachus, the son of Ulysses, in search of his father, arrived
at Sparta, he found Menelaus and Helen celebrating the marriage of
their daughter Hermione to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles.


Agamemnon, the general-in-chief of the Greeks, the brother of
Menelaus, and who had been drawn into the quarrel to avenge his
brother's wrongs, not his own, was not so fortunate in the issue.
During his absence his wife Clytemnestra had been false to him,
and when his return was expected, she with her paramour,
Aegisthus, laid a plan for his destruction, and at the banquet
given to celebrate his return, murdered him.

It was intended by the conspirators to slay his son Orestes also,
a lad not yet old enough to be an object of apprehension, but from
whom, if he should be suffered to grow up, there might be danger.
Electra, the sister of Orestes, saved her brother's life by
sending him secretly away to his uncle Strophius, King of Phocis.
In the palace of Strophius Orestes grew up with the king's son
Pylades, and formed with him that ardent friendship which has
become proverbial. Electra frequently reminded her brother by
messengers of the duty of avenging his father's death, and when
grown up he consulted the oracle of Delphi, which confirmed him in
his design. He therefore repaired in disguise to Argos, pretending
to be a messenger from Strophius, who had come to announce the
death of Orestes, and brought the ashes of the deceased in a
funeral urn. After visiting his father's tomb and sacrificing upon
it, according to the rites of the ancients, he made himself known
to his sister Electra, and soon after slew both Aegisthus and

This revolting act, the slaughter of a mother by her son, though
alleviated by the guilt of the victim and the express command of
the gods, did not fail to awaken in the breasts of the ancients
the same abhorrence that it does in ours. The Eumenides, avenging
deities, seized upon Orestes, and drove him frantic from land to
land. Pylades accompanied him in his wanderings and watched over
him. At length, in answer to a second appeal to the oracle, he was
directed to go to Tauris in Scythia, and to bring thence a statue
of Diana which was believed to have fallen from heaven.
Accordingly Orestes and Pylades went to Tauris, where the
barbarous people were accustomed to sacrifice to the goddess all
strangers who fell into their hands. The two friends were seized
and carried bound to the temple to be made victims. But the
priestess of Diana was no other than Iphigenia, the sister of
Orestes, who, our readers will remember, was snatched away by
Diana at the moment when she was about to be sacrificed.
Ascertaining from the prisoners who they were, Iphigenia disclosed
herself to them, and the three made their escape with the statue
of the goddess, and returned to Mycenae.

But Orestes was not yet relieved from the vengeance of the
Erinyes. At length he took refuge with Minerva at Athens. The
goddess afforded him protection, and appointed the court of
Areopagus to decide his fate. The Erinyes brought forward their
accusation, and Orestes made the command of the Delphic oracle his
excuse. When the court voted and the voices were equally divided,
Orestes was acquitted by the command of Minerva.

Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., alludes to the story of

"O thou who never yet of human wrong
Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis!
Thou who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss,
For that unnatural retribution,--just,
Had it but been from hands less near,--in this,
Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust!"

One of the most pathetic scenes in the ancient drama is that in
which Sophocles represents the meeting of Orestes and Electra, on
his return from Phocis. Orestes, mistaking Electra for one of the
domestics, and desirous of keeping his arrival a secret till the
hour of vengeance should arrive, produces the urn in which his
ashes are supposed to rest. Electra, believing him to be really
dead, takes the urn and, embracing it, pours forth her grief in
language full of tenderness and despair.

Milton, in one of his sonnets, says:

"... The repeated air
Of sad Electra's poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare."

This alludes to the story that when, on one occasion, the city of
Athens was at the mercy of her Spartan foes, and it was proposed
to destroy it, the thought was rejected upon the accidental
quotation, by some one, of a chorus of Euripides.


