Bulfinch's Mythology
Thomas Bulfinch

Part 6 out of 19

event to have a general washing of the clothes of the family. This
was no slight affair, for the fountains were at some distance, and
the garments must be carried thither. On awaking, the princess
hastened to her parents to tell them what was on her mind; not
alluding to her wedding-day, but finding other reasons equally
good. Her father readily assented and ordered the grooms to
furnish forth a wagon for the purpose. The clothes were put
therein, and the queen mother placed in the wagon, likewise, an
abundant supply of food and wine. The princess took her seat and
plied the lash, her attendant virgins following her on foot.
Arrived at the river side, they turned out the mules to graze, and
unlading the carriage, bore the garments down to the water, and
working with cheerfulness and alacrity soon despatched their
labor. Then having spread the garments on the shore to dry, and
having themselves bathed, they sat down to enjoy their meal; after
which they rose and amused themselves with a game of ball, the
princess singing to them while they played. But when they had
refolded the apparel and were about to resume their way to the
town, Minerva caused the ball thrown by the princess to fall into
the water, whereat they all screamed and Ulysses awaked at the

Now we must picture to ourselves Ulysses, a ship-wrecked mariner,
but a few hours escaped from the waves, and utterly destitute of
clothing, awaking and discovering that only a few bushes were
interposed tween him and a group of young maidens whom, by their
deportment and attire, he discovered to be not mere peasant girls,
but of a higher class. Sadly needing help, how could he yet
venture, naked as he was, to discover himself and make his wants
known? It certainly was a case worthy of the interposition of his
patron goddess Minerva, who never failed him at a crisis. Breaking
off a leafy branch from a tree, he held it before him and stepped
out from the thicket. The virgins at sight of him fled in all
directions, Nausicaa alone excepted, for HER Minerva aided and
endowed with courage and discernment. Ulysses, standing
respectfully aloof, told his sad case, and besought the fair
object (whether queen or goddess he professed he knew not) for
food and clothing. The princess replied courteously, promising
present relief and her father's hospitality when he should become
acquainted with the facts. She called back her scattered maidens,
chiding their alarm, and reminding them that the Phaeacians had no
enemies to fear. This man, she told them, was an unhappy wanderer,
whom it was a duty to cherish, for the poor and stranger are from
Jove. She bade them bring food and clothing, for some of her
brother's garments were among the contents of the wagon. When this
was done, and Ulysses, retiring to a sheltered place, had washed
his body free from the sea-foam, clothed and refreshed himself
with food, Pallas dilated his form and diffused grace over his
ample chest and manly brows.

The princess, seeing him, was filled with admiration, and scrupled
not to say to her damsels that she wished the gods would send her
such a husband. To Ulysses she recommended that he should repair
to the city, following herself and train so far as the way lay
through the fields; but when they should approach the city she
desired that he would no longer be seen in her company, for she
feared the remarks which rude and vulgar people might make on
seeing her return accompanied by such a gallant stranger. To avoid
which she directed him to stop at a grove adjoining the city, in
which were a farm and garden belonging to the king. After allowing
time for the princess and her companions to reach the city, he was
then to pursue his way thither, and would be easily guided by any
he might meet to the royal abode.

Ulysses obeyed the directions and in due time proceeded to the
city, on approaching which he met a young woman bearing a pitcher
forth for water. It was Minerva, who had assumed that form.
Ulysses accosted her and desired to be directed to the palace of
Alcinous the king. The maiden replied respectfully, offering to be
his guide; for the palace, she informed him, stood near her
father's dwelling. Under the guidance of the goddess, and by her
power enveloped in a cloud which shielded him from observation,
Ulysses passed among the busy crowd, and with wonder observed
their harbor, their ships, their forum (the resort of heroes), and
their battlements, till they came to the palace, where the
goddess, having first given him some information of the country,
king, and people he was about to meet, left him. Ulysses, before
entering the courtyard of the palace, stood and surveyed the
scene. Its splendor astonished him. Brazen walls stretched from
the entrance to the interior house, of which the doors were gold,
the doorposts silver, the lintels silver ornamented with gold. On
either side were figures of mastiffs wrought in gold and silver,
standing in rows as if to guard the approach. Along the walls were
seats spread through all their length with mantles of finest
texture, the work of Phaeacian maidens. On these seats the princes
sat and feasted, while golden statues of graceful youths held in
their hands lighted torches which shed radiance over the scene.
Full fifty female menials served in household offices, some
employed to grind the corn, others to wind off the purple wool or
ply the loom. For the Phaeacian women as far exceeded all other
women in household arts as the mariners of that country did the
rest of mankind in the management of ships. Without the court a
spacious garden lay, four acres in extent. In it grew many a lofty
tree, pomegranate, pear, apple, fig, and olive. Neither winter's
cold nor summer's drought arrested their growth, but they
flourished in constant succession, some budding while others were
maturing. The vineyard was equally prolific. In one quarter you
might see the vines, some in blossom, some loaded with ripe
grapes, and in another observe the vintagers treading the wine
press. On the garden's borders flowers of all hues bloomed all the
year round, arranged with neatest art. In the midst two fountains
poured forth their waters, one flowing by artificial channels over
all the garden, the other conducted through the courtyard of the
palace, whence every citizen might draw his supplies.

Ulysses stood gazing in admiration, unobserved himself, for the
cloud which Minerva spread around him still shielded him. At
length, having sufficiently observed the scene, he advanced with
rapid step into the hall where the chiefs and senators were
assembled, pouring libation to Mercury, whose worship followed the
evening meal. Just then Minerva dissolved the cloud and disclosed
him to the assembled chiefs. Advancing to the place where the
queen sat, he knelt at her feet and implored her favor and
assistance to enable him to return to his native country. Then
withdrawing, he seated himself in the manner of suppliants, at the
hearth side.

For a time none spoke. At last an aged statesman, addressing the
king, said, "It is not fit that a stranger who asks our
hospitality should be kept waiting in suppliant guise, none
welcoming him. Let him therefore be led to a seat among us and
supplied with food and wine." At these words the king rising gave
his hand to Ulysses and led him to a seat, displacing thence his
own son to make room for the stranger. Food and wine were set
before him and he ate and refreshed himself.

The king then dismissed his guests, notifying them that the next
day he would call them to council to consider what had best be
done for the stranger.

When the guests had departed and Ulysses was left alone with the
king and queen, the queen asked him who he was and whence he came,
and (recognizing the clothes which he wore as those which her
maidens and herself had made) from whom he received those
garments. He told them of his residence in Calypso's isle and his
departure thence; of the wreck of his raft, his escape by
swimming, and of the relief afforded by the princess. The parents
heard approvingly, and the king promised to furnish a ship in
which his guest might return to his own land.

The next day the assembled chiefs confirmed the promise of the
king. A bark was prepared and a crew of stout rowers selected, and
all betook themselves to the palace, where a bounteous repast was
provided. After the feast the king proposed that the young men
should show their guest their proficiency in manly sports, and all
went forth to the arena for games of running, wrestling, and other
exercises. After all had done their best, Ulysses being challenged
to show what he could do, at first declined, but being taunted by
one of the youths, seized a quoit of weight far heavier than any
of the Phaeacians had thrown, and sent it farther than the utmost
throw of theirs. All were astonished, and viewed their guest with
greatly increased respect.

After the games they returned to the hall, and the herald led in
Demodocus, the blind bard,--

"... Dear to the Muse,
Who yet appointed him both good and ill,
Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine."

He took for his theme the "Wooden Horse," by means of which the
Greeks found entrance into Troy. Apollo inspired him, and he sang
so feelingly the terrors and the exploits of that eventful time
that all were delighted, but Ulysses was moved to tears. Observing
which, Alcinous, when the song was done, demanded of him why at
the mention of Troy his sorrows awaked. Had he lost there a
father, or brother, or any dear friend? Ulysses replied by
announcing himself by his true name, and at their request,
recounted the adventures which had befallen him since his
departure from Troy. This narrative raised the sympathy and
admiration of the Phaeacians for their guest to the highest pitch.
The king proposed that all the chiefs should present him with a
gift, himself setting the example. They obeyed, and vied with one
another in loading the illustrious stranger with costly gifts.

The next day Ulysses set sail in the Phaeacian vessel, and in a
short time arrived safe at Ithaca, his own island. When the vessel
touched the strand he was asleep. The mariners, without waking
him, carried him on shore, and landed with him the chest
containing his presents, and then sailed away.

Neptune was so displeased at the conduct of the Phaeacians in thus
rescuing Ulysses from his hands that on the return of the vessel
to port he transformed it into a rock, right opposite the mouth of
the harbor.

Homer's description of the ships of the Phaeacians has been
thought to look like an anticipation of the wonders of modern
steam navigation. Alcinous says to Ulysses:

"Say from what city, from what regions tossed,
And what inhabitants those regions boast?
So shalt thou quickly reach the realm assigned,
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind;
No helm secures their course, no pilot guides;
Like man intelligent they plough the tides,
Conscious of every coast and every bay
That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray."

--Odyssey, Book VIII.

Lord Carlisle, in his "Diary in the Turkish and Greek Waters,"
thus speaks of Corfu, which he considers to be the ancient
Phaeacian island:

"The sites explain the 'Odyssey.' The temple of the sea-god could
not have been more fitly placed, upon a grassy platform of the
most elastic turf, on the brow of a crag commanding harbor, and
channel, and ocean. Just at the entrance of the inner harbor there
is a picturesque rock with a small convent perched upon it, which
by one legend is the transformed pinnace of Ulysses.

"Almost the only river in the island is just at the proper
distance from the probable site of the city and palace of the
king, to justify the princess Nausicaa having had resort to her
chariot and to luncheon when she went with the maidens of the
court to wash their garments."


Ulysses had now been away from Ithaca for twenty years, and when
he awoke he did not recognize his native land. Minerva appeared to
him in the form of a young shepherd, informed him where he was,
and told him the state of things at his palace. More than a
hundred nobles of Ithaca and of the neighboring islands had been
for years suing for the hand of Penelope, his wife, imagining him
dead, and lording it over his palace and people, as if they were
owners of both. That he might be able to take vengeance upon them,
it was important that he should not be recognized. Minerva
accordingly metamorphosed him into an unsightly beggar, and as
such he was kindly received by Eumaeus, the swine-herd, a faithful
servant of his house.