The facts relating to the city of Troy are still unknown to
history. Antiquarians have long sought for the actual city and
some record of its rulers. The most interesting explorations were
those conducted about 1890 by the German scholar, Henry
Schliemann, who believed that at the mound of Hissarlik, the
traditional site of Troy, he had uncovered the ancient capital.
Schliemann excavated down below the ruins of three or four
settlements, each revealing an earlier civilization, and finally
came upon some royal jewels and other relics said to be "Priam's
Treasure." Scholars are by no means agreed as to the historic
value of these discoveries.




The romantic poem of the Odyssey is now to engage our attention.
It narrates the wanderings of Ulysses (Odysseus in the Greek
language) in his return from Troy to his own kingdom Ithaca.

From Troy the vessels first made land at Ismarus, city of the
Ciconians, where, in a skirmish with the inhabitants, Ulysses lost
six men from each ship. Sailing thence, they were overtaken by a
storm which drove them for nine days along the sea till they
reached the country of the Lotus-eaters. Here, after watering,
Ulysses sent three of his men to discover who the inhabitants
were. These men on coming among the Lotus-eaters were kindly
entertained by them, and were given some of their own food, the
lotus-plant, to eat. The effect of this food was such that those
who partook of it lost all thoughts of home and wished to remain
in that country. It was by main force that Ulysses dragged these
men away, and he was even obliged to tie them under the benches of
the ships.

[Footnote: Tennyson in the "Lotus-eaters" has charmingly expressed
the dreamy, languid feeling which the lotus food is said to have

"How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream
With half-shut eyes ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
To hear each others' whispered speech;
Eating the Lotos, day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray:
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heaped over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass."]

They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes. The Cyclopes
were giants, who inhabited an island of which they were the only
possessors. The name means "round eye," and these giants were so
called because they had but one eye, and that placed in the middle
of the forehead. They dwelt in caves and fed on the wild
productions of the island and on what their flocks yielded, for
they were shepherds. Ulysses left the main body of his ships at
anchor, and with one vessel went to the Cyclopes' island to
explore for supplies. He landed with his companions, carrying with
them a jar of wine for a present, and coming to a large cave they
entered it, and finding no one within examined its contents. They
found it stored with the richest of the flock, quantities of
cheese, pails and bowls of milk, lambs and kids in their pens, all
in nice order. Presently arrived the master of the cave,
Polyphemus, bearing an immense bundle of firewood, which he threw
down before the cavern's mouth. He then drove into the cave the
sheep and goats to be milked, and, entering, rolled to the cave's
mouth an enormous rock, that twenty oxen could not draw. Next he
sat down and milked his ewes, preparing a part for cheese, and
setting the rest aside for his customary drink. Then, turning
round his great eye, he discerned the strangers, and growled out
to them, demanding who they were, and where from. Ulysses replied
most humbly, stating that they were Greeks, from the great
expedition that had lately won so much glory in the conquest of
Troy; that they were now on their way home, and finished by
imploring his hospitality in the name of the gods. Polyphemus
deigned no answer, but reaching out his hand seized two of the
Greeks, whom he hurled against the side of the cave, and dashed
out their brains. He proceeded to devour them with great relish,
and having made a hearty meal, stretched himself out on the floor
to sleep. Ulysses was tempted to seize the opportunity and plunge
his sword into him as he slept, but recollected that it would only
expose them all to certain destruction, as the rock with which the
giant had closed up the door was far beyond their power to remove,
and they would therefore be in hopeless imprisonment. Next morning
the giant seized two more of the Greeks, and despatched them in
the same manner as their companions, feasting on their flesh till
no fragment was left. He then moved away the rock from the door,
drove out his flocks, and went out, carefully replacing the
barrier after him. When he was gone Ulysses planned how he might
take vengeance for his murdered friends, and effect his escape
with his surviving companions. He made his men prepare a massive
bar of wood cut by the Cyclops for a staff, which they found in
the cave. They sharpened the end of it, and seasoned it in the
fire, and hid it under the straw on the cavern floor. Then four of
the boldest were selected, with whom Ulysses joined himself as a
fifth. The Cyclops came home at evening, rolled away the stone and
drove in his flock as usual. After milking them and making his
arrangements as before, he seized two more of Ulysses' companions
and dashed their brains out, and made his evening meal upon them
as he had on the others. After he had supped, Ulysses approaching
him handed him a bowl of wine, saying, "Cyclops, this is wine;
taste and drink after thy meal of men's flesh." He took and drank
it, and was hugely delighted with it, and called for more. Ulysses
supplied him once again, which pleased the giant so much that he
promised him as a favor that he should be the last of the party
devoured. He asked his name, to which Ulysses replied, "My name is

After his supper the giant lay down to repose, and was soon sound
asleep. Then Ulysses with his four select friends thrust the end
of the stake into the fire till it was all one burning coal, then
poising it exactly above the giant's only eye, they buried it
deeply into the socket, twirling it round as a carpenter does his
auger. The howling monster with his outcry filled the cavern, and
Ulysses with his aids nimbly got out of his way and concealed
themselves in the cave. He, bellowing, called aloud on all the
Cyclopes dwelling in the caves around him, far and near. They on
his cry flocked round the den, and inquired what grievous hurt had
caused him to sound such an alarm and break their slumbers. He
replied, "O friends, I die, and Noman gives the blow." They
answered, "If no man hurts thee it is the stroke of Jove, and thou
must bear it." So saying, they left him groaning.

Next morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let his flock
out to pasture, but planted himself in the door of the cave to
feel of all as they went out, that Ulysses and his men should not
escape with them. But Ulysses had made his men harness the rams of
the flock three abreast, with osiers which they found on the floor
of the cave. To the middle ram of the three one of the Greeks
suspended himself, so protected by the exterior rams on either
side. As they passed, the giant felt of the animals' backs and
sides, but never thought of their bellies; so the men all passed
safe, Ulysses himself being on the last one that passed. When they
had got a few paces from the cavern, Ulysses and his friends
released themselves from their rams, and drove a good part of the
flock down to the shore to their boat. They put them aboard with
all haste, then pushed off from the shore, and when at a safe
distance Ulysses shouted out, "Cyclops, the gods have well
requited thee for thy atrocious deeds. Know it is Ulysses to whom
thou owest thy shameful loss of sight." The Cyclops, hearing this,
seized a rock that projected from the side of the mountain, and
rending it from its bed, he lifted it high in the air, then
exerting all his force, hurled it in the direction of the voice.
Down came the mass, just clearing the vessel's stern. The ocean,
at the plunge of the huge rock, heaved the ship towards the land,
so that it barely escaped being swamped by the waves. When they
had with the utmost difficulty pulled off shore, Ulysses was about
to hail the giant again, but his friends besought him not to do
so. He could not forbear, however, letting the giant know that
they had escaped his missile, but waited till they had reached a
safer distance than before. The giant answered them with curses,
but Ulysses and his friends plied their oars vigorously, and soon
regained their companions.

Ulysses next arrived at the island of Aeolus. To this monarch
Jupiter had intrusted the government of the winds, to send them
forth or retain them at his will. He treated Ulysses hospitably,
and at his departure gave him, tied up in a leathern bag, with a
silver string, such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous,
commanding fair winds to blow the barks towards their country.
Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that time Ulysses had
stood at the helm, without sleep. At last quite exhausted he lay
down to sleep. While he slept, the crew conferred together about
the mysterious bag, and concluded it must contain treasures given
by the hospitable king Aeolus to their commander. Tempted to
secure some portion for themselves, they loosed the string, when
immediately the winds rushed forth. The ships were driven far from
their course, and back again to the island they had just left.
Aeolus was so indignant at their folly that he refused to assist
them further, and they were obliged to labor over their course
once more by means of their oars.