Telemachus, his son, was absent in quest of his father. He had
gone to the courts of the other kings, who had returned from the
Trojan expedition. While on the search, he received counsel from
Minerva to return home. He arrived and sought Eumaeus to learn
something of the state of affairs at the palace before presenting
himself among the suitors. Finding a stranger with Eumaeus, he
treated him courteously, though in the garb of a beggar, and
promised him assistance. Eumaeus was sent to the palace to inform
Penelope privately of her son's arrival, for caution was necessary
with regard to the suitors, who, as Telemachus had learned, were
plotting to intercept and kill him. When Eumaeus was gone, Minerva
presented herself to Ulysses, and directed him to make himself
known to his son. At the same time she touched him, removed at
once from him the appearance of age and penury, and gave him the
aspect of vigorous manhood that belonged to him. Telemachus viewed
him with astonishment, and at first thought he must be more than
mortal. But Ulysses announced himself as his father, and accounted
for the change of appearance by explaining that it was Minerva's

"... Then threw Telemachus
His arms around his father's neck and wept.
Desire intense of lamentation seized
On both; soft murmurs uttering, each indulged
His grief."

The father and son took counsel together how they should get the
better of the suitors and punish them for their outrages. It was
arranged that Telemachus should proceed to the palace and mingle
with the suitors as formerly; that Ulysses should also go as a
beggar, a character which in the rude old times had different
privileges from what we concede to it now. As traveller and
storyteller, the beggar was admitted in the halls of chieftains,
and often treated like a guest; though sometimes, also, no doubt,
with contumely. Ulysses charged his son not to betray, by any
display of unusual interest in him, that he knew him to be other
than he seemed, and even if he saw him insulted, or beaten, not to
interpose otherwise than he might do for any stranger. At the
palace they found the usual scene of feasting and riot going on.
The suitors pretended to receive Telemachus with joy at his
return, though secretly mortified at the failure of their plots to
take his life. The old beggar was permitted to enter, and provided
with a portion from the table. A touching incident occurred as
Ulysses entered the courtyard of the palace. An old dog lay in the
yard almost dead with age, and seeing a stranger enter, raised his
head, with ears erect. It was Argus, Ulysses' own dog, that he had
in other days often led to the chase.

"... Soon as he perceived
Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears
Clapped close, and with his tail glad sign he gave
Of gratulation, impotent to rise,
And to approach his master as of old.
Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear
... Then his destiny released
Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see
Ulysses in the twentieth year restored."

As Ulysses sat eating his portion in the hall, the suitors began
to exhibit their insolence to him. When he mildly remonstrated,
one of them, raised a stool and with it gave him a blow.
Telemachus had hard work to restrain his indignation at seeing his
father so treated in his own hall, but remembering his father's
injunctions, said no more than what became him as master of the
house, though young, and protector of his guests.

Penelope had protracted her decision in favor of either of her
suitors so long that there seemed to be no further pretence for
delay. The continued absence of her husband seemed to prove that
his return was no longer to be expected. Meanwhile, her son had
grown up, and was able to manage his own affairs. She therefore
consented to submit the question of her choice to a trial of skill
among the suitors. The test selected was shooting with the bow.
Twelve rings were arranged in a line, and he whose arrow was sent
through the whole twelve was to have the queen for his prize. A
bow that one of his brother heroes had given to Ulysses in former
times was brought from the armory, and with its quiver full of
arrows was laid in the hall. Telemachus had taken care that all
other weapons should be removed, under pretence that in the heat
of competition there was danger, in some rash moment, of putting
them to an improper use.

All things being prepared for the trial, the first thing to be
done was to bend the bow in order to attach the string. Telemachus
endeavored to do it, but found all his efforts fruitless; and
modestly confessing that he had attempted a task beyond his
strength, he yielded the bow to another. He tried it with no
better success, and, amidst the laughter and jeers of his
companions, gave it up. Another tried it and another; they rubbed
the bow with tallow, but all to no purpose; it would not bend.
Then spoke Ulysses, humbly suggesting that he should be permitted
to try; for, said he, "beggar as I am, I was once a soldier, and
there is still some strength in these old limbs of mine." The
suitors hooted with derision, and commanded to turn him out of the
hall for his insolence. But Telemachus spoke up for him, and,
merely to gratify the old man, bade him try. Ulysses took the bow,
and handled it with the hand of a master. With ease he adjusted
the cord to its notch, then fitting an arrow to the bow he drew
the string and sped the arrow unerring through the rings.

Without allowing them time to express their astonishment, he said,
"Now for another mark!" and aimed direct at the most insolent one
of the suitors. The arrow pierced through his throat and he fell
dead. Telemachus, Eumaeus, and another faithful follower, well
armed, now sprang to the side of Ulysses. The suitors, in
amazement, looked round for arms, but found none, neither was
there any way of escape, for Eumaeus had secured the door. Ulysses
left them not long in uncertainty; he announced himself as the
long-lost chief, whose house they had invaded, whose substance
they had squandered, whose wife and son they had persecuted for
ten long years; and told them he meant to have ample vengeance.
All were slain, and Ulysses was left master of his palace and
possessor of his kingdom and his wife.

Tennyson's poem of "Ulysses" represents the old hero, after his
dangers past and nothing left but to stay at home and be happy,
growing tired of inaction and resolving to set forth again in
quest of new adventures.

"... Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles whom we knew;" etc.




We have followed one of the Grecian heroes, Ulysses, in his
wanderings on his return home from Troy, and now we propose to
share the fortunes of the remnant of the conquered people, under
their chief Aeneas, in their search for a new home, after the ruin
of their native city. On that fatal night when the wooden horse
disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture and
conflagration of the city were the result, Aeneas made his escape
from the scene of destruction, with his father, and his wife, and
young son. The father, Anchises, was too old to walk with the
speed required, and Aeneas took him upon his shoulders. Thus
burdened, leading his son and followed by his wife, he made the
best of his way out of the burning city; but, in the confusion,
his wife was swept away and lost.

On arriving at the place of rendezvous, numerous fugitives, of
both sexes, were found, who put themselves under the guidance of
Aeneas. Some months were spent in preparation, and at length they
embarked. They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace,
and were preparing to build a city, but Aeneas was deterred by a
prodigy. Preparing to offer sacrifice, he tore some twigs from one
of the bushes. To his dismay the wounded part dropped blood. When
he repeated the act a voice from the ground cried out to him,
"Spare me, Aeneas; I am your kinsman, Polydore, here murdered with
many arrows, from which a bush has grown, nourished with my
blood." These words recalled to the recollection of Aeneas that
Polydore was a young prince of Troy, whom his father had sent with
ample treasures to the neighboring land of Thrace, to be there
brought up, at a distance from the horrors of war. The king to
whom he was sent had murdered him and seized his treasures. Aeneas
and his companions, considering the land accursed by the stain of
such a crime, hastened away.

They next landed on the island of Delos, which was once a floating
island, till Jupiter fastened it by adamantine chains to the
bottom of the sea. Apollo and Diana were born there, and the
island was sacred to Apollo. Here Aeneas consulted the oracle of
Apollo, and received an answer, ambiguous as usual,--"Seek your
ancient mother; there the race of Aeneas shall dwell, and reduce
all other nations to their sway." The Trojans heard with joy and
immediately began to ask one another, "Where is the spot intended
by the oracle?" Anchises remembered that there was a tradition
that their forefathers came from Crete and thither they resolved
to steer. They arrived at Crete and began to build their city, but
sickness broke out among them, and the fields that they had
planted failed to yield a crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs
Aeneas was warned in a dream to leave the country and seek a
western land, called Hesperia, whence Dardanus, the true founder
of the Trojan race, had originally migrated. To Hesperia, now
called Italy, therefore, they directed their future course, and
not till after many adventures and the lapse of time sufficient to
carry a modern navigator several times round the world, did they
arrive there.

Their first landing was at the island of the Harpies. These were
disgusting birds with the heads of maidens, with long claws and
faces pale with hunger. They were sent by the gods to torment a
certain Phineus, whom Jupiter had deprived of his sight, in
punishment of his cruelty; and whenever a meal was placed before
him the Harpies darted down from the air and carried it off. They
were driven away from Phineus by the heroes of the Argonautic
expedition, and took refuge in the island where Aeneas now found

When they entered the port the Trojans saw herds of cattle roaming
over the plain. They slew as many as they wished and prepared for
a feast. But no sooner had they seated themselves at the table
than a horrible clamor was heard in the air, and a flock of these
odious harpies came rushing down upon them, seizing in their
talons the meat from the dishes and flying away with it. Aeneas
and his companions drew their swords and dealt vigorous blows
among the monsters, but to no purpose, for they were so nimble it
was almost impossible to hit them, and their feathers were like
armor impenetrable to steel. One of them, perched on a neighboring
cliff, screamed out, "Is it thus, Trojans, you treat us innocent
birds, first slaughter our cattle and then make war on ourselves?"
She then predicted dire sufferings to them in their future course,
and having vented her wrath flew away. The Trojans made haste to
leave the country, and next found themselves coasting along the
shore of Epirus. Here they landed, and to their astonishment
learned that certain Trojan exiles, who had been carried there as
prisoners, had become rulers of the country. Andromache, the widow
of Hector, became the wife of one of the victorious Grecian
chiefs, to whom she bore a son. Her husband dying, she was left
regent of the country, as guardian of her son, and had married a
fellow-captive, Helenus, of the royal race of Troy. Helenus and
Andromache treated the exiles with the utmost hospitality, and
dismissed them loaded with gifts.

From hence Aeneas coasted along the shore of Sicily and passed the
country of the Cyclopes. Here they were hailed from the shore by a
miserable object, whom by his garments, tattered as they were,
they perceived to be a Greek. He told them he was one of Ulysses's
companions, left behind by that chief in his hurried departure. He
related the story of Ulysses's adventure with Polyphemus, and
besought them to take him off with them as he had no means of
sustaining his existence where he was but wild berries and roots,
and lived in constant fear of the Cyclopes. While he spoke
Polyphemus made his appearance; a terrible monster, shapeless,
vast, whose only eye had been put out. [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] He walked with cautious steps, feeling his way with
a staff, down to the sea-side, to wash his eye-socket in the
waves. When he reached the water, he waded out towards them, and
his immense height enabled him to advance far into the sea, so
that the Trojans, in terror, took to their oars to get out of his
way. Hearing the oars, Polyphemus shouted after them, so that the
shores resounded, and at the noise the other Cyclopes came forth
from their caves and woods and lined the shore, like a row of
lofty pine trees. The Trojans plied their oars and soon left them
out of sight.

Aeneas had been cautioned by Helenus to avoid the strait guarded
by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. There Ulysses, the reader
will remember, had lost six of his men, seized by Scylla while the
navigators were wholly intent upon avoiding Charybdis. Aeneas,
following the advice of Helenus, shunned the dangerous pass and
coasted along the island of Sicily.

Juno, seeing the Trojans speeding their way prosperously towards
their destined shore, felt her old grudge against them revive, for
she could not forget the slight that Paris had put upon her, in
awarding the prize of beauty to another. In heavenly minds can
such resentments dwell. [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.]
Accordingly she hastened to Aeolus, the ruler of the winds,--the
same who supplied Ulysses with favoring gales, giving him the
contrary ones tied up in a bag. Aeolus obeyed the goddess and sent
forth his sons, Boreas, Typhon, and the other winds, to toss the
ocean. A terrible storm ensued and the Trojan ships were driven
out of their course towards the coast of Africa. They were in
imminent danger of being wrecked, and were separated, so that
Aeneas thought that all were lost except his own.

At this crisis, Neptune, hearing the storm raging, and knowing
that he had given no orders for one, raised his head above the
waves, and saw the fleet of Aeneas driving before the gale.
Knowing the hostility of Juno, he was at no loss to account for
it, but his anger was not the less at this interference in his
province. He called the winds and dismissed them with a severe
reprimand. He then soothed the waves, and brushed away the clouds
from before the face of the sun. Some of the ships which had got
on the rocks he pried off with his own trident, while Triton and a
sea-nymph, putting their shoulders under others, set them afloat
again. The Trojans, when the sea became calm, sought the nearest
shore, which was the coast of Carthage, where Aeneas was so happy
as to find that one by one the ships all arrived safe, though
badly shaken.

Waller, in his "Panegyric to the Lord Protector" (Cromwell),
alludes to this stilling of the storm by Neptune:

"Above the waves, as Neptune showed his face,
To chide the winds and save the Trojan race,
So has your Highness, raised above the rest,
Storms of ambition tossing us repressed."


Carthage, where the exiles had now arrived, was a spot on the
coast of Africa opposite Sicily, where at that time a Tyrian
colony under Dido, their queen, were laying the foundations of a
state destined in later ages to be the rival of Rome itself. Dido
was the daughter of Belus, king of Tyre, and sister of Pygmalion,
who succeeded his father on the throne. Her husband was Sichaeus,
a man of immense wealth, but Pygmalion, who coveted his treasures,
caused him to be put to death. Dido, with a numerous body of
friends and followers, both men and women, succeeded in effecting
their escape from Tyre, in several vessels, carrying with them the
treasures of Sichaeus. On arriving at the spot which they selected
as the seat of their future home, they asked of the natives only
so much land as they could enclose with a bull's hide. When this
was readily granted, she caused the hide to be cut into strips,
and with them enclosed a spot on which she built a citadel, and
called it Byrsa (a hide). Around this fort the city of Carthage
rose, and soon became a powerful and flourishing place.

Such was the state of affairs when Aeneas with his Trojans arrived
there. Dido received the illustrious exiles with friendliness and
hospitality. "Not unacquainted with distress," she said, "I have
learned to succor the unfortunate." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] The queen's hospitality displayed itself in
festivities at which games of strength and skill were exhibited.
The strangers contended for the palm with her own subjects, on
equal terms, the queen declaring that whether the victor were
"Trojan or Tyrian should make no difference to her." [Footnote 1:
See Proverbial Expressions.] At the feast which followed the
games, Aeneas gave at her request a recital of the closing events
of the Trojan history and his own adventures after the fall of the
city. Dido was charmed with his discourse and filled with
admiration of his exploits. She conceived an ardent passion for
him, and he for his part seemed well content to accept the
fortunate chance which appeared to offer him at once a happy
termination of his wanderings, a home, a kingdom, and a bride.
Months rolled away in the enjoyment of pleasant intercourse, and
it seemed as if Italy and the empire destined to be founded on its
shores were alike forgotten. Seeing which, Jupiter despatched
Mercury with a message to Aeneas recalling him to a sense of his
high destiny, and commanding him to resume his voyage.

Aeneas parted from Dido, though she tried every allurement and
persuasion to detain him. The blow to her affection and her pride
was too much for her to endure, and when she found that he was
gone, she mounted a funeral pile which she had caused to be
erected, and having stabbed herself was consumed with the pile.
The flames rising over the city were seen by the departing
Trojans, and, though the cause was unknown, gave to Aeneas some
intimation of the fatal event.

The following epigram we find in "Elegant Extracts":


"Unhappy, Dido, was thy fate
In first and second married state!
One husband caused thy flight by dying,
Thy death the other caused by flying"


After touching at the island of Sicily, where Acestes, a prince of
Trojan lineage, bore sway, who gave them a hospitable reception,
the Trojans re-embarked, and held on their course for Italy. Venus
now interceded with Neptune to allow her son at last to attain the
wished-for goal and find an end of his perils on the deep. Neptune
consented, stipulating only for one life as a ransom for the rest.
The victim was Palinurus, the pilot. As he sat watching the stars,
with his hand on the helm, Somnus sent by Neptune approached in
the guise of Phorbas and said: "Palinurus, the breeze is fair, the
water smooth, and the ship sails steadily on her course. Lie down
awhile and take needful rest. I will stand at the helm in your
place." Palinurus replied, "Tell me not of smooth seas or favoring
winds,--me who have seen so much of their treachery. Shall I
trust Aeneas to the chances of the weather and the winds?" And he
continued to grasp the helm and to keep his eyes fixed on the
stars. But Somnus waved over him a branch moistened with Lethaean
dew, and his eyes closed in spite of all his efforts. Then Somnus
pushed him overboard and he fell; but keeping his hold upon the
helm, it came away with him. Neptune was mindful of his promise
and kept the ship on her track without helm or pilot, till Aeneas
discovered his loss, and, sorrowing deeply for his faithful
steersman, took charge of the ship himself.

There is a beautiful allusion to the story of Palinurus in Scott's
"Marmion," Introduction to Canto I., where the poet, speaking of
the recent death of William Pitt, says:

"O, think how, to his latest day,
When death just hovering claimed his prey,
With Palinure's unaltered mood,
Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
Each call for needful rest repelled,
With dying hand the rudder held,
Till in his fall, with fateful sway,
The steerage of the realm gave way."

The ships at last reached the shores of Italy, and joyfully did
the adventurers leap to land. While his people were employed in
making their encampment Aeneas sought the abode of the Sibyl. It
was a cave connected with a temple and grove, sacred to Apollo and
Diana. While Aeneas contemplated the scene, the Sibyl accosted
him. She seemed to know his errand, and under the influence of the
deity of the place, burst forth in a prophetic strain, giving dark
intimations of labors and perils through which he was destined to
make his way to final success. She closed with the encouraging
words which have become proverbial: "Yield not to disasters, but
press onward the more bravely." [Footnote: See Proverbial
Expressions.] Aeneas replied that he had prepared himself for
whatever might await him. He had but one request to make. Having
been directed in a dream to seek the abode of the dead in order to
confer with his father, Anchises, to receive from him a revelation
of his future fortunes and those of his race, he asked her
assistance to enable him to accomplish the task. The Sibyl
replied, "The descent to Avernus is easy: the gate of Pluto stands
open night and day; but to retrace one's steps and return to the
upper air, that is the toil, that the difficulty."[Footnote: See
Proverbial Expressions.] She instructed him to seek in the forest
a tree on which grew a golden branch. This branch was to be
plucked off and borne as a gift to Proserpine, and if fate was
propitious it would yield to the hand and quit its parent trunk,
but otherwise no force could rend it away. If torn away, another
would succeed.[Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.]

Aeneas followed the directions of the Sibyl. His mother, Venus,
sent two of her doves to fly before him and show him the way, and
by their assistance he found the tree, plucked the branch, and
hastened back with it to the Sibyl.