Their next adventure was with the barbarous tribe of
Laestrygonians. The vessels all pushed into the harbor, tempted by
the secure appearance of the cove, completely land-locked; only
Ulysses moored his vessel without. As soon as the Laestrygonians
found the ships completely in their power they attacked them,
heaving huge stones which broke and overturned them, and with
their spears despatched the seamen as they struggled in the water.
All the vessels with their crews were destroyed, except Ulysses'
own ship, which had remained outside, and finding no safety but in
flight, he exhorted his men to ply their oars vigorously, and they

With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy at their own
escape, they pursued their way till they arrived at the Aeaean
isle, where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the sun. Landing here,
Ulysses climbed a hill, and gazing round saw no signs of
habitation except in one spot at the centre of the island, where
he perceived a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one-
half of his crew, under the command of Eurylochus, to see what
prospect of hospitality they might find. As they approached the
palace, they found themselves surrounded by lions, tigers, and
wolves, not fierce, but tamed by Circe's art, for she was a
powerful magician. All these animals had once been men, but had
been changed by Circe's enchantments into the forms of beasts. The
sounds of soft music were heard from within, and a sweet female
voice singing. Eurylochus called aloud and the goddess came forth
and invited them in; they all gladly entered except Eurylochus,
who suspected danger. The goddess conducted her guests to a seat,
and had them served with wine and other delicacies. When they had
feasted heartily, she touched them one by one with her wand, and
they became immediately changed into SWINE, in "head, body, voice,
and bristles," yet with their intellects as before. She shut them
in her sties and supplied them with acorns and such other things
as swine love.

Eurylochus hurried back to the ship and told the tale. Ulysses
thereupon determined to go himself, and try if by any means he
might deliver his companions. As he strode onward alone, he met a
youth who addressed him familiarly, appearing to be acquainted
with his adventures. He announced himself as Mercury, and informed
Ulysses of the arts of Circe, and of the danger of approaching
her. As Ulysses was not to be dissuaded from his attempt, Mercury
provided him with a sprig of the plant Moly, of wonderful power to
resist sorceries, and instructed him how to act. Ulysses
proceeded, and reaching the palace was courteously received by
Circe, who entertained him as she had done his companions, and
after he had eaten and drank, touched him with her wand, saying,
"Hence, seek the sty and wallow with thy friends." But he, instead
of obeying, drew his sword and rushed upon her with fury in his
countenance. She fell on her knees and begged for mercy. He
dictated a solemn oath that she would release his companions and
practise no further harm against him or them; and she repeated it,
at the same time promising to dismiss them all in safety after
hospitably entertaining them. She was as good as her word. The men
were restored to their shapes, the rest of the crew summoned from
the shore, and the whole magnificently entertained day after day,
till Ulysses seemed to have forgotten his native land, and to have
reconciled himself to an inglorious life of ease and pleasure.

At length his companions recalled him to nobler sentiments, and he
received their admonition gratefully. Circe aided their departure,
and instructed them how to pass safely by the coast of the Sirens.
The Sirens were sea-nymphs who had the power of charming by their
song all who heard them, so that the unhappy mariners were
irresistibly impelled to cast themselves into the sea to their
destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to fill the ears of his seamen
with wax, so that they should not hear the strain; and to cause
himself to be bound to the mast, and his people to be strictly
enjoined, whatever he might say or do, by no means to release him
till they should have passed the Sirens' island. Ulysses obeyed
these directions. He filled the ears of his people with wax, and
suffered them to bind him with cords firmly to the mast. As they
approached the Sirens' island, the sea was calm, and over the
waters came the notes of music so ravishing and attractive that
Ulysses struggled to get loose, and by cries and signs to his
people begged to be released; but they, obedient to his previous
orders, sprang forward and bound him still faster. They held on
their course, and the music grew fainter till it ceased to be
heard, when with joy Ulysses gave his companions the signal to
unseal their ears, and they relieved him from his bonds.