As at the commencement of our series we have given the pagan
account of the creation of the world, so as we approach its
conclusion we present a view of the regions of the dead, depicted
by one of their most enlightened poets, who drew his doctrines
from their most esteemed philosophers. The region where Virgil
locates the entrance to this abode is perhaps the most strikingly
adapted to excite ideas of the terrific and preternatural of any
on the face of the earth. It is the volcanic region near Vesuvius,
where the whole country is cleft with chasms, from which
sulphurous flames arise, while the ground is shaken with pent-up
vapors, and mysterious sounds issue from the bowels of the earth.
The lake Avernus is supposed to fill the crater of an extinct
volcano. It is circular, half a mile wide, and very deep,
surrounded by high banks, which in Virgil's time were covered with
a gloomy forest. Mephitic vapors rise from its waters, so that no
life is found on its banks, and no birds fly over it. Here,
according to the poet, was the cave which afforded access to the
infernal regions, and here Aeneas offered sacrifices to the
infernal deities, Proserpine, Hecate, and the Furies. Then a
roaring was heard in the earth, the woods on the hill-tops were
shaken, and the howling of dogs announced the approach of the
deities. "Now," said the Sibyl, "summon up your courage, for you
will need it." She descended into the cave, and Aeneas followed.
Before the threshold of hell they passed through a group of beings
who are enumerated as Griefs and avenging Cares, pale Diseases and
melancholy Age, Fear and Hunger that tempt to crime, Toil,
Poverty, and Death,--forms horrible to view. The Furies spread
their couches there, and Discord, whose hair was of vipers tied up
with a bloody fillet. Here also were the monsters, Briareus, with
his hundred arms, Hydras hissing, and Chimaeras breathing fire.
Aeneas shuddered at the sight, drew his sword and would have
struck, but the Sibyl restrained him. They then came to the black
river Cocytus, where they found the ferryman, Charon, old and
squalid, but strong and vigorous, who was receiving passengers of
all kinds into his boat, magnanimous heroes, boys and unmarried
girls, as numerous as the leaves that fall at autumn, or the
flocks that fly southward at the approach of winter. They stood
pressing for a passage and longing to touch the opposite shore.
But the stern ferryman took in only such as he chose, driving the
rest back. Aeneas, wondering at the sight, asked the Sibyl, "Why
this discrimination?" She answered, "Those who are taken on board
the bark are the souls of those who have received due burial
rites; the host of others who have remained unburied are not
permitted to pass the flood, but wander a hundred years, and flit
to and fro about the shore, till at last they are taken over."
Aeneas grieved at recollecting some of his own companions who had
perished in the storm. At that moment he beheld Palinurus, his
pilot, who fell overboard and was drowned. He addressed him and
asked him the cause of his misfortune. Palinurus replied that the
rudder was carried away, and he, clinging to it, was swept away
with it. He besought Aeneas most urgently to extend to him his
hand and take him in company to the opposite shore. But the Sibyl
rebuked him for the wish thus to transgress the laws of Pluto; but
consoled him by informing him that the people of the shore where
his body had been wafted by the waves should be stirred up by
prodigies to give it due burial, and that the promontory should
bear the name of Cape Palinurus, which it does to this day.
Leaving Palinurus consoled by these words, they approached the
boat. Charon, fixing his eyes sternly upon the advancing warrior,
demanded by what right he, living and armed, approached that
shore. To which the Sibyl replied that they would commit no
violence, that Aeneas's only object was to see his father, and
finally exhibited the golden branch, at sight of which Charon's
wrath relaxed, and he made haste to turn his bark to the shore,
and receive them on board. The boat, adapted only to the light
freight of bodiless spirits, groaned under the weight of the hero.
They were soon conveyed to the opposite shore. There they were
encountered by the three-headed dog, Cerberus, with his necks
bristling with snakes. He barked with all his three throats till
the Sibyl threw him a medicated cake which he eagerly devoured,
and then stretched himself out in his den and fell asleep. Aeneas
and the Sibyl sprang to land. The first sound that struck their
ears was the wailing of young children, who had died on the
threshold of life, and near to these were they who had perished
under false charges. Minos presides over them as judge, and
examines the deeds of each. The next class was of those who had
died by their own hand, hating life and seeking refuge in death. O
how willingly would they now endure poverty, labor, and any other
infliction, if they might but return to life! Next were situated
the regions of sadness, divided off into retired paths, leading
through groves of myrtle. Here roamed those who had fallen victims
to unrequited love, not freed from pain even by death itself.
Among these, Aeneas thought he descried the form of Dido, with a
wound still recent. In the dim light he was for a moment
uncertain, but approaching, perceived it was indeed herself. Tears
fell from his eyes, and he addressed her in the accents of love.
"Unhappy Dido! was then the rumor true that you had perished? and
was I, alas! the cause? I call the gods to witness that my
departure from you was reluctant, and in obedience to the commands
of Jove; nor could I believe that my absence would cost you so
dear. Stop, I beseech you, and refuse me not a last farewell." She
stood for a moment with averted countenance, and eyes fixed on the
ground, and then silently passed on, as insensible to his
pleadings as a rock. Aeneas followed for some distance; then, with
a heavy heart, rejoined his companion and resumed his route.

They next entered the fields where roam the heroes who have fallen
in battle. Here they saw many shades of Grecian and Trojan
warriors. The Trojans thronged around him, and could not be
satisfied with the sight. They asked the cause of his coming, and
plied him with innumerable questions. But the Greeks, at the sight
of his armor glittering through the murky atmosphere, recognized
the hero, and filled with terror turned their backs and fled, as
they used to do on the plains of Troy.

Aeneas would have lingered long with his Trojan friends, but the
Sibyl hurried him away. They next came to a place where the road
divided, the one leading to Elysium, the other to the regions of
the condemned. Aeneas beheld on one side the walls of a mighty
city, around which Phlegethon rolled its fiery waters. Before him
was the gate of adamant that neither gods nor men can break
through. An iron tower stood by the gate, on which Tisiphone, the
avenging Fury, kept guard. From the city were heard groans, and
the sound of the scourge, the creaking of iron, and the clanking
of chains. Aeneas, horror-struck, inquired of his guide what
crimes were those whose punishments produced the sounds he heard?
The Sibyl answered, "Here is the judgment hall of Rhadamanthus,
who brings to light crimes done in life, which the perpetrator
vainly thought impenetrably hid. Tisiphone applies her whip of
scorpions, and delivers the offender over to her sister Furies."
At this moment with horrid clang the brazen gates unfolded, and
Aeneas saw within a Hydra with fifty heads guarding the entrance.
The Sibyl told him that the gulf of Tartarus descended deep, so
that its recesses were as far beneath their feet as heaven was
high above their heads. In the bottom of this pit, the Titan race,
who warred against the gods, lie prostrate; Salmoneus, also, who
presumed to vie with Jupiter, and built a bridge of brass over
which he drove his chariot that the sound might resemble thunder,
launching flaming brands at his people in imitation of lightning,
till Jupiter struck him with a real thunderbolt, and taught him
the difference between mortal weapons and divine. Here, also, is
Tityus, the giant, whose form is so immense that as he lies he
stretches over nine acres, while a vulture preys upon his liver,
which as fast as it is devoured grows again, so that his
punishment will have no end.

Aeneas saw groups seated at tables loaded with dainties, while
near by stood a Fury who snatched away the viands from their lips
as fast as they prepared to taste them. Others beheld suspended
over their heads huge rocks, threatening to fall, keeping them in
a state of constant alarm. These were they who had hated their
brothers, or struck their parents, or defrauded the friends who
trusted them, or who, having grown rich, kept their money to
themselves, and gave no share to others; the last being the most
numerous class. Here also were those who had violated the marriage
vow, or fought in a bad cause, or failed in fidelity to their
employers. Here was one who had sold his country for gold, another
who perverted the laws, making them say one thing to-day and
another to-morrow.

Ixion was there, fastened to the circumference of a wheel
ceaselessly revolving; and Sisyphus, whose task was to roll a huge
stone up to a hill-top, but when the steep was well-nigh gained,
the rock, repulsed by some sudden force, rushed again headlong
down to the plain. Again he toiled at it, while the sweat bathed
all his weary limbs, but all to no effect. There was Tantalus, who
stood in a pool, his chin level with the water, yet he was parched
with thirst, and found nothing to assuage it; for when he bowed
his hoary head, eager to quaff, the water fled away, leaving the
ground at his feet all dry. Tall trees laden with fruit stooped
their heads to him, pears, pomegranates, apples, and luscious
figs; but when with a sudden grasp he tried to seize them winds
whirled them high above his reach.

The Sibyl now warned Aeneas that it was time to turn from these
melancholy regions and seek the city of the blessed. They passed
through a middle tract of darkness, and came upon the Elysian
fields, the groves where the happy reside. They breathed a freer
air, and saw all objects clothed in a purple light. The region has
a sun and stars of its own. The inhabitants were enjoying
themselves in various ways, some in sports on the grassy turf, in
games of strength or skill. others dancing or singing. Orpheus
struck the chords of his lyre, and called forth ravishing sounds.
Here Aeneas saw the founders of the Trojan state, magnanimous
heroes who lived in happier times. He gazed with admiration on the
war chariots and glittering arms now reposing in disuse. Spears
stood fixed in the ground, and the horses, unharnessed, roamed
over the plain. The same pride in splendid armor and generous
steeds which the old heroes felt in life, accompanied them here.
He saw another group feasting and listening to the strains of
music. They were in a laurel grove, whence the great river Po has
its origin, and flows out among men. Here dwelt those who fell by
wounds received in their country's cause, holy priests also, and
poets who have uttered thoughts worthy of Apollo, and others who
have contributed to cheer and adorn life by their discoveries in
the useful arts, and have made their memory blessed by rendering
service to mankind. They wore snow-white fillets about their
brows. The Sibyl addressed a group of these, and inquired where
Anchises was to be found. They were directed where to seek him,
and soon found him in a verdant valley, where he was contemplating
the ranks of his posterity, their destinies and worthy deeds to be
achieved in coming times. When he recognized Aeneas approaching,
he stretched out both hands to him, while tears flowed freely.
"Have you come at last," said he, "long expected, and do I behold
you after such perils past? O my son, how have I trembled for you
as I have watched your career!" To which Aeneas replied, "O
father! your image was always before me to guide and guard me."
Then he endeavored to enfold his father in his embrace, but his
arms enclosed only an unsubstantial image.

Aeneas perceived before him a spacious valley, with trees gently
waving to the wind, a tranquil landscape, through which the river
Lethe flowed. Along the banks of the stream wandered a countless
multitude, numerous as insects in the summer air. Aeneas, with
surprise, inquired who were these. Anchises answered, "They are
souls to which bodies are to be given in due time. Meanwhile they
dwell on Lethe's bank, and drink oblivion of their former lives."
"O father!" said Aeneas, "is it possible that any can be so in
love with life as to wish to leave these tranquil seats for the
upper world?" Anchises replied by explaining the plan of creation.
The Creator, he told him, originally made the material of which
souls are composed of the four elements, fire, air, earth, and
water, all which when united took the form of the most excellent
part, fire, and became FLAME. This material was scattered like
seed among the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. Of this
seed the inferior gods created man and all other animals, mingling
it with various proportions of earth, by which its purity was
alloyed and reduced. Thus, the more earth predominates in the
composition the less pure is the individual; and we see men and
women with their full-grown bodies have not the purity of
childhood. So in proportion to the time which the union of body
and soul has lasted is the impurity contracted by the spiritual
part. This impurity must be purged away after death, which is done
by ventilating the souls in the current of winds, or merging them
in water, or burning out their impurities by fire. Some few, of
whom Anchises intimates that he is one, are admitted at once to
Elysium, there to remain. But the rest, after the impurities of
earth are purged away, are sent back to life endowed with new
bodies, having had the remembrance of their former lives
effectually washed away by the waters of Lethe. Some, however,
there still are, so thoroughly corrupted, that they are not fit to
be intrusted with human bodies, and these are made into brute
animals, lions, tigers, cats, dogs, monkeys, etc. This is what the
ancients called Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls; a
doctrine which is still held by the natives of India, who scruple
to destroy the life even of the most insignificant animal, not
knowing but it may be one of their relations in an altered form.