The imagination of a modern poet, Keats, has discovered for us the
thoughts that passed through the brains of the victims of Circe,
after their transformation. In his "Endymion" he represents one of
them, a monarch in the guise of an elephant, addressing the
sorceress in human language, thus:

"I sue not for my happy crown again;
I sue not for my phalanx on the plain;
I sue not for my lone, my widowed wife;
I sue not for my ruddy drops of life,
My children fair, my lovely girls and boys;
I will forget them; I will pass these joys,
Ask nought so heavenward; so too--too high;
Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die;
To be delivered from this cumbrous flesh,
From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh,
And merely given to the cold, bleak air.
Have mercy, goddess! Circe, feel my prayer!"


Ulysses had been warned by Circe of the two monsters Scylla and
Charybdis. We have already met with Scylla in the story of
Glaucus, and remember that she was once a beautiful maiden and was
changed into a snaky monster by Circe. She dwelt in a cave high up
on the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust forth her
long necks (for she had six heads), and in each of her mouths to
seize one of the crew of every vessel passing within reach. The
other terror, Charybdis, was a gulf, nearly on a level with the
water. Thrice each day the water rushed into a frightful chasm,
and thrice was disgorged. Any vessel coming near the whirlpool
when the tide was rushing in must inevitably be ingulfed; not
Neptune himself could save it.

On approaching the haunt of the dread monsters, Ulysses kept
strict watch to discover them. The roar of the waters as Charybdis
ingulfed them, gave warning at a distance, but Scylla could
nowhere be discerned. While Ulysses and his men watched with
anxious eyes the dreadful whirlpool, they were not equally on
their guard from the attack of Scylla, and the monster, darting
forth her snaky heads, caught six of his men, and bore them away,
shrieking, to her den. It was the saddest sight Ulysses had yet
seen; to behold his friends thus sacrificed and hear their cries,
unable to afford them any assistance.

Circe had warned him of another danger. After passing Scylla and
Charybdis the next land he would make was Thrinakia, an island
whereon were pastured the cattle of Hyperion, the Sun, tended by
his daughters Lampetia and Phaethusa. These flocks must not be
violated, whatever the wants of the voyagers might be. If this
injunction were transgressed destruction was sure to fall on the

Ulysses would willingly have passed the island of the Sun without
stopping, but his companions so urgently pleaded for the rest and
refreshment that would be derived from anchoring and passing the
night on shore, that Ulysses yielded. He bound them, however, with
an oath that they would not touch one of the animals of the sacred
flocks and herds, but content themselves with what provision they
yet had left of the supply which Circe had put on board. So long
as this supply lasted the people kept their oath, but contrary
winds detained them at the island for a month, and after consuming
all their stock of provisions, they were forced to rely upon the
birds and fishes they could catch. Famine pressed them, and at
length one day, in the absence of Ulysses, they slew some of the
cattle, vainly attempting to make amends for the deed by offering
from them a portion to the offended powers. Ulysses, on his return
to the shore, was horror-struck at perceiving what they had done,
and the more so on account of the portentous signs which followed.
The skins crept on the ground, and the joints of meat lowed on the
spits while roasting.

The wind becoming fair they sailed from the island. They had not
gone far when the weather changed, and a storm of thunder and
lightning ensued. A stroke of lightning shattered their mast,
which in its fall killed the pilot. At last the vessel itself came
to pieces. The keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses formed
of them a raft, to which he clung, and, the wind changing, the
waves bore him to Calypso's island. All the rest of the crew

The following allusion to the topics we have just been considering
is from Milton's "Comus," line 252:

"... I have often heard
My mother Circe and the Sirens three,
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Culling their potent herbs and baneful drugs,
Who as they sung would take the prisoned soul
And lap it in Elysium. Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause."

Scylla and Charybdis have become proverbial, to denote opposite
dangers which beset one's course. See Proverbial Expressions.