Anchises, having explained so much, proceeded to point out to
Aeneas individuals of his race, who were hereafter to be born, and
to relate to him the exploits they should perform in the world.
After this he reverted to the present, and told his son of the
events that remained to him to be accomplished before the complete
establishment of himself and his followers in Italy. Wars were to
be waged, battles fought, a bride to be won, and in the result a
Trojan state founded, from which should rise the Roman power, to
be in time the sovereign of the world.

Aeneas and the Sibyl then took leave of Anchises, and returned by
some short cut, which the poet does not explain, to the upper


Virgil, we have seen, places his Elysium under the earth, and
assigns it for a residence to the spirits of the blessed. But in
Homer Elysium forms no part of the realms of the dead. He places
it on the west of the earth, near Ocean, and describes it as a
happy land, where there is neither snow, nor cold, nor rain, and
always fanned by the delightful breezes of Zephyrus. Hither
favored heroes pass without dying and live happy under the rule of
Rhadamanthus. The Elysium of Hesiod and Pindar is in the Isles of
the Blessed, or Fortunate Islands, in the Western Ocean. From
these sprang the legend of the happy island Atlantis. This
blissful region may have been wholly imaginary, but possibly may
have sprung from the reports of some storm-driven mariners who had
caught a glimpse of the coast of America.

J. R. Lowell, in one of his shorter poems, claims for the present
age some of the privileges of that happy realm. Addressing the
Past, he says:

"Whatever of true life there was in thee,
Leaps in our age's veins.

Here, 'mid the bleak waves of our strife and care,
Float the green 'Fortunate Isles,'
Where all thy hero-spirits dwell and share
Our martyrdoms and toils.
The present moves attended
With all of brave and excellent and fair
That made the old time splendid."

Milton also alludes to the same fable in "Paradise Lost," Book
III, 1. 568:

"Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
Fortunate fields and groves and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles."

And in Book II. he characterizes the rivers of Erebus according to
the meaning of their names in the Greek language:

"Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate,
Sad Acheron of sorrow black and deep;
Cocytus named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain."


As Aeneas and the Sibyl pursued their way back to earth, he said
to her, "Whether thou be a goddess or a mortal beloved of the
gods, by me thou shalt always be held in reverence. When I reach
the upper air I will cause a temple to be built to thy honor, and
will myself bring offerings." "I am no goddess," said the Sibyl;
"I have no claim to sacrifice or offering. I am mortal; yet if I
could have accepted the love of Apollo I might have been immortal.
He promised me the fulfilment of my wish, if I would consent to be
his. I took a handful of sand, and holding it forth, said, 'Grant
me to see as many birthdays as there are sand grains in my hand.'
Unluckily I forgot to ask for enduring youth. This also he would
have granted, could I have accepted his love, but offended at my
refusal, he allowed me to grow old. My youth and youthful strength
fled long ago. I have lived seven hundred years, and to equal the
number of the sand grains I have still to see three hundred
springs and three hundred harvests. My body shrinks up as years
increase, and in time, I shall be lost to sight, but my voice will
remain, and future ages will respect my sayings."

These concluding words of the Sibyl alluded to her prophetic
power. In her cave she was accustomed to inscribe on leaves
gathered from the trees the names and fates of individuals. The
leaves thus inscribed were arranged in order within the cave, and
might be consulted by her votaries. But if perchance at the
opening of the door the wind rushed in and dispersed the leaves
the Sibyl gave no aid to restoring them again, and the oracle was
irreparably lost.

The following legend of the Sibyl is fixed at a later date. In the
reign of one of the Tarquins there appeared before the king a
woman who offered him nine books for sale. The king refused to
purchase them, whereupon the woman went away and burned three of
the books, and returning offered the remaining books for the same
price she had asked for the nine. The king again rejected them;
but when the woman, after burning three books more, returned and
asked for the three remaining the same price which she had before
asked for the nine, his curiosity was excited, and he purchased
the books. They were found to contain the destinies of the Roman
state. They were kept in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus,
preserved in a stone chest, and allowed to be inspected only by
especial officers appointed for that duty, who, on great
occasions, consulted them and interpreted their oracles to the

There were various Sibyls; but the Cumaean Sibyl, of whom Ovid and
Virgil write, is the most celebrated of them. Ovid's story of her
life protracted to one thousand years may be intended to represent
the various Sibyls as being only reappearances of one and the same

Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to the Sibyl. Speaking of
Worldly Wisdom, he says:

"If future fate she plans 'tis all in leaves,
Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss;
At the first blast it vanishes in air.

As worldly schemes resemble Sibyl's leaves,
The good man's days to Sibyl's books compare,
The price still rising as in number less."



Aeneas, having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined his fleet,
coasted along the shores of Italy and cast anchor in the mouth of
the Tiber. The poet, having brought his hero to this spot, the
destined termination of his wanderings, invokes his Muse to tell
him the situation of things at that eventful moment. Latinus,
third in descent from Saturn, ruled the country. He was now old
and had no male descendant, but had one charming daughter,
Lavinia, who was sought in marriage by many neighboring chiefs,
one of whom, Turnus, king of the Rutulians, was favored by the
wishes of her parents. But Latinus had been warned in a dream by
his father Faunus, that the destined husband of Lavinia should
come from a foreign land. From that union should spring a race
destined to subdue the world.

Our readers will remember that in the conflict with the Harpies
one of those half-human birds had threatened the Trojans with dire
sufferings. In particular she predicted that before their
wanderings ceased they should be pressed by hunger to devour their
tables. This portent now came true; for as they took their scanty
meal, seated on the grass, the men placed their hard biscuit on
their laps, and put thereon whatever their gleanings in the woods
supplied. Having despatched the latter they finished by eating the
crusts. Seeing which, the boy Iulus said playfully, "See, we are
eating our tables." Aeneas caught the words and accepted the omen.
"All hail, promised land!" he exclaimed, "this is our home, this
our country." He then took measures to find out who were the
present inhabitants of the land, and who their rulers. A hundred
chosen men were sent to the village of Latinus, bearing presents
and a request for friendship and alliance. They went and were
favorably received. Latinus immediately concluded that the Trojan
hero was no other than the promised son-in-law announced by the
oracle. He cheerfully granted his alliance and sent back the
messengers mounted on steeds from his stables, and loaded with
gifts and friendly messages.

Juno, seeing things go thus prosperously for the Trojans, felt her
old animosity revive, summoned Alecto from Erebus, and sent her to
stir up discord. The Fury first took possession of the queen,
Amata, and roused her to oppose in every way the new alliance.
Alecto then speeded to the city of Turnus, and assuming the form
of an old priestess, informed him of the arrival of the foreigners
and of the attempts of their prince to rob him of his bride. Next
she turned her attention to the camp of the Trojans. There she saw
the boy Iulus and his companions amusing themselves with hunting.
She sharpened the scent of the dogs, and led them to rouse up from
the thicket a tame stag, the favorite of Silvia, the daughter of
Tyrrheus, the king's herdsman. A javelin from the hand of Iulus
wounded the animal, and he had only strength left to run
homewards, and died at his mistress's feet. Her cries and tears
roused her brothers and the herdsmen, and they, seizing whatever
weapons came to hand, furiously assaulted the hunting party. These
were protected by their friends, and the herdsmen were finally
driven back with the loss of two of their number.

These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, and the queen,
Turnus, and the peasants all urged the old king to drive the
strangers from the country. He resisted as long as he could, but,
finding his opposition unavailing, finally gave way and retreated
to his retirement.


It was the custom of the country, when war was to be undertaken,
for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes of office, with solemn
pomp to open the gates of the temple of Janus, which were kept
shut as long as peace endured. His people now urged the old king
to perform that solemn office, but he refused to do so. While they
contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies, smote the
doors with irresistible force, and burst them open. Immediately
the whole country was in a flame. The people rushed from every
side breathing nothing but war.

Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined as allies,
chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able soldier, but of
detestable cruelty. He had been the chief of one of the
neighboring cities, but his people drove him out. With him was
joined his son Lausus, a generous youth, worthy of a better sire.


Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, after the
fashion of the Amazons, came with her band of mounted followers,
including a select number of her own sex, and ranged herself on
the side of Turnus. This maiden had never accustomed her fingers
to the distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils of
war, and in speed to outstrip the wind. It seemed as if she might
run over the standing corn without crushing it, or over the
surface of the water without dipping her feet. Camilla's history
had been singular from the beginning. Her father, Metabus, driven
from his city by civil discord, carried with him in his flight his
infant daughter. As he fled through the woods, his enemies in hot
pursuit, he reached the bank of the river Amazenus, which, swelled
by rains, seemed to debar a passage. He paused for a moment, then
decided what to do. He tied the infant to his lance with wrappers
of bark, and poising the weapon in his upraised hand thus
addressed Diana: "Goddess of the woods! I consecrate this maid to
you;" then hurled the weapon with its burden to the opposite bank.
The spear flew across the roaring water. His pursuers were already
upon him, but he plunged into the river and swam across, and found
the spear, with the infant safe on the other side. Thenceforth he
lived among the shepherds and brought up his daughter in woodland
arts. While a child she was taught to use the bow and throw the
javelin. With her sling she could bring down the crane or the wild
swan. Her dress was a tiger's skin. Many mothers sought her for a
daughter-in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana and repelled
the thought of marriage.


Such were the formidable allies that ranged themselves against
Aeneas. It was night and he lay stretched in sleep on the bank of
the river under the open heavens. The god of the stream, Father
Tiber, seemed to raise his head above the willows and to say, "O
goddess-born, destined possessor of the Latin realms, this is the
promised land, here is to be your home, here shall terminate the
hostility of the heavenly powers, if only you faithfully
persevere. There are friends not far distant. Prepare your boats
and row up my stream; I will lead you to Evander, the Arcadian
chief, he has long been at strife with Turnus and the Rutulians,
and is prepared to become an ally of yours. Rise! offer your vows
to Juno, and deprecate her anger. When you have achieved your
victory then think of me." Aeneas woke and paid immediate
obedience to the friendly vision. He sacrificed to Juno, and
invoked the god of the river and all his tributary fountains to
lend their aid. Then for the first time a vessel filled with armed
warriors floated on the stream of the Tiber. The river smoothed
its waves, and bade its current flow gently, while, impelled by
the vigorous strokes of the rowers, the vessels shot rapidly up
the stream.