Calypso was a sea-nymph, which name denotes a numerous class of
female divinities of lower rank, yet sharing many of the
attributes of the gods. Calypso received Ulysses hospitably,
entertained him magnificently, became enamoured of him, and wished
to retain him forever, conferring on him immortality. But he
persisted in his resolution to return to his country and his wife
and son. Calypso at last received the command of Jove to dismiss
him. Mercury brought the message to her, and found her in her
grotto, which is thus described by Homer:

"A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides,
Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung
Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph,
Their sinuous course pursuing side by side,
Strayed all around, and everywhere appeared
Meadows of softest verdure, purpled o'er
With violets; it was a scene to fill
A god from heaven with wonder and delight."

Calypso with much reluctance proceeded to obey the commands of
Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the means of constructing a
raft, provisioned it well for him, and gave him a favoring gale.
He sped on his course prosperously for many days, till at length,
when in sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and
threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he was seen by
a compassionate sea-nymph, who in the form of a cormorant alighted
on the raft, and presented him a girdle, directing him to bind it
beneath his breast, and if he should be compelled to trust himself
to the waves, it would buoy him up and enable him by swimming to
reach the land.

Fenelon, in his romance of "Telemachus," has given us the
adventures of the son of Ulysses in search of his father. Among
other places at which he arrived, following on his father's
footsteps, was Calypso's isle, and, as in the former case, the
goddess tried every art to keep him with her, and offered to share
her immortality with him. But Minerva, who in the shape of Mentor
accompanied him and governed all his movements, made him repel her
allurements, and when no other means of escape could be found, the
two friends leaped from a cliff into the sea, and swam to a vessel
which lay becalmed off shore. Byron alludes to this leap of
Telemachus and Mentor in the following stanza:

"But not in silence pass Calypso's isles,
The sister tenants of the middle deep;
There for the weary still a haven smiles,
Though the fair goddess long has ceased to weep,
And o'er her cliffs a fruitless watch to keep
For him who dared prefer a mortal bride.
Here too his boy essayed the dreadful leap,
Stern Mentor urged from high to yonder tide;
While thus of both bereft the nymph-queen doubly sighed."




Ulysses clung to the raft while any of its timbers kept together,
and when it no longer yielded him support, binding the girdle
around him, he swam. Minerva smoothed the billows before him and
sent him a wind that rolled the waves towards the shore. The surf
beat high on the rocks and seemed to forbid approach; but at
length finding calm water at the mouth of a gentle stream, he
landed, spent with toil, breathless and speechless and almost
dead. After some time, reviving, he kissed the soil, rejoicing,
yet at a loss what course to take. At a short distance he
perceived a wood, to which he turned his steps. There, finding a
covert sheltered by intermingling branches alike from the sun and
the rain, he collected a pile of leaves and formed a bed, on which
he stretched himself, and heaping the leaves over him, fell

The land where he was thrown was Scheria, the country of the
Phaeacians. These people dwelt originally near the Cyclopes; but
being oppressed by that savage race, they migrated to the isle of
Scheria, under the conduct of Nausithous, their king. They were,
the poet tells us, a people akin to the gods, who appeared
manifestly and feasted among them when they offered sacrifices,
and did not conceal themselves from solitary wayfarers when they
met them. They had abundance of wealth and lived in the enjoyment
of it undisturbed by the alarms of war, for as they dwelt remote
from gain-seeking man, no enemy ever approached their shores, and
they did not even require to make use of bows and quivers. Their
chief employment was navigation. Their ships, which went with the
velocity of birds, were endued with intelligence; they knew every
port and needed no pilot. Alcinous, the son of Nausithous, was now
their king, a wise and just sovereign, beloved by his people.

Now it happened that the very night on which Ulysses was cast
ashore on the Phaeacian island, and while he lay sleeping on his
bed of leaves, Nausicaa, the daughter of the king, had a dream
sent by Minerva, reminding her that her wedding-day was not far
distant, and that it would be but a prudent preparation for that


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