About the middle of the day they came in sight of the scattered
buildings of the infant town, where in after times the proud city
of Rome grew, whose glory reached the skies. By chance the old
king, Evander, was that day celebrating annual solemnities in
honor of Hercules and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the
chiefs of the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the tall
ship gliding onward near the wood, they were alarmed at the sight,
and rose from the tables. But Pallas forbade the solemnities to be
interrupted, and seizing a weapon, stepped forward to the river's
bank. He called aloud, demanding who they were, and what their
object. Aeneas, holding forth an olive-branch, replied, "We are
Trojans, friends to you, and enemies to the Rutulians. We seek
Evander, and offer to join our arms with yours." Pallas, in amaze
at the sound of so great a name, invited them to land, and when
Aeneas touched the shore he seized his hand, and held it long in
friendly grasp. Proceeding through the wood, they joined the king
and his party and were most favorably received. Seats were
provided for them at the tables, and the repast proceeded.


When the solemnities were ended all moved towards the city. The
king, bending with age, walked between his son and Aeneas, taking
the arm of one or the other of them, and with much variety of
pleasing talk shortening the way. Aeneas with delight looked and
listened, observing all the beauties of the scene, and learning
much of heroes renowned in ancient times. Evander said, "These
extensive groves were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs, and a
rude race of men who sprang from the trees themselves, and had
neither laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke the
cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present abundance for
future want; but browsed like beasts upon the leafy boughs, or fed
voraciously on their hunted prey. Such were they when Saturn,
expelled from Olympus by his sons, came among them and drew
together the fierce savages, formed them into society, and gave
them laws. Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever since have
called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far other times
succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of blood
prevailed. The land was a prey to successive tyrants, till fortune
and resistless destiny brought me hither, an exile from my native
land, Arcadia."

Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, and the rude
spot then overgrown with bushes where in after times the Capitol
rose in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled
walls, and said, "Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there
Saturnia, the town of Saturn." Such discourse brought them to the
cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds roaming
over the plain where now the proud and stately Forum stands. They
entered, and a couch was spread for Aeneas, well stuffed with
leaves, and covered with the skin of a Libyan bear.

Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill song of birds
beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old Evander rose. Clad in a
tunic, and a panther's skin thrown over his shoulders, with
sandals on his feet and his good sword girded to his side, he went
forth to seek his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his whole
retinue and body guard. He found the hero attended by his faithful
Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old king spoke thus:

"Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so great a
cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one side by the river, on
the other by the Rutulians. But I propose to ally you with a
people numerous and rich, to whom fate has brought you at the
propitious moment. The Etruscans hold the country beyond the
river. Mezentius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who
invented unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He would
fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and face to face, and
leave the wretched victims to die in that dreadful embrace. At
length the people cast him out, him and his house. They burned his
palace and slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with
Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans demand that he
shall be given up to deserved punishment, and would ere now have
attempted to enforce their demand; but their priests restrain
them, telling them that it is the will of heaven that no native of
the land shall guide them to victory, and that thsir destined
leader must come from across the sea. They have offered the crown
to me, but I am too old to undertake such great affairs, and my
son is native-born, which precludes him from the choice. You,
equally by birth and time of life, and fame in arms, pointed out
by the gods, have but to appear to be hailed at once as their
leader. With you I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope and
comfort. Under you he shall learn the art of war, and strive to
emulate your great exploits."

Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan
chiefs, and Aeneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas
accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city,
[Footnote: The poet here inserts a famous line which is thought to
imitate in its sound the galloping of horses. It may be thus
translated--"Then struck the hoofs of the steeds on the ground
with a four-footed trampling."--See Proverbial Expressions.]
having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. Aeneas and
his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp and were received
with open arms by Tarchon and his countrymen.


In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands and made all
necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a
message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of Aeneas
and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly the attempt was made,
but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received
strict orders from Aeneas not to fight in his absence, they lay
still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the
Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night coming on, the army
of Turnus, in high spirits at their fancied superiority, feasted
and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves on the
field and slept secure.

In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all
was watchfulness and anxiety and impatience for Aeneas's return.
Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a
youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person and
fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and brothers
in arms. Nisus said to his friend, "Do you perceive what
confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights are
few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or sleep.
You know how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to Aeneas, and to
get intelligence from him. Now, I am strongly moved to make my way
through the enemy's camp and to go in search of our chief. If I
succeed, the glory of the deed will be reward enough for me, and
if they judge the service deserves anything more, let them pay it
to you."

Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, "Would
you, then, Nisus, refuse to share your enterprise with me? And
shall I let you go into such danger alone? Not so my brave father
brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I joined the
standard of Aeneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap in
comparison with honor." Nisus replied, "I doubt it not, my friend;
but you know the uncertain event of such an undertaking, and
whatever may happen to me, I wish you to be safe. You are younger
than I and have more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause
of such grief to your mother, who has chosen to be here in the
camp with you rather than stay and live in peace with the other
matrons in Acestes' city." Euryalus replied, "Say no more. In vain
you seek arguments to dissuade me. I am fixed in the resolution to
go with you. Let us lose no time." They called the guard, and
committing the watch to them, sought the general's tent. They
found the chief officers in consultation, deliberating how they
should send notice to Aeneas of their situation. The offer of the
two friends was gladly accepted, themselves loaded with praises
and promised the most liberal rewards in case of success. Iulus
especially addressed Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting
friendship. Euryalus replied, "I have but one boon to ask. My aged
mother is with me in the camp. For me she left the Trojan soil,
and would not stay behind with the other matrons at the city of
Acestes. I go now without taking leave of her. I could not bear
her tears nor set at nought her entreaties. But do thou, I beseech
you, comfort her in her distress. Promise me that and I shall go
more boldly into whatever dangers may present themselves." Iulus
and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and promised to do all
his request. "Your mother shall be mine," said Iulus, "and all
that I have promised to you shall be made good to her, if you do
not return to receive it."

The two friends left the camp and plunged at once into the midst
of the enemy. They found no watch, no sentinels posted, but, all
about, the sleeping soldiers strewn on the grass and among the
wagons. The laws of war at that early day did not forbid a brave
man to slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they
passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting alarm. In
one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet brilliant with gold and
plumes. They had passed through the enemy's ranks without being
discovered, but now suddenly appeared a troop directly in front of
them, which, under Volscens, their leader, were approaching the
camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught their attention,
and Volscens hailed the two, and demanded who and whence they
were. They made no answer, but plunged into the wood. The horsemen
scattered in all directions to intercept their flight. Nisus had
eluded pursuit and was out of danger, but Euryalus being missing
he turned back to seek him. He again entered the wood and soon
came within sound of voices. Looking through the thicket he saw
the whole band surrounding Euryalus with noisy questions. What
should he do? how extricate the youth, or would it be better to
die with him.

Raising his eyes to the moon, which now shone clear, he said,
"Goddess! favor my effort!" and aiming his javelin at one of the
leaders of the troop, struck him in the back and stretched him on
the plain with a death-blow. In the midst of their amazement
another weapon flew and another of the party fell dead. Volscens,
the leader, ignorant whence the darts came, rushed sword in hand
upon Euryalus. "You shall pay the penalty of both," he said, and
would have plunged the sword into his bosom, when Nisus, who from
his concealment saw the peril of his friend, rushed forward
exclaiming, "'Twas I, 'twas I; turn your swords against me,
Rutulians, I did it; he only followed me as a friend." While he
spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely bosom of Euryalus.
His head fell over on his shoulder, like a flower cut down by the
plough. Nisus rushed upon Volscens and plunged his sword into his
body, and was himself slain on the instant by numberless blows.


Aeneas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene of action
in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and now the two armies
being nearly equal in strength, the war began in good earnest. We
cannot find space for all the details, but must simply record the
fate of the principal characters whom we have introduced to our
readers. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged against his
revolting subjects, raged like a wild beast. He slew all who dared
to withstand him, and put the multitude to flight wherever he
appeared. At last he encountered Aeneas, and the armies stood
still to see the issue. Mezentius threw his spear, which striking
Aeneas's shield glanced off and hit Anthor. He was a Grecian by
birth, who had left Argos, his native city, and followed Evander
into Italy. The poet says of him with simple pathos which has made
the words proverbial, "He fell, unhappy, by a wound intended for
another, looked up at the skies, and dying remembered sweet
Argos." [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] Aeneas now in turn
hurled his lance. It pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded
him in the thigh. Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but
rushed forward and interposed himself, while the followers pressed
round Mezentius and bore him away. Aeneas held his sword suspended
over Lausus and delayed to strike, but the furious youth pressed
on and he was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and
Aeneas bent over him in pity. "Hapless youth," he said, "what can
I do for you worthy of your praise? Keep those arms in which you
glory, and fear not but that your body shall be restored to your
friends, and have due funeral honors." So saying, he called the
timid followers and delivered the body into their hands.

Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the riverside, and washed
his wound. Soon the news reached him of Lausus's death, and rage
and despair supplied the place of strength. He mounted his horse
and dashed into the thickest of the fight, seeking Aeneas. Having
found him, [Footnote: See Proverbial Expressions.] he rode round
him in a circle, throwing one javelin after another, while Aeneas
stood fenced with his shield, turning every way to meet them. At
last, after Mezentius had three times made the circuit, Aeneas
threw his lance directly at the horse's head. It pierced his
temples and he fell, while a shout from both armies rent the
skies. Mezentius asked no mercy, but only that his body might be
spared the insults of his revolted subjects, and be buried in the
same grave with his son. He received the fatal stroke not
unprepared, and poured out his life and his blood together.


While these things were doing in one part of the field, in another
Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The contest between
champions so unequally matched could not be doubtful. Pallas bore
himself bravely, but fell by the lance of Turnus. The victor
almost relented when he saw the brave youth lying dead at his
feet, and spared to use the privilege of a conqueror in despoiling
him of his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs and carvings of
gold, he took and clasped round his own body. The rest he remitted
to the friends of the slain.

After the battle there was a cessation of arms for some days to
allow both armies to bury their dead. In this interval Aeneas
challenged Turnus to decide the contest by single combat, but
Turnus evaded the challenge. Another battle ensued, in which
Camilla, the virgin warrior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her deeds of
valor surpassed those of the bravest warriors, and many Trojans
and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down by her
battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, who had watched her
long, seeking for some advantage, observed her pursuing a flying
enemy whose splendid armor offered a tempting prize. Intent on the
chase she observed not her danger, and the javelin of Aruns struck
her and inflicted a fatal wound. She fell and breathed her last in
the arms of her attendant maidens. But Diana, who beheld her fate,
suffered not her slaughter to be unavenged. Aruns, as he stole
away, glad, but frightened, was struck by a secret arrow, launched
by one of the nymphs of Diana's train, and died ignobly and

At length the final conflict took place between Aeneas and Turnus.
Turnus had avoided the contest as long as he could, but at last,
impelled by the ill success of his arms and by the murmurs of his
followers, he braced himself to the conflict. It could not be
doubtful. On the side of Aeneas were the expressed decree of
destiny, the aid of his goddess-mother at every emergency, and
impenetrable armor fabricated by Vulcan, at her request, for her
son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted by his celestial
allies, Juno having been expressly forbidden by Jupiter to assist
him any longer. Turnus threw his lance, but it recoiled harmless
from the shield of Aeneas. The Trojan hero then threw his, which
penetrated the shield of Turnus, and pierced his thigh. Then
Turnus's fortitude forsook him and he begged for mercy; and Aeneas
would have given him his life, but at the instant his eye fell on
the belt of Pallas, which Turnus had taken from the slaughtered
youth. Instantly his rage revived, and exclaiming, "Pallas
immolates thee with this blow," he thrust him through with his

Here the poem of the "Aeneid" closes, and we are left to infer
that Aeneas, having triumphed over his foes, obtained Lavinia for
his bride. Tradition adds that he founded his city, and called it
after her name, Lavinium. His son Iulus founded Alba Longa, which
was the birthplace of Romulus and Remus and the cradle of Rome

There is an allusion to Camilla in those well-known lines of Pope,
in which, illustrating the rule that "the sound should be an echo
to the sense," he says:

"When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors and the words move slow.
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn or skims along the main."

--Essay on Criticism.




The teachings of Anchises to Aeneas, respecting the nature of the
human soul, were in conformity with the doctrines of the
Pythagoreans. Pythagoras (born five hundred and forty years B.C.)
was a native of the island of Samos, but passed the chief portion
of his life at Crotona in Italy. He is therefore sometimes called
"the Samian," and sometimes "the philosopher of Crotona." When
young he travelled extensively, and it is said visited Egypt,
where he was instructed by the priests in all their learning, and
afterwards journeyed to the East, and visited the Persian and
Chaldean Magi, and the Brahmins of India.

At Crotona, where he finally established himself, his
extraordinary qualities collected round him a great number of
disciples. The inhabitants were notorious for luxury and
licentiousness, but the good effects of his influence were soon
visible. Sobriety and temperance succeeded. Six hundred of the
inhabitants became his disciples and enrolled themselves in a
society to aid each other in the pursuit of wisdom, uniting their
property in one common stock for the benefit of the whole. They
were required to practise the greatest purity and simplicity of
manners. The first lesson they learned was SILENCE; for a time
they were required to be only hearers. "He [Pythagoras] said so"
(Ipse dixit), was to be held by them as sufficient, without any
proof. It was only the advanced pupils, after years of patient
submission, who were allowed to ask questions and to state

Pythagoras considered NUMBERS as the essence and principle of all
things, and attributed to them a real and distinct existence; so
that, in his view, they were the elements out of which the
universe was constructed. How he conceived this process has never
been satisfactorily explained. He traced the various forms and
phenomena of the world to numbers as their basis and essence. The
"Monad" or unit he regarded as the source of all numbers. The
number Two was imperfect, and the cause of increase and division.
Three was called the number of the whole because it had a
beginning, middle, and end. Four, representing the square, is in
the highest degree perfect; and Ten, as it contains the sum of the
four prime numbers, comprehends all musical and arithmetical
proportions, and denotes the system of the world.

As the numbers proceed from the monad, so he regarded the pure and
simple essence of the Deity as the source of all the forms of
nature. Gods, demons, and heroes are emanations of the Supreme,
and there is a fourth emanation, the human soul. This is immortal,
and when freed from the fetters of the body passes to the
habitation of the dead, where it remains till it returns to the
world, to dwell in some other human or animal body, and at last,
when sufficiently purified, it returns to the source from which it
proceeded. This doctrine of the transmigration of souls
(metempsychosis), which was originally Egyptian and connected with
the doctrine of reward and punishment of human actions, was the
chief cause why the Pythagoreans killed no animals. Ovid
represents Pythagoras addressing his disciples in these words:
"Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to
another. I myself can remember that in the time of the Trojan war
I was Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, and fell by the spear of
Menelaus. Lately being in the temple of Juno, at Argos, I
recognized my shield hung up there among the trophies. All things
change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither,
occupying now this body, now that, passing from the body of a
beast into that of a man, and thence to a beast's again. As wax is
stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with
others, yet is always the same wax, so the soul, being always the
same, yet wears, at different times, different forms. Therefore,
if the love of kindred is not extinct in your bosoms, forbear, I
entreat you, to violate the life of those who may haply be your
own relatives."

Shakspeare, in the "Merchant of Venice," makes Gratiano allude to
the metempsychosis, where he says to Shylock:

"Thou almost mak'st me waver in my faith,
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men; thy currish spirit
Governed a wolf; who hanged for human slaughter
Infused his soul in thee; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starved and ravenous."

The relation of the notes of the musical scale to numbers, whereby
harmony results from vibrations in equal times, and discord from
the reverse, led Pythagoras to apply the word "harmony" to the
visible creation, meaning by it the just adaptation of parts to
each other. This is the idea which Dryden expresses in the
beginning of his "Song for St. Cecilia's Day":

"From harmony, from heavenly harmony
This everlasting frame began;
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The Diapason closing full in Man."

In the centre of the universe (he taught) there was a central
fire, the principle of life. The central fire was surrounded by
the earth, the moon, the sun, and the five planets. The distances
of the various heavenly bodies from one another were conceived to
correspond to the proportions of the musical scale. The heavenly
bodies, with the gods who inhabited them, were supposed to perform
a choral dance round the central fire, "not without song." It is
this doctrine which Shakspeare alludes to when he makes Lorenzo
teach astronomy to Jessica in this fashion:

"Look, Jessica, see how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold!
There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim;
Such harmony is in immortal souls!
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in we cannot hear it."

--Merchant of Venice.

The spheres were conceived to be crystalline or glassy fabrics
arranged over one another like a nest of bowls reversed. In the
substance of each sphere one or more of the heavenly bodies was
supposed to be fixed, so as to move with it. As the spheres are
transparent we look through them and see the heavenly bodies which
they contain and carry round with them. But as these spheres
cannot move on one another without friction, a sound is thereby
produced which is of exquisite harmony, too fine for mortal ears
to recognize. Milton, in his "Hymn on the Nativity," thus alludes
to the music of the spheres:

"Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our human ears
(If ye have power to charm our senses so);
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full concert with the angelic symphony."

Pythagoras is said to have invented the lyre. Our own poet
Longfellow, in "Verses to a Child," thus relates the story:

"As great Pythagoras of yore,
Standing beside the blacksmith's door,
And hearing the hammers as they smote
The anvils with a different note,
Stole from the varying tones that hung
Vibrant on every iron tongue,
The secret of the sounding wire,
And formed the seven-chorded lyre."

See also the same poet's "Occupation of Orion"--

"The Samian's great Aeolian lyre."


Sybaris, a neighboring city to Crotona, was as celebrated for
luxury and effeminacy as Crotona for the reverse. The name has
become proverbial. J. R. Lowell uses it in this sense in his
charming little poem "To the Dandelion":

"Not in mid June the golden cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like, warm ravishment
In the white lily's breezy tent
(His conquered Sybaris) than I when first
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst."

A war arose between the two cities, and Sybaris was conquered and
destroyed. Milo, the celebrated athlete, led the army of Crotona.
Many stories are told of Milo's vast strength, such as his
carrying a heifer of four years old upon his shoulders and
afterwards eating the whole of it in a single day. The mode of his
death is thus related: As he was passing through a forest he saw
the trunk of a tree which had been partially split open by wood-
cutters, and attempted to rend it further; but the wood closed
upon his hands and held him fast, in which state he was attacked
and devoured by wolves.

Byron, in his "Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte," alludes to the story of

"He who of old would rend the oak
Deemed not of the rebound;
Chained by the trunk he vainly broke,
Alone, how looked he round!"


The Egyptians acknowledged as the highest deity Amun, afterwards
called Zeus, or Jupiter Ammon. Amun manifested himself in his word
or will, which created Kneph and Athor, of different sexes. From
Kneph and Athor proceeded Osiris and Isis. Osiris was worshipped
as the god of the sun, the source of warmth, life, and
fruitfulness, in addition to which he was also regarded as the god
of the Nile, who annually visited his wife, Isis (the Earth), by
means of an inundation. Serapis or Hermes is sometimes represented
as identical with Osiris, and sometimes as a distinct divinity,
the ruler of Tartarus and god of medicine. Anubis is the guardian
god, represented with a dog's head, emblematic of his character of
fidelity and watchfulness. Horus or Harpocrates was the son of
Osiris. He is represented seated on a Lotus flower, with his
finger on his lips, as the god of Silence.

In one of Moore's "Irish Melodies" is an allusion to Harpocrates:

"Thyself shall, under some rosy bower,
Sit mute, with thy finger on thy lip;
Like him, the boy, who born among
The flowers that on the Nile-stream blush,
Sits ever thus,--his only song
To Earth and Heaven, 'Hush all, hush!'"


Osiris and Isis were at one time induced to descend to the earth
to bestow gifts and blessings on its inhabitants. Isis showed them
first the use of wheat and barley, and Osiris made the instruments
of agriculture and taught men the use of them, as well as how to
harness the ox to the plough. He then gave men laws, the
institution of marriage, a civil organization, and taught them how
to worship the gods. After he had thus made the valley of the Nile
a happy country, he assembled a host with which he went to bestow
his blessings upon the rest of the world. He conquered the nations
everywhere, but not with weapons, only with music and eloquence.
His brother Typhon saw this, and filled with envy and malice
sought during his absence to usurp his throne. But Isis, who held
the reins of government, frustrated his plans. Still more
embittered, he now resolved to kill his brother. This he did in
the following manner: Having organized a conspiracy of seventy-two
members, he went with them to the feast which was celebrated in
honor of the king's return. He then caused a box or chest to be
brought in, which had been made to fit exactly the size of Osiris,
and declared that he wouldd would give that chest of precious wood
to whosoever could get into it. The rest tried in vain, but no
sooner was Osiris in it than Typhon and his companions closed the
lid and flung the chest into the Nile. When Isis heard of the
cruel murder she wept and mourned, and then with her hair shorn,
clothed in black and beating her breast, she sought diligently for
the body of her husband. In this search she was materially
assisted by Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys. They sought in
vain for some time; for when the chest, carried by the waves to
the shores of Byblos, had become entangled in the reeds that grew
at the edge of the water, the divine power that dwelt in the body
of Osiris imparted such strength to the shrub that it grew into a
mighty tree, enclosing in its trunk the coffin of the god. This
tree with its sacred deposit was shortly after felled, and erected
as a column in the palace of the king of Phoenicia. But at length
by the aid of Anubis and the sacred birds, Isis ascertained these
facts, and then went to the royal city. There she offered herself
at the palace as a servant, and being admitted, threw off her
disguise and appeared as a goddess, surrounded with thunder and
lightning. Striking the column with her wand she caused it to
split open and give up the sacred coffin. This she seized and
returned with it, and concealed it in the depth of a forest, but
Typhon discovered it, and cutting the body into fourteen pieces
scattered them hither and thither. After a tedious search, Isis
found thirteen pieces, the fishes of the Nile having eaten the
other. This she replaced by an imitation of sycamore wood, and
buried the body at Philae, which became ever after the great
burying place of the nation, and the spot to which pilgrimages
were made from all parts of the country. A temple of surpassing
magnificence was also erected there in honor of the god, and at
every place where one of his limbs had been found minor temples
and tombs were built to commemorate the event. Osiris became after
that the tutelar deity of the Egyptians. His soul was supposed
always to inhabit the body of the bull Apis, and at his death to
transfer itself to his successor.

Apis, the Bull of Memphis, was worshipped with the greatest
reverence by the Egyptians. The individual animal who was held to
be Apis was recognized by certain signs. It was requisite that he
should be quite black, have a white square mark on the forehead,
another, in the form of an eagle, on his back, and under his
tongue a lump somewhat in the shape of a scarabaeus or beetle. As
soon as a bull thus marked was found by those sent in search of
him, he was placed in a building facing the east, and was fed with
milk for four months. At the expiration of this term the priests
repaired at new moon, with great pomp, to his habitation and
saluted him Apis. He was placed in a vessel magnificently
decorated and conveyed down the Nile to Memphis, where a temple,
with two chapels and a court for exercise, was assigned to him.
Sacrifices were made to him, and once every year, about the time
when the Nile began to rise, a golden cup was thrown into the
river, and a grand festival was held to celebrate his birthday.
The people believed that during this festival the crocodiles
forgot their natural ferocity and became harmless. There was,
however, one drawback to his happy lot: he was not permitted to
live beyond a certain period, and if, when he had attained the age
of twenty-five years, he still survived, the priests drowned him
in the sacred cistern and then buried him in the temple of
Serapis. On the death of this bull, whether it occurred in the
course of nature or by violence, the whole land was filled with
sorrow and lamentations, which lasted until his successor was

We find the following item in one of the newspapers of the day:

"The Tomb of Apis.--The excavations going on at Memphis bid fair
to make that buried city as interesting as Pompeii. The monster
tomb of Apis is now open, after having lain unknown for

Milton, in his "Hymn on the Nativity," alludes to the Egyptian
deities, not as imaginary beings, but as real demons, put to
flight by the coming of Christ.

"The brutish god of Nile as fast,
Isis and Horus and the dog Anubis haste.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud;
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest;
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud.
In vain with timbrel'd anthems dark
The sable-stole sorcerers bear his worshipped ark."

[Footnote: There being no rain in Egypt, the grass is
"unshowered," and the country depend for its fertility upon the
overflowings of the Nile. The ark alluded to in the last line is
shown by pictures still remaining on the walls of the Egyptian
temples to have been borne by the priests in their religious
processions. It probably represented the chest in which Osiris was

Isis was represinted in statuary with the head veiled, a symbol of
mystery. It is this which Tennyson alludes to in "Maud," IV., 8:

"For the drift of the Maker is dark, an Isis hid by the veil,"

ORACLES Oracle was the name used to denote the place where answers
were supposed to be given by any of the divinities to those who
consulted them respecting the future. The word was also used to
signify the response which was given.

The most ancient Grecian oracle was that of Jupiter at Dodona.
According to one account, it was established in the following
manner: Two black doves took their flight from Thebes in Egypt.
One flew to Dodona in Epirus, and alighting in a grove of oaks, it
proclaimed in human language to the inhabitants of the district
that they must establish there an oracle of Jupiter. The other
dove flew to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan Oasis, and
delivered a similar command there. Another account is, that they
were not doves, but priestesses, who were carried off from Thebes
in Egypt by the Phoenicians, and set up oracles at the Oasis and
Dodona. The responses of the oracle were given from the trees, by
the branches rustling in the wind, the sounds being interpreted by
the priests.

But the most celebrated of the Grecian oracles was that of Apollo
at Delphi, a city built on the slopes of Parnassus in Phocis.

It had been observed at a very early period that the goats feeding
on Parnassus were thrown into convulsions when they approached a
certain long deep cleft in the side of the mountain. This was
owing to a peculiar vapor arising out of the cavern, and one of
the goatherds was induced to try its effects upon himself.
Inhaling the intoxicating air, he was affected in the same manner
as the cattle had been, and the inhabitants of the surrounding
country, unable to explain the circumstance, imputed the
convulsive ravings to which he gave utterance while under the
power of the exhalations to a divine inspiration. The fact was
speedily circulated widely, and a temple was erected on the spot.
The prophetic influence was at first variously attributed to the
goddess Earth, to Neptune, Themis, and others, but it was at
length assigned to Apollo, and to him alone. A priestess was
appointed whose office it was to inhale the hallowed air, and who
was named the Pythia. She was prepared for this duty by previous
ablution at the fountain of Castalia, and being crowned with
laurel was seated upon a tripod similarly adorned, which was
placed over the chasm whence the divine afflatus proceeded. Her
inspired words while thus situated were interpreted by the


Besides the oracles of Jupiter and Apollo, at Dodona and Delphi,
that of Trophonius in Boeotia was held in high estimation.
Trophonius and Agamedes were brothers. They were distinguished
architects, and built the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and a
treasury for King Hyrieus. In the wall of the treasury they placed
a stone, in such a manner that it could be taken out; and by this
means, from time to time, purloined the treasure. This amazed
Hyrieus, for his locks and seals were untouched, and yet his
wealth continually diminished. At length he set a trap for the
thief and Agamedes was caught. Trophonias, unable to extricate
him, and fearing that when found he would be compelled by torture
to discover his accomplice, cut off his head. Trophonius himself
is said to have been shortly afterwards swallowed up by the earth.

The oracle of Trophonius was at Lebadea in Boeotia. During a great
drought the Boeotians, it is said, were directed by the god at
Delphi to seek aid of Trophonius at Lebadea. They came thither,
but could find no pracle. One of them, however, happening to see a
swarm of bees, followed them to a chasm in the earth, which proved
to be the place sought.

Peculiar ceremonies were to be performed by the person who came to
consult the oracle. After these preliminaries, he descended into
the cave by a narrow passage. This place could be entered only in
the night. The person returned from the cave by the same narrow
passage, bat walking backwards. He appeared melancholy and
defected; and hence the proverb which was applied to a person low-
spirited and gloomy, "He has been consulting the oracle of


There were numerous oracles of Aesculapius, but the most
celebrated one was at Epidaurus. Here the sick sought responses
and the recovery of their health by sleeping in the temple. It has
been inferred from the accounts that have come down to us that the
treatment of the sick resembled what is now called Animal
Magnetism or Mesmerism.

Serpents 'were sacred to Aesculapius, probably because of a
superstition that those animals have a faculty of renewing their
youth by a change of skin. The worship of Aesculapius was
introduced into Rome in a time of great sickness, and an embassy
sent to the temple of Epidaurus to entreat the aid of the god.
Aesculapius was propitious, and on the return of the ship
accompanied it in the form of a serpent. Arriving in the river
Tiber, the serpent glided from the vessel and took possession of
an island in the river, and a temple was there erected to his


At Memphis the sacred bull Apis gave answer to those who consulted
him by the manner in which he received or rejected what was
presented to him. If the bull refused food from the hand of the
inquirer it was considered an unfavorable sign, and the contrary
when he received it.

It has been a question whether oracular responses ought to be
ascribed to mere human contrivance or to the agency of evil
spirits. The latter opinion has been most general in past ages. A
third theory has been advanced since the phenomena of Mesmerism
have attracted attention, that something like the mesmeric trance
was induced in the Pythoness, and the faculty of clairvoyance
really called into action.

Another question is as to the time when the Pagan oracles ceased
to give responses. Ancient Christian writers assert that they
became silent at the birth of Christ, and were heard no more after
that date. Milton adopts, this view in his "Hymn on the Mativity,"
and in lines of solemn and elevated beauty pictures the
consternation of the heathen idols at the Advent of the Saviour:

"The oracles are dumb;
No voice or hideous hum
Rings through the arched roof in words Deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos heaving.
No nightly trance or breathed spell
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell"

In Cowper's poem of "Yardley Oak" there are some beautiful
mythological allusions. The former of the two following is to the
fable of Castor and Pollux; the latter is more appropriate to our
present subject. Addressing the acorn he says:

"Thou fell'st mature; and in the loamy clod,
Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
Didst burst thine, as theirs the fabled Twins
Now stars; twor lobes protruding, paired exact;
A leaf succeede and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fostering propitious, thou becam'st a twig.
Who lived when thou wast such? Of couldst thou speak,
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past."

Tennyson, in his "Talking Oak," alludes to the oaks of Dodona in
these lines:

And I will work in prose and rhyme,
And praise thee more in both
Than bard has honored beech or lime,
Or that Thessalian growth
In which the swarthy ring-dove sat
And mystic sentence spoke; etc.

Byron alludes to the oracle of Delphi where, speaking of Rousseau,
whose writings he conceives did much to bring on the French
revolution, he says:

"For the, he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more."




Having reached the close of our series of stories of Pagan
mythology, and inquiry suggests itself. "Whence came these
stories? Have they a foundation in truth or are they simply dreams


Back to Full Books